Sunday, 30 December 2012

Wind up of the year.

 As far as I remember this time last year we had just had a change of administration in our local government from Conservative to Labour, so a reasonable question is have we benefited.
 My view is obviously biased towards Ramsgate, where I live and trade and I guess what a district council does that it doesn’t have to do anyway – empty the bins, sweep the streets and so on - is fairly limited, the difference in Ramsgate, well at least the only one I could see, relates to council owned property.
 Somehow under the eight years of Conservative administration virtually all of our district council owned public properties became or remained empty and or derelict. Whether this was due to spite towards a town with mostly Labour councillors, terrible blundering or something else that has never been explained – I don’t know – no one has ever said. 

 Since Labour took over at the end of last year three have reopened, The Clock House and the café at the end of the pier and the old tourist information office.
 The biggest and most prominent Pleasurama and The Pavillion still remain derelict abandoned eyesores, as do Westcliff Hall and Albion House.
 I guess the most significant local factor last year is that it was the first full year of The Turner Contemporary art gallery and this even included a visit to the gallery by the reigning monarch
 With all of the cuts both to our county council and the arts council I do wonder what the long term future will be for the gallery, the way it is designed makes it very expensive to run and frankly I think it is too small an attraction to command an entrance fee comparable to its running costs.
 Children’s quote of the year, may be: “We had sex education at school, but it wasn’t much good, we didn’t get to do anything, apart from watch TV.”
 If I have a new year’s resolution it must be to put the names of places and the date in my sketchbooks. Thumbing through them and trying to grasp a little of the last year I have taken photos of some of the sketches, many of them never get finished as there isn’t time.
It’s been a strange year for secondhand bookselling with Albion Bookshop in Broadstairs becoming a pub with books, I don’t really know what to make of it and certainly know it isn’t something I could cope with. 

The whole business of books and bookselling is heading for a cliff edge as far as I can see, over the years the business of choosing something to read developed into something called the browse.

This is particularly important for newly published books that were never destined for rave reviews, but was nonetheless useful and interesting to some people.

I guess that the crux of the problem is that while Amazon are very successful at closing down all forms of opposition, they haven’t mastered the virtual equivalent of a browse in a physical bookshop.  

I may ramble on here.

Saturday, 29 December 2012

Tracey Emin in New Year's Honours

Our Tracey is to be made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for her services to the arts.

I can see that with this new honour I shall need to do a more tasteful and fetching sketch of her, perhaps in blue gouache. 

Friday, 28 December 2012

Ramsgate and Broadstairs New Year Fireworks 2013

The display at Ramsgate harbour will take place at midnight in the normal way weather permitting.

The display time at Broadstairs has been changed to 10.30 pm and once again it will take place on weather permitting basis. 

We had our really big explosion earlier this year when Richborough Powerstation was demolished.

I could only find Mark Dempsey’s explanation as to why the Broadstairs display has been changed on FaceBook here is the link and have copied it below in case it won't open for readers.

As regards Broadstairs Fireworks this New Years Eve and as the person charged with the great responsibility of not only firing the Fireworks at Broadstairs As the Managing Director of Viking fireworks Ltd but also submitting all of the paperwork neccessary to ensure these events go ahead through my involvement with the Broadstairs Firework Society, please may I make these comments which I hope you will all consider and form your own opinions, and respond in kind on this blog in due course.

As far as I am concerned, all of your comments whether positive or negative to what I am about to say will be listened to and acted upon. The only stipulation I would place on this is that if you feel you have to post a negative comment then please do so but then please suggest a positive alternative course of action you feel we could have taken to make this event a success.

OK then, here we go.

New Years Eve 2012 Broadstairs.

This is the current synopsis.

Usually a Midnight Display, we are restricted to a Beach firing, low water on 31st December Btroadstairs around 19 20 hrs o.6metres, highwater around 1.20pm 5.5 metres, ( Dover Coastguard advises), therefore we could be faced with the situation that at midnight at Viking Bay on the day in question there will already be very little beach to fire Fireworks from.

You have to understand the following to make a reasoned assesment of the Firework Companys position here.

Safety distance between Fireworks and Audience is of course paramount, and for every millimetre of tube calibre fired by the Firework Company's product they have to allow 1 metre of safety distance between them and the audience.

