Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Midweek ramble about Thanet District Council, bookshops and anything else that comes to mind.

I guess news of the day is that we have lost another senior TDC officer, see if it goes on like this we will be left with temporary officers and officers who live in Thanet.

I think we are getting to a toxic council level where some sort of action will need to be taken, if people don’t want to be associated with the council we are going to have problems getting good officers and good people to stand as councillors.

From the point of us the electorate there is very little we can do, about the only option open to us is to petition for and elected council leader, whether this would make things better or worse is a bit of an unknown.

We do definitely have some very good and hardworking council officers and councillors, but the direction of the council in terms of doing what local people want has got lost.

A prime example of this has been the recent business over Manston Airport, I would say on this one most local people wanted to have a small regional airport that they could fly from, with a strong emphasis on historic aircraft based around the existing museums.

I don’t think there were many people who wanted to Manston turned into an airfreight hub that passengers couldn’t fly from.

The council didn’t go down the road of exploring heritage grant funding and other ways of funding what I think people wanted, but they did go down a long and costly road towards an airfreight hub, which always looked like an environmental and financial impossibility.

True I don’t know if this is what local people really wanted, but where the council failed most was that they didn’t try and find out. We had a flawed online TDC petition started by someone not even living in the UK that could be signed by anyone in the world with an email address and signed twenty times by the same person if the had twenty email addresses.

But then it wasn’t down to me to find out, it was down to the council to use the internet to ask the local residents what they wanted, not such a very difficult thing to do.

Come election time my guess is that the result is going to be a three way split UKIP, Tory, Labour, resulting in a UKIP, Tory administration, in other words something very like what we had before the current Labour administration.   

Once again very busy in my bookshop today so I guess the quality of the blog posts suffer, sorry about this, I am doing my best and there doesn’t seem to be much more Thanet blog activity elsewhere.

I put up a post about Tool books at which I suppose goes a long way to explaining the nature of book collecting to the non book collector.

If you collect tools or have a considerable interest in the history of technology I guess it isn’t difficult to see why you would drive a fair distance to visit my bookshop.  

There is a limit to what you could achieve in terms of adding to your collection by fighting with the internet regardless of you financial situation.  

I am in the process of changing the credit card processing in my bookshop to PayPal, a strange one this as there doesn’t seem to be any reason why UK banks couldn’t come up with a credit card machine that would work on any shop’s wifi and be able to offer a competitive service.

The PayPal system uses an app on a smartphone or tablet the card reader connecting to the tablet by bluetooth, the snags are that the app only works on some smartphones and tablets and the bluetooth only works on some smartphones and tablets. Then there is the problem that updating the operating system on the smartphone or tablet can stop it all working. The upside is it is much much cheaper.

Using what is the cutting edge of adapting new technology to move money about has its snags as if you can’t get it all to work properly and at the same time you lose the sale.

Shopping wise a big snag with technology is that it is very difficult to try before you buy, so I can’t easily try a tablet before I buy it, to see if I can use it to take PayPal payments using their card reader.

I guess a way around this would be to buy an ipad, but we are already using Windows and Android operating systems extensively and I don’t want to introduce a third. 

An interesting Manston document here  

I will ramble on here 


  1. "Around 25 staff had chosen voluntary redundancy prior to the date of closure and a further 15 were retained to support the closure activities. Around 100 staff were made redundant on the date of closure." Interesting Sir Roger and the newspapers said 150

  2. two around numbers could acount for the missing 10?

  3. Interesting in the Gloag document they don't mention the sale was only $1 and that the radar had never been paid for by Infratil...cutting corners on safety as with the monitors?

    Why Ryanair is mentioned is baffling as a condition of sale/growth.

    As is the Davies commission and to a a lesser extent the BA Cargo. On the latter it mentions the airport was up for sale for 2 years so hardly a factor...

    Infratil keen to be rid of it and Gloag realising she'd been sold a pup?

  4. Yes TDC is one of the worst councils but it can't be changed if people keep electing the same councillors who are part of the problem.

    Just look at TDC and RTC duplicate councillors on both...people didn;t have to vote for them, or Latchford being reelected or even the various parachute MP candidates

  5. Anon not sure you get it 25 left prior to the closure so they don't count. 15 stayed on so they don't count as they didn't lose there jobs. So there was a 50% exaggeration factor.
    Gloag did buy it for a nominal £1 but she did take on a reported £23M debt mountain so its a touch cynical keep talking about that £1. I don't know of many would have taken that on

  6. Your Manston comment makes little sense: most people don't want an airport with all the pollution.

    And you seem incapable of explaining away the aquifer pollution if there was an airport.

    Your historic aspect comment makes no sense at all unless you simply mean the museum which is there?

    A freight hub or other major expansion eg KCC USA fligths or the Manstongate warehouses and £25k bung were always the plan. Even the parkway now.

  7. Barry, Not sure where you get the £23M debt mountain from? That would be c.10 years of running costs??

    Your 15 stayed on comment is nonsense as they only did so to close the airport and then were sacked.

    The £1 sale is very relevant in that Infratil washed their hands of it as quickly as possible - and no great costs were incurred by Gloag.

