Sunday, 26 June 2011

TWO WOUNDED BIRDS PLAY GLASTO!

Margate indie band Two Wounded Birds played the BBC Introducing Stage at Glastonbury Festival 2011 this afternoon. Check out the video:



I've seen Two Wounded Birds play twice before and I would jump happily at the chance to see them play again. They're definitely going places. The Margate surf quartet got interviewed by BBC News recently about their first ever Glasto appearance, describing their lo-fi musical style as follows:

"We are a rock and roll band. We are inspired by our interpretation of a romantic bygone era, and that includes bands such as The Beach Boys, The Doors and girl groups like The Cookies and The Ronettes."

Not a bad set of influences, won't you agree? It looks to me like Two Wounded Birds are well on the way to putting Margate on the map and I'm really looking forward to their debut album. I believe the lead singer Johnny Danger travelled to LA to meet music producer Andy Paley (Brian Wilson, Jerry Lee Lewis, Jonathan Richman), so I'd be totally stoked if Paley helmed the production desks for Two Wounded Birds's first LP. That'd rock my world.
Image from http://on.fb.me/qIn1o9
I genuinely feel Two Wounded Birds have exactly what it takes to spearhead something of a '50s and '60s-inspired rock 'n' roll revival in the indie music scene, something which I think is sorely needed, so the fact that they're a local band is even more earth-shattering to me. I really recommend you check them out on their MySpace page, if you haven't already.

Here's the setlist Two Wounded Birds played at Glastonbury, according to songkick.com:
  1. Summer Dream
  2. All I Wanna Do
  3. To Be Young
  4. Night Patrol
  5. Midnight Wave
  6. It's Not Up To You
  7. My Lonesome
  8. Together Forever

Friday, 24 June 2011

AND THE WINNER IS...

It's the moment you've all been waiting for – voting in the poll to find TDC's sexiest councillor has now been closed and the winner is... WILL SCOBIE!

As Thanet District Council's youngest-ever elected representative, Cllr Will Scobie won the lion's share of the public's support by finishing in top place with 29.90% of the vote, proving that not only does the boy wonder have youth on his side, but he also has the X factor... or should that be 'sex' factor? Quite how the Labour Party's young prodigy Will feels about being declared the 'sexiest' councillor at Thanet Council is unknown to me, but I'm sure the good people of Dane Valley who he represents will be pleased with the news, especially since one anonymous commenter on this blog referred to him as 'TDC's very own answer to Justin Bieber!'

Finishing in second place was Conservative candidate for Birchington Ward, Cllr John Worrow, bagging himself a respectable 20% share of the vote and securing himself the runner-up slot, while Thanet Council's sexiest female councillor is Labour's blonde bombsell Cllr Linda Aldred with 7% of the vote. The sexiest cabinet member at the local council is officially Cllr Alasdair Bruce who came joint 8th, which brings a whole new level of meaning to his nickname of 'The Rock Doc'!

In a head-to-head between leader of Thanet Council and the Leader of the Labour Opposition, Cllr Bob Bayford narrowly pipped Cllr Clive Hart to the post, beating him by a single vote into joint 10th place and leaving Hart languishing somewhat in joint 11th place. Mind you, I'm sure Clive will take some consolation in the fact that his gorgeous wife and fellow councillor Sandra Hart finished 5th, so I'm sure Mr and Mrs Hart will be more than happy with the result!

Surprisingly, this poll attracted a whopping 301 votes from readers of Thanet Waves, which I think is something of a record for a local blog. I believe the last record-breaker was Eastcliff Richard's poll back in January 2010 which got 181 votes, so I'm very pleased that this poll for TDC's sexiest councillor has captured everybody's imagination. It was certainly good for a chuckle!

I'd like to thank you all for voting and express my gratitude to Academy FM, YourThanet and the press team at the Isle of Thanet Gazette (including columnist Jane Wenham-Jones) for giving this poll some publicity in the local media! I certainly didn't expect it to attract so much interest but it's been jolly good fun and I've enjoyed every second! I hope you've enjoyed it too!

