Friday, March 11, 2011

Thanet council Caves in on misleading info again?

I always take information from Thanet council with a pinch of salt, and comments from some of our councillors with a large economy pack.

Its been noted that comments, made by those representing the council, over the hasty  destruction of Margate Caves entrance, are not as authoritative as you have a right to expect.

I suggest that you take time out, if you haven't already to read up on this, there are two excellent reports on this one from Luke Edwards of Thanet Waves and this from the Gazette written by Daisy Stemple, on page 3 of this weeks Gazette.

Communities need to be scrutinised, and I have say I enjoyed Luke's post which in my opinion, pretty much reigned in and corralled Cllr Simon Moores excitable ruminations, which sounded solid but crumbled under examination. Daisy Stemple has put further meat on the bone with her Gazette article, a nice explanatory comment from Doug Brown ( Head of Major Developments) , and the revelation that the alternative entrance mentioned earlier as I guess a sop a public tired of public assets being wasted, like the caves and of course the superb but mismanaged Tudor House.

Its amazing how councils can rustle up the best part of a hundred grand to top up the pensions of just one "officer" being made redundant, but cannot look after the things we cherish which unlike Thanet's conservatives is not the flipping fat cats!

Anyway in more important news, myself, I happen to working on an exclusive story which will blow apart the world of refuse collection, all I can tell you at this point my blue recycling bin got overlooked this morning. 


  1. Tony, what 'Ruminations' as you put it, crumbled if hard to say as its most a rehash of the original story.

    I added the following to Luke's analysis because as usual, the Gazette left bits out - no surprises there I'm sure!

    The 2005 report gave 'An estimate' for repairs to meet the HSE's and other requirements. You may recall that original lessees were unable to meet these requirements.

    What I have said a number of times, as have council officers, is that:

    1) The council was offered an estimate for essential repair work in 2005 but this is 2011 and that it would be sensible to assume that after six years the costs would be greater. Thus, the figure of circa £100,000

    2) As I wrote on my own weblog, any business planning to take the caves on with the full support of the council, needs to take into account the ongoing costs of not only making the caves safe and attractive but building and maintaining any visitor centre. Clearly, a small wooden shack didn't work particularly well in the past and only a couple of hundred yards from Turner, something a little more in keeping with the times is required. That will cost money!

    3) It's irrelevant whether the original repairs estimate is £50,000, £100,000 or even £1 million. The council does not have any funds available to bring the caves back into use and thus would have to reply on a business plan from those who might wish to take it forward. In such circumstances I would offer my encouragement and support and the existing planning application for the site has been put on hold as a strong gesture of goodwill.

    The position and condition of the Forsters entrance is clearly as source of confusion and after the BBC interview last month, 'Friends of the Caves' took Cllr Johnston, Cllr Watckins and I to a spot where we were told it was supposed to be. However, it doesn't change the fact that at present, the only route forward for the reopening of the caves is through private enterprise. I would certainly welcome that if the financial support exists from other quarters, which is why I invited the Friends of the Caves representatives to a meeting a week ago to discuss what possibilities might exist and what support could be offered.

    In summary then, the story is quite uncomplicated. The council has no funds available to spend on the caves and many other worthy legacy sites but supports private enterprise if a suitably funded business plan is forthcoming.

  2. I think you can add what you like, excitable stale ruminations i think in this case Simon.

    Quick fire reaction with little basis in fact a specialty of yours I think Simon.

    Stale waffle and take my point you and your colleagues just gave away many many thousands to senior officers in enhanced pension payouts and yet you dont understand that the public would rather you looked after assets than waste money

  3. Perhaps we should ask Cllr Hart if, assuming Labour wins a majority in May and he becomes leader of TDC, he would invest whatever it takes to reopen and run the caves. Or would he too say that the council would be happy to support any private enterprise proposal. Or would he say whatever we want to hear and then go back on it like his resignation!

    With that information we could then make an informed judgement on the issue. Mind you, the caves have not been open for years now and, even before that, they were privately run. Confusing in a way that they have now suddenly become the council's blunder. Obviously an election year.

  4. simple really TDC have over the years wasted assets, it should be simple enough even for Simon and 7 19

    all the while senior officers have muddled through as evidenced in the gazette but with ever increasing salaries

  5. I have visited these caves with my kids Tehy are CARP, (forgive the typo) second rate and worth exactly naught!!!!

  6. Well said that person. In fact I do not know anybody who has visited the caves and now suddenly they are a priceless asset.

  7. Far more worth restoring, were it possible, would be the little train that ran from Dumpton down to Ramsgate sands through a tunnel with scenic displays. I used to really enjoy that as a kid.

