Monday, 29 September 2008


This is Robin Bolton, Chairman of CGP. Here is what he said on 31 May 2008:

" We expect to recieve a resolution to grant planning consent in the near future for Phase One of The Manston Project. Once this is received we will be able to further progress the planning documentation for the next two phases of this development".

Note, if you will, the careful choice of words he uses; not IF planning consent is received but ONCE. He is also saying that this development is a 3 Phase project! Compare this to what Doug Brown, the TDC Planning Dept Case Officer, said to KM Extra last week in respect of a recent meeting with GOSE and CGP:

" The applicants (CGP) were asked to confirm that Phase One is a stand alone project. The applicants confirmed this to be the case."

What are our Councillors to make of this contradiction?

Let me now explain what used to happen in TDC Planning Department before it dealt with CGP and this so-called 'stand alone' application on Manston Business Park.
As the problems of the nearby aquifer were well understood by all concerned, when Cummins applied to extend its buildings in 2005, it submitted detailed drainage plans for foul sewage and water run-off from hardstanding vehicle areas automatically. I am not into this technical stuff but please feel free to look at the detail in the plan below.

Not only did Cummins draw up detailed drainage plans to safe-guard the aquifer they were in very close proximity to, but they also made a statement about exactly what they were doing and I show it to you below. (Please click on to see detail).

Now we come to examine how TDC Planning Dept dealt with CGP's application only 2 years later. Go and visit and read documents for 08/0400. CGP's run off data was not able to meet 'storm' conditions and there was no drainage detail other than a reference to Klargester cess-pits. This was added to later by pretty pictures of an on-site sewage farm but still no detailed drainage proposals. I must add here that in 2007, CGP were told that the EA would only agree to mains foul sewers! In May this year Mr Wills of CGP was being quoted in the press as saying that the Klargester systems were economic and sustainable. It was only the persistence of a few people contacting the EA and SW and badgering TDC who finally managed to get an acceptance in July from Mr Wills that 'mains sewerage' was inevitable!
So once upon a time in Thanet, we had a rigorous Planning Dept that insisted on the highest standards of diligence and duty of care in respect of our aquifer.; that was until CGP came along. Not any more it would seem. It would appear that our Councillors are going to be told on 9th Oct that we haven't got a detailed drainage plan from CGP yet but 'don't worry, we have some conditions in place'.
What is going on here? Surely we have double standards being applied in respect of sloppy plans from CGP for development on Manston Business Park. I know Doug Brown to be an honest man but what pressure is being put on him by Cabinet and Senior Officers to push this application along.?
This sheer inconsistency must be challenged and I hope our Councillors will insist that they are presented with detailed drainage plans from CGP that have been reviewed and approved by Southern Water and The Environmental Agency before they can approve this application. TDC has a legal duty of care in respect of the aquifer that cannot be derogated in law and will need to inspect and monitor the drainage on this site in perpetuity, according to Southern Water.
I think we can trust Doug Brown to do his best but is it enough? I am concerned about those above him , who are already determined to push this through , so that CGP's Chairman can confidently say " Once" and not 'IF' the application is approved.

Sunday, 28 September 2008


Tony Flaig has commented already on 'Leader's View' in The Isle of Thanet Gazette and I am afraid I have to as well. There are some interesting aspects to this carefully scripted piece. I will get back to this point later. As we get closer to the 9th October, there is the bad smell of panic coming from offices in Cecil Square.
'Our Leader' knows and so does Ken Wills that many of the residual 2,000 unemployed in Thanet are not skilled or inclined to work and this is a feature of many sea-side areas. Benefits in a low-wage economy like Thanet will be given to 16% of the 72,000 people of working age; with two children and a combined family income of £55,000 per annum , you are still entitled to Family Tax Credits. This has nothing to do with those who are unemployed! You cannot ring fence jobs and employers will employ the best trained and skilled they can find. The only jobs that Wills and Ezekiel know about for sure, at the moment, if this project is approved by our Councillors, are the 300-500 'skilled' Chinese nationals that will be coming to Thanet as in all Chinamex operations.
They keep silent on this though .
This of course raises the issue of housing for them and their families and you might like to connect the move to put housing on Eurokent Site instead of industry and employment by EKO LLP (Woger is TDC's director on this KCC/TDC property company) with this. ECO Housing just happens to be a CGP Shareholder and will be involved in due course, I should imagine. TDC has already discussed at Cabinet the need to argue the case that with housing on Eurokent, Thanet will need more employment land. It is no coincidence that CGP purchased farmland for Phases 2 and 3 in 2006 and 2007 which would fit the bill nicely. Let me quote from CGP's AIM flotation document and CGP's Annual Report:
" However, if a special user was identified which could not be accommodated on any of the existing allocations, then a case could be made for an extension of the property. This principle was endorsed by the Planning Officer at the District Council."
"The Manston Site (CGP's land there) was revalued at 30 Nov2007... to £50.9 million compared to its historical cost of £23.5 million. The uplift primarily reflects CGP's progress in relation to planning matters.....".
To get back to 'Our Leader's' carefully scripted article. Am I the only one who has picked up a steady theme from CGP, Ladyman, TDC and Ezekiel. It boils down to PROMISE LOTS OF JOBS; rubbish the claims on water; it's not agricultural land but 'weed infested' (the site for the X types had wheat harvested from it last month); it's a stand-alone application (we all know its 3 phases or more) and attack anyone who disagrees. It does seem quite well orchestrated, doesn't it.
Could this be because Rob Prince of CGP had a meeting with Woger Latchford, John Bunnett, Cheryl Pendry and Susan Adkins on the 4th January this year at TDC where it was decided to:
" formulate a press campaign" and that "TDC and CGP should liaise with each other before releasing any information to the press" and thereafter have monthly meetings.

