Monday, 12 April 2010

BERTIE IS INDISPOSED

Bertie sends his apologies but he regrets he must remain at the disposal of his medics at QEQM and will not be blogging  until further notice.

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

RESULTS IN THANET FOR 6th MAY 2010 - NO CHANGE?



















My congratulations to Roger Gale's team in NTCA for having his circular through my door by 1400 today!

Roger will have my support this year, yet again, simply because I believe he has been a jolly good MP for North Thanet and because Dane Valley Ward is still in his constituency. I have not been entirely happy with his view on China Gateway and his past support of the 'Ezekielites' but that is now history. His Labour opposition is so low key as to be derisory and I have yet to see what the Lib Dems have in mind. I think that it is a safe prediction to make that Roger will be returned by the electorate to Westminster on 6th May.

Steve Ladyman over at Thanet South is in an interesting position. Boundary changes have meant that he  has lost Sholden to Dover and Minster and Monkton to Roger Gale in N. Thanet but now has Cliftonville West and Cliftonville East in South Thanet. There are many in these wards who have never bothered to get out and vote Labour as they have taken the view that Roger Gale was un-assailable; that might well now change. It is also interesting that Steve Ladyman has been working for 2 years (post Transport Minister) as a very good constituency MP and gaining a great deal of respect locally as a good Thanet MP, as has Roger Gale on the north side.

Whilst Laura Sandys, has been working hard as prospective parliamentary candidate for Thanet South for a long time, she is still perceived as a Cameron 'choice' parachuted into to mix it with the locals and quite frankly has not made the impact that she would have hoped for. She has also to face the 'Ezekilite' factor in Thanet South and in Cliftonville that last month's change of Leader might perhaps have been too late to alter perceptions. For too long, Conservative TDC has been perceived dimly by its electorate and many might now avoid voting for Laura as a simple protest against their Conservative Council. There is no doubt that the Thanet electorate does its own thing and perhaps that is healthy.

After a rapid analysis in the 'Strife' Office, the collective view is that Thanet will still have the same faces as our MPs after 6th May and that perhaps that is no bad thing.

If the rest of the country decide that Brown et al are worth another 5 years then heaven help us but that is what democracy is all about, isn't it?

Sunday, 4 April 2010

HAPPY EASTER


A Happy Easter and a thought that whilst too many religious singers of the Christian song have been revealed to be criminal abusers, it doesn't diminish the 'song'.

As Dave Allan used to say " May your God go with you".

Saturday, 27 March 2010

DREAMLAND - 6 YEARS OF DERELICTION AS FORECAST BY PLANNING INSPECTOR


I must say that I was unimpressed to read in yesterday's IOTG that in 2012, we might see a big wheel back at Dreamland,  similar to the one we saw briefly in 2006 and 2007.

As we approach the 2nd anniversary of the Scenic Railway arson attack whilst Dreamland and its Scenic Railway was being guarded by Probe Security ( recently they seemed to have watched cars with no parking tickets more closely before being 'sacked'), it might be appropriate to remind readers about what has not happened. The good thing about 'blogs' as opposed to papers is that you can search archives easily and remind yourself of events.

Let's start with an IOTG report in the week of 24 April 2008 that was referred to by Strife, ' IOTG is reporting that renovation has been ordered by TDC or compulsory purchase will be initiated'. If my memory serves me well, the owners of Dreamland were seriously miffed by this approach and remarks made at the time , by hopefully, soon to be 'ex-deputy leader' Woger Latchford. What was revealing was this quote by Toby Hunter of Waterbridge: "It might sound odd but we have no idea to what extent it (The Scenic Railway) is insured."

Here is what Eastcliff Matters had to report in April 2008:

One thing I can support Thanet Council on, or at least members on the Planning committee, is on the legal action being taken to ensure Margate’s historic scenic railway is properly repaired.

Thanet Council’s planning committee has voted unanimously in favour of taking legal steps to secure the future of the fire-damaged feature at Dreamland. Members gave officers the power to serve repair notices on the former amusement park’s owners, Margate Town Centre Regeneration Company, which will compel them to bring the 1920 ride back to operating condition.

Issuing the order is seen as a last resort move by the council, but also gives it the option of compulsorily purchasing the entire 15 acre site - possibly including the Dreamland cinema - and paying for the work to be done before reselling it again.

I predict now, that it will be necessary, and that the current TDC administration will bottle out of the decision. They have already shown their colours when they overturned the Planning Inspectors recommendation that the Dreamland Site be reserved for leisure. 


Well how right, Cllr David Green was.

TDC not only failed to enforce a planning notice concerning the security fencing put up on the site in 2005 but  clearly has not enforced repair of The Scenic Railway. In addition, readers might remember the £48,000 or so, of TDC tax-payers money, that  was spent on additional security fencing after the arson attack. There is no record of this cost having been recovered by TDC and was this amount hidden in the 'write-offs' of debt by TDC recently,  that TDC refused to divulge details off?

It seems to me that a cynical dereliction of duty by TDC has ocurred and that TDC, the owners of The Dreamland site and The Dreamland Trust are going to rely on the tax-payer's largesse in the form of the recent £3,500,000 'Sea Change' funding from a Labour Government to not only repair the Scenic Railway but put together a number of knackered old rides to create an 'old' half-sized version of Dreamland that 'failed' in 2002 despite attracting 700,000 visitors to Margate. Now forgive me if I have got this wrong, but I thought that the owners of Dreamland were going to have to fund the 'Heritage' Dreamland as part of the deal to let them put housing on 49% of the site that was and is the 'Key to Margate's regeneration'?

The property magazine that quoted that Toby Hunter was anticipating a £500,000,000 project for housing on Dreamland seems to be the real reason why this farce has gone on for so long and  the Independent Planning Inspector who stated that 'the this Key site to Margate's regeneration would remain a derelict site for years if TDC did not act effectively' has been vindicated.

I leave you with a poster that highlighted the only 'reconstruction' of the Scenic Railway that has so far ocurred. (see below).


Wednesday, 24 March 2010

MY CONGRATULATIONS TO THANET CONSERVATIVES



 
I see that Thanet Life has announced the news that Strife predicted almost 3 weeks ago, (click here) that at tonight's Conservative Group Meeting, Cllr Bayford would be elected as the new TDC Conservative Leader with Cllr John Kirby being the only other candidate. My congratulations to Cllr Bayford and to the Conservative Cllrs in Thanet, for at last taking a decision that they should have made last year, to replace their Leader.

As predicted, it would seem that Cllr Bayford will 'understudy' Cllr Ezekiel until May when at Full Council, Cllr Bayford will be installed as the Leader of TDC. I hope that Laura Sandys will now have a better wicket to bat on in South Thanet but I am concerned that this move for change will be too late to benefit her.

