Monday, 28 February 2011
There may be more I don’t really know.
The big difference between the council’s websites and the other local websites like this one is that we all contribute towards paying for the council’s websites.
The other big difference is that you may be using the council’s websites for official information, rather than just searching the internet in general to find out about something, like a local development or a local issue, so you may wish to search the council’s sites only.
I think the idea of the council’s website is to save them money by making information available without using up officer’s time, the trouble is that it doesn’t always work this way.
I have tried to get the council to cooperate with me on my intention to review various aspects of their websites, so far I would say that no one wants to.
My last major attempt to get the council to improve their website related to its search facility, what I tried to was to get them to use the free Google one like the one on the sidebar of this blog. I have moved it up to the top while I am doing this review.
After my comments they decided to replace the search facility that they had, this was the one that didn’t really work at all, with one the purchased from Microsoft, so I will start by giving this a go to see if it works.
I will use the search term Pleasurama.
First the council’s old search box that still appears at the top of the majority of the council’s webpages including the start page of their documents site http://tdc-mg-dmz.thanet.gov.uk/ This returns an error page.
Next the council’s new one, this appears on their main homepage http://www.thanet.gov.uk/ and some other council webpages and I believe they are paying Microsoft for this. This search facility returns 11 results for Pleasurama.
Next the free one on the sidebar of this blog this returns 47 results for Pleasurama.
Next I suppose one has to assume that here in Thanet some people may not be able to spell and some may produce the occasional typo, I can lay claim to both of these problems.
So lets choose Hartsdown for this test, I think it fair to assume Heartsdown is a miss spelling that some people could use, you get no results for the councils search box and none for the Google one on this blog. There is however a big difference the council’s one just leaves you out of options whereas the one on this blog says. “did you mean Hartsdown” and then goes on to give you 118 matches.
I suppose one could say that the council have made some progress on this issue.
Sunday, 27 February 2011
Thanet District Council Election Purdah in One Month and open questions to councillors.
We all have one month before the council officers and the councillors will say they either can’t do it or they can’t say it because they are in purdah.
Looking at the local blogs you would be forgiven for thinking that local election fever has already started, this doesn’t have much to do with election promises, but does have a great deal to do with one party saying what’s wrong with the other party.
There is a strange aside with local Labour, which seems to revolve around the deselection of Mark Nottingham and even be moving into the higher county of the imagination, about who it that replaces Steve Ladyman.
This then begs the question of who to chose, I am a floating voter and when it comes to Thanet and Ramsgate in particular I will be ignoring the great national concerns, mostly where did all the money go, and will be selfishly voting for whoever I think can deal with Ramsgate’s and to a lesser degree Thanet’s problems.
In a broader sense there is Ramsgate itself, the main blights on the town as a tourist destination being the way previous councils have handled the high profile council owned assets that dominate the seafront, the bit the tourists come for.
The main blight among many of these blights being the council owned Pleasurama site that dominates the main sands part of the town. This site has come to another of the many deadlines that have been agreed with the council over the last eight years, by this I mean the current development agreement states that the structural frame of the hotel part of the site shall be substantially and materially commenced by 1st March 2011. Apart from six concrete posts right at the other end of the site, no work has happened there.
Don’t take my word for it, here’s the agreement, page ten I think http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/pda/id17.htm
Ask a councillor what is going on and you may not get an answer, ask a council officer, as I did this week and you will be told that the information may or may not be supplied within 20 council days, this means a month.
Don’t get me wrong here if someone could assure me that a safe and sensible development was actually going on there, then I would be happy to support it.
So any to councillors please tell us if you have any thing to say, before going into purdah. I am afraid your thoughts about what is wrong with the other party, your concerns about how they may mismanage the finances don’t interest me very much, what I would like to know is what you intend to do, if you manage to get elected?
With Margate and the gamble on art, the council seem to be doing its best to tidy the place up a bit prior to Turner and this does show some sign of an effort, I sincerely hope the gamble pays off.
With Margate once again I looks as though the rules are going to applied fairly over the football club planning application, and frankly Simon Moores is making a very good job of showing how a councillor can use the internet to explain the process.
Sorry about that I will get off this hobby horse.
I see Mark Nottingham has returned with a post http://marknottingham.blogspot.com/2011/02/jackey-bakers-play-area.html I really don’t know what to say about this, all that fuss, the post saying what he thought about deselection then deleting it so it’s now only available at http://birchington.blogspot.com/p/open-letter-to-clive-hart-from-mark.html even more annoying deleting all the comments that people had bothered to leave.
