Saturday, 27 February 2010


Was it really nice to be told that the Ezekiel Party intend to keep their bit of Council Tax rises to 2.46% and 2.5% for the next 4 years? It does seem a blatant pre 2011 election type of promise. If it only works out at 10p per week, I for one am happier to see the Biggles' household pay an extra 20p per week if it improves our street cleaning, rubbish collection services and enables loos and museums to be kept open. The decline of our traditional town centres and high streets doesn't need to be revealed by The Sun; TDC's own Parking income has collapsed and that tells a sorry tale. Time to charge Westwood Cross £300 per car space for them to recoup by charging for parking that is currently free? Other Councils have introduced schemes.

At Thursday's Budget Meeting, rather than nodding through a Vice Chair of Plannings Gaff (as they did in 2008) after a long evening, it seems that Cllr Green revealed that The Ezekielites are running down the TDC reserves to dangerously low levels and Cllr Alan Poole urged 'Mauwice' and 'Woger' to resign. Whilst number crunching does my head in, a cry for the disgraced duo to go has my heartfelt support and if rumours are true,we might see the back end of them soon anyway, without Cllr Poole's cry from the heart.

Meanwhile in Broadstairs Town Council, the Ezekielites have had another 'Panama Broadhurst ' type absentee! We hear reports that Beacon Road Ward representative, Cllr. Lewis Dennis, Conservative, has been removed from office for failing to attend the requisite number of meetings since his election in 2007. He's even been removed from the council's website following a recent meeting.
The Ezekielites, who hold all the council seats bar one, have decided to try to fill the vacancy left by Mr. Dennis' removal but seemed to have tried to keep this very quiet as a small, insignificant notice was posted up by Pierremont Park advertising their wish to co-opt a new member to the Council. This looks like another Ezekiel Party attempt to prevent the electorate from having a choice as to who represents them for the remaining year before elections in 2011.
The Strife team understands two Conservatives have thrown their hats into the ring so will they draw straws to decide who gets the seat? Will any other candidates come forward at this late stage as the closing date is Monday? Is this true democracy at work? Will there be a by-election so close to a general election? Could another party snatch the seat? The Strife Team will try to keep you updated as and when we get any information.
On the subject of information, squeezing accurate info from TDC, KCC, SEEDA, GOSE etc is like trying to extract blood from a stone.  Here is a typical response that Strife Team member had recently to an FoI request:

Q: How much was written off by SEEDA for The Marks &Spencer Building in Margate and how much was given to TDC/KCC for its purchase?

A: . SEEDA provided grant funding of £4.72m to TDC for the acquisition costs, taxes
and fees relating to the Marks & Spencer building in Margate. As SEEDA does
not own the building, we will not be writing down any amount.
So no-one is responsible for this waste of tax-payer's money. The fact that the building's value has halved and has been empty for a few months is not a problem for SEEDA; it gave a grant. TDC got a grant and the fact that the value of the property has halved doesn't concern it either. What a crazy world we live in when SEEDA can give a grant of almost £5,000,000 tax-payer's cash to an 'arty-farty' disaster called temporary TC at Marks; whilst TC  pay a Director (Victoria Pomeroy) for almost 9 years for a TC that has yet to be completed. Whilst TDC anguishes over the cost of providing essential services to the community in Thanet, millions of pounds of tax-payer's money is squandered on an irrelevant, wasteful, elitist and minority interest called 'modern art'. The best that we can come up with as 'art' at the moment is wrestling on the sand; walking round in squares on a beach pool and having some tatty bit of neon illumination on a listed building called Droit House 'created' by Tracy Emin. 

Are we mad?

Friday, 26 February 2010


The following was posted this afternoon as a comment to 'Nerve Centre of Euroferries'(posted in Feb 2009). An interesting place to post and I copy it here:

News from the Captain said...
Thanet Strife Thank you for the publicity for the leading fast ferry operator on the Channel. Us folks here in Boulogne are all ready for the big off. Monday morning (yes, 1 March 2010... remember, the big day). The timetable is published and Euroferries is ready to confound all you doubters and wow the world. Commercial considerations mean that we have had to keep the name of our craft confidential, but get yourselves down to Ramsgate first thing Monday to greet our maiden voyage. The ship leaves Boulogne at 7.30 am Monday. And into Ramsgate at 7.45 am-ish. Free croissants for all who turn up for the party.
What are we to make of this? I have shown a picture of Sea Leopard just in case you might want to look out for her on Monday, or even the Norman Arrow (LD Lines) which is presently berthed in Boulogne.

Expect high tides and an interesting storm blowing up the Channel on Sat/Sun. How will the hoardings at Pleasurama look on Monday? Off to talk to maritime Strife Team members.

Thursday, 25 February 2010


I post for your delectation, Roger Gale's thoughts on business opportunities that now abound in Margate. He adroitly makes no reference to Conservative TDC's disastrous Planning decision to allow 49% of our prime visitor attraction, The Dreamland site, to be allocated for housing and thus allow Dreamland to become a derelict site for 5 years that an Independent Planning Inspector forecast would happen and ignore his recommendation that the Dreamland Site and its careful devlopment as a visitor attraction was the 'key' to Margate's regeneration. So 700,000 visitors to a declining Dreamland (5 years ago) now becomes 130,000 for TC with a tax-payer subsidy from KCC of £1,000,000 per annum and a grant from a Labour Government of £3,500,000 to repair The Scenic Railway and fund a 'Heritage Amusement Park' on half the site! In the mean time 'Clampers' rip off visitors and drive them away from the town.

Well Mr Gale, with a Charity Shop setting up to compete as a Coffee Shop with the others at the bottom of The High Street ('volunteer' staff and no business rates to pay) and the 'Game Shop' due to close shortly, there are clearly plenty of 'business opportunities' available in Margate.

Gale's View - 24 February,  2010.

If I had the money I would, today, go out and buy a shop in the lower part of Margate High Street. Preferably one of the double-sided ones with access onto the seafront.

Following the publication of statistics revealing that Margate had one of the most `derelict` High Streets in the country I recently took a call from a journalist working for a national newspaper. "Is it", she asked "because of the recession that so many shops have closed".  The thrust was clear: please tell me that this is the result of the Government's economic policies because I want to write some knocking copy!

I hold Gordon Brown responsible for many of our economic ills and it is certainly true that his disastrous management of the nation's economy has not helped the retail trade over the past couple of years but the roots of High Street decay go back much further than that and were predicted, by myself and others, at the time .

