Thursday, 24 March 2016

Have a Great British Kent Cambodia Bank Holiday

The start of the new tourism season is always rather exciting: a Bank Holiday wouldn’t be a Bank Holiday without the potential for 3 or 4 days of pelting rain. But in East Kent it looks as though the sun will be out.

Broadstairs as so often making a decent effort with beach swept and some of the huts painted and RNLI Baywatch safety hut and children’s swings etc out.

Hopefully Ramsgate will do the same although the street sweepers really have put a superb effort recently – a difficult job but one of those unseen hero roles (rightly celebrated in a Canterbury add campaign too) that really improve all 30 of Kent’s towns.

And so important for tourism especially given PM Cameron’s launch of the UK Tourism programmes in Kent a week or so ago.

The jobs and economic value of tourism in Kent is incredibly high.

The horrific Brussels attacks will disrupt travel in Europe for weeks if not months to some extent – already the US State Department has issued a travel warning for all of Europe which is rather silly and I’m sure the Polish or Italian or Croatian travel industry far from Belgium or Paris would be a bit miffed - so right that such tourism effort is needed.

Already the Visit Scotland advertising campaign is out and, as always rather, sparkling.

The general Britain is Great campaign is excellent too and rolling out across different sectors and markets with a beautifully understated and flexible theme: Great British Sports, Great British Film, Great British Fashion, Northern Ireland is Great etc etc.

Really excellent.

And Kent should be urging a Kent is Great strand and Great British Art etc. Why not? It would complement the excellent Visit Kent and Visit Thanet activity too.

Being picky, some of the recent Great Britain campaigns are a little bit wonky with television advertising in UK which seems a bit unnecessary and expensive and very brief 10 second slots.

I wouldn’t recommend that myself.

While having some of the Great scripts are a bit patchy: an Indian market emphasising trains and beautifully shot in an Indian train station is by far the best. A Thai market one is a bit off beam with a rather clunky studio location for a Thai floating market, and I think for UK food. It was OK but rather strange one in a beautiful snowy Norwegian fjord – presumably Scotland? – and highlighting Indian Balti. Is that a key UK export market? I couldn’t work it out. As I say all a bit patchy.

And a very interesting Government report on the importance of culture in general and the Creative Industries (film, fashion, advertising, computer games, sports, you name it – all the stuff that Brand Britain and UK plc does incredibly well and is often overlooked for cars and engineering etc) in particular. Britain’s museums and art galleries are rightly the envy of the world – East Kent’s Turner Centre is a bit of a gem. And interesting Margate’s Tracey Emin, a huge supporter of the town and Turner gallery, marries a rock to promote her Hong Kong arts exhibition.

And if East Kent can be neglected abroad in tourism or an understandable over-reliance on near-neighbour markets such as Benelux and France and Spain then that can be reversed. Why would Kent want to lose out on Chinese or Japanese or ASEAN tourism? The potential for 10 ASEAN nations visiting UK is huge. Thai tourists for example are the 3rd largest spenders in UK.

Or there’s UK influence and reputation in Asia – about 40% of the world population live there now and that’s likely to increase to 60% in our children’s and grandchildren’s lives.

The Great activity though is part of a very dynamic exports programme for UK to gain larger footholds in those markets. Why wouldn’t Indian and Chinese markets want to be driving Rolls Royces and wearing Burberry and certainly using UK vaccines and car parts and shoes and watching UK films and television and visiting UK? Rather than say USA or China or Italy or Germany?

And visiting Kent.

Especially with London and Paris and Brussels and Amsterdam on our doorstep.

I’ve detailed a Kent-Benelux Lion Cubs strategy too, that you may remember is further down this blog, with Benelux brands such as Heineken and Alpro and Panasonic etc too.

3 Lions poised across the Channel to work with Kent.

Not so much just a trickle-down effect but also the trickle-through tourism that improves every business whether the good folks at Waitrose or Caffe Nero or pubs or restaurants or travel agents or banking - the whole butcher, baker and candlestickmaker scenario.

An East Kent tourism and business tide that lifts all boats.

With the most Blue Flag beaches in Britain, the only Royal Harbour in Britain, and both Canterbury Cathedral and White Cliffs UNESCO sites within walking distance it shouldn’t be difficult.

While if Kent isn’t too great at football there are other sports such as the rather excellent Margate beach volleyball activity – the World Games no less. The Yorkshire Tour De cycling has picked up where the Tour De Canterbury left off and a rather neat Women’s Tour de cycle in the Midlands this Summer.

And Cambodia Kent?

One other thing that impressed me recently was this book:

Not just a fun read and about Cambodia and women engineers – the STEM economy that UK does not too badly at – but the whole thing written and produced by the British Embassy in Phnom Penh for Cambodian schools.
And also an interesting new UK education technique of Maths Diagnostic Questions.

What a sparkling initiative and Great use of your tax funds for the years ahead and hopefully one that resonates widely, not just with Cambodian women engineers studying at Kent’s 4 universities or 400 schools or who knows how many language schools, but also Cambodian tourists too.

At the very least it reminds me I need to get on with the Surin Comic this Bank Holiday and try make it half as good as this if I can.

Have a Great Bank Hols.

Time for Change

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Kent Police: Brussels terror failure and 112

Tim Garbutt, Police Commissioner candidate 2016 said:

"The horrific attacks on Brussels and Bamako this week are an attack on all of Europe and the EU, stretching back years through Paris, Ankara, Tunisia, Ivory Coast and London and Madrid.

