Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Pleasurama development Ramsgate again

As followers of this blog will know I emailed all of the councillors last week and had some responses see http://thanetonline.blogspot.com/2009/06/what-thanet-district-councillors-have.html I was a bit disappointed how few councillors bothered to respond, even so I managed to gather quite a lot of useful information.

One of the new things to emerge was that there is a prospective buyer for the hotel, Wentworth Investments, however on investigation they appear to be a non-trading dormant company.

Another thing that is of concern is SFPs failure to obtain a performance bond from their bank, from what I can see looking at the correspondence the councillors were totally misinformed about the cost of the bond.

The councillors appear to be under the impression that the bond would cost the developer about half a million pounds and were this the case the developers argument that this money would be saved for the development is a good one.

However the reality is very different to obtain a £5,000,000 performance bond the developer would normally have to deposit £500,000 pounds with his bank or specialist insurance company, this would be returned on satisfactory completion of the development, the cost of the bond would be about £10,000.

It doesn’t take a lot of working out to see if the cost of insuring against the developer going bankrupt was really 10% of the amount insured the banks would stand to make a considerable profit if in the case of all insured developments in 9% of cases the developer went bankrupt, this is plainly absurd.

This brings us to the question, why would SFP tell the council that the cost of the bond was 50 times greater than it really is?

The only likely reason I can see that the developer can’t get a bond is that no bank or insurance company is willing to take the risk that they won’t go bankrupt before the development is completed.

So now we have SFP Venture Partners Limited an offshore company, SFP Ventures UK Limited a dormant company and Wentworth Investments Limited another dormant company.

None of them have websites, SFP in its different guises a developer that never appear to have developed anything and Wentworth Investments that want to buy the hotel from them but never appear to have run an hotel.

Monday, 29 June 2009

Preston Steam Rally Videos

I will add them as they upload it’s a very slow process

























Sunday, 28 June 2009

Pictures of Preston steam rally 2009


Click here to look at the pictures then use the links at the top for more pages of pictures, I will delete the worst ones when I get round to it and sorry about the bits in the camera I must replace it or something.
In this case publishing is an automated affair and I have left the computer to get on with it they should all be online by about 8.30

Friday, 26 June 2009

Pleasurama development Ramsgate Thanet District Councillors views reviewed.

If you read the comments on my post a couple of days “What Thanet District Councillors have to say about the Pleasurama development in Ramsgate” you will see that Dr Alistair Bruce has similar reservations to mine about the two areas where he has specialist knowledge and Michael Jarvis about the bond.

So there you have it the councillor who is a qualified environmental and geological expert doesn’t like the dangers posed by the environmental and geological aspects of the project.

The councillor with extensive business knowledge of the Commercial and Financial industry, who having worked for over 20 years in the City of London graduated from London South Bank University with a honours degree in Business Studies, isn’t happy about the financial and business aspects of the project.

The responses from the cabinet members leave a little to be desired, Cllr-Shirley Tomlinson cabinet member for environmental services seems quite happy to ignore the views of the only environmental specialist involved. Cllr Roger Latchford Cabinet Member for Regeneration & Economic Development appears to think the development is a good idea but doesn’t say why. Cllr Simon Moores who as far as cabinet goes is the new kid on the block seems to be quite happy about the way things are.

The Labour group seem to have considerable reservations about the project Cllr Alan Poole is unhappy about many aspects of the project as is Cllr Iris Johnston and Cllr Mark Nottingham.

I am hoping to get replies from some of the other councillors in the fullness of time and wish to extend my thanks to those who already have, I don’t often send out emails to councillors with the intention of publishing replies where the recipient agrees and understand that councillors have to be careful of all of the regulations surrounding them.

For me the one of the biggest problems with this huge project is the lack of public consultation in Ramsgate on this issue, we know we are not getting the gull winged development that was supposed to be set well below the cliff top, which is what it says in the planning applications planning and design statement.

The assumption is that the architect made a mistake about the height of the cliff or that the developer really did intend the thing to stand above the cliff top blotting out the horizon, but as there has been no public consultation I don’t really know.

I would like to know what the effect of the new design would have on the view from the cliff top, but all of the artistic impressions of the building viewed from the cliff top are for the previous design.

So we have a cliff top view with a listed Regency Crescent of international architectural significance behind us Smeaton’s Royal Harbour and The Royal Victoria Pavilion in front and nothing to show us how this view will be effected, only in Thanet.

Without the public consultation trying to get some informed comment out of our elected representatives seems to be the only option.

The contractor told me some time ago that the developer SFP had put the project on hold until the end of the summer, presumably to ride out the recession so I was quite surprised when the council announced that construction work would start ten days after the council’s decision.


Then it occurred to me that as I believe the development agreement states that the council would be obliged to buy the hotel that forms part of the development, if there are no other takers and as the hotel is to be built first, without the performance bond SFP couldn’t really lose out by going as far as building the hotel. Even is it is dangerous uninsurable and blighted it would seem the council may have to buy it.

FIRE & PEDESTRIAN SAFETY

From Clive Heart

After applying consistent pressure on Kent Highways I am today informed that a pedestrian walkway will now finally be formed around the hoarding covering the recent fire damage in Northdown Road.

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

What Thanet District Councillors have to say about the Pleasurama development in Ramsgate.

There is no doubt that Pleasurama is the largest development in any of the Thanet towns at a quarter of a kilometre in length it dwarfs the Turner Contemporary into insignificance.

In view of the forthcoming full council meeting to decide its fate I emailed each of the councillors individually (apart from Bob Grove whose email address doesn’t appear on the council’s website, I emailed customer services and asked them to pass the email on to him) asking for their views on the matter, particularly in relationship to the environment agency technical experts letter.

You can click here to read the email I sent them I made it clear that their replies were for publication and as they come in I will put the up as comments with my replies to them.

To avoid any derisory comment about their and my literacy I should remind people that these are emails where typos and text abbreviations are quite acceptable.

I should also remind people that those councillors that bother to reply should be seen with much greater esteem than those who don’t.

I will post all the comments received by email under my own name to prevent any irregularities.

Commercial Group Properties vanish from Stock Exchange

The China Gateway development is one of the most important projects in Thanet, it doesn’t much matter if you are for or against it or like me have serious reservations about the way it is laid out on the drinking water supply, most interested Thanet residents probably want to keep an eye on it’s progress.

I periodically check its share price on The London Stock Exchange website, about ten days ago it just vanished form there, I am not sure what this signifies if anything.

I also noticed this announcement that doesn’t appear on the companies website.

“Substantial Shareholding

The Company were informed on 18 June 2009 that as at 28 May 2009 funds under the discretionary management of Laxey Partners Limited on behalf of Credit Suisse Client Nominees UK Ltd and Vidacos Nominees Limited hold 4,817,343 ordinary shares in the Company representing a holding of 22.94% of the Company's issued share capital and voting rights.”

