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

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