Tuesday, 1 December 2009

The Dictatorship of Thanet and the Ramsgate Tunnels

The more I live in Thanet, and just try to find out about ordinary things that are happening, the more I am reminded bizarre third world dictatorships.

This morning’s walk is an example of what I mean. One of Ramsgate’s greatest potential assets is its underground tunnel system, I publish a small book about it and it is my bestselling book, I take this to be a reflection of local peoples interest in the tunnels.

This morning the seafront tunnel entrance was open and there were a couple of white van types down there with torches.

Obviously I asked them what they were up to and they said they were clearing the rubbish out of the tunnel entrance. Did they know why? No. Can I find out? Possibly. Is it worth the effort? Probably not. I tried phoning the council but apparently the only person who would know what was going on was not available.

Extracting information from Thanet District Council is a laborious business, for the most part they don’t just tell you what is going on. As an example of what I mean, I wanted to get the development agreement for the Royal Sands Development in Ramsgate, a reasonable request as it has been a deserted building site for years now, I wanted to know the dates by which various parts of the development are supposed to happen. We are on the forth lot of contractors now and I want to keep an eye on the situation to make sure they are really serious, so the development agreement would be a useful document. I first asked TDC for it on 8th September. Now about 20 emails later I have requested the information commissioner’s office to look into why I haven’t been sent it. God alone knows what all of this costs and how much civil servants time is wasted, in any sort of sensible world it would just have any commercially sensitive information removed and be published with the plans on the council’s planning website. It is after all a key document about a major development in Thanet. By way of explanation normally there would be a planning agreement for this sort of development setting out what has to be done when, but as the development is on council owned land it is exempted from having one.

So when the council start playing about with one of our major assets in this case the tunnel system, I want to know what they are up to. Over the last few years they have run one of their worst possible worlds scenarios, on the one hand they have shut off all the ventilation to it, something that will probably ruin it for future generations, while on the other hand they have continuously failed to keep it properly secured.

Anyway if anyone knows what is going on perhaps they could comment.

Here is the link to this morning’s photos http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/blogpicts119/id10.htm

I wonder what it would be like to have local government that really engaged with local people and genuinely tried to keep them informed about what was going on, normally we only find out about our heritage assets down on the eastern undercliff, like we did with theatre and restaurant down there, that is when the demolition starts.


  1. The answer is that no one knows what is going on. Lots of little people doing their own thing with no strategic direction, because everyone has buried their heads in the sand.

  2. Does TDC's problem also stem from too many of them 'working from home'?

  3. I got a sort of answer from TDC just routine maintenance they say. But yes 13.47 the part of TDC that look after the tunnel system knew nothing about the proposals that have been mooted to use them.

    Could be Bertie, over the years I have got to know the people in the middle who are for the most part conscientious and hard working, I give them a hard time but they pretty much all ring me back.

  4. 1437 is dead right.

    You can guarantee the reason things are static. An absence of leadership and strategic thinking.

    Large organisations, like small ones or families, depend on the people (if not the person) at the top to establish the culture (for good or for bad).

    If that person disavows this role, they set a non-culture. It sounds like as a whole TDC suffers from that.

    Perhaps its common throughout local government?

  5. for more details on out local tunnels check out http://thanetunderground.blogspot.com/

  6. trash at the top that have their rather large snouts in the trough( fully carpeted and double glazed), for the days they can be bothered to roll into work.

  7. Christian TuckellMay 03, 2010 10:48 am

    There were contractors removing asbestos from the tunnel system, it was sorted into bags inside the main section of the tunnel. Work has stopped and the bagged up asbestos has now been removed. The line I was given was that as it is council property they still had some responsibility regarding removal of the asbestos regardless of the tunnels being out of use. Everything has returned to normal underground now, save a few wheelbarrows and some empty bags for the waste that were left behind. If you want any more details then mail me at tuckellc@hotmail.co.uk


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