Sunday 30 January 2011

Sunday Ramble

Thanet and China, a union of pollution and economic disaster or a union of eco friendly prosperity?
Checking around the web this morning I noticed Commercial Group Properties, the firm behind the China Gateway development at Manston, seem top be having IT problems.

Their website has gone, see or rather don’t see it.

As soon as I saw the initial plans for this development, I had great reservations about what these people are actually up to, because from an engineering point of view these plans just didn’t make any sense.

These plans were drawn up by the same firm of architects that drew the initial plans for the Pleasurama development, the ones that were for the building that was higher than the cliff behind it.

In the case of The China Gateway development it was the drainage plans that didn’t make any sense, one aspect of which was that the individual Chinese companies were to have their own septic tank system, processing their own sewage and industrial waste on site and poring the results into our drinking water reservoir.

Now I am all for a dialogue with China and the encouragement of an improvement in their human rites, attitude to pollution, a more balanced trade relationship etc, but with an element of caution.

When it comes to environmental projects, one that I view with suspicion is the offshore wind farm one, from an engineering point of view this seems to me much more about getting grant funding, than solving pollution and climate change problems.

The first question here is, what happens when the wind doesn’t blow? I am afraid the answer to this one is. There is some sort or polluting backup power station, after all if the backup power station was one that wasn’t polluting, why not use it all the time?

Of course here in Ramsgate we can only benefit from the windfarms putting money into out economy and I am please to have their business here.

That said I am suspicious about the windfarm operators attitude to the environment, because the whole business doesn’t seem to make sense to me, from an engineering point of view, so I tend to keep a bit of an eye on the situation there.

I have to say I wasn’t that surprised to read this morning about a pollution skeleton in their cupboard, see

It is looking to me as though, if Thanet is going to develop a special relationship with China, we need to take some care.

Kent International Airport
I am afraid when one of the local councils starts talking about spending six figure amounts to regenerate the area, I now get very suspicious and spending £10,000,000 ish on in a station for the airport is just another occasion.

I really don’t believe that our local councils take an objective view of the airport, of course I am likely to be ill informed, so corrections in the comments please.

What we have is a huge runway, in a place where no one sensible would put a commercial airport, it faces the wrong way, has a town at the end of it and because of its geographical location can never be a transport hub, a couple of spokes of the wheel maybe, but a hub never.

With a truly massive amount of investment, modern guidance systems, hard standing for enough aircraft to park in, viable solutions to the drainage and other pollution problems, still it’s in the wrong place.

Talking to the engineers who have to solve the problems there is a bit of an education and the main problem at the moment that they are working on is the drainage one, here is an example of what I mean.

Now something you just wouldn’t do if you were planning a new airport from scratch is build it on top of an essential drinking water reservoir, solving the problems just don’t make economic sense, but as Manston is already in this situation and various contingency plans exist in case of a big fuel spillage.

At some time in the past some clever engineer decided to take up the turf covering a large part of the grass bit of the airfield and put a thick layer of clay underneath, so that if a plane crashes on the green bit and the fuel is spilt, then there will be time to contain the fuel and clean it up before it soaks into the ground.

Sound great doesn’t it, unfortunately the clay is only under some bits, no one seems too know which bits and putting clay under the rest of it wouldn’t be an allowable pollution solution with the regulations in place now.

Apart from when encouraging investors and government finance I don’t think anyone really sees Manston as a paying proposition, different firms have tried to make it pay, over the last fifty years or so, with no great amount of success, when it changes hands it tends to do so because it is very cheap.

Local Blogs
On to the local blogs this week, the main thing to covered is the councillors handbags at dawn spat over Mark Nottingham’s deselection, the implications relating to the leadership of the Labour group and possibly even the future leadership of the council.

There are several rumours going around about a spat in the Conservative group over deselection too.

The whole business raises two important issues that I can see.

One being, is party politics in any way suited to district council level? I say this mainly because I think if you took the time the able councillors from all political persuasions are able to give to the very real problems in Thanet and got them all to work together, I am not so sure they would be up to the task.

The other being, having voted to chose the leader of them selves against the unanimous results of the public consultation, the bits of the way the leader of the council is chosen that have slipped into public view, look well just ludicrous.

Looking at the other blogs for something in terms of other news, I should draw your attention to one I put up on my other blog

The national government has told local government that it now has to publish details of any individual spends over £100 and this post has links to the first lot of figures that Thanet District Council have published.

The whole thing is a bit only in Thanet, as all the information is there apart from what they actually spent the money on.

Thanet Press Releases is bit of a strange blog, I started it so that I wouldn’t spam this blog up with all of the bits of local information that receive by email.

Most of these were council press releases and now the council are getting much better at publishing them on their own website, in a timely manner I am considering stopping publishing them there.

Any one got any views on this one?

Simon Moores has a post about Margate Caves that doesn’t sound very encouraging see perhaps if the caves contained modern art they would have some chance of getting open again.

Perhaps the people bunkering fuel just off Margate could be asked to sponsor the caves.

The rest of Simon’s posts this week bring to mind people in glass houses and make one wonder which councillor will go nuclear, perhaps this enigmatic post by Ken Gregory is a portent

Bignews Tony Margate has had so much unsavoury comment about the councillors handbags at dawn that he has switched off comments for the weekend see

I don’t think people realise the problems associated with potentially libellous comments about known local people, I had several from Retired which I have had to delete as I just don’t have the resources to check on their accuracy and frankly as this is my blog, it is me that carries the can if someone decides to take legal action.

I should reiterate that unsubstantiated comment naming real people and suggesting that local people have done something that may be construed as wrong will be deleted out of hand.

New kid on the block Readit, now revealed as our very own Ken Read has produced some excellent posts in the last week, I can recommend his whole weeks blogging, see

Sacking the Senior Council Officers
As far as I can work out talking to various council officers about the council job cuts, most of the senior and quite a few junior council officers get made redundant, I am told that the redundancy payments are fairly modest.

The ones that want to then have to apply for the replacement posts in what is a new job structure.

Rather a peculiar aside to this seems to be the situation where some of the very senior officers have moved sideways over the years and so don’t have qualifications for the job they do.

I will explain this with a purely hypothetical example, that has no relationship with any one working in the council, I hope.

