Sunday, 28 February 2010

Sunday ramble

Looking over the past weeks blogging it started with modern art and the Turner contemporary, I am often surprised by the weak use of the internet by publicly funded organisations, in this case their website http://www.turnercontemporary.org/whatson/?p=153 still hasn’t managed to get the latest video http://vimeo.com/9627523 promoting their main project on their website.

As the event is due to take place in three days time it makes one wonder what the hell they are playing at, presumably the video they have failed to add to their website was funded by their own grant money.

Still on the subject of modern art here is some of the work of one of my artist customers who buys 5 and 10p books from the austerity section in my bookshop.

The Pleasurama saga still rumbles on, am still trying to get some response to my FOI request made in October of last year for the development agreement, all this time and still they won’t even tell me if I will get the document or not.

This is an important document as due to a loophole in the law, there isn’t a planning agreement, this would normally be the key publicly available document for a development of this size, but the loophole is that there doesn’t have to be one as the council owns the land it is to be built on.

About a year ago I discovered that Roger Gale and Laura Sandys had a meeting with our senior Environment Agency officers and so asked them to put a few questions that relate to various large local developments to them, one of these questions was to ask them what their position was on the Pleasurama developments flood and storm risk?

Here is their answer:

“The Pleasurama development gained planning consent prior to the publication of the latest government guidance on development and flood risk, PPS25. When we were consulted in 2003 our floodplain maps did not show the site to be at risk and the design, at that stage, had clear evacuation routes to the top of the cliff. But, having received revised plans for the development last year, we highlighted our concern over flood risk and recommended that a site-specific flood risk assessment be undertaken. This would inform appropriate mitigation measures such as recommended floor levels, flood resilient design and an evacuation plan to ensure that the development is made as safe as possible.”

Now since then the council has agreed a new development agreement with the developer, obviously it should contain some reference to the flood and storm protection.

Another important aspect of this document is how the council is protected financially in the event of the developer getting into financial difficulties.

As the council decided to go ahead without the bond to protect it this is another important matter, my understanding is that part of the original development agreement was that the council agreed to buy the hotel part of the development if the developer couldn’t find a commercial operator for it.

I also understand that the development agreement states that the hotel is to be built first, so it would appear that we could have a situation where the council would have to find millions of pounds that it doesn’t have, to buy an hotel that no one wants.

The roadworks on harbour Parade have rather concentrated my historical interests on this part of Ramsgate this week, I wonder if the listed status of the harbour will effect how they deal with a big chunk of he old harbour wall getting in the way of their trench?

I foresee that they could run into considerable difficulties when they reach the old underground toilets, I would imagine that if the work that they are doing collapses them this could lead to considerable extra expense.

I then come to TDCTV, I gather that the video of last Thursday’s council meeting should be available on the internet from tomorrow afternoon.

As I consider that this is a very important step towards more open government from the council, I want to stress here that I am wholly supportive of them doing this. I am also strongly supportive of them going ahead with this, with dated and unreliable equipment rather than throwing money at the problem, especially as taking this risk leaves them open to criticism when things go wrong.

Next I would like to draw your attention to the new About Ramsgate blog http://my-ramsgate.blogspot.com/ and the associated collection of old pictures of Ramsgate that are appearing linked to it see http://picasaweb.google.com/115229654097861593494/OldRamsgate

I can tell you all from experience that the amount of work involved in publishing and identifying these old pictures is considerable.

This leads to the dilemma faced by historians, which is that much local history is derived from a fair amount of detective work followed by the historian drawing some conclusions and making the decision that those conclusions represent the truth.

For me the conundrum of Tissot’s blue plaque sums up the problem nicely, obviously we want to have a blue plaque commemorating his association with the town and obviously the at the moment The Castle Hotel is the most likely candidate but at the moment we can’t be 100% sure that it is the right building.


I suppose niggling in the back of most of our minds at the moment is the forthcoming general election, even talking to Conservative that I know there is sense of,

“always keep a-hold of Nurse
For fear of finding something worse.”

Much more a case of people considering the worse of evils, than having positive ideas about selecting the best government.

The legality, or not of taking us to war and the expenses scandal featuring greatly in ones thoughts.


There is certainly a sense of people wanting electoral reform, well reform of our whole political system if it comes to that and I think this may effect the way people vote.
Anyway to keep on the local theme here, what interests me most is what will happen in the general election locally.

My feelings here is that peoples perception of the quality of local government that they have been and are receiving both at county and district level, is likely to have some effect on the way people vote in the general election.

I don’t think anything much could effect the result in Thanet North, but here in Thanet South I am not so sure.

Talking to councillors and council officers it is obvious that there is going to be some sort of major shake up in the cabinet at TDC, there has also been much talk of change of leadership and deputy leadership.

As I have said before one of the big problems with the leaders position in the council it is a full time job but it doesn’t attract the level of salary commensurate with the job.

One does get occasions where the job of leader is seen as a political stepping stone, usually towards being an MP, but there doesn’t appear to be anyone on that road within the conservative group at the moment.

Talking to politicians of all parties at the moment particularly at local level the fallout of the expenses scandal means that it is becoming more difficult to find people who want to become councillors at all.

One road here is the possibility of having an elected mayor, partly because this position carries a large salary that would enable a professional person to give up their job for three years to take the task on.

I know that in the next 18 months or so the council is obliged to investigate which method of government they think most suitable for Thanet and officers will have to consider the option of an elected mayor.

Sounding them out on this one I get the feeling that they don’t like the idea of this one.

Of course we could force the issue by getting up a mayoral referendum petition, something that would mean that they would then have to ask the electorate in a ballot if they would rather vote for a leader or have one chosen for them.

As effectively this means asking the people who bother to vote if the want to vote, it seems a bit of a forgone conclusion to me.

However the short term question here is, would a change in the leadership at TDC make people more likely to vote Conservative in the national elections?



Still rambling on I’m afraid and now thinking of the local things that have gone onto the backburner, Euroferries are another company that seem to have problems keeping their website up to date, while their website is announcing tomorrow as a start date for their ferry service, it won’t actually let you book a ticket until the 18th of march and replies from them are to the effect that the service won’t start until later in March.

China Gateway was as far as I remember due to be started this March but still no sign of a planning agreement, I have always maintained that the layout of the site would probably make surface drainage imposable, so I had expected completely new plans to have appeared by now.



I will ramble on as the day progresses and may even go through and make any corrections and try and find the link to the book art website.

Saturday, 27 February 2010

Tissot Ramsgate, A Passing Storm, blue plaques and local history.

