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Thames Community Board - Round up

The Board meeting proceeded today in the usual manner with staff both unable to contribute any level of coherence, or paradoxically avoid intruding into the chairmanship vacuum.

It was not their fault – Margaret Harrison is brought from Coromandel for each meeting to provide secretarial input; Tara Davidson has her name on just about every Paper as ‘Temporary Area Coordinator", but is never present. Another - Ross Pennington, is an old hand who has been brought back on some kind of temporary contract to provide a level of oversight, but spends his time denying that he has any real responsibility for Ward management. There are jocular exchanges throughout the meeting as to where responsibility for a particular issue may lie - all very amateurish.

The current re-organisation lies behiind this apparent debacle, but the frustration is beginning to show, certainly with Chair Strat Peters at the end of his tether. The ultimate expression of this shambles came today as everyone tried to work out whether a particular item should be in the ‘work program’ or the ‘action schedule’. These semantics exercised the collective mind of everyone for quite some time. 

The ensuing discussion was exacerbated by some ill tempered posturing by Cr Hoadley who clearly bristles at the lack of control, and as often happens Cr French brought the discussion back on track. The Chair seemed blissfully unaware of what was going on, and appeared pre-occupied with political shenanigans surrounding the proposed re-development of the airport, and the agenda for another workshop on 16 August to again set priorities for the Ten Year Plan. A bit late for that I would have thought, but clearly the relative merits of the Zoom Zone Dry Court, the Swimming Pool replacement and the Rhodes Park Grandstand are still out there for debate. Various interested parties are apparently to be invited to take part (but not the public, or media!). Another opportunity for Mary Hamilton to push the Zoom Zone barrel.

Once again, there appears to have been a multitude of issues that should be in the public arena that were discussed at yet another workshop held on 18 July and that emerged fitfully during today’s meeting, contributing to the confusion. 

The only other matter of consuming interest that resulted in a lengthy discussion related to the need for our Board to somehow subsidize getting kids into swim classes whose parents may otherwise be unable to afford the cost. The major contributor to this discussion was Ms Bavistock who sometimes gives the impression that she is attending a parent/teachers meeting, and that is certainly not an inappropriate analogy for today.     

One issue that will not go away surrounds fluoridation. Libby Boyd had another crack at it during Public Forum, and her apparent ally, Cr Hoadley picked up on it during the meeting to get the issue brought onto the ‘Work Program/Action Schedule’. It seems that they were impressed by a shonky 300 odd name petition presented by Libby (and accepted!) even though she admitted that it contained many signatures from outside Thames.

Libby regaled the audience with tales of WW 2 Nazi attempts to “dumb people down" with fluoridation, and sundry crippling diseases caused by out of control use of the product. Libby claimed that she was not hysterical, only passionate and wanted a DVD shown to the entire population if a referendum is to go ahead. This is of course the age-old technique to get rid of fluoride – create a  groundswell based on totally false information before pushing for a referendum.

Cr French appears the only member showing any level of scepticism, but Cr Hoadley asked for, and received support for a request to the CEO for advice on what to do next, and we know how wary he is of the issue – it is the ultimate hot potato in a town of this demographic, and only the kids lose out in the end.

So on with the interminable debate – it seems to me that "dumbing down” is not exclusively a Nazi objective. It can happen anywhere.

I apologise for this incoherent report – it is the best I can do in the circumstances. I am sure that this group can do better - but it certainly was not evident today.




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