Rebecca Smith and her team are to be congratulated on a much improved paper and a number of snippets caught my eye in this week's Isle of Thanet Gazette.
The first was Richard Spillet's Election Sketch, that described criticism of the odd behaviour of Richard Samuel, TDC's Chief Executive and Returning Officer as 'mud-slinging'. I am surprised at the exclusion of the press to the 'count' whilst Mr Samuel quite clearly ignored his own instructions to Candidates and allowed an excessive number of members of The Ezekiel Party to attend the count . I am surprised that Richard seems un-aware of the protocol surrounding elections and does not appear to realise that what he describes as 'Mrs Hart's evening spoiled by a pack of laughing Tory hyenas' has a serious side to it. The Returning Officer is duty bound to uphold his instructions without favour and bias and in this case, did not do so. The report in IOTG of Mr Samuel's response, would indicate that a review of procedures would occur and that anyway, the Labour Party could go to Law to get the outcome of the election over-turned if they felt the process had been flawed. Did one read Mr Spillet saying that Mr Samuel has apologised for his action? No!
Mr Samuel knows perfectly well that there is little point in Labour making a formal complaint to overturn an election result that they have just won, and therin lies the implicit arrogance conveyed in such a statement that Richard Spillet reports. A simple apology might have been in order but an even-handed applying of his own rules would have been the correct behaviour expected of an experienced Returning Officer.
The other item that caught my attention was a report of a 'secret' session of Cabinet on 2 Dec 2009 to write-off debts to the tune of £59,235.79. My complaint is not that these should not be written off, but that TDC refuses to reveal details of these 'write-offs'. This is tax-payers money that has been 'lost' and thus is TDC's electorate not entitled to know more about this loss? Is it possible that some of the debtor's are known to us and TDC would be embarrassed to be seen writing their debt off? A few years ago, I can remember reading in IOTG that a disputed bill between a Mr Godden and TDC had been written off. The electorate had the facts then. Are we not entitled to know more now? Does this debt include security fencing at Dreamland perchance? I hope to reveal details as soon as they become known to me.