Joe Blogs is good at sums, gets a good maths GCSE and enough others to go on for A levels, he then gets a grade A in maths at A level so goes off to university and does economics, having got his maths degree he gets a job in the accounts department of the council and eventually gets near to the top of the councils finance department.

He then switches to the planning department where most of the other people have got degrees in architecture, over the years he eventually becomes the head of the planning department, but his professional qualifications are in economics.

Now the council has a great job reshuffle and there is no longer a head of the planning department, but a post called “head residential social and economic environmental development”

The question is will Joe be eligible even to apply for this post, based on his qualifications.

Anyone for tennis?

The children watched the tennis final today and I managed to find them some clips of John McEnroe’s spat with the rude words omitted, see below.

I will ramble on today as the mood takes me.

Friday 28 January 2011

Ramsgate Today; a few pictures, thoughts on Pleasurama and a few other things

Bitterly cold here first thing this morning, I am afraid I capitulated on the health and environment front taking the children to school by car instead of walking, so the picture above is taken with a Mickey Mouse camera.

After years of prevarication and the recent two men working on the site, something that looked like another delay, it realy does look as though work is really starting on the Pleasurama site in Ramsgate.

For good or ill something is happening there at last, nothing much I can do about it so I intend to make the best of it.

Later at lunch time I got out with the camera and took some pictures, here is the link to them thoughts about them below, starting with the top of the page of pictures and working down.

A chap from London has bought the old Carpet Sale Centre shop opposite us, as far as I can tell he paid about £160,000 for the whole caboodle and thought he had got a real bargain until he spent a few days here clearing the rubbish out. I think his contingency plan if he can’t sell it on, will be to split it into three shops and rent them out for about £100 per week each. Although what anyone could make a go of selling in this part of Ramsgate now is a tricky one.
Roadworks in Harbour Street, a new gas main I think, have produce two adjacent signs that are a bit only in Thanet.

It is good to see two of the slipways in use, so my thanks to the leaseholder who is evidently permitting their continued use.

Something is happening with the Pleasurama cliff face, the bit that the council spent £1m of our money on painting and filling, lots of holes have been drilled and red circles that may be felling markers have appeared.

I gather the council are not involved in this work and haven’t funded it with our money.

I will ramble on if I get a chance, got to shut the bookshop now.

Thursday 27 January 2011

An Outsiders View of Thanet’s Latest Political Wrangle and a ramble with a few pictures.

I suppose by now most people must be aware of Labour councillor Mark Nottingham’s blog post, Whoops Mark's taken it down, however another councillor has published it here and Cive's response about Mark's deselection from the Thanet Labour group’s list of candidates, for election as a Thanet District Councillor in the forthcoming May elections.

From the point of view of an outsider, neither Conservative of Labour, nor anything to do with the council, one is inclined to make some sort of judgment and I suppose this judgment is likely to be inaccurate.

I think that this is just more about the leadership of the council, it seems pretty obvious that a lot of people are beginning to wonder if the Conservative cuts are going a bit beyond sorting out the mess Labour has made of the national economy and starting to get into the realms of cutting for political reasons.

In short cutting too fast and to deep may cause the economy to crash, some of the things that the government have done look idealistic, rather than common sense to me, mine is an old naval family, on my grandmothers side one was nicknamed Dreadnaught, so perhaps there is something in my jeans – sorry not Levis – here.

The business of The Ark Royal and the Harriers is what I using for an example here, scrapping before you have a replacement looks as though it will neither save much money or makes any sense.

Government cuts for me I am afraid need to start with the bureaucrats not the sailors and pilots.

All that said, I think Labour think they are in with a chance here in Thanet and of course this means that if they get a majority in the May elections then the new council leader would be Labour.

Now the way council leadership has changed this means that the new leader is pretty much guaranteed to stay leader for the next four years, something that is worth about £90,000 in allowances, worth having a bit of spat about if you’re a bit skint.

Of course if the council hadn’t fixed the leadership consultation then we the electorate would be voting for the new leader see or even

As it is I suppose there is a lot of horse trading and back stabbing in both parties and the tip of the iceberg is the part of that is described by Mark Nottingham at

If I was in Mark Nottingham’s shoes I suppose I would be off organising a mayoral referendum petition, something that would put a stop to the whole unseemly business once and for all.

I have no affinity with the current leader whosoever as he is just too rude to reply to my correspondence, my paternal grandmother the dreadnaught one, once said to me. “The mark of a gentleman is that he is only rude deliberately.” And I am afraid that the current incumbent is being rude by accident. So on this score alone both Labour contenders win outright as the do reply to my correspondence, something that isn’t always easy.

Here in Ramsgate the last Eight years of Conservative leadership at Thanet District Council has resulted in a town that is more like the aftermath of a civil war than the aftermath of good local government, so on that score any change is likely to be an improvement.


A new Hospice Charity Shop has opened there, I only looked at the book section, it is very good as charity chop book selections go, well worth a look and a better selection than some small secondhand bookshops.

A few Westgate pictures here

Birching ton

I had a ham sandwich at Quex Barn in Birchington today, substantial reasonably priced, good WiFi connection.
Redundant technology

I replaced my emergency digital camera with a Traveler 5.25 megapixel one manufactured for Aldi supermarkets about £12 on Ebay.

This is the camera that I keep in my pocket all the time and use either when I forget my main camera, its memory card or its battery goes flat.

Pictures from it, including the roadworks in Harbour Street Ramsgate, here and full sized ones here I only mention this as I have to get things like very cheap cameras for children and this is the best I have found so far. The cheap sonny ones are pretty good but they use a non standard memory card which is a pain.

The other thing I have replaced this week is my mobile phone, the other one developed some sort of physiological problem, like all of the small bits of technology I carry bout it didn’t last very long.

As I had already put £10 worth of credit on it and paid T mobile £20 for 6 months internet access I bought another secondhand phone. I have large fingers, poor reading site, can’t spell, am not happy with mobile phones, but I am used to – comfortable with computers of all sizes running Windows – so I bough the largest phone I could find, that is most like a notebook.

My main use of a phone is as an extension to the internet that is mobile and the phone I have bought this time, secondhand for £30 – an Xda Exec - suits my purpose so well, that I will just get another one as soon as it expires.
Anyway once again if you are confronted by which one to get secondhand on ebay and you want a very large phone with a qwerty keyboard, this is the one to go for.
I have just typed the above very rapidly and with out correction as I am a bit short of time and will endeavour both to ramble on and tidy up any errors late if I get time.

