Friday 31 October 2008

Reflections from the book trade

Click to enlarge image

It’s 30 years since I first set up a bookshop from scratch, in all I have set up 4 by that I mean arriving in an empty shop with tools and paintbrushes and getting stuck in.

With the way things have changed in bookselling I am pretty certain that it would be pretty much impossible now, out of town shopping, the dominance of the big chains, the internet but most of all the disbanding of the net book agreement means it is no longer feasible.

I am talking here about the full price bookshops like Albion bookshops in this area that are now all sadly closed apart from the one in Broadstairs that is to close soon.

Bookshops are essential to the cultural fabric of a town and experienced staff essential to maintain a stock that reflects customers’ interests and process stock orders properly.

The net book agreement fixed the price of most books, which meant that no one could price cut the bestsellers that the bookshops needed to sell to subsidise the cost of selling less profitable books.

This rather cranky sounding arrangement meant that in the UK we had pretty much the cheapest books in the world now we have pretty much the most expensive.

Much worse than this though is that the big chains buying is very much influenced by how much discount they get rather than the popularity of the subject.

I find it an interesting thought that Albion bookshop in Cliftonville has closed and the new Turner Tate extravaganza will have a state subsidised bookshop in it, this bookshop of course will probably just stock art books and I expect the stock will be very similar to and just as expensive as the art books for sale at Westwood Cross.

Thursday 30 October 2008

In the Eye on China Gateway and the leak

I was a bit tied up yesterday half term and so on, so am just catching up this morning, Thanet again features in Private Eye’s rotten boroughs, the China Gateway decision and the Cyclohexanone leak feature.

My stance now is that there is sufficient evidence that putting a very dense industrial development on the source protection zones is just too risky, we can do without China Gateway but we can’t do without the water supply, or risk poisoning people.

I am hoping that the environment agency can be persuaded to review the safeguards, the Cyclohexanone leak was much more to do with the sort of thing that just happens on industrial estates than about the way industry is regulated on the underground water reservoir.

I have worked in several local factories as an engineer and at the time I had no idea that I was on top of the drinking water aquifer, and doubt that the hundreds of engineers coming and going on the site, once it is built, would all know that any spillage there would go into the water supply.

I have severe reservations about the environment agency’s competence there was all that business over not having the resources to read the China Gateway plans properly.

Then they said. “There is thought to be some control over the quality of water used for irrigation and crop washing, although this is not regulated by the Environment Agency.”

Their decision not to maintain the north Wantsum sea defences in 1953 we lost miles of railway and had the Thanet Way been there that would have gone too, this is all based on an actual sea level rise of less than 10mm they seem to have decided that if global warming won't cause a catastrophe yet they will make it happen anyway.

Tuesday 28 October 2008

1Granville Marina when is a planning application not a planning application

Update on Plans for Marina Restaurant posted 25th October.

As this building is in an area designated as high flood risk and so I assumed a flood risk assessment would be mandatory I sought advice from TDC planning on the application.

“This is an application for listed building consent I assume there will also be an application for planning permission upon which the views of the Environment Agency will be required. I would expect they would require some form of flood risk assessment, which includes consideration of overtopping.”

It is I believe at this point that we should object on the grounds that the proposed rebuild and extension doesn’t retain the character and setting of the listed building.

I should remind anyone interested that it was part of a beach resort built by J T Wimperis in 1877 click here for a bit more info

Click here to enlarge the picture

Monday 27 October 2008

Aviation Books

Today pictures of the Aviation section in the shop, book prices range from about £2 to about £15 if you see any that interest you email me and I will send you more info.

Now people have started Christmas shopping I will try to put up more pictures of the stock in the hope that more people will get the books they want for presents.

Sunday 26 October 2008

Sunday morning reflections

It’s two weeks since I wrote the last one of these, just after the China Gateway plans were approved, if the approval was intended to support the company behind it, property speculator Commercial Group properties Plc it doesn’t appear to have worked their shares are still at 42p i.e. where they were before the approval.

Then there were the Rick Card revelations, I don’t think anyone had given much credence to what he has been saying, mainly I think because of the way he had been saying it. Another one of his assertions has been confirmed to me by someone totally independent from Rick. It concerns firearms something I know next to nothing about so I won’t post about it, I shall only say that the person who confirmed it will now take the matter forward.

However I now come to a matter I do know something about, and that is the electrical generators, I emailed Rick and asked him what was the matter with them explaining that I could possibly understand a technical answer, I got a precise technical answer that could only have come from a very competent engineer.

The accident at Chernobyl nuclear power station was caused by the failure of an emergency backup generator and Rick is saying that we may have some of these faulty generators in some of our nuclear power stations.

Another matter of some note in the last couple of weeks was that of deleting Sandy Ezekiel’s main email address now regardless of how you feel about the current leader of the council, he is still that. The main representative of us, the electorate and to make a fool of him in this way sends out a very clear message about what the council officers think of us. Also it means if you have emailed him or replied to one of his emails and he hasn’t responded, it is very probably because he hasn’t received it.

Saturday 25 October 2008

Plans for Marina Restaurant

You probably remember back in February when we learnt that listed building status didn’t necessarily protect our buildings. Click here for my previous posts on the subject.

You can providing you have the right software view the new plans for it at the planning reference is L/TH/08/1197

Alternatively I have published the main elevations click here to view them, I can’t give you a link to the plans on the TDC planning website, as it appears to have written to make it as difficult to use as possible. The photographs of the building have been published in the wrong file format, so that they are as good as useless, and us yes we pay for this.

