Your Letter of the Week in last week’s Kent On Sunday from Richard Styles, Town Clerk of Ramsgate Town Council: “We welcome DFL’s and work hard to improve” is rather concerning on several points, not least that so much of it was self-serving tripe.
Leaving aside the rather nonsensical debate on sweary-tattooed Locals or DFL’s – how would anyone know one from the other, or particularly care?
And let’s leave aside whether he was writing in his official capacity, with councillor-approval.
The serious point though made by the previous correspondent, is that Ramsgate along with several other Kent coastal towns – as well as the inland Crap Towns - has suffered from the KCC, London councils and central government policy of social dumping from prisons or inner-city estates or drug clinics.
The Howes barracks London council scheme in nearby Canterbury is that policy only magnified and foolishly perpetuated.
A generation or two later on, and the problems of anti-social behaviour, drug crime and so on are more evident than in most small towns. And all that is exacerbated by the lack of job creation programmes and brain-drain, given the 4,000 job losses at Pfizer/Discovery Park, ferry closures, coalmine closures, Dockyard and port closures etc.
Towns such as Gillingham are as desolate and derelict as downtown Homs.
Other seaside towns such as Bournemouth and Torquay are not so far away and have done better in revitalising their tourism offering. While the French and Belgian seaside towns, and inland towns such as Lille or Bruges, literally the other side of the Channel from East Kent, are booming.
Rather than Brexit maybe we need more French or Belgian civil servants? We've paid for them and they speak English?
The only growth industries in Kent are expanding the councils and town clerks, or tarmacking the fields. An unproductive tax for both the private sector and Climate Change.
How can KCC’s £2BN annual budget achieve so little? Plus extra for Education and NHS and Police etc? The empty racism and idiocy of UKIP has proved pointless as the other parties and serves only to further diminish East Kent.
It’s concerning that an unelected official like Richard is adding to the problem, rather than merely watching from the sidelines as usual, in his unapproved letter.
To say that TDC is hard-pressed and its budgets reduced through austerity policies by 40% is laughable excusitis.
TDC is hard-pressed by government and the public with budget cuts, because it is corrupt, idle and incompetent.
Neither the public not government, rightly, trust it with any funds. Those funds it does have, it merely wastes or spends on itself until the corruption and incompetence is self-evident to the most obtuse tattooed local or DFLer.
The recent Ramsgate Port GIAA/OLAF £500k fraud on Richard’s watch, or badly-run elections and the Channel Four fraud investigation, are but the latest examples of corruption.
Richard may just be buttering TDC up though, as so far RTC’s £400k budget is provided via TDC before its £30M tax-fund was reduced by corruption and waste - along Richard’s excessive 30% reserves/slush-fund for failure.
What a waste of tax to have it simply stored away, or spent on 750 staff (hardly a small council) administering nothing.
But for Richard to suggest that RTC is trying hard by putting out half a dozen tree/flower pots and the Xmas lights is ridiculous. What is he doing for the other 364 days of the year beyond writing letters to Kent on Sunday?
The town Xmas tree was derided as one of the worst ever last year along with décor on the cheap of underpants and bra's(!) strung along the street.
While the verbiage of RTC being part of a consortium planning large investments in the town via coastal communities is twaddle – the secured Coastal Communities Harbour St fund has disappeared without trace into the council coffers along with the Pleasurama £3M corruption funds.
Even Chatham’s best Ramsgate MP LocalCraig Mackinlay has stirred to stumps to now protest the Pleasurama farce – again on Richard’s watch:
Excessive town clerk salaries as in Broadstairs for £40k – almost the same as for Paul Carter running KCC – are a wider issue of funding and responsibility failure.
The silence on the Manston–Infratil removed monitors and cancer and Thor mercury contamination though is merely corporate manslaughter.
The problems are not hard to fix:
· full and automatic monthly FOI
· end double-hatters of the same councillors in multiple seats
· party manifestos issued - rather than standing for election to do and say nothing
· councillor questioning of the civil servants activities rather than seaside nodding donkeys
· cap exorbitant civil servant salaries and pensions, expenses, cars etc
· merge some back-office functions as East Kent Council
· develop a cross-channel North Sea Union with Benelux and EU
· fixed-terms/retirement and higher councillor salaries to stop duffers and dead wood continuing: 10 years/under 75 years old?
· reduce the ceremonial stuffed shirts of chairman and vice-chairs and lord lieutenants and so on
· Ramsgate’s £17M in council tax governed by a reformed RTC - and far smaller TDC and EKC, and KCC
· end fossil fuel and tobacco investments and KCC Construction Group
· directly-elected mayors and KCC Leader, and end election fees (what happened to free and fair elections?)
· ban political parties or a cap of 30% of seats at local level
· even the Free Economy of Citizen’s Income as Finland and Switzerland and Utrecht and free utilities
While I’ve volunteered to take on the Grade 1 Listed Ramsgate Pavilion through the Community Fund process – rather than the bent TDC process or more years of dereliction and asbestos or a bog-standard boozer with Wetherspoons.
The DCMS Princess Victoria coronet along with Vincent Van Gogh’s letters should have their natural home in a Ramsgate museum if Richard can be roused from sleeping on the job.
Secretive and incompetent councils like RTC and TDC are too old-fashioned for reform except by P45. While the multi-agency muddle of the public sector buck-passing and low productivity can only be improved through faster reform and a Kent Magnitsky List of corrupt or incompetent officials.
Hence my “Stop the Corruption. Stop the Pollution. Stop the Construction” campaign for KCC Leader 2017 and MP2020.
Can it really take more than 6 months of Special Measures for a failing hospital or school or council to improve – or for Kent, as a supposedly beacon council, to have so many? Or the first-ever councillor (but not journalists) in UK history with Cllr Ian Driver gagged over supposedly secret council documents on Pleasurama?
Richard invariably refuses FOI requests under the 2008 law, on salaries, budgets, activities etc through the 1960 Public Bodies Act – deliberate and wilful secrecy that can only be met by clawback of salaries and pensions when the details eventually emerge.
Whether as a DFLer or Seaside Tattooer, Richard unfortunately is part of the problem not the solution and merely spouting excuses while riding the decline down, and only delaying his demise.
His early resignation would be of more help than his letters.
Tim Garbutt, Ramsgate
Time for Change
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* astonished Grabiner (Lord Grabafee) of the fraudulent One Essex Court firm and BHS scandal still a High Court Judge and Lord - we're not short of either or better
* appalling lawyer scams of pretending to be from Inland Revenue - more later and very dodgy PB Legal
* no news on Broadstairs rape lawyer yet
* horrifying UK drug deaths report last week highest ever: c.1,600 - Helmand/Afgh and Shan/Myanmar heroin and West Africa cocaine routes
* Southern Water abysmal - profit clawback and Board salary cap needed
* fab Daily Mail campaign on improving cataracts NHS delay and surgery - most common UK operation so no excuse ofr - and UK Eye Week with the good folks of Vision Express eye-van, Specsavers and Sightsavers (yes, you too Boots the Opticians and Rotary and Lions) - 39M blind globally and 150k in UK a simple problem to solve
* more later on Lifebuoy CSR Kenya/East Africa, Lucky iron Fish, Toms Shoes and Siobhan Mackenzie kilts/cloth - great brands
* I didnl't see much of the Paralympics but UK 2nd for medals incredible - and Boccia - a sporting superpower