So whose words are we reading in 'Our Leader's ' View?

What Tony Flaig has also highlighted is the tone; 'not IF our democratically elected Councillors approve this application on the 9th October' but 'WHEN' the Chinese companies come to Manston'. So are allegations that 'this is a done deal' valid? We wait to see.

There is one crumb of comfort; as TDC Cabinet has been right behind this application with Senior Officers, it is quite clear that ALL members of The Cabinet have predetermined the issue to be examined by Full Council' on the 9th and thus cannot vote on the matter. I wonder if Mauwice, Woger, Shirley, Zita, Joe and Martin have arranged a 'room' for themselves until Full Council has determined the issue?

Friday, 26 September 2008


Application 08/0400 has become a farce and these two people above are the major part of the problem. Let me explain.

Early this year TDC (your Council who have to make a decision on the 9th Oct) and KCC(also your Council) formed East Kent Opportunities LLP. and pooled their land holdings at Eurokent and Manston Business Park to form effectively our Council's own property development company registered at companies house. The directors 'Woger' Latchford and Roger Gough went to China as 'Directors' of EKO LLP/ Councillors where Woger forgot about hospitality from Commercial Group Properties but Roger didn't. I digress.

The problem is that instead of saying to CGP, "lets have a sensible plan for Manston Business Park utilising our (Council/EKO LLP) assets" they are playing the property speculator game. They are happy to charge CGP £2.25 million for a ransom strip and 5 acres to allow Building 01 'The Gateway' to happen but have not addressed the site as a whole. You see, they know that this application is not 'stand alone' as EKOLLP (our councils) are fiddling with the plot at Eurokent for housing so that CGPs farmland purchases can be designated as 'industrial' and hey presto, we get Phases 2 and 3.

Because of this odd situation, CGP are playing on the site with a ridiculous plan that overcrowds, puts huge redistribution warehouses closest to Acol and our aquifer and is quite frankly a travesty of any sensible planning process. The problem is that TDC Cabinet are so much behind this project that they do not want Planning (oh, Brian White of course is committed to this project too) to upset the developer by telling them to go away and produce a sensible plan. Its all a question of do you really believe this is a stand alone application or not? Well TDC/KCC and EKO LLP don't think it is, nor does CGP.

Anyway, lets believe in the Tooth Fairy, suspend intelligent thought and pretend it is a one off application.

Oh dear, the diagram below shows the existence of Theatrical Pyrotechnics employing 30 +people from Thanet , smack bang in the middle of CGPs nice drawings. We can't pretend they don't exist can we? Well, its location and safety distance means that at least until 2013 any plans to build on them or close to them are irrelevant and exceed the time for consent.

Now we can look at Manston Business Park below with the harsh light of reality and what do we see?
All the black buildings are real and exist. All the blue are CGPs proposals with the exception of buildings that cannot be built. So what does the application boil down to?
Well quite clearly, 5 huge redistribution warehouses (X and A types) in the most sensitive part of the site, one Gateway building, a few other box buildings and a restaurant. So where are the thousand jobs? This application now looks pathetic and shoddy and needs revisiting.

Here's a suggestion. As TDC/KCC want this development so much , for goodness sake, give land to CGP at a fair price and tell them to put redistribution warehouses up at the new Summit Aviation end of the site where they won't bother the water supply or Acol (ie.let Ken Wills have the HGVs grinding around outside his office instead). Then the smaller more sensible operations and buildings can go down at the bottom end of the site where they will be less intrusive , quieter for Acol and less hazardous to our aquifer.
Now that's what I call a sensible proposal but that of course is not what this project is about is it. The worst thing about being lied to by people is when you know it and they know it, but they persist in telling lies. TDC Cabinet and its Senior Officers who have abstemious habits on trips abroad, continue to fail to come clean about this whole issue and quite simply cannot be trusted to act impartially or objectively.
That is why our Councillors need to reject this application and thus take it out of their hands entirely.