Mock Victorian mock Elizabethan stuck to mock 50s with flying saucer on top, the architect like the designer of the planning website will probably get an award, perhaps it’s attributable to something in the water.

If they want to rebuild it bigger can we have it all in mock Victorian mock Elizabethan please?

It was one of Ramsgate’s most charming and eccentric buildings and I for one think it should be replaced not desecrated.

Friday 24 October 2008

Sericol Cyclohexanone leak

As the Isle of Thanet Gazette published a story about the leak I thought I ought to expand on it slightly, and answer as many questions as I can about it.

How dangerous is Cyclohexanone? The affects of exposure to this chemical are thought to cause neurological damage, damage to unborn children, altered immune system function, adverse effects on the respiratory system and affect the sensory system.

How much of the chemical would be dangerous? If you have to work in a contaminated environment in industry, you would have to wear a chemical protection suit and breathing apparatus where the concentration of the chemical exceeds 20 parts per million.

How much was spilt? No one really knows they have been extracting it from the chalk under Westwood since 2007 and have so far recovered about 500 tons of the chemical from the water pumped out of the chalk.

Has it got into our drinking water, water used for crop irrigation and washing or water used for industry? No one really seems to know the complete answer to this one, most of the water used in Thanet is pumped from the porous chalk underground, as the leak went undetected for nearly 30 years and as there seems to be little regulation of private boreholes, it’s a bit of a grey area.

Is the vapour coming out of the ground? I have asked the council and some of the local politicians, but haven’t yet received an answer

Have there been any surveys of the health of the people living and working in the effected area because of the spillage? Once again I have asked the council and some of the local politicians, but haven’t yet received an answer.

What is this information based on?

The freedom of information request response from the environment agency click here to read

The International Labour Organization, part of the UN that produces regulatory information for member states click here to read

Scorecard the web's most popular resource for information about pollution problems and toxic chemicals click here to read

The British Geographical survey’s internal report on the Thanet underground water reservoir click here to read

Thursday 23 October 2008

Ramsgate First Manifesto for 2009

Click here to read it Click here for the rest of the map

Loss leader

I don’t know how the Politburo is going to explain this one, it’s got to be one of the funnier emails I have had from TDC in a while.

Subject: Returned mail: see transcript for details
Date: 10/23/2008 12:32:06 GMT Standard Time
Reply To:

The original message was received at Thu, 23 Oct 2008 12:31:34 +0100from [] ----- The following addresses had permanent fatal errors (reason: 550 No such recipient) ----- Transcript of session follows -----... while talking to []:>>> RCPT To: ... User unknown

Wednesday 22 October 2008

More pollution

I hadn’t realised how much pollution has occurred in Thanet until I looked at the pollution maps (previous post) and I would like to know about other incidents and people that have been effected.

Obviously I have been discussing local pollution issues with our politicians and Steve Ladyman mentioned one earlier today, he said.

You might want to investigate historic pollution of the site at Westwood were McDonalds is now. I have had reports in the past of chemical tanks on that site associated with old engineering works that were cleaned by workers who suffered chronic health conditions thereafter. I was never able to get proof but you may dig some thing up as when I heard about it many years ago we didn’t have a ‘blogsphere’ that could jog peoples memories and other than the recollections of a couple of workers from the site (one of whom had become very ill with symptoms that could possibly have been caused by chemicals but equally could have been caused by something else) I got no further.

Dreamland Zoo

Interesting article in Thanet Extra today about the recently discovered animal cages. I remember there being a zoo there in the 1970s when I took some time out of engineering to spend a summer season working as a maintenance engineer on the arcade slot machines.

Does anyone else remember the zoo and the unusual things about it like taking lion cubs for a walk on Margate sands in the early mornings?

Has anyone got any photos?

Here are the photos re comments below

Tuesday 21 October 2008

Captain Charles West’s Funeral 1915

Many thanks to Dave Richards and Don Dimond for the information about the pictures of the fireman’s funeral that I published the other day.

Captain Charles West’s Funeral took place on Saturday 20th march 1915 he died on Wednesday 17th March 1915 aged 64, he was our much respected chief fire officer. Ramsgate fireman acted as pallbearers, fire crews from all over the county sent representatives.

If you look carefully at the picture you can see the coffin cover with the union jack is being carried on a fire appliance.

Pollution Maps

I have to admit to still being immersed in trying to properly understand the implications of various local pollution incidents, some of my dealings with both the environment agency and Thanet district council have left me feeling somewhat less confident than I would like to be that we are being properly protected.

In the case of the environment agency, I was particularly concerned when they told me that they hadn’t the resources to read the China Gateway surface drainage report thoroughly. I was also very concerned when they said. “There is thought to be some control over the quality of water used for irrigation and crop washing, although this is not regulated by the Environment Agency.”

With the council I am very concerned that they seem to have a weak attitude to public safety, combined with a desire to conceal matters from us that could effect our safety.

For those of you interested in pollution issues the environment agency have a series of pages where you can enter your postcode to find out the situation near where you live.

Click here to go there

Monday 20 October 2008

Something nasty in the water 2

I have published the environment agency’s letter to Rick click here to read it

The danger threshold limit value for Cyclohexanone is 20 parts per million, it can be absorbed through the skin, by inhalation or ingested, and we have a spillage involving 100s of tonnes of the stuff, which seems to have been covered up for years.

How on earth could such a large amount missing have gone unnoticed? Because of its nature you theoretically are not allowed to let it evaporate, I would hope that those people who advocate heavy industrial use on the source protection zones will reconsider their positions.

