Thursday, 31 December 2009

Thoughts on the Old and New Decade/Year from the book trade

The dominant factor in the last year has been the economic recession and for many of us coming to the end of it with job and home in tact has been something of a lottery, with local and national government having very limited options when it comes to cushioning the effects of the global downturn.

In the small shopkeeping and book business things have generally been pretty bleak with many bookshops and other small shops closing, I think this is a case of the recession accelerating what was happening anyway.

I have always seen a bookshop as being essential to a town, one of the rules of thumb that makes the difference between a lot of houses grouped together and a proper town.

Now I am wondering if this litmus test needs revising, now Margate and Broadstairs have lost their bookshops are they still towns? Does the effect of new technology alter the criteria by which township is judged? Are towns of the future going to be called so because they have a free wireless internet connection or some other yet unexpected technological advantage?

Locally and nationally this is about our human environment, in its most simple form, living in a town, what do you expect within walking distance as the minimum requirements that differentiate this from living on a housing estate, in a village or just in the middle of nowhere?

Now most of the arts cultural lumps that we bought in our towns (books, records, CDs, videos) are on the road to redundancy as physical items and are becoming something that is either bought or stolen as digital downloads, the social interaction that went with these purchases or thefts, part of our human environment either goes or changes.

Personally I have a sort of Luddite approach to this sort of media, as an example of what I mean it is my day off today so I am writing this post in our living room and although have much technology for producing recorded music, I used conventional vinyl records to provide background music. Cream’s “Wheels of Fire” was on the turntable and I swapped this for Ashkenazy playing Chopin with the London Symphony Orchestra.

The way I discovered Ashkenazy and indeed Cream was due to face to face human interaction but technology is now changing this, the internet provides friends and acquaintances who one has never met face to face, does this make these relationships any less valid?

Looking back and forward as one is inclined to do at this time of year I face the question, am I part of a redundant species both as small shopkeeper and bookseller?

Looking forward to 2010 I am conscious that if my bookshop is going to survive in the medium to long term I am going to have to redefine what a bookshop is, and look to incorporating the new technologies somehow more extensively than just using them to sell books on the internet.

In a fairly tentative sort of way I think customer access to coffee and internet will probably be involved, possibly cheap printing and copying services too, I am open to ideas on this one, indeed one is probably going to have to be both fast and flexible to survive in any business during the next decade.

Still with technology changing our lives among the presents that Father Christmas gave to my children this year was headphones with microphones incorporated, remarkably similar to those sold in the pound shop in Ramsgate.

Having plugged them into their PCs I downloaded the free software and opened them skype accounts which effectively turns their PCs into free telephones, that they can use to talk to any of their friends, even those abroad, with the same technology for free.

One aspect of the advance of technology in our household during the 2000's has been the way we view television, we definitely passed the point where the majority of programs watched now comes via the internet and not by the more conventional forms of satellite dish and aerial.

We are into the new year celebrations with more visitors staying, both young and old, so another series of Christmas dinners, something like 50 roast turkey dinners over the next three days will come out of our kitchen.

One of our visitors over the new year break is something of a singer songwriter, this video (some blue language) is an example of his work.




Some pictures from this mornings, mostly rough sea, walk and at the bottom of them the food shopping for the 50 or so meals a turkey breast roast and vegetables just over £30.

Follow the link http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/laptop4/id6.htm for them.

Wednesday, 30 December 2009

High tide at Broadstairs

An interesting picture here, sorry about the quality.

I am always on the lookout for pictures that show what happens when we get the wrong combination of wind and tide here in Thanet. The trouble is that when the weather is like this few venture out with a camera.

Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Royal Sands Development Ramsgate minor update

I had some sort of response from TDC to some of my requests and complaints relating to this ongoing saga, I have removed the surnames of the council officers involved and would appreciate it if anyone commenting could follow the same approach.

Here is the link to the response and my reply to it http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/foi/id16.htm sorry I haven’t had time for anything else today, as the bookshop has been busy.

Monday, 28 December 2009

Morning walk pictures

There you go Don & Co mostly boats once I get as far as the harbour.

http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/blogpicts129/id31.htm

http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/blogpicts129/id32.htm

http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/blogpicts129/id33.htm
A few thought on the pictures. First sorry I didn’t run them through the program I usually use to lighten the ones that come out too dark due to some peculiarity with this camera. As you can see I was very lucky with the tide the gate to the inner basin closed and the bridge was lowered just as I arrived there. Anyone know what the situation is with “The New Britannic” shown in the pictures? She is the Ramsgate pleasure boat that lifted 3,000 soldiers of the beach at Dunkirk during WW2, it looks as though some restoration work had started and then stopped.

Sunday, 27 December 2009

Sunday ramble, reflections on writing.

I am hoping to go for a walk later and take some pictures however despite a favourable weather forecast the window in front of me reveals rain clouds gathering.

The plan, if it works, is for the children to accompany us on their bicycles, at the moment they are somewhere between church and lunch and I suspect this is something that may take some time.

I am reading Neil Gaiman’s “American Gods” at the moment, which is an interesting angle on the nature of religions but fairly intense so I am in need of a break from it, hence the blogging.

Since I started blogging on a regular basis I have become a writer of sorts, something that never happened to me before and in a way it is getting easier, sometimes I wonder if eventually I will get some sort of bloggers block, but so far this doesn’t seem to have happened.

This could be something to do with not having to do it and not really being bothered about whether anyone reads it or not, in fact I was quite surprised the other day when one of the local journalists suggested that I write pieces for the local paper. At the moment I am declining for a number of reasons, mainly that I really don’t know what I am doing because I missed most of primary school so I never learnt the basics of writing. Punctuation is a sort of mystery to me where I occasionally insert a comma, often to have the word processing program underline it in green, with an irritating, “use of comma consider revising.”

To people like me who in today’s more enlightened climate would probably diagnosed with raging dyslexia, the spell checker on computers first seemed a wonderful thing, the next stage however looks to be a little more complicated, by this I mean writing something that appears to have been written by someone that knows what they are doing.

One aspect of bogging that interests me is the way it effects politics and media, from my own experience, the results of a blog post can be a story in a newspaper or direct action by the council.

In this area trying to get some sort of movement on the Pleasurama site here in Ramsgate is an area where the blog has been most useful.

What has happened with this site has a direct effect on Ramsgate as a town and most particularly on the eastcliff part of Ramsgate where I am trying to run a business, in theory when local government is involved in some major local project there are various safeguards built into the way we are governed that allow members of the public some sort of say in it, particularly when things go wrong.

In practice these things often don’t work as was intended, take for instance the freedom of information act, something that is intended to give ordinary citizens access to information.

As an example back on the 8th of September I requested a copy of the development agreement for the Pleasurama development, in theory there are clearly defined rules and regulations about how this sort of request should work, in practice I haven’t even reached the stage where the council has told either when I will get the document or even if I will ever get it.

