Monday, 31 August 2009

MARGATE FOOTBALL CLUB

I have been visiting Hartsdown Park for almost 2 decades now. The gradual transformation of a classical Southern League football ground into a soulless "stadium" makes me feel nostalgic for football as it used to be. Today's ground is extremely well kept with everything as neat and tidy as the ongoing hopes of redevelopment allow. It feels though on three sides as if the sponsors should be Portakabin.

Where there was some height and definition from the old stands now things are low level. This allows the ground to appear in many ways one of the most scenic and pastoral with trees from Hartsdown Park framing the backdrop. The changing rooms and offices are the only "real" part of the ground left with a character of their own.



In recent years the talk amongst the crowd has at times been as much about what may happen off the pitch as on it. Again today I heard idle speculation on where houses might be built to help fund redevelopment of the ground. Margate's fans are good natured. At today's game they were muted by a poor home team performance. The biggest difference between them and opponents Cray Wanderers who won 1-0 through a Tommy Tyne goal was effort.


The hardcore Margate fans behind the goal have a big drum, but it was rarely used with only rare corners bringing anticipation of a goal. Margate committed more fouls and in truth were a litle flattered by the 1 goal margin. Off the field the Hartsdown Football 5s is a great initiative to see people at the ground throughout the week. Sad to see in my top picture the mindless vandalsim of the headline advertising for it in Hartsdown Road.



Margate is a very friendly and the club shop is well laid out and worth a visit for any football fan. I hope that in time the club will be able to fashion a stadium that has the quirks and character that made the old Hartsdown Park an arena to fill the eyes with pleasure. Sometimes architecture even if only haphazardly designed works in a way that one only realises when it has gone. If I want to view trees I can go for a walk in the country or a park, but at football I want to view a place were passions are captured on all 4 sides.

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

NEW SUMMER FOOD MARKET COMES TO MARGATE


Guest blogger Mariette Castellino is involved a number of community organisations in Margate and Cliftonville. Here she writes about a great initiative:

"The best of local food will be on offer in Margate Old Town on Saturday 29 August 11am – 4pm, as part of the Summer Markets organised by the Old Town Action Group.

The market begins outside Margate Visitors’ Information Centre running down Duke Street and into Market Place.


One of the organisers, Louise Oldfield, Vice Chair, told me “It would be great if the Markets were only the start of plans for bringing more high quality, local producers and suppliers to Margate Old Town.” There will be music in the piazza to accompany the market, and a lively event is promised for all.

Other stalls include

The Indian Princess – if you haven't yet eaten Dev’s food, come and see what all the fuss is about. They’ve been on BBC South East, and are about to be filmed as one of the best restaurants in Kent (if not THE best)!
Quex Barn – taste their succulent sausages, barbequed in front of you on the day. Local meat – what could be better?
Windmill Community Allotment Project – if you haven't yet bought “organic” fruit and veg at their Tuesday stall by the allotments (12-4pm), here’s your chance to taste what they and other allotment holders are growing in our local soil
O’er the Moon – for those of you with a sweet tooth, Simon sells scrummy sweets and fudge
Fairtrade – we’re now acknowledged as a Fairtrade Isle so buy your biscuits, and packs of teas and coffees here. Let’s send a supportive message to those who are feeling the credit crunch even more than we are!
Benedictine Monks at Ramsgate – sample their own honey, and make yourself and your house beautiful with their Organic Beeswax lip balms, hand & skin creams and Beeswax polish
The Market Garden – to feed your soul … The Chelsea Flower Show has arrived in Margate! Beautiful and high quality garden plants. Rose specialist.
German Sausage Man – one of our new local businesses, bringing you genuine, hearty German sausages, schnitzel and sauerkraut
Paul Hollywood Breads – who are supplying Harrods & Waitrose, so why not stock up on their speciality breads?
Ellie’s Dairy & Ashmore – delicious local cheeses from cows and goats, as well as chutneys to bring out the flavour and apple juice
Chai Stop – buy your Indian spices and taste the delicious and affordable Indian food they cook
Stylish Ice Cream – luscious old-fashioned, traditional ice cream scoops, with no additives, chemicals or colourings

If you'd like a stall in the summer Food Market, please contact Louise Oldfield on
louise.oldfield AT gmail.com. For more information on OTAG events please check out their website www.margateoldtown.co.uk"

Sunday, 23 August 2009

DON'T CALL ME DOCTOR




There have been references to the deletion of Cllr. Simon Moores Wikipedia entry on other local blogs . Wikipedia is the online encyclopedia that is a voluntary community. It is a not for profit organisation which relies on the work of volunteers.

Click here for the link to the deleted entry:
The reason for the deletion of Simon Moores entry is:

“This article or section is an autobiography, or has been extensively edited by the subject or an institution related to the subject, and may not conform to Wikipedia's neutral point of view policy.”

Have a look at the entry for Simon Moores. Although largely written by Simon (not my view but that of Wikipedia) it has no mention of the fact that he usually calls himself a Doctor. An unusual omission. There’s much here that could be examined but I want to highlight the Wikipedia view of Simon.

