TDCs Labour Cabinet are slowly beginning to understand just how angry the people of Thanet are about the £3.3 million "Ferrygate" debt scandal. Until very recently the Cabinet were quite happy to state that they had "done the right thing" in allowing TransEuropa and its 3 Cypriot based associated companies to run up this staggering debt. Now they seem to be backtracking.
They have now agreed to change the Council's financial rules so that any debt of over £150,000 is reported to a meeting of Full Council. Funny but this is precisely what the small group of Councillors who forced an emergency meeting of Council last night were asking for, a long time before the Cabinet thought it was good idea.
This is called stealing your opponents clothes. Its one of the oldest political tricks in the book. It's a cynical manoeuvre taken by desperate out-of touch politicians who realise they are on sticky wicket and likely to lose shed loads of votes.
If the Labour Cabinet were genuinely concerned about financial openness and transparency why didn't they introduce this new financial rule when they took control from the Tories in 2012 and inherited the huge Transeuropa debt which was then £1.7 million. If the Labour Cabinet were genuinely concerned about being honest in their management of the public purse why didn't they introduce this new financial rule and report the Transeuropa debt to Council before it doubled in size to an eye-watering £3.4 million.
The truth of the matter is that the Thanet Council's Labour Cabinet only took action when it was clear that public anger was growing about the Transeurpa debt mountain and as it became apparent that they are likely to lose votes over their gross mismanagement of this scandal.
Sounds familiar? Yes they did precisely the same thing with Ramsgate Pleasurama. Only when it became apparent just how unpopular their support for developers SFP Ventures was becoming did they take decisive action. What did they do? They cynically adopted a motion of mine placing a deadline on SFP to secure funding - a motion they had previously voted against.
Mind you, although I welcome this change of direction, all was not sweetness and light last night. Every Labour and Conservative councillor at the meeting voted to oppose my motion to make available all the secret documents relating to the Transeuropa debt scandal. The leader of the Council misinformed the meeting that these documents were already available under the terms of the Audit Commission Act 1998. As readers of these pages will know my efforts to see these documents under the 1998 Act have been blocked by the Council time after time and I am now going to the Information Commissioner to ask that the Council be ordered to release the documents to me. I am sure that the Leader of the Council's speech writer advised him of this fact but that he simply "forgot" to mention it to councillors last night.
I wonder what might be in (or might not be in) these documents which the Council and senior politicians seem hell bent on keeping secret. When I eventually find out I will let you know.