Wednesday, February 28, 2007

as Kent council’s dream of flights to Virginia fail
Not surprisingly, it has been announced that flights to Norfolk Virginia operated by Cosmos will not happen. Since going on sale only 600 hundred bookings had been made according to KCC, which even given the many thousands promised by our local authorities, made the proposition hopeless.

Paul Carter is quoted as follows in the press release from KCC "The direct flights project was just one part of our initiatives to regenerate east Kent. It was a calculated risk that had significant potential and could have delivered major benefits for the region. Enormous efforts have been made on both sides of the Atlantic to promote the flights.

"But, despite putting back the deadline for decision three times, in order to see if the market would respond and pick up, sales have failed to reach a critical mass. In the absence of any other organisation prepared to share the financial risk of continuing with the project, it would not be prudent or viable to invest public money in the venture.

"We will now redouble our efforts to stimulate inward investment and economic regeneration for Kent."

Its not entirely clear what, if any public money has been invested so far in this project although I understand half the start up cost of £800,0000 was to be shared by KCC, Seeda, Infratil, Kent attractions, East Kent Partnerships, Thanet District Council, Canterbury City Council and Gravesham Borough Council.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Child Protection when it suits the Media

Am I the only one, who found the story of the obese child, from the North East whose welfare is being considered by social services, profoundly disturbing based on the facts and the treatment by our press and media.

Let me explain, as I understand a young kid of eight, has an eating disorder for whatever reason, be it, poor diet, poor parenting, poor background etc, naturally social services have become involved and are considering the child’s best interests, but just exactly what do the media think their doing?

The press also have a role to inform and discuss such cases but do they have to be so intrusive. The child involved is eight, too young to consider the full implications, of having the ‘tonight show’ publicise him and his circumstances to the “hard of thinking” that I assume make up Tonight’s audience.

Maybe I’m the only one who thinks like this . I thought children where supposed to be protected from the media, it seems ironic that social services may be considering protecting this lad from his parents whilst the media present this story with what appears to be absolutely no consideration for the child.

You can bet your life, that the producers of tonight will have sort parental permission, to remove anonymity for this child but since one question in this case is likely to be parental competence shouldn’t they have exercised, some more sensitive approach.

The sun news paper journalist Grant Rollings asks, “is this child abuse?” if he is referring to the insensitive reporting in this case my answer would be yes of course it is but then I’m just a blogger.

Surely the great Trevor McDonald, could have presented the facts with a lot less sensationalism and maybe more journalism?

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Big Sky Beachcross 2007 Its not often I have anything good to say, about our local regeneration organisations but assuming that the costs were reasonable, this weekends Quad bike racing event looked successful despite the weather. It made good use of one of Margate’s best assets, the beach, proving that even in winter you can attract the crowds to the seafront and Margate.
I’d hoped to visit on Saturday but Mrs Me, wrote off the day, with rearranging the furniture (similar to flower arranging but requires my involvement and a lot more swearing) in the Great Hall at Flaig Mansions. Moving the Tele proved most problematic whats with those endless cable connections and why does the sky box need a telephone wire?.

I hope that they run this event next year, as I was only able to spend a short while, what with forced labour in the kitchen and then picking up the outlaws for lunch.

I’m sure none of the rest of Thanet’s Blogerati will have bothered to report on this event.

Saturday, February 24, 2007


Reports that Ellington and Hereson schools are to be merged into a mixed sex school are being greeted with anger according to Eastcliff Matters. Presumably, children in Ramsgate are a tad excitable let’s just hope that dragging education into the 21st century is done with some sensitivity.

Maybe the new School could keep kids excitable tendencies in check by insisting on boys partaking of a cross country run followed with a nice cold shower before the start of the academic day, with Girls wearing some suitably modest uniform maybe a cross between a Nuns Habit and Burka with a touch of Mrs Doubtfire or Nora Batty.

Still whilst the authorities are considering merging these two schools why not build a comprehensive and merge with Chatham/Clarendon House as well, now that would frighten some parents the thought of a fair competitive School system.

