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.   


  1. Michael, Will we be treated to an embroidered Tracey Emin in the near future.

    Can't wait!

  2. Ken I did have a go at the fabric printing in Turner Contemporary the other day, while I pocketed the fabric I noticed one of the art students hurriedly retrieving my transfer sketch from the bin and putting it in her bag, probably for thorough destruction later. So I won’t be going into the T-shirt business any time soon, my grandmother studied at the Royal College of Art and one her favourite mediums was embroidery, she did teach me the basics, so you never know.

  3. Michael,
    I often think that Ramsgate High Street is blessed with the fact that there is a large population living within walking distance of the high street. For example take a compass and estimate ten minutes walking distance and draw a circle from the heart of the high street. Then do the same for Margate. Then compare the population within both circles to the electoral register. Answer is simple Ramsgate wins by a huge margin.

  4. · I know what you mean Tony, I often wondered why Tesco and M&S moved out. I would say that Westwood Cross didn’t seem to be any busier than Ramsgate would be at the same time of day. But then quite a few shops that have moved out of Ramsgate are trading at Westwood, so I would guess they know what they are doing. I suppose the price of fuel is now a major factor too, we do our shopping in the town the supermarket car run being to Waitrose which seems to be much more competitive on the price front these days. Also the internet is a factor now, one of the expensive commodities I buy is watercolour paint, priced between about £5 and £8 for a 5ml tube. Up until recently the only place you could buy this in Thanet was Lovelys in Northdown Road, now we have two shops at Westwood Cross selling it as well. All three have the same paint at about the same price although Lovelys have it on special offer more than the others. They also understand artists requirements, so they have all the other bits and pieces that other places don’t, so when I buy from a shop I only use them. Now I reckon that if suddenly three times as many people had taken up painting it would be noticeable, so how this all works I really just don’t understand.

  5. Tony you caused me to recall Jack the publican at the Shakespeare. "Count the chimneys". He also said to me "If there's money in a wallet in Thanet it is next to a UB 40. If it bothers a publican then trade somewhere else." I suppose he meant black economy is better than no economy.

  6. Tony did you solve your sampler ? Ask Michael now we in the presence of a needlework maestro ?

  7. Car parking and traffic problems? In case you hadn't noticed, there is a vehicle that serves all three towns [and that bleak area at Westwood] every ten minutes. You can't miss it. It is red, white and blue, is chauffeur driven and has the word 'Loop' on the front. Compare the cost of tax, maintenance, insurance, depreciation and fuel ... go figure and shop local!

  8. I think Tesco will always rue the day they packed up their store in the town centre - you only have to look at the stores they're opening now to see they're trying to get back in there:- Hereson Road and, I believe, the old Somerfield Garage on West Cliff Road - not to mention the new building next to St Lawrence Church !

  9. Col, Shopping locally means using Ramsgate Town Centre for a Ramsgate resident, not jumping on a loopy bus to WC.

    Have you tried bringing your weekly shop of 10-20 bags back on the loopy bus. Conservation is a great idea but has to be practical and why travel by bus to Tescos at WC when Waitrose, Ramsgate does everything better

  10. Your drawing is better than any I have ever seen done by Ms. Emin, imho.

  11. You are right there Anon 10.17, but I think Michael needs to develop his pink flashing neon skills to be in the same league.

  12. Or perhaps pay someone else to do it like Tracey does.

  13. Michael,

    If only, if only this were TDC. The sad truth is that TDC Councillors do not have what it takes. It takes talent, drive and determination and not the endless silly pygmy political bickering, which we have with TDC.

    "Hammersmith & Fulham council (H&F) has announced that they are proposing to cut council tax next year by 3.75 per cent. This will be the fifth year in six where the council has managed to cut council tax. This saving is due to several cost cutting measures including combining services with Westminster and Kensington & Chelsea councils in order to cut management and overhead costs by half.

