Friday, 13 November 2009


I wonder if The Thanet Times back in July, realised that the 'millions' waiting to pay for Dreamland applied to you and I the tax-payer?

It would seem that Labour's Culture and Tourism Minister Margaret Hodge has approved £3.7 million of tax-payers money to be paid under Labour's Sea Change Programme to help fund ' a project to rejuvenate the town's Dreamland Amusement Park'.
So beaten up worn out rides from around the country can now be restored by 'amusement park' anoraks; the arsoned Grade 2 Listed Scenic Railway that for 18 months had continued rotting whilst TDC failed to enforce repair or compulsory purchase (despite strong language to do so) can now be repaired and Dreamland Cinema can be given a 'face lift' and all at the tax-payer's expense!
I wonder how the local Conservative TDC views this largesse as it announces cuts in our municipal services, fails to sweep the streets and closes toilets as austerity comes our way after 12 years of fiscal madness by a Labour Government?
So it is OK then, to pour public money this way into a site that has been run down over the years; that doubled in value when TDC said it could have housing and retail on half of it; all contrary to advice from a Planning Inspector 5 years ago, who warned the Council that it would possibly be left derelict and 'land-banked' and that it was the prime regeneration site for Margate! He didn't mention arson to sea-front buildings ( that conveniently provided an access from Marine Terrace) or to Scenic Railways, though.
Perhaps when The Secretary of State comes down next week to claim Political brownie points for Labour and poses for the press with Tory Councillors, who in turn will be claiming more than equal political credit for it, Margaret Hodge might like to consider an abortive 'Ground Nuts' project in Africa under a Labour Govt in the 1950's that proved an equally ill-conceived mis-spending of tax-payers money.
So if, at the time of boom, a reasonably modern equipped Dreamland attracted 600,000 visitors in 2004 before it was run down, what makes any sane person think that a clapped out collection of rides (I refuse to use words like 'heritage' and 'historic') will attract 500,000 visitors?.
I suppose I should just be grateful that anything is better than nothing for Margate and if a Labour Govt and a Conservative Council want to waste more tax-payers money, so be it.
How much healthier for a true Conservative, that the likes of Morrisons refurbish car-parks for their own business and that Tesco gets to grips with Arlington Arcade, all at their own expense.
As the taxpayer, in various ways, has paid over £20,000,000 in Margate on the Dreamland and TC projects, all we can hope for now, is that it does the job intended. Now where is the nearest public loo?


Readit said...

Just the tip of the ice berg !

Anonymous said...

I agree with everything you have said. It means that what goes on in Thanet for years will carry on. Lots of cash for a select few in the guise of benefiting all.

Anonymous said...

Even with "clapped out" rides, Dreamland will almost certainly bring in more people than TC for a lot less cost to us.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like pretty good use of taxpayers' money to me for once. An announcement is due on Monday 16 Nov apparently, so you may have jumped the gun Bertie.

Yes, the Turnip Centre is largely a waste of time and TDC's record is far from exemplary on both of these issues.

The heritage theme park is Margate's best hope of attracting tourists in the short to medium term at least. Margate and Dreamland go hand in glove, so let's accept it and make the best of it, rather than getting all sniffy and snotty.

Bertie Biggles said...

Thanks Read-it. An unelected quango that sucks up tax-payers money and is accountable to whom?

17.52, that's likely to be the case. Original TC projections were 190,000 then 160,000 and now is 130,000. I still wonder if a gun-emplacement in Margate is likely to attract 2500 people week in week out. Its interesting that a warbler in Pegwell Bay and costing the tax-payer nothing is currently attracting more 'twitchers!

18.03, that's a sad admission but probably true. If its the best we can come up with, then the future is none too rosy though. In terms of jumping the gun, when did information that is not D noticed become the dictate of our elected representatives?

Off now to catch a warbler or two, in Pegwell Bay and then tie them to the railings on Marine Terrace. Bertie's cost free solution to attracting visitors is almost as good as TDC's and the Margate Renewal Quango.

