Wednesday, 22 October 2014

A bad moment on the blog

Sorry about this but I have just inadvertently deleted the last 100 comments, about four days worth, I ticked the wrong box on the computer screen and selected the whole page of 100 comments instead of just the one comment I wanted to delete.

Anyway as I have been saying recently I am very busy working in my bookshop at the moment and frankly I really haven’t got the time to manage the blog comments.

The comment isn’t particularly bad at the moment, it’s just that I don’t have time to read it all carefully, so I have just set it on registered users only, the idea here is that combined with moderation this should mean a considerable reduction in comment.

The underlying problem at the moment is that I have been buying more books than I usually do, I can’t chose the amount of good books that I get the opportunity to buy, and like busses you don’t get many for ages and then a lot turn up at the same time.

I will leave it there with a few pictures around my bookshop which will be closed tomorrow because it is Thursday     

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Thanet Reggae Singer Prince Adebayo calls Thanet Councillor a Racist, the Council get their solicitor to tell me to remove a link to an article on the local paper’s website, Manston and Racism, a ramble.

Racism fascinates me, as do perceptions of racism and the way different people perceive things as racist. As a white English male I wouldn’t normally have been exposed to much prejudice, but as it happens I was fairly severely disabled as a child.

One of the things I had was St Vitus Dance and if you can’t figure out where I am coming from here you can put it into YouTube and get some idea of why I developed an interest in various forms of prejudice as a child. 

The school I went to was for the disabled so I was able to see things from a broad perspective and although there was a fairly broad prejudice in the 50s and 60s I don’t think it really got to me.

Anyway here is the video

and here is Simon's response in blue:

"It’s unfortunate but hardly surprising, that Prince Adebayo wasn’t shown the Tweet, which accompanied the picture he describes as ‘Racist.’

In fact, Christine Tongue, who made the video, hadn't seen the Tweet either and while happily ‘Tweeting’ that I’m annoyed,  she didn't carry any of my responses to her questions on it. She writes to me: “What was the text of the original tweet? We'll happily include that in the magazine, too.”

So it appears the singer was simply shown a picture out of context and asked if it was racist and was he offended?

The caption was actually this:

In the wake of the #ClactonByElection a comforting message from #Labour in #Thanet ?

And this was in the context of another Tweet you may have read: “Unless the Labour left stop conflating immigration with racism UKIP will continue to build momentum among its disillusioned voters.”

So in the satirical style of “Have I Got News for You” what did it mean for those who failed to grasp the clues?

As I replied, below, to Thanet Watch when they asked me to explain:

1) UKIP wins Clacton = migrants unwelcome?

2) Our Labour PPC remarks on migration (BBC Politics Show et al that immigration is not an issue locally. Immigrants are welcome in South Thanet - A good thing perhaps?

3) Clacton is opposite Thanet which is of course opposite Calais (which as you will see from the news this week, is experiencing immigrant riots as 400 attempted to storm a ferry this week and at least 2,000 migrants camped waiting to get into England of which BBC SE report 1,000 are from sub-Sahara). This, quite coincidentally, is illustrated in the photo of a large group of north Africans crossing the water in two trucks.

So in reality this is a satirical observation directed at UKIP, Thanet's own tolerance and Labour's local indecision on a policy issue, which featured significantly on the news last weekend but was willfully distorted by John Worrow and Ian Driver, who pumped it up and re-tweeted to their followers, who re-tweeted it to their followers.

It was seen at total of 665 times, with 12 comments, which is less than my equally satirical UKIP armoured column outside Rochester picture, which had 742 impressions.

Where racism fits into this is a conundrum but it does illustrate once again the danger the more extreme left faces here in Thanet by insisting on remaining loyal to the idea that questioning of the discredited dogma of uncontrolled immigration and racism are two sides of the same coin and by doing so, play neatly into the much cleverer hands of UKIP"

Can one have a favorite piece of Thanet racism, if you can then this Manston article is mine

On to the council I did genuinely receive an email from their solicitor today telling me to remove a link from by blog to an Isle of Thanet Gazette article about Pleasurama. Now from where I am sitting if a local blogger can’t link to a local paper article without risking prosecution by the local council, then one has to very careful indeed about what one can write on the blog these days.

On to Manston and now we all know that the council’s expert advice is not to proceed with the cpo, I will try to ramble on a bit about where this leaves the various political groups.