As some of you are probably aware the Ramsgate Society is involved in a scheme to put up blue plaques on buildings in Ramsgate to commemorate famous peoples associations with the town.
James Tissot painted at least two paintings in Ramsgate from a room overlooking the harbour and I think I have narrowed this down to The Castle Hotel.
There are a number of factors here, the height of the balcony relative to the harbour and the angle of the views pretty much has to make it Harbour Parade, the shallow bay windows, the distinctive balcony railings, the distinctive wooden sunshade beneath the roof of the balcony and the absence of any other similar building in the right place.

The link takes you to some old photographs of Harbour Parade http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/Blogpicts1210/id17.htm I think it quite likely that my deductions here may lead to a blue plaque, so any corrections would be much appreciated.

Pleasurama drain and the old harbour wall.

As you can see from the picture the chaps laying the pipe for the Pleasurama developments roof rainwater drainage along Harbour Parade have run into some well-dressed masonry.
From its position relative to the obelisk and older buildings this appears to be a continuation of the harbour wall running behind the stone yard where the pavilion now stands.
The detail is from the 1849 map of Ramsgate click on the link to view the rest of the map http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/map1849/

Friday, 26 February 2010

Broadstairs High Street pictures

As some of you will be aware I try when I can to photograph parts of Thanet fairly intensively, this is mostly to preserve an historical record.

Something that is most worrying though is the way proper shops are being replaced by businesses where you can’t actually buy tangible goods.

This is also another example of where the town centres are not on a level playing field with Westwood Cross, where I believe this wouldn’t be allowed.

Click on the link for the pictures http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/Blogpicts1210/id18.htm

Thursday, 25 February 2010

TDCTV Thanet District Council meeting premier, today’s the big day.


As some of you will know while KCC were using a large budget running Kent TV, TDC snubbed this service preferring to use Youtube instead.

They have various films on their Youtube channel below an example.



Anyway I believe that today’s proposed screening of this evenings council meeting will be too long to put on to Youtube so I expect they will host it elsewhere, I also expect some of you will remember that the previous premier didn’t go to plan see http://birchington.blogspot.com/2009/12/silent-movie.html

I am afraid that when TDC engage in matters of technology things don’t always succeed, anyway we will hope for Ars Gratia Artis but don’t be surprised if they attempt something somewhat more complicated with the lion and things don’t work out quite as expected.
It’s not looking too good so far, this is from today’s agenda:

Public Document Pack

Please note that the recording and/or
photographing of any Council meeting is not
currently permitted under the Council’s
procedure rules.

You are hereby summoned to attend the meeting of the Thanet District Council to be held
in Council Chamber, Cecil Street, Margate, Kent the on Thursday, 25 February 2010 at
7.00 pm for the purpose of transacting the business mentioned below.
Democratic Services Manager

To: The Members of Thanet District Council
FIRE ALARM PROCEDURES: If the fire alarm is activated, please vacate the offices via
the stairs either through the security door to the left of the Chairman or opposite the lifts in
the foyer. Please do not use the lifts. Please assemble in Hawley Square on the green.
Officers will assist you and advise when it is deemed safe to return to the Chamber.
SUPPLEMENTARY A G E N D A
Update I have just received a message to the effect that the council meeting won’t be webcast due to problems with the council chamber’s public address system and that the council will amend their website to this effect.

I am assured that this is a technical problem that the council just don’t have the money to repair at the moment and that when funding can be found to repair or replace the Public address system the council still have plans to webcast their meetings.
Further update that I think reflects particularly well on the council, they now say that they are going to give it a go and put up with the flack if they get eaten by the lion, metaphorically that is.
Here is the official version
Chamber microphones delay council webcast pilot
We have identified some constraints regarding the council chamber microphones and are currently investigating a range of solutions. Until a cost effective solution is in place, we are unable to proceed with the webcast pilot which was planned for Thursday, 25 February 2010.

Replacing the equipment would require significant expenditure. Because of the the current financial climate we are looking carefully at doing this in the most cost effective way.

We apologise for any inconvenience this may have caused, and will update you when we know more.
Update, the word on the street is that they are still going to have a go at it and that cabinet seems to be pushing the issue through, so lay off them for a bit if you don’t mind.

Possibly the worm turned and it may be up to us to support this, after all I think we are saying that we want more open government and I suspect it hasn’t been an easy day all round.

Let them ride the lion for a bit please.

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Harbour Parade Ramsgate

Also known in past times as Waterside, East End, Goldsmid Place, Harbour Street and Town Quay, something that can cause some confusion when identifying buildings.

Phil About Ramsgate blog http://my-ramsgate.blogspot.com/ has been putting pictures of old Ramsgate onto the web, see http://picasaweb.google.com/115229654097861593494/OldRamsgate# some of which either I have never seen before or I have never seen on the internet so that I have time to study them properly.
The picture above is one of them and immediately prompted the question, is this on the site of the Alexandra Hotel building that is there now
Anyway the net result of all of this is that I have spent most of the day looking at old pictures of harbour parade and the buildings there, trying to work out what was where when.

I wouldn’t say that I am much the wiser but this link takes you to some of the pictures that I have of this part of Ramsgate http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/Blogpicts1210/id17.htm I am pretty sure that I have published most of them on the internet before but I suppose that any of you who have tried working back through this blog to October 2007 and clicking on the links to pictures of Ramsgate will know that it is quite a task.

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Dream of Dreamland or is it a nightmare? Wheel clampers at the Dreamland car park, Margate



YourThanet's Tom Betts encounters the wheel clampers in the Dreamland car park in Margate, just after they had given an old lady a ticket.Sorry about the quality, but have a listen.

Ramsgate Royal Sands Development safety update

I managed to get out for a walk this morning and thought I would go and visit the Pleasurama site and see what the condition of the cliff façade was like.

My main concern here is that the work to the cliff façade that Thanet District Council have already spent over a million pounds of our money on isn’t satifactory.

The picture above is the design drawing for the pillars of arched part of the façade, the top part is on the left and the bottom part is on the right.

As you can see looking at the bottom, of the bottom there should be a large bit of concrete buttress there.
If you look at the picture above, taken earlier today, you can see that the ground at the bottom of the pillar has been dug out recently and there isn’t any concrete buttress there.

If you look at the next picture which is a close-up of the bottom of the pillar you can see that what is there instead looks like chalk instead.

Click on the link for the rest of the pictures http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/Blogpicts1210/id15.htm
It is interesting to consider that we have recently spent over £1,000,000 on repairs to this structure and that the council seem quite happy with the quality of those repairs.
This link takes you to more of the design plans for the façade and an enlargement of the plan above http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/Blogpicts1210/id6.htm it would appear that the façade is literally hanging on the chalk cliff.
Oh and this link to the other pictures I took on my walk http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/Blogpicts1210/id16.htm sorry there arent that many I was in a somewhat thoughtful frame of mind on the way back home and forgot to take any.

Monday, 22 February 2010

Pictures of inside the Ramsgate Tunnels.


