Wednesday, 30 July 2008


There is no doubt that we live in interesting times . Just as I want to comment on last week's KM Extra quotes from Brian White, TDC's Head of Development Services who is Doug Brown's boss with responsibility for Planning , and other serious issues that militate against open government and democracy, Mrs Biggles is telling me I only have a short time to pack and then get on our way to Penrith in Cumbria for a wedding tomorrow.

Why are weddings like trolleybuses? I have not been to a wedding for years ,other than the ones that cost me a fortune as 'Father of The Bride' and now we have two to go to; tomorrow and on Saturday! If the car stands the journeys, I will return on Monday.

The last time Bertie was out of Thanet, someone did a 'jimmy' (see ECR's Thanisaurus) on the Scenic Railway and I wasn't able to get some original pictures of my own to commerate the unhappy event. But now that it's going to have its own 'allotment' fence, at least one hopes the rest of it will survive whilst I am away.

I had hoped to leave readers to chat amongst yourselves happily until my return, but the more perceptive will realise that the opening moves of Thanet Blog War 2 have begun as 'Strife' attracts a 'Nimby'. I think we have a Councillor on site who has not really grasped what Bertie is about at the moment. It's funny how this is the start of the second wave by those who would rather murky business was shrouded in secrecy and kept that way. So to stop this nonsense going on whilst I am hitting the Pimms tomorrow afternoon and on Saturday, I will have to put up Comment Moderation and sift through comments on my return. (Not as technical as Simon Moores and Tony Flaig with their long-distance blog site running, Im afraid.)

By the way, if anyone is interested, the picture is not mine but I am sure my parents will not mind me showing you a very happy day in their lives. If I have breached anyone's copyright please feel free to leave details so I can contact you to offer my apologies and then take down the offending item or obtain retrograde consent or pay a fee.

Monday, 28 July 2008


This is a tale of the two Rogers in a land far far away.

On the the left is our own 'Woger' (Cllr Roger Latchford OBE) and on the right is KCC Cllr Roger Gough. The picture shows them trying to promote East kent Opportunities LLP and 'consult' people about the land holdings of their LLP at Haine Road (The Eurokent Site) Westwood Cross. The aim would seem to have been to have more leisure/retail and housing rather than employment provision at Eurokent and push industrial job creation to Manston. I digress.

These two chaps beetled off to China with the minimum of publicity on April 5th of this year, pretty quickly after knowing that CGP had signed off its 'China Gateway' application to TDC on 31 Mar 2008 with , by the way, with an entry for employment stating 'unknown details'. (Where did this myth of 3,000 jobs come from?). Get to the point , Bertie.

I present to you the entry for Cllr Roger Gough as part of his KCC Notice of Registrable Interests that he signed on 25 April 2008. (Click on the entry if you cannot read it clearly).

During this visit it would appear that Commercial Group Properties paid for a number of meals for Cllr Roger Gough, the KCC Cabinet member, who quite properly declared them.

He must have been entertained on his 'tod', so to speak, by CGP because in the TDC Register of Interests, our own 'Woger' makes no mention of any hospitality by Commercial Group Properties in April 2008, so Bertie is reliably informed. How extraordinary you might think.
Had they fallen out with each other? Had 'Woger' gone to bed early with a stomach bug? Or was it quite simply that to admit he had received hospitality from CGP, would put 'Woger' in a predicament.? I hope he hasn't made a false statement on his Register of Interests Form 3 sitting in the file at TDC and that there is a perfectly innocent explaination. Perhaps he had the cheaper options on the menus and didn't trigger the £25 limit?

It does strike me as interesting that Commercial Group Properties have been busy spreading largesse around recently. Ken Wills of CGP made a generous political donation of £25,000 to South Thanet Labour and Dr Stephen Ladyman in 2007 at a time when CGP seemed to be buying land at Manston from Struan Robertson at Alland Grange for Phase 2 and 3 of their China Gateway 'vision'.
Also, who can forget that wonderful picture of our 'Woger' in a helicopter with the same Ken Wills, as TDC accepted sponsorship from CGP for the 'Big Event'. (See 'Beware of Greeks Bearing Gifts' posting of 6th June). Clearly CGP's generosity did not extend to even buying our 'Woger' a 'take-away' during his April visit to China, at least according to 'Woger'.


The plan above shows who owns what at Manston for Phase 1 of CGPs Gateway Project that is still being looked at by TDC Planning. The KCC owned property is the light shading.

One of my researchers sent KCC a Freedom of Information request concerning what they owned and what they were doing with it. It ellicited this interesting reply:

" Dear Mr X, Thank you for your request for information. I can confirm that Kent County Council does own land at Manston Business Park and the Title Deed is K704995. The status of the land is COMMERCIALLY SENSITIVE at this time and therefore exempt from disclosure to you under Section 43 of The Freedom of Information Act 2000."

What I find odd is that KCC and TDC formed East Kent Opportunities LLP and 'pooled' their holdings of land at Manston and Eurokent sites.

So whilst CGP is trying to squash too many sheds into an inadequate space (the darker shading is 'theirs'); put redistribution warehouses (X types) with 100+ HGV bays onto the most sensitive part of the site in terms of threatening our drinking water and spoiling the lives of Acol residents; avoid 30m screening planted belts and proper closed system drainage off hardstanding areas through interceptors and into balancing ponds, KCC and TDC are playing 'silly beggars' with its own recently formed 'Development Company'!