Sunday 19 October 2008

Sale of One Sixteenth part of Five Messuages or Tenements in Ramsgate, 6 April 1704

This Indenture made the Sixth day of Aprill in ye third Year of the Reign of our Sovereign Lady Anne by the grace of God Queen of England Scotland France and Ireland Defender of the faith &c Annoque Domini 1704 Between Georg Long of Ramsgate in the Parish of St Lawrence in the Isle of Thanet in the County of Kent Mariner and Margaret his Wife of the One Part And Silvester Spencer of Ramsgate aforesaid Mariner and William Spencer of the same place Mariner of the other Part Witnesseth That the said Georg Long and Margaret his Wife for and in Consideration of the Sum of Seventeen Pounds of Lawfull English Money to them the said Georg Long and Margaret his Wife in hand well and truly paid by the said Silverster Spencer and the said William Spencer at or before the Ensealing and Delivery hereof The receipt whereof of the said Georg Long and Margaret

Click here to read the rest of this document

Gerald has transcribed another of the package of documents relating to the Rising Sun in Ramsgate, it really is rather an attractive document and I will try to get a better picture of the original. It is very difficult to get a piece of vellum that has been folded up for over 300 years to lie flat, as I expect using a hammer is something that professional archivists frown upon, once all of the documents have been transcribed I will lay them out flat somewhere, until they settle down and do some better pictures.

Websites and what people look at.

I noticed the other day that my Web statistics had vanished, and so had reconfigure them, I don’t look at them very often and as I have been concentrating on this blog recently my other website has got rather out of date. Anyway I found it is possible to make these statistics publicly available so you can all see details of what people look at, here they are

Friday 17 October 2008

Something nasty in the water

About 12 years ago Sericol had a spillage of cyclohexanone at Porehole Lane near Westwood Cross, now I have read a few of Rick Card’s comments on this and I had assumed we were talking about an oil drum or something.

He spoke to me earlier today and said that that the environment agency have told him that so far 470 tonnes of cyclohexanone have been recovered in the 12 year long pollution clean up operation that is still going on.

Also they confirmed that part of the aquifer was damaged, I am beginning to think that we need a proper review of the activities being carried out on the aquifer and a proper assessment of what should be allowed in the future.

Click here to read about cyclohexanone

I have added a link to the British Geographical Survey report on Thanet’s aquifer you have to have a pdf viewer installed to read it.

Mystery fireman’s funeral

Has anyone any idea whose funeral this is, Terry and I reckon it’s about 1910, from the bottom up I’m pretty sure this is St Augustine’s abbey suggesting he was a catholic, we reckon the cortège is looking up Hereson Road from the traffic lights, suggesting they are on the way to Ramsgate cemetery, next one up I am assuming is the fireman that died and the top one probably at Ramsgate cemetery.

Many thanks to David for letting me scan them.

Thursday 16 October 2008

More old Ramsgate pictures

3 old Ramsgate pictures today sent by a customer, the gist of what she says about them is:

The brewery is I believe Cannons?

My grandfather Fredrick Rogers 6th from the left back row was a drayman delivering to T & W pubs, used to have to go in every day including Christmas day to care for the horses, lived close by with his family. Group photo enclosed, Nilce? Fredrick, Alice Florence my mother. Front Fredrick and Mary his wife.

Rogers son Fredrick was a detective sergeant in the Ramsgate police whose son was in the RAF WW2 and managed Littlewoods post war.

The street scene is Lord Mayors Day 1910. Sincerely Mary Hughes.

The handwriting was not easy to decipher, but I have done my best click here to view the pictures

Wednesday 15 October 2008

Railway truck bus and tram books

This is about our stock of ordinary railway books on the shelf in the shop photographed this morning. Most of these are not listed on the internet book selling sites that I use, primarily because if I listed them we wouldn’t have a good range of railway books in the shop click here to view the books

When we set up our ebay shop see to sell the local books I publish there, we wanted to start with some feedback so we put some railway books for sale there, what became abundantly clear was that if we put the whole railway section in an ebay auction most of it would sell for more than it was priced at on the shelves.

The local books that I publish obviously as I manufacture them in the bookshop there is no supply problem, so I market them everywhere I can on the web mainly at which is the cheapest place to buy them online.

Anyway coming back to the railway books, deliberately not selling them online and why I am putting up the photographs, mainly as it’s mostly local people who look at this blog and the mostly tend to come to the shop to buy books that they see. You have to appreciate that the customers that come in the shop, unlike internet customers, generate abut us much good stock as they take away, by using our exchange voucher scheme or selling us their books I the need some ready cash.

Funny really back in 1999 when I first made forays into internet bookselling, I rather assumed that I could just take pictures of the books on the shelves and people would browse the shop on the internet and email me for anything they were interested in.
How little I knew at the time, however now I have come full circle and this very primitive method is actually working.

How good is your website?

This may be of interest to some of you it’s a free service that looks at your website or blog and tells you how to improve it click here to use.

Here are the results for I was surprised how comprehensive they were and that the advice was actually useful.

Tuesday 14 October 2008

Ramblings on the recession

The £400billion bank bail out I think represents about £20,000 per tax payer and no, I don’t really think that there was an alternative. We have moved to an economy where government, many businesses and many private individuals, view financial stability as being able to pay the interest on what one has borrowed, instead of being able to pay for what we can afford.

What really worries me here is that if this means that mortgage lending continues so that house prices don’t fall back to where ordinary people can afford houses, the fundamental cause of the recession has not been addressed.

This is that those of us engaged in productive work are essentially buying our own country, rather than ploughing the fruits of our labour back in to the real productive economy. Ease of borrowing for the last 15 years means that the price of an ordinary house in Ramsgate built years and ago paid for many times over, has risen from a value of about £50,000 to about £250,000 meaning that someone in an ordinary job has no hope of buying it, unless they borrow far more than is safe for them.