Have a look at this page:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Articles_for_deletion/Simon_Moores

which I reproduce parts of below:

The result was delete. –Juliancolton Talk 00:04, 10 August 2009 (UTC)

I take the Wikipedia editor Lord Matt to be Matt B of the Thanet Star who Simon has criticised previously. (For the record I have neither consulted, nor involved Matt on any of this research as it could prejudice his position as a Wikipedia editor, indeed I have never met him.)

This article has remained mostly autobiographical and as such seems to me to be a candidate for deletion. I am open to correction from other editors but it seems the correct action to take. Lord Matt (talk) 16:05, 27 July 2009 (UTC)
• Weak Delete. Lots of acheivements, but few or none pass the bar of notability. Lots of non-notable acheivements do not add up to make one notable one. Hairhorn (talk) 16:55, 27 July Weak Delete: Alright, we have some serious WP:COI issues, no error; this is an autobiography. That aside, Moores is currently a Ward Councillor for Thanet District Council [1], but that's deemed a "third-level" legislative post per WP:POLITICIAN and doesn't pass that. RGTraynor 08:58, 3 August 2009 (UTC)


Now there’s a concern the term WP:COI means Wikipedia Conflict of Interest. As a general rule if Councillors have a conflict of interest they should publicly declare them. This is news to me so it appears Simon has not been open about this, and I understand as Simon was both an editor of the article on himself, and also the subject of the article, he would have been aware that his article was due for deletion and that a conflict of interest had been established.

Until recently there was a webpage of the published messages Wikipedia sent Simon Moores available. My technical skills are not great so I cannot now find a way to access them, but I took screenshots before they were deleted. I cannot work out how to put them into this post but amongst them here is a message which causes concern:

“Hi Simon. I’ve just removed your link from the eGovernment article. When you edit on Wikipedia you are volunteering for Wikipedia. Your purpose here needs to be first and foremost to produce a good, open content encyclopedia, If your only purpose in editing is to promote yourself your edits are not welcome. Please read our conflict of interest and editing with a conflict of interest guidelines for pointers on how to deal with situations where your expertise would lead you to make edits that are also of benefit to yourself.—Siobhan Hansa 14:53, 5 November 2006 (UTC).”

As I read it this message was not taken on board and as the Wikipedia deleted entry says this became a deleted article because it remained autobiographical having been written by Simon rather than others. On 27th July 2009 this message was sent to Simon Moores:

“An article that you have been involved in editing, Simon Moores has been listed for deletion. If you are interested in the deletion discussion, please participate by adding your comments at
Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/Simon Moores. Thank you
NB:this is not personal and if other editors disagree with me the page will continue or be remade. You and I are in no real place to write it though.”


I have checked with people who have greater technical expertise than me, and this entry for Simon Moores has been described as “badly formatted”. This is surprising for somebody who promotes themselves as a computer expert.

There are a few other things worth noting in the entry. Have a look at Wikipedia entries for Roger Gale MP and Steve Ladyman MP.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roger_Gale

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stephen_Ladyman

They both have the usual format for Wikipedia biography entries with “Early Life” the starting point. Curiously despite having written much of his own entry, Simon omits any details of his early life and his academic achievements. Life for him seems to have began in 1986 and does not cover his Thanet roots. With his achievements, other Wikipedia users were prevented from knowing that he came from Thanet. I think it is a shame that Simon was not proud of his roots.

Wikipedia’s Conflict of Interest policy says

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:COI

"A Wikipedia conflict of interest (COI) is an incompatibility between the aim of Wikipedia, which is to produce a neutral, reliably sourced encyclopedia, and the aims of an individual editor.
COI editing involves contributing to Wikipedia in order to promote your own interests or those of other individuals, companies, or groups. Where advancing outside interests is more important to an editor than advancing the aims of Wikipedia, that editor stands in a conflict of interest.
COI editing is strongly discouraged. When editing causes disruption to the encyclopedia through violation of policies such as neutral point of view, what Wikipedia is not, and notability, accounts may be blocked. COI editing also risks causing public embarrassment outside of Wikipedia for the individuals and groups being promoted."


and goes on to say

"When editors write to promote their own interests, their contributions often show a characteristic lack of connection to anything the general reader might want to consult as a reference. If you do write an article on an area in which you are personally involved, be sure to write in a neutral tone and cite reliable, third-party published sources, and beware of unintentional bias."

Simon Moores has produced just two third party sources (one of these is a link to his own company). Perhaps more serious was his financial conflict of interest:

“you expect to derive monetary or other benefits or considerations from editing Wikipedia; for example, by being the owner, officer or other stakeholder of a company or other organization about which you are writing”

It is hard to see how the linking on Simon Moores Wikipedia biography to his companies Zentelligence and Airads can be aligned with this policy. These are not the significant achievements Wikipedia is set up to reference.