Anonymous said...

The news in the office is that Margaret Hodge is visiting Margate on Monday morning. She will be visiting Dreamland and the Turner Contempory to see where the money is being spent!

From what I can gather, we are supposed to keep it a secret so that the press don't find out! But they've already been briefed so not sure what's going on there.

Anonymous said...

Well it ain't a secret now is it dearie? Good news for Dreamland and Margate.

Anonymous said...

I hear the No night noise group is going mob handed to protest?

Anonymous said...


I hear the Warbler you refer to is none other than the Fan Tailed variety. Unlike Manston (KIA) its brought in literally hundreds of visitors to Thanet and more importantly to Pegwell Bay. It flies in the air without causing pollution (Noise and Carbon emissions)has brought in more money to the local economy and is very probably here for the long term (whisper this quietly) viewing is free!!!

Anonymous said...

Why is it Bertie that whenever I read your musings I always come away feeling that life in Thanet is so terrible I should give up the will to live and just slit my throat? As King of the "cup half full" brigade, is this your intention? What is it about your upbringing that has caused you to only see the bad in everybody and everything? I am genuinely concerned that your cynical and vitriolic comment on everything your radar perceives as not meeting with Bertie's standards could seriously damage the future of our towns by putting off families or investors who consider coming here. If you really care why don't you stand for election or get a hobby that allows you to contribute?

We all know that everything is not perfect, but as I travel to a lot of places in the country I know as fact that we are truly blessed in many ways in Thanet. If you don't like it may I suggest that you ship out quickly, before you do real damage to the prospects of this fabulous and up and coming corner of England.

Anonymous said...

Thank you 10.59!

"fabulous and up and coming corner of England".

I have not laughed so much in ages!

And laughter is after all the best medicine, eh Doc.

Bertie Biggles said...

10.59, glad to have you back, commenting in your normal style. I do not want to make anyone suicidal, so perhaps you might like to cease reading 'Strife'.

Now lets be quite clear about the decline of Margate since 2003:
1.The running down of Dreamland and its closure followed by a catastrophic planning decision by TDC in the face of expert advice. (You are aware I presume of 700,000 visitors to this site in 2003?)
2.The creation of Westwood Cross and its disastrous lack of road planning and the departure of chains from Margate.
3. The extension of development at Westwood Cross by allowing eateries, casino, bingo and multiplex cinemas to be built as TDC create 'Thanet's leading town centre'.
The opportunity has now passed to create a multi facility, all-season, all weather, visitor centre at Dreamland. Forgive me for criticising TDC and its control by 'The Ezekiel' Party as it seems to have benefitted a local developer and a Cllr's spouses company with tax payers money to improve neglected assets.
I am entitled to hold a different opinion as to what might have saved Margate from further decline. As TDC has already committed us to a disastrous concept of regeneration by spending tax-payers millions on abortive projects, i can only hope it works. Such hope exceeds rational thought, so I could be described as being inordinately optimistic!

Anonymous said...

£55k spent on carpets for the council offices whilst the disabled lose out. Who got the contract, does anyone know?

£millions given by the government to invest in Cliftonville and Margate but where is the evidence of any improvement there? Where has the money been spent?

Public parks neglected and only fit for dog walkers. Doggy poo bins left unemptied for weeks.

Streets left unswept for months.

Alleyways never cleaned unless a public-spirited individual phones up to complain.

£900k spent on fencing allotments, some of which aren't even council-owned or managed.

Balance of funds raised from selling Manston Road allotments gone where?

Local Plan changed without consultation to allow executive housing on what has been designated as for industrial use.

Ward councillor allowed to continue representing an area with some areas of real neglect whilst he lived abroad.

Tory councillors who don't put out newsletters or hold surgeries or even take an interest in their ward when issues like double yellow lines, road closures, anti-social behaviour are threatening the livelihoods of businesses.

