Sunday, 31 August 2008

Kent libraries lose £100,000 worth of stock a year

This item in The Thanet Extra (link on sidebar) caught my attention and to begin with I thought with about 100 libraries and library fines being just over £1 per week this figure seemed reasonable. I reflected that the average item would be a worth about £10 at £1,000 per library that would be about 100 items or 2 missing or totally damaged items per week per library.

Apparently the information had been gained under the freedom of information act, and Kent libraries are considering having a fines amnesty to get some of it back.

As I read the article however it just didn’t make sense at all, stock lost in 2006 was £97,000 and stock lost in 2007 was £106,000 however the 2007 figures included the stock lost in Ramsgate Library fire, one would have expected the fire to make more than £9,000 pounds difference to the figures.

Then the article went on to say that in 2007 Thanet had the most amount of stock written off at £25,000 this figure suggests that the whole of the value of the books, CDs, DVDs, Playstation games, etc in Ramsgate Library when it burnt down was less than £25,000 at £10 per item this would mean that Ramsgate library had less than 2,500 items to borrow, well there are about 1,000 shelves in my bookshop meaning that there would be less than 3 items per shelf or a value per shelf of £25 if you put all of the stuff from the library in it.

I suppose I have reached a stage where I expect local government to be somewhat economical with the truth and produce statements and accounts that don’t make sense, any one got any ideas how they could have come up with this one?

Saturday, 30 August 2008

Ramsgate to lose its bang

Rather sad news reported on the Thanet Extra website the firm that used to make the lifeboat maroons is no longer going to and another supplier cant be found.

click here to read about the work of our lifeboat

Ferry fumes

Sitting outside The Lookout Café the other day, looking out over a very good and inexpensive nosh, I was surprised at the amount of smoke issuing from the ferry in the harbour. The ferry wasn’t going anywhere so presumably such engines that were running were only to keep the onboard electric generators going, well certainly what was coming out of its funnel wouldn’t have passed any MOT if it were a road vehicle.

I thought I had read somewhere that the ferries now had to pass much more stringent emission tests, obviously this one hadn’t.

Looking down on the port which frankly is a horrible ugly mess and losing a huge amount of money, compared with the marina which is pretty much full and obviously bringing considerable prosperity to Ramsgate once again why not convert the port to leisure use.

Friday, 29 August 2008

Reflections from the book trade

It being market day in Ramsgate it’s far too busy to get on with much between customers, I have already put up a couple of vague postings, in a bookshop the diversity of peoples questions is very great indeed so it's easy to get off track.

As I pointed out in a previous posting since the economic downturn started we have been a lot busier. This is mostly down to two factors, the first being that the person who wouldn’t have thought twice six weeks ago about buying half a dozen literary paperback at Westwood Cross for about £40 are coming here first where the same six books are going to be about £15, same with the person who regularly buys quality non fiction where prices are around the £30 mark whereas here I would say the average is around £7. The other thing is that people are selling their books to pay for food and fuel, so I am being offered a lot more good quality stock, meaning the prices have gone down and the quality up, the whole thing really being about supply and demand.

Having worked in both new and secondhand bookshops on the whole I would say that the secondhand customers tend to be more discerning, as they are pretty much always buying the books for themselves.

The question begged here is what is a quality book or what isn’t a quality book and for anyone interested I have written an illustrated web page to try and explain this click here to view it


As you can there is a great mound of rubbish on Government Acre, Ramsgate’s westcliff, it does look very incongruous right in the middle of this open space.

China Gateway Wigan Style

It would seem that another of the China Gateways has had a bit of a bumpy ride, those of you who are following the story may find a couple of their local paper items interesting click here and here to read them.

Thursday, 28 August 2008

Complaining to Thanet District Council

Back at the beginning of June I complained to the council that they had restricted access to some documents, that I knew to be in the public domain, on their planning website.

I also attached a letter to this complaint explaining that once they had removed this restriction so that I could see all the documents that were there, I would further complain if any of the documents in the planning folder were missing, as obviously I couldn’t complain before I could see everything that was there.

