Monday, 30 June 2008


Times are getting hard and in the next fortnight 4 of the UK's biggest homebuilders /developers will announce half-year trading updates and the news will not be good.

Taylor Wimpey is in talks with its largest institutional shareholders for a £500 million bale-out as we hit the lowest levels of house sales since the 1970s. Barratt is £1.8 billion in debt and is in discussion with its lenders and Persimmon and Redrow are also set to make announcements.

If you thought that Commercial Group Properties (CGP) had a problem with a fall in share value from 350p to 115p then compare this with Wimpey falling from 350p to 62p and Barratt's drop from £10 in June 2007 to 65p this month. One begins to wonder if anyone will be in a position to build homes at Westwood Cross or cover our country-side and aquifer in warehouses.

The Bank for International Settlements (BIS) is predicting that the world economy is heading for a deeper crisis than was expected and some of the world's biggest economies may move into deflation. On China, last year it described the Chinese economy as 'unstable, unbalanced, unco-ordinated and unstable'. It has not said the same this year but has said that the effect of a US slowdown ( 20% of Chinese exports go to the USA) could cause a sharp fall of Chinese imports to the US and problems for Chinese exporters. One must assume with an 11%/15% fall in the value of the £ that Chinese imports to the UK will not only be more expensive but will also slow down as we all concentrate on petrol, gas, electricity and food price rises.

I am not a developer or businessman but it seems to me that Chinamex may well be wondering if it can really afford huge expensive 'Gateways' all around the world at the moment. This would not be good for CGP. I should imagine also that CGP is holding its breath and keeping its fingers crossed that its debt will not cause it problems and that its share price will hold as others tumble around it. If we are finding cash-flow a pinch at the moment, you can bet that others are too.

Sunday, 29 June 2008


We have young swifts (Apus apus) playing slalom and follow my leader through the telephone wires and the air is filled with shrieks that would do that attractive tennis player Maria Sharpova credit. (By the way the DT recorded her this year at 103.2 decibels at Wimbledon and a rather vulgar thought has crossed my mind!) I digress.

The sound I have missed so far this spring and summer is the gentle buzzing of honey bees visiting the garden. For the past 20 years, as the various shrubs and flowers in the Biggles' jungle riotously come into flower in succession from March onwards, the honey bees(Apis mellifera) have followed to grab nectar and pollen. This year, other than the occasional bumble bee, butterfly or solitary bee looking for a hole in the wall to fill with bits of leaf and lay an egg, the honey bees have been noticeably absent. Is it just that my eyesight and hearing are worse than I think, or have other readers noticed the lack of honey bees in their gardens?

The wet June last year was not good for them and I am wondering if the period of heavy rain in late May has had a similar effect this year or is it what the Americans have described as 'colony collapse disorder'?

The US is taking the matter seriously and Congress has held hearings on the problem and has voted $10 million for research. The US estimates that bees are responsible for polinating a third of its crops and that crop value resulting from bee pollination is put at $15 BILLION! A blue-berry farmer from Maine told the Congressional hearing , "Every one of my blue-berries owes its existence to the crazy, neurotic dancing of a honey bee from flower to flower, 'No bees No Crops!"

The implications for our own agricultural industry could be equally serious if honey bees become as rare a sighting as some TDC Planning Committee members on a site visit.

Saturday, 28 June 2008


Let me introduce you all to CGP. who were so generous in 'co-sponsoring' TDC's Big Event the other week-end.The top picture is Chairman Robin Boulton and the rest are directors: Chris Seymour-Prosser, Ms Julie Wing (the best looking of the bunch), Brian Moritz and of course our own £25,000 supporter of Dr Ladyman, Ken Wills.
You might think that Amy Murray and her little band of protestors in Manston are outgunned but at least Bertie is reliably informed that Phase 1 Application will not be in front of the other Ken and his team of Councillors on 16th July and will have to wait until August before coming to the Planning Committee. That will not please CGP whose share price seems to have fallen from about 350p in Aug 2007 to 115p or thereabouts more recently.
For those of you who thought that we live in a democracy where the people represented by their Councillors make decisions for the benefit of the Community impartially and without bias or favour but after careful contemplation and consideration of all the facts, I ask simply what do you make of the following?:
1. Extract from CGPs Chairmans Annual Statement:
I am delighted to present Commercial Group Properties Plc' first annual audited report since its admission to AIM on 21 February 2007.
Our first period has been one of considerable progress. Our strong relationship with our partners in China has enabled us to enter into agreements to lease and a memorandum of understanding to lease at least 3,400,000 sq ft AT OUR CHINA GATEWAY SITE AT MANSTON (my capitals)We have also established a joint venture, with Chinamex Middle East Investment and Trade Promotion Centre, which has entered into non binding heads of terms to acquire a 55 acre brown field site in Wigan to construct a further China Gateway development.
Our current financial year promises to be one of further significant growth in the company.
I would like to thank our executive team for their excellent work which has placed Commercial Group Properties Plc in such an enviable position.
Robin Bolton Chairman 20 May 2008
Sorry, Mr Boulton, but it is not your China Gateway yet nor Chinamex's. The Councillor's who represent the people of Thanet have yet to consider your application to build your project on prime agricultural land outside TDC's own Thanet Plan; on top of our drinking water aquifer and ruin a rural area of OUR Thanet and ruin the lives of OUR citizens in Manston and Acol. What makes you think that it is going to go ahead? Are you not anticipating the democratic process?
Let me tell you some more from CGP's Annual Report:
The Manston site, which has been named "China Gateway", is located at the North West end of Kent International Airport and, at the time of the IPO, comprised 100 acres of open space and agricultural land within a partly developed business park. Subsequently, on 15 March 2007, CGP purchased, for £5.1 million, a further 73 acres of agricultural land adjacent to the original site.
On 22 June 2007, Beijing ASME signed an agreement to lease between 900,000 sq ft and 1,100,000 sq ft of business accommodation on 49.5 acres of the Manston site. The lease, which is supported by Chinamex, is for a term of 10 years from handover.
On 2 August 2007, CGP entered into a memorandum of understanding with Zhejiang Province, acting through Chairman Bao of the Taizhou Foreign Merchant Information Federation, to lease 2,500,000 sq ft at Manston.
Most recently, on 31 March 2008, CGP submitted an application for detailed planning consent for 1,481,815 sq ft of commercial development on the site. WE ANTICIPATE ( my capitals) receiving the response to this application by September 2008, which should allow construction to commence in 2009. Upon receipt of this consent, CGP then intends to submit a planning application for consent for the next 1,776,663 sq ft of the development. "
Why should Mr Boulton and his directors (presumably major shareholders ) anticipate and assume that TDC will approve of Phases 2 and 3 which are outside The Thanet Plan and even accept their unacceptable proposals to put X type warehouses in SPZ 1 of OUR aquifer and so close to Acol as to ruin the quiet life that the people of Acol (like the rest of us) are entitled to lead, in the Phase 1 Application currently causing a nightmare for poor Doug Brown at TDC?
CPRE have alresdy made the point, as have numerous Thanet citizens, that this whole project is a ' creeping application' of 3 phases and Phase 1 should be thrown back until all 3 Phases are applied for: i.e. the 'entirity' should be considered by our elected Councillors.
I do not like the idea that developers can seem to make assumptions, in OUR Thanet, that will affect all our lives for years to come. We have seen on TV how Chinese farmers and villagers get kicked off their land for development and building and that the police are used against them if they dare to protest. The difference is that China is not a democracy; we are.

