Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Newington election and Kent corruption and Asia/Benelux strategy

The Newington election to replace Vince Munday takes place tomorrow and I’ve written before on my recommendations: Driver for District and Green or GRIT candidates for Town.

At the very least rejecting UKIP after the debacle of Manston indeed all their election promises and rejecting doublehatters.

People ask me if I would stand and I say of course not: TDC is corrupt and even this election fails to meet the requirements of a UK election: 6 days for candidates to register not the required 19 days. Why encourage such incompetence or fraud?

It’s the FIFA of UK councils in need of massive reform and certainly after almost a year CEO Madeleine Homer is failing despite lavish Prime Minster salaries and benefits for the lowest level of UK governance.
I can’t think of one reform and just trundling along is hardly what Thanet or TDC needs.

I received a You Tube copy of the Meet the UKippers C4 documentary which I’ve never seen and is perhaps even more jaw-dropping from actually seeing it rather than hearing of it – and the shenanigans of the 12 months since it aired.

What a mess.

Time for Change

Tim’s Titbits: misc points:

• Ramsgate Xmas decorations removed some 2 weeks after Twelfth Night – Xmas seems to catch RTC by surprise every year…when will Mayor Shonk get a grip on such nonsense?

• While the RTC budget of £500k is about 3% of the overall TDC budget when Ramsgate contributes c.£17M into TDC and KCC budgets. Clearly something is wrong.

• The cost of RTC 30%(!) reserves and the 2nd highest pensions in Kent is also hardly best us e of tax funds.
• In the same vein quite astonishing to see TDC writing to the Jack Straw review of FOI xxxx that they think FOI requests should be charged at £25 each. Interesting. Which councillor approved that proposal? Or rather do we have tax-civil servants declaring that they should have less to do and the public should be charged extra tax for their own information? In keeping of course with TDC as one pf UK’s worst councils and outrageous secrecy such as the Driver prosecution for supposedly secret documents over Pleasurama or routine refusal to provide FOI. Reassuring that the Straw Review threw out such views as TDC’s that the FOI was working very well in reducing secrecy and improving public scrutiny and value for money.

• An ongoing debacle over the Tonis newsagent broadcasting loud music outside, with TDC from a meeting with Abigail Raymond in November and Cllr Lin Fairbrass taking 2 months to plop out a letter from Amanda Berry to even begin dealing with the problem. Clearly UKIp have lost control of the workings of the council – a mix of idleness and overstaffing can only continue the decline of Thanet even without incompetence.

• 100 SE Rd: further delays on TDC responding to the notice of Court action over the gardnen grabbing. No explanation at all (to be fair what could they say other than incompetence or bungs) as to why it breaches every one of TDC’s own policies and is even 13 flats not 11 as specified in TDC’s own plan. Similar bumbling from Shonk’s RTC in approving 11 flats but then going silent over why it’s 13 – how can things improve with such idleness and incompetence on the rates?

• To be fair to TDC I’ve received the full roster of staffing and salaries – although not yet the pensions, expenses and cars info. 750 staff on a £16M budget looks high resulting in funding the organisation to do nothing. Surely there are parameters in terms of reserves and pensions and staffing ratios to the front/back off ice and deployable budgets? Of course not. Far too complex.

• Strange reports of Cllr Konnor Collins of UKIP/DIG and an array of medals and MBE’s that may not be correct. Very strange. And the Americans are much more active in preventing any such instances of Stolen Valour. The sooner he clarifies this, the better.

• Also reports of Cllr Wells now saying there aren’t 4 but only 1 expressions of interest in Manston as an airport. Sounds complete cobblers to me. Manston is a dead duck and the only issue now is cleaning the aquifer and preventing a 4th town of concrete splodge. What sort of numpty would build on the aquifer – and then knowing of it do nothing? Discovery Park needs to be filled with jobs and the towns’empty houses filled first before such vanity projects. And no £17M Parkway at the site now?

• Wetherspoons Pavilion valid and invalid and who knows? Certainly a mega-boozer is the least of Thanets needs. Similar to the King St Carpet Warehouse turned into flats rather than offices – given 20% youth unemployment

• Harbour St – looking increasingly tatty despite a new £100k Government Fund (sloshed into reserves to be sat on?) with several of the large empty shops boarded up. Ghost Town…

• Deepcut Barracks: P.20 of my manifesto and now a new inquiry opened (reported in this week’s Private Eye). And an inquiry from journalist Barry Keevins with Surrey Police paying the German police(!) £50k for forensic work into the 4 murder-suicides. I’m all for sharing EU expertise etc – but does the UK not have any forensic courses or qualified police? Are UK Police or Military Police not to be trusted with forensic reports? It makes the Essex Police Goldfinger shotgun/heart attack investigation look brilliant

