Wednesday, 30 April 2008

CHINA GATEWAY - WHO ARE CGP AND WHAT DO THEY DO?

CGP Directors Ken Wills and Chris Seymour-Prosser at The Development of Small & Medium Enterprises (Bejing) Forum. "WIN, WIN!" was the theme but who for you might ask?CGP is selling the idea to TDC that China Gateway is all about job creation . Before we get euphoric about 3000+ jobs at China Gateway we need to ask ourselves if we have the reservoir of talent and skilled workers in Thanet bearing in mind that those Antolin people had a problem getting skilled staff. We also have Thanet Earth about to come on stream with up to 500 jobs available. If we look at the unemployed pool in Thanet(2,000 odd) it would appear to have low-skilled workers and shirkers in it. So most of the workers and construction workers will come from out-side Thanet.


If you are interested in looking up CGP , Ken Wills and Chris Seymour-Prosser 'Google' Search for them and you can read to your heart's content. Here are some snippets I have dug out for interest.


A Report by Company Eye in Feb 2007 had this to say about CGP:


" a general holding company for property interests"

"CGP - The Company is a newly incorporated company which was established by certain of the directors for THE SOLE PURPOSE OF ACQUIRING THE SITES...." (my capitals)
The sites Company Eye was talking about were: Forthingloe near Dover: Manston site and Western Heights, Dover.

" The success of the Company is to a large extent dependent upon it successfully obtaining planning permission enabling it to develop its property sites."

"THE MANSTON SITE""The Company is in negotiations with a large Chinese company with a view to forming a joint venture to develop the Manston Site as A MAJOR DISTRIBUTION CENTRE for both the UK and Europe for CHINESE MANUFACTURING COMPANIES taking advantage of the proximity to Dover Harbour. The Directors believe that such a project could give significant ADDED VALUE (my capitals) to the Manston Site and are discussing with local politicians ways to progress this project. The Directors believe that the prospects of employment in the area arising from such a venture WOULD FACILITATE THE GRANT OF CONSENT FOR CHANGE OF USER(my capitals) and, in the process, deliver the possibility of adding value for Shareholders."


Have I read this properly? The Manston site is a logistics centre to receive hundreds of lorries bringing Chinese manufactured products in and then shift them out again? That explains those two big X warehouses on the plans perhaps?



The picture below shows Chris Seymour-Prosser in Bejing at the 'conference' in March 2007.

Here is what Company Eye say about Mr Seymour-Prosser' s past in February 2007:
" Chris Seymour-Prosser specialized in obtaining ‘brown field’ off-market sites that enabled the company (Dizengoff) to PURSUE MAJOR PLANNING CONSENTS for various high-density schemes thus achieving SUBSTANTIAL PROFITS and ensuring that the company’s initial investment was returned in a SHORT PERIOD. Chris’s most recent mixed-use developments for the company had a gross development value in excess of £200m. In February 2006 Chris ended his relationship with Dizengoff to concentrate on building a new property development company with his fellow director Ken Wills and to this end they have transferred their interests in certain development properties to the Company creating the Company’s current development portfolio." (my capitals).


Here's an extract from a CGP interim Chairman's Report sent to me with the comment that losses for CGP were in excess of £800,000 for the period:
" Manston
a) On 15th March 2007 the Company purchased further land comprising of 73 acres of agricultural land.
b) On 22nd June 2007 the Company signed an agreement to lease with the Beijing Association of SME. The agreement to lease is for between 900,000 sq ft and 1,100,000 sq ft of business accommodation at Manston International Business Park. The lease is for a period of 10 years from handover to the Tenant on the completion of the building contract which is expected to be within 18 months.Chinamex Middle East Investment & Trade Promotion Centre ("Chinamex") is standing as the "surety" to the agreement. Chinamex is an official arm of the People's Republic of China."


If you have bothered to get this far, you might be interested in a MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING . Here it is:
" Memorandum of Understanding in relation to CGP's China Gateway site, Manston, Kent
Commercial Group Properties PLC, the AIM-listed property company, announces that it has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding ("MOU") with Zhejiang Province, acting through Chairman Bao of the Taizhou Foreign Merchant Information Federation with a view in due course to leasing 2,500,000 sq. ft. at CGP's China Gateway site at Manston, Kent. Under the MOU, CGP will arrange for outline planning permission for the building of the additional 2,500,000 sq. ft. of business accommodation on what is currently agricultural land at the site. Following the receipt of outline planning consent, Zhejiang Province Enterprises will sign an agreement to lease covering 2,500,000 sq. ft., such lease to run for 10 years from the date of first occupation. This follows the Company's announcement on 17 May 2007 that it had agreed to lease between 900,000 sq. ft. and 1,100,000 sq. ft. to the Beijing Association of SME at the same site.
Ends
For further information, please contact:
Commercial Group Properties PLC +44 (0) 1843 860866Ken Wills
Beaumont Cornish Limited +44 (0) 20 7628 3396Roland Cornish
Holborn Public Relations Limited +44 (0) 20 7929 5599David Bick/Mark Longson
I hope this has given you an idea of CGP and how it makes money.
Just an odd thought here, but I have been back to the application to TDC for Phase 1 (F/TH/08/0400) and the owners of land for Phase 1 are listed as KCC, Theatrical Pyrotechnics and Struan Robertson of Alland Grange. Not a sign of CGP.

Tuesday, 29 April 2008

CHINA GATEWAY - HOW TO OBJECT?

This photograph from Thanet Treehuggers shows the view from Sparrow Castle Pumping Station looking south west across The Manston Road. Phase 1 of CGP's gateway Project will fill the view behind the plot shown to the sky-line.
======================================================

I have received information from Amy who lives right in the firing line of this development about the media visiting tomorrow to find out what people think. She would love any interested parties to join her. Details from Amy are:

WEDNESDAY 30th April
" Meridian News are meeting me at 2 Pouces Cottages, Manston CT12 5BU (along the B2190) at 1pm. (Although Matthew Jefferson from KMFM is coming at 12.45pm to cover the story for Thanet Extra and local radio). Parking is available at 1 Pouces Cottages."

You can contact Amy on amkiky@aol.com .

=============================================



If you have anything you want to say about protecting Thanet's water supply, agricultural land, wildlife, Landscape Character Area or wish to register objections to CGP's Gateway Project you will need to act quickly. This is the detail from TDC's web-site:


Comments need to be submitted to the council by Friday 9 May to either doug.brown@thanet.gov.uk or in writing to Planning, Thanet District Council, PO Box 9, Cecil Street, Margate, CT9 1XZ.
You should quote Application F/TH/08/0400
=============================================

EZEKIEL UNDER PRESSURE?

KMFM Thanet Radio is reporting that Cllr Ezekel is brushing aside calls for him to resign after the Standards Board finding on the 'f***ing w***er' incident. In later bulletins today we hear Cllr Ezekiel predictably claiming " Let's be honest, this is pure political........." as his response to those wanting him to resign. Its not political and he knows it; its about what behaviour Thanet expects of its Council Leader who represents us all.

I hope Tory Councillors do not consider resignation calls a political partisan matter and close ranks in 'defence' of Mr Ezekiel. They might be better off considering 'pushing him'.

If I was a Labour Councillor I would be urging the Tories to hang on to 'Their Leader' and the longer the better. He is such a liability now and the butt of so much ribald commentary that he is probably the best recruiting agent for The Labour Group at TDC and will probably be largely responsible for losing Thanet to Labour at the next opportunity Thanet's electorate has to vote.

