Friday, 2 May 2008


What has happened this week down at Cecilia Road was not entirely unexpected according to a number of my sources. Angela Fox and her fellow allotment holders must be devastated by such mindless vandalism and who cannot have been shocked seeing today's picture in the IOTG.

I have been sent these pictures taken by Mr David Went. Work has stopped at the moment at Dane Valley Allotments, so I am told, but close examination of the picture below shows the old fencing left wide open and allotment huts left with no security at all.
The picture below shows an ill-considered siting of a 'dog-pooh' bin. Not only is it offensive to pedestrians squeezing through the chicane but it can act as a step-up to cross the fencing put in a few years back.

A number of issues come to mind. Those down at Cecilia Rd and those who have to put up with galvanised steel fences in Culmers Land will note how green fencing is going up in Dane Valley . Why was this not considered elsewhere?
It is ironic that Angela Fox had no problems for 7 years and blames the high profile fencing as 'posing a challenge ' to the vandals. She may well be right. I suspect that the self-satisfied tone of Lyne Pilcher reported in today's IOTG will change when Culmers comes in for some attention from the vandals and Broadstairs residents will rightly ask why their Park had to be spoiled? As regular readers will know, I did some 'reading' into security of allotments in February and bored people with the subject.
It is a pity that TDC and Allotment Committees around the Isle did not do some similar reading and then think long and hard before this programme of fencing was initiated; security according to most Local Authorities and The National Allotments Association requires a careful combination of strategies and not just ugly fencing with the natural plant screening removed or ignored as has ocurred at Culmers Land and Cecilia Road.
One of my sources was absolutely scathing about the 'ill thought out, rushed scheme and mindless visual pollution that industrial style allotment fencing has brought about'. He did say that he had told people at Culmers that this fencing was inherently insecure unless placed on a concrete base as it can be breached by simply scraping soil away underneath a section of the fence and crawling underneath it. So go and look for what seems badger scraping, Angela Fox, in a corner of your site's hideous, costly but useless fencing and you will probably find where your vandals gained access.
So thats the funny thing about fences; if you can't climb them without risking emasculation or cut through them, you go under them.
But TDC and some of our Allotment Committees didn't think about that and that's the problem .


Ian J said...

This is another case of the tail wagging the dog, clearly out local council TDC (Totaly Devoid of Common)has given instruction to secure the allotments, a good thing, but then stopped and allowed the employed part of TDC to get on with it, now we know that them in that office have a independent IQ of good to high, but as soon as the get in that office the "dumb" strikes and they start acting like white lightening drinkers.

It's strange really because it happens to the elected members of TDC as well, they get in that building and all of a sudden they turn into idiots.

A bad building it is, do any of our local historians know of any native burial grounds in the area? has the leader developed a hump recently? it could be a native witch doctor?

I hope it's something like this, because if they don't have this excuse then why do they act like jerks?

chris wells said...


I am afraid you are letting your 'own views' get in the way of fact (again?). The Culmers allotments have been the sustained victims of vandalism for at least a couple of years prior to the erection of the fence. This was, in the main, the rationale for the fence. Secondly, and at least as important, you repeat the misconception that this is in some way public park. It is not. It is private land with one footpath that crosses it (north-south I believe) and could be closed to public access at any time.

Finally your adition of the word 'smug' is hardly reasonable in the context of someone representing allotment owners who have previously suffered real vandalism.

Not one of your better efforts, Bertie, though not really surprised. Anyone reading your blog since its inception would by now have spotted a clear political bias kept rather more carefully hidden when you started. Hmmmmmmmm

Peter Checksfield said...

"Those down at Cecilia Rd and those who have to put up with galvanised steel fences in Culmers Land will note how green fencing is going up in Dane Valley . Why was this not considered elsewhere?"

Actually this is the same galvanised steel fencing that's been put up elsewhere. The only difference is that they've painted it! Hopefully there'll do the same thing to other fences, as I think it looks quite acceptable now.

Anonymous said...