I trust that Cllr Bayford will now look closely at how he is to regain the confidence of much of the electorate in Thanet before the 2011 Council Elections. I am sure he is already  considering the structure of his Cabinet and that perhaps a new Deputy (Cllr Bruce comes to mind here) and standing down Cllr S Tomlinson and Wiltshire might be a good idea. Would a leaner Cabinet make sense?

He should also consider the make-up of that vital Committtee, Planning. If Cllr Bill Hayton cannot return to the Chair here due to KCC committments, then perhaps a sensible choice would be Cllr Mike Jarvis. who has already demonstrated he is a man of principle and integrity. Cllr Bayford needs to consider if the present Chair (Cllr Gregory), Cllr M Tomlinson and Cllr Simon Day have long passed their sell by dates on Planning and that the retoration of public confidence in TDC's Planning Committtee should be a priority.

Cllr Bayford might also like to get to grips with the perception, rightly or wrongly, that for too long TDC's senior officers would appear to have been the 'tail wagging the elected dog'. Their professional advice and expertise is vital but the bottom line should be that they are all servants of the elected members of TDC acting on behalf of their electorate.

Cllr Bayford has a tough job ahead of him and I wish him the very best. Openess, genuine consultation, frank admission of mistakes when things go wrong (as they always will) and a reaching out to The Labour Group and Independents  to utilize their talents and expertise to make TDC more effective,  are positive steps that are now needed. The petty silliness that has characterised TDC for too long needs to end.

He might also like to get the message across that TDC's share of the Council Tax we pay is roughly only 14% of the total. Bertie's charge by TDC actually works out at only  £3.59 per week and for that I think I get pretty good value for money with my bins emptied; parks and beaches looked after and the service from TDC's Gateway.

Of course there are issues of concern, but a Council is ultimately judged by its public's perception of it. Look after the electorate more; get all of your Cllrs more active in their wards.  When Thanet residents feel that their interests, needs and concerns are a greater priority to its Council than developers and 'grandiose' wasteful schemes, then Cllr Bayford, you will have them on your side. Good luck!

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

NEON SIGN DEFACES NOT SO OLD (RECONSTRUCTED) HISTORIC BUILDING IN MARGATE

My thanks to Masie (see Masie Grace's blog here) for her first pic of  Tracey Emin's artistic neon sign " I Never Stopped Loving You" that now adornes Droit House.

Having reported the battle with TDC by The Swan in Westgate to get a simple, tasteful lit sign installed above its door, one has to wonder about this adornment to Droit House. If ex-Margate girl Tracey didn't come up with this for free, how much has it cost the TC?  We are entitled to ask this question because as KCC Council tax payers we will be subsidising TC to the tune of £1,000,000 each year, if not more, in the years to come.

We could have saved ourselves and Tracey the trouble perhaps,  by inviting some of our local graffiti scroats to get their spray cans out and give us something more vigorous and earthy to adorn Droit House. Their work would be vandalism of course, where as this is art. Really?

Monday, 22 March 2010

CLAMPING IN LIDO AND DREAMLAND - A SEASIDE RIP-OFF?

Some readers may have spotted the item on BBC South East today about the chap camping in his clamped car on The Lido Car Park, Clifftonville,  to stop Barry Dawson and his team at Clamp Down Security Services (CSS) moving the car and upping the bill the poor beggar could not pay, let alone the £120 to get the clamp off.

A 'Strife' member popped down to do a 'soup run' at 7.30pm to talk and take pics and discovered the car empty of its owner but still clamped. Will Barry Dawson move it over-night?

Readers might be familiar with Your Thanet highlighting problems at Dreamland a few weeks ago with most parking ticket machines wrapped up in bin-liners and apparently out of service and hapless victims, unable to find an obscurely located ticket machine,  being clamped within minutes.CSS at the time was working under direction of Probe Security (of ex-Conservative Cllrs' Broadhurst and Watt-Ruffell association) but it would now seem that CSS is now working directly under Jimmy Godden and his site manager Barry Moss at Dreamland as Probe has been given the 'heave-ho' off  the Dreamland site, with odd rumours flying around Thanet ever since.

Strife is aware that many visitors who parked at The Lido on the evening of The Lost Prophets gig at Winter Gardens some weeks back, thinking the Lido Car park was 'concert parking', found themselves clamped and quickly out of pocket. We have reports that 12 cars were clamped and over £1,400 was paid out to get cars released. Some visitors said they would never return to Margate as they were convinced they had been ripped -off  as 'innocents abroad' in down at heel Margate.

I am sure CSS and Barry Dawson are operating correctly and  I hope TDC Trading Standards are ensuring that this is so, but you do have to have your eyes peeled to spot the signs (pictured below) in The Lido car-park. However,  what concerns me most, is the damage that this 'Clamping business' is doing to putting off visitors from returning to Margate.

There are many who hold the view, rightly or wrongly, that 'clamping' has a dubious aspect to it and that calls for clarification and tightening of regulations regarding clamping are becoming more frequent to our Parliament. Rather than worrying about fox-hunting, isn't this an issue that Gale,Sandys, Ladyman et al could be looking at?

At the local level, 'Mauwice' or his successor, need to consider that visitors paying £2.20 for their latte and £120 for their car to be 'un-clamped' might regard their tax-payer subsidised visit to the TC to see Tracy's dirty linen or a 'walking art' performance as money badly spent and that Margate's growing reputation as a 'clamper's den' puts them and many others off from ever visiting , let alone returning.

SOUTH THANET HUSTINGS UNDERWAY?












I gather that South Thanet PPC's including our current sitting MP, gathered at Holy Trinity Church, Broadstairs on Friday evening to set out their stalls for the coming election, to a gathering of about 66 Thanet residents. Before I post up the report I have received from a correspondent who attended, I found it interesting as I searched for info on the candidates. Steve Ladyman and Laura Sandys are using the web well, but Trevor Shonk (UKIP) and Peter Bucklitsch (Lib Dem) are not so savvy. I have no pic or biography on Trevor and I hope the picture of the flaming torch bearer is the correct Peter Bucklitsch who seems to be on Crowborough Town Council? No biography of him either.
Anyway, here's the report:

'I was on Saddam's Hit-list' or so Laura Sandys, Conservative Parliamentary candidate for S. Thanet told the audience on Friday evening. Odd that since she opposed the Iraq invasion.
 
When I first got to vote many years ago, huge public meetings where candidates were heckled and arguments among the audience erupted were the norm but nowadays they are rarely held. Friday's event held in Holy Trinity, Broadstairs was a welcome opportunity for local church-goers to put questions to the main party candidates.
 
The rather too carefully stage-managed event for my taste featured about six questions put by members of Broadstairs and Cliftonville churches. The Lib. Dem. candidate was very late due to traffic problems so the evening started with Laura Sandys, Dr. Stephen Ladyman, Labour, and Trevor Shonk for UKIP who proved that his party has only one policy, 'get out of the EU' as he had nothing constructive to say on education, the NHS, trade or equality.
 