So a 30mm calibre Roman Candle would need to be 30metres from the Audience and a 75 mm shell would need a 75 metre distance from the crowds as well.

I hope this might go some way to explain why Displays are sometimes cancelled when there are onshore winds .

Nobody can say with certainty what the Beach situation will be at Viking Bay at Midnight on 31st December and so an alternative option was sought with TDC and this focused on the Harbour pier area.

This area to the rear of the Harbour pier Cafeteria has been used before as a launch platform for NYE Fireworks until a few years ago.

The last time this area was used for Broadstairs Fireworks on NYE the following situaton occured.

At approxiametly 20.30hrs the current Cafeteria owner closed the premises and left the Harbour pier.

The firework company then erected it's safety barriers,posted it's marshalls only to find that at 22.30hrs the Cafeteria owner returned, demanded the barriers were removed as she was going to reopen the business and wanted access for her customers to her premises.

After some discussion the Firework Company complied and then was faced with the situation of trying to remove some 300 hundred people out of thier designated safety

zone at 23.45hrs.

Whilst investigating the possibility of returning to the pier as a launch site this December it was suggested to me that I should contact the current Cafeteria owner ( the same person) and speak with her as the last time we had fired on the pier it had cost her money and I had been rude to her.

Not my recollection I am afraid, more that the lady in question had objected to my insistence that she ceased trading for the 15 minutes it took for the Display to be fired.

No mileage ,in my opinion then, in entering into discussion as based on previous dealings no compromise would be possible that would satisfy safety concerns possibly raised at TESAG and the Cafe owner appeared to be in a "Compensation Scenario".

Why not a compromise then?

New years Eve ,after all is supposed to be a Family celebration, Family may not want to be up at Midnight with small Children and bearing in mind we are in the business of entertaining, bringing in trade into the town for the benefit of the local traders and entertaining local residents why not go at 22.30hrs instead of 24.01?

There are many benefits in this scenario if you care to think about it.

Firstly local familys with young Children and a few other people from further afield, we have taken two enquiries today,(one from Dartford and another from Rochester) asking about the fireworks at Broadstairs on NYE and who have responded positively to the suggestion of an earlier firing time for the Fireworks Display so that they can arrive ealier in the town , enjoy a meal at a restaurant, watch the Display and arrive home at a decent hour.

Secondly, each Display fired at Broadstairs requires a road closure to be put in place and this basically turns Albion street into a pedestrian precint for an hour before the Display and an hour after the Display with all the benefits of pedestrian safety this brings to the town on what has become, shall we say, a highly social event in the towns calendar.

Finally an earlier event takes the pressure off of the Blue light services around the Midnight hour and also has less Social impact as regards noise and disturbance to the local poulace.

Now, here's the rub.

As regards the funding of this Display, if we go with the 22.30 scenario.

BTC originally set aside funding for this event on the understanding that it would take place at Midnight on the 31st December.

I have been advised that if the display takes place at 22.30hrs then that funding will be withdrawn as the original agreement was for a display at Midnight.

Fair do's then. No Money from them, no say then on what time the fireworks are fired.

Fiona has done a stalwart job in raising funds towards the Display for NYE but is also of the opinion ,as far as I can see from this blog, that it is either 24.00 or not at all.

Fair do's then.

Question is the Fiona what are you going to do with the money you have raised, or is it more the case that you have had money pledged?

Bit of a difference there.

Suggestion has been made on this blog that you give the money to a charity.

Money was raised for fireworks at Broadstairs.........yes?

OK then...Broadstairs Firework Society is a CIC company Limited by guarantee but with a Charity status.

Why then don't you give the money you have raised for fireworks at Broadstairs to the Firework Society towards next years NYE Firework event?

TDC have offered and guaranteed a grant towards the fireworks for NYE at Broadstairs on the understanding that they are fired at 22.30 due to safety concerns on the likely state of the beach at 24.00 and this has been approved by the TESAG committee.

So some money there but not enough.

OK then Broadstairs.

Suppose then that rather than have no fireworks at Broadstairs on the 31st December for the 2nd year in a row, the Firework Company in conjunction with the Firework Society undertakes to fire the display gratis as a one off gift to Broadstairs on the understanding the Display is at 22.30hrs local time?

Takes two days to build a Broadstairs display. 