And with Brussels and Paris, in Kent's backyard as part of the Benelux nations, then it's concerning that Kent Police have failed to respond more rapidly to these attacks.

Even today the Kent Police website still contains no emergency contact information for any Kent or Belgian citizens stranded on either side of the Channel.

Kent University, the European university, has put in place a contact telephone number for their thousands of students and staff, so why haven't the 3,000 backoffice staff in Kent Police done the same for the 1.6M Kent citizens?

And it's rather farcical that San Diego police all the way over in California, and across several timezones, managed to provide updates yet Kent Police in Maidstone can't even do so a day later.

At the very least the FCO emergency telephone number could be provided and details of the UK and Belgian embassies. And certainly the Most Wanted photos of the Brussels terrorists.

To be fair, Kent Police are active in terror and pandemic training with the Waterloo disaster and Dover rogue shooter rehearsals recently but the contact information for the public is weak. A problem that emerged from the airport and metro attacks.

And with the Ashford Eurostar and Channel Tunnel and Dover Europe's busiest port, any escaping terrorist could easily be on the run in Kent.

One of the few reassuring facts from yesterday's terror attacks is the corruption closure of Manston airport just a few minutes flytime into The Shard or Canary Wharf (remember the IranAir and EgyptAir illegal nightflights?) - but concerns remain over gunrunning from Ostend and Lydd with former Infratil staff.

And of course similarly with Infratil's Wellington Airport as Asia's most dangerous aviation hub.

More than ever the Infratil directors and Fitzgerald and Clarke should be extradited back to UK in chains from NZ for corporate manslaughter charges over the missing monitors with the KCC and TDC councils.

As Commissioner I will hire and fire as necessary through the £257M police budget and 6,000 cops and clerks of just one of the 43 UK police forces - and urge the other candidates to pledge the same rigour - to ensure this dismal performance is not repeated.

And I will ensure more details are provided on the 112 emergency number across UK and Europe (as has legally been required by the EU for years now) and prepare it as a global emergency number.

While the bizarre Kent corruption continues apace: a Judge delays trial for 2013(!) election the candidate can stand in the 2016 Police Commissioner election?!

You couldn't make this up could you?

What a sickening farce.

The PCC role covers Police as well as the Prisons and Courts and CPS and rogue Barristers and Judges and Lawyers such as BSB and One Essex Court we fund to provide justice - and far more scrutiny is required of these cosy clubs of Judges/QC's above the law, with the end of juries and rise of closed courts. Never mind the outrageous Eton-Oxbridge bias of the composition of the courts etc.

Along with TingTong Janice MEP filmed fraud(!)somehow not requiring police action or the illegal Lib Dem civil servant candidate and also the current Skinner MEP fraud trial and LocalCraigMP Tory expenses raised by Channel 4 we seem to have Third World elections in Kent rife with blatant fraud and the police hiding behind their pensions and taking the phone off the hook to ride the decline down."

Time for Change



* apparently RTC have provided an explanation of their 40% tax increase although I haven't seen it as yet but will post here - Broadstairs it seems can manage to sweep the beach etc for seaside towns and the Bank Holiday but it's all too, too difficult for RTC
* I'll add a little bit more on Fightin' Fergus and the peculiar PCC requirements that I can't simply understand - and I'll post the anodyne other candidate manifestos here to bore the heck out of you
* a more detailed post later on the Sex Cops shagging demonstrators - again just astonishing even if it happened in East Germany
* strange too that there seems to be a KCC 3.99% council tax increase - but not the legally required referendum for anything over 1.99%
* interesting USA debates and Chines interest in Vajes airbase
* interesting Clydebank Blitz memorial in Scotland too
* Operation Stack review was back in parliament this week (who knew?)and I'll write a little later on that although at first glance KCC seemed to be arguing against itself both for a megalorry park and then several smaller ones
* Suzanne Evans the rather capable UKIP Chair who raised the Tampon Tax issue (good that's been removed from VAT by EU) now suspended(!) - just a mishmash of a party

Monday, 21 March 2016

Kent on Sunday letter: TDC and RTC collapse

Dear Editor

Clearly we’re seeing the collapse of both RTC and TDC with now the resignation of Iris Johnson as TDC Labour Leader, and the sudden announcements of a council tax increase at TDC and now the absurd attempt at a 40% increase at RTC.

Our councillors have failed us.

Roger Latchford at KCC will go, and Bayford and Wells at TDC struggle to hang on – all of them silent on the Manston monitors with both Infratil and Gloag, and the Pleasurama corruption.

Clearly RTC uplifting the TDC grant from c.£400K to almost c.£600k is laughable given the lack of activity: this Bank Holiday seems to have no activity prepared by either TDC or RTC. The councils are even struggling to sweep the prom of sand or ticket/clamp illegal parking. Perhaps though we should be glad the awful damp bra decorations from the August Bank Holiday, or feeble Xmas decorations won’t reappear.

A £200k RTC increase can hardly be for the £9,000 Saturday car parking costs and seems secret pay rises and pensions increases – the latter already the highest District pensions in Kent.

Clerk Richard Stiles and Cllr Shonk (with a hat-trick of RTC, TDC and KCC job titles) seem scared to ask for more funds from either TDC or KCC – funds we pay through tax - and keen to hustle through tax increases on the quiet – despite their being no manifesto mandate to do so.