A great many people have an interest in underground tunnels and here in Ramsgate we have more of them than most places, you could say it is our greatest wasted tourist attraction.

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

The photographs taken recently are of the inside of the mainline railway and public air raid tunnel system, this is the largest tunnel system in Ramsgate and extends under much of the town.

Click on the link to look at them http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/Blogpicts1210/id14.htm

This tunnel system was started in 1863 when the London Chatham and Dover Railway Company extended its line from Margate via Dumpton through a tunnel to a station on Ramsgate seafront.

This tunnel was closed in 1926 when the station was abandoned, the new station that we have now was built and the line was joined to the Southeastern Railway line that comes to Ramsgate via Canterbury.

The tunnel was next used in 1936 when a spur was built to Hearson Road near to Dumpton Park Station and a narrow gauge railway opened between there and the main sands.

Before the outbreak of WW2 the town’s borough engineer and Dick Brimmell and the town’s mayor A B C Kempe conceived a plan to extend this tunnel system into a system of public air raid tunnels extending throughout the town.
Interestingly enough the delegation comprising of The Town Clerk, The Chief Constable, The Mayor and Alderman Huddlestone had considerable difficulty persuading the bureaucrats at he Home Office to approve the scheme.

Margate wanted a similar scheme that was turned down.

The first section from Queen Street to the harbour was opened by HRH The Duke of Kent, they even managed to lay on a small Diesel train with truck with plush seats for the occasion.

Winston Churchill visited the tunnels during the war, when the mayor told him that he wasn’t allowed to smoke in the tunnels he threw his cigar away and in the resultant commotion for a souvenir some people managed to get a piece of it.

By the outbreak of war the tunnel system was nearly complete, Ramsgate was heavily bombed during the war and after one series of raids that began before the air raid sirens sounded some people became reluctant to leave the tunnel system at all, so a rule was imposed that people couldn’t take up permanent residence in the tunnels.

To give you some idea of the scale of the thing the whole system including the railway tunnels was about 5 miles in length, there was seating for 35,000 people although it could accommodate many more than that.

After the war many of the entrances remained open for years and the people of the town used the system as a convenient way of getting around on wet days.
The narrow gauge railway from Hereson Road to the main sands reopened in 1946.

One unusual aspect of this railway was that the walls of the tunnel had scenes from different parts of the world on them, these were illuminated by lights on the trains, I have never managed to find any pictures of these scenes and would appreciate any if someone has them.
In 1957 there were two major cliff collapses near to the tunnel entrance at the main sands, click on the links for information and pictures.

http://thanetonline.blogspot.com/2009/11/royal-sands-development-ramsgate-more.html
Sources for my ramblings are:

http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/catalogue/the_ramsgate_tunnels__main_line_public_airraid_shelter___scenic_railway__.htm

http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/catalogue/id54.htm

and “The Ramsgate underground” 1936 to 1965 by Terry Wheeler price £2.25 from my bookshop available by post from our ebay shop for £3 inc p&p http://stores.shop.ebay.co.uk/thanet-books__W0QQ_armrsZ1


I will ramble on about this if any of you want, when I get more time.

Sunday, 21 February 2010

Turner Contemporary now we pay do we get any say and other Sunday rambles.

Now we know that we will be funding the Turner’s annual running costs of £2.6m with at least £1m each year out of our council tax, this is something that puts a completely different complexion on publicly funded art projects in Margate.

One thing that worries me is that when I use my normal means to discover something’s popularity (comparing available web statistics) these art projects seem to be being met with indifference.

Now if I put up a video on the internet I expect, if the video is any good that people will look at it





in this case over 4,000 did.

Now on the whole I would have expected Turner with all of its funding and high profile to have a website that was more popular than this blog and I would have expected the people visiting that site to be more interested in modern art than those visiting this blog.

Now back on the 8th of this month I embedded a video about their main art project in Margate this spring and on that day 28 of the 400 or so people who read this blog viewed the video, after that it soon went back to getting between 0 and 3 views a day.

About 10 days ago the people who write the Turner contemporary website embedded it on their main “what’s on” page, this has bumped the viewing figures up to an average of about 5 views a day.

Here is the video




Margate Marine Bathing Pool Walk from Hugh Kermode on Vimeo.


It is not my intention here to discuss the validity of a group of people walking round in circles being art that justifies public funding I am just using this particular work, because it is their main current project, as an example of the apparent lack of interest.


From a web designers point of view the Turner Contemporary’s website is a rather weak and dated affair, it lacks any attempt to engage with people as you can't comment on it and it lacks anything much in the way of trying to promote itself as it lacks feeds, so I can't add their what’s on page to my sidebar in a way that would update when they added something new.

Anyway my main question here and I think it’s a big one is, do the people running Turner intend to consult with the people of Kent, who will be paying for a considerable proportion for their activities, about what those activities will be?
I suppose my main gripe here is that if something is publicly funded then it shouldn’t be elitist and the measure by this elitism is easiest gauged, is that is something out of the context of an art gallery is not recognisable as art by an ordinary person, the although it may be art it is elitist art.

One thing I noticed when visiting the Droit House is how the people working there are obviously very careful not to leave anything lying about.
It could be a bit difficult to have ones packed lunch, shopping or umbrella mistaken for a work of art, doubly so if the person making the mistake is a famous art critic.

Something that I also find personally difficult here is that I am a person who appreciates much in the way of modern art, modern experimental fiction and modern music.

But for me there came a point, when I heard that Carl Andre had used the bricks that formed Equivalent VIII to build a wall in his garden and so when the Tate bought it he sent an order for some more bricks to the builder’s merchant, with instructions to deliver them directly to the Tate, that I thought some people were, playing my tune – out of tune.

Of course this may have been some sort of art folk myth, but the chap who told me worked for the V&A at the time and I have no reason to doubt him.

Now onto a new subject and that is the Powell cotton museum and Quex Park, what with one thing and another this has become Thanet’s last remaining tourist attraction of any consequence and certainly the only place we have left that will amuse a family for several hours on a wet day.

For my children and their visiting cousins the high point of the half term holiday was going to the “Lion King” event at the museum click on the link for their events http://www.quexmuseum.org/visitingus/special-events.htm

Now I know the first thing that will come into the minds of many people, particularly those with families is, how expensive is it, the answer here is that if when you visit you pay a small extra fee to become a friend of Quex all subsequent visits for the year are free and the special events are at a reduced price.

I should also point out here that the museum receives no public or government funding and the friends also do a certain amount to help raise money for the museum, it really is a friendly set up and I would recommend it to those with a little spare time.

I would also add that there is no question, even in my children’s minds about what constitutes an exhibit in the museum and what doesn't.