Maybe this is one for Local MP Steven Ladyman who could step outside the Labour Party line and say what he thinks.

For those of you who are apologists for Grammar system, ask yourself this, why do so many parents shell out good money, to coach their offspring to pass the Eleven plus (Kent test) and why overall across the population our kids perform less well than those educated in a truly competitive comprehensive system.

Friday, February 23, 2007

and whole Theatre Royal
For some reason the council are purchasing the Theatre Royal, in yet another secret deal. I’m just curious as to why, they have not felt it necessary to gauge public opinion before purchase or at least publicise the reasons.

Seems a bit of a surprise, last week they didn’t seem to have any money, now after setting the inflation busting increase in council tax it looks like they can’t give it away fast enough.

What will they do with the Winter Gardens; maybe they could convert that into the much-awaited Turner gallery for a couple of million quid or more likely sell it off to some developer as part of the Hotel and Conference centre that I seem to remember being mentioned by Paul Carter of KCC.

The Gazettes report informs us that the council intend to undertake a major refurbishment, so don’t expect it to re-open under new management soon. Before a lick of paint is applied, you can be certain nothing will happen until a few consultant reports have been commission and forgotten.


It looks as if I have been picking on Stephen Ladyman MP, recently, I would like to offer my apologies but as you can appreciate its unlikely.

In this week's Gazette, our Transport Minister, is telling us that road-pricing would not be as expensive, as some reports suggest, however he fails to acknowledge that such a system is effectively rationing road use, not by need but ability to pay.

This would mean that those of us 'islanders' will effectively pay a disproportionate amount of tax, in many cases just to earn a living.

He then goes on to explain improvements in the National road network, but clearly doesn't have anything to offer his constituents in the way of improved traffic around Westwood or into Margate.

It would not be so bad, if coupled with the suggested road-pricing policy, there was some commitment, to improve public transport, as an example the rail system in the south-east.

Mr Ladyman says that they would not introduce a national scheme without listening to the public, although surprisingly he doesn't say whether he would act in accordance with what he's heard from the public.

I don't think Labour's too good, at the old consultation game, I'm sure most Londoners told Ken Livingstone, what they thought of congestion charging, but he still went ahead.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Malcolm who?

Today's news that Malcolm Meacher is to stand as a candidate against Gordon Brown in Labour's long announced and increasingly boring leadership swap or contest reminds me of a time when dinosaurs ruled the earth. Admittedly Mr Meacher is a slightly more charismatic person than Labour's previous left-winger Michael Foot whose presence as a leader just happened to coincide with the party's near death experience.

It looks to me as if, Labour will find it hard enough, to remain in power, with the personable, warm and jolly Gordon Brown and absolutely no chance with Malcolm Meacher who appears to have spent the last few years working his way, with some success, from the middle ranks of the Labour Party into almost total obscurity.

Westwood success and failure

Yesterday whilst ferreting through my various e-mail inboxes, I came across a request for my opinions on regeneration, what's gone on, past, present, future that sort of thing which unfortunately for the enquirer, I was happy to give.

Later in the day, I found myself as a reluctant pedestrian in the heart of New Thanet (Westwood), looking around as I walked towards Pearce Signs roundabout, I marvelled at the genius of our local planners how they had given us shopping outlets that were slightly more classy than Primark, Peacocks and Quality Seconds and a gleaming new Homebase.

Out of curiosity, I thought I would crossover the Margate Road and see what had happened to the previous premises of Homebase, well as you can see from the above picture, nothing has happened, except now they don't bother to light the car-park in the evening.

Westwood Cross has in fairness, been a benefit to Thanet in terms of jobs, I wonder how developers justified the new 'sheds'for Homebase, Currys, Wicks seeing as the recently vacated premises don't look as if they will be occupied, in any hurry.

Developers and planners aren't infallible, how else can you explain how relatively recent retail space is now apparently redundant. Maybe these sites will return to manufacturing.