They have failed and should resign or be pushed out.

And the mess of the slipways and Pleasurama corruption and 100 Se Rd garden grabbing/TDC Planning fraud remains unresolved.

With the 30th March formal public meeting at RTC (is it just one per year now rather than the three required?) we need a vote of no confidence along with full FOI details of wages and pensions and cars and expenses. And questions asked over why Ramsgate contributes £17M in tax to TDC yet only receives £400k back via RTC?

What has RTC done in the last year of any worth? If not the previous 5 years?

Outgoing Mayor Shonk’s and UKIP’s manifesto seems a blank piece of paper now, with neither the reopening of Manston nor the end of live animal exports: what exactly have they been doing for the last year?

A Litter Enforcer in a stab vest glowering at the public in case they drop a crisp packet - picking up some litter themselves would be of more use - once a week is hardly £17M worth of tax either.

RTC now has no formal role other than funding those in it by hook or crook and slipping and sliding over what they do or are responsible for. In effect, actively destroying the towns to ride the decline down for as long as they can.

A council tax strike and councillor boycott seems relevant.

As Ramsgate Mayor candidate I will call for P45 reform at RTC, directly elected Mayors responsible to the public not shallow parties, Ramsgate’s £17M tax provided to RTC, the cancellation and police inquiry into Pleasurama etc and end of double hatter councillors unsure whether they represent the Town or District and doing neither.

Tim Garbutt, Ramsgate


Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Kent collapse continues: now Police and Ambulance emergency

Yet more Kent public services in freefall.

That said the decision of Ann Barnes the Kent PCC Police Commissioner to resign without contesting the May election is positive news after a disastrous 5 years of onions and cupasoups and not one but two Yoof Tsars, and mobile police station vans nonsense.

Apart from these specific foolish policies the wider concern is that Barnes was actually doing the job for 10 years before being elected! The question being what on earth was she doing (clearly little of value and a lost opportunity of some 15 years now) and how many more of these woefully incompetent characters have burrowed into Kent public services without scrutiny?

My Police Commissioner manifesto is here:

And a couple of the key points are:

• Abolish the £5k charge(!) for candidates having to stand – how absurd and undemocratic for free and fair UK elections. The Dambusters or Kent’s Channel Dash must be turning in their graves for the pseudo-democracy they fought and died for.
• Climate Change Cops: switch every police station and office and car to solar power and electric cars to pump-prime the electric car industry and charging posts etc – last month the hottest month ever: see Misc below
• Meiji procurement review: 2,000 cars and pretty uniforms and Gucci technology kit
• Frontline Kent: drug den raid every day, and junkie and dealer registry
• Corruption and Contamination inquiry: Manston-Infratil extradition of Fitzgerald and Clarke, Gloag/Stagecoach monitors, Pleasurama, GlickQC – with the One Essex Court scoundrels and Thor
• Rape Nation review: 70k rapes in UK and only 17% solved in Kent - and only 10% of Kent burglaries solved
• Review: illegal parking, machetes and knives and guns sales/amnesty and review of Kent Police guns and ammo
• Road accident review: 49 deaths increasing, 20mph town centre and zero drinkdrive

One point not raised is the Kent town prowl car which, fair enough drives round and round – but the danger is it’s simply driving around and not actually doing anything as illegally parked cars or broken windows and street lights.

I’ve often seen the prowl car going the wrong way down one way streets or prom or simply ignoring cars parked on the pavement. Zero crime through ignoring it is hardly worthwhile. A waste of petrol and salary at best. Maybe a half bottle of whisky on expenses and drinking on duty if they’re bored. It would be interesting to know how many prowl cars per town and how many/what incidents they deal with.

But now the Chairman of SECAMB South East Ambulances Tony Thorne has resigned and the CEO Paul Sutton on gardening leave – both going before the publication of reports on last year’s scandal where 111 calls for ambulances were held back to allow for an extra 10 minute delay than that specified and affected over 20,000 Kent citizens. None of the managers involved had briefed their colleagues, never mind the NHS etc.
Kent Ambulance is rather excellent but this is outrageous delays being masked that could cost lives and even prevent allocation of future new ambulances etc.
Ad beyond these two specific incidents -essentially the walking wounded waiting to be put out of their misery for years of failure, raises wider questions of Kent incompetence – if not corporate manslaughter and corruption.

The litany of failure of leadership and corruption and incompetence in Kent is huge:

• All the Gang of Four at TDC of White, Samuel, Ezekiel and Latchford being resigned and jailed – and only Latchford having the nerve to turncoat and stand for UKIP at KCC but now sidelined as an irrelevance after the collapse of Manston
• Sandys resigning early as MP with the scandal of Manston and Thor and collapse of Pfizer losing 4,000 jobs
• Macgonigal and previous Planning Depot head being resigned: the former tainted with the Moores and Gang of Four 0% salary corruption and the latter with the Pleasurama and Pavilion corruption
• TDC Planning dept scandal over 100 Se Rd gardengrabbing and presumably bungs for breaching TDC’s own Local Plan: Abigail Raymond and Emma Fibbens need to go
• UKIP DIG convulsion: 4 councillors resign within months of UKIP being elected and the stolen Valour fantasy meals scandal
• Ting Tong Janice Atkinson: removed from UKIP over the Margate fraud and Thai racism to her own members – yet bizarrely Kent Police too scared to prosecute despite the incident being filmed so Janice now sits as an Independent in the EU Parliament but usually voting with UKIP and Le Pen – and securing tax funds for the latter
• Negro Roz: resignations for blatant racism and questions over NF memberships and supporters – part of a pattern of repulsive councillors whether Aids Gregory or Bint Harrison or even the Counterfeit Sheikh
• UKIP in totality collapsing within months of being elected – not just revoking its manifesto point to reopen Manston but now revoking its manifesto promise on live animal exports. Their manifesto is now just a blank piece of paper – it seems to have been written in invisible ink and designed merely to be elected knowing their promises were twaddle
• The Manston scandal resulting in Infratil closing all their airports in England, Scotland, Europe and NZ – now only Wellington airport remaining

So what now for Kent?

