Well, it’s all kicking off over at the Pier Trust – name-calling, playground threats, hair-pulling, you name it.
Once upon a time, the Herne Bay Pier Trust had a nice little Facebook site which people would saunter over to from time to time, to find out what was new, and add their words of wisdom and encouragement.
How times change.
Reading between the lines as much as I dare, my guess is that our beloved Council has decided that the whole Pier Thing needs to be more tightly managed and controlled. Murmurs of unquiet, mutterings of discontent, and opinions that diverge from the Unquestionable Truth have all emerged in the local media recently, much to the annoyance of our Controllers.
The solution seems to have been to seek greater direct control, and to this end Cllr Cook (one of the nine or so Trustees, and one of the two councillors appointed by the Council) was annointed an Adminstrator on the Trust’s Facebook site. And that’s when things started to go awry.
Within the Herne Bay Pier Trust Facebook site, a new page was set up called, er, “Herne Bay Pier Trust”. Hardly confusing at all. This new page, let’s call it HBPT2, then started writing stuff, and replying and commenting, just as a real person would. One of the first messages gave a clear indication of what was to come:
“Facebook comunication is being Hi jacked by activists stick to being positive about the Pier please, and offer help dont just moan.”
HBPT2 then went on over the next few days to speak as if it had the knowledge, authority and support of the Trustees, indeed it spoke as if it was the Pier Trust. Those who questioned the Unquestionable Truth were dubbed snipers, gripers, downers, and (gasp!) “activists”. The identity of HBPT2 remains a closely guarded secret – HBPT2 has been asked to reveal itself, and has refused.
Anyway, it’s Cllr Cook. I don’t know if this was meant to be a light touch on the rudder to steer the Trust along the Council’s preferred course, but he’s managed to rile a lot of long-standing Pier supporters – do pop over to the Trust’s Facebook site and have a look at the swirling confusion and anger he’s left in his path.
So what’s next? The ex-Trustees who invested hundreds of hours and thousands of pounds’ worth of effort in the Trust will still be dismissed as grumbling malcontents. The Council will beam approvingly on those who toe the line unquestioningly. Criticism will be branded as negativism. Cheery, shallow words of encouragement will be plentiful – substantive commitment, support and promotion won’t.
A lot of people will work bloody hard to make the most of what little we’re being given to work with, and my heart swells with pride in anticipation of what we will probably achieve. But please don’t forget – if our Council had shown the same commitment to Herne Bay as it has shown to Canterbury over the last five years, we would have our Pier by now.