Thursday 30 May 2013

A few photos and sketches from Deal today.

Nothing much but here is the link sorry the sketches are photographed several times, playing about trying to copy pencil sketches with my mobile phone.

Wednesday 29 May 2013

New Isle of Thanet Gazette Website with tube and Cllr Worrow going bananas, some reflections on the use and misuse of video.

Looking at the other local blogs today, Thanet Star at and Thanet Life at both did a post about the story The Isle of Thanet Gazette put up on their website at the story about John Worrow’s behaviour at relies strongly on the video that the paper published online.

After the other websites embedded it the IOTG decided to disallow sharing on the video which stopped it from working elsewhere on the internet including on their own facebook post.

The council have also published some videos of council meetings on their website at another council meeting spat, this is the one where nearly all of the Conservative councillors walked out.    

I will ramble on about this subject as I get time.

I am not really sure about the business of councillors throwing a wobbly and walking out of meetings, I guess we elect them to turn up at meetings and represent our views, I should point here that I last went to a meeting in about 1972 and don’t like them much, so haven’t been to any more.  

Something very odd about the way the IOTG have hosted this video, and there are parallels here with the council, what the IOTG have done is host it on Brightcove video.

There is a rather unusual snag involved with doing this, and that is that it makes it impossible to credit the video to the person who published it, because Brightcove don’t let you know where the video originated from.     

TDC communications team hopefully tweeting tonight's cabinet meeting

And Louise already started

Monday 27 May 2013

A few pictures of Margate Meltdown and a bit more progress towards a review of The Turner Contemporary’s new exhibition; Curiosity: Art and the Pleasures of Knowing.

I will do my best with this one, my children a pretty lively and The Wall is playing in the background.
By way of some explanation here, this exhibition is so complicated that I am publishing most of the pages from my notebook – this post and the last – I figure if I need an aide-mémoire then so may others. 

Some glass sea animals here, I may be entering my blue period.
 The inevitable stuffed penguin and walrus
 Note the detail of John Dee's scrying crystal, top left, he was magician to Elizabeth I
 people and weebles
 something different happening outside the gallery
 I am mapping the maze with this new exhibition.
 There is a sense in which it is much easier to draw what is going on outside, which up to a point you are allowed to photograph, than what is in the gallery which you are not.
 Click on the link for more meltdown photos

 this pot of tea for 2 at Lola and co on the harbour arm, extra cup for the child who came with us, just ask for more hot water if you need it was £2.50

Sunday 26 May 2013

Turner Contemporary Margate. Curiosity: Art and the Pleasures of Knowing, initial thoughts, sketching towards a review.

I have always been a bit of a slow thinker, particularly when it comes to art, the latest exhibition at The Turner Contemporary Margate. Curiosity: Art and the Pleasures of Knowing, isn’t easy to take in at one viewing, the upper floor of the gallery has been turned into a maze which may eventually lead to what? A walrus? Turning into a walrus? I am one as you are one as you are me and we are all in the maze together.

Seeing how it runs run like pigs from a gun, does it fly? I'm crying. I guess the answer is yes it does for me.

Up the stairs or sitting on a cornflake, waiting for the lift to come.
Expecting a Corporation art-show, stupid sheep eyed dog.

Yes really in the first gallery the first thing you encounter is dog with a sheep’s head accompanied by the inevitable narwhal’s tusk.

Photography is of course banned, so I sketched what was going on here, the books on the table, people looking at art, people looking at people looking at art.

 Man, you been a naughty boy, you let your face grow wrong. If it isn’t art the tusk the strange sheepdog, well it certainly grips the attention.

Into the first gallery and you are in the maze with Leonardo, nice one HM Queen thanks for the loan of the Leonardos and top marks to the gallery for displaying them in a wall where we can see both sides,

So here is the sketch in the maze, being amazed at the Leonardos.

After this everything got a bit confused, possibly the influence of Elizabeth I’s magician’s black scrying mirror and crystal, there was only one place in the maze to sit down and I sat down and sketched something, here by a great rack of boxes and a glass spiral.

goo goo g'joob goo

I really could have stayed all day, but the gallery was filling up and I had other commitments, I sat in the galley’s café and sketched the view over a cup tea.
 It is Margate Meltdown tomorrow, and after last year’s problems with the hells angels - over taking photographs - I will probably have another go at doing some sort of post about this exhibition.

We went on as we do, here is the link to today’s photos    

Friday 24 May 2013

A Friday ramble, Pleasurama, the ferry, the recent elections and so on if I get time.

First the Pleasurama update, which is about the large building next to the site, most recently called Ramsgate Boulevard and used as an amusement arcade owned by the late Jimmy Godden.