The cleanout is almost complete. But questions remain.

Questions over the Toxic Three of Carter, King and Wild cling on but a lame duck regime simply keeping their head down to remain in power and refusing to discuss the Manston scandal or Thor scandal or Pleasurama corruption.

Silence too over disastrous projects such as the Road to Nowhere or Manston Parkway railway, along with building the Turner Centre twice and collapse of Dreamland and now the end of the Giant White Horse folly artwork.

Questions now raised over the Ramsgate Town Council proposed increase of 40% in a time of austerity – and silence on why their staff pensions are the second highest in Kent and silence on salaries etc.

Questions over LocalCraig as MP and Magistrate and the Tory corruption expenses highlighted by Channel Four and the Daily Mail.

Questions over whether Madeline Homer is capable of reform at TDC after over a year: the TDC Planning Dept cling on without any credibility waiting for the P45 axe to fall, and silence on Pleasurama and Pavilion megaboozer scandals lingering on – even the delays on Manston and Berry, Button and Sproates role in the corporate manslaughter of fake monitoring poisoning the public.

Questions over abysmal performance of Kent NHS with several hospitals in Special Measures.

Questions over senior salaries given such failure: NHS CEO, KCC CEO and Kent University Chancellor and Police Chief Constable all on nearly £300k salaries not including pensions etc and KCC the most £100k salaries of any UK council.

Questions over delays on FOI and seeking exemptions rather than the required transparency.

Questions over the economic performance of Kent given the collapse of Pfizer and Manston and Glaxo Dartford.

Questions over UKIP at KCC and TDC: nothing done at KCC for 4 years, and are we simply supposed to wait 4 years to replace them at TDC now their manifesto is empty? What should we have expected given both Kent UKIP leaders are failed Tory turncoats, and now found wanting again.

Questions over the silence of MP’s and councillors and civil servants for failing to speak out of the scandals that have no doubt killed hundreds of Kent citizens: Manston and Thor and millions of pounds wasted with Manston monitors or Pleasurama or Pfizer lost jobs, and the blatant breach of UK elections whether the Tory expenses or UKIP fraud and police silence.

We have public services in freefall and in effect paying First World tax for Third World services.

And not one economic plan at KCC or TDC to improve Kent.


With East Kent actually rolling backwards on every Government social and economic measure in the last 3 years.

Our councillors and civil servants are simply hanging on for their salaries and pensions and riding the decline down for as long as they can get away with it.
Our £2BN KCC and £20M TDC plus 12 other District councils, plus £250M police, plus £80M fire brigade plus the billions in Education and NHS every year…have actually made things worse.

Barnes has gone and Carter must go.

Kent is in freefall.