Laura Sandys ably demonstarted her PR credentials, name-dropping Tory grandees and talking a great deal about herself.She was heckled twice, just like in the old days, for not answering the question properly and for ducking the reference in a question to Lord Ashcroft's tax affairs.
 
She did say the Conservatives would be 'hands-off with schools and hospitals' so taxpayers' money would be given to these institutions but the politicians wouldn't interfere. On teenage mothers she said they would be put into mother and baby units rather than be given accommodation 'where their friends would be visiting at all hours'. Sounds a bit like turning the clock back to me when unwed mothers were sent away from their families because of the 'scandal' they caused.
 
On the topic of teenage mothers Dr. Ladyman said he preferred to educate young men in their responsibilities and to encourage young women to 'have ambition in life beyond having a baby early'.
 
When both Trevor Shonk and Laura Sandys raised the country's debt and misquoted statistics more likely to be found in the Daily Mail, Dr. Ladyman was able to give accurate figures and to show how we compared with other developed countries and how the government had saved the banks and protected the savings of those of us present. The question is now when best to deal with the budget deficit as if the wrong moves are made too soon the country will slip back into recession. He admitted the expenses scandal had been a traumatic time for him and other politicians. His expenses had always been available online.
 
 When a question was asked about green technology Laura Sandys did say a Conservative government would roll out a network of recharging units for electric cars but wasn't too pleased, it seems, to be told that the Labour Government had already agreed a £34m. package for just such units (although it seems from this weekend's news that not one council in Kent has taken up the offer).
 
The Lib. Dem. candidate, Peter Buckledge ( Ed: Bucklitsch), I think he's called, arrived about 90 minutes in so it's difficult to comment on his approach as he only had time for one question.
 
My opinion of the evening? I would have liked the chance to put supplementary questions to the candidates and feel that more opportunity should have been given to the candidates to reply to their opponents.
 
Were I neutral how would I have judged things?
 
 Laura Sandys is good on what she knows but needs to avoid the name-dropping as it doesn't impress and says more about her ego than her politics.
 
Dr. Ladyman is very well-informed and gets his points across positively.  When he was able, if he answered after the others, to point out their inaccuracies he did so politely and firmly but it was clear Laura Sandys isn't used to being told when she's wrong.
 
Trevor Shonk? Not a natural politician and he belongs to a single issue party although he did say it has a Christian ethos despite their refusal to give aid to the former Commonwealth as 'the money just gets spent on guns'.
 
Peter Buckledge? Couldn't say as he wasn't there long enough although he does have an odd idea that candidates shouldn't need to belong to the party for which they're standing. I thought that was one of David Cameron's ideas.
 
One final point. Laura Sandys needs to find which wards her campaign should be targeting as there was one resident present on the evening from Dane Valley who regularly gets Laura Sandys' leaflets delivered. No, sorry, Dane Valley will still be in N. Thanet and the Conservative candidate will still be Roger Gale.
 
 
 
 

Thursday, 18 March 2010

DREDGING THE DEPTHS IN RAMSGATE THIS WEEK?

I have to admit to a sense of tedium when I read on Mark Nottingham's blog tonight about the 'demo' outside South Thanet hopeful, Laura Sandys' office, or ex-office, in Ramsgate today. Click here for the link

I find it odd that the Labour Party still has an obsession with fox-hunting ( having banned it) as a cruel activity.  In this country we are quite happy to use chemicals to eradicate rats that cause them a slow lingering death. Rats are a pest, you might say; well, many country people, trying to protect spring lambs and their chickens would argue the same about foxes.They are a top predator with few natural controls other than over-population and mange. The death of a fox by a snap of a fox-hound's strong jaws is a cleaner way to die than spending half the night trying to chew your foot off to extract yourself from a snare and then be dispatched by a 12 bore. ( a sight that I encountered in a hop-garden in Cranbrook some years ago.)
I am happy to see the ban on fox-hunting looked at again by Parliament and perhaps Laura Sandys would be best advised to make a statement that she is either  pro-hunting or  an 'anti'. Roger Gale MP, who might have regretted a recent character reference, is at least open on this issue; he is an 'anti'.

My thanks to a 'Strife' contributor for the rather artistic pic below, of  a big dredger vacuuming in the main harbour in Ramsgate earlier this week.. I have reports that similar work is ongoing in Bolougne. One assumes it is all about LD Lines and an extra ferry or two, due in Ramsgate shortly. (I will try and refrain from mentioning  Euroferrries)

As Bertie is not a 'jolly tar' sort of chap, the news that the other part of Ramsgate Harbour and its Marina has a major beach in it and a bad silting and 'gunge' problem seems quite astounding. It seems that the big maritime 'Dyson' in the pic just cannot get into the other part of the harbour due to too much silt and what is needed is a smaller dredger. Is it really possible that the other harbour and Marina will continue to silt up because an accumulation of sand has been allowed to occur that cannot be tackled? Are we really beyond a point of no return down there? Perhaps the time is long overdue for TDC to get a Port Management contractor in? They can't even arrange to sweep the street outside the Biggles' hovel more than once in 12 months so keeping a harbour clean is obviously too much for them.

Sunday, 14 March 2010

NO COUNTER, NO MONITORING, PATHETIC LINKS AND 456?

Couldn't resist looking at some Wikio ratings of 'blogs' to see how 'influential'  this blog is, having watched how Thanet Life has revamped, re-linked etc to improve its 'score' etc etc! An interesting  insight into the way some blogs regard these matters as important can been seen in the posting and in the comments attached here.

I have tried to resist giving way to the demands of my ego, in such matters but curiosity caught the better of me and I had to click on Dr Moore's link. I copy the stuff shown below:


You will find here the monthly rankings for the most influential blogs in the UK and Irish blogospheres.
UK PoliticsPolitics BlogsPartiesConservative PartyEntertainmentThe ParliamentLabour PartyGordon BrownPrime MinisterThe House of CommonsDavid CameronGovernmentInternationalTechnologyScienceLiberal DemocratsMeteorologyPoliticsClimate ChangeMusic

thanet strife

thanet strife http://thanetstrife.blogspot.com/
thanet conservative blog
Recent topics : ScienceThanet EarthEnvironment

What had Bertie and the 'Team' rolling in the aisles was the description of  us being a 'thanet conservative blog'.  As we have no counters, no monitoring, no whizzo links etc such news comes as a surprise!

The marvellous thing about the wide variety of blogs in Thanet is the simple fact that a wide variety of thoughts , ideas and information is available at the click of a mouse. There is no doubt in my mind that this can only be healthy, particularly as many who put comments on all our blogs, feel that they have an accessible and easy forum to comment on topics that affect their lives and 'anonymous' comment allows them to do so easily.