I could go on but thankfully, there are people working behind the scenes, not self-publicising, to improve things a step at a time.

There are volunteers running youth projects to keep youngsters occupied and engaged; running cricket-coaching sessions; planting trees to improve our environment with the help of young people;running tourism events like the Village Tour in St. Peter's; helping with uniformed organisations etc.

Yes, there is some good going on but much is being done by individuals not the council.

Anonymous said...

Failing to plan is planning to fail.

'O' how TDC is good at did we larff at TDC last night.

Dreamland a Joke
Pleasurama a Joke
The Exec Party a Joke
TDC a Joke

Anonymous said...

Twisted and distorted - you are the worst that Thanet has to offer. You might not like what they do, but you have nothing to offer in its place but vitriolic abuse. Armchair generals every one.

Ezekiel may be lots of things, but he has been around doing, not saying, for more years than I care to remember.

Bertie Biggles said...

Too much doing, of the wrong sort, is one of his problems 20.49. Winter Gardens 2007- Standards Rap.
Edinburgh Woollen Mill 2008- another Standards rap.

Anonymous said...

We can all name the things that don't go well, especially if you have the natural tendency to always look at the down side.

I prefer to look at what is going well and to make a judgement on the overall picture, which to me seems to be generally on the up.

You clearly have a downer on Ezekiel and his crew, but your failure to acknowledge anything positive gives you little credibility, in my view. Which is a shame because you probably have something to contribute.

Bertie Biggles said...

20:09, I find it sad that so many forget our very recent past in regard to Dreamland and the state of Margate.
I am fed up of those, whilst spouting so gushingly about tax-payer's money being poured into this site, forget that it has been deliberately run down; has had unexplained arson attacks that have proved convenient; is privately owned and when developed (eventually) will make its owners who haven't had a municipal conscience about the state of Margate, a great deal of money.

Would you regard it as right that the tax-payer repairs your house for your benefit when despite your employed security firm to keep it safe, it some-how gets set on fire when the immediate standby crew at your local fire-station just happen to be at Westbrook, filling up their appliance with fuel?

The Scenic Railway was and still is PRIVATE property for goodness sake! Was it insured? Has it been repaired as required by TDC? Have the owners re-imbursed TDC for the additional security fencing yet that we as tax-payers have paid for?
If this site had been compulsory purchased, when it should and could have been and was owned by our Council on our behalf, I would be more than happy for a profligate central Govt to pour millions in. Who are the real beneficiaries of such munificence at the moment; the tax-payers of Margate? I don't think so.

Anonymous said...

Stop crying over spilt milk and look to the future Bertie. Tax payer money spent in Margete now is an investment, so cheer up and be positive. You will be a lot happier and will probably live longer. Ezekiel isn't responsible for all the ills in Margate, much as you might think he is. None of the labour bunch seem to have made anything of their lives, so I doubt that they could have done any better.

And 20:01, it is right that volunteers are doing work in their community. The state is not responsible for every facet of our lives, much as you would like it to be. The council should divest itself of everything that cannot be done by others. But then that is not the socialist way is it? You want government to look after you because you are not strong, capable or hard-working enough to look after yourself. And so you try to hold everyone else at your level, even if that means bringing them down. The socialist folly is exposed. Big government = total control. Except when they have spent all the cash they have nowhere to go except to screw the thrifty and hated middle class some more.

Bertie Biggles said...

17:01, some woolly thinking here!
On one hand you expect us to be grateful for the crass and wasteful expenditure by central government on projects like TC and Dreamland ( a privately owned commercial site)and on the other hand you bemoan the fact that the thrifty and hardworking middle class is screwed by the very same government.

For goodness sake,sort out your argument! So crass wasteful expenditure in Thanet is OK, even though the thrifty middle classes are screwed to pay for it? You highlight for me and other readers the hypocrisy within TDC. Your hand is out for the tax-payers money but then you moan about the tax-burden and the austerity we all know is on the horizon.

Anonymous said...