I guess that virtually every council up and down the land would give their metaphorical eye teeth to have the Discovery Park people buy one of their huge brownfield sites and promise £1bn investment coupled with thousands of local jobs.

Monday, 20 October 2014

Short ramble about Manston and other stuff.

First it seems that the TDC Labour group has voted not to support the TDC cpo, this was reported on the Manston Pickle facebook page and was followed by one of the cabinet members enquiring how the information leaked out. The information there says this was 11 to 8 against.

Save Manston Airport Facebook page have just confirmed this: " Last week 8 Labour councillors said that when the CPO vote is taken later they will vote for the CPO, 11 Labour councilors said they will later vote to reject the CPO, some of the 11 feel they must follow the advice of the 151 officer (used to be the compliance officer),.." 

I guess this really means that the council officers and the expert advice the sought boils down to the council not being in a position to become involved in buying an airport.

Next it seems that the blog claming and the various facebook sites trying to discredit the Discovery Park people who aim to invest £1,000,000,000 in Manston creating thousands of jobs in Thanet over the next 20 years had out of date and wrong information, see

On the Pleasurama front TDC have served a high court injunction Cllr Ian Driver from disclosing some information about the issue and have tried and failed to do the same to The Isle of Thanet Gazette, see     

Bookshop wise I am busy rearranging the shop to cater for the rapidly changing demands for different types of book due to various things. I think most of this relates to the type of information that either is or isn’t easily available on the internet.

One section in the shop that has been very badly effected is the medical section, what I mean here is that up until fairly recently if either the doctor said you were suffering from some affliction that you had never heard of, you wanted to know something about the pills you had been prescribed, you developed a strange rash or you just had hypochondria; the book was really your only option. Another section that hasn’t been doing so well recently is the photography section, I think the main reason here is that most of us now have better cameras on our mobile phones than we ever had in the days of the film camera. You don’t use up film so you can take as many pictures as you like, so you don’t really need to be good at photography to take some good pictures, rather in the way that the monkey left with a typewriter for infinity will eventually type Great Expectations.

The other side of the coin is that the internet provides a great deal of free but not very in depth information, sparking peoples interest in a diversity of subjects. This combined with the change in leisure attractions moving much more towards popular and social history means this part of my bookshop needs expanding.

Recently I have notice much more demand for books about what ordinary people did in the past, so the demand for books on things like blacksmithing or rope making. Anyway I am endeavouring to make changes in the bookshop.

I am very busy at the moment and have not long finished work so I will endeavour to add to this post if i get the time.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Quick pen and watercolour sketch of Ramsgate Harbour, a quick ramble and RiverOak remove aviation from their website

First the painting of Ramsgate Harbour, this was from a bench on the westcliff, not something I would have expected to get away with two third through October.
Sketched in Pitt pen first.

Two things that interested me on the blogging front, one is that they have started treating people for “internet addiction disorder” and the other that the government have changed the law and imposed a two year sentence for internet trolling.

Certainly the only thing that puts me off bothering to post here is the time I have to waste moderating comments and I look forward to blogging with this new deterrent.

The expansion of businesses in the Military Road arches is still coming on a pace.

On the Ramsgate regeneration front the main downside last week was TDC buying a large shop in an otherwise fully occupied shopping parade in Ramsgate town centre and the granting themselves planning permission to put social housing on the ground floor. Just what crime the people housed with their bedrooms next to the pavement in a street where the late night takeaways close at 4 am and the very noisy street cleaning machine is often used at 6.30 am the council didn’t say.

I really don’t know that the council could have got further from expressing the wishes of Ramsgate residents than using council funds to do damage to Ramsgate town.

An irony here is that my own shop has been so much busier recently that I just hadn’t had the time to do much to oppose the application, I was told by one of my ward councillors that it was unlikely that such a bonkers scheme would get planning consent, but there you go.      

Politically I just don’t know the answer here, we have tried petitioning for and paying extra for a town council to look after Ramsgate’s interests, we have tried voting for Labour councillors at TDC after eight years of Conservative administrations left almost every council owned public site derelict, we have UKIP councillors at KCC now and this doesn’t seem to have produced much in the way of tangible benefits for Ramsgate.

Perhaps the most unusual discovery of the day is that RiverOak the company that may be TDC’s cpo partner recently added an aviation page to their website

Well the news is that they have now removed this page, here is the link to their website now so whether this means they have now moved out of aviation, in the way they suddenly moved into it a few weeks ago is anyone’s guess.