It would seem to me that in bailing out the banks, the government has bought a lot of houses really worth £50,000 for £250,000. Now the old adage was never borrow what you can’t comfortably pay back at £10 per thousand per month. Now times have got tough before and we have seen 10% interest rates, which mean a loan of £200,000, would mean repayments of £2,000 per month. So if and when the repossessions start by the government owned banks, lets hope they will rent the properties back to the occupants at a reasonable rent.

Here in Thanet one effect of all this is that the value of buildings in which small businesses operate has increased to the point where rents that relate to their freehold value is out of all proportion to what those businesses actually produce in profit. We have seen many long established shops go from our towns recently, including two bookshops, no bale outs for them.

Local Blog Gone

Semper eadem the local catholic priest’s blog has gone, you now get a message saying, “Sorry, the blog at has been removed. This address is not available for new blogs.”

Father Fisher’s church is St Ethelberts Ramsgate, vanishing with no message seems a bit strange I hope it hasn’t been got at.

Wish You Were Here: Coleridge’s Holidays at Rams gate 1819-1833

I have managed to acquire some stock of Allan Clayson’s book which I am selling for £9.99 Amazon have it on special offer at £18.95 so it is a good opportunity to acquire an important local book economically. Unfortunately Allan died recently however his wife said that he left some material for some further publications, which I hope to be able to publish in the fullness of time.

Wish You Were Here: Coleridge’s Holidays at Rams gate 1819-1833 is a wide-ranging study of the Ramsgate that Coleridge knew in his sunset years, and the many holidays he passed there. Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834), author of ‘The Ancient Mariner’ and one of England’s greatest poets and writers of prose, spent a summer month in 1819, six weeks or so every autumn from 1 821 to 1828 and a final Indian summer there in 1833. He wrote over fifty letters from Ramsgate, and while there made numerous entries in his notebooks.

He was always accompanied by one or other of his minders, the Highgate surgeon James Gillman and his wife, with whom he resided for the last eighteen years of his life in an attempt to control his opium addiction. They regularly took accommodation on Ramsgate’s East Cliff — generally in Wellington Crescent or the Plains of Waterloo, and many of these houses are still identifiable.
In Ramsgate he met not only old friends and writers but local worthies like Sir William Curtis and even national figures like the Prime Minister Lord Liverpool. Furthermore, he took an informed interest in local affairs like the consecration of St George’s Church (1827) and the dedication of the Montefiore Synagogue (1833).

He visited Ramsgate for the sea-cure, and he records his ‘sea-baths’ in minute detail; also he was a pioneer of travel by paddle-steamer, and one of its earliest champions. In addition there are good grounds for believing that he composed or polished two or three of his better-known later poems in Ramsgate, while he carried out in the town the restructuring of the great religious prose work of his declining years, Aids to Reflection.

His letters and note-book entries are a delightful mixture of serious concerns and amusing anecdotes, and add considerably to our knowledge not only of the resort in its late-Georgian heyday but of one of the country’s greatest writers and thinkers. His illustrious presence in the town has been neglected for generations by the local townspeople and Coleridge scholars alike, and it is hoped that this book will in some ways redress the balance.

Jacket Illustration: The Royal Sovereign entering Ramsgate Harbour (1826) [by courtesy of Kent Arts and Libraries]

Monday 13 October 2008

Council meeting vote results for China Gateway

I have just received the vote results for the full council meeting click here to read them as we all paid for an electronic voting system the scan of a bit of paper seems a little strange, anyone know why?

Sorry about the error on my previous post.

Sunday 12 October 2008

Sunday morning reflections

Of the 56 councillors 41 voted to approve China gateway 10 voted to reject it Tories: Savage, Crotty, Wells, Hayton Labour: Poole, Fenner, Dark, Campbell,Clark Independent: King. Cllrs Hart and Harker were both unwell and left early. Cllrs Ezekiel and Latchford didn’t vote, that leaves one unknown unaccounted for.

Of all of the councillors with in depth knowledge of planning I would say Bill Hayton must be fairly near the top of the list, so it is of some concern that he voted to reject, I would certainly like to know his reasons.

Commercial group properties announced on Friday, that a resolution to grant planning consent, subject to conditions, has been approved at the extraordinary meeting of Full Thanet District Council on 9th October 2008. The consent for Phase 1 of the "China Gateway" scheme at Manston in respect of 1,481,815 sq ft of commercial development should allow construction to commence in 2009.

This didn’t cause a rush of buying see their share price is at 42p in July their share price was 115p and back in december it was 210p. I don’t know if the lack of share sales on this announcement is the result of the stock market crash, Ken Wills saying on “BBCs Inside Out” that it’s all three phases not a stand alone development or the lack of answer to the question where does the surface water go and the other conditions many of which look very difficult to comply to.

Certainly as Roger Gale said that it would probably need a public enquiry for the land for phases 2 and 3 to have any chance of getting changed from agricultural to industrial use, so it doesn’t look to be a particularly good gamble at the moment.

So we have permission granted for a stand-alone development but the developer has said that it isn’t a stand-alone development, where that leaves us leaves me somewhat confused.

Saturday 11 October 2008

short deed dated 1641

This from Gerald I will try to get a photo of the original from him.

