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Entries in KCC (23)


Public interest, secret debate

Ladies and Gentlemen, meet the Locality Board, sounding the death knell for local democracy.

It's made up of the Canterbury City Council Executive and the 9 Kent County Council members who represent constituencies in the Canterbury District. It meets behind closed doors, and "Minutes (including a record of attendance and any conflicts of interest) will not be widely circulated".

I'll be examining the Locality Board more closely in another post.

Service discussed behind closed doors

The fate of the district's youth centres remains a mystery, after councillors met in private to discuss the issue. A £1 million cut in funding for youth services means there could be only one Kent County Council-funded youth club left in Canterbury, Whitstable and Herne Bay. Faversham Youth Club is also under threat.

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KCC - prize-winningly rotten

Kent County Council managed to scoop two titles in Private Eye's Rotten Boroughs Awards 2011.

The column, which lists authorities' municipal wrongdoing, named council leader Paul Carter as Mr Toad of the Year and former managing director Katherine Kerswell as Goldenballs of the Year.

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Paul Carter crows and bleats

It simply beggars belief that Paul Carter should round on the local press and suggest that they are responsible for the falling staff morale at KCC. We will find out in June, if not before, how much Katherine Kerswell was paid leave quietly. What is clear now, and has been for some time, is that her recruitment and departure revealed serious shortcomings at the very top of KCC. Poor staff morale at the Council is more likely to be a result of working for rubbish bosses than simply reading about them.

It's also pretty rich for Paul Carter to criticise the press for not playing a "straight bat" after the stream of misleading and mealy-mouthed press releases that accompanied the confused and confusing departure of the Council's MD.

Paul Carter's request for sponsorship from his staff was quite simply breath-takingly crass.

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Journalist bites councillor

Once again, Paul Francis hits the nail on the head, this time in a riposte to Paul Carter's New Year's gobshite.

KCC leader fires salvo at local press for 'biased' reporting: a response

Politicians often think we are out to get them and are working to some kind of hidden agenda. And the word that sometimes gets bandied about is that we are 'biased'. It is a word that KCC leader Paul Carter used when he fired off a New Year salvo at the local media in general just before departing for a month long break to participate in a vintage car rally to South Africa.

In a piece, which for the most part was a look back over the year, he ended with a short section 'looking forward'. It began with a pledge that he wished to "improve our relationship with the local press." This laudable aim was then rather undermined by a series of comments that together amounted to an attack on those that he wished to foster improved relationships with.

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Why KCC will have to come clean over Kerswell

Not for the first time, Kent County Council has shown that when it comes to transparency, its view of what the public has a right to know depends rather on what the circumstances are. It will not, we are told, be disclosing the details of the severance package it has agreed with its departing managing director Katherine Kerswell because it is bound by a confidentiality agreement. Ah, the good old confidentiality clause.

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Paul Carter's view of 2011 and 2012

Looking back on 2011, it’s been a demanding and tough year. We have had growing uncertainty in the economy, growing uncertainty in Europe and the Euro, and uncertainties in job security (including my own!).  But we have much to be proud of at KCC.

A year ago, we faced huge challenges:

  • Failure in Children’s Services
  • The biggest financial challenge ever imposed upon local government through the Comprehensive Spending Review
  • The consequent need to reshape and restructure the whole organisation
  • A global and national economy going nowhere fast, with rising unemployment, particularly amongst our young people
  • The need to define a new role for local government in education
  • And early in the New Year, Pfizer announcing their withdrawal from Sandwich with 3,000 consequent job losses.

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KCC staff are furious

Disgruntled county council staff have given vent to their anger over a reported six-figure payoff being handed to the authority's managing director in an extraordinary series of comments criticising the way it has been handled. And they have also taken aim at the county council leader over his decision to be away from his desk throughout January to take part in a vintage car rally in South Africa.

The comments – leaked to the KM Group – were posted by staff on the council's own intranet under an initiative known as 'Talk To The Top', where senior managers respond to questions from employees. Dozens took the chance to express their dismay at events surrounding the abrupt departure of managing director Katherine Kerswell.

County councillors voted to scrap the post of managing director yesterday amid a furious political row. Conservative leader Paul Carter was accused of acting like a dictator by the opposition parties. But recent events triggered a hostile response from many staff, although a number were subsequently deleted by senior managers.

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Kerswell out of it

Cllr Carter will wear a toga of Imperial purple on all public engagements, and feast on roast peacocks daily. We, on the other hand, will be fed to the lions. There will be no circuses. There will be no bread. Does anyone remember voting for this?

Kent County Council have finally decided that Katherine Kerswell is not in fact managing director. This is the latest instalment in a story that has been running since November 16th, when the rumours first emerged that Katherine would be leaving her post for reasons for reasons unknown.

At the time she was 16 months in to her four-year contract, and appeared to have ruffled the feathers of the Conservative backbenchers with her program of change and improvement within the Council. Initially there was confusion as to whether she had actually left or not. Even when Kent County Council put out a statement that Katherine "is and remains" managing director, some confusion remained given that there was no sign of Katherine at the KCC offices.

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Inquiry on village green starts

An official inquiry into the 'grass roots' fight to make the Herne Bay Downs a protected Village Green started with allegations of council waste and bullying. Canterbury City Council were accused of adding massive legal costs of hiring a barrister to cross examine locals, to the £30,000 they have already spent in legal fees.

Campaigners Ros McIntyre and Phil Rose, who want to keep the green by the prom a much-loved area for dog walkers and blackberry pickers, sat opposite the massed ranks of the council as the inquiry started on Monday. With their initially hesitant questions they bravely stood up to the suited and booted professionals who are being paid by CCC up to £500 a day to take them on. [Correction: it's £850 a day.]

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Council refuses to back village green status bid

A campaign group will not have the backing of the council in its efforts to have The Downs in Herne Bay certified as a village green.

The Save Our Downs group has been urging the council to support the application, which if successful would mean that the area would be open to the public for free forever and that any development which takes place would have to be in the interests of the public.

A public inquiry is due to take place at the end of November to determine whether the 72-acre seafront area will be designated a village green. Kent County Council is the registration authority which will decide The Downs' fate, but Canterbury City Council owns the land and will not be backing village green status.

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