Saturday, 13 March 2010

COUNCILLORS INVOLVED IN THE NITTY GRITTY.











I am delighted to report some very fast and active work on Thanet's behalf by two of our Conservative KCC Cllrs who are also TDC Ward Cllrs, who, funnily enough, are regarded by The Ezekielites as men to be cast into the 'outer darkness'.

Cllr Mike Jarvis, has registered his concerns about the debris on the roadside at Manston to KCC and pressed for action after going and visiting the site to see with his own eyes what the problem is. It would seem that Case No: 10602369 is about to be investigated by a Mr Chris Neat, a Highways Inspector and enforcement officer and hopefully this problem will be resolved very quickly. Cllr Jarvis informs 'Strife' that he has copied his correspondence to KCC Cllr Hibberd and kept him in the loop.

In respect of the disgraceful and dangerous condition of Beacon Rd in Broadstairs that has been highlighted by Cllr Mark Nottingham, Cllr Chris Wells has badgered KCC with the result that the dangerous state of this road will be addressed by KCC Highways for most of next week. Here is KCC's announcement:

Urgent short term road closure - Beacon Road, Broadstairs - from 16 March 2010

Because of  urgent carriageway repairs due to serious potholes, it will be necessary to close Beacon Road, Broadstairs.

This is due to commence from Tuesday 16 March 2010 and it is planned the road will be closed for 4 days, between the hours of 9.30 am and 2.30 pm, as a result of these works.

The road will be closed between the junctions of Cecilia Grove and Reading Street Road.  The alternative route for through traffic is via Westover Road, Northdown Hill, Green Lane and George Hill Road.

The works are being undertaken on behalf of Kent Highway Services.

I am sure readers will appreciate that the immediate responses and committment by these two Cllrs, having had problems brought to their attention , is commendable.

Whilst the 'nitty gritty' of holes in the roads and dumped waste material in the highway might be a boring aspect of Council work when compared to the exciting aspects of TC, visits to China and claiming credit for millions of Labour Govt expenditure in Thanet, it is exactly these basic issues that impact on our daily lives as Thanet citizens and that need prompt action and attention by Cllrs. My congratulations to both Cllr Jarvis and Cllr Wells for moving so fast on these issues.

Thursday, 11 March 2010

CHINA GATEWAY - 18 MONTHS ON.


It is often at the end of a recession that many who have managed to hang on through the harder times, find that the period before growth returns, is the hardest to get through. Is this now the case for China Gateway International and their plans of October 2008 for Manston Business Park?

It would seem that not only are they in the process of selling off assets in Dover to raise money to reduce lending from The Israel Discount Bank (IDB) but last Monday CGI (formerly CGP) also announced a further 'share issue' of  2,142,858 ordinary shares at 14p each that have been bought effectively by directors Ken Wills, Chris Seymour- Prosser and Laxey Partners. Each has simply put a further £100,000 into CGI to, it would seem, pay some interest on the £31+ million owed to The IDB. Here is how CGI's announcement of Mon 8 Mar 2010 ended:
Commenting on the subscription, Robin Bolton, CGI's chairman, said "This subscription is in accordance with an agreement with Israel Discount Bank to enable the Company to pay interest and, in conjunction with the recently announced sale of the Dover Properties, reduce its total indebtedness. I am grateful to both IDB and the subscribers for their continued support for CGI".You can mull over the whole press release here.

Whilst rummaging through old files and the odd Tesco bag, I found a copy of the 2007 AIM Prospectus for CGP's launch on to the AIM Stock Exchange for listing as an AIM Company. Readers might remember that members of the Strife Team extracted from TDC (through FoI) that CGP (now CGI) had had over 17hrs of meetings with TDC and that extraordinarily, TDC had kept no minutes of these long and frequent meetings. As we revealed some time ago (courtesy of the Tesco bags) the only minutes taken and kept were by CGP. (hence our knowledge that 'Woger' Latchford came up with the idea of the sign shown in the pic above).

I digress, forgive me. Back to the AIM Prospectus prepared for CGP by Savills.  Does this sound familiar, given TDC's recent idea that Policy 25 of its Core Strategy should allow all its policies over farmland, environment etc to be over-ridden if a prospective 'employer' came up with a big scheme 'offering' loads of jobs? :

This is an extract from the AIM document of Jan 2007 that clearly refers to discussions with Mr White's Team at TDC Planning in 2006 regarding farmland outside the boundary of Manston Business Park that was then purchased by CGP; you might note the comment in italics that presumably refers to a specific officer! :



It must be noted that the site currently does not have planning permission for a business
park, and this will need to be applied for.
We would comment that part of the land falls outside the existing allocation identified in
the Thanet Local Plan which was adopted on 17 June 2006. We have considered the
existing Policy together with enquiries directly to the Policies Section of Thanet District
Council. The Council are keen to see the existing employment allocations taken up before
they consider extensions to existing Business Parks.
 
However, if a special user was
identified which could not be accommodated on any of the existing allocations, then a case
could be made for an extension of the property. This principle was endorsed by the
Planning Officer at the District Council.
Further to this the Planning Officer stated that the designations for Manston had taken
place in 2 phases, and that there may yet be a third phase. This view was supported by
PRC Planning Consultants who stated that the business park was intended to be the hub
of the business section in the region hence its title Manston International Business Park.
PRC suggested that the wording of the Council’s planning documents suggests that
additional land will be granted employment zoning in the future.


So the conclusion that can be drawn is that within TDC, as early as late 2006, a Senior Officer at TDC was happy to bin the Thanet Plan 2006, just approved by Full Council and set the scene for Policy 25 in TDC's Core Strategy proposals of 2009. In doing so at the time, he was quite clearly going against the Thanet Plan just approved by his own Council and its Cllrs. It begs the question of who has been running TDC; its Officers or its elected Cllrs?

Can you really trust this Council, its Leadership and Officers to play straight with its own Cllrs and electorate?

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

A SERVICEMAN'S PLEA FROM ABROAD FOR ACTION BY HIS CLLRS AND TDC


Whilst the news that ex  Conservative Cllr 'Panama' Broadhurst's firm Probe Security has been kicked off Dreamland is interesting (has it anything to do with some odd clamping,  as the arson attack on the  Scenic Railway almost 2 yrs ago didn't result in them being kicked off?), and the probability that  ex conservative Cllr Watt-Ruffell is probably now without a job, tonight's item is perhaps more worrying.
I copy in full the e-mail received by me today which was also sent to  our Cllrs and MPs.


Dear Councillors,
 
Most of you will be aware that I am currently serving with the RAF for 4 months in the United Arab Emirattes and due back to the UK early April...
 