Thursday, 25 September 2008


The map above shows you how Thanet's farmland and rural landscape is being and could be altered in the next few years.( Please click on for more detail)

Please note to the west, Thanet Earth and to the north Two Chimneys Caravan Park that has expanded on a further 30 acres of prime agricultural land in the past 5 years. I have hatched in Kent International Airport which is about to unveil its big new development plan and Kent International Business Park.

The observant will notice that I have also hatched in land that CGP has been casting an eye over and making preliminary approaches on. A 'Gateway' project in Chinamex terms includes retail units, leisure units and cultural units. If we really think that Application F/TH/08/0400 is a stand alone application then we are fools.

CGP and TDC Cabinet and Officers know quite well that Phases 1, 2 & 3 are linked but what CGP and TDC Cabinet do not want you all to know is that Phases 4, 5, and 6 are being looked at and approaches have been made by CGP to purchase prime agricultural land up to the Manston Road and Margate Hill. At the Planning Meeting on 20th Aug there was even mention of a 'by-pass' over agricultural land from MIBP to Shottendane Road! How can 08/0400 be a 'stand alone ' application when such matters are raised?

TDC is already moving to 're-designate agricultural land' at Manston as last weeks Cabinet Meeting revealed when considering the 'Fitt Report' and what we are facing is a 'creeping' development that is being carefully manipulated by TDC Cabinet in a step by step process.

If this is what the people of Thanet want and our Councillors approve of, then as a democrat I will accept the decision they make on the 9th October although I, and many objectors to this scheme, feel it would be disastrous. If our representatives feel that the short-term gain of a few jobs in Thanet is worth writing off our water supply and land described by MAFF in 1995 as a 'national resource' then so be it.

A short term gain needs to be weighed against long term strategic problems and whether CGP ends up in the agricultural industry as opposed to lucrative property speculation, is their concern , not ours!

Wednesday, 24 September 2008


On 19 July I reported on some odd goings on in Birchington in Berkeley Road.
I have noticed that this story was picked up by many of our local papers whilst I have been in Ibiza and today there is yet another letter in Your Thanet on the subject.
As I have been sent copies of the Independent Inspectors decision prior to granting of this final application by our Councillors in Full Council and the report made by a Planning Officer to members at that meeting, I show them in full below. (You will need to click on them to get legible size)
I am not going to comment at all on the extracts shown but let readers come to their own decisions.
The only thing that I will say is that the title of my strand in July was " The worry is not what our Councillors are told but what they are not told". In respect of the impending Full Council, this question now has added import.
When our Councillors receive their mail next Monday with the 'package' for China Gateway Phase 1 (sorry, 08/0400 at MIBP as it is a 'stand alone' application isn't it?) I wonder if they will have been fully informed by Cabinet and Senior Officers about this whole business up at Manston or will they be as much in the dark as Councillors were kept over a single house in Birchington?

Tuesday, 23 September 2008


Before I return to the rather squalid story of China Gateway in Thanet, could I bring to your attention a rather special hero, Warrant Officer Class 2 Gary O'Donnell GM. I, and many ex-servicemen and women owe our lives to men like him.

He died on Wednesday 10th September 2008, leaving a widow and 4 children without a father. He was awarded a George Medal in 2006 in Iraq and died outside the town of Musa Qula in Helmand Province , Afghanistan as he cleared the way for the infantry to move safely.

For those who do not understand what an Ammunition Technical Officer (ATO) working on Explosive Ordnance Detachment (EOD) duty does for the Queen's shilling, let me explain. In cold blood they approach and clear booby-trapped bombs whether they be land-mines, car bombs, rocket launcher systems, mortars, landmines and culvert bombs, all designed to kill and maim our soldiers. This is 'work' that requires a very special sort of hero. Gary O'Donnel did this work for most of his Army service in Northern Ireland, Sierra Leone, Iraq and Afghanistan. In Northern Ireland his NATO appointment title would have been 'Felix' and I suspect it still was in Afghanistan. Well, he ran out of his 9 lives as many of his comrades in EOD have done. The 'enemy' whether it be Shia militia's, IRA or Taliban have always made ATOs a specific target to kill on the grounds that they have been so effective in preventing enemy devices from killing and maiming British troops on Operations.

You must forgive me for loathing the media label attached to sportsmen and women as 'Olympic' heroes etc . Gary O'Donnell was a hero in the correct meaning that he was an illustrious warrior and it demeans his quiet unassuming bravery and courage to label lesser mortals as heroes.
May he rest in peace.

Monday, 22 September 2008


On the 15th June and again on 12th July, Thanetstrife ran two items regarding Northdown House and its surroundings.

Readers will be aware that these two posts have been removed from Thanetstrife for some time.

Mr Peter Miles had drawn to my attention matters relating to these items that shed further light on the complex issues involved. I would like to apologise unreservedly to Mr Miles for any implications that he or others may have misconstrued from these items, concerning his integrity and good character. He has a record that is beyond reproach in terms of fighting corruption and maladministration here in Thanet and is a man I hold in high regard having got to know him well.

(Please note that Comment Moderation is in place and that no comments will be added to this posting)