The solution would be quite simple one would have thought.

Tell CGP it can have space at the Airport end of the site (away from the most sensitive part of the aquifer and away from the poor residents of Acol) to put its X type warehouses and have space for proper safe drainage into lagoons and for 30m wide screening tree belts.

So if the information about what KCC is up to is 'Commercially Sensitive' let Bertie's team speculate on what is so sensitive.

1. CGP has to buy land fron KCC to put its ' Welcome to Gateway Buiding' on the site it is presently shown on in its plans.

2. KCC has a stranglehold on access to the North end of the site at the Cummins end roundabout and the 'looping road' (see diagram above) which is described as a 'ransom strip' and perhaps want to make CGP pay through the nose for it.?

3. KCC has a tenant in the middle of the area where CGPs sheds are shown on the plan, with a lease that does not expire until 2013.

While the KCC/TDC 'partnership' is playing the 'speculative developer' game with CGP, the quality of development of this site takes a nose-dive from the high standards already insisted on in the past.

Is anyone out there really concerned about quality development with the best safe-guards for our drinking water supply?

Thursday, 24 July 2008


It's not in Thanet, so any Councillors, including 'Our Ken' who rushed to 'Strife', can take a deep breath and relax.

This is a LibDem Councillor from Canterbury City Council and according to KMOnline, Kent's Finest, or at least The Serious Economic Crime Unit have begun an investigation into suspicions of corruption.

Cllr Roger Matthews, a Planning Committee Member at Canterbury City Council and Julian Brealy, who owns Herne Bay Golf Club have been arrested on suspicion of corruption and released on bail. Mr Brealy is under investigation for a criminal offence but completely denies the allegation and Cllr Matthews is helping the police with their enquiries. Cllr Matthews is quoted as saying that "I hear the gossip just like others have."

Anyway, as this is a problem in CCC and not TDC , I leave you to go and read the full KM story at .

However, it's reassuring to know that Kent Police have such a wide range of interests when it comes to investigating crimes and I must make a note of The Serious Economic Crime Unit, I didn't know it existed.

Wednesday, 23 July 2008


One of my team told me about seeing this piece of artistic grafiiti on a garage door in Ramsgate and has at last produced the photograph!
I suspect it is more a political statement than an artistic effort but seeing the offerings in M&S ( the only TC we are likely to have, unless you believe in miracles), that highly paid Director of a Gallery that hasn't existed for the past 7 years should send her curator (for a gallery that doesn't exist) along to the garage owner and grab this piece of art for posterity.
I, of course, heartily support the message here and it's nice to know that at least one urban Thanetonian appreciates the need to preserve our high quality and versatile farmland. My only thought about improving this excellent example of contemporary street art, is that the artist could have brought in an element about drinking water.
Victoria should look out for more basic examples of uncultured graffiti at Northdown House in December. Mrs Biggles reports that her Bridge partner has heard that TDC intends to close and board up Northdown House by December this year despite the fact that it covers its costs and is an excellent Community Resource. Are 'Mowice', 'Woger' and Cllr Wise about to 'waterbridge' it (see ECR's Thanisaurus) despite the fact that its 'asset disposal' status has been put back until next financial year for the legal position to be ascertained?

Saturday, 19 July 2008


This story has been brought to my attention by one of my research team and I hope you will bear with it because it has relevance to China Gateway.

Geoffrey Day & Son of Westgate, I am informed, built some bungalows in Berkeley Rd, Birchington some years ago but ended up with a postage stamp of land at the end of the road. (see the picture above)

They tried desperately over the years to build on this minuscule plot as the series of planning applications to TDC below, shows:

TH//81/349 - detached bungalow- REFUSED -" the plot of land is of insufficient size to accommodate an additional dwelling".

TH/82/0298 - detached bungalow -REFUSED - reasons were as above and in addition 'has a cramped appearance out of character and detrimental to the area'.

TH/83/ 0456 - block of 7 garages - REFUSED - 'unduly obtrusive' ; 'creating noise and other disturbances'.

TH/87/1251 - two storey , two bedroomed dwelling with detached garage - REFUSED - despite the property being 4.2m from the Northern boundary, reasons were as above but 'the property would have inadequate rear amenity space'.

There was then a pause of 17 years, until 2004, when another application appeared:
TH/04/0297 - a two storey dwelling - REFUSED - ' a cramped appearance'.

But this application was then 'appealed' by Geoffrey Day & Son and Mr Jonathon Bore, an Inspector appointed by The Secretary of State, promptly ruled ' THE APPEAL IS DISMISSED' and cited his reasons. (An interesting note is that application F/TH/04/0297 is missing from the site and therefore cannot be viewed unless you ask for it at TDC and I cannot show you what was envisaged)

Anyway, the Planning Inspector was pretty clear in his statement about building a house on this minuscule plot. He stated " the scheme would appear incongruous in this prominent position within the street and would detract from the character of the area'.......'I am unconvinced that a two bedroom, two storey dwelling can successfully be accommodated on this site.".... 'the overall form and siting ...would still result in a cramped and incongruous building squeezed over into one side of the site with substantial walls close to two boundaries, another substantial wall facing the nearest bungalow and an odd two storey gabled profile to the road".

Well you might say, a pretty clear decision from the Planning Inspector! You would be wrong; because below is a picture of the house taken by my researcher last Thursday morning.