Again the Wikipedia policy says:

Autobiography
“It is not recommended that you write an article about yourself. If you are notable, someone else will notice you and write the article. In some cases, Wikipedia users write articles about themselves when the more appropriate action would be to create a user page. In these cases, the article is normally moved into the user namespace rather than deleted. If you believe you may be notable enough, make your case on the appropriate talk pages, and seek consensus first, both with the notability and any proposed autobiography.”

Wikipedia decided that this entry, which was largely written by Simon Moores had broken several of their rules and hence the deletion of the entry from Wikipedia.

I think it is disappointing that Simon Moores has

1. Failed to comply with Wikipedia’s procedures
2. Has not shown regard for their conflict of interest policy.
3. As a councillor has not publicised his conflict of interest.
4. Has used a not for profit organisation to promote his company to make money for himself.

I think it is surprising that when editing his own Wikipedia entry he chose to not describe himself as Dr. Moores as he does in many spheres of life, and to not provide any academic information. On Wikipedia he has described himself as Simon Moores, whereas for example the entry for Steve Ladyman MP makes clear reference to Dr. Ladyman's doctorate and references it.

My greater concern is that over a number of years Simon ignored the rules of an organisation he was part of, and used volunteers donations and efforts to advertise his companies.

It does not inspire confidence that Cllr. Simon Moores will act in a correct and proper fashion as a councillor, and as a Thanet District Council Cabinet member.

LARK IN THE PARK


One of the best things I did as a Ramsgate Charter Trustee was to advocate for generous grants to the annual Lark in the Park programme of events for everybody in Thanet and especially children in Ramsgate. I am not on Ramsgate Town Council any more, but I hope they will continue supporting this event which draws in masses of people. It is organised by a several of local churches. Numerous volunteers give generously of their time. I have visited on several days and seen how much joy there is on Government Acre.
My pictures show the big marquees that cover the site. the one with all the buggies is for the under 5s, there is a Boot Camp for 5-11 and 11-18 have football in a cage, skateboarding and BMX bike boards to perform on and more.
There are also events for adults in the evening. The programme is gently evangelical but it is entirely voluntary and you can happily participate in events without having to proclaim your faith. The atmosphere is inclusive and welcoming.
The grant if I remember correctly is for about £5,000 and for this there were 11 days of events, fuller details on the Lark in the Park website click here. I know a number of the volunteers. One of the most impressive things is how each year dozens of young people from 12 upwards assist with computing, administration stewarding, security and anything else they can turn their hand to.
We often underestimate how a few young people's misbehaviour can lead to stereotyping.
Compare Lark in the Park's approach with that of Thanet Community Safety Partnership. It is, according to official statistics, the most improving partnership in Kent. However, earlier this summer I received emails with details of "Diversionary Activities for Kids in Ramsgate". That's good but couldn't they just be "Activities for Kids in Ramsgate"? If we see every child as a potential problem we have to "divert", how will we teach them to trust and become active citizens like the young people who give so freely of their time at Lark in the Park?

Saturday, 22 August 2009

SEASIDE SOS




On Friday I went to the Seaside SOS TV programme event combined with a fundraiser for Dave Green the Mayor of Ramsgate's charities at the Westcliff Leisure Park and Boating Pool. The old monkey house had been spruced up with the Mayor and his Deputy Ralph Hoult having done much of the setting up work. The weather was the worst of the week with glowering skies and the inevitable brief rainstorm sending everybody inside.



There was a stream of entertainers including the pictured man in black Ramsgate magician Colin Hoult performing tricks. There was a healthy turnout of local councillors and most of the East Kent mayors forming part of the usual "Chain gang".







Gadds brewery served up the drinks in excellent friendly fashion and my picture shows their stall at the end. Brenda Blethyn as she so often does, supported a hometown event. Duncan Bannatyne floated through and a series of talented local singers took the specially built stage in the middle of the boating pool.




Great to be able to see the bottom of the boating pool again with the water all clear, hopefully it will stay that way. What a superb setting we offer in Ramsgate with tourists having the chance to pedal around the pool whilst drinking in the views across Pegwell Bay and out into the English Channel.



The whole event was expertly co-ordinated by Ralph Hoult who as well as being present as Deputy Mayor of Ramsgate was also acting as Master of Ceremonies and my final picture (click on any of them to enlarge) shows him surveying all that is going on to ensure all went smoothly.

I'm looking forward to seeing the television programme when it is on.

Friday, 21 August 2009

WHAT'S GOING ON?


Other local blogs are questioning why I took a post down, so here’s why. I was pleasantly surprised to hear that a senior local Conservative recently approached one of my colleagues wanting to address the situation between myself and fellow Cllr. Simon Moores. What was refreshing was the commencement of the discussion by acknowledging that a considerable part of the problem lay with Simon Moores. They did not consider me to be innocent either of course!

