Tuesday, 14 April 2009


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.

Best regards


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.


  1. If as you say "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. " get sone who does understannd the website is ok but zthe mail side of things is rubbish come on TDC SORZT IZT OUZT . as for yxou resigning you cant change anything from outside stay and work for change,

  2. Thanks Don you're right the website is OK and has got a lot better recently. Other cllrs have problems with the email too. I will still speak on the airport but at Scrutiny rather than the Airport sub-committee. I can't change things if I can't be there!

  3. Mark I got your email, and I am having trouble in getting in as well!

    Mike H.

  4. Ever tried forwarding an email sent via the TDC system? Deliberate, or maybe again just incompetance, it is is impossible. The original email attachment just vanishes. From yet another Cllr frustrated with this hopeless system.

  5. Isn't this just typical? The Council is full of tired old men. Working people can't be effective councillors because the Council operates during working hours. We need more working people (men and women) on the Council. It isn't representative at the moment. I noticed that the briefing for people wishing to become Ramsgate parish councillors was scheduled for a Monday lunchtime. Again, biased against anybody who is working.

  6. Hi Mark,

    Sorry to see that you're resigning from the Airport working party. Although we may differ on the matter of KIA, you at least did your bit to bridge the 'democratic deficit' that exists between the public and the council on this important matter.

    Who is likely to take your place? No doubt some rubber-stamping piece of cannon-fodder.

    Would it have been better to stay on the working group and shame them into being more open and accountable or at the very least, more accessible?

    TDC are well aware that residents who work, business owners and concerned local teachers and headteachers cannot drop everything at 10.00am.

    I see from the SMEG site that a questionnaire has been sent out. Could you elaborate on this?

  7. Mark, put your foot down and tell them that the meeting should be at a time convenient to you, not the Chairman and officers. Make sure you have the support of your Group Leader.

  8. Mark I still feel resigning is the wrong route hang in there and give em hell

  9. and I thought you a good bloke, you should have told the officers, they did not know, go down one place

  10. Thank you for the supportive comments but it is unreasonable I continue with a very poor attendance record.

    Westcliff GB
    Not for me to decide who replaces me.

    Unsure which survey you are referring to, if Kent News then I place no validity on it having completed it at the time.

    Anon 22.41 unsure which part of post you are referring to, but as posted I had discussed and written to relevant officers prior to writing. The matters are for councillors to address not officers.