Friday, 14 October 2011

Councillors Wicks & Jarrett must resign

 Throughout History politicians and officials have taken responsibility for failure.

Councillor Jarrett
In 1809, the magistrate of Nagasaki, who had allowed the garrison fall from a thousand to a hundred committed Sepuku after HMS Phaeton shelled the defenceless port and demanded resupply.
Admiral Byngg faced up to his  court martial and execution for failure to relieve Minorca's Garrison from a French Naval assault.
Lord North resigned as Prime Minister after the surrender at Yorktown 1781 which effectively ended the American War of Independence.

However in Medway, it doesn't matter how big your failure is apparently. Councillor Wicks, portfolio holder for Children and Councillor Jarrett, portfolio holder for Finance have dropped pretty large clangers and in my opinion should resign their portfolios...

In the case of Councillor Jarrett, it is one I've addressed before. There are serious questions about the way money is spent by the Council in my post on Woodlands school where the council project went wildly over budget by almost double (though predicted as a 300% increase at the time!).

The New "Dynamic Bus"... I'm not going to re- wade into the whole bus station debate/debacle, that can wait until after I've read tomorrow's Kent Messenger and become incensed.
What I will say is that it cost Medway £7 million and was around £2.5 million over budget which is a 50% mark up.

Traditional Solution to Military failure.

Poor planning surrounds the Bus station, including neglecting to sort a contract with Arriva out so the biggest Bus company in Medway wasn't in fact going to be using the new Bus Station. This left the council to foot the bill for the company to move facilities costing hundreds of thousands of pounds.

One of the schemes the Council wanted to bring in, and something that we the Liberal Democrats were right behind, was free bus transport for 11-18 year olds around the Medway towns on "Freedom passes." Medway council have given the kids 1/2 price fare for the week because they were short by £2.5m 's.
One of the criticisms of Government is that it has lost touch with young people and here we  have a measure that would have scored the Council points, maybe have motivated some people to travel & experience stuff being  cast aside because a whole project... No at least two whole projects have been poorly mishandled.

Also worth noting is his role in the Medway tunnel debacle too... Councillor Chambers and Jarrett both sat on the Rochester Bridge Trust when it was sold to Medway council for a solitary £1 and the deals were drawn up. Dodgy enough on its own but when you factor in the whole
"Never is a  long time" quote, when asked about when Tolls would come in and continued vagary around the subject.

For that you must look to the top, the portfolio holder and he, Councillor Jarrett, should think about putting his resignation into the pot. Something isn't being handled right or well by the Portfolio holder for Finance. Now is the time to step down.

Councillor Wicks is also a repeat offender. As the portfolio holder for Children's services he is also responsible for the Woodlands road cock up.

That and the poor planning of primary school mergers and closures in Medway, which, to be fair has been slightly misrepresented. New schools will not be needed in the Ridge Meadow area but in Chatham town centre. Even still it has been predicted that one in six children in Chatham will be without a school within three years! Can new schools be built in this time and be ready, and I mean REALLY ready not Chatham Bus Station ready? Probably not.... Cock up two.

The big news recently is the catalogue of mistakes in the Medway test (11+ exams) that took place at the end of September. Despite promises to parents and MP Rehman Chishti (Rainham and Gillingham) that no child will be disadvantaged parents are concerned about the affects will have.

Now exams are stressful enough without a lack of provisions, at one school only two pieces of fruit were provided per pupil for a whole school day! Delays were caused by poor sign posting, two members of staff trying to check in 200 pupils, in breaks they found not enough toilets were available!
Other problems included problems with an English exam going out without part of the question paper. When a pupil asked what he was supposed to do he was told to open the booklet and read the questions.
"There isn't a booklet..."
A quarter of an hour was then taken to find the missing questions.
One boy was so traumatized that "he looked so pale. He was shaking and sobbing in the car and we couldn't calm him down. By the time [his mother] got him home he literally just fell to the floor."
Now I know that Cllr Wicks was not present, nor was he completely to blame, in fact Rose Collinson, the director of Children's and adult services, shares the blame he is the figure head. To make matters worse it took 13 days for him to issue a statement of apology. He disappeared for this time, presumably to the party Conference in Manchester. This is the worst part of it, at least if he had turned up the Monday after the debacle and led the investigation and personally apologised etc then you could forgive any role in the disaster especially if solutions were found quickly - instead of just disappearing!

These two Councillors are responsible for several quite high profile disasters in recent Medway Political history and they should, as a matter of course, offer their resignations or Councillor Chambers should lead a cross party investigation into the actions of their departments. If this was National Government the Press and public would be beying for blood as they are for Chris Huhne and Liam Fox but as its only a local council many are ignorant of it.
I'm of course not suggesting that Councillors Wicks and Jarrett shouldn't commit Sepuku, it is far to messy, and firing Squads are now illegal in the Uk but resignation is definitely the way.

Then again they don't have too because of a lack of public knowledge, even when it comes to the next local election they both sit in relatively safe seats, (Jarrett in Lordswood) and Wicks in the Tory stronghold of Rainham! It us up to opposition parties like the Liberal Democrats and Labour to remind the voters in 2015 and try and remove them if they will not remove themselves.

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