Sunday, April 30, 2006

Sandwich did I imagine it?

Today for the lack of anything better to do I thought I would go out with my camera and a squeeze as many photographs into it before lunch as I could. I was also tasked with the responsibility to bring back some gravy granules. It is my opinion that East Kent is one of the more consistently picturesque parts of the country and I soon forgot the gravy but that's another story.

I also set myself the challenge of taking as many photographs of different locations as I could before I got the call to my mobile phone demanding to know where I was and why wasn't I at home.

First stop the Spitfire and Hurricane museum at Manston, where I took a few exterior shots of the building, then I drove towards Sandwich via Preston, Elmstone and Worth. What surprised me was that when I arrived in Sandwich how few visitors there were even allowing for the weather.
Sandwich must be one of the best-kept towns in the country or Europe not being an expert I would guess that many of the buildings date from the Middle Ages, noticing the absence of tourists I thought I would look up Kent Tourism website. I followed their link "view of Kent" which helpfully has a little map which you can click particular areas such as "Canterbury and coastal Kent" this I did.

First thing there is little mention of Sandwich, if you click a link entitled "the Great outdoors" it starts off by saying "Relax in Ashford and Tenterden area!" (which had they looked at their own map appears in Heart of Kent) helpfully this section also includes some links with the heading "explore", one of these is entitled "winding-down" again we start with Tenterden, but I think they save the best for last with this link "a taste of the Continent" on this page Kent tourism do their best to make sure that you spend as little time as possible in Kent, they helpfully explain the various options to escape East Kent refraining only from suggesting that you rub copious amounts of lard on to your skin and swim across the Channel or follow the M20 at Dover board the first ferry, and then ask a gendarme where you might be welcomed.

Just for balance I thought I would see whether the pas de Calais tourism website have reciprocal suggestions to visit England strangely it didn't.

Do they have gravy in France?

Things look bleak for Labour

What a great Sunday for scandal, although I must say some of it particularly that which concerned John Prescott was frankly a little too revolting to read whilst eating toast and sipping my Earl Grey. The news of the world had John Prescott's lovers revelations which on the one hand are pretty difficult to swallow (literally), and perhaps even more serious were the allegations in the Sunday Times that Mr Prescott was a serial groper.

I Understand from the BBC that Mr Prescott is to make a complaint to the Press Council about the personal intrusions into his life, this is quite astounding because I would have thought particularly in the light of the Sunday Times story that he should be considering a legal action against them as it appears they clearly suggest that he is some sort of sexual predator. I think that Mr Prescott has two choices one to resign or alternatively sue the Sunday Times for libel.

Now this is a public interest story because it concerns the character of our deputy Prime Minister whether he is fit to hold office, or not (our own local press might like to take note).

Should Mr Prescott remain in office without challenging the Sunday Times story then we'll know what sort of character he is.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Incident at Tesco Westwood

Large part of Tesco's car-park and also filling station were closed this afternoon due to an incident apparently involving a small Blue van.
The van was later winched on to the back of a truck.

Bank holiday weather forecast

Using experimental scientific methods I believe I am able to predict the weather for this bank holiday in the Margate region. Firstly notice the proximity of the cows in this picture this indicates a high chance of rain, secondly if you notice the cat* in the lower half of the picture he is actually drinking water from a puddle on the path.

* unfortunately the cat cannot be named for legal reasons

Friday, April 28, 2006

Suggestion have a day out in Ramsgate this bank holiday weekend!

Just as an alternative to my critical view of Margate, I would suggest anyone who hasn't been to Ramsgate recently take a walk around the harbour believe me there are people who do not venture out any further than the supermarket and their home. I think Ramsgate is an excellent example how a town can be improved, and regenerated. As an added bonus there is a replica 18th century frigate the Grand Turk in the harbour until I believe 9th May.

I honestly think that the coastal towns of East Kent are comparable and probably as good if not better than anything you might find in the West country and that once they are marketed properly they will be as popular.

Isle of Thanet Gazette reverts to newspaper!

It is nice to see that the Gazette has returned to being a newspaper rather than adopting the sensational style of its sister publication the Thanet Times. However what is disappointing is the fact that the editor, offers no apology for the rather distasteful story on its front page last week.
I can only assume that the journalist who wrote last week's story concerning Roger Gale was hoping to attach this article to his CV and apply for a job with the News of the World which would be clearly pointless as even the news the world generally attaches some public interest element to their stories.

In Roger Gale's last column for the newspaper, he points out in great detail why this story was contemptible and I would think that few people would or could disagree with him except of course the editor and journalist, who seem to have a difficulty distinguishing news from tittle-tattle. It's rather ironic the seemingly sanctimonious note from the editor at the end of Mr Gale's column on how we encourage and expect journalists to be fair and balanced.

