Friday, 5 February 2010


As news is revealed that Conservative dominated KCC feels it is acceptable to pay an extra £200,000 this year to its Chief Executive on top of his £240,000 salary, one wonders if it is not time that David Cameron got to grips with his party at County and District level.  After all , his salary as Prime Minister will be a fraction of Mr Gilroy's later in the year.
I mention District level, because the nitty gritty of The Montefiore Village Green Public Enquiry moves into its 4th day today. Highlights today are a 'site visit' and evidence from TDC Officer Paul Verral. 

The report below is  from one of the 'Strife' team who sat through 2 hrs of the Enquiry yesterday afternoon, and as a result has earned an 'extra chocolate biccie' award from Edna, our tea lady. (The Village Green supporters are doing their best,  without professional legal support, against a very expensive barrister and legal team, employed by TDC, at our expense, to fight against its own electorate's wishes.)

This afternoon I spent two hours listening to questioning about the fencing around the area formerly known as the Montefiore Games Centre in Ramsgate.
'Two hours?' I hear you ask.
'Yes, and that was only one TDC officer giving evidence. There's another to come tomorrow.
'Yes and that was only this afternoon as this morning and yesterday much of our council tax was being spent on a barrister asking questions relating to 'fencing'.
The whole issue relating to the village green application seems to hang on 'whether or not/when/why/did TDC decide to give up on replacing fencing around ' and ' was it the tennis courts or the putting green area or the bowling green?'
The date on which TDC decided to stop replacing fencing panels is crucial to this as that will determine when the public had free access to the land formerly known as the 'old putting green that then became a croquet lawn'.
'Was it in the mid-90s, late-90's or when?'
'Was there persistent vandalism or occasional vandalism that contributed to the decision?'
'Why is this important?' you ask.
Well. depending on how long the public has had unimpeded access to open spaces will determine whether or not land can be classified as 'a village green' at least I think that's what it's all about. Ardent tennis players claim they have had free access to the area behind the courts for 30 years retrieving lost balls.
Hours of highly-paid barrister time, funded by us taxpayers, by a council that claims financial hardship. A good use of our money?
Those campaigning for a village green are represented by a non-legal person who did succeed in tieing the TDC officer giving evidence up in knots at times. It seems paperwork is only kept for a short time so essential information isn't still available for the Inspector taking a decision on this case to see.
I can't speak for any other witnesses as I only attended this afternoon but I hope our taxpayers' thousands reap a just result for the Thanet taxpayers. 
Those sitting listening are aware that should this be lost the land will then be linked up with land behind the Holy Trinity School to create a large, executive housing development fronting Montefiore Avenue.
I wonder what the bill for legal and Officer's time will be for this Enquiry? An FoI is being prepared. Will this folly continue as TDC fights 3 more Village Green applications. " When will they ever learn?"


Anonymous said...

As someone else who sat through three hours of this modern day Jarndyce v Jarndyce I was appalled when the TDC legal representative accused the applicant of being a liar. For someone with no legal training the village green campaigner was very well prepared and was arguing his points very well and did not buckle under the sometimes idiotic questions he was asked by TDC. As if it mattered what colour the fencing was!!

Anonymous said...

I remember free access in 1995, i would think any maintenance was given up in the 80's and there would not be any records any tdc officer now would just be guessing.

Anonymous said...

It seems fencing maintenance was finally given up in the 1990s but there seemed some debate whether it was mid- or late-90s as there is no documentation so memories are relied upon here.

Another key factor is when TDC stopped having a manned facility for payment. HOOT representative said in 1986 he booked tennis courts directly with the bowls club but the TDC officer said a manned hut was still there in 1986.

I agree the HOOT representative did a good job considering he's up against a highly-qualified barrister.

Anonymous said...

Given that I and other member's of the family have had unencumbered use in and around this site for some 30+ years, raises serious questions regarding the councils integrity.

EKAP has still not answered how much they lost last year?

Would TDC lie to the inquiry? I did vocally raise this at the meeting - and not being a member of HOOTS I find the activities of TDC damn right repulsive, ugly and repugnant. Its a pity one could not accuse the council openly from the hot seat and dare them to challenge you!!!

The real answer as to why TDC has taken this course of action is that its damn near bankrupt and they need the £400K+ that they will get from the sale of the land - and yes KCC has an interest.

I am putting my name to this and if anyone has a problem with that give us a call!!


Anonymous said...

The bowling club had to reluctantly take bookings or be thrown off I can remember the arguments about this.

Surely the TDC staff would know what went on up their?

Did a member of the TDC take a break from serving at TDC during this period and did one do other tasks that he/she was not directly involved with matters up at this site.