Nothing unusual in the announcement, what is unusual is it not appearing here http://www.commercialgroupproperties.co.uk/ if you look at the share site performance graph on their homepage you can see everything stops about ten days ago and if you click on the graph it is supposed to take you to where they appear on the Stock Exchange website.

Thanks to Derrick I have also discovered their new website which is interesting click on the link to go there http://www.chinagatewayinfo.com

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

'RENDEZVOUS MOUNTAIN'

Ed Just got this from Clive Heart, it’s pretty amazing click on the picture to enlarge:

Concerns have been raised about the environmental impact of a 'mountain' of chalk being dumped on Margate seafront.

Leader of the Opposition at TDC, Cllr. Clive Hart said "I have contacted the Head of Development Services at TDC regarding the enormous amount of chalk being piled and compacted against the cliffs on the former Rendezvous car park site in Margate.

I have serious concerns about the detrimental effect this could have on the natural cliff face and possibly even a local wildlife habitat.

This dumping of chalk is effectively seafront landscaping on a gigantic scale and I know of no permission being granted for that.

I sincerely hope it is a temporary situation, but even so, the effect of such huge amounts of chalk being piled and then compacted against the natural cliff face could cause serious and even permanent damage".

This latest environmental issue follows on from protected trees cut down and flower beds being removed just a little further along the main Margate/Cliftonville seafront access road.

Margate’s Big Event and Thanet District Council Publications

Various reflections and comment on the blogs about Margate’s Big Event that can be summarised as:
Yes it was successful in terms of a lot of people being there.

It didn’t help local businesses much as it was too far away from them, if anything it took people out of the town centres.

Internet wise it wasn’t publicised properly meaning that at least one disabled person I know of missed the Red Arrows.

It wasn’t environmentally friendly.

It cost a substantial amount that could possibly been better spent elsewhere.

On reflection I would say that events like Broadstairs folk week and Dickens week probably do the most for local businesses, as they happen throughout the town with quite a lot of the events occurring during normal trading hours.

I think it probably true to say that from an environmental point of view if it didn’t happen in Margate it would probably happen elsewhere and that relative to the huge amount of car use and long distance air travel the effects of this sort of event are relatively insignificant.

In terms of cost I suspect a lot of it was met by sponsorship, something that will probably be a lot harder to find for next year, so I would imagine a certain amount of uncertainty hangs over its future.

My own opinion is that the council should be looking towards events that take place in the trading centres of the towns and adjacent to the main beaches, with the hope of revitalising them.

Now I come to council documents, many of you will know that I now have a new blog http://thanetpress.blogspot.com/ the idea being to make newly published material from Thanet District Council available in one place, properly searchable, with the right type of feeds so we can keep up with it and don’t miss anything important.

From the start it has never been my intention to criticise the council there and I am getting some cooperation from them with this site.

Here however is another matter and these are observations that come out of adding material to this site.

Council photographs, what happens to them?

Very occasionally when the council sends me a press release they also send me the accompanying photographs this happened with Margate’s Big Event press release see http://thanetpress.blogspot.com/2009/06/record-visitor-numbers-for-margate.html the pictures are of good quality, presumably paid for out of council tax, what I can’t understand is why they don’t appear on the council’s website.

Newly published documents appear in rather a bizarre place on the councils website, despite it being such an important part of their site with the most new material on it, there is no direct link on their homepage, you have to follow the following links to get there.

TDC Home Page > Council & Democracy > Councillors, Democracy & Elections > Committees.

This is made even worse by the search box on their homepage not being able to find the newly published documents, it is as though once they have done all this work they try to hide it like their pictures.

Anyway enough of that I will try to end on a high note.

First from one of the council documents I published today I noticed that the council intend to waive mooring for the Dunkirk little ships when they return to Ramsgate next year.

Also plenty of video if the big event appearing on Youtube below just an example.







Monday, 22 June 2009

Early Christmas at the Petrified Haystack of Broadstairs

Charles Dickens once called Holy Trinity Church Broadstairs 'a hideous temple of flint, like a great petrified haystack' I should point out here, before the people of Broadstairs take me to task over this, that the church as been considerably rebuilt since Dickens said that about it.

In case you are thinking that the PCC have caught some sort of timewarp disease from TDC who still say on their website, “Preview of two days of thrilling free entertainment - Full programme available soon” about Margate’s big event although it finished yesterday. I should explain the Christmas tree is a floral tribute to St Nicholas who is the saint that Father Christmas is based on.
The other picture that could need some explanation click here to enlarge is the martyrdom of Saint Edmund no need to explain how he died, apparently he was a model leader, having just read the expenses claims of the candidates for leader of The House of Commons click here for them, I am wondering what form reform will take.

Two of my children attended a party in Broadstairs yesterday and as I had some books to deliver to a shop in the town I walked down into Broadstairs while they were at the party.

Passing Holy Trinity in noticed that the church was open and there was a flower festival on, I have to admit that I have never been inside this church so I thought I would take a look. St George’s Church in Ramsgate is the church I religiously don’t attend and I wouldn’t not go anywhere else.

As you can imagine I publish a book about Holy Trinity Church Broadstairs entitled The Petrified Haystack of Broadstairs click here if you wish to buy it or pop into my bookshop and do so, remember that it is shut on Thursdays and Sundays.

Click here to look at the pictures of the inside of Holy Trinity Church Broadstairs and their flower festival.

'Strictly Bandstand' - Ian Sharpe and Victoria Lawrence

Westgate-on-Sea couple and dance partners Ian Sharpe and Victoria Lawrence perform a Rhumba at the Strictly Bandstand event at the Bandstand on Ramsgate's Eastcliff. The pair are the Latin and Argentine Tango vice champions of Europe. The public also participated at the event, after a few basic lessons from Eastbourne instructor Ken Day.




Video Your Thanet TV

King Ethelbert School, Birchington’s Try Angle Award

Pupils from the King Ethelbert School, Birchington talk about their Try Angle Award which they won for their school radio station ElectroFusion and KES Kids show. Here they talk to their teacher Lauren Pasola about the award.


Video Your Thanet TV

Sunday, 21 June 2009

Sunday Ramble Thanet’s water supply, Pleasurama and the Environment Agency

An interesting presentation from the Environment Agency on Thanet’s water supply, I have done my best to publish it on the web, it didn’t convert easily from the file format it came in.

I recommend that you copy it if you want to be able to access it in the future as I am not certain that I am strictly allowed to publish it for copyright reasons so may have to remove it.

It is interesting as much for what it does mention as what it doesn’t, the links down the side take you to the various pages.

I was surprised that it doesn’t appear on the council website, well maybe not so surprised as the council seem quite happy to ignore EA recommendations for Pleasurama.

I was wondering if the cabinet decided to continue with the Pleasurama development because council officers gave them the wrong advice.

This is a quote from a council officer in a Your Thanet article:

“The letter from the EA states that, although standards have changed, they are not requesting a flood risk assessment.”