A previous socialist Thanet Council likes to claim the credit for instigating the Westwood Cross project and although it was the present administration that saw it through to realisation it is certainly true that Mr. Nicholson's team set the ball rolling.  Unfortunately, in tandem with the neglect of the transport infrastructure needed to properly service an out-of-town shopping centre and which has led directly to much of today's congestion, no serious attention was paid to the likely effect of the migration of shops from the High Streets of Thanet to Westwood and no policy was put in place to re-invent the boutique trade that is the viable alternative to big stores.

The decline in the traditional British Seaside holiday business, and the fall in the number of visitors generated in part by the closure of Dreamland, seriously weakened retail demand.  The recession killed off Woolworths, certainly, but once Marks & Spencer and Next and a couple of other anchor outlets headed out of town it was inevitable that the footfall which is the lifeblood of smaller shops would diminish and those smaller shops would close. Up went the shutters and although the fa├žade of the Windows of Opportunity promotion have helped to mask the reality the stark fact is that there are far too many empty shops at the seaward end of the road.

So now would be a very good time for those who have already missed the chance to put money into Margate Old Town to invest.

I have long said that the Turner Centre cannot be seen as an end in itself.  On its own it will not regenerate the Town.  It is, though, the vital and impressive cornerstone of the Margate Waterfront development and it has already had a hugely stimulative effect that has convinced those small traders with the courage to seize the opportunity to bring their money into the Old Town with an eye on the future.  The Lower High Street will follow and as the higher-spending Turner visitors arrive so will the demand for the boutiques and wine bars and restaurants needed to service their expectations.

That is why I now have no hesitation in saying to those with a commercial eye on the future "get into Margate High Street now before you miss the boat".


As the scandal of Stafford Hospital reveals, an organisation can tick all the boxes for a Labour Government list of 'targets' and be thus rated highly, yet still manage to fail disastrously in its prime purpose. In Stafford Hospital's case, they would appear to have forgotten that caring for patients was their primary purpose but as this wasn't a Labour Government 'Target', it wasn't addressed with any priority and patients seemed to have died as a result.

I believe we have a similar problem at Local Government level and more specifically at TDC.

Readers might remember our report in August last year about a scandal of tax-payers money being ripped off in Housing & Maintenance work at TDC. (see -scandal-in-tdcs.html )

The facts were vague at the time but enquiries and TDC 'moles' have revealed that EKAP (Internal Audit at TDC) looked at 10% of contracts completed by Mears Ltd and found a sum in the region of £60,000 had been wrongly charged. If you extrapolate the Audit sample you are looking at a loss to the tax-payer of £600,000. Questions one might ask could perhaps be 'If EKAP found £60,000 of odd charging in 10% of samples why did it not do a 100% check of all work carried out by Mears Ltd in the period reviewed?'

Enquiries have revealed that in the Audit Periods 2007/08 and 2008/2009 that despite £60,000 of wrong charging having been identified it would seem that Mears Ltd was only required to 're-pay' £30,000 and that how this was re-paid has been avoided by TDC when asked. It caused sufficient concern to principled officers to enquire with The Finance Officer how £60,000 was reduced to a £30,000 pay-back. They did not receive a satisfactory answer. It was also interesting to be told by TDC souurces that the new inspection regime insisted on by EKAP was watered down by the simple process of removing an officer from inspection of contract work, who was too critical and putting another officer on the job who was 'less critical'. Such is the way that 'target performance indicators' are met by a contractor.
It was also interesting to be told that a TDC Officer received an 'honorarium' from Mears Ltd. How does that work?

Would it be too cynical to suggest that as a joint TDC and Canterbury CC contract was put out to tender for 'Hosusing & Maintenance' last year that TDC was compliant in playing down the 'scandal' that EKAP exposed?   You might like to consider that a contract was awarded in December but that TDC failed to announce it in a Press Release. I wonder why not?  Mears Ltd was not so reticent as their December press release below indicates:

Canterbury City Council 
A five year partnership to provide responsive repairs and voids services to Canterbury City Council.  The contract includes external decoration programmes and disabled aids and adaptation improvements. The contract is valued at £28 million for the initial five year period with a performance option to extend to 15 years increasing the value to in excess of £82 million . We are the sole provider appointed to provide services to the Council's 5,298 homes.  

Thanet District Council
A five year partnership to provide responsive repairs and voids services to Thanet District Council, which was jointly procured with Canterbury City Council. The contract includes external decoration programmes and disabled aids and adaptation improvements. The contract is valued at £13 million for the initial five year period and also includes a performance option to extend to 15 years giving a value of in excess of £40 million.  We are the sole provider appointed to provide services to the Councils 3,116 homes. Thanet District Council has been a client of Mears since 2004.

So despite some previous odd goings on in the past in Housing & Maintenance in Thanet,  Mears Ltd has a very lucrative contract for many years to come.

Well you might say, what has The External Auditor to say about all of this? He cannot deny that The NAO was ignorant of the facts as they are 'embedded' with EKAP in the audit process. ( TDC minutes show that NAO staff regularly attend EKAP and Governance & Audit Committtee). Now forgive me for being naive but I had always assumed that one of the functions of NAO was to expose and investigate any loss to the tax-payer that was fraudulent. No, that is not the case it would seem. As long as Government 'Targets' are met by TDC it gets a clean bill of health by the NAO. Llike the watchdogs at Stafford Hospital who gave the hospital the highest ratings, our External Auditor at The NAO can give TDC 'ticks' in Government Target boxes but blithely ignore fraudulent loss on a grand scale to the tax-payer.  Here is an extract from an e-mail sent by the NAO external auditor to a member of the Strife team:

I believe that you are asserting that:
- the accounts for 2008/09 should be qualified because they do not disclose as a separate note all transactions with Mears (as opposed to the current practice which is to include all costs relating to housing contracts within the HRA)
- I should investigate and potentially report in the public interest on any losses to the taxpayer arising from the Mears contract. .........
As regards the other points that you have raised below and in your phone message, I am unable to comment on the figures you have quoted as these are matters for the Council. I would like to point out that as external auditor I am not 'fully embdedded' with either EKAP or Thanet Council........... I am independent of the Council and I have no role in the Council's decision making process. Furthermore, as I have said to you before, it is not my role to be detective or fraud hunter.