You will also be aware that the residents of the estate close to the military base have, for the past 4 years, experienced many problems associated with the former RAF fuel depot on the Museum crossroads at Spitfire Way, Manston.  I have been informed today by my partner Elisabeth that the long established foot path leading from Bell-Davies Drive towards the military base at Manston has been blocked by several tons of building waste. See attached pictures.
 
The result of blocking the footpath by the owners of the fuel site has created extreme danger for pedestrians including young children who have no other option than having to walk into the adjacent road (B2190) which is extremely busy several hours each day. This is yet another example of the owners taking out their frustrations of not receiving planning permission on various project, onto the residents.   
 
I am requesting that enforcement action be taken with immdiate effect to close down whatever business is operating out of the old fuel depot and take the necessary action to officially recognise the footpath which has been in use for at least 40 years. You will see by the attached pictures of the various dangers caused by this wanton act of vandalism.  In addition to pedestrians being force to walk on the road you will notice various lumps of building debris encroaching the road, therefore potentially causing danger to road users especially cyclists. 
 
We have already had a very recent fatality of a cyclist close by the area concerned not wanting another.
 
Please persue this issue with the utmost haste as it is felt by many residents of the nearby estate that enough is enough.
 
 

Derek Crow-Brown
D CROW-BROWN
Warrant Officer Royal Air Force
Det WO
Al Minhad Air Base
UAE

Warrant Officer Crown-Brown's pictures clearly show the problem. I also show below a sign on the site that was there for a number of years and whilst many might agree with the sentiments expressed and have some sympathy, the safety issue is far more important and I urge our KCC Cllrs in particular to get onto this issue ASAP. I would suggest that WO Crow-Brown has enough on his plate in UAE without having to worry about his family's safety on Thanet's roads.

Monday, 8 March 2010

A TOUGH RECESSION FOR CHINA GATEWAY INTERNATIONAL?


I am indebted to ECR for his announcement today that CGI (formerly CGP) is selling its Dover properties to a new Company called Dover Gateway Ltd.You can read CGI's press release of Fri 5 March here.
It  does not seem good news and I should imagine the director's gallery above , of Robin Bolton, Ken Wills, Brian Moritz and Chris Seymour-Prosser, are not entirely happy at the moment.

Bertie is not an expert on these matters, so readers are asked to bear with me. It would seem that Dover Gateway Ltd was formed with CGI having a 40% share and a new company called Priory Land Ltd having a 60% share. Should money be made by Dover Gateway Ltd, CGI then get 40% still as well as the £5 million due to be paid for CGI's land at Western Heights and Farthingloe in Dover. I say due to be paid, as completion is due to occur within 90 days, as we enter June.

CGI, readers may recall, announced a few months ago that it had issued 1,570,283 shares to raise working capital to cover its running costs of only £148,391.74 and that most of the shares had been purchased by the chaps above, its Directors. Readers will also recall that in the heady days of 2007 and 2008 when CGI (formerly CGP) were planning to put China Gateway (Phases 1,2 & 3) not only on Manston Business Park but also on farm land adjacent, purchased from Struan Robertson et al at Alland Grange, they had ambitious plans for land at Dover, Manston and at Westwood in Wigan. Well it seems that Wigan is now a no go; land at Dover is being flogged off for £5 million and that will then leave CGI with only its portion of Manston Business Park (KCC and TDC, through EKO LLP own the key bits) and lots of agricultural land nearby with no planning consent.

CGI has a little problem perhaps; well to be more precise a £31.4 million one! In the heady days of 2007 it had a loan from The Israel Discount Bank(IDB) of  £24.5 million that as a facility, grew to £28.5 million which was due to be repaid in Nov 2009.  By July 2009, the debt with IDB was £31.4 million. The facility was repayable on demand but IDB (perhaps not wishing to get into farming in Thanet) agreed to extend the loan facility until 30 Jun 2010. It is interesting that CGI state that the £5 million for land in Dover is earmarked for repayment to IDB. With successful completion in 90 days, CGI would then have some money to repay IDB back some of its £31.4 million.

The question that has puzzled the 'Strife Team' this afternoon is who the heck are Priory Land Ltd and how come they have £5 million  to throw at CGI's land in Dover as 'partners' in Dover Gateway Ltd.  Their Company was formed very recently on 16/3/2009 and the No: 6848053 is theirs. They are shown as being at The Old Stables. Priory Lane in Bracknell and good old Bling Maps gives us a picture of their nerve centre below. 

It's a pretty busy location in some expensive residential property in Bracknell, Berkshire: Elm Dyke Developments Ltd; Priory Lane Ltd and Priory New Homes Ltd are also located there. The odd thing about Priory Land Ltd is that a Google search reveals 'cached pages' ( their pages as they used to be) that seem linked to Easyspace.com and their contact telephone number 0800 612 4105 is unobtainable.

So the question remained this afternoon as to where does Priory Land Ltd get £5 million to provide the cash for Dover Gateway Ltd to buy CGI's land holdings at Dover? The answer would seem to be REAL- Real Estates Associates Ltd of One Heddon Street, London , W1B 4BD. They are FSA regulated fund managers who attract investment from various sources (private and others) to invest in property. They have a Partnership Land LP (limited partnership) that invests in residential land in the south -east of England and they would appear to be directing funds towards The Dover Gateway Project (Dover Gateway Ltd). It would seem from their press-release of 25 Jan 2010 that Priory Land Ltd is their 'asset manager' and you can read all about it here

So, in terms of Thanet, where does that leave CGI and its agreed planning consent on Manston Business Park from 2008?  I suspect,  that unless investors in China commit to setting up at Manston Business Park on an individual basis, as the UK economy comes out of recession, CGI has further tough times ahead and that increased employment opportunities for the local economy in Thanet look dim.


Sunday, 7 March 2010

WE SHOULD HAVE ACTED 5 YEARS AGO TO IMPROVE TOWN!

 
I was amazed to read Page 2 of the IOTG with its banner heading 'We must act now to improve town' below Richard Spillet's line ' Plea to adopt new Government policy after damning report'.

If readers bother to trawl through Thanet Life postings in 2006, they will see concerns expressed about the decline in Margate, with a pathetic apology of Dreamland being provided by Mr Webb and pictures of closed shops galore. That was almost 4 years ago when we were still in 'booming UK' and prior to 'bust 2008'.

We now have TDC talking about 50 years of decline? Sorry, guys, I remember a happy thriving Margate in 1987 when I moved here. Yes, there were problems but not the catastrophe we have today.

Let me draw reader's attention to the incompetence of TDC in its forward thinking or lack of it. A 'Strife' photographer was dispatched this afternoon to take pictures around the TC.  Despite £1,000,000 spent by KCC on reducing Fort Hill to a single carriageway and the TC project costing £17,500,000 in full swing only 30m away, please feel free to look at The Arcadian and Fort Hotel pictures. TDC has until Spring 2011 to sort this scene of dereliction and decay out and has it moved yet?  Come to Margate to our lovely TC and see this beside it? Compulsory purchase followed by restoration or demolition?

