Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Business expansion in Thanet

Thanet Earth have announced that they have made a profit for the first time and that demand for their produce is exceeding supply, as they have only built three of the planned seven huge greenhouses I would think we can expect the construction of another one soon. To put this in context, the made a loss of £5m the previous year, however in the trading year to April 2011 they made a profit of about a quarter of a million.

It does seem to me to be a great shame that this food factory that doesn’t use soil, takes its water from the water mains (apart from the rain collected from the roof) and produces liquid waste that has to go into the main sewer – in other words it could be built on a brownfield site – is built and will expand on prime agricultural land. It is however very fortunate that they were not allowed to pump water from the Thanet aquifer or drain their liquid waste into the ground or Pegwell Bay.

It is difficult to say how much Thanet Earth benefits the local economy or the environment, but at least it is now making a profit.

The other main business expansion in Thanet recently is the Marks and Spencer at Westwood Cross, what they have done here is to double the size of the shop by adding a second floor. This creates 70 jobs, which as far as I can see are part time and full time for local people and reduce local unemployment.

Once again though we have M&S at WC at a terrible cost to our town centres what the difference in the number of jobs would be between one big shop at WC and two smaller ones in Ramsgate and Margate I don’t really know.

There is of course a fine balance between what large companies are allowed to do in terms of damage to the local community and damage to the environment, and how they benefit the local community.

Whatever the answer to this one there is no doubt that for us as a family, buying a pair of trousers from M&S involves a motorised journey that is harmful to the environment.

I think another big problem here is how much money stays in the area, by this I mean if the higher paid, executive staff are living and spending their money outside Thanet and the majority of the company profit is going out of the area, we need to be careful in weighing the balances.

I know that this is partly down to the nasty modern world and it is not so very long ago that most people working in provincial towns lived in them too. I do wonder if the higher paid local government paid staff lived in the towns they are supposed to serve how much better things would be.          


  1. So if the public want westwood x why should they not have it?

  2. 14.50 I don’t think that it is quite as simple as that, there is always going to be a proportion of the public that want things where the social and environmental costs are high and this means the rest of the public have to pay whether we want to or not, I think the trick is hitting the right balance.

    Perhaps part of the answer here is that some of public want Westwood but they also want their towns to be vibrant and pleasant places to live.

    I suppose if you take a good look at Margate High Street over the last few years you could say it isn’t something the public want.

    That said the public are paying, whether they want it or not, to regenerate Margate, while at the same time the businesses at Westwood are profiting from the state of Margate High Street.

    Assuming that you are a Kent council tax payer, I wonder how you feel about paying for the effects of Westwood, whether you want to or not, and if you feel the businesses and through them the proportion of the public who want Westwood should be making a proportionately greater proportion the regeneration of the local towns.

    Another side to this coin is what about the people who want to use the shops in their own town that have migrated to Westwood.

  3. I knew Ramsgate town centre throughout the fifties and during the first half of the seventies. It had narrow pavements and two way continuous traffic on all its streets. It was packed with people and it was busy and bustling. Consequently, Ramsgate town centre was not a pleasant place to shop.

    Westwood Cross is a far more enjoyable and relaxing experience. Plus you can park for free. And this is why people go to Westwood+ out of preference and will continue to do so.

    The so called 'saving the environment' argument will often provide a reason for persuading or forcing people to do something that they do not want to do, nor in truth need to do. Markets have not changed over the last 10,000 years and people have and will always go to where they believe they are getting the best deal. To the majority this is Westwood Cross.

    Westwood Cross is expanding and doing well and it will not be stopped by sentimental longings for a perceived better time.

    It is not my task to regenerate Ramsgate Town Centre nor Margate High Street as part of someone's perceived social duty. I will go where I get the best deal. It is up to enterprising traders to attract me with better deals. And yes, I do believe that one of our banks should have been allowed to fail pour encourager les autres.

    Yes, well that is my daily rant finished.

  4. Michael, You say, ". I do wonder if the higher paid local government paid staff lived in the towns they are supposed to serve how much better things would be."
    I could not agree more. Some of them could not find Ramsgate town centre on a map.

  5. Goodness me John, perhaps you will concede that this country has a history of regulation that has decided where people could trade that extends back in the middle ages and these rights and privileges extended by the monarch, bishop and later parliament has formed the structure of our country.

    In the last fifty years ago decisions about this have moved into the hands of the civil servants and the powerful lobbyists who seem to be rewriting the social structure of the country.

    I think you are being a little naïve to think you are shopping where you want to shop, we shopped in Margate because the king, queen, lords wardens of the cinque ports couldn’t afford to maintain a navy and reached a compromise that it become a limb of Dover, providing the monarch with vessels and fighting men in exchange for tax and trading concessions.

    I think we may be shopping in WC because some nameless buffoon put his finger there without considering the surrounding traffic infrastructure.

    Tell me what would you have done were it the bank where your money is kept, that is in the broadest sense of what money is?