  8. This made me smile 'cos 28 years ago, I lived in a bedsit block in Margate where 2 'artists' (unemployed guys in their early 20's) also lived. They were paid (minimally) to go and add some 'realistic' cave art / special effects. Don't know if its still there though....

  9. Well I would rather have an arts cultural cave, in keeping with the Turner era, than a block of shameless flats any day.

    Can’t the turner contemporary fund/commission the cave as one of there art projects.
    There’s lots of art down there.

  10. I have said a number of times, as have council officers....
    Beach Cruiser

  11. "Confused In Thanet" is clearly one of the hard core of contributors determined to divert every blogging strand to the leadership mess that currently entangles Clive Hart and the local Labour Party.

    That is a legitimate story and clearly those involved have not been dealing straight with the electorate. Shame on them. But there are other stories.

    The one that emerges from this current strand and those covering the refreshments saga seems to be the tendency of some Tory Councillors - notably Gregory, Wells and Moores - to use blogging not to share news, information and ideas, and to consult, but rather to misinform, spin and cover up inconvenient truths.

    Our politicians really do treat the electorate shabbily.

  12. Totally wrong 10:20! How can we criticise one administration over the closure of the caves if we do not know what the policy of the alternative council might be.

    It is you that is diverting here, reintroducing the sandwiches and your perceived lack of clarity from certain Conservative coucillors.

    How about sticking to the subject for a change which happens to be the future of the caves.

  13. Anon 10:20, with whom I have clashed many times, is obviously a Labour rebuttals man. Someone whose role is to rebut any Tory claims they do not like, divert attention from things that show Labour in a poor light and to perpetutate threads in which they see political mileage.

    Seldom responds to points raised in answer but seeks to belittle the contributor, always returning to the thread the party want to keep going.

    Here we have an issues on the caves but back he comes on the sandwiches topic. Typical of the political spin of which he outrageously accuses local Conservative councillors.

    Returning to the caves, our isle is, of course, honeycombed with caves and tunnels so just keep fingers crossed we never get an earthquake or we might all disappear.

  14. Tony, you seem to have a problem with this particular thread. Comments being posted are appearing at first, then disappearing from the list.

  15. A mock up of the small wooden shacks, what they could look like if tarted up, at small cost, but I think they have been obliterated now.

  16. Bluenote, I am rebutting absolutely nothing. I said specifically in my previous post that Labour have not dealt straight with the electorate and added “shame on them”. Hardly a rebuttal!

    You give your game away with your reference to “outrageous” accusations against Tory Councillors. You view them as “outrageous” only because they are against your Party’s Councillors. What you find outrageous are the facts. What you find outrageous is attention being drawn to one of your Councillors endorsing a lie. That says more about you and the moral high-ground you like to claim to occupy. Ok.

    I would suggest you get some fresh air and deliver some more leaflets for the (Tory) Party you have said in other posts you are not sure you support. Perhaps the walking will focus your thinking. You have counselled me before to “lighten up”. You might wish to follow your own advice.

    Confused in Thanet, I entirely agree that if Labour representatives are criticising the Tories over the Caves without setting out what they would do that is unacceptable. But most of the comments I have seen have not come from Labour but from Liberal Democrats and independent observers. Surely you are not suggesting that independent local folk cannot criticise the Tories without Labour setting out their stall first? That would be nonsense.

  17. Anon, I could have just as easily said hypocritical for are you not accusing said councillors of the very spin you are trying to spread yourself.

    Someone who delivers leaflets is very lowly in the pecking order of activists and does not even have to be a party member. Most are not. Again you leap to the conclusion you wish to make.

    The point raised by Confused is a fair one. To develop the debate and consider where the best prospects for the caves lie, surely it is worth asking what the main opposition's view would be.

    As to your comment about Labour not dealing straight with the electorate is that not also to give some even handed credibility and moral high ground status to your position.

    In a nutshell, sir, you are everything you accuse me of being, except of course a Tory.

  18. anon 2.49 is it possible that you are posting with ie9? If so I get the same problem with many blogd. Try Firefox Its not just this blog and as yet I cant find a solution for IE9.

  19. My god, Bluenote, you use the "T" word towards me. How dare you. "Tory" is the most heinous insult. Hope you've enjoyed the rugby.

  20. Bluenote's 1115 comments regarding earthquakes a little tasteless?
    The little train would be nice but it's not in Margate so it won't happen. And just to be sure they're building a giant white elephant on the site of the station.
    We should all stop humouring Dr Moores and see him for what he is - just another politician puffed up with his own self-importance. With his "accidental" insulting of Tony last week he revealed his true colours.