I am coming to the conclusion that the council are delaying dealing with this complaint for some reason, and as the China Gateway application was the one I was trying to view, I am becoming concerned that this relates in some way to the unseemly haste the application appears to be coming before full council.

There is a lot of correspondence about this with the council, so I have only published the most recent, as it is emails you have to read the bottom one first and work your way up click here to read it

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Granville Bomb Damage

A fairly unusual picture of the Granville just after it was hit by a bomb in the Second World War. Much less health and safety then the chaps clearing up the mess aren’t even wearing hard hats.

Ken Gregory’s computer has broken

Ken just rang me up to say his computer started emitting smoke and no longer works, he has orderd a new one but won’t be able to answer emails or respond to posts until at least next Monday.

Donald Long

It is with sadness that I have to report the death of Don Long. Don was the author of several history books about Ramsgate that I publish, his help and advice on matters of local history was invaluable.

Don was also churchwarden of Holy Trinity Church Ramsgate, long serving school governor and for a long time a Ramsgate town councillor.

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

The early confused period in Thanet

One of the oldest historical accounts of The Isle of Thanet is that of William Lambarde in his Perambulation of Kent first published in 1570, I have copied the relevant pages from the 1826 edition for your amusement and edification.

Click here to read it

Monday, 25 August 2008

Something for our councillors here in Kent to live up to?

There has been some suggestion on some of the blogs that not all of the councillors in Kent are serving the electorate as well as they could be, so I thought an historical perspective here could be of some use.

During the 1700s the parishes of Kent were governed by the clergy and churchwardens, fortunately Archbishop Wake kept a private notebook in Latin (Notitia Dioces Cantuar,) here is what he wrote about some of Kent’s clergy at that time.

Patten of Whitstable kept a mistress and did not pay his debts; Bourn of Ash was "allied to the sons of Eli" ; Roberts of Queenborough, ale-house sot and debtor, "so impudent as nothing is like him"; Bate of Chilham, "proudest and stiffest man" in the diocese, allowing corpses to lie unburied for want of fees; Burroughs of Kingston, "most horribly covetous" ; Ansell of Stowting and Cade of Sellindge, Jacobites and taven-brawlers; Edward Dering of Charing who fought his own sister at the Swan Inn and threw her "head-cloaths" into the fire; Hobbs of Dover, who amassed pluralities; Isles of New Romney a notorious sot and Jacobite; Nicholls of Fordwich who preached that King George was a Foreigner, a Lutheran, and a Beggar-"a wicked, swearing. Lying, Drunken man".

Sunday, 24 August 2008

Rainy afternoon ramblings

The significance of the local blogs, which I believe will be increasingly important in terms of media and local politics seems to have been missed by some of our politicians, comment by senior local Conservative politicians is markedly absent.

Now here looking at the counter at the bottom of the page, I am getting about 1,000 visits a week, so you would think these people who presumably want us to vote for them in the future, would wish to be identified and engage in some of the dialogue.

If you consider that many of the stories in the local papers recently, that could in any way be called news, have come from the blogs in the first place.

This is increasingly happening now with national media, with China Gateway and Chinagate in the last week I have been approached by Glen Campbell reporter director of the BBC asking if he can use the material on my blog for a program he is making about it.

Now frankly I would like to do some postings that show councillors in a better light, for instance John Kirby’s stance on Albion House, however I don’t know the detailed story so I can’t.

I don’t think a lot of people have realised the significance of blogging, when I first started to use the internet as a tool for sharing local history, to be able to publish to the internet without masses of other peoples advertising, I had to first purchase a web address, then buy hosting for it at considerable expense, then buy the necessary software and spend a considerable time learning to use it, with blogger all of this is both free and very easy

Wantsum Jazz

Wantsum Jazz

Wantsum Jazz festival is on at the Eastcliff bandstand in Ramsgate this weekend, the videos are of last year’s

Saturday, 23 August 2008

Ramsgate Marina Lift Demolition

Earlier this week I was asked to find out when the Marina Lift was demolished, I consulted with Terry Wheeler whose book, The Ramsgate Lifts, we have in stock price £2.25, if you want a copy posted to you I will have to charge postage unlike our own publications which we send post free to uk addresses.

