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?


Anonymous said...

The reason the Council Tax rise has been kept below a certain level is that the Government have threatened capping to anyone who goes over 3%. Also, it is preparing for an incoming Conservative national Government who have said, if a Council can keep their Council Tax rise down below 2.5% then they will effectively match the difference - meaning a freeze for taxpayers.

Basically TDC (and all other Councils to be fair)always use the Government's "suggested" threshold figure for capping to set their budgets and are hedging their bets with the next election. The Labour Government have been very good at saying things like "We would fully expect Council Tax rises to be no more than x%" which is then used by Local Councils in their budget projections as a figure to get below.

Band E taxpayer said...

A 2.5% increase in council tax is rather more than 10p a week. That would mean only £5.20 per annum.

In fact, a 2.5% increase on rates bill for Band E is 2.5% added on to £1770 (for 2009/2010) for a property, excluding metered water bill, is £44.25, 85p a week,not 10p. a week.
I don't know what lower bands would have paid this year but your figures are rather misleading but were, I think, taken from TDC's own press release.

Anonymous said...

This is an appalling state of affairs doesn't the council have an audit department that is meant to oversee these sort of issues.

Anonymous said...

Does TDc have to pay the grant money back ?

Bertie Biggles said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...


There is a great deal of accuracy on the M&S building costs though!!


Jenny Matterface said...

Well, Cllr. Wells, I'd never heard of Lewis Dennis who represented me on the town council and had to check on the TDC website who did represent Beacon Ward on the town council. Not exactly high-profile, was he?

If he did resign some time ago it passed me by until I read Strife so it wasn't that widely reported and consider myself fairly well clued-up as to what's happening locally. Obviously not as well as I had thought.

If there are two likely interested parties then I assume if one doesn't withdraw, we'll have a by-election.

Anonymous said...

Labour at all levels are still in denial about their responsibility for the disastrous state of the UK economy. It beggars belief that they can even think of suggesting that GB had nothing to do with it after all his years with a prime place at the table where world economic affairs were discussed, and our current troubles are all the fault of those nasty American bankers.

If that is the case then why do we even have politicians? Lets get rid of them all and just get back to the laws of the jungle.

Anonymous said...

If the Chris Wells making these comments is the Councillor Chris Wells, then I am rather suprised at his comments.

I had thought of him as one of the better Tory Councillors.

Just as gutter mouthed as the rest then, some hope for Thanet!

chris wells said...

Anon of 1757, yes its me. No surprise given I always comment under my own name, and feel the cllr bit is for other, grander souls. If you cant tell a bit of humour, aside from the other comment I feel sorry for you, but as you hide as an anon, cant tell you that personally.

Jenny you got that right, you missed the lot. Now the Town Council decides between those who have applied for co option. Nationally, fascinatingly, more people apply for co option than for the messier business of election - not sure what to make of that.

Malcolm- the M and S building saga is not great. At the emergency meeting to accept the grant and approve the purchase,I made a speech I stand by that this was a oneoff grant which must be used over and over again. The building should have been moved on quickly to development, and the funds used for another building then another and so on. The use of the building for library refurbishment and Turner, whilst convenient,was in my view a mistakewhich has killed the energy of the process.

Thank you and may your god go with you!

Anonymous said...

Chris thank you.

The assumption then, is that this building is worth much less? The real tax payers question...why is TDC selling off unpopular assets when this building would save Albion house etc.?

SEEDA will shortly be gone (thankfully)



Anonymous said...

If local councils like Broadstairs are opting for co-opting someone to fill a vacancy it says a great deal. Having seen some of the vicious attacks going on on the blogs between the two main parties and, for example, Chris Wells referring to the Strife correspondent's 'attention span' in the way he did,is it any wonder good folk are reluctant to come forward and offer themselves for public office? I live in Broadstairs and I hadn't seen anything about a town councillor stepping. Was it reported in the press? Why was only one notice put up in the town? Who, unless you knew the person concerned, would have a clue he was no longer involved in the town council?

Your 'attention span' jibe was totally out-of-order, Councillor.

Take for example, some of the vitriol directed at Iris Johnston who has worked tirelessly for 25 years, much of the time for no reward, would make many think twice about getting involved with local politics.

Anonymous said...

I am glad that someone accepts that losing 2.5 million on a building that was purchased with a grant is not great.
It is totally diabolical, a waste of public money whether it was Seeda's or TDC's it is disgusting and if the Ch Exec had any sense of responsibility he would have done the decent thing and resigned. Shame on you guardians of the public purse.

Alan Poole said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Bertie Biggles said...

I have received a posting from Cllr Alan Poole asking Cllr Chris Wells to remove a section of his posting that is considered offensive. I have decided to remove the section concerned myself as I was responsible for actually posting it! Could I apolgise for any offence caused.
Delete Comment From: Thanet Strife

Blogger Bertie Biggles said...

My thanks to Chris Wells for his comment which I show below with only a slight edit. And yes, had quaffed a beer or two but have no intention of joining MMS in Thanet as it's not good for the eyesight, so I am told.