Clearly Roger Gale, has proved beyond a doubt with his response to the Isle of Thanet Gazette story that his standards are far higher than most in public life and it's a pity there aren't more genuine people like him.

A final point in publishing the story in question and then failing to apologise for a article which had no news value, has resulted in the editor of the Isle of Thanet Gazette losing one of its better contributors. PRGR

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Reply from Thanet council

Maybe Christmas comes early, after several weeks of enquiries concerning the purchase of the Marks and Spencer building, I have now had two replies from different council officers both confirming that there will shortly be an announcement concerning the above.

Just as a side issue why are employees of Thanet District Council "officers", does this mean that they're all trained at Sandhurst, should we salute?

Anyway it is great to have a reply, and I would like to thank these officers for their polite and courteous response.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Cecil Square regeneration threat?

Back in February of this year Seeda (the South East England Development Agency) established the Margate Renewal Partnership this apparently brings together public sector partners to secure regeneration of Margate. Apparently this partnership is headed by the chief-executive of Seeda, and has representatives from Thanet District Council, KCC, Arts Council of England, English Heritage, the Heritage Lottery Fund, the government Office for the South of England. Now my point on this matter is that whilst it is good news to have an organisation with apparently £10 million ready to spend on the Margate area, wouldn't it be even better if the partnership which is hell-bent on a regenerating Margate actually had a little more local representation. This partnership is apparently made up of seven partners Thanet council being the only truly local representation.

One of the major concerns I have, is in their (Seeda) press release of April 11th, is the reference to Cecil Square regeneration obviously I am not an expert but having taken a look at the Square recently I am not sure exactly what this partnership intend to regenerate. And this is why these organisations frankly need a strong local input and genuine public consultation. Looking around Cecil Square there may well be parts which could be improved most notably the former Marks and Spencer's building this obviously could do with a new tenant but on the whole most of the buildings in the square are occupied and in use also the car-park is generally full.

I understand that the council have bought the Marks and Spencer's building possibly with the money that was mentioned in this press release but one I would like to know it why no one from the council can confirm what they intend to do with this building. Given that apparently someone believes Cecil Square needs to be regenerated I can only assume the worst and take it that this Margate Renewal partnership will most likely demolish the Marks and Spencer's building and put up some new hideous building in its place totally ruining the look of the square.

Why is it not possible for these organisations to be clear about their intentions. Assuming for instance Thanet council is doing its best for the people that it represents why is it that they are so lacking in communication skills, one final point it would be great if we could see Margate old town regenerated and by that I mean people walking about and businesses thriving in that area before new projects were started.

Monday, April 24, 2006

The NHS crisis?

Amid all the scare mongering about the state of our health-service I think the public have reason to be reassured that things aren't quite as bad as they seem. Whilst it may look bleak all these stories about redundancies for doctors and nurses I have good news on checking the East Kent hospitals NHS web site, the local NHS Trust is doing everything it can to recruit a new deputy manager, information analyst and a clinical coder for Canterbury hospital to maintain admin levels. So next time you have chest pains fear not.

I'm sure that East Kent hospitals Trust are fully competent and know what they're doing. But just exactly how are these NHS trusts run, for instance do you know anyone who runs one of these trusts. How what do you get the job, this is one of those things that niggles me. We apparently live in a democracy I know this because right or wrong our government is doing its level best to impose one on the citizens of Iraq. Coming back to local issues have you ever been asked to represent your fellow residents or colleagues in the running of our our local hospital, outside of local elections does anyone ever seek your opinions on local institutions.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Isle of Thanet Gazette

Unlike the Thanet extra which in recent times I have found difficult to obtain, the Isle Thanet Gazette was easily found. I don't know whether it is just me but I found Friday's edition a little too close to the gutter than is usual. I found their lead article concerning Roger Gale rather sensational, and lacking any merit. Although I have never voted for Roger Gale I know that he is a hard working MP who represents his constituents well. All this article did for me was to reinforce my opinion that our local MP is a thoroughly decent man. Having read the story I personally think so what, whilst it may have sold a few newspapers is it necessary for the Gazette to write negative stories about local politicians on purely personal matters.


Friday, April 21, 2006

Theatre Royal may close this summer

How ironic is it, that the Theatre Royal in Margate is apparently in dire financial straits, when for all other art projects etc there appears to be pickings for all. Two or three weeks ago KCC announced a fresh attempt to build a Turner contemporary centre and indeed I believe that they are to choose new architects to run this project in the next few days. The budget for this new gallery is at a reasonable £12 million with I believe a further £3 million going towards an upgraded Winter Gardens.

I just wonder how much the Theatre Royal actually needs to remain open and functioning as it does now, I would imagine perhaps a couple of hundred thousand a year would probably allow this the theatre to thrive and may be put on more popular attractions. Given that KCC, lost nearly £8 million on the last Turner centre project this would be a drop in the Ocean obviously it would be a tough decision for the council to assist one of the popular art mediums, it is always easier naturally for organisations such as our county council to give money to the more obscure art's as represented by the Turner contemporary.