A new plaza with adjacent flats etc would be a good idea? The present state is disastrous and reflects some odd ideas about 'regeneration' by TDC. Guys, you have just over a year before TC is opened and yet what are you doing about the eyesores within 30 m of it?


 

Saturday, 6 March 2010

SATURDAY NIGHT SNIPPETS

 
Almost missed this KCC Standards Public Notice on Page 31 in this week's IOTG. My eye had been caught by a liquidation notice for the company trading as Indian Princess which was not good to read. However, the KCC notice informs us that the 'spat' over a single yellow line outside a Nursing Home in Thanet is now over. Readers might remember that Cllr Chris Wells had been reported to KCC Standards in early 2009 for not declaring an interest when he opposed a yellow line outside a nursing home. After an interminable amount of time and presumably at great cost to the tax-payer, Cllr Wells has finally been found to not have breached The Code of Conduct. So Mr Bourlet and others went to a lot of trouble over a single yellow line when the matter could have been cleared up quickly. KCC's long drawn out process compares very oddly with the speed of the rejected complaint dealt with by TDC concerning the Bradgate Caravan Park where a planning decision in committee against the advice of officers, had huge financial implications for the applicant. It's a strange world.!

.We now have a TDC mole digging around again on behalf of Strife. Snippets this week include the old news that the much trumpeted 0% pay rise for our Chief Executive last year was not quite what it seemed. ( Amended 24 Mar 2009) 'Mole' has mumbled that no one wants to publicise these figures. Another interesting snippet from 'Mole' was that on Wednesday last, a Services Manager and a contract monitoring officer went off to Brighton for a 'jollie' and dinner as guests of a large TDC contract holder. One hopes that this 'freebie' or entertainment for services rendered on behalf of the community was recorded and authorised by the appropriate Director at TDC. I have asked for more information as I find this sort of thing worrying.
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Whilst some of you may have noticed a gang of youngsters braving the elements on Manston Road on Saturday mornings to plant hedges and trees, Strife has heard that on land close to Cllr Savage's house, The Old Farmhouse adjacent to Mockett's Wood, contractors have been clearing and cutting trees down, which has attracted the attention of a Thanet Tree Warden who intends to look into the matter. Initial reports indicate that felling of diseased trees and thinning of  sycamores has been carried out and that hopefully, TDC's Tree Conservation Officer has been involved. 

As the only Cllr for the ward, living in his ward and being involved in Mockett's Wood and its conservation, I am sure that Cllr Savage is looking after trees that might have Tree Protection Orders, but should not more trees in Thanet have TPO's?  It raises the question as to who is keeping an eye on Thanet's Tree stock?  My understanding is that we no longer have a dedicated Arboriculture Officer and that the last one was put in a position of redundancy in 2006.  When he went on his way, he sent a rather angry e-mail complaining that effectively TDC was not really interested in its tree stock and the environment and compliance with the Town and Country Planning Act and that our tree stock would receive less and less protection. His words written in 2006 are perhaps too true.  (Click on e-mail below to enlarge and read).
 
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Friday, 5 March 2010

SITTERS UNITE FOR ART INSTALLATION SOFASIDE

This is not TDC's new 'post Ezekiel' Cabinet, though some may consider they couldn't do any worse but the latest work from renowned art sofa-sitting artist Ewan McSporran.

Strife reporter Andrea Woodgirl filed this report earlier.

A sit on the sofa was made into a visual masterpiece this week as pram loads of art loving tots were coralled into sitting on a Margate sofa. All the volunteers were required to sit an equal distance from each other as they sat on the sofa for seven minutes.


Edinburgh based artist Ewan McSporran, who is well known for his art sofa-sits conducted this performance piece by inviting mums as far away as Brighton and Dorset, to bring their babies to sit on this sofa for seven minutes. Mr McSporran, 65, an artist for 40 years said: " I think it went fantastically well, it was really great. It is the first time I have made a work on a Margate sofa. It is fantastic. The work is about experience not material. It might look like a sculpture but isn't. Each participant is also the viewer. All my work involves sofa-sitting , but always in a group"


The work was comissioned by the Turner Contemptible (but paid for by the tax-payer) and a video of this fantastic sofa-sitting experience will be shown in the gallery if its funding stream from the tax-payer is not cut off. 


VIEWPOINT
(from Strife Reporter Andrea Woodgirl)
It was good to see the participants suffering for their art on the sofa. The noise of crying babies and the scent of filled nappies reminded me that art is not just about traditional aesthetics and pretty paintings. It is also about simpler ideas and experiences such as sitting, shape, howling and dirty nappies. This serves as a wake up call. Work like this could inject hope into Margate as it attracts sofa-sitting supporters from all over the country to come here. Some participants came from as far away as Dorset. When I spoke to Baby Isabelle from Dorset, she said, " Waaaah. Waaaaah!  Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!"


(Editor:  Andrea, as you have clearly lost your marbles, take 2 weeks holiday immediately to recover your wits!)
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Thursday, 4 March 2010

THANK GOODNESS HE WILL SHORTLY BE ON HIS WAY!














The straws in the wind became bales and now they are big logs of wood!

I am delighted to report that it would appear that at The Conservative Party TDC Cllrs Group meeting to be held in 3 weeks time on Wed 24 March, the Conservative Group is to elect a new Leader, as Cllr Ezekiel will stand down. It would seem that the plan is that the 'new' Conservative Leader will then understudy 'Mauwice' until May in his capacity as Leader of TDC and then take over as TDC's new Leader.

The Ezekielite choice is apparently Cllr Bayford and Cllr Kirby has his name forward. Having watched Cllr Kirby in muddle as 'Chair' and his subsequent move side-ways from the 'chair' at TDC, one can only assume that he is in the 'ring' as a distraction to split any votes for any others who wish to be considered but are not annointed by 'Mauwice'. 

Are we to see a root and branch clearing out of the 'Ezekielites' or just an Ezekielite stooge in place? Where are the likes of Cllr Bruce, who is a popular choice for many in Thanet as a decent chap who can unite Labour and Conservative in working together for Thanet after the divisions encouraged and perpetrated by the 'Ezekielites'? Also, where is Cllr Moores,whom,  I have heard, has been fostering a mature approach with Labour and their Dep Leader, Cllr Campbell?

I suppose it would be too optimistic to expect a 'Reformation' but whoever is the choice of our Conservative Cllrs might well consider some urgent changes in Cabinet and a good clean out of the 'dirty stables' that TDC Planning Committtee, in particular,  is perceived as being. After the shoddy and degrading events of the past 3 years, that have tarnished the good name of the Conservative Party in Thanet, I for one, would welcome the return of integrity, openess and honesty that should be the hallmarks of confident leadership and the end of cowed and bullied Conservative back-benchers who hardly make a contribution in Council other than to put up their 'whipped' hands to vote.