Monday 24 January 2011

Improvement works to Ramsgate Harbour stops Tall Ships visit

Reading the words of Thanet District Council’s leader today, see if you don’t believe this is actually on the council’s website, you may find is reminiscent of newspeak.

Leader of the council, Cllr. Bob Bayford, said: “It’s a great shame that we won’t be able to accommodate the Race of the Classics this year, but the improvement work to the harbour is a priority and something that we know people want to see completed. We understand that people may be disappointed to hear this news, but the long term future of the harbour is the most important thing for us. We look forward to welcoming the tall ships and the Race of the Classics back to an improved Ramsgate Royal Harbour in 2012.”

The picture above was taken today, sorry it’s a bit gloomy it was like that today. There was me assuming that the reason that the tall ships wouldn’t be coming because they couldn’t actually enter the harbour because the sandbar blocking the entrance is the largest we have ever had.

I know I am probably considered an unperson, but this looks like duckspeak although I know I should bellyfeel it to be blackwhite.

Update I have just discussed this with a senior member of the Politbüro, who would prefer not to be named, this is what the said.

“We must think or this as considerable progress, you must remember the terrible problem of Sandy’s Beach has been completely resolved by the new Bob’s Breakwater.

A beach inside a harbour is quite unsuitable whereas a breakwater is quite appropriate to a harbour situation.”

Sunday 23 January 2011

Sunday Ramble Party Time For Margate and so on

Very much a lazy Sunday today, I got up late and had a rather bleary look at the other local blogs over breakfast at lunchtime.

There is a little mild sparring going on between Tony Bignews and Simon Moores, I guess they would both rather be sparring with ECR, but is seems reading Simon’s latest post that his capitalist friends have consigned ECR to a concrete overcoat.

This post for the most part seems to relate to last weeks council meeting, although what neither Simon, the council’s press release, or the Labour Group’s press release does is tell us what the redundancies mean, both in terms of the cost of the golden handshakes or what is happening to rest of the senior council officers.

Simon in true politician style evaded the question about this in my comment.

I am not trying to get at Simon here who is the most communicative of the TDC Cabinet, but the truth is that whether the ruling Tory group are doing a good job or a bad one is almost impossible to say because their publicity is so bad.

With the elections coming one would have expected them to at pains to tell us what they are doing in simple layman’s terms.

The minutes of the council meeting before that one took over a month to appear on the council’s website and only appeared just as the webcast of the meeting was being removed.

Tony Bignews has a post about local planning see further complicated as Tony has decided to put most of it on his other blog anyway this tangled thread relates partly to the new localism bill, something that I think is intended to give more power back to local people, but seems to be giving more power to local government. Now this is all fine and dandy if local government intends to represent the views of local people, but after the leadership consultation fiasco it seems our local cabinet is more concerned about maintaining its own power base.

Another serious point in all of this is about the fragmentation of the ground floor shop areas of our town centres, something that I am suffering from the sharp end of.

The problem being is that once the areas that had shops, galleries and cafés on the ground floor is broken up with residential development on the ground floors, then there is less for people to go to there, so footfall decreases and the trade of the remaining business decreases. This used to be mitigated by people not wanting to live on the ground floor in the town centres due to the noise, but housing benefit means that some sort of residential tenant can always be found, regardless of how unpleasant it is to live there.

A new post on Ken’s new blog see still with the TDC and two problems here. One can be summed up as what is TDC? Thanet District Council, Thanet Council or Margate Council. And the other even if the council is putting most of its resources into Margate at the moment, would Margate be better off if the council left them alone, like they most seem to leave Ramsgate alone now.

Margate Architecture’s post on an estate agent’s view of Margate has to be seen to be believed, see

Thanet Star seems to have a technical problem at the moment so I can’t look there.

I was talking to a Scottish engineer who was staying in Ramsgate for a few days to conduct some business last week and he asked me some pretty difficult questions.

One being, what’s wrong with Thanet, why isn’t it prosperous? He had obviously seen that Ramsgate has a fantastic harbour, but being an engineer he could also see it was badly silted up. Fantastic architecture, much of which is badly converted to HMOs. Was there something wrong with local government? He asked. Why did local people seem so apathetic about what had happened to their area?

He also asked me some difficult questions about local business. Did Pfizer, Thanet Earth and so on help the local economy? Did China Gateway look as though it was a viable proposition and would it help the local economy?

Frankly what I had to say to this man, looking at my patch from the outside, was much more defensive than positively encouraging, in fact I found myself handing out the excuses that have been handed out to me.

He had just used the air service from Scotland to Manston and commented on the bizarre timings for anyone wanting to business in either place from the other and I have to say I wondered if many people would.

Two of my girls are Brownies and are engaged in a bedroom design project related to this organisation using the best free cut up and stick in resource, the Argos catalogue.

Something they both noticed however is how incredibly sexist it is, many of the things that they really liked, Formula 1 bedspreads, curtains with stars on were marked as for boys.

One of the things I do, that I hope is particularly beneficial to the local area, is my local history publications and one aspect of this is promoting them on the internet.

The idea being that I makes it easy for people to get started on our rich local history, an aspect of this is selling the books through an ebay shop, I mainly do this because I think a lot of people when thinking about Thanet history would only look on ebay.

If you are thinking of buying any of them online it is cheaper if you go directly to the bookshop website at where the postage is free.

Anyway I have just been looking at the figures for this ebay shop for last year, I should stress here that they don’t worry me as I am not looking for profit in my local history project and very much see it as something I do for the local community.

Here they are Total money received from my ebay shop £973.88, postage costs £187.15, Ebay fees £417.51, Paypal fees £76.54.

It certainly gives you some idea as to how big companies cash in on the internet.
I will probably ramble on.

Saturday 22 January 2011

New Thanet Blog INthanet

Ken Read or “Readit” if you follow the local blog commentators has started a new blog, see

Thursday 20 January 2011

Kent International Airport Margate and despair at the grindings of government a day off ramble

The picture above is of a “joke, shop;” these are all too prevalent now in Margate, by a “joke, shop” as opposed to a joke shop, what I mean is the thing looks like a shop from the distance, but as you get closer you realise that the window display is just painted on and the shop itself is just an empty and abandoned building.