Wanting to go forward in these situations is always difficult and sensitive. I have negotiated on things in many ways in the past having spent over a decade as a shop steward and in various other trade union posts. When one receives an unexpected, but pleasant proposition it is important to welcome such initiatives and to back up talk with action. So I wrote
“I was pleased to hear of your desire to improve matters in relation to local councillor blogs. I am keen that this should be the case. In order to demonstrate my sincerity, I have deleted my last post. I am open to suggestions on any other of my posts. This will cause me considerable difficulty in the "blogosphere" but I do it to demonstrate my goodwill as actions speak louder than words. I wish you every success in your endeavours, and thank you for your efforts.”
And anyone reading the local blogs will note the speculation that has ensued. I had been asked to amend that post and had already done so, but by removing it, it showed that I am prepared to try and reach an accommodation. I did not ask for anything in return for doing this, it was an unilateral action, what could be described as a “confidence building measure”.

Simon Moores does not want to try and improve matters I understand, seeing nothing he could do to help things become better.

Let me give you just a couple of examples where Simon might want to reflect. The image above he has used when posting about myself. It is one of the Chinese Communist Party. Several of my friends and some local Conservatives have commented about how offensive and inappropriate it is. This is an organisation that has systematically squashed human rights, killed 20-30 million people in the Great Famine, murdered thousands in Tiananmen Square, continues to occupy Tibet and prevents the Dalai Lama from returning.
It also demeans the efforts of those striving for human rights in China for such an image to be used in such inappropriate and petty circumstances in the great scheme of things.
Now I find Simon’s views to be draconian and authoritarian. However, I would never juxtapose a post on him with an image depicting the Third Reich.
Look at the comments on the same post and I have to point out
"On parking not for the first time you decide not to link to my post in order to misrepresent it."
I always link when quoting from Simon so my readers can click and make up their own minds on my posts. Simon rarely links to me when ascribing views to me. This allows him to misrepresent at best, or totally distort at worst. Does he really think he can fool his readers and that this is a proper way to blog?
It is manipulative and discourteous. This from a man who claims that he has "a public duty to be both courteous and responsible."
Now I could go on, and I am sure Simon has some things he would like to say to me, but for now that's why I took down a post and why I am holding on further significant posts.

Hopefully this clears up the speculation, and perhaps some other readers will be able to persuade Simon to address some of the very serious errors of judgment which appear on his blog. Better still they might be able to persuade him to enter into a private dialogue rather than ignoring the requests of others, who can see that he like all of us is not perfect.

Monday, 17 August 2009

SIMON MOORES SLAMS INCOMPETENT LAZY CONSERVATIVE COUNCILLORS


Simon Moores (pictured) today slammed his fellow Conservative councillors as lazy and incompetent. Having questioned my record in having only a daytime telephone number, he was disgusted to find out that his fellow Thanet District Conservative councillors were trying to avoid all telephone contact whatsoever.

Here are the councillors Simon Moores claims are in the wrong:

Cllr.Alasdair Bruce - click here
Cllr. Ewen Cameron - click here
Cllr. Jo Gideon - click here

Click on the links - all three of them have NO contact telephone number whatsoever for their constituents.

Simon Moores went on to say “None of them have a telephone number so their constituents can get in touch. I am known for my openness, consistency, modesty and utter lack of double standards. I thought a Labour councillor who gave an office number, and not a home number should resign. All these Conservative councillors are far worse, they are giving no telephone number. They should immediately resign.”

I know Simon Moores is utterly wrong on this. He is failing as a Cabinet member and does not have a clue what is going on in his portfolio of Customer Services and Business Transformation . I know from personal experience that Cllrs. Jo Gideon and Alasdair Bruce are contactable. Indeed both have been helpful colleagues to me on a number of matters. It is Simon Moores who is responsible for making their records look bad.

I know there are concerns about Cllr. Cameron’s performance and availability. He is a close associate of Cllr. Simon Moores and is his "Lead member" or Deputy. He must share with Simon Moores some of the responsibility for the mess.

Simon Moores is incompetent. He should resign. He is not up to his Cabinet job and is not earning his £13,100.

Tomorrow I will publish what is going on. I trust within 24 hours Simon Moores will investigate and publish on his blog an unreserved apology to the 3 councillors and myself. Can he find out about the mess? Or does an opposition backbencher have to do his job for him?

Simon Moores needs to come clean on his record and apologise for his previous mistakes too.

I will not be allowing comments on this post, but tomorrow do please comment when Simon Moores’ incompetence is revealed.


UPDATE 20.8.09
Simon Moores has asked for it to be made clear that he did not make the above statement. Simon often talks about the need for a bit of "tongue in cheek" humour in local politics, but has a sense of humour failure when it refers to him. Nobody with any knowledge of Thanet politics or who read his blog would ever accuse Simon of modesty, as my post ironically does. Click here to his post about me. It is almost entirely false in its content, and even when advised of factual errors he has refused to amend his posts.

In the light of new evidence I have delayed publication of the promised post and I am checking and working through the new information before posting.