    This tax cut will be realised without resorting to the kind of ‘bleeding stump’ approach of shutting libraries and cutting services that some councils have taken, say H&F:

    “While planning to cut [council] tax, H&F is intending to freeze parking charges, keep all its libraries open, maintain weekly or even twice-weekly refuse collection and plough £1.3 million into extra town centre police. It is also one of just two councils in London offering homecare to people in the ‘greater moderate’ as well as ‘substantial’ or ‘critical’ banding.”

    Further savings are to be made by selling off underused property, co-locating services among other measures in order to pay off about half the council’s debt and reduce annual interest payments."

    An after thought: how long will it be before 'anonymouse' pops up squeaking that I should move to Hammersmith and Fulham.

  14. I think the key point in the above is "Debt",, it would be interesting to know how much all these wonderful initiatives have actually cost? Especially when the interest on debt is included.

  15. to anonymous at 15:46,

    I do not understand your point.

  16. John, don't worry about it because the anon who wrote it did not understand it either.

  17. What anon 15.46 is looking for and probably does understand his question is on the H&F council web site.

    "The former UK ‘Council of the Year’ is also on course to cut its historic £176 million to a projected £94 million by the end of the next financial year saving our local taxpayers £7.1 million in debt repayments every year."

  18. Anon. Perhaps better to stick to the art criticism, not sure I got the left eye right, what do you reckon.

  19. Michael,

    Perhaps you better stick to blogging rather than what you describe as art!

  20. John

    Your Hammersmith and Fulham example is an interesting one.

    TDC have taken action to reduce debt, using reserves earning a pittnace as cash flow rather than borrowing more at higher rates of interest. TDC also avoided losing money in Iceland.

    TDc has moved to sell assets and put empty property back into use: many of thses schemes were opposed by residents nearby, and the Labour party when in opposition.

    TDC has moved to share services and management costs with other councils - something opposed by the Labour party when in opposition.

    We left a parking scheme in place which froze charges till at least next June and planned to open some free town centre car parking every saturday across the island.

    Sometimes, we all, as locals, simply miss the good things going on that we then see elsewhere as exemplars.

  21. To Chris Wells


    Thank you for punting me straight and so politely too. I knew none of this. It is good news.

    All I seem to hear about is the petty political squabbling which irritates me. You have told me about the good things and cheered me in the process.

  22. MIPP:

    'punting' should read 'putting'.

  23. Chris the problem for me is with the whole of the TDC asset management under the Conservative administration is the way Thanet District Council owned assets in Ramsgate have been managed.

    Perhaps this is about perception, but here in Ramsgate it just looked more and more like spite directed at a town with predominantly Labour councillors, from a Conservative administration that had developed personal feelings for the Labour group that went beyond mere logic and into the realms of fantasy.

    So can you answer some of the questions that I have put to you and Simon in recent posts about this?

    How do you explain the historic ship pontoon, evicting the historic vessels that reduced the council’s income?

    Pleasurama where the Conservative group issues a 199 year lease against the financial advice of the councils head of finance? The council have now spent £1m on furthering a project that is proceeding without the basic safety precautions recommended by the EA, with the council having the liability for all of the long term problems, the 60 year old cliff wall that the councils own advisors describe having a short serviceable life, the 1860 council owned sea defence, does this make sense?

    The Harbour Lights café, where the tendering process failed and a well known local chef came forward just wanting an ordinary lease from the council, how many months has it been now?

  24. Michael

    To take your entry para by para.

    You may have a problem with the way you see assets in Ramsgate have been managed; but that does not automatically mean the conclusions you draw from it are right, or indeed balanced.

    Have you tried reversing your assertions? That a predominantly Labour held area was prepared to do things which damaged the town in their political positioning in their single minded effort to get control of the council? A brilliant example of this is David Green’s fantasy letters concerning the story of Age Concern Ramsgate, about which he had been briefed but chose only to present the outrageous alternative scenarios.

    I cant answer questions about business I have not been involved in. This includes historic pontoons and the café question. I have never held any responsibility for land management so only have general views. Simon is your man for leases.

    I can answer some of the Pleasurama questions, though I am sure not the answer you want. The chief difficulties with Pleasurama date back to the previous Labour council’s selection of a developer – a process which I believe led to them losing a Chief Executive. I have often read your brilliant engineering calculations – although I notice some of more recent predictions of raod collapse do not seem to have been shared by other experts.

