Saturday, 7 March 2009


This is likely to be a long post, so make sure you are sitting comfortably.
It would seem that finding interesting letters in Tesco bags on Acol Hill continues. I have shown below, two letters that seem to have been sent by 'Our Leader' and His Deputy to all Councillors in TDC on 26 January 2009.
Rumour has it that copies were also sent to our local press, but were not published. Before you read them (I would suggest that you 'click' on each to read them clearly), let me remind you that an incident ocurred in The Edinburgh Woollen Shop in Margate in June 2008 that resulted in Cllr Iris Johnston making a complaint to Standards at TDC.
The shop had been running a petition to ask TDC not to deploy wardens and PCSOs to the beaches in the summer but retain their presence in the town. As Ward Councillor, Iris Johnston, at the invitation of the manager and with press in attendance, went along to be handed the petition. Whilst this 'hand-over' was taking place, the incident, to still be finally resolved by Standards, took place, because without invitation but presumably as a result of a 'tip-off', The Leader of The Council with his Deputy in attendance, burst into the shop.
Why, you might ask, did they think that what was happening, had anything to do with them and what were their motives for interrupting a petition 'hand-over' to a Ward Councillor in her own Ward?
What was of interest was that two Thanet 'Press' reporters were present and presumably have given an unbiased and accurate report to Standards on what took place. (If you have resisted the temptation so far, to read these letters, now would be a good time to do so; remember to click on them!)

My first thought on reading these two letters, was their timing. It would seem that Standards had moved through Stages 1, 2 and 3 which was completed in November 2008. (See an earlier post about the 4 Stages). Why issue these letters prior to Stage 4? What was the motive behind them? Is it just me, or is it coincidental that the idea of bringing in a Cabinet of 7 and a host of 'paid' (but not paid) 'Lead Members' for portfolios from The Tory Cllr 'Back Benches' now gives 'Our Leader' a large majority among the Tory Councillors, who are now 'beholden' to support him?
I digress.
For those who know Cllr Ezekiel's literary efforts, his letter smacks of a draft from a 'legal advisor'; is not an unreserved apology to Cllr Johnston and has been sent publicly to 7 members of The Standards Committee (the TDC Cllr members) and has it also found its way to the 4 non Cllr members (including The Chair of Standards) and the 3 Parish Cllr members?
They have been typed?, photocopied and distributed by TDC staff and on official TDC Paper when I would have thought private letters (in the capacity of Cllrs only) would have been more appropriate.
Other than what might be considered the grovelling obeisance to The Standards Committee in Paragraphs 2 and 3 of Cllr Ezeliel's letter, what concerns me most is the sentence in Paragraph 5 that is 'echoed' in Paragraph 3 of Cllr Latchford's letter:
"However, I do not believe it is in the public interest, or the maintenance of effective working relationships between the Council's political groups to prolong consideration of this issue." (Cllr Ezekiel).
" I share the Leader's view that further consideration of this matter is not in the Council's interest and that WE (my capitals) have a responsibility to conclude this matter as rapidly and amicably as possible." (Cllr Latchford)
Who is Cllr Latchford including in the 'WE'? Surely it is up to The Standards Committee to deal with this matter impartially and without prejudice, based on the evidence it has considered, and then to come to an appropriate decision? This issue is about whether conduct by Cllrs Ezekiel and Latchford was inappropriate and is not a 'Council interest.'
I am horrified that they both link this issue about their personal conduct on that day, with Thanet District Council's 'Interest'! Maybe its time for them to realise that Thanet District Council is an elected body of Councillors and actually, as such, is bigger and more important than their temporary positions as present Leader and Deputy, or the present difficulties they may have in regard to their own conduct.!
Before, I leave you to consider this matter in your own time, you may wish to consider the 'Guidance' in such matters to Councils from The Standard's Board of England. It is my understanding that 'Guidance' advises that if Stage 1 (Assessment - Is There a case to answer?)finds that there is, where a Leader or Deputy or prominent members of a Council are involved, the matter could be referred to The Standard's Board of England and for obvious reasons.
The key issue is whether the public see TDC Standards handling this matter with transparency and fairness without any undue influence being exerted in any way by any party to the matter. My understanding is that Stage 4 (Hearing. Where the Investigation has found a failure to comply) will take place at 5.00pm on Monday 16th March and will be held in PUBLIC. I will attempt to find out on Monday, if this is the case and where it will be held and what steps will be taken to ensure WE THE PUBLIC, can attend should we so wish.
Whatever the outcome, on Monday 16th March, I wonder when our majority of Tory Councillors will eventually consider if they are really happy with The Leadership of TDC? Only they have the power to remove 'Mauwice' & 'Wodger' prior to elections in 2011.


tony flaig bignews said...

