Sunday, 10 May 2009


HG Wells wrote science fiction, here is a guest blog from Cllr. John Watkins, pictured here on his beloved Sundowner in Ramsgate Harbour. John writes here about political fiction. He is the Labour agent for Clive Hart and Iris Johnston who are standing in Margate and Cliftonville in the forthcoming Kent County Council (KCC) elections.
John Watkins writes:
"I have seen the leaflet introducing Chris Wells as the Conservative Candidate for Cliftonville and Margate. A copy of the key part is below. The leaflet says Chris Wells played a major part in securing funds for the Oval Bandstand. The facts are - the hard working volunteers of Cliftonville Residents Association accessed the £130,000 government funding to build a new bandstand and refurbish the inner/lower level of the arena. Even before he became a councillor, Labour man Clive Hart, as the Residents Association honorary secretary at the time, completed the application forms to obtain the funding, along with Keith Chadband - the super hard working Residents Association Chairman.

It then says Chris Wells delivered refurbishments at St Pauls and St Johns. The facts are, he was simply an individual member of the large Safer and Stronger Communities Fund Board which delivered those refurbishments with Labour government money. Chris was not a very active member either. During his time as the County representative on the Margate & Cliftonville board he has often sent substitute Conservative colleagues from other areas such as Westgate, Broadstairs, Ramsgate and even from as far away as Tonbridge to cover for him at meetings and to help make decisions about Margate and Cliftonville in his absence.

The leaflet says Chris Wells was instrumental in bringing a Childrens Centre to Cliftonville. The facts are that along with his District ward colleagues, Clive Hart has been fighting desperately for the local childrens centre. The Labour ward councillors have attended many crisis and steering group meetings for the Cliftonville Childrens Centre over the past few years and I'm informed Chris Wells has NEVER been present. Indeed, despite the government's clear aim for childrens centres to serve our most deprived areas, the former Tory Children, Families & Education Cabinet Member - one Chris Wells - actually oversaw dozens of children's centre's being built in much wealthier parts of Kent long before Cliftonville. Appallingly, thanks to the way Chris Wells and his ruling Conservative colleagues at KCC have run their Children Centre programme we are in the perverse situation where Cliftonville West is one of the very last Children's Centre's to be created, despite the area being one of the two most deprived wards in the south east of England (Cliftonville Children's Centre is right at the end of a wave of creating around 70 centres set up across the rest of Kent).

Lastly, and the biggest distortion of all, the leaflet says Wells was instrumental in bringing the Freedom Bus Pass to Thanet in January 2009, months ahead of the rest of the county. At a meeting of full council at KCC on 14th September 2006 where Labour member Clive Hart was desperately pleading for the scheme to come to Thanet in order to benefit our generally poorer children, it was simply astounding that Cllr. Wells actually argued strongly that Thanet was not at all suitable for such a pilot scheme. Consequently, thanks to his comments, the Kent subsidised transport scheme has been operational in many wealthier areas of the county long before coming to us here in Thanet (youngsters in Tonbridge, Maidstone, Tunbridge Wells & Canterbury have enjoyed the scheme for many months). A true statement would be that Chris Wells put wealthy areas first, and brought the Freedom Pass to Thanet several months BEHIND the rest of the County. No wonder politicians get a bad name.

Chris Wells own words sum the situation up perfectly. In one of his very own annual KCC reports for Margate and Cliftonville Division, published last year on the KCC website, Chris Wells wrote “Furthermore, I involve myself with more local matters through my regular attendance at the meetings of Broadstairs Town Council”. And guess what – out of 7 of those Broadstairs town council meetings last year he reportedly turned up to just 2. Have a look at Chris Wells attendance record at Kent County Council and then compare it to Clive Hart's. If people want a full time County councillor, not a part time one the answer is clear from this independently recorded evidence. Clive's the choice!
Chris Wells as a Broadstairs Town councillor has NOT provided a regular surgery for Margate & Cliftonville residents over the past 4 years nor delivered any regular newsletters to keep residents informed of his work.
Clive has!"
I will publish any repsonse I receive from Chris Wells.


  1. I see from the link that there are 7 candidates and only 3 of them actually live in Margate and Cliftonville. Hart and Johnston are obviously local and then there's a UKIP chancer from Ramsgate Road. Aren't these supposed to be local elections?

  2. You can bet both the Conservatives would have prefered safe Tory wards in Birchington and Broadstairs where they live but they must all be spoken for.

  3. I am rather saddened, and surprised, to hear John Watkins, a man for whom I have much respect, so infected with the current Labour intention to make elections about personal vilification rather than policy and achievement. It places me in a difficult position, because I do not wish to descend into the gutter alongside this nonsense, yet have to be cautious about what I choose to leave unchallenged.