CHINA GATEWAY (Report 3) - WATER AND WILDLIFE

"The aquifer underlying the site is considered to be a major aquifer providing potable water to a large population." (CGP Application)

"There is potential for significant pollution of the aquifer to occur". (CGP Application)

'Thanet Treehuggers' kindly sent this picture across of Southern Water's pumping station at Sparrow Castle on The Manston Road. The proposed development is not only huge, with countless HGV movements and almost 4000 cars parked on site and industrial processes going on but most importantly for all of us in Thanet, it sits on a WATER CATCHMENT AREA FOR OUR DRINKING WATER! This area has 'Source Protection Zones' to ensure that what drips down through the soil and chalk into the natural underground reservoir is pumped out at Sparrow Castle in a drinkable condition. The proposed site affects Source Protection Zones 1, 2 and 3 for Sparrow Castle and a bore hole in The Alland Grange area.

I am not qualified to comment on how the project will affect the amount of water collecting in our aquifers but building on water catchment areas, inevitably reduces the water that reaches the aquifer. In dry years it is not inconceivable that water reserves will run out. If that wasn't bad enough, the threat to our water supply is greatest during construction which will take 4 whole years and read what CGPs Hydrologist has to say:

" should chemicals leach into the groundwater underlying the site the impact would be LONGTERM and in some cases UN-RECOVERABLE" (my capitals). In other words if there is a spillage and contamination of the wrong kind, NO MORE DRINKING WATER FROM THIS AQUIFER FOR YOU AND ME!


The picture shows a sky-lark of which there are many on and around this proposed development. CGP's Ecologists have been, are and will be snooping around the site and its surounds to look for bats, badgers and newts because we can upset human residents in the area with dust, noise and light pollution but we can't upset these species! So far, GCPs Ecologists have come to the view that ecologically speaking, the site is pretty poor and there is nothing to worry about in building on it. They would wouldn't they? In may not be up to much but at least its 'ours' at the moment and in Thanet.

What I find utterly nonsensical is how they think that building the development will improve, yes, IMPROVE the wildlife in the area. Let me give you some quotes from CGP for you to savour:



" there will be landscape and biodiversity enhancement around the boundary edge"



"The strategy for the design scheme provides SIGNIFICANT enhancements to the ecology and biodiversity of the site" (my capitals).

This one has to be the best about the grass areas (lawns) around the site:

" Dry grassland areas will be sown with a diverse mixture of native grasses and wild flowers ....which qualifies as areas of CHALK GRASSLAND " (my capitals). So the lawns (sorry, grass areas) around the site and boundary are compared to that rare and threatened habitat, 'Chalk Grassland'.

So go and tell the sky-larks that CGP's plans will not ruin thir habitat but quite the reverse; the whole project will provide all wild-life with a better habitat than they have now!

Will they believe it? Do you?

Monday, 28 April 2008

CHINA GATEWAY (Report 2) - WHAT WE ARE ABOUT TO GET

" a departure from local planning policy as the scheme would encroach beyond the designated employment land" (CGP Planning application)


I have to thank 'Thanet Treehuggers' for sending me some annotated CGP plans from application F/TH/08/0400 to save you wading through hundreds of pages of stuff. You can peruse in greater detail by clicking on any picture.


The drawing above shows the main area of TDC earmarked 'employment opportunity' land in The Thanet Plan that is Phase 1. The shaded area is believed to be outside the land earmarked and is hardly an 'encroachment; more like a doubling as it surrounds houses in Alland Grange Rd, The Riding Stables and backs up to the MOD Quarters and ex-quarters at Manston!



This is what CGP intend to put into the site in 3 phases from 2008 to 2012. I draw your attention to the number of buildings/wharehouse sheds etc etc(50+, count them if you wish). You may wish to look at the north west corner by The Cummins Site. Those two warehouses are 50' high and will reflect the sun brighly in their white livery and will hardly blend into the landscape; they are seriously huge as the drawings below show.


You might just start to feel sorry for the residents of Acol, Alland Grange Rd and Manston when you realise they will be in or beside the biggest industrial complex in Thanet shortly. You might also like to bear in mind a few points from CGP:


"24 hour operation" " light spillage" (light pollution) " vibration and noise"


" 1,839 parking spaces in Phase 1" " 3,737 parking spaces for all Phases"


"extends beyond the employment land designation into adjoining land DESIGNATED AS A LANDSCAPE CHARACTER AREA" (my capitals)


It was interesting to read that a full FLOOD RISK ASSESSMENT(FRA) has been carried out despite no rivers or sea anywhere near but the run-off from the site (to avoid flooding neighbours in Acol) will be into drainage trenches and underground storage tanks.


It was nice to read that CGP intends to "Provide a sustainable approach to the movement of employees and freight." How, you might well ask? Here's how according to the 'Newspeak' from CGP: " A sustainable approach to travel will be encouraged with a well connected network of cycle and pedestrian routes across the site and beyond as an alternative to car travel."


Do they mean cycle and walk along the narrow country roads on the Birchington/Acol side of the site? There is one bridle path and footpath into this site from Westgate! What an amazing work-force they will have if they are prepared to risk life and limb on bike or foot on the roads surrounding this site. It's in the middle of country-side (nowhere in Thanet terms) with no decent bus-service so those 3,737 car parking spaces will have 3,737 cars driving into and out of them, wont they!
What I couldn't find anywhere in CGPs application was exactly how many 40 ton HGV lorries are expected to be trundling into and out of this site throughout the day and night for 24/7? Will such traffic and all construction traffic for FOUR YEARS be banned from all other approaches other than from the south ? (off the Thanet Way at Mount Pleasant Roundabout). I somehow doubt it.


CHINA GATEWAY (Report 1) - WHAT WE ARE ABOUT TO LOSE

" The establishment of a Business Park of this scale has the potential to create a significant irreversible impact on the local environment."
(DougBrown, Major Development Planning Manger at TDC)

" A consortium of Chinese businesses is behind the proposed scheme"
(CGP)
I was out and about on Saturday morning taking pretty pictures of spring blossom and oil-seed rape in bloom (How nice to be in Thanet etc...) when I realised that Thanet's biggest Industrial Business Park, 'China Gateway' aka 'Manston Business Park' or 'Kent International Business Park' is about to change our views and the appearance of a large part of Thanet forever. The picture above was taken on Manston Road looking south-west. The folly 10 years ago of allowing Cummins to build and then expand will be nothing compared to what CGP has in mind. Look at Planning Application F/TH/08/0400 and then imagine 3 big warehouses in the picture above less than 200 m away.

This view is to the north-west from Manston Road and try and picture two huge warehouses to the right of Cummins' expansion that will fill almost all the horizon shown and 3 other warehouses between you and Cummins.

This view was from Alland Grange Road looking west. Filling the horizon to the right of Cummins' shed will be two enormous 50' high wharehouses but don't worry as you won't be able to see them because between the road and Cummins will be 4 other big sheds with a big car-park just the other side of the broken fence.
As I watched and listened to half a dozen brave sky-larks, wings flapping like mad as they climbed and sang at the same time, some words from CGP's application came to mind:
" it will be a considerable industrial complex" "It will result in the loss of additional agricultural land and natural countryside."
You bet, I thought, as another type of bird climbed into the air behind me at about 09.50 and I gazed up to see what looked like 'The Flying Doc' taking off in the morning sunshine. More words from CGP's application sprang to mind:
"The indicative master plan and overall site requirement for CGP and THE CHINESE GOVERNMENT (my capitals) extends beyond the employment land designation into adjoining countryside land."
Look for a new home sky-larks, The Chinese Government apparently not satisfied with developing and polluting China, now wants your bit of Thanet.