    After 3 or 4 months she pulled the plug not wanting to take on the site as an airport with all the problems of it.

    Gloag will be liable for the pollution and cleanup now?

  8. Parachute candidates are nothing to do with TDC but they certainly could prevent doublehatters and family tag teams like the Scobies etc. Even a process for turncoats having to stand again?

  9. So Thanet Council have to attract some quality senior officers. Looks like they will need to offer top dollar rather than bottom dollar and maybe people of calibre will apply. But TDC also have to learn how to interview them and check their CV's. The story of the Director of Corporate Services & Transformation that only lasted a few months springs to mind, a simple google check would have revealed quite a lot about his track record elsewhere.

  10. At the date of closure circa 100 made redundant or are you saying the submission by Manston Skyway is a lie?

  11. I think you will find that due to A. Gloag closing Manston, a total of 140 staff lost their job. To nit pick about who lost there job when is to avoid the point that these people might still be employed at Manston were it not for the closure.

  12. I don't understand why the pro-airport campaigners can't seem to grasp some basic facts of life. If I buy a house and then sell it, I am allowed to sell it for however much money I can get for it. If I'm lucky I'll get more than I paid for it. If I'm not lucky (and this has been my lot in life) I will lose money on the sale. Ann Gloag may (or may not) have got a good deal when she bought the airport. But Infratil sold it to her because nobody else bid anything for it. She then sold it to Cartner and Musgrave in a deal which lets them do all of the work developing it, whilst she retains a share to allow her to benefit from the proceeds of development; all standard business practice. The bottom line is that the owners (whoever they are) are entitled to sell the site or parts of it for however much they can get for it. The value is not determined by how much they paid for it or how much they spent on it. These things are irrelevant to the value. The people who are constantly whingeing and moaning that the airport has closed must look at themselves - if you loved it so much why didn't you buy it when you had the opportunity?

  13. Operation Stack chaos....

    Huge empty expanse of tarmac at Manston...


  14. Love the comment 8.10. They would rather spend their quid on paper to create a petition against whatever the person with the bottle is trying to do.

    The same thing applies when the nimbys are asked why they don't stand for public office.

    They are against a concrete block works, against wood recycling, against mixed development at Manston They are in denial about aquifer contamination from Thor and Sericol. (It being problematic to draw up a petition against facts obtained by FOIs to Environment Agency! Roll up roll up and sign a petition against the truth) They are against Wetherspoons. They are against DFLs.

    And Michael provides them a very valuable service. A blog on which to comment about being against just about every idea and innovation. They are against the future unless it is more of the failing past.

  15. Well said 8:10 although market value is limited by other costs such as the pollution cleanup at Manston.

    Thank goodness Gload is still involved to help pay for the cleanup.

    Or will TDC turn another blind eye to the mess?

  16. Anon 8.10 they not only had the chance to by the airport at what appeared to bea cheap price but when they they had the chance to fly from the airport most of them never did.

  17. Michael,

    The last thing I would do in my shop is let an American company handle my payments. That is really very naive of you and a decision you might want to come to regret.

  18. I am in favour of the concrete block works and of the wood recycling. I am in favour of Wetherspoons who have a good track record for restoration of buildings. I am for Michael Child's sea defence and cliff face integrity concerns and hope Wetherspoons take that into account.

    I am for mixed development at Manston with the proviso the housing development protect itself from sink estate status by giving TDC an off site social housing grant on market grounds.

    Cleaning up Manston contamination should be a part of development consents anyway.

    Are you going to take on a retail unit at the Wetherspoons development Michael ?

    The staff leaving TDC is also a positive as far as I am concerned. I am aware of some of the issues they were prospectively to face and I smile to see the back of some of them.

    Maybe staff leaving causes chaos but there was chaos anyway. At least new people might establish order that the old guard were never going to do.

    All good.

  19. 2.00 pm I guess it depends on the American company or any other company for that matter, I use a simple test before dealing with any company which is to google the company name in inverted commas and see how many matches I get less than a couple of thousand results I proceed with care. My last new business account was with "st peters village shop" because of the new book I have recently published about St Peters they get about 16k matches on Google, so no problem. I guess the most recent brush with an American company was "RiverOak Investment Corp" about 1.5k matches and I guess if they wanted to buy books from me it would be pro forma.

    Paypal are a large American company so "paypal" gives you millions of results so they pass the first test.

    The other side of this coin is that I live in the modern world and buy things on ebay, so paypal have been handling payments of mine for years now anyway.

  20. Naive as I said. Google 'paypal money back problems' returns 9,240,000 hits, 'barclays money back problems' returns 1,820,000 results. Is Barclays better than PayPal? Of course not. Is making decisions on the number of hits Google returns naive? Of course.

    When you get your first dispute with them you will soon find out how difficult it is dealing with an American company. Oh wait, didn't you already once switch blog sites because of something like this?

  21. Anon 2.39 my take is they are all bankers, Barclays, Paypal and RiverOak that is and not my favourite species, I guess if it came to a legal battle I would come out badly taking any of them on. I moved blogsites for a while because of TDC getting their solicitor to send me letters threatening me with legal action over the Pleasurama debacle which I believe has no American company involvement.