Friday, 27 June 2008


Poor Gordon Brown! An unelected ex-Chancellor with one year into the job as Primeminister that he clearly hungered for and now very unpopular. I am also feeling sorry for poor Mowice because locally, he appears as unpopular as Gordon is nationally.

The big question, is who will be heaved out first by their fellow party members?

The point will be reached shortly when many Labour MPs realise that P45 time is likely to approach unless they dump Gordon and our Tories , locally, will have to live with the ignominy of losing Thanet to Labour whilst the rest of the country votes in David and his team. Roger Gale and Laura Sandys will then find themselves as a minority of Tory constituency MPs whose 'own' Council is Labour.

As we witness the sadness of Zimbabwe's decline into darkness, we need to appreciate how lucky we are to be able to discuss these issues of 'Leadership' freely and to be able to do something about it, should we want to.

Wednesday, 25 June 2008


I am glad to see, as I drive around Thanet, that a farmer between Birchington and Manston has a lot of land growing maize at the moment. It might come as a surprise to the urban Thanetonians and I include TDC in this description, that we have real food and feed crops growing in Thanet and not just land waiting to be built on by developers. As I write, potato, wheat, barley , oil-seed rape and maize is thriving in the June sunshine. It is not the case elsewhere.
The picture above illustrates the problems of the US maize (corn), soya bean and rice crops this year. Flooding that has swept through the main mid-west 'corn' and wheat belts of Iowa, Illinois and Missouri followed a wet spring and late planting season. Not only will yields be down but it is estimated that upto 5 million acres of crops have been destroyed and that it is too late to re-plant this season. What's this got to do with us, you might ask; my answer is the same as that wonderful line from 'Cabaret' about money 'HUNGER!'
I will probably be accused by some as a scare-monger but when the US wheat supplies are currently lower than at anytime since 1948 and countries have been restricting food exports to prevent food riots and basic food prices are escalating sky-wards, we need to wake up and fast to the fact that home production and our farming industry producing food on good agricultural land will be needed to feed us in the years ahead. An interesting snippet is that Japan literally ran out of butter in April!
Just to add to the problem of world food supplies, in December 2007, Bush signed The US Energy and Independence Security Act. What this means is that the US has to produce 36billion gallons of bio-fuels from crops to run cars rather than food crops to run people. In simple terms a tankfull of diesel requires the same 'food' that would keep a person alive for 270 days! Brown has instituted the same bio-fuel nonsense here!
I wonder if CGP is looking at world-food prices (maize doubled from $3 to $7). Will Gateway be scrapped as they go into the farming business, having bought up swathes of agricultural land last year and now constructing a new agricultural barn for the storage of grain at Manston Business Park? (see F/TH/07/0126).

Sunday, 22 June 2008


I scoured this week's IOTG for 'Our Leader's' Weekly View' and had to settle for Smudger and Thom Morris for theirs. Nothing from 'Mowice' and nothing from 'Woger' for a Deputy Leader's View. Not only that, but IOTG seem to spell his name with an 'a' as 'Ezekial'. A source tells me that the Chinese in Hong Kong had the same problem with his name and would insist on Ezeriel as the spelling.

Rumour on the street is that hard-working 'Mowice' has disappeared for a break and clearly left no copy for Rebecca Smith over at IOTG to print.

Well I suppose his timing was good as the 'petition' incident of 12th June will soon be forgotten as will the result of the survey on Thanet's Premier Blog at . It would seem that 87% of respondents to the question "Is Sandy fit to be leader of Thanet Council?" responded with a 'No' but the poll size was only 63. I cannot confirm the spurious allegation that 'Woger' was responsible for the 8 votes that said 'Yes' or that the Board of CGP were busily voting on ECR's poll last week. I think it is most likely that there are still some, although not many, who still really believe he is a fit leader.

I will just have to wait to see IOTG next week or even the week after for the return of 'Our Leader's' View unless ECR does some 'ghost writing' in the interim.

Saturday, 21 June 2008


There are some pretty rural scenes around Thanet and (with allowances for my Kodak Brownie) I bring to your attention the view down Acol Hill into Acol. (click on pics for full screen view).