    You draw your usual conclusion, of a perception of unfairness. I could list a similar list of complaint for Broadstairs, Margate, and even Birchington; which rather undermines your somewhat self centred argument does it not?

  25. Nice to see some balanced comments for once on this blog, well done Chris!

    It`s a shame Michael lives in such a sad world where his glass is always half empty glass, cheer up Michael it's nearly Christmas. Maybe over the festive period you could commment on the good things we have in Thanet, you never know you might even end up with a full glass!

  26. Chris I will admit that I made a complete ass of my self over the arched part of cliff wall, I though it was dangerous to cut away near the bottom as the foundations were shallow and the infills blocks.

    I was wrong on that count and apologised, this was due to the council sending me wrong drawing, the one for another bit of cliff façade down where Nero’s used to be.

    Cardys the contractor were also sent the wrong sheets and requested the right ones from me, this was after they had dug exploratory holes and wasted quite a bit of money based on the info on the wrong sheet.

    The council’s advisers, Jacobs, and the council obviously used the same wrong sheet, in all their reports this arched section is described as having a brick infill.

    My flood risk concerns were confirmed by the EA

    My concerns about the part of the cliff on the Broadstairs end past the arched bit were confirmed when a lump fell off and the council put up the safety barriers I had been asking for.

    My concerns about the part on the harbour side of the arched bit have been confirmed by the council spending , I think it was £22,000 mending the bulge I pointed out to them and when Cardys examined this area see their picture really does show no foundation under that pillar, as far as I know the others up that end haven’t been investigated.

    With the Labour developer, the developer they selected I think were Whitbread combined with SFP unless you are suggesting Whitbread were a bad choice the question here is why didn’t the council pull out of the project like Whitbread did?

    You have had several years to rectify what I am happy to concede was a Labour mistake?

    I would appreciate your list of council assets that are derelict, empty, ten year building sites for the other Thanet towns, I will pursue the problems vigorously new Labour administration.

    Oh and yes I concede my self centred argument totally undermined.

  27. I am astounded at the last sentence of Cllr Chris Wells' comment that Broadstairs, Margate and Birchington have a similar list of complaints as Ramsgate.

    If that is truly the case then perhaps it is time for an alternative administration.

  28. Ah but like yours and Michael's Readit, is it not the case that they may be more a perception than a reality problem?

  29. And has Clive Hart not just told us all in the newspaper on friday your problems in the harbour and port of Ramsgate are over now he's in charge?

  30. Chris at 15.37, is this a sort of Conservative group announcement along the lines of: “Do not adjust your mind reality is at fault”?

  31. Chris I have been busy with the bookshop and didn’t get a Gazette this week, but I eventually found the article in their interesting website, here is the link for anyone who wants to know what you are eluding to at 15.38

  32. The only complaint in Broadstairs that I know about is the forcing through of the totally unnecessary new Community Centre. Hasn't any of our Council seen inside the Baptist Hall in Queens Road? The rest of Chris Wells' answer at 1226 is just the usual politician's tricks of either answering a question with another question or slagging off the original questioner. A shame really because his factual answer to John at 1053 was an excellent example of the sort of communication that we should be getting and deserves to be shouted from the rooftops. Maybe if it had been then the local Conservatives wouldn't be in Opposition now.

  33. Tim Clark mentions that Chris Wells uses polician's tricks. Here is another example from his 12.26 post.

    "I can answer some of the Pleasurama questions, though I am sure not the answer you want."

    But he didn't apart from blaming what Labour did at least 8 years ago.

    For instance who signed the contract with a developer who had no track record of developing anything like the Ramsgate project? Why was the bond condition wavered? TDC may be reducing their debt but potentially they will take an almighty hit without this bond should the project fail. The development is not expect to have any properties ready until 2014. Who allowed such a long timeframe with Ramsgate Sand looking like a building site for more than 5 years?