Perhaps those who decide what gets built where, may like to consider how vital and compelling the reasons, were for retail development was at the old Bowketts (bakers) site just maybe 15 years ago.

Of course it's not just recently built retail space that has suffered, as we all know Margate high-street has been decimated, as one old boy told me the last time he'd seen the high street as deserted, was in 1942.

I'd like to think, there's a strategic plan guiding Thanet towards a prosperous future, but the reality is, each project to regenerate seems to result in a degeneration elsewhere.

Maybe occasionally the planning authorities could just say No!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

New Labour shows it can still communicate with ordinary people!

Unfortunately for Labour, something has gone wrong with the message, instead of articulating and empathising with the public, they seem to have reverted to the old Labour screw you, we know best attitude.

This must be the quote or even joke of the week, from local MP for North Thanet and Transport Minister, Stephen Ladyman "Every time charging is introduced, it is unpopular until the point at which it comes in. Once it is introduced, everybody loves it. I am not saying that everyone loves the congestion charge but more people now support it than they did before it came in," as quoted by KM news, pardon, either everyone loves it or they don't? has another remarkable quotation, "There will be plenty of opportunities to engage people and win them over. And if we can't win them over, it can't go ahead." and like the previous one, it takes some believing, since Labour's Ken Livingstone, consulted Londoners over congestion charging and then did what he was going to do anyway.

As for the Blair e-mail, when you cutaway all the waffle, it basically boils down to this, road congestion will be resolved by crude rationing based on the ability to pay, this meaning that road use will become the exclusive preserve of the wealthy, and this is the extent of Labour ability to solve traffic congestion. Labour might be able to hold on to the moral high ground, if at the same time they were proposing some low-cost mass public transport solutions which clearly then not.

You would think that Stephen Ladyman MP, would have some empathy with the thousands of his constituents, whose personal prosperity depends on the ability to travel and if he connected with the local people he might realise that we're not all millionaires.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Doctor? Tony Blair offers 24/7 Surgery

Tony Blair whilst doing the round's, he has suggested that the NHS will shortly offer surgery around the clock, great news you say but just what are his medical credentials.

Well it doesn't look good, Blair's government has so far squandered 20 billion pounds on a computer system that doesn't work and probably never will, vastly increasing the pay to family doctors whilst reducing GP surgery hours.

What might impress me, is if Blair and his advisers woke up, realised they were wasting billions of pounds and offered to do something about it.

Blair these days seems to have the look of someone who's not of this world, maybe he ought to try and book appointment with an NHS GP 24/7 its strictly nine to five, Monday to Friday.

Perhaps one of his handlers could draw Mr Blair's attention to today's Times and an article entitled 'Disillusioned doctors say Labour decade of reform has failed NHS'.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Ladyman free to travel?
I'm not

It would appear from today's Kent on Sunday newspaper, that local MP and transport minister Stephen Ladyman is keen to introduce road pricing, despite the universal opposition from the general public.

Unlike us mere mortals Ladyman is quoted as saying he will either travel at different times of the day or put his hand in his pocket and pay to travel at the busiest times of day, I on the other hand like most people would prefer to travel when I have to, and not take a another penny out of my pocket in taxation, to fill gaps in Labour's uncontrolled public spending.

Presumably Mr Ladyman is already resigned to his chances of being re-elected for Thanet South which are currently, slim chance and no chance, assuming he is oblivious to the realities of politics, he might just spare a thought, for those like him, who have to earn their money outside of the planet Thanet.

The fact that his government along with those before it, have shown a blatant disregard for the transport needs of this country, the puritanical insensitive Labour knows best attitude, shouldn't automatically mean that the public should now be penalised for travelling.

It's some measure of how aloof and detached, our politicians become once in office, this being the perfect example ignoring one of the few luxuries ordinary working people (Labour's core supporters) can afford. It's all right for well-paid professionals such as Ladyman to pay a bit more in tax but for those of us further down the food chain are wallets are pretty much empty.

