Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Bradstow School Peoples Millions Vote

Hey there guys! Today is the day where all you lovely people can help us by voting for Bradstow School!!

Please make sure you phone 0871 626 8858 between 9am and 12pm today!

You can vote up to 10 times and it only takes a couple seconds!

Take a look at the event page to remind yourself why we are doing this!

Thank you everyone for your support!

Ed. This is a Thanet school for disabled children about halfway between Ramsgate and Broadstairs, what they are trying to get funding for is: A 5-a-side pitch and interactive highway.


I will add to this one.

Monday, 27 June 2011

Ramsgate Tunnels Vote Today


The number you need to phone is 0871 626 88 55, you can do this up to 10 times from one phone number. Calls cost 11p from a UK landline, when you dial the number it rings for a bit and then you get a recorded message saying that your vote has been registered.


What are you voting for?

Funding to document and survey 3½ miles of historic manmade tunnel structures within the Ramsgate area in order to restore and preserve them as part of an all-weather, year-round tourist and heritage project. The survey will properly document the entire tunnel system so as to clearly define its true condition, collate and archive all the available documentary evidence and draw up a workable business plan to develop them as a heritage attraction and educational resource. 


How long have you got to vote?

The phone line opened at 9am today and will stay open until midnight tonight.


Television Coverage Today

Watch ITV Meridian this evening at 6pm.


How do you get involved?

Ramsgate Tunnels Website http://www.ramsgatetunnels.org/  


What were these tunnels dug for?

Ramsgate and a lot of this part of the country sits on chalk, as well as giving us our white cliffs and providing underwater reservoirs of fresh water, this chalk is easy to tunnel and remains strong and sound after it has been tunnelled.

This whole area is full of caves and tunnels some of them dating back to prehistoric times, apart from the main tunnel system that this is about there are many other smaller tunnels and caves under Ramsgate.

The history of this system of tunnels dates back about 150 years and started because of competing Victorian railway companies, the railways first came to Thanet via Canterbury to a station in Ramsgate at the top of the High Street, the other end Of Station Approach Road to where the station is now.

This was the South Eastern Railway that arrived in Thanet in 1846, later a spur line was built across the island to Margate.

Around 1860 The London Chatham and Dover Railway extended their line form Herne Bay, via Margate and Broadstairs to Ramsgate, their new station was on Ramsgate seafront where the Pleasurama site is now.

This was reached by 1124 yard tunnel from Dumpton Park to the base of Augusta Stairs in Ramsgate, this is a virtually straight tunnel big enough to take two standard sized railway tracks that slopes between the railway cutting near the bridge at Dumpton Park to Ramsgate seafront.

When the two railway companies were amalgamated under Southern railways and in 1926 the existing station was built in Ramsgate, a new link line between Dumpton and the new station built, Sands Station and tunnel closed.

The Sands railway station was bought by the town corporation and used as an amusement park, they were also keen to find some use for the tunnel and in 1936 a spur tunnel was dug from the existing tunnel to near Dumpton Park railway station and a narrow gauge scenic railway opened between there and the seafront.

During the Fist World War Ramsgate was one of the most bombed and shelled towns in the country and when the Second World War Started this tunnel system was extended to provide a linked series of air raid shelters for the whole town.    



Books related to the Ramsgate Tunnels.


I have various local history books available now in my bookshop that cover aspects of the Ramsgate Tunnels.

The Ramsgate Tunnels, Main Line Air Raid and Scenic Railway, by Nick Catford, Published Michaels Bookshop 2005 £4.99

Ramsgate All Change, Railways in the news at Ramsgate, by David Richards, Published Michaels Bookshop 2008 £7.99

Midst Bands and Bombs, ABC Kempe 1946 reprint Published Michaels Bookshop 2006 £5.99

The Ramsgate Underground, by Terry Wheeler, Published Terry Wheeler 1999 £2.25

Ramsgate has the World’s Finest Shelters, by Phil Spain, Published Phil Spain 2011 £4.99

Who owns the tunnels?

Thanet District Council own the tunnels, I have complained to them that they haven’t even put out a press release about this, which is after all a national TV Peoples Millions event to raise funding to survey a council owned asset 

I will add to this one today with a short history of the tunnels and a more detailed explanation of the voting process.  

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Thanet District Council, No News is Good News, even a Sub Head in the local papers but really a ramble.



Last week, when the council told the local bloggers they wouldn’t get council press releases and these would be replaced with council news feeds, both Simon Moores and ! put the computer thingy, that uses the council’s news feed, to show our readers the council’s latest news on our blog sidebars.