Then this post as though nothing has happened, what I mean here is what happens if he gets into some position of power and there is some major issue, would he just suddenly decide he didn’t like it anymore and rub out everyone’s thoughts and then just try to carry on as though nothing has happened?
This sort of thing leaves me just lost for words.
Mustn’t leave out Tony Bignews Margate as he has been known to get fractious, his funniest post this week is directed at Clive Harts twittering http://bignewsmargate.blogspot.com/2011/02/if-only-i-had-something-worth.html I have to admit to trying twitter and what I achieved was if anything worse.
You either come up with something that looks as though you live a very important life, something along the lines of, 9.46 has audience with pope, 10.40 chaired committee on disarmament or it goes along the lines of Woke up, fell out of bed, Dragged a comb across my head, Found my way downstairs and drank a cup, And looking up I noticed I was late. Obviously nothing with any potential meaningful interest. Here is the link to Clive’s tweets http://twitter.com/CliveHart
Friday, 25 February 2011
Royal Sands Pleasurama Development, first part definitely going up and early Tombstoning in the Ramsgate Harbour.
As you can see they are, not pile driven as we first thought, not pile bored as we heard later, but poured concrete foundations.
There have been so many sets of plans that I am not entirely certain which they are going to build it to, this looks like the ones that have a very narrow two way road at the back.
As the building will be about the same height as the cliff I also see some problems gaining access for cliff maintenance.
Here are the rest of the pictures http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/211/id5.htm
The cathedral’s cat seemed a bit sleepy or possible contemplative, I suppose the position of feline apostolic delegate for the Church of England requires some thought.
I did take some pictures, most of these were taken without flash and although I tried to hold the camera steady in some places it wasn’t really light enough so excuse the shaky ones, the links take you to the rest of the pictures taken yesterday
The tombs of the Knights alerted me to an earlier time politically possibly simpler and I wonder if some of the more pressing political problems locally would be better solved by the simpler expedient of trial by battle.
I will continue this tale if I get time
Wednesday, 23 February 2011
Obviously I don’t live in Broadstairs so I don’t think the council are obliged to tell me what’s going on there, so I tried looking at the council’s planning website http://www.ukplanning.com/thanet this is a very bizarre website so I can’t link to the various applications on it, the way to get to the applications is to click on the letter P in the street name part of the page and then click on PIERREMONT AVENUE the are 5 park applications dated in 2005 described as current and 2 2008 ones described as decided.
The local blogs and today’s Your Thanet are a bit thin on local news at the moment, or perhaps it’s just my interpretation.
I tried asking the council’s press department about what’s going on with the Royal Sands Pleasurama Development, but they kept saying they would tell me tomorrow, which never came, so I have finally and in desperation put in an official request to the council, something that will be time consuming for them.
"Please treat this as an official customer feedback request.
This is essentially a general enquiry about the Royal Sands Development on the old Pleasurama site in Ramsgate.
1 Please send me any addition information about this development that I haven’t requested below, because I am unaware of its existence.
It would appear that some work has occurred on the site during the last month, but obviously this work doesn’t relate to the development agreement schedules and conditions of the various leases contained in it.
2 Does this mean that the leases are now invalid and the development agreement is to be determined?
3 Or does it mean that there has been an updated agreement with new schedules?
If the development is going ahead, either to a new schedule or is being allowed under some other flexible arrangement:
4 Can you please supply me with a revised building schedule?
5 Can you please tell me which of the approved plans the development is to be built to and if these plans are published on the council’s planning website?
6 Can you please send me details of the public information sessions that were promised once work started on the site?
7 Can you please send me any updated information on the cliff safety issue? Details and dates of the promised cliff top weight limit, correspondence between the council, the HSE, the developer, cliff survey and maintenance schedule, any cliff survey reports, any agreements for cliff maintenance between the council and the developer.
8 Can you please send me details of any flood, storm or emergency escapes incorporated in the development as a result of the EA recommendations 8th Feb 2008.
9 If the artists impressions, details of roof material and other building materials for the building to be built, are different to those described on the councils planning website, due to the various different plans and in consequence plans being used that no longer relate to the ancillary details, can you please send me the details of these changes?
10 If the plans that are to be used no longer relate to all of the planning and design statement, can you please send me revisions to the planning and design statement?
Please confirm your receipt of this request?
Best regards Michael"
It is the sort of thing people in Ramsgate want to know about, but the council just telling me, well that seems to easy, it certainly seems pretty crazy to have to turn a question like that into a series of cast iron requests.
Tuesday, 22 February 2011
I started by just photographing the Rupert annuals in the bookshop, but was instructed to spread them out a bit, so that people can see the covers.