The marina lift was opened in August 1905 and demolished in 1970 when a green metal corrugated structure was erected there to cover the lift escape ladder, many people wrongly assumed that this structure was a replacement lift.

Click here for pictures of the demolition of the lift the news paper cutting is from the East Kent Times January 14th 1970 Thanks to Terry for letting me copy them.

Friday, 22 August 2008

When are you allowed to whip a councillor?

Not when a planning application is being decided at full council, so I was quite surprised to see on the front page of today’s paper, that it said there would be a whip when the China Gateway is decided.

Our Trunks Last A Lifetime

Frederic Standen and his family moved from Eastry to Ramsgate in about 1910. Standen and his eldest son Stephen started business with premises at 15 Plains of Waterloo. Very soon, they moved to 75 King Street (bottom of Plains of Waterloo).

All business ceased when Stephen died in 1959.

By 1964/65, 75 King Street was demolished.

At the height of their business, the Standens had large premises at the end of Turner Street & Belmont Street. Here Standen garaged his bull-nosed Morris-Crowley, and Stephen had space for major work on horse collars and saddles. The shop at 75 King Street was widely known for quality sports wear/leather goods, suitcases. Above the entrance, you can see in the photograph a carefully painted advertisement, showing two elephants bouncing off suitcases – below the caption – “Our Trunks Last A Lifetime.” The white wall next to 72 King Street was the side of a widely known sea food shop – particularly haddock and kippers. If that shop was Number 70 – then 68 would have been Skitts the Chemist.

Thinking again about Ramsgate in the late thirties, I think Midgets had a show in the Merry England Covered building, immediately below Wellington Crescent.

A propos sights which must be on photographs somewhere are –
a. the howitzer at Wellington Crescent, which was cut up by oxyacetylene torch in 1938
b. the shop front on Albion Hill which exhibited remnants of an unexploded bomb
c. record of artistic flint work (pavement and walling) at the seafront end of Augusta Road, skirting Truro Court.

Many thanks to Mr and Mrs Yates who came in the shop while on holiday here from Buckinghamshire. They said when the got home they would post me copies of two pictures of King Street click here to enlarge above the accompanying letter.

For myself it is something of a relief to return to local history.

Thursday, 21 August 2008

Thanks for the vote

I would like to offer my sincere thanks to those councillors who were responsible for the China Gateway application going to full council, this was obviously what all the people who understood the implications of the proposal wanted.

I believe that we have now got some councillors who are putting the benefits of Thanet, the integrity of office and the wishes of the electorate first. I also believe that, as we are moving towards an elected council leader, who will not necessarily favour one party or one group of individuals, that these councillors will stay and their numbers will increase.

Apart from the planning issues, I think it inappropriate that anything should be decided on the China Gateway until the serious economic crimes unit have completed their investigation.

I asked TDC planning department for their view on this, here is what they said.

“From a Planning point of view, if it can be proven that there are procedural irregularities in reaching a planning decision , the decision can be challenged through the judicial review process which can nullify the permission if the JR is successful. I don't think that the hint of a criminal investigation would prejudice Planning Committee considering the application and all Planning Committee members would need to be sure in their own minds they do not have any prejudicial interest that prevents them from considering the application with an open mind.”

Various people have asked me to do a comprehensive post on TDCs asset disposal, particularly with regard to Northdown House, I have been on the case for some time now and am still at the gathering information stage.

You have to appreciate that I am not an anonymous individual, so I have to try and get the information that I publish here exactly right, first time.

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

China Gateway’s big planning day

Talking to my customers and friends over the last few weeks I have noticed people’s universal disapproval with the way the China Gateway plans are coming to planning before they are in ready and before allegations of impropriety between the developer and the council have been resolved.