Time for Change

• Frontline Kent: the second largest haul of guns in Dover with various Latvian pistols – as the Old Bailey trial begins for the Rochester marina, UK largest haul of machine guns
• Shard Aerial bumbles along with Nemolink: given Pegwell Bay aren’t these sorts of silly proposals supposed to be automatically rejected?
• 2nd Deepcut inquiry likely to begin into Trooper Benton’s death: suicide by 5 bullets
• Manston/SHP: weak consultation organised and run by themselves is hardly credible – and silence over Gloag and Stagecoach paying for the missing monitors and fines when she ran Manston as an airport
• Lydd runway extension stalling - presumably still run by ex-Manstoner Charles Buchanan – the sooner he’s arrested for the Manston crimes the better
• Time to end Conflict Minerals in public sector computers and phones and cars.
• Christopher Nolan Dunkirk movie: no further news but presumably Kent Film Office would be pushing to have it filed at Chatham Dockyard…? All the more reason for EKFOS.
• US-ASEAN Summit over with no great changes but presentations by Cisco, Microsoft and HP
• G77 Summit in May in Turkey and G7 Summit in Japan in June: key issues for Climate Change and G7 (and G20) achieving 0.7% aid target
• Astonishing Graphene scandal detailed in Sunday Times of the new labs half-empty and most of the UK investment provided to a Taiwan company. Another lost opportunity for UK plc, and exports, with graphene 200x stronger than steel and more flexible than rubber and atomised water filtration and electrical super-conduction.
• UK steel industry now has UK support with £100M state aid to Scunthorpe – that was supposedly impossible and illegal
• International Women’s Day last week – but no real policies on how to improve things for women. And the real problems of FGM and Child Marriage could easily be made illegal in Africa and India – just as the vote at 16 is a global requirement given the dichotomy of a younger and ageing world
• Hinckley nuclear plans disastrous with EDF FD resigning: nuclear missiles and power and radiation have no place in the 21st century
• New Un Secretary-General election rules still shrouded in mystery despite the election supposedly happening in June. Shambolic. And the only candidates so far the usual secret Buggins Turn rota - now East Europeans. And not one manifesto. Time for open elections for anyone over 16 and the UN parliament long agreed but long delayed.
• Mars explorer rocket blasts off this week. Time for a woman on Mars before 2030 under the UN flag: petty nationalism has no place in space.
• President Obama describes UK and EU role in Libya as “a shit show” which seems accurate for the dismal failure of foreign policy in North Africa and Middle East – whether the collapse of Libya and Iraq and Yemen and Somali or dictators such as Assad of Syria and Bashir of Sudan clinging on. And UK RAF involvement in Syria has been empty political posturing with only 7 missile strikes in 3 months with even the Russians now scaling back airstrikes – there’s simply nothing left to blow up, and certainly nothing worth a million pound missile or risking a pilot’s death or capture.
• The harsh reality is that Broken Nations such as Libya or Somalia can only be fixed (however imperfectly but certainly less than the tribal bloodletting of the moment) through boots on the ground and a Stability Force – the Americans are right it should be led by European forces in its backyard whether or not with Egyptian support in Libya, or Kenya in Somalia or formal UN Protectorates. And how embarrassing that the French and Spanish and Italian and Greek coastguards and navies prove so ineffective or idle in having to rely on a UK and Canadian and German ships to help safeguard the 5 year Syrian exodus of 5M refugees and 500k deaths in the Mediterranean.
• EU last week calls for arms export ban on Saudi Arabia - the main UK defence industry focus for fighter jets and corrupt Saudi prince massive slush fund schemes such as Kent MP Jonathan Aitken’s Al-Yamamah scheme, or the Sangcom scheme – the latter funding dozens of UK civil servants and soldiers to administer it.
• Kent air ambulance: now 2 helicopters which is good but why is the annual budget of £16M funded by charity? It’s peanuts compared to its value to the public with road accidents etc. Why with 20 helicopters are Police Air Force not funding it or from the £250M Kent Police budget? Or the 400 helicopters of the Army Air Corps? We seem to have lavish equipment budgets simply not used.
• Increasingly I think blood and organ registers are required with the police and other public services. Advances in medical surgery require more and more blood in operations: a lack of blood is simply not tolerable. While hundreds of people dying from lack of organ donations is outrageous. And as part of their routine Pandemic vaccination programmes (is your tetanus etc upto date?).
• A quirk of the NHS is that it’s almost impossible to get your blood group or to find out what vaccinations and boosters are required) for TB etc the police could provide blood groups and be on monthly standby if there are blood shortages. Similarly voluntary organ donations, but also updates from road accidents etc. One other quirk is European expats in Asia and Africa sometimes struggling with rare blood groups being available, and also black citizens with sickle cell problems, and the police could liaise with international hospitals and blood banks and the good folks at Red Cross.
• Rotary are active with their excellent medical Fridge Bottle scheme (and spectacles/ey surgery for Third World) which should be rolled out – with police/NHS funding for door stickers etc.
• And I’d highlight the new Left is Life programme to carry ICE (ICE: In Case of Emergency) emergency details and medicine etc in your left-hand pocket. While a colour-coded plastic bracelet on the left wrist would highlight specific medical problems eg Black for general Left is Life supporter, Red for previous heart attack etc etc. Does the NHS have a standard colour-code system for the main/recurring medical problems? Shouldn’t these be taught in schools with the SDG2030? And all schoolkids given their own ICE card with their address and emergency numbers?
• Similarly the 112 emergency number (in UK and rest of EU) needs raising more widely around the world and telecoms reforms to at least: 112, 911 and 999. Similarly the 101 non-emergency number which I think unfortunately in India brings only the Fire Brigade. If you speak Hindi. Thailand is very active with a Tourist Police number: 1155 and English speakers: shouldn’t UK have same for foreign tourists and residents? A 103 number or use the Thai number for consistency?
• Tesco pledges this week to reduce all food waste in its stores by next year through selling it off cheap, taking wonky veg from suppliers and providing edible food to food banks and charities which is excellent. Presumably even inedible food is provided to pig farms or for fertiliser? What are other supermarkets doing? And credit to the good folks at Barclays in refusing to speculate on food investments – helping reduce famine and malnutrition. If your bank doesn’t or won’t then switch.
• The silent famine in South Sudan highlighted by Oxfam- again boots on the ground is the only long-term solution for such Broken Nations. Otherwise what are our military for?
• SDG 2030: now begun as of 1st January – I just can’t help thinking that 15 years to achieve them is far too long. The similar UNMDG took 15 years from a standing start and achieved most of the goals eg 90% of kids in school. Building on those goals shouldn’t take another 15 years. Does any research exist on which SDG2030 can be achieved before 2020 and which ones before 2025? At the very least the 3rd set of SDG will be to be achieved before 2035.
• An interesting article on Chinese naval/air bases beyond the Spratlys: Djibouti/Suez, Namibia/Cape and even Azores/Med. Maybe they’’ll buy up Guantanamo/Panama and Falklands/Cape and complete the set? A minimal cost for the world’s largest population and economy (although much weaker in GDP per head – just as the Russian economy is smaller than Holland’s) and 2M men under arms: the same as the EU and USA put together. But perhaps an argument for UK to divest Gibraltar to Spain and Falklands to Argentina as fellow-democracies.
• Nobody would suggest say the Isle of Wight as a Chinese base but certainly no more absurd than Hong Kong or the Falklands or Gibraltar being a UK colony/base. Indeed China has always been a land power and with 11m university graduates each year – equivalent to the whole generation of under-16 population of UK, indeed almost double the population of London – its strength lies in its human capital, and the eventual reunification of Taiwan and Korea. Indeed Russia has more specific concerns with only 8M population in the Siberian Far East and concerns over the Kuriles and Sakhalin.
• Northern Belle 1857 Kent shipwreck: where are the c.12 USA Presidential bravery medals?
• Let’s not discuss UK literacy rates of 99% for a reading age of 8 at 16 – how inadequate.
• Climate Catastrophe: the latest figures show not just 2015 as the hottest year ever (as part of the hottest decade ever), and not just both January and February 2016 the hottest months ever, but also the hottest month-on-month temperature increase ever, and the lowest ever levels of Arctic pack ice. What are KCC and other public sector organisations doing for Climate Change in Kent? Nothing. How silly.
• Surprising report in the Times that only 1% of coffee cups from Costa and Starbucks etc are recycled. Surely that’s the easiest piece of recycling, with even the cardboard sleeves just reused? It astonishes me that there aren’t recycling depots much as GPO letter sorting offices to sift through all rubbish and ensure the recycling is maximised. At the very least it would also create thousands of jobs.

