Monday, 30 March 2009

AN EMBARRASSING WEEK-END ALL ROUND FOR SOME?

I want to start with our Labour Home Secretary, whose husband sits at home accessing 'porno' on TV and then slips the bill into her expenses file. As a tax-payer, I am more concerned with her sleeping arrangements at her sisters (far more costly') than her husband's viewing habits. At my age, I find our Home Secretary quite an attractive lady. The major embarrassment for her is perhaps not a 'tenner', but the perception that she, as a woman approaching middle-age has a husband who is sitting at home watching porn rather than saving his energy to make wild passionate love to her!

The next embarrassing shambles is closer to home. I am glad to see that 'Our Ken' has deleted, at some time today, his site's (Village Voice) comment that referred to a fellow Conservative Councillor. (I have saved it for posterity).
As a fellow blogger, I was concerned on Saturday night when I saw the item and 'posted' on Strife about it. I am afraid that 'Our Ken' failed to understand that I was giving him a big hint to gracefully withdraw the comment on the grounds that he might not have caught up with it yet.(It is important as a Cllr to either keep a close eye on your blog or put in Comment Moderation.) That would perhaps have been the end of the matter.
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I now suspect, despite his complete misunderstanding and mis-reading of the point I was making and the offer for 'Strife' to pull down its post, he has now been advised by others that it might have been a good idea to delete the item. He has now done so.
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I am pleased with that but it does beg the question why he was ever appointed Chair of Planning vice Cllr Bill Hayton, if he is unable to understand what he is reading! I would have thought that an analytical mind and understanding of the reams of verbage involved in Planning Applications would at least be a basic requirement of the job? I must presume he has other qualities that appeal to his 'Leader', Cllr Ezekiel.

The other embarrassing moment at the week-end, has to be Cllr Zita Wiltshire, belatedly rushing around businesses on Saturday morning in St Peter's (her patch) behind prospective KCC Candidate Jenny Matterface and a Labour KCC Councillor who visited shops and businesses on FRIDAY, to brief them. ( see Another Potpourri below).
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Cllr Wiltshire's aim appears to have been, belatedly perhaps, to 'up-date' them on her progress with KCC Highways and the contractors putting in gas mains. The trader, who very kindly gave me the hand-out below, was un-impressed with Cllr Wiltshire's ONLY visit in 5 weeks. He had not seen his other ward Cllrs at all (Cllr Ken Gregory or Cllr Savage).
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Whilst the good news is that the work is likely to finish early, the fact has to be admitted that our Labour 'types' in wards, are faster on the ball and seen to be helping or at least trying to help, than some of our Conservative Ward Cllrs. Complacency about future electoral outcomes needs to avoided by the Conservatives in Thanet.
(Please click on the 'hand-out' below.)I have to admit to some astonishment about Cllr Wiltshire's update! " My Road work's Team"? I wonder if KCC Roadworks Manager (an excellent LG officer), David Latham, realises that Cllr Wiltshire has a 'Roadwork's Team' as well as his team.
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I was under the impression that roads and their works was a KCC Highways responsibility not TDCs? What team is she talking about? Who are they and where are they beavering away at Cllr Wiltshire's direction and management? Or could it be that 'Our Ken' and Cllr Savage each have a 'roadworks team as well?
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I would love to know, or is this a classic case of 'bull' to poor hardpressed village yokels who don't know quite who does what and are expected to believe what they are told? Can anyone clarify this and if necessary I will apologise to Cllr Wiltshire and 'her team' who are working so hard on TDC's roads.


Saturday, 28 March 2009

TDC COUNCILLOR'S BLOG ALLOWS COMMENT ACCUSING ANOTHER COUNCILLOR OF TREASON?










Well what a strange 'blogging world' we have in Thanet.
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I am sure readers are aware that Cllr David Green (Labour) on 'Eastcliff Matters' seems to have been 'bloggered' and has run foul of a Standards Complaint about his blog. On my last post I commented that Cllr Mark Nottingham (Labour) on 'From One End of Kent' may have exposed himself to a similar complaint and suggested that Councillors need to take care in running blogs and that Cllr Simon Moores (Conservative) on 'Thanet Life' perhaps sets the standard in Thanet for them to emulate.
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Some of course, will see this as a 'dastardly' attempt by TDC Conservatives to close down Labour Councillor's Blogs who may have allowed comments against Conservative Councillors on their blogs that breach 'Standards required of TDC Councillors'.
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What are readers to make then, of Cllr Ken Gregory (Conservative) on 'Village Voice'.
Please feel free to go across to Village Voice, the link is below, and read the comments that have been posted and allowed to stand, from Rockyracoon (aka 'Annoying Bloke').

https://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=2956080782499881433&postID=1790319749811785803&isPopup=true
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What I find extraordinary is that Cllr Gregory, appointed as a Conservative (as opposed to his previous appointment under Labour) to Chair of Planning last year, seems to have forgotten he is now a Conservative!
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Otherwise, why would he allow a comment to stand on 'Village Voice' (amongst many others), accusing a certain fellow Conservative Councillor of 'Treason'? Here is just one (suitably edited) extract:
" (21) In my view Cllr XXXXXX committed Treason within the meanings of both the 1351 Act and The Treason Felony Act 1848."
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Well, how absolutely extraordinary!
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Are we about to see a new twist on a 'Complaint to Standards' i. e. a Conservative Councillor making a complaint about a Conservative 'Blogger' Cllr as opposed to a Labour Cllr 'Blogger'?
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This would be a novel situation. What is perhaps more worrying is the motivation behind allowing this 'character assassination' of a fellow Conservative member to be printed on a 'Conservative' Blog?
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If I was a Conservative Cllr, I think I would begin to wonder what this is really all about.
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There may of course be a very simple explanation.
As Cllr Gregory last commented on his own 'Blog' at 14.16 on 28th March, he may not have spotted the item in question yet. Which leads me to the point that perhaps Councillors blogging need to ensure they have 'Comment Moderation' switched on and need perhaps to read very carefully what is contained in posts.
I will remove this whole posting should that be the case and apologise to Cllr Gregory and sympathise with him on the 'hazards' of running a 'blog'.
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UPDATE
Cllr Gregory has stated that he is quite happy to leave the post on Village Voice standing. He is entitled to do so. However, I am glad I am not a colleague and fellow Conservative Councillor of his; with a 'colleague' and fellow party member like him, who needs 'Labour' blogs to allow criticism of Conservative Councillors?
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I am therefore happy to allow comment again on this site and will leave this post up.

Friday, 27 March 2009

ANOTHER POTPOURRI

What an interesting week in Thanet.
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We discover that Euroferries is such a switched on 'set-up' that the 31st March 'service' cannot even be considered as even 'imminent', as their prospective berth at Ramsgate is not capable of allowing vehicles to load onto the much awaited Bonanza Express. It, by the way, is still berthed alongside the harbour wall in Las Palmas in The Canary Islands.
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TDC is singing its praises about an award for The Gateway and making out that this puts it at the top of Councils in the UK. I am delighted that its improving, and all credit to the staff who have made this possible, but improvement from a poor base line, is what has happened and let's cut out the OTT 'spin' please; we have had enough of that nonsense from a Labour Central Government without TDC playing the same game. This reminds me of the 'value added criteria' for some of our local schools. The fact is that TDCs 'improvement' is akin to The Marlowe Academy's improvement in league tables. In absolute terms, TDC is still sitting way down the 'league tables', no matter the hype being made; just as The Marlowe Academy is.
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Could it be that TDC is about to compulsory purchase The Marina Restaurant (or what is left of it in Ramsgate). The developers who knocked down this Grade 2 listed building seem to have failed to even start restoring it. That sounds familiar! Isn't there a Grade 2 listed Scenic Railway in a similar state, with security fencing paid for by TDC under threat of compulsory purchase (i.e. 51% of the Dreamland Site) twelve months after it was 'torched'. Has TDC quietly and conveniently forgotten this?
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It would seem that 'Mauwice & Wodger's' dispensing jobs for the boys and girls as 'Lead Members' etc has paid off, if we are to believe the IOTG today. A certain Conservative voice, with much to lose, should a regime change occur, is rumoured to have fallen over himself to support his 'Leader'. Grovelling sycophancy is always unpleasent to behold!

