My KCC Election Manifesto & Video

Friday, 5 July 2013

THANET "FERRYGATE" FES-UP FARCE

No matter how much mind altering substance you might have taken  you simply couldn't make up the shenanigans taking place at "Fortress Thanet" Council  HQ.  For more than a month I have been trying to get hold of papers relating to the Transeuropa £3.4 million  "Ferrygate" debt scandal. First I asked in my capacity as an elected member of Thanet Council to see the documents. Mr Harvey Patterson the Council's legal officer refused. Second I tried to get the information via the Freedom of Information  (FOI) route. Surprise, surprise my FOI request rejected by Director of Operations  Mark Seed. Exasperated, I asked for an Internal Review of  Mark Seed's refusal to grant my FOI. Who will be conducting that review? None other than Mr Harvey Patterson, Thanet Council's Legal Officer. The man  who rejected my original request to see the  Transeuropa   information over a month ago!

I am sure that Mr Patterson will conduct the  internal review in an  unbiased, fair, and non pre-determined way.  I am sure that the fact that some, or all,  of people who are involved in providing (or not providing)  me with Transeuropa information,  were the architects  of the agreement with this company, is nothing to do with the incredible resistance I am encountering in seeing the documents

I have now taken my concerns to the Information Commissioner in the hope that he will intervene and allow the information I have requested  to be released from a safe in Fortress Thanet, because what's gone on here is a public scandal of  the first order which has cost £3.4 million of taxpayers money and which  the  people of Thanet have a right to know about.

Strangely on 11 July Thanet Council will be discussing a report on the "Probity &  Reputation" of the Council. I would encourage everyone to come along the meeting for a good laugh. How can Thanet Council seriously talk about openness, honesty, probity and reputation when its most senior officers are trying to supress documents about Thanet Council's worst ever financial scandal".

Here is my e-mail to the Information Commissioner

Dear Sir/ Madam
 
I am writing to seek your advice in relation to what I believe to be a FOI internal review which is likely to be prejudiced and unfair.
 
Briefly, in my capacity as an elected local councillor of Thanet District Council I contacted The Council's Chief Executive on 3 June 2013 requesting  to see documents relating to a controversial and secret financial arrangement made by very senior Council officers and political leaders with a cross-channel ferry company. This secret arrangement became  public knowledge because the ferry company was placed in receivership in April owing the Council £3.4 million. The matter was, and still is, one of very great public interest.
 
On 7th June 2013 I received an e-mail from Mr Harvey Patterson, the Council's Corporate & Regulatory Services Manager rejecting  my request as a councillor to see the information. In this e-mail Mr Patterson states that  "As to your rights as an individual, I  intend  to treat your e-mail of 3 June as a request for information  under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and  have arranged for it to be dealt with accordingly".
 
On 27th June Mr Mark Seed, Thanet Council's Director of Operations responded to my FOI request rejecting it. Mr Seed advised my of my right to  request an internal review. On 1st of July I submitted a request for an internal review. On 4th July I received an e-mail from Ms Amanda Buckingham advising me that Mr Patterson would be conducting the FOI internal review. I was astonished that a person who had previously rejected my request for information, albeit in my capacity as a Councillor, would now be charged with task of reviewing a decision to reject my  FOI request for the same information! In my opinion this cannot be a fair and transparent internal review and there is an extremely high probability that Mr Patterson will be prejudiced in his review having already rejected a similar request from me.
 
I have e-mailed Mr Patterson today requesting that in the interests of fairness and transparency a person independent of the Council who is mutually agreeable to both parties is appointed  to conduct the internal review. I would also like to  request that the  Information Commissioner considers waiving his requirement for Thanet Council to have gone through its  independent review process before he can consider my complaint.
 
This is an extremely unusual and rare situation because my request for information as both a councillor and via the FOI process, involves asking the  people who were  directly involved in the secret arrangements with the ferry company  for information which may  possibly have extremely  serious implications for them.
 
I attach copies of the e-mail exchanges and  hope that you will use you good offices to ensure that my request for information is managed properly and lawfully by Thanet Council. I look forward to hearing from you.
 
 
Yours sincerely
 
Councillor Ian Driver
Thanet District Council
 
 
 




8 comments:

  1. Vote of no confidence and sack them. We are paying for these idiots and crooks.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Well done Ian. You seem to be the only one in Thanet with the skills to take them on. We are very lucky to have you.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Good on you Ian, just one mistake perhaps "released from a safe in Fortress Thanet" should that read rescued from a shredder in ............

    ReplyDelete
  4. God help Dr Sue if the deal struck for repayment of debt was biased towards Ostend

    ReplyDelete
  5. McGonigal must go, she's appalling. How much are we paying her? £120K?

    ReplyDelete
  6. Hi Ian - Can you submit the full content of the correspondence of the request for information and the reason as to why it was rejected verbatim? I can safely say on the 3rd June you got the standard reply for someone making an FOI request at an address which belongs to an organisation that the information would come from but that the person receiving it would not be privy or suitable to provide said information. I would like to see what you requested and the exact reason it was rejected. Hopefully I can be of some further help when I read it.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Farnie Barnard6 July 2013 at 00:00

    Same old rubbish, Rick, and still no collars felt despite the passing of the decades. However, for the dimmer amongst us, what exactly has the 6th Thanet Gun Range got to do with Ferrygate. See you are quite happy to have other councillors libelled on your blogsite, Cllr Driver.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Mr LT Palmer with all your recollections can you not get Channel 4 or BBC This Week or some other program interested in doing at least a magazine type article on the rotten place on TV, it seems the only way to achieve movement these days.

    ReplyDelete