Saturday 31 December 2011

Thanet Predictions for 2012

 I am feeling my way with this one and will add things as they come to mind, first with the subject, then perhaps the possibilities followed by some sort of prediction.

Local politics.

Council leadership.

This is a bit of a tricky one, my guess is the Conservative group will try to put up some sort of leadership challenge fairly early in the new year, probably with a leader from the existing shadow cabinet: Bob Bayford, Alasdair Bruce, Simon Moores, Chris Wells and Martin Wise.

So the first prediction is it will be one of these.

The other variable here is which councillors will get ill, die, vanish or disgrace themselves so badly that they are unable to hold office or change sides, changing the political spectrum.

With this one, it isn’t necessary to think in terms of individuals, only which group they fall into: Labour, Conservative or independent. 

I think recently the Conservatives have the worst record on this, however I suppose the laws of chance mean that it must be a Labour councillors turn soon.


Will Infratil pull out or won’t they? This of course is also effected by who they could sell it to, my guess is the chance to sell to anyone is something they would jump at and of course any prospective buyer may not want to run it as a conventional airport.

Will we get any sort of night flights policy?

China Gateway with a share price of 4.38p see and the failure to secure the 106 I don’t see much progress there over the next year.


The 2 year health and safety permit for the site runs out early 2012, this was for 200 workers, I have never seen more than four workers on the site, so the calculation that if it takes 200 workers 2 years to build it then with four workers on site will probably take 100 years to complete seems about right.

Will the new administration try and do anything about this one?

The options here are I think, end the development agreement based on the developer being 98 years behind schedule (sorry that can’t be right I think I mean two), insist on the basic safety checks recommended by the environment agency, allow the developer more time, nothing.


I think this one may be a bit tenuous and that we perhaps need to sign the petition to impress the planning inspector. Have a look at Will Scobie’s blog

Not sure about petitioning in Margate High Street on bank holiday Monday, will anyone be there? I think the choice here is between a developer who wants to get the maximum profit from housing on the site and local people who want thw maimum leisure on the site.


Houses again with this one although the two of the main contenders as developers seem to be TDC and KCC leisure too, there is also the sexist factor here, remember our new cabinet has female members.

Here in Kent Ramsgate was the first place to have a female mayor, Janet, and it was this Janet who gave Jacky Baker’s farm to the town, this is what she had to say about it:

“ In providing the ground for the young people of the town a new lung had been added to the borough [Ramsgate] which would be appreciated not only by those alive now but by their children’s children.”

Now a big chunk of this land was swapped with a big chunk of the Eurokent land and if the houses are built I don’t think there are plans to swap it back, just build houses on the swapped playing fields. 

What with one thing and another I am predicting that this development will flounder.

Developers seem to predict that profit will only be derived from either providing people housing, prepared food or alcoholic drink. Looking to cash in on this has few exceptions.

So I predict there will several new developments based on this.

Funny how the various plans for providing economic regeneration in Thanet are either environmentally bad like the airport, or economically damaging like importing goods from China.

So I would predict that there will be at least one large regeneration plan that involves damage to the UK economy or the environment.     

I will add to this as new years eve progresses, hopefully answers will appear in the crystal ball or some other glass.  

Friday 30 December 2011

New Year Fireworks in Ramsgate but not in Broadstairs.

 There will be a firework display over Ramsgate Harbour at midnight on Saturday 31st December 2011 to welcome in the New Year.

There won’t be a firework display in Broadstairs to welcome in the New Year as it has been cancelled for health and safety reasons.
 I hope this information is right as there is no mention of either event on the various council what’s on websites and phoning up the tourist information office reveals they are on holiday, as does phoning the council.

The Isle of Thanet Gazette’s front page story is about leaked emails about the Broadstairs cancellation from the new council cabinet.
Here is the online version of the Gazette article not an easy thing to find. 

The pictures, are of the Ramsgate Festival of Britain illuminations, although I am not completely certain of the second one down.   

And this is a picture of Dinah Sheridan who did the turning on, of the illuminations that is. 

I am wondering just what TDCSAG (Thanet District Council Safety Advisory Group) is all about, who it comprises how much they all get paid and why they concluded that a firework display that has been held for the past few years with the same safety arrangements is dangerous this year.

Perhaps if I could find contact details for them then perhaps I could get them to look into the Pleasurama safety issues.

Onto the new Labour cabinet and their misuse of ITC, very funny I though ccing the wrong people in the email exchange, when it comes to touch screen devices I don’t think I want be the one casting the first stone though.  

Personally as a – not sure even middle-aged is a good description here unless we can expect people to live to about 120 – man with large sausage like fingers and a creative approach to spelling, I find predictive text and virtual keyboards a bit of a challenge.   

Then we come to another question, is the local press politically biased? I am always being told that this blog is, I suppose one answer to this is that after the accidental email exchange they may be.

I think, the press are stupid intentionally or not, is obviously the best Michelle Fenner quote of the year, in fact in view of the time left she will have to be pretty sharp to improve on it.

Some interesting thought here on the difference between press that is stupid by mistake, for instance not checking who is cc’d when you send an email and a press that is stupid deliberately. I find as a blogger being stupid deliberately can be a fallback when all else fails trying to get some point across.

Oh yes I have just discovered Professor Emin was guest editor on the Today program on Wednesday, as she was interviewing some local people readers may want have a listen. Linking to Auntie is not necessarily a straightforward business so the link may not last or it may not work, if it does you click on the links on the page you get to hear bits of the program   

I will ramble on about this one. 

