Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Kent Police for sale

In a new Kent privatisation initiative, Kent police have reversed the trend of closing things like police stations and pubs by opening an online gift shop.

According to Simon Redman (Director of support services) ‘The Kent Police online gift shop is an exciting new venture for Kent Police. The online shop is a positive and innovative way to meet demand for new police-themed products and hopefully raise money to put back into community projects.
‘To get the online shop up and running, we have partnered with an experienced organisation which is set up to supply good quality merchandise.

Well it looks like Kent constabulary who may not be able to solve many crimes will prove more useful this Christmas by at least solving the big question, what to get Mrs Me, otherwise this year would have found me once again, wandering around gormless an clueless in Canterbury or Westwood, well more likely asda, Tesco or Sainsburys in injury time.

Anyway take a gander yourself by clicking here, since Mrs Me rarely reads this stuff I think I can safety let you into my choice, and to honest its been quite a tough decision in the clothing area it came down to the Battenburg "Ladies" Tank Top or Fingerprint "Ladies" Top. Since I'm no skin flint I shall also be choosing the Police Mug as well and maybe the Kent photo frame although it doesn't say whether they come with mug shots, perhaps I shall take a photo of Mrs Me's beaming face as she opens this lot.

Apologies for mentioning Christmas at such an early stage. Anyway if you want to avoid any bad taste crimes in the present department this year, you know where to go.

I just hope that Kent Police haven't wasted a bucket full of money on stock, or setting up this enterprise, in fairness I have to admit to owning a police sweatshirt, which was purchased "last minute" on holiday in a moment madness as I waited for my airport pick up, with the few remaining dollars in my pocket and although its good quality, warm, even I know, I look a tit, in my NYPD sweatshirt.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

People Trafficking in Thanet

As remote and unlikely, as it seems to some of us, this weeks Thanet Extra carries a story on the discovery of a Cliftonville property which may have been used as a brothel, this as part of the polices operation Pentameter 2 investigating people traffickers, some of whom force women into the sex trade as part their business model.

I 'll get straight to the point on this one, I think we all know what is meant by "massage services" particularly when advertised in an "an adult services" section of a newspaper, more so when a notice advising whom to complain to is given. As far as I'm concerned people can chose whatever trade they like but I get concerned with advertisements which could be interpreted as or appear to be offering foreign women for massage services in some of our local papers.

The conclusions I reach are this, if the "massage" industry, were regulated, then parasites, pimps & people traffickers would have greater difficulty in plying this despicable trade, secondly if advertising were regulated by something other that the ASA (advertising standards authority), then adverts used to promote the trade in vulnerable women could be prevented.

Pimps will always exist but considering the small amount of revenue earned by these ads surely newspapers could decline to place them.

Just so that publishers understand, whats going on, the Newspaper Society the trade association for publishers, recently highlighted in its newsletter of the 8th of November, work it was doing with the government to tackle sex trafficking.

Harriet Harman (Minister for Women & Equality) is quoted in a joint statement from the Government & Newspaper Society “Small ads at the back of local papers are often used to sell trafficked girls – things like ‘new girls every day’, ‘international ladies 24/7’ - which police believe can fuel the demand for these trafficked girls and perpetuate this trade.

Some time ago noticing an advert which looked as if it could be connected with trafficking I wrote to the production director, and then after week or so I contacted the owners a large media company, eventually I got a response with comments like this "It is a business decision to run these adverts" and "We have, this year, implemented a further control on adverts that mention foreigners which could imply people trafficking is involved" REALLY I suggest they take a look in any one of their three local titles from this week.

I also passed my complaint onto the Advertising Standards Authority and got a reply saying that they had no grounds for action, and after speaking got a further reply with this line " I do appreciate that you felt the references to nationality might encourage pimps or people involved in human trafficking to take out similar ads. However there seems to be little to be gained by the ASA seeking amendments to this ad when the surrounding legal issues are so thorny and potentially serious."

In fairness the advert I originally complained about and others are in all probability innocent, however why take the risk. In 2007, the slave trade still exists and its not just in the big cities assuming Kent's police report of having visited 30 premises as part of their Pentameter 2 campaign is correct then its local.