The main place you will find them is in secondhand bookshops, because Rupert annuals are collectable the older ones and the ones in fine condition probably won’t be out on the shelves, where you can see them.
It is a good idea to ask the shop assistant about collectable books like Rupert annuals, he or she will probably look to see if you have clean hands and if you have dirty hands then they will say they haven’t got any.
Lots of grownups make the big mistake of thinking that the shop assistants like me, in secondhand bookshops want to sell collectable books, it’s a big misunderstanding that causes all sorts of problems.
The people in new bookshops are called sales assistants and I think this is where the misunderstanding came from.
Monday, 21 February 2011
The church is open for tours Wednesdays and Sundays 2pm to 4pm and Saterdays 1pm to 4pm, these are revised opening hours starting from 25th February and I am not sure about the opening times this Wednesday.
Pictures of the church at http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/610/id10.htm
Sunday, 20 February 2011
The cliff behind the Pleasurama site in Ramsgate has become something of a local joke to those of us living in Ramsgate, we all saw the extensive and expensive works to repair it, about £1m of TDC money was expended on these.
After that we all saw the weeds growing out from the cracks between the new paintwork, the weedings the repairs to the repairs, the bits dropping off and at the moment we can all see the rather dodgy looking bits where parts of the bottom of the cliff has been exposed.
With the cliff safety issues relating to the Pleasurama site I genuinely thought that I had made my point and that the council, The HSE and the developer had taken what I have been saying seriously and had some sort of “make safe the way of the cliff” plan.
“So please no more conspiracy theories of this kind on my weblog if you will and the same with the cliff. You are starting to sound like Rick banging on forever with allegations that the IRA had some loose connection to Thanet councillors” see http://birchington.blogspot.com/2011/02/itson-weblog-so-it-must-be-true.html
One concern that I thought every one agreed with me about, is that there needs to be a weight limit for service vehicles driving along the cliff top footpath, next to the edge of the cliff.
Anyway the senior engineer at the civil engineering consultants that the council use, agrees with me and the council’s own civil engineer agrees with me, that driving heavy vehicles along the edge of the cliff is a bad idea.
What you are looking at, although you can’t really see this, is an unsupported chalk cliff and I don’t suppose you would drive your car too close to the edge of one of these, were it just grass and chalk.
It’s the last few feet next the edge that’s best avoided, for something very heavy as I am sure most people can work out for themselves.
Anyway after Simon’s comment I wondered just how seriously the health and safety people had taken my concerns, so I wrote to them and it seems that the council may have been a little economical with the truth when talking to the HSE about the cliff.
are the ones that the I think the council may have forgotten to send the HSE and
The senior council officer, who is to be the new chief executive of the council, advised the cabinet to terminate the development agreement and they ignored her, I don’t think I should publish confidential internal council documents, but do have the documentary evidence supporting this if pushed.
Then the business of the recently issued 199 year lease, I haven’t enquired about this one, but do wonder in the light of the Hartsdown application and all the delays over the Maritime Museum lease, why the Pleasurama one didn’t go to consultation, or perhaps it went to a secret public consultation like the leadership one.
The trouble is that if I make a complaint about this again, they may think I am being vexatious, as it is they haven’t yet answered the feedback I made about this consultation when it was on.
Anyway back to the dodgy cliff and Pleasurama, the bit that worries me the most is the bit where the drain has blocked at the top of the cliff, this caused a puddle on the footpath, this froze and thawed causing the surface of the footpath to come away, this caused water to get behind the cliff façade, this caused bits of the façade to drop off.
The council say that some of this is wrong I think, I a not quite sure which bits they think are wrong, the last link in this chain of events was when the council put up a barrier at the bottom of the cliff and I thanked the only to get a reply from them, saying that the barrier wasn’t to protect people from being hit by the lumps of cliff that had been falling off.
Obviously there is work going on down on the Pleasurama site at the moment and having joined the church of responsible blogging, I emailed the council’s press department saying that I was going to do a post about Pleasurama, they emailed back saying that there was going to be a meeting about this at the end of last week. So I emailed them back saying I would delay the post until then. I made it very clear that a lot of people including myself would like to know what is going on after all this time.
The current development agreement says that the metal cage that forms the structure of the building should have appeared by now, so with the development agreement having been thrown out the window again, what is going on is anybody’s guess.
As yet I haven’t heard from the council, so this is a sort of partial post.
A look at some of the other Thanet blogs over the last week.