Thursday 29 December 2011

Rising to the challenge of drawing Ed Miliband

Ed Miliband is today’s subject for a series of stock cartoon figures that I am knocking together for my own amusement, this is the first attempt at the business of trying to work out with a pencil what it is that makes him recognisable as who he is.

You have to appreciate from the artistic point of view I am not trying to produce a portrait here, but a cartoon that represents what he looks like.

I will probably drivel on about this as attempts at trying to achieve this go wrong.

A second attempt at Ed Miliband, not an easy one this, however I have noticed that with this sort of caricature once you settle on an image there is a sense in which peoples perception of the subject subtly changes to include the caricature in the recognition of the subject. 

Ed Miliband. You’ll never have it so good.

As you see this sort of basic format allows one to produce a rough cartoon.

Wednesday 28 December 2011

Post Christmas Trauma

 It is probably allright for you but I am now back at work in my bookshop, to be honest I did open half an hour late and wouldn’t call what I am doing exactly work.

I think it’s a case of no news is good news, not knowing what’s going on locally I had a look at the other blogs, Simon Moores seems to complaining about his rubbish collection, see I did put the press release up ages ago see the council’s website has the same date on the release but knowing them it may have appeared much later which is probably what Simon is talking about, this is particularly evident as the press release before the rubbish one on the councils website has later date.
 It certainly hasn’t appeared on the council’s Facebook wall yet.

Trying to follow, or at least make some sort of sense of the argument surrounding John Worrow which seems to be the liveliest debate on the Thanet blogs at the moment, probably more due to the absence of news than anything else, is a bit of a tricky one, see.

This seems to be an argument partly about humour and homosexuality, the first question begged here is. Is sex funny? As an amateur historian, I would say the answer to this one is yes. 
 The questions here get trickier, the next one being, is homosexuality funny? On the whole I believe the answer here is something along the lines of, at least as funny as heterosexuality.

I think the problem here may be to do when this sort of humour relates to a know individual in a public forum.

Other factors here that make the subject a bit difficult seem to be, not knowing who the individuals are and in one case not understanding the joke, or possibly insult. I mean I have sorted out the backs to the wall thing, but what on earth are Mogs in this context? Even the youf of today seem a bit nonplussed by this reference.

This does get even trickier as a google search seems to suggest that the only place the comments exist on the internet is on the blog of the person complaining about the comments. 
Back in the Christmas theme for a mo some sort of fight between various god bothering groups seems to have broken out the location of the birth of Jesus.  

Back in my god bothering days I studied St Paul’s letters to the Corinthians in Greek, they give an interesting insight into the early church, with St Paul arguing that for instance they didn’t have to uncircumcise one another to convert from Judaism to Christianity nor did they have to get drunk on the wine at communion services.

I suppose this sort of thing can happen if you get a group of men who are not allowed female or gay relationships, then they are likely to fight. Funny old thing religion.

I may ramble on although as we are doing Christmas dinner for somewhere between 20 and 30 today I may get distracted. 

Monday 26 December 2011

St Stephen’s day, Boxing day.

St Stephen was stoned to death by an angry mob egged on by St Paul (who was running the cloakroom) after saying he had seen god, this was before St Paul had his vision on the road to Damascus, so technically not a saint at the time.

Also called Boxing day, this is the day to give gifts to your servants, it is also a traditional day to go fox hunting.

Having just eaten The Feast of Stephen, and settled various disputes relating to French Knitting, the old toys are often the most contentious, I though, having no servants or horse I would do a quick post.  

This is loosely based around having to answer questions about the meaning and significance of Boxing Day posed by my children hence the illustration.   

Sunday 25 December 2011

Happy Christmas

The picture of the Christmas tree, a work in progress a sort of ecard if you like, bit of a complex issue this, as most of the decorations have been made by my children, so the previous picture just wouldn’t do, very little artistic licence when it comes to children.

One of my children has been engaged in colouring the feet for her balloon while I have been painting and said I ought to put a picture of the balloon on the blog, not for me to argue.   

However you look at Christmas it is the celebration of the start of a major world religion in one sense and in the other the celebration of a teenage pregnancy.

Of course we are looking at the middle east two thousand years ago where the foundation of religions was not uncommon and the normal age to get married was twelve.

Being a pregnant teen two millennia ago in an atmosphere of a forthcoming messiah, with ones virginity presumably a subject of scrutiny, in a country occupied by a militaristic foreign power, doesn’t sound easy.

The way we celebrate Christmas has developed in the strange way that things human do, hence a religion that started in a hot part of the world is celebrated with pine trees and snow.

That’s as far as the ecard goes, I had a bit of an artistic accident with it after that, but learnt a new watercolour technique because of the accident, so overall I very happy about spoiling the picture.

Paint is something that I don’t really understand properly and don’t want to learn from people who do yet.

The easiest way to explain this is like this. I can draw people fairly well. My definition of this is explained in the table below with 1 being not so good and four and a half fairly well.

1 you can tell it’s a person.

2 you can tell the sex of the person.

3 you can tell the age of the person.

4 you can tell the type, e.g. pipe smoking car driving chap of the 1940s

 5 you can tell who the actual person is.

Anyway I read this book saying that necks are particularly difficult to draw after which I couldn’t draw them for months.
I may ramble on a bit.