This view is South towards Margate Hill and again click on pic to get a full screen view). Could I draw your attention to Cummins to the right of the house in the centre and the pylon to the left of the picture. You might notice the tram lines in the wheat crop ( behind and between the house and pylon). This is prime agricultural land , and the Source Protection Zone 1 for Sparrow Castle Pumping Station begins at the 2nd 'tram' line to the right of the pylon. Enjoy this view.

This picture is a 'montage' because Bertie's ICT skills are not up to doctoring a pic electronically. Its scale might not be spot on but the message is clear. You will need to compare it with the photograph above to realise how visually intrusive these warehouses will be.
CGP want to put their TWO BIGGEST 'X' Type Warehouses ( the core of the re-distribution of Chinese Imports in The China Gateway proposal) onto agricultural land in the most visually intrusive position of all of Phase 1 and on SPZ 1. In addition it is the closest part of their site to Acol Village and will work 24/7 for 365 days a year with HGVs delivering, being unloaded, resorting of loads; HGVs being loaded and departing.
How can our Council Planning Committee possibly allow this travesty of TDC policies to occur? What policies am I referring to? Policy CC2 concerning Chalk Plateau; EP13 on Ground Water Protection Zones: CC9. CC9 is worth quoting:
" Long term protection will be given to the best and most versatile agricultural land. No irreversible development will be allowed on such land unless:
1. It can be clearly demonstrated that there are compelling and overridding reasons for the development to located on high quality agricultural land."
The only compelling reason why such travesties of policy are being contemplated could be because, your Council leadership has possibly already told CGP that it will 'deliver' this planning application to Mr Wills and Mr Seymour Prosser of CGP , 'as approved' by 16th July 2008, despite the democratic planning process that means that we expect all our Councillors involved to weigh up the issues impartially and THEN come to a decision without Party influence or 'favour'?
Could this be why Doug Brown is being chased to ensure it is ready on time for 16th July when common-sense requires longer preparation?
Am I the only one who will weep at the death of the democratic process in Thanet, whilst Mr Wills and Seymour -Prosser crack open the champagne on 16th July with the news that they will be well on their way to a £30,000,000- £40,000,000 return on their land purchase and will be able to repay the Israel Discount Bank?

Friday, 20 June 2008


After an evenings reading of CGP's latest attempts to convince TDC that Phase 1 revisions are great, I show you two plans that have been revised by CGP. The first is the 'revised site layout' for Phase 1 and the second is the revised 'Planting Plan' for Phase 1.
Please feel free to spot the difference and offer a view as to the explaination for it? I hope to goodness that Doug Brown , Ken and his team of Councillors are onto it!
If you want some hilarious reading about traffic jams around Manston, HGVs trundling through Acol, cycling initiatives (despite the fact that all major built up areas are outside the accepted 5km journey for cyclists), CGPs proposed Travel Plan Co-Ordinator and car clamping at Golden Gateway car parks and subsidising bus services for Routes 38A and 42 , go and visit their Transport assessment and Travel Plans on F/TH/08/0400. It is better late night reading than a thick fiction paperback from Michael's Bookshop but not as interesting as Mockett's Journal!
Oh, and just a late night thought, CGP put cost of pumping house and mains sewerage costs at about £1.1 million. Would a 3.5km main sewerage connection to Birchington cost so little?
I go to a well earned rest tonight with CGP's comforting image of 2000 -3000 happy Gateway employees (all from Thanet of course) trundling along the roads to Manston on their cycles as HGVs by the hundred directed the 'short way' by SATNAVS, try to pass them on Acol Hill, Margate Hill and The Manston Road. Meanwhile, in Bejing , their counterparts are in air-conditioned limosines on the Bejing free-way. Good-night and enjoy the Summer solstice if you are a Druid.