This is a quote from the environment agency letter:

“we would highly recommend that a full FRA is undertaken which could inform appropriate resilience and resistance measures. The assessment could also inform the production of a suitable flood warning and evacuation plan, for both the residential and commercial parts of the development.”

It does beg the question if a council officer is prepared to be economical with the truth over environmental safety issues with the press, how much confidence should we put in their assurances.

I notice Simon Moores is calling for more incisive and accurate journalism locally on his blog and too find my self tempted to criticise the local press for not waving the letter under the officers nose and asking her to interpret it.

The trouble is that I know in many cases they are between a rock and a hard place with many local issues, firstly they don’t have the resources that local papers used to have and secondly there are many restrictions placed on who they can ask what and thirdly the council and local businesses involved in local issues are a source of advertising revenue.

As I write there is a interview with some ordinary Chinese people on the television about pollution in China in the middle of the interview the a communist party representative turned up and stopped the interview.

It is very hard to have much confidence in government at the moment, the latest byword being redacted.

I do wonder where we are going with government in this country, because of the first past the post system anyone wishing to stand for election and get anywhere at all has to join one of our tired old parties now proven to be much more corrupt than we previously thought.

There is something saddening about Gordon Brown promising reform and then the government publishing the redacted expenses documents, it certainly points The Daily Telegraph with the clean documents to where to look.

Saturday, 20 June 2009

Margate’s big after the event

Quote from Thanet District Council website this morning: “Preview of two days of thrilling free entertainment - Full programme available soon.”

Click here for the page on their website, as the big event starts in less than half an hour they are cutting it a bit fine. They don’t appear to properly understand the meaning of the words publicity and news.

Update having scoured the web for some of the secrets of Margate’s Big event

From a lady at the Margate tourist info office (she was apparently reading them from the event programme) - at least the start times are the same!

Flying times are 3.30 - 5.30 p.m. on Saturday (Reds closing) and 2.50 - 4.30 p.m. on Sunday

This in response to an email to the council to ask the times for the "3.30 - 5pm on Saturday and 2.50pm - 4.20pm on the Sunday"so 30 mins shorter than stated above, hope its a mistake on their part

This from the Red Arrows website

1508 - Reds arrive MANSTON

1648 - Reds depart MANSTON

1700 - Reds display MARGATE (Margate Airshow 2009, Kent)

1728 - Reds recover MANSTON

1915 - Reds depart MANSTON

I gave up in the end and went to Ramsgate Tourist information to buy a program so I would know what is going on, there is a sign on the door saying; closed due to unforeseen circumstances and the interactive touch screen out side says the information is to follow.

You couldn’t make it up could you.

Friday, 19 June 2009

This and that and will add to it as the day goes on.

A bit of a mixed bag today as it’s Friday in the bookshop and too busy to get on with anything that requires a lot of concentration, snippets between customers.

First quite a lot of events this weekend I have just lifted these from ECRs excellent What's On In Thanet listing on his sidebar

15-30 Thanet Multicultural Festival

20 http://www.ramsgatebandstand.co.uk/

20-24 Broadstairs Dickens Festival

20-21 http://www.sarahthorne-theatreclub.co.uk/

20-21 Margate's Big Event

Video from TDCTV



One local event that doesn’t get much publicity here is The Preston Rally which is on the 27th and 28th of June, click on the links below for pictures of their previous rallies and their website.

http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/psr2008/

http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/prestonsteamrally/more_steam_engines_for_sale.htm

http://www.thesteammuseum.org/rally.html

It’s such a pity there have been so many delays from TDC to get them going on the Maritime Museum, tug and dock as they were to have organised a series of events in Ramsgate this summer and as you can see they don’t mess about when they organise an event.

I noticed that Commercial Group Properties vanished from the Stock Exchange website at the beginning of this week, I don’t know if this is some sort IT glitch or if they have lost their aim registration.

I would have contacted them but they have one of the most bizarre websites I have ever come across, although you can view it in English and Chinese I couldn’t find any email address or contact form on it.

There has been a bit on the local blogs about a graveyard in Margate here from Your Thanet is a video about it for anyone interested.



Actually looking at this properly I don’t think it’s the same graveyard that other people have mentioned.

One rather unusual feature of the councils Big Event website, considering that it starts tomorrow, is that is says that the program of events will be published soon, as some of their press releases have appeared on the council website after the events the were supposed to announce I look on with interest.

Before the Cabinet decision on the Pleasurama development I emailed all of the cabinet members individually about it and have so far had courteous replies from Simon Moores, Sandy Ezekiel and Martin Wise.

The problem for me is that no one involved, developer, contractor or council, has any experience of building between the foreshore and a cliff face apart from the EAs technical expert.

She recommended various basic safety measures that the new plans are not compliant with, what none of them could tell me was why the cabinet are happy to go ahead with this potentially dangerous development.

Click on the link to read her letter http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/ea/id2.htm

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Video of inside the Ramsgate Tunnels

This gives you some idea of the scale of Ramsgate’s greatest unused potential tourist attraction.


The picture above is of the entrance to HMS Fervent another tunnel system in Ramsgate click here to take a look at that too.

Click here for the book I publish about The Ramsgate Tunnels.

Click here for a map of The Ramsgate Tunnels.

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Thanet District Council cabinet meet and delays for Ramsgate

As you can see my last post was pretty much a party political broadcast from the local Labour party, but at the moment it is the only account of the meeting on the internet so will have to suffice.

The two big Ramsgate issues remain unresolved, Pleasurama is to go to full council, with cabinet support for going ahead with it, I suppose no one wants to admit that the whole thing has been a disaster from the beginning.

The cabinet recommending going ahead with development that contravenes Environment Agency safety recommendations with no performance bond sounds about right.

The Maritime Museum remains unresolved which suggests more delays, some sort of decisive action wouldn’t go amiss so that Ramsgate can get on with being a leisure town.

My understanding is that Preston Steam Museum were to open during the first week of July, but had made it abundantly clear that they would only go ahead if the agreement had been finalised, this was supposed to have happened at last nights cabinet meeting.

There seems to have been some sort of error and no one had realised that “the asset disposal working party overview and scrutiny panel” have the power to veto the whole thing, so there is very little likelihood of the museum opening until well into august, which of course they are unlikely to do as it will be at the end of the season.

It doesn’t look like there will be much chance of the Maritime Museum opening or the Pleasurama site being cleared up, this is not so funny for people like me who are trying to trade in the town.

Back to why I published the Labour account of the meeting, before I go on I would be happy to publish an account from any of the Conservative group to balance things up if anyone wants to send me one and of course when they appear I will put the draught minutes up on http://thanetpress.blogspot.com/

For me what this is about is TDCIT here and now in the 21st century it should be possible for the officer that wrote the minutes to publish them straight to the web on a page with proper feeds so we would all know what is going on. It should also be possible for the video that they are already making to be uploaded to Youtube or Kent TV.