Onto Village matters!
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St Peter's traders and small businesses are close to desperation. The news earlier this week that some old smuggling tunnels have been revealed in the excavations to put new gas mains in, came as no surprise to local historians but caused some panic that this would increase the time the village was sealed off. There is good news to report, however.
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Jenny Matterface, a prospective Labour Candidate has been busy, together with Steve Ladyman and in particular Labour KCC & TDC Cllr Alan Poole, who is a member of KCC's Highways Advisory Board, in trying to push the completion date forward to gain relief for struggling businesses. It would seem they have had some success and it appears likely that all should return to normal by the end of next week, according to the KCC Highways Roadworks manager. I have to admire, as an NTCA member, the efforts by Labour, to support their local traders in such an involved way.
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I can't help wondering how TDC might have reacted if the entrance to Westwood Cross Shopping Centre had to be closed for 8 weeks? Is it a case that small traders can be ignored but big business would have to be looked after? Having to pay 90p for parking in Birchington today whilst Mrs Biggles 'shopped' for an hour, made me wonder if ' green sustainability blah blah' is just 'waffle' where TDC is concerned? With parking rates so high, it would cost less to drive to Westwood and park for free. This makes nonsense of 'sustainability' and concern about carbon footprints etc.

Now to Westgate.
I must apologise for an old pic but this building close to the station is of interest. The 'Biggles' Shopping expedition' began in Westgate this morning. I bumped into our only Independent TDC Cllr, Tom King, talking to a shop owner about the problem of the Nationwide ATM machine being out of service all week. This has been catastrophic for trade. No bank, and only this cash dispenser in the village not working, means that people move on elsewhere to draw cash and spend it there and not in Westgate.
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Cllr King has been trying to get Cllr Latchford to help in getting a second ATM for Westgate. Cllr King has managed to persuade the owners of the building in the pic to allow an ATM to be installed but is having problems getting Nationwide or another provider to install one. Its all very complicated, but Cllr King (Ind) battles on, on behalf of Westgate with what seems precious little support. Is it because he is the last of the Mohicans, oops, last of The Independents?
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With Audrey Pickering having to step down as an Independent, you are probably thinking that Bertie has forgotten about Cllr Dean (call me Bert) McCastree (previously Williams?). He has a 25% attendance (TDC Website) and Westbrook residents have no location to have a 'surgery' to visit. How Independent is he? You might have noticed a recent Thanetlife'posting' quoting Cllr McCastree at length to give credibility about how TDC is doing so well.
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Well he sounds more like a Conservative. It is interesting that he applied to be a Labour nominated Cllr first. I suspect he is about as Independent as Pariish Cllr Worrow was. Such is the way of Cllrs I suppose. On that subject, am I the only one to detect a major supportive 'tone' along the lines of 'My Party etc' from Thanetlife in regards to 'Our Leader'. Cllr Moores' blog seems to have turned into a supportive 'Cheer Leader's site' with 'Our Ken' at Village Voice acting in tandem and as korus or should that be chorus? This improbable 'duo' have presumably revelled in Eastcliff Matters being 'bloggered' and rumour has it that Cllr Nottingham's 'blog' is the next in line.
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It makes last year's 'Blog War' seem quite tame. What is happening now seems far more serious. What we might need soon is a dedicated Labourite, who is not a Cllr, to open up a blog and thus be beyond the reach of being 'bloggered' by the TDC Conservatives on Standards issues. That said, a cautious and careful approach by a Councillor when 'blogging' is advised and Thanetlife sets the standard here.

Thursday, 26 March 2009

MARGATE ROCKED

A report from 'Strife's' Rock Correspondent.


We have the promise of an Art gallery to see people coming to Margate in the future, and we have a world remembered amusement park missing in action. Shops shut, and much to complain about; except, a forgotten jewel in Margate’s crown. The Winter Gardens. It is not the most lavish, and a bit tattered around the edges; but for two nights this week, it was the focus of the music scene in South East England, and boy did it deliver.

Monday night saw Anthony Genn’s 7 piece group ‘The Hours, kick off the evening’s entertainment followed by the main course, Kasabian. The Leicester group played a number of tracks from their forthcoming album together with a host of crowd favourites to keep the fans at this sold out event happy. This was not only a warm up for this weekend’s gig at the Royal Albert Hall in aid of the Teenage Cancer Trust, but also for their forthcoming tour supporting Oasis on their Stadium tour!! This was good, but the best was yet to come.




A mere 24 hours later and the queues outside the Winter Gardens again braved the cold winds. The queue was made up of two types of punters. Fans from all over the South East, and Thanetonians who were there just because it was happening! I have to admit to being in that group. Stereophonics in Margate; I haveto be there! And was I glad that I was.

Dead on 8pm, Tom Allalone and the 78s took to the stage. There mix of up beat modern Hill Billy rock with a touch of Ska went down surprisingly well; the more so because they hail from Gravesend, and had a fan base in the hall!

Stereophonics were in the house. It really was them, and they tore up the place with a mix of some newer songs, complimented by all the crowd favourites, and benefitting from a spectacular light show. The sold out hall bounced along to an hour and a half of music, a good night normally, before being treated to a half hour encore. There are very few bands these days that play for two hours, and this was pure gold. No breaks, no pontification or putting the world to rights; just full on rock concluding with a rollicking version of their classic ‘Dakota’.
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We will never see a week like this again, but with venues in the South East being at a premium, perhaps a few more may venture our way. The winners Margate. And that has got to be the underlying achievement here. For a brief moment, Margate was at the centre of something, and it wasn’t good, it was brilliant!

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

TIME FOR THE KING-MAKER TO BECOME KING?






Some more straws are blowing in the wind about unhappy rumblings from those 'honourable' members of Thanet's Conservative Councillors and members of the Conservative Associations, as opposed to those whose motto is 'My Leader Right or Wrong' and 'Thank you, Sandy for giving me this job or that job'.
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9 days have now elapsed since 'Our Leader' has had the opportunity to behave like a 'gentleman' and resign his post as Leader of TDC for behaving in a most vulgar manner on two occasions and bringing his office and his Council into disrepute. He can still do the honourable thing and stand-down as 'Leader' and serve his ward constituents all the better, as their Cllr, until 2011.
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I have remarked before, how Cllr Wise has been a most effective hand on the Finances, and I am beginning to wonder if it has crossed his mind that he is the most capable and talented member of Cabinet? What on earth is he doing, propping up a 'duo' who have brought TDC and himself by association, into disrepute? Is it time for the 'King Maker' to become 'King'?
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Readers might not be aware that on Monday evening, South and North Thanet Conservatives had AGMs and that last night the Conservative Councillors met for their 'Annual Meeting'. It would seem that a number of Conservative Cllrs were 'otherwise engaged' (perhaps with convenient 'political excuses') , but those who were there, were not all happy with 'Our Leader' and his inappropriate conduct in the past 2 years.
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Rather than have a 'festering sore' go untreated for much longer within the Conservative Group, that is bound to have ramifications at the ballot box in due course for some principled Conservative Cllrs who do an excellent job for their wards, might not now be the time for Cllr Wise, a man of undoubted ability and intellect (as opposed to 'interlect'), to step forward and 'unite' The Conservative Councillors in the 2 years left before the next TDC elections.
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He has, I believe, strong views that Cllrs should live in the wards they represent (as he does) so that they have their finger on the 'pulse' and actually know what is going on in their wards and what worries their constituents have. This is perhaps a subtle criticism of 'Our Leader' who moved from Palm Bay some time ago, and of a sycophantic (ex-Labour) Chair of Planning, who is out in the 'sticks' and hardly seen in St Peter's, according to locals.
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I suppose we must all wait to see how our Conservative members deal with the present embarrassment. I suspect, having seen (ex- Labour) Cllr Gregory leap forward to promote his Leader's policy at a Full Council Planning meeting in October last year in an extraordinary manner, that last night he was probably to the fore in 'My Leader right or wrong' as his current 'Chair' was a 'gift' from 'Our Leader' in quite extraordinary circumstances last year.
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I suppose it is too much to expect some to adhere to principles, when their 'self-interest', egos and 'position' are at stake?