  34. Notice that Mr Wells hasn't answered Michael's 1322 comment

  35. I am surprised Chris Wells even bothers to comment for most of you are simply involved in ambush the Tory games. Well you have your Labour administration now so just sit back and enjoy it.

    I am sure Readit, Michael & co plus the Gazette will all find your dreams will come true. That is, of course, if the new team don't spend the whole time sniping at KCC, our MPs and the coalition government.

  36. Oh, and I forgot Tim Clark. What a seriously observant smartarse you are Timothy!

  37. Gentlemen you make a couple of fundamental errors. Firstly that Cabinet members know all about every subject; we may have a working knowledge on the major issues but will trust our relevant portfolio holders on the detail. Secondly, most of the decisions you are referring to were made before I joined the Cabinet anyway.

    My memory, as a backbencher, at the last decision debate in full council re pleasurama is that I made the points about the selection of contracter, which drew a furious response from Richard Nicholson, the leader at the time of the selection; I also made the point that the business plan submitted by the developer was wanting - I think I descibed it as about the level that my ten year old could manage; my reason to support was the involvement of Cardy, a reputable local firm whose judgement I trust.

    It is easy with hindsight to see the flaws. Many councillors asked searching questions about the bond, and were given answers.

    We may not be perfect as you require, but as a rule, we all try and do the job of asking the questions and seeking the relevant answers - whichever political party is in power/in opposition.

  38. Chris, thanks for that explanation. When you try and keep the sniping out you actually get your message across.
    2212. Anonymous because Mummy doesn't like you being up that late? You north coast conservatives need to lighten up - a lot more cheery in the STCA

  39. Chris I assumed like me you had seen the cabinet pinks recommending that the cabinet determine the development agreement on financial grounds.

    The real problem with Pleasurama is that we seem to be going ahead with a large development, hotel 100 flats that could easily have the better part of 1,000 people sleeping inside, my guess is that a fair proportion of these could be Conservative voters.

    The EA say that it is in high risk flood zone and that a site specific flood assessment needs to be made to determine if these people will be safe in the event of a combined exceptionally high tide and severe storm.

    On the other side of this development is a 70 foot high cliff par of which is structurally suspect. I guess you read the documents I linked to in my previous comment, one a report of an investigation made by Cardy whose judgment you say you trust and the other made by the EA.

    As an experienced councillor do you have any recommendations based on this information? Do you think there is any way of getting the most basic of safety precautions implemented?

  40. Michael

    I would have read whatever was presented to council; not necessarily pink papers for cabinet in the same detail; and listened to whatever was presented to the group at the time.

    I am not sure I am supposed to comment on what was - and may still be - on pink; even if you have seen it.

    I am a layman in structural engineering terms, and have to put a degree of failth in what others who are professionals tell me.

    i am afraid I do not put you in that group, if only because you have been grinding away at this axe for a long time, and are not a paid and insured professional. If the paid and insured professionals are wrong, they have indemnity cover we can use - as happened with Turner Mk l. If I back your judgement over theirs I am rather more exposed, as an individual, should you turn out to be wrong. Which you have been gracious enough to acknowledge happens sometimes!

  41. Chris you did follow the two links

    and appreciate that they weren’t written by me but by the EA’s costal engineer and Cardys, didn’t yo

  42. Tracey Emin is vastly over-rated IMHO, can't draw, can't paint, can't make her bed either!

  43. The one thing that the woman cannot do is draw. God help her fee paying students and those of the professor of painting one Gary Hume - they should sue the RA for downright barefaced fraud!


Comments, since I started writing this blog in 2007 the way the internet works has changed a lot, comments and dialogue here were once viable in an open and anonymous sense. Now if you comment here I will only allow the comment if it seems to make sense and be related to what the post is about. I link the majority of my posts to the main local Facebook groups and to my Facebook account, “Michael Child” I guess the main Ramsgate Facebook group is We Love Ramsgate. For the most part the comments and dialogue related to the posts here goes on there. As for the rest of it, well this blog handles images better than Facebook, which is why I don’t post directly to my Facebook account, although if I take a lot of photos I am so lazy that I paste them directly from my camera card to my bookshop website and put a link on this blog.