Let's hope they don't paint it until it's 'gone off' otherwise it'll look like all the galvanised steel lamp posts in these parts - shabby, peeling paint everywhere. Of course, it's much easier and cheaper to paint something the same day you put it in rather than putting it on a work schedule for six months or a year's time. Typical!

Anonymous said...

So when TDC sell off the Vere Road car park you're hinting the footpath through the allotments that has been walked for decades could be shut off. If it is classified as a public footpath then there is a legal procedure to close an existing path and it's not that easy to achieve, Cllr. Wells but no doubt any potential developer will try to do so. As there seem to be plans to sell off but still have some parking in Vere Road are you seriously suggesting visitors clamber up the road without the aid of a sherpa?

I thought Bertie had stated he's a paid-up member of your party but perhaps he just doesn't like what his party (and obviously not mine) are doing at TDC.

Anonymous said...

Angela Fox may have had no problems at her plot for years but the same cannot be said of many other Ramsgate allotment holders as the Ramsgate Allotment Society can testify. vandalism has plagued the site and all the others for years. Get it through your heads; property,tools,vegetables,sheds,have been vandalised,stolen,burnt and otherwise destroyed. Hearts have been broken, money and sweat wasted. Now the fences are up, MOST OF IT HAS STOPPED ALREADY! Sorry for shouting but the message does not seem to be getting through. Let's not talk silly.Fences do not encourage vandalism. If so, let's take them all down including the ones around schools and houses.

chris wells said...

Anonymous 11.01 suspect you are getting over excited and making links where they dont exist. The main fuss about footpath and this fence has been the one between the coach park area and beach. This is not an official footpath, and is on private land. For the registered footpath, you are quite right.

Vere Road plans have been around in Broadstairs for some time, and have no extension beyond the coach park itself.

Please do not be so paranoid, or conspiratorial - I dont do that stuff!

Anonymous said...

No, Cllr Wells, the plans for Vere Road haven't been around for ages until it was revealed TDC wants to sell it off. Short- termism or what? What will you and your colleagues sell off when everything has gone for pathetically small amounts to local developers? Pierremont Park, the Memorila Recreation Ground, St. peter's recreation Ground? I'm neither paranoid nor conspiratorial merely despondent.

chris wells said...

Actually the basic idea was floated by non other than the Broadstairs Society at least 18 months ago. The TDC proposal is a variant on that original plan.

I am actively involved at County with the sales programme that accompanies Building Schools for the Future, and I can assure you we are not talking about pathetically small amounts. It cannot be, the governments funding frameworks are so tight in all these cases that the amounts required are always at the top end of the envelope.

There are no discussions, even in secret, about the other sites you list, bar the known community centre in Pierremont.

Perhaps your depondency is better aimed at government settlements forcing these sales to make ends meet!

Anonymous said...


Is that sell of the school sports fields "not for all" in the school reviews? I can recall KCC not telling the truth at the Clarendon school debate [Hereson and Ellington merger] at Clarendon school.

Now for the good bit at no time have KCC informed me as an objector what the hell is going on!!

Like some others on this post i am an ex Conservative and given the way the Conservatives treat us all in Thanet - god help us all!!

Anonymous said...

Community Centre that no-one apart from the trustees seems to want. Will it turn out, if ever built, to be a white elephant paid for by the council tax payers? These capital projects are all well and good but so often there is no on-going funding strategy in place.

Anonymous said...

I'm not 'depondent' or even despondent, Cllr. Wells, just adding a cynical note about what's left to sell off when the family silver has gone.

Bertie Biggles said...

How nice to come back to Thanet this evening and find heated argument going on on 'Strife'.
Could I reply to Peter Checksfield first: Peter this fencing comes in cheapest as galvanised and to paint it green after erection needs time for some oxidation and would be horrendously expensive to do. The old railings on the side of Dane Park need a paint but TDC has no money to paint them? This fencing does come'supplied' in green and black. Green would be less offensive as lower versions of the Culmers Fence (in green) can be seen around the Broadstairs Bowls Club; a number of schools and the back-end of Dane Valley Allotments where it has been for a number of years. Why on a far more public face of the same allotments , was galvanised 2.4m used by the side of Dane Valley Road?

