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My attempts learn about the Pleasurama project have lead me into a dialogue with Thanet District Council about their website and the way they pass on correspondence to councillors. Click on the links above to read the correspondence.

Economical with the truth
Subject: Re: forward this to all of the councillors Date: 26/10/2006 12:18:54 GMT Standard Time From: Paul.Moore@thanet.gov.uk
Reply To:
To:
MichaelChild@aol.com
CC:
richard@rnicholson3.wanadoo.co.uk, cllr-Roger.Latchford@thanet.gov.uk, leader@thanet.gov.uk, Richard.Samuel@thanet.gov.uk
BCC:
Sent on:
Sent from the Internet (Details)



Dear Mr Child,

Richard Samuel has asked me to respond to your recent email about the
Members' pages on our website. I am grateful for your input, which has
highlighted some valid points. We've been working on improving the
quality and content of our website and the Portal Project was
implemented as a pilot project earlier this year. We knew that there
would be areas that needed development and your note is a timely
reminder of this. I am writing to let you know about the actions which
have been taken so far as you have requested.

Since your e-mail, we have written to all Councillors to remind them
about their web pages and we have asked them to provide us with more
information so that the Communications team can input the details on
their behalf. This should enable more up to date information to be
posted in future.

We are also in the process of setting up e-mail addresses for all
Councillors as we agree with your valid opinion about security. The
Members who already have an @thanet.gov.uk e-mail address have had this
address added to their pages.

We will be holding a Members briefing session in December and these
issues will also be raised with Councillors then to ensure they
understand the importance of these pages and that they use the official
e-mail addresses.

We will also have a new Council from May next year and are already
building into our plans action to ensure a 'full' entry for each
Councillor, shortly after their election.

I hope this responds to your concerns but please do not hesitate to get
in touch again if you require any further clarification.

I have copied this note to Group Leaders, so that they are fully aaware
of your concerns.

Yours sincerely

Paul Moore


Subject:
Re: forward this to all of the councillors
Date:
27/10/2006 14:54:33 GMT Standard Time
From:
Michael Child
Reply To:
To:
Paul.Moore@thanet.gov.uk
CC:
richard@rnicholson3.wanadoo.co.uk, cllr-Roger.Latchford@thanet.gov.uk, leader@thanet.gov.uk, Richard.Samuel@thanet.gov.uk



Dear Mr Moore
The object of my email was 1 to point out to the councillors in a way that even those of them who were not computer literate could easily understand that the councils website makes them appear stupid. 2 That council officers did not appear to be forwarding their mail. 3 To get the website improved. 4 To ensure it was possible to communicate with all of the councillors by email.
It is difficult to reply to your email as though it were a response to my previous email it is as though you are replying to an email that you wished I had sent, saying things you wished had happened, had indeed happened. I note that you are Corporate Director & Monitoring Officer I unfortunately donít know what this means, the tdc website search facility says Sorry, no pages found containing your search terms when I enter it; well nothing new there.

If the Portal Project was implemented, as a pilot project with areas that needed development, why on earth doesnít it say so on the site?
I am glad that you have written to all councillors however it is not clear if you passed on to them my previous email below, did you?
I am glad that you appreciate my concerns about security, I have I feel been most restrained in not taking advantage of the situation, however others may not be so charitable especially now I a highlighted the problem.

I really am at a complete loss as to how to reply to you saying Members who already have an @thanet.gov.uk e-mail address have had this address added to their pages.Ē I looked at the site just now to confirm this knowing as I do from previous communications with TDC that all cabinet members have @thanet.gov.uk e-mail address. Michael Roberts and Zita Wiltshire have no @thanet.gov.uk e-mail while has William Peppiatt no email address at all.

I will charitably assume that you looked at the site rather in the way you read my email or perhaps your whole email is meant to be some sort of riddle.

I do hope that you will read my email again and look at the website again and respond to the issues raised that you overlooked the first time.

Finally I feel I must reiterate, please pass on the email below to all of the councillors if you havenít already done so and tell me that this has been done.

Kind regards Michael Child
In a message dated 26/10/2006 12:18:54 GMT Standard Time, Paul.Moore@thanet.gov.uk writes:
Dear Mr Child,

Richard Samuel has asked me to respond to your recent email about the
Members' pages on our website. I am grateful for your input, which has
highlighted some valid points. We've been working on improving the
quality and content of our website and the Portal Project was
implemented as a pilot project earlier this year. We knew that there
would be areas that needed development and your note is a timely
reminder of this. I am writing to let you know about the actions which
have been taken so far as you have requested.

Since your e-mail, we have written to all Councillors to remind them
about their web pages and we have asked them to provide us with more
information so that the Communications team can input the details on
their behalf. This should enable more up to date information to be
posted in future.