It appears to be everything the Planning Inspector said it would be. So how and why did this inappropriate building get Planning Consent from TDC?

Well, Geoffrey Day & Son made another application in 2006, F/TH/06/0984 that was initially delegated to a Planning Officer. There was a small problem. The application had to go before the Planning Committee ' due to the applicant being a local Councillor and Member of The Planning Committee'. ( Forgive me for not mentioning this earlier but they were referring to Cllr Simon Day who represents Birchington North and who I am told is now Vice Chair of Planning and a member of The Standards Committee; anyway he was noticeable by his absence from the Phase 1 Application Site Visit for China Gateway.)

Well, Simon Day and Geoffrey Day & Son , after 25 years of trying to put a two storey incongruous dwelling on a miniscule piece of land achieved their goal at last and were so confident that their application would be approved that they cleared the site of vegetation in the late Autumn of 2006. You can go and look at it and make up your own mind about whether the Planning Inspector was right in his opinion.
My research assistant popped round the side to look at the back of the building and reported to me that the gap between the back wall of this property is literally a metre from the fence of a neighbouring property and that 'there is no room to even swing a cat or have access for The Fire & Rescue Service should it be required'.
So what you might say?
Having seen how much work our Councillors have to deal with, they rely very much on advice from Officers. My understanding is that this application did not get a formal site visit from the Planning Committee or from Full Council but most importantly the Planning Application was 'recommended to be approved' by the case Planning Officer who I am told was a Junior Officer and recently employed by TDC.
The Planning Officer told our Councillors that, ' Whilst the appeal was dismissed (in 2005), the Inspector did suggest that:
" any dwelling proposed for this small unused rough area at the head of the cul de sac would need to be imaginatively designed ..... (OMITTED BY PLANNING OFFICER WAS - " to ensure that it did not harm the appearance of the area or neighbours living conditions.)...'This is a unique site requiring a one of approach.' (No other quotation was made from The Inspectors Report when he dismissed the application of 2004).
This is in my opinion, is an utter distortion of what the Planning Inspector said in 2005 about this site and how it should have been dealt with and as a result was misleading advice to our Councillors.
If such a travesty and distortion of the 'history' relating to an application can occur in terms of advising our busy , over-worked Councillors, how can we be convinced that China Gateway will not get the same 'treatment' when reported to our Councillors?
How much confidence can we have in these words, concerning China Gateway , recently reported in the press;
"What we should be doing is allowing officers to tell us what is proposed so when ALL THE EVIDENCE IS GATHERED, (my capitals) and it ends up in the chamber at the council, we do it with some knowledge of the area." (Ken Gregory, Chair of Planning)

Friday, 18 July 2008


CGP has put out its press release this morning and I copy it for interest:

LONDON (Thomson Financial) - Commercial Group Properties Plc. (CG) said it is in talks with Beijing Huaqi Information Digital Technology Co. Ltd., regarding the possible lease of Manston site property to the latter, and expects a decision next month.

The AIM-listed property company had entered into a memorandum of understanding with Zhejiang Province Enterprises to lease 2.5 million square feet of business accommodation at its China Gateway site at Manston, located at the North West end of Kent International Airport.
CGP also said that, as at July 2, HSBC Holdings Plc. held 8.56 percent stake or 1.79 million shares in CG through HSBC International Trustee Ltd.( sim/jro/lam)
Its interesting that CGP has assumed that all is well with its 'rolling' application. Phase 1, the only area set aside in the TDC Plan is too small to accommodate China Gateway and even the Phase I application has yet to be approved by our democratically elected Councillors. They will of course be considering the requirements that were insisted on for this site in 1995 by TDC Planning i.e. mains sewerage; surface water run off interceptors (3 for HGV areas); 30m wide screening belts to reduce visual impact and balancing ponds. They will also be considering one, assumes, an undertaking to MAFF (now DEFRA) that no more agricultural land will be taken for development as part of Manston Business Park. Has TDC bothered to tell CGP this or have the 'goal-posts' been moved since 1995 for whatever reasons?
To finish, readers might like to know that HSBC Holdings purchased their 1.79 million shares on 2nd Jul ( value 115p) and on 17 Jul CGP Share Price was listed a 80p. Someone at HSBC Holdings might be thinking about the £626,500 hit these shares have taken in two weeks. Should have bought later?
Last thought. It is for TDC to decide this application and it might be that even August is too soon to put the matter before The Planning Committee.

Thursday, 17 July 2008


The Save Thanet's Water- Stop China Gateway Group have hired the hall and its first public meeting will take place on Tuesday 22nd July at Minster Village Hall at 7.30pm. I am told it will not be a swish PR event like the CGP 'roadshow' but just ordinary people meeting to express their concerns and hopefully get a better picture of the implications for us all if this project goes ahead. All are welcome, including our TDC Councillors, as long as they promise not to express an opinion, as we don't want any of them excluding themselves from making a decision in due course!

Wednesday, 16 July 2008


A regular reader has drawn my attention to the reply from a Parliamentary Question asked by our South Thanet MP, Dr Syephen Ladyman and his press- release. I show it below.