A new area where the writing thing comes in is public consultations something highlighted for me by the Kent International Airport consultation where the comments appeared online see http://www.kentinternationalairport-manston.com/Comments%20and%20Responses%20LR.pdf

Up to this point I hadn’t considered the importance of commenting on consultations in a fairly detailed way and as a result of comprehending that I hadn’t commented on this one in the detail I should have done I tried to comment on other consultations that were available.

The more important of these consultations are framed in a sort of technical newspeak where you really need to be trained in to respond meaningfully. A prime example of this is the core framework consultation where the Ramsgate Society spent about £1,000 having it drafted by architects and written up by a solicitor.

You can look at the links on their website to see what I mean http://www.ramsgate-society.org.uk/ at first this sounds quite expensive, but when you consider that my bookshop accounts for the year cost more than this, I think they got something of a bargain.

As you can see both the question and answers are very difficult to follow. With the online form being impossible to write on and the website being difficult to make work, combined with the thing being written in what is almost a code one can only assume that the council has done its best to make one not respond. This is one of the main reasons that I have made an extra effort to respond to this and other consultations.

The walk eventually happened and I have just put the camera card into my notebook which is getting on with processing the pictures while I write, the links to the pictures will eventually appear further down this post.
A few thoughts on the pictures, the first few were taken at the end of yesterday considerable alterations to what were the shops in Bellevue Road which are being converted back into houses for the most part, quite a few of the new developments seem to have damp proofing problems, a few shots of the cliff repair work near the park from the top note the equipment to stop the bit near the edge from collapsing, the burnt out car was a bit of a surprise in a public garden the first I have seen here I hope it isn’t a sign of things to come, part of the brass strip around the base of the bandstand seems to have been stolen.

Below the links to the pictures

http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/laptop4/id3.htm

http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/laptop4/id4.htm

http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/laptop4/id5.htm

Saturday, 26 December 2009

Boxing day check you observation skills

First a few videos that we noticed on the web













and some pictures from this morning’s walk click on the links to view.

http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/laptop3/id12.htm

http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/laptop3/id13.htm

These are very much for people who can’t get out for a walk and published via my notebook, without me looking at them first, so please excuse those that are out of focus or whatever, some around Alidade Gardens and Liverpool Lawn where there is a rather out of place and intensive planning application, something I will do a detailed post about when I am back at work.

Friday, 25 December 2009

Happy Christmas to one and all

The picture of the frozen sea at Ramsgate is a request from my children, click on it to enlarge.

I may add the odd thought as the day progresses.

One thing that surprised me is the Costcutter supermarket next to my bookshop in King Street Ramsgate has no different opening times for Christmas, by this I mean that it is open every day from 7am to 11pm right through the Christmas and new year holiday.

Thursday, 24 December 2009

More First World War Christmas

The picture above (click on it to enlarge) is from a 1915 Christmas issue of London Illustrated News and is called “The Allies Take the Offensive”

I should point out to those who don’t recognise the Christmas decoration doubling as barbed wire that we still had these around when I was a child, glass stars separated with glass tubes coated on the inside with mercury all threaded on string.

I have published up the next week from Sphere Magazine, December 29th 1914 click on the link to view http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/blogpicts129/id30.htm I should apologise for the blurry flash effected pictures of the pages, I did notice though that our own dear Thanet District council still has the latest version of its flagship magazine published on the councils website so badly that much of it’s illegible see http://www.thanet.gov.uk/pdf/Thanet_Matters_Winter09.pdf I did mention it to TDCIT about a week ago so perhaps it’s an insoluble problem.

Morning walk and Ramsgate town council

I have just published the latest town council documents at http://thanetpress.blogspot.com/2009/12/ramsgate-town-council-agenda.html I haven’t had a chance to read them yet.

I managed to get out for a short walk this morning the pictures are at http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/blogpicts129/id26.htm

A few things I noticed that appear in the pictures, a bit of damage to the Pleasurama hoardings, they have taken out more of the blockwork in the cliff façade my hope is that this will make them have a proper look at the foundations, the scaffolding has come off of the customs house after the restoration work on the front, there was more rubbish than usual in the inner basin, another new shop has opened in Ramsgate selling carpets.

Ramsgate town was very busy this morning when I bought the Christmas vegetables on the way back from my walk, I thought it an interesting reflection on the cost of Christmas that a turkey breast roast from the butcher and the vegetables for Christmas dinner for 20 people cost less than £20.
I have the bookshop open today for the final and forgotten presents, despite the folk myth women as well as men, about 50 50.

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Christmas from the First World War.

Looking around the bookshop and thinking of seasonal images and WW1, because of the comment on yesterdays post, I thought to put up something for people to look at over this festive holiday.

Just rough pictures from the book stock so some may be a bit blurry, the image above is from London Illustrated News December 1916 (click on it to enlarge) and this link takes you to the Sphere magazine for December 19th 1914 http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/blogpicts129/id25.htm

I will try to put up some unusual Christmas stuff this week that you may not find elsewhere.

Slippery slope at Kent County Council

I have been trying to find out just what happened with the gritting over last weekend in Thanet, and am coming to the conclusion that there was some sort of mistake that meant that the main Thanet roads didn’t actually get gritted although KCC Highways assure me they should have been.

I am not particularly interested in recrimination on this one but am very keen to make sure that this doesn’t happen again.

From personal observation here in Ramsgate town centre the two main problems related to the main bus route not being gritted, this stopped the busses for most of Saturday, and Ramsgate shopping centre roads and pavements that weren’t gritted either.

Some of the fancy new cobbles that have replaced traditional paving slabs are very slippery when wet and with ice on them were pretty much impossible to walk on.

The only gritting that I noticed was on Monday morning to the pedestrianised area, this was just after the ice thawed and just before it rained, so it was all washed away.

Other people I know noticed a skidding bus blocking Westcliff Road with the emergency services being called.

The Margate Road leading to Westwood Cross and more importantly the QEQM Hospital, with the other emergency services based in the area, was not gritted on Saturday morning.

Did anyone else notice gritting problems?

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Thor Chemicals Margate explosion update.

It’s two years since the explosion at Thor Chemicals Margate, this was a plant that closed in 1988 and was being decommissioned.

The general understanding locally was that the only operation going on there was a water pumping station removing the toxic chemicals that had been spilt into Thanet’s drinking water aquifer during the years of the factory’s operations.

This link takes you to The Health and Safety Executive’s report on the explosion http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/blogpicts129/id22.htm

I believe this exemplifies why as an ex-engineer, with a practical understanding of the sort of things that go on in factories, I am fundamentally against industrial development on the last part of our underground drinking water reservoir that hasn’t already been contaminated.

I am a bit lost for words when it comes to commenting on the actual explosion so will leave you with the following tongue twister.

The thunder god went for a ride, Upon his favourite filly, "I'm Thor, I'm Thor!" he cried, His horse replied, "You forgot your saddle silly”

Many thanks to Tim Garbutt’s for his perseverance with the freedom of information act that finally obtained The Health and Safety Executive’s report on the explosion.

Sunday, 20 December 2009

John Lennon seen in Ramsgate’s Italianate Greenhouse and more pictures and ramble.