Interesting and relatively short deed dated 1641. Rather odd handwriting,with some characters having no relation to modern script at all - so it tooka little while to transcribe. Might be of interest to the Spencer familydescendants, although it is rather a jump in time from 1641 to the will Itranscribed earlier.My personal interpretation: Nicholas Spencer grants his house and variouslands to his son William Spencer and Mary Goodson in consideration of their(William and Mary's) forthcoming marriage. Nicholas retains the use of theproperty during his lifetime. After Nicholas's death, William and Mary havea life interest in the property and after they have both died it passesentailed to their legitimate male line. If there are no heirs under theentail then it passes to William's heirs.

Click here to read it

TDC IT Councillors internet presence gone

I just received the following from a reader:

“Not that I'm a suspicious person but.....

TDC's website won't let you access any councillor's details so no-one can e-mail/phone/write to unless via TDc's offices.

Coincidence? Any chance you could put this on thanetonline blog? Obviously you'd check in advance that any fault(?) had been corrected!!”

Ed, You just get the error message below however should you need to contact a councillor I published up their contact details last time this happened at please let me know if it needs any revisions.

The requested URL could not be retrieved
While trying to retrieve the URL:
The following error was encountered:
Unable to determine IP address from host name for
The dnsserver returned:
Refused: The name server refuses to perform the specified operation.
This means that:
The cache was not able to resolve the hostname presented in the URL.
Check if the address is correct.
Your cache administrator is
Generated on Sat, 11 Oct 2008 12:37:59 +0100

Friday 10 October 2008

China Gateway where do we go from here?

I was quite surprised that as many as 41 of our 53 councillors voted in favour of passing the plans, as at least 2 of them that I know of didn’t vote as they had been to China, so it was carried by a very large majority indeed.

Those councillors I have spoken to about this say that they received a lot of correspondence from people who were against the development, combined with the views of my friends and customers, the great majority of whom also say they are against it, does make me wonder how representative the 41 councillors of the electorate they are supposed to represent.

As Ken Wills said on the BBC inside out program that all three phases are essential, it would seem unlikely that anything will happen, until a decision is made about the agricultural land for phases 2 and 3, I understand this has to be done at a national level and is unlikely to be obtained.

I still haven’t heard from anyone who can explain how the surface drainage could possibly work given the site layout on the plans, nor can I see how Acol can have acceptable levels of air, light and noise pollution.

So now we have approved plans with conditions that seem impossible to fulfil, the planning department can’t tell me how they could be conformed to within the confines of the laws of nature, so perhaps now they are allowed to speak freely about it some of the 41 councillors that approved the plans could enlighten me.

Ramsgate Town Council vote approved at last nights council meeting

Press Release from Ramsgate First 10th October, 2008

“One small step for a town council, one giant leap for Ramsgate.”

Perhaps the district councillors were tired after the bruising three hour pitched battle over the China Gateway. Perhaps.

The churlishness with which they voted in a parish/town council for Ramsgate spoke volumes about the institutional malady that infects the district council chamber.

Sandy Ezekiel baldly stated that the Ramsgate Town Council will be brought into effect after the 1st April 2009 and that elections to it would take place “probably” in September 2009. No words of congratulation for the people of Ramsgate who, he acknowledged, had voted for their own town council in the District Council’s Referendum. There was no wishing them well. Just a minimalist statement that made you feel it was a molar being extracted without anaesthetic.

Richard Nicholson, seconding the motion, was his usual ungracious self and offered no words of good will for the people of Ramsgate.

Nor were there any words of congratulation from any of the other Ramsgate District councillors. The people of Ramsgate should take note.

And then came the vote.

As chairman of Ramsgate First it was a wonderful moment. The shine was not taken off by the miserliness in which the motion was carried. Four years of hard, tiring, often frustrating work. But it was for Ramsgate, and for me and the supporters of Ramsgate First that was reason enough.

I believe that Ramsgate now has an opportunity to build itself a better future with a Town Council that will more jealously guard its inheritance and more boldly assert its future potential. No longer will Ramsgate be an afterthought in the District Council’s deliberations.

Now the really hard work begins. We must make sure we elect Town Councillors that really care about the town and who are willing to work.

Well done Ramsgate.
Gerry O’Donnell
Please copy

Thursday 9 October 2008

Manston Airport V China Gateway

I was interested to see the plans for the airport expansion you may remember back in August I posted their letter about this and how it conflicts with China Gateway sorry that it’s difficult to read once again though the main question is why haven’t the safety issues been addressed, before proceeding? My own interest here is protection of the water supply see they have been avoiding resolving this issue since June 2006 see

Now at the moment as activity at Manston increases the risk of pollution both of Pegwell Bay and our water supply increases with it, it must be time for TDC to commission a proper assessment of these risks and have a contingency plan for a pollution incident.

If they can’t find a workable solution to a major pollution incident i.e. if we don’t have sufficient alternative water supply for both our agriculture and our drinking water then neither project can be allowed to go ahead without major changes .

Personally I think the airport is wrongly situated like Port Ramsgate it can never compete with the competition because of its remote geographical location, the risk here is a failed airport and an irreversibly damaged water supply.

The picture of the airport comes from one of my publications Twilight of Pistons

Wednesday 8 October 2008

Thanatos or Hypnos?

Let us for a moment assume that China Gateway gets its planning permission and in a few years time is a thriving manufacturing base, in the heart of Thanet’s agricultural land.

Thousands of lorries will be taking away the manufactured products and delivering the raw materials used in manufacturing them. Some of those raw materials will be the deadly poisons used in many manufacturing processes, and the lorries will be coming from countries all over the world.

Now let us assume sooner or later there is a spillage of poison in one of the lorry parks which goes into the drain.

With one system this is via the interceptors into a soakaway, (the interceptors are traps to remove oil spillage and work on the fact that oil is lighter than water) the poison goes into the aquifer.