Sunday, 27 April 2008

HOW GOOD TO BE IN THANET NOW THAT SPRING IS HERE

Forget the problems of the world and TDC for a minute and get out and enjoy Thanet in The Spring if you can. There are beautiful spots dotted throughout the Isle at this time of year. Here are just a couple of them. The view above has got to be one of my favourites. I always make a point of driving along Westbrook Avenue towards Westgate at this time of year , instead of along the Canterbury Road. The blossom on these ornamental cherry trees has to be one of the prettiest sites in Thanet. My thanks to Paul Verral at TDC for replacing dead trees with new ones so that our grandchildren will be able to enjoy this scene in years to come. This week will be the best time to enjoy the blossom.
I wonder if 'le stink' from across the Channel has anything to do with countless fields of oil-seed rape? Many will be affected by smell and pollen but it does look glorious at this time of year as this picture in Park Road , Birchington shows.

2 JAGS, 2 JABS, 2 SHAGS AND NOW 2 GAGS?


I apologise for the vulgarity in the title but it seems fitting for a vulgar man who whilst in office set up The Standards Board to over-see conduct of Councillors yet failed dismally to maintain his own.
His startling announcement this week that he suffers from bulimia achieved a high profile for his memoirs but it seems to me that this Labour ex-Minister seems to be as equally incompetent as a bulimic as he was as Transport Secretary and Deputy Prime Minister in being the only bulimic , I am aware of, who gained weight rather than losing it.

Saturday, 26 April 2008

BLOGS 'ON' AND BLOGS 'OFF'

I have become so busy in the metamorphosis towards becoming a serious 'neutral' blog as opposed to a 'parody', that the return of Zentelligence to 'open access' escaped my attention. Perhaps this is a sign that we could see the return of Thanetlife soon, and even possibly Thanetonian? I could then retire from this 'blogging' business and enjoy the forthcoming summer.

What is very interesting, however, is the disappearance of Thom (Gardfahl) over at Heteromorphic Horsefeathers. Has he had the instruction from his bosses to close or is it just a 'technical' problem?

WHY THE TORIES NEED TO FIND A NEW LEADER



The summaries by The Standards Board of England of its investigation of complaints following on from the ''f***ing w***er' altercation at The Winter Gardens are most revealing. Timing of the complaints received by The Standards Board is also interesting, as I will explain in a moment.


The incident took place on 14th April 2007 and it would appear that Cllr Watkins filed a complaint against Cllr Ezekiel with the Standards Board on 11th May 2007. The Standards Board reports:


"The ethical standards officer concluded, based to a significant extent on Councillor Ezekiel’s own evidence, that Councillor Ezekiel had been offensive and discourteous towards the retiring mayor and another councillor. "


Concerning this same incident a complaint was then filed by a person against Cllr Clive Hart with the Standards Board on 15th June 2007. The Standards Board finding is quite forthright in clearing Cllr Hart of any impropriety whatsoever.


" The ethical standards officer found no evidence of any failure to comply with the Code of Conduct." Is there an error of names in the summary because the summary continues:


"The ethical standards officer did not consider that Councillor Clark’s ( do they mean HART?)conduct, even as described by the complainant, could reasonably be regarded as bringing his office or authority into disrepute, and found no evidence of any failure to comply with the Code of Conduct."


It seems to me that such a comment from The Standards Board is as close as they can get to stating it was an unwarranted and even vexatious complaint against Cllr Hart.


We then have the multiple complaints filed against Cllr Clark ( an elderly retiring Mayor) with the Standards Board on 15th July 2007 a whole three months after the incident in April at The Winter Gardens. Let's deal with the finding about The Winter Garden dispute on 14th April 2007 first, as the other allegations whilst not disputed, had nothing to do with The Winter Gardens. The Standards Board is quite clear about Cllr Clark' position here:


" She further concluded that even if Councillor Clark had behaved as the complainant and other members of his political group had alleged, his behaviour would not have been sufficiently disrespectful to be a breach of the Code of Conduct."


The words 'even if' imply that The Standards Board gave little credence to allegations made by the complainant (Ezekiel?) and members of his political group (Conservatives).

So the clear conclusion drawn by The Standards Board of England concerning the incident on 14 April 2007 is that Cllr Ezekiel's conduct had been offensive and discourteous whilst Cllrs Hart and Clark were cleared of any Breaches of The Code of Conduct that night in quite strong language from The Standards Board. It is irrelevant to the issue that The Standards Board felt that no further action 'in the circumstances' was needed.

So what about the multiple complaints generated against Cllr Clark on the 15 July 2007. One was about Cllr Clark's reference to Holocaust Day that fell that year on 27 January 2007 and comments concerning Christmas and Cllr Ezekiel's faith. The Standards Board found that in respect of The Holocaust Day remark by Cllr Clark in Dec 2006? Jan 2007? , he was offensive and disrespectful and in the other complaint cleared of any breach.

In whose hearing were these remarks made?

Mr Ezekiel's wife, no less, and presumably at least 6 months prior to these remarks being the basis of a complaint to The Standards Board. Like me, you might well ask, why did it take Cllr Ezekiel so long to get 'upset' about these comments? If they were of sufficient cause for complaint 6 months later, then they should have been the basis of an earlier complaint, surely?

So what conclusion can we come to? I made an analogy earlier this afternoon about a naughty boy being summoned to his Head's office for 'being rude and abusive to another pupil' and coming up with the pathetic response ' He was rude to me last term , sir!'

The reason why the Tories need to ditch Ezekiel is because of his conduct on the evening of 14th April 2007. He is the only person complained of that evening, who was in breach of the Code of Conduct, as reported by The Standards Board of England, in that unseemly incident and he holds the most senior postion in TDC.

You may be interested to compare a complaint made against Cllr Green by officers at TDC that was dismissed by The Standards Board recently, without even investigation involving him! His party (Labour) removed him from his 'shadow cabinet' post. Should this not show the Conservative Group what they ought to do?








Friday, 25 April 2008

A REPLY TO TODAY'S GAZETTE LEADING STORY " GUILTY OF A FRACAS"







The IOTG ran its story today, as expected, about the un-becoming behaviour last year at The Winter Gardens of Sandy Ezekiel, Leader of Thanet District Council, who represents us as 'Our Leader'. The whole incident does no-one credit but him least of all. As others involved Cllrs Watkins, Clark and Hart feel that the Gazette has not reported the story correctly, they have issued a 'Statement' that I copy in entirity below. I have still no doubts, in my mind at least, that it is time for the fine younger talent in the Tory Group at TDC to replace some of the ' Tory old guard' who I have been reliably informed seem quite happy with their nickname 'The Mafia' and perhaps should start with its 'Godfather'. I fear the damage being done to the Conservative Party and its reputation by the unseemly conduct of its Thanet 'Leader'; for goodness sake replace him and fast!
Here is the statement by Cllrs Watkins, Clark and Hart.
==============================================================

For over a year now we have been forced to stay silent about the incident at the Mayor’s Retiring Ball at the Winter Gardens Margate in April 2007 due to ongoing investigations.

However, due to a wildly inaccurate story in a local newspaper today we feel we have to make the following response.

The full report is due to be published on the Standards Board for England website in the next few days.