It has been pointed out by a few people that you can see faces in the picture if the Italianate greenhouse at the top of my previous post (click on it to enlarge) the most sceptical person here said I can’t see anyone apart from John Lennon on the right of the doorway.

This all lead me to remember that I had a folder of pictures of Ramsgate some of which are a little on the ghostly side due to having been copied from the original collection using a camera, click on the link for them http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/laptop3/id10.htm

Some points of interest are:

Dancing at the eastcliff bandstand, the dance floor doesn’t look like the one we have now, so perhaps we could get it replaced with something we can afford.

The original rustic bridge over the Albion Gardens waterfall.

The flowerdew grave.

Rather primitive freight handling arrangements at the harbour.

Moses shipyard where the port is now.

The rather drastic marine drive proposal.

A concert party on the pav’s sundeck.

The building of the military parade brick arches.

The rather ghostly image of the building that used to house the camera obscura.

I think most of them are pretty obvious but I will be happy to answer any comments about anything you can’t identify.

A few pictures from the last few days, including getting the Christmas tree photographed for the children and some of the snow, click on the link for them http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/laptop3/id11.htm

I figure that anyone getting this far through my ramble deserves a small Christmas present one of the books I publish is "Keble's Penny Guide to Margate and the Isle of Thanet 1885" I have put sample pages up and you can click on this link if you want to buy the printed version http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/catalogue/id323.htm alternatively you can click on this link to read the whole guide now http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/blogpicts129/id21.htm

I will ramble on.

Saturday, 19 December 2009

Whiteout in Ramsgate pictures

A few pictures from today, the polar bears are in Ramsgate garden centre, nice displays, I think the snow had meant that water got into their wiring as the power kept going off.

Click on the link for the pictures http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/blogpicts129/id20.htm

No Grit?

Interesting times on Plains of Waterloo this morning with some drivers making it but most not.

It is now 11am still no grit and therefore no busses very few cars and very few customers.
At last here in the banana republic of Thanet a solution, the snow on the road has melted of its own accord, the busses are running again and people are in my bookshop buying people books for Christmas presents again.

Friday, 18 December 2009

TDCIT novel IT solutions

After yesterdays post TDCIT have solved the problem of part of their online version of Thanet Matters being illegible by removing the link to it from their homepage.

The illegible download is still there at http://www.thanet.gov.uk/pdf/Thanet_Matters_Winter09.pdf

I have had no response about the Planning Obligations and Developer Contributions consultation see http://consult.thanet.gov.uk/inovem/consult.ti/local.plans/view?objectId=56884 you need a very wide monitor for this one as the website isn’t written properly, so the narrower your screen the less of part of it you can read.

For anyone wanting to respond, by the end of today deadline, to this one here is a response form that unlike the TDC one you can actually type in http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/blogpicts129/id18.htm you can paste it into a word document and fill it in and email it to them if you wish.

The only person I know that fought with their online form for about an hour managed to save part of what they filled in, this may be of help to others trying to respond, click on the link for it http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/blogpicts129/id17.htm

Many thanks to Thanet District Council for extending the deadline.

I have received the following:

"Dear Councillors,
Following discussion it has been agreed that there will be an extension
of time for responses to be made to the current consultation on the LDF
Core Strategy. Although the consultation started on 13th October and
should have closed on 18th December it is to be extended to Monday 18th
January. This extension is in recognition of the importance of the
document and in the light of representations from some consultees. This
extension is possible because this is not a statutory consultation and
we are not bound by the Regulations in this instance.

We will be announcing this extension on our website and issuing a press
release as soon as practicable.

I don't have e-mail addresses for all your Councillors who may be
interested and would appreciate if you could advise them accordingly.

Regards

*****

Strategic Planning Manager
Thanet District Council"

I am glad it isn’t just me who has problems emailing the councillors.

As you see I am sticking with the hats for councillors and council officers, perhaps a topper would be appropriate for the Strategic Planning Manager.

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Thanet District Council consultations at TDCIT a vision of a brave new world?

I know I have been banging on about the core strategy consultation, but this is important because put simply, if enough of us respond it will effect how the council uses our council tax until 2026, the documents are not that easy to follow but it would appear that TDC want to put a disproportionately high amount of what is available into Margate and Cliftonville at the expense of other parts of Thanet.

For Ramsgate residents who want to ensure that Ramsgate gets a fairer slice of the cake I have put instructions to do this quickly and easily on the internet, the deadline for doing this is midnight tomorrow, click on the link if you want to do this http://thanetonline.blogspot.com/2009/12/thanet-district-council-consultation-or.html

Another consultation that expires at midnight tomorrow is Planning Obligations and Developer Contributions, this is about contributions that developers have to make to the local community, put simply, if a developer builds a new housing estate they can be forced to help pay for more school places near to it, or if a developer builds a new shopping centre they can be forced to help pay for a bus service so that people can get to it.

Once again TDCIT are not going to make it easy to respond, there is a form that you can’t actually fill out at http://consult.thanet.gov.uk/inovem/gf2.ti/f/1090/1445.1/pdf/-/SPD_Questionnaire1.pdf the document is available online at http://consult.thanet.gov.uk/inovem/consult.ti/local.plans/view?objectId=56884 and theoretically you can log in and comment there.

The way this document is published online doesn’t inspire much confidence, I have viewed it in various web browsers and the section headings part of the webpage (on the right) appears on top of the main part of the page so you can’t actually read all of it.

Would I be prepared to spend several hours wading through what is essentially a long and rather boring online question form on a website that I could see wasn’t written properly, as obviously if it crashed I would have to start all over again? Well the answer to that one is no.

In fact as I navigate it I have just reached the following by clicking on the back button: “There was a problem with your request You do not have permission to do that.”

The link to it is here if you want to have a look for yourself and even see how you get on with it http://consult.thanet.gov.uk/inovem/consult.ti/local.plans/view?objectId=56884

I hate to admit this but at this point I am giving up on responding to this consultation, I just don’t have enough time, if I could have written on the form and emailed it to TDC as per their instructions I would have done so. I can only conclude that this was designed for large developers with an office staff and plenty of money to pay for consultants.

I clicked on the TDC logo to get back to their homepage and was taken to page no found, which I think sums up the problem, they have written the thing but not actually tried to use it.

Having eventually got to the TDC homepage again I decided to click on the link that says, “Final reminder to say how you feel” it seemed appropriate somehow. This takes you to http://thanet.gov.uk/news/latest_press_releases/say_how_you_feel_reminder.aspx

This was a relatively simple form, a completely different format to the other one, and was about community safety and policing, as the street where I live and trade is now pretty much a no go area from the early evening when the drunks come out until 4am when the takeaways close, I thought I would give it a go.

The form was pretty straight forward and all went well, I thought most people would be able to understand the questions and I filled it in. only one problem though I didn’t get a confirmatory email saying that I had succeeded in submitting it. This is pretty much an IT industry standard, so I don’t know if my comments actually arrived.

Having done that I thought I would try the budget consultation this is at http://www.thanet.gov.uk/council__democracy/consultation/your_district_you_decide.aspx as my confidence in the online form had been somewhat effected by my last experience, I thought I would download and complete the survey and email it back to the council, so I went to http://www.thanet.gov.uk/pdf/Budget_Consultation_Survey_V4.pdf unfortunately once again it was a form that I couldn’t actually type on, so I have given up for the time being.