With another system this goes via interceptors into the mains drainage, there is a problem here that the water has to be pumped uphill to get it into the main drain. So we have a major storm lightening strikes an electric cable, the lights go out a tanker backs into something, as the electric pump won’t be working because of the power cut, the poison goes straight in the aquifer.

With the system demanded for all of the other businesses there, the poison goes via interceptors and is fed by gravity into ponds, the wildlife in the ponds dies alerting the people managing them that there has been a poison spillage, the poison is pumped out and disposed of safely. As you see this system isn’t reliant on the lorry driver reporting the spillage or the electricity supply.

O.K. the water gets into the aquifer, the lorry driver doesn’t report the incident, but as Southern Water test our drinking water the poison probably won’t get into the water supply and be coming out of our taps.

We have to put up with a greatly reduced water supply and a much higher price, a disaster but not a catastrophe.

End of problem, well not quite the whole of the aquifer is dotted with boreholes for agricultural irrigation and crop washing, the water from these boreholes is seldom tested and the testing is not regulated by the environment agency. Not only is our agriculture including Thanet Earth reliant on the water from these boreholes, but if the poison reaches one first (before the Southern water extraction point) and your food is washed with it, the poison enters you. As the amount of a lethal dose of some poisons used in industry is measured in fractions of parts per million this may well be the last problem you have.

I suppose that there must be people who think that the existing plans should be passed, I don’t seem to be meeting any in the bookshop, if you happen to be one I would appreciate it if you could explain anything that you think is wrong with my reasoning here. At the moment the recommendation to approve seems to be going for the pumping uphill option, perhaps you consider this to be a reasonable risk, I wonder will greengrocers have to label food “not grown in Thanet” in order to sell it.

The picture shows Hypnos, Greek god of sleep, and his brother, Thanatos, god of death, as painted by John William Waterhouse (1849-1917).

“Thanet” thought to be derived from Thanatos or Thanatus the Greek god or daimon of non-violent death.

Breast Cancer

I have received the following from Gerry O’Donnell so get clicking.

Dear People, The Breast Cancer site is having trouble getting enough people to click on their site daily to meet their quota of donating at least one free mammogram a day to an underprivileged woman. It takes less than a minute to go to their site and click on 'donating a mammogram' for free (pink window in the middle).This doesn't cost you a thing. Their corporate sponsors/advertisers use the number of daily visits to donate mammogram in exchange for advertising.Here's the web site! Pass it along to people you know

Tuesday 7 October 2008

Chinagate and China Gateway the ruminations of a garrulous retailer

The China Gateway development is undoubtedly the largest planning application, the eventual size that the property speculator appears to envisage dwarfs even Westwood Cross, it’s also probably the most controversial that there has ever been in Thanet.

The three biggest questions being: Will the thousands of extra traffic movements both of HGVs and cars visiting the site cause gridlock? Will our water supply be safe and if there is some sort of accidental spillage permanently damaging our reservoir where do we go from there? Will the noise, air and light pollution make life in Acol awful?

The traffic question seems pretty much unanswered, as we don’t know where the HGVs are coming from and going to, obviously the proportion going to and from London and that going to Dover harbour or Port Ramsgate will be very significant.

As far as one can see from examining the plans they are much more for a distribution hub than a manufacturing base and that would tie in with what one knows about China where manufacturing costs are much lower than in the U.K.

With the rising cost of air freight and Chinese imports being based around the products being cheaper than those manufactured in Europe, one wouldn’t expect much to come and go via Manston airport.

There is also the fact that neither Dover nor Ramsgate can handle ocean-going freighters, which begs some questions in itself, like are the Chinese aware of this?

The main problem here is the very sparse information about which Chinese companies are going to lease units and what they are going use them for.

The water pollution question is still totally unresolved the vast majority of the hundreds of pages about it in the planning application can’t be used as they don’t comply with what Southern Water insists on. The architects haven’t come up with any plans for drainage that would comply although they have had considerable time to do so, that leaves us all in the dark there.

The biggest warehouses set to run 24 7 and surrounded by parking for over 100 lorries are right up the Acol end of the site, so that doesn’t look very promising either.

There are all sorts of other unanswered questions, like the explosives manufacturer in the middle of the site, who doesn’t want to go and employs local people.

Then there is the relationship between senior councillors, council officers and the property speculator, I will remind you that when documents showing irregularities in this relationship were shown to 3 prominent Conservative councillors they threatened to resign and eventually reached a compromise where they withdrew their support for the cabinet. Now this matter is being investigated by the serious economic crime unit at Kent police HQ, right and proper thing to do however I think a lot of us would like to know the outcome before the development gets to go ahead.

Aspects of the way we are protected from dangerous or unwise developments by some government bodies have shown weaknesses, for instance when I read the drainage plans and found they were inadequate, I wrote to the environment agency about this and they told me that they didn’t have the resources to read the drainage assessment properly.

Then there is the nonsensical rule that councillors can’t discuss the issue in case they appear to have an opinion about it before the meeting, so we have the biggest thing to hit Thanet probably ever, the main people one wants to discuss it with are the people you have elected to represent you on this issue and they are scared that if the discuss it, they won’t be allowed to take part in the decision making process.

Since it takes several days to read and comprehend the planning application, the notion that anyone could possibly read it and then fail to form any opinion until they had been to the meeting seems a little suspect to me.

My concern here is that all of the councillors have read and understood the application properly, so they can make an informed decision.