I now have an update on this; Tony Freudmann the recently appointed managing director of RiverOak says: “RiverOak is in the process of building a new website devoted to Manston Airport. More news of this shortly.”

Incidentally does anyone know what the position a managing director would mean in an American company structure? 

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Ruth Atkins at The York Street Gallery in Ramsgate,

The current Exhibition is by Ramsgate based artist  Ruth Atkins. Ruth has 57 works on display. Ranging from large to small canvases. The exhibition runs -  15th October - 22nd October.

Friday, 17 October 2014

Pleasurama Thanet District Council, Ramsgate shopping and other stuff.

I really shouldn’t be writing blogs at all at the moment I am far too busy with my bookshop, the bookshop world has changed and the effects are coming my way in terms of extra work, more of that later on in the post if I get the time.

So starting with the council cabinet meeting about Pleasurama, my take here is that all the political side of Pleasurama counts for very little and ultimately it is the physical problems related to the site.

One of these is the cliff and I have added some pictures and newspaper articles which will expand so the are big enough to read if you click on them and then click again once expanded.

Anyway here are the videos of the part of the council cabinet meeting that discussed Pleasurama.  

Part 2

Well the meeting certainly shows that the councillors are interested in confronting the councillors of other political parties, but i am less certain they are interested in what the people they represent actually want.

Obviously this site has to be dealt with in some way and it does seem likely that however it goes it will be some sort of privately financed development there. In terms of local developers Cardy Construction are one of the best, so if there is going to be a developer involved then we are very unlikely to better than them.

I have had a bit of a look at the various things on the internet about the cabinet meeting and so far the impression I get is that there was supposed to be a big save Manston airport demonstration outside but only about 100 demonstrators turned up.

I am yet to be convinced that there is strong local support for the TDC cpo it does seem that less than 50 TDC council taxpayers turned up, I am still convinced that TDC shouldn’t be going down the cpo path without first holding some sort of public consultation to find out what it is that the people who finance TDC through their taxes actually want.

This is a bit like the Pleasurama problem inasmuch as no one has convinced me that either the RiverOak plans for an airfreight hub or the Discovery Park plans for a fairly high proportion of industrial use are actually viable due to the physical limitations of the site.

Personally I am not that good on political ramifications, but when someone says they want to engage in developing something that doesn’t make sense, like building igloos on the beach, then I do look for an ulterior motive.

In Victorian times seaside towns had piers so that people could get on and off of paddle steamers. Here in Ramsgate there was a – well still is in a derelict – sort of way a paddle steamer quay ant the end of the harbour wall, so we didn’t need a pier. 

This didn’t stop a company being set up and a pier actually being built, followed by it and several other companies that got involved going bankrupt, I publish a book about this see  

Back to the books, I bought a reasonably large collection of industrial archeology books last Thursday, loosely described as my day off, interesting because most of had been bought secondhand during the last thirty years and most of it still has the prices penciled in the front.

Now in the days before the internet, which is when the book collector put this collection together, you could only really do this by a mixture of travelling from bookshop to bookshop buying books on this subject and getting specialist catalogues from booksellers that specialised in books on history, engineering and crafts.

There wasn’t very much money in all of this but everyone seemed to enjoy it and the prices of the books settled around making sure that the booksellers involved didn’t go bankrupt.

By this I mean that a books the size of an ordinary hardback novel about say the industrial archaeology of East Anglia would first come out new at a price around £25 at today’s values. The print run would have been pretty short and I would doubt the author or the publisher made a large amount of money.

When it turned up in a general secondhand bookshop it was probably priced at around half price, about £12, but in practice this type of book was mostly sold on to a specialist bookseller. Usually for a price somewhere in the £8 to £10 ball park who then put it in his catalogue and sold it for around £15 to £25. Mostly depending on whether it was out of print or not.

Now the internet means that all of this has gone and for the most part you could buy a great many industrial archaeology books at less that £3 with very few costing more than £10 each including postage, so I have spent all day rubbing out prices from ten fifteen or twenty years ago and writing in mostly much lower ones.

I still have a great deal more of this to do so there isn’t much time for blogging at the moment. 

I will add to this post as I get the time.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

A small midweek ramble about libel and stuff you may be better off not publishing online.

The murals at Abbots Hill are coming on a treat and jollying the town centre up so some pictures of this and the harbour in this post, they will probably expand if you click on them, they usually do.