  21. Andrew, sorry if I touched your sensibilities. My comment referred to the amount of subterranean hollow space beneath our feet and, at the time, implied no association with the unfortunate events in Japan.

    On the little train, which I also recall from childhood, presumably the tunnel is still there. Wonder if it would be a viable proposition in these days or do we simply not attract enough visitors. In any event, I guess they all drive to the beach now.

  22. Bluenote's apology accepted, although would have been nice if he hadn't needed prompting.
    The tunnels are still there but if you knew Ramsgate at all you would know that the Dumpton end has now been built over (Muir Road area) and the Beach end has some sort of apartment block being built there

  23. Andrew, sometimes, having thoughtlessly made something of a faux pas, it is perhaps better to ignore it rather than draw even more attention. Glad, however, that you accepted my apology, but shame you could not do so without another dig.

    Thanks for the info on the light railway. I have often wondered where the Dumpton end disappeared to, but think the other used to come out on the sands further up than the new development. Could be wrong for I have never looked.

  24. AS you drive along Dumpton Park Drive towards Broadstairs. Just before Muir Road are a few houses that look a little out of place. They are built on the sight of the tracks. The station itself was in a "gorge" where the petrol station and workshops now are. Michael has an excellent little book on the subject.

    And as Elton John sang - sorry seems to be the hardest word.

  25. One wonders why anyone would want to go and see the caves. I went once and that was enough. The caves closed for lack of customers and I for one would question the council if they chose to waste money on this project. What this seems to be about is how the council spends money. If a private individual can aford to spend out on the caves and get his investment back let him but untill that time unless you are that person I see very little point in continuimng this folly.

  26. Don

    I have never visited the caves so I can't have a view, but the majority of comments on here seem to echo your view - that they're not worth visiting in the first place. This Council and its officers have managed to get such a reputation for obfuscation that whenever one of them makes a sensible decision everyone looks for the ulterior motive. That said, what happens to the land and who benefits?

  27. Well said, Don, but apart from a few fruit cakes and luvvies who want to save everything, this is not really about the future of the caves. It is just another way of having a dig at the council. I am sure, had TDC proposed re-opening the caves at great expense, the same people would attack them for that.

  28. I think most of the land is undergound, Andrew.

  29. Andrew, thanks again for the extra info on the site of the Dumpton Station. It disappeared whilst I was away from Thanet and I have never really pinpointed where it was since I returned.

    Shame you had to have yet another dig though. I do not have a problem apologising when I need to. I would have with quoting from Elton John.

  30. "I would have with quoting from Elton John." Usual Conservative problem with gays eh?

  31. Totally uncalled for and bordering on insulting. I happen not to be a fan of Elton John's music or his behaviour over the years, particularly at the height of his popularity when he might have been seen as a role model. Drug abuse has nothing to do with sexuality.

    I think it is your turn to apologise but I will not be holding my breath.

  32. Picked up on this exchange between Andrew and Bluenote and find the left's obsession with seeing homophobia or racism in the most innocent of remarks quite nauseating.

    I also am not a fan of Elton John, nor am I of Paul Macartney, so where does that put me. If I said I was not too keen on JLS, would that make me racist.

    Mind you, Andrew is evidently of the party whose previous PM called a woman bigoted because she raised the immigration issue. Touch of follow my leader I guess.

  33. Dear Chippy Tone,
    I hear you like to be called by this pet name as a mark of esteem.
    I'm wondering why, as I have been so nice to you, that you don't link to my site or offer me the benefit of your encyclopedic knowledge of all things Thanet.
    I thought you might be impressed with my solution to the Margate Caves/Pierremont Trees problem too!

    Yours eternally & infernally
    The Thanet Reaper

    P.S. The size thing was only a laugh and Pythagoras was very pissed at the time. Beware of Greeks bearing jokes!

  34. Bill, I don't think Andrew is aligned to the Left!

  35. Then why would he make snide comments about Conservatives having problems with gays, numerous anti-Simon Moores postings elsewhere and show a lack of courtesy by not apologising to Bluenote over his slur. All, sadly, very left wing traits.

  36. Bill Richards, don't link what you believe is a left-wing leaning with (what you allege is) rudeness and other negative traits. I am a Labour voter and find that sort of sweeping generalisation insulting.

  37. Apologies to Labour voter. Appreciate there are bad manners in all sectors of society. Just think Andrew's assumption that Conservatives have a problem with gays was out of order and called for an apology, as I am now offering you.

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