Saturday 24 December 2011

Christmas initial thoughts

Having finished work and wrapped up, I am now examining the tree, and considering Christmas.
 The youf of today seem to be discovering the true meaning of differential.
I wonder if it is possible to paint the decorations on the tree at the rate the children are putting them on the tree soon won’t be visible.

Well I have put some tinsel on and got some sort of approval from the children who are still loading the tree.
I have now put some decorations on, the children watching me taking pictures of the picture of the tree asked the obvious question. “Why don’t you just take a picture of the tree daddy?”
 The question for the adults is, how much of the tree does your mind decorate for you?

Strange business the feast of Christmas, the commercial, religious and traditional, none of which stand up well to much scrutiny. I only mention this as I have to answer questions from enquiring young minds.

Friday 23 December 2011

Oranges are not the only fruit.

Strange little story about a hypothetical council today, this has no relationship whatever to local events and any comments should be also framed in a hypothetical form.

One way or another god has had a bit of a downer on the eating of apples and has always encouraged the eating of oranges and for, well a very long time the apple eaters have done their apple eating on the quiet.

There are some groups who believe god is a woman, whatever the truth of this he has been very quiet on the subject of cherries and on the whole they have never been used for political purposes.

Anyway fairly recently in terms of the very long time, the eating of apples stopped being illegal, in fact it became illegal to persecute people for eating apples, if god had anything to say about this she didn’t say.

Some of the churches though remained pretty strict about this and anyone eating apples was certainly frowned upon. The eating of the young apples and oranges that weren’t yet ripe is of course a different thing altogether and is against the law, however it seemed that some members of the churches, where any apple eating had to be done in secret had also been eating some of the apples and oranges that weren’t ripe at all, in secret. Nothing much you understand has been said or will be said here about cherries.

Anyway into all this political and religious confusion comes Don a young chap keen on apples and he joins the orange party who although they once had no truck with apple eaters have now adopted a more pragmatic approach. Well they had to really, anyone persecuting an apple eater could wind up in a lot of trouble with the law.

Anyway Don tells them that he is an apple eater and asks if this will cause any problems if he runs for office. They tell Don that this is no problem at all and in fact one of their own prominent politicians is also an apple eater, but of course they don’t exactly advertise the fact. But as a lot of the voters are also apple eaters so they don’t exactly cover it up either.

Well Don says he wouldn’t want to advertise his apple eating either, for one thing his old mum is very religious and would probably go apoplectic if she found out he had been eating apples.

Everything goes well and Don stands for election as an orange party candidate, the apple eaters vote for him because they know he is an apple eater and the people whose religious convictions are against apple eaters vote for him, because he is standing for the orange party. 

Then comes a bit of a problem for Don, in the village he represents business isn’t so good and the shopkeepers and shoppers, many of who voted for him, say to him. “In the next village, where they elected a well known Orange party candidate and parking is free there, while we have to pay for it, can you sort this out for us.”

So anyway Don goes and tells the chiefs of the orange party that he won’t vote for parking charges in his village, frankly the villagers would make his life hell if he did.

To this the chiefs of the orange party say. “You can’t do that Don, it may not look like it but the parking in your little village street makes lots of money for our good causes” Don isn’t really sure about this but it is obvious that his villagers really aren’t going to believe that the parking money gathered in their little village is very significant and what with that and the next village down the road having free parking, Don is in a bit of a no win situation. So Don says to the orange party chiefs. “Too bad I am going to vote for the free parking anyway.” So the orange party chiefs say. “In that case we will put it around that you have been eating apples.”

The orange party think the lemon party are load of trouble makers and worse of all they hold 10 seats while the orange party hold 11 and being trouble makers you can pretty much guarantee that what ever the orange party vote for the lemon party will vote against. Of course the lemon party think the same thing about the orange party and while all this is going on the lemon party have decided to challenge the orange party’s leadership. This is partly because one of the orange party members is away and partly because there are a few politicians that don’t belong to either party and they have done a deal with the orange party which seems to be wearing a bit thin.

The lemon party have a bit of a different history on the eating of apples, but it is as well to remember they have the same sort of proportion of religious members and no one really wants to wind up god.

In recent years the lemon party has been right behind the eating of apples although predominantly made up of orange eaters, of course the orange party came along first, so they grabbed the name orange party.

Anyway the lemon party had decided to hold this vote saying that they had no confidence in the leader of the orange party and Don thought that one way or another going along with this one would get the free parking.

However having done this there are the orange party who know he has been at the apples and still holding this over him.

So anyway what with the lemon party being very friendly and saying that they will look after Don he goes one step further and votes for the lemon party leader.

So now a situation has developed where the lemon party’s hold on power is dependant on someone the orange party has a hold over, either continuing to support the lemon party or at least not supporting the orange party.  

Of course members of the lemon party would like to be able to say that the orange party have done wrong here, by persecuting someone for eating apples, but the orange party haven’t done anything wrong.

In fact if anyone were to even suggest that the orange party have persecuted anyone for eating apples, then the orange party may take legal action against them, for suggesting that the orange party have broken the law when they haven’t.   

I will ramble on with this one 

Thursday 22 December 2011

Day off ramble.

Before the flack starts flying and as Don has broken the news I should point out that the decision by Flybe to pull out of Manston in March was made before the change in administration and I am told has nothing to do with night flights.

It’s nearly Christmas and I have primary school children who are on holiday, their excitement is fairly extreme so please excuse more than the usual level of errors.  