Next I got a feed from TDC which appeared on my sidebar about Draft Gambling Policy Consultation so I clicked on it and got to here http://www.thanet.gov.uk/advice__benefits/licences_and__trading/gambling_policy/draft_gambling_policy_2009.aspx and was amused to read the following: “An important part of the process in developing any new policy is to engage with residents and businesses which may be affected to give them an opportunity to give their views.”

Aaffected according to the thesaurus on MS Word this means; pretentious, artificial, exaggerated, la-di-dah, unnatural, pretentious, so perhaps that is where I am going wrong.

I am afraid to say that things now get even worse as far as TDCIT goes, I noticed the link to Thanet Matters on the TDC homepage and though I would read it over lunch. The online version is essentially just pictures of the 24 page council produced magazine. As I often publish several hundred pictures to the internet while I am having my breakfast I can assure you that it really isn’t that difficult.

For some reason that eludes me the council publish it only as a pdf file that needs special software to open which is a bit of a pain.

But some of the pages are so badly published that you can’t read them try the pie chart on page 14 for example, here is the link to it http://www.thanet.gov.uk/pdf/Thanet_Matters_Winter09.pdf

Above is another government hat picture.

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Thanet district Council consultation or catastrophe? And TDCTV launch.

Having had some feed back from people having difficulty responding to the council’s core strategy consultation I have made it quick and easy to respond even using an antique computer, here’s how to do it.

1 Open a new Word document.

2 Click on this link http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/blogpicts129/id15.htm select and copy the whole web page that appears.

3 Paste it into the Word document, this may take a little time as it is a complex document.

4 Fill in part 1 (the bit with the red writing) this is just your contact details.

5 Save the document somewhere on your computer where you can find it easily.

6 Attach it to an email and send it to local.plans@thanet.gov.uk

Several people I know tried to respond using the TDC website, no one actually succeeded without considerable difficulty, some tried to use the form there that you can’t actually write on, some tried to log on at the TDC website at http://consult.thanet.gov.uk/inovem/consult.ti/core.strategy/consultationHome and failed, some got as far as filling out the form only to find no send button at the end.

What am I commenting on?

Click on this link to read the whole document http://consult.thanet.gov.uk/inovem/consult.ti/core.strategy/view?objectId=49236 the links on the right of the page enable you to navigate from page to page.

Why use the Ramsgate Society response?

1 It has been prepared by trained architects and written by a solicitor.

2 Although the Ramsgate Society have put a lot of time and effort into this one their submission only counts as one response, every individual that sends it in again will be counted as another response.

What if I don’t like or agree with the Ramsgate Society response?

When you get to step 4 you can modify the Word document before you send it.

Now on to other things some of you may remember that back in May 2008 I started encouraging the council to put videos of the council meetings on the internet, see http://thanetonline.blogspot.com/2008/05/tdctv.html after nearly a year of this encouragement I started to make some progress, see http://thanetonline.blogspot.com/2009/03/tdctv.html and now the first video of a council meeting will be available on the internet later this week, see http://thanetpress.blogspot.com/2009/12/council-meetings-to-be-webcast.html

I should like to express my thanks to all of the councillors and council officers who have made this possible.

Here are the pictures from yesterday’s and this morning’s walk http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/blogpicts129/id16.htm nothing very exciting and not that many, it was very cold so I didn’t hang about that much.

I am still pursuing the cliff safety issues that relate to the Pleasurama development, the council and their professional advisors have decided to do this one the hard way with me, so for the council this has now reached local government ombudsman level and for the advisors presiding director of the parent company level.

As you see from the pictures there is still nothing to prevent heavy vehicles going up on to the cliff top there, even right near the edge where they have hacked a lump of the cliff façade out.

I am considering a campaign to get the councillors and council officers to start using hats that we can identify them more easily by again, hence the picture above.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Thanet’s core strategy for now until 2026, put your ideas on the TDC website.

You have until Friday to comment on this important document that will shape the future of Thanet, the comments you make will become part of the document and be published with it.

I can’t over emphasise the importance of this one, while the council have made it difficult to comment it is not impossible, I spent a considerable part of yesterday discussing methods of commenting with the council.

Below are the details of the easiest way to use the various methods.

(A) Viewing the document and commenting on it on the councils website.

1 Go to http://consult.thanet.gov.uk/inovem/consult.ti/core.strategy/consultationHome click on register, you have to fill in the bits of the form with the red asterisks by them, you can’t put a space in your username and you must tick the box at the bottom to say you understand the terms and conditions.

2 Go to http://consult.thanet.gov.uk/inovem/consult.ti/core.strategy/view?objectId=49236 this is the only place that the main document appears in a series of ordinary webpages that can be viewed without any special viewer installed on your computer and is the best option if you have an older slower computer.

3 Read through the document using the links on the right of the page and the “Next” buttons at the bottom of the page to navigate.

You will come to places where you can leave your comments, for example if you go to section 7 and then click the next button at the bottom of the page you will come to the comment form for section 7 at the bottom of that page, providing you are signed on.

Once you have you have commented here, when you log on again it should remember the part of the form you have filled in, TDC assure me of this but I haven’t tried it.

(B) Viewing the document and commenting on it using the comment form and then emailing the completed comment form to TDC.

1 Either view the document at http://consult.thanet.gov.uk/inovem/consult.ti/core.strategy/view?objectId=49236 or download it as a pdf file from http://www.ramsgate-society.org.uk/TDC-Core-Strategy-Doc.pdf this is a 121 page pdf file, so some computers may not like it.

2 Copy the comment form into a blank MS Word document from http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/blogpicts129/id13.htm you only need to fill out part one once but will need to fill out part 2 for every section you wish to comment on.

3 Attach the completed comment form to an email and send it to local.plans@thanet.gov.uk

(C) Use the The Ramsgate Society -FOUR easy steps to making an expert RESPONSE (coloured names are active links) once again these are fairly large pdf files and may not agree with older computers.

1. Read and understand the Ramsgate Society Response Document. 2. Download expert Response Forms prepared by a Town Planning Consultant (Part 2 -forms already completed) 3. Attach the download files to an e-mail showing your full name and address.(replaces Part 1)4. Send to local.plans@thanet.gov.uk
My feeling are that the council have made this as difficult as they can to respond to, it still says on the version of the form on their website at http://consult.thanet.gov.uk/inovem/gf2.ti/f/1058/1285.1/pdf/-/Core_Strategy_Preferred_Options_Response_Form.pdf
“this form can be sent by email to local.plans@thanet.gov.uk” if you download the form you will find that you can’t actually type on it.
I would imagine that they have government inspectors breathing down their necks and while abiding by the letter of the law they have a long way to go to abide by the spirit of the law.
When I asked yesterday I was told that only 31 responses have been made via the internet, that includes responses made by organisations.

Monday, 14 December 2009

Thanet District Council’s information technology; my worst experience yet.