Please pay particular attention to the IMPORTANT SUMMARY after the responses.
________________________________________________

Response by Cllr. John Watkins to Cllr. Ezekiel’s Behaviour at the Mayor of Margate’s Retiring Ball on 14th April 2007.

‘My complaint concerned the disgraceful aggressive and abusive conduct by a senior elected member of the Thanet District Council. It took place in a public place at the end of a civic occasion and was witnessed by horrified members of the public, staff members of the Winter Gardens and local councillors and their wives (my wife included).

In addition to the actual shameful incident, was the sheer hypocrisy involved from a man who, at a public meeting earlier on the same day had been loudly complaining of the same kind of anti social drunken behaviour that is often displayed at the weekend outside bars and clubs on our main seafronts in Thanet’.

Cllr. John Watkins.

John Watkins is a Thanet District Councillor for Margate Central Ward,
and also a Margate Charter Trustee. He is a retired Margate Lifeboat Station Official and a former Royal Naval Auxiliary Officer.
__________________________________________________________

Response by Cllr. Doug Clark to the appalling behaviour of & subsequent false allegations made by Cllr. Ezekiel.

‘I was absolutely appalled by the threatening behaviour of Cllr. Ezekiel towards myself as the Town Mayor of Margate during the last moments of my Retiring Ball.

I was also very concerned when Cllr. Ezekiel abused my Town Sergeant (who was protecting me) and also attempted to provoke another Margate Charter Trustee.

My many guests from voluntary and community organisations across Margate had enjoyed a wonderful evening, which was then spoilt by Cllr. Ezekiel’s yobbish behaviour just as we were preparing to leave.

What I find most incredible of all, is that Cllr. Ezekiel would then make totally false allegations against myself and another distinguished guest to the Police in an effort to cover up his own appalling behaviour’.

Cllr. Doug Clark

Doug Clark is a Thanet District Councillor for Cliftonville West Ward, and also a Margate Charter Trustee. He is a JP of 27 years standing, who is currently a senior East Kent Magistrates Court Chairman (adult & youth courts). He was formerly a member of the Lord Chancellors Advisory Committee, the Youth Justice Board for Southern England and the Town Mayor of Margate 2006 - 2007.
________________________________________________

Response by Cllr. Clive Hart to the appalling behaviour of & subsequent false allegations made by Cllr. Ezekiel.

‘The actions of Cllr. Ezekiel at the end of the Mayor’s Retiring Ball were simply outrageous!

For Cllr. Ezekiel, an ex-boxer, to aggressively threaten and abuse the much older Town Mayor at the end of his own Civic Retiring Ball was both shocking and frightening. To subsequently turn his aggression onto other innocent guests was absolutely shameful.

To make matters far worse Cllr. Ezekiel then made a series of spurious and malicious allegations to the Police against decent law-abiding people in an effort to cover his own shortcomings and this simply compounded his original outrageous behaviour.

Cllr. Ezekiel should apologise to all concerned, especially to the female staff at the Winter Gardens and all the female guests who were forced to witness his unprovoked outburst of aggressive behaviour and loud yobbish ‘gutter’ language.

Cllr. Ezekiel should also apologise profusely to all the residents of Thanet, especially ratepayers and taxpayers, for wasting a whole year of time, energy and resources of our local Police and other agencies with his spurious and malicious allegations.

Cllr. Ezekiel knew only too well, that due to his senior position, his bogus allegations would have to be thoroughly and exhaustively investigated by senior officers whose valuable time would always be desperately needed elsewhere’.

Cllr. Clive Hart

Clive Hart is a Thanet District Councillor and a Kent County Councillor, a Margate Charter Trustee, the Chair of Governors at one local Special School and sits on the Management Committee of another. He has a long history of voluntary, community and welfare work with both youths and adults across Thanet.
_________________________________________________________

IMPORTANT SUMMARY:

These statements should not be used in any way to bring the role of councillors in general into disrepute. The vast majority of councillors do a hard job under difficult circumstances and usually for very little reward.

It should therefore be clearly noted that only ONE councillor behaved badly on the night of the Mayors Retiring Ball and then pointlessly wasted valuable public time & resources.

Cllr. John Watkins was simply a witness to the incident as he was preparing to leave the venue with his wife and had no involvement whatsoever in the incident.

Cllr. Doug Clark, then the Town Mayor, was also preparing to leave with his wife and though shocked and stunned by the unprovoked attack upon him, he turned and walked away.

Cllr. Clive Hart was leaving the venue with his wife and was some distance from the incident. Although berated and goaded by Cllr. Ezekiel, he too simply turned and walked away.

The Conservative Party must now decide what to do in response to Cllr. Ezekiel’s actions.


_______________________________________________________________________

Published by Cllrs. Watkins, Clark & Hart – 44 Northdown Road, Margate, Kent. CT9 2RW
=====================================================
What do you think?

Thursday, 24 April 2008

ANOTHER POTPOURRI OF SNIPPETS


INCENDIARY AFFAIRS
DV8 (and presumably the closed Tivoli) has had signs up saying 'under new ownership and new management'. I suppose its a way of saying if you have a gripe against the 'old firm' don't come near us with petrol!
Simon Moores writes this week in YourThanet, implying that scroats on holiday from school and not a professional using accelerant with the nearest response Fire appliance and crew in Garlinge, were responsible for Scenic's ashes. He didn't pick up on the 'miffed'tones from Waterbridge spokesmen, captured by Thom in IOTG, about TDC's insistence on a renovation or culmpulsory purchase. Whilst stressing a positive forward direction for Dreamland, I couldn't understand why Simon Moores then extols the way forward as being the repair of a museum piece surrounded by old tacky rides and called a Heritage Amusement Park? Isn't that what caused the demise of Dreamland in the first place?
FRANK'S WORDS OF WISDOM
Whilst sniffing around using Google I found this quote to The Select Committee on Communities & Local Government on 18th October 2006: " The future of the Dreamland site was the major issue facing the the town (Margate) as its regeneration could act as a catalyst for regeneration of the rest of Margate." Mr Frank Thorley.
Did he realise at the time that he was almost quoting exactly the Independent Planning Inspector who was ignored by TDC? No mention of TC.
CHINA GATEWAY
Two snippets of interest here. Last Autumn, Mr Wills' developers bought another 73 acres of farmland, outside the Thanet Plan area for 'jobs' development down by Manston and this has been included in the massive Gateway Project and will require the Planning Committee to ignore one of it's directives to 'preserve agricultural land in Thanet'.(Is that an oxymoron?)
Not only will we go hungry as agricultural land is covered in concrete but we will also go thirsty. The Gateway sits slap on our major aquifer. Let me quote from those people at The Environment Agency: " The site lies in Source Protection Zone 2 & 3 for Sparrow Castle public water supply. Therefore potable supplies are at risk from activities at this site". How much clean rain water from the sky will percolate into the aquifer if you cover the catchment area in concrete, is not the question being considered? What does Southern Water think abut this project?
THANETSTRIFE
It was with horror that I realised that 'Happy St George's Day' was Bertie's 100th posting. I am getting fatigued waiting for Thanetonian and Thanetlife to resume business, so get on with it guys please. Rick (aka 'annoying bloke') has made his 7th contribution 'off-topic' but we are a tolerant team at Thanetstrife so be equally tolerant please.

WHAT'S SO SPECIAL ABOUT THE BOWLS CLUB MEMBERS IN BROADSTAIRS?