Just a few further thoughts about the problems associated with publishing this information on FaceBook, the bottom line being that the only people who can see it are those who are FaceBook members and are signed on, I can tell this because I can’t view it if I am not signed on to FaceBook.  

And having linked to it because I can see it myself as I have a FaceBook account and am logged on whether other people who have FaceBook accounts and are logged on would be able to see it is something I just don’t know and would depend on the settings the thing was published on and who the viewer is FaceBook friends with.  

Oh yes and here is the moon taken from Ramsgate yesterday evening, on the way to watching Life of Pi at the Granville.

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Boxing day blog about the blog and possible ramble.

I have decided to adopt a new approach to managing comments on this blog, partly because of 0%, who seems to think it would be interesting to see just what off topic, own agenda libellous comment he or she can get away with and partly because of a commentator who seemed to want to use pseudonyms related to excrement.

From my point of view writing this blog and the Thanet Press release blog is fine unless doing so starts to invade my life and frankly working my way through the 110 comments on the last post about The Royal Sands, several times on Christmas Day, trying to work out what needed deleting is invasive.

So if you have some bizarre agenda, like a desire that I should call the police on Christmas Day and ask them to arrest the  chief executive of the council and want to post comments to this effect on a post about a local development, then those comments will be deleted out of hand.

I won’t bother to delete it in the ordinary way but manage it from the spam administrator page, which is easy to use on my mobile phone.

 Not long ago this sort of problem was easily managed on blogger because every time someone posts a comment I get an email, the problem now is that there are so many spam comments and I get an email every time one is posted, as you can see from the picture I will have to turn my email notification off.

My guess is that 0% doesn’t like the content of this blog for one reason or another and would like to see it close, rather in the way Bignews Margate closed recently for similar reasons.  

God alone what the motives of anyone wanting to nickname themselves excrement could be, but I have decided that most blog readers just don’t want this sort of thing on the blog, there are plenty of unpleasant sites on the internet and plenty of places for people with unusual problems.   
I am very reluctant to start comment moderation, form filling or silly numbers, when I am confronted with this I just don’t bother to comment, a case in point today being Thanet Star, see Matt seems to mistakenly think that there is either going to be another Dreamland public enquiry or the first one didn’t happen. Well I would have commented there but, with the form to fill in and the “is it a 3 or an 8”, you know how it is.  

 I am cooking while writing this post, with only seven of us here today, an absolute doddle in a kitchen that is easy to cook for twenty in.

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Christmas Day Ramble.

My warm Christmas greetings to all the readers of this blog, Christmas in our household is progressing very pleasantly, Monopoly has been played without fatalities, Christmas Dinner has been eaten and no one actually exploded. Farther Christmas delivered and I was vaguely aware of the dulcet tones of young people discovering this at 3.30 am.

If anything unusual or noteworthy has happened in Thanet then I haven’t noticed.

On a national level the BBC have made what to me seems to be a huge blunder by allowing comments on The Queens Speech, see it certainly puts the off topic and spam comments here into proportion.

I have to admit to being a royalist, the alternative being, take your pick of the available senior politicians for head of state. I guess that the costs of royalty are adequately offset by tourist income.

I may ramble on here or total anaesthesia may occur 

Monday, 24 December 2012

Tree going up before Merlin

Very very quick sketches, in reverse order for some reason, I don’t know. 

The tree had some chance to get its shape back during Merlin 

More Christmas tree activity, not really much else one can post about Christmas Eve and I sort of feel I should post something.

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Christmas card Mk1

Ramsgate Christmas card a first attempt  

I am working on Ramsgate Christmas Card Mk II now everything has quietened down here – children during the Christmas hols are inclined towards excitement – frankly with watercolour anything can happen.

The picture on the left is the reference from my sketchbook that I am using and the one on the right the work in progress, I guess you can see how wet it is.

Here is the reference sketch for this mornings card, I really don’t like working from photographs, so tend to do rather dull drawings from life when the weather is ok.  

Still at a very wet stage, painting with dark, perhaps, I think it is time to put this on one side to dry for a bit. 

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Saturday ramble about maps, books, ferries

I have now got the 1849 map of Ramsgate, pictured, for sale in my bookshop price £9.99 this involved a four figure investment and means I will be able to produce other local history maps.

We should be selling it on ebay just after Christmas and eventually from our own website dependent on the cost of packaging materials.