Don’t misunderstand me this isn’t a chance to get at Margate, we have a similar problem in Ramsgate, the only difference being that nothing has been done to make the empty shops a bit more cheerful in Ramsgate, so on the whole I think Margate scores better on this.

The rest of today’s pictures of Margate are here it was bitterly cold with a biting wind off the sea and I had left my gloves behind, Peacock’s didn’t have any nor did Edinburgh Woollen Mill, so I gave up and nipped in and out of the other shops.

The art galleries are very difficult to comprehend from a commercial shop point of view, by this I mean; they are shops and they evidently have goods to sell, but how they could be commercially viable defeats me, perhaps it is something to do with grant funding.

I really am not very good at assessing modern art, so this is more a general assessment related to my understanding of the retail world and most of it is about scale.
The problem really is that the galleries and arts related shops are just far too small, which to my mind means too much staffing relative to goods for sale, this is about having enough space, to have enough stock, to keep the staff occupied selling it.

It’s a similar problem with the Turner Contemporary, which just isn’t big enough to provide enough art works for people to look at for long enough, the problem is a simple one and relates to someone getting a worthwhile day out.

Take, for example someone in the middle of Kent, wanting to go somewhere to look at art, they have the option of taking the train to Margate or to London, the cost will be about the same, the choice though is spending the day doing, The Tate, The National, The National Portrait, The RA, Somerset House, The Wallace collection, Hayward Gallery, Whitechapel Gallery, Guildhall Gallery, Serpentine Gallery, Dulwich Picture Gallery, Saatchi Galleries, Barbican Gallery……….I could go on but I expect you get the picture, incidently many of the London galleries have free entrance. Or you could go to Margate and Look at the Turner Contemporary.

After going to Margate I came back to Ramsgate to visit the drop in session about Kent International Airport, I found this very beneficial and learnt a lot about environmental issues relating to the airport.

The sad and embarrassing thing was the way the publicity surrounding the meeting just failed, the EA press releases were too late for the local papers and although the EA informed TDC, TDC didn’t publicise the event on their website or issue a press release, so hardly any members of the public turned up.

I suppose combined days wages for the EA officers and the airport operator’s representatives and their travel costs must have been well in excess of £1,000 and for the three hours I was there, there was at least one and often more of these people available to discuss the issues exclusively with me.
The situation with the airport drainage system is one of work underway, the main interceptor hole is dug out and most of the pipework around the hard standing at the airport has been inspected and repaired where necessary.

The airport’s engineers and the EA have come up with a reasonably effective system to drain the hard standing, runway, aprons and car parking into the sea at Pegwell Bay, that when it is completed should prevent spillages on the hard standing from contaminating Pegwell Bay.
I spent much of the time chatting to the airport’s engineer, as we both had information of interest to each other to exchange and I feel I have a much better picture of the weaknesses in the antipollution strategy and the ongoing viability of the airport.
I also had a series of discussions with the senior EA officers there and while I am convinced that their ongoing efforts to improve the state of the Thanet aquifer are going in the right direction, my motive was to get them to consider the medium to long term water replenishment issue.
By this I mean getting the EA to consider how much more of Thanet can be concreted over, so that industry and developers can plan ahead.
Anyway while I assimilate what I have learnt, here are a couple interesting engineering anecdotes about recent environmental investigation at Manston, as they say you couldn’t make it up.

The main noise monitor was first located next to a school playground, when the children came out to play the noise they made sent the monitor right up to the jumbo jet end of the scale, so it had to moved.

The water drainage pipe between the airport and Pegwell Bay is a huge thing, nearly big enough to stand up inside, it runs through porous chalk and is made out of joined concrete sections. I would say there is about as much chance of making it water tight as there is of getting a pig to fly.

It runs through public and private land and some of the inspection covers are in private gardens and is known to have been illegally tapped into in numerous places, it has also been legally tapped by KCC for road drainage, due to a loophole in environmental law that has now been closed.

There is normally a steady trickle coming out of the Pegwell end, to which poring thousands of litres of water in at the Manston end makes no appreciable difference to, however while monitoring Pegwell end it was noticed that apart from the water coming out of the pipe, there was also an appreciable amount of garden waste coming out a well.
I will probably ramble on about what I learnt at the session, later on.

Wednesday 19 January 2011

Fish Chips and Antifreeze, Manston Airport Drains Again, Drop in session in Ramsgate Tomorrow.

This is another one of those crazy “only in Thanet” situations that makes you wonder what the council is doing. Why there has been no publicity about this from Thanet District Council, no press release nothing on their website it beggars belief.

The first I heard about this was on Dave Green’s blog, see

Anyway if you want to discuss draining the Manston runways into Pegwell Bay with the environment agency then it’s tomorrow Jan 20th from 10am until 4pm at 161-165 High Street Ramsgate.

This is an old problem about what goes down the drain, here in Thanet back when Manston first started being an airfield during WW1 all the drains either lead to soakaways into the ground .
Manston Airport is on top of Thanet’s underground drinking water reservoir so at different times in the airport’s history efforts have been made to divert the drainage away from our water supply.

Because of the very large areas of concrete at the airport, when we a large amount of rain there is too much water going down the drains at the airport for the local sewage system to cope with,

Over the last 90 years or so as Manston developed there has been a steady movement away from draining into the ground there towards piping the water runoff into the sea at Pegwell Bay.

This was fine until Pegwell Bay was designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest, here is the information about this affter this happened there has been an ongoing attempt to get various airport operators to get a discharge consent.

Thanet District Council Fire

Just a short note to say that the council’s computer server room has caught fire so they will probably have a reduced online service.

The picture is of Margate Firestation

Update after about 6 hours the conventional media have caught up with this story.

The BBC say:

A small fire caused by an electrical fault at council offices in Kent has led to a reduction in services.


Thanet Extra say:

A fire has ripped through part of Thanet council's offices in Margate, causing disruption to local services.


Tuesday 18 January 2011

Read All About It, more local paper changes

Due to interest from the various people I know who haven’t managed to grasp the internet, I have been considering producing a paper version of some of the local blogs.