I didn’t get a chance to take any photographs of Quex last week so click on the link for some from past http://thanetonline.blogspot.com/2009/10/quex-park-some-pictures.html as you can see it really is worth a visit, event or no event.

As far as events for the forthcoming week goes the webcasting of the Thanet District Council meeting on the 25th February will be one to watch out for, for those of who don’t get the time to attend these meetings it will be interesting to see our local democracy in action, that is if they can get everything to work this time.

Anyway I had considered a question from the press and public in accordance with Council Procedure Rule 13 to ask TDC for a grant for a new silly walk I have been working on.



After all the video above has had over 1m viewings.

Just noticed this new Ramsgate video and thought it had a certain apeal.


MariGNAR OUTLAW RACE TEASER!! from andrew on Vimeo.





The picture is of Margate Road at it's junction with Princes Road, College Road and St Lukes Avenue. Looking north towards Margate before the viaduct was built.


Update this new video about the walk in Margate has appeared on the internet today 22.2.2010, frankly I am impressed that anyone could manage to talk for so long about walking around in a circle.




Hamish Fulton - Margate Walk from Hugh Kermode on Vimeo.

Saturday, 20 February 2010

A few pictures of Margate, the light fantastic and tombstones of modern art.

I find that every time I look at Margate I am somewhat lost for words, experiencing regeneration through art first hand is something that is becoming increasingly interesting and expensive, that perhaps one could say that county funding has moved from religion to art.

Click here for the pictures http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/Blogpicts1210/id13.htm

I am also becoming more interested in government at county level, they have a great deal to live up to in historical terms.

In the days before local government as we know it, Kent was governed locally by the parishes so it was essentially the clergy through churchwardens that governed us ran such education as there was for ordinary people and farmed the poor.

The standards of the time were very different to today? Fortunately archbishop Wake kept a private notebook with information about the Kent clergy here are some excerpts.

Patten of Whitstable kept a mistress and did not pay his debts; Bourn of Ash was "allied to the sons of Eli" ; Roberts of Queenborough, ale-house sot and debtor, "so impudent as nothing is like him"; Bate of Chilham, "proudest and stiffest man" in the diocese, allowing corpses to lie unburied for want of fees; Burroughs of Kingston, "most horribly covetous" ; Ansell of Stowting and Cade of Sellindge, Jacobites and taven-brawlers; Edward Dering of Charing who fought his own sister at the Swan Inn and threw her "head-cloaths" into the fire; Hobbs of Dover, who amassed pluralities; Isles of New Romney a notorious sot and Jacobite; Nicholls of Fordwich who preached that George was a Foreigner, a Lutheran, and a Beggar-"a wicked, swearing. Lying, Drunken man".

Dumpton House in a state of decay.


Has anyone got any idea what has happened to Dumpton House it seems to be in a very bad way at the moment?

Click on the link for more pictures http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/Blogpicts1210/id12.htm

Friday, 19 February 2010

Lies damned lies and local history.

Today in the shop is very local history orientated, so this is just a few thoughts in between the enquires.

Because of John Lewis’s History and Antiquities as well Ecclesiastical as Civil of the Isle of Tenet, in Kent, the first history of Thanet that was originally published in 1723 and subsequently in the much expanded edition of 1736, Thanet has a much larger range of history books than many other places of its size.

Once someone starts something like this others tend to follow and particularly here in Ramsgate we have a rich and fairly well documented history.

Lewis’s history was groundbreaking in its time because as well as looking at the history of the local noblemen and the ecclesiastical history, it also looked at what ordinary people were doing in considerable detail, most particularly the agriculture and fishing.

To quote from his preface to the second edition: “Some, it seems have thought I descended too low to tale Notice of Husbandry, and Dung-mixen…..” Lewis’s capitals and if he wasn’t shouting I feel there can be little doubt his voice was raised.

As Lewis is obviously the main source for the Thanet part of Hasted’s history of Kent the main history of the county first published between 1778 and 1799, I will stick my neck out here and go further actually and say that Hasted is like reading Lewis brought slightly up to date, I can only assume that the way Lewis wrote was very influential on the way Hasted wrote and of course Hasted being one of the great county histories is influential in the way subsequent English history was written, dung et al.

Now virtually every local history book has some amount of guesswork or conjecture involved and often this guesswork is perpetuated through subsequent publications and sometimes it is proven to be untrue.

As an example of what I mean Lewis’s wrong guess about Ramsgate was that he wrote that the town is based around a manmade cut through the cliffs to the sea, in fact the three small valleys that run roughly where King, Queen and High Streets are now, for the most part are a natural phenomenon.

I say for the most part so much chalk has been removed from Ramsgate as to make it quite different to how it was naturally, in terms of topographical shape.

The print above showing Ramsgate in 1791 (click on it to enlarge) gives you some idea of what I mean.

Anyway Lewis’s mistake was perpetuated through subsequent histories like Hasted and this highlights a problem with history.

Now the other day I used some pictures that have recently appeared on the web to illustrate a blog post see http://cid-2422df3ae2d15d36.skydrive.live.com/browse.aspx/Old%20Ramsgate now unbeknown to me or to the person that published them some of these pictures have the wrong captions.

I received some anonymous comments about this see http://thanetonline.blogspot.com/2010/02/valentines-day-ramble-and-more-old.html and to begin with didn’t take much notice, I suppose like most other people who read the blogs don’t give much credence to anonymous comment.

Anyway in this case the comments were correct and I corrected the captions on my blog, local history is like this as just about all of the people involved have limited knowledge and limited resources and one great advantage for me is that if one puts things on the internet people are pretty quick to point out any errors.

I wouldn’t want people to think that this is just something that happens with publication to the web or minor and older local history publications that weren’t checked by our most prominent local historians.
Take the map of Thanet in the Ramsgate Millennium book dated 1872 a most cursory glance at it reveals it to a much earlier map almost definitely before 1820 that someone has drawn the parish boundaries and railways on.

This map also appears in Charles Busson’s book about Ramsgate also dated 1872, so what went wrong?

The answer I am afraid to say is that Charles Cotton one of our more eminent local historians used it for his book on the history of St Laurence and drew the Railways and boundaries on top of the much older map.

Now of the problem here is that virtually every local history publication and website has some element of error in it and of course if we disregarded it all we would have pretty much nothing.

I am very lucky in the way that I publish local history books means that I can adjust them at any time, of course I wouldn’t dream of amending the errors in Lewis or Cotton, but it is always as well to remember that there are likely to errors in many of our history books and that once the book was published there was nothing that the author could do about it.
Oh and I nearly forgot today’s pictures see http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/Blogpicts1210/id11.htm

A few thing sof note, a new shop in King Street “Bibs and Cribs.

Some shots of the Channel Dash memorial.
Ramsgate town centre was as you see, absolutely teeming with shoppers today.