During the whole of this week the council’s news feed hasn’t fed a single press release, I have moved this thingy up to the top of my sidebar so you can see what I mean.

There have been some council press releases recently including a fairly important one about the council’s accounts, when this one didn’t feed earlier this week I put in a complaint to the council, see http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/flat611/ With this one I came up against the old council problem of what’s broken at TDCIT? I didn’t get any reply or acknowledgment from them so I don’t know if they are dealing with the complaint, or if the email got lost in their general IT problems.

I am pretty sure that there is something fundamentally wrong with the council’s decision not to allow the public to contact their press department, everything looks normal on their website at http://www.thanet.gov.uk/news/focus_on_news.aspx where it says “To find out more about these news releases , please contact the Press Office.  Either e-mail press.office@thanet.gov.uk or phone 01843 577034”.

There is certainly a news story involving the council this week, this seems to have started life in The Friday’s Isle of Thanet Gazette, see http://www.thisiskent.co.uk/Sub-head/story-12827053-detail/story.html

Why their story is called “Sub Head” is a bit of a mystery to me, probably some sort of accredited journalistic code that would be indecipherable to the sub media like me.

This seems to be a story about some money that the council had to return, between 11 and 5 years ago the council claimed about five and half million in grants and now they have had to give about half a million back that they shouldn’t have claimed.


I have read it all twice and am not that much the wiser about GOSE or the ERDF, if anything I have come away with the vague feeling of organisations funded by taxation generating masses of paperwork and not much else.

If like me you didn’t get out yesterday to buy an Isle of Thanet Gazette and you are at work now, most of the paper seems to available online at http://www.thisiskent.co.uk/people/Isle%20of%20Thanet%20Gazette/profile.html this is one newspaper’s website that has gone completely potty. Their news feed has collapsed completely and their search box thinks that Thanet is a spelling mistake but the real indicator of an IT disaster is the total absence of comment on any of their articles, suggesting that no one is reading them, probably because they can’t find them.


Your Thanet have also covered it in the bizarre way that only a local newspaper trying to grapple with the internet could, by publishing it only online via a program for viewing newspapers with called pageview, essentially as a blog about blogs where you can’t comment.

Delving the Your Thanet Website http://www.yourthanet.co.uk/ one thing is obvious there is very little Thanet comment and virtually no recent articles about Thanet you could comment on if you wanted to.

Frankly the way the local media in Thanet are coping with the internet is all pretty strange and none so strange as Your Thanet, a paper that is now only available online. 

When it comes to newspapers and comment, the only local paper getting a lot of comment Thanet Extra is blazing the trail, see http://www.kentonline.co.uk/thanet_extra/news.aspx the only thing the paper lacks though is much in the way of Thanet news stories.

Friday, 24 June 2011

Preston Steam Rally, the main local event this weekend.







This is one of the largest local events, just outside Thanet on the road to Wingham and is on tomorrow and Sunday.



Hare are the links to the pictures of last years event:



http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/preston2010/



http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/preston2010/id3.htm



http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/preston2010/id4.htm



http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/preston2010/id5.htm



http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/preston2010/id7.htm




http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/preston2010/id8.htm




http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/preston2010/id9.htm



here is their website:



http://www.prestonrally.co.uk/ you may note this site doesn’t work properly in Internet Explorer.



If you have looked at some of the pictures then I don’t suppose there is much I can do to explain the event further, certainly if you were thinking of camping this weekend it’s well worth considering doing so there and if you want a day out it’s a good one.



Preston Steam Services has a museum run by the same charitable trust that wants to run Ramsgate Maritime Museum http://www.thesteammuseum.org/

When it comes to the Maritime Museum that closed two years ago, it is very hard to see how the blame for its continued closure doesn’t mostly belong to Thanet District Council.

My understanding is that for several years now the steam trust, which is a charitable trust, wants to run the museum for the benefit of local people, has been negotiating with the council.

I think the stumbling point is that the building is one of Thanet District Councils iconic Ramsgate assets, others are or were, Albion House, The Royal Victoria Pavilion, Westcliff Hall, The Pleasurama Site, Nero’s, The Eagle Café and The marina Swimming Pool.

This is particularly ironic while the council is engaged in making a compulsory purchase of the Dreamland site in Margate, while these council owned assets in Ramsgate suffer their various fates at the hands of the council.

What is certain is that for the steam trust to run the museum they need grant funding and to obtain this they need security of tenure in terms of a reasonable lease from the council.