It may naive of me but I see local papers and local blogs as something very much related. In some ways local blogs are nearer to the way local papers used to be than the local papers are now.

Sorry I digress, the latest local paper to make a change in Thanet Extra, they have now launched a free e-edition see

Obviously this raises the question, is this the first stage to dropping the paper version of the paper like Your Thanet has?

Monday 17 January 2011

The Shippe Swallower Claims Another Vessel

I have added The Maritime and Coastguard Office Agency Blog to the latest posts thingy on the sidebar of this one, as I missed yesterday’s drama on the Goodwins, see

There are a fair few pages of the book I publish about Ramsgate lifeboat’s rescues here

Back to yesterday’s rescue, I gather the crew were quite indignant about being lifted off in fairly calm weather from a sandbank, that is until the tide came back in and “The Shippe Swallower” swallowed it.

Another chunk of a book about the Goodwin Sands here

The picture above of Quiver No.1, stationed at Margate between 1883 and 1898 Credit to RNLI Margate.

Sunday 16 January 2011

Sunday Ramble

I took my youngest children to healey on the cliff top in Broadstairs, so there will be some pictures of there eventually, healeying – not sure of the spelling – involves moving around in trainers with wheels set in the heals. I expect this is theoretically bad for them so we compounded the mission with Happy Meals at McDonald’s helium balloons and free kaleidoscopes included.

The sunshine, the weather in general was superb for the time of year, much more like spring than winter, the children put an imaginary coin into the clifftop binoculars, something that doesn’t normally work, however it worked today.

First a glance at the other local blogs for anything that could remotely be called a local news story, especially one not covered by the remaining local newspapers.

This involves looking at blogs that have posted in the last week and appear in “the latest posts on other blogs” thing on my sidebar, if I have missed any with even the remotest local connection please let me know and I will add them.

There is quite a bit of local interest on Simon Moores Thanet Life blog this week, see and as Simon must get the award for the most communicative councillor, when it comes to the internet, he also comes in for a mild amount of teasing from me in these Sunday rambles.

I will take his latest post for this which seems to suggest that all Conservative politicians are good and all Labour politicians are bad.

Pity things aren’t as simple as this or we could devise a political truth test based on the old riddle, something along the following lines.

All Conservative politicians tell the truth and all Labour politicians lie, so how do you spot the lie, if you are asking a politician but you don’t know which party they belong to?

The answer is to ask them, if I ask a member of the other main political party is asked (any question) what will there answer be? The answer will always be a lie, oh well perhaps there is something in this after all.

Ken Gregory on his Village Voice blog, see says he is about to reveal all. I really think the council should consider stopping their member exercising sessions, surely they can see it leads to trouble.

Perhaps the new chief executive will put a stop to this as not only is she to be female but also has the same name as famous Scottish poet.

Here are the today’s pictures of Broadstairs my children were particularly pleased with the roadworks that left the whole pier area free of traffic for them.

Matt on Thanet Star has picked up on a Commercial Group Properties release that they are issuing more shares see this looks to me to be a way of transferring money for day to day running from the directors other companies.

I should think the deal they have done to raise another loan from the Israeli Discount Bank is of more significance as there is a profit sharing aspect and presumably punitive interest involved.

This is the firm behind the China Gateway development at Manston, they had hoped to finance their operation for some time to come by selling their Dover property, but the sale fell through.

Back to today’s outing, something that is not to be scorned about McDonald’s is that that they now do reasonable coffee and have a good strong WiFi connection, if like me you travel about with some sort of portable computer, this can be very useful.

With the help of Simon who works for me on Saturdays, I have now got my mobile phone configured so that I can get a cheap internet connection just about anywhere, this is a pay as you go PDA phone with a £20 for six months internet add on.

The connection isn’t as fast as WiFi and wouldn’t be any good for publishing a load of pictures like I have just done, but it is quite adequate for posting and commenting on blogs. You can also use the modem in the phone to get your laptop online.

Tony Bignews Margate is once again getting stuck into the excesses of KCC, you have to admire his tenacity and personally having recently attempted to publish blog posts using a mobile phone, something Tony does regularly, that too.

Reading the KCC page that Tony links to it is looking as though the word restructuring is changing its meaning in the English language.

I had the same word used to explain to me a local paper ceasing to be a paper, see perhaps restructuring will come to mean, sacking and business failure soon.

As I have mentioned before small pieces of personal technology, that I carry around with me, don’t last very long, the latest victim being the pocket camera that I usually keep in my pocket. This was a Ricoh Caplio GX a state of the art camera in 2004, if you have one of these I recommend that you buy it a screen protector.

I notice Ken Gregory has put up another post, at least this time he doesn’t say he will reveal all, but it does say that it will put an end to rumours, the only rumour I remember recently surrounding Ken was that he has been deselected, Sorry I should have said restructured, by the TDC Conservative group for the May elections.

Perhaps his posts are some sort of beginning of a rather obstruce election campaign, are we I wonder about to se the formation of the local Rumour party?

I am reading Julian Stockwin’s novel “Invasion” at the moment which has an excellent account of a Deal hoveling in it, this is one of his series of Napoleonic novels about the Royal Navy, if you like the Hornblower novels you will probably like these. I haven’t checked but I expect we have several available secondhand in the bookshop.

Dave Green on Eastcliff Matters has posted about the closure of the firestation at Westwood, see he says this could happen as early as April. He then goes on to say that specialist vehicles would be moved to the new fire station at Ramsgate. I don’t k now is this is some sort of early April fools joke from Dave, or if he knows something that I don’t, as far as I know the new fire station at Ramsgate hasn’t even reached the planning stage yet, I don’t think they have even agreed a site yet. There is a rumour that they may use the old gasworks site in Ramsgate, I don’t quite know what the implications would be in building a fire station on highly contaminated land, I suppose there could be risks associated with water used in fire practices on the site draining away and spreading the contamination.

An interesting comment from Roger Gale this week, he says that if he could afford it he would by a property in Margate, see

I will ramble on if I get a chance.

Saturday 15 January 2011

The Great Internet Bookselling Rip-Off

I started buying and selling books on the internet about thirteen years ago and at that time although geographically internet bookselling covered the whole world, in other ways it was a small and friendly world with reputable booksellers selling to reasonable customers.