Lunch at the café on the promenade in Westgate today, I tried a watercolour of the sea while the children were eating up, consuming the enviable ice cream etc and although the watercolour didn’t turn out any good, I think I am finally getting used to painting and drawing in public.

With the night flights issue, I suppose one answer would be to allow Manston the proportion of night flights to day flights as that enjoyed by Gatwick and Heathrow.    
The pictures in this post were taken in Birchington and Westgate today.

More thoughts about Manston, I think the hope was that the better road network would make it work a regional airport, evidently this has failed. I don’t think any better rail network would help that much as if you are going by train and then plane from the southeast then it’s going to be one of the main London airports.

I think that KIA are hoping that freight will pull them through somehow, but as most of the freight will be heading for the M25 it seems unlikely that this will work.

What I don’t think Infratil have thought through here is that they only have three options, sell the airport, close it to save money or continue to subsidise it to the tune of around £1m per year. Well I guess there are no takers for buying it and they have gone down the subsidise it route, so far so good and then they seem to have thrown common sense out of the window.

Once they had made the decision that they were going to run it at a considerable loss, they then went down the road of engaging in activities that generated bad publicity.

I would say the way off the ground for Manston would be to exploit the historic aviation and to make it a tourist attraction. I doubt that the recent sanctions business which highlighted that people would still prefer to fly from Heathrow or Gatwick even when the plane was going to land and takeoff from Manston, exactly enhanced the airlines view of it as a viable destination.      

The decision has been on the cards for some time and I heard it had been confirmed over weekend and mentioned this to Simon who said he had already heard about it. But then it isn’t the place local bloggers to jump the gun on this sort of information, however is does show readers the position that bloggers are often in, sitting on information that for one reason or another it is better not to publish, and I suppose one would have looked a bit of a clot if they had changed their minds. 

I will ramble on. 

Tuesday 20 December 2011

Thanet District Councillors, some idle speculation.

 Looking over the recent events and blog dialogues I am trying to form an accurate picture of what has happened with our district government here in Thanet.

Call it for historical record if you like, I have been trying to ask some fairly searching questions of both councillors and others with an interest in our local politics both on and off line.
 The main theme here is about how different parts of Thanet are treated under different administrations.

An example of what I mean here is say Birchington and Westgate have fairly similar shopping centres and layouts, Westgate has a Conservative cabinet member as a councillor and has free parking, Birchington doesn’t and doesn’t. In fact judjing by recent events all of the Birchington councillors seemed happy to vote against the party line on the parking issue.
 OK this is probably just coincidence but it gives you the idea of where I am coming from.

The searching questions I have been asking are of a more serious nature, these really relate to the way Ramsgate was treated under the last eight years of Conservative Government at district level and were some of the things that happened motivated by spite by a Conservative controlled council towards an area where the councillors were predominantly Labour.

What has happened to council owned assets in the town look to be something more than could be achieved by coincidence.
 Some of the things that happened looked and until they are explained, still look, like acts of spite, where everyone lost. The Historic Ship Pontoon is an example of what I mean.

For anyone who doesn’t know about this, there is a condemned pontoon with limited services opposite the café culture, with the noise and late night antisocial behaviour you would expect, this effectively makes it unletable, in terms of ordinary leisure craft moorings. The council let these moorings to historic vessels at reduced mooring fees.

Everyone gained from this state of affairs, the historic vessel owners got reduced mooring fees, the council got fees where they otherwise wouldn’t, the café culture was enhanced by view of the historic vessels opposite.

The council decided to stop this arrangement, so the pontoon is empty. There may be an explanation, but I have asked and none has been forthcoming.

The other day I heard that Ramsgate swimming pool had been delayed because of an argument as to whether a pedestrian could pass a bicycle on a two metre path, I probably got the wrong end of the stick here and it was two feet, which does sound like a reasonable problem. However this got me thinking if some of the other things, particularly those related to council owned property in Ramsgate, could be explained as spite directed at the Labour group by the Conservative group.

Pleasurama on the surface may look like a series of unfortunate mistakes that has lead to it being a building site for the entire duration of the Conservative administration. But suppose a serious attempt is ever made to develop it, a proper flood risk and cliff condition assessment and proper foundations going into the chalk bedrock I would imagine would be indicators of this. The council would have liability for both the cliff behind and the sea defences in front of it a difficult position, what could possibly the motives that lead to the Conservative group going against the advice of the council’s chief financial officer and issuing agreements that put it in this position?

The maritime museum is another one, well the list goes on.

Now I would say that there is a fairly general consensus that the old Conservative administration, the one before the one that has just been deposed, had much to be desired. So a very big question to the new Conservative administration, is what have they been doing for the last seven months?

Two ex cabinet members have been very noticeable in the recent blog debate but have dodged around these questions, one seems to be baiting John Worrow at the end of the thread I am wondering what the motive could be in this, as John does seem to be in position of some influence in Thanet politics at the moment.

Would the Labour group create a cabinet post for John? It seems unlikely, would the Conservatives group take John back, that seems unlikely too.

So what were and are the motives of the Conservative group? Do they intent to try and seize power back and what will be their intentions if they do? Do they perhaps intend to have some sort of shadow cabinet reshuffle?

The main Labour presence on the Blogs at the moment is Will Scobie, I believe that he is the only councillor on either side who has had any professional training in politics, so this may be a shrewd move on the part of the Labour group.

