Friday, 2 May 2008


Readers will know that I have taken a pretty dim view of the behaviour of 'Our Leader' at the Winter Gardens in April 2007 and have been slightly miffed that both the IOTG last week and now Tom Betts in YourThanet mis-reported that business. Both papers missed the simple point that of the complaints made concerning behaviour THAT night, those aginst Cllrs Hart and Clark were dismissed (almost out of hand) by The Standards Board. The only complaint upheld was against Cllr Ezekiel who was found to have breached the Code. Anyway, IOTG seem to have put the facts more clearly to-day; Cllr Ezekiel has apologised and you would expect 'Strife' levels to drop. Not a hope, I am afraid.
I have now been sent a statement concerning Cllr Ezekiel and his abrupt treatment of Cllr Michelle Fenner at last night's Cabinet Meeting and I post it below.

At last night’s Cabinet meeting, Councillor Michelle Fenner, Shadow Cabinet member for Housing, was prevented from finishing the comments she had prepared on the Housing Inspector’s report.
What she had to say was obviously hitting home and Councillor Ezekiel couldn’t bear to listen to it all.
Councillor Michelle Fenner tried to make the points that she was disappointed in the way that the actual Inspector’s report had been cherry-picked by TDC. The Inspector’s report commented that “TDC’s plans do not always have clear, consistent and stretching targets in place”.
Councillor Fenner stood up at Full council in December 07 and said just that but, at the time, her comments were dismissed. According to a Tory Councillor “it is better not to have stretching targets so that you can be sure to achieve them”. (!!!)
Councillor Fenner intended to point out that the action plan produced as a response to then Inspector’s report needed to be more stringent.
Councillor Fenner also expressed concerns that complaints from TDC tenants did not always appear to be taken seriously nor acted upon. A recent example of this was the fact that a council tenant had to wait 2 weeks and the strong intervention from his Local Councillor to the Acting Chief executive to have his toilet mended which had been condemned by the contractors.
On the issue of affordable housing, Councillor Fenner pointed out the Inspector’s comments that not enough of it is being built because of TDC’s slowness in negotiating Section 106 agreements with the developers.
These are all important points that ought to be debated in a democratic fashion and members of the council ought to have the right to express freely their views.
The Leader of TDC should not try and stop voices of opposition.
My only comment is that should TDC's Tories want to maintain the momentum in Thanet achieved by The Conservative Party at the polls yesterday elsewhere, they really need to re-consider their choice of Leader. This sign in a Northdown Road window today, marks the exits for him if he needs directions.


Cllr. Mike Harrison said...

I was at that meeting last night and quite frankly the attitude of Ezekiel and Martin Wise in particular was appaling, Wise was going quite scarlet with rage and was screaming in an uncontrollable manner while Michelle Fenner was speaking, whilst I accept the Tories right to disagree with what we (Labour) are saying at least they should do us the common courtesy of allowing us to speak without being interrupted by a senior Tory shouting like an out of control football hooligan.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Ooops, clicked "enter" before I meant to. Last post SHOULD have read "Martin Wise can appear thuggish in his behaviour at times. He gets very "passionate"".

Bertie Biggles said...

I cannot but tend to agree with Cllr Harrison here, but 23.54/23.46 a 'whole' 8 minutes to ponder your premature entry? Let's not be rude here, on 'Strife'please.

I have not had the pleasure of witnessing Cllr Wise in full throttle but it sounds as if attendance of a TDC Cabinet meeting could be an interesting evening's entertainment. I should imagine that many fine Tory and Labour Cllrs who are trying to do their best for Thanet are beginning to despair with the Leader and his sycophants.

Perhaps all of us should be more selective with the company we keep when having a drink on a Sunday?

Anonymous said...

I am 23.46/23.54, Bertie. I am very sorry for the unintended rudenesss. I was composing my comment when my computer froze - as I thought. I was hitting various keys and finally got the thing working again when I found the half-finished comment had been posted. It took several minutes. I am perfectly content for you to remove the accidental comment to avoid tainting your otherwise polite - though may I say a tad "naughty" blog.

Bertie Biggles said...

Thankyou for that explaination,11.56 and no apology is needed except from me for improperly suggesting there was any hidden motive involved. Hope the problems with the 'machine' have been rectified.

Martin Wise (Cllr.) said...

Bertie. During a debate on the recently completed Housing Review, Cllr.Fenner claimed responsibility for a matter of adopted policy. My response was to shout "Rubbish" each time she repeated it. Cllr. Harrison exagerates, but I acknowledge my behaviour should have been more restrained.

The same member then briefly acknowledged progress on the Housing Review but then went on to insinuate, on the basis of a single incident, that the TDC Housing Department are not committed to their customers.

At this point Cllr.Ezekiel (Chairman) asked her to finish speaking. Cllr.Fenner refused and an unseemly interlude ensued where she refused to acknowledge the request of the Chairman to cease talking.

All who know and work with members of the Housing team know that they are decent and hard working and do a good job under difficult circumstances. To suggest otherwise in their presence is dishonest and unnecessary. As a Shadow Cabinet Member Cllr.Fenner has a right to raise issues of concern in a formal manner outside of the public arena, but she (and many Labour members) choose not to do so. They prefer instead to use the drip drip of innuendo and criticism of the Council (and hence the Conservatives) to ingratiate themselves to the public and the press. The Council in any area is after all, an easy target.

As the controlling group we try very hard to ensure that our officers are motivated. Continuous negative criticism of their Council in the press and on blogsites such as this can have a very debilitating effect on morale, but I am pleased to report that the indications are that TDC staff are more successful, enthusiastic and content than at any time in recent history.

