Sunday, 21 March 2010

Sunday ramble Turner Contemporary Pleasurama Euroferries and more.

It would seem from the statistics published on the site where the Turner Contemporary’s site's videos are hosted that hardly anyone uses the gallery’s website or is interested in the art projects that they are engaged in.

Last week I embedded their two latest videos one about the teenage bedroom exhibit and the other about the silly walk in this blog, at the time neither were embedded in the galley’s website or linked to it, as one would expect when I embedded the videos the viewing statistics increased from pretty much zero so that between them both videos got about 60 viewings.

Since the subject matter isn’t that interesting I assumed that of the 400 or so people who read this blog in a day, a small percentage of them didn’t take my word for it and had a look for themselves.

As there has been virtually no comment here supporting the gallery’s activities I can only assume that those people were as disappointed with what the gallery is doing as I am.

Well now the gallery has embedded the video about the silly walk in its website and there is no noticeable change in its number of viewings, suggesting to me that very few people look at the gallery’s website or are interested in their current projects.

Don’t get me wrong here, I don’t dispute that walking and getting people to participate in local history are worthwhile projects, I do both and a great many of you buy my local history books and look at the pictures from my walks.

My problem is that these activities are treated as publicly fundable art, when in fact they are not and that these projects are supposed to be drawing visitors to Margate in sufficient quantities to help with the regeneration of the town, something that there doesn’t appear to be any evidence to support.

As I have pointed out the only statistics I can find on the internet suggest a total lack of interest by anyone whatsoever.

Next some thoughts on the Pleasurama development, as I have pointed out on numerous occasions the two main impediments to this development ever happening are, the lack of a flood risk assessment and its close proximity to an unsupported chalk cliff.

Added to this I have heard from a couple of different sources, one a comment on this blog and another a friend with an interest in civil engineering that the council has finally inspected the foundations to the cliff façade and that all is not well with them.

Now my understanding is that the apart from the £1m cash bond that the developer has deposited for the council’s protection in the event of anything going wrong financially, they have spent over £2.5m on the project so far and are still spending money on the project.

All of this would seem to be based on some sort of assertion that the cliff will be perfectly safe and maintainable in a safe condition – even with the restrictions imposed by the close proximity of the back of the development – for the expected life of the development and that there is no significant flood risk, despite the historical evidence and the EAs concerns.

As the council have already spent over £1m on the project and presumably the developers spend is based on assurances from the council that the problems that I have outlined don’t exists, I wonder where this leaves the council in terms of liability, if the problems that I, the EA and their consulting engineers outlined in the report on the cliff façade prove to be true.

It is my understanding that one of the main concerns that caused the council to allow the project to proceed without a performance bond was that the developer would try to recoup the amount they had already spent, by engaging in litigation against the council.

Now at the moment with a development agreement in place, that will almost undoubtedly have a time schedule in it setting out a time scale for the development with penalty clauses if the developer doesn’t comply, this would seem to be increasing the councils potential liability on a daily basis.

With an approximate overall cost of the development of over £22m the potential for their ongoing liability would seem to be considerable.

The really annoying thing here is that we have considerable need for regeneration of the site here in Ramsgate, a first class contractor in place a developer who obviously has real money and has been investing it in the development providing much needed work in the current economic climate, but an apparent lack of organisation and communication that beggars belief.

On to Euroferries the first available sailing on their online booking facility has now been change to one departing from Boulogne at 7.45 on 10th April, I don’t know if this is significant of anything.

We now come to the Royal Victoria Pavilion, my understanding is that the buildings condition is rapidly deteriorating, this combined with its inadequate flood protection will almost certainly lead to its eventual demolition, either by the sea or the council.

I understand that the council are engaged in litigation with the Rank Organisation over the repairing order, but in this instance Rome appears to be burning.

Now onto the Maritime Museum still closed and likely to remain so until the council grant the new operator security of tenure.

