Monday, 23 November 2015

Police farce: Indy letter

Dear Editor

Here we go again.

Barry Coppinger Police PCC of Cleveland writes in today’s Independent that police budgets should not be cut. Because he’s spoken to senior police officers.

Well I never. Xmas and turkeys are nearer than I thought.

Rather than ratchet the fear and paranoia levels up a few notches, why not cut police budgets? At the very least they didn’t prevent terror attacks so to paraphrase Dave Brown’s thoroughly unpleasant scaremongering cartoon heads must roll.

And the Paris attacks weren’t deterred by Frances’s nukes or aircraft carriers or even 20,000 UK Cold War troops still sat nearby in Germany watching their tanks rust. Or even with GCHQ already monitoring every phone and internet call.

Surely we should consider the effectiveness of a mish-mash of 43 police forces (larger than the Royal Navy) tripping over each other. Or the ludicrous procurement waste of different police boots costing from £25 to £125. Or the Police Scotland £737k copper. Or even the viability of the excess of guns and ammunition and firearms training with only 6 shots fired in anger each year.

Costs that perhaps pale into insignificance after the Chilcot and Hillsboro and Deepcut and Bloody Sunday inquiries.

In Kent we’ve been especially badly-served by the silly Ann Barnes PCC regime of £100k clerks acting as flabby cheerleaders for the police rather than effectively holding the police to account.

For example, Kent Police are simply too scared to investigate the rampant KCC Toxic Three council corruption around BVI Pleasurama or Manston and Ostend airports gunrunning or GlickGate High Court fraud.

Again, hardly reassuring in facing a real terror attack rather than blowing up unattended Xmas presents, issuing warnings on buying fertiliser, asking schools to spy on kids and their parents, not issuing parking tickets, or not arresting the real Most Wanted of rapists, drugs dealers and burglars.

And Mr Coppinger places too much faith in an extra 1,900 MI5 clerks no doubt following his Facebook feed and providing reasons to increase their salaries and pensions. A random 2%GDP defence target is a good start. No doubt the good folk of Cleveland have more to fear from excess police costs and actions especially as after the closure of SSI Steelworks there must be little left to steal or destroy.

And of course with most terror attacks now suicide bombers, there’s even less need for detective work in future…

Yours faithfully

Tim Garbutt, Ramsgate

Tim's Titbits:

1. Silence on 100 Se Rd gardengrabbing...
2. KORA and 2LB nearly ready
3. Ed Targett excellent article on tax havens eg Pleasurama corruption
4. Port, Wetherspoons and Slipways all quiet
5. Bizarre UK purchase of 20 F35 jets and then another 130: the most expensive and useless kit possible in the age of drones and massive peace outside of the Middle East and Sahel. And wasn't the Eurofightr supposed to be the UK/NATO plane? And horrifyingly MOD clerks to be 40k - already one clerk per soldier!
6. Good that Jo Gideon of Manston Airport Committee has been rejected as Kent PCC candidate by the Tories - now as irrelevant as the scoundrel Latchford

Monday, 16 November 2015

Manston and Thor. Birth defects and tumours the size of grapefruit?

Cheer up Cancer Victims. It’s not so bad.

It could be worse.

Before we talk about the problems in Kent from Infratil and Thor mercury and Southern Water and TDC and KCC have a think about cancers Agent Orange or Minamata or Thor Cato Ridge.

Almost all the info is googleable.

There’s a few interesting points in the book “An Army Waiting to Die” perhaps the definitive source on Agent Orange.

The book is useful in summarising the problems of Agent Orange but also the battles of US army veterans with the government for medical screenings and treatment – the book title referring to the policy of simply waiting for them to die off. Similar to the UK more recently with Ghurka pensions or soldiers in the Pacific nuclear tests or Gulf War syndrome of uranium and chemicals or even medals for the Arctic Convoys.

Wait long enough and they’ll die off and hey presto no extra costs to be found.