It would only be proper to say,  in a heartfelt way, thank you 'Mauwice' and his mentor 'Wodger' (one is hopeful that a new leader will consider a new deputy) for at last going.  TDC might, if the new Leader can retore public confidence, still be a Conservative Council in June 2011.

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

BROADSTAIRS TRADERS SUFFER BUT WOULD WESTWOOD CROSS BE CLOSED IN THE SAME WAY?


 

My thanks to a 'Strife Team' member for pictures and information from Broadstairs gathered in the sunshine yesterday. Here is his report:

Despair hits the High Street, Broadstairs again as the third lot of roadworks makes the lower High Street inaccessible to all bar pedestrians. and even then they have to pick their way cautiously round the roadworks. Local traders described the current situation as 'desperate' as footfall has dropped dramatically.
The 56 bus has had to be re-routed cutting off those who need it most from accessing this lifeline. Drivers are confronted with 'Shop Local First'signs but have no idea where to park due to confusing 'Road closed' signs.
Readers might remember that last summer three local businessmen had tables in among the barricades while they enjoyed an al fresco lunchbreak to highlight their catastrophic situation.
The puzzling factor is the current lot of roadworks are undoing what was done last year to re-do the junction with Queen's Road. Bus stops have been resited meaning the elderly have further to go to get to a bus stop.
How many local traders can survive this third disruption to their livelihood? Will the individual shops filling a local need still be there come the summer?
I just wonder if Westwood Cross businesses would tolerate this same level of disruption to their business that Broadstairs traders have had to suffer in the past 12 months?  I doubt it. Local businesses in our Town Centres are struggling against all the odds; double yellow lines; extortionate TDC car parking meters; inadequate parking; key chains legging it (to Westwood X) or failing and all the time  TDC has some warped vision of Westwood Cross being its fourth and 'main' town centre. It is private property, a windswept and mediocre 'mall' that even puts its 'gorillas' onto a local citizen to stop him photographing. Do our Councillors really support their local businesses  (who are also, in the main, their electorate) or is the reality that ' grandiose visions' are more important?

 

Monday, 1 March 2010

ADMISSION OF FAILURE BY TDC AND THE DISGRACE OF THE DISABLED FACILITIES BUDGET

 

My thanks to Michael Child  (www.thanetonline.blogspot.com) for a quick easy link to TDC's webcast of last Thursday's Council meeting.

It's pretty heavy going and I have had to stop this evening at 78 minutes in, but will look at the next hour tomorrow night. Two things struck me in the first 78 minutes.

Firstly, the amazing admission by The Chief Executive,  that despite the £millions of Govt funded grants to TDC into areas of deprivation like Cliiftonville West,  a Conservative run Council for the past 7 years has failed to improve the situation. Now forgive a simple chap like me for being confused but presumably a Labour Central Government has provided the funds and it was up to the Ezekielites to spend it wisely and effectively? So an admission of 'failure' by The Chief Ezecutive' is a damning indictment of the Ezekiel administration's failure in a key area of Margate.

Secondly, I was fascinated to follow a request (via an amendment) by Cllr Johnston, that the disabled facilities budget of £400,000 be ring fenced despite it having been reduced by £200,000 for the past year or so. Now, as Ind Cllr Tom King put so eloquently, in trying to get TDC in Full Council to support this idea of 'guarrantteeing' support to Thanet's disabled, the money is usually spent on a whole range of often small improvements that nevertheless make a massive difference to improve the struggle of disabled people in Thanet to live reasonable lives. (Compare an Independent Cllrs thinking with the Ezekielite Cllrs below.)

I found it obscene, yes OBSCENE, that Our Leader 'Mauwice', of two standard's raps and 'two hats' ignominy, together with Cllr Martin Wise, make a link to this funding with Asset Disposals. The proposition they made is quite simply that any opposition to Asset Disposals is thus opposition to funding 'disabled facilities spending' in Thanet.
So HOOTS, Dumpton Park 'Village Greeners' and WASPs, you will all be pleased to know that your arrogant Ezekielite Cllrs consider YOU are responsible for any shortage in funding for the disabled in Thanet; not them. 

Why isn't asset disposal income linked to Cllr's Allowances,  Cabinet 'Blackberries', subsidised car loans, pay-rises of 0% (actually nearer £15,000) for senior officers or to Council Offices Improvements? The argument is equally valid, is it not?

What is thoroughly disgusting, is that 'Ezekielite' Cllrs voted down this very sensible amendment and thus accepted the spurious and nasty assertions of their Leader, that opposition to Asset Disposals is 'de facto' hurting Thanet's disabled. 

Did any Conservative Cllrs have a mind of their own on this issue and were they prepared to stand up against one of the nastiest slurs on TDC's electorate that has been perpetrated by this disgraced and self-confessed incompetent Ezekielite administration?   Be warned,  Ezekielite Cllrs, that there are many Conservatives around Thanet who will remember this in 2011. You were led by a disgraced Leader into a disgraceful position through 'the whip' on this amendment and should perhaps redeem yourselves by getting rid of your 'Leader' and the sooner the better.

Saturday, 27 February 2010

NOW'T SO QUEER AS OUR COUNCILS AND QUANGOS

 
Was it really nice to be told that the Ezekiel Party intend to keep their bit of Council Tax rises to 2.46% and 2.5% for the next 4 years? It does seem a blatant pre 2011 election type of promise. If it only works out at 10p per week, I for one am happier to see the Biggles' household pay an extra 20p per week if it improves our street cleaning, rubbish collection services and enables loos and museums to be kept open. The decline of our traditional town centres and high streets doesn't need to be revealed by The Sun; TDC's own Parking income has collapsed and that tells a sorry tale. Time to charge Westwood Cross £300 per car space for them to recoup by charging for parking that is currently free? Other Councils have introduced schemes.

At Thursday's Budget Meeting, rather than nodding through a Vice Chair of Plannings Gaff (as they did in 2008) after a long evening, it seems that Cllr Green revealed that The Ezekielites are running down the TDC reserves to dangerously low levels and Cllr Alan Poole urged 'Mauwice' and 'Woger' to resign. Whilst number crunching does my head in, a cry for the disgraced duo to go has my heartfelt support and if rumours are true,we might see the back end of them soon anyway, without Cllr Poole's cry from the heart.

Meanwhile in Broadstairs Town Council, the Ezekielites have had another 'Panama Broadhurst ' type absentee! We hear reports that Beacon Road Ward representative, Cllr. Lewis Dennis, Conservative, has been removed from office for failing to attend the requisite number of meetings since his election in 2007. He's even been removed from the council's website following a recent meeting.
 
