Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Royal Sands Development Ramsgate, the saga just goes on and on.

Looking at the Haiti disaster news unfolding day by day I am very conscious that there can’t be many things worse than having your home collapse without warning and being trapped inside.

So at the moment I am extra conscious of my concerns about the safety of the cliff that will be only four metres away from people’s homes.

Yesterday I was talking to someone who had occasion to visit the site recently, he is a well known and respected local businessman and frankly what he said appalled me, like me he has some sort of background in engineering, can read a scale drawing and he has some understanding of what can and can’t be done in the real world.

He said had read some of my blog posts about the site and so he had a look at the foundations all the way along the façade, he said they looked worse in reality than in my photographs see I know this doesn’t say much for my ability as a photographer. In my defence I can only say that I was so shocked by what I saw that I didn’t record it in the methodical way I should have done. Next time I have a chance to get on the site I will try and do abetter job.

What he had to say about the repair work, to the repair work that is going on down there was this.

“I went down when the snow was still on the ground and work had been suspended for some time.

No proper foundations have been dug for the panel being repaired, I think this may have been because they were afraid of disturbing the ground near the supporting columns that don’t appear to have any foundations.

A concrete strip has been laid on the exposed topsoil there above ground level.”

I asked him if this was on solid chalk. He said.

“No on nothing much at all really just muddy chalky soil.”

He went on to say.

“The block work is single block thick, not tied to the columns or the chalk cliff in any way, something that may have passed muster in the 1930s when the original panel was built, but certainly not to a standard that would be acceptable today.

The cavities in the blocks – these are oblong concrete cast blocks with two square holes and are laid hole over hole leaving a line of square holes running all the way down inside the wall – had been filled with concrete and bits of reinforcing rod had been pushed in the top, running down inside the wall.

At this time the concrete had set hard and shrunk away from the reinforcing rods, so that it was possible to lift them out of the holes.”

He also said that he was surprised that they hadn’t investigated the other panels, as presumably they would be expected to last the life of the new development and it would be much easier to sort out any problems now than when the new development had been built.

I went to have a quick look after taking the children to school and before opening the shop this morning, I didn’t have much time, but took the picture above from the top of the cliff (click on it to enlarge).

Now when you see two men operating a hoist to get buckets of concrete up scaffolding then wearing a hard hat is mandatory, this is because if a bucket of concrete falls on your head it kills you.

So if they had such an apparent disregard for their own safety, how much concern have they for the safety of the construction workers that are supposed to be starting on the development in about three weeks, or the people who will be living in the development.

The council say the work is being undertaken by the council's term contractor, council work on council owned land.

Here is the link to the other pictures I took this morning I have made some attempt to get the bits out of my camera, so have put them up bigger than usual.

I am beginning to wonder if the councils desire to sell this site hasn’t reached the point where there actions are going to wind up costing us a considerable amount of money.

They seem to have agreed to sell SFP Ventures a site that isn’t safe to build on, I don’t really think any contractor large enough to take on the building of the development will wish to proceed without an independent survey of the cliff safety issues.

I don’t think anyone looking at my pictures at would want to start boring the hole for the building support piles four metres away form the cliff façade without one.

So if there is an independent survey and it confirms what I and several other people fear i.e. that the cliff façade isn’t safe – despite the fact that the council and the council’s technical advisors say that it is safe - the ensuing legal battle could go on for years.

This is not a happy thought for the future prosperity of Ramsgate, nor does it bode well for the council’s already overstretched budget, perhaps the council officers involved are hoping that the development will be delayed until they are safely retired.

Another question here is why didn’t the council go back to the contractor they paid a million pounds to for the cliff repairs and ask them to do a proper job, the bulge was there when the work was done, the council say in today’s Your Thanet see that the bulge wasn’t there when the work was done, although I have photographs taken at the time and you can clearly see the bulge once you know what to look for.

You can also see in the pictures I took that caused the present repairs to be done that the contractor has filled the crack in the middle of the bulge before it was painted, so why are we shelling out an extra £1,500.


  1. It is good to see that Cardy Construction are taking a professional approach to the matter.

    “Clearly we want to get on with the project, but we will be seeking assurances from Thanet council that the public, as well as our staff, are not at any risk now or in the future.”

  2. Michael

    It is clear now exactly why annonymouse tried so hard to steer you off this matter. I often wonder where his interest truly lay.

  3. Your picture, Michael, reveals an unprofessional aproach to safety and is it no wonder that we are getting what looks like an unprofessional cheap shoddy repair to what has been repaired already at almost a cost of £1,000,000 to the tax-payer?

  4. Michael,

    I would be sending that photo to the HSE right now, if I were you. Whoever the employer is would appear to be breaching worksite H&S rules in all manner of directions.

  5. Readit everything I have heard about Cardy’s suggests that they are a reputable firm and are not at all likely to proceed without a proper investigation of the safety issues.

    John just been enjoying your blog and have added it to the thingy on my sidebar. Bizarre attempts to steer me off this one have been going on for years, the last one was a rather stiff email fro TDCs chief executive telling me not to contact the councils consultant engineers, Jacobs Engineering.

    Well Bertie I recon if you add on the cost of the initial survey, the new road layout laid on lose sand – on top of the sea defences without a flood risk assessment, despite the advice from the EA – I would say that altogether about £2m has been wasted so far,

    I alerted the council and the firm that laid the road about the flood risk, they didn’t even pass on the EAs letter to KCC Highways who were supervising the work, same with the cliff repairs I warned both the council and Jacobs the consulting engineers that there were problems with the foundations as soon as they cleared the first part of the site to put up the scaffolding for the cliff repairs, this didn’t seem to effect the £1m contract at all.

    23.42 I have contacted them before about issues on this site and have never had a reply, perhaps you would like to try.

  6. Is that JH now masquerading as John Holyer?

    I can confirm that my interest as Annonymouse lies in what is best for Ramsgate. I made my past comments relating to Michael’s posts because I felt Michael was making too many unqualified assumptions, which isn’t necessarily the best way to get attention for a cause. I happen to believe in Michael’s cause, but unless his comments are substantiated by fact or “expert” opinion they run the risk of being dismissed by TDC as nothing more than comment. No doubt TDC receives so much comment that it just can’t react to it all.

    I hope that satisfies your kind concern over my interest in the subject.

  7. Its agreed then that TDC stands for Thanet District Comment - I mean to say what fool allows the roof rain water to go into the inner harbour without going through an interceptor system?

    So we now have the potential for some other fool throwing a noxious liquid onto the roof with the inevitable environmental consequences and possibly a lot of expensive yacht paint job repairs, as well as the silting up and further flooding problems.

    You could not make it up...well actually TDC does this splendidly well - bless them.


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