I thought I would have a go at responding to the Local Development Framework Core Strategy
So toddled of the TDC website having tried to follow some of the information at http://consult.thanet.gov.uk/inovem/consult.ti/core.strategy/view?objectId=49236 not being much of a fan of online forms I decided to download the comments form and email it to them by going to http://consult.thanet.gov.uk/inovem/gf2.ti/f/1058/1285.1/pdf/-/Core_Strategy_Preferred_Options_Response_Form.pdf

Grrrr you can’t write on the form with the computer so I tried converting it into a document that you can write on. I have published it on the web for anyone that wants to comment at http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/blogpicts129/id13.htm just copy the form on the webpage paste it into a Word document fill out the form and email it to TDC.

A few pictures from this morning’s walk in Ramsgate

Although these pictures are mostly just for the people who for one reason or another can’t go for a morning walk in Ramsgate a few points to note.

1 this bench as far as I know it has been like this pretty much since it was put in.

2 the missing trees just dug out by the council, was it the salt spray that killed them or is it the brackish water in the ground?

3 What did they try to clean the Wellington Crescent dance floor with, looks like a floor polisher too me.

4 This chimneystack does seem to be leaning rather a lot to me.

5 Nice new signs for Marina Road, I have to admit I didn’t know what it was called before.

I have put the numbers under the pictures to show what I mean.

Click on the link for the pictures http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/blogpicts129/id10.htm

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Thanet Pubs

A new book out on Monday

This book is a combination four booklets published in the late 1980s, it contains an exact copy of each booklet including the front covers that are black and white on the original booklets.

The page numbering is from the original booklets, if I had changed it to new numbering running through the whole book it could have caused confusion, perhaps I have caused a different type of confusion doing it this way but it seemed like a good idea at the time.

The cover is a bit more quirkiness from me, the back cover shows the second Queens Head in Ramsgate, before it was demolished and the present one rebuilt in 1921. You will notice that at that time what is now harbour parade was a narrow street, opposite the pub is the back of the harbour trustees committee rooms demolished in 1890.
The front cover shows a picture of the Queens Head as it is now, taken by me in some haste this morning, I did my best on rather a dull day, the angles are a bit strange as I had to take it from one side to avoid a car that was in the way and then straighten it out in the computer.

The book or books, depending on how you look at it, have given me considerable enjoyment and I have learnt a great deal about our pubs that I didn't already know.

For me the fact that it was written before the demise of the English public house became seemingly unstoppable, adds to its appeal and makes it an important historical document.

Well that was what I said in the book but frankly I don’t know how to do it justice this link takes you to a few random pages from the 90ish pages in the book http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/thanetpubs/ and click on this link if you want to buy it http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/catalogue/thanet_pubs.htm

Sunday Ramble.

First thanks to one of my readers who sent me these pictures of the cliff repairs http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/laptop3/id8.htm with the comment that there seems to be a gap between the concrete and the chalk.

He said he had a chat with the chaps down there and they didn’t seem to be that worried about the state of the cliff, he didn’t seem so sure.

The question I am asking is would I like to have an apartment in a building 4 metres from this? I don’t think there is that much I can say about the pictures, apart from are they intending a proper job here or hurriedly covering up the defects? Oh and are they going to knock it down to the bottom of just start building on this bit that seems to have no foundations? Perhaps if they stick it to the chalk cliff with concrete it won't slide down.

Does anyone know when this bit of the cliff façade was built the report says the drawings at TDC http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/tdc/id39.htm says after 1956 the TDC press release http://thanetpress.blogspot.com/2009/12/ramsgate-cliff-face.html says late 1930s?

It looks to me like post was austerity construction, certainly nothing like the quality of Augusta Stairs http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/foi/id13.htm built in 1957.

The Christmas decorations are going up in the bookshop, something my children are doing with a certain amount of festive enthusiasm.

I will ramble on as the day progresses I expect.

Does Thanet District Council’s core strategy come from a rotten apple?

Looking back over the history of local government here in Ramsgate we seem to have attracted a variety of individuals some of whom had rather unusual ideas, however back in the days of a borough council at least all of the people involved had some sort of vested interest in Ramsgate’s success.

Nowadays with a district council we have various organisations who’s remit seems to be to try and ensure that Ramsgate gets a fair share of the TDC cake, the latest being the town council.

I think it would be fair to say that over the last few years Ramsgate doesn’t appear to have had its fair share of the cake available and looking at the core strategy for now until 2026 this seems likely to continue.

I have just added the Ramsgate Society’s email about response document to "Shaping our Future" to the Thanet press releases blog, this link takes you to their response http://www.ramsgate-society.org.uk/RS-Response-Doc.pdf this link takes you to the TDC shaping our future document http://www.ramsgate-society.org.uk/TDC-Core-Strategy-Doc.pdf all 121 pages of it.

These various things that go out to public consultation are pretty time consuming, it’s a bit like some advanced form of voting, in as much as if you don’t take the trouble to fill in the response form then it is going to be a bit difficult to justify complaining when decisions you don’t want are made on your behalf.

If you are going to make the effort click on the link to download the form to fill in http://www.thanet.gov.uk/PDF/Core_Strategy_Preferred_Options_Response_Form.pdf there is a seven page summery of the core strategy here http://www.thanet.gov.uk/pdf/CoreStrategy_Preferred%20Options_Consultation_summary_report.pdf for those who don’t want to wade through the 121 pages. Responses need to be emailed to
local.plans@thanet.gov.uk

Responses have to be in by Friday so you don’t have very long to get your act together.

The picture is of Arthur Bloomfield Courtenay Kempe who became Mayor of Ramsgate on November 9th 1938 click on the link for his book http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/catalogue/id54.htm what kind of mayor was he? The summer of 1939 was his only time as peace time mayor, and during that summer he made Ramsgate one great holiday camp. “All in holidays” at £3.17.6d. He had front page news time and again in the national press – he sold the towns holidays to Coventry. This man had only been a resident for 6 years but his love of the place must have been such that he gave his all as holiday mayor.

However war came in September 1939 – away went the top hat, on went the tin helmet, he put everything into looking after the residents of the town during the darkest days of the war, and for five years no other person was considered for the office of mayor.
Now 70 years later I wonder what he would of made of this core strategy consultation?

Oh and yes a few pictures from this morning not much as it was cold bleak and windy and I had to get back fairly rapidly to get the children ready for church http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/laptop3/id7.htm
Update:
There has been some confusion about making an expert RESPONSE.
The Ramsgate Society -FOUR easy steps to making an expert RESPONSE (coloured names are active links) 1. Read and understand the Ramsgate Society Response Document. 2. Download expert Response Forms prepared by a Town Planning Consultant (Part 2 -forms already completed) 3. Attach the download files to an e-mail showing your full name and address.
(replaces Part 1)
4. Send to local.plans@thanet.gov.uk -RAMSGATE 2026 It is up to you !!!

Saturday, 12 December 2009

Thanet District Council’s propaganda machine goes off the wall.

