Sunday, 22 March 2009

Sunday ramble

I have been busy this week on various projects, with Pleasurama the planning officer in charge of the application was kind enough to drop in on Thursday evening to give me a set of the new plans and discuss the progress of the development.

It is always a bit of a difficult one Pleasurama, that is one can't get away from the problem that the plans are just not very good and aspects of them are impossible to justify for the people who are supposed to do so.

The main problem being that the environment agency have said that there should be emergency escapes to the cliff top and that a flood risk assessment should be carried out before any construction starts, however because the problem was missed when they were originally consulted they can’t insist on this. What can anyone do? There appears to be no legislation or procedure in place to deal with a situation where plans are passed and then someone notices that there may be a dangerous problem with them.

For instance the narrow chasm between the back of the building and the cliff face there is just no way that anyone can say that it's sensible or good design. Obviously there are only two sensible options, one being to build against the cliff and extend the cliff top over the building the other to build much further away from the cliff.

Here I should explain that the officer concerned is both charming and very good at his job, which in this case ostensibly is to explain the plans to me, there is however a limit to how far anyone can explain something that just doesn't work properly or make sense.

Another example are the arches under the Marina Esplanade incline the council say there is a 40 tonne weight limit on them and they have a proper survey carried out probably at considerable public expense to justify this, so I say to one of the council officers OK go down there (and he does) and you will find the Victorian house bricks from which it is constructed crumble between your fingers. What can the officer concerned do? He has to abide by the rules this type of construction has to be surveyed and weight limits set in this case it is obvious that something is wrong, someone at some time made a mistake, however there seems to be no legislation or procedure in place to deal with situations like this.

I pointed out that before the huge roundabout for busses was built that wiped out nearly all of the main sands car park, that it could never be used. One of the strange aspects of this is that it will be people using the new development that will suffer most from the strain that this puts on the very limited parking available.

So then on to the developer’s agent also a charming man and by no means stupid and the problem here once again is that I am just talking common sense to him, to begin with he had assumed that I was just against the development, or for that matter any new development.

The problem for him once again is that my aim is what his should logically be i.e. a development that has minimum requirements which are that it safe, insurable, and saleable, but over a period of time he had come to the conclusion that I was somehow trying to obstruct the building of a good development rather than trying to see that we had a good safe development instead of a bad one.

But anyway at last some progress I managed finally to persuade the developers agent that to build without the flood risk assessment, strongly recommended by the environment agency would make the apartments very difficult to insure and therefore worth a lot less.

He has promised to try and get a flood risk assessment done and I think he probably will.

Once again emails to various councillors asking to get the Pleasurama site cleared and leisure use for the summer and once again a courteous reply from the leader and deputy that they will do their best.

With the deputy leader and leader I take the pragmatic view that it is best to do my best to get on with them and I can honestly say that I have found them to be courteous in my dealings with them, the thing I find most disturbing about the recent standards committee censure is not the behaviour of the councillors, not the peculiar and ineffectual excuses, not even the legally drafted letter that was a poor excuse for an apology but the fact that it cost us taxpayers £30,000. how this sort of waste can be excused in the present economic climate beggars belief.

Some concerns over Euroferries as the promised timetable that was supposed to appear on that website last week hasn't, I think it is important to be as optimistic as possible over this one as we have nothing to lose and everything to gain from a fast ferry service.

I think this year will be make or break for Ramsgate and we will have to accept some compromises that we wouldn't during normal times or the town will turn into something like Margate is now.

With the recession starting to bite it is becoming increasingly obvious that at some point we are going to reach a limit to the amount of public expenditure there can be. Luxuries like civil servants that don’t actually produce anything useful or locking people in prison who are not a danger to society at the cost of over £1,000 per week, when they could either pay a hefty fine or be made to work for nothing for the benefit of the community, these types of things are going to have to be looked at.