I find it quite curious that TDC uses Youtube rather than Kent TV which is paid for out of our council tax, perhaps they no something we don’t.

It’s decision day for another thing on the eastern undercliff today the ongoing Marina Restaurant restoration project today one way or another the council have made a bit of a mess of the eastern undercliff.

Anyone involved in the planning decision may wish to click here and ponder the rules that have already been broken over this one.

At one time or another they have owned and had full control of all of this area and have managed to trash it. The Marina Swimming pool, various different stories of the mismanagement that caused it to close. The removal of the car parking facing the sea and the cliff to fit in with a developers plan that never happened. The demolition of Nero’s which was a Victorian theatre and one of the earliest cinemas all part of the charming Granville Marina. The Pleasurama saga that so far has removed the main leisure car park to make way for a road layout built without the flood risk assessment strongly recommended by the EA. The Granville Marina Restaurant saga again today.

Labour Shadow Team comments & questions at Tuesday evenings TDC Cabinet meeting

INTRODUCTION - LABOUR GROUP LEADER - Cllr CLIVE HART

It was a very long agenda at Tuesday evenings TDC Cabinet meeting and I never fail to be impressed by the wealth of experience and knowledge our Labour Group has in relation to council business or by their firm commitment to use that experience and knowledge for the benefit of Thanet residents.

Cllr. Clive Hart - Phone: 01843 298770

Item 4 BUDGET MONITORING - Cllr. IRIS JOHNSTON2.2 I welcome the setting aside of revenue to support concessionary fares but rather wonder why this has become necessary. At a recent meeting of the Travel forum I and others raised the practice of the bus companies issuing an 'open' ticket. You are not asked for your destination and in conversation with Mr Paul Clark of Stagecoach last week he advised me they charge for an 'average' fare. Does the Cabinet know how much this is? As most people seem to make short journeys it may be we are refunding more than is required. I would also be interested in the details surrounding Stagecoach's appeal which is news to me.
The Chief. Exec. responded by explaining that the subsidy mechanism was not as accurate as it should be. He said Cllr. Johnston's point was well made but that accurate journey measurement was not available at present.
Homelessness Reserve. One of my sons works for the Scrine foundation in Canterbury so I should declare an interest in this item. However as we are discussing Thanet I am concerned that funding to the homeless charities in Margate have been cut yet we see figures of 30k and 50k which could have been used.3.1 I am surprised to see a projected underspend of £136k on the Housing Revenue Account. During the elections we came across some very poor conditions in council blocks especially in Tomlin Drive which I reported to officers. The dereliction did not happen overnight and looks like at least a couple of years neglect. We thought the property was empty it looked so bad.

A leading officer responded explaining that no stock survey had taken place for some time but that it is now taking place.3.2 The penultimate paragraph refers to a 'higher than anticipated number of voids' with apparently over 4,000 people on the waiting list and 26 days given as the time to relet elsewhere in the agenda, could Cllr Wiltshire please explain the delays when so many people are in need?5.0 (page 7). ERDF Projects. I am very surprised this matter is not yet concluded. I first asked in September 2003 for a return to proper monitoring of all grants and an insistence on the return of monies where applicants failed to stick to our criteria. I would want to know if all tourism funding to hotels that went over to flats under this Conservative administration has been fully repaid?

Cllr. Johnston was assured that all previous recipients of grants had been contacted and the matter was being progressed.

Cllr. Iris Johnston - Phone: 01843 299207

Further notes:

Item 4. The Shadow Cabinet are concerned about potential repayment on ERDF projects 31 & 33.
Item 5. The Shadow Cabinet also have concerns regarding financial modeling of the HR Shared Payroll which shows a reduction of £200,000.00.
The Labour Group will discuss these matters internally and may well push for further scrutiny of both issues.

Item 6 SUPPORTING SHARED SERVICES - NO SHADOW SPEAKER

No Shadow member registered to speak on this issue, but Cllr. Wise gave a lengthy speech explaining how the recent elections had hi-lighted the wishes of local residents and that "we" may have made wrong decisions in relation to local residents priorities. He gave removal of flower beds in Cliftonville as one example.

Cllr. Ezekiel also stated that he accepted that "we" didn't consult well enough on the flower beds and said "we" now needed better co-ordination.
Item 7 ANNUAL PERFORMANCE REPORT - Cllr. IRIS JOHNSTONAnnex 1, Page 108 number 4.4a It is clear this scheme is not as simple as officers first led the ruling group to believe.I have suggested on several occasions that the only way TDC can ascertain whether tenants are supportive or not of the plans would be to hold a ballot. Could the Cabinet please confirm that they are committed to a ballot should this idea move forward?

I and many tenants are concerned that this is a first step towards privitising council housing as outlined in a Conservative policy letter written by Cllr Ezekiel in 2001 when he was Leader of the opposition. I have a copy!

The Chief. Exec. said this was not a stock transfer, that tenants will be consulted in the autumn, that the project was moving at the pace of the slowest council but that there would be no ballot of yes or no.
Page 111. 5.2b Could I please have details of whom TDC are meeting with regard to the Older Peoples Strategy?

Cllr. Johnston was informed that this was being undertaken across Kent and not at individual district level. It was a 'high level' document and currently out to consultation. Are we taking into account the changes in the 34 and 9 bus routes which have caused considerable hardship to many older people in Margate and will you join me in actively working with Stagecoach to return to the previous timetable?Page 111. 5.4a The Elmstone Unit is now committed to only taking older people with mental health problems. Younger sufferers have to travel outside the area for residential help. The closure of the Charlotte Centre and the distance to the Beacon is causing considerable hardship for people requiring day care and support. Could TDC please make this a priority campaign with Health providers?

The Chief. Exec. said this was not a TDC issue and not part of the corporate plan.

Cllr. Iris Johnston - Phone: 01843 299207

Item 7 ANNUAL PERFORMANCE REPORT - Cllr. PETER CAMPBELL
My understanding is that targets should be stretching yet achievable and an aide to improving performance. Therefore can the cabinet member tell me why on Page 121 under the heading “outputs & outcomes for customers” seven of the twelve outcome targets for next year are less than the actual achievement for this year? Is this an early indicator of diminishing council performance?

Cllr. Wise said indicators were taken in the light of resourcing issues and the Chief. Exec. outlined the differences concerning each indicator.

I am therefore concerned about the possible low standard of street cleaning services to be provided for Ramsgate.

Cllr. Peter Campbell - Phone: 01843 585738
Item 8 HOUSING RENEWAL DRAFT STRATEGY - Cllr. IRIS JOHNSTONFirstly, I wish to pay tribute to TDC Housing staff who are generally brilliant!