Also relevant for the Syrian War and Assad’s use of chemical weapons even more recently.

And interesting for the similar effects of Agent Orange on Australian and New Zealand veterans of the Vietnam War and with the Australian and NZ governments.

And perhaps similar to Kent's Northfleet children with their intestines growing outside their bodies:

Agent Orange was a herbicide chemical used with Agents Blue, White and Purple between 1961-70 as Operation RanchHand to defoliate the forests of Vietnam (and Laos and Cambodia) to allow for enemy troops to be exposed.
And also to contaminate rice crops to destroy food supplies – a policy of enforced famine similar to the Nazi policies in WW2 Soviet Russia.

Parts of Danang, the main USAF airbase, to this day are some of the most contaminated parts of Vietnam with toxin levels at least 350x higher than anywhere else.

Toxin levels that I saw hundreds of miles further south in Saigon in the French and American War Crimes Museum (now War Remnants) of row upon row of glass jars with deformed human foetuses – cleft lip, withered arms and legs and monstrous deformations.

Truly horrifying.

The book cites the testimony of the villagers of DakRosa amongst others who reported stillbirths, massive tumours, skin rashes, cramps, diarrhoea as well as most of their pigs and cattle and chickens dying within a few days and weeks of spraying by Agent Orange. The chemicals were so deadly that the forests would be stripped bare within days of spraying.

One farmer’s wife reported: “Her baby began screaming in agony and pulling its hair until bald spots appeared. She subsequently has suffered three miscarriages although she previously had borne six healthy children…a dramatic decline in the quantity of milk produced by two cows. Her pigs gave birth to piglets that were either abnormally large or small. Rabbits had premature or deformed offspring.”

Not ideal and sad even if it happened in 1960’s wartime far away in the jungles of Vietnam.

But that farmer’s wife was in Minnesota in 1978.

4 million acres of Agent Orange in total were sprayed over Vietnam from 1961 until 1970. But 4 million acres each year were sprayed in USA and continued until the early 1980’s, and a 1984 Vietnam war veterans settlement with Dow and Monsanto etc who manufactured Agent Orange.

3M Vietnamese are still suffering from the effects of Agent Orange with upto 1M children. As over 12% of South Vietnam was sprayed and 20% of the forests.

Only in 2010 did Hillary Clinton agree a multi-million-dollar cleanup of the Danang airbase. Delays partly because British use of herbicide in Malaya in the 1950’s were cited as not being chemical warfare.

While in the USA 50% of groundwater is contaminated and more deaths from air pollution than car accidents and more children will die from cancer than any other disease.

While the Seveso disaster in Italy in 1976 released as plume of Agent Orange chemicals from the factory with predictable results in terms of deaths etc. Perhaps Thor, Margate is simply a more mundane Kent Bhopal or Chernobyl or even Thalidomide.

So in Kent there are a few questions over the contamination by Infratil and Thor mercury.

Knowing the effects of airborne pollutants – and I’m not suggesting for one moment that aviation fuel is as specifically toxic as Agent Orange, although it might be especially at low level and repeated doses – why did Infratil and TDC and KCC and the various airlines such as KLM deliberately and repeatedly into Manston over the towns rather than the required rural end of the airport?

An extra journey time and fuel cost of moments and pennies. And already legislated as illegal... Even Paul Carter Leader of the KCC Toxic Three repeatedly cited “the planes fly straight out to sea” knowing that they should fly to the land-side. Away from the towns and people by the sea…

Even now why hasn’t he called for the contamination documents and a KCC review into Manston?

Why hasn’t animal-lover Roger Gale MP called for an investigation of the effects of aviation fuel droplets on animals if not his constituents?

All this activity with higher KCC involvement whether the SEEDA car park on the rates or the Road to nowhere even now the Parkway station.

And over 10 years of the public being illegally and repeatedly contaminated breaching all the safety standards resulting in over 4x EU safe emissions. For a tiny cargo airport of a few flights a day. Even before the plans of 30 flights day and night.