I am hoping we will see some activity on the presently dormant Labour blogs and perhaps these two experienced Labour councillors are biding there time.

There is of course the possibility of some sort of reorganisation of the Labour cabinet that could include them, I believe it was the Conservatives that reduced the size of the cabinet.

I suppose one aspect of the last Conservative cabinet that seemed unwise was combining a major portfolio with the position of leader, makes one wonder really. 

All of the pictures in this post are of well known parts of Thanet, I wonder how many you can identify?

We now come to some speculation about the new leader Clive Hart, I don’t think I have ever met him and in the fullness of time I will put some of the local issues to him, probably as open letters, as I did with the previous leadership.

Just after he became elected a well known Conservative blogger seemed to be saying that Clive is a bit of a slow person, this didn’t seem to tally with him working for 15 years as a supply electrician. A Live Sparks with slow reactions would be unlikely to survive 10 years, particularly with a few apprentices about, you know how it is with young people and their rather direct sense of humour.

Some people seemed to be saying that he would be a bit of a puppet leader, but this doesn’t ring right with someone who was a union pay negotiator, something that is usually synonymous with the word shrewd. 
I may ramble on here.

The Zen of the local Conservative Groups and Labour groups online.

Since the Conservatives lost the confidence vote in their leader there has been an increased Conservative internet presence, with what I take as a genuine attempt to communicate with local people.

The latest one of these forays into hyperspace being today’s news announcement on The South Thanet Conservative Website.

“Friday, 16 December, 2011
Owing to the defection of Cllr John Worrow (Conservative - Birchington, North Thanet), the leadership of Thanet District Council has been taken by Cllr Hart (Labour).  Cllr Bob Bayford and the Conservative group have our total support.” 

Although the thing is dated last Friday it only appeared today, a bit like some of the TDC press releases do.

This is a bit of a strange one as I had sort of assumed that the Thanet District Council Conservative Group already had the support of The South Thanet Conservative Association, perhaps there is some strange code here that you need to be in local politics to follow. 

To me it seems to fall into the same bracket as the statement “The Titanic is unsinkable” as it immediately begs the question: Who said that The South Thanet Conservative Association didn’t support Cllr Bob Bayford et al.

Anyway I had a look at the North Thanet Conservative Association website this is very odd and seems to suggest that they think the internet may be something important, but haven’t used it yet.

After this I was prompted to look at the opposition, first The North Thanet Labour Group and then The South Thanet Labour Group.

If North Thanet Labour exist on the internet I couldn’t find it, perhaps it was blown away by Roger Gale.

I may ramble on a bit about this.   

Monday 19 December 2011

Parking in the Thanet towns

I went to the Turner Contemporary yesterday afternoon.

The weather was very cold so I parked in the car park between the old town and the high street, new machine there that was confusing people. I wanted three hours parking and I think two was about £1.20 so I put £2 in and it only allowed me 2 hours, this meant that I didn’t have time to visit the small shops.

There were two parking attendants on Sunday afternoon in the freezing wind giving visitors to the gallery parking tickets to enhance their Thanet leisure experience.

I wonder how cost effective this is.

I am mastering the camera on my mobile phone and was pleased with the one of The Kiss, I wanted to take a picture of the sculpture, that could only be achieved in The Turner Contemporary, for the chap who works at The Tate and allowed us to take pictures of The Kiss here.   

I believe it was Victoria Pomery who was mainly responsible for getting The Kiss in Thanet an I am working up to producing a watercolour that incorporates her in a picture of the sculpture as a thank you too.

I don’t have much difficulty with face on and quarter profile likenesses but the total profiles needed when there faces share two eyes I find difficult so I wanted a lot of shots of the sculpture.  

Back to the parking issue. The bit of Ramsgate I trade in used to be on a very busy road until Ramsgate town centre was pedestrianised and since then there is very little traffic flow as King Street and the surrounding streets only leads to the car park. However since the reduction in traffic, there has been a considerable increase in double yellows on this area.

Conversely where there is much more traffic near one of the local schools and the new Tesco, some aspects of the parking appear fairly dangerous.

The road behind my bookshop where I used to park my van across my own garage gates, is a dead end and now has double yellow lines, I certainly wonder why

The most extraordinary application of the parking rules that I have ever seen is the road to nowhere behind Ramsgate Sands, the combination of no loading and double yellow lines on this quiet road with no through traffic, suggests a degree of malice directed towards tourism in Ramsgate of maniac proportions, see

Incidentally the main Thanet blogs sem to have gone parking mad today see:

great minds thinking alike? 
I will ramble on here.

Sunday 18 December 2011

Who is Smudger, the Isle of Thanet Gazette Columnist?

Is it Rebecca Smith the Editor of The Isle of Thanet Gazette? This seems to be a forgone conclusion on Thanet Life, see and is Smudger after Simon’s colon, wife or even child?

Do we have a News of the World situation here, see Tony Bignews who is missing his Sunday morning paper.      

More elusive posting on Worrows World, see probably best not a quick sketch for this one.

Meanwhile on Will Scobie’s blog Chris Wells and Peter Checksfield are trying to identify an anonymous commentator who says they are an ex Conservative Councillor, see probably best not a sketch for this one either. 

Of course Simon Moores, Chris Wells, Peter Checksfield, Will Scobie, John Worrow, Tony Flaig all have something in common with me, which is they engage in open internet forums under their real names. You may not agree with what they say, but at least you know who they are. 