Sunday, 22 March 2009

DREAMLAND: ANORACS, PIPE DREAMS AND OTHER PEOPLE'S MONEY.

It's easy to forget that despite Jimmy Godden buying Dreamland in 1996 and then spending the next few years selling off rides and running the place down, that in 2002 it still attracted 680,000 visitors. He then sold it to Waterbridge. How the Turner Centre would love to attract that number of visitors; after wasting £7 million and now spending another projected £17.4 million of tax-payer's money, TC is expected to attract only a paltrey 130,000 visitors per year.
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Having seen the latest proposals for Dreamland, I burst into laughter as spontaneously as The Scenic Railway was 'torched' almost a year ago despite Deputy Mayor, Cllr Watt-Ruffell being the security manager of Dreamland.
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Let's be realistic. Right from square one, Mr Godden and Mr Toby Hunter of Waterbridge and the risibly entitled Margate Town Centre Regeneration Company (MTCRC) had one purpose for the Dreamland site; they stated it quite clearly (see http://www.propertyweek.com/story.asp?storyCode=3082130 )
" Godden clearly had property development aspirations, but there was an obstacle he could not move: the Scenic Railway."
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"Toby Hunter, chief executive of Waterbridge and the regeneration company, has plans for a £500m scheme that will comprise around 1m sq ft (92,900 sq m) of residential and 300,000 sq ft (27,870 sq m) of retail and leisure."
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An excellent campaign was run by Nick Laister and Sarah Vickery (Save Dreamland) to stop this happening, until they joined forces with MTCRC. TDC ( led by Cllr Ezekiel) then ignored in 2006 the advice given by an Independent Planning Inspector concerning the vital nature of the Dreamland Site to Margate's regeneration. Here is what the report at the time said:
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"TDC's plans encourage speculation. Dereliction would be the most likely outcome, if the speculative value of the site is higher than the value of the site which it can realise at any given time."
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The history of the site since 2002 makes dismal reading; 2003, 2004, 2005 : opened for part of season only; (a fire that created Godden's Gap); 2006 a 'Big Wheel'for part of season and a funfair that would have embarrassed a Village Carnival; 2007, 2008, (Scenic Railway Arson) CLOSED and DERELICT. The future: 2009, 2010, 2011 CLOSED and derelict and just possibly a 'Hertage Park' opening in 2012? Isn't this exactly what TDC was warned about?
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Just under a year ago, TDC was talking purposefully about insisting on urgent repair of the scenic railway or 'compulsory purchase' . This was reported in IOTG on 18 Apr 2008:
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"At the meeting (TDC Meeting), Cllr Clive Hart raised the concern that although 20 per cent of the Scenic Railway would need to be completely rebuilt the other 80 per cent would still need work done to it as it has sat unmaintained for the past two years. Officers agreed works would also cover the remaining 80 per cent to ensure the ride would be operational.
Council officers considered it “reasonable to expect that the ride might be repaired and operational by Easter 2009.”

Well Easter 2009 is only three weeks away and my understanding is that despite TDC paying £42,000 in August to put in proper secure fencing (despite Cllr Watt-Ruffell heading up security at Dreamland), TDC has not got the money back for the tax-payer and MTCRC still hasn't got any detailed repair work done with Peter Beck for Waterbridge stating 'We still need to secure funding".
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Readers might be surprised to know that I found a fascinating 'trade advert' for a 'LEASEHOLD on Dreamland, Margate looking for someone to make the Dream happen; here is an extract:

"No longer in use, the site includes a Grade II Listed Scenic Railway, a Grade II* Listed Cinema and various other buildings in different states of repair. Permission exists for amusement park uses on the site, and expressions of interest are invited for operators wishing to take up the leasehold of all or part of the site for development and operation of an amusement park, including the Scenic Railway, to the best modern standards. Those who are interested in living the dream will be asked to provide details of proposals for all or part of the site, a business plan, and certificates of qualification and insurance to run the park. In the initial instance, if you are interested in discussing the opportunity, please contact Ross Stewart on 0118 929 0720/0700 by 10th NOVEMBER 2008".
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So what is this business all about that has been going on for some time with The Prince's Regeneration Trust; The Dreamland Trust; 'Sea Change' funding applications from the Dept. for Culture Media & Sport and Lottery Grant Applications?
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So Waterbridge, a commercial property developer in the 'speculative' market is now expecting CHARITIES and THE TAXPAYER and LOTTERY to do its development for them to create a 'retro' theme park ? Have they no money of their own?
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Well it's nice to know that despite arson; despite TDC's failure for whatever reasons to plan properly; despite Waterbridge and MTCRC 'running down their speculative investment' (GOSE Inspector's Report) since 2002, CHARITY & TAXPAYER'S money might come to the 'rescue' and provide us in 2012 with an exciting collection of 'old rides' that are presently rusting and rotting in various parts of the UK like the Scenic Railway is.
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Thank goodness we have Rebecca Smith, Frank Thorley and Damien Cooke who still realise that modern development of The Dreamland SITE ( not a re-creation of the Dreamland we once had) as an all weather visitor attraction and a complement to our fabulous beach in Margate is what is needed.
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I am afraid to admit that I have to agree with 'Mauwice' when Thom Morris quoted him as saying " Forget Dreamland and stop living in the past" in last month's Thanet Times. The problem is that Cllr Ezekiel clearly meant the SITE as well or he would have taken the advice of an Independent Planning Inspector 3 years ago!

Friday, 20 March 2009

YOU HAVE TO ADMIRE THE ARROGANCE!


Having just been found guilty on two counts of failing to meet Standards required of our Councillors and within 12 months of the last guilty finding by The Standard's Board of England in 2008, 'Our Leader' appears in today's Isle Of Tory Gazette with this 'headline'?
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You have to admire the arrogance of it all. (Today is now Day 4 since an honorable man would have resigned the Leadership).
Now forgive me for being cynical about the IOTG now that Rebecca Smith is back at the helm, but this is the first opportunity since Monday for our leading weekly to report on the matter in detail. Is this the paper whose own intrepid reporter witnessed 'Mauwice' and the 'Artful Wodger' in full spate at The Edinburgh Woollen Mill ? Is this the paper that had the integrity of its best reporter, Thom Morris called into question by 'Mauwice' in a written submission to Standards? An item at the bottom of Page 2, has the tame heading 'Two top tories rapped by standards board'.
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I can think of a better headline or two for this pathetic item in IOTG;
" TDC Leader 'Censured' for THIRD Breach of Conduct in Two Years!"
"Deputy Leader Joins His Leader in a History of Poor Conduct"
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The best headline for an embarrassed North Thanet Conservative Association member, that Bertie is, would be:
"LATEST - CLLR EZEKIEL RESIGNS TO RESTORE LOCAL REPUTATION OF THANET'S
CONSERVATIVE COUNCIL."
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The silence from his fellow Conservative Councillors , local MP and PPC continues. I can almost imagine the hissing , through many sets of clenched teeth, of a repeated "NO COMMENT"!
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Much better to resign and admit your 'Failures', Cllr Ezekiel.

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

AN INTERESTING PLANNING APPLICATION?

Readers may not have spotted an item on page 14 in KM 's Thanet Extra last week. Two Chimneys Caravan Park on The Shottendane Road wants to put in a 9 hole Golf Course, woodland, a small lake, a nature trail, an adventure maze and a mountain bike activity area alongside its site for use by its site residents.
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Details can be found on UK Planning site at F/TH/08/1466. A decision on this application is due to be made by TDC's Planning Committtee on Thursday 29th April 2009.
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I have mixed feelings about this proposal. I have no doubt that it will provide an interesting 'tourist attraction' but only for 'customers' of Two Chimneys and that it will lead to an increase in wild-life habitat and bio-diversity. My main concern is that it will be taking out almost another 60 acres of prime agricultural land from crop production in Thanet.
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The history of expansion onto agricultural land by Two Chimneys in the past 8 years shows that it expanded from its original site to Park Road to its East in 2002 and took 20 acres of prime agricultural land for this. (F/TH/01/0599). In 2006, it expanded again but to the west by another 10 acres. (F/TH/05/0599). If this application is granted, Two Chimneys will have effectively taken almost 100 acres of prime agricultural land out of production in the past 7 years. My main complaint about Two Chimneys is that it is still the most intrusive and poorly screened ' mobile home' site in Thanet and perhaps TDC Planning should enforce more effective screening planting!
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I have to admit that I would rather see woodland, a lake and a copsed golf course than glass houses or industrial sheds. I am depressed to have to accept that with TDC's present outlook, our 'Isle' is disappearing under 'industrial development' (Thanet Earth; KIA Masterplan; China Gateway etc) and that in 15 to 20 years time we will have a 'developed' heartland with a promenade and beaches fringing it.
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Perhaps a Golf Course, woodland and small lake is not such a bad idea after all?

