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Councillors break oath of silence

There’s much rib-tickling japery in the current HB Times. I’m tempted to start up a TV show called “Councillors say the funniest things” which would feature elected representatives trying to keep a straight face while spouting nonsense, distortions, half-truths, non sequitors and unsupported assertions. Some of our guys must be up to national standard.

Except for the current plans for The Downs, which the CCC Executive Committee made CONFIDENTIAL in July. Cllr Vickery-Jones sits on that Committee. He voted to make these plans CONFIDENTIAL, yet he now insists there are no secret plans. “There are no secret plans” – says the man who made the current development plans CONFIDENTIAL! If the plans aren’t secret, would Cllr Vickery-Jones release them to the HB Times for publication, or put them on display in the Council Offices in Herne Bay? Or maybe there’s a subtle distinction between ‘secret’ and ‘confidential’ that I’m missing.

First I’ve heard of this, although the Council did try to pull this stunt sometime in the 1960s, so I’m told. This may be nothing more than a straw man, that they put up just to knock down.

Obviously, it would be easier to get more facts if the Executive (which includes Cllr Vickery-Jones) hadn’t made them all CONFIDENTIAL. Neither Councillor actually identifies any of the ‘misinformation’ they say has been spread. There is no misinformation on the leaflet, just facts.

Oh, how I laughed! We have spoken to ALL the Councillors at least once. In January 2009 we were in email contact with Cllr Vickery-Jones, when we had to explain to him exactly where the beach huts going to be sited – on the grassy slopes, not the concrete path as he had mistakenly thought. So much for getting your facts straight!

Just to straighten up a few other facts: as well as the email exchange (available at your request) with Cllr Vickery-Jones, there was at least one lengthy phone call in January 2009; we have presented a speech and 135-signature petition to full Council; we have twice addressed the Executive Committee (Cllr Vickery-Jones was present on both occasions); and we have fruitlessly asked for information from Council officers, who were gagged by the Executive’s CONFIDENTIALITY order.

This isn’t about beach huts, it’s about saving The Downs.

What’s got so many people in Herne Bay so riled is that the Council even thinks it can touch The Downs. Cllr Vickery-Jones is right about the legal covenants – they say that The Downs must be kept as an open space and pleasure ground for all the people of Herne Bay forever. So why has the Council even started de-designating bits of it?

This the Council’s current favourite cover story for the development – it’s replacing or reinstating the wooden beach huts that were there before. Oops! The earlier beach huts were in breach of the legal covenants on the land. They were illegal. The proposed beach huts would also be illegal. It would be a repeat offence!

N.B. All snippets were snipped from the HB Times 16th September 2009, front page and page 3.

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