Another interesting aside to this is the position over the Tug Cervia, as far as I can understand the tugs mooring is part of the whole security of tenure problem.

The next stage that has been delayed several times is to get the tug onto the slipway, assess the condition of her hull with a view to deciding how to approach such repairs as are necessary.

There is however a potential problem here, which is that as there is no security of tenure in place the museum operators can’t do the work to the dry dock that is intended to be her new home and I suppose that she would only be allowed to return to where she is now at the whim of the council, not a happy situation.

There is a further problem that is while the dry dock work isn’t done that is also deteriorating, it now leaks badly at very high tides.

Once again there is potential with this situation for the council to find itself in a position where it has to find considerable funds, because the Clock House, tug’s hull and dry dock are all deteriorating while the council prevaricates.

As I said in my previous post the council is in need of firm and decisive leadership urgently, as not only does it appear to have lost its grip on the whole eastcliff part of Ramsgate but also appears to be taking considerable financial risks in so doing.

Albion House is another case in point where the council have allowed that condition of what is not only a royal residence but an important public building deteriorate to the point where it has ceased to be fit for purpose.

I may ramble on a bit as the day continues, will also make some corrections as I am working on a notebook with a very small screen and can’t see what I am doing that well.


  1. Got any Good News Michael cos that lot has depressed me.

  2. My Grandfather worked on ships in the dry dock and the main problem was water seapage interupting the work but with modern materials it surely can be skinned once again it is all proberly down to finance

  3. Where does our Town Council stand on all of this? Do they have any say in matters?

    It's obvious from what you say, and many other issues, that TDC is not fit for purpose. There must be some way to remedy the situation.

    I think we should all get our thinking caps on and devise a strategy to get rid of the 'rotten wood' at officer level, and replace ineffective Councillors.

    The problem with that is we need a high profile platform ... Michael

  4. Your date of Euroferries is incorrect, the present situation is 12th .....

    Mind you that is likely to change soon as they don't have a vessel

    I read that Ramsgate has been chosen as the service base for the London Array and Thanet Offshore windfarms, where will the offices and warehousing be built ?

  5. Anon. 14.06.

    When was your Grandfather born? The Dry Dock was derelict by about 1880 and converted to an Ice House in the 1890s.

  6. "Freedom to dissent" as long as the taxpayer (Arts Council) funds it ? And not racist in its selection policy at all

    I sent them an email saying I dissent. I know the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry is legal;ly flawed. I know Institutionalized racism is a myth whipped into bogus reality by an idiot, Jack Straw, using mass hysteria. And I dissent from the idea of paying taxes to organisations which discriminate against anyone (in this case against whites)

    Call it "Art" and it is OK eh ?

  7. Don I do try, definitely try to make my pictures as upbeat as I can, but I am afraid that when it comes to trying to get some sort of move on in Ramsgate, so when have something to attract visitors this summer I am not pulling many punches.

    15.02 I think the main objective of people voting to pay extra for a town council here in Ramsgate was to act as an elected body to represent Ramsgate’s interests at TDC, my understanding is that the town council will be properly set and running from The Custom House at the beginning of next month.

    I suppose years ago when we all had borough councils it was usually the rate payers associations that kept the councils in check, there are several options that could work to some extent, elected leader, some sort of Thanet wide civic society being a couple.

    I think one of the greatest problems within local government is the tendency to engage in party politics even at town council level, perhaps we should think about trying to get more independents at town level, particularly in Ramsgate where they hold the balance of power already.

    20.19 The date is the earliest the automated booking service allowed and is nothing to do with any privileged information, something I thought I had made clear.

    Apparently anything goes Richard.

  8. 30 April 2010 launch now looks likely. "The leading fast ferry operator on the Channel" (as Euroferries have often styled themselves) now looks set to take to the high seas. Bookings open, and Euroferries' busy team are all set to take bookings. Benjamin Williams, Popppy Redmond and William Atkins are the key contacts.


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