My understanding is that any member of the planning committee Labour or Conservative can insist that the decision comes before full council, which would hopefully give the developer time to submit plans that resolved the lorry park drainage issue, which with the current proposed layout of the site doesn’t seem resolvable.

However the Conservatives appear to have a very close relationship with the developer who has funded some of their recent events and the local Labour have recently received a large donation from the developer. I should hasten to add that there is no suggestion that any of the donations wasn’t legitimate, however there may be some sense of not wanting to displease someone who has recently given you a large sum of money.

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Recommendation to the planning committee to approve plans for China Gateway

I have just received this document from TDC planning and have published it on the web for anyone interested to read click here to do so

My first thoughts are that as this development is so big and will effect everyone in Thanet, it should come before full council once people have returned from their holidays.

Monday, 18 August 2008

Beach parking

Obviously the key to the amount of tourism a seaside town attracts is either related to the amount of leisure facilities it has, or if as is the case in Ramsgate where the leisure facilities have closed, the amount of parking close to the beaches.

In the case of the main sands where the majority of the parking has been removed to make way for various schemes to use the Pleasurama site, I have asked the senior councillors and council officers to let people park on the site until work begins.

It should be understood that work can’t really start on the site until plans that address the concerns raised by the environment agency about flood, storm and emergency escape issues have been approved by the council and the environment agency, this is yet to happen, so the main leisure and parking site there remains deserted but the council seems loathe to let us use it.

Then there is the western undercliff, the beach there was awarded the highest levels of water purity available, however the council has failed to stop lorries parking illegally in the car parking spaces there. As you can see from the pictures taken yesterday one lorry and trailer is even parked on the pavement. One of the worst effects of this is that the lorry drivers use the beach as a toilet.

Now here all we are asking for is bollards that allow cars to park but prevent lorries, not much to ask really.

Ugly streetlamp award for the council

Being in the middle of a conservation area on expects replacement street furniture to reflect this, so I was somewhat surprised when the streetlamp pictured above appeared at the bottom of my garden this morning.

The two street lamps pictured below are on the opposite side of the road, as they didn’t take the short one out when they put the tall one in I am wondering if we will soon have three in a line there.

They have also put it right next to the wall which makes it easy to climb and get onto the roofs, I am sure I heard somewhere that this sort of bad positioning was to be changed to help reduce crime.

Sunday, 17 August 2008

Infratill v Gateway

I have just received the letter from Infratill the operator of Manston Airport to TDC planning about the China Gateway, sorry about the quality the planning department really needs to do something about its scanner.

They have various concerns the most important being that there just isn’t sufficient road infrastructure to cope with both the expansion of the airport and a large industrial and distribution centre.

China Gateway has over 4,000 car parking spaces and 566 HGV parking spaces so they obviously expect considerable extra traffic, the airport has capacity for 400,000 tonnes of freight and 1,000,000 passengers per year, they will have to invent a new word gridlock doesn’t get anywhere near it.

Essentially we are back to the problem of an ill-conceived development in the wrong place, which is being rushed through planning before there are plans that are anything close to a viable development.

Surely it would be better to tell the developer to go away and prepare plans that address the basic requirements for the site.

It makes a mockery of the planning committee to ask them to approve plans that everyone knows are totally unworkable and means that they will never get the opportunity to decide on realistic plans.

Does anyone know why it is coming before planning before the plans are in any sense ready?

The picture is of Manston before WW2

Saturday, 16 August 2008

China Gateway

As most of you are aware the planning application for China Gateway, planning reference number F/TH/08/0400, is due to be reported to the Planning Committee meeting and according to this weeks Gazette with the recommendation that it is approved.

Now most of you are also aware that a bundle of documents were found that suggested there might have been some impropriety between the developer, council officers and councillors.

Two worrying aspects of the documents being that they appeared to show that the recent visit by the two most senior councillors and the two most senior council officers, to China, had been funded by the developer and not the Chinese government as they had said, and that the developer appeared to be drafting and or amending correspondence from the council to the Chinese.