Of all of the bizarre press releases I have received from TDC this one has to take the biscuit see http://thanetpress.blogspot.com/2009/12/ramsgate-cliff-face.html this is a picture of the repair work that they say is due to start in the new year, it appears to have started before they released the press release.


This next picture is of the base of one of the facades support pillars resting not on the 2 metre thick foundations as I have been assured it should be, but on a pile of crumbling chalk.

Silly me thinking that I had investigated the problems with the cliff façade when the council told me that they weren’t going to until 2011 see http://thanetonline.blogspot.com/2009/11/royal-sands-development-how-dangerous.html

Oh yes here are this mornings pictures and a few from some other time that seem to have crept in somehow, loads of the Queens Head as I am doing a cover for a book on Thanet’s pubs today.

http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/blogpicts129/id6.htm

http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/blogpicts129/id9.htm

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Royal Sands Development cliff façade bizarre twist from TDCs chief executive.

Some of you may remember back in November after expressing my concerns about the condition of the newly repaired cliff façade, I received a response from TDC that they weren’t going to inspect it until 2011.

At this point I decided as this was an issue of public safety to take measures into my own hands and inspect it myself and publicise the photographs of this inspection see http://thanetonline.blogspot.com/2009/11/royal-sands-development-how-dangerous.html

The most worrying thing that I found when I inspected the façade was the apparent lack of foundations where the bottom of the façade had been exposed.

Back at the beginning of last year I pointed out the apparent lack of foundations when the first bit of the base of the façade was exposed and was assured that this was only a small part and that it would be repaired.

Since May 2007 I have had an ongoing dialogue with the councils consulting engineers Jacobs Engineering about the cliff façade and other structures in Ramsgate that they manage, so I was somewhat surprised to get a rather bizarre email from them telling me that they were no longer prepared to communicate with, me unless the council gave its permission.

I immediately emailed TDCs chief executive asking him to contact them and give his permission for them to continue to discuss these issues with me.

I was further surprised to receive a point blank refusal from the chief executive of TDC, here is a quote from it: “You can speak to the council about these issues but not our contractors or advisers.” As far as I am aware this dialogue was mutually beneficial and I believe contributed considerably to getting the council to take any action about the state of the cliff façade. The picture above, taken today, shows progress of the repairs to the repaired cliff façade.
it may take a while for them all to appear.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Speculation about how Thanet District Council checks on the work they have paid for and a few more pictures of Ramsgate.

Walking through the park this morning I noticed the new basketball court, that has recently appeared there where the football pitch was, doesn’t drain properly.

It is only since I discovered that they had spent £1,000,000 of our money on the cliff repairs that obviously didn’t work out quite how they expected, that I look at what they have done with considerable more scepticism.

The whole thing with the basketball court is a bit strange, they didn’t move the football goalposts but instead they removed them completely, I may be naïve but I assumed that in England football was more popular than basketball.

I don’t just base this on the fact that there were a lot more youfs playing football there when it was football pitch, but also on the fact that basketball books don’t sell very well at all, certainly not as much as football books.

The picture above was taken this morning at about 8.50 the weather was quite dry and had been for some time.

Here are this morning’s pictures http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/blogpicts129/id5.htm

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Royal Sands Development cliff façade weeded and other Ramsgate pictures from a morning walk.

There has been a certain amount of activity on the eastcliff here in Ramsgate that makes me think someone at the council has been reading this blog.

One thing I noticed when I went for my walk this morning is that the vegetation has gone from the cliff façade and someone has taken out some blocks to investigate what is causing the bulge.


There is still nothing to prevent heavy vehicles from going up onto the cliff above near the edge, something that concerns me considerably.

Nor are there any signs of investigation of the foundations that should be supporting the structure.



The hoardings have been repaired behind the Granville too I posted about them the other day and I suspect this may not be entirely coincidental.

So first thank you to whoever is looking at some of my concerns, it is a pity that they are not a bit more forthcoming about what they are going to do, as I could then get off of their backs and we could all get on with our jobs.

Here are the first lot of pictures about 100 I started just after dawn the sunrise was rather good http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/blogpicts129/



Here are the next lot about 100 they start off a bit wobbly as I was taking one of my children to school so was snapping away one handed http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/blogpicts129/id3.htm

Monday, 7 December 2009

An Historical report on Ramsgate Harbour 1791 By John Smeaton

With one thing and another I believe there may be a few civil engineers reading this blog at the moment, so as a special treat for them I have published this book complete so they can enjoy it.

Click on the link to read the whole book http://www.thanetonline.com/AnHistoricalreportonRamsgateHarbour/

Click on this link if you want to buy the printed version http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/catalogue/id332.htm

The design and building of bridges and harbours were at the cutting edge of new technology in the 1700s. as with space exploration today many things were uncertain, large expenditure often resulting in failure or only partial success. Indeed it is probable that had Mr Labelye (who lobbied parliament for a harbour near the downs and proposed a scheme for building a canal between Sandwich and the coast) not been otherwise engaged due to problems when Westminster bridge, a construction under his direction that partly sank and had to have considerable rebuilding, the harbour would probably been built at Sandwich.

At this time it should be noted that the inhabitants of Sandwich then the main town in this area and once the main port (which had silted up and been left stranded inland) wanted the revenue of any new harbour. They strove against the building of a harbour at Ramsgate and tried repeatedly to get parliament to fund various projects that would once again make Sandwich a major port.

Ramsgate, as a limb of the Cinque Port of Sandwich, was in fact governed by the town that was Ramsgate’s main rival, something that we are used to even now.

Eventually the great storm of 1748 when several ships found shelter here combined with the common sense advice of the sea captains in this area, that the harbour should be built at Ramsgate was agreed to by parliament.

Ramsgate harbour when it was first built had no inner basin, even before it was completed it filled up with sand much more than had been expected. During the 1770s so much sand had accumulated in the harbour that nearly all of it dried out at low tide. In fact by the time it was finished it was almost completely useless as a harbour.

John Smeaton who is generally considered to be the first civil engineer, was consulted at various times to resolve this and other problems in the design of the harbour. He gave advice that in many cases was only partly adhered to. The story of the building of the harbour and how it was eventually turned into a useful refuge for the ships that got caught up in the storms and navigational hazards of our coastline makes an interesting read.

The original book like other antiquarian books is not quite as easy to read as many modern books, at this time the letter s is often printed so that it looks like the letter f, this takes a few pages to get used to. However when compared even to modern engineer’s reports it is clarity expounded.

There are a few technical and nautical words that some of you may not be familiar with so I have added a short glossary of them below.

The picture (click on it to enlarge) above is a copy of an old print of Ramsgate that I hope you will agree helps to understand how the harbour looked 200 years ago.

Many thanks to Bob Hinge for lending his copy of the book to copy for the reprint.

Ashler a large square-cut stone that is used for building or facing walls In changing a Rough Ashlar into a Perfect Ashlar, the workman takes away and never adds to.

Bar a raised area of sand or mud that stops the water being deep enough for navigation.

Caisson a watertight enclosure used to keep out the water while the foundations are being laid. In the case of Ramsgate harbour I think these would have been like massive wooden barrels open at both ends that were floated into position, sunk with ballast and pumped out with a chain pump.