Obviously vague imaginary sketches of anonymous newspaper columnists are fair game as are artists, the prime minister, with local councillors I have been very restrained so far with what you could call rather tasteful drawings.

A question though, with a new administration which I hope will be a little more lightharted, are councillors fair game for the odd cartoon sketch?

I may ramble on this Sunday morning as I try to follow the other Thanet blogs.

Thursday 15 December 2011

Day off ramble, Tracey Emin, Westwood Cross, Ramsgate Town Centre.

Tracey Emin has just got the highly prestigious post of Eranda Professor of Drawing at The Royal Academy Schools of art.

One of my problems in life has been my drawing ability, I would say that the victims generally don’t like it very much, I very nearly got expelled from school over it and have only recently taken it up again. Well of course I wouldn’t dare use one of Tracey’s drawings to illustrate this post because of the copyright implications, so I have used one of my own.

Christopher Le Brun, president of the Royal Academy, said he was "delighted" with Emin's appointment and Eileen Cooper, keeper of the Royal Academy Schools, said: "In the history of the Royal Academy, we've never had a female professor before. I'm proud and delighted by this development."

I have to say I wish Tracey all the luck in the world with this one, it isn’t something I would like to have to teach as often the results are unpredictable.

I went to Westwood Cross today, something I rarely do and once again was struck by the restrictions of the infrastructure, having spent about half an hour in a traffic jam we eventually managed to park. One is only too aware that the number of shoppers there, is limited by the number who can actually get there and park.

The net result of all this is when we got into the shops they weren’t especially busy.

With all of the depressing news about shops and traditional town centres, I really can’t understand what is happening in Ramsgate town centre at the moment, nearly all of the previously empty shops seem to have been taken, a lot by national chains and have either reopened or are about to.

I am learning to sew at the moment so you can say this post is the displacement therapy while I work what I work out just what it is I have done wrong.

So be warned I may ramble on some more, in fact if the piece of fabric I am working on at the moment doesn’t soon respond to the fine tuning sledgehammer it may be a very long post indeed.   

Wednesday 14 December 2011

Thanet Under the Red Flag, government by the people for the people?

A week in politics is a long time, and by the end of tomorrow the new Labour leadership will have had a week to settle down, I will be tackling them about local issues, mostly Ramsgate issues, not because I think Ramsgate should have any preferential treatment, but because Ramsgate is where I am and it is the issues that I understand the best.

It does look as though the new administration are going to be a bit better at with the internet, I have already received and posted their press release about last night’s cabinet meeting, see

Nothing yet from the opposition, perhaps they are yet to find their feet in this position, they don’t even seem to have posted details of their shadow cabinet.

Well I say nothing, there is the rather strange post on Cllr Simon Moores’s blog Thanet Life, see saying that he received a notification from the new leader on sub standard stationary.

At first I thought this was supposed to be humorous, it seems that Simon craved Basildon Bond, which is I believe stationary used mostly by the lower middle classes.

At least it seems Simon knows his place, Clive Hart on the other hand is harder to judge, in terms of political manuscripts on lined paper I was a bit spoiled for choice. 

I may ramble on if I get time.  

A couple of other notes here:

First there has been a large influx of forged banknotes, especially £20 notes into Thanet, you can normally check that they are ok inconspicuously as the writing “BANK 0F ENGLAND” is raised on the real ones and you can feel it even in a dimly lit bar.

The other is that TDC have just fed a two week old press release and it has just appeared on Simon’s blog in the two week ago position as though nothing has happened in between, well I thought it was funny.    

Tuesday 13 December 2011

One view of the Thanet blogs

The whole Thanet blogging scene like the Thanet political scene is on the change so I have updated adding Will Scobie’s blog and Ville Views blog to the site.

The idea of is to be able to keep up with the comment as well as the posts on the main Thanet blogs, it’s very much an old fashioned, seat of the pants no frills computing site, lifting the info very quickly from the other sites.

I find it particularly useful when using an internet phone to keep up with the local dialogue.

Still on the computing front, do you reckon you could tell a phishing site from a real one, try the quiz at I got two wrong, although this was because I was a bit over cautious.

Anyone recognise the picture above and what’s happened?

The answer shown in the picture above, if you look carefully at the first picture the one at the top of the post, you will see this lump had become detached at the bottom where someone has driven into it.

Amazing design a concrete lump too low to see at the end of disabled parking spaces, perhaps the disabled drivers bumping into them is some sort of Turnip Prize exhibit.

Monday 12 December 2011

Thanet District Council and the new Conservative cabinet what went wrong? A bit of a ramble.

I suppose that so much of the comment, interest, whatever you like to call it has been focused on John Worrow, that the main long term problem for any council with no overall majority has to face, hasn’t really been mentioned.

This is how the governing group manages the independents and opposition councillors.

The new Conservative cabinet in Thanet started in an unusual position, in as much as they were poles apart from the old Conservative cabinet of Ezekiel & Co. so they inherited a situation where the previous cabinet, while theoretically on the same side and therefore difficult for them to criticise, was viewed by them as something not very good.

I think the new Conservative group viewed themselves as a group of academics, inhabiting a somewhat higher country of the mind than the geography the rest of us inhabit.

This higher country of the mind is also an area often inhabited by senior local government officers, lets face it if you can’t get job as a captain of industry and you can’t get a job as a senior civil servant in national government, you can’t get a job at county level, well I don’t suppose I have to draw a diagram.