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Is TDC CEO Madeline Homer upto it?

By upto it, I mean reform and improvement of not just TDC the council but also Thanet and East Kent?

The signs don’t look good: Madeline Homer has been CEO of TDC for almost a year now with a lavish £120k salary –almost as much as the Prime Minister - for the lowest unit of UK governance. And TDC is of course one of Britain’s worst councils – as detailed by Westminster and Whitehall.

Plus car and pension and expenses – almost certainly as much again. And surprising these aren’t routinely detailed on the TDC website. Along with all salaries and pensions.

Clearly there’s been little improvement in FOI at TDC: a council routinely criticised again by DCLG and Cabinet for secrecy and incompetence – the former secrecy designed to cover the latter.

But even that aside what has Homer done in the last year?

The appalling FOI secrecy trial of elected councillor Ian Driver over the Pleasurama tax haven fraud is disgusting and illegal – yet still hasn’t been cancelled. Councillors have primacy over what council documents are secret or not, and what can be released to the public and press. And even the FOI law – and now Jack Straw review - stresses the primacy of transparency before the option of seeking exemptions.

And exemptions don’t even apply for EIR unless it’s proven to be in the public interest for the public not to know the information.

It was interesting how the judge in the Driver FOI case refused to censure the release of the documents to the press – only the councillor. A ludicrous ruling if ever there was one but clearly the Judge knew he was on dodgy ground over press freedom at the very least.

And feeble that the Gazette hasn’t published the documents already.

But where are Homer’s reforms after a year?

Boarding up the centre of Margate for a few tramps is pathetic- and concerning if the tramps aren’t placed in hostels and looked after.

And the basics are still being done badly – here we are in early March the start of the Summer season for these tourist towns and Blue Flag beaches - and sand is piled high on the promenade, dog dirt and chip packets everywhere and illegal parking on the pavements and prom.

While Broadstairs has the beach water rating on display – from May 2015(!). A concern as well given the recent poor ratings of Viking Bay. Homer’s TDC should be all over this problem like a rash.

And not a word on the Summer’s events and decorations etc. Do we find out the week before as usual?
£120k salaries are too much for such failure.

Pleasurama is still secret: we have no details as yet from Bob Bayford senior councillor throughout this farce nor estate agent Terry Painter and his handyman Steve Keegan the nominal CEO of the strange Pleasurama: a company in the British Virgin islands tax haven of secret directors for Kent’s largest seafront development – with no signed-off blueprints.

Let’s hear from the three of them – sharing an office they must know the details of this project and the strange Cardy change over the last year?

Even worse on Homer’s watch is the legal farce of Keegan being deposed (presumably along with the other secret directors) so that Cardy the builder can buy the supposed Pleasurama BVI company rather than start again.
I’ve never heard of a council helping the builder to buy the site from the owners – and all without a hotel company involved in the hotel? Have you?

And then the previous TDC Planning Director is resigned.

Similar messes such as the slipways and Pavillion-Wetherspoons megaboozer and Carpet warehouse overbuild of housing in the town centre and Gasworks and 2nd pool or MillionQuid Fire Garage need a fresh start.

As does the creeping concrete farce of the 4th town centre - with Government development funds switched into building a bog-standard if not weak shopping centre - and 15,000 houses supposedly needed which at the very least destroying Thanet and reducing the value of every existing property with massive over-supply.

Indeed the Manston-Stone Hill Park nonsense needs throwing out with the Gloag £1 purchase price given nearby Discovery Park is simply relocating existing businesses to waste the Government-provided incentives for the future seedcorn of Pharma and STEM jobs.

And, to be blunt, Pleasurama looks like a big payday for senior councillors and civil servants as secret directors, going back to the Gang of Four. And Bayford and Latchford and Wells still seem wrapped up the in those ancient regimes despite silence or turncoats. Why so silent on this huge project?

It looks to me as if Homer’s just keeping her head down and taking her salary.

Even the basics aren’t being done like not collecting bins in the centre of town on market day. A row of dustcarts and burst bags to greet visitors, or for Thanet’s grannies to steer around as they search for big knickers and Werthers Originals.

So much for good governance and expert civil servants.

And what of the Gang of Four and say Manston monitors?