The photograph below shows the side of Broadstairs & St Peters Bowls Club in The Memorial Recreation Ground and where there could be an access road put in from Lawn Road. (Note how an established privet hedge has almost hidden a 2m green security fence. The photograph below shows the back of the Clubhouse where it has been proposed to put a private members car-park and two of the three trees that would be cut down. (Notice how obtrusive a 2m green security fence can be when not screened).

SO WHATS SO SPECIAL ABOUT THE BOWLS CLUB MEMBERS IN BROADSTAIRS?

My story begins with shoe-polish; to be more exact ‘Cherry Blossom Shoe Polish’.

Back in 1906 two brothers Dan and Charles Mason opened a factory in Chiswick to make shoe polish and made a great deal of money. They were also philanthropists and housed their workers, educated them and instituted a 44 hour working week. Dan bought a house in Broadstairs and lived there in the 1920s and amongst a number of philanthropic gestures, gave Broadstairs its Memorial Recreation Ground by the Station off Lawn Road and my sources tell me he was also a keen bowls player.


In the intervening years since his death, it is reputed that Broadstairs & St Peters Bowl’s Club has gone up-market and consider themselves a smarter ‘cut’ of bowl’s player. So when TDC came along and had the temerity to put pay bays in Lawn Road for parking, the members rushed a planning application towards Cecil Square and the offices of TDC for their own exclusive and private car park in The Memorial Recreation Ground.(F/TH/08/0195). Why they should bother when Lawn Road is empty most of the time and TDC's bays seem to be boycotted, eludes me.

They wanted to put parking at the back of The Club House and an access down the side from Lawn Road to it. This would encroach into the rest of the Memorial Recreation Ground, require three trees to be cut down and needed a 2m high green security fence to keep out the ‘plebs’ in The Memorial Recreation Ground. On their application they also claimed they owned or controlled the land. My sources tell me it is held in trust for the people of Broadstairs by TDC and not the Town Council.


On Monday 3 March, the planning application was rejected (this is for you , you fence watchers in Culmer’s Land) on the basis that “ The 2m high fencing is considered too intrusive for a public park". What a classic illustration of one rule for the people of Thanet and one for TDC, as it put a 2.4m galvanised fence into a public park! The odd thing was that the Planning Committee obviously did not bother to look at the pics given them as they would have seen 2m green security fencing already surrounding The Bowls Club as my photographer's pictures show.

Anyway, to get back to the point, the planning application has now been withdrawn. The big question is will it come back with a smaller fence? The Planning Committee didn’t seem to be worried about laying concrete to make a 'private members' car park in The Memorial Recreation Ground and grabbing more of it to tarmac over for a private access road off Lawn Road.

This farce is worse than ‘Toy Town’ and Larry the Lamb. A simple, less costly and more environmentally sound solution is for ‘The Bowling Toffs’ of Broadstairs & St Peter’s Club to pay TDC for special permits to allow its members to park in Lawn Road for extended times beyond the present 2hr maximum; there's plenty of space.
Easy, really, and does not upset the locals on the other side of the fence.


Wednesday, 23 April 2008

HOW TDC ARROGANCE COULD COST LIVES AT THE PLEASURAMA SITE

The picture above shows a little Gale Force 9 throwing tons of seawater over Margate Harbour Wall last month. Click on it to see about 60 tonnes of water airborne and how it behaves.

You will be aware, I hope, of how Michael Child (Thanetonline) has drawn the press, Cllrs and Thanet South MPs attention to a report from The Environment Agency concerning The Pleasurama Development ( Royal Sands) in Ramsgate sent to TDC on 8 Feb 2008. TDC sat on this report for 2 months and did nothing. The history behind this report is that the Environmental Agency has revised sea-level data and Flood Risk Assessment (FRA) parameters since Pleasurama (Royal Sands) got planning consent. Let me quote from it:

"As the proposal stands a serious flood could potentially leave residents stranded in their homes without a safe means of escape for the duration of the event."( A high sea piling into the building).

"We would HIGHLY RECOMMEND that a full FRA (Flood Risk Assessment) is undertaken which could inform appropriate resilience and resistance measures" (i.e. the building is reinforced/protected structurally to withstand 250 tonnes of water hitting it over 600 times in a 3 hr period). "The assessment could also inform the production of a suitable flood warning and evacuation plan for both residential and commercial parts of the development." (i.e get people to safety before loss of life).

Now, I am just a simple sort of guy, but here we have the Government experts (The Environment Agency) HIGHLY RECOMMENDING some sensible steps that should be taken in respect of this development. You would think that any responsible Local Council would get on with it and institute a new FRA and enforce its findings on the developers. No, not TDC.

According to Tom Betts in today's Your Thanet, here's what a TDC spokesman (sic) had to say about denying the need for a new FRA:

'She said " The letter from the EA states that although standards have changed, they are not requesting a Flood Risk Assessment............... THERE IS NO NEED WHATSOEVER TO REVISIT THE PLANNING APPLICATION" (my capitals!)

Does this silly woman have any idea what 'highly recommended' means and what the EA are telling TDC? She needs talking to and quickly; how arrogant can TDC get? Its no surprise that 'Royal Sands' developers SFP Ventures UK Ltd had no comment to make with comments like this from an officer or member from TDC; she's doing a good enough job on their behalf already!

I just hope to goodness there are some councillors out there who will get onto this issue and sort it out fast. If the EA's 'highly recommended' suggestions are to be ignored, who is going to be liable in Law and stand accused of 'corporate manslaughter' should nothing be done now and the worst happens?

A HAPPY ST GEORGE'S DAY


I wish all English born men and women, of whatever creed, colour or political view, a happy St George's Day. May we all see an English Parliament in our life-time or at very best, a solution to 'The West Lothian Question'.

Monday, 21 April 2008

TIME FOR THANET TORIES TO 'TOSS THE TOSSER'?









Please forgive my headline to this post; I couldn't resist alliteration that The Thanet Times and The Sun newspapers indulge in so frequently.
This unsavoury story began on Saturday 14th April 2007 at Margate's Winter Gardens at a ball to mark the end of Civic Office of outgoing Mayor of Margate, Cllr Douglas Clark. An altercation developed between 'Our Leader' Cllr Ezekiel and two other Councillors, Cllr John Watkins and Cllr Clive Hart. Rude words were spoken and the matter became the subject of a complaint to The Standards Board of England, who are responsible for overseeing standards of behaviour and conduct of local Councils and Councillors.
Rumour for the past few days has been that The Standards Board is about to release its findings into a complaint made to it, concerning conduct that night. My enquiries to The Standards Board this morning proved fruitless, which did not surprise me!
The rumour from a number of different sources has been consistent in that Cllr John Watkins and Cllr Clive Hart have been exonerated but that the Standards Board whilst recommending no further action in respect of Cllr Ezekiel were critical of his conduct. One interesting feature is that it is rumoured that Cllr John Watkins is considering an appeal.
Whatever the findings of The Standards Board turn out to be, I for one think that behaviour displayed that evening was unbecoming. The Leader of TDC, whoever he or she is, is the key appointment that represents Thanet and is sought by the National and Local media for comment, views, opinions and information about Thanet. Thanet is in enough difficulty without having its Council Leader held up to ridicule for his language or conduct. There are hard times ahead and we need the best Leader we can get.
The question I ask is simple; is Cllr Ezekiel the best representative that our controlling Tory Group can find from amongst their ranks?
I hope that our Tory Councillors are having a serious think about this issue and that they come to the same conclusion that I have come to. Like Labour MPs, who are concerned about where Brown is taking them, our Tory Councillors should ask themselves the same questions about 'their' Leader. To what extent is the groundswell of anti TDC comment and feeling around the towns, down to Cllr Ezekiel? He is perceived as favouring big business interests; being remote and being autocratic in his 'leadership' role whilst forgetting the needs of the people of Thanet.
A new Tory Leader could swing the situation round for the Tories locally, otherwise I predict that whilst the rest of the nation swings behind Cameron, Thanet will go Labour in 3 years time.
It is perhaps time for Thanet Tories to 'toss the tosser'.