When it comes to dealing with the problems in local government, it is having a very complex set of rules and producing intricate paperwork that fills the bill and ensures you keep your job, the maxim being. Make it long make it complicated make it up if you have to.

With the internet I have caught them out on several occasions and posted about it, they take a very complex document, that probably even they don’t understand and lift it from another council’s website, replacing the word Thanet with the name of the other council.

Now the council cabinet are supposed to represent the people of Thanet, and the officers are supposed to present the information for the decision of the cabinet in a form that ordinary people can understand.

What seems to have happened is that our new intellectual cabinet, we shall call them the collegiate after the fictional character College, the tramp; went of for a tramp through the high country of the mind with the officers. Well this was all fine and dandy, in these ebony towers it isn’t necessary understand what is going on, just that they appear to, until they had to hand out chairs to the independents.  

Well it seems one of the independents didn’t understand the rules here and visibly failed to understand what was probably incomprehensible anyway, to which the collegiate responded along the lines of, you’re just not clever enough to understand the framework.

I had a bit of this sort of nonsense over Pleasurama, I pointed out to the councillors and the officers, that the EA officer with the qualifications in costal engineering, had said that come a big tide and storm, the thousand or so people living in the new development could all be trapped inside.

I said to them, look the only expert who has pronounced on this thing says it needs pedestrian escapes and a risk assessment. I was assured that this didn’t matter as all the proper procedures had been followed, as though this would hold back the sea.

Anyway no one likes to be perceived as stupid, so after a lot of failed smoothing out, this independent voted against the Conservatives. This surprised the others as they had all agreed to vote for them, one did and the other one abstained, well you know the rest.

After this and even more amusing was that the other two Birchington Conservative councillors voted against the Conservatives and with Labour for their free parking. 

How things will go now are a bit hard to say, I think Sandy Ezekiel is up before the beak next week, so how that pans out could effect the Conservative numbers for a while.

With this following the rules thing, the latest laugh is on the sidebar of Thanet life, as I predicted in my previous post the council have put up the new cabinet posts, that they should have put up last Friday today, but as they can’t admit that they forgot to do it on time, it appeared there date stamped Friday.

I suppose the a good example of this is the current tangle over Europe, the eurocrats have built a whole continent based of the expansion of legislation and bureaucracy.   

Now pretty much everyone can see that the countries of Europe managed to rub along by having exchange rates between their currencies.

If the Germans all rushed around being productive, while the Spanish sat outside the taverna and the Spanish economy went a bit pear shaped, the value of the peseta became less so Spanish holidays became cheaper, more people went there on holiday and the Spanish economy improved.

Masses of eurocrats and members from all countries have to do something, usually something expensive, billions were spent on the single currency, and it doesn’t work.

Well the Germans are printing Marks, which seems to be the nearest anyone has come to saying it was just a mistake.

I suppose they could get rid of nearly all of the people involved and go back to a common market, throw all of the European legislation out of the window, I don’t see much chance though.

I find as Europe progressed through this grand dream I have more European friends and one thing they all seem to have in common is a dislike for the great central bureaucracy.

I wonder if there is a way to government at any level, where it common sense that prevails.

Back to the collegiate cabinet and the notion that they had drifted of into some high country of the mind where they thought the complexities of running Thanet requires superior minds and that only they were capable of running our little island.

I suppose the culmination of this was losing the confidence vote in their leader they carried the thing through to what they saw as the logical conclusion and put the same man up for election by the same people who had just voted him out.

Did they I wonder, feel that there was no other Conservative councillor that would get the votes of the independents and the Conservative councillor who had defected. After all the votes of all the other Conservative councillors would be guaranteed pretty much whichever of their number they put up for election.

Perhaps it was just because they really had no plan B, kamikaze perhaps, anyone got any ideas?

I was wondering if this has ever happened before, I mean a politician losing a vote of confidence and then being put up for election again by his party in front of the people who have just voted him down, I can’t find any incidence of this elsewhere historically, can anyone else?

I may ramble on a bit more. 

Saturday 10 December 2011

Ramsgate harbour Slipways Plans, nice railway shed shame about the waves.

This is one of those last chance to have your say things, it relates to the well known local developer, who has recently been responsible for the restoration of the Custom House and the Marina Restaurant, both very attractive and viable developments.

The Custom House is now the home to Ramsgate Town Council and because of the way this has been arranged, the subletting of the other parts of the building mean that the parts used by the council are effectively rent free.

Commercially the difficulty with the slipways partly relates to their commercial viability and partly to the commercial viability of Ramsgate Harbour without slipways.

The slipway operators take on this, being that only slipway No1 is commercially viable, this viability is partly related to the rent and rates for the site, the rent being set by TDC and the rates by the Inland Revenue.

Slipway 4 is really just a bit of sloping concrete with a trolley on it that leads into the workshops and has really been replaced by the TDC owned lifting cradle, in fact the lifting cradle means that much of the work on the smaller craft can be done without the slipways, so the cradles very existence renders the whole slipway operation less viable.

Slipway 2’s cradle (the bit that goes up and down on the rails) was condemned by TDC a couple of years ago and hasn’t been replaced.

The TDC owned lifting cradle (don't get your cradles muddled or you bring up the wrong baby) near the harbour gates has limitations, both in terms of weight and in terms of the beam (width) of the vessels that can use it.

