Friday 28 August 2015

Chris Warner at The York Street Gallery in Ramsgate

The current Exhibition  is by Ramsgate Artist Chris Warner The exhibition runs 26th August - 2nd September Exhibitions change weekly on Wednesdays.

Thursday 27 August 2015

A bit more on the Manston Airport, Thanet District Council, compulsory purchase saga.

I think it is possible that the fat lady has started to sing on this issue and that the council will drop the cpo business.

I guess the UKIP councillors won’t be saying that much but the Nigel Farage IOTG article seems to be saying that there isn’t much chance of a cpo now, see And on Thanet Extra "The last thing we can afford to do is to go ahead with the backing of RiverOak, the government then refuses it and Thanet council is left with a bill for £2m. I have been a businessman and know you have to make sure that the 'i's and 't's are dotted. I am totally convinced we are taking the right approach. It is about finding the right partner and that may or may not be RiverOak."

Of course for us, Joe public, Thanet council tax payers and business rates payers, there are still no real answers, just more signals that there is too big a gap between TDC and RiverOak.

David Green commenting on the FaceBook page We Love Ramsgate, see is probably the first inside indicator of where the gaps lie.

David isn’t a councillor now, but he was a member of the last Labour cabinet at TDC, so here is what he had to say today.

“Not achievable because, when I asked Riveroak face to face, whether

1. They would ever disclose the source of their funding, they said no.

2. Whether they would allow TDC to stop any CPO bid at any time during the process without penalty, they said no.

3. Whether they would accept an "airport uses only" covenant they said no.

Further, I don’t consider what I know of the Riveroak business case strong enough to convince an objective judge that economic, environmental and social benefit to Thanet would result from granting a CPO.”

My own feelings, back when the airport closed was that there was a strong case for getting it reopened as a regional airport, but there were several reason why TDC where the wrong organisation to attempt this. Mainly because the local authority attempting to acquire the site should cover the airport’s catchment area, i.e. KCC. In the case of a cpo the acquiring authority also being the planning authority is likely to cause all sorts of problems but I guess mainly that any cpo would have to involve considerable public funding to ensure the site remained an airport. Of course once the main local employer Discovery Park acquired the site, this was a major game changer and in my view made any thoughts of a cpo impossible.

Impossible, why? Because with a cpo there is an imperative so show public interest, and with a cpo this normally means taking away someone’s property to build a road or a railway, what it doesn’t mean is taking away land from one business to give it to another so they can engage in a different commercial activity on the site.

I do see that there would have been some case for a regional airport serving the air transport needs of East Kent, but I don’t see there is any way that a freight hub could be justified, particularly as Thanet isn’t in a central part of the country so it can’t be a transport hub of any kind.

There are limits to what local government can achieve and normally the business of creating major airports in the hands of central government, I think it may be possible for a county council with a will to create a regional airport, I think the limits of a district council would be pretty much a local airstrip.

Local councillors don’t really have that much power, nor do they have that much responsibility when things go wrong, power and responsibility are very much related. Such power as there is in local government is also related to experience, and as our UKIP councillors have very little experience they are still for the most part learning what power they do have and how to apply that power. There is an assumption that were the current UKIP administration to tell the council officers tomorrow to proceed with a cpo, then this is what would happen. In practice the council is bound by masses of rules and regulations that limit what the council can achieve. I guess this is the main reason that what the council does archive is broadly similar under all or any political party.

I don’t think what the various protest groups trying to get the council to cpo Manston tried to do was so very far from trying to get the council to cpo Homebase to build a Walmart store, based on the public interest that more people eat food than do DIY, using the due diligence that as Walmart are an American company they would be wealthier than a UK company.         

Saturday 22 August 2015

Painting and drawing in Broadstairs today

This pen and watercolour sketch of Bleak House from Broadstairs Pier doesn’t quite connect in the middle.
 I penned it in the morning 

after fiddling with the one from the pavilion

put the paint on at the end of the day, not an easy place to paint, far too exposed both in terms of the number of people and the sun.

Lunch at the café on the corner of Serene Place and The High Street

Making this a watercolour painting of Raglan Place from Serene Place in Broadstairs.

finally a few photos of Broadstairs today

Friday 21 August 2015

An update on the Manston cpo.

When trying to tell where the council are going with their plans to try and buy the closed Manston Airport site to turn it into an air cargo hub and aircraft scrapping facility, there are no straight answers and for people like me who are Thanet council tax and business rates payers, it is a case of trying to read the signals that come from the main protagonists.

