Sunday, 17 January 2010

What a difference a day makes.

Thanet could be a completely different country or planet, the sun out the weather mild and I did eventually get out for a walk I even took some pictures.

A bit of a ramble while the computer sorts them out, my notebook is not very quick so I will probably drivel on a bit..

I am cautiously using firefox instead of internet explorer, which is more difficult to post to the blog from as it copies all of the encoding out of word.

The Euroferries Bonanza Express thing is a bit of a blow and I hope thy manage to sort something out, Ramsgate really needs some sort of ferry service with foot passengers arriving regularly in the town.

There is a bit of a sense here in Ramsgate that the council having broken Margate beyond any hope of repair with Westwood Cross, is now putting all of the available resources into Margate.

There is quite a convincing argument that Margate is beyond hope now, that Broadstairs is not too badly effected and the only way that Margate will ever recover is on the back of Ramsgate and Broadstairs, so that what available resources are available should be put into Ramsgate.

I am not sure I subscribe completely to this school of thought, but Ramsgate is now starting to suffer more than it was, the cycle shop closing was a real blow in my opinion, they have another branch in St Peters Broadstairs and the people who run it assure me that they are doing fine there. Now if a good business model that works well in St Peters can’t make a profit in Ramsgate town centre, then we have a problem.

The pictures about 500 of them can be accessed by clicking on the following links.

although as ever they are publishing to the web now so you may have to wait a bit for all of them to appear.

No chance of editing them as my notebook only allows me to see a small part of them, so you get the good the bad and the terrible.

Some thoughts on the pictures.

Why would the council allow people to park on Marina Road on Sunday but not on any other day, if anything there is more traffic on Sunday, so all this does is damage to Ramsgate’s economy.

Spalling is now occurring on the dodgy bit of cliff façade there and still no weight limit on the road, spalling is when the reinforcing rods in the concrete rust, expand and burst the concrete.

It looked like the barge that services the wind farm was stuck in the entrance to the harbour for some time, I believe the entrance needs dredging urgently or there will be a serious incident.

More pictures of the state of the pavements in King Street, they are just falling to pieces and becoming very dangerous.


  1. Michael, Westwood X was heaving with people this afternoon, you might have thought the January sales were on!

    To claim that WWX is responsible for the decline in Margate, is both disingenuous and flies in the face of the facts. Margate's problems are far more complex and don't simply involve the presence of a very popular out of town shopping centre that the people of Thanet clearly want, in very large numbers.

    For starters, let's begin with 'dispersal" as the government calls it or inward migration as others call it, the highest density of deprived and elderly people in the South-east, a recession, the decline of the popular seaside resort and the well-known problems with the Dreamland site and the private ownership of surrounding strategic seaside property.

    To combat this, we ave the building of the Turner Centre, regeneration of the Old Town, £14 million just pledged for a heritage amusement park and more.

    A council provides 'services' to local people and tries hard to stimulate the local economy. Both need large amounts of money. The former from government and the latter from private sector investment.

    I could go on but I think you have the picture!

  2. I drove back past Bluewater just before lunchtime today and there were long queues of cars waiting to get in. I had to remind myself that we were in mid-January when things should be quieter perhaps.

    People just love shopping. Whether they have the money to indulge this habit is another thing altogether.

  3. "A council provides services to local people"and complains about a £6,000,000 black hole whilst providing shed-loads of money to quangos like Margate Renewal Partnership and EKO.

  4. Simon

    What proportion of the elderly in Thanet are cash cows for the private care industry ?

    Decades ago Cllr Dr Charles McAvoy warned against the expansion of the private care home industry as it would unblance the population in Thanet and create demands on the health services and GPs for which central govt would provide no extra funding.

    With care homes fees of around £1400 per week per inmate that is a source of cash flow into Thanet. But its spread is what ? National minimum wage work to employees ? The sustenance with minimal maintenance of aging housing stock ?

    Thanet needs an overall look at itself. An overburdened health service ends up delivering worse care to the young population and their offspring. This in an area where water pollution has been kept secret and is still unaddressed (including epidemiological study and compensation)

    How many cllrs even now are in some debt to the proceeds of the private care industry ? (Wonder if that features in the members declared interests)

    Truths have been dodged for years like

    (1) You cannot have selective and oppressive licensing laws, proportionately fewer cops in Thanet than other areas of Kent, poor police numbers and performance driving licence opposition etc AND have a holiday industry

    (2) You cannot have Costa del Geriatrica, Costa del Dole and Costa del Asylum AND have a holiday industry.

    (3) A start should be made somehow. So start with the water pollution problem and declare a Thanet epiphany. That may begin to convince inward investors that one day they might actually want a workforce to move to Thanet.