I was told it would be at the Winter Gardens

so we could all have a laugh

as you say it looks like they've had help, and using tdc letter heads looks a tad naughty still i'm sure that they get the right sort of advice from richard samuels on how to conduct matters

Steve said...

Tony you have mellowed.

Bertie, these guys can't be trusted to govern themselves on such matters. They have to he voted out sooner rather than later. Who in council can instigate a vote of no confidence in the leadership? Or do we need to petition in a mayor?

Bertie Biggles said...

It would have to be the Conservative members themselves, Steve and no-one has the inclination at the moment to take on the job!
Labour are in the odd position that whilst they would love to move, a 'no-confidence' vote, firstly the Conservative silent back-bench lobby fodder would see it as a 'political' attack and thus rally round because a Tory Leader is under attack and therefore such a move would be destined to failure. Secondly, in a perverse way, Labour has the best recruiting sergeant for a Labour TDC in due course by just sitting back and letting the Ezekiel & Latchford comedy farce continue. Sadly, the majority of Conservative Councillors do not recognise that Ezekiel has passed his 'sell by date' with many Conservative voters and that this will cost the Conservatives in Thanet dearly in due course. We will end up with a National Conservative Govt with Thanet as a Labour Council in the years ahead.

I am all for a mayoral campaign to break the 'Party first' nonsense that blights Thanet. It will sharpen up thinking fast and hopefully remove 'national' partisan attitudes from our Local Government. Both Labour and Conservative will vociferously oppose such a campaign as it threatens both.

Anonymous said...

Yes, but whoever has leaked this to you and i presume it must be a labour member (even johnson herself?) is clearly trying to wind this up for all it is worth. And let us not forget that the whole event was a set up to manipulate the truth about what was happening to wardens. How honest is that?

Anonymous said...

As a traditional conservative voter I feel I have no confidence whatsoever in the party locally while it is led by these two clowns - so by not acting to remove them the conservative group will lose my vote and I know of many more like me.

Bertie Biggles said...

09.45, how can this be 'leaked' if copies were sent to the press? Cllr Johnston has maintained a dignified silence about this issue and would certainly not have been the source.
Your immediate assumption that this is some sort of Labour 'skull-duggery' and that the original pettition was a 'set-up' to manipulate the truth, highlights the paranoia that is at the heart of the present Conservative administration at TDC.

For goodness sake, if the political roles in this sad affair had been reversed, I would be equally critical of a Labour Leader and Deputy. This is not about petty party politics but the reputation of Thanet District Council and Thanet as a whole.

Anonymous said...

So why didnt you pick up on the story aboutthe mayor? Wasn't that equally disgracful?

David said...

These people are supposed to be our leaders - to set an example to the people of Thanet - and what do they do - they bully and harrass and put their own interests first. What a lesson to give to our young people.

Bertie Biggles said...

11.45, look at my posting of 26 Apr 2008 "Why The Tories need to find a new Leader" and other related postings around that time.

The fact that ''A'did wrong two years ago' does not excuse ''B'from doing wrong' and not just on one occasion it would appear? What a retired Mayor said in Jan 2007 is irrelevant to the present Standards enquiry, would you not agree?

Anonymous said...

You have the wrong mayor story bertie. If you are so concerned about integrity you should dig untill you uncover the truth about the other one. I suspect you won't because it won't fulfil your need to bash th tories.

But if you want to know what really goes on it is out there. Start by asking why has the ex-mayor being asked to saty away from the office?

Hasn't your source give you that letter in the tescoe bag?

Anonymous said...

Stage 4 Hearing will take place at 5.00pm on Monday 16th March and will be held in The Council Chamber.

Anonymous said...