The Ezekielites, who hold all the council seats bar one, have decided to try to fill the vacancy left by Mr. Dennis' removal but seemed to have tried to keep this very quiet as a small, insignificant notice was posted up by Pierremont Park advertising their wish to co-opt a new member to the Council. This looks like another Ezekiel Party attempt to prevent the electorate from having a choice as to who represents them for the remaining year before elections in 2011.
 
The Strife team understands two Conservatives have thrown their hats into the ring so will they draw straws to decide who gets the seat? Will any other candidates come forward at this late stage as the closing date is Monday? Is this true democracy at work? Will there be a by-election so close to a general election? Could another party snatch the seat? The Strife Team will try to keep you updated as and when we get any information.
 
On the subject of information, squeezing accurate info from TDC, KCC, SEEDA, GOSE etc is like trying to extract blood from a stone.  Here is a typical response that Strife Team member had recently to an FoI request:

Q: How much was written off by SEEDA for The Marks &Spencer Building in Margate and how much was given to TDC/KCC for its purchase?

A: . SEEDA provided grant funding of £4.72m to TDC for the acquisition costs, taxes
and fees relating to the Marks & Spencer building in Margate. As SEEDA does
not own the building, we will not be writing down any amount.
 
So no-one is responsible for this waste of tax-payer's money. The fact that the building's value has halved and has been empty for a few months is not a problem for SEEDA; it gave a grant. TDC got a grant and the fact that the value of the property has halved doesn't concern it either. What a crazy world we live in when SEEDA can give a grant of almost £5,000,000 tax-payer's cash to an 'arty-farty' disaster called temporary TC at Marks; whilst TC  pay a Director (Victoria Pomeroy) for almost 9 years for a TC that has yet to be completed. Whilst TDC anguishes over the cost of providing essential services to the community in Thanet, millions of pounds of tax-payer's money is squandered on an irrelevant, wasteful, elitist and minority interest called 'modern art'. The best that we can come up with as 'art' at the moment is wrestling on the sand; walking round in squares on a beach pool and having some tatty bit of neon illumination on a listed building called Droit House 'created' by Tracy Emin. 

Are we mad?

Friday, 26 February 2010

A EUROFERRIES SURPRISE ON MONDAY IN RAMSGATE? THERE IS A TOOTH FAIRY?

 
The following was posted this afternoon as a comment to 'Nerve Centre of Euroferries'(posted in Feb 2009). An interesting place to post and I copy it here:

News from the Captain said...
Thanet Strife Thank you for the publicity for the leading fast ferry operator on the Channel. Us folks here in Boulogne are all ready for the big off. Monday morning (yes, 1 March 2010... remember, the big day). The timetable is published and Euroferries is ready to confound all you doubters and wow the world. Commercial considerations mean that we have had to keep the name of our craft confidential, but get yourselves down to Ramsgate first thing Monday to greet our maiden voyage. The ship leaves Boulogne at 7.30 am Monday. And into Ramsgate at 7.45 am-ish. Free croissants for all who turn up for the party.
What are we to make of this? I have shown a picture of Sea Leopard just in case you might want to look out for her on Monday, or even the Norman Arrow (LD Lines) which is presently berthed in Boulogne.

Expect high tides and an interesting storm blowing up the Channel on Sat/Sun. How will the hoardings at Pleasurama look on Monday? Off to talk to maritime Strife Team members.

Thursday, 25 February 2010

A BLIGHTED TOWN - GALE'S VIEW.

 
I post for your delectation, Roger Gale's thoughts on business opportunities that now abound in Margate. He adroitly makes no reference to Conservative TDC's disastrous Planning decision to allow 49% of our prime visitor attraction, The Dreamland site, to be allocated for housing and thus allow Dreamland to become a derelict site for 5 years that an Independent Planning Inspector forecast would happen and ignore his recommendation that the Dreamland Site and its careful devlopment as a visitor attraction was the 'key' to Margate's regeneration. So 700,000 visitors to a declining Dreamland (5 years ago) now becomes 130,000 for TC with a tax-payer subsidy from KCC of £1,000,000 per annum and a grant from a Labour Government of £3,500,000 to repair The Scenic Railway and fund a 'Heritage Amusement Park' on half the site! In the mean time 'Clampers' rip off visitors and drive them away from the town.

Well Mr Gale, with a Charity Shop setting up to compete as a Coffee Shop with the others at the bottom of The High Street ('volunteer' staff and no business rates to pay) and the 'Game Shop' due to close shortly, there are clearly plenty of 'business opportunities' available in Margate.



Gale's View - 24 February,  2010.

If I had the money I would, today, go out and buy a shop in the lower part of Margate High Street. Preferably one of the double-sided ones with access onto the seafront.

Following the publication of statistics revealing that Margate had one of the most `derelict` High Streets in the country I recently took a call from a journalist working for a national newspaper. "Is it", she asked "because of the recession that so many shops have closed".  The thrust was clear: please tell me that this is the result of the Government's economic policies because I want to write some knocking copy!

I hold Gordon Brown responsible for many of our economic ills and it is certainly true that his disastrous management of the nation's economy has not helped the retail trade over the past couple of years but the roots of High Street decay go back much further than that and were predicted, by myself and others, at the time .

A previous socialist Thanet Council likes to claim the credit for instigating the Westwood Cross project and although it was the present administration that saw it through to realisation it is certainly true that Mr. Nicholson's team set the ball rolling.  Unfortunately, in tandem with the neglect of the transport infrastructure needed to properly service an out-of-town shopping centre and which has led directly to much of today's congestion, no serious attention was paid to the likely effect of the migration of shops from the High Streets of Thanet to Westwood and no policy was put in place to re-invent the boutique trade that is the viable alternative to big stores.

The decline in the traditional British Seaside holiday business, and the fall in the number of visitors generated in part by the closure of Dreamland, seriously weakened retail demand.  The recession killed off Woolworths, certainly, but once Marks & Spencer and Next and a couple of other anchor outlets headed out of town it was inevitable that the footfall which is the lifeblood of smaller shops would diminish and those smaller shops would close. Up went the shutters and although the fa├žade of the Windows of Opportunity promotion have helped to mask the reality the stark fact is that there are far too many empty shops at the seaward end of the road.

So now would be a very good time for those who have already missed the chance to put money into Margate Old Town to invest.

I have long said that the Turner Centre cannot be seen as an end in itself.  On its own it will not regenerate the Town.  It is, though, the vital and impressive cornerstone of the Margate Waterfront development and it has already had a hugely stimulative effect that has convinced those small traders with the courage to seize the opportunity to bring their money into the Old Town with an eye on the future.  The Lower High Street will follow and as the higher-spending Turner visitors arrive so will the demand for the boutiques and wine bars and restaurants needed to service their expectations.

That is why I now have no hesitation in saying to those with a commercial eye on the future "get into Margate High Street now before you miss the boat".