Bertie Biggles said...

Chris,my political bias is Conservative through and through but I have tried to keep a neutral stance and if I have failed in this please forgive me.

I really would like the Tory group and particularly some of its more talented and committed members who really do a wonderful job for the people they represent, to take control of the local party in TDC and simply get rid of 'Our Leader' and the old guard who describe themselves as the 'Mafia'. Incompetence is incompetence and autocratic and bullying leadership and an inability to admit mistakes and rectify them, is doing immeasurable harm to the Conservative cause.

In my 'parish', I hear people cursing Brown and Central Government; praising our MP Roger Gale and cursing the Tory Council and Ezekiel in particular, more vehemently than even Brown. As a Conservative that worries me.

Yes, I will post items from Labour Councillors and will support their argument if it is valid; at local level the National 'political' posturing should not impinge. I detest Gordon Brown but suspect that his Sunday's are at least kept in better company than Sandy Ezekiel.

I have tried to report the truth in respect of last year's Winter gardens Fracas and the findings of The Standards Board and was pleased to see IOTG this week,correct its initial report.

The bottom line is that ill-thought out projects like the allotments fencing are just ill-thought out. My criticism is not 'political' its just that having talked with people and read a lot of boring Local Authority sites on allotments and security, I feel sorry that despite good intentions, allotments are still being vandalised and that a better way has been missed; that's all.

In respect of Culmers, my sources tell me it is leased by the CT10 charities to Broadstairs TC who 11 years ago tidied it up; redirected the public right of way ( granted in the 15th Century) for the convenience of allotment holders and public alike and made a pleasant little park and route through from Vere Road to the harbour. All of this to the benefit of all.

Perhaps Broadstairs TC, 11 years ago, had a better understanding than Broadstairs TC today about the true meaning of 'Broadstairs is beautiful' 'Lets keep it that way'.

chris wells said...

Culmers was leased because CT10 charities wanted to put social housing on the site. It was tidies up and a new path put in, but that path from Vere Rd to the harbour is not a right of way, and the green space it goes through is still private (if leased) land.

The cost to the Town Council each year is around £20,000; and they get about £1,000 back from allotment holders. When the lease comes up for renewal in 5 years time there is going to be a huge problem, in that the relative cost of maintaining this land as it is will almost certainly distort the Town Councils budget. There are no easy answers, and nobody is really listening because it is still 5 years away.

We can all have views about the fencing, and if mistakes were made. Partial correction in line with Paul Wells requests would have cost an additional £8-10,000, and the councillors did not feel this was justified extra cost, given the example of the Memorial Rec and Bowls Club fencing nearby, which is almost all hidden by planting.

Claiming the fencing causes vandalism is patently ludicrous - the media attention may have attracted some copycat stuff, but that cannot be helped when we operate within democratic debate.

I am a Conservative, by choice and conviction, not upbringing or class. If I have a concern it is the way politics as a whole is now worked across the board within an assumption of big government. The bigger government gets, both local and national, the more it seems to make decisions on behalf of people, and not trust individual judgement.

My principles are about smaller government and lower taxes. Everybody will of course cheer at that, right up till the moment the budget for their favourite service or area vanishes.

The amount of money that has been spent or borrowed through and around all areas of government during the last 10 years is little short of criminal; worse is the incredibly wasteful manner in which much of it has been spent. So much public realm money is being spent, public contractors can now, almost literally name their own price. Inflation on the street may be 11% (that is among the things we actually buy not the discredited government measure), in local authorities it is in reality much higher.

Yet if we do not meet the targets we are penalised by endless and constant government inspection teams.