Sunday, 16 August 2009

WILDWOOD AND GOOD FOOD


I'm a member of Wildwood Britain's best wildlife park. It is the sort of green tourism that should be benefitting from staycationing and when I went recently the numbers attending were very healthy. I like the educational aspect to their work so there is always a feeding session or a talk available.
I caught few interesting pictures (click on them to enlarge). A fox at feeding time and some kids having fun!

My favourite is probably the sunbathing badgeress.

Set between Herne Bay and Canterbury the site is part of the Blean Woods. After visiting I went on to the Hare and Hounds which is at the bottom of the hill in Blean.

This was one of the best meals I have had in a long time, excellent flexible service and superb food. It was an Italian restauarant and deserves a visit now it is back as a pub tending slightly to gastropub. Other friends have recommended it. My guests had had fish and chips at my favourite Peter's Fish Factory in Ramsgate, but said the fish and chips here was even better. Dover sole and a tomato risotto were similarly classy.
Do pop outside and see the fig trees and the peach trees laden with fruit. I missed the beer festival but will diarise it for next year. The wine is fine too.

Saturday, 15 August 2009

YOU READ IT HERE FIRST


My post on Broadstairs Folk Week attracted a lot of comments. I am pleased my correspondent Matt was correct that there may be plans afoot to move the festival. The Isle of Thanet Gazette picked up on this and in Friday's paper wrote:

Jo Tuffs, Broadstairs Folk Festival Director said: 'The festival committee would meet in September to...decide whether it is viable to continue to hold the festival in the town'. 'Rumours this could be the last Folk Week in Broadstairs have not been ruled out'

Interesting that neither myself as a councillor nor Cllr. Chris Wells who is far more familiar with Broadstairs had heard of this. It shows the value of being able to blog as a councillor. I am grateful to Matt for the story. My picture is of the Hobby Horse Club which went down a storm with the children all week I am told. Thanks to Louise for the picture.

I had the nice experience as a blogger of several of my non-politically minded friends asking about this story, many had heard about the proposal on this blog via word of mouth. They all wanted the Folk Festival to stay in the heart of Broadstairs. I agree. I visited on Friday and the town was buzzing. I had heard reports that Thanet Council was struggling with the rubbish collection. There were several employees trying to keep up with all the waste being generated. Bins were overflowing and people were leaving empty cans, bottles and bags of rubbish next to the bins.

This is a difficult thing for Councils to manage as good weather increases crowds and can overwhelm the best laid plans. I think there should be plans to cope with this. I have seen the same problem happen in Ramsgate. Every time this happens it means visitors go home with a negative piece of information in their memories.We cannot blame the minority of people who are thoughtless. We have to manage what happens when tourists come and spend thousands of pounds.

Trying to find a place to eat many of the restaurants were booked up all night long with several sittings. I ended up booking in at Porto Vecchio (Pulcinella) Pizzeria in Harbour Street. The food was fine but the serice was dire. We were pushed to order as soon as arriving. The waitress would not just take a drinks order whilst we considered our food choice, three times we were hovered over to have our drinks and food order taken together. Then the food started to arrive piecemeal as it was cooked, rather than altogether as you would expect, and we were having to ask if they had remembered this or that.

The whole experience was rushed, forced almost, and not what you expect from a restaurant. It was only half full but clearly the priority was to get people in and out as quick as possible to increase turnover.Perhaps they thought we were just visitors for Folk Week, but as locals we will not be back.

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

SIMON MOORES THE STRAW MAN



I hadn't heard of the term "Straw man". I am indebted to the Thanet Star for enlightening me. His view is that Conservative councillor Simon Moores uses this technique:

"A straw man argument is an informal fallacy based on misrepresentation of an opponent's position. To "attack a straw man" is to create the illusion of having refuted a proposition by substituting a superficially similar proposition (the "straw man"), and refuting it, without ever having actually refuted the original position."

Personally, soon after starting blogging, I came to a view on Simon Moores which I expressed in comments in February 2009. Whenever Simon Moores starts to lose an argument on policy, he resorts to personal attacks. Simon Moores wants to examine my attendance record. Fine. It is important the electorate see what their representatives do. Let's have a look so we can see how casually and disingenuously Simon represents matters. He's doing that quite a bit these days.

For the period examined Simon argues I was on 4 Council bodies. He's wrong.

Airport Working Party

Remarkably, Simon Moores is correct I had a poor attendance at this committee. Only problem is my shocking attendance record has already been exposed........by me 4 months ago! Have a look at this post in February complaining about the way the Airport Working Party met at awkward times to prevent the involvement of members of the public and any councillor who had a job.

When Thanet Council continued to arrange meetings of the Airport Working Party at times I could not make, I did the honourable thing and resigned. I wrote a full post about this in April. So no news here, other than the failure of Thanet Council to engage in meaningful consultation with local people on Manston Airport. Simon Moores follows his normal practice of failing to link to these posts explaining my non-attendance. That's Simon for you, if the facts are inconvenient just ignore them.

