Sunday, September 28, 2008

Rumour, Fact Or Fiction?

I say! There seems to be more than a whiff of desperation creeping into the pro-China Gateway campaign! Perhaps they've only just woken up to the news that not everyone on our dinky little island is prepared to roll over and have their tummies tickled every time someone makes another empty promise of jobs.

Some of you will no doubt remember '10,000 New Jobs!' being trumpeted on the front page of the Gazunder way back when the airport was sold off. I'd be surprised if, almost a decade later, the number of actual jobs created has even reached three figures.

It speaks volumes that the pro-Gateway lobby are now coming up with those time-honoured tactics of last resort - casting doubt on the veracity of those who would protest. A letter in this week's Gazunder accuses protesters of 'factless verbal diarrhoea', closely followed a few pages later by Our Glorious Council Leader banging on about 'the fiction that is being put out concerning the China Gateway Project'.

Well Sandy, just what are the facts? In particular, I'd like to know more about the facts pertaining to your trip to China last November. Did you know the developers, CGP, were fronting up all your expenses? If you did, how can we believe a word you say about China Gateway if you're in their pockets? If you didn't, doesn't that demonstrate a stupendous level of ignorance? And if you can be that ignorant, how can we trust you to know what you're talking about now?

In case, dear reader, you didn't catch it, I'm reproducing below the recent article in Private Eye, which sets out the contents of the 'Tesco bag' documents in more detail than has so far appeared on any Thanet blog. It's worth reading to remind ourselves of just what we are dealing with here.

And let us not forget that the Eye is a national publication, not a blog. They have an unsurpassed reputation for breaking stories ahead of the wider press. This article has not, as far as I am aware, attracted any libel suits for 'defamation', 'fiction', or 'verbal diarrhoea'. Nor has it even provoked a stiff letter of denial from Our Sandy, or any other member of Thanet Council come to that.


Inspector Knacker is looking into a bag of documents which may shed light on why Tory dominated Thanet Council is so keen to plonk a 3.5m square foot Chinese business park on a greenfield site above the area’s aquifer.

Kent Police’s Serious and Organised Crime Unit was handed the bag after it was sent anonymously to a local blogger. The contents related to a council ‘fact finding’ trip to China last November and had evidently come from the offices of Commercial Group Properties (CGP), the AIM-listed outfit proposing the controversial China Gateway development in conjunction with the Chinese government’s outward investment arm Chinamex.

At the time the council assured locals the trip was organised and funded by Beijing, not CGP. PC Plod may reach a different conclusion. For example, a copy of a CGP email confirming room reservations in Hong Kong shows them booked on a CGP employee’s credit card. Another document, evidently minutes of a CGP board meeting, states: ‘By travelling with members of the council and paying their expenses the Company could be accused of trying to obtain planning consent in respect of its various projects by unfair means.’ Hmm, good point. But this is answered in the very next sentence: ‘KW (CGP boss Ken Wills) confirmed that every consideration and action was being taken so that this impression was not given’, with the handwritten addendum ‘,and reimbursement by Chinamex should be forthcoming’.

There’s more. A scrawled note of thanks to Chinamex chief Chairman Hao transforms miraculously into a formal letter on council headed paper from leader Sandy Ezekiel, closely followed by a quote from Ezekiel’s shagpile emporium for carpeting CGP’s offices ‘at a discount of 20%’. Another handwritten note, ostensibly to council Chief Executive Richard Samuel, reads: ‘Upon reviewing your hotel bills for the trip to China I would like to thank you and your three colleagues for keeping the expenditure down to a minimum by, for instance, not using the in-room minibar.’ It continues: ‘If you or your colleagues have any bills for out of pocket expenses please could you forward them to me for dealing with immediately.’

Surely pure coincidence, then, that CGP, which is proposing a similar scheme in Wigan, and which wants Thanet Council to erect signs on its borders saying ‘Welcome to Thanet – Home of Chinese Globalisation’, has dropped its plans to drain foul water into cesspits since these documents came to light, and declared itself in favour of the Environment Agency’s recommendation that it spend £600,000 on mains sewers to prevent contamination of Thanet’s drinking water. Even stranger, Thanet’s planning committee mislaid its customary rubber stamp last week and narrowly voted to defer the decision to a full meeting of the council.