  6. Michael,

    You seem to be saying nothing more than that Westwood Cross should not have been allowed to exist, presumably to preserve the Town Centres, and that this should have been done reckless as to whether Westwood Cross could provided cheaper goods. If the punter has to pay more, so what.

    You may be shopping at Westwood Cross because, as you claim, some buffoon put his finger on a map; but I shop there because it is more pleasant and cheaper.

    You mention the traffic. The traffic flow at WC has improved and continues to do so.

    Without WC, can you picture what modern traffic would be like in Ramsgate town centre and where would they park.

    Michael, I do not subscribe to your analysis of the history of markets, charters and monopolies. You appear to be advocating some kind of all embracing central planning. Modern history and the fall of communism should disabuse you of this notion.

    I have lived and worked in communist states. They were the most miserable of places. Fortunately, a few citizens were able to find a way around the stifling rules and set themselves up as secret capitalists whereby both the seller and the buyer got a good deal and prospered.

    Central planning does not work. Our country became the richest and most powerful the world had ever seen because entrepreneurship was given a free reign. Merchants should be allowed to prosper of fail according to their own efforts.

    You ask what I would have done if the bank where I kept my money had failed. I would have pursued them through the courts. I would certainly not expect you or anyone else to cover my losses. [Though I admit that HMG does have an insurance scheme that is financed from our taxes].

  7. A lot of Thanet people dont shop locally, they share transport costs and shop online. They no longer need many high street or Westwood shops. Its not just food, clothes, electrical goods etc, but travel, insurance and even getting photos developed and your prescriptions delivered. There's no going back, high streets will just become places of leisure, residential areas or open spaces.

  8. Thanet wouldn't have places like Debenhams and other 'names' if it wasn't for WX as being in Margate or Ramsgate it wouldn't be profitable enough with the limited access.

    I am sure if TDC turned these companies down because they couldn't locate in a central location they would also be wrong.

    Damned in the do, damned if they don't.....

  9. This is a difficult one but I suppose what I think is something along the lines of, in the first instance a new shopping area needs to be planned to bring people from outside of the area and therefore needs to connect to the road network out of Thanet, or perhaps I should say into Thanet.

    I also think it should have been built with intergraded multi-storey car parks and that the shopping centre should have been indoor.

    That said I do now think we should make the best of what we have. The difficulty with this is that we seem to be building a new town in the centre of Thanet, but doing so without a plan.

    Something that concerns me considerably is that the amount of business at peak time in WC is already limited by the infrastructure – number of parking places and road layout – I also get the feeling that the cost of fuel is restricting out of town shopping.

    With the airport plans and WC I do wonder if the idea is the more fuel we plan to use here the more prosperous we will ultimately be is good one.

    We had a couple of bookshops in new towns, the one that was in Stevenage is now an amusement arcade, but because of what it was I do have some experience with how new shopping centres work. Frankly infrastructure is the key.

    As some of you know I am a bit of a slow thinker so I will probably have more to say about this one. Using the fall of communism as an argument that capitalism shouldn’t be regulated is a bit like using the abolition of slavery to say that it should.

  10. Large stores don't benefit the local economy to the same extent that smaller stores do. Large stores are generally built and maintained by contractors who drive in and drive out. Profits are taken to London where the financial sector creams off the top to pay for their luxury cars, holidays and homes. Ten they tell us that London is the powerhouse of the British economy. On the contrary, London is a leech, bleeding us dry.

  11. Stuff and nonsense, anon. Monies spent locally do support the locally economy through the jobs and trade off shoots larger shopping centres generate. Before WX this money mainly went to Canterbury, not Ramsgate or Margate High Streets.

  12. Michael,

    You state, "Using the fall of communism as an argument that capitalism shouldn’t be regulated is a bit like using the abolition of slavery to say that it should."

    You appear to be conflating three issues. Nowhere did I suggest that there should be no regulation at all of capitalism; I said that there should be no central planning in commerce. I do not understand your point about slavery. At the risk of being frank, Michael, I get the impression that you are a guardianista at heart.

  13. John you may be right about the Guardian, I certainly wouldn’t be writing here without the liberating power of the spellchecker.

    I suppose the problem for me is that WC sort of works, works enough to damage our towns but not really enough to draw lots of people from elsewhere.

    Personally I don’t like clothes shopping, do my food shopping in Ramsgate and mostly resent the fact that there is very little left in terms of interesting, book, music, antique and junk shops where I can spend some of my lunch hour browsing. It’s all right for the others of my ilk who go to ground in my bookshop but where do I go?

  14. I think the M and S in Westwood is good. You have to remember that M and S closed in Ramsgate in 1990 and closed for a reason it wasn't making money. It got replaced by Peacocks. I think Ramsgate appears to be trading well anyway without worry from Westwood Cross. Sadly, for Margate I can't say the same.

    My own worry is that to a degree Westwood Cross has taken money away from Folkestone, Dover and Deal though Deal retains some of the shops that WC has.

    Westwood Cross should be better. Personally I go there as a last resort I prefer Canterbury to WWX because it has more choice and the traffic system is much less congested


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