 So I leave you,  the reader,  to consider what this means. The NAO gave a 'clean bill of health' to TDC because the right boxes could be ticked. It would seem that investigating loss through over-charging to the tax-payer is not in its remit just as at Stafford Hospitalthe various 'watch-dogs' had no remit to investigate why so many patients were dying.

Wednesday, 24 February 2010


A sobering thought that today is the the two year point for Thanet Strife. With 486 posts since 24 Feb 2008 and almost 2,000 visitors checking out my profile ( not very informative actually) its nice to know that some out there in the 'blogsphere' bother to come and read.
My thanks to the Strife Team for so much help and support and also their FoI requests to possibly the most secretive Council in the UK, over the past 2 years.

When TDC complains of the cost to it, of FoI requests , they might like to consider that straight answers to simple questions is a cheaper alternative than forcing people to make formal FoI requests. I would like to commend to readers the openess and integrity of one Planning Officer, in particular, who has politely fielded enquiries, clarified issues and shown himself to be a true public servant to the electorate and to his Council.  It is a pity that his approach is not part of the general culture at TDC.

Some may consider my preference to use my ' nom de guerre' on this blog as odd, considering my identity is Thanet's worst kept secret, but it suits my schizophrenic nature. There are enough clues littered around as to who I am , but if you are stuck as to my identity, please feel free to make enquiries with The Leader or Deputy Leader at TDC. .They were happy, in the summer of 2008, to utilise the services of a uniformed Kent Police Officer acting on his own, to pursue what appeared to be, unofficial enquiries against their own Councillors regarding my identity.

Tuesday, 23 February 2010


So there were no surprises last night at Margate Charter Trustees Meeting, except one. As I warned Cllr Hart and his absent  Labour Charter Trustees, if you fail to attend and do not join in, do not be surprised when The Ezekielites do as they clearly intended to do last week and thus appoint 'Mauwice's' and 'Martin's' fellow Cliftonville East Ward Cllr, Brian Sullivan as Deputy Mayor for 2010/11.
Here is last night's Press Release:

Following the extraordinary meeting of the Margate Charter Trustees this evening, the Worshipful The Town Mayor of Margate for the remainder of this municipal year 2010/2011 is Cllr Michael Tomlinson.
The Deputy Mayor for the same period is Cllr Brian Sullivan.
Bothe the new Mayor and Deputy Mayor will be sworn into office in an investiture to take place in The Mayor's Parlour on Wednesday 24th February at 19:00

For Cllr Johnston, last night must have been like walking into the Lion's Den. Where was your Leadership and support Cllr Hart and other Labour Trustees, for the longest serving Charter Trustee, whose services to Margate and its electorate in her ward,  have still yet to be recognised by an election as Mayor or Deputy Mayor by The Charter Trustees? Instead the Ezekiel Party has elected as Mayor  (a town Burgess) and a former Mayor (as Deputy) as expected. You are all as responsible for last nights travesty, as the manipulating Ezekielites,  who quite clearly did not want Cllr Johnston as a Deputy Mayor.

I now come to the one surprise that leaves me flabbergasted with the utter disregard for the feelings of the electorate in Margate and lack of  integrity that exists amongst The Ezekielites. Not only did former Conservative Party Cllr and disgraced late Mayor, Ted Watt-Ruffell  attend The Charter Trustees (has the man no sense of  propriety?) but I am reliably informed that he actually proposed Mick Tomlinson as Mayor which was then seconded by Cllr Ezekiel ! 

So let's re-build the public confidence in The Mayoralty and last year's disastrous Ezekiel choice by having  last year's disastrous choice, propose his replacement and presumably vote with the other Ezekielites as required by their  twice disgraced (two Standards raps) Leader.
One couldn't invent this sorry saga if one tried.

Monday, 22 February 2010


My thanks to an Acol contributor for these night shots from their back garden of the new Aurora Tenetis that comes to us courtesy of Thanet Earth. A more mundane description might be 'light pollution' on the grand scale, particularly when low cloudbase conditions occur.

So the rural village of Acol has many a night with an orange glow penetrating residents windows and if CGI implements its China Gateway scheme as approved in Oct 2008, this eerie glow will be matched by the sound of grinding gears and the thud of diesel engines.

As 'Strife' has reported before, Thanet Earth is effectively an industrial estate with light pollution at night and equal visual impact in the day, on the main approach to Thanet. What will be the light pollution and impact when all 7 glass-houses are up and running if this is the effect from just 3?  Was it worth it all to create low-paid jobs for a work-force, predominantly  recruited from Eastern Europe?

Thanet and its people ( or should I say a*******s) have had the environment ruined; an industrialised landscape (and now a similar seascape) and what has been the benefit in job creation for Thanet residents? Is there any benefit at all to Thanet from Thanet Earth?



I must ask readers to forgive the vulgarity in the title but I will explain why it needs to be printed in full.
Last week it would seem that Cllr Hart touched a raw nerve when pointing out at Council that officers at a meeting with Council tenants and leaseholders implied they were too' thick' to understand and reply sensibly to a consultation and 'ballot' concerning TDC forming an Arms Length Management Organisation (ALMO) with other Councils, to administer the maintainance of TDC properties affecting them. This arrogant attitude to its electorate would seem to be embedded at TDC.

Readers of Friday's IOTG would have spotted Mike Pearce on The Flipside discussing the cost for us all of the TC farce. How is this relevant you may ask?  Read on.
He quoted a reply from a very senior TDC Officer over lunch, a few years ago, who replied to his question "Why do you think people are so opposed to it? (The TC project)". The reply was revealing:

'He smirked and said, " If you ask a*******s , that's the answer you would expect".

It should therefore be no surprise  that TDC Cabinet has resisted consulting with and balloting its tenants and leaseholders about the administration of their properties being moved to an ALMO, formed jointly with other Councils, despite  being urged by its own Scrutiny Panel to do so (ignored) and had to be dragged by a Full Council to even consider a 'consultation' that 'might lead to a ballot', last week.

How demeaning and fatuous this statement, made by Cabinet Member Cllr Zita Wiltshire the day after Full Council insisted on a 'consultation', thus appears:

"It's vital that we properly consult with tenants and leaseholders about these proposals and they have the opportunity to voice any views that they have about the plans. I think it's encouraging that we were all able to agree on the importance of a detailed consultation with the tenants, before any further consideration is given to a ballot. I think we can all agree that we need to ensure tenants' and leaseholders' voices are clearly heard and their views are taken into account before any decisions are made."