Over the last couple of years there have been various claims made by SFP and their associates that this building had been bought by SFP and would become the offices for the development and branch of the Terrance Painter Estate agents, here is the link to one of the news articles about this

Some time ago I looked into the matter and what seems to have happened is that the director of SFP Sean Keegan used another of his companies to begin the process of buying the freehold for this building from Jimmy Godden.

The reached the point where it appeared on the land registry certificate [(30.11.2011) BENEFICIARY: All Type Properties Limited (Co. Regn. No.
07219682)]in the way one would associate with the property transaction being underway.  

In the last couple of days posters have been put up on the inside of the building for a property management company owned by the Godden family, so it looks like they have put it back on the market.

While on the subject of the Pleasurama site, when I posted about this the other day to publicise the fact that the council are now moving towards repossessing the site there was some dialogue about the flood and storm risks there. John Hamilton in particular seems to confused about this one and I promised to put some detail in this post.

In engineering there are few safety definites, just a series of compromises, because the best way to avoid having buildings collapse is not to build any buildings and the best way to prevent motor vehicle accidents is not to build any motor vehicles.

With flood risk there is a series of compromises, where we talk about 1 in 50 year or 1 in 200 year events makes it very easy for people without any engineering or scientific background to get very confused.

This doesn’t mean that the property is going to flood every 50 or 200 years but is the way the risk is expressed so that insurance companies and banks financing developments on these sites can assess the risk.

With the Pleasurama site I would say the flood and storm situation was fairly marginal when the plans were first approved, the EA looked at the plans which were just over the designated ground floor commercial designated level, they assumed the staircase to the cliff was the pedestrian escape from the flats above and let them through.

Since then a mix of information has changed the situation, the EA redesignated part of the site a high flood risk, the architect produced new plans with the staircase moved and levels above the tide mark clearly indicated.

After this happened the EA wrote to the developer and the council recommending a flood risk assessment, here is a link to the letter

Since the beginning of 2008 even more information has come to light, some relating to historic storm damage on the site and some relating to the sea defences and geological structure of the site.

It all adds up to the site needing a proper flood risk assessment before any further uses of the site are contemplated. The difficulty for me is that the John Hamiltons of this world seem to think saying that the flood risk needs properly and professionally assessing, is the same as me saying the site will be washed away.

We now come to the debt the ferry operator wound up owing the council when it went bust.

A lot of comment here on the various blogs, with some people making the fundamental mistake of thinking the £3.3m was money the council lent to the ferry operator to keep their business afloat.

What this was, was mooring fees that the ferry operator should have paid the council but couldn’t afford to.

In very simple terms this equates to shop rents in our towns and factor which equates to Westwood Cross and the internet market that has caused so many of our shops to close, with the ferries this is the channel tunnel.

Obviously the ferry berthing facilities have been significantly under used since The Sally Line pulled out.

So suppose the council owns five large shops in the middle of Margate, four are empty and the other is trading with difficulty and paying a rent of a £1,000 per week and the company running this shop go to the council and say we can’t afford to pay the rent, but we hope to get an investor who will finance our business so we can pay it off eventually.

I guess the question here is what should the council do and how long should they do it for?

Obviously at any time they can make the company bankrupt by demanding the money they are owed straight away, but this will only result in five empty shops instead of four and no money.   

On to the UKIP result.

My guess here is that come the next TDC elections some of the existing Conservative and Labour councillors would like to get re-elected and that in the light of the recent county council elections there is a very good chance that most of them won’t be.

What happened at county level may very well be repeated a district level, either come the next elections or the elections after that and the main reason for this is that local people have lost touch with who their local representatives are and what it is they do.

I guess the thing that seems to have made the voting difference recently has been very simple messages that the voters can relate to, no night flights, a vote on whether we stay in Europe. What is very much apparent is that what the councillors get up to at a local level hasn’t made much difference to how people actually vote.

I think the last Thanet District Council meeting was a case in point, I couldn’t have attended if I wanted to and I guess a great many of the people who do actually vote – like me – have other commitments that prevent them from attending meetings.  

I tried to follow the meeting online, although I knew the microphone system that has caused problems with the webcasting of meetings had been fixed, the meeting wasn’t live streamed. This is particularly irritating as I know this can be done via youtube for free and I also know that once the meeting has ceased to be relevant and in any real sense interesting to watch, it will be presented by the council hosted on a paid for server at considerable expense.

There is also a difference between the council producing a fair and accurate record of the council meeting and something that is dramatic and politically motivated, which is well understood. However doing what they actual do, which is to produce something that is basically unwatchable, where the image quality is so poor that no one can be identified, is also unacceptable.  

