I was appalled by the article in today's Thanet Gazette in which the Council's Labour Leader, Clive Hart, described the Little Oasis skaters as an " irresponsible minority of people" . Unlike Clive Hart I met many of the skaters after the park had been trashed by the Council last week and not one of them appeared to me to be "irresponsible". On the contrary the people I met had freely devoted many hours of their own time to building the park. Some had invested their money in buying materials and equipment for the park and others had been volunteering at the park to teach beginners s how to skate. To describe these people as "irresponsible" is arrogant and offensive and Hart should apologise. The only irresponsible person I know of is Hart who, according to the Gazette, sent an e-mail to his Labour councillor colleagues ordering them to keep the dawn raid on the skatepark top secret.
I for one, find it hard to believe his claims in the paper and on twitter, that the decision to trash the skatepark was made Council officers and he had nothing to do with it! Clive Hart is the Leader of Thanet Council. That makes him the most powerful politician in Thanet. The Little Oasis SkatePark is in Councillor Hart's constituency. Its inconceivable that Hart was not consulted and involved in discussions about a secret dawn raid on a Skatepark in his own patch! His explanation fails to convince me. My freedom of information request might throw some light on what really happened here and just how truthful he is being.
Furthermore I am not convinced that trashing the park was the right answer. The Council should have temporarily closed the park, met with the skaters to discuss the safety problems and agreed a plan of works to put any problems right. Instead Hart and the officers arranged a clandestine SAS style raid to vandalise and destroy a massively popular facility for local youth, designed, built and paid for by local youth.
Since becoming a Thanet Councillor I have been told time after time by Hart and senior managers that the ethos of Thanet Council is to promote community development, encourage dialogue, engagement and consultation with the people, increase volunteering, get the different nationalities to integrate, get fit and healthy. Well in my book Little Oasis Skatepark ticked all these boxes many times over. But despite this, Hart and top Council bosses hypocritically destroyed something which was delivering Council polices in shovel fulls. Shame on Hart. Shame of Thanet Council!
Last but not least old people like me are always whinging about why young people don't get involved in politics and why young people don't vote. Is it any wonder why they are contemptuous of politics when you see how harshly Thanet Council and its Leader Hart have treated them. I think even more of Thanet's young voters will be staying away from the polling stations next yearn precisely because of Hart's irresponsible criticisms of young people and the aggressive, bullying way in which the Skatepark was trashed. I would of course strongly advice you not to turn your back on politics. Use your votes to throw Hart and his colleagues out of office and join and vote for parties and independent candidates who fight for young people.
See you on Sunday