More irony here as at the same time as the council pulled out of the lease they had promised the trust on the grounds that long leases had to be seen as asset disposals and would therefore have to go through a long and probably expensive asset disposal process, they handed out a 199 year lease to the Pleasurama development developer without going to asset disposal.

Since then my understanding is that the trust said they would accept a shorter lease and this lease has been subject to a further couple of years prevarication by the council, now I think it likely that the trust may have given up the idea. Mostly on the grounds that the council are just to difficult to work with.

Whatever the ins and outs the museum remains closed and anyone seeing the obvious resources that the steam trust has to offer would be forgiven for wondering why the council are not welcoming them with open arms.

I would say that the main thing now in Ramsgate’s favour is that we really haven’t got much else in the way of council owned assets to lose, what remains at best is empty and at worse derelict, demolished or abandoned.


Update I have just heard from the council with an update on the situation that sounds encouraging:

I am pleased to advise that latest iteration of the proposed lease  setting out 
the Council's preferred position as prospective Landlord, is  now with the Steam 
Museum Trust for consideration.
I hope that if there are still some issues to be resolved between the Council 
and the Trust, none of them will be too difficult to overcome.”




I will add to this one as I get time

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Dropping a brick in Ramsgate Dickens in Broadstairs a day off ramble


Today’s pictures from the camera card, via my notebook with the very small screen so I haven’t seen them properly prior to publication so apologies for the bad ones in advance.


http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/netbook611/


and the Dickens Festival ones here, I will add them to the rest when I get time


http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/netbook611/id3.htm


I know that there are people who just like to follow the pictures and my rather aimless meanderings and I also know that I have been rather lax in putting them online recently.


The main observation today was yet another cliff safety problem here in Ramsgate, the picture above is a detail from one of the ones in the first batch, link above, shows part of what I am concerned about.


This relates to the part of the cliff above the new extension to the rebuilding of the Granville Marina Restaurant as flats.


Since they started on this building I have been impressed by the quality of the build but have been expressing my concerns about the cliff structure behind the extended part.


I have general concerns about the way the council are managing our cliff structures and most particularly I have concerns where those cliff structures are adjacent to residential developments.


What you can see in the picture is a few bricks being displaced by vegetation growth and I would think anyone can see that eventually they will fall off if left unattended. This is a relatively minor side effect of the whole problem, the chances of there being someone underneath them when they fall is not that great and I would say an absolute worst case scenario it that when they fall they would kill a couple of people.


What worries me considerably is that the condition of this brickwork shows that the much larger concrete lump the bricks are sitting on, hasn’t been properly maintained and like the Pleasurama site the intention is that local people will be living where the debris would fall if a large part of it collapses.


My understanding is that the responsibility for maintaining both the cliff in the picture and the one behind the Pleasurama site is Thanet District Council’s and the responsibility for monitoring the safety of these structures is also the council’s..


With the Pleasurama site there is the added problem that the council benefits financially from the development of the site.


With the Pleasurama site I think the thing that worried me most was the business of me crying wolf over the undermining of the arched part of the façade, strangely the council seemed quite happy about this. However the fundamental problem here still hasn’t been resolved and that is that the council and the council’s consulting engineers carried out a cliff survey and a £1m repair based on the same information that caused me to report this part of the façade as being dangerous i.e. that the panels between the arches were block when in fact they are cast concrete.


In other words both the councils engineers and their consulting engineers made safety predictions, carried out a major survey and repair contract without understanding the basic construction of the structure. Or they spent a lot of our money surveying and repairing a brick house, then pronounced it safe, when I came along and said to them actually it’s a wooden house, their reply was, oh so it is, but is still safe.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

The Yellow Peril at Ramsgate Main Sands

Of all the peculiar ideas, those of the last Labour administration about the regeneration through retailing, are some that seem to have backfired in strange and peculiar ways.

I think much of the problem relates to traffic infrastructure, based on the idea that people were going to use public transport and bicycles much more than they in fact do.

Equally peculiar is the way is the way that the local Conservatives took on these ideas with great enthusiasm and I suppose the gridlock and parking difficulties that often occur at Westwood Cross are the most familiar symptom of this.

In Ramsgate we are all familiar with the Impact scheme to improve the shopping centre that was suddenly curtailed in an uncompleted state for no apparent reason.

The strangest of all of these projects for regeneration through shopping, was the one that occurred behind Ramsgate main sands, considerable lottery and EU funding was ploughed into something based on the idea that the affluent would suddenly start shopping there by bicycle.