There is an interesting post on David Green’s site about the lack of comment on the issue by councillors and other aspects of the issue

Also an interesting article by Chris Wells in the paper

Well in fact plenty of coverage in the local papers links on sidebar and the other local blogs and even the bbc this morning.
I have published up many of the related documents about it on a series of web pages

The plans and most of the documents from the statuary consultees are on the Thanet planning website planning reference F/TH/08/0400

The two biggest emotive issues jobs for Thanet and Chinese human rights are not planning issues, however as this will have such a huge effect on our island for many years one can hardly put them completely aside from the issue.

I think the real question is, is it a good and viable planning application or is it a bad and unworkable application? I don’t think the Chinese, the pro lobby the anti lobby, the council, the local economy or anything else will benefit from passing bad plans.

Whole lot of blogging going on

Whole lot of blogging going on

I have discovered two new Thanet blogs in one day and which seems to be called Margate Leisure in name but not url.

If anyone notices I have missed any local blogs off the latest posts on the sidebar please let me know.

The youth of today

My son who is studying for three science A levels at Chatham House went into Smiths yesterday to get some stationary for study purposes, however they wouldn’t sell him Tipex as he is under 18, he thought it rather humorous.

To me having a law that prevents students from buying basic items of stationery is an interesting reflection on how we treat out youth, perhaps rather than having a situation where they all have to carry ID cards to prove their age and not letting them have any responsibilities until the are 18, we could issue them with an ID card at a much younger age and remove privileges from it if they abused them.
I get the feeling that things like the youths hanging around the streets drinking lager would be greatly reduced if the faced the loss of their right to drink in a bar at 16, age related legislation for secondary school students is all stick and no carrot and frankly it shows in a lot of our youth.

Monday 6 October 2008

Pleasurama catch 22½

Having had a bit of a chat with various people involved in the Pleasurama development, it seems that a rather peculiar catch situation is developing. This is because the council granted planning permission for a building that doesn’t actually fit in the space available on the site. Now the job of amending the plans so the building does have been passed to yet another of PRCs architects, who faces a difficult problem.

It is becoming increasingly clear that there is only room for a 4 story building, where planning permission has been granted for a 5 story building. Taking out a whole floor, the flats that would have been contained in it and would have sold for over £6 million, is hardly going to be popular with the developer. There is also the problem that any building, that is going to fit in the space available, will be so different from the plans that were passed that new planning permission will have to be sought. As the building lies in a high-risk flood zone any new planning application will mean that the environment agency would now insist on a flood risk assessment and proper emergency escapes to the cliff top.

There is also the added complication that with a new planning application, it would seem likely that the council would insist on a much higher quality of build, especially in terms of traditional building materials.

I gather that some rather unusual plans have been drawn where the road at the back and some of the car park has been raised, this is to deal with the problem of the sea sweeping round the back of the building in a storm. There has also some suggestion of a strengthened glass front, for the conference centre, hotel and other businesses, I wonder if glass sea defences could catch on elsewhere. This will have to be pretty thick glass I should think, to deal with the eventualities of a tidal surge storm, in the 1953 storm a 12 ton crane was picked up by the wave action, from where it had been working on the beach and deposited on the promenade where the new building will be.

Perhaps if the China Gateway application is passed later this week, in five years time the plans will have made it to the desk of the same architect at PRC for a novel solution.

The development now has its own website click here to view one would have thought after 5 years of local interest it would have a little more information on it.

Old Ramsgate A Trip Down Memory Lane Ramsgate Entertains

I have just received stock of Ralph Hoult’s new book “Old Ramsgate A Trip Down Memory Lane Ramsgate Entertains” A5 stapled booklet 108 pages price £5.99. It has plenty of Ramsgate pictures that I haven’t seen before, and contains plenty of information about Ramsgate’s entertainment venues and entertainers, much of which I didn’t know.

Ralph has left his photography studio and local history museum in King Street and is now part of the Granville Theatre team, where he gives local history shows.

Below the contents page from his book to give you some more idea of what it’s about.

Page 1 An introduction with the words of Charles Dickens’s Tuggs’s of Ramsgate.
Page 2 The great entertainer John Le Messurier A man of Ramsgate.
Page 5 The Granville Theatre The Diamond Jubilee.
Page 8 The Granville Theatre site before the arrival of our Theatre.
Page 10 The Granville Bandstand and a change in Granville House.
Page 13 The Granville Theatre and the Seafront.
Page 16 Granville House and Theatre.
Page 1 9 The Granville Theatre today.
Page 21 Granville Theatre to the Royal Victoria Pavilion.
Page 24 The Pavilion was all things Entertaining.
Page 27 Oh I do like to be beside the seaside.
Page 30 That’s Entertainment.
Page 33 The Palace Theatre in the High Street.
Page 35 The Palace Cinema same building just a few years later.
Page 38 The Palace Theatre and there’s more.
Page 41 The Picture House is now Super Drug
Page 44 From the Picture House to the Kings Cinema.
Page 46 We come along on Saturday morning to the Odeon.
Page 49 The first Ramsgate Movie House.
Page 52 Entertainments from the events on the sands.
Page 55 The Community created Entertainment.
Page 59 Ramsgate Youth Entertains.
Page 61 From Theatre to Racing on the Prom.
Page 64 Ramsgate Sands Entertain.
Page 67 Special Events are also Entertainment.
Page 69 Back to the seafront.
Page 72 The Bounty and Magical Mystery Tours.
Page 75 The Coronation Ballroom best in the South.
Page 78 Ramsgate Carnival.
Page 81 The 1934 Ramsgate Pageant in Ellington Park.
Page 84 Some more Bandstands.
Page 86 An Aerial view of the bandstand.
Page 89 The West Cliff Hall at its best.
Page 91 The show must go on.
Page 94 The Granville Theatre 900 seat theatre.
Page 98 Our Thanks.
Page 102 World Class Granville Performers.

