Lovely weather in Thanet recently, here's a view of the Eastcliff from Ramsgate Main Sands. I have just spent 30 minutes trying to send an email through the Council's Novell email system without being able to do so. Three other webmail systems I can access are all fine so it is definitely a Thanet Council problem. This is a regular difficulty I encounter. The server cannot be busy as the vast majority of users only access emails in normal working hours. I recently raised the chronically bad system Councillors have to use with the relevant officers. They insisted it was fine, and were sceptical of my complaint. A Cabinet member I raised this with said they did not fully understand the problems with the system. An honest, but disappointing response.
So, whilst I wait for the page to load I will write the letter I intended as I think it is important local people are aware of the democratic deficit that Thanet Council currently offers on airport discussions. My letter is to the Chair and Vice chair of Overview and Scrutiny Panel, Cllrs Bob Bayford and Mike Harrison (who also chairs the Airport Working Party).
Dear Bob and Mike,
In the past you have been flexible about changing the meeting times of Overview and Scrutiny Panel to ensure better attendance. I am writing to say how disappointed I am at the scheduling of meetings of the Airport Working Party. Meetings have mostly been at 5pm but I now find that the latest meeting is scheduled for 10am next Wednesday.
I am sorry but this consistent arranging of meetings during the working day prevents me from attending on a regular basis. I therefore think it is best that I resign. this will allow a councillor to be found whose personal commitments allow them to attend these meetings. As we are coming up to the Annual Review of committee membership, by resigning now it means there will be the minimum of disruption.
I think it is unfortunate that meetings are being held at times that are inconvenient for people with work and childcare commitments. I have repeatedly made the point to yourselves, and also to officers assisting with the convening meetings; that we need to open up our meetings so that we engage with members of the public, and allow councillors to be scrutinised as they carry out their duties. Daytime meetings rerettably may give the impression that Thanet Council is minimising public particpation rather than maximising it. This may not be the intention, but it is the perception that many of my Northwood constituents have.
I will welcome the opportunity at Overview and Scrutiny Panel to examine the work of the Airport Working Party, and to work with yourselves there. I thank the officers serving the Airport Working Party who have always been helpful and accomodating.
PS Almost an hour now and the Novell email is still loading, all other systems fine....I'll drop Mike a note on his hotmail to make sure the message arrives.