4.3.2 I know all of the ward councillors in Cliftonville West and Cllr Watkins and myself value the substantial funding given to Thanet by the Labour Government both for Renewal grants, Regeneration and Stronger Safer Communities. Unfortunately not all of it has gone to those I would see most in need.Could you please confirm that the latest nationwide tranche of £100m towards council house building has been bid for and what date in July we will know about our share.? It's for areas like ours that the money was intended.

Cllr. Wiltshire responded saying that the fund was a 'first come - first served' scheme and others would beat TDC.

Cllr. Iris Johnston - Phone: 01843 299207

Item 9 ASSET MANAGEMENT STRATEGY - Cllr. IRIS JOHNSTON

Though I am obviously very pleased with the outcomes for Northdown House and Ramsgate Museum, I do feel that it would be courteous for the TDC leader to announce decisions in the correct manner at Cabinet meetings and not through the press. It really is not good enough to 'jump the gun' and make announcements 'on the hoof'.

Cllr. Ezekiel responded with a long lecture on Northdown House, at the end of which he thanked Cllr. Johnston for all he had learned about Northdown House and its covenants from her thorough research.

Cllr. Iris Johnston - Phone: 01843 299207

Item 9 ASSET MANAGEMENT STRATEGY - Cllr. PETER CAMPBELL
The Labour group ask cabinet to review its position. We note that the final decision on disposal of Council owned assets will still be taken by the Cabinet. The Labour Group believes that if the Cabinet decide to dispose of an owned asset, then full council should take the final decision.

The Chief. Exec. insisted this was a cabinet decision.

Can the cabinet assure the Labour group that when it agrees that it is appropriate to site masts or telecom equipment, on council owned property. The company installing the equipment will be liable for any damage caused in its installation?

Assurance was given.

Cllr. Peter Campbell - Phone: 01843 585738

Item 11 THE SOUTH EAST PLAN - Cllr. CLIVE HART

Paragraph 2.11 of the report says - Secondly, we (TDC) expressed concern that a statement in the Plan that Thanet needed no additional employment land during the Plan period, could be misinterpreted and preclude a major inward investor seeking to locate here. As a result of our representations the following has been added to the text :- "Any major new investment proposals which may come forward should not, however, be ruled out."
Can I please ask - was this statement added to facilitate phases 2 and 3 of the China Gateway development?

A TDC officer answered - no it is not specific to the China Gateway development.

Cllr. Latchford was annoyed that the question had even been asked and re-stated that the China Gateway was phase 1 only.

Paragraph 2.12 says 'These final two changes are important as they will support future infrastructure funding decisions in this area and the additional comment on employment land is a very helpful and supportive statement that will help ensure that any appropriate new unplanned and unforeseen opportunities that arise will be supported'.

Isn't that pre-determination? Should that last word not be - considered?

An officer pointed to the word 'appropriate'.

Cllr. Clive Hart - Phone: 01843 298770
Item 14 PETITION TO COUNCIL - MARGATE CAVES* - Cllr. IRIS JOHNSTONCouncillor John Watkins and I have asked on a number of occasions over 18 months for this site to be properly secured. In recent weeks there have been two incidents of breaking and entering. Could Cabinet please insist that officers make the site properly secure? We have a duty of care should anyone be injured even if they are up to no good.

Cllr. Ezekiel appeared unaware of any break-ins and the Chief. Exec. gave a commitment to improve security.

Cllr. Iris Johnston - Phone: 01843 299207

ITEM 14 MARGATE CAVES - LABOUR GROUP LEADER - Cllr. CLIVE HART

(comment made following the meeting).

I was saddened by the flippant manner in which TDC Cabinet Members responded to Cllr. Iris Johnston's sincere call for help with tidying the derelict TDC site at Margate Caves. When she called for help, Cabinet members joked and laughed about leaving it to go back to nature. I really do wonder if those same cabinet members would take the same view if the caves were in a prominent spot in one of their wards?

Cllr. Clive Hart - Phone: 01843 298770

LAST 2 ITEMS - RAMSGATE MARITIME MUSEUM
& THE DEVELOPMENT AGREEMENT PLEASURAMA SITE

Discussions took place in closed session but please be assured Labour Shadow members played a vital role in both debates.


Published by Thanet Labour Group Press Office - 44 Northdown Road, Margate, CT9 2RW.

Ed. My understanding is that the maritime museum went through in principle although there appear to be some details still to sort out which will come back to the next cabinet in August. This could be unfortunate as it could stop the museum taking advantage of much of the summer season.

Apparently the lack of final closure of the arrangements shouldn’t hold up preparations for reopening. Whether the steam museum trust see things that way, I don’t know yet.

The cabinet's decision on Pleasurama is still on hold, but they have decided on a recommendation that will go to the next full Council next month.

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Thanet District Council Cabinet to Decide on the Pleasurama Development Tonight

This is because the developer can’t get the bond, which was part of the development agreement this bond is to protect the council financially if anything goes wrong.

I suspect that the developer can’t get the bond because they have never actually developed anything that anyone knows about.

Or it could be because of the EAs letter click on the link http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/ea/id2.htm to read as those of you who have followed the ongoing saga of Pleasurama will know the new plans don’t have a flood risk assessment or emergency escapes to the cliff top both strongly recommended by the environment agency.

Which ever way it goes the main thing we need here in Ramsgate is to get the site clear for parking and leisure for this summer season, it is a council owned site in the middle of the main leisure part of the town, the fact that the council have allowed it to remain an abandoned building site for all this time is an appalling reflection on their concern for the town.

There have been several occasions when the councillors and officers could have rejected the plans or the sale of the site and this is one of them.

The trouble all stems from the council passing plans that didn’t fit in space available, between the floodline and the cliff top, since then the architects have made the plans worse by making numerous bad compromises to try and fit a five story building where there is only space for a four story one click on the link to look at some of them http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/tdc/id30.htm

The real danger with the Pleasurama development as planned is best illustrated by the fact that in the 1953 storm a 12 ton crane that had been working on the beach was tossed over the sea defence to where the building will be by the force of the sea

This video is widescreen so you will need to double click on it to see all of it.

Watch Ramsgate’s new Town Council in Action RTCTV


Monday, 15 June 2009

Airports and hoverports

One way or another flights from Thanet have been a bit of a bumpy ride for operators, Ramsgate airport that operated from 1934 until 1968 was fairly successful.

Manston has been one long bumpy ride from when it started commercial flights back in 1959 to date.





Video of Matt Clarke on the 25 year masterplan for the airport

At the moment it is operating outside the environmental rules with the necessary work needed to make it compliant looking to be prohibitively expensive, particularly in view of the losses it’s incurring.

It seems strange to me that after 50 years of pollution ending in bankruptcy the lessons haven’t been learnt, the main one being that it’s geographically disadvantaged.





Video cold war Manston

Thanet’s first hoverport opened in 1966 was in Ramsgate harbour using the small SR.N6 passenger only machines this was a successful service providing cheap fast flights to France.