DO WE DESERVE THIS?

The picture above is of the wonderful new 'kiddies' playground TDC are putting up in Dane Park and I must say that TDC are doing a wonderful job here. It is not yet completed and had temporary fencing around it.

However, over the week-end, quite large numbers of of our 'feral scroats' have paid a visit to this play-area and the mindless damage to the fencing, equipment and generous scratching and grafitti makes me despair. I suspect that the officers at TDC responsible for bringing this project to fruition are equally disheartened.
Despite my tirade last week about being snooped on, TDC needs some RIPA powers to tackle this and a touch of discrete surveillance by web-cams hidden in trees is called for. If you click on pictures you can see names that might be known to our local Community Wardens and PCSOs.



































Sunday, 20 April 2008

IT'S GOOD TO BE BESIDE THE SEA-SIDE BESIDE THE SEA

Despite the rather depressing article about Margate by Jamie Doward in today's Observer (go to Michael over at Thanetonline to get links to read the article), how nice it was to be reading it in the afternoon spring sunshine on Pav's 'sun-deck' at St Mildred's Bay, Westgate and waiting for the tide to go out in order to exercise assorted dogs and children.

You may note my stress on sunshine, because as the picture above shows, TDC allowed a developer to put his flat build so high, that from October to March, the sun does not poke over the top of this building and Pav's sun-deck and the promenade are in shade for a 5 full months of the year. It's this sort of thing that our own Council does that detracts from our natural assets as a sea-side destination.

If you have read the Observer article you will see that Simon Moores makes a sensible comment about seaside towns struggling on the fringes of the London centric economy whilst 'Our Leader' says about Margate " I wouldn't have wanted to walk aroud here 4 years ago"! What is he on about? Is he referring to the arty-farty quarter or the High Street? 4 years ago we still had a High Street in Margate. Is our leader on Planet Thanet or Planet Arcadia?

It was nice to read that a woman at the Turner Visitor Centre (which does not have a TC to visit yet but at least has a Director, curator and assorted artists on the payroll) was able to say "Fingers crossed that it (TC Mark 2) does for Margate what the Tate has done for St Ives". She clearly did not grasp that St.Ives already had a thriving grass-roots artistic community and a Council that ran St.Ives for its residents.

If you make a place 'good to be beside the seaside beside the sea' for its residents and its towns' businesses, then surprise, surprise, visitors will want to come and visit and stay. St Ives attracted visitors because of this. We are sadly saddled with a TDC that allows Pav's to be kept in the shade and is it any wonder that a long dark future now faces us?

HOW TO MAKE A BAD ECONOMIC SITUATION WORSE?

This cutting fell out of the back of a second-hand book I purchased from a charity shop yesterday. I am not an economist but it seems to me the height of folly for a Government to allow a consumer debt load of unprecedented proportions to grow in this country and then relax bankruptcy rules and allow people to walk away from their debts through Individual Voluntary Arrangements.

As the advert above states, an almost unbelievable solution to enable you to walk away from debt. How many living in rented accommodation and with no savings or assets have, are and will be walking away from their debts?

How much of this country's financial problem is being caused by those with no qualms about spending others' money and then effectively refusing to pay it back with the sanction of its Government?

Maybe our problems are not entirely caused by the US sub-prime mortgage debacle.

THE POORER 'EX 10 PERCENTERS'




If like me, you are one of the lower paid in this country who earn their money, do not have children, do not claim benefits and try to maintain yourself without being a drain on your fellow tax-payers, please feel free to print off these pictures and throw darts at them. There are 5.4 million of us.

Who in their wildest dreams would have thought that a Labour Government would increase the tax-burden on Britains poorly paid whilst decreasing the tax-burden on the wealthy as a result of abolishing the 10% tax band?

I enjoyed the man on the right visibly squirming on the Andrew Marr show this morning as he tried to defend his 'boss' ' decision last year to remove the 10% tax band this April. Whilst I do not subsribe to a redneck view spotted on a bumper sticker recently. "IF YOU CAN'T FEED 'EM, DON'T BREED 'EM", the controlling nature of this Government prevents it from grasping the simple fact that you do more for the poorly paid by letting them hang on to a greater proportion of their earnings than making them dependant benefit claimants and reliant on the state.

Some are predicting that this could be this Government's equivalent of the Tories Poll Tax debacle and lose them the next election. I for one hope so, even if that means we lose Stephen Ladyman in Thanet South in the process.

Saturday, 19 April 2008

'Cadillacs of The Sky'' and 'Rats with Wings'

At least some tourists have come into Thanet this week. Sitting on the balcony this week I saw my first two pairs of swifts (Apus apus). They are a little earlier than normal and will be finding a loft in Cliftonville to nest in. It will be a few weeks before the air is filled with screeching young following parents over the roof tops at speed. If you have never paused to watch them, do so. In my street they play 'follow my leader slalom' between the telephone wires at 30mph and are truly 'Cadillacs of the Sky'.

Just in case you think I am turning into a 'bird-hugger', this week has seen the 3rd year running where a pair of herring gulls have disturbed the afternoon peace by having coitus on my neighbour's dormer window roof. If you have not had the misfortune of witnessing this spectacle, the male sounds as if a cat has got its mouth round his neck and screeches and squacks in what must be the Larus argentatus version of ecstasy.


I suppose I should not begrudge them their 3 minutes of sex each year but I paid attention in my Biology lessons and know what the consequences of unprotected sex are.


For the next 2-3 months my sleep is going to be disturbed throughout the night; my neighbours bin-bag contents will be strewn across the road; my car, pavement and windows will be peppered with guano daily and when a brown ugly little 'minor' falls down into the road my movement on foot will be dive-bombed by irate and protective mum and dad. It will be like living at the bottom of a bird-cage with 'neighbours from hell'.

NOT this year though! I have had enough! I have called 'Gullbusters' and so have my neighbours. This year some other part of Margate can host this family of 'Rats with wings'. I put details below, should you need to call them in.


SMOKEY MATTERS

A source has told me that Kent Fire Brigade responded to a call that smoke was seeping out of the old Monro Cobb department store in Northdown Road on Thursday night. A Fire Team with breathing apparatus penetrated through the smoke filled conversion work in progress ( yet more flats) to find an inspection light lying on its side and wood charring and smoking. Much smoke damage was reported but a serious fire avoided, thank goodness.

The same source has confirmed my suspicions that when The Scenic Railway was set on fire, the arsonist had picked his time right. The Margate standby appliance and 'watch' had left the station and were in Garlinge BP Garage topping up with fuel when they got the 'shout'. The response time was fast but still much longer than it would have been from the station.

Friday, 18 April 2008

A FLY ON THE WALL?

Thanet is a small village and you might be interested to know where 'Our Leader', Sandy Ezekiel was spotted, last Sunday afternoon (13th April); at a table in that lovely watering hole, The Lanthorne, in Broadstairs.