At the moment the situation is that the airport site has been bought by the people who own the largest local employer, Discovery Park at Sandwich they have plans to turn the site into a mixed light industrial and housing complex.

So what the council are proposing is to use money provided by an American property hedge fund management company RiverOak to fund a compulsory purchase of the Manston Airport site to turn it into an air cargo hub and aircraft scrapping facility.

Both RiverOak and Discovery Park have websites detailing their plans and I supose the fundamental difference is that Discovery Park own the site and RiverOak don’t.

So I suppose the first question is; why would Thanet Council want to take the site away from a major local employer with plans to create local jobs and housing on the site?

I guess this happened when the airport closed and a lot of local people tried to get the council to do something to get it reopened, I would say that the local consensus is still for a regional airport. A problem here though with the various groups supporting the airport reopening is that they are now supporting an air cargo hub and aircraft scrapping facility and not a passenger airport.

Anyway the political part of government in this area, by this I mean the people we vote for as opposed to the local government employees, seem to right behind the council engaging in a compulsory purchase.

I guess in terms of risk though our local politicians would do very little in terms of carrying the can if the cpo goes wrong and for the most part they seem to be saying they intend to save the airport without making it clear that this saved airport won't be a passenger airport.

RiverOak the American hedge fund broker have set up a Delaware LLC to manage the cpo and channel investors funds into the project, which means investors can hide their identifies, click on the link or just google Delaware LLC, to see where I am coming from here.

I guess as RiverOak are a fund management company, perhaps the biggest question of them all is; whose funds are they going to use to finance a hugely expensive cpo?

It seems the answer to this one is; that they won’t even tell Thanet Council.

Here is the council’s latest statement:

Thanet District Council is currently reviewing its position around whether Riveroak is a suitable indemnity partner for a compulsory purchase order on the Manston Airport site.

This followed a Cabinet decision in July which committed to re-opening discussions with the American firm.

Following a final request for financial evidence promised by Riveroak, Thanet District Council’s solicitors have now reviewed the information submitted by the company on Friday 14 August.

An important part of this process is for the council to seek financial assurances from Riveroak given the significant financial risk of pursuing a CPO by a publicly-funded authority.

Two redacted letters were provided which do not identify the names or addresses of the investors who Riveroak suggest could provide the financial security required.

This approach to providing information in a redacted format is for a local authority, highly unusual and prevents it from being able to gather any financial assurance from it.

As a consequence the council has now asked for confirmation of the bond agreement as detailed in the draft indemnity agreement submitted by Riveroak.

Here is the link to the statement on the council’s website  

I would say that if after a year of our local politicians pursuing a cpo by Thanet Council with a major inventor financing the cpo, the council don’t know the identity of the investor, then it is time to ask the council just how much money they have spent so far on pursuing this cpo.     

Monday 17 August 2015

A bit of watercolour painting around Ramsgate and Canterbury, Ship Shape Cafe in Ramsgate and some thoughts on Windows 10 perhaps.

Painting from life in watercolour is a very tenuous thing, the White Rabbit Jefferson Airplane lyrics: "When logic and proportion. Have fallen sloppy dead. And the White Knight is talking backwards…" come to mind.

Anyway going backwards - mostly, I have just arrived to work on the till desk in my bookshop and discovered MS Windows 10 has appeared on the computer there, it seems to be OK, I will mention it if anything unusual happens.

Having woken up late and rather stunned for some unaccountable reason I didn’t get out to paint this morning until about 8 and rather fancied a go at the Military Road Arches.
I guess this is a preliminary watercolour sketch, which may go further.
 Tea and toast at Ship-Shape Café £1.50.
Looking at the photo I may start again.

I did a bit more to the Canterbury sketch from La Trappiste, during what was a busy weekend.

 a bit more of the cathedral one, not sure if I have made it better or worse
 a bit of a strange one from The Old Buttermarket
logic and proportion, not quite right here.

No problems with MS Windows 10 writing this blog post, very like Windows 7 so far, we did try it on an old laptop without much memory or processing power and had to revert to 7 as the laptop couldn’t cope. 

Sunday 16 August 2015

A few more photos of The Ramsgate Motorcycle Sprint event this weekend

All the photos should expand if clicked on compulsively. If you have a motorcycle between 50 and 100 years old, you can put it in a museum, you can polish it a lot or you can tune it up, modify it, put a cocktail of interesting fuel in it and see how fast it will go.  Oh blogger some seem to have published big