Well, madam, your Cabinet ignored its own Scrutiny Committee but couldn't ignore Full Council and now you issue a Press release giving the impression that this is what you intended to do all along? This is 'spin' and balderdash that matches The Labour Government's spin and balderdash, that you claim to despise, yet you do the same.

It just confirms to us 'a*******s in Thanet that you do not really want to consult us and even when you do, you ignore us.

Friday, 19 February 2010


 Last Wednesday, Margate Charter Trustees met to discuss the problem of The Mayoralty. An excellent  result seemed to have been achieved that Cllr Mick Tomlinson should be considered for Mayor 2010/2011 and that Cllr Iris Johnston should be Deputy Mayor. It would seem that this was regarded as a 'gentleman's agreement' to be ratified this coming Monday, 22nd February. Last Wednesday's Charter Trustee minutes seem to omit this.

It has come to my attention that within a few hours, the jaundiced hand of twice disgraced TDC Leader, our our own 'Two Hats' Charter Trustee, Cllr Ezekiel, was probably at work. I will ignore the fact that he was probably prime mover behind the scenes last year to appoint the now disgraced Cllr Ted Watt-Ruffell as Mayor, but what are we to make of Cllr Brian Sullivan overheard canvassing support to be Deputy Mayor (instead of Cllr Iris Johnston) from Cllr Bert McCastree after Planning Committtee? An immediate thought is why should a past Mayor of Margate want to stand as Deputy Mayor?

To understand the situation, you need to remind yourself of The 2nd Standards Rap that 'Two Hats' earned (together with a standards rap for his Deputy,  the leaping salmon impersonator, 'Woger' Latchford) at The Edinburgh Woolllen Mill Shop in Margate. Who was shouted at, intimidated and had to protect a petition? Of course it was Cllr Iris Johnston, going about her legitimate duty as a Ward Cllr in her own Ward. Quite rightly, she made a complaint to Standards about the matter and her complaint was up-held.

As 'Two Hats' sat at the Charter Trustees on Wednesday and saw the situation developing that Cllr Johnston seemed to have support to be Deputy Mayor from The Trustees, what must have been crossing his mind?  My speculation is that it was an outward smile hiding an inward grimace. How soon did the Ezekiel Party Charter Trustees have 'Two Hats' whispering in their ears " I trust you aint gonna be supporting HER'. I expect you to support  my choice, Sulivan, eh. Get it?"
With Cllr Sullivan canvassing support for Deputy Mayor from Thanet's Ind Conservative, Bert McCastree, after Planning Meeting, only a few hours later, it might be fair to assume, the answer was, within minutes of The Charter Trustees meeting ending!

What Cllr Hart and other absent Labour Charter Trustees need to remind themselves is, that they, by their obdurate attitude concerning the past, are allowing Cllr Ezekiel to yet again effectively dictate what happens in the Margate Charter Trustees. Is this doing a service to the electorate in The Borough of Margate?

I challenge The Margate Charter Trustees to recognise the services of a Cllr not only to her Ward electorate but also to Margate Charter Trustees for the past 15 years (since 1995), who has not had this service recognised or acknowledged by The Charter Trustees. You can either show yourselves to be politicised  'cronies and henchmen' or Trustees of integrity and worth.  You should elect Cllr Iris Johnston as Mayor, let alone Deputy, in recognition of her service to Margate or reveal yourselves to be politicised cronies of poor integrity, who were happy to elect a Mayor last year who had already let you down as Deputy Mayor. 

Your actions, Trustees, will be closely watched by many.  Perhaps Tony Flaig and Tony 'Beachcomber' are right and that having brought yourselves into disrepute in your poor choice last year, Margate would be better off without you all and that we should have no Mayor at all.

Thursday, 18 February 2010



An interesting Agenda Item for next Thursday's  Council Meeting is up for consideration. In mind of the Parliamentary Expenses saga, I wonder what Cllrs will decide?

Harvey Patterson, TDC's Monitoring Officer is making some proposals on how Democratic Services (Cllrs Allowances and costs) could be pruned for 2010/2011.  Here are areas he has suggested that savings of £20,000 + could be made and has identified a potential saving of £54, 673:

1, Reduce Cllrs Basic Allowance to £4,000.  ( An 8% cut saves £20,160)
2. Slim Cabinet by 2 members (Who would they be?)  (Saves £15,980)
3. Reduce Special Responsibility Allowance for:
    a. Chair of Scrutiny  (Saves £2,786)
    b. Vice Chair of Scrutiny (Saves £2,000)
    c. All Vice Chairs   (Saves £3,237)
4. Reduce Conference Budget ( already underspent but saves £3,060)
5. Cabinet members to pay for own Blackberries from their allowance (Saves £5,200)
6. Finish meetings by 8.00pm and save Security wages. ( Saves £2, 250)

Mr Patterson, asks Council to indicate its own preferences for where savings should be made but recommends these options to Cllrs:

1. Reduce Cabinet by ONE member. (Saving £7,990)
2. Reduce Scrutiny SRA's (Saves £4,786)
3. Remove Vice Chair SRAs (Saves £3,237)
4. Delete Cabinet 'Blackberry' budget ( Saves £5,200).
His recommendations then save £24,273.

Of the area of 'potential savings', I am concerned that meetings may need to go on longer for Cllrs and the public as earlier start times to achieve an early finish may not suit Cllrs or the public and that £2,250 should not be saved. 

As far as the rest are concerned, all possible areas should be opted for and instead of saving a measly £24,000 odd, our Cllrs should go for a figure of £52,000! What will they decide I wonder?

Wednesday, 17 February 2010


I am very disappointed that our Labour Leader at TDC issued a press release today explaining why he would not attend the Margate Charter Trustees meeting earlier tonight. ( I show it in full below.)
The Charter Trustees meeting was held between 17.30 and 18.30 and he could have attended, together with other Labour Charter Trustees before The Planning Committee Meeting that started at 7.30pm. He chose not to do so. It is my understanding that decisions were taken by The Charter Trustees tonight to confirm a new Mayor and Deputy and to propose they should be accepted as Mayor and Deputy until May 2011. A press release will be shortly released by Mrs Ezekiel which I hope will send out a clear signal that the priority is now to put the recent past behind and re-build the damage that has ocurred to The Mayoralty and show that The Charter Trustees are not a 'political' set-up but rather, all Margate Borough Cllrs, working together for the benefit of the town.