Matt B said...

ell done you for increasing the sum total of knowledge about this event - reporting on the aforementioned carrier bag of documents having been previously a bit on the scarce side.

Mitch said...

That made for interesting Sunday reading Richard. An entertaining and factual narrative of the plot so far.... and maybe more to come?

James said...

"doesn't that demonstrate a stupendous level of ignorance? And if you can be that ignorant, how can we trust you to know what you're talking about now?"

I think that this is what concerns me most - do some of our councillors have the capacity to understand and make informed judgement on this issue. Let's face it - some of them are definately not the brightest buttons in the box!

Anonymous said...

For goodness sake, get over it. Ok, a couple dodgy old tory numbskulls tried to run a council for a bit and perhaps got up to some half-baked naughtiness, it's not like they were found hanging from the ceilings of a luxory hotel with a tangerine in each of their mouths, wearing ladies stockings, clutching their shrivelled members and surrounded by ho's and crack pipes, is it?

Anonymous said...

Do you know something we don't!

Rick said...

The drainage questions are not just about foul water and a mains sewer connection.

It is about the fall of the site and the arrangements to stop a recurrence, for example, of incidents such as the 1990s Sericol incident now acknowledged in an FOI answer by TDC.

Michael's blog carries the details.

The FOI request has been forwarded now to Environment Agency. It is hoped that the EA will reveal their calculations/measurements of the cyclohexanone which went to ground drainage (threat to water table assessment). It is hoped that EA have a quantity calculated as missing using Sericol production records. Then if there is a significant difference between the two quantities that will be the figure I report to Chief constable as reasonable to suspect was stolen. (As I understand it Sericol initially suspected stock theft to account for the volume missing which appeared to exceed the volume spilt to ground over a period.)

As I understand it in 1998 (a few years after the cyclohexanone ground strata contamination incident) Sericol had inquiry into whether their "Senior Site Fire Safety Officer" had obtained his employ ten years earlier by the use of forged engineering qualifications. The "Courtesy of Cyril" inquiry.

At the time of this inquiry (1998) Sericol were asked to identify any hazardous material suspected to have been stolen from site and to report same to Kent Police.

It appears that no reports went to TDC, Environment Agency or Kent Police re the alleged discovery that the man responsible for safe chemical storage was unqualified for the duty as well as being a suspect on reasonable grounds for walkie walkie property ....

The man concerned was successfully sued later in 98 for libel. I do not know whether he changed his submission which, as I understand it, described himself as senior site fire safety officer.

One of the questions currently before the Standards Board of Kent Police Authority is whether Cllr Bill Hayton told that High Court libel trial in 98 that there was no process of inquiry in place against the man.

A jurisdiction issue might be that Hayton's alleged evidence was given before KPA adopted a Standards Code in 2002 and whether Bill Hayton has an ongoing duty to answer. I would say if he were Chair of Planning at TDC he might be subject to additional argument that he should answer now under the 2002 code for his 1998 conduct. Oh yes he ain't Chair of Planning any more .....

Top men when it comes to protecting your water supply ?

Thank goodness Michael Child is looking out for you over CGP.

Rick said...

Special Remarks on Explosion Hazards:Cyclohexanone forms explosive reaction with nitric acid at 75 deg. C.Reaction of cyclohexanone with hydrogen peroxide + nitric acid forms an explosive peroxide.Vapors may form explosive mixtures with air

Supt Dazzler Dodgers of Thanet Police said his officers duties were prioritized to issuing 80 producers a year to Justin True. Couldn't possibly redeploy from such important work to look at the matter of some missing chemical ....

You couldn't write Thanet Police as fiction.

Rick said...


11383. (a) Any person who possesses at the same time any of the
following combinations, a combination product thereof, or possesses
any compound or mixture containing the chemicals listed in the
following combinations, with the intent to manufacture phencyclidine
(PCP) or any of its analogs specified in subdivision (d) of Section
11054 or subdivision (e) of Section 11055, is guilty of a felony and
shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for two, four,
or six years:
(1) Piperidine and cyclohexanone.
(2) Pyrrolidine and cyclohexanone.
(3) Morpholine and cyclohexanone.
(b) Any person who possesses the optical, positional, or geometric
isomer of any of the compounds listed in this section, with the
intent to manufacture these controlled substances is guilty of a
felony and shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for
two, four, or six years:

Anyone spot the word CYCLOHEXANONE in that USA law ?