General Purposes Committee

There's one meeting I could have attended. I arranged in footballing terms a "tactical substitution" where I was replaced by the then Labour Group Leader Cllr. Richard Nicholson. This was because the main item being discussed was the increase in senior officers pay at Thanet District Council. Quite rightly Richard was sceptical about the Conservative argument that in the current difficult economic circumstances; that large increases in pay were needed to ensure staff retention. The argument seems dubious as despite the Conservatives putting through these substantial increases, senior staff are still leaving. Simon Moores chaired this meeting and understood politically why it was appropriate Labour was represented by a more senior representative than me.

Full Council

On 21st May if you look at the minutes I attended the whole of the first Council meeting. I then left for a personal commitment before the second meeting that evening. Perhaps I should do what anybody who watches the recordings of Council meetings can observe. Some Conservative councillors leave Council meetings shortly after signing in. The so called sign in, and sod off technique. This year I can recall Cllr. Simon Day leaving within 10 minutes of a meeting starting, and Cllr. Ewen Cameron leaving meetings not long after they have started. Should I have stayed an extra 5 minutes to register my attendance at the second meeting on that same evening, to make my attendance record look better? I don't think so, but Thanet Conservatives frequently do just that.

On 26th February I had conflicting engagements. Thanet District Council or the London Labour Party dinner. One of the reasons for my attendance at the dinner was that I met with Prime Minister Gordon Brown.


Overview and Scrutiny Panel

On 10th March I missed this meeting because I worked at the European Parliament that day. It is part of my job. I am based in London, but I work 2-3 days a month in either Brussels or Strasbourg. On 28th July I interviewed candidates for a work vacancy in London in the evening. Several promising candidates indicated they would find difficulty getting time off work in the current economic circumstances to attend interviews. Simon is aware that my written submission to this meeting resulted in what my colleagues say was the most important discussion of the Panel that evening. He ignores that and smears. As in the case of ALL my absences, I arranged a substitute. Of course Simon Moores does not refer to when I have substituted at meetings for others, it would spoil his argument.

Recycling Working Party

It is good that Thanet Council is publishing attendance records. However, they are inaccurate. Apart from the Airport Working Party which is a sub-committee of Overview and Scrutiny Panel, I am on another Overview and Scrutiny Panel sub-committee the Recycling Working Party. During the period being looked at my attendance record is 100% having attended both scheduled meetings. As a cabinet member with responsibilities in this area Simon should pick up on this failing. It would have been easy to check this fact for him, but it's not Simon's style to worry about accuracy.

The effect of this would be to improve my attendance record, perhaps that is why Simon omitted it?


Now, if only when I wrote examining Conservative councillors records they responded with an open clear explanation like the above wouldn't it be better for local politics? Thousands of pounds could be saved and the Council would be more efficient, effective and accountable. My record is not the best because of my work commitments. I have argued before how unhealthy it is that Thanet Council does not do enough to ensure its representatives reflect the community. Remember the 5pm Council meeting to rush through Manston Airport expansion?


There are some points Simon Moores has raised that I have not responded to because I am still checking facts, I will address them. This though shows my attendance record, and I will always be happy to account for it.

Is Simon Moores prepared to be accountable for his record? My job often means I am in Whitehall, and I sometimes meet with civil servants, ministers and MPs. For the record I have worked in Number 10 Downing Street. Twice. Low level meetings that I think have no relevance to how I conduct myself as a Councillor in Thanet. I only mention this because Cllr. Simon Moores thinks it is important that Westgate constituents know that

"He was also a member of Tony Blair's Cabinet office unit that developed 'UK Online'."

I have asked several people I know in Westminster and none of them have ever heard of Simon Moores working for Tony Blair. As more and more diaries are published of the Blair years from key players, you can search in vain for any mention of Simon Moores working with Tony Blair or his key advisors. I know many local people want Simon to clarify this so perhaps he would kindly answer these 10 questions.

1.On what dates did he start and finish working for Tony Blair in the Cabinet Office?

2.Was he a Civil Servant or did he work for an outside contractor, if the latter please provide the name of the firm and the details of their contract.

3.If a Civil Servant what grade was Simon Moores and what were his prior and subsequent positions?

4.Where was the location of his work?

5.What was the exact name of the "Cabinet Office unit"?

6.What did his work involve?

7.Which of Tony Blair's staff did he work with and when? Please provide full details.

8.Who was the Cabinet Officer Minister at the time?

9.Why did Tony Blair take personal control of this matter rather than allowing the Cabinet Officer minister to have control as is normal practice?

10.Which Cabinet Committee was responsible for monitoring this work?

All my contacts express amazement at the idea that Tony Blair was spending time micro-managing this project with Simon Moores. He was renowned for his ability to delegate.