Videos hovercraft at Pegwell Bay

In 1969 Hoverlloyd relocated to a purpose built hoverport at Pegwell Bay where they operated the much larger SR-N4 craft, capable of carrying 30 vehicles and 254 passengers this ran until 1982 when the operation moved to Dover.

Even back in 1969 there were considerable objections to using Pegwell Bay on environmental grounds the damage done was considerable.

What really put pay to these big hovercraft was that they weren’t fuel efficient enough to compete with the ferries, the rise in the price of aviation kerosene finished them off even the short journey from Dover to Calais proved uneconomic.

Sunday, 14 June 2009

Sunday ramble

Pleasurama; I have finally got KCC highways to accept the fact that the new access road that was built without the flood risk assessment, on top of the sea defences from slabs laid on sand, may in fact be dangerous.

They are going to consult with the environment agency but they tell me that there is no money to put it to rights.

Meandering around the internet I have just found this video of the sound of music expedition at the Turner Contemporary in Margate’s old M&S building.

It certainly shows what can be achieved with a huge amount of public funding.



It’s been on Youtube for over a month and when I discovered it today it had had 2 viewings

When you put Sound of music exhibition into Google and search for videos it comes up top, I would say that this sums up public interest in this sort of thing.

The new Cost Cutter supermarket opens next door to my bookshop this afternoon, I am amazed at what a quality job they have done and that it looks like it will be a serious contender among the town’s supermarkets.

Food off-licence newsagent in fact a proper shop.

There is one simple reason why several new businesses are opening in King Street and that is rent and rates, the rental asked for the shop next door was £10,000 per year compare this with the empty Woolworth’s sop in the High Street on the market at £160,000 per year, ok it’s 3 times the size, but I do wonder what anyone could possibly do in it that could pay a rent like that.

The main problem for shops trading in this part of Ramsgate is that the council have removed most of the on street parking, I have come to the conclusion that this is a bizarre attempt by the council to try and boost Westwood Cross.

One of the more unusual occurrences this week was to do with Ramsgate Motor Museum although the museum closed years ago when it was open I wrote it a website see http://www.thanetonline.com/RamsgateMotorMuseum/ I occasionally get emails relating to the museum, usually from people with an interest in a particular vehicle.

The website was put together when my digital camera was fairly primitive so the pictures are fairly low definition even so there didn’t seem any particular reason to take it down when the museum closed.

One of the exhibits in the museum was a 1911 Swift motor car http://www.thanetonline.com/RamsgateMotorMuseum/swift_1911.htm this week I got an email from a chap restoring a 1914 Swift without an engine and I was able to put him in touch with chap in Australia with one for sale.

Saturday, 13 June 2009

Ramsgate Tunnels and our secret weapon.

As most people are probably aware the chalk under this area and particularly Ramsgate is riddled with tunnels some dating back to prehistoric times.

We have a long history of tunnelling. The earliest written record of the chalk caves in this area, that I can find, is in Leland’s Itinerary, he visited East Kent in the early 1500s. ‘There is a Cave wher Men have sowt and digged for Treasure. I saw yt by Candel withyn and there were Conys. Yt was so straite that I had no mynd to crepe far yn.’

By straite he would have meant narrow.

The main tunnel system in the town started as the railway tunnel to the sands station opened in 1863as you can imagine I publish a book about the history of the Ramsgate railways click here for sample pages from it.

For those of you unfamiliar with the sands station click here for some pictures of it.

This tunnel closed for main line traffic in 1926 a spur tunnel was dug to Hereson Road for a narrow gauge electric railway between Dumpton Park station and the main sands this opened in 1936 this ran until 1965 only closing for WW2.

The main expansion was in WW2 when a great more tunnelling was done to provide the town with an airraid shelter system, as you can imagine I publish a book about the tunnels click here for sample pages.

As a youth in Ramsgate in the 60s before the entrances were sealed I like many others explored the tunnel system.

Talking to some of the youth of today, today I gathered two things of note, firstly that several of the entrances are open at the moment and it is possible for them to get in, this is a fairly regular occurrence and I believe always will be.

All of the youth of Ramsgate know that there is this huge tunnel system to explore, parts of it have become dangerous which makes it even more attractive, from personal experience I can tell you that the biggest danger down there is running out of light.

The other thin of note is that workmen are working down in the tunnels and the rumour is that there is going to be some sort of gun range down there.

Two thoughts here the first being that the tunnel system is a considerable potential tourist attraction and the second that if they intend to keep firearms down there the problem would be that the tunnels are impossible to secure.

Plans published for Ellington School site in Ramsgate

I have just published the last weeks Thanet planning applications on my Thanet press release blog and a quick scan through them reveals that one of them is fairly large.

12 houses and 16 flats involving the demolition of the existing Ellington Girls school buildings, so a fairly large project.

The TDC planning website is one of the most bizarre websites I have ever come across in as much as the web addresses of the pages on it change after a few hours so you can’t publish links to them. If you want to look at any of the applications you need to go to the site and enter the application reference in the search box, this link takes you to the site http://www.ukplanning.com/thanet the application reference for this one is F/TH/09/0428 and may be of interest to some of you.

Friday, 12 June 2009

No Ramsgate Carnival this year

Mac Wilkinson gave a talk last night for ERA. He announced that there would be no Ramsgate Carnival this year as they can't find the £800 public liability insurance and because they can't get enough 'committed' Committee members.

Did you know that? It came as news to everyone there but you've probably more often got your finger on the pulse of local events.

I thought you might want to put it on your blog.

Paul Warrick ERA

Ed. I had no idea this looks like one for town council and a few of the larger local firms for some sponsorship.



Thursday, 11 June 2009

Restoration Ramsgate Style

1 Granville Marina was a stunning example of how the council can do things by the book and produce the most ridiculous result, it shows just what a developer can get away with while the council’s building control officers look on.

Yep I am afraid that there they are paid for by us to protect our heritage and yet seemingly unable to do so, which begs the question why should we pay for something that doesn’t work?

Anyway don’t take my word for it click on the link and look at the pictures http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/cafe/index.htm Bertie has posted about this one see http://thanetstrife.blogspot.com/2009/06/planning-by-bulldozer-makes-change.html so has Dave see http://eastclifframsgate.blogspot.com/2009/06/granville-marina-restaurant.html seems they couldn’t just say stop the demolition while we review the situation more pictures here http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/cafe/id2.htm you can see the building control officers in the pictures, seemingly they have no control.

Anyway back in February 2008 when this happened I wrote to TDC asking what had gone wrong click on the link for the correspondence http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/cafe/id4.htm so why bring this up now?
Next Wednesday there is a planning committee meeting and one of the items is for a much larger development there with residential accommodation on the ground floor with recommendation to approve these plans see http://tdc-mg-dmz.thanet.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?MId=1610

Well all along the line it has been the developers clear intention to demolish this listed building to make way for a much larger building, also to put residential accommodation on the ground floor in what the environment agency say is a Flood Zone 3a (High Probability) something you are not allowed to do.