There is a terrible crash coming. By any rational measure I believe our country is effectively bankrupt, and few have the will to admit it or the taste for the very painful actions that must follow. Personally, I believe that whoever wins the next election will have a very difficult 5 years of correcting the imbalances and hidden depths of our current glimpses of deep seated economic malaise.

The decisions will be painful, complex, and must reduce the standard of living for all to bring it in line with the real economy of the country.

Hmmmm, bit of a rant there, but, no bullshit people, the time for tin hats is coming quicker than most realise.

Anonymous said...

Leaving aside the political rant more suited to the Daily Mail than this blog, if the lease comes up in 5 years' time and isn't renewed then does that mean the money spent on the fence is wasted? £11000 per year, in effect. If the land is then used for housing as the charity wanted in the terms of the original charitable aims, then no-one is going to want to live with that fence. Surely a cheaper but equally effective fence could have been used?

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Like!!! Mmmmm; sitting on a fence?

Bertie Biggles said...

Not a rant, Chris, just a clear statement of where you stand; thanks. Like, Paul Wells of Thanet Treehuggers, who was my source as you have realised, I just wish more thought had been given over fencing.
Broadstairs TC has some difficult decisions to make in 5 years but a smart Vere Rd coach and car park for visitors with easy access through Culmers to the Harbour is surely important for visitors that the local economy needs.

I have made a number of comments in the past few weeks about hard times ahead and sadly, we will need more than tin hats.

Anonymous said...

Does anyonree have a copy of the definitive footpath map for Broadstairs that shows public footpaths. Such paths go across private land but have been in use for a sufficient length of time that they become 'public'.

On 'hard times ahead'. Thanet's used to those, well, in the past anyway.When I came to live here in 1971 there was virtually no employment aside from the councils and Pfizers. Hardly anyone had a car; the housing situation was quite serious due to a shortage until the Wimpey estate was built; the councils were wedded to the concept of Thanet as a holiday centre so inward investment was discouraged as it would have reduced unemployment and pushed up wages.

We now have almost too many cars; plenty of inward investment;minimum wage pushing up the standard of living; new schools etc but plenty of folk remember the hard times and it wasn't that long ago. perhaps all the DFLs will keep things ticking over as they buy their second homes here or flee Boris's London!!!

Anonymous said...

Bit of a typo in my last one. Should be'does anyone' not what I typed!!

Anonymous said...

Minumum wage pushing up the standard of living?? Are you having a laugh?

Anonymous said...

Well, minimum wage was a great deal better than what was paid before. I knew one businessman who said if he had to pay £3.60 an hour (the original amount) he'd be out of business but needless to say he isn't and his business survived.

My son then aged 21 was once offered £1 an hour in a job just a few months before minimum wage. He decined as his bus pass would have cost more than he earned. came in

Anonymous said...

Thanet must be the only part of the country where local people,local traders etc are becoming very distatified with the Consrevatives in office. Ask anyone in Margate on their views what Tdc have done to the town and they are very negative.This is supported by how quiet it was there on this Bank holiday sunday, dead. Time to start listening to local residents, traders and maybe then this town will go forward...

chris wells said...

That last comment is quite interesting, in the sense that this administration has a reputation as being Margatecentric, as the last labour one had the reputation of being Ramsgatecentric...poor old Broadstairs and the villages miss out every time!

Margate is about more than Margate seafront, and High Street, however, and the changes to parts of Cliftonville and Central Margate through programmes like the SSCF Fund have to be taken into account as well. These areas crashed into disastrous shape under the previous Labour administration, distracted as they were by giving us Westwood Cross - on balance a success - and Pleasurama - which involved the sacking of a chief executive, and the appointment of a developer outside due diligence, something the incoming Tories inherited from inept Labour decision making (whatever their twisted positions now!).

Perhaps people need reminding of some of these things before the endless Labour spin makes them all heroes of the revolution -again!

chris wells said...

Sorry, forgot to respond re footpaths. Yes of course there are accurate maps etc etc, but I can assure you I have the position correct as stated.

steel fencing said...

that is some good steel fencing looks like pros did that.