I have found whenever asked precise questions, Simon avoids them. I trust I will be proved wrong on this occasion. Is that a blustery wind I can hear in the direction of Westgate?
UPDATE 13.8.07
Very blustery winds in Westgate emanating from Simon Moores who as predicted is unable to answer the questions in a direct fashion. Have a read of his ramble here. I wouldn't waste much time clicking on his links as most of the "proof" is Simon Moores or a link to somebody's Wikipedia profile. Here are his answers.
1. Unable to answer, no dates given, many rambling references but he cannot remember the date he started and finished. I would have thought he would have a CV and know this. Even MI6 staff are allowed to give this information these days!
2. No answer again. It seems he was not a civil servant, but sadly Simon refuses to answer this simple question.
3. Not a civil servant it seems, again doesn't answer.
4. Not answered. Follows on from 1. Says he visited the Cabinet Office but if he worked there, dates and position please. Anybody can look up its address on the internet.
5. Unclear possibly Ofice of the E-Envoy ( he incorrectly calls it eEnvoy). Simon hates answering questions directly!
6. Most people would say my job title was xxxxx and I did this. Simon rambles, unclear.
7. Provides several names but never gives dates. Perhaps he doesn't want his assertions checked?
8. Doesn't know or won't say. Cites Patrica Hewitt, that's wrong she was in the Department of Trade and Industry around the dates Simon mentions. She was never a Cabinet Office minister.
9. Doesn't answer. I think because Simon is exaggerating his role and name dropping to imply he was at a more senior level than he was if he had a role at all in the Cabinet Office. Answer seems to be that he never had anything to do with Tony Blair personally.
10. No answer.
So not one single question answered. It would be best if Simon could answer each of the questions 1 to 10 in a couple of sentences in a clearly laid out fashion.
I think we can all draw our conclusions as to why he chooses not to do this.
UPDATE 14.8.09
Simon Moores has written in comments on his blog that he will not answer any of these questions. Provides a typically boastful quote...


"Unlike you, at the level at which I work, I don't have "bosses"."

If he had worked in the Cabinet Office he would have been responsible to the Cabinet Officer minister ("his boss"). I am grateful to Simon for confirming in writing that he never worked in the Cabinet Office. I hope he will amend his inaccurate entry on Thanet District Council's website to reflect this.

Saturday, 8 August 2009

BROADSTAIRS FOLK FESTIVAL TO MOVE?

Reader Matt from Broadstairs writes:

"With Broadstairs Folk Week having just started it is time, perhaps, to find out if the persistent rumours about a proposed enforced relocation to another site are correct.

Businessmen and women in the town expecting, as usual, their bumper week in the pubs, eateries, food shops, off-licences, are concerned that pressure is being put on the committee that organises the event to move to another more rural location with Quex Park being quoted.
Thanet District Council has, apparently, charged or tried to charge the committee of mostly volunteers, £5,000 to close the bottom of the High Street and Allbion Street to traffic but stories are emerging that the council is keen for the whole event with its torchlight processions, children's activities, concerts, workshops to vacate their normal sites.

With a few exceptions, everyone from the schools where the campers set out their tents to the small town businesses benefits so who would gain with a removal of the whole event to Quex? Part of the fun for many is being able to stroll to the beach after watching singers and dancers before retreating to one of the town's pubs for stronger refreshment.

So far as I can tell there is very little trouble that needs the police during the week unlike Wednesday evenings when the crowds for the fireworks were reluctant spectators to the worst type of street entertainment -a fight on the pier where tables and chairs from the pierhead café were hurled about by drunken youths.

Perhaps someone who knows the correct story can enlighten us all."


I have asked a few people but have heard nothing on this so it would be good to have some confirmation of what is going on. I thought our Council tax funded Kent TV would have a nice film to highlight one of Kent's longest running festivals and yet there is nothing on it. However, search for "folk music" and you will find this video of the Smithsonian Folk Festival in Virginia, United States that Kent TV flew across the Atlantic to cover. No doubt this cost a few thousand pounds, whereas a cheap day return to Broadstairs would have been a tenth of the cost, and been far more relevant. Thankfully Youtube has plenty of coverage with several films from Michael Child. Michael points out on his blog today the failure of Thanet Council to adequately cover Broadstairs Folk Festival. Click here if you would like to see a little Morris dancing with plenty more links on the side panel.

The next time Kent County Council Leaader Paul Carter says that money is tight.....

Friday, 7 August 2009

RECULVER ROCKS

I visited the reopened and extended Kent Wildlife Trust visitor centre at Reculver today. I have often cycled past but rarely stopped. The new building is excellent, sympathetically finished and with educational resources for children of all ages. There are plenty of fossils to handle, an exercise machine to measure your output and how many lights you could keep on, blow football to illustrate the wind turbines on the horizon, and many more ideas to challenge inquisitive minds.
Kent Wildlife Trust have produced a video to illustrate facilities. Click here to view it. they have also produced similar videos for two other haunts of mine, East Blean Woods and Pegwell Bay Country Park.

The Kent Wildlife Trust video was posted on Youtube on 13th July. Kent TV have produced a video on the reopening in the last month as well (with free added local politician). I wish that Kent TV would point people in the direction of other links like the one produced by Kent Wildlife Trust (thanks to them for letting me download their video). By default through small donation, and Council Tax I have partly paid towards the production of two films, and I would like them to complement each other as both are intended to promote green tourism.