EUROTUNNEL ON THE OFFENSIVE?

It is now the 2nd day that Cllr Ezekiel has let pass, without resigning.
Euroferries have 12 days left to have Bonanza Express depart to Boulogne from Ramsgate.

I do not have sophisticated 'counter thingees' to record the passing days but will just have to enter them manually. If you want to know where the Bonanza is, please click on this link that I have pinched from Michael at www.thanetonline.blogspot.com :

http://www.marinetraffic.com/ais/default.aspx?level0=100

In the meantime, I find it interesting that Eurotunnel paid for a whole page advert in yesterday's Thanet Times promoting short journey, cheap price and 'goodies' if you book in March and April. Eurotunnel are perhaps taking Euroferries a little more seriously than Glenn Campbell of the BBC?

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

THE DARK SIDE REVEALED IN THANET

Before I discuss our discredited Leader's arrogant utterances less than 24hrs after TDC's Standards found him failing to meet the Standards required of Councillors (the second time he has shown himself unable to conduct himself appropriately as Leader of Thanet District Council
and our main Civic Leader within a 15month period) let me share with you an interesting alternative view that whilst a light-hearted view of Thanet's Leadership has a serious undertone. I give you this from regular reader, Tim.
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"Dear Bertie,

It ocurred to me the other day, while I was dusting down the DVD collection with a bottle of Mr Sheen, just how much like Darth Vader and The Emperor, old Sandy and even older Rog, are.
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Sandy, much like Vader, is the figurehead of The darkside, the public face if you will, but its Rog, who is the man in real control of the TDC Empire, squirrelling awy, behind the scenes and controlling the Dark Side of the Force; sorry I mean The Farce.
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No Jedi knight could fail to spot the similarity between Roger's craggy features and that of the grizzly Emperor surely - and Sandy's blank expression is surely a mask of sorts?
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Now all we need is for Sandy Vader to say 'enough is effing enough' and toss his 'Master' down a large wind tunnel and then admit the error of his ways, and then we will all be happy.
the result would of course be another Standards appearance and I don't think even a Dark Lord of the Sith could survive a 3rd appearance ....or maybe he could?"

Tim

Thanks, Tim.

According to Your Thanet, 'Mauwice' told them today: “Labour would call for me to resign, but I will not be standing down. I stand by my record as leader and the things we have achieved in that time. “That is what counts. It’s time to stop attacking the man and to get back to policy.”He added he now wanted to “move on”.

What arrogance! Does this man really think he is that important to Thanet and The Conservative Party in Thanet and that it is just Labour Cllrs who are calling for his resignation?

No apology to the people of Thanet for failing to maintain simple standards of decent behaviour in public as 'their' Leader. No apology to his own Party and 'his' Councillors for bringing his Leadership and their Party into disrepute.

Your Party and TDC are bigger than you, Cllr Ezekiel, although you fail to grasp that simple point. Yes, lets get back to good Conservative administration and policies but without YOU!

Monday, 16 March 2009

ITS TIME TO RESIGN THE LEADERSHIP OF TDC, CLLR EZEKIEL.

I should imagine these are the words that Roger Gale MP might be saying to Cllr Ezekiel tonight. If they are not, then shame on him and the rest of The Conservative Party in Thanet.
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It is my understanding that The Standards Chair, Mrs Jennifer Sterndale sitting with Cllr Tom King (Ind) and Mr Brian Hinchley felt the need to censure the conduct of Cllr Ezekiel in The Edinburgh Woollen Mill in June last year. I will wait for the precise details of the official decision that will appear,hopefully, in the minutes in due course.
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Lets be quite clear about the decisions of The Standard's Board of England and the decision of TDC's own Standards Committtee. They have both found that in simple terms The Leader of TDC has failed to act in a proper way on TWO occasions (April 2007 and June 2008) and has thus bought his 'Office' and the reputation of TDC into disrepute.
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Now is the time for all good Conservative Councillors 'to come to the aid of the Party' and insist that Cllr Ezekiel either resigns or is replaced.
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As far as Cllr Latchford is concerned, his 'leaping' antics do him no credit nor did his written submissions and 'evidence'. His saving grace is that after 4 attempts to get his Leader to leave, he eventually succeeded. He should accept that like C S Forester's 'The General', perhaps its time to head for the 'bath-chair' at Bournemouth and a peaceful retirement.

MARGATE ROCKS?




An unusual item from 'Strife', this morning. As well as having 'Granny Smith' as our shopping correspondent, we now have a 'rock correspondent', "M" and this is what he has sent in.
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Margate Rocks

"Little did I realise when I attended the last ever gig at the Astoria in London back in January, that the demise of this grand old venue, could actually benefit Thanet! But with a major South East venue now closed, concert organisers have started looking further afield, and have finally rediscovered the Wintergardens.
First to slip in were Leicester’s finest ,‘Kasabian’ lined up to play on Mon 23rd March. If that was not enough, the feast continues with Welsh heroes , ‘Stereophonics’ coming in under the radar and playing the day after on the 24th! This almost amounts to a mini festival on the lines of ‘Give it a Name’.
Both bands are using these as warm up gigs for their bigger concerts the following weekend when they play the Royal Albert Hall for the ‘Teenage Cancer Trust’.
Still, if organisers can see the Wintergardens as being a viable alternative, perhaps we will see more current and up and coming bands coming here. Let’s hope so! Rock on... \m/ ".
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It is an interesting possibility that Rock Bands coming to Margate on a regular basis might attract more visitors to Margate than the pretty depressing Turner Centre. Perhaps the Dreamland site can be utilised between now and 'whenever' as an open air pop 'concert venue' during the summer week-ends. What a boost to Margate that would be!

Sunday, 15 March 2009

NOT HUNGRY ENOUGH TO WORK YET?

The picture above is of a small demonstration in New York by those who had recently lost their jobs in the current financial crisis.

The unemployment situation in Thanet, the South East and in this country as a whole is getting worse despite the BSF funding that is being poured into Thanet schools in particular at the moment. The ugly side of hard times has started to rear its head with protests against 'foreign' workers 'taking jobs' that has been fuelled by Brown's silly statement 'British jobs, for British workers'.

I believe that we will have disorder on the streets of London on April 2nd and elsewhere in the country through the summer. I am not entirely convinced that the civil disorder in Lurgan, Northern Ireland was purely a result of police arrests following the murder by terrorists of two soldiers and a policeman last week; unemployment in deprived areas in N. Ireland has shot up.

Back in Thanet, a regular reader has sent me an interesting tale of our jobless in Thanet.

"Dear Bertie,

The Polish road-sweeper who has done such a fantastic job keeping Beacon and St Peter's Wards clean following Jenny Matterface's complaint about the state of the roads, is sadly moving on. As a fully qualified motor-mechanic he has decided to return to that area of work. He will be missed.
He says that when he was at the Job Centre and was offered the road-sweeper's job he was happy to have any work and accepted it. Disturbed by comments from other Thanet's finest about 'these foreigners taking our jobs', the Job Centre staff told them that 'We've offered all of YOU this job and you all refused. This gentleman is willing to do the job that you've all turned down, so keep quiet and let us do our job'.

I suspect that some of the hostile comments were coming from our 'long-term' unemployed in Thanet. It is my experience that those who are 'hungry enough' will willingly take work on offer to them.

Friday, 13 March 2009

A SAD TALE : OF CONDUCT UNBECOMING? POLITICISED COUNCIL OFFICERS ? THE MISSING WITNESS?