• Very interesting reports in Private Eye last week and this week that the UK bombing of Syria (remember how vital that was supposed to be before Xmas?) amounted only to the first day of an air strike on an oil well then nothing else since 2nd December except: “ a Toyota and an industrial crane”(!) each with a £105k Brimstone missile. Expensive wargames and flagwaving. Much as you’d expect as ISIS is more active in Iraq and USA/Jordan/France/Russia etc have already hit just about anything bigger than a motorbike in Syria. So much so that 90% of Coalition jets return to base without having fired their missiles or guns. Unfortunately Syria and Iraq – indeed Yemen and Libya - can only be successfully resolved from the ground not the air. While Private Eye points out MOD waste on jets that of the 139 UK typhoons only 20 are ever available to fly at any point in time(!). Ludicrous bloat and waste as with the helicopters that won’t fly when it’s dusty and US codes for helicopters and nukes witheld.

• Quite frankly the British Army could be better deployed in expanding existing bases in Kenya and Sierra Leone (along with the French bases in Mali and Chad and US bases in Djibouti), speeding up the removal of troops sat around in Germany ( as the US has already done)and creating effective forces and coalitions for Afghanistan, Libya and Iraq. Indeed Sudan and Yemen. The longer the delay goes on the more refugees from Iraq and Syria and Libya and Afghanistan will stream across Europe’s borders. Perhaps not a bad thing with an increase in teachers and doctors etc.

• Trident: I think Jeremy Corbyn’s vow on not having nukes on submarines is rather sensible. Who would we fire any missile at let alone nukes? While any enemy (ISIS on a motorbike?) not knowing whether subs carried nukes or not would be a valid deterrent. Especially as the UK never even had nuke sub patrols before 1969. And certainly a much reduced risk compared to a nuclear accident. The sooner UK leads on nuclear disarmament the better: warheads reduced from 80 to under 30 and phased out with other nations and US-Russia massive reductions. The former US general for nukes estimates that US only needs upto 500 and not 3,000(!).

• Britain’s greatest threats are broken nations like Somalia and Afghanistan or dictators such as Assad or Saddam - not Russian or Chinese nukes. And the more nukes the more danger of them being stolen or accidents. Not having nukes makes Britain safer in the 21st century.

• A strange email from TDC’s Nick Hughes on the 14 page TDC constitution(!) amend for FOI and other laws – it seems to be a lengthy rewrite of the laws that have already been passed by parliament(!)unless I’m missing something. Even if it’s not it can hardly be a priority for tax-funds for Thanet’s problems. I bet it’s the tip of the iceberg of bumf. Increasingly I’m coming to the view that a rule of thumb 30% reduction of any public sector organisation is waste that could be reduced to little effect.

• Startling news on the UK and still births being only 21st best in the world and far below Sweden – with the rate of improvement being over half of that of say Holland. First World tax and Third World services. Why should UK be worse than Sweden or Holland in such a key health service? Clearly 20 miles of water across the Channel seems to result in better health services. I was surprised at the global death rate of over 2M stillbirths. And 630 excess OAP Winter deaths – interesting to see what proportion of preventable deaths that is: looks very high

• A Gilmartin Review of Kent Police cars procurement underway in line with Meiji reforms: more later

• East Kent hospitals signing an agreement with Calais hospitals. This is an old chestnut that crops up now and then with Belgian hospitals too etc to reduce queues etc. A good idea for Medical Tourism in principle in line with free NHS/EU care – but you’ve to make your own way there and back to the hospital in Calais clutching your bandages and hoping your stiches don’t burst? Struggle through the language by yourself as you fade in and out of consciousness? Surely they could put on a coach service every month or so?

• Kent Police PCC election: just 3 months away and not a dickybird from the Tory or UKIP candidates and no candidates announced by the other parties. Not trying are they to manage the £300M tax-budget and issues like police guns and ammo, undercover infiltration (another policeman now announced marrying and getting pregnant a protestor), Most Wanted criminals on the run, arrest rates, crimes/no crime statistics etc etc – interesting on BBCTV that 98% of foreign HGV drivers in Kent are not fined for offences. How bizarre: despite having a reg no., driving licence, body cameras and motorway cameras and speed cameras and passports and not one but two overseas police organisations: Europol and Interpol? Why would the police not do that? Probably all too complicated and impossible.

• KORA and 2LB coming soon.

• Kent Police panto soon and I’m hearing rumours of special legal guest stars in a production of Pinocchio the famous puppet and little boy who can’t resist telling lies despite his elders’ efforts. More later.

• East Kent Benelux Strategy: work underway for closer trade and cultural links with Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg- and Northern France. More this week.

• A letter below on UK-Thailand relations:

Dear Letters editor

Your two articles yesterday were excellent: one on foreign expertise sought by Mr Sakorn of the Thai Science Museum for key areas of Thailand’s economy eg forensic science, food science and animation.

