Sunday, 11 May 2008

WHOSE AMBITIONS?


Whose ambitions is 'Our Leader' talking about? His own?
My sources tell me that at TDC's full council Meeting last Thursday (8th May), Cllr Kirby in the 'chair' , didn't really have a sound grip on proceedings and it all got quite confusing.
The Labour members offered up 'their' leader Cllr Richard Nicholson as the Leader of TDC for the coming year on the perfectly understandable grounds that Cllr Ezekiel was not an acceptable leader to represent our council as a result of the findings of the Standards Board of England in respect of Cllr Ezekiel's disgraceful behaviour at The Winter Gardens last year.
What was interesting was that two Councillors were cut off by the 'chair' in mid-speech. What 'guillotine' was in place to allow this to happen? I am all for free speech and allowing people to have their say, no matter that we may disagree with what is being said.
I am sure 'Our Leader' was squirming in his seat with his close supporter Cllr Wise restraining himself, as I should imagine were most Tory members, whilst Cllr Watkins and Cllr Hart put their arguments forward as to why Cllr Ezekiel was not suitable to continue to represent our Council and people of Thanet as 'Leader'. To all accounts, they did not get far in their speeches before silenced by the 'chair'.
I am delighted to bring you their speeches up to the point when they were 'silenced':
Fisrtly, Cllr Watkins:
"
Chairman

I will be voting against the motion to elect Cllr. Ezekiel as TDC leader for the coming year, because I fail to understand how any member here can give their support to a Council leader who has been found to bring his office and authority into disrepute, bringing shame to the Thanet district. Paragraph 1.3 of the Standards Board for England investigation report
number 18388.07 states that Cllr. Ezekiel failed to comply with paragraphs 2 (B) and 4 of the Code of Conduct.

No amount of sophistry, mud slinging, smoke screen, or rhetoric will alter the facts, Cllr. Ezekiel has brought the office of TDC Leader into disrepute with behaviour that for a man in his position as a senior elected representative is unforgivable. Giving regard to the problems with anti social behaviour nationally, to which significant extra police resources have to be allocated. This was an appalling example to set the youth of Thanet.

As councillors we are required to report all breaches of the code that we witness. Last year I reported this flagrant breach only to find that this resulted in a Tit for Tat report clearly designed to smear other people who were present at the time, coupled with accusations to Kent Police for good measure..........
(Cllr Watkins was then cut off in mid-stream)
Secondly, Cllr Hart:
"
Chairman

I will try not to speak about the incident at the Mayor's Retiring Ball . I think that by now everyone in this chamber knows just how disgusted I feel about Cllr. Ezekiel's appalling behaviour in relation to that!

I wish to explain further reasons why Cllr. Ezekiel should not be elected for another year as leader of Thanet District Council.

Unfortunately, long before the Winter Gardens incident Cllr. Ezekiel had already displayed clear signs of volatile and aggressive behaviour.

In July 2004, when we were experiencing serious anti-social behaviour problems in Cliftonville West (that initially he said we ward councillors were exaggerating; wrong again) I witnessed Cllr. Ezekiel behaving in an extremely volatile manner.

With complete disregard for the wishes of the residents present, Cllr. Ezekiel slammed the door of his office in my face and refused me entry to a meeting where the residents concerned had asked me to attend with them and on their behalf.

Indeed, on 30th July in a newspaper article entitled "Anger at Rude Leader's private vandalism talks " a resident of troubled Surrey Road said that Cllr. Ezekiel behaved like the thugs he was trying to get rid of...................
(Cllr Hart was then cut off in mid-speech).
I must say that Cllrs Watkins and Hart seem to have been making quite fair and valid points here before 'free-speech' was stifled. Comrade Putin would have heartily approved of Cllr Kirby's actions to shut them up.
What was notable, so my sources assure me, was that very few Conservative Councillors leapt to their feet to defend their 'Leader'. I wonder why not?

