Monday, 26 July 2010

Photography Diving Security and Ramsgate Harbour

Today when I went for my lunchtime walk, I was accosted by the harbour security staff about taking pictures of them and their beach hut, they didn’t seem to pleased about it, this was fairly difficult as I had my children in tow.

You have to appreciate that with a couple of eight year olds in tow one has to be careful not to get into a situation where one can't look after them properly.

I have to admit that now I know that the council are paying a private security firm to engage in the pointless farce with the beach hut, my attitude is somewhat different.

This is made very much more difficult by the security guards evident lack of understanding about photography in public places, although I suppose as the majority of the harbour belongs to the council they could theoretically ban photography there.

I was really quite surprised, first I was blamed for putting the photograph in the local paper, as I am not a journalist and there hasn’t been a local paper come out since I took it this seemed a bit unlikely.

Then of putting the photograph on facebook, I pointed out that I hadn’t but that anyone could have taken a picture of them and put it on there.

I pointed out that I had taken about 1,000 photographs this weekend that I had published on the internet.

When I go out taking pictures I always use a large professional camera, there are various reasons for this, the main one being that it means people can see quite clearly that they are being photographed.

It also means that it is pretty obvious that I could be taking the pictures for publication somewhere, this means that it gives people who don’t want their photograph taken to get out of the way.

I am pretty sure that they were talking about the one on Saturday’s post see

The security guard would certainly have been aware of me taking it, particularly as I stopped to ask her what she was doing there.

I pointed out that I had taken about 1,000 photographs this weekend that I had published on the internet.

After Saturday’s post about the crazy way the council have approached the problem of people diving into the harbour from the fish quay, I have had quite a bit of response about this from councillors and some comment on the blog, so I have been looking at both the problem, possible solutions and of course the historical aspect.

One concern here is that the council doesn’t seem to have grasped that wasting money in this way just isn’t on anymore, they just don’t have it to waste.

The solution that they sought was no more effective than a sign saying “don’t Jump Here” just ludicrously more expensive. I suppose had the hut been facing in the right direction the council officer in it could have at least seen what was going on and reported to the harbour authorities or the police, although I don’t see that this could have been any more effective than a cctv camera pointing at the fish quay.

The proper solution here of course is a safe place to dive, something that Ramsgate had and was lost, all the information that I can find points to this being due to incompetence at local government level.

I have had a quick look of the history of the situation here in Ramsgate and it is rather tied up with propriety.

In pre Victorian times the people here who wanted to go in the sea stripped off and did so, the picture above is of the main sands area in 1788, I would imagine that those who wished to jumped from the harbour wall. This issue became progressively more complicated as people were forced to swim from bathing machines. Such early swimming costumes that I can find seem to be designed to prevent swimming much, and diving altogether.

During Victorian times various swimming baths were built in Ramsgate and swimming in the sea was conducted from bathing machines, modesty was for the most part preserved, the sessions were not mixed and over a period of time more practical swimming costumes developed.
The first references I have found of diving into the sea in Ramsgate were from the iron pier, construction started on this in 1879, full details of this can be found in the book I publish about the pier, see and I would imagine that this was the main place that people dived from until it was demolished in 1930.
After the First World War people’s considerations about modesty and propriety were understandably diminished and by the 1930s the bikini had appeared on Ramsgate sands, see

Diving became a popular sport in our coastal towns and most councils erected various structures to help people throw them selves in the sea in different and exiting ways, the picture shows one at Here Bay in 1936

By 1935 Ramsgate’s Marina Swimming Pool was nearing completion and had been in use for some time, as you can see the sport of diving was encouraged.

Talking to older people in the town, those who could afford it obviously used the diving board as it was better, those who couldn’t dived from the fish quay.

At some time in the 1960s or 70s, I will have to check on this, council incompetence, poor maintenance and an attitude to Ramsgate’s leisure facilities caused the pool to be closed permanently and anyone who wanted to dive had to use the fish Quay

In the early 2000s one of the Pleasurama developers that wanted to incorporate an Olympic swimming pool that was to be a gift to the town in their design, the council turned this down.

When funding was available for a new swimming pool in the town I and many others suggested that this be built on the Marina Swimming pool site.

We have a situation where we had a council actively promoting Ramsgate people taking part in this healthy and invigorating sport and now have one spending a great deal of our money trying to stop them.

It is this type of thing that alienates our youth, causes them to engage antisocial behaviour, I can certainly say that it has alienated me.
In a way I suppose it is fair to say that the harbour must be a public right of way as this relates to the time that it has been open to public access, 1894 for the east pier I think, whenever the gate was removed.

And I suppose this right must extend to diving there, although I understand that the council intends to institute a bylaw to prevent people doing so, I would imagine that this will be without any public consultation in Ramsgate.

Now what we are talking about here about here is our historical rights, walking, taking photographs, diving etc things that make living in Ramsgate enjoyable.

The most normal way for extreme political regimes to justify the removal of people’s human rights, is to say it is for their own protection, reading Orwell or Huxley may help to understand this.

It is very easy for any organisation to justify this, being alive is a risky business, the only thing that totally prevents this risk is death and some of the more extreme political regimes have taken this to its logical conclusion.