I read last night, courtesy of Cllr Mark Nottingham's Blog, almost 300 pages of 'evidence' and letters collected by Standards into the incident in The Edinburgh Woollen Mill in Margate last June. (See earlier 'posts' for general background.) .
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The full details can be accessed from TDC at:
http://tdc-mg-dmz.thanet.gov.uk/Published/C00000137/M00001171/$$ADocPackPublic.pdf
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I would urge ALL Conservative Councillors, Roger Gale MP and PPC Laura Sandys to read very carefully what has been written or said by all those involved on that June morning and make up their own minds as to the suitability of Cllr Ezekiel and Cllr Latchford continuing to lead the Conservative Group at TDC.
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I have come to my own conclusions and whatever happens on Monday in The Council Chamber will not remove the fact that TDC has been brought into disrepute and its standing in the eyes of the public damaged.
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I will only quote any extracts, from what I have read, to illustrate points and to put them in context, you will need to read the whole report.

Statements seem to have been taken from only 5 people, one of whom (Council Officer, Mr Bunnet) was not even present in the Woollen Mill. They were Cllr Johnston, Cllr Ezekiel, Cllr Latchford and two local press reporters, Thom Morris and Nick Evans. You might well wonder, as I did, why no Statement has been made by a 'key' witness to the whole business, Miss Cheryl Hussey, manager of The Edinburgh Woollen Mill. She, like the press members could have given a clear account of what she saw and heard. Why was no statement taken or did she decline to make one?
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What was interesting to read was that Cllr Ezekiel stated he invited Cheryl Hussey for lunch that very same day; presumably within an hour or so of the incident. I could not find anywhere in the paperwork that Cheryl Hussey had been invited to make a statement or had declined to; she is the 'missing witness'.
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One must assume that our press work to a code of conduct and are professionally trained to report what they see and hear. I find the 'evidence' from Thom Morris and Nick Evans particularly interesting and would assume it to be as accurate an account from 'neutral' parties as one is likely to get. Let me quote some extracts:

"Their general behaviour was ungentlemanly and unpleasant".
"Councillor Latchford leapt like a salmon ..I wish I had taken a picture."
"Councillor Latchford said four times, 'Sandy, let's go'.
"To see the Council Leader just being ridiculous and the Deputy Leader leaping at another Councillor; God knows what it has done for their reputation!"
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What I find interesting is that both reporters confirm that within a short time of the incident, they received phone calls from Cllr Ezekiel as did their superiors or colleagues. Why was this done and what was said?
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You will need to read a written submission by Cllr Ezekiel very carefully to spot what appears to be a suggestion that the two press reporters were not acting professionally. Here is an extract:

"Both journalists have reasons to feel personally aggrieved with myself as the Leader of TDC. With regard to Thom Morris , I have made robust complaints about untrue statements he made, appearing in the Gazzette. Nick Evans has twice been turned down for an appointment at TDC. I would refer at this stage to the e-mail I presented to you in an earlier statement, from Michaels Childs(sic), warning me about Nick Evans motives."
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I was staggered at the implication contained in these words and find it extraordinary when much criticism about our local press has been aired on blogs about the very pro-TDC line taken in all our papers with little critical comment about TDC!
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I read John Bunnet's statement with surprise. As he was not at the scene, how could his statement be considered of any value or pertinent to consideration by The Standard's Committtee? Cllr Johnston went to see him shortly after the incident in his capacity as Acting Chief Executive of TDC. Mr Bunnet's statement raises serious questions about the role of Officers in TDC. If you read it, you will note the many references to Cllr Johnston being 'emotionally upset' not on just this occasion and Mr Bunnet repeats this phrase over and over again. He then promptly contradicts himself by stating 'She is a strong and experienced politician'. What seriously should concern us all and all TDC Councillors, is Mr Bunnet's words when describing 'his opinion' of The Edinburgh Woollen Mill incident:
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" It feels like one of a series of attempts by the opposition to weaken the Leader."

Now forgive me if I am a tad naive, but how does The Leader and Deputy Leader bursting in on a petition hand-over uninvited by Cllr Johnston or anyone present, constitute 'an attempt to undermine the Leader' and Mr Bunnet reveals an extraordinary stance as (at the time) he was initially acting as Acting Chief Executive who would have to advise ALL involved, neutrally and dispassionately as an Officer of Thanet District Council, acting for the WHOLE Council.
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I will end my take on this 'scandalous' incident for TDC as a whole and leave you with the words of a former 'Officer and Gentleman' and 'leaper' in explaining 'whose fault it was':

" The whole thing is the responsibility of Cllr Johnston".

Is that really the case Lt Col (Retd) R Latchford OBE, Deputy Leader of TDC?

NO OFFICIAL STANDARDS MEETING ACCORDING TO TDC ?

This is the front page of TDC News. It is sent to Councillors to keep them informed of the following week's events and and News Releases.

The observant will notice that Councillors have not been informed in this 'official' TDC letter to them of The Standards Meeting on Monday 16th March at 5.00pm. Is this just inefficiency or would TDC rather keep most of its Councillors like 'mushrooms' about the business of the Leader and his Deputy in Woollen Shops?

Today's IOTG, Page 3 has an interesting report and when I catch up with sleep having read 300 pages late into the night, I will make my own comments on what I have read.

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

CHEAPER CUCUMBERS?

What a depressing day for Thanet job prospects.
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I have to feel sorry for Infratil and TDC in regard to BAWC/GSS not coming to Manston. Has everyone down here been taken for a bit of a ride? One can only assume that Stansted has had to give BAWC some concessions to stop them moving some aircraft to Manston and perhaps that's what it was all about? It will give time, I hope, for TDC to now get to proper grips with its S.106 in the next 6 months and ensure proper monitoring is in place.

Glenn Campbell on Inside Out this evening seems to have 'rained on TDC's parade' or to be more exact, on 'Wodgers'. Was I the only one to note squirming and fluster when 'Wodger' was pressed about 'due diligence' enquiries into Euroferries? (Should have read 'Strife'?) With a French firm that seems to have Dover-Boulogne sussed and is about to buy up Sea France, are we really going to see a repaired 'Bonanza Express' in Euroferries livery, sweep into Ramsgate?
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The only good news this evening would appear to be about cucumbers.
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Amidst all the hype about Thanet Earth's first cucumbers hitting Thanet Tesco's no-one commented about the price of £1.28 per cucumber that is essentially 80% water. Considering you could almost throw a cucumber from Seamark Road to Manston Tesco, a 'local' price of £1.28 did seem steep. My 'shopping' correspondent, Granny Smith, now reports that a Thanet Earth cucumber is now on sale at Tescos at the lower price of 80p. One wonders what price Tesco buy them in at and what the mark up is, even at a 38% reduction in price since last week.
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Granny Smith did mention that LIDL are bringing cucumbers in from Spain and if you have no qualms about the carbon foot-print of your cucumber, 49p does seem a more sensible price! Perhaps Tesco is taking the 'proverbial' with its price of a Thanet Cucumber?

INSIDE OUT AT 7.30pm TONIGHT ON BBC 1

Glenn Campbell of BBC South East is likely to show an interesting take on Euroferries and the ferry 'business' at large, in tonight's Inside Out programme at 7.30pm.
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Contacts tell me that The Millionaire's Playground will feature as will our very own Cllr Latchford who is currently in Hong Kong.
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'Mauwice' will be none to pleased to hear 'Wodger' on camera stating, " There is absolutely no way a ferry will be running from here by March 31st!"
This of course is contrary to Euroferries press release saying a service will commence from Ramsgate on that date and 'Mauwice's' 'gung-ho' optimism.
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My advice to 'Wodger' would be to make sure if Euroferries newly painted Bonanza Express pops into Ramsgate that he gets down there to collect berthing charges quickly or he might find something in common with the Mayor of Rochester, USA.

An 'on-line' report on Inside Out will be up at 5.00pm.

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

KENT HIGHWAY SERVICES PRESENT 'THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND FLOODING?'

Grafton Road in Broadstairs has now received the 'full works' of not just filled pot-holes but a re-patching job; well done KCC Highway Services. That's the 'Good'.


The pictures above and below are of 'The BAD'. This fine specimen of a growing and deepening pot-hole is to be found in Park Road by the entrance into Dane Park. If the 'chicane' was not enough to contend with as you turn sharp left into Park Road, the car driver, motorcyclist and push-biker now have to negotiate round this pot-hole or fear losing control with potentially disastrous consequences.