17 comments:

Ken Gregory said...

Bertie,

The whole meeting , with a few notable exceptions , seemed to revolve about cllr hart and watkins, trying to re incarnnate the standards board verdict. In reality, the only losers were the people of thanet.

Lets get on and do things for our residents,not dwell on the past for the benefit of small minded political gain

Bertie Biggles said...

I have to disagree about your comment here, Ken. The Standards Board issue was about a pretty disgraceful incident and perhaps resignation as 'Leader' would have been appropriate?
I do not like to see Conservatives locally, led by a man, who seems to behave like a well known former Labour Deputy prime minister.If Cllrs Hart and Watkins were being political, the last thing they would be doing is attacking the poor public behaviour of Cllr Ezekiel. He is probably the best 'reruiting sargeant; Labour has locally.

The feed-back I get at local level, is that 'Our Leader' at local level is as unpopular as Brown at national level. He is a liability, as leader, to a large number of talented and committed local Tory Cllrs, whom I hold in great regard and the longer he remains as 'Leader' of TDC, the better will be the chances of Labour gains locally in the future, whilst at the national level, Labour gets its just deserts. I wonder when TDCs Conservatives will realise this?

Anonymous said...

Bertie. You make an awful lot of judgements about people, policy and events on the basis of heresay, one sided view, and as far as I can tell - no personal knowledge.

One of the basic facts of life is that there are always 2 sides to every story. Not even the Standards Board know what the Conservative witness story of the Winter Gardens is because they didn't ask for their statements. The Labour group are not whiter than white, but we do not choose to play out the issues in public because it doesn't do any good for Thanet. We turn the other cheek one way and then the other, even though it is sometimes painful to do so.

To add balance to the Council AGM story, Cllr.Sullivan was also prevented from speaking by the Chairman; Cllrs.Hart and Watkins were as rude to the office of Chairman as I have ever seen anywhere in any forum (surely you do not condone that); and on the point of Cllr.Nicholson as a potential Leader, I don't remember him ever being known as a warm and friendly ambassador for Thanet.

I have offered you the chance to meet to discuss anything you like on a one to one open and honest basis, but you have not made contact. What do you have to be frightened of? What do you have to hide, other than your identity?

Martin Wise (Cllr.) said...

Last comment by Martin Wise (Cllr.)

Tony Beachcomber said...

Bertie that is a very valid point about Cllr Ezekiels unpopularity, but in a way I think it is his own doing. I have never known a councillor to have such a high profile expressing a poitical opinion, for example his gazette column has made him the political mouthpiece of TDC. Using such a tactic to raise his profile will attract critisms from all quarters and the slightest "wrong" is straight in the spotlight because he has put himself there.
Whereas we have high profile Cllrs like Mick T and Iris Johnston who have earnt their reputations by what they have done for their communities so they become respected. I afraid CLlr Ezekiels bullish political animal style is doing him or TDC no favours at all.

Cllr Worrow said...

I refer to the AGM of Thanet District Council held on Thursday 8th May 2008, where I attended as an independent observer from the public gallery.

I was disgusted by the behaviour of Cllr's Clive Hart & John Watkins.
The verbal abuse that they directed towards the Leader was appalling.

The lack of respect shown to the Chairman by many members of the Labour Party was outrageous. I always understood that the OFFICE was respected; the incumbent is almost an irrelevance. If anything has brought TDC into disrepute it was the performance we were subjected to that night.

As an Independent Parish Councillor, I was horrified. If I ever decided to join a mainstream political party, I now know which one it would not be.

This entire experience has made me very angry at the kind of message being sent out tarring Thanet councillors with this childish, spiteful and petty behaviour or lack of.

All elected representatives should be concerned with the issues that affect the lives of the electorate and be trying to improve them.

I believe one should attack the policies not the person.
This performance merely illustrates that the Labour Party is now so far on the back foot, because it has no policies and therefore resorts to character assassination.