I have finally managed to get Pritchard’s History of Deal into print although I haven’t finished off its web pages yet you can click here for some sample pages and here to buy the book online.

I have also just finished the Ramsgate Private Residents and Business Directory for 1923 and am printing it out at the moment so it should be ready for sale on Tuesday or Wednesday all being well.

Oh and this Ramsgate Woolworth building yep that’s the rent with the interest rate at ½ % it suggests the building is worth £32,000,000

Commercial Type: Retail
Location: RAMSGATE
Tenure: Rental
Status: To Let
Photos: 1
Size: 1,342.16 sq.m (14,447 sq.ft)
Description: The property is arranged on a ground and 1 upper floor to provide a large retail unit with ancillary storage accommodation above. The property has a ground floor c 691.86 sq.m (7,447 sq.ft) with an aluminium shop front and doors and a central automat...
£160,000 PER ANNUM


  1. The European Court of Human Rights did not rule upon the right to life until 1995, when in McCann v. United Kingdom[3] it ruled that the exception contained in the second paragraph do not constitute situations when it is permitted to kill, but situations where it is permitted to use force which might result in the deprivation of life.[4]

    The Court has ruled that states have three main duties under Article 2:

    a duty to refrain from unlawful killing,
    a duty to investigate suspicious deaths and,
    in certain circumstances, a positive duty to prevent foreseeable loss of life.[5]

    The charity "Inquest" reported at its AGM having provided expert evidence to European Court of Human Rights on Non Judicial Execution for the SAS shooting of IRA (Farrell Savage McCann Gibraltar)

    Since their charity registration is to act in Inquest Law in England and Wales and since Inquest verdicts are beyond the jurisdiction of European Court of Human Rights I did question why the charity was nosing into an IRA related case.

    The same charity provided a free barrister to the bereaved family in a 1995 custody death case at Margate. It being (apparently) a complete coincidence that two Kent Police case officers, IRA Deal Barracks Bombing 1989, were officiating in the custody death and open to compromise .....

    However the part 3 above might interest you Michael ?

  2. As you know up to my eyes Treason Felony Act, Principal after the Act, Misprision concersion to High Treason, Treason Act 1351 and Statute of Winchester etc

    It seems to me that the Pleasurama development and the loading capability of the archways are under "State jurisdiction". Hence that they have a duty under Article 2 to positively protect life.

    Since it is a situation in which state has power and the potential victim none.

  3. Michael on saftey reasons alone how can they buil a structure that has danger as a built in feature. As for flood risk yep it will and there fore how can it get permission in the first place?? I am against the development full stop but if it is going to be built we deserve the best not the least

  4. It would be helpful if you could put a link to your photos of the offending bricks. I may have got it wrong but I think you were looking at the facing bricks which do not have any effect on the structural integrity of an arch.

  5. Have I missed something -

    What is rockyracoon banging on about?

    Is this a private conversation he's having with someone?

    Lots of visitors to your blog must be confused Michael. Please can somebody clarify. I can't make head nor tail of it.

  6. I will do my best to respond to what I can here, you have to appreciate that my posting was examples of potential problems that need looking into by experts.

    The fundamental problem with the Pleasurama development is that no one involved appears to have any experience of building a large residential development between the sea and a cliff face, which is a very demanding task indeed.

    Don although the area has flooded for as long as anyone can remember (in 1897 the waves swept away all of the buildings on the site apart from the shell of the railway station, in 1953 the waves swept a 12 ton crane that had been working on the beach into the middle of the site, these are just examples) always the devastation cased by big storms has been much worse in other parts of the southeast, so that part of Ramsgate doesn’t get much of a mention.

    Had there been about 1,000 people living down there as is intended with the new development I expect there would have been more significant historical material, however it is unusual to build residential accommodation between the sea and a cliff face. So I think the answer here is that I just didn’t appear on the flood maps.

