There as been quite a bit on the blogs recently about Margate getting much more in terms of investment and resources than Ramsgate. Like many of these things where local government is concerned, the perception of the situation by local people is every bit as important as what is actually happening.
From the historical point of view the rivalry between Margate and Ramsgate extends back hundreds of years and seems unlikely to go away, meaning that governing one town from the other may not be such a good idea.
Central to this debate for me are the prominent council owned sites in the town, Ramsgate’s museum, Albion House, The Pleasurama Site, The harbour Lights Café, Westcliff Hall and so on.
At best we seem to get terrible delays to anything significant happening with these sites, Pleasurama and the Maritime museum being obvious examples and at worse, the council just demolishes them like the Nero’s venue.
Parts of Ramsgate are becoming very run down, I wandered down King Street and took a few pictures on Saturday afternoon to show what I mean, see http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/laptop811/id4.htm while at the same time the war weekend event was going on see http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/laptop811/id5.htm there are considerable contrasts here in Thanet Sunday morning in Broadstairs, pictures http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/laptop811/id6.htm and on to Pegwell give a completely different view.
Then on to the Sunday events in Ramsgate http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/laptop811/id7.htm and http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/laptop811/id8.htm show there is a very real need for all weather public venues here.
Obviously in some of the cases where council owned sites remain empty for longer than seems reasonable, this isn’t a case of the council needing to find funding, quite the reverse in fact as if the sites were occupied the council would be receiving rent for them.
This brings us back to the to the problems both real and perceived, talking to different people in the town many are of the opinion that the council have something against Ramsgate and that this is a deliberate action to blight the town.
Further discussion reveals as ever a very vague idea of what the council actually is, most people don’t seem to differentiate between county, district and town council, although the name that they generally apply to the council is Thanet District Council.
Some people seem to see the problems as coming from officers, something along the lines of “we pay them loads of dosh and they sit on their bums, letting Ramsgate rot” others seem to have a more political slant on the problem “the Tory councillors in charge know they don’t have any votes in Ramsgate so they let it rot”.
Pointing out things like the Conservatives don’t have any seats in Margate, now perceived as where all the money is going, doesn’t really seem to help.
Often I now get the answer from TDC councillors that Ramsgate Town Council should sort out Ramsgate’s problems, at the moment though RTC is two officers, with neither the power or resources to do anything about much.
Where “Localism” will take us on this one, no one seems to be sure, I get the impression that the way TDC are approaching the idea means we could well end up with a unitary authority.
I would say in general terms, talking to Ramsgate people, there is very little in terms of resentment, when it comes to spending money trying to sort out Margate’s considerable problems.
There are though some things that take a bit of explaining like Pleasurama where the council own the site and have spent the last 10 years entertaining development delays, whereas Dreamland in the rival town, shut for a much shorter time and still providing reasonably priced parking, is to compulsorily purchase so that the council can turn the prime leisure site into a prime leisure facility.
Perhaps this is a matter of perception again, with the council seeing Ramsgate as a port and airport town and the people living in Ramsgate seeing Ramsgate as a leisure town.
I will try and ramble on about this if I get some more time.