This inquiry is raising some ugly aspects of bad management since TDC was foisted on us,

More importantly some past TDC officials of TDC should have been called as witnesses?

I have three letters written to TDC during the period in question and TDC officials did nothing why is this? Did TDC protect the private interests over the public.

TDC may eventually win the legal argument but the moral argument would have got significantly worse?


Anonymous said...

But... If TDC let this plot of land go to some tree huggers the District Auditor would have a field day

Anonymous said...

Why are you supporting the self serving wishes of the well heeled small minority Bertie? Other than to ridicule the council that is.

Surely any fair minded peron and good socialist like yourself should be able to recognise that the wider good necessitates taking the goodies from the rich to redistribute them to the poor. Isn't this the true just cause. Isn't the village green story just a ruse to claim moral right for the toffs?

Anonymous said...

Ahoy there Bertie.

Its us the Pirates "were back" having just grazed the old mooring, and talk of the crew (scurrelous lot)was of grazing the old flock in Ramsgate.

We were given the right to graze some years ago (circa 1944) and imagine our surpise that the local bigwigs have fenced of our commom land.

The crew do not give hoot for this type of action, although we do hear some other body does give a hoot and is going to ensure that we can continue with this ancient maritime custom of, errrr grazing.

Talk here in the sluttish lamb tavern is that someone has dusted off some ancient tome at the old Albion building which confirms our ancient rights.

There is going to be a walking the plank ceremony if us Pirates find out this is true.

A wolfinsheepclothing

Cpt of the Brigand ASSSSSet

keeping the grog and filth (unsuccessfully) out of Thanet since 1700


Bertie Biggles said...

14.02, the District Auditor does not even investigate huge loss to the tax-payer by what only can be described as 'fraudulent' invoicing by a main contractor, so if TDC, the sole objector had backed off the Montefiore site, it would have been of no concern to the Auditor. Go and talk to Andy Mack if you do not believe me.

14.03, I am certainly not a socialist and I do not quite get the point you are trying to make.

19.58, thank you 'm' hearty'! I have been waiting for a comment about the rumour heard earlier today that the Montefiore Bowling Green was actually Common Land! I presume that is what is shivering your timbers. An interesting development. Can any one elaborate?

Anonymous said...

The point is Bertie love, that the toffs want the land for themselves, while the council wants it to raise money so the unhealthy poor can have facilities like chairlifts up their stairs, and their children can have a new swimming pool for their town. So aren't you just being downright selfish supporting those nasty toffs, and isn't the council the good guy - like Robin Hood?

Bertie Biggles said...

21:25, get it, thanks!
I would hardly call the HOOTs people toffs and I do not buy the Ezekiel Party 'blah' that money gained by asset disposal would go in the direction you suggest. You might consider what use has been put to the £2.1 million gained by selling the Manston allotments and left over after wasting money on fencing that is in-effective around other allotments. You might consider the cost of windows and carpets in TDC's own offices that was a greater priority than making life for the disabled better! If you really believe that asset disposal would go to the good causes you espouse, you are entitled to do so but I would humbly suggest that facts would militate against such a belief.

Anonymous said...

TDC like wasting money full stop.They spent £300,000 impoving the disabled access to the reception, then 2 years later ripped it all out and moved the reception to the library. All projects to keep them busy that do nothing for the people of thanet.

Anonymous said...

HOOT members 'toffs'? No, just ordinary people who enjoy healthy exercise and facilities 'fit for purpose'. Many children enjoyed the facilities last summer and in previous years as well as adults.

If the council was serious about selling assets can anyone tell me why the bowls club wasn't included in the scheme? Much of the enquiry seemed to hang on how much of the fencing behind the bowls club had been erected by them.

Most of the tennis courts in Thanet fail the 'fit for purpose' test and if we want our children to be fit at little cost and produce tennis stars of the future, then selling off the facilities isn't the way to go about it.

If the council managed its money better then selling off assets would be unnecessary and the disabled would get their facilities and the children (why just the children?) get their pool.

The council as Robin Hood? What a picture that conjures up. Friar Tuck is...? Maid Marian? Will Scarlet?

The truth of the matter is the council tried to slip this sale through with only a few days' notice and the HOOT campaign was born out of a desire to see fair play.

Anonymous said...

Bertie, spot on.

TDC has not correctly implemented its fiscal funding policy regrading its asset stripping.

A point here - is that the Pleasurama site should have enabled the new swimming pool for Ramsgate however the cost for the cliff repairs have actually bettered the development at great public expense.
So how is TDC going to rectify this?

Talk of toffs ect frankly does not cut it.