Now the bundle has been handed to Kent police’s serious economic crime unit who are holding an investigation into the matter, I have asked some of the councillors about this and they have either not responded or said, quite properly, that they cannot comment until the police examination and any resultant litigation is complete.

The questions that this raises is, should this be coming before planning before the police investigation is concluded and will the planning permission be valid if some impropriety is found to exist?

Friday, 15 August 2008

A Strange Tale of Coffins and Bird Skulls

A Strange Tale of Coffins and Bird Skulls

As most people will know Ramsgate has many tunnels and caves and as the publisher of a book about the main Ramsgate tunnel system, I occasionally come across snippets about the history of some of them.

This is the most bizarre yet, told to me by an eighty year old man who has lived in Ramsgate all his life, in 1938 when he was ten years old a time when the county was preparing for war and adult eyes were averted, a favourite haunt of local boys was the tunnels under the cemetery.

He described three large arches running far under the cemetery with a network of smaller tunnels and rooms, in places coffins had fallen through the ceiling from the cemetery above.

The greatest attraction to the boys was the bird room, by crawling under a very low part with a candle it was possible to get into a room where there were a lot of small square recesses cut into the wall, in each one was a birds skull

Ramsgate’s new road

I have a local history question today, question and answer below, if anyone has any further information please post it in the comments box.
I have recently been viewing your website about Ramsgate, and found it very interesting, and would like to ask you a question if I may about the new road that leads down to the Harbour, with the arches.The question is, would you know when the work on this road was started and completed, its just out of curiosity really.Thank you in advance.Regards John.

Hi John the it was built in the 1890s there is some reference to how it came to be built in Ramsgate Illustrated a Reprint of an 1895 guide that I publish see best regards Michael.

I will put your question on my blog in the hope the some of the people who read it have more information

Ramsgate week

My apologies for not posting about Ramsgate week before, several people have asked what is going on, the website is and I have published their daily updates click here to read them

I can report increased sales of maritime books click here for more old pictures of the harbour

Thursday, 14 August 2008

Mr W C Lavatory makes us spend a penny or more

I have just come back from taking the children to Ramsgate main sands where I had a long chat with the concessionaire who runs the children’s rides on the beach, another person very disenchanted with Thanet District Council.

He told me that the council are installing turnstiles to make people pay to use the main sands toilets, this work is being done at considerable expense and one wonders if the money will ever be recovered.

Well this year I have begged the councillors to invest a small amount of money to make the Pleasurama site available for leisure, I have to admit the only councillor who had the courtesy to reply was Sandy Ezekiel, who said he had tried and failed because of the dangers of the work going on down there.

So the only investment being made down there seems to be something to put tourists off using the main sands, or perhaps encourage them to use the main sands as a toilet.

Oddly enough I can’t find any record of this decision in the councils documentation library online, I can only imagine this is to get the main sands inline with the lorry drivers toilet that the western undercliff beach has become.

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Inflatable faeces raises a stink

I noticed this rather unusual item in today’s news. A giant inflatable dog turd brought down a power line after being blown away from a Swiss museum. Click here to read on

More videos of Broadstairs folk week 2008

More snippets of video to give you some idea of the atmosphere at folk week, one again sorry about the quality, does anyone know of some host better than youtube where the videos would come out in higher definition?

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Southern Water

I have just received the letter sent by Southern Water to TDC on the 27.6.2008 about the China Gateway proposal click here to read it

I have also just received a letter from TDC confirming that the application is due to be reported to the planning committee meeting to be held at 7pm on 20.8.2008

In view of the problems related to waste water disposal, the other problems related to the layout of the site and the screening issue, the plans must be so far from anything that would be acceptable either to TDC or the Chinese that this seems far to soon.

It seems pretty obvious that it would be better for the planning committee to decide on plans that are somewhere near to something that would be a viable development, to do otherwise makes the planning committee appear a mere rubber stamp.

I am afraid there is considerable feeling among ordinary folk that the granting of planning permission is a forgone conclusion and for TDC to behave in this way does seem lay weight to this feeling.

