Thursday 28 February 2013

Last Day to object to Granville Plans

This is for the building that will form part of Granville House, objections need to sent by tomorrow.

This picture shows what was there before.

This picture shows what they want to build.

With these objections it is partly the number of people who object that counts, so I wouldn’t worry too much that your objection makes a lot of sense or conforms to planning law. But if you don’t like the new plans, I doubt that the council will be able to do much about them unless they get quite a few objections.

My planning objection is below.

Planning objection

Dear Sir/Madam,

In the first instance could you kindly confirm your receipt of this objection?

As a Ramsgate and Eastcliff ward resident I wish to object to the following planning applications.

This development forms an extension to the grade II listed Victorian building that fronted the whole block.

Most was designed by Edward Pugin although parts by J T Wimperis all was built in the same Victorian Gothic style between 1867 and 1880.

Part of the development was demolished by a bomb in WW2 and part demolished in the early 1980s to make way for a 1980s development that didn’t occur.

Then in the early 2000s a completely different attitude to the status of this important Victorian Gothic Pugin building was taken, and a substantial part of it was rebuilt in the Victorian Gothic style, when the new part was completed it was reclassified as a Grade II listed building and then went on to win an award by Thanet District Council for attention to detail.    

The current application has a strong resemblance to the highly unsuitable 1980s plans that were abandoned and is devoid of any sympathetic architectural detail.

I would like to object on the following grounds.

The whole reconstruction project should be in the same architectural style, particularly as a considerable part already has been rebuilt in that style.

There could have been a case for a modern and dramatic design as the original was when first built, had part of the building not been newly rebuilt in the original style

I can see no case for this proposal that has the look of 1980s economy and featureless buildings, designed around the popular plastic double glazed windows of the time.

The proposed building uses a different bricklaying style to the Flemish bond used in the rest of the building.

The proposed building has a glazed tower which appears to be of a confrontational design to the existing tower. 

It is important to remember that the relationship between the Pugins and the town of Ramsgate already has a significant effect on the local economy with the restoration of Pugin’s house The Grange and the current restoration Pugin’s church. The way in which the remainder of Pugin’s Granville House is rebuilt is likely to have a significant impact on Ramsgate’s heritage and Regeneration.”

On the brickwork front   

 This is Flemish bond

This is what they want to use, stretcher bond

I have added a few more pictures for historical interest.

Incidentally here is the link fro live tweets from the council meeting 

Wednesday 27 February 2013

Minor ramble

I did manage to get out in Ramsgate for a bit this afternoon and frankly it wasn’t as cold as I had expected.  

The British Heart foundation has moved into the middle of the high street, and added to a group of unreal shops, a money lender, betting shop and now charity shop.

Obviously a prime trading site and not one I could afford to rent as an independent retailer

The removal of their shop signs in Harbour Street reveals the signs for Instyle, which jogs a faint memory, but not of anything I can remember shopping in

Anyone know what is going there now?

 the sky looked amazing but didn't photograph that well
 bags of ballast have been placed behind the gates at both ends of the Pleasurama site possibly in case of a tank assault.   
 as the saga rumbles on the way the site was abandoned in the middle of work takes on a new significance.

Tuesday 26 February 2013

Keeping up with the Thanet blogs

Do I read the posts and comment on the Thanet Blogs?

The answer here is yes and no, essentially I use my itc skills to extrapolate the information and publish a bit of seat of the pants computing here so I can keep up with it the posts and the comments on all the blogs, even with my smartphone.

Anyway I have just updated the site because of all the new local blogs, please let me know if I have included the ones I should have done, noting that I can only do this with blogger hosted blogs for technical reasons.    

Monday 25 February 2013

Margate main Post Office set to close and a ramble.

This seems to be the main local story today, although there doesn’t seem to be any mention of this on the other local blogs. I think the idea is that it will move into one of the shops in the High Street.

I tried hard to make sense of the post on the Thanet Labour blog I mean what does “Fidel Castro got it right. One kilo of mixed white rice and black beans ('Moros y Cristianos'), peas and potatoes, were issued monthly to all families, free, - the 'libreta' -  with subsidised prices for chicken, eggs, milk and coffee. Cubans were lean and fit. It is gradually disappearing with the benefit of capitalism.” Actually mean. 

Meanwhile the local voice of Conservativism is onto a sure-fire vote winner opposing the very small council grants to Margate Caves and Ramsgate Tunnels you have to hand it to local politicians they really have their fingers on the pulse.    

Cllr Driver has gone of in loco pontifex maximus moving beyond the dodgy world of the curate and the choirboy into an exploration of cardinal sins, as he is now tri postulate I await the quadrapost with interest. excrucius retium perhaps.