Perhaps thinking about it this may have started even before the last Labour administration at TDC wasn’t Impact a Tory idea, oh well this is all lost in the mists of time.

Anyway sometime around twenty five years ago local shops, leisure facilities and parking became a sort of target here in Thanet with Ramsgate being the frontline testing area.

The Eastern Undercliff main sands area had numerous leisure facilities and considerable free public parking along the one-way road behind the main sands that emerged on the Eastcliff.

The leisure facilities here have been demolished, abandoned, burnt and a few have been turned into car parks.

As far as the road to nowhere goes though the appearance of the yellow peril, in terms of no parking and no loading stripes of one sort or another, has now passed anything I have ever seen outside of the busiest roads where even the slightest congestions causes massive traffic jams.

How exactly people are supposed to unload granny or the children, deckchairs, sunshades wind breaks, I don’t really know.

One thing is certain though, the message to any tourists is, you are not welcome here.
As you see the great wide yellow splodges know no end.
Strangely the adjacent road seems to have no restrictions.
In the picture above you can see that there are times you can park but not unload.
What which council are trying to achieve here defies the imagination, perhaps what they are trying to achieve on dead end road that is very seldom busy is probably in file somewhere only accessible through the information commissioner.

There is a very large bus stop which would be useful if the road was on a bus route.
Why there is some parking allowed there on Sundays but not on ther days defies the imagination, perhaps this was devised to prevent congestion when people were shopping by bicycle.


Tuesday, 21 June 2011

When is a Thanet District Council Press Release not a Press Release?


Two rather bizarre things relating to TDC press releases occurred today.

One being that the council announced that their accounts would be available for inspection in the Latest News part of their website’s homepage, but excluded this news from their news feed.

I have written to them asking what they are up to, see http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/611/id10.htm

The other being that after not having received any press releases from the council since I was blackballed as a member of the non council accredited media I received a press release from the today, see http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/611/id9.htm

I don’t know if this means I have now been reaccredited and should start posting press releases again, or if this was just an error, I have written to the press department see http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/611/id11.htm although this could be tricky as if they still see me as unaccredited then presumably the won’t be able to reply to me to tell me that they have made a mistake. 


I suppose that instead of just asking the people who I think probably made some sort of mistake when trying to use TDCIT, I should have made a foi request and waited about a month for some sort of answer.

I don’t really know what has happened here, by this I mean.

Did the council accounts department really mean not to include their news release in the news feeds? It doesn’t look like a deliberate attempt to conceal anything or they wouldn’t have published it on their homepage. Added to this did the they just miss out saying when and where their accounts would be available on the internet or are the deliberately making it very difficult for ordinary working local people to view them?

Has the council decided that the four local blogs that regularly cover local news can receive press releases again? Or did someone press the wrong button when sending out this particular press release? Or even will the council only be sending me good news releases and excluding anything that could warrant further investigation or comment like the council’s accounts?

There is also the this very peculiar problem of which TDC officers have been forbidden from replying to me? 

It is very difficult to know how to proceed with this one, I think the councils objective here may be to try and classify my requests as vexatious and so my bunging off simple is this some sort of mistake emails to officers may be used collectively as justification to stop me from receiving information altogether.


The nearest I can get to how this feels, from my point of view, is having published a lot of what can only really be seen as local news stories, mainly because either they effected me directly or just because they interested me, finding that a lot of other local people are reading them. The pages viewed thing at the bottom of the sidebar is registering over 20,000, I now find that I have a certain responsibility to my readers.

Take yesterday’s post as an example, there is a council funded public consultation going on in the three main Thanet shopping centres this week, I don’t know how much this cost in terms of spending our council tax. I do know that it says on Eurokent’s website that if you want to know you should send an foi request to TDC.

The obvious question here and one I would have asked the TDC press department is why they haven publicised the consultation? Of course I could put in a foi request for this information, but wouldn’t have got a reply until after the consultation was over.       

Monday, 20 June 2011

Eurokent Business Park public consultations this week


This is where and when the consultations are.

Broadstairs
Tuesday 21 June 2pm – 8pm
Holy Trinity Church Hall
Church Road, off Nelson Place,
CT10 1HQ Margate

Margate
Thursday 23 June 2pm – 8pm
Margate Media Centre
11-13 King Street,
CT9 1DA

Ramsgate
Friday 24 June 9am – 5pm
Street Market
Ramsgate Town Centre,
CT11 9AG 

Westwood Cross
Saturday 25 June 10am – 2pm
Main entrance
Westwood Cross Shopping Centre
Margate Road,
CT10 2BF

Where is Eurokent Business Park?