What might interest you more was the company he was keeping. My source tells me he was seated at a table with Frank Thorley ( one of his pubs), Jimmy Godden ( Waterbridge and Scenic Railway owner?), Mr Hilton snr (Hilton's jewellers) , Mr Hilton(jnr) and local solicitor Mr Waite (Laurie?).

What an interesting group of people enjoying a quiet afternoon together in a local Thanet pub. I personally would have loved to have been a fly on the wall!

Thursday, 17 April 2008

THE BUSINESS BARONS CARVE UP THANET

I apologise for the quality of the picture but I am trying to show an over-view of how we are gobbling up agricultural land in Thanet with gay abandon and creating our 'exciting' NEW TOWN.

The 'blue' in the top left shows how Two Chimneys Caravan Park and Quex Caravan Park have and are expanding to create a 'village' that is larger than Acol.

The 'green' in the bottom left shows how Cummins and The New China Gateway has and intends to put 'business accommodation on what is currently agricultural land' (Commercial Group Properties blurb).

The 'green' on the right shows the present commercial shopping centre and recreational facilities that is the 'hub' of Westwood Cross and the 'blue' to the left shows the area for proposed housing around Nash Farm. The 'blue' below shows the proposed Eurokent Business Park or is it no longer a'business park'? (Click on the pic for more detail if you want it!)

So what is actually going on here? I was under the impression that Thanet Reach was planned as a 'business park'; it is now largely a Thanet Campus. I also thought that the road outside Saga was the northern boundary of The Eurokent Business Park?

No, the Business Barons of Rose Farm Estates and Ken Wills at Commercial Group Properties seem to have other ideas that TDC et al are going along with. My theory runs like this; Commercial Property Group: you guys can go and cover all that land down in Manston with 40 industrial/business sheds to create 'jobs' called China Gateway and we no longer have the need for business units at Eurokent over at Westwood. Let's have a jolly good re-think and wow! we can have a new master plan for Eurokent! It could be used for more 'jobs'(those silly TDC councillors and planners love that added to a scheme as it gives it credibility) "better recreational facilities, family homes (nice touch from the PR team there, 'family' gets us all feeling warm), NEW SHOPS and MUCH MORE!" ( And between them all they make more £millions) . I am quoting from the www.eurokent.org site. Go and look at it.

So Ezekiel and his Tory bunch are happy to carry on seeing the building and expansion of Thanet's NEW TOWN , whilst the rest of you businesses around Thanet can just get on and quietly die without making too much of a fuss.

Hasn't the problem here been one of big business telling the 'little' men and women of OUR council what they want and our elected representatives have just gone along with it? More organised, democratic Councils, who properly represent the interests of their electorate do not behave in this way. Better Councils plan properly and then set the parameters for big business; "You can do this here and that there , as long as you comply with OUR plans.

So whilst the big business barons carve up Thanet around us in pursuit of their self-interest, you and I, fellow serfs, can do nothing about it as we wander through the dereliction and decay of what used to be thriving towns admiring the TC arty-farty murals on closed and boarded High Streets and idly speculate whether TDC will actually enforce the re-build of our scenic Railway.

WHY ON EARTH REBUILD IT?

You can go and look at Eastcliff Matters where Cllr David Green gives a clear report about TDC's firmness in insiting on the re-building of The Scenic Railway by Waterbridge or see the happy comments of the Turneraround Margate crowd who supported Save Dreamland Campaign. (Dreamland died; is dead; its gone .... go to Monty Python for the rest!).

I am beginning to wish that the professional arsonist had done a better job. The Scenic Railway was an awkward anachronism on the site and needed moving. All we can hope for is that Waterbridge do nothing and TDC moves in and I quote Cllr Green for the rest:

"but also gives it (TDC) the option of compulsorily purchasing the entire 15 acre site - possibly including the Dreamland cinema - and paying for the work to be done before reselling it again."

Now that would be marvellous but weren't TDC firm about The Marina Cafe and it was demolished as a result? Dream on Bertie, old boy!

LIES, DAMNED LIES AND STATISTICS

I think it was Mark Twain who came up with that quote first and it seems appropriate this morning. A close look at the picture ( a good example of 'ironic G'?) perhaps says it all.

Firstly, during the past 10 years we have seen the greatest wave of immigration in the country's history and have repeatedly been told by our Government that its good for the economy because of the net contribution made. We then have a Select Committee of The House of Lords report that this is not the case. We were even misled by Government about numbers involved either incompetently or deliberately so.

Earlier this week, despite Chief Constables moaning about the huge costs of interpreters to deal with immigrant offenders a few months ago, we are told that immigrants are not responsible for increases in crime and are no worse than home grown felons. This is now being disputed. All I wonder is why 10% of locked up felons are foreigners?

The NHS has never been better we are told but how many readers had or still have problems getting on an NHS dentist's list? I certainly did, but now I am one of the lucky ones. It would appear that half of the people of this country are unable to access an NHS dentist and after years of dental health improvement, the state of the nation's gnashers is in decline.

Is there anyone who believes the 'official' rate of inflation anymore?

I could bang on all morning about the way we citizens are effectively lied to by our politicians at national and local level. Try and get a straight answer from TDC about 'its' (our)share of all costs in The Turner/Droit/M&S saga so far, let alone the likely subsidy to keep it open if it should eventually be built.

Is it any wonder that honesty, integrity and truth seems lacking in our society any more?

AS CLEAR AS DITCH-WATER?

Sue has very kindly sent me an explaination of why the Chief Executive's expenditure budget has gone up by almost £1,000,000 this year. (You will need to click on the picture above to see the detail). It's all to do with juggling figures around from one area to another and if you can get a clear picture of it, as a Council Taxpayer, please let me know as a simple 'aviator' like myself seems to be as much in the dark as before.

I suppose the increase in 'Resources' (up by over £1.2 million) is probably a result of similar juggling from 'Community Services' (down by £906,000)? What I love is the TDC Booklet that says "What did TDC spend its share of my Council Tax on?" and on a previous page said "Council Tax- all your questions answered." I haven't got a clue actually what they are spending my share of their Council Tax on and none of my questions has been answered.

It just goes to show how you can fail to communicate clearly whilst spending a great deal of money on a booklet to go through the motions of 'communicating'.

On a serious and sad note perhaps, rumour has come to me that our Chief Executive, Richard Samuel, is seriously ill. I am sure you will hope, as I do , that if this is true, he makes a full recovery.

On a less serious note, unless you happen to be Labour Councillor David Green, it looks as if TDC are trying to nobble him again by referring him to the Standards Board for England. Haven't they tried this on before? I personally find him a breath of fresh air in terms of his approach as a Councillor and I wish him all the best if he is in adversity!

Wednesday, 16 April 2008

ATISHOO, ATISHOO! WE ALL GO HUNGRY?

Whilst its fascinating to read that 'Kent's Finest' believe Tivoli's arson attack and O'Leary's murder were not connected, which I do not believe, this is Thanet Planet mind-set at its worst. There are actually more serious issues to contemplate.

A strange coincidence? As the Government regulation comes into force, that all car fuel must now have 2.5% of 'renewable' bio-fuel in it, your nostrils might have started twitching and your eyes watering as oil-seed rape around Thanet starts to come into full flower.

I am convinced that our Government is stark raving mad on this issue. We should be growing crops to feed ourselves and animals that we can then eat, not pouring Tesco's cooking oil into our diesel engines as I saw one of my neighbours do last week! By all means re-cycle used cooking oils and our re-cycling tips should have vats that we can pour the stuff into.