Frankly if our local councillors want us to vote for them based on how they perform and not just to vote based on national issues they are going to have to make some sort of collective effort to present themselves as a viable council doing something that we the voting public can see is useful.

Thursday 23 May 2013

St Peter’s in Thanet, quick sketch over lunch

Inclement weather meant I didn’t colour this one, I took some photos for a possible later colouration, here is the link   

Wednesday 22 May 2013

Thanet’s Blue Flag Beaches Announced

Here is the list copied from the blue flag website  

Access for people with disabilities
Access for people with disabilities
Access for people with disabilities
Access for people with disabilities
Access for people with disabilities
Access for people with disabilities
Access for people with disabilities
Access for people with disabilities
Access for people with disabilities

My excuse with the sketch is it was executed on Ramsgate Main Sands

I wonder what the council's excuse is for missing out Ramsgate Main Sands in their press release about the blue flag awards?

whoops my mistake it seems the blue flag website hasn't been updated and here is the actual list

Minnis Bay ThanetDistrict Council
West Bay ThanetDistrict Council
St Mildreds ThanetDistrict Council
Westbrook Bay ThanetDistrict Council
Margate ThanetDistrict Council
Botany Bay ThanetDistrict Council
Joss Bay ThanetDistrict Council
Stone Bay ThanetDistrict Council

Tuesday 21 May 2013

Royal Sands Development on the Pleasurama Site in Ramsgate no money, no hotelier, no development

The council have now published the information that SFP Ventures haven’t come back with finance and that the council is going to start the lengthy and possibly expensive business of extricating themselves from this particular mess.

Here is the council document

Ramsgate Royal Sands – Options

To:                               Extraordinary Cabinet – 29th May 2013

Main Portfolio Area:     Operational Services

By:                               Mark Seed – Director of Operational Services

Classification:             Unrestricted

Ward:                          Eastcliff
Summary:                   To consider options for future action following the end of the four month period agreed at the 22nd January Cabinet meeting for the developers of Royal Sands to have demonstrated the financing for the construction of the development.
For Decision
1.0       Current Situation

1.1       At the Cabinet meeting on 22nd January it was resolved that
            “Cabinet set a review period of 4 months from 22nd January 2013 and request officers at the end of this period to prepare an options report to Cabinet if either the finance is not in place for the completion of the development or no agreement is in place for the construction and operation of a hotel.”

1.2       As the four month period has now passed without these criteria being met it is necessary that the options in relation to the future of the current development agreement and leases for this site are now considered.

1.3       In the meantime a petition was considered at the meeting of Council on 18th April as set out in Annex 1, and it was agreed that the petition be referred to the Overview & Scrutiny Panel. As a result of this the Panel agreed the following at its meeting on 23rd April:

1.      To set up a Pleasurama Site Development Task & Finish Group as a priority scrutiny project for 2013/14;

2.      Officers to draft the terms of reference

1.4       At the time of drafting the report the Scrutiny task and finish group has yet to meet and consider its terms of reference.

2.0       Discussion and Proposals

2.1       The issue of the development of the Pleasurama/ Royal Sands site has been a matter of contention since before the decision to take forward the current proposals at the end of 2002. This has surrounded all aspects of the development including its form agreed under planning, the choice of the developer, the nature of the developer, the conditions within the agreements and changes to these, and retention of the developer despite the site not being moved forward.

2.2       This process has taken place under three separate administrations, but needs a collective way forward for the council that represents a political accord. This should reflect the need for a development to be completed that complements the future regeneration of Ramsgate, and provides a financial return for the council on a key water front site.

2.3       In addition, the future of the agreement and leases with SFP needs to be assessed carefully, as unilateral decisions on these by the council are almost certain to be challenged legally by the developer. The bottom line is that such action is uncertain, potentially costly, and likely to take a long time to resolve.

2.4       It is important that consideration of this issue is primarily focussed on where we are going and how to achieve that aim, with the prime elements being:

·     An agreed development for the site
·     A timescale to complete this development
·     A financial return to the council for the site
·     An understanding of the risks involved in any course of action

2.6       The report is specifically not proposing a legal way forward for the council as this requires to be considered in a way that does not prejudice any future court action and the position of the council within this. Such a way forward also needs to be supported by high level commercial and legal advice that dovetails with the direction of travel for the council.