Working Neighbourhoods Fund delivers £1,012,404 for Thanet.
The Government has confirmed that Thanet is to receive over £1m to tackle worklessness in 2008/9 and will receive further funding next year and the year after. The confirmation came in an answer to a Parliamentary Question tabled by local MP Stephen Ladyman 'Unemployment remains the number one priority for Thanet in my view and helping people who have found it difficult to get back into work for some time is vital. First we need to create more jobs in Thanet. Secondly, we need to help people get skills, deal with their health problems and face up to the responsibility of working and contributing. This funding from Government gives us a real chance to make a difference' said Dr. Ladyman speaking from Westminster.
'Thanet Council has complete freedom over how the money is spent. In my view they need to target it at the areas of greatest need like Ramsgate, Cliftonville and parts of Margate but they should set up programmes that people wherever they live in Thanet can use. I just hope that they don't throw this opportunity away - this is a huge opportunity to really tackle Thanet's number one problem.'
Various Kent bodies have reported in recent months about the drastic 'skills shortage' in the work force in Thanet. There is really no point in even contemplating the installation of China Gateway at Manston as a means of providing jobs for Thanet people and our large pool of 'long term un-employed' until the potential work force is trained and available.
It will be interesting to see how this most recent funding stream is to be used. My enquiries into European funding into Thanet over the past few years seems to show that literally 'millions' of pounds of tax-payers money have been poured into Thanet and yet the unskilled pool of un-employed stays at the same high persistent level.? Why should this be the case and will this latest 'tranche' of funding make any difference.
Here's a simple question I cannot get a clear answer to; How many Thanet people are actually employed at Cummins? They are currently employing over 500 people (f/t and p/t) at Manston Business Park.

Tuesday, 15 July 2008


In my desire to see open and clear democracy in the China Gateway Scheme prevail in Thanet, regular readers will know that I have not criticised China or its governance. It is now time to perhaps remind those who accuse me of racism elsewhere about some history.

For those ranting and raving on another strand on Strife, be assured that this strand will have nothing to do with kicking peasants off their land in China without compensation to build Olympic villages or factories; repression of the religious and culltural life of the ethnic Tibetans; the supply of weapons to Sudan to enable genocide; the supply of arms that are used against British troops in Iraq and Afganistan,;the repression of democracy in China; Chinese 'colonialism'; economic 'warfare'; exploitation of workers or the fact that modern China is an unpredictable time-bomb that could go bang.

Instead, I want to take you back 40 years to 1968 and to what the Province and national Leaders of 'Modern' China might have been doing in their youth when some of you of my age were having the occasional joint and crooning 'All You need is Love'.
Our PM, Chair of SEEDA and various TDC 'visitors' will have met some of them whilst visiting China last November and this April.

The leaders of today's China would have only survived the upheaval of Mao's Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution by being part of it; have no doubt. Let me quote loosely and directly from Mao- The Unknown Story by Jung Chang and Jon Halliday.

The most harrowing item for me from their book of horrors, was a 'rich capitalist and revisionary peasant farmer' who in 1968 was dragged out of his Guangxi home to dig a grave and then bury his 6 and 7 year old son and daughter alive in it; all the time 'Revolutionary Guards' were shouting abuse and waving their 'Little Red Books'. His crime had been to try and sell some fresh produce privately.

The authors describe some of the goings on in Inner Mongolia in 1968 when today's Leaders of China were young teenage 'Maoists'. Let me quote " cases included a Muslim woman having her teeth pulled out by pliers, then her nose and ears twisted off, before being hacked to death." The number of people who 'suffered' in some way was later put officially at over 1,000,000- of whom 75% were ethnic Mongols which meant that at least 60% of all Mongols in the province - men women and children were plunged into hell.

What's my point here? It is this. Have no misconceptions about the background of those you wish to do business with. The men in positions of power in China had an interesting youth and we can easily ignore that fact at our peril.

Monday, 14 July 2008


Before our Councillors rush into a scheme on behalf of China's Chinamex and at the same time make a great deal of money for CGP by agreeing to cover more of the UK's and Thanet's prime versatile agricultural land in concrete and threaten our water supply, they might want to consider that all may not be well in that vast country. A regular reader sent me these snippets from today's Independent written by Bruce Anderson:

'Chinese authorities admit 10% inflation..true figure may be nearer 20%. There is pressure on food prices...In recent years the Chinese populace has forgotten how to starve quietly and has learned how to complain about its government.....If the Chinese economy cooled, the heat would come out of the oil price but..Social unrest in China; a panicky, truculent government ;a sharp decline in world trade -none of that is impossible. We have all become dependent on China without thinking through the difficulties of relying on such an unpredictable partner'.

I have a caption for this picture:
「親愛的Leader,老破裂,一直不是那條相當tiddly游艇太小為Thanet委員會、委員Sandy Ezekiel和他的代理領導,委員Roger Blatchford OBE領導到風帆回到Thanet ? 是,但我後悔說綠洲香港航空公司在破產管理人職務安置了和不再飛行它的747s到Thanet "。
" Dear Leader, Old Chap, isn't that rather tiddly yacht too small for The Leader of Thanet Council, Councillor Sandy Ezekiel and his Deputy Leader, Councillor Roger Blatchford OBE to sail all the way back to Thanet in? Yes, but I regret to say that Oasis Hong Kong Airlines has been placed in receivership and no longer flies its 747s to Thanet".

Friday, 11 July 2008


You are looking at a hand drawn copy of a drawing sitting in TDC Planning Dept File OLTH/95/0838. A reasearch assistant of mine spent the morning in Cecil Square digging around this file. After looking at his detailed notes, I realise how sensible our forbears were back in the good old 90s!
Let me explain.