Airlines such as Cargolux or KLM and even IranAir and DAS Air.

Fitzgerald and Clark are still running Wellington Airport in NZ and Buchanan running Kent’s Lydd Airport. Perhaps adjusting the monitors there too again.

And why were the noise and air monitors repeatedly broken, run by Infratil and then simply removed from Clarendon School in the heart of Ramsgate where the planes fly lowest?

Where was the Environment Agency – specifically tasked with protecting the human and natural environment? Where were Button, Berry and Sproates when specifically tasked with pollution and airport monitoring at TDC?

Month after month in the TDC Airport Committee with councillors such as Latchford and Wells and Gideon reviewing the monitor data with clerks such as White and pretending the monitors were still there.

And Gale and King and Carter and Sandys and LocalCraig and Farage trotting in and out of the Infratil and Gloag boardroom, pledging their support and tax breaks for developing the airport but silent on the monitors or contamination.

And let’s not forget Thor mercury in Margate.

And Farage placing Manston at the heart of UKIP national policy but refusing to answer questions on contamination there or Thor.

If Cato Ridge in South Africa is so horrifying with a litany of water poisonings, sickness and deaths – so much so that the case was tried in the UK High Court – then why isn’t Thor Margate being discussed?

Where was (or rather is) the Environment agency cleanup in Kent – until at least the 2007 fire the factory was expanding. But is supposed to have closed in 1988 for cleanup with the Environment Agency.

Minamata in Japan is perhaps the benchmark and summary of such mercury poisonings – all the way back in 1971.

And of course there’s always asbestos in 86% schools: banned as a serious contaminant eventually in 1999 but detailed as a major toxin for at least a decade before then neither TDC nor KCC have a detailed register of asbestos in Kent schools. And nothing on cleanup.

The old public sector chestnut of leave it alone and take the tax-salary rather than clean it up.
We’ve seen in recent weeks the furore over red meat and sugar as toxins and contributors to obesity – albeit with a measure of choice as to whether you eat those.

But the measure of choice indeed requirement - in reducing contamination in Kent from Infratil was simply ignored.
Even now not one public statement of wrongdoing form either Infratil or Gloag or KCC or TDC or Environment Agency.

Silence form every councillor and MP.

A big game of let’s pretend and coverup and the police are too scared and the NHS can try out a few new cancer drugs at the Rare Cancers Ward at the QEQM in Margate.

Jobs for lawyers and judges and court clerks in the trials, perhaps slippery characters Like Lord Grabiner or Glick QC or Hollingworth or Downs law can while away the hours in court blaming pollen or pixie dust or maybe just some tumours but not all of them? A little bit of pollution but not a lot?

But now only 4 questions remain:
1. Who will be sacked or jailed?
2. Who will be fined and how much?
3. How’s the cleanup going?
4. How many tumours and birth defects are there?

Shut up.
Pay your tax.
Don’t forget to vote.
Cheer up Cancer Victims. It’s not so bad?

Time for Change

Tim’s Titbits

• Party politics becomes ever more laughable: it now seems Jo “Oh No It’s Jo” Gideon the Tory TDC councillor stood for MP …for Scunthorpe in May. And as the old adage of voting for a rosette got almost exactly the same number of votes as the previous Tory candidate. Switching back to being the local Kent candidate is laughable but I suppose you must admire her brass neck. And now standing as Kent Police Commissioner to replace Ann Barnes. Removing the S from Scunthorpe would be more relevant for where Jo’s standing is in my view.