2.7       In this context it would seem to be appropriate for Cabinet to support the setting up of the task and finish group by Overview and Scrutiny and ask them to consider and recommend a course of action. In doing this it would be appropriate to consider the following:

·     Encouraging the task and finish group to focus primarily on the key issues to help guide the way forward for the council as a whole
·     Committing Cabinet in supporting the work, including the cost of seeking confidential legal and commercial property advice
·     Advising that consideration of action moving forward that may involve legal processes needs to be done in a way that does not prejudice the position of the council
·     Ensuring that the legal, financial and time risks associated with any proposed course of action are considered with care
·     Encouraging an expeditious result so that Cabinet can move forward on this

2.8       Due to the lack of progress by the developer it is no longer possible to consider the option of waiting for them to deliver, even though the final deadlines within the agreement have not been breach. In addition, the need for a cross party independent consensus on future action supports the role of the Scrutiny task and finish group, rather than alternative routes.

2.9       The council has been very supportive in relation to this development, mainly in recognition of the difficult financial market over the last 5 years. However, the repeated failure of the developer to make progress is no longer acceptable to the council. The lack of any substantial progress in resolving the issues that were discussed in the Cabinet report in January, and failure to reach a conclusion within the four month period agreed by Cabinet, gives the council no confidence for the future.

2.10     On this basis, the future of the development has entered a new phase in which the council is actively seeking an alternate way forward, with a key focus on the determination of the current development agreement and leases.

2.11     This has become too much of a key issue to wait until the current deadline in 2014 and the possible extension to 2017. The continued failure to deliver gives the council no confidence that progress will made, and a rapid move to considering and deciding on alternatives is essential.

3.0       Corporate Implications

3.1       Financial and VAT

3.1.1    The primary long term impacts of choosing a specific course of action on the site and the costs of this need to be assessed as part of the risk analysis work as part of review by the Scrutiny task and finish group. In relation to this report the proposed support to seek initial high level commercial and legal advice can be met from existing budgets.

3.1.2    In addition to the legal risks involved with ceasing the current arrangements can be added the timescales involved in seeking an alternative proposal and the financial risks of this in comparison to the current arrangements and the potential return to the council.

3.2       Legal

3.2.1    It is not proposed to set out a full legal analysis of the situation at this stage as this will have to be considered in some detail through the Scrutiny process. However, a clear option as a course of action would be to seek the cancel the current development agreement and leases or not provide an extension to any timescales. As indicated above these courses of action are almost certain to be challenged legally, so any legal risk assessment through the Scrutiny process must assess the chances of being successful, the costs that may be involved, and the timescales to achieve the result in court.

3.3       Corporate

3.3.1    The future of the current development agreement development agreement and leases is seriously in doubt. There are risks associated with taking action about this, as set out in this report, but the repeated failure by the developer to move forward on site, despite the willingness of the council to assist, is no longer acceptable. As set out above, the failure to deliver has to change the council’s approach to this site development and its consideration of options for the future. This represents Cabinet’s entire dissatisfaction that the four month deadline it gave to the developer to resolve matters and make progress on site has not been met. Care needs to be taken in relation to considering options for the future as indicated above, but now is the time to take this step.

3.4       Equity and Equalities

3.4.1    The proposal in this report does not have any impacts on groups with protected characteristics.

4.0       Recommendations

4.1       That Cabinet supports the setting up of the Overview and Scrutiny Panel task and finish group, and advises that the following considerations should be taken into account in proposing a course of action for the council:

·     A focus primarily on the key issues to help guide the way forward for the council as a whole
·     Cabinet’s support for the work, including the cost of seeking confidential appropriate legal and commercial property advice
·     Consideration of action moving forward that may involve legal processes needs to be done in a way that does not prejudice the position of the council in a court action
·     Legal, financial and time risks associated with any proposed course of action are considered with care, including those associated with alternative developments
·     Seeking an expeditious result so that Cabinet can move forward on this site

4.2       That Cabinet expresses its strong dissatisfaction with the progress made by the developer in the last four months to move forward with this development, and signals a shift into a new phase of the development in which it wishes to see robust alternatives to the current arrangements being developed and acted upon by the council.

5.0       Decision Making Process

5.1              The proposed decision is within the council’s budgetary and policy framework.

Contact Officer:
Mark Seed, Director of Operational Services
Reporting to:
Sue McGonigal, Chief Executive

Annex List

Annex 1
Petition to Council 18th April 2013
Background Papers


Details of where to access copy


Corporate Consultation Undertaken

Sarah Martin, Financial Services Manager


The council have now published the details of the Pleasurama Site Development Review Task & Finish Group


·                 Councillor Peter Campbell   
·                 Councillor Ian Driver   
·                 Councillor Pat Moore   
·                 Councillor Richard R Nicholson   
·                 Councillor John Worrow