The background story is that Wiggins (owners of Kent International Business Park) felt 110 acres was not enough to put in infrastructure for development and those nice people, who will be familiar to regular readers, the Robertson Clan, at Alland Grange were happy to sell high quality agricultural land to be joined to KIBP. OLTH/95/0838 is all about the 65 acres to become development land. An urgent need for development land for jobs was identified in 1995!

MAFF were not entirely happy about this. "Land is Grade 2 wuith some 3a. Grades 1, 2, 3a are the best and most versatile agricultural land"(i.e a wide variety of food crops can be grown on it productively.) In their letter of 1 Dec 1995 they continued " The MAFF concern is the open nature of the site and (I love this guys perception) the likelihood of further loss of high quality land should the development go ahead."

MAFF were eventually persuaded by TDC not to object to loss of this agricultural land on the basis (don't laugh here) that it received an assurance that any further proposals FOR EXTENDING THE DEVELOPMENT WOULD BE FIRMY RESISTED! In fact Mr Herron, our TDC Planning Chief at the time, assured MAFF with these words "....the land we now have will be sufficient to provide for economic regeneration of the area".

Before I get onto water and sewage, you might like to be aware of MAFF policy about good agricultural land. Here's what they said in 1995 and how prescient these words are with world food shortages today and ever increasing food prices; " the best and most versatile agricultural land is a NATIONAL RESOURCE FOR THE FUTURE and that considerable weight should be given to the protection of such land because of its special importance". Clearly devloper friendly TDC and some of our Councillors don't see it that way as CGP thought it was clearly ok to buy another 100+ acres of a national resource to put sheds on from of course Mr Struan Robertson.

Now for water and sewage! The National Rivers Authority (NRA) a predecessor for the EA advised TDC to construct lagoons ( balancing ponds) down pipe from oil/hydrocarbon interceptors that ALL hardstanding areas were to drain into and that mains sewerage was needed for foul sewerage. For HGV parking areas no less than 3 interceptors were advised. TDC took this on board and no less than 6 CONDITIONS were imposed regarding safe drainage and prevention of contamination of the aquifer. So serious was this issue that A DEED OF PLANNING OBLIGATION was drawn up and signed by TDC, KIBP and the Robertsons on the 4th Sep 1996. So concerned was the NRA that it advised TDC that the most hazardous units which presumably included the busiest HGV areas for parking, "be situated in the southern section of the site furthest away from the abstraction borehole". (Sparrow Castle Pumping Station!)

Now for site screening to ameliorate the impact on open Chalk Plateau etc. TDC Planning recommended to its Planning Committee as follows: "A CRUCIAL issue is the impact of the schemeupon the local and wider area in visual terms and therefore the quality of screening and landscaping of the site assumes considerable importance. I consider that the previously required 30m deep planting belt to the N and W boundaries of the original business park should be extended to the N, W and E boundaries of the business park extension." (i.e the exterior boundaries of the new 65 acres of agricultural land sold by the Robertsons).

SO WHAT?, you might ask. (I have been accused by some readers by e-mail of posting too long posts) The point is this.

CGP came and talked to TDC before buying up agricultural land for Phases 2 and 3 presumably on the 'nod' that all would be well. (No concerns here about a NATIONAL RESOURCE!). CGP then submitted a Plan for Phase 1 with the clear intention of following up behind with the creeping extension of KIBP that TDC had reassured MAFF would not happen. CGPs plans completely ignored many of the conditions on sewage, water and screening planting that TDC had set in granting use for development in 1996 . Can anyone see in F/TH/08/0400 any compliance with these important Conditions? I can't. CGP even go one stage further and put the most 'hazardous' set up, the largest and most intrusive warehouses (X types) for the 'redistribution' operation' ( area of most HGVs pulling up and parking) CLOSEST to the aquifer and Sparrow Castle!

Why was their planning application not sent back by TDC Planning to CGP with a copy of file OLTH/95/0838 with a note saying "READ THIS AND THEN RESUBMIT"? Why are TDC even considering this nonsense from CGP? Maybe TDC wishes to forget that it signed a DEED in 1996 stating " not to occupy the 65 acres (Robertson's farmland) until requisition of a new sewer for the discharge of foul water between the land and Minster Wastewater Treatment Works".

The awfulness of this issue is brought into stark contrast with all the conditions met by the two Cummins' plants, the biggest development on the site so far. Balancing ponds / storm water capacity/ hardstanding all through oil interceptors before getting there; mains sewage; 30m deep planted screening belts. You name it, they have done it!

What's changed? Well I know water supplies are now a major concern to us in The South East and that world food shortages have caused food riots around the world. Has TDC noticed, as it becomes less ,not more, concerned with issues of agricultural land and Thanet's water?

Thursday, 10 July 2008


How glad I am to see Cllr Simon Moores posting on Thanetlife at 12.04 today. I hope this will see the regular return of Thanetlife as a forum for Thanet discussion and a wide range of topics that was its trademark. Having been suspended since February, it is still a 'members only' blogspot but 'a minimis incipe'.

More importantly, Bertie can soon look forward to a rest from this blogging business.

Tuesday, 8 July 2008


The plan above (click on it for more detail) shows the land owned at Phase 1, China Gateway by KCC (yellow) ( not only a council anymore but a property developer), owner occupiers (blue) and Grisham/Robertson but now probably CGP.(pink)

Are, our Thanet and even KCC Cllrs representing Thanet aware of a report prepared by Pete Raine, Managing Director- Environment and Regeneration (KCC) for KCC's Environment & Regeneration Policy Overview Committeee dated 21 Nov 2006? (If not go and find it with Google).