Cllr John Worrow ( Independent BPC Member) Birchington
www.MinnisBay.com

James Maskell said...

I was only able to be there for the first 20 minutes and had to leave while Cllr David Green was proposing Cllr Nicholson. Probably for the best really because sitting there while they bitch about an incident which occured a year ago and which Cllr David Green admits was just handbags makes me wonder what the hell a Council is for. A Council is for the serious business of improving the lot of those living in Thanet, not for squabling.

Labour have made this completely personal. Ive said it before and Ill say it again. This silly behaviour must stop. 130,000 people live in Thanet and there are far bigger issues than this.

Cllr David Green said...

Please find below, what I tried to say at Thanet Council in proposing Cllr Richard Nicholson as Leader of the Council. In trying to do this, I was constantly interrupted and prevented from speaking by the Chair of Council, Cllr Kirby. This partisan behaviour by the supposedly neutral Chair of Council is unprecedented when a member is proposing a candidate for a Council Office.

“It won’t surprise anyone in this chamber tonight that most members on this side have a very low opinion of the recent behaviour of the outgoing leader of the Council.

When we learnt that the Conservative Group was actually going to propose that he would continue in office, our reaction was one of anger, tempered only by the thought that the group opposite diminishes themselves in the eyes of the public by appearing to condone such behaviour.

Current voting strengths in the Council mean that we have only limited means to react.

We have chosen to propose an alternative Leader. One who’s public behaviour is in sharp contrast to the alternative on offer.

It is my pleasure to propose Cllr Richard Nicholson for Leader of the Council.

In encouraging you to support my nomination, I would suggest that in Richard we would have:

• A Leader who would be able to represent the Council at Civic functions without assaulting the representative of one of our major Towns.

• A Leader who would not react to legitimate criticism by lashing out with wild unsubstantiated accusations in an attempt to damage those critical of him.

• A Leader with more than a thread of credibility amongst those with an interest in improving Thanet.

• A Leader who would command respect by being prepared to listen to councillors on all sides with something legitimate to contribute on behalf of Thanet’s electorate.

There must be some of you in the Conservative Group prepared to put support of standards in public life above tribal loyalty. I ask you to support my nomination.”

Anonymous said...

There are Seven Principles of Public Life none apparent at all levels in office at TDC?. These are.

Selflessness
Holders of public office should take decisions solely in terms of the public interest. They should not do so in order to gain financial or other material benefits for themselves, their family, or their friends.
Integrity
Holders of public office should not place themselves under any financial or other obligation to outside individuals or organisations that might influence them in the performance of their official duties.
Objectivity
In carrying out public business, including making public appointments, awarding contracts, or recommending individuals for rewards and benefits, holders of public office should make choices on merit.
Accountability
Holders of public office are accountable for their decisions and actions to the public and must submit themselves to whatever scrutiny is appropriate to their office.
Openness
Holders of public office should be as open as possible about all the decisions and actions that they take. They should give reasons for their decisions and restrict information only when the wider public interest clearly demands.
Honesty
Holders of public office have a duty to declare any private interests relating to their public duties and to take steps to resolve any conflicts arising in a way that protects the public interest.
Leadership
Holders of public office should promote and support these principles by leadership and example.

Get the above right and we may have something - at the moment we have nothing but a discredited Local Authority.

Rick said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Rick said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Cllrs. Watkins & Hart said...

WHAT THE THANET DISTRICT COUNCIL CHAIRMAN DIDN’T WANT PEOPLE TO HEAR.

Please find below the full versions of the two speeches, which were cut short by the Conservative Chairman at last weeks AGM of Thanet District Council during a debate on the nominees for Leader of the Council for the coming year.

As democratically elected members we are making formal complaints about the stifling of debate.

