I went along to the Thanet District Council overview and scrutiny meeting this evening and with Ian Driver in the chair the meeting there were fireworks. Following a debate over who should and who shouldn't film at the meeting and who is a credited journalist and who isn't led to an adjournment for a ruling. This led to Ian deciding he wouldn't chair the meeting when Councillors voted not to allow filming. It was a bit of a shame because he was going to let me speak on the art and artifacts item and of course with the vice chairman stepping in I missed my chance. However, the outcome was still good as members voted to form a working party to look into the procedures for the art and artifacts collection.
It did make me smile when one of the council officers defending their position dismissed my concerns as historic. So if I see in an old Margate Borough catalogue that in the collection is listed a Battersea snuff box that could be worth £1500 or even the upper value of £25,000 and we cannot find it. Then such a concern is historic , should I forget it. I don't think so. Same when I heard the usual defensive statement "if something is missing then I should suggest it should be reported to the police". But if something is missing why should the assumption be it has been stolen. Thanet District Council has been very slack in the past and still is today. Two years ago Ramsgate Town Council loaned 16 prints and paintings from TDC. When I mentioned this to one of the council officers I found out that TDC had no such record of the loan. So if they carried out an audit and found these items missing then I would think they would be listed as missing. This has happened in the past (historic) and once the paper trail is broken items get lost. So not all missing items are stolen.
Following on from the remark, there is a smuggling book in the museum someone has cut out items with scissors and council officers know this yet they do nothing about it.
I am glad the working party has been set up and I just hope TDC members go with their instincts and keep an open mind.on this issue and like a jury take note of the evidence before them and make informed decisions.