Thursday, 18 February 2010

Motorcycle Sprint, Ramsgate Western Undercliff and other health and safety considerations there.

Yes the chaps in the picture really are working on the edge of the cliff with no health and safety equipment at all, they are digging out the hole to put Westcliff Hall in, to give you some idea of the date Westcliff Hall opened in 1914 two days before WW1 started.

The video footage is of a motorcycle sprint held at Ramsgate’s Western Undercliff this has to be after 1965 as that was when the Ford Transit MK1 was introduced.



Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Royal Sands Development a walk and some pictures.

Only a short walk today, mainly due to the logistics of half term, so some pictures but not that many as I would have liked.

Click on the link for the pictures http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/Blogpicts1210/id10.htm

A few thoughts on them follow:

It is good to see the wall round the eastcliff bandstand dance floor being repaired by a competent local firm.

The work on the roof rainwater drainage pipe between the Pleasurama site and the inner basin is progressing well. As a matter of note I have warned them that they may encounter the underground public toilets.

When I worked as an engineer for Pleasurama Amusements many years ago one of the arcades “Stardust” in the end of the pavilion had access to the part of toilets that had been blocked off probably since before the war, it was very large indeed and obviously I don’t want to see a JCB go down the hole.

The strange reflections on the wall in Kent Place I think may be caused by sunlight reflection off of double glazing.

The blockwork repair to the cliff façade doesn’t look entirely straight relative to the pillar beside it, I am not really certain if it was built like that of if it on the move already.

Incidentally one of the chaps working on the laying of the drainage pipe is related to an old motorcycling friend of mine George Brown who had the motorcycle shop in Stevenage when we had the bookshop there.

George was involved in the speed trials on the western undercliff in Ramsgate with his Vincent motorbikes Nero and Super Nero, it is as they say a small world.

He was one fast shopkeeper see http://www.myvincent.co.uk/people/george_brown.php and http://motorbike-search-engine.co.uk/classic_bikes/1963-super-nero.php 236 mph is quick for a motorbike even by today’s standards.

Back to the more mundane, the long slug with the Royal Sands Development is still going on and I have received yet another unsatisfactory reply from the council, something I will reply to and post in the coming days.

The problem being that while the council remains in a state of denial about the condition of the cliff façade, no construction work on the steel framework of the building can possibly start and we are heading into another year of the main leisure site in Ramsgate being a deserted building site.

The maritime museum, pavilion, Pleasurama, Granville marina, Nero’s the marina swimming pool, it seems incredible that the most prominent part of Ramsgate’s seafront should have got into such a mess one begins to wonder if it is just a stream of incompetence, or perhaps some malign influence is at work.

Certainly the worst situation for Ramsgate’s prominent buildings seems to be when the freehold is owned by the council, one of the problems with the Pleasurama development, is that because it is council owned land there is no planning agreement and therefore no public document laying out how the development should proceed.

Ted Watt-Ruffell not still a Conservative Councillor

There seems to be some confusion about Ted Watt-Ruffell’s resignation from the Conservative group.

I made a couple of checks on this one, one being to ask Simon Moores to confirm this in writing, here is his response:

“Cllr Edwin Watt-Ruffell has resigned from the Conservative Group of Thanet District Council

I understand that Ted has also tendered his resignation as Mayor of Margate and there is a meeting of the Margate Charter Trustees this evening.

There is really no more to be said on the matter at present.”

I also checked with the council as they have to have official notification of any such changes in order to balance the representation of different political parties within committees.

They also confirmed that they had received official notification of his resignation from the Conservative group.

Pleasurama hoarding murals.

have received the following from Gerry O’Donnell, please spread the word.

This is to let you know that Cardy/SFP have agreed to let us paint murals on the new hoardings around the Pleasurama site. I have agreed that RTC should take some overview leadership to ensure that the artwork is the highest standard achievable in all circumstances, although for purposes of funding we should be looking to set up a organisation.

I am organising a meeting at Albion House for either week commencing 22nd/27th so that it can be advertised and possibly promoted in the IOT Gazette. I would like as many representatives of organisations/groups/schools/churches etc and those individuals who can significantly help in terms of funding, artwork, ideas and physical labour to attend. If you know of any who fit this bill please let me know, names and email addresses so that I can contact them also.

Speed is of the essence to ensure that as much or all of the work is in place before the summer season.

Lastly, there should be an element of continuity to underline that we are a community - think Bayeux Tapestry - for the work as a whole.

Enough said. Let's get talking.

If you can also think of any Ramsgate-based organisation that you think I might have missed or who you think should be included please tell me.

Best wishes,
Gerry

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

The recession section in the bookshop where all of the hardbacks are 10p and all of the paperbacks are 5p often causes us some amusement and brings us some customers that we wouldn’t normally get.

A recent one was an artist who bought 50 10p hardbacks to make a sculpture of a toilet, so I would say it is likely that I have received £5 of art council funding.

I have had a bit of a difficult time today as I had about 100 local history books to staple together and the new box of staples I opened had some faulty ones in it, all a bit angry making as it took me some time to work out what was wrong.

I don’t think I ever remember Pancake Day falling in half term before and I am wondering if the golden number as somehow slipped from the ecclesiastical to the academic calendar so now we will always be shriven with children.
Mine seemed to have gone pretty much critical before they were allowed to embark on their culinary expedition, and I sense signs of desperation amongst my customers with increased sales of doll dressing books and other diversions.

It is a bit of a difficult time of year to have a week off school, the parks are very cold and muddy, in fact there isn’t a lot for them to do, groups of bored secondary school children periodically drift into the shop, there really isn’t a place in town for them to go.

It is a great pity that one of the redundant council owned buildings couldn’t be turned into a youth centre, with skating, pool tables and so on, The Westcliff Hall would be a favourite for this.

Monday, 15 February 2010

From Thanet to Edinburgh video of the announcement

Thanks to Your Thanet for this one.

I suppose you all know I have considerable reservations about the use of the airport until the water pollution risk issues are resolved, if you want to understand more about this click on the link and put water in the search box, every time you press enter it will take you on to more information http://www.kentinternationalairport-manston.com/Comments%20and%20Responses%20LR.pdf

Sunday, 14 February 2010

Valentines day ramble and more old Ramsgate pictures.


This picture looking up the road with White & Ellis to the right is not High Street as stated it is Harbour Street.

To all of you that sent me valentines card, thank you, but I should point out that I am happily married.

The main visual theme of this post are a new batch of old Ramsgate pictures that a customer of mine scanned from the Ramsgate library collection before the library burnt down and publishing to the web, I am hoping that we will conspire in a book of them soon.

An interesting thought here about using other people’s pictures to illustrate blog posts is that the pictures you see here are not actually published on this blog.
Anyway click on the link for the rest of the pictures http://my-ramsgate.blogspot.com/p/ramsgate-photo-collection.html



Benton's Cash Stores is number 5 Ashburnham Road

What is happening instead is that the html code on this blog is telling your web browser to display the pictures on his website.

