Will the hand of Bob ease the discontent?
Behind the scenes at County Hall with our political editor Paul Francis
The councillor, a stylish sort, is said to have been a member of a band in the same 1980s mould
THE news that Sir Bob Geldof’s company is to run Kent TV is undoubtedly something of a public relations coup for County Hall’s Tory leadership. The ruling administration has been rather nervous about some of the reaction to the proposal – unsurprising, given that it might cost £1.4million. It will be interesting to see if Sir Bob’s involvement will satisfy the rumblings of discontent among some Conservative backbenchers, some of whom, possibly recklessly, put their head above the parapet at a public meeting to discuss the project last week. The veteran Hythe county councillor Chris Capon (Con) rather testily asked chief executive Peter Gilroy whether he had thought of “taking a consensus of opinion from staff about how they think you are performing as chief executive?” Presumably, the results of which could be broadcast on Kent TV. Ouch.
SHOULD we be allowed to know how much Martin Bacon, the man who abruptly left his job as the head of the quango charged with bringing jobs and homes to Ashford, earned? We believe we should, so we asked SEEDA (South East England Development Agency) under the Freedom of Information Act for details of his earnings while managing director of Ashford’s Future. However SEEDA, which employed Mr Bacon, has rejected our request, saying such information is exempt because to release it would contravene the Data Protection Act. But this seems rather odd. SEEDA already places in the public domain the earnings and pension entitlements of its senior executives in its annual report. There, for example, you can learn that chief executive Pam Alexander earned £132,281 and enjoyed a bonus of £25,500 in 2005-2006. So why the secrecy over Mr Bacon?
OFF The Record has followed with interest the growing number of people who have signed a petition on the 10 Downing Street website calling for the national anthem to be replaced by the song Gold by the New Romantic band Spandau Ballet. Intriguingly, a rumour has reached us that there is a senior county councillor who might have an interest in this petition. The councillor, a stylish sort, is said to have been a member of a band in the same 1980s mould. Anyone who can cast any light on this, or indeed any pictorial evidence, please do contact us. All information treated in strictest confidence, naturally...
WHY are some MPs trying to exempt Parliament from the Freedom of Information Act? The move smacks of “one rule for them, one rule for us” and is rightly being resisted by those who believe our elected politicians should set an example when it comes to openness and accountability. Intriguingly, an attempt to change the Act was due to have taken place last week when a Private Members Bill was withdrawn. The Bill will come back on May 18 – by strange co-incidence, after this week’s local elections.