  5. Simon I went on a bit here so comment in two parts. I think you may have got the wrong end of the stick here, I thought I had made it clear that I was just expressing what local people are saying to me at the moment.

    Margate I am afraid to say is now perceived as a place most people just don’t go unless they absolutely have to, as a shopping centre pretty much finished. The last time I went there my car was vandalised in the middle of the day, when parked in the main High Street car park, I am not saying this is typical but it is what happened.

    I have heard councillors say that they don’t feel safe getting from council meetings that finish in the evening, to their cars. This isn’t a party political thing, the decline of Margate has occurred under both administrations at local and national level.

    The main question here is, is Margate beyond repair at the moment? Most of the grant funding and TDC resources are perceived as going to Margate, the question really being, if Margate is not repairable in the current economic climate, would it not be better to channel as much of these resources into Ramsgate a town that probably can be saved? The idea being that once Ramsgate is prospering, Margate stands some chance of recovery on the back of being surrounded by more prosperity.

    Here in East Kent the only comparators one has is the other costal towns in the area, the nearest being Herne Bay and Deal, 22 years ago when I moved back to Thanet they had very similar problems as towns, primarily the decline of the English seaside holiday.

    Now they seem to me to have reasonably varied and prosperous town centres, whereas the Thanet towns seem to have much more serious problems, even Broadstairs has lost many of its proper shops.

    Now I am no expert in the difference that local government can make to towns but as Thanet is governed by TDC I wonder if they have been doing something wrong and if so what that something is.

    Westwood Cross is a major factor here and I think the problem here may be that it wasn’t planned properly, it certainly has a very weak infrastructure and one gets the feeling that it is growing in a fairly disorganised fashion without very much of an overall plan.

  6. Now I am sitting here in a shop today where a mixture of strange decisions by TDC is making it much harder to trade than it should be, public consultation occurred and I should be in a pedestrianised part of the town, no explanation was given why this never happened, we were told it would and it didn’t, planning permission has been given seemingly randomly for ground floor residential developments, fragmenting this part of the town, in an effort to resolve social problems in other parts of Thanet problem people have been rehoused here recently, TDC suddenly changed the takeaway licensing here to 4am without any notice that anyone was aware of, making it very unpleasant to live in this part of the town centre.

    Now with your councillor’s hat on, what is it you want me to do? I find my part of the town centre seems to be being deliberately run down, I find myself trading in a part of the town where other people rent shops and try things that work in most places, but won’t work here anymore. Is the signal the council is sending out to the shopkeepers in King Street, go away we don’t want you?

    I may be being cynical here but if I were trading in Westwood Cross not even being able to park safely in Margate town centre or the pavements in King Street being in such a bad state of repair that they are like an assault course could be seen as beneficial to me.

    What I would like to see is the Conservative councillors who are supposed to be running the show, getting round our town centres, looking at the problems and talking to the remaining business people about what could be done.

    I would then like them to take a no nonsense approach with council officers to find things they could do to get the town centres through, many of these thing don’t need much funding, but a serious change of attitude.

    One thing that plagues Ramsgate town centre is masses of unnecessary parking restrictions, made all the more ridiculous because they have increased as the town centre gets less busy.

    Look at it like this, if an air banner advertising business opened a few miles from yours, well this is expected competition that one puts up with in business, however if the council suddenly stared offering them more favourable trading conditions, made it much more difficult for your customers to use you, you would probably start to get irritated. You know the type of thing, pot holes all up the road, yellow lines where parking got in no ones way.

  7. Ref parking restrictions another milch cow for TDC to pay for the overpriced multi stories that cost them a £1 million a year.They also get a good whack from all those penalty notices that they don't put in the budget.
    all in all the parking dept runs at a loss.

  8. I wouldn't know what to do in your situation. The new shops that do try and make a go of it soon shut down, and I was saying that there don't seem to be any 'big name hops' e.g M&S, in the local highstreets anymore as they have moved to Westwood Cross.

    I was walking down the hight street, and from Chatham street downwards, it's amazing the amount of closed shops which 5 years ago were doing fairly well.

    I don't have a solution, but as you say, maybe the council should actually get together and work on this.

  9. One solution which TDC will never accept is charging for parking at Westwood Cross to subsidise free parking in the old town centres.

  10. I also noticed Readit that there was a lot of salt / grit put down on the pavements at WC during the recent snow, even along that stretch from the roundabout to Tescos! Were TDC / KCC responsible for this, & if so why didn't the shopping areas in Margate & Ramsgate get similar treatment?

  11. Perhaps it is one "WC" we wouldn't mind TDC closing.

  12. Perhaps it would be better just to close TDC, and ask Canterbury to take on Thanet and reduce the wage bill. With all the district councils paying the Chief execs and directors over £100K there must be savings to be had.
    With the new contact centre you never get to speak to anyone with authority anyway.


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