The initial version is a good colour march to the original but less bold than the laser printed mosaic I have had on display in the shop window for some time, so after several, "it doesn’t look like the one in the window"s, we have also done one which is a fair colour match to the one that we have had in the window for ages. Sales are running neck and neck. 

Ramsgate is getting a different ferry in January, this was The Pride of Calais now renamed The "Ostend Spirit" on Dec 19 it appeared off Ramsgate to perform berthing trials, after that berthing trials at Oostende, after that Antwerp for dry-docking and is expected to enter service between Ostend and Ramsgate in mid-January.

I have a new local history book out too “Ramsgate and Beyond” by Bernard Potter who is a retired accountant, who was born in 1928, and spent his early years in Ramsgate during the 1930s. He was evacuated to Stafford in 1940, and never returned to Ramsgate to live.
He served in Her Majesty’s Coldstream Guards from 1946 to 1952, mainly on Public Duties at the Royal Palaces and other important buildings, but also spent three years in Malaya on Active Service, during the Communist uprising between 1949 and 1951.
This book is a fascinating account of his life in Ramsgate during the 1930s, a family tragedy, the Dunkirk evacuation, the subsequent trauma of the evacuation of children, and what life was like as an evacuee in Stafford.

Oh yes back to the map it is about 3 feet across precise measurements of the printed bit 90x74 cm if you are wondering if it will fit on your wall or considering framing it.

I will ramble on here as things come to mind

Friday, 21 December 2012

Royal Sands Development, on the Pleasurama Site Ramsgate another update.

Detail from initial plans for The Royal Sands, when the building was too high 

As some of you may remember the developer was supposed to meet with the council this week to show they had the funding in place and the hotel operator for the development.

There is a rumour going around Ramsgate that there was no money on the table at the meeting and that to all intents and purposes we are going nowhere.  

 Detail from the same place on the plans after the building had been lowered, note the lorry embedded the ceiling.

Anyway I emailed Alan Poole the cabinet member in charge of the negotiations:

On 21 Dec 2012, at 11:13, wrote:

Hi Alan, there is a rumour going around Ramsgate that you met with SFP this week and they were unable to come up with anything much in terms of supporting the due diligence, essentially that there was no money on the table.

I guess with such an important project I have to put something about this on the blog, I would however prefer to get the facts straight, so can you please give me an update on the situation.

My understanding is that the council will take this as reverting to the original position and begin the process of determining the development agreement and cancelling the leases.

I would say this leaves the council with just about time to get the site cleared so we can see some use of it next season for leisure and parking.      

Best regards Michael

And he has replied thus:

Hi Michael,

TDC are soon going to issue a statement........



 This is the same place on a later set of plans where the problem has been resolved by using a shorter lorry

I phoned up Cardy Construction and asked them if they were still involved in the site, the person I spoke to said they weren’t prepared to comment.  
I hope to be able to add something to this later, although I would guess any solution will be something like the details from the plans illustrating this post.

Update, I have just got the "statement" from the council, here it is:


Update on Ramsgate Royal Sands Development
Negotiations between Thanet District Council and the developer of Ramsgate Royal Sands are still underway.

That’s the latest news following a meeting held this week (Tuesday 18 December) at Thanet District Council.

The council will only sign a new agreement with the developer once it has absolute assurances that adequate finances and a hotel operator are in place. Negotiations are set to continue.

In the mean-time an existing agreement, signed in 2009, is in place should negotiations fail to reach a conclusion.


As I said in the rest of the post, it would probably be like the details of the plans above.

Translating the council speak it seems to suggest that we are heading back to the 2009 agreement, which I think means a deserted building site until 2017.

Here is the agreement and if anyone else has a different translation of the council speak it would be appreciated.

In the meantime I will ask Alan for clarification.  

I have added another picture detail from the latest 2009 plans to help with a reply to a comment, most of the planning sheets are on the uk planning site the planning reference is F/TH/03/1200 should you wish to check for yourself.

This is the same place on the plans and as you can see in the latest amendment even the shorter lorry won’t fit under the building, so the architect has moved it to beside the building. I think this relates to when they discovered that part of the cliff wall has no proper foundations and doesn’t extend down to the baseline of the building, so they resolved this problem by raising the ground level at the back of the building.