Thursday, 13 September 2018

Who was the best leader of Thanet District Council? old local pictures ramble and so on.

 I think this one is 1960s or 70s
 This is 1908
 and this I think this is the laying out of the roundabout, what sort of council builds a roundabout so large they put parking spaces round the outside, the extra slow lane perhaps.

 1960s I think

On the ramble front, I was looking at the Save Manston Airport Facebook group yesterday evening and found this latest viewpoint from Chris Wells, which I copied and posted to the We Love Ramsgate Facebook group.

Here it is in blue


"I was previously the Leader of Thanet District Council. I am here to tell you why that experience changed my mind about the future of Manston Airport.
I began in the belief that a fully functioning airport could provide much needed, well paid, shift work for the local economy. Even a cursory glance at airport employment patterns, tells you that significant numbers of jobs are only created by passenger traffic. They are in security, parking, transit movement, retail and catering.

What is proposed is a huge freight hub. Huge is an emotive word, but in simple terms an airport with 19 times the capacity of what was there before is huge by comparison.
I am one of the few people who has negotiated with the proposers of this hub.

In 2015 they told me that 5 years was the only sensible horizon.

They told me they had put $2m of their own money into the project.

They told me they would produce a world class business case if I just signed a Compulsory Purchase Order in the Council’s name, which they would fund.
They told me the first two years of that process would cost around £19m.
So I kept it simple. In Jerry Maguire’s famous phrase, “show me the money.”
The $2m did exist. It appeared in their solicitors client account. But it was not their money. It had been raised in New York, and I met one of the investors, who had been attracted by the 5 year plan which showed an 8% return from month 17. Given the upfront cost of equipping a modern airport, that seemed unlikely. And I could not understand why it was necessary to lie about the source of money. I asked for the investors brochure used. I am still waiting.

So I asked for a credit note, or bank guarantee, of the availability of the £19m for the first two years. They left my office promising just that with a letter of credit from a recognised bank. Within days it was being referred to as a letter of comfort; then a letter of assurance. When it finally arrived it was an expression of interest from a well known name in aviation financing, caveated that no financial reliability could be taken from this expression of interest. To overcome this, it was accompanied by several letters of support, pledging funds, but with all the details of the investors redacted so no checks on their wealth could be run.

In a famous exchange between Nigel Farage and an airport supporter, Nigel was asked if in his business experience he had seen redacted funding letters. He replied very firmly yes, he had a whole filing cabinet full of them. There was a pause whilst the airport supporter treasured the moment, before Nigel added: ‘and they have one thing in common….they all come from frigging Nigeria.’

The lead Director of this consortium has a track record of business failure around travel companies and promised airport developments. He told a gathering of Councillors in the Walpole Bay Hotel the accusation that the previous cargo business he had run at Manston had not been profitable was not true. He said, if you take out the CAPEx (capital expenditure) it has always been profitable.
But isn’t that a bit like saying my household budget always works if you do not take account of the mortgage payments? I thought the world of finance tried that a few years ago and we are still suffering the consequences.
Yet those foolish, deluded councilors applauded him.
So I binned them, both Cllrs and Riveroak, went looking for new airport investors. And found three.

One, a U.K. pensions fund, commissioned their own viability report, and concluded that the returns were not enough to justify investment.

One turned out to have a track record of 17 offences for theft and dishonesty including accessing finance whilst bankrupt..those are not my words, they are the words of an Appeal Court Judge.

One claims access to millions of $ but seems to only work via Facebook.
And at some point you have to wonder if no serious investors are interested in the project, does it make sense? But on Manston Airport, common sense has long gone out of the window. Not least from Sir Roger Gale.
Some of you will have recently read his column in a local newspaper, comparing himself to veteran Labour campaigner Tam Dalyell.

Dalyell was a campaigning legend in British politics, most famously, on the sinking of the General Belgrano during the Falklands conflict in 1982, but there is at least one genuine similarity between them. They both display a weakness which undermines the promotion of their cause.
For Dalyell it was his unfailing, almost rabid, anti American sentiment that often got in the way.

For Sir Roger, it is his unfailing, almost rabid, pro Riveroak sentiment that gets in the way.
According to Sir Roger, Riveroak want no night flights at Manston, just flexibility to handle emergency, disaster relief and delayed aircraft. Who could disagree with that?
Well, actually, Riveroak do. Their DCO application states that night flights are a desirable attribute in the Manston offering, and asks for lots of them.
Flights which seem to require:
no bans or agreements on operating hours;
no cap on the number of night flights;
a noise quota which could accommodate hundreds of night flights each year.

Has Sir Roger actually read the application?

The people at No Night Flights have. They know where the bodies are buried in thousands of pages of poorly indexed detail. And I would remind you all that this process is quasi judicial, and you must understand what are allowable objections. These guys can guide you.
I have been in local politics continuously since 2003. Served as County Cabinet Member, District Cabinet Member and Council Leader. I have never seen such an act of conscious self delusion as Local Councillors entertain on this subject. Opinion replaces fact as a matter of course. The case for Manston does not stack up, and there is no independent evidence to support the freight hub proposals. None. Indeed Riveroak’s forecast supporting their case has been derided by those whose work it is based.

Yet there remains the risk this proposal will gain traction because of wilful self delusion. You must put some facts on the record. Far too long your voice has been shouted down by those who promote a dangerous proposal with a huge cost…in sleep, pollution, green fields and more.
I ceased to be Council Leader because I would not pursue a poor, risky deal. It was, and remains, a price I am willing to pay. Do not let those who would promote shoddy untruth have their way, when it is you who will have to pay the price.

Much of local politics has become unhinged by this issue; that is bad enough. But if they win, if the lies prevail, then the road is paved for mob rule, irrational decision after unhinged victory, delivered by weak, self serving politicians, for the foreseeable future. This is at once both a fight for the peace and tranquility of your home life; and for the soul of honesty and integrity in political office.

The Ancient Greeks once described a political system as a framework which defines acceptable political methods. If you do not care about that you will continue to experience the politicians you deserve. We can, we must, do better."

Oddly enough although there was a fair bit of comment none of which seemed to put up any coherent argument to support anything different to what he said, there was a lot of comment saying what a bad leader they thought he was.

In the context of previous leaders who have been sent to prison for their activities like bent property deals and even printing money, this seemed a bit excessive to me.

I thought given the issues he had he wasn't particularly bad as a leader.

But it does prompt me to ask reader who they think has been the best leader at Thanet District Council in recent years? 

Finally this is the link to pictures of the books we put out yesterday

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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.