• Here’s the other 3 candidates:
o Matthew Scott heard of him? No me neither.
o Gavin Mackinnon never heard of him either. But worrying that he actually works for Kent Police as Head of Communications. Aren’t civil servants banned from political roles? If they’re so desperate to stand then let them resign beforehand. And wouldn’t it be a bit too cosy: a former senior KP official reviewing KP? – oops just announced today: within days of being announced he’s withdrawn apparently
• Richard Bunting not heard of him either but perhaps the best of a weak bunch as Deputy of Ashford Conservatives albeit also Islington Conservatives(!). Unless the others have any amazing policies – and with a week until the election of the candidate it’s unlikely - probably the one to vote for if you’re a Tory

• Surely an oversight with LocalCraig being only an MP and magistrate he could also be PCC as per his previous attempt? And why not Shonky crossing the floor and hoovering up a few more political roles? Or is he already UKIP PCC candidate? I hope so.

• Certainly Barnes needs replacing after the C4 documentary farce and Yoof Tsar and AnnVan mobile police stations drivel. Worrying that she’d been doing the job for 10 years before that. She’s had her chance and been found wanting.

• No news on the other parties candidates or process for the May 2016 election. No wonder nobody bothers to vote if by late November the major parties can’t even select any candidates or produce their manifesto.

• I’m often asked if I’m standing but I’ve made no decision other than concentrating on the 2017 KCC Leader election and jailing Infratil and “Stop the Corruption. Stop the Pollution, Stop the Construction”. Certainly 43 police forces is too many – the farce of one (of at least four) Deputy Chief Constables being on £737,000 is outrageous bloat and waste. Imagine the other 43 forces – and this is after Police Scotland merged four Scottish forces(!). Or imagine the waste in stocking up on guns and ammunition and training to fire only 6 shots a year.

• UN 2016 election: some process reforms – weird Buggins Turn of Eastern Europeans or Women. The organisation turning inwards on itself.

• My FOI request from July(!) popped into my inbox from TDC on Friday from Sophie Chadwick, to be fair, picking up the pieces after Planning Director Crowley was resigned. Apparently it’s illegal for me to know of the documents from the weird February rejig of Pleasurama/British Virgin Islands by TDC and Keegan/Painter selling it to Cardy their builder.

• A point of FOI detail on that though: the exclusion sought (they have to be sought they’re not automatic) was on legal professional privilege grounds. there’s a few issues with that as a wriggle:
o TDC did its own Public interest Test ie the council deciding the council was right to withold council information from the public(!)

o Legal professional privilege exemption relies on the client -not the lawyer- requesting that exemption ie TDC requesting of itself to refuse providing documents

o Legal professional privilege refers to legal documents ie issued by a law firm not general documents

o FOI is very, very clear that – as you’d expect the first and overriding principle is disclosure. The name’s on the FOI tin. If you insist on seeking an exemption, especially an exemption with a Public interest test that it’s in the public interest for the public not to know, then you need to be on very solid ground and not rubberstamping and delaying your own decisions.

o I can’t think of any FOI information to be withheld except on national security eg the nuclear launch codes. Possibly a specific price within a tender document but even then range price would be relevant eg between £500M-£1M and then the specific final price disclosed etc. I’m struggling to think of anything else. Even the Army publishes each year details of its 350 tanks and 80,000 soldiers so hardly many huge national security issues there. Routine publication of info, whether every month or quarter, simply reduces the cost of having to confirm it exists and then disclosing it. The discussion can then be around the facts: do we need 350 tanks? Should the xyz tender cost £500k or £1M?

o Sophie cited that Legal Professional Privilege was sought as disclosure “may jeopardise future criminal trials”. Indeed. But on that basis any document would be refused which I suppose is where FOI would end up: NotFreedomofInformation or in name only. And there is no criminal activity around Pleasurama is there? So why is TDC worried about potential future criminal trials? TDC have been leading on this for almost a year since the whole project could have been cancelled in February 2015 and dragged out into the sunlight for discussion. Certainly 20 years of a massive derelict site would be grounds for negligence anyway whether it’s a BVI pension project or not. How much of TDC funds have been shifted offshore already? How many civil servant and councillor meetings and documents in 15 years?

o One major sticking point for TDC though: Legal professional privilege can’t be relied on to cover up a crime…
o Two sticking points actually – I’ve asked for a list of all the documents: not the content just a list eg letter of 1/1/15 from xx to yy.

