The meeting opened with Councilor Tom King being elected as chairman. The agenda for the meeting was to agree the terms of reference for the task and finish group. The full terms of reference being.
- To review the past management of the Council and its agents management of art and artefacts and advise ways of recovering lost/missing artefacts.
- To scrutinise the Council management systems and procedures in relation to Council owned art and artefacts and best practice and make recommendations to OSP (overview and scrutiny panel) and cabinet.
- To propose criteria to be used by Council when accepting donations of artefacts , including reviewing insurance implications.
- To produce a final report with recommendations for submissions to OSP and then cabinet.
In advance of the meeting I submitted four old TDC documents to assist with the investigation. The most important being a written report written by Colin Wilson TDC Museum Officer dated 13th June 1990 summarizing the situation regarding the TDC collection when he took over in 1985 and the current state then.The recommendation then was for a complete stock check to be carried out and then a revised comprehensive catalogue and listing produced. It was agreed by members that this report will be the starting point of the investigation.
Some members were surprised to learn that a full listing of every single item in the TDC collection has never been listed since the 1990 report. It was also reported to the meeting that it was estimated that it will take at least six years for a full listing to be completed, estimates are 100,000 items.
There are missing items , but the big question is did TDC ever receive them or have they been lost or stolen. For my part I did say that this is a two part problem. The first part being that TDC inherited from the Boroughs of Margate and Ramsgate in 1974 an enormous collection that had been subject to poor record keeping and there is no paper trail. The second part being some items that were added to the collection during the East Kent Maritime Trust period 2005 to 2007 were added to the collection without any paperwork or records.Plus there is evidence that items are missing from 2005 to the closure period. It will take some investigation to determine as to whether they are missing due to cock up or have been lost or stolen.
It was agreed that members will visit the collection to see for themselves the current state and the progress made to date.
Finally, now the truth has come out officially it does make me wonder what did TDC know in June 2006 when I put in my rejected freedom of information request regarding my concerns regarding the current state of the collection then. Someone at the time was very economical with the truth and I do wonder whether the then leader and his deputy were deliberately trying to block me or whether someone within the council had deliberately misled them. It can only be one or the other.