It is a sad truth however, that whilst we are trying very hard to do the right thing for Thanet, and the people of Thanet, the opposition group spend much time trying to bring us down by any means, fair or foul. I have no complaints, because I can give as good as I get, but I will always defend the staff who are not able to defend themselves.

If you would like to meet to discuss this or any other issue, and to get the real story about how we are going about trying to create opportunity for all in Thanet, please call. My number is on the TDC website.

Bertie Biggles said...

Thank you very much for visiting Thanetstrife, Cllr Wise and putting your points clearly and calmly.

As 23.46 has indicated that the posting was a problem of technical gliches, I will now remove it.

I hope that you and the officers and staff at TDC do not feel that criticism in any way is personal or 'politically motivated' by me on this blog.

It's simply that most people in Thanet want the 'best' done for Thanet and when errors occur or mistakes happen, as they will do in any organisation, a simple apology or an admission that a bit of a 'cock-up'has happened, does go a long way. Views on the 'best-way' are not limited to one political faction alone and possibly a less autocratic leadership is now needed. There is a wealth of talented, committed and dedicated Councillors of both parties representing their wards at TDC but I just get the impression that their contribution is not listened to.

'We know what is best for you, whether you like it or not' is the path that Brown has taken with disastrous consequences for The Labour Party nationally in last weeks local elections; I do not want to see a Conservative TDC go down the same route.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, Cllr. Wise. You ought to speak to the good folk of Thanet who voted you and your party into power and find out what the public really thinks of you. It's not the council officers the public has any gripe against but their bosses, you and your fellow Tory councillors. Come down from your ivory tower and seek the opinion in the street then you'll know the truth.

chris wells said...

Well, anon, it is also true to say that just a year ago the voters delivered a very different result to that which you are implying. In the end that is what is counted, as Boris would undoubtedly concur!

Anonymous said...

Perhaps what anon is saying, Cllr Wells, is that the people of Thanet now have the evidence to cause them to regret their choice of your Party last year.

They think very ill of Labour nationally because of their incompetence, but perhaps they are making the same judgement of the Conservatives locally because of yours. Will the same happen to Doris?

chris wells said...

I am intrigued as to what has so hugely changed in the last 12 months to justify this percieved change of opinion?

Anonymous said...

Unwillingness to listen to what folk want despite so-called consultation that just gets ignored; apparent ease with which developers get planning perrmission despite good planning reasons to oppose; spending £55000 on fencing for allotments that don't even belong to the council without proper consultation or it would appear (correct me if I'm wrong) the work put out to tender; streets left unswept for weeks (walk along Westwood Road past St. George's up to the retail park); charging for green waste collection that had previously been free and still is in many areas; ruining Margate Library by adopting the 'let's save money by shoving in some clerical staff'; planning to sell off assets to blance the books; an obsession with cafĂ© culture and allowing too many licensed premises;refusing to accept the Turner Centre is a wicked waste of money while trying to close museums that cost very little to run by comparison and so on and so. Now, I may be wrong on some of the finer points here but this is what people are saying.

Corporate plans are all well and good but delivery is what counts.

chris wells said...

Shall we try and take these one by one without the cant?

There is a whole lot of rubbish talked about consultation. We are required bu many government frameworks to consult on plans and ideas. We must have real plans to consult upon, and then be expected to take into account all views. Often the proposal is driven by a need to raise extra cash because of govt decisions, so there is little room for change.

The ease with which developers get permission is generally decided by the planning regulations that come from central government, like the use of gardens as brownfield sites, or the density of housing on sites, or the target number of houses to be built. Where we make local changes, Cliftonville and flats for example they usually work well.

I think it was £58,000 actually, and the money had to be spent on allotments, being ring fenced following the Manston Road allotments sale.

If streets are unswept tell us, they should not be left. Bringing these sorts of services in house has worked and they are improving.

Government failure to fully fund grant revenue means hard decisions. They included continuing free waste collection for a chosen few free, or extending for all with a charge. We chose the latter solution, please defend the former if you can.

Margate library now has greater use than before, and attracts some who would never have used it before. These approaches work elsewhere, once the chosen few wedded to silent libraries of old accept the changes.

Assets are required to be used to help balance books at all levels of local government. Please blame the government approach for this not us who are effectively forced to cary through many of these things in order to fund change and investment.

Yes there are too many licences, they are too easy to get, and too hard to end. Some of the work I started as a TDC Cabinet Member, Hereson Road, Westbrook Off Licence, Harpers has had a mixed success, but we keep trying within what the law will allow. It is a stupid (labour)law; we wrestle with its stupidity daily on behalf of residents.

We will only know if Turner is a success when it is built. We all now know it will be built, and it will encourage regeneration development around and alongside it.

Museums are cheaper to run, but hardly bring in the numbers and spending we require. I am fighting hard to keep some of our museums going in the current climate of fiscal straitjacket.

If this is what people are saying then we need more open conversation like this, and fewer closed minds and spin doctors ramblings!

Anonymous said...

My point was, Cllr. Wells that you and your party are not getting your reasons and reasoning across to the general public. Your detailed explanations are all well and good but Mr.and Mrs.Floating Voter only know what they see and experience. This afternoon I was chatting on my allotment site (not Culmer's) with a 'concerned resident' who cannot understand why so much development is going ahead, destroying the habitat of so much wildlife, endangering our water supply, putting so much traffic on our roads etc. She isn't interested in 'spin' by any politician but just someone to listen to her concerns. telling her 'it'd the government's fault' won't wash as she said to me 'Why not stand up to these developers/Chinese companies etc.

Bertie Biggles said...

Chris, I couldn't agree more with your last comment! I am delighted to see a KCC member/TDC member/Broadstairs TC member putting points across and engaging with people in an open way; such dialogue is what we need in Thanet. The deafening silence from Cllr 'I will tell you what's good for you and Thanet' Ezekiel, is a stark contrast.