Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Interesting Times

It's been a busy seven days, a local election, an airshow and I had to pop-over to Dubai for a quick job as well. To be honest, with the outside temperature at the airport at 36 Celsius at 10pm, I rather think the weather in Thanet is preferable to that of the Middle-east's Manhattan in the sand, although an earlier view of the building outside my hotel window, is in ironic contrast with our more modest Arlington Tower on Margate seafront.

There's much speculation over what the council will look like politically in the days ahead. It's not really for me to  comment beyond that well-worn expression; 'We live in interesting times.' I'm sure the up and coming council meeting where this will all be decided will be packed, which is no bad thing, as people will have the opportunity of seeing for themselves how our system of local government works at an important  time in our collective history.


19 comments:

yogi bear said...

Any comment on the loss of six blue flags?

DrM. said...

What Michael has written is potentially damaging to our tourism industry and I look forward to seeing him make a correction although it's now too late and running across the internet. This only serves to reinforce the view that news from local 'blogs' should always be viewed with circumspection unless properly verified.

Tourism isn't in my portfolio but my understanding is this loss of flags has absolutely nothing to do with what Michael is writing about and is entirely to do with a patch of lower quality water results in August last year.

So 'Yes' it's very bad news that we have lost the flags but this was, I'm told, the consequence of an incident in 2010. I'm sure the council will be seeking to make the matter clear in the media in order to correct the reputational damage this has done to our fine beaches.

Anonymous said...

Well thatts put evereyone firmly in their place, don't post until you've run it past the tdc thought police

DrM. said...

Hardly!!

The lesson here may be that before one risks blogging something that is misleading and likely to have a significant negative impact on the local tourist economy, it may be advisable to check the facts before embarking on yet one more local council knocking story!

Michael Child said...

I have published my correspondence, during today, with the council about this at http://thanetonline.blogspot.com/2011/05/thanet-blue-flags-some-thoughts-from.html which I hope clarifies the situation.

Anonymous said...

The lady from tdc told us all on itv that the blue flags weren't important. If that's so then we doint need to worry about michaels blog. And oif coursde the flooding was in Ramsgate so of no interest to tdc

DrM. said...

While the Blue Flags may not be important, the potential for negative perception caused by this story is. You don't have to be a genius to grasp that!

Readit said...

Let me get this straight, Michael Child is responsible for damaging our tourist prospects for the year, nothing to do with the loss of blue flags on seven TDC controlled Thanet beaches then.

Sounds like a bad case of Munchausen's syndrome by proxy to me.

Michael Child said...

Simon I think you have hit the nail on the head here, the problem here is that the council have reached a point negative perception rates higher than any other consideration.

Every seaside resort in the world is subject to pollution incidents, when one occurs you have two possible types of negative perception, one is you tell people not to swim there, the other is you don’t and you wait to see if they develop symptoms that cause negative perception.

I think it is pretty obvious from my correspondence which option has been adopted recently here in Thanet, I think it is also obvious that the council now intend to do something about this.

You can’t seriously be suggesting that you support a situation where a major emergency sewage discharge adjacent to a popular swimming beach should be ignored on the grounds that telling people not to swim could cause negative perception.

Peter Checksfield said...

I recall TDC bragging about them last year (or was it the year before?). So I guess they're only "not important" when it suits them,

Robert Williams said...

I have long been appalled at the negative image of Thanet put out by many of our own bloggers, due respect to those that try like Promote Thanet and Thanet Waves.

Looking at the Blue Flags, we still have three in Thanet which is a lot more than most of our near neighbours. To the North you have to go as far as Southend to find another and well into West Sussex the other way.

Whilst Michael Child does some good service with his sites, sometimes I despair of his unjustified criticism of our isle. It was a bit like the Pleasurama site cliff face which turned out to be yet another storm in a tea cup.

How about all of us, bloggers and commentators alike, checking a few facts before giving vent to hearsay and misinformation to the whole world.

Anonymous said...