On the other hand not four fingers and a thump but drivers nemesis here the plot to overthrow driver truly thickens musae furcillis praecipitem eiciunt.

Sorry about this reading through the local blogs seems to havemade me light headed

It’s all very well saying there is no white smoke without fire or there is white smoke without fire, but and seriously here I look to the local blogs for local issues and if our local priests start misbehaving again, and if you could follow the latin here, archbishop William Wake kept a private notebook which is Canterbury cathedral library, this is what he has to say about our clergy of 300 years ago.

"Patten of Whitstable kept a mistress and did not pay his debts; Bourn of Ash was "allied to the sons of Eli" ; Roberts of Queenborough, ale-house sot and debtor, "so impudent as nothing is like him"; Bate of Chilham, "proudest and stiffest man" in the diocese, allowing corpses to lie unburied for want of fees; Burroughs of Kingston, "most horribly covetous" ; Ansell of Stowting and Cade of Sellindge, Jacobites and taven-brawlers; Edward Dering of Charing who fought his own sister at the Swan Inn and threw her "head-cloaths" into the fire; Hobbs of Dover, who amassed pluralities; Isles of New Romney a notorious sot and Jacobite; Nicholls of Fordwich who preached that George was a Foreigner, a Lutheran, and a Beggar-"a wicked, swearing. Lying, Drunken man".  

Well yes I guess a Thanet blog post.
I will ramble on here as I try to catch up on the Thanet blogs.  

Sunday 24 February 2013

Sunday Ramble and a few sketches possibly a bit of cooking

The idea here is that I cook a late Sunday lunch, make some cakes and write some sort of blog post, don’t expect that much from any of it. I will bung stuff up in bits as it happens.

I notice I didn’t post yesterday, my bookshop is busier than one would expect, given the cold weather, I put this down to a lack of things to do inside, book browsing is one of the few remaining activates in the don’t have to bracket.

I went to the Belgian Café on Friday evening here is the sketch.

Today children’s clothes and shoes meant Westwood cross, in my family I am outnumbered by the fairer sex and not liking shopping, having looked at the artist’s materials in Hobbycraft, nothing on special offer that I wanted although their canvases are very good value at the moment, buy one get one free, I went and hid in Waterstones.

Eventually I succumbed to a pot of tea and determined to get my £2 worth I drew a couple more sketches, the two big faces in the background are on a wall poster.

Sorry I didn’t get as far as putting some paint on them.  

Getting a poster on the wall of people to look like that i.e. different in some way to the people who were just there is something that I am not sure I really pulled off.

well the next batch of pictures went up backwards so from the red writing below upwards.

 pots into hot oil
 pots need to be cold cooling with cold ater will do
oven gas mk 4 half an hour
 add coco and some baking powdef about a teaspoon if you want some chocolate ones too
 dollop in

 use cake tray to suport cake cases
 pots should be losing structural integrity

 self-raising flour flour and enough make to make it a stiff slurry
 process for a few secs
 add eggs
 process for a few secs

caster the it
 marge same weight as sugar
peel potatoes and boil

icing is just icing sugar with a dash of hot water

having got all of that over, is there anything much going on locally?

Cllr Driver seems to have gone critical on the blogging front with two posts today but related to national news Bignews has also posted today but again nothing local, so is anything much going on in Thanet? I think the answer must be, not a lot.

Oh well back to art, what do you think of the video below?

Friday 22 February 2013

Thanet District Council censorship, how far can they go?

Obviously the council have to be able to keep some documents secret for some period of time. I think there can be no doubt about this, but I will spell it out for those who don’t understand.

Let us for instance say that I want to rent a council owned premises, well the council are going to want my bank details, personal contact details and so on and I don’t want them handing them out to anyone.

When MP’s expenses first came into the public domain, part of the information like their bank account numbers was blacked out (this process is called redacting and obviously has to be done in some cases) I guess there will always be some people who feel that nothing should be kept secret but I am not one of them.

This process of redaction does allow many documents to be published that would otherwise need to be kept secret, it is for instance important for the public to know when an MP has spent public money on buying himself a large screen TV but it is just as important not to put his credit card number online when publishing the recipt.  

There are also those documents that the council consider to be commercially sensitive, this moves us into the realms of the council negotiating with businesses and individuals and keeping secret information that would give the commercial advantage to one over the other.

Another aspect of secret documents and the need to keep them secret is how old the documents are and this even applies to the most secret of documents, those where national security would be compromised. Eventually even these cease to be a threat to security and just become of historic interest.

The final aspect here is the one of common sense, there is no point in the council spending money on protecting information that has already leaked out.   