    21.34 I take it that you are not of a scientific or engineering kidney or you would have done the link yourself, so will try and explain best I can. The crumbling bricks are just one aspect of what is wrong with the arches and I will start with them, the link to the pictures of them is

    As you can see the large 2 barrel arches (2 courses of bricks) are made out of a mixture of bricks including the red ones that have crumbled so badly where they are exposed to the elements, it is not possible to examine the bricks used in the arches as the arches have been rendered (plastered over) what effect 150 years of damp has had on them is a bit uncertain, what is certain though is that because a variety of bricks of different harnesses have been used accurate calculation of the strength of the arches is impossible.

    Later brick arched constructions were built of engineering bricks and it is possible to accurately calculate the stresses involved.

    The lower arches are single barrel construction and the brickwork is exposed, as you can see from the photographs some of the bricks they are made out of have crumbled.

    There is also a piped mixed sewer and stream down there and when it rains heavily the water pressure blows the manhole cover off spreading sewage all over the place. I wouldn’t imagine that this is supposed to happen which suggests that something is wrong with the pipe, if water is leaking out down there it is probably washing away the chalk that supports the arches, not a happy thought.

    We had a similar arched Victorian structure collapse in Ramsgate in 1947 and one of the experts who looked at the photographs of this collapse said he thought it was probably due to water undermining the structure, click on the link to look at the pictures

    The greatest strain on the arches would be when a train of heavy vehicles travelling down the hill braked in an emergency, it is for this reason that the hill was made one way only, going up the hill.

    My own calculations suggest that a 10 tonne weight limit with traffic only going up hill is about the limit, the two professional surveys that I know of, which have been carried out for the residents under the arches say 7 tonnes maximum.

    9.02 It is just Rocky’s way but if you look carefully at what he says there is often a nugget of value in there that pertains to the posting, in this case it may be that if some of the dangerous aspects of the development that neither the council nor the environment agency know how to resolve may be covered by European law.

    For my own part particularly in light of the recession I am loathe to put off any investor and would far rather go down the roar of trying to get him to produce a development that is safe of his own accord than to use legislation to stop the development.

  7. You must remember years ago before the Royal Harbour approach road was built that the very simlar arches in size and of brick construction along the millitary road were strengthened with reinforced concrete to take the heavy lorries using the port.

  8. I was posting on the matter of Article 2 of the European Convention of Human Rights. The article places a duty on the state to protect life.

    Judgments have clarified that the State (IE its agent TDC) has a positive duty to protect life and to raise investigations to that end.

    Does this apply to Michael's dilemma re Pleasurama planning comment status ?

    If it does apply then TDC would in fact have a duty to carry out the risk assessments and review the planning consent.

    Persons who might be resident in the building have a right to have their lives protected by the State. If they were to lose their lives from risks identified in advance to the developers and TDC would their deaths be unlawful ?

    Since they would be buying property subject of TDC planning consent would that amount to proximity to the authority from which a duty of care arose (Negligence claim by the estates of the deceased)

    Yes Anon there was an element of private conversation in the background there since I visited this issue a year or more ago with Michael, in relation to his Pleasurama concerns, if I recall based on the Final Prayer I drew up for the late John Allen (Chair East Westcliff Residents Assn Ramsgate)

    Article 2 Rights to Life.

    Got to be worth a letter to TDC Chief Executive Michael.


Comments, since I started writing this blog in 2007 the way the internet works has changed a lot, comments and dialogue here were once viable in an open and anonymous sense. Now if you comment here I will only allow the comment if it seems to make sense and be related to what the post is about. I link the majority of my posts to the main local Facebook groups and to my Facebook account, “Michael Child” I guess the main Ramsgate Facebook group is We Love Ramsgate. For the most part the comments and dialogue related to the posts here goes on there. As for the rest of it, well this blog handles images better than Facebook, which is why I don’t post directly to my Facebook account, although if I take a lot of photos I am so lazy that I paste them directly from my camera card to my bookshop website and put a link on this blog.