Unfortunately now criminals, scammers, con artists and worst of all those acting technically within the law but supplying a product that is a con trick inside the law, have infiltrated this friendly small world.

The latest of these technically legal scams is lifting articles from Wikipedia, bunching about one hundred pages worth of vaguely related articles into a paperback book and the advertising the book online as though the whole book was about the subject.

Here is an example of an Amazon listing this is what it say on the Amazon page

Ramsgate Harbour Railway Station [Paperback]

Lambert M. Surhone (Editor), Mariam T. Tennoe (Editor), Susan F. Henssonow (Editor)

Be the first to review this item

Price: £29.00 & this item Delivered FREE in the UK with Super Saver Delivery. See details and conditions

Usually dispatched within 8 to 11 days.

Dispatched from and sold by Gift-wrap available.

3 new from £26.24 1 used from £30.59”

And this is the article you actually get for your money

Here is a description of the book ISBN 6133677554

“High Quality Content by WIKIPEDIA articles! Ramsgate Harbour railway station is a former railway station in Ramsgate, in the Thanet district of Kent, England. Opened in 1863 as part of the Kent Coast Railway company's extension of its line from Herne Bay, it was conveniently More...

situated for the seaside resort's beach, but it closed in 1926 after a reorganisation of railway lines in the Thanet area. The Herne Bay & Faversham Railway company was founded in 1857. In 1859 it became the Margate & London Railway, and two years later took the name Kent Coast Railway, by which it was known for the rest of its independent existence. It built a line from Faversham to Whitstable Town in 1860, extended it to Herne Bay & Hampton-on-Sea in 1861 and opened the section from there to a station called Ramsgate on 5 October 1863.

Friday 14 January 2011

Read All About It, Your Thanet, gone as a paper, paper.

Your Thanet newspaper is to stop being printed and will now only retain an e-edition, to me this information constitutes a local news story of some importance, so I was surprised not to find anything about this either in Your Thanet or any of its rival newspapers.

I suppose news about newspapers and journalists could be seen as not quite playing the game, sort of secret news if you like.

The rumour that I heard, that prompted me to write this post, was that they had sacked the Thanet Journalists and the paper would be printed no more.

Like any other Thanet story that I publish on this blog I do my best to verify the accuracy of what I post, so I rang them up, getting a story from a newspaper about that newspaper is a bit strange.

It seems that, yes indeed, a lot of journalists have left or are leaving, but this is called restructuring and yes indeed, paper editions of Your Thanet and the other papers for different Kent regions will no longer be printed on paper.

As far as I can make out this business started out with two journalists and an editor producing The Kent on Sunday newspaper, this won awards and expanded, launched various regional free local papers and was bought by Archant Regional limited.

The underlying question here is something like, with all the local news available for free online, how does anyone get paid for writing anything? When kent on Sunday started out, you could have asked the question, how does anyone get paid for writing for a free paper? The answer to this would have been, from the revenue produced by the advertising in that paper.

Now the answer is much more difficult, because of the internet, some national papers have started charging a subscription for reading their online edition, how this will work in the context of other national papers that are available for free online, is very difficult to understand.

For me what has been wrong with Your Thanet is its similarity to the other local papers combined with a very cautious attitude. They were the first paper to be given the China Gateway, Tesco carrier bag story, see something I was asked not to post on the blog before they ran it, only to be pretty much gob smacked when the paper came out and the story wasn’t in it.

Reading between the lines, if you can read a paper between the lines that is, their editor has controversial views and the potential for the sort of story that would make people go out of their way to read the paper. I posted last week about the blog post on their website about Thanet Earth see when I posted about it, it was published anonymously and now it has the editors name on it see Reading this weeks editorial, also in the same league see the online version you couldn’t easily be mistaken about who had written the article about Thanet Earth.

Online wise all our local papers make a bit of a mess of things, googling “Thanet newspapers” is a good indicator of what I mean. The Gazette comes up first but the link doesn’t actually lead you to the paper, Your Thanet comes up second and the link, yes, does actually lead to the paper, after that it all falls apart, try googling “Margate newspapers” or “Ramsgate newspapers” to see what I mean. I suppose the person who wrote the newspaper’s website hadn’t ever actually been to Thanet.

It is difficult to tell from any of the local newspaper’s websites how many visitors they get, no counter or statistics are published, so it is difficult to see how they would continue to sell advertising for an exclusively online edition. When local papers try to sell me advertising circulation is usually their main selling point.

The only criteria that I can realistically use to gauge how many people read the local papers online is the number of comments they get, which seems to less than this blog. Having said that they don’t make it easy to comment, irritating word verification and so on and if you do comment you don’t usually get a reply from the journalist who wrote the article.

Worst of all though are their feeds, these are the invisible internet codes that are used for the “latest posts on other blogs” thingy on my sidebar, the Your Thanet one feeds all of the newspaper group’s stories for the whole of Kent.

The modern world, the internet and other factors are having an adverse effect on our community. We have lost many of our shops and now one of our newspapers, the shops products can often be found cheaper online, the local news free online, but the social cost is high.

I will ramble on about this if I get a chance.

A few pictures of Ramsgate and some thoughts on Ramsgate Harbour Arches

I did manage to get a longer walk around Ramsgate yesterday and take a few pictures, here are the first lot the second lot were of the pictures on The Great Wall o Ramsgate that I published yesterdayand the third lot here

At the council’s latest list of commercial property, see has several of the harbour arches listed with their rentals, I thought it a good time to photograph each individual arch.

Apart from the obvious usefulness of being able to which one is located where, for anyone wanting to rent one it also forms an historical record of the situation now.

Why on earth the council’s latest commercial property list is the November one is a subject for concern and raises the following questions:

I the list first circulated to a selected few and then made publicly available on the web after any choice pickings have been snapped up?

In these times when the council is apparently short of money, why does one of the few activates that they engage in that actually produces income for them have such a low priority that it only appears two months out of date?

Thursday 13 January 2011

An Expensive Silly Walk, New pictures on The Great Wall of Ramsgate and The Turner Contemporary Gets a New Website.

I noticed several more pictures have gone up on the Great Wall of Ramsgate when I went for my walk after taking the children to school this morning.

I got a bit confused about what was new and what wasn’t so took a picture of each of the pictures. It was a bit gloomy this morning so they may not be that good.