Oh, and check out the news article from YourThanet's online newspaper:
Image from YourThanet Online Edition - Issue No 192





Here is the full breakdown of all the results:
  1. Will Scobie (Labour) (90 votes) – 29.90%
  2. John Worrow (Conservative) (60 votes) – 20.00%
  3. Linda Aldred (Labour) (21 votes) – 7.00%
  4. Neil Hornus (Conservative) (19 votes) – 6.33%
  5. Sandra Hart (Labour) (9 votes) – 3.00%
  6. Harry Scobie (Labour) (8 votes) – 2.67%
  7. Linda Wright (Conservative) (7 votes) – 2.33%
  8. Alasdair Bruce (Conservative) (6 votes) – 2.00%
    Elizabeth Green (Labour) (6 votes) – 2.00%
    Julie Marson (Conservative) (6 votes) – 2.00%
    Keith Coleman-Cooke (Conservative) (6 votes) – 2.00%
    William Hayton (Conservative) (6 votes) – 2.00%
  9. Jack Cohen (Independent) (5 votes) – 1.67%
    Thomas King (Independent) (5 votes) – 1.67% 
  10. Bob Bayford (Conservative) (4 votes) – 1.33%
    Chris Wells (Conservative) (4 votes) – 1.33%
  11. Clive Hart (Labour) (3 votes) – 1.00%
    Ela Lodge-Pritchard (Labour) (3 votes) – 1.00%
    Kim Gibson (Labour) (3 votes) – 1.00%
    Michelle Fenner (Labour) (3 votes) – 1.00%
    Shirley Tomlinson (Conservative) (3 votes) – 1.00%
  12. Joanna Gideon (Conservative) (2 votes) – 0.67%
    John Watkins (Labour) (2 votes) – 0.67%
    Kay Dark (Labour) (2 votes) – 0.67%
    Peter Campbell (Labour) (2 votes) – 0.67%
    Zita Wiltshire (Conservative) (2 votes) – 0.67%
  13. Bob Grove (Independent) (1 vote) – 0.33%
    Brian Sullivan (Conservative) (1 vote) – 0.33%
    David Green (Labour) (1 vote) – 0.33%
    Ian Gregory (Conservative) (1 vote) – 0.33%
    Iris Johnston (Labour) (1 vote) – 0.33%
    Jason Savage (Conservative) (1 vote) – 0.33%
    Jenny Matterface (Labour) (1 vote) – 0.33%
    Mary Dwyer (Labour) (1 vote) – 0.33%
    Mave Saunders (Conservative) (1 vote) – 0.33%
    Rosalind Binks (Conservative) (1 vote) – 0.33%
    Sandy Ezekiel (Conservative) (1 vote) – 0.33%
    Simon Day (Conservative) (1 vote) – 0.33%
    Simon Moores (Conservative) (1 vote) – 0.33%
    Steve Alexandrou (Labour) (1 vote) – 0.33%
  14. Alan Poole (Labour) (0 votes) – 0.00%
    Brian Goodwin (Conservative) (0 votes) – 0.00%
    Corinna Huxley (Labour) (0 votes) – 0.00%
    David Saunders (Conservative) (0 votes) – 0.00%
    Douglas Clark (Labour) (0 votes) – 0.00%
    Ian Driver (Labour) (0 votes) – 0.00%
    John Edwards (Labour) (0 votes) – 0.00%
    John Kirby (Conservative) (0 votes) – 0.00%
    Ken Gregory (Conservative) (0 votes) – 0.00%
    Martin Wise (Conservative) (0 votes) – 0.00%
    Michael Roberts (Conservative) (0 votes) – 0.00%
    Michael Tomlinson (Conservative) (0 votes) – 0.00%
    Mike Harrison (Labour) (0 votes) – 0.00%
    Pat Moore (Labour) (0 votes) – 0.00%
    Richard Nicholson (Labour) (0 votes) – 0.00%
    Rick Everitt (Labour) (0 votes) – 0.00%

Total amount cast: 301 votes

Monday, 20 June 2011

WE SHOULD MAKE INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALISM SOMETHING THAT IS ACCESSIBLE TO EVERYONE

© Copyright Adam Tinworth and licensed for reuse. This is not an endorsement of my post.
Acclaimed journalist Heather Brooke has an interesting opinion on the subject of citizen journalism which I felt had some relevance to Thanet District Council's latest decision to shun bloggers and only play ball with the local mainstream media. Though I don't quite share the view of Michael Child and Tony Flaig that removing bloggers from TDC's press mailing list is an overt attempt to censor freedom of expression, I do feel that refusing to take press queries from bloggers is a daft decision with potentially grim implications for the future of the Thanet blogosphere.