There’s a filthy nest of corruption and cancer and shortened lives buried deep but just waiting to break through to the surface.

Why hasn’t Homer called in the police for a review of the missing million pounds worth of Manston fines – and of course the resulting cancer affecting every man, woman and child in East Kent.

Berry, Button and Sproates are still picking up public paychecks at TDC and can explain their roles in the pollution of the public.

Take the salary as long as you can and keep your head down, Madeline?

Or Thor – a banned factory remaining open to poison the public?

Take the salary as long as you can and keep your head down Madeline?

Or the Dreamland mess of not only Sands Development purchasing the site from TDC in secret but then secretly suing TDC, but the whole escapade collapsing in months.

Take the salary as long as you can and keep your head down, Madeline?

Even simpler what about the mess of the 100Se Rd garden grabbing – a huge overdevelopment of flats. That breaches every one of TDC’s own Local Plan and planning guidelines.

You couldn’t make it up if you tried – and this in the early days of the Homer regime.

Unless Homer takes robust action to dismiss Abigail Raymond and Emma Fibbens it’s looking more like brown envelopes rather than mere incompetence at TDC Planning Dept again.

And their rather witless reliance of silence on the rates instead of explanation.

Certainly salaries and pensions should be clawed back in such instances.

Why after all would the Homer flats be increased after TDC and RTC permission was given? And despite numerous planning applications over the years being rejected?

At the very least it’s hardly a new broom regime under Homer.

She can’t rely on hiding behind weak and foolish and underpaid councillors for her £120k salary.

She’s meant to know what she’s doing.

She’s meant to be improving things.

The council will be further hamstrung when the DIG councillors have to resign over the Stolen Valour fraud – and UKIP have collapsed already.

The most bizarre election manifesto u-turns ever: not just Manston cancelled, but also now live animal exports to remain. The Kent UKIP manifesto is now just a blank piece of paper. As indeed is LocalCraig’s manifesto.

Calling a fresh election seems viable with such blatant abuses of the electoral process.

And the same UKIP Duffers clogging up seats at KCC are sidelined as racists and incompetents – they have achieved nothing and will not in the next 12 months before KCC 2017 elections.

And why haven’t the police been called in for the Simon Moores and Sue Macgonigal fraud of 0% pay rises secretly and illegally passed as salary increases? A breathtakingly blatant fraud. There’s no time-limit on public fraud – especially by the civil servants.

Repaying the salaries and a few brief jail sentences would encourage the others.

As Police Commissioner candidate I have already written to the Chief Constable of Kent Police with concerns on the above and calling for a rigorous police inquiry – by a different police force if Kent Police and CPS senior cops and clerks feel too compromised over their pensions.

Already the LocalCraigMP Tory election expenses investigation – as blatant as a robber in a stripy shirt and bag marked swag - is looking weak.

A British election thrown in the dirt.

So, to answer the question posed in the headline, no I don’t think Homer is upto it for the reform of TDC and East Kent?


And the clock is now ticking to prove it over the next 3 months or she will need to go.

There’s no shortage of clerks wanting a £120k salary (or the bizarre £60k election bonus) and roll their sleeves up for reform.

Tim Willis at TDC could take over for a few months if needs be.

Reform of TDC, rolling backwards in every social and economic criteria, cannot wait.

Your children deserve better. Your grandparents deserve better. They can’t be held hostage to a clerk’s paycheck or cover-up.

Nor should we fund a dog and bark ourselves or allow dog in a manger political roadblocks. Mere silence and delay for corruption and contamination.

Wielding the axe over the failure of the TDC Planning Dept and raising public inquiries on Pleasurama and Manston and Thor is not difficult. Certainly few councillors would be able to stand in the way without credible cause.
And certainly other voices such as Driver and Targett and Oldfield are calling for similar changes.

The existing councillors are a busted flush: pensioners and fools relying on the ceremonial and turning Planet Thanet into Planet of the Apes.

With other East Kent Chief Executives such as Nadeem Aziz at Dover Council to Colin Carmichael at Canterbury Council and senior staff underneath them, we are not short of experienced local government officials to solve these problems. Clerks like Richard Styles at RTC dithering over excuses for what garden grabbing they’ve approved or not at 100Se Rd look to be of the Thanet of the past not the future.

Nor of the latest calls for a unitary Kent councils: East, West and Medway, and of course Special Measures and Direct Rule from Westminster to wield the axe to root and branch to deliver the change.

Civil Disobedience is equally viable for a corrupt and incompetent council:

• Council tax and business rates boycott: short pay and wrong pay and refuse to pay. Then do it again. The jails are full anyway – and refusing shoddy and criminal service is no crime
• Boycott of councillors and civil servants in pubs and shops
• 6th Form school and college pupil walkout on Friday lunchtime and don’t go back: missing 90 minutes of lessons on a Friday afternoon won’t make you thick, and the teachers could well join with you over the cancer and asbestos scandals

And many people say to me should we torch the council office, torch the courts and torch the police station to drive change?

But I say no.

They say should we form a citizen militia to patrol the town centre as the police have failed.

But I say no.

They say should we take a more aggressive approach in council meetings over these failures.

But I say no.

They say should we patrol outside councillors’ and off-duty police officers’ houses to keep them safe.

But I say no.

They say should the fishing boats and yachts blockade the marina and port.
But I say no.

They say should we arrest dealers and junkies ourselves and gaffertape them to a lamppost for collection in the morning.

