Councillor Alan Poole is a member of Thanet Council's Labour controlled Cabinet. He is responsible for Operational Services which includes the refuse collection service. For this responsibility he gets paid an allowance of £10,766 ON TOP of his basic Councillor allowance of £4,360.
Whilst everyone agrees it's a good thing, the introduction of the Council's new refuse recycling service has been beset with persistent problems. These problems came to an head over the Xmas and New Year period when, by all accounts, hundreds of homes had no collections.
Councillor Poole's response to these serious problems has been appalling. Rather than reassuring residents, developing robust contingency plans, and beginning an investigation into what went wrong and how the troubled system can be improved, he has sought to blame others
At the Council meeting on 5th December he blamed local residents for the difficulties with the new recycling system because, he alleged, they hadn't read the leaflets! In an e-mail of 2 January he once again blamed local people saying "inconsiderate parking by residents, bins put out on the wrong day or put in the wrong place or contaminated " are the cause of the collection problems.
Today, Councillor Poole has issued a statement about the refuse collection problems over the festive season which has been published on the Council's website. At long last he appeares to have recognised that the failure of the service was much larger and more significant than he portrayed when interviewed by BBC Radio Kent on Friday. There was even a belated apology to Thanet residents for the inconvenience caused be the collection problems.
But wait for it! The apology is not from Councillor Poole,TDCs Refuse Collector in Chief , but a mealy mouthed apology on behalf diffuse corporate entity know as Thanet District Council. Not once in his statement does Poole take personal responsibility for a service he ultimately controls and is paid handsomely for controlling. Not once does he say that he is personally sorry for the inconvenience caused by the failures of the service he is accountable for.
But worst of all after finally admitting that the collection problems were not caused by the actions of local people, Councillor Poole fails to publically apologise for his disgusting efforts to scapegoat Thanet residents for the failures of a service for which he receives a large £10,766 special responsibility allowance. This is a shameful omission.
People have an expectation that their elected representatives should behave with honour and integrity and that they should shoulder full responsibility for the services they were voted in to manage. This appears to be a concept which Councillor Poole does not understand. Instead of taking responsibility for his service he has continually tried to point the finger at everyone but himself. This is why he should be removed from the Cabinet.
Just over a month ago four Independent (non-political) Members of Thanet Standards Committee produced a report about the public perception of Thanet Council and its Councillors. Amongst other things the report highlighted the fact that some Councillors had made "comments towards members of the of the public which have been less than respectful". It also pointed out that some Councillors wrote letters, e-mails and press releases which sometimes included "attacks on members on the public". The four Independent Members of the Standards Committee said in their report that such behaviour fell short of high standards of behaviour expected of Councillors.
Councillor Poole along with the his Labour Cabinet chums and Council Leader Clive Hart, spent more than an hour mercilessly attacking and bullying the Independent Members of the Standards Committee for having the audacity to produce a report which told the truth about bad behaviour by Councillors. These shameful actions led to the report being voted down and the Independent Standards Members resigning.
Some people might assume that the forcing out of Independent Standards Committee members was deliberately engineered by the Labour Cabinet to silence their critics. Councillor Poole's recent blame games, certainly support this view. Either way, there is no doubt that the behaviour of senior Thanet Council politicians are bringing TDC into disrepute and that action must taken.
Its time for a change!
PS in the absence of a proper apology from Councillor Poole the picture of recently deceased Ronnie Biggs probably sums up the feelings of many Thanet residents toward the Council and so-called political leaders.