I will start with the one that I publish but don’t write http://thanetpress.blogspot.com/ this is where I publish press releases that people send me and new council documents, frankly it isn’t a very popular blog, only about a third of the number of people that read this one, read it. Quite a lot of blogs don’t even have links to it, including Bignews Margate that links to the other main Thanet blogs.
Pageviews today 147 Pageviews yesterday 180 Pageviews last month 5,431 is what the stats say for this blog but two recent posts there have been getting some comment.
One has the emotive title GO-AHEAD GIVEN FOR TREE MASSACRE see http://thanetpress.blogspot.com/2011/02/go-ahead-given-for-tree-massacre.html I have to admit to being a bit unclear about this one and have been reading the comments with interest.
The other is http://thanetpress.blogspot.com/2011/02/employees-and-contractors-from-pfizer.html?showComment=1297692530692#c3615986546683633728 about the Pfizer closure.
Starting at the top of my sidebar today Thanet Life http://birchington.blogspot.com/ the latest post http://birchington.blogspot.com/2011/02/no-right-turn.html has video of a pilot’s eye view of the approach to the Runway at Manston over Ramsgate.
I tuned in, waited for mind to boggle, and, yes, it boggled.
I also notice that Simon is getting the same problem when you try to expand some of his pictures by clicking on them if you are using Internet Explorer, you get a virus warning instead of a bigger picture.
Saturday, 19 February 2011
Additional note if you are viewing this with Internet explorer you may get a message when you try to click on some of the pictures to enlarge them saying that 4.bp.blogspot.com is a dodgy site.
As this is one of the web addresses that blogger uses to host images and therefore about as likely to be a dodgy website as Amazon, eBay or indeed Microsoft there isn’t much I can do about this.
Good ones, isn’t necessarily helpful, this suggests a group of bad bokos that face the great paper recycling plant never to be read again and this is a sort of half truth.
Anyway I am going to do answering this one with lots of pictures, that should expand if you click on them, I hope this will make it easier to understand.
For the most part the problem isn’t so much one of bad books, but one of books that there are more copies of, than people to buy them
This used to be less of a problem when most people bought their books from independent bookshops, most people had different titles and the only area where one had a glut of the same titles was where people had joined book clubs.
As I am using history as an example here, then the history book club is a good example although it would serve for other subjects, in a year when about 10,000 history titles came out about 400 of these were available through the history book club, as these were cheaper lots of people bought them and in subsequent years these titles were a lot more common, bad books if you like.
In the book trade at that time one mostly overcame the problem by not buying history book club titles, for the most part the club editions were inferior quality – suck together instead of stitched together, linson instead of bookcloth ,type of job – saving the extra embarrassment of having them fall apart on the shelf.
Now of course we live in a world gone mad and proper independent new bookshops have for the most part gone, so selecting the good books, the ones that people will want to buy is a lot trickier.
If you go round the charity shops and bootfairs looking say for books on The Gunpowder Plot, the various wives and mistresses of Henry VIII, or some such thing, you probably won’t get very far.
If you are looking for a large general book on British history you will probably find one, the problem here is that if you once mentioned that you were interested in history, then large general books on the history of the world or the history of Britain turn up in droves on your birthday and at Christmas.
I do get, in the course of buying large history book collections usually after someone has died, a lot of very general history books far more that I can sell and for the most part they go in the 10p sale and if they don’t sell there they go off for pulp.
I should add here that if you go off to the large chain booksellers, you can probably get your Gunpowder Plot book or whatnot at a price and of course or you can buy one off the internet without seeing it first, this can have unexpected results.
The greatest demand for history in Ramsgate is the history of Ramsgate itself and as you can see from this area I have overcome this problem mostly by printing local history books myself.
This works up to a point and does mean that we usually have something suitable about Thanet in stock.
Some of you probably knew Mr Kemp who used to run Albion Secondhand bookshop in Broadstairs but unfortunately died last year, not long before he died we were speculating about where all the Isle of Thanet history books go to.
At that point I had more that 100 Thanet books in print and he had hardly managed buy any of them secondhand even from probate, he suggested that people were possibly taking them with them. As you can see from three shelves of Kent history books published by other people I could certainly do with some more.
History doesn’t just extend to British history, I didn’t put my world history books in as it would have been too many pictures, there is also military history.
And more military history.
Maritime history, I am always short of this because of the harbour, although not usually The Big Book of Ships.
Aviation history this also sells well, maybe because of Manston.
Transport history especially books on individual makes of car and motorbike
Incidentally the pictures are of books on the selves in my bookshop today, so if you see one you want to buy, email me firstname.lastname@example.org or ring me up 01843 589500 if you want me to reserve any of them for you.