Broadstairs folk Week 2008

Broadstairs folk Week 2008

I took some videos of folk week on Sunday, they are not very good I’m afraid it was particularly crowded very difficult to get a clear shot.

Folk week is on all this week.

Anyway this is the first one and I will put the others up when I get a chance.

Monday, 11 August 2008

Chinese Puzzle

Having been busy yesterday entertaining friends I only had the occasional chance to glance at the comments on my previous post, however throughout the day it became obvious to me that some people misunderstood my attitude to the China Gateway.

As for the business of trying to cloud the issue with racism, firstly I should point out that I am not against the China Gateway or Chinese customers coming to Thanet and buying books in my shop, and yes the Chinese people who have made it as far as Ramsgate have proved to be both utterly charming and good book customers.

What I am against is lower standards being set for this development than the others on the site, having seen the very high standards that the Chinese have set for the Olympic Games and in view of the fact that the development is set to be a showcase for the Chinese in Europe, it would seem unlikely that they would be entirely happy with a UK developer building them a development that falls below the standards of the surrounding developments, occupied by European companies.

I am also concerned that the Chinese are being lead to believe that permission will be given for the development of the surrounding prime farm land, to complete phases two and three of the project, which I believe is essential to the requirements of the Chinese.

I would certainly be much happier to see the project not built on prime farmland, especially when we have large brownfield sites like Richborough and frankly think doing so constitutes bad PR for the Chinese, something else they probably wouldn’t want.

It’s over thirty years since I had a great deal with Chinese people, at the time I was a member of an Anglican contemplative community that was set up to look into the ways meditation and prayer techniques of other religions and cultures could be used within the Anglican community, we were asking favours from them and not giving much back in return, all of the people from the different cultures and religions we consulted were both charming and helpful.

Saturday, 9 August 2008

The Village of Acol and the Gateway of China

For the most part I have stuck to the water safety issues and frankly feel that the planning department should just send the application back to the developer, telling them to come up with a proper surface and sewage draining scheme, before wasting time considering the application.
Now all of the existing developments on the site on the site have had to have 50 meter wide screening belts planted on the site, the two X type warehouses will be right down at the end of the site next to the village of Acol.

From my experience in working in factories I have a fairly good idea of what these warehouses are likely to be like, the are huge buildings like aircraft hangers, inside the will probably be almost totally automated and run by computers, to minimise the number of people employed.

Around them outside is a massive lorry park and loading area that runs night and day all the year round, generating continuous light, noise and air pollution.

The lorries about 100 of them at any one time will be continually starting up from cold, which is when they develop the blackest most polluting exhaust fumes.

I can see no provision for adequate screening belts, so why o why, not put this as far away from the village as possible?
Of course all the polluting particles in the air that land on the fields nearby will leach into the ground right next to the pumping station, but I am not concentrating on water pollution today.

St Lawrence Chapel and Chantry House

The pictures (from two of my local history publications) click here to enlarge are the ones I promised to publish the other day, showing Holy Trinity Chapel and its priests residence, the Chantry House (on the junction of Ellington Place, left and Grange Rd. right) more detail about the chapel in my previous posting.

It is refreshing to get away from modern local problems, where trying to ascertain answers to simple questions is inclined to remind one of Sir Walter Scott’s immortal words.

Oh what tangled webs we weave
When first we practise to deceive.
And when we've practiced for awhile,
How we do improve our style!

Friday, 8 August 2008

China Gate

I was very pleased to see the Isle of Thanet Gazette has been asking some questions about aspects of the China Gateway project raised on various blogs including this one.

I have made it clear to all of the local papers that they can use anything they want from this blog with or without quoting it as a source, with the big issues like the China Gateway it is important that as many people know as much about what is going on as possible.

One very serious question this raises is should this come before planning before the police have finished their investigation, a developer drafting letters for TDC while TDC are judging their planning application, seems unwise.