Cllr Ian Driver has been having more confrontations with the TDC officers detailed on facebook and in the Gazette there is more to this story than meets the eye as the Gazette had published a story about the content of the documents which now has mysteriously vanished, the Gazette apparently says due to technical reasons, but I would say this is more about the grey areas surrounding what you can and can’t publish.

In this case I think not so much about libel and more about preserving the paper’s relationship with council officers, by not publishing the content of their secret documents.

Item and comments on this post removed for legal reasons.

Apparently this is information the council want to keep secret 
Then there is all the stuff about the new Manston owners that has appered on the internet, here is the Gazette article you note no link to the online information they are talking about and comments are not allowed on the news post.

I have just been through the comments here removing the links to it as frankly it looks as though it may be libellous and linking to or endorsing a libel can cost you a few thousand pounds which I would rather spend on books for my bookshop.

I guess while on the one hand we are all encouraged to add stuff to the internet, and there is nowadays a very real sense that if you haven’t contributed to the internet, the from the point of view of the future looking at this point in history, then you won’t have existed.

My guess is that when your ancestors search in the future to find out about you, if there is nothing much there then they will wonder what was wrong with you.

On the other hand the rules for what we can and cannot do are not clearly defined, this is particularly marked near the boundaries, and as humans are interested in boundaries it is a major issue.  For instance the Gazette story about Pleasurama is much more interesting because it has gone.

I would guess I try to manage this blog by using a mixture of common sense and caution but the comments can be a pain to manage, I get some rather twisted things in comments like links that say one thing and lead to another, I guess sooner or later I will make a mistake and either have to face legal action or the blog will get removed because of a legitimate complaint to Google.

As quite a lot of the blog content is used by people as a local history resource, it won’t be long before I move on to another blog site to ensure what is here stays here.  

My general take is that anything published online that isn’t endorsed by connecting to a real life person in the real world it highly suspect and endorsing such things with your real name has an element of risk.  

I may ramble on here 

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

The King Street Carpet Shop Planning Application comes up for decision tomorrow.

I guess with the concerns about the future of the Manston Airport site and concerns about the future of the Pleasurama site it may be that most people have had their eye off the ball with this one.

Personally I think that turning one of the largest shops in Ramsgate into social housing is likely to have long term implications for Ramsgate as a shopping centre, to say nothing of the poor wretches who will have their bedroom windows fronting onto King Street.

Anyway having talked to some of the councillors about this one, I got the recommendation to email all of the members of the planning committee with my objection.

Here are the members of the planning committee, clicking on their names should bring up their email address.   

Meeting attendance
Councillor Jack CohenChairmanExpected
Councillor Clive HartVice-ChairmanExpected
Councillor Steve AlexandrouCommittee MemberExpected
Councillor Mrs Rosalind BinksCommittee MemberExpected
Councillor John Martin EdwardsCommittee MemberExpected
Councillor Michelle FennerCommittee MemberExpected
Councillor William A HaytonCommittee MemberExpected
Councillor Thomas KingCommittee MemberExpected
Councillor John D KirbyCommittee MemberExpected
Councillor Mrs Ela Lodge-PritchardCommittee MemberExpected
Councillor Mrs Jennifer MatterfaceCommittee MemberExpected
Councillor Pat MooreCommittee MemberExpected
Councillor Brian M SullivanCommittee MemberExpected
Councillor Mrs Shirley TomlinsonCommittee MemberExpected
Councillor Miss Linda WrightCommittee MemberExpected

This is what I sent them in blue.