    I suppose representing the current labour party, which has the lowest reputation in post war politics, is quite tough, and anything will be siezed on to persuade people that somehow, down here, Labour is not the same sleazy, possibly fraudulent, grouping that bears their name nationally. Labour candidates and their agents will do almost anything to put distance between themselves and Gordon Brown, and throw any mud which spatters across the reality of their failure.

    There are some quite interesting pretences on show here. I am criticised because I work: my opponent lauded because he does not have to: how traditional conservative/labour images are distorted! I am criticised for a meeting record that all know was affected by a period spent at my wife's bedside during a serious illness. I am criticised for getting things done quietly behind the scenes rather than spewing out news releases claiming achievements worked for by others.

    I will take just one example of the power of distortion practised across this election - the Freedom Pass. My opponent has his picture on his election material holding the Select Committee Report that kicked this off across the county - stating he served on the committee that introduced the idea. That much is true. However, Bill Hayton, Rob Burgess and myself all served as well, but we are all aware of the true story behind this report; which is that this pass was above all else the brainchild of the late John Law, whose energy and integrity took it into reality across Kent. In the introducing County Council meeting in 2006 I did speak: oddly my opponent did not, rather concentrating on letters to the press and announcements locally claiming benefit by association with this good news.

    None of which would be very important, except for my opponents widely circulated email explaining his absence from John Law's Memorial service, claiming a close relationship between them; not close enough to acknowledge whose brainchild the Freedom Pass really was.

    Neither was my opponent present when I pitched getting the pass in Thanet from January this year, earlier than other areas waiting till after the election.

    Perhaps most significant is the reference to the SSCF, which I have worked closely with throughout my 4 years as a county councillor - not just at but between meetings with the officers on the ground. After a complicated review of a difficult contract position recently, John was kind enough to compliment me on the knowledge and skill I was able to bring to the difficult judgement that had to be made. That though was the honest John Watkins, whose integrity we all admire; not John Watkins the desperate election agent for a party in the grip of failure, agony, and fear. Spin until you are giddy John; blog until you are bored; when you have finished you will still be the election agent for the most derided political party since the war. In many ways you have my sympathy. Nuff said I think.

  4. I see Wells trains with Sandys. Uses same campaigning technique. Let others (usually resident or voluntary groups) do the work and when they're succesful put it in your leaflet. The bearded one just takes it one step further. Let your oponent do all the work and then you claim it.

  5. Any KCC cabinet member as cllr Wells was must toe the Tory party line first. This is just politics, you only have to view a cabinet or council meeting webcast to see how every tory member agree with the leader on all issues. Incidently cabinet members receive at least £45,000 pa - as you would expect from KCC, some of the highest rewards in the country.
    So its no supprise Thanet issues come second with some councillors.

  6. Sorry Mr Wells but you carefully and selectively forget that meeting of full council at KCC in County Hall on 14th September 2006 where I certainly was pleading for the Freedom Pass to come to Thanet for our generally poorer children and believe me I really was shocked when you actually argued, and very strongly, that Thanet was not at all suitable for such a pilot scheme. I knew exactly what you were trying to do - belittle anything I say or do. But this time it backfired on you and worse, on our youngsters here in Thanet. Thanks to those comments the Kent subsidised transport scheme went to wealthier areas of the county long before coming to us here in Thanet. You know only too well that youngsters in Tonbridge, Maidstone, Tunbridge Wells & Canterbury have enjoyed the scheme for many months longer than ours here in Thanet and they can check these facts and thank you for that!

  7. As an earlier poster remarks Laura Sandys is very quick to claim credit for schemes that others have battled, sometimes for years to achieve. There are numerous examples of where she jumps on the bandwagon to claim how she alone, miraculously has had success. I hope the voters are not as gullible as she seems to think but I fear they are. Sad but true. Politics shouldn't be about boosting one's ego but about how the voters can be helped.

  8. Clive Hart does not mention it but I will. The purpose of the freedom pass was not only to allow childen to go to school but also to enable them to use it for social purposes in the evenings and at week ends. This is fine if you can cough up the £50 annual fee and you go to a Kent school. There are many in the county who go to schools outside of Kent and are denied the social use and for many more the fee is prohibited. Once again its biased for West Kent families but KCC wont listen to arguments from both the Labour and Libdem councilors!

  9. I often see Harty at the bandstand for farmers markets and concerts, usually with the bloke on the boat in the picture. Seen the Ladymans there too but never seen that Wells chap - is he local?

  10. 11 May 7.40 comment was spot on. Wasn't Wells the guy who stood up at a council meeting and told Iris he was too busy being important in Maidstone to deal with pot-holes in Hawley Square?

  11. Can't believe Wells wrote that - “Furthermore, I involve myself with more local matters through my regular attendance at the meetings of Broadstairs Town Council”. It's bad enough we never see the guy here where he got elected. He's supposed to be the member for Margate & Cliftonville and he thinks attending Broadstairs Town Council keeps him well informed. Only wish our problems were as simple as theirs!