I'd be very interested to know what Heather Brooke makes of it. Brooke's stature in her respective field of investigative journalism is remarkable. Last year, she won the Judges' Prize at the British Press Awards for her tireless work in pushing the House of Commons to make full disclosure of MPs' expenses (which, thanks to her efforts, had become a national scandal). Brooke has also spoken of how “technology gives people the ability to band together and challenge authority in ways that were previously impossible” and has penned a book called The Silent State: Secrets, Surveillance and the Myth of British Democracy which is highly critical of, as she puts it, “the very intense culture of secrecy in Britain.” In short, she really knows her stuff.

Upon being asked a question about citizen journalism in a YouTube video, Heather Brooke responded by saying:

"I think it's a really interesting concept that we make investigative journalism something that is accessible to everyone. So it's not just for experts. I mean, certainly there's a role for experts and people like myself who know about Freedom of Information or other sort of specialist topics, but everybody in a commmunity has some specialist knowledge. You know, maybe they know something about where they live, their street, a particular section of the council, so everybody can bring something into an investigation.

“It's not something they should feel that [it's something] they can't do, everybody can be curious and ask questions, and the problem now is that we don't have local papers, we don't have a lot of local journalists who can be asking those questions. So if there's not people, you know, [if] we don't have these people – journalists, papers – well who's gonna be asking the councillor 'Well why did you spend that money? Why did you go on this trip?' It's gonna have to be the man in the street, or the woman in the street."

So what does this have to do with local bloggers here in Thanet? Well, I'd say everything – what Heather Brooke says reminds me that the internet grants ordinary people the opportunity to set up a blog and hold authority to account, so if a local council appears to discriminate between bloggers and journalists, then this is an obstacle to democratic participation and flies in the face of the public's right to know.

I expressed the view yesterday that if Thanet Council prohibits bloggers from making press queries then it may have the side-effect of stifling and discouraging potential journalists (and, conversely, other concerned members of the public) from finding out information from the council through more direct means than FOI. Granted, people can still put in FOI requests should they choose to do so, but it's no secret that it takes a long time to yield results through this method.

For Thanet District Council to only deal with 'accredited media' draws a clear line in the sand between those who the council feels have a right to directly ask them questions, and those who don't, and I fear it will only be ordinary members of the public who will lose out as a result of this. Though on the surface the move was apparently made to cut costs, it does seem a bit short sighted and could be interpreted by some as demonstrating a lack of willingness to deal with genuine public enquiry, choosing instead only to deal with media professionals.

Anyway, take a look at the full video below and see what you think:


Sunday, 19 June 2011

HOW TO GET BACK ON TDC'S PRESS MAILING LIST

© Copyright Zoltán Horlik and licensed for reuse. This is not an endorsement of my post.
I've come up with a solution as to how bloggers can get back onto TDC's press mailing list. Are you ready? Well, basically... we've got to become journalists. Now come on, hear me out, because I do have a point. If Thanet District Council has removed bloggers from their press release mailing list and refused to take press queries from them on the basis that they will only deal with 'accredited media' in the future, then the only way we're going to get out of this mess is by becoming accredited.

This could probably be an expensive undertaking, but the University of Kent does offer a couple of accredited National Council for the Training of Journalists qualifications such as a BA (Hons) in Journalism and the News Industry and even an MA in Multimedia Journalism. If a blogger had one of those degrees under their belt, could the council justify leaving them off their mailing list of 'accredited' media even if they didn't happen to work for a newspaper? I shouldn't have thought so.

It does lead me to wonder exactly how 'accredited' one has to be to make the council's press mailing list. For example, what if you're a qualified freelance journalist who currently doesn't work in the media but still submits the occasional news article to local newspapers on spec. Would they be entitled to be added to the council's mailing list, on account of their NCTJ qualifications? I imagine so... because they're accredited. It seems like this could be a loophole bloggers could potentially exploit, should they have the gumption to do so.