I have just had to explain this to two people who ought to know, so in words, if you come out of the car park at Westwood Cross Shopping centre and turn left, you find a load or roundabouts in fields that are not connected to roads and you have it.

There is a map on their website but unfortunately as it doesn’t name anywhere, it could be anywhere, so I have copied it above with the names of some well known places on it.

My understanding of this one is that Thanet District Council and Kent County Council invested in this land with the intention that it should be used for industry to provide employment in Thanet.

I think the idea now is to build houses on it.

Part of the masterplan for this site seems a bit strange to me, it seems to include a High Street without shops, see http://www.eurokent.org/pages/high%20street.html this may be loosely based on Margate although I am not really sure.

The same group seems to have something to do with the Manston Business park site see http://www.eurokent.org/manston%20park.html none of the links on their news page seem to work http://www.eurokent.org/news.html all in all this seems to be another site with lots of roundabouts mostly not leading to much.  


I have to admit to not knowing much about this one so I will try consult at Ramsgate market on Friday, these people seem to be very keen on massive road layouts that don’t seem to lead anywhere much.

Of course I can’t just ask the council’s press department what this is all about, although I suppose they may not know see http://www.eurokent.org/company.html It certainly seems a bit strange to spend all this money on roads that don’t seem to have anything much in the way of purpose, when so many of the busy Thanet roads are full of potholes.


I have just remembered that Bertie had things to say about Eurokent, click on the link to do a Google search of his blog for Eurokent http://www.google.co.uk/search?q=eurokent+site%3Ahttp%3A%2F%2Fthanetstrife.blogspot.com%2F&hl=en&num=10&lr=&ft=i&cr=&safe=images&tbs=
I will add to this as I get time. 

Broadstairs Dickens Festival Pictures


With the very uncertain weather and primary school children I was limited by what I could cover this weekend, I did manage to get a few snaps of the Dickens Festival in Broadstairs yesterday afternoon.

The links to the pictures are below:


with a few shots of on the way in and out of Broadstairs here.


This festival is on until Friday and I will try to get some more if I get a chance.

I am sorry that I didn’t manage to get to Margate and photograph the big event, hopefully plenty of other people have and lots of pictures and videos will appear online soon.

A considerable problem is one of cameras and water, covering an event like this I would need to take three cameras with me, one ordinary one (the one I used to take the Broadstairs pictures with) one video camera and one with a long lens on it to take pictures of the planes with.

I had the one with the long lens ready and every time I saw a plane I took some pictures of it, this would have been effective if I had been in Margate, however as you can see the pictures of the Red Arrows performing over Margate, taken from my garden in Ramsgate ate not really very effective, here’s the link.


this is made much more difficult because due to the time sound takes to travel you don’t actually hear them until they have gone.

Anyway my point here is that if you are carrying all of this photographic equipment it is beast to avoid heavy rain, what with that and my children wanting to dress up as Dickens characters I had no hope.  

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Love Music Hate Racism Pictures Ramsgate 2011


Here are the links to the pictures.


http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/lmhr/index.htm


Sorry about the pictures they were taken and published in rather a rush, I also had a bit of a no photography from on top of the old Refectory, which has been open to the public for as long as I can remember, from some sort of jobsworth, I did take a few pictures but won’t bother to splash him over the internet.

I did viddy a bit and will bung it on YouTube soon.


Here is the first video






I missed the name of the artists, if anyone can help, please comment and I will add it. 


I have put the pictures through autocorrection with the video going up onto youtube they may take a while to appear at


and
http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/lmhr/id5.htm


So far we have been pretty lucky with the rain, we had a bit this morning before the event as it were, things have brightened up now as so often happens in Thanet. For a while there I thought it was going to be renamed “Love Ramsgate Hate Rain”

We are entertaining this evening so I won’t be able to get back down there, however I would imagine it will be fun.




Here is the other video

I will add a bit more text

Friday, 17 June 2011

Tesco, Thanet District Council and The Isle of Thanet Gazette a view from the unaccredited media

Being part of the unaccredited media and feeling vaguely like the oppressed press, I duly went out and bought a copy of the Soaraway Isle of Thanet Gazette as our local soaraway councillor calls it.