We are also in the process of setting up e-mail addresses for all
Councillors as we agree with your valid opinion about security. The
Members who already have an @thanet.gov.uk e-mail address have had this
address added to their pages.

We will be holding a Members briefing session in December and these
issues will also be raised with Councillors then to ensure they
understand the importance of these pages and that they use the official
e-mail addresses.

We will also have a new Council from May next year and are already
building into our plans action to ensure a 'full' entry for each
Councillor, shortly after their election.

I hope this responds to your concerns but please do not hesitate to get
in touch again if you require any further clarification.

I have copied this note to Group Leaders, so that they are fully aaware
of your concerns.

Yours sincerely

Paul Moore



Paul Moore
Corporate Director & Monitoring Officer
Thanet District Council

>>> <MichaelChild@aol.com> 10/20/06 2:13 pm >>>

Dear Mr Samuel please could you forward this to all of the councillors
for
me.
As this is a matter that concerns every councillor individually I could

write to them individually at his or her home address and explain to
him or her
that I suspect council officers are not always passing on
correspondence sent
to them via email.
Obviously it would be cheaper for me and better for the environment to
send
all 56 letters to the council offices however if council officers are

prepared to censor their electronic mail, might they not always pass on
their paper
mail?
It may be an uncomfortable situation for some members of the council to
have
me telling them that the way TDC handles councillors websites and email

addresses within the councils own website is unacceptably bad, however
it is now
10 days since I asked for that information to be passed on to all of
the
councillors and I still haven't had an answer to my question has it
been passed
on?
I have however for the time being decided to start by going through the

councils own complaints procedure and if that fails referring the
matter to the
Local Government Ombudsman.
I will now explain the problems as clearly as I can.
1 Within the TDC website each councillor now has their own website,
although
this sounds like a commendable idea, in practice what is published
seems to
have been designed to make each councillor look stupid and computer
illiterate. While I understand that many people in the UK, especially
those with
social problems and learning difficulties have computer literacy
problems, even in
those cases where I know the councillor involved has good IT skills and
has
obviously tried to make their website look presentable; the result is
still a
horrible mess.
For those with no computer skills it may be likened to the following.

Suppose TDC were to produce a glossy book about the council, and
suppose you
are councillor Grey; you find your name in the index and realise that
you
are described on page 33; so you look at page 33, well page 33 is a
mess some
information about you is correct some is missing and some is wrong; at
the
bottom page 33 it says lots more information about councillor Grey,
that he has
written about himself, is on page 34, but when you turn over the page,
page 34
is missing and there is a short note on page 35 saying no one is
allowed to
read page 34.
2 As every councillor now has a website it would be expected, rather in
the
way one expects a car to have a steering wheel, that there would be
some way
of contacting the owner of the website via ones computer. Email address
or
contact forms are the norm. In other words someone has built you a
house without
a letterbox and it looks silly.
3 For security reasons elected members should always send emails
concerning
council business with a thanet.gov.uk email address as it is important
that
the public are sure that the email has really come from them. This is
Mike
Harrison's email address as an example cllrboggs@hotmail.com I am sure
you agree
that it could be anyone involved in a scams address. This type of
thing is
so patently open to abuse and a terrible temptation to anyone wishing
to make
the council look foolish.
4 Like all important organisations a return email confirming the
recipient
has in fact received the email should be sent automatically. When the
council
does send out a confirmation I doesn't say who received it so I you
email 2
councillors but only one confirmation arrives you don't know which
one you
have contacted.
If you look at the correspondence on
_http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/tdc/_
(http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/tdc/) you can see how hard it is for
a
member of the public to be certain who, if anyone, in the council they
have
contacted; in some cases even when they have received a reply.
5 The maze of 56 separate websites, one for each councillor means that
it is
very difficult to spot mistakes and omissions as I noticed that the
councils
IT department had only made some of the corrections I was promised
they
would make last week I have started to copy the basic information from
each
councillors website to one page at
_http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/tdc/councillors.htm_
(http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/tdc/councillors.htm) if you would all

look at it and tell me about any errors I will endeavour to get them
put
right on the TDC site. Some of the mistakes are obviously mistakes
like Dennis
Hart's email address _havingfun@tesco.et_ (mailto:havingfun@tesco.et)
unless
of course he is using the extra terrestrial branch of Tescos if so I
cant
reach it from aol.
I am sure that you will agree with me that this is about serious
important
matters that are relevant to all councillors and I hope that you will
pass it
on to them. As I am still not certain that my previous email was
passed on I
will also forward it to all the council email addresses I have.
It would also be helpful if any councillor receiving it could let me
know by
email.
Kind regards Michael Child.

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