o And a third sticking point: I’ve forwarded the note to Kent Police for review by them or another of the 43 police forces rather than the usual inaction. TDC is after alone of the most corrupt councils in UK according to TDC(!), Local government Association, DCLG, Private Eye etc etc. Kent Plod should be able to get their trousers on for this.

o Who’d expect Kent’s largest seafront development to be registered in the Caribbean by and with unknown directors. Surely Bayford as a senior council official and accountant can advise on this? And I never understood why a council would build a hotel registered in the BVI…without a hotel company?

o Judge Smith’s suitcases still adrift in the aviation ether although he has been removed from the multi-billion(!) BA High Court trial

• KORA and 2LB due shortly

* No news as yet o0nthe 100 SE Rd garden grabbing form TDC

* An interesting letter back from OESCE on the Kent elections: doublehatters, civil servants standing for LibDems etc

And The Chief has issued his latest Haiku last week:

Speaking from the Kent Police Bonfire Control Room, Chief Alan Pughsley said:

"This week's Kent Police Meiji reforms haiku commemorates Guy Fawkes and Bonfire Night. I ain't saying it's right but he was described as the last man to enter Parliament with honest intentions:

Remembering the 5th of November, Minamata and Agent Orange

Kent corruption 0%, Infratil and Thor mercury contamination too

Police scared to take action

I'd remind the public to stay indoors and close their windows and book early for the Kent Police panto with more special announcements later."

Time for Change


Thursday, 12 November 2015

FOI review and Kent corruption: more or less public info?

I wanted to write on the FOI review by Jack Straw: email, below and you can write too or copy and paste/amend this note if you want before 20th November:

Dear Sir/Madam

Page 37 of today's Private Eye eloquently lists the outcomes of various FOI investigations: MP expenses, offshore companies, Saudi/MOD arms bungs etc.

I would particularly cite though here similar Kent outcomes:

* Infratil secretly removing airport monitors at Manston with the council thus contaminating 100k people

* Ostend gunrunning and secret IranAir flights

* Pleasurama tax haven corruption by council

* Greg Clark's gardengrabbing review

* 0% TDC salary fraud - declaring no pay increases but secretly providing 10% increases

* KCC salaries the most over £100k in UK etc

* Southern Water sewage and faeces in the drinking water

* Thor mercury banned factory open and contamination by Env Agency inaction

Also the failures:

* Environment Agency refusing an EIR request by citing the Public Interest Test - but without detailing what that involved nor why it's in the public interest for the Public not to know

* Kent Fire Brigade similarly on salaries etc

One constant theme that emerges with FOI is delay, partial information often requiring further requests and sometimes those being - mischeviously - classed as vexatious.

And certainly a theme of seeking exemptions rather than prioritising disclosure as required under FOI.

I would amend the UK FOI law simply to that of EIR with perhaps one clause for national security - but such exemptions having to be approved by a Cabinet Minister.

The UN has recommended FOI since 1948 so the UK introducing it some 70 years later is absurd - as are wriggles such as draft documents not being released, meetings not minuted or written on post-it notes to circumvent FOI.

We need more not less FOI eg routine monthly publication of dept staffing and salaries which DFID already does and to prevent waste such as the Daily Mail revealing one Scottish Police Deputy Constable on an outrageous £737,000.

And restricting secret court sessions eg Judge Smith's suitcases or GlickGate.

After 10 years, FOI has highlighted the British Disease of Secrecy and much of government being to protect the salaries of those in government: a Rolls Royce civil service but up on bricks.

Please advise if you need any info.