Bertie, I don't expect you to be grateful for anything, but whether you agree or not, investment of any kind is good and necessary for Margate. And if you can't see that art and leisure one of a range of solutions for Margate, then you clearly are a lost cause. If private developers won't spend their cash (probably because they haven't got it), then its about time government invested tax payer money to give this town and its people a future. Because all that will happen otherwise is that more millions will be thrown at too many who are happy to contribute nothing, and the town will fall further into decayt And the "crass and wasteful" expenditure you refer to is currently providing real construction jobs for people with real skills. Government investment now will attract private investment soon. Even you should be able to acknowledge that.

Margate's problems arose from a structural change in the way people use their holiday and leisure time, making the past 30 years difficult for many. Your determination to blame anybody and everybody is amusing, but only highlights your own weaknesses - get a life.

Bertie Biggles said...

17.36,it seems pointless to continue a discussion with you when you enter into personal vitriol.

Here are some simple questions for you to answer.

1. Did not Dreamland attract 600,000 visitors to Margate in 2004? In fact Kent Tourism claim it attracted a similar number in 2005!)

2. Did Benbom Bros sell this critical Margate site cheaply based on the TDC line at the time that no Planning Consent for other use would be contemplated? Yet J. Godden and Associates (Waterbridge, MTCRC et al) now are able to develop half the site for housing/retail with TDC's 'change' in policy under the 'Ezekiel' Party contrary to planning inspectors recommendations.?

3. Did not TDC state after the Scenic Railway Fire in Apr 2008 that the owners would be required to reinstate it and did not TDC threaten to compulsory purchase it? ( By the way at the time of the fire was not the Dreamland security with Cllr Broadhurst's firm Probe Security with our present Mayor, Cllr Watt-Ruffell i/c).

4. Has TDC recovered the £40,000 + from MTCRC for security fencing yet?

5.Do you deny that a simple but perverse planning decision by TDC doubled the value of this site?

My simple contention is this: Margate's severe decline stems from the deliberate run down of Dreamland and the opening of Westwood Cross and the decision to allow, Bingo, Casino, Vue Cinema and eateries to set up there.It is not the job of the tax-payer to enhance and pay for rennovation of assets that the developer and owner, MTCRC, does not want to pay for and yet has responsibility for, whilst leaving it to maximise its profit on the site as it develops it over the next few years with housing.

If we disagree on this , then let us beg to disagree. Anyone who thinks that thousands will come to Margate to ride on 'The Caterpillar' must surely have a level of optimism that exceeds rational thinking. So be it.

Anonymous said...

Bertie, you are the master of vitriol, so don't try that one on me.

You continue to cry over spilt milk and apportion blame in every direction. I am sure if there was an opportunity for TDC to recover costs on Dreamland then they would, and how do you know they are not.

Dreamland was not run down by anything other than the public not turning up to what was a dismal and dreary for 10 months of the year. Margate town has run down for the same reason as countless other towns in the country - because the public prefer shopping in shiny new centres where all the top shops and leisure facilities are together in one place.

Yes, we do disagree, but the papers say 600,000 will come to the new park and I am sure Turner will drag in another few hundred thousand. So having a positive outlook I will welcome the investment and congratulate those responsible for the Margate turnaround. You can continue to fester and glory in your own pit of despir if you wish.

Bertie Biggles said...

08:37, yet further vitriol on the basis that I happen to disagree with your position and yet no answer to the questions.

The position you hold, is one of 'faith'; rational analysis indicates that visitor projections for both Dreamland and TC are hopelessly optimistic. Ramagate and Broadstairs have missed out on generous tax-payers loot, but are both in a far healthier state than Margate. You might like to ask yourself , why is that?

If you believe IOTG's visitor projections then so be it but you might like to bear in mind that the same paper has been lauding the imminent arrival of Bonanza Express since Feb and yet it still sits in Santa Cruz.
I wish I shared your optimism and faith and I hope they will be rewarded.