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

WHERE DID YOU GET THAT HAT?


On Saturday I was supporting the QEQM Hospital League of Friends Summer Fair at Margate. Several of my fellow Labour councillors were there, John Watkins, Harry Scobie and Kerry Harker pictured here working on the bottle stall. Also present was Steve Ladyman MP and there were far more people here than at the Viking event I covered yesterday.

Margate Mayor Ted Watt-Ruffell is pictured with his attendant at the Broadstairs Inner Wheel stall. Note they are bothing wearing Panama hats!

Ted is a councillor for Dane Valley ward. His fellow ward councillor is Stephen Broadhurst. Cllr. Broadhurst has featured in the local newspapers for his poor attendance record, absence of work for the community and continuing residence in Panama. His refusal to answer reporters reasonable questions is unacceptable, and should be addressed by the Conservative Chief Whip, who I understand to be Ted Watt-Ruffell. Stephen Broadhurst employs Ted Watt-Ruffell for his day job I understand.
So if Ted disciplines Stephen as a Councillor, what will Ted's employer Stephen think? It looks like an impossible situation for Ted, so why did the Conservative group elect him as Chief Whip two months ago when they knew already there was a problem with Cllr. Broadhurst's attendance and that Cllr. Watt-Ruffell was employed by him? This is a messy situation and I know Thanet Labour leader Clive Hart has asked Thanet Conservative Leader Sandy Ezekiel to look into Cllr. Broadhurst's circumstances.

Was the Panama hat brought over the Atlantic by Stephen to say thanks to Ted for covering for his prolonged absences? I prefer to think it is like the song Tie A Yellow Ribbon Round the Old Oak Tree, and that Ted was wearing the hat as an act of solidarity with his fellow Conservative/ward councillor/company employee/Margate Charter Trustee/whipee (they do have many and complicated relationships don't they?). Perhaps we will see other Thanet Conservatives wearing Panama hats throughout the summer to acknowledge the ongoing absence of Cllr. Broadhurst, and show their solidarity with him.

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

VIKINGS 1 SAXONS 0

On Sunday I visited the Bygone Days Historical Group event at Government Acre, Ramsgate. This was a troubled event following organisational problems. It was regrettable that Cllr. Mike Taylor did not attend Ramsgate Charter Trustees to explain the problems which resulted in Danish Vikings cancelling.
One of the problems with these events is in attracting enough volunteers. Ramsgate Carnival has suffered and Bygone Days Historical Group Ramsgate could also do with extra help. On the day Mike Taylor was here, there and everywhere.

The Danish cancellation meant there was a late substitution with the relatively small Colchester Historical Enactment Society (CHES) stepping in to play the part of the Saxons. Unfortunately, the victorious Vikings of Middle England were depleted as they had a conflicting engagement in Cornwall where some of their members were committed. The battle was downsized to a skirmish.
Those present were excellent sharing freely of their time and
knowledge. The reenactment was staged with full vigour and
role playing enthusiasm.

As a tourist attraction the numbers were disappointing. The vast majority in the crowd were locals. A pity as with reasonable weather more visitors would have been hoped for. The event continued with a solo woman performing gamely as a majorette, and then an Elvis impersonator who had the graveyard slot as people left. Thanks to all those who gave freely of their time.

Saturday, 1 August 2009

CONSERVATIVES OPPOSE BLOGGING REGULATION


Last week I wrote about the proposed regulation by Conservative controlled Thanet Council of councillor's blogs. Pictured is John Ward a former Conservative councillor in Medway. He blogged about his opposition to this unnecessary regulation. Today the main Conservative grassroots website Conservative Home has written about the proposed regulation. Writer Cllr Harry Phibbs from Hammersmith and Fulham opposes regulation.

Go through the comments and there are overwhelmingly Conservatives opposing Thanet Council's proposal. Here's a list of Conservative councillors opposing extra regulation:

Cllr. Stephen Ellis Cabinet Member Staffordshire Moorlands (that's the Council that successfully broadcasts Council meetings unlike Thanet, I've quoted him previously)

Former councillor Steve Foley.

Cllr. Liam Maxwell - Windsor and Maidenhead

Cllr. Steve Tierney - Cambridgeshire County Council

Cllr. Matt Dean - Southampton Council

and there's well known Labour blogger Cllr. Bob Piper too!

All Thanet Labour councillors are opposed to extra regulation. That leaves just Thanet Conservative Cllr. Simon Moores publicly supporting this proposal.

As commenter on the Conservative Home piece David Galea says

"Some people just don't get the net."

UPDATE 1.8.09
Another comment on Conservative Home from Woolfie:

"I attended a meeting with Roger Gale a couple of months ago. Who told him what the internet was, as when I met him he didn't have a clue. It's people like him that makes me never want to vote Tory."