Having got some sort of system for keeping some documents secret or secret for a given period of time, we then come to the problem of misusing this secrecy to cover up mistakes by officers and members of the council.    

Over the last twenty years since Jimmy Godden started negotiations to run down the amusements on Ramsgate seafront and attempt to acquire the freehold for a knockdown price, the largest single problem has been the unnecessary secrecy used by Thanet District Council to cover up their shortcomings in this fiasco.

This unnecessary secrecy was first mentioned and documented by the district auditor in 2002, so serious were the council’s blunders relating to the Pleasurama fiasco at that time that there is a good chance that the lead to the departure of the chief executive.

Now frankly the documents that Cllr Driver said he was going to publish on his blog and lead to his blog post saying he was going to be censured by the chief executive, can be summed up as providing evidence for continuing with the Pleasurama fiasco that wouldn’t have convinced Big Ears to lend anyone his bicycle, let alone a council to go ahead with a £22m development.

So when I saw his blog post and received the press release, I contacted the chief executive, here is the email.

Sent: 21 February 2013 22:10
To: Sue McGonigal;
Subject: Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

Hi Sue, I am contacting you about the business of stopping Cllr Driver from receiving council pinks.
“Dear Cllr Driver,
 I have asked that a meeting be arranged to discuss the issuing of papers to you, as a result of your recent breach in respect of the publication of pink papers. I will not be in a position to provide you with any of the requested documents until after this meeting. Should you require any clarification of my ability to refuse these documents to you in your role as Chairman of OSP, please contact Harvey who will be able to help.”
The document in question has been to a greater or lesser extent in the public domain since 2009, as far as I can see from what Cllr Driver did he was obviously sent the pink paper version.
I am attaching the pdf version of this document to prove my point i.e. a copy of the document that I assume Cllr Driver didn’t receive.
I am also pointing out to you that I have discussed the contents of this document on several occasions with Harvey prior to Cllr Diver being elected a councillor, so presumably he must have been aware I had a copy of it.
I also discussed the contents of the document with you recently by email, although I am uncertain if I discussed it with you or your predecessor, prior to Cllr Driver becoming a councillor.
Obviously I can see some point in censoring Cllr Driver from releasing sensitive council documents that are in fact secret, however doing this over a document that has leaked out of the council some years ago and is known by both you and Harvey to have leaked out would seem to be somewhat ridiculous.
Obviously the council putting some sort of gagging order on the council’s chair of scrutiny is something that I can hardly avoid writing a blog post about, which I will do tomorrow.   
Please consider this as an open letter, which will be published as part of that post hopefully with your reply.  
Best regards Michael
Having phoned the council to ask if anyone wanted to discuss this issue before I posted about it and being told they didn’t. I received the following reply from Sue.  
Dear Michael,
I am aware that you have been chasing for a reply to this, however I have had other business to attend to.
I am not prepared to discuss the whys and wherefores of the Council’s Code of Conduct that requires confidentiality to be observed for pink papers, in order to ensure the Council remains legally compliant and free from legal challenge, however I felt I must point out that in the context of what you have written below (above), you have been incorrectly advised, as the extract of the email that I sent to Councillor Driver was not in relation to the pink paper that he published.
Dr Sue McGonigal
Chief Executive and Chief Financial Officer
Thanet District Council
I then phoned them back as I couldn’t understand from the email if she or some other officer wanted to discuss the issue further, no one wanted to discuss the issue with me but they said I may get a more comprehensive reply. and that is the situation now.

I am very busy with work today and haven't even had a chance to read this one through I will sort out any glaring errors and add anything  I can think of later.

From: []
Sent: 22 February 2013 14:37
To: Sue McGonigal
Subject: Re: Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?
Sue I figured as much, the quote is from the press release of Cllr Driver’s that I published yesterday, see
As I said before I can’t just leave this one, I will try phoning the council again and see if anyone is prepared to talk to me about it, otherwise it’s my best guess. 
Best regards Michael

From: Sue McGonigal
To: '' <>
CC: cllr-Clive Hart
Sent: Fri, 22 Feb 2013 15:53
Subject: RE: Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

I am not in the office today and so was not available to take your call which Annette picked up.  I was surprised that you felt my reply was not complete, as I’m not sure what other information you had asked for.
However, I can confirm that the council does not have a gagging order on anyone, it does however have a code of conduct that requires all councillors to observe confidentiality of commercially sensitive and other data protected information. The main concern is ensuring that confidentiality is maintained, especially at the point that the information is issued. Often, with the passing of time, the information can become less sensitive, and can be openly shared. We would review the position whenever we get an FOI request on an issue, even if at some point it had been contained within a pink paper. Hence why Harvey no doubt was not troubled on learning that you had a copy of the 2009 paper.
As I explained before, the meeting that I have with Cllr Driver and the content of the email that the extract is from does not relate to the pink paper that he published, and Cllr Driver is aware of this, as he knows what it was said in response to.
Dr Sue McGonigal
Chief Executive and Chief Financial Officer
Thanet District Council