In the week that China exceeds the USA as the world's largest Carbon emissions polluter, all the 'environmental' nonsenses that the UK is implementing remind me of 'peeing into the wind'. It might just be dawning on some of us that when 1.2 billion Chinese stopped waving little red books and wearing blue boiler suits and wanted the good things of life like the rest of the world (cars, fridges, air-conditioning etc etc!) and like-wise 1 billion on the Indian sub-continent, our planet was in for trouble.

If you hadn't noticed, your basic food crop prices have risen by 20% in the past few months and there were food riots in Egypt last week. India, Vietnam, Indonesia, Cambodia and Thailand all restricted rice exports last year to stabilise prices for their own populations. So what the hell are we doing growing crops for fuel that still produce CO2 emissions and finding that rain-forests have been cut down to grow fuel crops?

I am not an environmental expert but Nuclear powered electricity should have been our priority 10 years ago and we should have had numerous Nuclear Power stations under construction NOW not in 10-15 years time. At the same time as building our own we should have been helping the Chinese build theirs. The 'CO2 less' nuclear generated electricity could then have been used in the electrolysis of water. Remember your early Chemistry lessons, before the days of dumbed down Science of the National Curriculum, and breaking down water into Hydrogen and Oxgen and getting a satisfying 'pop' when you inserted the glowing match? Hydrogen in our cars produces H2O (water) when combusted, wow! A clean non polluting fuel! Dodgy to handle and expensive but with diesel at 119.8p per litre, hell , fuel is already £5 per gallon!

So, as we head towards a serious world crisis in all resources including energy, raw materials and food, isn't it time for our Government to stop 'peeing into the wind' and work out how to guarantee we can be fed, heat our homes and cook our food(if we have any) and still drive our cars in 20 years time?

TDC, as our local Government, talks similar 'New-speak tosh' about sustainability as we are forced to travel out of our immediate neighbourhood by car to shop 'out of town' at Westwood and whilst it allows more of our precious food producing land in Thanet to be covered by houses, caravan sites, and Chinese Gateway Industrial Parks! Wake up to reality Councillors and get an allotment fast while you can. I am off to join Sue and the other 'bean-planters' as soon as possible, fences or not!

Tuesday, 15 April 2008

TDC's MURKY FINANCES

Am I the only one who considers that TDC are being less than open with its Council Tax Payers about its financial matters? The picture above shows how opaque TDC has become concerning explainations of its expenditure or lack of debt collecting.

Last month Sue and I both asked TDC about the increase in the Chief Executive's Budget of almost £1,000,000 and despite enquiries with TDC Finance, no information was forthcoming. Simon Moores commented on another site that other costs had been included in the Chief Executive's budget but failed to elaborate; its all as murky as ditch-water!

We now have The Department of Communities and Local Government stating that TDC has the worst record of un-collected Council Tax in the South-East with £870, 000 un-collected last year. This has been denied by Cllr Wise who states the figure is only £90,000 BUT he fails to elaborate on what the other £780,000 of uncollected debt is all about.

I am a suspicious person and when I see our Council being less than open with Financial information, I begin to smell something unpleasant and it has nothing to do with accelerant sniffed by dogs at the Scenic Railway. Some with long memories (at IOTG perhaps?) will remember a certain waived debt that TDC failed to collect a few years back from a certain well-known millionaire businessman.

Could we have some openess about the Chief Executive's budget increase and what debt has been written off and why? We need active Labour or Independent Councillors to ferret out an explaination for the electorate and Council Tax Payers. What is so embarrassing about a full and complete picture?

Obfuscation breeds suspicion and speculation. Could it be that TC costs in old M&S have been disguised or that some expensive carpeting has gone down in the Chief Execs office? Could it be that the Turner original for the TC has been bought at auction and now hangs on 'Our Leader's office wall until it gets an art gallery? I could go on for a long time but would prefer the facts; plain and simple. Wouldn't you?

Monday, 14 April 2008

THEY ARE WATCHING YOU, YOUR DOG AND THIS

Those of a sensitive nature should switch to another post without reading further. My return to Thanet from R &R was marked by two events in quick succession as I unloaded into the house; firstly defecated on by a seagull and secondly, picked up something nasty on my shoe. An ongoing problem in Thanet is the number of anti-social dog owners and letters to the local press on the subject probably exceed moans about TDC.

Dog-pooh; dog-poop; dog-muck; dog-shit; dog-crap; dog-stool; dog-turd; dog-foul; dog-faeces; dog-excrement or 'barker's nests' as ECR so delicately calls piles of the stuff, can be found on our pavements, grass verges, playing fields and parks. The specimen above is a Dane Park dog-turd.

It's comforting to know that Cllr Shirley Tomlinson and her dedicated team of Dog Wardens are on the case with the number of owners fined going up from 38 in 2006/7 to 44 in 2007/8. 9 owners were fined in February this year alone and that appears to be the tip of the dog-stool.

I have no problem with dog-wardens catching anti-social owners in the act of not clearing up but we all need to be aware that TDC may also be snooping on us in more sophisticated ways. According to The Office of The Surveillance Commissioner, in 2007, Councils made 12, 494 applications for 'directed' surveillance under The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA). This disgraceful piece of legislation to empower all arms of the state and not just police and security services, to snoop on citizens was of course intended to counter terrorism.

So if TDC applies under RIPA they can track your movements; obtain phone records; details (but not contents) of your e-mail traffic and full details on all web-sites you log on to. Is TDC using these powers and if so for what criminal and terrorist activity? Or are they, like other Councils, using RIPA powers to catch those responsible for allowing their dogs to crap on the pavement. With 9 dog-fouling fines in one month, I wonder if they are?

I would rather have mountains of the stuff on pavements than have Council employees using RIPA powers to snoop on us all. After all, we can do what Lord Brockett did recently; post it back through the offending owner's door!

What do you think?

Sunday, 13 April 2008

SPENCER WING AT QEQM

Catching up with local papers today, reveals no mention of our own NHS Trust buying the business of our previously private wing at QEQM so I copy our North Thanet MP's press release for information about it.

North Thanet`s MP, Roger Gale, has today (Monday) welcomed the purchase, by the East Kent Hospitals Trust, of the Spencer Wing of the QEQM hospital, Margate.
Speaking in Margate following the announcement the MP said:
"There will inevitably be both those who say that this is the beginning of the privatisation of the Health Service and those that will say to the contrary that this is the first step towards the nationalisation of private health facilities! I see it as neither.
In a compellingly innovative move the management of the Hospitals Trust have boldly sought to secure the future of orthopaedic and endoscopy capacity on the Margate site and to preserve, prior to re-location, the post-graduate medical training facilities that are essential to the continuing development of medical practitioners.
We need to remember that the buildings and the site are already owned by the Trust and were leased to the Spencer Unit. What has been purchased, therefore, for what I understand to be a fair price, is the business itself.
During the past year some 50% of the business of the Spencer Wing was generated as a result of NHS patients using the facilities and the Wing itself has always bought NHS x-ray, theatre and other facilities from the NHS.
This deal means that NHS money will be re-cycled back into the NHS while business profits will also be ploughed into additional NHS treatment.
The Department of Health may have been taken aback by the audacity of the move but it has been subjected to due diligence and legal advice and found to be sound.
I would like to think that this purchase will see still better end of year financial and patient treatment results for 2008/2009."

So do I. What are your views?