Friday, December 17, 2010

Through the Looking Glass

I've been floating above the snow-covered Suffolk countryside this morning over a stately-looking pile at place called Ellingham, where WikiLeak's Julian Assange is hiding from a small army of satellite vans and press photographers camped among the trees. It's bitterly cold out there and I'm only just getting the feeling back in my hands after putting the aircraft away. Somehow, I don't think Assange is likely to skip bail without someone noticing or him leaving footprints in the snow but I do feel sorry for the world's press as my aircraft's outside thermometer was showing -10 degrees Celsius at 1000 feet.

Last night we had a meeting of the council and it was a bizarre, 'Alice in Wonderland' experience from where I sat. I've arrived at the conclusion that Thanet Labour group's strategy is to simply interrupt, disrupt and heckle in council meetings, in the hope that nobody will notice their complete lack of substance, political or intellectual. As an example, we spent almost an hour debating the sale of Montefiore tennis courts and an accompanying petition raised among local residents by councillors Poole and Fenner.
I conducted an asset review earlier in the summer (July 15th) and among those being scheduled for removal from the disposal register were, well you've guessed, Barnes Avenue car park and the Montefiore tennis courts. Both of these involved village green applications but while the WASPs of Westbrook have been happily working Barnes car park through with me and Cllr Latchford towards a happy conclusion, Labour's Cllr's Poole and Fenner busily maintained the myth of Montefiore tennis courts being knocked down for flats without actually making any effort to find out where the application stood before they whipped-up a petition against it!

In a scene reminiscent of Edmund Blackadder trying to explain simple mathematics to Baldric, council leader Bob Bayford tried valiantly for almost an hour between bouts of heckling, to explain to councillor Poole that Montefiore was as dead an issue as the famous Monty Python 'Dead parrot' sketch but without much luck.


Now I wouldn't dream of interrupting or heckling a member of the opposition in the chamber to in an attempt to score cheap and completely irrelevant political points; it's not something I would wish to indulge in. Here, perhaps! However, if you care to watch the video of the meeting when it appears online on the council website, you'll witness Cllrs Hart, Johnston and Poole, employing this tactic so often that the council meeting went on from 7pm until the watershed of 10:30pm. This represents poor service for the people of Thanet. We live in a challenging time and there is a great deal of serious work to do locally which is worthy of equally serious and 'informed' political debate, rather than repeat the constant litany of what Labour did in 2003 or how awful the 'LibCons' policies are or indeed how the recession and the crisis lies with the 'failure of the global banking system' and nothing whatsoever to do with a Labour Government that raided our pensions and both borrowed and spent more than it ever received in tax income.

As I wrote in my last blog entry. I really don't care if the consequence of a Labour administration is the promise of a socialist paradise as it's never happened anywhere yet. I don't really see anything to be proud about other than ghastly failure an empty treasury and hard times for all. Elected, part-time politicians like me, have a difficult job to do and I hope that readers trust that it will be discharged as responsibly and efficiently as possible and preferably without the kind of juvenile interruption witnessed last night. Alternatively, in May 2011, the people can vote to replace the present administration with the present opposition Labour cabinet, for which simple double-entry bookkeeping remains a mystery.