The papers website has gone totally bananas, all their Thanet feeds seem to have died and their Thanet articles now appear in different places with no links to earlier articles about the same subject. I sometimes wonder if large organisations can make a sensible decision at all.

As you will all know, I, being unaccredited, no longer get the council press releases and as my computer seems to have a similar problems to the even bigger one at Goggle, to which my one is but “shallow thought” and not worthy to……., I don’t seem to be getting all the council’s press releases via RSS.


 Anyway my understanding is that the council have passed the plans for the Tesco at Arlington House by their usual majority 1, see http://www.thisiskent.co.uk/Arlington-House-plans-met-anger/story-12788690-detail/story.html and http://www.thanet.gov.uk/news/latest_press_releases/arlington_planning_decision.aspx

Then things get really confusing as according to the Gazette there is already anew Tesco in Margate with traffic problems, see


The story starts:

“MOTORISTS illegally parking on zigzag lines outside a new Tesco were caught red-handed after a tip-off to the Isle of Thanet Gazette.”

Then goes on to say:

In just 45 minutes PCSO supervisor Andy Howe, 43, caught nine motorists parking illegally outside the store in Hereson Road, Margate.”

I think someone here may need breathalysing, perhaps me, as I thought Hereson Road is in Ramsgate.

Then it goes on to say:

He [PCSO supervisor Andy Howe] said: "I've spoken to management at Tesco and we are trying to figure out a long-term fix. My suggestion is Tesco pay for the removal of the zebra crossing and put in a traffic island to make a safe place to cross and slow traffic down. Hereson school is not here any more."


Is this just me again or wasn’t the School site, at the other end of Cecilia Road to the traffic lights, bought by St Ethelberts Infants and Junior School, perhaps the police see younger children as needing a zebra crossing even less, being. What? Expendable.

The pictures are courtesy of Thanet district Council and relate to a time before I was blacklisted.

Dover Castle

 My day off yesterday as my bookshop is closed on Thursdays and those of us who were in the mood set off to look around Dover Castle.

I particularly wanted to see the changes that they had made to the parts of the underground tunnel system that is open to the public there as there are moves afoot to try and get some of the Ramsgate tunnel system open to the public.
 The Dover tunnels have been a big tourist draw for some years now, and at the moment they have them set out as an Operation Dynamo experience. Not much mention of the little ships and none of Ramsgate, but very entertaining nonetheless.

Unlike the Ramsgate Tunnels there are signs saying photography is not allowed in the Dover Tunnels so no pictures of them I am afraid.

 The Great Tower of Dover Castle has for many years been somewhere that I found disappointing to visit,  years ago when I used to visit the keep it was decorated with an eclectic collection armour and weapons. I suppose it looked a bit like one would expect a baronial hall to be decorated in an old American film based on a British novel.

It then went through a bare period, I believe this was caused by the removal of everything that was thought to be historically incorrect, which was just about everything, this left the castle with about as much atmosphere as an empty industrial unit.
 The last time visited the keep was I think about five years ago, at that time it was going through a sort of educational period, the displays seemed to aimed at people who hadn’t had history lessons at school.

You know the sort of thing large cardboard cut-outs that on closer investigation are made out of plastic, that appear to have been produced with very large primary school children in mind.

Anyway they have finally cracked the thing and done a reasonable job of making it look like an inhabited castle, even a real log fire burning, I took some pictures


With the inside I wanted to produce a series of pictures that were something like a dream of visiting a castle as it could have been in ones imagination, well I have done my best see what you think.





Part of the way they have produced the atmosphere in the great tower is with subtle the lighting, this would be insufficient for conventional photography and of course using a flash would have spoilt the effect.

The rest of the pictures are more conventional, see




Thursday, 16 June 2011

Apology to Thanet District Council about their promotion of The Big Event.


This post relates to yesterday’s post, see http://thanetonline.blogspot.com/2011/06/thanet-district-councils-new-local-news.html and my complaint to the council that their RSS feed was working incorrectly.

I have had an assurance from Thanet District Council that that this is due to fault with Google and not a problem with TDCIT, see below.

Dear Mr Child,
 
Customer Feedback Reference:28711
 
Thank you for your email which was received on 15/06/2011 and for bringing this 
issue to our attention.
 
We have investigated the problem and discovered that this has occurred due to an 
issue with Google provided readers and not as a result of bug within the TDC RSS 
feed. 
 
I agree with you that the Margate Big Event should feature as the main news 
event on our feed and indeed it does. The top article in our feed is “Line up 
for Margate’s Big Event” and this is showing as the top article in all readers 
not provided by Google. It appears that Google has been caching a few old posts 
incorrectly which has resulted in old posts showing at the top of feeds viewed 
through their reader. 
 