The following is a quote from the environment agency writing about the Pleasurama development which is slightly further along the same sea defence and at about the same level.

“Areas immediately behind defences lie in the High Risk Rapid Inundation Zone (RIZ) and are particularly vulnerable due to the risk of the defences being over-topped or breached, resulting in fast-flowing and potentially deep water with little or no warning.”

I should point out that at a previous meeting the recommendation was to turn them down, it certainly makes one wonder what has happened to make them change their minds.

Reading the flood risk assessment attached to the planning application refs F/TH/09/0052 and F/TH/09/0051 the link takes you the TDC planning website http://www.ukplanning.com/thanet it says that there is no evidence of the site flooding in the past, this is a bit odd as it floods pretty much every winter.

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Commercial Group Properties to change name

The Company has posted a Notice of EGM at which a Special Resolution will be put to Shareholders that the name of the Company be changed to China Gateway International plc with effect from 26 June 2009.

So it looks like they are putting everything they have got into Manston, looking at their recent figures they must be hoping to attract some very serious Chinese investment.

CONSERVATIVE COUNCILLOR TO START HIS TERM WITH STANDARDS INVESTIGATION

Please find attached a report which I am reliably informed is ‘NOW’ a matter of public record.

As the election agent for Cllrs. Clive Hart & Iris Johnston in last week’s KCC elections for Margate & Cliftonville Division, I am appalled that this Decision Notice dated 28th May (a whole week before Election Day) was not posted to the complainant until the 5th June, the day after close of polling.


Cllr. John Watkins Election Agent for Cllrs. Clive Hart & Iris Johnston


Ramsgate Regeneration

Having just posted the press release about the opening of Harvey’s Fish Market & Oyster Bar on Ramsgate’s Royal Harbour at http://thanetpress.blogspot.com/2009/06/kent-hotel-restaurant-operator-bucks.html Richard Martin also intends to develop the Royal Victoria Pavilion which is very good news.

I am pretty sure this isn’t a new press release, as I believe I read it somewhere else the other day but I only just received it and put it up as it is illustrative of the revival that is going on here in Ramsgate.

Here in King Street we have seen a quite a few new shops opening recently the latest being a small supermarket due to open next door to my bookshop on Sunday.

Quite why Ramsgate is bucking the trend at the moment is beyond me, I am not talking about the plethora of middle of the road eateries and gift shops that are replacing the real shops in Broadstairs and Canterbury at the moment.

These are real quality shops in king street alone a fishmonger who catches his own fish, a cycle shop that does repairs, a domestic appliance shop that also does repairs.

Then today I heard a rumour, from a usually reliable source, that Tesco are considering returning to the town.

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Ramsgate Maritime Museum agreement, KIA, Pleasurama, Marina Restaurant

The last few documents linked to http://thanetpress.blogspot.com/ are of considerable significance, so I thought it important to draw people’s attention to them, here as well.

The Meeting of Jun 16 2009 7:00PM, Cabinet is an important one among other things it is to make the final decision that should allow the maritime museum to reopen, it is also to decide if the people behind the Pleasurama development can offer sufficient financial guarantees to be allowed to go ahead.

The Meeting of Jun 17 2009 7:00PM, Planning Committee Marina Restaurant planning reference F/TH/09/0052 click on the link for the planning site http://www.ukplanning.com/thanet greatly improved plans have been submitted which it looks as though the committee will approve.

The Meeting of May 19 2009 7:00PM, Airport Working Party an important document summarising some of the problems with the airport and options for dealing with them.

Do you feel empowered by your government?

I suppose this is a bit of a waste of time as the picture says it all really, click on it to enlarge it, but the recent elections have made me think about how I felt I related to the various levels of government that we are all paying for at considerable expense.

I am pretty sure that the democratic process is supposed to make me feel empowered, that to some lesser or greater extent I have some sort of say in the running of the town, country or even Europe.

I will start at the top and work down.

Europe I suppose all those years ago when we voted to be part of a greater economic community it made some sort of sense, now it just seems to be some gargantuan set-up making up masses of legislation much of which doesn’t suit the British character, for the most part we doggedly obey them and it seems the Mediterranean countries pay lip service to them but mostly ignore them. Do I feel part of some brave new world of countries with common ambition? I wish I did.

The House of Lords obviously supposed to be the highest regulator in the land, beyond reproach above the elected house most of the members chosen for some great service to the country, a matter of great honour, unfortunately recent events show these people can be bought. Evidently this house has become corrupt, how much I am not in a position to say. Do I feel awed and inspired by this great symbol of British governance? Not any more.

House of Commons, supposed to be made up of people who have chosen to serve their country elected by us to empower us, turns out these people are in it for personal gain. I had suspicions that all was not right there for some time, then the man we voted for took us to war on a lie and I was not entirely convinced that had we voted for the other man he wouldn’t have done the same. Do I trust these people and can I see an alternative with brilliant ideas to turn this back into a great country once again? I wish I could.

Kent County Council, bit closer to home now quite a few of the people involved use the shop and I know them to a lesser or greater degree, talking to them I get the felling that all is far from well there. I think the nub of the problem here is pet projects have taken precedence over essential services, there are expensive luxuries like Kent TV but the one that seems to cause the most angst is the Turner Contemporary, it seems that no matter how little the return on this project unlimited funds will always be found for it. The fact that the basic infrastructure roads pavements etc here in Ramsgate seems to be falling apart doesn’t seem to tally well with the huge funds directed at these pet projects. My only close dealings with them have been over the Pleasurama access road and have been most unsatisfactory; do I feel they have the interests of where I live at heart? Not really.

Thanet District Council, a lot closer to home and I know many of the people involved, this replaced the old Ramsgate district council, which had some faults but did have benefiting Ramsgate at heart. I suppose the benchmark here is how the Thanet towns have fared compared to similar seaside towns in the area governed by other administrations, Deal and Herne Bay are the closest I can get on this: do I feel that our district council has come up with good solutions for our towns in comparison to those towns? Not really.

Ramsgate parish council, here what happened was the people of Ramsgate voted to pay extra money on their council tax for an elected group to be a voice for Ramsgate, time will tell on this one, but at less than £1 a week on my council tax bill it has to worth a try.

Monday, 8 June 2009

Thanet District Council to produce protocol on blogging

I have just put up the link for a new TDC document on http://thanetpress.blogspot.com/ which is where I am putting all their press releases and links to their newly published documents that I can find.

Reading through today’s new documents I noticed on this one http://tdc-mg-dmz.thanet.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?MId=1611 item 11 is a draught protocol on blogging.

Any one any idea what this could be about and if it could effect us bloggers in some way?

Perhaps TDC are working up to using blogger for their press releases and to announce newly published documents as I suggested to them, mind you I didn’t notice any protocols being announced when they started using Youtube or Twitter.

Oh well I suppose any attempt by the council to control the internet should be interesting.