My message tonight is really addressed to Cllr Hart. He needs to move on from the past now. He is The Leader of The Labour Group and needs to start being a 'Leader'.  What's done is done. He was fully exonerated by Standards Board of England in respect of  Cllr Ezelkiel's apalling behaviour at The Winter gardens in 2007 and the sordid 'counter complaints' issue. Now is the time for him to lead the Labour Margate Charter Trustees back into the Mayor's Parlour and to get involved fully with The Charter Trustees. He needs to do this for the benefit of his Party, the integrity of The Mayoralty and for the benefit of the people he represents. If he continues to 'boycott' and encourage his members to do so, he will only perpetuate the rift that has arisen and will lose respect. He needs to realise that his continued obsession with the past , only gives ammunition for those in The Ezekiel Party, to criticise him. He should be shaping and influencing the contribution The Charter Trustees make and not leave it to a 'Beanie' wearing Charter Trustee whose credibility as Leader of TDC has been ruined by two Standards raps to influence and control. 
Let us remind ourselves that the choice of Mayor last year that has led to to the present disgrace of The Mayoralty lies at 'Two Hats' door. TIme is long overdue, Cllr Hart, to lead your Party back in.

Dear Charter Trustees
I'm afraid I can't make tonight's meeting - I have an important TDC Planning Committee to prepare for and then attend.
However, I understand Margate Charter Trustees are in 'something of a pickle' following recent developments.  I would argue strongly that what has happened recently is only the latest in a long line of appalling events that I have consistantly warned you all of, time and time again. 
All was reasonably OK at the Margate Charter Trustees until my good friend and colleague Cllr. Doug Clark was democratically chosen as Mayor by the members.  Despite winning the vote at the Mayor's request meeting and receiving well deserved praise, from the moment he was elected, some of those who didn't really agree with the majority decision made his year as Mayor an absolute misery for him presonally.  Doug being the absolute gentleman he is, tried extremely hard to ignore the vendetta against him but all of us witnessed the seriously detramental effect it had on his health (at one point even collapsing at full council).  Indeed, the nasty and spiteful vendetta has continued to this very day and consequently Doug has sadly not fully recovered even now.
I further warned Trustees not to go ahead with a 'Kangaroo court' where the vendetta mentioned was taken to new heights of absurdity, but the vendetta continued and the 'Kangaroo court' went ahead confirming my worst concerns about the organisation and selfish, nasty, motives of several Trustees.
Fact is, though I regularly attend civic events, dress smartly and respectfully and behave decently and respectfully, I'm afraid I cannot say that all other Trustees have always done the same.  I have witnessed a Trustee, in full robes, so 'leglessly intoxicated' that they were hardly able to stand.
I stopped attending your formal (and I must say - over-secretive) meetings after I was personally and disgustingly verbally abused, goaded and threatened at one of the Charter Trustees own civic events at the Winter Gardens a couple of years ago.  The Trustee who behaved so badly also threatened the elderly Mayor and used appalling language in front of my wife (who now finds herself as a Trustee*) for which he has never apologised.
I simply turned and walked away in disgust, but in a desperate attempt to cover up his own appalling behaviour the Trustee concerned then made outrageous allegations to the Police about those of us who were the victims of his disgusting outburst - all later proved to be utterly spureous.
Even worse, when another upstanding Charter Trustee informed the offending Trustee that his outburst was totally unacceptable and that he was therefore going to report him, that very brave Trustee was called a 'gutless bastard' and a series of attempts were made to also make him appear a liar.
Now the Trustees find themselves in one hell of a mess because of further repeatedly poor judgements.  I believe your chosen Mayor, who has now pleaded guilty to two charges of animal cruelty, actually oversaw the 'Knagaroo court' I refered to earlier.  I know he, like some others, was simply a puppet, but what goes around comes around.
I'm sorry I can't be there today - but I do sicerely hope you can start to clear up this whole appalling mess!
Kind regards

Tuesday, 16 February 2010


It would seem that Margate Charter Trustees ( our Cllrs in all wards of The Borough of Margate), are to meet tomorrow to discuss The Mayoralty. 
Cllr Watt-Ruffell issued this clear resignation decision yesterday:

Dear Charter Trustees,
I would like to inform you that I, Cllr E Watt Ruffell, will stand down as the Mayor of Margate as from 15 February 2010.

I know that some regard Mayors, Charter Trustees, tricorns, bicorns and chains as old fashioned and worthless but I regard these apects of our civic heritage as important and the work that a Mayor and Charter Trustees do as an important aspect of community life and our identity as a community.

The Charter Trustees in Margate are meant to be 'non-political' and I am aware of political tensions that exist and some bitter exchanges in the recent past that have led some Labour Ward Cllrs to avoid involvement with The Charter Trustees.

Could I urge that it is now time, in the worst crisis that has perhaps affected the role of Mayor and The Charter Trustees of Margate, for any political differences and old issues to be put to one side. I would urge Labour Cllrs in particular,  to attend tomorrow's meeting and future meetings and engage in the healing process to restore the status and dignity of the office of Mayor of Margate and to further the excellent work that Margate Charter Trustees do in Margate.

I hope tomorrow that The Charter Trustees will not be hasty by bringing forward a new Mayor and 'Mayor Making' from the normal month of May. Let the Deputy step in, after all that is his purpose, and in the next few weeks carefully consider the best choice from amongst their number,  to restore the dignity of the office of Mayor in the year ahead.

To do this, political and past issues must be set aside and this is why I urge Labour Charter Trustees to attend The Charter Trustees and support and be involved in the selection of Margate's next Mayor who should be the best choice the Charter Trustees can come up with from their number, irrespective of Party, and avoid the nonsense that ocurred last year.


My thanks to our team photographer for this picture of the abandoned trial wind generator at Richborough. Is it to be included in Turner Contemprary's further squandering of tax-payer's money, as Angel of The South East?  As I feared all along, the announcement that a £1,000,000 subsidy per year for the TC project will now be paid by Council Tax Payers, is now revealed. One wonders how many visitors Dreamland would have attracted to Margate last summer if since 2006 we had subsidised it to the tune of £1,000,000 per year? It attracted 700,000 in 2005 which makes TC's target of subsidising between 130,000 - 160,000 per year seem as pathetic as paying a man to have an 'artistic' walk around a tidal bathing pool.

