What an interesting tale, the 2008/9 TDC Asset disposal proposals have become. We now have 3 Village Green Applications at KCC from HOOT, Dumpton Park Drive and now Westbrook Against Selling Promenade Site (WASPS), all because TDC just do not get the picture locally.
Could I suggest readers visit www.westbrookwasps.blogspot.com to see how well the campaign is going to stop TDC selling off a rare piece of open space between the concrete promenade and chalk cliffs at Westbrook by Barnes Avenue Car Park.
The history behind the campaign is interesting. The original proposal document from TDC was vague to say the least about exactly what was being proposed to be sold off for development. It turned out to be the large rough grassland site beside Barnes Ave Car Park. (see picture above). The locals who use this grass area were annoyed to say the least and got organised with Beach Warden Tony Sykes getting a web-site set up and getting over 140 local residents involved.
They even had a meeting with Mr Ellis of D J Ellis (an approved TDC contractor) who had put the idea to TDC ('Wodger' perhaps) that 12 luxury eco-pod chalets could be sited here to provide accommodation for visitors to the TC; i.e. The proposal was to put a 'caravan park' on the promenade in Westbrook!
The local electorate turned to their local Cllrs who happened to be Mike Tomlinson (Ezekiel Party) and spouse of Cabinet Member 'Shirl' and Cllr McCastree ( Thanet's only Ind 'Con' and reputedly a developer). E-mails were not responded to and to this date, these 2 local Cllrs have failed to talk with, meet with or even discuss concerns, that over 145 local residents in their ward have raised. They have utterly failed to grasp their role as Ward Cllrs in that they have a duty to take concerns of their electorate to Council and represent them, even if they incurr the wrath of the Leader of The Ezekiel Party!
These two Cllrs might need to be reminded of the 2007 Election results in Westbrook Ward. This normally 'safe' Conservative Ward polled 567 votes for M. Tomlinson but Ind McCastree polled 433 votes and excluded Payne (Con) on 432 votes. Do the incumbent Ezekiel Party not realise that in Westbrook as elsewhere in Thanet, they are upsetting their traditional electorate and 'politicising' them to become organised and a coherent group who have become dis-enchanted with The Ezekiel Party?
The story gets even better, however. Cllr Iris Johnston lives in this ward and as a private local resident has been in contact with WASPs. Word of this got to The Ezekiel Party's Deputy, 'Woger' who then penned this scurrilous sentence to Cllr Mark Nottingham in a letter:
' Barnes car park, a completely under utilised piece of land, suitable for a 'Holiday village' development of a few luxury Chalets was identified, and what happened then, your Group immediately opposed the sale of this piece of land and by applying for Village Green status effectively blocked the proposal you are so firmly in favour of.'
Now, whilst I understand that 'Woger' is reputed to froth at the mouth if you mention ECR in his hearing or leap like Salar The Salmon if Iris Johnston's name is spoken or even become apoplectic if he hears the word 'Bertie' , he should have realised that WASPs are non-political and are just simply pee-ed off with TDC for even considering such a hare-brained scheme.
My understanding is that Clive Hart has written to 'Woger' stating that he cannot understand what 'Woger ' is on about and quite rightly denies any political involvement in Westbrook WASPs. WASPs also deny any such 'political' interference. In a letter to 'Woger' Clive Hart has said :
'I can assure you that the Labour Group have made no collective decision whatsoever (one way or the other) on this particular matter and that to my knowledge no Labour member has had anything to to do with applying for Village Green status. I hope you will correct these inaccuracies ASAP. '
It would seem that a sense of paranoia now stalks the Leadership of the Ezekiel Party. They utterly fail to understand that you risk your local traditional support with a mad scheme to put a caravan site on an area of rare grasses and flowers below Thanet's chalk cliffs that is used by locals to sun-bathe and picnic on and walk their dogs through. It is fully utilised not just by humans (who happen to be your electorate) but it also has winter visitors like rare snow buntings and shore larks, sheltering and feeding on seeds etc. It is a rather special wild-life habitat and enhances our beautiful coast line.
I leave you, dear reader, with a quote from 'Mauwice' himself in last week's IOTG concerning his thoughts about our environment and you might wonder how it matches his ideas about D J Ellis running a 'caravan park' on Westbrook promenade: " I love the country side here and I love the beaches'.