And also General Prayut’s take-up of the huge 60% excess in the Thai rubber industry through army purchases for mattresses and gloves, plus Mrs Kobkarn of the Sports and Tourism Ministry’s call for tourism bracelets and sports ground padding.

Surely both the science and tourism areas are ripe for UK-Thai cooperation and joint ventures – especially with rubber likely to be a sunset industry in the face of the expansion of the UK lead in graphene? And given the unfortunate c.35% decline of Thai investment into UK by SSI Steel.

The UK Newton Fund, further opening of UK’s 120 universities and dozens of science parks and labs, and a Visit Britain joint venture (UK also seeking 30M tourists as is Thailand) would help boost both the UK and Thai economies and ever-closer relationship.

As a UK political candidate (and the only one ever with a manifesto in Thai and for Thailand: ) I know the potential is there to be seized by both nations.

Tim Garbutt

* And a Press release on East Kent -East Asia and Benelux strategy overview:

Garbutt calls for East Kent-East Asia strategy and Benelux Strategy as part of Meiji reforms.

Tim Garbutt, KCC Leader candidate for 2017 said:

“With the Kent and UK economy mired in recession it’s astonishing that the boom economies of East Asia especially ASEAN don't have the focus they require from UK.

While in Kent the Carter and Farage regimes have collapsed after the failure of Manston, Dreamland and Pfizer the silver bullets of growth.

The Economist for example for its 2016 growth league table has Laos 1st at 8%, and Cambodia and Myanmar in the top 10 globally.

While, the UK has Thailand, Vietnam and Malaysia in its own strategic growth league. And the AEC economic community and SDG goals as of this month are established for development. Along a new Laos Embassy in London and UK Embassies in every ASEAN nation.

While the closer UK relationship with Japan highlighted by FCO Ministers, Messrs Hammond and Kent's Michael Fallon last week highlight the potential of East Asia for Kent.

China has been lost to UK trade during its boom years and we simply cannot allow that failure to be repeated across Asia.

As KCC Leader I will reverse the decades of decline through Meiji Reforms:

1. Education:

· Instigate Asian language courses eg Thai, Cambodian, Indonesian in each of Kent’s 4 universities plus general Asian Studies and specific Asian study areas eg Meiji Japan

· Develop Japanese language courses with Japan Foundation for every one of the 400 Kent primary schools – many of these already in place

2. Develop Pharma-to-Farm strategy:

o Pandemic/vaccine research in Sittingbourne and Sandwich Science parks for TB and Dengue and Antibiotics

o seed bank expansion at Bedgebury National Tree Reserve and Svalbard, Norway seed bank with Asia given Climate Change

o Newton Fund and Thailand Research Fund expansion of links and conferences

3. Creative Industries and Arts:

o create annual Shakespeare in Asia Festival in this the anniversary of the Bard

o focus on Noh and Cambodia dance preservation and expansion with Kent theatres

o translate top 100 UK books and poems into ASEAN languages – and ASEAN books and poems into English

· provide retail opportunities for Khmer and Thai and Lao silk and Indonesian batik arts

· develop 24/7 Moneypenny Strategy across ASEAN timezones for backoffice and call centres etc

· develop EKFOS: East Kent Film and Studio with BFI digitisation and links to Bangkok, Taiwan and Shanghai film studios and festivals

4. Industry:

· UK-ASEAN hispeed rail: Lao-China announced and potential from Bangladesh to Battambang for UK industry given success of Kent HS1 and Chunnel

· Tourism Strategy: UK and Thailand some of the world’s great success stories in tourism and each seeking c.30M tourists

· Develop Climate Change solar and windfarm expertise in Kent and Asia

· UK tourists the highest and increasing – inbound of EU to Thailand and Thai tourists the highest spenders after China in to UK

· Create KCC 0.3% DFID Fund through c.£20M cost saving – leading the way on achieving 1% UN GNI by G20 nation and deploy to an ASEAN Fund to pump-prime activity

· Develop Road Safety, Swim, Fire and Police courses with Kent and ASEAN colleges and public sector

5. Benelux Strategy:

Almost zero links and industry between Euro-Kent: the only joint EU region and Channel links to Belgium, Northern France, Luxembourg and Holland – some of the wealthiest economies in the world is a national scandal.

* Frontline Kent reforms: police and drugs links for Kent-Amsterdam-London Golden Triangle of Afghan/Shan heroin

* Arts: van Gogh museum in Ramsgate with Rijksmuseum

* Tourism: Liberation Route Europe D-Day and Dunkirk celebrations

Tim said: “Quite frankly, the £2BN budget to KCC is merely First World tax providing Third World services and stagnation.

We need Meiji reform if we are to create a Better Kent and a Greater Britain in the Asian Century."

Time for Change

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