Thursday, 19 June 2008


Time to get involved again with Ken's 'Golden' Gateway project. CGP have just presented an up-dated and revised Water/Sewage strategy to our Planning Dept and you can access it yourself on F/TH/08/0400 as it was added today , 19 June 2008.
The gist of it for foul sewerage is, yes, the same as before, KLARGESTER septic tanks to be maintained by individual leaseholders or connected to a centrally maintained unit. So 2 months have passed and despite the EA saying it must be mains foul sewerage, Ken's guys are still trying to push Klargester on TDC!
At least they are now talking about Source Protection Zones but I have just read 18 pages that put exactly the same arguments as their original proposals. I trust it will be sent back to them.
It does however make fascinating reading and gives a wonderful insight into the developer's mentality to keep profit margins high whilst going for the cheapest options. The first quote I give you is :
"Under current legislation developers triggering demand for new water and sewerage have to pay the full amount of installing the service even if they only intend to use a small amount of the connected capacity." i.e. we are talking big money here for CGP when it is in short supply!
They then talk about a group called East Kent Spatial Development Company (made up of SEEDA, KCC, TDC and DoverDC) who put in electricity at great cost to allow development and the costs are paid back by users/leaseholders. Is this a big hint that tax-payers money could be used to bail them out over water and sewerage costs as this report is about water and sewerage NOT electricity? I digress!
The problem for CGP is that they will need to link into mains water at Alland Grange Lane/ Manston Rd and lay 3km of freshwater main. The foul drainage mains sewerage costs awould be even more eye-watering for them! Let alone all the work on site, they would need to construct a pump house to pump it away 3.5km to join mains sewerage in Birchington. Having 'dumbed down' our wildlife and environment to build the Gateway, when it comes to having to put an expensive mains sewer in, all of a sudden they are hinting that a badger set is within 30m of the route; reptiles(snakes) could be in grassland; protected trees could be affected and archeologically sensitive sites affected.! Why not throw in a crested newt or two whilst they are at it!
Of course it's got nothing to do with putting a sewer in along 3.5km of road amidst gas mains and water mains where careful traffic control and even hand digging might be needed! So what do they suggest? What they wanted originally (that the EA said it would oppose) KLARGESTER septic tanks! Its SUSTAINABLE, they say (not nearly as sustainable and sure as mains foul sewerage but certainly CHEAPER!
Now lets talk storms and runoff! They think they could collect water off roofs and use it for non-drinking purposes which is highly commendable but given the roof area ( 292,219m/sq) have they planned for water collection tanks to accommodate 5, 844, 380litres that would have hit their roofs at 0200 on Wed 28 may 2008? They show their Storm Water Storage total as 3, 820,000 litres. Now assuming there is water in the storage tanks already where would 2,000,000 litres of water poured to on Wed 28 May?
Their ideas for the parking areas and roads etc is a special rock that breaks down hydrocarbons below permeable hard-standing. Little microbes would break down all those nasty hydrocarbons and any way they would have tanks built to catch some of it! Enough to have caught 4,000,000 litres that fell in 30 minutes on Wed 28 May? No way. So hydrocarbon and whatever else was spilled on parking for 400 HGVs and almost 4,000 cars would have ended up in the ground water! Those little microbes would have been hard pressed to do a nice biological miracle in that time!
CGP's revised plan does not address the two huge 'X' Type warehouses and all the HGVs sitting around with a foot-print on SPZ 1 . There is very little to suggest that this corner and its particular threat to water quality has been addressed.
Why are CGP so anti the idea of large balancing ponds? I am told that Cummins two main balancing pond sites are little marvellously rich wet habitats with coots, dace etc! No sign of wildfowl and seagulls that would pose a threat to planes. It may have escaped CGPs attention that large reservoirs sit on the Heathrow landing flight path in close proximity to the runways. CGP say they are not acceptable because of KIA's proximity. So how come Cummins' ones are acceptable.? This is of course utter tosh! Balancing ponds are expensive to lay out and of course take up space that no one is paying leasehold rents on; so no income and less buildings can be squeezed in; result is less profit.
So where does this revised report to TDC Planning Dept and to Ken Gregory and his team take us? Right back to the inadequate proposals in the original application. It just confirms for me that CGP are utterly cynical in this serious matter of protecting Thanet's already threatened water aquifer and that they are seeking to convince everyone that their cheap solutions will do. The question we all need to ask is will it preserve our water supply now and in 30 years time when this site has become like Sandwhich Industrial Estate? The answer must be a resounding NO!
I trust Doug Brown and Ken's team realise that 18 pages of waffle from CGP brings the argument back to where it started; their original unacceptable proposals. Why? Because the cost of ensuring a safe project is just too expensive.
Time to look at Eurokent site instead perhaps?


Poor old Cllr Chris Wells has a problem according to this weeks Thanet Times.; not only has he to organise the pursuit of truant children as KCC Education Member but also has parents not attending Thanet Magistrates Court when summoned.

The Times reports that only 3 sets of parents out of 9 bothered to turn up for The Magistrates when summoned to explain why their children failed to attend school regularly. Those who did were fined £150.

What interests me is that the missing parents were also fined. Surely, a simple warrant for their arrest and some time in Fort Hill cells until appearing before the Magistrates the following day would be an incentive for these arrogant people? I say arrogant, because not attending when summoned, shows complete disrespect for the Legal and Justice system that governs all citizens lives. The children stand no chance in life with parents like these and the whole cycle of state benefit dependance and deprivation will continue.

Compare these parents attitude to school and this tale. In Cedric Road, Westgate, Mr Babul and his family run the Tajmahal Restaurant. Although not a wealthy man, this devout Muslim sponsored the buiding of and pays for a school in his home region of Bangladesh. Some of the children walk, barefoot, over 5 miles to attend this school. An education is prized so highly that non-attendance is unheard of.

I wonder if State Benefits were removed from parents in the UK who did not ensure their children attended school, would attendance rapidly improve?

Tuesday, 17 June 2008


For those who have bothered to look at CGPs Application, you might have noticed TWO huge 'X' Type warehouses that are clearly intended as Chinamex's distribution centre. They are at the extreme North end of the site, closest to Acol; on agricultural land; have maximum intrusion into a rural chalk plateau view and worst of all sit on the Source Protection Zone 1 of an aquifer. A stroll around Manston last Saturday revealed oodles of space closer to the airfield that appears to be advertised for sale, but isn't included in CGP's application. Couldn't these monstrosities be placed at the South end of the site?
A reader has sent me this e-mail which is slightly confusing:

"Dear Bertie,

I was poring over the Local Plan map last evening whilst waiting for the football to start and noticed that the area of the Manston Business Park (the controversial China Gateway scheme site) on it is designated B1. By contrast the acknowledgement I have received from TDC in reply to my objection states the proposal is:-

Redevelopment of land for B1c, B2 and B8. The notice advertising For Sale 62 acres at the entrance to the development, not redevelopment, lists B1, B2 and B8.

Perhaps one of your regular readers can tell me when the land itself was re-designated?

Puzzled of Broadstairs"
I would be delighted if anyone can tell us what these categories mean and were they changed? If so, how and when?
Another thought crosses my mind; who actually owns what, up at Manston Business Park in the area designated as Phase 1? I was under the distinct impression that this was not a 'speculative' development but it seems that CGP and its Chinese Agents, DTZ, are trying to sell plots, as is KCC , almost as if Phase 1 Planning consent is a foregone conclusion. If anyone has some spare time, please feel free to ring and e-mail the numbers on the signs in the pics (click on pics for enlargement.) and let me know what you have been offered in terms of 'plots'.
Another source tells me that signs have been commissioned and are being made for CGP already for this industrial Estate. I have asked for more details.
Some more interesting news is that Doug Brown at TDC has been working hard and has now obtained from the 'applicants' a travel plan revision and new proposals for drainage and a water state revision. Could it be that pressure from objectors and a great deal of commonsense from Doug Brown, has started to produce more sensible, even if more costly, proposals from CGP. I hope these will be widely available on The Planning Portal so we can all see them? If not, get onto Doug Brown and ask for details.

