My KCC Election Manifesto & Video

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

TDC’s Dreamland review “travesty of public accountability”

Just before Xmas Thanet Council’s Overview & Scrutiny Panel decided to set up a working group to review TDCs management of the troubled,  Margate Dreamland regeneration project. The review was prompted by a highly critical internal audit report  published last year which highlighted a series of major  problems with TDCs management of the £20 million publically funded project including,  a massive £2.25 million overspend on the project  and serious concerns about the appointment of Sands Heritage Ltd (SHL) as the park operator. SHL, you will recall, was forced into administration in 2016  owing creditors more than £14million less than year after the opening of Dreamland.  

It’s now emerged who will be involved in the Dreamland Working Group, which meets for the first time on 2 February 2017 and to be polite  I’m fucking furious. The working group will include amongst its members former Labour Council Leader Iris Johnston and the lead officer supporting the working group will be TDCs Chief Executive Madeline Homer.

Both Johnston and Homer are intimately linked to the Margate Dreamland project. Together, they oversaw the management of the project and were directly responsible for making most of the major decisions related to Dreamland up until its opening  in 2015.  For TDC to allow former council leader Johnston and Chief Executive Homer to become involved in what is essentially a review of their own decisions and actions, is highly inappropriate and runs counter to government advice and established investigatory best-practice.

In 2006  Tony Blair’s Labour Government issued advice to local councils which said that  - It is a fundamental principle of accountability that a councillor cannot scrutinise her or his own decisions”  Also one of the main lessons learned from the heart-breaking  Hillsborough tragedy was that  “self-investigation of major public scandals  by the senior managers who directed the events under investigation can, due to self-interest and arse-watching,  often lead to cover-up, deception, and suppression of the truth.

Not that I’m suggesting  impropriety or wrong-doing by anyone at TDC,  but for the public to have any confidence in the council’s internal review into the Dreamland scandal, Homer and Johnston must relinquish their roles with the working group. The working group could, if necessary, invite Homer and Johnston to provide evidence and answer questions,  but best democratic and ethical practice dictates that neither of them should play any part whatsoever in a  processes which will involve judging themselves. To do so is just plain-wrong. I therefore publically call on Homer and Johnston to do the right thing and step aside from any involvement in the working-group and in so doing help to restore credibility to it.

I will  be raising my concerns with Thanet Council’s Monitoring Officer Tim Howes,   Council Leader Chris Wells and TDC Labour Group Leader Jenny Matteface. The only way to get to the truth about what I believe to be TDCs massively incompetent and irresponsible management of the Dreamland project is to have an independent public enquiry instead of  a disreputable procedure whereby senior officers and politicians  are allowed to  investigate themselves. Anything less than an a fully independent inquiry  is very likely to be fatally flawed and will be seen by many people as  a travesty of public accountability.  

3 comments:

  1. Well said Ian rather homer and iris jailed than rubberstamp their own dodgy dealing

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  2. It is also open to challenge at law Ian. Judge in Own Cause.

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  3. Why are we paying TDC salaries of £90k plus? No TDC salary should be above £60k they're too incompetent

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