Of course itv and bbc knew nothing about it until they had read michaels blog and of course many more people read the blog than watch the news. Come on the elections over and you can stop posturing - 4 years in a coalition beckons - shame you couldn't help your ramsgate colleagues by being a bit less vague about night flights - losing nethercourt lost you your majority, not that jill kirby is any loss

DrM. said...

Let's stick with the facts on this one and I'm with Robert Williams.

Quite frankly I don't have the time or the interest to play games with Michael on this subject. Yes, we have lost our Blue Flags. Why, is quite clearly explained elsewhere and lies firmly at the door of Southern Water and not TDC.

An incident last year contributed to this and yet we have, in the greater part, fantastic, clean beaches which attracts thousands of tourists and are essential to the success of the local tourist economy. One more 'TDC-bashing blog' has wider implications thanks to the internet in that people may believe that for the 2011 season we have sewage fouled beaches which simply isn't true and as a consequence Michael is now back-pedalling to excuse not having the broader facts correct in the first place.

Unfortunately we can can add this of course to his other local disaster or potential disaster stories over the years.

Sorry Michael, you know it's true!

yogi bear said...

I don't quite see how moaning about the downgrading in quality of an international award is "Hearsay and misinformation"

What is worrying to me about the whole thing is the attitude of council officers after the event. A string of excuses and side stepping.
Why not just hands in the air and "yes, we blew it this time but we will try and do better"
On TDC's website, the whole thing is trumpeted as a success.
No sense of culpability is coming across to me I'm afraid.

DrM. said...

12:10 If you want to write complete off-topic rubbish there are several other local weblogs to choose from which will be happy to entertain you but otherwise, spare us the burden of your rambling opinions

DrM. said...

Yogi Bear.. do try and stick with the facts. Southern Water is behind the discharge and I know from my own local experience that TDC like other local authorities, has been working vigorously to try and control the problem of overflow at the service level side.

Michael Child said...

Simon a couple of points here, one being it isn’t possible to stop the pollution incidents around our coastline, due to the size of the population of the planet, we have a complex mechanical infrastructure and machines breakdown.

The other is that the notion that pointing this out is the wrong thing to do, is like saying your Woof Woof posts about pit bulls are likely to put of Westgate tourists, like it or not we live in the modern world and everyone knows we have antisocial behaviour, dangerous dogs and pollution incidents everywhere.

What potential visitors require is that we have a reasonable system in place to mitigate these problems, the police turn up, when we call them, the council takes down the blue flag when the machine beaks down and the sea is polluted.

DrM. said...

I don't agree Michael!

Tourism is worth tens of millions to the local economy and our beaches are a source of proper pride and rightfully so.

Yes pollution can happen but if you intend to play the role of a 'Ralph Nader' then you have a concomitant duty to report accurately rather than take any opportunity to have a poke at the council on what is after all a weekly basis looking at my inbox which has it's own Michael Child directory.

I absolutely support your right to act as a critic because that's good for democracy and accountability but a week off every now and then might be good for you and the many council officers who spend a great deal of time dealing with your regular FOI requests, inquires and correspondence, which means they can't concentrate on other duties for the other thousands of people in Thanet who need their attention.

Michael Child said...

Simon, sorry I don’t follow what it is you don’t agree about.

Of course beach related tourism is important and a critical part of this is that tourists have some sort of faith that the council will tell them when the sea is contaminated.

Are you saying that my information was wrong are you saying it wasn’t 120 to 150 litres per second, are you is saying it wasn’t 3,000 colonies of faecal coliforms per 100 ml of seawater, with the blue flag flying and people swimming in the sea?

The last foi request I made was in February, I believe this was the fifth one I have made in the last five years. I sent an unofficial and general request on the subject to the press department a couple of weeks before, but didn’t get an answer.

I did leave a proper customer feedback enquiry, about the pollution incident I have used to highlight this issue, with the council on 12th August 2010, I assumed that was the proper thing to do.

Perhaps you had better consult your Michael Child inbox and see what I have actually sent you in the last month.

During the period that you were a member of the cabinet of course you received questions from me, I have blog with a lot of readers and there is a sense in which I represent them as well as me. My understanding is that in terms of email it is you who respond on behalf of the Conservative group, if I am mistaken in this assumption please tell who does.