So that's the best solution I can come up with. Come on, bloggers, go and get yourselves some NCTJ qualifications. Problem solved. But I am joking, of course. Can you imagine what the local blogosphere would be like if Michael Child or Tony Flaig had an NCTJ accolade to their names? It's an interesting thought. But personally, the fact that Thanet Council has removed bloggers from their press mailing lists doesn't bother me in that I have never been on the list anyway. Besides, my blogging style isn't really geared towards investigatism in the same way as Michael Child's or Tony Flaig's is. I may express a view here and there, but I'm certainly no Daniel Ellsberg.

Since I've only ever used the council's RSS feeds, removing bloggers from the press mailing list is not something which adversely affects me. But what does bother me is the e-mail's suggestion that unless you're a journalist for the mainstream media, then the council really isn't interested in talking to you and won't co-operate with any potential press queries you may have. In other words, non-journalists or members of the public who want to call the press office must like it or lump it, and put in an FOI request if they want to find out any information.

I must say, I've never called TDC's press office. I've never felt the need to. But I've also never felt that not calling them was out of the question. So the fact that the door has now been permanently closed to bloggers like myself feels like we're being given the cold shoulder. If Thanet Council prohibits bloggers from making press queries then it could, in my view, have the side-effect of stifling and discouraging potential journalists (and, conversely, other concerned members of the public) from finding out information from the council through more direct means than FOI. Is it right to shut out citizen journalists or even community activists in this way? I don't think so.

Let me put it this way, since I'm a media graduate from De Montfort University, I do harbour ambitions to become a journalist (surprise surprise!). As it happens, I'm currently unemployed, and since job opportunities in the local media are slim at best, I'm using this blog as a way of showing exactly what I'm capable of and making the most of my talents. I'd like to think that I don't take myself too seriously but my point is that if TDC chooses to disregard bloggers in favour of the mainstream press then it's hard not to feel like my ambitions as an amateur journalist basically count for nothing. 

Ultimately, the impression I'm getting from Thanet District Council's decision is that people in my position can blog as much as they like, but since they are not 'accredited' then their civic engagement simply doesn't matter to the council any more. The only answer for bloggers, therefore, is to go on an NCTJ course and see if that makes a difference to getting their foot in the door. That, as far as I can see, is the only way how local bloggers can get back on TDC's press mailing list and be allowed to make calls to the press office once again. What do you think?

Saturday, 18 June 2011

LOVE MUSIC HATE RACISM FESTIVAL IS TODAY!

© Copyright Love Music Hate Racism. Photo by Jac Shadow Kitty Evans.
Tracey Emin hates racism. And so do I. That's probably about the only thing we have in common. So if you love music, come and join in the fun at Love Music Hate Racism Festival today at Ramsgate's Harbour Parade from noon o'clock! You can watch all the live musicians and have a spiffing time with a bunch of people who are a damn sight cooler than me! I may be showing my face at some point in the day so I hope to see you there! Ta-ta!

Friday, 17 June 2011

LOVE MUSIC HATE RACISM FESTIVAL RETURNS!

Love Music Hate Racism festival is coming back to Thanet tomorrow (Saturday 18th June 2011) with an impressive roster of musicians jamming on the main stage with a genre-bending extravaganza on Ramsgate's Harbour Parade. Headlined by old school jungle icon, Congo Natty (known as The Rebel MC), the line-up also features indie ska outfit Kid British, Margate's prodigal son and UK hip hop rising star Mic Righteous and Pie Factory Music-affiliated drum 'n' bass MC Spookasonic.

© Copyright Love Music Hate Racism. Image used with permission from Bunny La Roche.
I'd like to mention that also playing on the main stage is a band called Morning Departure who I once saw play at the Last of the Summer Wine festival back in 2009. I wrote an article about them which got published in the Thanet Extra so since then I've become quite well acquainted with lead singer Kieron Stone on Facebook. It's great that his band earned themselves a slot at this event and I believe that Kieron is even making a 30 minute documentary about the festival. There's also a local punk band called The Anarchists Pogo Party playing at the festival's after party in the Belgian Café whose lead singer Mark Loader is somebody I've met in the past. They're well worth checking out (if your ears can handle it!)

But let's not forget what Love Music Hate Racism is all about. It's about celebrating Britain's multicultural society and the melting pot of musical ingenuity that brings, which is why this festival aims to showcase such a variety of genres from a refreshingly mixed bag of musicians, all in a spirit of racial unity and togetherness. In other words: racists need not apply.