Sunday 5 October 2008

The Log of a Sky Pilot

It being a wet and windy Sunday my mind turned to the Rev T Stanley Treanor the Missions to Seamen Chaplain for the Downs in late Victorian times. He wrote three books about the Goodwin Sands the first being “Heroes of the Goodwin sands” which is mainly about the work of the Deal, Walmer and Ramsgate Lifeboats, it is already in print published by another publisher. The next being “The Log of a Sky Pilot” and then “The Cry From the Sea and the Answer From the Shore” both reprinted by me.

Treanor and his fellow crew members launched their open boat by sliding it down Deal beach on greased planks often jumping in at the last moment and getting the sail up before they were tossed back onto the beach by the waves. It is recorded that in one year he spent 250 days at sea, visited 400 homes and 890 ships. His work as a priest involved visiting the ships that were waiting off our coast for the weather to improve enough for them to continue on their voyages.

Here are some sample pages you may not feel so bad about the weather having read them, especially if like me you are in the warm and dry.

Saturday 4 October 2008

Folkestone and Its Neighbourhood

I am just completing a reprint of the book A Descriptive and Historical Account of Folkestone and Its Neighbourhood , with Gleanings from the Municipal Records by S J Mackie.

I have used the 1883 edition which has Gleanings from the Municipal Records added.

I have published the first 100 pages on the web click here to read them

I haven’t had a chance to read the book yet and am not really certain how significant it is, in terms of Folkestone’s history, so any help on that would be appreciated, as I should really write some sort of introduction to it.

Many thanks to Martin Easdown, author of several books that I publish, who provided the cover illustrations.

Friday 3 October 2008

Memorials of the Goodwin Sands

This book is a truly remarkable account of the Goodwin Sands; Mr Byng Gattie brings to life our history and tradition of, smuggling, foying, hovelling, sea rescue and the amazing attempts to build on this vast unstable sandbank.

In the mythology of this area the Goodwins were formed by The County of Kent's equivalent of Atlantis. They were probably the remains of what the Roman writers called “Infera Insula” (Low Island), a victim of rising sea levels. What was left was a massive treacherous shifting sandbank in one of the world's busiest seaways.

For those of us in the seafaring towns on the southeast coast of England they have done much to form the history of our people. Having one of the world's greatest shipping hazards lying just off our coast has lead to a history of brave rescues many accounts of which can be found in this book. Local seamen with an exact understanding of the position of the sands and the depth of water over various parts of them were found difficult to follow by interested members of His or Her majesties customs. I was interested to find that Mr Byng Gattie's sympathies were with the smuggler, I suspect he enjoyed the odd little luxury devoid of duty.

In the courage endowed with the ignorance of youth I have myself had the odd scrape involving the sands and various ancient vessels. Fortunately though nothing serious enough to involve the rescue services, more by luck than judgement though I admit.

Here in Ramsgate, there has at various times, been speculation that the Goodwins may shift our way, leaving the town several miles inland. Historically two previous port towns in this area (The Port of Sandwich and “Portus Rutupinus” the chief port of Roman Britain) have been stranded inland, so it may not be such an unlikely conjecture, as it first seems.

Thursday 2 October 2008

Blog gone?

Anyone any idea what has happened to Thanet coast life

Wednesday 1 October 2008

The cost of Ramsgate town council

The council tax for a typical band D property in Thanet was £1,336.64 last year this would be likely have added to it about £35 after three years to pay for the town council. What sort of thing would we be likely to get for this? I suppose the most recent tangible local town council achievement is that Broadstairs town council has managed to save Crampton tower museum, while here in Ramsgate The Maritime Museum has now closed.

You may be aware of various initiatives that relate to Ramsgate in the past, these include:
The demolition of the marina swimming pool;
The demolition of the adjacent Victorian theatre;
The removal of the majority of the beach for port building materials;
The rejection of the sea life centre,
The closing of the royal Victoria pavilion sun deck,
The efforts to provide the world war 2 museum in the tunnel.
The concreting over of most of the parking on the sea front
The closing of the model village
The removal of the tourist information centre to where tourists are unlikely to find it
The removal of all the beach huts.
The closure of the Motor Museum.
The fiasco over turning the hoverport into a leisure complex with ski slope excreta.
The Pleasurama fiasco.
Losing Iota to Margate.Have I missed anything?

Well I notice that Broadstairs, with a town council doesn’t seem to have fared so badly, so I am going to cough up my 60p a week without complaint and hope that they manage to protect us from some of the worst ravages.

There is an article about this in The Thanet Times this week click here to read it.

War in the Bookshop

Today pictures of the military books on the shelves in the bookshop, you have to appreciate that this doesn’t include military maritime or military aviation.

Book prices in this section vary between about £1 and about £15 the average probably being about £5, I am always keen to buy this type of quality military books, I also offer an exchange voucher scheme and pay more in exchange than in cash.

Some of the books in this section are new but reduced considerably in price, I tend to buy up reps samples bankrupt stock and the like, as I can’t get enough secondhand stock to supply the demand.

We are still busier than usual something I can only put down to the economic downturn, I think several things are happening because of it. The person who wouldn’t have thought twice about going to Waterstones or Smiths a couple of months ago and spending £20 to £30 on a military book, is now making the extra effort to come here and buy similar much cheaper. I am getting offered better stock as people sell their books to pay for essentials. People are going out less and therefore doing more reading.