Are people aware of what public money has been spent on this site already so that CGP can make a profit of between £30,000,000 to £40,000, 000 if planning consent is approved for China Gateway? Let me fill you in:
1. While Wiggins/Planestation owned it: £5, 263,000 for infrastructure provision.
2. Off-site highway works (KCC) : £1, 517,000.
3. Purchase of 70 acres of land by KCC in Spring 2006: £5,350,000.
4. consultant fees/estate management by KCC: £150,000 per annum.

In November 2006 KCC felt that 35 acres could be for business space development but it also owned the land containing surface water balancing ponds and extensive belts of landscaping. (More about this later) AND land that controlled access to the farmland for development now owned by CGP; its called a 'ransom'strip in developers parlance.

The original outlining planning consents ran out and OUR County Council KCC has moved to cramming more in the site and reducing landscape belts and what else? A look at CGPs plans will see that surface water balancing ponds are a no-no, as are extensive landscape belts to hide the site in the middle of a rural area. Why? So that more sheds can be crammed in. KCC and TDC has changed its tune on safe-guarding water supplies since Cummins was developed on the site 10 years ago or more; they are reducing standards by not insisting on collecting surface water runoff in balancing ponds and extensive screening belts.

I now come to the business of the consultants employed by KCC for Manston and who have also been employed for Eurokent site; they are DTZ; a Chinese multinational development company. You might be interested to see them on the sign at Manston's site entrance, shown below. So we have KCCs consultants tied up with Commercial Group Properties in the business of selling plots on a site that KCC still effectively controls with its ransom strip north of the roundabout by Cummins entrance. (i.e CGP cannot get to its proposed X type warehouses unless KCC lets them. Today I heard a rumour that 'Woger', (Cllr Roger Latchford and Mowice's Deputy) was saying that he was proud to be a 'Director' of EKO LLP ( TDC's own property development company) and also a Director of East Kent Spatial Development Company ( an organ to spend tax-payers money so that private commercial developers don't have to) and that EKSD would be paying (using yet more tax-payers money) to put in water and foul sewage drainage for The Gateway Project. ( You will be aware already, I hope, that Ken Wills has answered the EA's insistence on mains sewerage with yet another attempt to use Klargester septic tanks - its cheaper).

So why do I think that KCC and TDC are not playing straight with us over Gateway?

Simply because I feel this whole business has lacked clarity, honesty with the electorate and openess in democratic Government at County Level and District Level; involves our own Councils in the development game of 'maximising assets and exploiting land holdings'; produces a closeness between Councils and developers whereby Public Funds (our taxes) are used to bail- out developers from the 'risk' element and fails to take into account the wishes of its electorate in the process. It seems to me that the more convoluted the story Of 'Gateway' becomes the less savoury it is and more costly to tax-payers; over £11,000, 000 of tax-payers money has been spent so far up at Manston and now TDC and KCC want to spend more so that CGP doesn't have to. Have they forgotten that CGP's shareholders expect to gain a profit on Gateway of upto £40,000,000? CGP should pay for its own water and sewerage and if it can't, it should withdraw its application.


Whilst not wanting to be distracted from Gateway, I heartily recommend a visit to Dickie at to enjoy the offerings appearing in 'Richard's Thanisaurus'. LOL !

Monday, 7 July 2008


Rumour has come to me that nice Hannah Thorpe has sent out an e-mail to all objectors to TDC's Asset Sell Off, sorry, Asset Management Consultation exercise, that there will be an extraordinary meeting of TDC Cabinet on 17 July starting at 1pm to listen to their objections.

Hannah has upset one or two people so I am told , because the e-mail sent out had all the individuals concerned e-mail addresses attached so I am sure they will all be receiving some spam mail shortly!

If that wasn't enough, it would appear that our Labour Councillors who also represent us, were not informed of this wonderful event to be held in The Council Chamber before 'Mowice', 'Wodger' and the Cabinet. Less than 2 weeks notice is pretty short notice these days, with everyone leading such busy lives and it does seem odd that Shadow Cabinet members were not informed. Are they not entitled to hear what has to be said by objectors in their 3 minute slots?

I know the cynical will think that objecting in a 3 minute burst of passion is unlikely to sway 'Mowice' and 'Wodger' and the Cabinet despite how compelling , lucid and logical the arguments against flogging off Thanet's assets. Remember, that TDC must be seen to 'consult' and as you deliver your 3 minute spiel, try not to be put off by the yawns, the staring at the ceiling, or the sudden interest in contents of handkerchiefs as you give your heartfelt best.

Has this whole business not got to go to a Full Council to decide? Will the events planned for 17 July actually take place then? I am reliably told that despite Covenants restricting Northdown House and associated buildings, the Northdown House sell-off is still a proposal. I await Will Friend's 3 minutes worth with interest as he can be guarranteed to be impassioned and the whole afternoon, when it happens will be the best entertainment in Margate that day; don't miss it.

TDC watchers will then need to take a very close interest in what happens next and in particular, who the developers and purchaser's are and what they get, how they get it and what they then plan. Has TDC Planning already drawn up its outline concepts that it will require for each location, as that excellent outline for Arlington Arcade does? Is there already a list of preferred purchasers approved.?