Sunday, 7 June 2009

Sunday Ramble Quex Farm open day and a few other thoughts

I have just got back from Quex Farm open day, I am afraid what pictures came out at all are not very good as my camera is dieing of some strange digital disease click on the link for the pictures http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/blogpicts2/id113.htm

This is a good one to take the children to as they were allowed to climb into the cabs of the agricultural vehicles and play with the controls, also a ride round the farm on a tractor trailer and all free.

One Thanet blog has gone this week namely Ramsgate News, this is a shame as its content was unusual and well worth the occasional read.

I have just been on a delve of the other local blogs using http://thanetblogs.blogspot.com/ designed for the lazy blogger in a hurry, I suppose in a way the blogs of our local councillors are interesting for what they don’t say.

No posts on our local Labour councillors blogs since the county election results and no mention of the Ramsgate parish council anywhere, I suppose it’s a bit early for that yet.

On the whole it was a very strange election due in the most part to the expenses scandal, it is strange how our system works as the conservatives made huge gains based on a reduced vote.

Looking back on it I am not sure what result I hoped for, what is clear is that the country most especially the Labour voters are very unhappy about their MPs expenses.

Next will be the results of the European elections and as MEPs are chosen using proportional representation a protest vote has much more effect, I voted for UKIP in these elections and am curious to know how many others did the same.

Saturday, 6 June 2009

Thoughts on the election

One of the great failings of the first past the post system is when the electorate use an election to send a message to one level of government, by voting in another level of government election in a particular way, it can have unfortunate consequences.

It does seem to me that a system where local governments seem to be selected to a great degree by dissatisfaction with the national government of the day, is not a particularly good one.

Here in Kent it is fairly obvious that it wasn’t the electorate’s intention to give the Conservatives a resounding mandate, which is what happened.

I don’t expect even most hard-line conservatives really want to operate with just one opposition councillor, from Thanet and 10 from the whole of Kent the previous situation with 27 opposition candidates was probably healthier for both debate and scrutiny

Here in Ramsgate I believe a rather peculiar thing happened due to the parish council elections occurring at the same time and will run the idea past you to see if you agree.

I believe that many of the Ramsgate voters when faced with only a choice of labour or Conservative candidates, didn’t want either party in overall control and voted for one of each.

Once having got this idea because of the limited choice of parish council candidates I think they may have carried the idea over when they voted in the county elections.

Certainly the result of the parish elections means that the two independent candidates won’t be marginalised and I am hoping that Ramsgate will benefit from this.

As a method of registering a protest against government in general while still exercising ones democratic right and duty to vote, voting for one of each parties candidates is certainly a method for future consideration.

Friday, 5 June 2009

Thanet District Council new strides in open government

In the spirit of cooperation and innovation that I have come to expect from our beloved council they have solved the problem of not getting their press releases on their website in a timely fashion with proper feeds and pictures as I do by stopping sending them to me.


How to proceed, not sure really sending in a freedom of information request for their press releases is one option, an official complaint is another, god knows you couldn’t make it up, even in a banana republic this would be funny in the extreme.

Thursday, 4 June 2009

Vever Dorcast bbc bean

Hey anyone see tonight’s local weather… or whether…or wether? I am wondering whether it was a bit under the weather. My poor sheep’s feeling a bit under-weighted. So anyway this is what happened on tonight’s local weather, with a ghastly local and national political mess, I thought suddenly why not laugh?

Election day thoughts

Talking to people I know to day it would seem that many of them have or are going to register protest votes, this of course means that many of us have voted for political parties that we don’t know much about, I wonder if we will rue this day because of it.

It could be doubly dangerous because so many of us are pretty vague about what the European Parliament actually does, for example I didn’t vote for the Green Party as I am pretty sure they want to let the north Wantsum sea defences go and their attitude to nuclear power would be catastrophic for climate change.

I picked up this Times article from a comment on ECRs blog, which explains the situation better than I ever could.

The European Parliament has become so very powerful in terms of legislation restricting what we can do in this country and this makes me increasingly concerned about our remaining part of Europe, so I had little in the way of qualms about voting for UKIP today something I wouldn’t have done were it not for the expenses scandal.

For me the main problem with this business over the expenses is not that our MPs took money that they shouldn’t have done, as in terms of a governments budget it doesn’t amount to a great deal of money.

My real concern here is that as these people were happy to abuse the expenses system in this way so it follows that some of them may have been prepared to take bribes to change policy.

I am very concerned by the way our human environment, particularly our town centres and in town leisure facilities, is changing for the worse, it is obvious that the large companies that provide out of town shopping and leisure and benefit from this are powerful lobbyists and that many of our MPs are far less honest than we thought.

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Remember to vote tomorrow.

With so many of the party faithful of all three major parties so disenchanted with politics at the moment I am reminding people that they have a duty to vote, even if you register protest votes it is better than making no vote at all.

It is only in the last few years that I have had much to do with government and much of this has been the result of my concerns about various local issues mostly to do with public safety.

Frankly I can’t say that I am happy with many aspects of government that I have dealt with at every level and I am hoping that the expenses scandal will produce major reforms.

With the European Parliament, House of Lords, House of Commons, Kent County Council, Thanet District Council and Ramsgate Parish Council, we have a great many levels of government pay for.

For the most part this seems to be a great horde of highly paid people pushing bits of paper around and much of this paper is of dubious worth.

Obviously there must be a point where the scales tip and the private sector can no longer support this extravagance, it seems likely we have passed this point some time ago, I am wondering if there is any way back to a level we can afford.

Watching question time today with £9,000 Kitchen Brown and £5,857.63 Decorating Clegg and £680 Wisteria Cameron I was much more reminded of an unruly classroom than a seat of government, it is clear that we need some sort of different system.

Looking at our MPs most seem to have a set of priorities which is, self, then party, then country and talking to people in the bookshop this week it is also apparent that many MPs have completely lost touch with ordinary people.

Most people’s main concern is that this country is that it is rapidly becoming unpleasant to live in, especially for ordinary working people, we need a real workable plan to deal with antisocial behaviour.

With years of Labour government nationally and Conservative government locally a walk round the commercial hubs of Margate and Cliftonville should be enough to show politicians of both main parties that they need to change their ideas.

With prospective candidates probably hanging around polling stations tomorrow you may wish to ask them where they stand on the main local issues like. Turner Contemporary, Dreamland, Pleasurama, the drinking water aquifer particularly with regard to the way KCC abused Water Resources Act 1991 draining roads into very sensitive parts of the aquifer, China Gateway, airport expansion, the contraction of our town centres, Westwood Cross, museums, Thanet Gateway, KCCIT, Kent TV, Icelandic investment, policing, schools, tourism, antisocial behaviour, etc.

I am wondering if for instance, here in Ramsgate, a candidate that wants us to be at the end of a runway of a rapidly expanding airport with inadequate environmental controls, is going to attract a lot of votes.