Chief constable what the feck have your police (self proclaimed developers of intelligence led policing) been up to eh ?

That warrant raid in the 90s in Thanet looking for the manufacturer of E from two blackmarket steroids. Well wasn't that leaked to the men whose names were on the warrant ?

Policing to make Thanet a safer place to live and visit. What a joke.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like Chris Wells sayin Private eye allegations twaddle, on another blog - saying not true about our leader, also Roger Gale saying it was labour smear campaign, as far as i know most blogging has come from disillioned tories cant bear to see the corruption?

derick97 said...

as the CPRE have allready requested
that the secretary of state holds an enquiry into this, would it not be unwise for the council to concider this application?

Jack said...

ECR, you aren't seriously offering Private Eye as a guarantor of the truth about 'what's in the bag'? I'm sure I read they had been to court more times, and been fined more times, than anyone else for printing incorrect salcious gossip. If not my apologies. If 'what's in the bag' proves to be useful to anyone we'll find out in due course. Whipping up a dying conspiracy theory just gets people excited but creates more heat than light. I think your assertions would have Cook, Ingrams, Rushton etc spinning in their graves.

Anonymous said...

Jack - please restrict your asinine comments to Bignews Margate.

If you were a regular around here you would know that ECR has seen the entire contents of the Tesco bag and actually wrote the piece for Private Eye. He is also a friend of Ian Hislop and met the late, great Peter Cook so he knows what he is talking about. What a shame you do not.

True, Private Eye do print gossip and rumour, but not before it is checked by their highly trained pack of media lawyers first. After all, they attract some pretty high profile law suits.

And the stories they print, despite your ignorant characterisation of them as 'incorrect salacious gossip', almost inevitably turn out to be true. I can only assume that you are the sort of person who would have believed that unctuous, lying twat Robert Maxwell when he sued them.

Please go away and do not darken the doors of this blog again.

Anonymous said...

PS: Ingrams isn't dead yet, you moron.

Eastcliff Richard said...

Ladies, ladies, p-leeeze! Obviously Jack is a bit of a parvenu in these parts, 6:17pm, but there's no need to be so harsh. Bandying about words like 'moron' is precisely how the island's 'popular but beseiged™' weblog became, er, 'popular but beseiged™'!

Let's restrict the abuse to less offensive terms, shall we? I think 'drongo' would suffice.

Jack said...

Oh dear, I make a point about Private Eye being something less than a paragon of virtue and I'm put on the side of Cap'n Bob against Saint Peter. Hardly fair when what I said was right (except the bit about Ingrams which was well wide of the mark).
The plot and sub-plot of the Gateway / China visit / declaration of interests / leaked documents / police enquiry / zzzz were cooling so ECR stoked the fire with his Eye passim piece causing, as I said, more heat than light.
And finally I suppose I should say I'm not a newcomer to blogging but only moved from 'anonymous' to 'Jack' after Michael's suggestion that it would give my posts a continuity of voice. He was right, I'm a drongo already!

Eastcliff Richard said...

Nah, yer alright really, Jack me old mucker!

As for stirring it up, that's what I was born to do!

Anonymous said...

Jack, zzzz? The Private Eye report should concern us. You may be interested to hear, but I doubt it, that Private Eye has in the past been first to report in Rotten Boroughs about Boroughs that subsequently turned out to be just that. I would prefer my Council to be squeaky clean and its leaders pragons of virtue, but this is Thanet.

Jack said...

I agree that everyone should be concerned about the honesty, and competence, of their public officials but as anonymous 6.17 said the Private Eye piece was penned by ECR. It therefore is no more than a blog piece which found its way onto a wider stage. We don't want to go down the road of 'a lie told often enoug and widely enough will become the truth'. If there's something in it then hanging's too good for them, but until something's proven I'm just speaking out in favour of balance.

Anonymous said...

Maybe we can have a look in the hole the Septic Tanks (code for Yanks) buried all their stuff in. A pizza delivery jet (code for nuke bomber) was hidden in a false fuel tank for how long? Anyway all clobber they didn't want to take home with them went in a BIG hole. AND the solvents used for cleaning out tanks circa WW2 should be hitting the water supply... about now! Cocktails?

Vangie said...

Well written article.