Apparently according to the newspapers group concerned decisions on what is acceptable advertising is not made locally, and the person I spoke to(somewhere in London), was quite confident that such advertising was in all our local newspapers, well I have checked out KM newspapers(Thanet Extra) and KOS (Your Thanet) and they both seem to get along without the type of advert, that I refer.

As far the advertising standards authority is concerned I'm willing to concede that this is a "thorny and potentially serious" issue but then Slavery always will be.

Society has become more superficial, more money driven and as one of my correspondents recently pointed out, we have to be pragmatic, well I'm willing to bet a couple of quid that bosses of the media company I'm complaining about would probably feel fairly uncomfortable discussing this part of their revenue stream.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Westbrook goes upmarket

The gentrification of Margate and surrounding areas has for my liking gone too damn far. In common with many local residents I cannot earn a living locally in the great metropolis of Thanet. Therefore it is necessary for me, along with my co workers to pile into a van.

Part of the going to work ritual usually involves stopping at a garage to fuel both vehicle and worker. For various reason its been a while since I stopped at BP's filling station in Westbrook.

Imagine the shock of stumbling out of the van in the early hours, to find that the familiar Somerfield store has now been upgraded to an M & S, I must say I find it unnatural, strolling through the superior merchandise of M&S wearing boots & orange Hi Vis clothing on the way to work.

Perhaps unrelated to the change in purveyor of grocery's at this location, is the difficulty in obtaining diesel fuel, now if I were a cynic I would think that the sight of vans full of workmen, might just unsettle your more refined traditional M&S customer and deterring work vehicles might be a welcome outcome, although when I asked this morning I was told there were problems with the pumps.

Still overall most of the traditional confectionery(Mars bars etc) is available as in any other filling station, an although I'm not entirely convinced that Mark's food is anything special certainly my scotch eggs were no better than Tescos at half the price, although the Melton Mobray was excellent. I suppose Marks is on the whole pricey but when I go to the average petrol station and have to pay nearly 2 pound for a Ginsters sausage role, M&S looks reasonable.

I have mentioned the M&S voice over women before, you know the one who seems to be in a state er... excitement, over her food I just wonder if she would calm down bit were she to witness the likes of me chopping on the merchandise.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Is this your Helicopter?

The reason I ask is that for the last hour or so all I can hear is the drone of a helicopter, which for some reason has found a parking spot, just above my home.

I assume this is some broadcasters attempt at reporting the appalling crime scene in Irvine Drive, traveling along the St. Peters Road this morning, its possible to see some massive type crane thing parked on the estate, presumably for broadcasters or journalist who cannot afford to have helicopters flying around the clock.

You would think that journalist and their handlers could be a little more sympathetic, to family whose home this is an those living in the area who have children for whom, this whole issue is both disturbing and horrifying. I cannot imagine what good it does anyone to have such intrusive reporting.


Has anyone else noticed, the rapid pace of change to reporting staff at Kent regional newspapers Gazettte Office. Looking at yesterday's Gazette, it would appear that most of the journalists who were with paper last year, have now moved on and now been replaced with a whole new line up of fresh faced whippersnappers.

I wonder if this has anything to do with the Daily Mail's owners northcliffe media taking over, well I suppose we will never know, I noticed the other day, that one of the papers better and more productive writers Kathy Bailes, wasn't mentioned and this Friday's Gazette appears to be missing a news editor Julian May.

Still maybe their on holiday or one of those sabbatical things, I think we should be informed as far as I can tell only the editor, picture guy and sports bloke have been with our local (KRN) papers more than 12 months.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

New interest in Westwood Cross.

Something I have been meaning to mention for a while is the various tools that most bloggers use to keep some of handle, on how effective or popular their site is or not as the case may be.
For me the sitemeter tracking software/facility is the one I prefer, this gives information such as the location of a visitor, what website they came from, and if they used a search engine the key words used in their search.

As far as I can tell this does not, identify individuals, although some companies, do have their own domain name, which can identify an organisation or establishment. generally media companies and large corporations are an identifiable as are the occasional smaller firms that have their own domain name (including a local law firm that checked out my Aitken rant of yesterday DAMN! (I don't think I went to far?)).

I merely mention this as a reminder to any user of the Internet, that trawling through the web leaves a trail.