Sunday, 15 June 2008


Regular readers will know that I view the entertainment presented for our delectation at Palm Bay this week-end with a certain degree of scepticism. A regular reader has reported that 'Woger' made an announcement towards the end of the 'Games' to thank the sponsors.

My correspondent tells me Cllr Latchford was on the stage saying how lucky we were to have such sponsors to pay for the wonderful 2 days and without them it wouldnt have taken place. Apparently no-one apart from her was listening to 'Woger' otherwise they might have wondered why Commercial Group Properties had been accepted by TDC as 'sponsors' alongside the truly public spirited FM Group!

Of course it has nothing to do with distracting the plebians or influencing our council whilst CGP has a planning application before the Council to build on Thanet's agricultural land and water supply.

I am beginning to think that TDC's acceptance of CGP's sponsorship was about as un-wise as Thanet South Labour's acceptance of CGP's donation of £25,000 last year. We should expect everyone involved with a major planning application like CGP's China Gateway project to decline such generous financial support as it compromises their position morally, and possibly legally, in making an unbiased judgement on behalf of Thanet's citizens.

Saturday, 14 June 2008


The picture above highlights 31, Westwood Rd , Broadstairs CT10 2LB which was the subject of planning application F/TH/08/0343. Mr L Waitt submitted this application which was received by TDC on 14 Mar 2008 and was approved by The Planning Dept on the 19th May 2008 and signed off by Mr B White.

As regular readers are aware, Thanetstrife has taken an interest in inappropriate 'garden-grabs' for over development and I was delighted that the nonsense at Pegwell, supported by Laura Sandys and the local community, was kicked into touch.

However, to squeeze a 4 bedroomed house into the back -garden of this address in Westwood Rd seems to me to be mad. An application was turned down in 2001 for this same application and yet in 2008 it is approved; probably to the horror of neighbours and those backing onto it in Wealdhurst Park!

Was this application from the same Laurie Waitt who was having drinks with others including 'Our Leader' in The Lanthorne Pub on Sunday 13 April?
(My apologies for misinformation in an earlier picture: X marks the spot for the new house; all very chummy for the neighbours!)

Friday, 13 June 2008


I have had the following e-mail concerning a rather unsavoury incident in Margate that has also been brought to the attention of ECR and Nick Evans of KM Extra. (Go to Thanet's Premier Blog at for more). Here is what I have been sent:

"Dear Bertie,

I was shopping in the Edinburgh Woollen Mill in Margate yesterday morning and thought I'd strolled into the Wild West when Cllr. Ezekiel accompanied by Deputy Leader, Roger Latchford, charged into the store berating Cllr. Iris Johnston who, apparently was there to collect a petition from the shop manager. I couldn't believe my eyes when Cllr. Latchford reached over, snatching the petition from Cllr. Johnston saying,'Let me see that', scattering the sheets containing the petition about the community wardens being redeployed.

It was clear everyone was quite shocked by this outrageous behaviour and Cllr. Johnston was very upset . I have heard that she has only recently got over a serious chest infection and think this is a disgraceful way for the Leader and Deputy Leader of my council to treat one of our hardest working councillors.

Yours visibly shocked"
What is it with 'Our Leader' and now 'Wodger'? Mrs Biggles reported to me yesterday that she had signed a petition asking for PCSOs and Wardens to be retained on normal duties in Northdown Rd, Cliftonville than being deployed by TDC to spend time on sandy beaches. What is so wrong with petitions and leaflets, that has got these two in such a fluster? I think it is called democracy in action.
Anyway, the Conservatives have been ignoring my pleas for weeks now to find themselves a New Leader, as Mr Ezekiel is clearly not capable of behaving in a manner that befits his office. We can presumably now wait for a complaint from Cllr Iris Johnston to be answered by The Standards Board for England in June 2009? What smoke screen of counter allegations will we see this time?
If 'Our Leader' has any sense, he would suddenly discover a passion for the nautical life and disappear for a few months to sail a yacht around the Greek Islands and come back in the Autumn when things have quietened down a bit.


This picture (courtesy of another of our excellent free papers, The KM Extra) of 'Our Leader' , his Deputy Cllr Roger Latchford and Planning Officer, Doug Brown , signals for me a belated but nevertheless very encouraging moment. TDC Planning is setting the goal-posts for what it wants to see happen at the tatty Arlington Arcade and Arlington House area that is the first depressing site to greet visitors to Margate, whether arriving by train or by road.

The planning briefs will be out for public comment and even if TDC does not own the assets, it is stating a clear target of what it wants, on our behalf, for developers to follow. How encouraging to see one of our Planning Officers, that capable Doug Brown, stating "I would like to think this spot could be the right place for a sea-life centre...."

Why oh why, did it not set the same clear Planning Brief for the whole of that area in 2006 when advised by an Independent Planning Inspector to insist that the Dreamland site be earmarked for a major Visitor Centre and set the planning brief requirements on the Manston Business Park area, that is the site for Phase 1 of China Gateway? It could have stated 'mains foul sewerage'; dictated safe and detailed water run-off control requirements and insisted no construction or hardstanding on the aquifer SPZ 1. Now that would have been something!

Thursday, 12 June 2008


I am not really clear about doner and shish kebabs but the Thanet Times report yesterday about the goings on in the Codfather in Ramsgate on the 15th May brought a smile to my face after a serious bout of leafletting.

If you haven't read the report, here is a summary. Poor Mohammed Dirwish working in Codfather had a woman customer waiting in the early hours for her order, when a Mr Nichols entered with another man who was drunk and abusive. The drunk was threatening and abusive and when he was asked to calm down by Mohammed Dirwish, replied
"Oi, geezer, you are nothing. I am going to sort you out. I'm going to take you outside and f***ing kill you"
Mohammed, should have called the police but decided that direct action was called for (not surprising considering the threatening language used against him). He grabbed a pole (doner pole or shish skewer was not exactly clear in the report nor was whether there was food still attached to it) and came round from the counter to wallop the drunk. The pole was unwieldy and he ended up striking the innocent woman customer in error and Mr Nichols twice as he tried to sort out the drunk abusive customer, who remained unscathed.