The main point that stems from all this is that the local Conservative Councillors have no backbone and have been totally ambushed by gangsters. Most traditional tories are horrified that we have no better local representative than the characters who run the cabinet of TDC. Where are the upright Conservatives who should be distancing themselves from their leaders and showing that they can do a better job? Time for the likes of Gideon, Wells, Rock doc, Moores, Jarvis, Hayton you are all made of better stuff but so far havent shown any metal yet!One thing for certain it shouldnt have taken Iris Johnston to have the b**** to stand up to the leader and his deputy - it should have been you all and you have let your Conservative voters down and will pay dearly in the next election!
Also down to Roger Gale for not sorting out his local Councillors.
The problem is that with the calibre of some of the local Tory councillors on TDC it puts other potential candidates off especially if they arent "the chosen few"

Anonymous said...

We can't allow the elected Mayor nonsense; councillors should always have the right to choose their own leader.

Anyway, it would be almost impossible to conduct a petition of that size in Thanet. Sandy is a good Leader, all said and done!

Bertie Biggles said...

Apologies, Rockyracoon, but you probably know why I have declined to publish your comment! Please stick to the topic but if you are still working on the other issues, good luck.

12.32, you might wish to elaborate further? As a North Thanet Conservative Party Member, I am not a Tory basher! As much as I want to see David Cameron in Downing Street, I would welcome the departure of The Leader and his Deputy from their office. The question of low 'Standards' since April 2007 is just that, irrespective of Party.

Anonymous said...

This stinks of protectionism by the TDC hierarchy.

Questions will be asked of the standards board of England over this matter as follows:-

1. Has the local standards board followed procedures?

2. Did TDC give legal advice/write the two letters for them?

3. Why did they write these letters on TDC letter headed paper.

4. The statement "However, I do not believe it is in the public interest, or the maintenance of effective working relationships between the Council's political groups to prolong consideration of this issue.". Surely it is in the public interest to sort this out.

How can the Local Standards board now deal with this matter impartially?

Anonymous said...

One of the biggest complaints here should be that their letters are on TDC headed paper. That gives them an official slant that such letters of supposed apology should not have.

I once received a privately conceived threatening letter from someone at KCC written on KCC paper to give creedance.

At a subsequent investigation, this was one of the very strong recommendations that such writing to give an impression of being official, should stop, as it did not represent the thoughts or actions of KCC, but of the individual!

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

Bertie you may want to put a note on your blog that the venue is the Council chambers not the Winter gardens - hope they are going to relay it like the China gateway! We are all coming for the sport!

Bertie Biggles said...

I am sorry 08.59 but I had to take your full comment down on re-reading it! I have edited one or two things out I am afraid, but heartily agree with the sentiments!

Here is 08.59's edited comment:

Anonymous said...
None of us are Tory bashers we are Tories who won't vote for them locally until we get some better candidates. How can 19.32 say "Sandy is a good leader" unless he is a fellow " ***** ***."
Alientating all his core voters by his "poor standards of behaviour" - swearing in public and other "ungentlemanly behaviour" towards lady Councillors is not the tradition of Conservatism. Not to mention his treatment of any dissent within his own side. *****

09 March 2009 08:59

Anonymous said...

Sorry you had to edit it but it has all been said before and you more or less said the same Bertie - i fear you are being "put upon" too!
Where is freedom of speech?

Michael Child said...

Bertie is the investigators report mentioned in the letter in the public domain? One would have expected it on the council’s new Reports and Minutes web pages at bi it doesn’t seem to be there.

Bertie Biggles said...

Michael, I don't know. I would assume, that until the process has ground its way to conclusion (Stage 4) next Monday, that the detailed reports would be kept confidential. You could enquire with Standards at TDC?

Matt B said...

Good grief, they couldn't follow a pattern if their lvies depended on it. (Me and Him, indeed that looks forced given the tone of the rest of the missive).

Quite aside from the fact that large passages from this missive are irrelevant to the primary purpose of the letter this missive has been crafted to carry a secondary purpose.

At a guess I would suggest that the author is trying to connect moral rightness with speedy resolution ("look, they said sorry let's drop it") by cross connecting an unrelated issues (the Council and it's members) and the needs thereof.

If I were chair of the stage 4 gathering I would guide members to dismiss the letter completely.

It does not take a genius to spot the pattern applied here (it can be used to sell things as well as apologise without saying sorry).

This is the pattern for appologising when your company has cocked up and you are offering a few hundred quid to shut them up.

It's not all that well executed - I've seen some where the writer makes a good job of making the victim feel grateful for the attention.

Other than the deliberate grammatical at the start it sounds like solicitor talk to me.