    The biggest difference between PayPal and the uk banks involves the card reader which you have to rent for about £200 per year whereas with Paypal you can buy it outright for around £70 overall the commission charge with Paypal was about 1% less too, the banks also charge a software charge on every transaction.

    I would guess your issue with the hits relates to paypal being worldwide in terms of private customers so if you compare the population of the world with that of the uk you would get a more accurate result.

  22. Anon 2.18 I guess I have strong reservations about industrial use with a high dust, smell and liquid output at port Ramsgate because it is upwind and uptide from the marina and sands. My concern there is that this could lead to damage to the tourist economy and resultant loss of jobs.

    My reservations about any industrial use at Manston, airfreight hub or light industry are mostly related to the aquifer. As has been proved at Westwood, where you get light industry, you get spillages like Sericol or Thor.

    Previous commercial airport activity at Manston has lead to a very small amount of contamination, mostly related to old fuel tanks, the main commercial contamination issue has always been the risk of a major air crash and the resultant fuel spillage on the grass part of the airfield.

    Of course an airfreight hub would also have had considerable issues related to air contamination particularly for Margate and Broadstairs.

    Overall I am supportive of the mixed use at Manston, we certainly need the jobs, I wouldn’t want companies there using particularly dangerous chemicals, nor would I want those generating high amounts of air pollution.

    I would guess any major contamination at Manston would be from MOD times and has probably been mostly cleaned up, however if say munitions are found there then I would think the mod would pay for the cleanup.

    The council is another matter altogether and I don’t the any quick and easy resolution to the problems there, I do however think that it developing a name as a bad place to work for and have on your cv isn’t going to help in getting the right people to sort it out.

  23. anon who supports a concrete block process and wants contamination cleaned up. In what order would you like these done? seeing as Mssrs Brown and White have stated the waste water would be contaminated and they had no idea what to do with it as they hadn't thought it through that far

  24. Barry. If it wasn't for FOIs by Richard Card you would not know about the Thor and Sericol facts because TDC was keeping it secret for many years>

    There is no analogy between the vast contamination inflicted in secret in Westwood and an open up front acknowledgment that a strategy must be found to deal with process waste at the block works.

  25. Michael's possibly not beign naive wiht his Google hits review - although he should be comparing their 9M problems to their customer base not national populations...

    But where he's being outrageously silly is saying there is minimal contamination at manston or Thor. On what basis does he say that? Even the Environment Agency, who have done nothing to clean it up, would say it's some of the worst in the SouthEast.

    What we seem to have is apologists for polluters such as Thor and now O'Regan that not only shouldn't be allowed but hasn't been allowed for decades.

    Hence Infratil with TDC and KCC removing the monitors so the illegal levels of cancerous air pollution would not be evident and falsifying the data reports.

    With Brian White and Roger Latchford as I recall at the Airport KIACC monthly meetings...

    Next Michael will be saying nuclear power is perfectly safe...

  26. Good Morning Michael
    I would be grateful if you would kindly consider linking the following blog of mine to yours:
    Thanks. SG.

  27. Thankyou Michael.

  28. Barry and 10.19 dubious comments which may or may not emanate from Richard Card appear almost on a daily basis and most of them never get published as they tend to be long and complex and frankly I just don’t have time to verify the information in them.

    Richard Card was a local blogger with a proper blogger id and my understanding is that he moved away from Thanet some years ago I assume if he wanted to comment he would do so under his blogger id and if he was still interested in Thanet issues he would write his own blog about them.

    I can’t really think of any reason why he or anyone else would be fixated on a couple of old foi requests now the information is all available on the EA website and various other places.

    I believe Richard was and engineer at some time and would therefore understand what is involved in the processes proposed for Port Ramsgate, which are totally unsuitable to be upwind of a highly populated area.

    My own take is that most of the long complex comments which are made up of previous comments and spurious information cut and pasted together are just so much spam and lack any credibility whatsoever. I get, for instance, about twenty a day commercial spam comments that are a mixture of information copied from here and elsewhere on the web and links to dubious websites.

  29. I tried unsuccessfully to access electronically the Local Plan document? Could anyone tell us which farmers want to sell their land as part of their contribution to the debate over our future well being?

  30. Ok let's look at this another way?
    Last I heard TDC still want my mother and mentally unwell partner to move off the only bit of land they own, which already has infrastructure in place (since the 1980's), and force them into a position where she/they will need to make a large claim against the taxpayer to live in someone else's property?
    The constant harassment and misleading from the planning department over the past decade, and latterly housing, is most likely to have caused my mother to have a series of mini strokes last year, and is now being closely monitored by doctors along with her partner's mental health issue.
    Now, how can their accommodation needs be successfully addressed through Local Planning to the satisfaction of all?(I note there is no drop in sessions for Manston, which is where they live?). Given that this process is politically driven, can any of the parties locally help? They are too ill to contact any of you directly, and the damage was done many years ago with Councillors laughing at them. So this matter can only be handled sensitively through me, as her son, in the first instance, and as part of a local election pledge if needs must?


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