I am now a co opted member of the Thanet District Council artifacts review task and finish group and it is official. The finishing touch did include having to abide by the TDC code of conduct which is the same as the Ramsgate Town Council code of conduct. Mind you I still not sure where the being thrown out of meetings bit , refusing to chair a meeting and being generally disruptive fits in with the TDC code of conduct. Something we have witnessed at TDC in the first half of this year.
Being a man of my word I have submitted to TDC old TDC documents from the nineties that prove 100% that I am not making any of this up. Plus it will give every member and officer a chance to read up on the subject and I will not come across as some sort of know it all.
The absolute gem is the TDC acquisition statement from 1990 and it is by Colin Wilson who worked for TDC at the time. It details just how appalling the management system of artifacts TDC had inherited from the former Borough of Margate .The word "missing " does get a mention in the report something TDC have denied.
One thing the case for the defence seem to have forgot is that at the time Colin Wilson recorded to great detail only the items present in the old town hall at the time to a new listing. He did this because the old system was in total chaos and he was advised to do so to stop the hemorrhage . So twenty years later they have picked up his books and believing it as some sort of master list and hey presto it is all there. Well of course it is going to be there because that is not the problem. The problem is the discrepancy between the old borough of Margate catalogue that just happens to be at present on a shelf in the Margate reference library and what is in local government hands today. This includes all the items that have turned up unlisted in the collection and this does include a water colour by Thomas Rowlandson. The Rowlandson water colour was listed at one point in the past and somehow missed the new listing. Records do show missing items and items re listed at a later date and there is no mistake about it.
In all honestly the root cause of this is not really down to TDC it a something they inherited and they have never got to grips with it and this is something the task and finish group will have to review.
To make matter worse for TDC they have got the problem with all the items taken into the collection during the East Kent Maritime Trust period when EKMT managed the collection from 1994 to 2007. The EKMT did manage the collection well until about after 2003 when the managed system changed. To give some scale of the problem a council officer did quote that 100,000 items that will have to be audited. As to whether this is a exaggeration I am not sure , but I bet TDC deeply regret seizing EKMT assets when they terminated their contract to run the Museum and then not carrying out a full and thorough audit when EKMT vacated the premises.
There is going to be a lot of discussion and the first meeting is on July 31st at 19:00 hrs.