Ebb tide a falling tide ¼ Ebb being there is a ¼ of the distance between high and low tide remaining above the lowest level of the tide.

Fathom 6 feet in length.

Flood tide a rising tide.

Lee or Leeward the side that a wind is blowing to often meaning the sheltered side.

Lighter a large open boat usually used for moving heavy stores and water out to ships in a harbour.

Locker of Grind on this context (page 16) an enclosure or trap.

Neap tide the lower than usual tides at some times of year.

Scuttle to deliberately sink a boat.

Sluice a passage for water that can be regulated by the opening and closing of a gate, like a large tap.

Spring tide the unusually high tides at some times in the year.
Windward on the side that the wind is blowing from.

More Sarre Mill Pictures

Sorry no morning walk this morning, so no pictures of it, as one of my children has a cold, something that effects logistics.

A few more pictures of Sarre Mill that I missed and didn’t publish yesterday including a couple taken from one of the widows showing Reculver and the wind farm in the distance.

Click on the link for the pictures http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/blogpicts119/id18.htm

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Sunday Ramble from a deranged shop assistant and pictures of Wingham and Sarre Mill

The weather was just too bad for a walk this morning so no pictures of that today, sorry about that and it’s a bigger sorry than one would expect. Looking at my web statistics during the first 5 days of this month over 21,000 of my pictures have been viewed, most of them from my morning walks over the last few days.

I don’t think this has anything much to do with the quality of the pictures, I would be the first to admit that most are no more than snaps, I think it is much more to do with the fact that so many people for one reason or another are not able to go for a walk in the morning.

The business with the various problems associated with the Pleasurama development has taken up a lot of time this week, time that I would far rather have devoted to various local history projects, but where issues of public safety are concerned other things have to go onto the back burner until they are resolved.

I am making some progress with issues related to the cliff façade in front of Wellington Crescent and above the building site and have reasonable hopes that soon something will be done to prevent heavy vehicles from going up there next to the edge of the cliff.

I usually publish the pictures I take in fairly small sizes so they load quickly 1,200 pixels wide being the norm, I use a computer program to resize the whole batch of pictures in one go, but the business of conveying the problems with the cliff façade to some civil engineers has required me to publish some of the pictures I took a couple of weeks ago, when I went and had a look at the problems there, in a larger size, 2,500 pixels wide.

For those of you that are interested there is one of the bulging bit at http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/foundation/id2.htm as well as considering the pressure of the weight of the chalk behind the bulge that caused the concrete filled blocks to crack down the middle, the other point of interest here is the amount the blockwork has bulged out relative to the pillar next to it.

With chalk cliffs in a natural state, falls are usually relatively minor, one of the problems associated with putting some sort of obstruction in front of them is that the pressure builds up until the obstruction fails and the fall is much larger.

The following links take you to some pictures of cliff falls that occurred in Ramsgate and illustrate what I mean.

http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/collapse/

http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/collapse/id2.htm

http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/collapse/paragon.htm

http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/collapse/id6.htm

Another problem is that the stronger material forming the façade is likely to be made of larger and heavier lumps that do more damage than chalk.

My assertion that there is something wrong with the foundations of the cliff façade seems to be being taken more seriously, this link takes you to the larger size pictures of the foundations, or at least where the foundations should be http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/foundation/index.htm

I have put numbers under a few of them to make it easier to understand my explanation of what the pictures show the numbers correspond with the text below.

1 this is the bottom of a supporting pillar there is no 2 metre foundation and it is sitting directly on exposed chalk that is already weathering, as you can see from the cracks beneath the left side of the base of the pillar.

2 and 3 concrete has recently been applied at the point I first noticed the apparent absence of foundations in Jan 2008, it has been applied thinly directly to the topsoil and there is a gap at the top of it

4 I can only assume that the ends of the metal rods exposed here are the ends of the reinforcing rods within the supporting pillar above.

Back in 2007 when the first bit of the bottom of the cliff was dug out and it looked to me that the foundations just were not there, the council’s engineers assured me that there was no problem with the foundations, this is a quote from one of their emails.

“The foundations of the facade is on a mass concrete base some 2 metres thick and founded on what would appear to be good sound chalk. I shall be very surprised if there is any cause for concern.”

I suppose in retrospect I should have pursued the matter more vigorously, I think part of the problem there was it was difficult to gain access to the site and the other part of the problem was that I assumed that once I had pointed out the problem they would deal with it.

I am coming to the unhappy conclusion that the council’s engineers assumed that I was some sort on nutcase and just ignored what I said. It is not a pleasant sensation to realise that I had wasted so much time and effort on people who were just humouring me because they assumed I was deranged in some way and frankly it made me stop and wonder about the toys that could be lose in my attic.

You have to appreciate that on one side of the argument are a whole group of large and serious chaps in hard hats with letters after their names and on the other side of the argument there is only me, a shop assistant that may have been subjected to the wrong kind of potty training.

Back in the 1960s I worked in the physics departments of various universities, I won’t name and shame them by association, it is enough to say that at that time electronics was a new sport and there were not enough people who understood it, so they didn’t look too closely at one’s qualifications.

Something I noticed during that time was that some of the people who were very good at the theory, were not so good at the practical engineering side, in fact on some occasions people who had made considerable advances in various highly technical fields couldn’t actually put a plug on their test equipment if it arrived without one.

This has got me to thinking about what an engineer really is, by that I mean what makes him or her different to people who are not engineers, I can only speak for myself here and say that it mostly boils down to not being happy about not knowing how things work.

For example, I mean I wouldn’t be happy driving a car without understanding exactly how it works, I think this may be partly due to the time I spent on boats, where if for instance the engine or radio stops working at sea, there isn’t necessarily anyone else there who can repair it.

I finally got round to reading this weeks Isle of Thanet Gazette page 7 would only seem to confirm my insanity as the article about the councils intention to close the tourist information centres has a section called Fact File.

With a title like that one would assume it must be right, however the picture entitled “FOR THE CHOP Ramsgate visitor information” seems to be of the TDC council office in York Street, something confirmed by the sign in the window visible, in the photograph, pointing to the visitor information centre.

I suppose with the tourist information centre being hidden where no tourist would be likely to find it, the intrepid Gazette reporter failed to find it too.

We had to go and pick up our Brownies who had been camping in Wingham village hall, fortunately the sun came out so there are a few pictures.

I should also point out that the café at Sarre Mill produced home made sandwiches and has an excellent Wi Fi signal.

The whole thing sandwiches for 3, buttered scone for my wife, three apple juices a coffee for me, entrance to the mill for 2 adults and 2 children £21, excellent value in fact.

My camera batteries ran out of charge somewhere near the top of the mill and I had to switch to my antique camera, my own fault as I should have take a professional flash unit with me and didn’t, hence the shadow on the wide angle shots too.

As you can see the pictures get a lot brighter as the weather improves, once again all of the pictures go in including the ones taken from the car for the children, so some of them are frankly terrible.