Click on the link for the pictures of the pictures

I have just been told to publish the picture of the monochrome fabric on the great wall in higher definition, here it is

The Turner Contemporary has a new website at and you will be interested to know that you will be able to hire the events space there to hold an event.

The events space holds 120 people theatre style or up to 80 cabaret style, it’s a bit pricey though at £950 a day not including the evening which will cost you an extra £750 see

They have also added another video of one of the art works they have been sponsoring, another in their series, The Ministry of Silly Walks, it appers on their website in rather a small size, see the bottom og this page so here it is in all its glory.

Découvrez L'art en marche selon Hamish Fulton sur Culturebox !

Wednesday 12 January 2011

Thanet School's GESE Exam League Tables Out Today, Marlowe Academy at the bottom Clarendon House at the top

Here are the results for 5 or more A to Cs
Charles Dickens Broadstairs 28%
Chatham House Ramsgate 94%
Clarendon House Ramsgate 97%
Dane Court Broadstairs 97%
Ellington and Hereson Ramsgate 32%
Hartsdown Tech College Margate 43%
King Ethelbert Birchington 34%
Marlowe Academy Ramsgate 14%
St George's Broadstairs 41%
St Lawrence College Ramsgate 75%
Ursuline College Westgate-on-Sea 57%

I will ramble on about this if I get time, starting at the top, with the picture, are they boys or girls, there has been an inconclusive debate about this see

Apart from my own experience of schools, none of them in Thanet and finished more than forty years ago, I have employed several Saturday workers at the same time as they were receiving their education in various Thanet schools, my two oldest children have now completed their school education and between them have attended three of the Thanet secondary schools.

Now the way the secondary education system has run in this country for the past twenty odd years that I have had the bookshop in Ramsgate and my older children have been through the school system here, seems to have been at least partly based on the academic snobbery of past prime ministers, Tony Blair and John Major.

Fundamental to our education system has been a move towards prioritising academic achievement, something that is fine for the children who have academic ability, but not so good for those who haven’t.

An aside to this is the British educational tradition that means that academic specialisation starts much earlier than in most other countries.

The present system seems to have weaknesses both with dealing with disruptive children who don’t want to work and children who have practical rather than academic skills, who used to go through the secondary modern and apprenticeship system.

In Kent because of the selective school system, operating in an environment where secondary modern schools no longer exist, this produces two separate groups of schools trying to achieve the same ends, the best results at GCSE.

Socialist political solutions to this problem seem to be mainly to disband the only really successful schools i.e. the grammar schools, the present governments solutions seem to be leaning towards more independently run schools, but seem to fail to address the problems too.

Whether you get a good education or a bad one, what is certain for most people is that this education will be one of the most expensive things that you buy in life, the fact that it is compulsory and paying for it is effectively a proportion of your life’s income doesn’t alter this fact.

Another side issue here is proliferation of non-jobs and associated education to degree level and beyond.

Simon Moores has also posted about this issue, see which has lead to me to the BBC page which shows progress statistics as well as exam results.

What about the Marlowe Academy with the third worst results according to the BBC are these figures indicative of failure?

They have certainly both thrown money at it and changed the name since it started life as Conyngham School in 1963, it cost about £140,000 then about £2,000,000 at today’s value.

Conyngham School was perceived as a failing so it was Changed to Ramsgate School, this in tern was perceived as failing so they knocked it down and rebuilt it - at colossal expense – and renamed it the Marlowe Academy. I am not sure if this was after Christopher Marlowe was son of a shoemaker in Canterbury who became a playwright or Philip Marlowe of the arguably better dialogue. Nothing to do with Ramsgate either of them though.

Fraid I thought something was wrong at the end of last year when pupils of the higher scoring Ramsgate schools managed to hack the internet announcing that they were closed, as a potential employer looking for high IT skills I noticed the Marlowe pupils hadn’t managed to pull this one off.

Sorry about beating about the bush here, I suppose as someone who failed the 11 plus myself I don’t really want to face the unpalatable question, did the huge 86% of the Marlowe Academy’s pupils who failed the basic standards do so because they are all stupid? Or did we, adults, society, teachers, whatever you will, fail them in some way?

Tuesday 11 January 2011

Bradstow School and Bertram Mills Girls School

The pamphlet, that comprises of the pictures in this blog post, has written on the front:

“Bertram Mills Girls School, Dumpton Park Drive, now (1970) Bradstow.”
This sort of elusive comment can be very difficult.
For the address, 30 and 32 Dumpton Park Drive, Broadstairs Kellys reveals the following
1939 - 1957 Lord Marshall Holiday Home for Children.
And 34 Dumpton Park Drive

1969 Bradstow School for Delicate Children

1971 Bradstow Special School (Inner London education authority)

The current address for Bradstow School is 34 Dumpton Park Drive, see their website and I can’t find number 34 listed in the older Kellys or 32 in the later ones.

In 1957 Bradstow School for Delicate Children is listed at 12 Dumpton Park Drive

Note the boarding school beds, the mattresses are probably horsehair and about as comfortable as sleeping on a horse.

Note the sliding partitions between the three classrooms, I have personal experience of this dreadful arrangement in another school.

Monday 10 January 2011

A Peer at the End of the Pier in Ramsgate

Not that pier silly it was demolished 1930 having been damaged by a mine in 1919 although I do publish a book about it, see
This one, these ones strictly called harbour arms, the picture taken this morning – sorry it’s a bit murky, it was like that this morning – as you can see the dredging needs doing.
There were also quite a few people in high vis jackets peering at the pier this morning, I had to go and open the bookshop so didn’t have time to investigate and didn’t have a zoom lens with me hence the pixels.
The council have put the lease for the Eagle Café, on the end of the pier up for tender, presumably they managed to get the leasehold back, lets hope it reopens this year.

As café culture the views from the site are stunning though sometimes it can be difficult to get to due to the weather, however as you can see from the video the very determined get there in the end.

Sunday 9 January 2011

Sunday Ramble

Hartsdown Park and Margate Football Club

A quick look at the other local blogs reveals one local news story from Simon Moores on Thanet Life see this is about the planning application for Hartsdown Park and Margate Football Club, not something I know much about.