Ladyman can increase tax as much as he likes and he and his colleagues can still afford to travel whenever they wish, look at the recent imposition of increased tax for air travellers, this doesn't impinge on first or business class its those of us on ordinary incomes who feel the pinch.

When I see New Labour increase taxation for luxury travel then I will believe that they represent me, however this is unlikely since this is the way top Labour functionaries and buddies travel.

Worryingly Mr Ladyman, was quoted on last week's front-page as wishing to reappear on top gear as one of their ''celebrity guests'' ? racing round a track in some highly environmentally friendly manner, I just wonder what sort of responsible signal that sends out to road users.

I view freedom to travel, as a right and not some privilege to be given to the wealthy and political elite and expect Labour ministers not to screw the last penny out of ordinary people.

I find it great that politicians can ignore millions of voters, who in the last week, have signed a petition objecting to road-pricing on the Internet.

Finally if I were, a Tory candidate, for South Thanet (Laura Sandys) I think the best strategy for winning the seat at the next election, might be to allow Dr Stephen Ladyman do all the talking with a little help from Gordon Brown.

If you would like to sign the 10 Downing Street petition against road pricing click here
Turner update

The Turner Contemporary exhibition, at the Winter Gardens, detailing progress so far, by David Chipperfield firm of architect's, seems to confirm that this project is in competent hands, although disappointingly no final design was on hand.
Having earlier bitched about being unable to obtain a place for the earlier presentation by David Chipperfield himself, a video was shown in the corner of the previous night's presentation, which Mr Chipperfield had to cancel due I believe to flu (let's hope it wasn't man - flu) the presentation being given in the main by Victoria Jessen-Pike, explained some of the constraints and technical issues, and the various use of models and computer graphics in honing the final design.

My overall impression, speaking with representatives from Turner and Chipperfield, is that we will see eventually a well-thought-out Gallery, which for those of us who care, cannot be a moment too soon.

Now one aspect which appears to have become temporarily lost, is what will be developed on the rest of this site, at the introduction to the previous night's exclusive presentation Mike Hill (KCC) stressed the regeneration aspects to this project citing St Ives, Bilbao etc which is all well and good, but I'm a little concerned that this aspect of the project appears to conveniently have disappeared from public scrutiny I hope we're not being distracted.

It is interesting to note that the larger part of this site, was mentioned during Paul Carters speech covering the past Turner debacle but now we have yet to hear anything. According to one of the representatives, at this exhibition there had apparently been, several developers taking a keen interest, as they might, even though this land was originally owned by Thanet council then subsequently surrendered to KCC it would still be nice if the 'County Tories' kept us informed.

I only mention this as last year I'm sure Paul Carter promised costs, to be kept within £15 million budget as far as Turner's concerned and now we hear £17,500,000 mentioned (they forgot the sea again!) also there was I think talk of a 200 bedroom hotel (has this now turned into a series of Granny blocks) and not least a renaissance for the Winter Gardens, itself being refurbished into a first class modern venue for entertainment and conferences. I won't mention the completion of 2009.

Turner project looks as if it one of the few Developments to deliver a first class local facility whilst boosting the areas regeneration. However much of Margate and Thanet has been subject to a good old fashioned carve up, involving carpetbagging developers and a weak and feeble compliant local council, it's time that local people impressed on their councillors that planning matters, should be for the benefit of local people and decided locally and not by remote organisations such Seeda (South East of England Development Agency) or even KCC in Maidstone.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Public consultation next please

As memories begin to fade, over last week's Dreamland consultation and we can forget the rejections, over the popular wish to see Dreamland once again, as a leading theme-park, simply because the owners don't want one, some consultation? (a bit like someone purchasing a farm and then deciding instead of growing crops they make an absolute fortune by building houses).

Anyway this week it's the turn of David Chipperfield Architects to role into town, presenting their initial designs for the new Turner contemporary Gallery, as we have yet to see the designs, it would be unfair to comment on that aspect, anyway hopefully they'll be more inspiring the Waterbridge/MTCRC vision for Margate or lack of it.