FROM Cllr. JOHN WATKINS

Chairman

I will be voting against the motion to elect Cllr. Ezekiel as TDC leader for the coming year, because I fail to understand how any member here can give their support to a Council leader who has been found to bring his office and authority into disrepute, bringing shame to the Thanet district. Paragraph 1.3 of the Standards Board for England investigation report
number 18388.07 states that Cllr. Ezekiel failed to comply with paragraphs 2 (B) and 4 of the Code of Conduct.

No amount of sophistry, mud slinging, smoke screen, or rhetoric will alter the facts, Cllr. Ezekiel has brought the office of TDC Leader into disrepute with behaviour that for a man in his position as a senior elected representative is unforgivable. Giving regard to the problems with anti social behaviour nationally, to which significant extra police resources have to be allocated. This was an appalling example to set the youth of Thanet.

As councillors we are required to report all breaches of the code that we witness. Last year I reported this flagrant breach only to find that this resulted in a Tit for Tat report clearly designed to smear other people who were present at the time, coupled with accusations to Kent Police for good measure. The end result was that it was treated as a spat between politicians with no sanctions at all imposed on the member in clear breach of the code.

My strong feeling now is that it will be a complete waste of everyone’s time and resources if the end result is that no action needs to be taken following a finding of breaches of paragraphs 2 and 4 of the code.

During the coming months, training sessions will be held, to give all TDC members an understanding of the requirements of the code of conduct and the implications of the Standards regime to political life in Thanet. My experience of how this operates within our council can then be fully detailed and debated with the Thanet Parish councillors, Parish clerks and the Independent members of the Standards Committee.

I will be voting against the motion to elect Cllr. Ezekiel as Leader of the TDC for the coming year, because I think that the Thanet District Council should find a better leader.

AND FROM Cllr. CLIVE HART

Chairman

I will try not to speak about the incident at the Mayor’s Retiring Ball – I think that by now everyone in this chamber knows just how disgusted I feel about Cllr. Ezekiel’s appalling behaviour in relation to that!

I wish to explain further reasons why Cllr. Ezekiel should not be elected for another year as leader of Thanet District Council.

Unfortunately, long before the Winter Gardens incident Cllr. Ezekiel had already displayed clear signs of volatile and aggressive behaviour.

In July 2004, when we were experiencing serious anti-social behaviour problems in Cliftonville West (that initially he said we ward councillors were exaggerating – wrong again) I witnessed Cllr. Ezekiel behaving in an extremely volatile manner.

With complete disregard for the wishes of the residents present, Cllr. Ezekiel slammed the door of his office in my face and refused me entry to a meeting where the residents concerned had asked me to attend with them and on their behalf.

Indeed, on 30th July in a newspaper article entitled ‘Anger at ‘rude’ leader’s private vandalism talks’ a resident of troubled Surrey Road said that Cllr. Ezekiel behaved like the thugs he was trying to get rid of. They went on to say ‘Sandy Ezekiel was so rude and aggressive. It was awful’.

That report, way back in 2004, went on to explain that the resident thought Cllr. Ezekiel’s behaviour was particularly inappropriate for someone of his senior status. That’s the important thing Chairman – Cllr. Ezekiel’s poor behaviour in relation to his senior status.

Now let’s move on and past the awful scene Cllr. Ezekiel made at the Mayor’s Retiring Ball. Let’s wind things forward.

On the day after the ball, did Cllr. Ezekiel phone my wife and I to apologise for his aggressive outburst and appalling language? No he did not.

In a futile attempt to cover his own appalling behaviour he deviously set about creating a series of spurious and malicious allegations against me, which the Police, the Crown Prosecution Service and the Standards Board subsequently threw out!

Cllr. Ezekiel wasted hours and hours and hours of senior public servants time across three expensive organisations in a pathetic and failed attempt to cover his own shortcomings.

Never mind his outrageous behaviour during the civic event at the Winter Gardens. I have explained that Cllr. Ezekiel appears to be a volatile individual with huge disregard for the basic courtesies of ordinary life and who also appears to feel no guilt whatsoever for any cost he causes the public purse as long as he covers his own back.