Forgive me if I find it difficult to ape all of the 3 monkeys.

Sunday, 6 July 2008


The amazing thing about China and Chinamex, is the sheer scale of operations. The Dragonmart in International City Dubai, has 2000 Chinese enterprises in lots of shops selling Chinese products such as household appliances(white goods), communications and electronic products, furniture, building materials, office ware, home-ware, clothing, hats, bags and luggage.

At the same time as they have been talking with Sandy Ezekiel, President of Thanet SEZ (TDC?) Council in Kent UK and Roger Latchfors Vice President, they have been talking with bigger fish in Bahrain, Lebanon, Mexico, Holland, Spain and the USA. When one reads of farming land being bought by China in Africa and S America, copper mines in Africa and a huge expansion of the Chinese Navy, one begins to realise that the Planet's latest Empire which is still the largest undemocratic state in the world, is set to straddle the globe and its trade in a far more effective way than The British Empire did.

Just across the Channel they are planning with Schipol Airport and ING Real Estate Group to set up Chinamex Europe Trade and Exhibition Centre (CETEC). (concept picture below)

CETEC will have exhibitions, wholesale units, warehousing and logistics centres to re-export to other EU member states and just like Dragonmart will have built in tourist site to feature Chinese culture. ING Real Estate with a planned 15% stake in CETEC makes CGP look like the minnow on the block in comparison.

What's my point? Is Chinamex really interested in just having exhibitions, wholesale and logistic operations at Manston? When will it want its 'retail' units and 'cultural' input?

Assuming that our President and Vice-President (Mowice and Wodger) in conjunction with CGP, told them on last November's visit that Thanet 'SEZ' Council wants to 'deliver' these phases, what is to prevent Chinamex assuming that other Phases can be delivered as well? Are they aware of the effect on Thanet's water supply and farmland to grow food ; with China's record on pollution would they care anyway?

Where would the other phases go? One doesn't need to look far. Imagine the site plan for Gateway and the only expansion can be towards the Manston Road and Margate Hill. Have overtures already been made to Quex Park Estates for its farmland?

Late night musings or will Westwood Cross resemble The Arlington Arcade in Margate in the not too distant future?

Saturday, 5 July 2008


Having lost out on his £1,000 invested in Wiggins (cos it was good for Thanet), Bertie is always interested in share prices and who buys whose shares.
Digging around the internet I was interested to see that Laxey Partners Ltd ( a hedge fund operator based in the Isle of Man) bought 21.28% of Commercial Group Properties at about 120p per share in March 2008 and Google Finance shows those shares were down to 110p on Friday. They would appear to own a fifth of CGP.
I also found this little snippet from The Swiss Federal Banking Commission about Laxey Partners Ltd:

"10 March 2008 – The Swiss Federal Banking Commission (SFBC) ruled on 7
March 2008 that Laxey Partners Ltd et alii (Laxey) infringed their disclosure obligations
under Art. 20 of the Stock Exchange Act when building their stake in Implenia
AG by using contracts for difference with underlying Implenia AG shares
mainly during the first quarter of 2007. The SFBC will, as a result, file a criminal
complaint with the Federal Department of Finance as required by law."
Looking again at CGP's Directors, I see no set up to actually develop and run a site like the proposed China Gateway. Then of course I remember that CGP's Managing Director's particular forte is to maximise a return to investors by obtaining planning consents.
No wonder Thanet's water supply, farmland and rural country-side between Manston and Acol is irrelevant to them.

Friday, 4 July 2008


The good thing about being a neutral sort of chap with a Conservative bent, is that it enables one to listen to all sorts of gossip around the big village that Thanet is. Here's some of the gossip doing the rounds today and you can make of it what you will:
1. Thanet Earth is not advertising locally for workers but adverts have been appearing in Polish papers for the past few weeks to attract staff to Thanet Earth.
2. The fire at the closed old Currys at Westwood this evening was a case of genuine vandals setting fire to premises as oppposed to the normal standard of arson (with a motive) that Thanet seems plagued with. That corner of The Westwood Cross roundabout is to be a new Ikea or a series of Chinese businesses in a minor 'China Town' to cater for the vast numbers of Chinamex employees coming our way shortly courtesy of CGP.
3. The new building going up on the old Wickes site between Debenhams and Sainsbury's has seen a rash of Primark staff from Head Office monitoring progress and that the one shop in lower Margate High St that still attracts footfall in that neglected town is going to close and operations will move to Westwood Cross.
4. Cllr 'call me Ken' Gregory, Thanet's new Chair of Planning, has realised that hitting the keys of his PC is not a good idea when downing a few pints of 'real' ale.
5. 'Mowice', 'Our Leader' is not a good sailor and does not know a 'clove-hitch' from a 'sheep-shank' but likes his martini stirred and not shaken.
6. Developers at St.Augustine's in Westgate are so desperate to sell property in these difficult times that part-exchange and other offers are being made to sell houses there.
The urban legends abound, but experience has taught me that Thanet's village gossips sometimes pick up on issues long before our 'word-smiths' in Union Row , so don't necessarily take all the gossip with a 'pinch of salt'.

Thursday, 3 July 2008


Bertie brings you tonight the 'Tale of Two Barns' and wonders what Mr Brian White, Head of Development Services at TDC is up to.