Thursday, 7 August 2008

Police erect incident tent outside Albion House

I snapped this out the car window today the police have cordoned off Albion House and put up one of their tents outside the front door anyone know what’s going on?

Holy Trinity St Lawrence

I have just received this picture from Alan, he says.

“This picture is most odd. It's a photo of a very large picture drawn by Emma Harrison - the best that I can come up with from the signature. It was drawn in 1869 and is simply entitled, 'At St Lawrence's, Isle of Thanet'. It seems to show a redundant church or chapel, but of course St Laurence was not in a derelict state during that period, and architecturally it is totally wrong to be that building. The question is, where on earth was it? It certainly isn't the remains of the church at Woodchurch [the foundations still shown on maps of the period], neither is it the chapel at Manston Court. As the thing is on our wall at home, I would naturally love to establish where it was. I suppose it could always have been drawn from the imagination of the artist, or could have been copied from an older engraving - so perhaps had disappeared by 1869?? I can't find a good candidate for a Emma Harrison living locally on the 1861 or 1871 census, so guess that she may have been visiting Thanet when she undertook this.

Would any of your bloggers know??”

Ed. This is Holy Trinity Chapel it was built in the 1300s and demolished in 1892

Edward Wedlake Brayley mentions it in his book Delineations Historical and Topographical of the Isle of Thanet and the Cinque Ports, there is also an engraving of the chapel in the same book by William Deeble. I publish a cheap reprint of the book click here for sample pages.

The chapel was a short distance east of St Lawrence Church, it was endowed with some lands for maintenance of a priest but these endowments were converted to a lay fee after the reformation and the chapel became a cottagers dwelling. By the beginning of the 1800s it was roofless and derelict it was demolished in 1892.

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

Is this picture of Ramsgate harbour?

Many thanks to Alan Hardcastle who sent me this picture scanned from an old glass plate that he believes to Ramsgate harbour in 1916, I am not at all certain it’s Ramsgate, anyone got any ideas.

Political solutions for Thanet

In view of all the comment on my post about cabinet members integrity and with the journey towards an elected Mayor now moving forward, it would seem we are very likely to have a change in leadership either now or in the medium term. The petition only requires 5% of the electorate and the referendum asks the people who bother to vote if they want to vote or not, making it pretty much a forgone conclusion.

The real problem we have is not if our cabinet members behaved improperly but that local peoples perception of them is at such a low ebb.

Now at the moment the Conservative group would retain some credibility by changing leadership to a councillor outside of the cabinet group.

If this doesn’t happen if there are sufficient members of both parties unhappy with the current situation they can vote for a mayoral election.

I don’t see how the whole of the Labour group can lose by going down that particular road as by the time they next get into power we are pretty much certain to have a Mayor as leader of the council.

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

What is the most serious issue in Thanet?

The answer here is undoubtedly the decision to not hold the line of the north Wantsum sea defences, the problem here being that people forget what happens when we have a serious tidal surge storm.

In the map above, click here to enlarge, the grey area shows the Wantsum channel and the area that the sea would eventually reclaim without these defences.

Having recently published a book on our local railways I am more inclined to be interested in the other local railway books, so I was interested to read today that during the 1953 storm the railway and the land around it was simply washed away, thousands of tons of chalk had to be brought in to fill the land and the sea defences were rebuilt to a higher standard, the railway was closed for five months.

Now the environment agency the same people who don’t seem to be protecting our environment to 1995 standards have recommended letting these sea defences be left unmaintained until the sea washes them away.

The picture shows the work of replacing the land between Reculver and Bichington click here to enlarge it

Monday, 4 August 2008

Concerns about cabinet members integrity

I have been piecing together a very worrying story about the integrity of some of our senior councillors, it goes like this.

A highly respected member of our community discovered a bundle of documents that had been left by a person unknown where he was bound to find them. The documents showed irregularities in the way the recent senior councillors trip to china was funded.

He took these documents and showed them to the most respected of the new Conservative Councillors Simon Moores, Alistair Bruce and Ewen Cameron, anyone who has had anything to do with these people will know them to be men of honour and integrity.