You'll be pleased to know that whilst the crop of pot-holes deepen and widen around many of our busy roads in Thanet, Kent Highway Services are about to embark, on what one correspondent has described as a ' cosmetic exercise' on the 'Wimpey' estate (Silvers, Maples, Beech Drive, Birch Close etc) off Westwood Road in Broadstairs with a full surfacing job from 30 March to 17th April! I will have to get some pictures of these roads that are in such a state that they have priority over the 'pot-holes' all over Thanet.

The picture above explains why heavy rain events sometimes lead to localised flooding. It was taken last week-end by The Pavillion and Harpers Wine Bar in Broadstairs. This is just one of many silted-up, obstructed drains to storm/rainwater sewers all over Thanet. There are some excellent gardens growing out of drain gratings even in our water-catchment areas on The Shottendane and Manston Roads. No need to worry about oil-interceptors and cut off valves to protect our aquifer; with drains like these, contaminated water can just flow off the road into fields!
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Quite frankly it is an unacceptable situation that marks the apalling decline in provision of basic civil engineering maintenance by our Civic Authorities. KCC would be better off spending less on 'publicity magazines' and Kent TV, telling us what a good job it is doing and using the money properly by ensuring that basic road maintenance is carried out.
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It really needs TDC and KCC Councillors to walk their 'parish' and then get on with getting something done by KCC Highways/TDC for the worst problems of pot-holes, blocked drains and accumulations of litter that blight Thanet.

Monday, 9 March 2009

A SUMMIT AVIATION SUCCESS STORY

Some readers might wonder why I am enthusiastic about this wonderful new Summit Aviation building at Manston, given my opposition to China Gateway. I will explain. Last week I accepted a long standing invitation to have a guided tour of the building.
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Summit Aviation (Ken Wills, also of CGP ) has been working in Pysons Road in cramped conditions for some years and employs over 60 people in servicing aero- engines. I believe this new building is worthy of recognition, not only as an attractive modern building (it looks better than the sheds in Westwood Cross) but also because it will enable Summit Aviation to expand. Summit hope to move in from Pysons Road by the end of April. It has recently won a large contract for engine servicing from a large European manufacturer and this building and its facilities were part of that process. This means not only securing jobs but expanding the work-force. That has to be good news.






The building will utilize rainwater collection from the roof; have a wind turbine attached and has state of the art heat conservation. Even on a chilly day last week, the spacious inside servicing areas were warm, and no heating/electricity was on! It is an example of new technology helping to reduce a building's carbon footprint.
This building sits where it ought to; close to 'airside' and on land designated by TDC as part of Manston Business Park. There is a minor impending problem and the photograph above illustrates the problem. If the KIA 'Master Plan' goes ahead, the main road will be closed and a new-taxi-way will mean the 'safety-zone' will encroach right up to the front of the building and the present car-park will have to be re-located on the North side of the building. Ken Wills is not 'phased' if this happens as it puts the building as close as it can be to the taxi-way! The view from the mezzanine area is first class for 'plane-spotters'.
The aerial picture above illustrates the building's position well but also highlights quite neatly the poor Planning Policies and thinking that have been the 'hall-mark' of TDC for too many years. When it was felt necessary to increase the size of Manston Business Park in 1995, instead of extending the boundary to the east (behind the Summit building) towards Manston and keeping the area close to the airport, the extension of land was made towards Acol and into the most sensitive part of the aquifer in the area!
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You might also wonder how the re-routing of the B2190 will affect the Summit Building; it will come to the left of the building along the crop 'tram-lines'!
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The followers of China Gateway Phase 1, will also note that the uncultivated area (bottom of picture) is owned by KCC/TDC in its nice little EKO LLP scam and my understanding is that CGP and EKO LLP have yet to agree to purchase of land (bottom left hand corner of picture) that will enable the prestigious 'Gateway' building to be built. I will not even mention the 'blackmail' that EKO LLP has engaged in with the 'ransom strip' at the bottom of the site by Cummins!
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One would have thought that if TDC gave Planning Consent on 9 Oct 2008 for China Gateway Phase 1 to be built, it would have co-operated by releasing (from its own little property company EKO LLP) all that land close to the airport and B2190 to CGP, to enable CGP to locate the main distribution warehouses away from the SPZ 1 at Sparrow Castle at the NW end of the site. It has not done so ,even now! All TDC's 'green' talk is clearly just hypocritical waffle.
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I have accepted the democratic decision by my Councillors to allow development of Phase 1 but it is still not too late for EKO LLP to do the 'right' thing and free up its holdings close to the B2190 and make development of Manston Business Park a safer environmental proposition!
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I will oppose any Phase 2 & 3 applications, if and when they come forward. It has been my bitter experience that if you think that the present economic down-turn spells disaster for CGP as a developer, think again. The 'waiting game' I was involved in, in Oxford 20 years ago, had a 17 year history and 2 'recessions' and the developer concerned eventually succeeded in its goal. We are in the waiting game, as CGP is!

STANDARDS AT TDC ON MONDAY 16th MARCH AT 5.00pm


I have had 'Official' confirmation that Standards will meet in The Council Chamber at TDC at 5.00pm on the 16th March. My contact received a charming call from Miss Caffrey this morning.
The public can attend and it is suggested that they arrive at least 15 minutes before. I do not know what arrangements are being made to record proceedings or to cope with a large number who might wish to attend.

Saturday, 7 March 2009

MAUWICE & WODGER GET ELOQUENT ABOUT A STANDARDS COMPLAINT














This is likely to be a long post, so make sure you are sitting comfortably.
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It would seem that finding interesting letters in Tesco bags on Acol Hill continues. I have shown below, two letters that seem to have been sent by 'Our Leader' and His Deputy to all Councillors in TDC on 26 January 2009.
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Rumour has it that copies were also sent to our local press, but were not published. Before you read them (I would suggest that you 'click' on each to read them clearly), let me remind you that an incident ocurred in The Edinburgh Woollen Shop in Margate in June 2008 that resulted in Cllr Iris Johnston making a complaint to Standards at TDC.
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The shop had been running a petition to ask TDC not to deploy wardens and PCSOs to the beaches in the summer but retain their presence in the town. As Ward Councillor, Iris Johnston, at the invitation of the manager and with press in attendance, went along to be handed the petition. Whilst this 'hand-over' was taking place, the incident, to still be finally resolved by Standards, took place, because without invitation but presumably as a result of a 'tip-off', The Leader of The Council with his Deputy in attendance, burst into the shop.
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Why, you might ask, did they think that what was happening, had anything to do with them and what were their motives for interrupting a petition 'hand-over' to a Ward Councillor in her own Ward?
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What was of interest was that two Thanet 'Press' reporters were present and presumably have given an unbiased and accurate report to Standards on what took place. (If you have resisted the temptation so far, to read these letters, now would be a good time to do so; remember to click on them!)