I think that KCC and the other organisations involved in the Turner centre probably burnt around a million a quarter pounds every year resulting in not a lot, just imagine the artists performers that we could have seemed at the Theatre Royal if the money had gone to them instead of architect's etc.

I feel that the needs of the Theatre Royal give some perspective to the money that is being spent on so-called regeneration projects. I would love to know for instance how much Thanet council have just spent on the Marks and Spencer building when they have yet to give any reason for its purchase.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Can you answer the following question what is the above picture ?
A. Is it Anne Hathaway's cottage
B. 1950s social housing
C. The new Turner Contemporary Gallery
D. The Tudor House in Margate in King Street

I think the answer is D, although when I was speaking to someone in the council about 10 years ago they told me that this building had been constructed in the 1950s. The reason I mention this is I consider this to be one of the more neglected assets in Thanet. I believe the council own this property, and wonder why with all the talk of regeneration in Margate why this building is allowed to be closed and left unused. I can remember this building being open to the public, when I was younger. Surely even if it cannot be opened for public to appreciate as a museum it could be put to some use why couldn't it be opened as a tourist information office. The council apparently has the money to buy the old Marks and Spencer's building, and yet this asset has been dormant for probably 20 years at least. I realise that the Marks and Spencer's building is a different kettle of fish but if proper use of existing assets aren't made should we be acquiring new assets.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Thanet extra

I just wonder, whether I am one of few or many as I do not appear to be on the delivery route for Kent Messengers extra newspaper for the last few weeks. I have spoken to several people in the Cliftonville area who are similarly been deprived of their copy of this excellent newspaper. I am particularly peeved as for the first time in my life, I have actually been quoted in this paper.

Whilst news stories are available on the excellent K M website I don't think you can beat the look and feel of a newspaper, although something which comes close to their experience is Kent on Sunday, and Saturday Observer are available on the Internet in a form of which is very similar to a real newspaper I suggest you have a look at both sites. I am waiting for the day when the Thanet Times and Isle of Thanet gazette have an electronic presence.
Maybe I should not moan about receiving my paper copy as local new services are far better than they used to be.

Margate iconic structure under threat?

Probably Margates only truly iconic structure, the big wheel on a Margate seafront has apparently been built without permission of the local council. Although the Big wheel on Margate seafront represents a true iconic structure unlike that other famous one, that unfortunately never got built what's now called the Turner offshore it appears that this has been erected without planning permission. Obviously I'm no expert but as this is, only as I understand a temporary structure I wonder why the council think it necessary for the owners to apply for planning permission. Given that Margate seafront or at least Marine Terrace is not of great outstanding beauty you would think that the council could be a little more lenient. Maybe that is one of the problems in our towns these days, I just wonder what towns would look like without planning offices. I realise possibly a beautiful building such has Arlington House might not get built without local planning authorities can you imagine the Margate skyline without it.
I think the big wheel makes every bit of a statement as the Turner contemporary will, if any think it is more relevant to this town than a gallery holding abstract art works which few of the traditional visitor, or indeed residents have any affection for. Quite honestly whatever organisation is responsible for the Big wheel they deserve a pat on the back, for at least putting some excitement back in Margate. Unlike the organisers and backers of the Turner contemporary centre, who have expended a great deal of hot air as well as nearly £8 million several years wasted also with the result of nothing more than a new determination to complete by the year 2009 what really should have been completed next year.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Marks and Spencer building Purchased?

I Understand from a remark that councillor Ezekiel made at the recent Turner contemporary meeting that Thanet council had purchased the old Marks and Spencer site in Margate. Since this announcement I have tried to ascertain from Thanet District Council, how much they have paid for this building and also what they intend to do with this. It it must be more than a week since I made my initial inquiry and I have yet to get a reply. Whilst I understand how a tiresome the public can be and I didn't expect a personal reply, surely such a purchase is considerable so therefore I am surprised that the council do not find it newsworthy enough to make an announcement on their Web page

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

What will happen to margate once its been regenerated Posted by Picasa

What Future for Margate

This is the first entry in what I hope proves to be a lively and influential debate on the future of Margate. Over the last few months we have it seen the culmination of what appears to be bad planning with the Turner contemporary Gallery. What is now called at the Turner offshore, was the winning bid in a competition in which I believe every other entry had been designed to be built on the rendezvous site. Why KCC or whoever was actually responsible for choosing the Turner contemporary Gallery design ever thought this would be a practical and sensible design is a frankly beyond belief for many people. For this reason I personally would like to keep development of the revised Turner contemporary gallery under the spotlight of public scrutiny. I honestly believe that ordinary members of the public like myself, sit back watch quietly as planning authorities all too frequently cock up.