09:25 and 14:14, my understanding is that the grant money is not returnable but TDC has to declare a loss on its own asset register to reflect the drop in value from the £4.7 million spent. Coomonsense as opposed to wishful thinking about all matters TC would have been better as I suspect we will all find out in due course and much to our cost as Council tax-payers.

Blogger chris wells said...

Oh dear, Bertie, you are getting carried away, I wonder if you have been out drinking prior to this post.

Firstly I am pleased the Biggles family income can stand extra council tax. Personally I have found when discussing this with residents, even the 2 point something rises from KCC and TDC are unwelcome, and heavily, criticised - even by the Labour party, some of whiose members suggested on thursday night a nil rate rise was more welcome.

Which leads me to the next point, your clear reliance on Labour Party press releases rather than any sense of reality. This is no more obvious than in your peons of praise for Alan Pooles 'heartfelt cry'. As anyone actually in the public gallery will tell you his speech was stilted, hackneyed, and so disastrously delivered even he could not get through it without laughing at himself - which as I have said elsewhere was a pity as he had some good points to make - and it had no impact whatsoever on anyone, even his own side, who were grateful when it was over. Not the story of the labour press releases (yes there are two) quoting it, whose telling of its impact and resonance is pure fantasy (and if you dont believe me ask anyone who was in the public gallery).

Similarly, David Greens call on reserves was actually and in practice, an attack on the professionalism of the Section 151 officers certification of the budget. I asked him to withdraw it on those grounds; he declined, presumably knowing the damage press releases taken up and not checked, like this, can do.

Labour had no plans for alternative budget yet again, merely tinkering at the edges of three areas for public impact, within the budget, being reserves, disabled facilities grants, and asset sales issues. The Labour party remains hypocritical on asset sales, recognising the need, but opposing every sale in practice for popular position. Even they shied away from suggesting higher council tax - you are truly on your own there Bertie!

Cllr Lewis Dennis resigned from Broadstairs Town Council's Beacon Road Ward seat some weeks ago; his resignation was carried in a public agenda for the relevant council meeting; was advertised for election through the TDC electoral officers, and has now come forward after further advertising of a possible cooption when no one asked for an election.

If one of your 'Team' for the area, missed all that, it says more about their attention span than anything else. Your conspiracy theory simply hides the fact Labour, and Bill Furness, the sole Lib Dem left in Thanet, missed it, or decided to do nothing to force an election.

So, Bertie, whilst you may get a high score for enthusiasticly linking a number of areas to match your own prejudice, the lack of accuracy in your observations makes your post about as honest as the labour report of Alan Pooles speech - pure fantasy! Welcome to the virtual world of the Labour shadow cabinet in Thanet -***** edited*****.

28 February 2010 07:54

28 February 2010 15:07

Anonymous said...

Bertie, your not on your own as Cllr Wells said on higher council tax.The polictical hot potatoe of higher council tax is shied away from by all main stream parties.
I for one have no problem with paying more in return for real first class services,something that I believe that most people would support- what people object to is higher taxes for no extra service.
People such as Cllr Wells know full well that cutting council taxes cannot improve council services, there are no free lunches
if you want good services then you have to pay good money.
As this council is so smitten with the Chinese perhaps a reference to an old chinese sayig -buy cheap buy twice. Its time for some brave soul to put their head above the parapit and support tax increases- its that or Thanet continues to have only TWENTY FIVE per cent of its streets swept,dog droppings everywhere and the threat to toilets,Christmas lights,parks and leisure in general very much a reality, along with all the the other srevices local people need.

Anonymous said...

poor Alan Poole I guess Bertie that you should give him his P45 as the stories and reports he makes for you to publish are pure fantasy and I am afraid he does not live in the real world or is he still mourning the election for the KCC seat he lost in which the electorate have his measure even if he cant see it Bertie how about getting some reports from the ezekielites after all you seem to hold Moores and Bruce in the same high esteem as Poole

Anonymous said...

M&S would have been better used as an indoor market. That might have brought people back into the town and earned a few pennies or would this have been too much competition for Westwood X.

Bertie Biggles said...

15:24, Cllr Poole does not have a desk at Strife, in fact, no Cllrs do, so perhaps it would be useful to recruit some; thanks for the thought. I do however regard Cllr Poole in the same light as Cllr Jarvis; both are men serving their Ward electorates with integrity and honesty.

I am always pleased to accept contributions from the Ezekielites as postings, like yours and others but is Cllr Bruce an Ezekielite? My understanding is that Cllr Bruce, like my ward Cllr, Mike Jarvis, has been cast into the outer darkness.

Anonymous said...

The M&S building has one major problem and that is asbestos. When Turner was in there, and before that, the library, nothing could be screwed to the walls because of it. No staff were allowed to go up to the first floor because of the danger of asbestos.
Any potential developer would have to deal with the asbestos first. The cost of demolition would triple for a start. I believe TDC did not bother to find this out before they borrowed the huge sum to purchase it. They then discovered that it was unsellable.