My first thought on reading these two letters, was their timing. It would seem that Standards had moved through Stages 1, 2 and 3 which was completed in November 2008. (See an earlier post about the 4 Stages). Why issue these letters prior to Stage 4? What was the motive behind them? Is it just me, or is it coincidental that the idea of bringing in a Cabinet of 7 and a host of 'paid' (but not paid) 'Lead Members' for portfolios from The Tory Cllr 'Back Benches' now gives 'Our Leader' a large majority among the Tory Councillors, who are now 'beholden' to support him?
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I digress.
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For those who know Cllr Ezekiel's literary efforts, his letter smacks of a draft from a 'legal advisor'; is not an unreserved apology to Cllr Johnston and has been sent publicly to 7 members of The Standards Committee (the TDC Cllr members) and has it also found its way to the 4 non Cllr members (including The Chair of Standards) and the 3 Parish Cllr members?
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They have been typed?, photocopied and distributed by TDC staff and on official TDC Paper when I would have thought private letters (in the capacity of Cllrs only) would have been more appropriate.
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Other than what might be considered the grovelling obeisance to The Standards Committee in Paragraphs 2 and 3 of Cllr Ezeliel's letter, what concerns me most is the sentence in Paragraph 5 that is 'echoed' in Paragraph 3 of Cllr Latchford's letter:
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"However, I do not believe it is in the public interest, or the maintenance of effective working relationships between the Council's political groups to prolong consideration of this issue." (Cllr Ezekiel).
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" I share the Leader's view that further consideration of this matter is not in the Council's interest and that WE (my capitals) have a responsibility to conclude this matter as rapidly and amicably as possible." (Cllr Latchford)
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Who is Cllr Latchford including in the 'WE'? Surely it is up to The Standards Committee to deal with this matter impartially and without prejudice, based on the evidence it has considered, and then to come to an appropriate decision? This issue is about whether conduct by Cllrs Ezekiel and Latchford was inappropriate and is not a 'Council interest.'
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I am horrified that they both link this issue about their personal conduct on that day, with Thanet District Council's 'Interest'! Maybe its time for them to realise that Thanet District Council is an elected body of Councillors and actually, as such, is bigger and more important than their temporary positions as present Leader and Deputy, or the present difficulties they may have in regard to their own conduct.!
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Before, I leave you to consider this matter in your own time, you may wish to consider the 'Guidance' in such matters to Councils from The Standard's Board of England. It is my understanding that 'Guidance' advises that if Stage 1 (Assessment - Is There a case to answer?)finds that there is, where a Leader or Deputy or prominent members of a Council are involved, the matter could be referred to The Standard's Board of England and for obvious reasons.
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The key issue is whether the public see TDC Standards handling this matter with transparency and fairness without any undue influence being exerted in any way by any party to the matter. My understanding is that Stage 4 (Hearing. Where the Investigation has found a failure to comply) will take place at 5.00pm on Monday 16th March and will be held in PUBLIC. I will attempt to find out on Monday, if this is the case and where it will be held and what steps will be taken to ensure WE THE PUBLIC, can attend should we so wish.
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Whatever the outcome, on Monday 16th March, I wonder when our majority of Tory Councillors will eventually consider if they are really happy with The Leadership of TDC? Only they have the power to remove 'Mauwice' & 'Wodger' prior to elections in 2011.

Friday, 6 March 2009

DO YOU BOTHER TOY TOWN'S TOWN HALL?

Walter, in Ramsgate has drawn my attention to some business carried out recently by TDC's Overview & Scrutiny Panel in regard to complaints to the Council.
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R216
GUIDANCE ON UNREASONABLY PERSISTENT AND OR VEXATIOUS COMPLAINTS

'Donna Reed said that whilst the majority of complaints received by the Council were genuine and received a thorough investigation, there was need to agree a policy on vexatious complaints to manage the nuisance caused by a few persistent complainants; this policy would give a standardised structure to handling such situations. Each service would have to put in a case for designating a complaint as vexatious which would ultimately be decided by the Monitoring Officer.
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Members observed that while this was a good idea, officers should also ensure that genuine complaints raised by Councillors on behalf of their constituents were dealt with expeditiously. Donna Reed said a management system would be set up to track Members’ queries.
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The Panel supported the policy, subject to an amendment that there be a review after six months of implementation to determine the effectiveness of the policy and a further report presented to the Panel.'
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What worries me about this is what exactly is the policy and who determines who is a vexatious and persistent complainer? Bertie has been told that certain Thanet citizens, when they identify themselves, are stalled ( presumably whilst list is checked) and given the promise that 'X' will ring back and it never happens! Sounds a bit familiar?
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So be wary when complaining or raising issues with departments in Toy Town's Town Hall; you are either 'on the list' already or might soon be.
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What I find extraordinary is that whilst Planning was 'up to its neck in alligators in the swamp' of the China Gateway application last summer, Doug Brown was exemplary in fielding a host of questions, enquiries, concerns and moans by e-mail or by phone in a courteous and helpful manner and never failed to respond or elucidate or clarify. His example as a public servant striving to serve the electorate, no matter how mundane or repetitive the enquiry or moan should be considered by TDC as the 'model' for all its officers.
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One is beginning to think that TDC regards its 'involved' electorate, as opposed to those who don't even realise it exists, as a pain in the butt! A dangerous and arrogant stance?

ROLL ON THE 'BONANZA EXPRESS'?










Euroferries website is very quiet but it now seems that the Euroferries chaps have Fred Olsen on board and a separate address is trumpeting the start of a Ramsgate-Boulogne service to begin at the end of the month. The press release is as follows:
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LAUNCH OF FAST FERRY SERVICE
FROM RAMSGATE TO BOULOGNE
Euroferries are pleased to announce the commencement of its fast ferry cross channel service on 31st March 2009 with the introduction of its first vessel ‘Bonanza Express’ being operated in partnership with Fred Olsen.
Bonanza Express is a 96m fast Incat vessel, initially operating four crossings daily between Ramsgate and Boulogne.
The service will cater for cars, foot passengers, coaches and a limited amount of freight and caravans.
Per Staehr has been appointed Chairman and Director, Adrian Gillan has been appointed Director, Geoffrey Ede has been appointed Operations Executive and Paul Donert Company Secretary.
Euroferries base at Ramsgate will bring employment to the area and business to the local community.
Ends 5.3.09
For further information please contactthe Euroferries press office at The Staging Housetraceypoulton@thestaginghouse.com or telephone 01403 710329
Notes to Editor:
1. Per Staehr has a long experience within the marine and transport business having served in senior position within the A. P. Moller – Maersk Group and Bombardier Transportation. He is currently working as a Director which includes being Chairman of A2SEA, a Director of Trico Marine Inc USA [US Nasdaq listed company] and also involved in other marine and transport related activities.
2. Geoffrey Ede formerly Managing Director of Hoverspeed
3. Paul Donert formerly Senior Partner Ernst & Young
4. Adrian Gillan, Solicitor.
(Staging House are a marketing company ; see http://www.thestaginghouse.com/
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Interesting to see Geoffrey Ede who was involved with The Spirit of Ontario 'non-purchase' and the only name listed with Euroferries ,Mr Gillan , involved.
The 'Bonanza Express' pictured above was built at the Incata's Yard in Tasmania in 1999 and is described as a 'wave-piercer catamaran'. It can carry upto 750 passengers and is fast with a 37.5 knot speed. It seems to have been used initially by Fred Olsen between Tenerife and Gran Canaria but in 2001 popped up in a service between Miami and Grand Bahamas where the business flopped. It then seems to have been sent back to Tenerife, where it ran aground at Los Cristianos as recently as 3rd December 2008. Engine failure was reputedly the problem.
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Well, let's wish this 'new venture' success and greet the arrival in Ramsgate of a hopefully repaired and rather sleek looking fast ferry in due course and hope we are not disappointed like The Mayor of Rochester was about the sale of The Spirit of Ontario.
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ADDITION:
Our Thanet South MP had this to say about the news:
"“I’m delighted Euroferries have been able to put more information about their service in the public domain. By announcing that the scheme has the involvement of Fred Olsen, one of the most prestigious shipping lines in the world, and the leadership of Per Staehr, one of shippings most respected figures, I hope they have answered a lot of the questions people have been asking about the new service.”
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“As I did when the original announcement of this service was made I want to encourage local people to save our cheering until the service starts because these are incredibly difficult times to be launching a new business of this complexity and things could still go wrong. Having been closely involved with the team over several years and seen the work they have done in recent weeks I know it hasn’t been easy. That said, the team have made excellent progress and they should be thanked for their efforts and commitment to Ramsgate and to this new service.”
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“It will be a major boost for the area and will really give the local economy a shot in the arm and I look forward to seeing the inaugural voyage.”
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Enthusiasm with a note of caution? To a simple land-lubber and wannabee Sopwith jockey, it all seems a bit 'leakey' to me still. We will have to wait and see what comes in on the tide!

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

TIME TO MEET THE STANDARDS?