I thought the application that was causing so much trouble was F/TH/10/0115 approved 15 Jun 2010 and that what really annoyed people was that the application signs only appeared on the gates of the football ground an not anywhere near the bit of the park effected.

I wouldn’t expect this planning permission to expire for several years.

The detail above shows just how drastically these plans cut up the park.

My understanding from a historical point of view, is that the original owners of this land were the Hatfeild family who were a family of very high repute and mixed in the highest of circles.

Word is that they were hosts to no fewer than three prime ministers there at Hartsdown House, including Winston Churchill who stayed there for two months.

I am not really sure that the council can just do what they like with this land, as I thought part of the agreement signed by the Hatfeild family when the land (800 acres) was left in perpetuity to the people of Margate, was a vast array of covenants which cannot be rescinded.

Word is that these even forbid even vehicles entering the park, let alone digging it up and putting a football pitch and hotel in the park.

I hope the council isn’t off on one of its missions to pour vast amounts of council tax into the pockets of lawyers, because they have failed to consult local people properly.

I am afraid the Margate isn’t really my remit so if anyone understands what this is all about please leave an explanatory comment.

There is also an article in this weeks gazette about the issue see perhaps this is a tale of two planning permissions.
Don and the Big Breakfast

Don on Promote Thanet has some articles about healthy eating and alternative medicine including one on the 3lb fruit breakfast, I think this may be something to do with natural gas, see
I took a few pictures of Ramsgate Harbour area when I went for my walk this morning, fraid I have been a bit lax on the picture taking front recently, they tend to get a bit boring as I don’t often get time in the morning to go to other parts of Thanet, here are the links to the pictures.

I will ramble on if I get a chance
We went to Broadstairs this afternoon, I bought some books in the Broadstairs Bookshop (the small one in Albion Street near the bottom of The High Street) some for me some for my wife and some for children and some for stock, bit of a busman’s holiday I know but we also got a walk and an ice cream in Morelli's.

I tried to take some pictures, first the camera battery went flat so I tried taking still on my camcorder they come out rather small and fuzzy see the few I took with my normal camera are at the bottom of the page. Then the camcorder decided it didn’t want to take any more so I tried my phone see even worse.
Then when I went to publish them the website was misbehaving so I published them to not a good technology day, fortunately the ice cream was excellent.
During the course of discussions with one of the councillors about other matters last week, pointed out that the current administration is held in pretty low esteem at the moment. It’s always a bit hard to gauge these things and I suppose one would expect this at the end of a second term, a lot of what I hear is from customers in the shop and their feelings usually stem from some experience dealing with the council, rather than the overall state of Thanet. The main recent change of attitude I have been hearing is from local journalists and I think this is mostly due to the way the leadership consultation was managed. I think up until that the councillors were at least paying lip service to representing local people’s views, since it happened I have discussed it with several councillors and council officers frankly they seem lost for words. They try to swing the conversation round to the result i.e. the benefits of the different type of leadership but when pinned down to the way the decision was made, I am yet to hear a coherent explanation from any of them. What did surprise me though is that the councillor who I pointed out the low esteem the current administration is held in seemed to genuinely think that the opposite is in fact the case.

Saturday 8 January 2011

A few pictures of Ramsgate today and a technological ramble

Mobile Phones

As I have mentioned before I seem to be allergic to pocket technology meaning that mobile phones seem to dissolve in my pocket, anyway Simon who works in the bookshop on Saturday’s has managed to resurrect my old PDA phone.

Unlike me he understands mobile phones and found the best available deal for what I wanted, which is a phone that works and gives cheap reliable internet access. Contracts are out for me as I don’t use the phone much as a phone so what I have got now is T mobile pay as you go with 6 months unlimited free internet access for £20.

Secondhand Bookselling and mobile internet.

In these days where just to remain in business requires dexterous use of the technology that is ultimately sinking most small businesses, there are still some secondhand booksellers who claim to have rejected the internet completely and to be operating in some sort on technological timewarp.

It was with some amusement that I came upon one of these individuals in a charity shop the other day, with his mobile internet phone set up with an app that allows the built in camera to read the barcodes on books and show the prices that they are listed on all of the main internet sites.

There he was zapping away trying to find books that would make him a profit when sold online.

I reckon that the reason that I still have a bookshop is that I have used all the modern technology available to improve the quality of the book stock on the shelves for the past fifteen years.

Today’s Pictures I published these with my notebook so the screen is so small that I couldn’t actually see what I was doing.

Matt B’s help with the TDC videos


On Matt’s recommendation I downloaded VLC media player from you may wish to uncheck the file associations during the installation process to prevent all of your media opening with this program, if you do the same.

This is a free media player, the youf of today assure me that it is the one everyone in the know uses, it will play the video file directly from the TDC website, so you don’t have to wait for it all to download and it is actually big enough to see.

Friday 7 January 2011

Thanet District Council’s Secret Public Consultation.

More efforts by the council to rig the leadership consultation keep on coming out, the latest information being that they didn’t even tell the councillors that they were holding the consultation.

The video of the meeting is very short and you can watch councillor Johnston saying that she hadn’t been informed of the consultation by council officers, but instead found out from the local paper when the consultation was practically over, that it had apparently been going on for some time.

The video to click on, is the top one, on the page at considering that this meeting is about the future constitution of the council, watching it is an education in local democracy at work.

The council have finally managed to get both council meetings available on the internet, perhaps this had something to do with yesterday’s post, perhaps they were going to do it anyway.

As one would expect the council have opted to host the video files in difficult format, expensive for them and not easy for those with older computers. They have published them in a way that you can’t save them and view them at your leisure, they have also disabled the size expansion facility so you can only view them as thumbnails, presumably to make them as boring as possible, so people will be put off from watching them and the council can say that there was insufficient public interest and bring the whole project to a halt.

Why they didn’t publish them in ordinary video format to one of the free video sites like Youtube one can only guess at.

The one of the extraordinary meeting will form part of my complaints to various organisations, like the electoral commission, if you need it for this sort of purpose you can download it and save it to your pc by clicking on the following link if you need any help opening it or converting it to a normal video file let me know. I haven’t bunged it up on Youtube as the council have published it with a copyright statement that I don’t want to infringe.

If you prefer to view the main council meeting video files this way and have overcome the technological problems with the file above, here is the one for the much longer main meeting 413mb so not that large.