This should be an isolated incident but we will monitor this and have reported 
this to Google directly.
 
In promoting the Big Event 2011, we use a variety of channels to ensure maximum 
coverage. These include:
 
Leaflets handed out over May Bank Holiday and at the Margate Meltdown as well as 
30,000 delivered to households across Kent.
Flyers to local Margate schools.
450 Posters at many locations in East Kent.
Banners on thanet.gov (on every page), This is Margate, Youth Matters, visit 
Thanet, visit Kent, visit Britain and Kent online.
Twitter updates.
Facebook.
TDC switchboard phone message.
Eposter, posters and leaflets to our partners to distribute.
A direct Mail campaign across Kent.
Press ads in Thanet Extra, Canterbury Extra, Folkestone Extra, Ashford Extra, 
Medway Extra, East Kent Mercury as well as front page editorials and double page 
features in our free local papers.
1 week of radio promotion across KMFM.
 
We expect the Big Event 2011 to again be well attended. In addition, the new 
location of the Margate seafront will help to boost income for local businesses 
and promote Margate as a tourist destination. 
 
Thank you for the support you are showing to the Big Event and for highlighting 
the problem you have encountered with the RSS feed. I hope that clarification of 
our promotion campaign resolves your concerns about attendance and that you 
enjoy the weekend.
 
I hope that this response resolves the matter to your satisfaction.
 
If you are not happy with our response, you may write to us with your reasons 
within the next ten working days, requesting a further review.  
 
In order for us to respond as efficiently as possible, please ensure that you 
quote the above reference number and address your communication to ********** - Customer Feedback Co-ordinator, Business Services.
 
Yours sincerely
************
Corporate Information & Communications Manager

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Midweek Ramble


There is a council meeting tonight to theoretically decide the future of Arlington House in Margate, in practice is suspect that the meeting will only put the decision off to a later date.

There is plenty on in Thanet this weekend and the weather forecast is looking a bit dodgy especially for Saturday when here in Ramsgate we have Love Music Hate Racism see http://lovemusichateracism.com/2011/05/kent-love-music-hate-racism-carnival-june-18th-ramsgate/ in Broadstairs we have the start of Dickens Week see http://www.broadstairsdickensfestival.co.uk/ and of course the first day of The Big Event in Margate, if this ahs a website I can’t find it there are odd pages on the council’s website but nothing comprehensive.

Saturday I will be working but may get a chance at taking a few photos of the Ramsgate event, Sunday I may try to get over to Margate to The Big Event and take some pictures.

It’s been a funny old start to the blogging week, the council seems to have gone completely potty over the way they dispense information, the way I am reading it the only way a member of the public can access information from the council, under the new rules is via a freedom of information request.

The only exception to this is council accredited media, it would seem that the only way one can even find out what criteria media would need to be accredited by the council is via a freedom of information request. 

A government selected media where as far as I can see the main selected media receives considerable advertising revenue from the government sounds like something that would only happen in some sort of oppressive dictatorship.

One is inclined to imagine the tourist arriving in Ramsgate and asking when the museum is open, only to be told to submit a freedom of information request and expect the answer in about a month.

Sounds like something out a novel about the dictatorship in some banana republic, doesn’t it? I don’t think it is so very far from the truth though, I had a couple of tourists in my bookshop today who had had an encounter a bit like this.

I will ramble on if the mood takes me. 

Margate Football Club new plans for 80 bed hotel 11 all weather pitches etc submitted


The plans are on the council’s planning website http://www.ukplanning.com/thanet planning ref F/TH/11/0428 the main plan is the one above, click on it to enlarge it.

There may have been a council press release about this, of course as an unaccredited news source I wouldn’t know.

 I will expand on this one if I get time.

Here comes the promised expansion, this is a Margate issue and doesn’t really effect me, also it is something that I don’t really know much about, this is how I read the situation and I would be glad if anyone would correct me in the comments.

My understanding is that some residents are concerned that putting the new artificial pitch where the club want to will fragment the park. This has all got tangled up with the club wanting to improve the facilities on the existing football ground site, something that I don’t think anyone was against.

Enter the council and everyone will have to abide by their rules, regardless of whether the result is beneficial to the club, the park users or Margate, stir in a few solicitors, get everyone’s backs up and you have the current situation.

I think Margate could easily end up with the park fragmented and the club facilities not improved.   