Kent's Finest arrived at 2am and found Mohammed contrite and apologising to Mr Nichols for having caught him in the frying line. The girl left before the police arrived and the Thanet drunk was not named. Presumably, Mr Nichols complained and the drunk went on his way, scot free, despite his disgraceful and threatening language. Mohammed Dirwish was arrested.

In court, Roger Davies defending Mohammed Dirwish, was not on form, I am sad to report.

Mohammed was given a telling off for not calling the police and taking the law into his own hands ; was told to do 80 hours of unpaid work and ordered to pay Mr Nichols £50 in compensation for hitting him by accident. The best line from the proceedings was from Magistrate Ian White: " We order the forfeiture and destruction of the pole."

My thanks to the un-named Times reporter; keep these gems coming !

Monday, 9 June 2008


As regular readers will be aware, a good friend has asked me to help publicise the application to build Thanet's biggest Industrial Estate on farmland and on top of our water aquifer in Manston and I have been happy to oblige. Yes, I am 'anti' and I think it is the height of folly.

I am reliably informed that leaflets urging Thanet people to write to TDC objecting to the application (F/TH/08/0400) have been hitting peoples doormats across Thanet and the protesters have not even got started fully yet. So if you haven't had a leaflet , I will try and get hold of one and scan it for you and put it up on the site.

I have been informed that a CGP type chappie has approached a 'Save Thanet's Water Supply- Stop China Gateway' campaigner already and objected to its content. I have also been told that an invitation to tea and a cosy chat has been extended to the 'Campaign Team' by none less than Cllr Roger Latchford OBE, Cabinet Member for The Economy and 'Our Leader's' right hand man.

He got his hands on a leaflet at some stage today. How nice to see such a gentlemanly response to a campaign that is doing is hardest to stop over-development in Thanet on acres of farmland and on our drinking water and is bound to upset Ken Wills and Mr Seymour-Prosser of CGP who are of course full of philanthropic ideas to provide jobs for Thanet. It's got nothing to do with making a great return on their speculative investment.

Why doesn't TDC just accept that its the wrong development in the wrong place and find space at Eurokent to put Chinamex's huge redistribution warehouses? You might be interested to realise that Thanet already has a generous existing employment land supply that is currently under-utilised and covers the Local Plan period until 2011! It actually meets 95% of the Kent and MedwayStructure Plan requirement to 2021! In other words, TDC seems hell-bent on 'pushing' Gateway through at Manston without considering that perhaps its the wrong place.

I just wonder, why?

Sunday, 8 June 2008


I am delighted to show readers a picture of one of TDC's rare Independent councillor's who represents Westbrook. My sources have assured me and others have done so on the post below , that Cllr McCastree, unlike other absent members of the Planning Committtee, WAS at Manston on Friday morning! I rather like Cllr McCastree's write-up from TDC's web-site and I copy it in full below:

"Better known as Bert, I was elected as an independent Councillor in the Westbrook ward of Thanet District. I work as a financial trader and property developer.

I have lived in Thanet for the past seven years and I am very encouraged by the positive changes taking place. Thanet is steadily working it's way out of economic doldrums. Amongst other things, thanks to the influx of people and new businesses relocating here, our economy is on the move in the right direction.

I made Thanet my home because it is a beautiful place to live and a far cry from the rat race and polluted air which I left behind in London.

I decided to be a Councillor, an independent one, because I believe that more independent Councillors would make the Council a more responsible and sensitive instrument of Government.

I also felt that fresh blood was needed to be in the political community and that Councillors should listen more to the needs of the community and act accordingly.

I do not enjoy politics of abuse and believe that the people are our priority and not the political parties. Once elected, Councillors should set aside their party political differences and work together for the people towards economic progress and a higher standard of service delivery which is cost effective and will benefit us all."

I am a member of the following committees:
Licensing Board

Friday, 6 June 2008


Today at 10.00am, Cllr Ken Gregory, our new Chair of Planning turned out at Manston to have a Planning Site Visit for The Planning Committee. Considering this application (F/TH/08/0400) deals with the biggest Industrial Estate to be built in Thanet on agricultural land and slap bang on a water aquifer supplying Thanet's drinking water, I am told that attendance by Councillors was thin on the ground. In Bill Hayton's day, this would not have been the case perhaps but Cllrs Aldred, Campbell, Goodwin, Day, Taylor, Sullivan and Watt-Ruffle were not present and I hope Ken will have words! I am told that Cllr Mick Tomlinson is still recuperating and I wish him well.
I received this on the spot report earlier and I attach it in full:
"Dear Bertie,

As I attended this morning's site meeting for Phase 1 of the China Gateway Project I thought you might like some feedback as you were too busy with the Sopwith Camel to go yourself.

A number of issues concern me and not just the whole scheme. This is the most important industrial development in Thanet for decades, possibly longer, but only, on my count, 7 of the 15 on the Planning Committee attended. Now, I know some of them have gainful employment but I would have hoped that for a scheme of this importance they could perhaps have used their entitlement to time-off to attend. I spotted the following councillors, Poole, Ward, Hart, McCastree, Jarvis, Bruce and Gregory. There may have been another one but that's all and nowhere near the full number was present.

Cllr. Gregory stated that, as the planning application had not yet been received, then this was a pre-planning visit. Odd that, when the planning application is listed as having been received on April 4th and was included in some detail in the Planning Committee agenda for May 21st. Now that the Tories have pushed through a ruling that the public cannot speak on these visits (so much for local democracy) it was left to Doug Brown from Planning to do the introductions and Cllr. Gregory to invite comments from the representatives of the parish councils and questions from the other members of the Planning Committee present.

It was disconcerting to see how often valid questions were ruled 'not appropriate for this visit' despite these raising serious issues over the whole development.