First of all, you should be aware that these two barns are located in the midst of CGPs China Cateway Plans for Phases, 1,2 and 3 and the whole area surrounding them is proposed to be a huge Industrial Estate of which Mr Brian White at TDC was clearly aware of in March 2007.

Let's deal with the modest 12m long barn , to replace an old structure of the same size, at Rose Farm which, if CGP gets its way, will have car parking and industrial sheds all round it shortly and no farm land (Mr Struan Robertson flogged off his farmland to CGP in March 2007 you see).

Mr Struan Robertson applied on 14th May 2008, to turn a battered old Dutch barn into a modern enclosed barn with entrance sufficiently large to have tractors be stored in. Why he should want to do this at this stage remains a mystery but Brian White, turned down this barn application with the words: " The applicant has failed to demonstrate that the proposed development is necessary to agriculture ........ ( Go and look at F/TH/08/0559).

We now move to the other 'barn' at the back of Alland Grange Farm, which is currently under construction. Like the barn at Rose Farm, it too will be surrounded by industrial units of CGP's Gateway and in fact does not seem to feature in CGP's Phase 1 Plans ( i.e. it will be demolished in due course). An application was made for this structure on 11 Jan 2007 (see F/TH/07/0126) by, you have it, Mr Struan Robertson. Its very big as the plans below show, being 50m long.

Now comes the interesting bit. CGP bought an awful lot of Mr Struan Robertson's farm land in March 2007, reputedly for a sum in excess of £5,000,000 (with more to come if planning consent is granted for Gateway). CGP then took over the application which was then ammended on 6 Mar 2007. Now, this is the odd bit of reasoning; Mr Brian White approved this application on 26 March 2007 (very quickly it would seem) despite presumably knowing at this stage that CGP had a Gateway project 'afoot' and that CGP were not in the agricultural business and that as in the more recent Rose Farm 'barn' application, there was shortly to be no need whatsoever for an agricultural barn to store grain; you cannot grow wheat in large quantities on an industrial estate!
So what, you might ask? Let me explain; a major construction project needs some materials to be pre-located out of the elements and a very large grains store fits the purpose admirably. (Oh, of course it will need a further application for 'change of use' but I am sure Mr Brian White will oblige in due course).
So Mr White turns down the Rose Farm' barn' in 2008, because he assumes it will have no agricultural purpose when surrounded by warehouses and car-parks of CGP but none the less approved a 'grain storage' barn for CGP in 2007, knowing that it would shortly have no grain going into it.
What a strange world TDC Planning moves in. The worrying thing for us to consider is that CGP's application for Gateway is outside The Thanet Plan and therefore any assumptions dear Mr White has made as a Council Officer, seem to have ignored the fact that our TDC Councillors our meant to make decisions concerning Planning Applications like 'Gateway' and of course may yet turn it down. In that case, Mr Struan Robertson's barn at Rose Farm should have been approved on the basis that agricultural use is presently on-going.
As I prepare to climb the stairs for a well earned rest, the thought crosses my mind that "What tangled webs we weave...........................". Good night.

Wednesday, 2 July 2008


If you haven't found a copy of Your Thanet today, Sue kindly sent a link on another strand and you can access the electronic version of the paper at .

A reader has e-mailed me to say that this correctly spelled message from Amy Murray and her team has some significance that only half the members of The Planning Committee were not shown on the infamous site visit that Ken Gregory so vociferously defends in the paper. I now point it out to them and to those who did not attend.

Firstly they are standing at the NW boundary of the site and about 10m from where the two largest Gateway buildings will end; ie. the X type warehouses. The observant will note that Sparrow Castle Pumping Station is in the background about 250m away. These 'protestors' are standing 50m inside the Source Protection Zone 1 of the aquifer!

A well experienced Chair of Planning , like Cllr Bill Hayton, who 'Mowice' sacked in early May having allowed his Council to gag comments at Planning Visits in April, would have pointed out the way the two X type warehouses with all the major HGV traffic would not only be built on prime agricultural land contrary to TDC Policy CC9; but would also be built on SPZ 1 contrary to policy EP13 but in addition would be the most visually intrusive contrary to policy CC2 and would be the closest point of the Phase 1 plan to the village of Acol. (Acol only has 230 villagers eligible to vote, so they can be ignored of course).

My source tells me that The 'visit' did not even go up the public footpath to see for themselves the way the plans would look on the ground and did not even consider looking at the site from the outside in, to even consider their impact and whether the X types should not be built there but elsewhere in Phase 1.

This of course would have been EVIDENCE pointed out to them had locals, affected by the plan, been able to draw these issues to the attention of The Planning Committee during its 'visit'.

So forgive me if I regard Cllr Gregory's words in Your Thanet as utterly risible. He said ,

"What we should be doing is allowing officers to tell us what is proposed so when ALL THE EVIDENCE IS GATHERED, (my capitals) and it ends up in the chamber at the council, we do it with some knowledge of the area."

The problem about evidence is that what you ignore, leave out, fail to seek or do not search for, is often vital evidence when attempting to make a sound decision and I for one have little confidence that our Planning Committee members are being directed to consider ALL the evidence.

This might help explain why Amy and her team are up in arms and about to roll out another, 20,000 leaflets to encourage the people of Thanet to object to serious aspects of this application that are being treated in what appears to be a cavalier manner by TDC. It's called local democracy and listening to your electorate. A copy is shown below.

You can print it off if you want or wait for it to arrive in a street near you!