Kindest regards


Time for Change

Tim's Titbits

* announcement on KORA and 2LB next week
* 100 SE garden grabbing just appalling mega-carbuncle: surprised at Ward and Co and DanielGent construction involvement even TDC supporting then failing public at last hurdle - more later
* Myanmar election: c.90% of seats so far to Aung San - a huge majority even with 25% of seats reserved for military
* astonishing KCC tobacco and fossil fuel investments: Carter and Simmonds stuck in the past - UK should lead COP21 with divesting such investments across public sector and universities. So much for the KCC Public Health remit investing in Marlboro. Idiotic.
* shocking Daily Mail revelations on NHS etc bloat and waste - that wouldn't have been possible without FOI. Kent NHS backoffice costs?
* Fun but bizarre lawyers: Scousers and Lord Harley of Counsel - weblinks to follow. Thank goodness we don't have the death penalty with such fools
* Bizarre hereditary Lords election yet again: another of the 92 die off so only they can elect another one? Ridiculous. Get rid of them and unelected Bishops - the only such parliament in the world

Saturday, 7 November 2015

Kent Police begin weekly Haiku: update

Speaking from the Great British Shakespeare room at Maidstone Police HQ Chief Constable Alan Pughsley said:

"Many people have congratulated me on the Kent Police haiku from last week and asked for more. Especially as in the bustle of our everyday policing days it's often relevant to take time out and reflect on reform - whether that be procurement, tasering junkies and dealers, wider social policy or verse.

That's why I'm delighted to be continuing the Meiji Kent initiative to promote such activities through the medium of haiku.

I wandered lonely as a cloud on my beat

Winter draws in

Many pensioners dead from cold"

Chief Constable Pughsley went on to point out that no more than £50M of the Kent Police £300M budget would be spent on poetry, and the cost would anyway be far cheaper than normal Kent council corruption or social failure.

Time for Change


Tim's Titbits:

* a useful meeting at TDC this week on the 100 SE Rd garden-grabbing - some initial reluctance to take action but realisation of just a monstrous carbuncle. I'm surprised at Daniel Gent Construction and Ward and Partners participating in this sort of thing. And certainly TDC have plenty of grounds, given the Local Plan and National policy to reject this sort of blight. Photos to follow.

* TDC in last week's Private Eye yet again with Rotten Boroughs and "Wells Hung" article on Manston and resignations and the bizarre story of Freudmann struck off as a solicitor and Head of Shropshire council(!) and his lawfirm partners letting his car tyres down(!).

* Remembrance Day and Myanmar elections fall on the same day tomorrow - and for the UK's Forgotten War sparklingly well-maintained Commonwealth War graves across Burma and Thailand. Not in Vietnam though - and hideous failure by the Australian War Graves organization too.

* KORA and 2LB underway.

* EKFOS and Pav under discussion: astonishing oversight by Visit Kent given the Spectre James Bond movie - the largest UK film ever and after Skyfall - the previous largest UK film ever. And of course East Kent's links to Bond and Fleming whether the 007 bus or Moonraker rockets under the cliffs. The latest UK exports reports has film tourism specifically as contributing £2BN in income/investment to UK.

* Slipways and Port seems to be slipping around again. Just a mess.

* While illegal parking: pedestrian zones, yellow lines and on pavements is as bad as ever.

* Lord Grabiner of GLickGate's LIBOR report to follow and still no sign of Judge Smith's suitcases.

* And with airport luggage prominent given the Egypt bomb at SharmAlSheik has resulted in much tighter security - worth noting the EgyptAir 3am flights into Manston when it was closed and also into Ostend. Buchanan of Lydd as with Freudmann and Infratil and Gloag seem to have had a loose if not downright incompetent and dangerous approach to running airports. As KCC Leader I will seek jail sentences for them.

* Excellent Daily Mail investigation into public sector fatcats and bloat and FOI: £737k for one Police Scotland Deputy Chief Constable? Ridiculous.
Time for Change

* Maidstone cultural desert:
Time for Change

* North Kent 10th worst place to live: Demos/PWC report:
Time for Change

* Excellent review by Ed Targett of KCC fossil fuel and tobacco investments:
Time for Change

* Myanmar: Aung San election as of midnight local time: winning 97% of first 119 seats.