When one councillor drew the chair's attention to the Sparrow Castle Pumping Station on the horizon, Cllr. Gregory said it didn't pump the underground water from the site, he thought. Should he not know this and in any case, it does? Cllr Gregory didn’t see fit to draw members attention to the fact they were standing above the aquifer on SPZ 2 and that the big warehouse sites being pointed out would be on SPZ 1. It seemed as if protecting Thanet’s water was a subject to avoid.

There were vague answers to councillors' questions about the height and general dimensions of some of the building. It is difficult to envisage 15 metres so reference was made to the existing buildings and comments like, 'About that height'. Is this a satisfactory way to explain the size and scope of a building?

When the group ,who had by this time lost some members of the public who decamped to get away from the rain, Cllr. Gregory took the bedraggled group to what he said was the end of the site but a close look at the map shows he hadn't gone the full distance and there were several metres yet to traipse. We have to ask why (or would have done had we been allowed to speak).

There are some very worried people who will have their lives turned upside down by this scheme who, at the full planning committee can nominate 3 representatives, I repeat, 3, to speak against the scheme for 3, I repeat, 3 minutes.

Yours truly

Save Thanet's Water, Stop the China Gateway Project."

I think that this Planning Application needs a little more interest and whilst I know Councillors have other jobs and other comittments, the people of Thanet who they represent, rely on them and expect them to consider all aspects carefully on Planning Applications and surely a site visit on this huge project is an essential part of this process?


I have copied a picture from Thanet's KM Extra (which is a 'must read' as the best of our 'free' newspapers and is kindly delivered through the The Biggles' hovel's letterbox.)

I am delighted with the sponsorship of The Big Event by Kent Messenger Group but never cease to be amazed by the sudden rush of philanthropic gestures by Mr Ken Wills. Last year it was £25,000 as a political donation to Dr Ladyman MP because he was such a good chap and now its sponsoring The Big Event. Will wonders ever cease?

I wonder what Mr Martin Hodge's view of Ken's largesse is? For readers who have not been visiting long, you can find all about Mr Hodge's on my posting of 11 March ("Breeze Blocks and some real strife"). In summary, Mr Hodges did £3,862 of work for Fire Technology (50% owned by Mr Wills) and didn't get paid as Fire Technology stopped trading but a new company called Fire Technology International was born in the same location. Mr Hodge's felt cheated and foolishly took it out on Mr Wills' Rangerover last Boxing Day and paid the price for it at Thanet Magistrates. It was just as well he didn't bash Mr Wills' Augusta 109 or we might not have seen Cllr Latchford sitting in it in the picture above.

There is of course no connection between Mr Wills' philanthropy and the fact that CGP (another company he formed with a Mr Seymour -Prosser) has an application for the biggest industrial estate in Thanet to be built on top of an aquifer providing a lot of Thanet's drinking water, in at TDC. That said, KM Extra refer to Mr Wills as managing director of CGP, the developers of the proposed China Gateway at Manston .

Most locals will know Ken Wills' name as being assosciated with Summit Aviation and today (Friday) at 10.00am TDC Planning Members will be having a site inspection with their new Chair Cllr Gregory,(because poor old Bill Hayton was sacked, sorry 'progressed') down at Manston Business Park to get an idea of what CGP propose for Phase 1 of China Gateway. They will be able to admire Summit Aviation's new, not being worked on, building. A source tells me the lads building it were 'paid-off' recently.

They might also notice a sign at the entrance advertising plots for sale. The interesting thing is that I thought KCC owned much of the Phase 1 site as part of its PLP with TDC? The sign is of pasing interest as contact details are given for Debenhams Tei Lung who were incorporated into China's TDZ (look at ). DTZ are 'global real estate providers working with clients to create leading edge property, investment and business solutions worldwide.'

I leave you with Ken Wills talking to KM Extra, " We recognise the value of this event to the local community."

Why am I reminded of Roman Emperors laying on 'Games' in Ancient Rome to keep the plebs happy when the corn supply from Egypt was interrupted and the plebs were getting hungry and annoyed.? Could it be that we plebs in Thanet will be so pleased going 'ooh' and 'aah' on the 16th/17th June down at Palm Bay that we forget that 'Emperor Ken'and his Chinese colonialists are busy convincing Cllr Bayford and other Cllrs to allow them to build on top of our drinking supply and put it at risk of becoming permanently contaminated. I had better get the elastic band on the Sopwith fixed and join in the escape from reality.

Wednesday, 4 June 2008


Was I the only one surprised at Roger Gale's thoughts about re-introducing the death penalty for knife crime? Whilst I share his concern about the trend in modern Britain to punish us all to try and stop the criminals (ban a glass of wine on Broadstairs Beach because drunken 'yuff' run riot; increase the price of alcohol to stop under-age drinking etc) all in the vein of kick the cat because the dog has cr****d on the mat; I cannot but think his proposal was not really serious.

We have a stringent penalty for carrying knives available to the police, CPS and Courts; upto 10 years jail. Quite simple really; start locking up anyone carrying a knife in the streets without a legitimate reason? The message would soon dawn on those who carry a knife 'for protection' that it is not worth it!