Thanet District Council’s new local news history project


Keeping an eye on the council’s much talked about but little understood RSS news feed I was interested this morning to note that it has just updated and sent me the latest news form the council saying that:

Birchington residents can learn more about fire safety and crime prevention advice, when the latest Operation Cleansweep visits the village.

The Kent Fire and Rescue Service drop-in vehicle will be parked outside the Co-op at 56 Station Road on Wednesday 26 January from 12.30 pm until 4.00 pm.

Kent Fire and Rescue Service officers will be joined by a Crime Reduction Officer from Kent Police, who will be giving out crime prevention advice.

Operation Cleansweep will be visiting Birchington and Westgate over their next two-day operation to do enforcement checks, clear communal areas and offer advice and support to local people.

If you would like any issues that you feel need tackling in the upcoming Birchington Cleansweep or have ideas for future operations, please call 01843 577737.

I would of course normally have alerted the press office to this latest error but of course I am not allowed to communicate with them, perhaps I am supposed to raise a foi request any ideas anyone?

I think the problem here is the council just don’t appreciate the importance of this I have sent them the following official complaint:

This is an official complaint that TDCs news feed is feeding the news that there will be a village event in Birchington on January 17th 2011, today is 15th June 2011 the main news event that the council should be feeding to the rest of the country in Margate’s Big Event due to start 18th June 2011.

I should further add that the council has sopped sending me press releases which I used to publish for them with proper working news feeds at http://thanetpress.blogspot.com/ there reason for doing this appears to be that I should use their feeds which evidently do not work.

The net result of this will be probably be a few thousand less people attending The Big Event with the associated loss of income for local businesses and even the council because of lost program sales.          

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Martin Wise Cabinet Member for Thanet District Council’s press department on the new press department rules.


Martin Wise Cabinet Member for Thanet District Council’s press department. 

I have done my best with the picture, in the circumstances I didn’t want to use one from the council’s website as I don’t want to get in to trouble for breach of copyright and understand that asking to use their picture could take a month before they answer.

I asked martin for his position on the chanced press department policy and he was courteous enough to reply for publication here it is.

Michael,

It is not the sending out of information by E-mail to bloggers, it is
the flood of requests that follow for each one that is the problem. If
you multiply your own enquiries by the number that come from other
bloggers, and the media, then you will see that the number of requests
become unmanageable for the resource available.

Like it or not we are living in changed times and have to face many new
realities, and so we will cut the cloth according to what we can afford.
We cannot afford to give instantaneous response to every request for
information, but I am content that there are sufficient channels
available for the public to get the information they need about the
Council and its activites without the press officer being constantly
on-call to every individul seeking information.

Whilst I acknowledge that your blogs receive a large number of hits each
day, and do provide much useful historical information that is both
enlightening and interesting, I am not sure that it is the thirst for
factual information that drives most people to them. From observation (I
check out Thanet on Line several times a day), and without wishing to be
controversial, I would suggest that many of your readers are more
interested in tittle tattle or their own desire to rubbish the Council
at every opportunity. Even you must agree that Bash the Council is a
popular sport round these parts?

Whether you or your readers accept the point, it is my view that the
vast majority of Council officers and members are trying to do a good
job and for the most part are succeeding, despite the best efforts of
some to rubbish their activities. As for the Cabinet, we are as intent
on identifying areas of weakness and working with officers to deliver
improvement. As well as the huge day to day responsibilities of each of
the services we are acutely aware that each have a number of long
running issues that must be resolved if Thanet is to provide the jobs
and future prosperity that our residents (young people particularly),
deserve. Our focus is therefore to identify these and then ensure that
do what is necessary to get a result.

I am happy for you to publish any of this that you wish.

Regards,

Martin.

I also asked the council’s press department what the new situation is, but they haven’t replied to me.

Finally I put in a foi request asking them what their new policy is about, I would say that in terms of Thanet District Council information my press release blog and this blog are the two main sources, apart from the council’s own websites. I think I have asked the council’s press department about ten questions this year so I was surprised to be boycotted in this way.

In the foi request I have written I have tried to cover all of the angles, the difficulty here is that the council may take up to a month to reply, so one has to try to cover all everything. The problem from my point of view is that I don’t really understand their motives, here is the link to the request http://www.thanetonline.com/tdcfoi/

I have suspended my press release blog, although once I have discovered what the council’s criteria is for being an accredited news source I may be able to fulfil it and reinstate that blog.

I will add to this if I get more time.