But I say no.

They say should we set up citizen militia checkpoints to escort the police cars and civil servants and parachute MP’s in and out of the area.

But I say no.

There’s no need for the balaclava and pickax handle or machete and shotgun.

The PCSO’s in particular seem capable, and have my support in doing a difficult job, as PCC2016 candidate.

They know every day needs a drug den raid and arrests/confiscations for heroin and cocaine and cannabis.

They know traffic policing needs to improve – whether parking or speeding or drinkdriving.

They know the horrifying 17% rape and 10% burglary and Most Wanted arrests need to improve.

Thanet’s and East Kent’s problems are not difficult to solve.

There are over 250,000 people in East Kent and 130,000 in Thanet who know that reform is needed.

The councillors know it too.

The civil servants know it too.

The police know it too.

And the clock is ticking for Leader Carter and the Toxic Three at KCC and the lavish £200k-plus public sector salaries that seem to have slipped through scrutiny - and proving to be First World costs for Third World services.

And at the very least the clock is ticking for Madeline Homer and her £120k salary and car and pension.

Time for Change

Friday, 4 March 2016

Garbutt calls for Digital Kent.

Tim Garbutt, 2016 PCC candidate and 2017 KCC Leader said:

" Kent is broken. the existing councils are mired in corruption and incompetence. The economy is rolling backwards: East Kent for example was cited as falling lower in the last 3 years by the Cabinet Office on every social and economic statistic.

Youth unemployment is soaring to at least 20% if not higher with statistics fudged.

How absurd that Kent Police are the tech leaders in Kent with body cameras and CCTV leaving Kent's youth more likely to be tasered (240 shocks last year) than gainfully employed.

Even pharma is one core industry underdeveloped after the closure of Pfizer in Sandwich and Glaxo in Dartford.

With the death-knell of Manston ringing in their ears, nothing was done by £2BN KCC last year, nothing the year before and nothing will be done this year.

While Kent is failing on the New Economies of Digital - Sussex for example created Wired Sussex and Brighton has its own digi-future economic regeneration programmes.

I will develop and lead Digital Kent as a public-private partnership to focus on digital delivery in Kent with BT, LinK and KCC.

Kent needs even more and I will pump-prime the tech industries: as KCC Leader I will insist on a free smartphone for every Kent schoolchild (68% in UK), Yingluck PC computer initiatives and at least two 3D printers and Raspberry Pi computers per school.

And an SDG2030 Gap Year Summer: with the school leaving age now raised to 18 the potential is for broader education beyond just exam-cramming and take a fresh look at the timing of exams and holidays from the current 19th century harvest system.

And end the BBCTV licence fee other than from tax: a 1930's radio tax irrelevant in the digital era and with the absurdity of forming 90% of court cases when it's already mostly funded from national tax we all pay.

While the rollout of digital broadband should match South Korea (88%) within 2 years.

Every Kent library and town centre with free wifi and plasma screen and ending of the worst road and rail digital notspots.

Every Kent 6th form, college and university will have a mobile and PC/mobile programming course.

How can Kent compete if Kent's youth are not made tech-savvy, and Kent business are not supported and enabled on the digital future?

How can major employers such as Samsung etc even consider Kent or link to Kent's universities or UK exports be stimulated?

Gordon Brown has detailed China producing 11M university graduates each year - the equivalent of the whole UK under-18 population.

In a generation, Kent's youth could be back toiling in the fields again from the failures of their grandparents and parents in developing Kent's economy beyond the cement mixer.

While the development of East Kent Film Office and Studio will further add to the East Kent economy and link to Kent Film Office, Dreamland and Paramount theme park.

The reliance on construction projects and property speculation of housing estates on flood plains is leaving Kent stuck in the past."

Time for Change


Wednesday, 2 March 2016

East Kent towns in freefall: cops on the run

A vicious stabbing and pool of blood in Ramsgate town centre comes hard on the heels of the teen mob riot of 30 kids and general lawlessness in street parking on the High St and seafront. (Where were the CCTV cameras on the latter?).

And of course the recent Government statistics of East Kent rolling backwards on every deprivation and poverty score in the last 3 years. And Kent Police's own statistics of just 17% of rapes and 10% of burglaries solved - presumably if they are recorded at all.

To be fair, with the collapse of governance, Kent Police are often at the sharp end of these crimes and simply mopping up the mess. Yet we pay c.£300M for 6,000 police and £16M for 750 TDC staff and £2BN for who knows how many KCC staff to do nothing.

But, at the very least the illegal sale of machetes and crossbows should be stopped along with regular police foot and car patrols and ticketing of cars, and weekly crime statistics.

Indeed after the Goldfinger shotgun wound farce and Deepcut murder-suicides, Essex and Surrey Police should be banned from Kent policing. While the CPS and Broken Courts seems to be bumbling over jailing the few criminals that are captured.

And BBC Panorama on Monday detailed the rampant corruption and feeble response within the Met and law profession with bent judges and barristers and lawyers such as One Essex Court:

Kent Police may be too scared to solve the corruption at TDC and KCC over Manston and Pleasurama etc - but First World tax seems to yield only Third World services allowing petty thuggery to run rampant or expensive and ineffective technology.

Indeed a more organised programme of civil disobedience may be necessary: council tax strike, police and councilors refused service in shops and pubs, citizen patrols and traffic checkpoints around the town centre and school walkouts on Friday afternoons.

Time for Change: @timg33