For me this raises some interesting questions about the way copyright can be applied on the internet.

A bit of a reflection on the weeks blogging something that started off for me with the incredible amount of money that KCC are prepared to spend on running the Turner Contemporary.

To be honest I am a bit of a slow thinker, one reason I think that I couldn’t get on with twitter, one of the things that I like about blogger is that I can read something and let my feeling about it coalesce, sometimes even sleep on it before responding.

This picture of number 58 High Street was Mr Snowden's (the town's formost surgeon) residence until 1867 after which it became a skating rink then George Sanger built his ampitheatre now Argos. The picture was taken from Hardres Street looking across towards George Street. The picture states Church Hill this is incorrect Church Hill runs from St. George's down to number 91 High Street a good 100 yards further up.
I think the biggest problem I have with government heavily funding much of modern art is that when the majority of people have to be told that something is art, rather than just recognising it is such, then that art is elitist.

One way or another my bookshop has become one of the last remaining large secondhand bookshops in Kent, most of the others that remain are either, very expensive and aimed mostly at the collectors market, too small to have enough stock to be worth a regular visit or are buildings full of books most of which are of the sort of quality that one find at a jumble sale or in a charity shop.

I have always aimed at having the sort of stock that one would expect to find in a quality bookshop selling new books at the full price, but my stock is for the most part secondhand and at secondhand prices.

What this means is that as the recession bites I am seeing more customers from further away, as far as I can make out this is partly because of bookshop closures in other parts of the southeast and partly because more people are buying secondhand because of the recession.

Now when people are buying a non-fiction book they are registering their interest in a subject with their own money, and from this I am able to get a fairly good idea of where people’s interests lie across the county.

I can say without a doubt that the subject that interests the people of Kent the most is history, with the people interested in ultra modern art being about one in a thousand of those interested in history.

So with local government at the moment seemingly intent on closing government funded museums while pouring money into funding modern art, that is only art to those who are told it is art, seems to me to be somewhat incongruous.

In Ramsgate the situation seems to have reached a ridiculous situation where the council isn’t even being asked to fund the maritime museum, but still seems to be doing its best to force the museum’s closure.

Perhaps this is because the people at the council are made from the tiny elite that considers a group of people waling round in circles to be art. Perhaps somewhere within local government is a ministry of Silly walks.



Well Canterbury City Council are the most recent to consider closing their museums, something that makes me wonder if they have any understanding of how ordinary people consider cuts should be made.

The people who I talk to consider for the most parts that local government cuts should start with the highly paid local government officers and the enormous local government pension commitments.




Personally I think that some sort of decision needs to be made about what should be the maximum salary and the maximum pension for local government officers.

We then come to the snow, as far as I can see from personal experience the council just didn’t use enough salt.

Here in Ramsgate two thing were most notable, one being that they didn’t use any more salt on the hills than on the roads that were relatively flat and the other was they didn’t use salt on the pavements or the pedestrianised part of the town centre at all where they used sand instead.

The net result of this was to bring the town’s economy virtually to a halt, what with that and the closure of most of the schools for a day the cost must have been colossal.

Quite a bit of both the blogging and the news recently has been about standards in public life, nationally the MPs expenses issue and locally the kitten issue.

It must be obvious to the people at all levels in government that the standards that electorate are prepared to accept are not those that the people in government had assumed.

Certainly for me that the only way that a councillor is automatically removed from office for committing a criminal offence, is if that councillor is sentenced to three months in prison, seems a bit rich.




Grange Road Mill An early mill stood at Ramsgate in 1719. Then, in 1819, as evidenced by the early Ordnance Map, there were two standing. One of them must have disappeared many years ago, for the 1858 map does not show it and there was no sign of it in 1905 although remaining mill was still there, by 1930 the body of the remaining mill was completely gone and the wreckage of the base alone remained. This base was then being used as a motor garage. Its “black-timbered walls are smothered with advertisement posters. Grimy mechanics grapple with cars in its bowels.” To quote William Coles Finch the notable antiquary and mill historian.
Ludicrously as the councillor would be removed for failing to attend council meetings for three months, even this doesn’t seem to send out the message that there is some crime that would be bad enough to exclude someone from office.

What is needed is a major clean up of government with the electorate deciding what they want by referendum, both to decide what sort of political reform we want and at what level of unacceptable behaviour people should be dismissed from public office.

At the moment we seem to have a situation where we have a group of people governing us who appear to think they are above the law and that this group of people seem also to think is should be them who decide both how they are elected and what standard they should uphold once elected.

Many thanks to Terry for providing me with corrections for the wrongly captioned pictures, I have added the corrections in red and some notes on the mill one.

Friday, 12 February 2010

Thanet councillor Ted Watt-Ruffell resigns

Thanet District Council Conservative group have just announced that they have accepted the resignation of councillor Ted Watt-Ruffell.

Update I just phoned TDC for confirmation that he has resigned and the said that they weren’t prepared to comment at this time, well either he has gone or he hasn’t, anyone know?

I believe we are in a sort of impasse where he has resigned from the Conservative group but hasn’t yet resigned as a councillor, could he stay on, the mind boggles really.

Oh yes and here are today’s pictures, not that many as it was so slippery that I didn’t get very far and was spending much of my time trying to avoid being run over on the roads where the pavements were impassable.

http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/Blogpicts1210/id9.htm

SAVE Ramsgate’s Adelaide Gardens’ urges National Heritage Body

One of Britain’s leading heritage organisations has given its support to residents of Ramsgate’s Adelaide Gardens/Liverpool Lawn Conservation Area as they resist plans to close off the southern end of Adelaide Gardens with a three-storey terrace of 7 pastiche Georgian/‘Gothick’ houses.



Early last week (February 8) SAVE Britain’s Heritage e-mailed TDC Case Officer Doug Brown with detailed objections to a proposed application by Thanet developer DJ Ellis Construction Ltd.. The application is due to be discussed by the TDC Planning Committee on Wednesday February 17, but so far there has been no reference to the SAVE representations in official TDC briefing documents prepared for the meeting.

In their letter of objection, SAVE points out that the Adelaide Gardens site is one of the most sensitive in Ramsgate, situated within a Ramsgate conservation area with Grade II listed- late Georgian buildings to either side of the site. SAVE maintains that the proposed development would completely enclose the southern end of Adelaide Gardens and alter an historic line of existing Georgian buildings, contrary to planning guidance rules that stipulate that new developments in conservation areas should seek to ‘preserve or enhance’ the historic pattern.