If readers,of all political persuasions,  have not been to you are missing out on political lampooning that seems to be the modern form of 18th century leaflets poking fun at The Prince Regent. As electioneering will soon bore us, this site provides a good anti-dote. Time for the Conservatives to set up one for Gordon Brown?

Last Thursday's snow did not only see KCC gritters failing to keep Thanet from becoming an ice rink or creating a new crop of exciting pot-holes but has lead to a repeat of the Christmas bin nightmare for Thurs and Friday collections. Our 'Shirl' came up with this last week:
 " As soon as it is safe for our teams to go out, they will be back out collecting again."
Saturday and Sunday looked safe to me, but instead we now have double collections on Thursday and Friday which means three weeks worth of careful recycling for us 'Fri' types will be heaved off to landfill. We used to have week-end collections, didn't we?  And didn't the chaps get overtime?

What with an LD Passenger Ferry to run out of Ramsgate with TransEuropa and FlyBE operating out of KIA, Manston, Thanet is likely to benefit enormously and not a tax-payer's groat being spent. It's a shame that poor old Euroferries seem to have become the laughing stock of the 'Ferry Spotters' world' but those who believe in the 'Tooth Fairy' will have found that 1st March seems to now be 18th March on their booking site.

I do not know how true it is but I have heard a rumour that some local farmers are so de-chuffed with TDC and its pretty incompetent Ezekiel Party control, that poor Laura Sandys' poster campaign on 'mobile' hoardings by the sides of our roads might not happen. Time for STCA to lean on NTCA?

Work is speeding ahead down at Bradgate Caravan Park to get 50 extra mobile homes squeezed in. I have heard speculation that Bradgate could become Thanet Earth's Dormitory for its European workforce but I am sure that's not the case, is it?  Anyway, it would seem that Bradgate's S.106 offer to make a contribution of £10,000 to improve the roads in its planning application seems to have gone missing from the conditions for approval. A case of dangling carrots before donkeys?

Talking of donkeys reminds me about last Thursday's Cabinet Meeting. If you missed the non quorate spectacle , do not be distressed,  Cabinet Meeting Part 2 is coming to TDC tonight. I am suspicious that TDC fails to follow its own Constitution and 'Protocols' when it suits it and I leave you with Cllr Clive Hart's words on the matter:

" Did Cllr Ezekiel really chair a whole meeting that he knew to be completely invalid? It absolutely beggars belief!"

Not for some time it hasn't, Cllr Hart!

Saturday, 13 February 2010



I received the following from Cllr Ted Watt-Ruffell this afternoon. I have since spoken with him and have urged him to consider his position as a TDC Cllr and that perhaps resignation from TDC would enable him to have closure on this whole matter. He assured me that he would consider that once his appeal against sentence and process had been handled by his defence solicitor.

e watt-ruffell said...Hi Bertie
I would like you to be the first to know that i have made the decision
to stand down from my group and the office of the Mayor of Margate. I just repeat  that nobody asked  me or pushed me in to this decision;  it was mine.
I believe i have done the Honorable thing for my Town and the Conservative group and for my family.
I now hope you will back off me as a person and my family; let us live our lives. If you want to see a broken man please ring and we can meet up as i know you have my phone number
kind regards
Cllr E Watt-Ruffell
Past Mayor of Margate

13 February 2010 16:05

He has told me that he will issue a Press Release on Tuesday 16th February announcing his decision to step down from his Office as Mayor of Margate and thus clarify his earlier press release about 'intending to stand down'.

I hope that he will consider his position as a Ward Cllr for Dane Valley carefully, but that is his perogative, as there is no formal requirement for him to do so. I have told him that I will not accept comments on this posting. and that I believe a line can now be drawn under the issues of the Mayoralty and  his position as a Conservative Cllr.

Friday, 12 February 2010


The news that Mr Ted Watt-Ruffell had resigned the Conservative Party whip today was trundled out by Cllr Simon Moores on behalf of NTCA by phone calls and not by press release. I am delighted with this news because I suspect that the disgraced Mr Watt-Ruffell was either told 'resign' or we will have to kick you out.

I will ignore Mr Watt-Ruffell's dubious history as a Labour Cllr and not ask the question as to how on earth and why , NTCA ever thought him suitable material to be a Cllr for The Conservative Party and then be elected Mayor by them within Margate Charter Trustees, put him on Planning, make him Chief Whip, have him as Vice Chair of Licensing and protect him in the Rocca fiasco but will instead remind readers that as a Labour Deputy Mayor he did the decent thing a few years ago and resigned when he had a little difficulty with The Magistrates here in Thanet.

So where do we stand now? It has been pointed out to me that, as it had been assumed historically that only fine, respectable members of the Council are elected Mayor and even used to be automatically invited to be JPs, there is no way The Margate Charter Trustees can remove this man who has brought his historic office into disrepute. So I ask Mr Watt-Ruffell who has brought enormous shame on himself and his Office as Mayor, to not be weasely (as IOTG Editor today so aptly described him) but to RESIGN! Press releases that talk about ' intending to step aside'  are just not good enough.

Whilst he is contemplating this, he might also like to consider the fact that his electorate in Dane Valley Ward do not want to be represented by a man with a criminal conviction for animal cruelty and I thus urge him to RESIGN as a TDC Cllr. The electorate was abandoned by Cllr 'Panama' Broadhurst but would now be delighted if its disgraced Cllr at TDC went and joined him.

Some interesting snippets have been brought to my attention by our Reporter at Sittingbourne on Wednesday, that I edited for brevity's sake but are now worth considering. It would seem that it was pointed out to him by The Magistrates that if he refused the Medium Term Community Order on the grounds of his Mayoral duties and charity fund-raising, the alternative would be 12 weeks as a custodial sentence.  It is also interesting that his solicitor informed the Court that his client was in receipt of Legal Aid and had a declared income of £19,000.

Now I do not know what the Legal Aid threshold is currently set at but for some-one who does a 48 hr week with Probe Security ( ex-Cllr Broadhurst's firm), he might like to ask for a pay rise!  Why you might well ask? Simply because his allowances for responsibilities as Mayor and in TDC attract the following deemed and declarable income: Mayor (£11,400); Cllr (£4,500) and Vice Chair of Licensing (£900). This would appear to be a total of £16,800. Clearly something appears odd or does Probe Security really pay its Chief Security Officer less than £2 per hour?