Anyway, here is what Roger has said on the subject:

Knife Crime - " Ban hammers and screwdrivers - or bring back capital punishment "

"Either ban hammers and screwdrivers and other carpenters` tools or bring back capital punishment as the maximum available sentence for murder" is the response from North Thanet's Tory MP, Roger Gale, to suggestions that in response to knife crime a ban upon sharp-pointed kitchen knives should be introduced.
"Are we seriously suggesting that Sabatier chef's knives should be banned "? Says the MP, who is probably one of very few MPs who have cooked in a professional kitchen.
"At home I have an oyster knife with a blade scarcely more than an inch long. It is potentially lethal. My wife Suzy and I also have a full range of kitchen cutlery and most of the knives have sharp points. Are we seriously suggesting that the fundamental implements of Western culinary art should be banned? Because if so then a panoply of carpenters and plumbers "weapons" , for example, such as hammers and screwdrivers , will have to be taken out of circulation.
I would suggest that the much more basic but practical response to the growth in armed crime is the re-introduction of capital punishment for murder"
The MP who was the last Member to seriously attempt an amendment to introduce capital punishment to a criminal justice bill, said today:
"This will inevitably lead to "bring back hanging" headlines. I have always believed that hanging is an abhorrent method of execution but I also believe that there are some crimes for which capital punishment is appropriate. Prior to the abolition of capital punishment those with criminal intent generally did not go about their business and their everyday lives "tooled up". Now they do. I appreciate that a re-introduction would mean the repeal of the Human Rights Act but I have no problem withy that whatsoever. Parliament must act in the interests of The UK and its people and not, necessarily, in compliance with European legislation"

Do you agree with, Roger?

Tuesday, 3 June 2008


Isn't it nice to know that my 153 days working to pay my taxes are now over and that yesterday was Tax Freedom Day.

For my fellow serfs who are not with this issue, let me explain. Accountants work out how much we pay in direct and in-direct taxes as a proportion of income and then estimate how many days we work each year to pay them. The day when we notionally start earning for ourselves is called Tax Freedom Day and this year it was yesterday, 2nd June. In 1997 when Gordon started as Chancellor, Tax Freedom Day was slightly earlier (May 26th) but that should not surprise us.

As a youngster I can remember reading about serfs and villeins and felt pity for them having to work for almost 3 days a week on the Lord of The Manor's strips of land before they could till their own strips.

Nothing has changed really accept that the sophistication of taking our money has grown since the days when the men-at-arms kicked down the door, grabbed the suckling pig and prised a hard earned groat out of a clenched hand. The difference was that those serfs knew who the b****rds were; today its utterly faceless with half the population acting as un-paid tax collectors.

Now that I don't have to work for Lord of the Manor 'Darling', anymore this year I am off to imbibe some more mead and sleep it off in my hovel tomorrow.

Monday, 2 June 2008


It is with some trepidation that I ask this question as the response to my last comments about the 'hype' at Margate Harbour Arm on May Bank Holiday week-end received this comment from Fiona Sherriff, (Margate Harbour Arm Ltd/ Ramsgate Properties/ Pineapple Properties (Kent) Ltd), whom I hope has invested in a stronger front door and has realised that keeping £20,000 in loose change around the house is not a good idea as 'Kent's Finest' have probably advised her already:

" Your comments illustrate your utter stupidity and lack of imagination. Go and sit in a hole and take some more vallium. If you need some razor blades I can arrange it. "

I suppose, given the circumstances of a wrecked home/credit squeeze/ falling property prices and other developers in Thanet ceasing work on projects, things haven't been too good for Fiona and Graham recently.

Anyway, back to the title. I went along on a June Sunday afternoon at the end of the Summer Half Term week to savour the delights of The Harbour Arm. As I passed the broken/incomplete flag pole and piles of wood, I actually came across a mum and two children on The Harbour Arm; "How nasty" said one toddler, exiting from and describing the mobile loo followed by a cry from Mum , " Jason, get off that wood it has nails sticking out". They were the only people Bertie saw in 30 minutes on the Harbour Arm.

What's my point? We have about 12 weeks of summer left and as the picture above shows, English weather in the summer is not always conducive to a brisk trade on seaside Harbour Arms based in a town that is quietly dying without a major all weather attraction. Granted, the doors and windows were painted in pretty colours that matched the flags and IOTA Gallery looked suitably arty-farty even when closed. The roofs had a nice covering of pitch except on an exposed corner at the start of the sheds and the little signs saying what each unit 'might be' looked very tasteful.

The real question is ' Is it not too late this season for any business to set up here and be viable?' To cover the outlay and staff costs in setting up, is there really time for Harbour Arm to attract viable businesses this summer? The footfall along the Harbour Arm seems inadequate to maintain businesses in profit in the short season ahead and before the weather will turn in September. The 'hype' surrounding The Harbour Arm is good but reminds me of the same 'oohs' and 'aahs' that greeted A Big Wheel stuck in Godden's Gap in the summer of 2006 as commentators greeted the 'revival' of Dreamland. It soon wheeled off to Manchester.

Maybe some brave souls will attempt to run a business before the equi-noctal gales treat The Harbour Arm to a soaking as the picture below illustrates. I wish them luck if they do.


On 10th May, I posted an item about poor Cllr Hayton titled, "Was Cllr Hayton pushed off his chair?" ; according to the IOTG last Friday, it seems he was.
'Our Leader', of 'f***ing t***er' fame, described Cllr Hayton's dismissal from long and very capable service as 'succession and progression'.
Cllr Hayton's riposte was " Those may have been his words but mine are it was a sacking."
The question that arises is why has a very experienced and capable chair of planning like Cllr Hayton been tossed out of his chair in such a perfunctory manner in early May and why is he quite clearly upset about it and now happy to comment about it to the IOTG? Hardly supportive of 'Our Leader' but understandable. The interesting snippet about Cllr Hayton, reported in the IOTG, was that he was one of only 2 Councillors who voted against Westwood Cross and he has risen even higher in my estimation for so doing. He clearly knew what a devastating effect it would have on our town centres and Margate in particular.
Was his 'sacking' really about the controversial China Gateway application or is it much simpler? The IOTG reported a little while ago that Frank Thorley, of Thorley Taverns, was very upset that a planning application for improved parking at one of his hotels had been turned down and wasn't Cllr Hayton chair of planning at the time?
Its probably just a coincidence that a only couple of weeks before Cllr Hayton's demise, 'Our Leader' was spotted refreshing himself in a well known Broadstairs pub on a Sunday afternoon on 13th April in the company of Mr Thorley and a certain Mr Godden amongst others. (see 'Fly on The Wall' posting of 18 April).