SAVE Britain’s Heritage is one of the country’s principal conservation amenity organisations. It was set up in 1975, the European Year of Architectural Heritage, under the presidency of Marcus Binney, the Architecture Editor of The Times and a leading architectural historian. Since then SAVE has been extremely active in focussing attention on historic buildings at risk and on historic sites – such as Adelaide Gardens - which might be subject to inappropriate development.

Russell White, Chair of the Adelaide Gardens/Liverpool Lawn Residents’ Association said ‘The many residents of Ramsgate’s historic West Cliff area who object to these inappropriate development plans for Adelaide Gardens are extremely pleased to have the support of this eminent national heritage organisation. Like SAVE, the residents accept that there is a case for new development on this site, but believe that the current proposed scheme is too large in terms of footprint, bulk and scale’.

Contacts:
Russell White (e-mail: russue@talktalk.net)
Andrew Joynes (e-mail: andrewjoynes@tiscali.co.uk )
Ed. More pictures of this part of Ramsgate here http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/laptop3/id12.htm you will have to scroll down the page a bit.
If you want to see this for yourself, please visit http://www.ukplanning.com/thanet F/TH/09/0915
Having spent quite a while looking at the plans, it took me quite a while to figure out what is being proposed, so this link takes you to before and after pictures http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/Blogpicts1210/id8.htm

Channel Dash Memorial Unveiling Today at 2 pm Ramsgate harbour.

Just a timely reminder that Admiral the Lord Boyce will be unveiling this memorial today.

This memorial is to the18 young airmen who took six Fairey Swordfish torpedo bombers to attack three heavily protected German warships in the English Channel during WW2.

There will also be an HMS Raider type 2000 fast patrol at the harbour from 10.30am to take the relatives of the airmen out to sea to scatter their ashes.

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Severe Snow and some pictures of Ramsgate in the snow today.

The picture is of The Plains of Waterloo this morning, bit of an odd name for a road I know, it’s on the main Thanet bus route and is impassable to all but 4x4s.

Obviously there are no busses running, several of the cars that have tried to drive down it this morning have gone completely out of control, so far there hasn’t been a major accident.

Minor update here 11.30 am, still no sign of any grit, I haven’t been able to go out and take any pictures as vehicles are still sliding down the hill out of control and there is a very real possibility that one may crash into the bookshop, some nearly did last night but the curb outside stopped them.
Many thanks to Lawrence who sent me some pictures of the snow in Ramsgate click on the link for them http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/laptop210/id4.htm
I think they probably did put some salt on the hill in front of the bookshop either that or it has turned into slush of its own accord.

Either way it is still fairly dangerous and the cars are still slipping on it, the busses haven’t braved it yet so I think it was probably a case of not enough salt on the hill.

A few more pictures of Ramsgate in the snow here http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/laptop210/id5.htm as I suspect there will be a lot of people who can’t get out for a walk due to the slippery conditions.

Oh incidentally if anyone sends me any Thanet pictures I am always happy to put them on the web, if you are concerned about copyright please let me know what you want me to say with them.

As far as my pictures are concerned my objective is to preserve as much record of Thanet as possible, so help yourselves, decorate your blogs websites, whatever you like with them, mention me if you want to.

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Snow in Ramsgate and a bit of a ramble

As you can see from the pictures we have had a fair amount of snow here in Ramsgate today.

At the moment the busses are running cautiously but roads and pavements are fairly slippery.
My peculiar fracas over photographing Westwood Cross made it into Your Thanet today see http://edition.pagesuite-professional.co.uk/launch.aspx?pbid=84956776-5fe0-4064-a733-83aabf1dd4b7 and http://thanetonline.blogspot.com/2010/01/photography-banned-at-westwood-cross.html for my blog post about it.

As some of you may have read the report and wondered how to get to all the pictures that I have taken of this area, here’s how.

You will find as you scroll down some of the posts on this blog – about a third I should think – have links to pictures in them, when you get to the bottom of the page of posts if you click where it says older posts another page of posts will appear also with links to pictures.

In many cases I have used historic pictures of Thanet to illustrate posts, in most cases clicking on the picture will make it enlarge.
There are over 1,000 posts so the whole process could take a while.
I managed to find the results of the public consultation about the maritime museum on the councils website, here they are.

“Maritime Museum
Consultation summary
Just over 200 representations were made. The majority opposed disposal and wanted to see the site retained as a museum. The importance of Ramsgate’s maritime history/heritage, architecture of the building, location of the building, tourism and education were the main reasons for objection to the sale. Those who did support the proposal to sell would only agree based on appropriate future use of the site.

Response to consultation
Total representations: 207

Councillors: 10

Public: 197

200 oppose disposal
7 support disposal based on appropriate future use”
I suppose that this says a great deal about council consultations.

The council consults.

The council doesn’t like the results of the consultation.

The council agrees to the findings of the consultation.

The council then makes it impossible for the results of the consultation to actually happen.
Considering today that a senior Labour politician tried to use the British judicial system to cover up information about American armed forces torturing a British subject, I am beginning to wonder when the special relationship became the special grovel.

Coming back to my thought about Westwood Cross, not so much the photography, but the general way in which we are developing areas in shopping, leisure and commerce with its own laws, surveillance and police.

I was talking to an elderly couple in the shop just now, who had read the Your Thanet article and said that as they become older and more scatterbrained, that they are also becoming increasingly concerned, that they are going to inadvertently break some law or another and become the victims of some form of under regulated “security” with no compassion or common sense.

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Ramsgate Maritime Museum closure update

I noticed that the Maritime museum was no longer open for part of the week and so contacted Preston Steam Trust who are responsible for it.

They told me that the council had stopped responding to their requests to finalise their lease and so they couldn’t really do anything but close the museum until they heard from the council.

This is a great pity as the museum had plans for a series of events throughout the summer, and the people involved in these would need booking now and the organisation of these would need to take place in the winter.

They had also hoped to use the winter both to do essential repair work to the museum (last time I was there I nearly put my foot through the floor in the office) and to expand the area in the Clock House available to display exhibits.

Obviously they can’t do any of this without some sort of security of tenure.

I rather got the impression that they were becoming disheartened by the continual series of delays while the council stall the issue.

Another problem for the steam trust is that they can’t get any grant money without security of tenure for the Clock House.

My understanding of the situation and please correct this if I am wrong, is that the steam trust offered to either lease the Clock House from the council or to buy it outright from the council, with a clause in the sale documents that the building had to be used as a museum in perpetuity.

The council then offered them a 99 year lease to which the steam trust agreed.

The council then put the building on the asset disposal list, Ramsgate people and the local paper made a fuss, answered the consultation that they wanted the building kept as a museum and in the end the council took it of the asset disposal list.

Now we all thought that this was the end of the story and that we were going to get our museum, this no longer seems to be the case.

I asked the council what on earth is going on and here is the answer that I got.