Once again the pictures are being published automatically so you may have to wait for them to appear, here are the links.

http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/laptop2/id9.htm

http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/laptop2/id10.htm

http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/laptop2/id11.htm

http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/laptop2/id12.htm

http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/laptop2/id13.htm


Coming back to the Wi Fi thing, I can’t over emphasise here the advantage of being able to sit in a café, typing this sort of thing out, while waiting for the children to, eat up, drink up, go to the lavatory, etc.



I may well ramble on as the day progresses particularly if it doesn’t stop raining.

Saturday, 5 December 2009

A few pictures of Ramsgate

One again a few pictures Don and the others who may not be able to get out.

This lot are Wednesday morning and mostly show the terrible state the pavement in King Street in Ramsgate has got into http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/blogpicts119/id11.htm I was talking to one of our road sweepers about it and he said that of the main town centre roads in Thanet this one is the worse.

Sorry it was too wet to get far on Wednesday.

I believe I have already done Thursdays.

This is yesterday mornings, the main thing of note was the complex machinery evidently doing something to our drains, at first I think the chaps operating it thought I was up to no good with my slr but once I explained what I was up to they were very cooperative hence the picture down the drain http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/blogpicts119/id16.htm

On to this morning’s pictures sorry the first few seem to have got to the bottom of the page, one thing they show is how badly silted up the harbour is, you can see the boat that was on the slipway next to her sister ship well and truly aground with props mostly out of the water. You can also see the route the fishing boat has to tale to get out of the harbour.

Here are the pictures http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/blogpicts119/id17.htm another think I have noticed is a slight movement in Augusta Stairs, by this I mean the platforms between the various sets of steps used to all be level and drain properly. Now some of them have puddles on them, I don’t know if this is significant of anything.

Friday, 4 December 2009

Dane Valley By-election results

First congratulations to Sandra Hart see http://thanetpress.blogspot.com/2009/12/sandra-hart-labour-rose.html

Something I noticed here was the enormous swing away from the Conservatives, they got 50% of the vote in the Dane Valley ward in the 2007 local elections and this has now been reduced to 24% in yesterday’s by-election.

Could it be that local people are waking up to the idea that although it may say Conservative on the box, what you get when you open it can be something else?

I wonder if our local Conservative Cabinet will look at the message from the voters here, it is certainly a very large swing to Labour at a time when I don’t feel that the electorate at large are so decisively in favour of Labour policy.

The figures for the 2007 local elections are Con 50% Lab 43% and Grey 7% see http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/blogpicts119/id15.htm

For yesterdays by-election Lab 34% Lib 28% Con 24% and Ind 14%.

So while this was a disastrous result for the Conservatives it wasn’t so good for Labour either, in as much as they lost 9% of their vote.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

A few thoughts on Ramsgate’s cliff safety, infrastructure and a morning walk.

Sorry about the length of the previous post I have now managed to publish most of it on a separate webpage, the mouse on my laptop went wrong last night so I didn’t do it then.

My concerns about the cliff problems and allowing heavy vehicles near the cliff edge where the condition of the cliff is suspect, seems to be falling mostly on deaf ears at the council, so I have tried another approach which is to contact the head offices of both the civil engineering consultants that the council use and the contractor that did the £1m repair to the cliff façade.

They are both large and reputable firms and I have some hope that one of them will take some sort of action, most particularly imposing temporary weight limits.

I have got most response from telephoning the engineers involved, at the moment they seem strangely reluctant to put anything in writing although there is a lot of concern expressed on the telephone.

This link takes you to today’s pictures http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/laptop2/id8.htm

I will probably ramble on as the day continues.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Extraordinary Meeting of the Ramsgate Town Council to be held on Monday 7 December at 7 pm

RAMSGATE TOWN COUNCIL
EXTRAORDINARY MEETING OF COUNCIL
7 December 2009
A meeting of the Ramsgate Town Council will be held at 7.00 pm (or on the rising of the Finance and General Purposes Committee) on Monday 7 December 2009 in the Council Chamber, Albion House, Albion Place, Ramsgate.
Membership:
Councillor Green (Chairman); Councillors Byne, Carr, Dark, Doyle, Fenner, Hoult, Kirby, Landi, Moore, Nicholson, O’Donnell, Poole, Rogers, Todd and Ward.

Click on the link to read all of it http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/laptop2/id7.htm

Ramsgate Town Council gets a town clerk from Lydd

Ramsgate council has appointed a town clerk Richard Styles, he is Lydd’s town clerk at the moment and to start with he will only be working on Fridays, as he has to work out his notice at Lydd.

This is very important as the town council has to have a town clerk to function, it is also reassuring that the council has appointed someone experienced, who I gather is keen to take the council to quality status.
I couldn’t find a picture Richard Styles so have illustrated this post with a picture of a previous Ramsgate town clerk, Blasdale Clarke, he is the one bewigged seated at the desk.
It is with some interest that I speculate, will our new town clerk wear a wig to fit in with our, so far ceremonial council?

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

The Dictatorship of Thanet and the Ramsgate Tunnels

The more I live in Thanet, and just try to find out about ordinary things that are happening, the more I am reminded bizarre third world dictatorships.

This morning’s walk is an example of what I mean. One of Ramsgate’s greatest potential assets is its underground tunnel system, I publish a small book about it and it is my bestselling book, I take this to be a reflection of local peoples interest in the tunnels.

This morning the seafront tunnel entrance was open and there were a couple of white van types down there with torches.

Obviously I asked them what they were up to and they said they were clearing the rubbish out of the tunnel entrance. Did they know why? No. Can I find out? Possibly. Is it worth the effort? Probably not. I tried phoning the council but apparently the only person who would know what was going on was not available.

Extracting information from Thanet District Council is a laborious business, for the most part they don’t just tell you what is going on. As an example of what I mean, I wanted to get the development agreement for the Royal Sands Development in Ramsgate, a reasonable request as it has been a deserted building site for years now, I wanted to know the dates by which various parts of the development are supposed to happen. We are on the forth lot of contractors now and I want to keep an eye on the situation to make sure they are really serious, so the development agreement would be a useful document. I first asked TDC for it on 8th September. Now about 20 emails later I have requested the information commissioner’s office to look into why I haven’t been sent it. God alone knows what all of this costs and how much civil servants time is wasted, in any sort of sensible world it would just have any commercially sensitive information removed and be published with the plans on the council’s planning website. It is after all a key document about a major development in Thanet. By way of explanation normally there would be a planning agreement for this sort of development setting out what has to be done when, but as the development is on council owned land it is exempted from having one.

So when the council start playing about with one of our major assets in this case the tunnel system, I want to know what they are up to. Over the last few years they have run one of their worst possible worlds scenarios, on the one hand they have shut off all the ventilation to it, something that will probably ruin it for future generations, while on the other hand they have continuously failed to keep it properly secured.

Anyway if anyone knows what is going on perhaps they could comment.

Here is the link to this morning’s photos http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/blogpicts119/id10.htm

I wonder what it would be like to have local government that really engaged with local people and genuinely tried to keep them informed about what was going on, normally we only find out about our heritage assets down on the eastern undercliff, like we did with theatre and restaurant down there, that is when the demolition starts.