Slipway 3 has mostly been used for the windfarms catamarans (wide twin hulled vessels) during the last couple of years. These are both to wide and too heavy for the lifting cradle.

Slipway 1 has to stay whatever happens as it is a heritage lump, a listed Victorian slipway. Slipway one is mostly used for much larger vessels, often for replating and when a vessel is on slipway one (one has been stuck on it for about the last 3 months awaiting parts) the only way to get the windfarm vessels out of the water, for repairs and maintenance is to use slipway 3.

The overall commercial viability of the harbour is a difficult one, it seems to have an income from mooring and port fees in the multimillion pound a year bracket and harbour maintenance appears to have been fairly minimal over the past few years.

I am no accountant, so I can’t extrapolate what actual income TDC receive from the harbour, but assume it is a fair amount.

Part of the problem here is that TDC haven’t yet produced their harbour master plan, so it is difficult to tell how vital the slipways are to the overall long-term commercial viability of the harbour.

Most especially this relates to the windfarm vessels, it is unclear just how vital the long term use of the slipways is to the windfarm operators, obviously it would detrimental to TDC’s income if they took their operation elsewhere.  

Another factor with the windfarm vessels is that they are new and still under warranty, so the work on them is mostly done by firms from outside the area, this means that there is very little to be derived, in the way of income, for the slipway operator for letting them use the slipways.   

Anyway what happened was that the developer bought half of the lease from the slipways operator for £90,000 and TDC issued a separate split lease to him, roughly covering the area for slipways 2 to 4.

There is an added problem here, which is did TDC issue the lease with the full knowledge that the developer wanted to use the site as a bar and restaurant complex? Meaning that if TDC try to enforce the terms of the lease i.e. that the site be used for ship repairs, could this be open to a legal dispute?

One last thing on the lease, which is that I think when it was issued officers omitted the side access to the maritime museum, which if this was just a mistake, could lead to more delays in granting the maritime museum lease.
That was the background, so now onto the planning applications, the first application was for the modern brightly coloured development in the picture.

Apart from all of the problems mentioned above, for me the main problem was the flood risk assessment presented with these plans.

This flood risk assessment had various flaws the most glaring of which was that the flood risk assessor had made an error and confused Mean High Tide with Maximum High Tide.

Whatever the financial implications of the development, it was obvious that a building, inhabited parts of which would definitely flood, was a non starter, so my main objection to the first development was on the grounds that the flood risk assessment was wrong.

One of the factors with planning applications is that if they get turned down, then you have a limited time in which to reapply before you have to start all over again and pay the planning fee again, this can be several thousand pounds.  

So I think there was a bit of a rush getting this one in, when I looked at the application I soon realised that they had used the faulty flood risk assessment that had been a major factor in the council’s turning down of the previous plans.

Something important to understand with flood risk assessments and the business of building on the foreshore is that the sea has waves, so you have to make an allowance for what the Environment Agency call RIZ, they explain this in their letter to the council about the Pleasurama development, click on the link to read it

Usually design of this sort of development design revolves around two factors, the height of the sea defence in front of it, relative to the maximum high tide, and the distance that it is behind the sea defence to allow for wave dissipation.

Both of the applications for building on the slipways involve building part of the new development on a small pier above the sea, so there will be no wave dissipation, plus the added problem of any floating objects getting trapped below the development and being impacted into the bottom of the development by wave action.

Now the latest development the one that looks like an Edwardian railway shed, was designed by one of the senior planning officers who has just left the council, so you would have assumed that he would have known about this.

In fact I am very surprised that he has put the cart before the horse in this way, the normal approach, I would have thought, would be to do the flood risk assessment first and then design the building to be safe within the constraints of the existing environment. 

Anyway when I went to object to this development based mostly on the fact that the flood risk assessment was wrong, I spoke to the officer in charge of the application, who said that the wrong flood risk assessment had been submitted and I could delay my objection until he let me know that the right assessment had been submitted and I had had a chance to check it was ok.

I also had a chat with the developer, who said pretty much the same and that the assessment would be with the council in few days. Much more than a few days passed and so I contacted the officer in charge of the application.

He said that the new flood risk assessment still hadn’t been submitted and as time is running out on this one, I would need to object in the next few days, based on the existing, wrong assessment.

So if you want to comment on this one, you had better be quick.

The main planning reference is L/TH/11/0875 the council’s planning website is

The council’s planning website is a strange place and there seems to be pretty much the same application filed under the ref F/TH/11/0874 I can’t link to the plans as unlike normal websites the web address of the page the plans are on doesn’t stay the same.

The first applications relating to the previous brightly coloured development are: The one to demolish the slipways workshops winding houses etc L/TH/10/0736 and the development F/TH/10/0737 may be helpful in trying to assess this new one.

The officer tells me that the retention of the slipways for continued viability of the harbour as a whole are a valid reason for objection too.

On a more personal note here I think there is the whole business of the expanding café culture to consider, my guess is that rather like the case in Whitstable, the background of a real working harbour is a major attraction.

On the face of it the working fishing boat environment can be fairy disruptive and sometimes rather smelly, but it is something real going on and is obviously a major factor in the very successful regeneration of Whitstable.

With the fast train, Ramsgate is now a faster and easier commute to London than Whitstable is, regeneration is now extending from the café culture into the High Street with new shops opening. 

I think there is a very real danger that the part of the harbour next to the café culture could turn into just a parking area for expensive and somewhat similar boats, not really much of an attraction.