Just for good measure, in a recent unbridled rant in a local newspaper Cllr. Ezekiel also made clear his flippant and dismissive attitude towards human rights, health and safety and public consultation.

Cllr. Ezekiel is certainly not the kind of person who should be allowed to lead our district!

Bertie Biggles said...

i am pleased to see this post attract some comment.

Firstly, thank you Cllr Worrow for contributing your take on proceedings. It is refreshing to have an Independent 'take' and please accept my commiserations about the demise of the IAP.

Secondly, Cllr Wise, could I offer you my apologies for my intemperate comment concerning you and if you read the post again you will see that I have amended it.

Rick, would you please not keep bringing up the same issue concerning past activities by TDC; I am not in a position to help your cause in these matters, even though they were serious.

11.59, thanks for that comment, I heartily agree with the high standards you are extolling as what all concerned should be striving for.

I am delighted to provide a forum for Cllr Green and then Cllr Hart and Cllr Watkins to put the points they would have made if the debate had not been stifled.

I have gone back to look at my previous reading and comments about The Standards Board Report and I have to say that I am saddened that our Conservative Group did not feel that Cllr Ezekiel was no longer an acceptable leader to represent them and thus by default, find himself still being confirmed as TDC's Leader.

For those who have read Cllr Kirby's comments In The Thanet Times today, concerning stifling debate on the 'grounds' that " I would not allow the meeting to degenerate into another meeting of The Standards Committee" let me make this one simple point. At a full council meeting with the election of TDC's Leader of The Council an important item of the agenda, how on earth can you possibly justify stifling debate on the suitability of a 'candidate' whose disreputable behaviour was not only commented on by that Standards Board but has made the office of Leader of TDC the butt of much ribald comment in Thanet as '2 jags, 2 shags Prescott' did of his office. To our shame and the Conservative Groups shame, 'f***ing w***er' or f***ing t***er' Ezekiel,as he is now known, continues to represent Thanet.

chris wells said...

I have no doubt Clive Hart sees what he does exactly as he describes, which is that the interests of the people of his ward are entirely in line with the wishes he has for himself and his own career.

His standing down from a shadow cabinet job at county is an interesting decision, a wonderful variant on the traditional spend more time with my family, he wants to spend more time with his voters. I suspect he jumped before he was pushed, as a shadow member he has made virtually no impact, asked few questions of any worth and made no notable speeches offering any real alternatives: in short has proved less than able to carry out a strategic role.

Its interesting that Steve Ladyman, no longer good enough to be a minister in a labour government, is apparantly good enough for the people of Thanet; and now Clive, unable to cope with a shadow cabinet role at county, is still good enough in labour eyes for Margate and Cliftonville. What an interesting electoral rallying cry - labour's best, second best; good enough for you....should prove to be an interesting electoral season to come!

Truth to tell, local labour is looking just like national labour - old, tired, and in need of decent ideas and capable people.

Bertie Biggles said...

Chris, for a minute there I thought you were talking about our Ezekiel and the 'old'Mafia ; "old, tired, and in need of decent ideas and capable people" until I re-read it! Tut tut, I had hoped for a change in the Tory Group; you and other younger 'blades' still have the time to oust the 'old-guard'!

chris wells said...

Thank you so much for referring to me as younger - you're a friend for life!

Cllr. Mike Harrison said...

I must correct a statement by Martin Wise, he asserts that Brian Sullivan was prevented from speaking by Kirby, well yes he was interupted by Kirby after he had spoken for a couple of minutes and said what he had to say, then and only then was he asked to stop speaking, not told to " shut up " the comment that had been directed by Kirby at twp or three Labour Members.
Incidently I immediatly rose to my feet to congratulate Brian Sullivan on his maiden speech after several years as a Councillor, it seems that he doesnt want to speak on the issues that affect Thanet but is prepared to leap up and defend his Leader...........