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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.

The Member Portal
In a message dated 27/10/2006 15:58:36 GMT Standard Time, Paul.Moore@thanet.gov.uk writes:
Dear Mr Child,

Many thanks - I can confirm that you email was sent to all Councillors.

The issues of Councillors using their 'personal' addresses was well
rehearsed within the Member Working Group. Clearly there is a balance
to be drawn with the arrangements that Members themselves feel are right
for them.

My email was not intended to be a riddle and I am genuinely sorry if
you find it so.

The points you have raised will continue to be worked on with elected
Members. Important that you understand that I do not control them. I
seek to work with them.

The Member Portal is a pilot programme and it is clear that some
Members find it a useful aid to communicating with their constituents.
Others feel less ethusiastic towards it. Your points will be taken on
board as part of ongoing review. We will take a further step forawrd
with the new Council in May next year. In the meantime, I and
colleagues will seek to make progress in addressing many of the items
that you have identified.

Once again, I confirm that your email has been sent in full to all
Thanet District Councillors

Many thanks

Paul Moore

Subject: The Member Portal Date: 30/10/2006 12:54:07 GMT Standard Time From: Michael Child
Reply To:
richard@rnicholson3.wanadoo.co.uk, cllr-Roger.Latchford@thanet.gov.uk, leader@thanet.gov.uk, richard.samuel@thanet.gov.uk

Dear Mr Moore
Thank you for sending my email to the councillors, I am hoping that I the fullness of time some of them may respond to it.
Councillors rehearsing with council officers within the Member Working Group seems to me an area where personal addresses may sometimes be more appropriate. Clearly there is a balance to be drawn with the arrangements that Members themselves feel are right for them.

As you can see from Fridays web statistics there is considerable interest in our correspondence from somewhere.
Web Server Statistics for www.michaelsbookshop.com

Analysed requests from Fri-27-Oct-2006 00:00 to Fri-27-Oct-2006 23:50 (0.99 days).
This report contains overall statistics.
Successful requests: 2,577
Average successful requests per day: 2,594

Believe me as someone who does business on the Internet 125 people looking at one website page in a day is quite a lot. As there is so much interest perhaps you could send me an up-to-date list of councillors email addresses so that I can fully update the page.
In fact I have advertised my local books on it because it is so popular.

Frankly if I can put all of the important information about the councillors from the TDC site on one fast loading page in a couple of hours TDC could do the same. Once you have done that it doesn’t take rocket science to see where the omissions and mistakes are. For most people it would be lot easier to use than the great quagmire of pages with hundreds of links that don’t take one anywhere on the TDC site that you call the Member Portal. How anyone can come up with a name like that and expect to be taken seriously defies my imagination, it certainly made us all laugh.

On the issue of Councillors using their 'personal' addresses I notice for instance that the TDC website doesn’t publish johnkirby1941@hotmail.com which appears to be Councillor Kirby’s favoured email address although it does publish
cllr-john.kirby@thanet.gov.uk so someone must be excursing some element of restraint or perhaps this is just another omission.

You do have to appreciate that yours was the second email I have received saying that things had been done, that clearly had not. In my business apart from the odd “the cheque is in the post” which is a sort of code or euphemism for “I will pay you as soon as I have the money,” so with everyone knowing what it means, it isn’t really seen as a lie, if someone says a book has all its pictures in it; it has.

I imagine that in the governing business you have your own code for this sort of thing, but as I don’t know the code, it is for me an unslved riddle. “Members who already have an @thanet.gov.uk e-mail address have had this address added to their pages.” Is a phrase that perhaps you could kindly decode for me and the other hundred or so people a day who are pondering the meaning of the statement.

I am glad that you will continue to work on the points I have raised. I would like to point out that council officers not controlling councillors is what this whole series of emails is about.

You may be interested to know that I received in this mornings post a letter form you addressed to; Councillor Michael Child the content of which was the text of your previous email, please don’t take offence if I ask you if this is meant to be a surrealist communication?

I do appreciate that the job of a council officer is not always a bed of roses and that it is not easy to get both council staff and councillors to use the internet in a safe and beneficial way; however I do intend to pursue this matter, albeit with some humour, until some sort of minimum standard is reached.

Further I should like you to consider that whereas a website that makes the councillors look stupid may be a dreadful mistake, one whose designers call “the Member Portal” looks suspiciously deliberate.
Once again many thanks for passing on my email.

Kind regards Michael

Published on the internet at http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/tdc/