The problem to solve here is what happens when an organisation that is supposed to improve peoples lives, directed by what we call democracy reaches a point where members of that organisation, forget the organisations fundamental purpose.

It is one best described as, “knowing best” so the council that was formed to be a vessel to carryout the wishes of the people, at some point collectively evolves to a point where it decides that it knows better than the people.

I am sorry if I have rambled along a bit in this post, lots of interruptions and the problem that I don’t really know the solution are part of the problem here, I have tried tackling various cabinet members about this issue, I think the problem here is that they misinterpret my intentions towards the council.

For some reason that I don’t quite follow they seem to think that I am both hostile to them and the council in general,

This is very difficult for me as the situation is much more one is that as a resident of this country, it says on the packet democracy and I want what it says on the packet.

Open government, proper representation of the people, proper consultation, proper accountability, decisions made democratically at open meetings, not rubber stamping decisions made behind closed doors.

With the harbour, in theory security has been increased there considerably over the last few years, certainly public access has been eroded without any consultation, the problem though is that the security has been implemented in an ad hoc way, without any overall plan. I suppose this applies to the whole development of the harbour during the last forty years that I have known it. What we have developed there is a bit of a mess and in terms of aspects of it being economically viable, including security, thing’s haven’t worked out too well.

I am not too keen on private police forces, nor am I keen on parts of the country that have public access, but try to operate some sort of law of there own, Westwood Cross is a case in point see

What worries me a lot more is when parts of our government try to apply this to public parts of the town where I live. I am not for one moment saying that proper law and order shouldn’t apply in all parts of the town, but fundamentally what we are talking about here is segregation implemented by an unaccountable private police force, paid for by taxation.


  1. "The best way to take control over a people and control them utterly is to take a little of their freedom at a time, to erode rights by a thousand tiny and almost imperceptible
    reductions. In this way the people will not see those rights and freedoms being removed until past the point at which these changes cannot be reversed."

    Adolf Hitler

    Local Government is. and always has been, in the main incompetent.

  2. And as local government TDc is more incompetent than most. It has a chief executive and a set of directors that don't live in thanet, have no feel for thanet, whose main in life is to persuade the current ruling group to increase their grading and therefore their salary and cost to the local community. The current C/E has probably done more to increase the cost of tdc and lessen the service received by thanet than anyone else in living memory.

  3. So when are we getting security to stop the kids jumping off broadstairs pier. There was about 30 kids the other day flinging themselves into the sea!

  4. I also saw a couple of kids jumping off the jetty at Minnis Bay the other day so we'd better get some security down there too!

    Seriously Michael, they're obviously annoyed with you because that photo shows just how ineffective they are (at the very least they'll have to do more than just sit in a hut to earn their money).

  5. Fascinating read. Our beloved council are hilarious, aren't they?

  6. Good post. Next TDC will put  NO PHOTOGRAPHY
    signs up around the harbour...Ben Kelly.

  7. Don't blame the security officers. I can assure You they are aware of pointlessness of this situation. And this annoys them as well. They're just another casualties of TDC's lack of competence

  8. John I have to disagree on that one, in Ramsgate we had very good local government from the 1890s where they stood up to the ratepayers association, found the money for and built Madera Walk and the harbour arched structure through to a peak on serving the public good where they set up the best public air raid system in world war two, in the whole of the country. Saving many local peoples lives see

    I think the fundamental problem here is that Ramsgate and Margate have always been rival towns and to govern one from the other is doomed to failure.

    Tree Hugger, for me proper policing and a proper diving facility is the answer.

    Peter it wasn’t my intention to annoy them, just curb the waste in spending.

    Glad you enjoyed it Richard, but frankly I wish they were just good at running the place.

    Ben it’s an interesting thought, difficult and expensive to implement though.

    15.18 I really didn’t, I published a very blurry photograph of the security guard so she would be hard to identify and believe me I have high quality high definition pictures that would have made it a better post, that I didn’t publish. I also didn’t publish the name of the security firm as I thought it could effect their business if when they were Googled they were associated with this post.

    What I did take umbrage at was when one of them took me to task for publishing the picture, in my opinion it was both unnecessary and unprofessional. To put it another way, I had to explain to my two children why this person accused me of doing something wrong when I hadn’t.
    Anyway I still haven’t published the high definition pictures or the security firm’s name, despite not having had an apology from them and I assume that they must have read this and know what occurred.

  9. 15:18, I'm sure they do think it's as ludicrous as most of us do, but surely they should at least TRY To do the job they're paid for even if it means they're constantly on their feet instead of sitting in a hut?

  10. Michael, you wrote "And I suppose this right must extend to diving there, although I understand that the council intends to institute a bylaw to prevent people doing so, I would imagine that this will be without any public consultation in Ramsgate."
    There is already a bye-law that prohibits swimming, the Council just will not implement it. Have you thought why the lights are there no more? Why no restaurant is at the end of the pier? It's not just the swimming thats the problem.
    Harbours are for boats, propellors and flesh do not mix well.

  11. They can't stop you taking photographs unless there is a bylaw preventing it. Your right to photograph people and places comes above their's to resist. Obviously if they wish to move aside that is up to them and I wouldn't wind anyone up by insisting to photograph them.....unless they were a celebrity......goes with the territory that one I'm ECR anyone photographed you lately falling out of China White.....or the Chinese Takeaway?


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