Hi Linda I am writing to you and hopefully, computer allowing, to all the other members of the planning committee about the council’s planning application to turn the ground floor of one of the largest shops in Ramsgate into housing which comes up for decision at tomorrow’s planning meeting.  
I would guess that you either know me because of my having run the bookshop in Ramsgate since 1987 or because I write the thanetonline blog, anyway I do feel that I have some insight into how Ramsgate works as a shopping centre.
I also understand, which I didn’t know when I put in my objection, that TDC are drawing up a consultation document for regeneration of this part of Ramsgate and that this is nearly ready for public consultation and may impact on the future use of the largest shop in the street.
Anyway I would appreciate it if you could read through my objection below.       
72 King Street
CT11 8NY
U. K.
Telephone (01843) 589500
Application Number F/TH/14/0660
Attn Emma Fibbens
Objection to planning application for change of use from retail to housing at 69-73 King Street, Ramsgate CT11 8NX
I am mainly objecting to this application on the grounds that all of the shops between this one and the centre of the town are let and running as shops, with the exception of one that is being refitted and one that was recently closed after a council health inspection.
That deliberately damaging a functioning busy fully occupied shopping street by converting the largest shop in it into social housing is contrary to town centre regeneration.
Brief history dates and amounts may be inaccurate as I am writing this from memory
69-73 King Street traded for many years as a furniture shop, a significant part of their business was supplying furniture to residents of social housing and when they lost the contract about 15 years ago they went bankrupt.
The shop remained empty until about 12 years ago and then traded as a carpet shop until about 6 years ago when the carpet shop closed and the shop was sold at auction.
The building was sold for around £90,000 and was then marketed for around £250,000 and failed to sell. It then went back into auction about 4 years ago with a reserve of 170,000, failed meet its reserve at the auction, but was sold after the auction for £160,000.
At the end of 2011 the new owners applied for planning permission to convert the upper floors to residential and the ground floor from one large shop to 3 smaller shops.
These seemed sensible plans and I don’t think anyone objected to them.
Most recently it was bought by Thanet District Council.
It is important to appreciate that this is the largest shop in King Street and it being closed for the last 6 years has had a very damaging affect on the other business in this part of Ramsgate town centre.
Despite this King Street still remains in a busy shopping street, with the shops on each side of it trading and the shops opposite also still trading apart from at one end of it where it is opposite part of the shop that the council closed down after their health inspection unit visited it.
Ramsgate shopping centre
The most vibrant and successful part of the shopping centre is based around the only viable public car park; Staffordshire Street Car Park Ramsgate 200 spaces. The other large town centre car park is; Leopold Street Multi-story Car Park Ramsgate 394 spaces, somewhere that few women (who do most of the shopping) would venture into, if driving alone.
Ramsgate is the main food-shopping town in East Kent, it has 3 butchers, 2 greengrocers, 2 bakers, 1 fishmonger, within the town centre and all a short distance from Staffordshire Street Car Park.
I have been trading in King Street, opposite 69-73 as a new and secondhand bookseller since 1987 and can confirm that food shoppers from Thanet, Canterbury, Sandwich, Deal and Herne Bay; all town centres with far fewer independent food retailers use the town and car park for their food shopping.
KCC has a strong vested interest in their large investment in Turner Contemporary and making the shops in area around it survive.
TDC has a strong vested interest in their large investment in Dreamland, a strong desire to see Westwood Cross Shopping Centre succeed and are more focussed on Margate and Westwood than on Ramsgate. 
RTC would like to see much more activity around their offices in Harbour Parade and are trying to move commercial activity that way, although this is hindered by the two nearest retail premises (at the harbour end of Harbour Street) of any consequence being empty, probably because they are too far from Staffordshire Street Car Park.      
The net result of this has been:
The removal of all of the free on street parking in the immediate area of the King Street shops e.g. Turner Street no-through-road and Belmont Street, while on street parking is allowed on narrow streets adjacent to school entrances in Ramsgate e.g. St Ethelbert’s School.
Rubbish and recycling collections taking place in King Street on market day the busiest shopping day there.
The pavement in King Street being in an appalling condition.
Part of the shopping centre within King Street being removed from the town centre for policing purposes.
I should reiterate here that despite these hindrances all of the available shops in King Street between Plains of Waterloo and High Street are open and trading apart from one which was closed by the council and one which is being refitted.
Social housing
King Street in Ramsgate has several late night takeaways licensed until 4am and the street is often very noisy and lively until then. The removal of the town centre police beat means that most of it has the same level of policing as an out of town residential area, so inevitably drunken fights break out in the early hours of the morning.
Since 1987 I have had about 50 late night – early hours shop window breakages.
This is compounded by the situation in Trove Court and Kennedy House, where there is no doorman, so people use the corridors to rough sleep and for drug abuse, means that there is a lot of late night and early hours noise at street level in King Street
This development would mean housing people on the ground floor next to the street, perhaps this sort of social housing is intended by the council as some form of punishment, personally I think it inappropriate.
As this shop is in the main food shopping town centre in the area and very close to the only public car park that most shoppers feel safe using I would recommend that the council approach, Quex Farms and other local food producers with the proposition of turning it into and indoor market, primarily a farmer’s market.    
Best regards Michael