 To: Sue McGonigal
Subject: Re: Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

Hi Sue, difficult for me, on the one hand I have Cllr Driver saying that you are issuing a gagging order and on the other hand you saying that you are censuring for some other purpose, which appears to relate to his leaking council documents that I can find no trace of him leaking.
Anyway despite having more interesting things to do I have bunged something up on the blog at which I hope you think is reasonably fair.
With the specific 2009 document, you imply that it is no longer restricted; does this mean that I can publish it in its entirety on the internet? If not are you happy for me to publish a redacted version with phone numbers and emails removed?
With other Pleasurama documents held by the council, can I presume that the same applies to all of the pre 2009 ones?
Does the council have some guidelines on the release of the older restricted documents it holds? I ask this as a local historian as much as a local blog writer.

Best regards Michael

-----Original Message-----
From: Sue McGonigal
To: '' <>
CC: Harvey Patterson
Sent: Fri, 22 Feb 2013 17:07
Subject: RE: Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

As far as I am aware Cllr Driver has not leaked any other documents, but again, I can confirm that the pink report that he has published on his web  is not the purpose of the meeting.

I will have to ask Harvey to advise on the publication of the 2009 document and others,  as he will need to assess what information is able to be made public, and what needs redacting. He will also be able to advise on process.  I will ask him to come back to you directly next week.



From: []
Sent: 22 February 2013 17:27
To: Sue McGonigal
Subject: Re: Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

Thanks Sue

I couldn’t draw any other inference from “have asked that a meeting be arranged to discuss the issuing of papers to you, as a result of your recent breach in respect of the publication of pink papers.” Unless you mean he misquoted you rather than quoting you out of context.

Obviously this is a serious issue as Cllr Driver both holds the post of Chair of Scrutiny and appears top be saying that the council are withholding documents against the public interest.

With Pleasurama in particular where the district auditor made recommendations that the council should publish all of the documents unless there was a cast iron case not to, see$Agenda%20Enclosure%206.doc.pdf

Personally I am inclined to view the whole saga of trying to acquire the freehold from 1994 to date as one entity and until the names behind the offshore company come into the public domain I see no reason to do otherwise.  

Particularly in view of the 2009 document being based on the council dealing with the offshore company, several years after assuring me that they were now dealing with a UK company.   

Many thanks for your help over trying to get the rest of the documentation released, I look forward to hearing from Harvey, it would be helpful if were to send me the documents that I can publish as some of the ones I have may be incomplete and don’t say if they are restricted or not.

Best regards Michael
Hi Michael,

I’m not able to add anything further at this stage.
However, as far as your comment from the District Auditors’ recommendations – I agree, and the council currently works to the presumption that there will be full disclosure, unless our legal team or external lawyers advise against it.  I will reiterate what I said in my earlier email, the council does not have a gagging order on anyone, it does however have a code of conduct that requires all councillors to observe confidentiality of commercially sensitive and other data protected information.


Dr Sue McGonigal
Chief Executive and Chief Financial Officer
Thanet District Council

Hi Sue, gagging order was Cllr Diver’s phrase not mine, it does occur to me though that the withholding information about Pleasurama, until after the decisions have been made, seems to have been a factor in the council now facing the risk of considerable liability if the try to regain control of the site.
There doesn’t seem to be any reason why a redacted version didn’t go into the public domain, particularly with such a large project on TDC owned land.
I sincerely hope that you will look at the documentation relating to the current concessions and consider which parts of can be published, public interest is considerable and I haven’t had any satisfactory reason as to why a FRA wasn’t sought as part of the recent bargaining process.   

Best regards Michael

Thursday 21 February 2013

A Ramble about art

Just before I found out, well I guess most people found out, about the vandalism to the paintings on The Great Wall of Ramsgate I spent most of my lunch hour in York Street Gallery in Ramsgate.

Here is the link to their website the artists exhibiting there change often and the quality is good and varied, well worth a visiting often.

There is usually painting in progress too
After two rather disheartening visits to The Turner Contemporary recently, see and I found I had pretty much stopped painting and drawing.

So today I went over to Canterbury and visited The Beaney here is their website

I took a few pictures with my mobile phone below They will expand if you click on them) and may add a bit more text to this post later.