I leave Mr Watt-Ruffell with the thought that he still has the opportunity to do the decent thing and resign with immediate effect as Mayor and resign as a Dane Valley Ward Cllr. If not the  cry  'For God's sake go!' will reverberate around Thanet and the 'healing' process cannot begin.



The distraction of Mr Watt-Ruffell's court appearance in Sittingbourne and 'non-resignation' after being found guilty has meant that 'Strife's'  music reporter's item has been delayed.  I am delighted to post it now.

Tuesday night saw the roof lifted off the Winter Gardens as the Lostprophets hit Margate on their latest tour.

Having headlined the main stage at Download in 2008 and the NME stage at Reading in 2009, the Pontypridd alternative rockers are now on a tour of smaller venues to promote their new album, The Betrayed.

They were supported tonight by British punk band Hexes, and fellow Welsh rockers, Kids in Glass Houses. Both support bands got a good reception for their 30 minute sets and proved good warm ups for the main act to follow.

The Lostprophets came on stage at 9.30 pm and played most of their new album to a frenzied and animated crowd, but as with all Lostprophets concerts, they really come alive when they tear into their stadium anthems. New roof raisers ‘It’s not the End of the World’ and ‘Where We Belong’ fitted into the set alongside the classic singalongs of ‘Burn Burn’, ‘Rooftops’ and ‘Town Called Hypocrisy’.

Ian Watkins bantered with the crowd, and the band gave the impression of a group at home with their new material, and happy with the tour and the tremendous reception they received.

Finally, all credit to the Staff and Security at the Winter Gardens. Everyone was moved in out of the cold as quickly as possible, and in the hall, the security teams were quietly efficient. Well done to all concerned for a great booking, and a great evening. 

Rock on \m/


Thursday, 11 February 2010


What is one to make of this press announcement from The Mayor of Margate's Parlour this morning? Is this a resignation or isn't it? I presume that for 'Today's hearing', Mrs Ezekiel means 'yesterday's hearing'.

After Today's hearing The Mayor of Margate, Cllr Ted Watt-Ruffell is intending to step aside as Mayor, and that Cllr Michael Tomlinson, the Deputy Mayor, will take over his duties. The sentence is subject to appeal. 
Editors noteThere will be no further statement subject to the appeal.

What I find strange is that the impression is given that the sentence is the issue and thus no further comment will be made until that has been appealed!

Let's just pinch ourselves for a moment and then wake up.

Mr Watt-Ruffell ( I will no longer give him the courtesy of his title and no longer regard him as my ward councillor) pleaded  GUILTY to a serious animal cruelty/neglect charge and was then FOUND GUILTY. That is the issue why his full resignation should have been made this morning and why he should resign from TDC as a Councillor. The rules on Councillor convictions do not require it but an honourable Conservative councillor would have resigned as Mayor and as a Councillor, long ago.

This mealy mouthed press-release obfuscates the issue. If Mr Watt-Ruffell wishes to appeal what appears to be a lenient penalty of 80 hours Community Service that is his private business and whilst some might consider that foolish, that is a matter between him and the Courts. It does not alter the fact that he has been found guilty and has thus brought The Mayoralty of Margate and TDC into disrepute.

It really is time for The Charter Trustees to step in on the Mayor issue and demand his resignation and TDC Conservatives (if there are any left) to remove 'the whip' and whisper in his ear that it might be best that he resigns as a Councillor.

Wednesday, 10 February 2010



 It would seem that our 'Strife' reporter is sitting in Sittingbourne this morning with Tom Betts from Your Thanet and Richard Spillet from IOTG.

Readers may have forgotten that our Margate Mayor and former Mayoress are facing alleged animal cruelty charges brought by the RSPCA and that the hearing was moved at the accused's request, from Margate Magistrates on the grounds that Cllr Watt-Ruffell was too well known to our local magistrates.

Other than a report that shared difficulty seems to have brought the couple closer together; they sat hand in hand as proceedings opened, there has been further delay in hearing the case. It would seem that the normal criminal checks on the background of two RSPCA witnesses had not taken place and this was objected to by the defending solicitor. There was a degree of annoyance from the Magistrate, as one could imagine, as this could and should have been sorted out sooner and perhaps brought to the attention of the RSPCA. It would seem that the hearing was adjourned for an hour so that necessary witness checks (criminal records etc) could be carried out and fax machines are busy as I write. The Magistrate was not happy to adjourn proceedings to a later date. 

UPDATE AT 12.32pm

Our Strife reporter has rung in to report that Cllr Watt-Ruffell has pleaded guilty to the charge brought against him. His wife pleaded not guilty but the RSPCA have withdrawn the charge and her case has been dismissed. The RSPCA has asked for costs of £5,600.
Cllr Watt-Ruffell's solicitor in his plea of mitigation on Cllr Watt-Ruffell's behalf, stated that Cllr Watt-Ruffell had been the subject of character assasination by 'blogs' and the local press which has made life very stressful and has made an impact on his marriage and they are presently having a trial separation. (There was no mention of Mrs Watt-Ruffell's indiscrete announcements on her since closed Facebook site.)

The Magistrates are presently adjourned to consider sentence and with Probationary Service reporting to them.

Final Update
A medium Term Community Order of 80 hrs and disqualification from owning or having anything to do with animals for 18 months was the penalty imposed by Magistrates. £2,000 of the RSPCA's costs were awarded against Cllr Watt-Ruffell to be paid at £40 per month. Evidence included by the RSPCA was that they counted 150 fleas on the 5 week old kitten that died in the arms of the RSPCA officer when called in.
Further details can be seen at Your Thanet :

 Well done to the RSPCA who persisted with this prosecution when it could have been justified on cost to have abandoned it.

Perhaps it would have been better had Cllr Watt-Ruffell resigned from his Mayoralty when he was first charged. I hope he will now do so. Is he the first Mayor of Margate to be in this position?  I wonder what his position as a Cllr now is?  I presume he will have to resign and that we can look forward to another interesting election campaign in Dane Valley Ward soon.?

Monday, 8 February 2010



I hope ECR enjoyed Inside-Out tonight as the BBC 'borrowed' inspiration from his hilarious 'Bonanza' paint on /paint off clip from last year. Did anyone spot the 'Cabinet Member' and 'OBE' on 'Wogers' high vis jacket in the replay of last year's interview? I missed it first time round. Why stop there, I thought, why not have a medal ribbon or two, as well. I wonder what 'Mauwice' has on his high vis jacket?