Having looked at the documents all three were very concerned and have written a jointly produced and signed a document to the other members of the Conservative group saying that they are no longer happy to support the cabinet.

As far as I understand this, the conservative group are to meet this week to decide if they are going to elect a new leader who would then form a new cabinet.

I gather that the police were used to try and discover the identity of the highly respected member of our community and that our most respected new Conservative Councillors didn’t like having the police turning up uninvited.

The highly respected member of our community has handed the documents to the police and copies to one of the local papers and an injunction is being sought to prevent publication.

We already have senior councillors facing the standards board again and with this as well it is time for our local councillors to put their house in order, I gather that Simon Moores, Alistair Bruce and Ewen Cameron were going to resign but fortunately for us they haven’t, we desperately need people of this calibre to sort out the appalling mess we are in Thanet.

Sunday, 3 August 2008

Local and National Government is There a Credible Alternative?

With an air of disillusionment hanging over us both by Labour supporters and MPs in the national cabinet and something fairly similar among Conservatives locally, assuming we don’t get an election in the short term and therefore retain the same parties but possibly not the same leaders I thought it interesting to speculate on who would be the best people to lead us.

As I have said in a previous post I think an elected mayor of Thanet is our best hope in the medium term click here to read it

I am also beginning to wonder if a prime minister elected by the people rather than a political party wouldn’t be better for us as a country.

Having written to the two most senior Conservative councillors recently about the Pleasurama sites temporary use for the summer, something that would greatly benefit Ramsgate and cost virtually nothing I found neither of them could be bothered to reply to me, these people what can one say?

However the question is were you in a position to choose a new leader from the Labour MPs or Conservative councillors who would it be?

Saturday, 2 August 2008

Thanet Earth

With the new books in stock on the history of Thanet farming I have had occasion to talk to some of our farmers, although most of the farming in Thanet now is in the hands of two large companies where the bottom line of the balance sheet is their only concern, we still have small tenant farmers who are prepared to put work and money in to benefit their land, even when no financial gain is obvious.

What they have to say about Thanet Earth I found very interesting, my view up to now had been yes pretty hideous, but a lot of unskilled jobs will be created, so I was essentially for it.

So here are the points that are changing my mind.

Food is becoming more expensive demand exceeding supply, we could run out of staples like potatoes, however the three crops Thanet Earth intends to grow peppers, tomatoes and cucumbers are not in short supply all are available very cheaply and unlikely to run out or become expensive, so the venture may be an economic failure.

Sighting it on top of a hill removing the topsoil from this prime agricultural land (one chap I spoke to called this an act of desecration) has been done in such a way to completely ignore the land drainage and the proximity of the road, during the winter storms flooding and road closures are likely to be an ongoing problem.

So anyway I said what about the jobs for the locals, the answer I got was, are you joking have you ever worked in a greenhouse in the summer months, the only people who will are migrant workers.

Do we really have enough water to do this, has everyone forgotten the drought so soon, will they be allowed to pump the aquifer so dry that it becomes contaminated with seawater?

What none of them could understand, is why when the council gets involved in projects on agricultural land don’t they first consult the local farming community?

The picture comes from Lewis’s 1736 history of Thanet, which I publish as an inexpensive reprint of have an original copy of in stock.

Trouble ont blogs

I seem to be having trouble accessing most of the other local blogs this morning is it just me or has something gone wrong with blogger, and why can I open my own blog?

Friday, 1 August 2008

Council makes a splash

The other day Zumi (link on sidebar) posted about the peculiar way the council polices the people who dive into the harbour, so I went and had a look.

It really is the most ridiculous waste of money presumably something to do with compensation culture although I don’t know for sure. Two security guards are employed to man a temporary barrier, the object being to prevent people passing who are likely to dive of the fish loading quay into the harbour. It is an impossible job the upshot being that the people are still diving off the quay and we are funding two security guards to ask people if they are going to dive into the harbour, the people just say no and then go and dive in full view of the guards.