Getting back to Westwood Cross, something like ninety per cent of the web searches arriving on my site have been inquiries about Westwood Cross and few of these are local coming from places as varied as Worcester, Sheffield, High Wycombe, City of London, Chelmsford, Bedford, Europe etc. Now I know that the new cinema will be opening there this weekend, but surely that wouldn't generate that much interest.

So if you know of anything occurring at Westwood do let us know.

For information about the new cinema at Westwood click here

For details of what information is revealed by sitemeter click here.

For what I've written on Westwood in the past click here

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

New Controversy over Thanet's most famous ex-con

You can't keep a good man down or for that matter a disgraced MP who on past performance put his interests above those of a free and independent press.

It looks as if the Tories are so bankrupt of ideas that they need to resurrect Jonathan Aitken, Thanets most famous ex con who has been asked to head a study on prison reform.

Ian Duncan Smith (who? you know former Tory leader one of the bald ones), shows why he only lead the Tory party for a couple of years with this apparent example of poor judgement, giving Aitken a Job in his "think" tank.

Its interesting how easy it is for, Tories to support this man, who might have got away with his perjury and who knows where he might have been in public life, if he got away with it. There is a fair chance he could have been one of the many in the long list of 3rd rate Tory leaders since 1997.

Roger Gale (MP Thanet North) is an honest decent sort of politician, so its no surprise that he defended the appointment of former colleague Jonathan Aitken and passing these comments “Jonathan committed an offence for which he was tried and convicted and for which he has paid a personal and very considerable price." “Of course there will be minnows within the system who will cite this as a ‘political comeback’ and seek to denigrate him but Jonathan is well used to that." shows his loyalty and fairness.

I must be one of those minnows in the system since although I frequently find myself agreeing with Roger Gale on this, I think he is wrong, seven months in prison does not equate to the scale of Aitkens perjury.

We tend to judge criminals by degrees, if we look at violent crimes, not surprisingly we reserve the most distaste for those who abuse the weak and defenseless, an perhaps we dislike politicians who lie, but Jonathan Aitken pushed the boundaries when he made his "sword of truth and trusty shield of British fair play " speech offering to cut out the cancer of twisted and bent journalism. One possible consequence of Aitkens attack on honest British journalism, in pursuit of a bogus claim against the Guardian newspaper is that he could have caused immense financial damage to one of our more independent news sources.

I cannot recall Aitken making any statements about the corrupt cancer of bent and twisted politicians, I find it hard to erase that past image of Aitken, who at the time of his conviction, epitomised that most odious caricature of political creatures, the self seeking unprincipled sleazy Tory politician (just for balance the Labour party has its equivalents).

I'm sure that Mr Aitken has his regrets but having abused peoples trust in the past in such spectacular fashion he cannot expect the general public, to be anything other than critical, and you would have thought the conservative party would have the sense to leave well alone. I just wonder how local conservative party activist feel particularly Laura Sandys (Tory Candidate Thanet South) having this reminder of a former lag & Conservative MP being associate with Thanet South.

Finally this little event is even more interesting as it shows just what an inept bunch of muppets the Tories are, clearly the Tory party can be very loyal as in this instance, apparently welcoming Aitken back into the fold, so its disappointing to remember that back in 2004, Mr Aitken was showing some support for the UK Independence party, so maybe Ian Duncan Smith has scored a cracking own goal by reminding us of Conservative disharmony over Europe and sleaze.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Big waves at Margate

Was going to do a long tedious blog about the rendezvous site but due to the fact its taken all weekend to post this video you'll have to wait!

Look for locals washing their vehicles, don't look if your building on this bit of coast.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Kent in five million pound giveaway

It has emerged that Kent council, has once again been exhibiting its extraordinary, ability to waste your money. Kent council have decided to offer £5 million to Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells hospitals, after it was revealed that the organisation was at the heart of a health scandal which resulted in the deaths of around 90 patients.

At a recent meeting of the Scrutiny committee chairman Mike Eddy (labour), pointed out that Kent council with no knowledge of the hospitals financial state, made this extraordinary offer, which when I checked today had yet to taken by the hospital in question.

Alex King who has frequently been associated with some of Kent's other wise investments such Virginia, spending hundreds thousands with as yet no return, was of the opinion that this loan "had been made to help restore public confidence".