I am surprised that Tony Flaig on Big News Margate, expresses ignorance on Euroferries and the 'Bonanaza' saga; should have followed 'Strife' on the subject since this time last year, Tony and you would have been better informed.

Well my informants from last week were pretty good in respect of  LD lines and The Norman Spirit. If Mr Gillan of Euroferries reads 'Strife' and I am sure they do from their 'offices', here is a clear example of how you start up a passenger ferry service from Ramsgate so read carefully the announcement below and for those in Thanet, one is reminded of 'Sally' again:

LD Lines and Transeuropa Ferries have announced a commercial agreement to commence a collaboration on the Ramsgate – Ostend freight and passenger ferry service, initially operating one vessel together.
Starting between 15th and 30th March 2010, the two companies will co-operate on commercial aspects of the route with LD Lines taking a lead in the development of the tourist passenger business, whilst Transeuropa Ferries will continue to build its focus on freight traffic and ship operations.
The agreement also includes fleet changes with LD Lines’ Norman Spirit transferring to the route, which Transeuropa Ferries will operate on a long term charter basis.
Norman Spirit will be re-named Ostend Spirit, operating two return sailings daily, with a crossing time of four hours. The ship is expected to replace one of the current Transeuropa Ferries’ fleet later in 2010.
LD Lines’ Managing Director, Christophe Santoni, said, “We are very pleased to announce this development which will combine the considerable expertise of both companies.
For LD Lines it will further expand our ferry service network and we can now offer the market an extensive choice of routes from the west to east across the English Channel to France, and now to a northern located port in Belgium. The port of Ostend geographically is very well placed to attract new business from the Benelux, Germany and Eastern European countries.”
Dominique Penel, General Manager of Transeuropa Ferries added : “This makes good economic sense for both companies in relation to moving the service forward. Transeuropa have established an excellent, solid freight business via the Ramsgate – Ostend route since we began in 1998 and now with a larger ship, we have the potential to improve the level of service to our freight customers whilst also developing the tourist traffic through LD Lines’ passenger marketing resources.”
The newly named Ostend Spirit will continue to operate under the British flag and be branded in LD Lines’ and Transeuropa Ferries’ colours.
Mr Johan Vande Lanotte, Chairman of the port of Ostend and former Deputy Prime Minister of Belgium said, “This is excellent news for the port of Ostend and for the region. This is a clear signal we have survived the worst of the crisis and we are now building for the future. This co-operation is an important step in our plan for growth.”
In Ramsgate, Councillor Roger Latchford, Thanet District Council’s Portfolio Holder for Regeneration, said, “This is marvellous news for both Ramsgate and Thanet. The port was built to receive vessels of this size and it’s good to welcome them back, especially because of the increased freight and passenger business they represent.”
Ostend Spirit will be returning to her original home port of Ostend, having previously been named Prins Filip. Built in 1991 by the then Belgian ferry operator Regie voor Maritiem Transport (RMT), the ship entered service in 1992 on the Dover – Ostend route, switching to operate between Ramsgate and Ostend, where she remained until 1997.
The ship will be transferring from LD Lines’ Dover – Boulogne service in March, to be replaced by the ex Brave Merchant which will be re-named,to further develop the route’s freight and tourist traffic and continue to provide a service frequency of four return sailings daily.
Built in 1999, the UK flag 22,152 gross tonnes Brave Merchant has capacity for 2000 lane metres for freight and tourist vehicles and up to 400 passengers.
LD Lines’ tourist fares on the Ramsgate – Ostend service will be available for cars and passengers, cars and caravans, motorhomes, motorcycles and for added on board passenger comfort facilities include cabins and sleeper seats. LD Lines’ launch offer starts from £24 single for a car and five passengers, subject to availiability.
LD Lines’ cross channel ferry service network includes : Dover – Boulogne, Newhaven – Dieppe and Portsmouth – Le Havre routes. For more information and to book : or call : 0844 576 8836.
For Transeuropa Ferries information contact : orcall : 01843 595522.
Issued on 8th February 2010

Friday, 5 February 2010


Readers since 2008 will know that Bertie had a 'bee in his bonnet' about the unsightly and ill thought out TDC fencing around allotments in Thanet that began in Culmer's Land Broadstairs, and which then spread around the Isle. The funding for this fencing came from the sale of Manston Rd allotments but TDC has yet to explain what it has done with £2.1 million having spent £900,000 on allotment fencing.

It gives me no pleasure to see that the industrial security fencing put around Chilton West allotments did not prevent thieves from breaking into 65 sheds and making off with over £1,000 of kit. The picture above is from this weeks IOTG ( a much improved paper and congrats to the team there) and shows Dave Nimmo who represents the allotment holders at Chilton West. It would appear that it is the third time Chilton West has been 'done' and Mr Nimmo is quoted in IOTG as follows:
'Mr Nimmo believes the fence put up by Thanet Council is not enough of a deterrent'.

I hate to say that this is no surprise to me. I pointed out to 'Our Leader' in 2008 at Cecil Sq and to assorted Broadstairs Cllrs and others in Culmers Land, that a simple spanner is all you need to take out a section of this fencing; that unless you put a concrete base under it you can excavate a simple access groove in the soil below it and the bottom line was that a false sense of security is generated if you rely on such fencing.

There are far more effective ways of improving allotment security and it would help if TDC had a dedicated 'allotments officer' as many other authorities do and a co-ordinated joined up approach as suggested by The Allotments Assoc. I put some suggestions on

So throwing £900,000 at allotment fencing was a rushed ill-thought out TDC 'policy' that is now being shown to be ineffective. I came in for much criticism from allotment holders 2 years ago for suggesting that this industrial fencing would be a waste of money and that a combination of measures was what was neeeded. So now we have Mr Nimmo talking of further expense with video-cameras and Cllr David Green supporting this.
Why stop there, gentlemen? Go for triple concertina wire;  guard-dogs on running leashes ; goon towers; search-lights and permanent security men. Of course this is absurd.

It would have been better to have put in cheaper, less visually intrusive fencing; planted blackthorn and hawthorn hedging and have TDC fund a replacement and repair scheme when theft and damage occurs. The Isle would not have unsightly eye-sores dotted around and the tax-payer would have had better value for money,as would have the allotment holders. The basic problem is that TDC has no joined up policy on the whole issue of its allotments and this false sense of security will persist as sadly will further damage and theft.