Perhaps the anonymous politician/council employee/poster would put his name to the posts -again perhaps you can extract the exact quote from Andy Mack and the audit of last year?

Also of note, I did request from TDC the old council leases/documents from the old borough of Ramsgate some years ago and yesterday they surfaced so why did TDC mislead me? I also asked for the ones for Albion house and again I was informed that these did not exist!!!

Make no mistake this leads us into very real and questionable activities by TDC. In this case we are being poorly served by TDC.

Clearly the land in question comes under common land and if a fence was put round it was this legal?

I state yet again if anyone has a problem give us a call!!!


Anonymous said...

I am sorry you think i should work in a pig sty bertie because that is what much me the council office buildings felt like before the improvements. The government is spending a fortune no improving conditions in schools and hospitals so why shouldn't tdc do the same? And if you care to check I think you will find that allotment money went to the general pot from where many different schemes were funded. Your unnatural hatred of all things Ezekiel (incidentally he is well liked in the building because he wears his heart on his sleeve and frequently walks the floor and talks to the staff) marks you out as just a spiteful and twisted individual who has nothing more to do with his time than try to destroy the reputation of all of us who are doing our best to make things better.

Readit said...

If HOOT succeeds in its common land bid, the village green will be available to everyone, not just a few who can afford exec houses.

Any money raised will just dissappear into a 6M black hole

Bertie Biggles said...

14.36, as a regular visitor to TDC offices, prior to the latest up-grade, I can safely say they were hardly a pig-sty!

As a regimental officer in Gillingham in the late 70's I had an office with an elder tree growing up through the rotten floorboards on the inside below my rotting window frames; my married quarter was declared unfit for human habitation when the barracks were sold and had to be refurbished before the council put tenants in. Yet, when I had to visit MoD in London, I found civil servants wasting tax-payers money on fountains, pieces of artwork and luxuriously equipped offices. Your bleating reminds me of them.

There is no spite or hatred involved. As a public servant/ Cllr you should put up with threadbare carpets, old office furniture and lack of re-decoration etc, whilst toilets are being closed; streets left un-swept and parks neglected and disabled people live without facilities they should have. You serve the public, as I did, and the needs of the community should come first.
Water the elder as it grows through your office floor and regard it as a simple cross to bear, whilst you remember your are in public service.

Anonymous said...

When money is spent in schools it is mainly for the benefit of the customers i.e the school children, then money spent on the council offices is for the benefit of those who work in their not for the benefit of their customers .i.e the people of thanet.Deciding to spend in excess of half a million pounds replacing windows (that didn't actually need to be replaced for another 5 to 7 years) in the current economic climate shows a complete lack of common sense and is disrespectful to the electorate.

Anonymous said...

Like 1436 suggests bertie, your influence is destructive not positive. Arm chait generals like you and Malcolm are 10 a penny in Thanet.

Anonymous said...


6 months in Afghanistan should open that posters eyes!!!

Anonymous said...

I taught in schools where the heating was no more than a joke,one classroom regularly registered 5* celsius, the toilets were appalling and, in the old Ellington School building, the dining hall was just a corridor.

Some school staff rooms would have been condemned as 'unfit' had they come under the inspection that went on into the school. We grumbled but accepted that the funding wasn't available at the time and did the best we could within those facilities.

Thank goodness local children here in Thanet are moving into brand-new buildings paid for under the government's Building School for the Future.

I also worked in local governemt in buildings that hadn't been decorated in decades but again, the council had plans to decorate/renovate but we accepted, reluctantly, it was better we put up with poorer facilities than see services cut elsewhere.

TDC, by comparison, seems to think services should be cut to enable staff to have nice, new facilities, the complete opposite of ever experience I had in local authorities where I worked.

The balance from the allotment sale was put into a reserve fund, not spent and is, I assume, still sitting there protected until such times as TDC decides where to allocate it.

Anonymous said...

How long it takes to find the wonga is not the point . There is only one source and that is the assets. Sell the tennis courts today or tomorrow, or some other piece of land instead, it still has to be done. So you had better get used to it suckers.

Anonymous said...

Thats right, 20:37 the electorate are suckers (not)!!!! You had better get used to the forthcoming angry electorate!!!

Anonymous said...

It is disgraceful TDC have used our tax payers money to have a QC fight for them to acquire this land, which many people have fought for 2 years or more. Public Consultations have been instigated and unanimously the public wanted to save this Tennis Courts and the land behind for the future use of our children. Isn't this what Sir Moses Montifiore wanted this land to be used for, this generous man left this land for the people of Ramsgate to enjoy, what right has this terrible Council have to take it away. It just isn't right