Blimey I don't know about confidence its certainly restores my opinion that Paul Carters administration are clueless. It looks like those who run Kent council, once again, have shown there loyalty and desire to look after the rich of Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells with our money.

What are the chances of Paul Carter or any of that lot dipping in to help, hospitals in the east of the county? Slim I would think since Thanet still doesn't a decent road connection for the simple reason Kent Tory Toffs don't come here that often.

As far as I know Kent council is in business to offer education, empty bins, and sort out roads, so perhaps the Chief Executive Peter Gilroy could look into whether its legal to divert money into the health service.

Unfortunately for us the paying public, Kent council is just like our Health Service, full of people wearing suits, going off to pointless meetings, to justify made up jobs.

My advice to Paul Carter and co is concentrate on the core business of the council, and stop wasting money on trips to Virginia, Kent TV, and god knows what.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Ramsgate wins smelliest Toilet competition

The headline is completely bogus but if there were such a competition, I'm sure Thanet council would win by a significant margin. I had the misfortune to take what Americans call a comfort break whilst visiting Ramsgate Saturday.

Its sometime since, I have used the conveniences in Cavendish Street, and my mind had blotted out the appalling stench. As I'm currently in my middle age, it cannot be long before the provision of public toilets becomes a major consideration. I just hope that before I get caught short again that the council will invest in some bleach or other cleaning product.

I rang the council before on this issue and thought I would try again, it was suggested that drainage might be a problem or even poor aim by local residents, anyhow I was reassured that these toilets are cleaned regular.

I suggested that maybe they could use bleach, but this is apparently not allowed for some hitherto unknown (by me and probably you) health and safety regs. I then asked why it wasn't possible to throw some of those pineapple cube things in, that smell nice into the urinal, but its feared that children would pick them up?. Its a while since I've been responsible for young children, and admittedly never the most competent parent however I cannot imagine allowing children capable of picking up strange objects into a public toilet on their own.

One thing is self evident given the stench these loos don't have sufficient ventilation. On the plus side Roger Latchford who was telling us how marvelous our local facilities were last year (See Press release), having the toilet portfolio(Commercial and Environmental Services )at the time, has moved on to higher and sweeter things (Economy and Culture) and is probably in China right now, so hopefully Cllr.Shirley Tomlinson could adopt a more critical view and sort these bogs out once and for all, since this problem has existed all the time they've been open.

I have been told that new tiles maybe installed, what that will do, god alone knows, what they need to do is sort out the ventilation and drains too damn simple I suppose.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Thanet Council's Chinese Take away

One of the attractions of writing your own blog, is the fact that although Thanet currently has five weekly newspapers, frequently, journalists or editors, seem either unable or uninterested in questioning the news they are reporting, so the likes of me, can actually add something thats not otherwise available.

Two classic examples, are on the front page of last week's isle of Thanet extra, first a rather innocuous story, concerning Southern Waters completed waste treatment plant, with no reference to the years of pollution coming from virtually untreated sewage courtesy of the same southern water company.

A story which might also have benefited from a more creative analysis was the one concerning, councilors Sandy Ezekiel, Rodger Latchford the chief executive of Thanet Council Richard Samuel and a another council employee who apparently have bagged tickets to China.

There are several aspects not covered historically, in the nineties, Thanet lost 350 manufacturing factory jobs, to China when Hornbys moved their production, secondly the question of who's footing the bill, admittedly we are told that the Chinese government are playing for the trip, so no problem there about waste of taxpayers' money, unless of course you include the time taken by Richard Samuel chief executive and his colleague who will be of course away from their desks, and interrupting the vital work they do for us taxpayers.

Councilor Ezekiel pointed out, that taxpayers will not be funding the trip, and that there'll be a little time for enjoyment. Which pleases me immensely, since I wonder how you can enjoy yourself, when you're receiving hospitality from a repressive regime such as China.

Hopefully those representatives of Thanet's, will be briefing themselves on their hosts, but just in cases their missing a few facts and figures perhaps they would care to take a glance through amnesty international's 2007 report on china.

Finally the ordinary people of China will not be able to read these comments, but perhaps our democratic representatives will mention something of democracy and freedom. I'm not suggesting we don't trade with China but maybe we could pass on some of our values, I think it would be rude not too.