“The position regarding the Clock-Tower Building, occupied by the Steam Trust is as follows. The subject was discussed by the Council’s Overview and Scrutiny (Asset Management Working Party) in view of the length of lease sought by the Trust.

The Working Party concluded that the long term future of the Clock-Tower Building should be considered within the context of the Port and Marina Masterplan. The point being that the structure is part of the Port Estate, and therefore its future should be considered in the context of how it contributes to Port and Marina business and operation.”

I take this to mean that as the council that now has plans afoot to get an outside commercial organisation in to run the port and harbour they would like to hang on to this iconic building, in case if they find a company to run the harbour, that company fancies this iconic building for their offices.

Oh and yes I nearly forgot here are today’s pictures http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/blogpicts1210/id5.htm

Monday, 8 February 2010

Margate and the Turner Contemporary April Fool.

The trust that is to take over running The Turner Contemporary on April fools day are to receive at least a million pounds a year from Kent County Council towards the gallery’s £2.6 million pounds annual running costs.

As I said in yesterdays post it’s a substantial amount and having slept on this information I can only conclude I have made some mistake with the arithmetic, I would appreciate it if someone could correct me.

My understanding is that the gallery is expected to attract 160,000 visitors a year, this seems quite a lot to me as this would about 400 a day if the gallery opened every day of the year, but let that pass for a moment.

If the annual running costs are to be £2.6 million that is about £16 per visit, obviously no one will have to pay to visit the gallery, if they did virtually no one would visit it.

Looking at it another way every visitor to the gallery is going to cost the Kent council taxpayer over £5.

It may have just been me but on the occasions that I have visited the exhibitions that they put on in the old M&S building and the Droit House there have either been very few other people there or no one but myself.

Let us suppose that only 100 people a day visit the new gallery this would cost £64 per visitor, with the council picking up the tab for the amount that couldn’t be obtained from other sponsors.

I am sure that I must have made some sort of mistake here, I know that there is an element of the emperor’s new clothes to the world of contemporary art but I don’t think this can be right.

Margate Marine Bathing Pool Walk from Hugh Kermode on Vimeo.

I have added this video as the Turner Contemporary are seeking participants in an artwork that they are sponsoring next month and I thought it would interest some of the readers of this post.

Here is the link to the page about this particular artwork on the Turner Contemporary site http://www.turnercontemporary.org/whatson/?p=153 particularly interesting to me as it has the link to the video I have embedded above on it.

Now when I embedded it, it had been viewed between 0 and 2 times a day for the last week, in the hour since I embedded it, it has had a further 6 views.

This says two things about the Turner Contemporary, one being that far fewer people are looking at their website than this one and whoever added the video to their site didn’t seem to know how to embed a video so just added a link.

Sunday, 7 February 2010

Sunday ramble and a few reflections on the last week’s blogging

It was a week ago today that I posted about the core strategy response and the council seem to be still fighting with their IT on that one.

At the moment it says on their website: “197 responses were received via on-line questionnaire.

People were able to respond to this consultation by uploading a response document.

No response documents have been received for this consultation.”

See http://consult.thanet.gov.uk/inovem/consult.ti/core.strategy/listRespondents

It really isn’t that surprising that they didn’t receive any responses from people who uploaded the response document as the document that TDC provided online was in the form of a pdf file so that it wasn’t actually possible to write on it with ones computer.

It now says 197 people used the online questionnaire, as this conflicts with what the council has already said I can only assume that this is another TDCIT problem, by this I mean that the person putting the information on their website doesn’t understand the information they are publishing.

I haven’t had a chance to count the names on the council website and see if there are 197 of them, this should be simple as there are 20 pages of names 19 of which have 11 names on them, however as many of the names are repeated it is all a bit of a mess.

The whole thing is typical of the councils approach to IT which seems to be to use the most complicated expensive and difficult method, by this I mean that instead of just publishing a page with all of the names on it in alphabetical order they have used this strange method of putting 11 names on 20 interlinked pages some of the list of names is in alphabetical order and some of it isn’t.

The wretched Pleasurama saga still goes on and it is getting the information about it from the council that is such a frustrating and time consuming business, why they would want to secretive about a development of this scale is something that I have never really understood.

Pretty much every document that I have managed to obtain relating to the development has added more to the confirmation that it is an ill-conceived development that can’t possibly be built without changing the plans completely.

I do wonder what it is that the council are trying to achieve, particularly as until they finally address the very real problems that relate both to the cliff safety and the flooding issues, the delays just continue.

One of the worrying local paper articles this week is the one about dangerous dog crime http://www.thisiskent.co.uk/thanet/Figures-rise-dog-attacks-Thanet/article-1809907-detail/article.html reading the article I was again aware of the situation where the pressure on the police to produce ever reducing crime statistics, means in practice they are increasingly reluctant to prosecute people.

Another article that struck a chord with me is the one about the Turner Contemporary KCC grant money http://www.thisiskent.co.uk/thanet/Trust-boss-vows-Turner-centre-Margate-value/article-1809836-detail/article.html the argument from the pro Turner lot has always been that the money to fund it doesn’t come out of our pockets.

Well £1,000,000 a year out of our council tax is a substantial amount, over the past few years talking to people I know that work for KCC I have become aware that this project has become a sort untouchable grail that goes on getting funding, no matter how much money it sops up, or how much is diverted from other projects due to the harsh economic climate.

I was surprised by the seriousness of the KFC fire see http://www.kentonline.co.uk/kentonline/news/2010/february/6/kfc_fire.aspx this type of modern building always looks to me as though it would be difficult for a fire to spread very quickly.

I have noticed that some of the recent largish residential developments have been built almost entirely of wood and I do wonder how these would withstand a fire.

The council’s unpopular asset disposal program is continuing, but with so much resistance one does wonder if it is going to cost them nearly as much in legal fees countering the opposition as they will raise from the sale of the assets.

One does wonder what the cost of the Northdown House debacle was when one considers the all of the business they lost while it was going on.

Back to Pleasurama, I gather now that the developer has deposited £1m with the council, instead of the bond, with the £1m on the cliff repairs I am beginning to wonder if Austin Powers is involved.

I suppose that so much actual money must be seen a considerable message of intent, what I fail to understand why if the developer has considerable ready cash available, he hasn’t undertaken a survey of the cliff façade and a flood risk assessment.

I have started to sound out our councillors about the possibility of getting temporary leisure use for the site this year, so far the answers have been the same as previous years, by that I mean that they say work is due to start on constructing the development in the next few weeks.

One does wonder after having said the same thing all these years running if they genuinely believe what they are saying, they reply to me that the problems with the cliff façade have been resolved, I then send them the photographs of the missing foundations after that I don’t hear from them again.

Bit of a long ramble I am afraid but then you don’t have to read it.