You can attend the festival from 12 noon onwards tomorrow at Ramsgate's Harbour Parade and there will be food and drink aplenty! It's bound to be a blast – whatever the weather!

By the way, I couldn't help but notice that LMHR local group chair is Jon Flaig. Is he any relation to Tony, local blogger for Big News Margate? Does anybody know?

In the meantime, here's a bit of Kid British to get you in the festival spirit...



I'm sure many people in Thanet can relate to that song...

Monday, 13 June 2011

THANET IS A 'WEAK AREA,' SAYS THINK TANK

Thanet has been called a 'weak area' in which the new Work Programme is likely to fail, according to think tank The Work Foundation. Despite being hailed as a key component in the coalition government's welfare reforms, the Work Programme has been criticised by many, mainly due to the fact that it aims to operate on a payment-by-results basis in getting jobseekers back into work. This has led to the suggestion that some areas – of which Thanet is one – may end up being neglected as a result.

Major doubts have been raised over whether the Work Programme can solve the UK's unemployment crisis and get hard-to-help candidates into jobs.

The DWP website states that the Work Programme hopes to “ensure good value for money for the taxpayer by basing payments largely on results, and paying providers from the benefits saved from getting people into work.” It adds that it “is very much a partnership between the Government and providers from across the public, private and third sectors – including social enterprises.” It is also the biggest single payment-by-results employment programme ever introduced.

Concerns about the Work Programme's impact on Thanet were expounded upon in an article on the Telegraph website where Neil Lee, senior economist at the Work Foundation, said the following:

“As the Work Programme is based on payment by results, contractors carry the initial risk. There is therefore the danger that private contractors will focus on investing in places where they are more likely to get people into work to secure a return on investment. The financial risk may also be passed down to small, local voluntary organisations which could be knocked out of the market as a result.

“The Work Programme is based on a national payment structure and does not take into account local and regional variations in labour demand. Economic growth is faltering and parts of the country – still dealing with the fallout from the recession – are facing significant public sector job losses.”

If you read between the lines, you'll see where this is going. Basically, since Thanet is an unemployment blackspot (and there's not nearly enough jobs for everybody), it could very well be an uphill battle for the Work Programme to deliver a profit in our area. If things get worse for Thanet, especially once TDC and Pfizer staff start finding themselves being made redundant, then providers may be inclined to focus their energies on other regions instead which have more job opportunities at their disposal. So, if things don't pick up on the job front, Thanet may end up being cast aside and forgotten about... again.

On both sides of the political divide, the Work Programme has been met with eyebrows raised. Over on Left Foot Forward, Daniel Elton ponders whether these Work Programme 'contractors' are better at 'playing the game' than providing services as many of them “have dubious records carrying out public sector contracts.” Meanwhile, on The Spectator blog, Peter Hoskin believes the Work Programme policy is revolutionary, but “this isn't to say that [it] will be easy to implement, nor as successful as the government hopes.” Even a BBC article by Laura Kuenssberg acknowledges that “many in the industry have fears that the government has set the bar too high, and the scheme may just not be financially viable.” 

It's difficult to know for sure how this Work Programme is going to pan out, particularly in Thanet, but judging by the Work Foundation's report, the signs don't look too good. What do you make of it?

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

WHO IS TDC'S SEXIEST COUNCILLOR?

I thought it'd be a giggle to follow the example of www.sexymp.co.uk by creating this poll to discover which Thanet District Councillors have the most sex appeal. This is all in good fun and no offence is intended. Just vote for whoever you think is the sexiest!

Which TDC councillor do you think is the sexiest? Choose one.


* * * VOTING HAS NOW BEEN CLOSED * * *
* * * FURTHER VOTES WILL NOT BE COUNTED * * *

View the results

All images are © Thanet District Council www.thanet.gov.uk
Note: This poll was created with Ace Polls. You may notice the question on the poll is different to the one featured on this blog. I copied the question from the Sexy MPs website and amended it slightly to make it more TDC-related, before realizing afterwards that it may be a bit too rude so I apologize if it causes offence. I am in the process of communicating with the web administrators of Ace Polls so they can change it to my preferred question, which is a bit less boorish, though like I said, no offence was intended either way. My hope is that they will amend the poll question in due course.