As readers of the Isle's papers will remember, there were reports of what appeared to be extraordinary behaviour in a Margate shop last June on the part of The Leader of TDC Council and his Deputy Leader.
Readers will have to bear with me if this 'post' is rather long!
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A source rang me last evening and related an interesting tale. Yesterday he rang the TDC Standards Officer, a Miss Caffrey to make enquiries concerning when TDC Standards is going to deal with complaints arising from the extraordinary behaviour of ‘Mauwice’ and ‘Wodger’ in The Edinburgh Woollen Mill in Margate last June.
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Now, as a Thanet Council Tax payer, you might think it reasonable to expect Miss Caffrey to have had a clear simple answer as to how this matter has progressed as it is almost 9 months since this incident was reported in our local papers. Instead he got “Who are you? Why do you want to know? I will ask Miles Smith (interim Head of Legal Services at TDC)to ring you.”
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Suffice it to say that Miles did not ring. So what is all the secrecy about?
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Rumours in ‘Village Thanet’ for some months now, have been that this matter was to be dealt with soon and more specifically in early March. One date mentioned was Monday 16th March which is now less than 2 weeks away!
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It would seem that since May 2008 and after the Standards Board of England reported adversely on ‘Our Leader’s ‘F*****G T****R ‘ incident at The Winter Gardens, The Standard’s Board has stepped back with dealing with complaints except in exceptional circumstances and ‘Standards’ in Thanet are now the responsibility of TDC’s very own Standard’s Committee.
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This Thursday (5 Mar 2009), this Committee meets at 5.00pm in the Austen Room to discuss amongst other items ‘Agenda Item 8’ that is to do with ‘determining allegations that members have failed to comply with The Council’s Code of Conduct’ and is to be presented by Miles Smith, (Interim Head of Legal & Democratic Services ).
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It would seem that there are 4 stages to the process and different ‘sub-committees’ are involved. Let me try and explain the proposed process:
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Stage One. Assessment (Is there a case to answer?).

Stage Two. Review of Assessment (Appeal by complainant against Stage One decision to take no action).
Stage Three. Consideration of Investigation Report (Accepts investigation finding of no failure, or refers for full hearing).

Stage Four. Hearing (Where the investigation has found a failure to comply).


It would seem that Miles Smith is proposing that each ‘Stage’ is dealt with as follows:

Stage One. Standards Referral & Hearings Sub-Committee
Stage Two. Standards Appeals Sub-Committee
(Stage One and Two must be delegated to sub-committees as different members must
deal with assessment and review)
Stage Three. Full Standards Committee
Stage Four. Standards Referral & Hearings Sub-Committee
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Now, if you are not as confused as I am , it would seem that the Committee structures as currently shown, appear to be the same people!
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Here are the members of The Standards Committee and the Standards Referral & Hearings Sub Committee:

Mrs Jennifer Sterndale (Chairman)
Mr Robin Hills (Vice-Chairman)
Mrs Linda Frampton
Mr Brian Hinchley
Councillor Simon Day
Councillor Mrs Elizabeth Green
Councillor Thomas King
Councillor Richard R Nicholson
Councillor Michael J Roberts
Councillor Mike Taylor
Councillor Mrs Zita P Wiltshire
Parish Councillor Carol Ann Buchanan
Parish Councillor Dennis Neville
Parish Councillor Roy Wade
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I am sorry but they seem to be the same people despite this from Agenda Item 8:
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“The use of a new sub-committee with new members at Stage Four allows members to come to the Hearing stage with wholly fresh minds and overcomes the difficulty, that it could be said to be unfair, that members may have known of the allegations and investigation for some months, but first hear the case for the subject member only very late in the day. This would overcome some concerns that have been expressed that the use of members who have already had some involvement at Stage Four may be open to challenge. “.
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I am now rather confused.
Do I really believe that TDC is capable of handling a Standard’s Complaint effectively ? What stage are TDC at with the complaint about the behaviour of The Leader of TDC and his Deputy Leader in June 2008? Is it Stage 1, 2, 3 or 4? Do we not have a right to know as Council Tax-Payers and the Electorate?
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I leave you with this ‘ New Speak’ gem’ from Agenda Item 8 prepared by Mr Smith:
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“The review and development of The Council’s arrangements will increase accessibility and PUBLIC CONFIDENCE (my capitals).”
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Really?

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

CABINET MEMBER NEEDS TO KNOW WHERE HER WARD IS?

For those living in St Peter's , could I show you a picture of one of your Ward Councillors just in case you didn't know she was your Ward Councillor.
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Perhaps Zita Wiltshire needs to take the example on how to to be a 'good Ward Councillor' from Cllr Simon Moores in Westgate in view of the problem with Gas Main work in her ward. (My understanding from locals in Westgate , was that when similar problems ocurred in Westgate, Cllr Moores visited businesses; listened to concerns and did his best to ameliorate the disruption and talked to contractors doing the work.)
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Cllr Zita Wiltshire's approach worries me, though. I know she is one of 'Mauwice's Exalted' as a Cabinet member but she seems to have forgotten she also represents St. Peter's. Let me explain why.
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Cllr Wiltshire was actually in St Peter's earlier today to visit The St Peter's Village Tour 'stalwarts'. She was heard to complain about 'how difficult it was to get to her meeting'!!!
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Where has she been for the past few weeks? As Ward Councillor for St Peter's had she not noticed the impact of traffic restrictions and chaos on residents and on the livliehood of businesses in the centre of the ward she is meant to represent? Whilst she may not be able to dramatically alter the situation, does she not think that her 'constituents' may like to see her taking an interest and not just when Elections are due?
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I could of course have it all wrong and she has actually been very busy doing her utmost to get Scottish Gas Networks to sign more effectively and get on with the job, like I am sure her other TDC Ward Councillors in St Peter's, Cllrs Gregory and Savage and KCC Councillor Hayton have been doing?

Monday, 2 March 2009

IS TDC's AIRPORT WORKING PARTY UPTO FLYING SPEED?

The 5.00pm meeting of TDC's Airport Working Party last Friday was poorly advertised and not surprisingly, poorly attended by interested members of the public..
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I now ask this simple question: Is this 'Working Party', under the Chair of Cllr Harrison, just going through the motions as a 'cover' for TDC ?
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We all know that TDC at an 'extraordinary Full Council' on the 19th February effectively extended 'night-flying' times for Infratil at KIA in the fond expectation that BAWC/GSS will move some 747-400 aircraft from Stansted to fly freight into and out of Manston. What seems to be coming clear is that the S.106 agreement 'passed ' by TDC has no 'teeth' and effectively gives the status to Manston of being ' OPEN ALL HOURS' for 747-400s because they have a QC4 rating on landing and taking off!
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Here are some snippets from The Minutes of the Airport Working Party of 5 Feb (two weeks before the Full Council Decision);

"The operator (Infratil) should take up responsibility for effectual monitoring of noise and air quality control pending an amendment of the agreement with the current Kent Air Quality Contract".
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"Members also agreed that a penalties system should be looked into further."
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(About Bournemouth Airport) "Webtrack is used to monitor aircraft movement which proved useful when a complaint was received concerning an aircraft BEING OFF THE FLIGHT PATH or OUT OF THE AGREED FLYING HOURS. (The Working Party agreed 'to look into this but secondary radar capacity required is not yet part of Kent International Airport's infratructure).
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I'm sorry TDC but it seems to me that the Council at Bournemouth is doing its job and YOU ARE NOT!
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NO PENALTY SYSTEM
NO MONITORING OF NOISE AND AIR POLLUTION
NO MONITORING OF OFF FLIGHTPATH FLIGHTS
NO MONITORING OF OUT OF AGREED HOURS FLIGHTS.
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I am a supporter of controlled and careful expansion of KIA at Manston but if this is TDC's approach to its responsibilities as the LPA, then heaven help us! For goodness sake Councillors, can't you do your job as effectively as your colleagues in Bournemouth?

MORE THOR AND POLLUTION


It would appear that the Environment Agency was only 'aware' of contamination of Thanet's aquifer and soil at the Thor site in 2003!
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You might be surprised to learn that soil remediation has not commenced and that only 'pilot' scale assessments have been made of groundwater contamination. This contamination has apparently moved 'North' off the Thor site and quite frankly no-one seems to know how extensive it is yet.
The Environment Agency reports that 'Thor is currently carrying out work to establish the depth and extent of the contamination plume off its site'. The EA also states that in terms of remediation, " We are looking at years rather than months".
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I am sorry to be critical of the Environment Agency and TDC over this matter but SIX years has already passed. Does anyone really know what is going on and whether Thor is doing anything serious about this issue? The EU has established a simple principle that 'the polluter pays' but if the EA and TDC are not on Thor's case will Thor be in a hurry to clean up its mess?
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Is it not time that our Councillors got just a little more interested in this issue?