The timetable as I understand for the revealing of the architect's work, involves a presentation by the great man himself at the Margate media centre this Thursday, and if you wish to go and haven't already got tickets forget it, I tried more than two weeks ago and was unable to obtain a place (3rd in line for cancellation). I understand however that quite a few councillors, worthies and the like have been more fortunate.

Anyhow there are further opportunities to chip in with your opinions at the Winter Gardens, the more open meetings will I am told not have the great man to hand, Turner Contemporary suggest on there web site that there will be representatives from Chipperfield Architects, I think that its a wasted opportunity for the public not to be able speak directly the head honcho, after all how many locals actually go to these things (most Thanetionians are less opinionated than myself) even Toby Hunter of Waterbridge was approachable as well he might, since his company are hoping to turn a Theme Park, into a very profitable building site.

Maybe if your one of the chosen ones, you could ask how much time the architect has spent in Margate talking to local people about this project.

I hope that given the glowing praise from Paul Carter (KCC leader) that Chipperfield come up with an outstanding design, most of us will just have to wait to Friday.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Patrica Hewitt Health Secretary Visionary or Quack?

Bit strong your thinking, what possible could provoke such a question? Recently the Health Secretary explicitly endorsed the controversial policy of some Health trusts of refusing treatment to the Obese and Smokers.

Consider this, 20% of the adult population have a Body Mass Index of 30 or more this means that in excess of 10 million could be refused treatment to improve their health.

The chairman of the National Obesity Forum Dr Colin Waine is quoted as saying "There is absolutely no evidence that people should be refused treatment if they have a body mass index of 40 or below" adding "Turning down hip or knee replacements for those people has no scientific basis whatsoever"

It seems to me the Patrica Hewitt's is looking for some smoke screen to cover cuts to our health service (admittedly not as lack of money but good old fashioned Labour incompetence and greedy health managers), even if there were some scientific basis to this attack on overweight people, why stop at fat people and smokers, what about drug takers, people with sexually transmitted diseases.

Having been overweight most of my life, I have as you can imagine, had abusive comments, sometimes funny, mostly, there mildly offensive and occasionally loathsome but Patrica Hewitt's idea that I'm not entitled Health Care has to be the most insulting yet.

I consider that as a fifth of the country are clinically obese, in addition to being a health problem it might also be considered a Life Style choice, and since different life styles impinge on health, like politicians talking crap all day, its time to accept access to universal health care as a right, which before Hewitt was a minister, used to be a labour policy.

If this Hewitt woman is serious, could she arrange with Gordon Brown to refund my contributions of the last thirty years, and likewise with the other 10 million to be excluded.

Sunday times story

Monday, February 12, 2007

Just who is looking after your interests?

After doing a quick post on the subject of Freemasons, I'm curious to know exactly how open or accountable any of our institutions are in the local domain. Having gone to that Dreamland presentation last week I believe that Toby Hunter was quite clear that their had not been awful lot of cooperation between Margate Town Centre Regeneration Company and Thanet Council, although he did seem to suggest an ongoing relationship with Seeda (South East of England Development Agency).

Now if you follow local developments you keep seeing this organisation (Seeda) popping up, at the mention of every regeneration project. One thing you will notice about them, is their very generous with their money. Paying for the Turner Contemporary, bunging the council a few million to buy themselves a Shop (M&S) in Margate. But just who the hell are they, well here is a list of the top bods at Seeda, Jeff Alexander,Pam Alexander, Lee Amor, Paul Lovejoy, John Parsonage, Duncan Straughen, can't remember voting for any of them, well you didn't and yet these people have considerable power because they hold the purse strings, in the local Regeneration Game.

Pam Alexander Seeda Chief Executive apparently chairs the Margate Renewal Panel, why, who knows, I realise that government cannot trust local people with what is effectively our own Money but surely we could have locally accountable politicians, chair these organisations and then seek approval for spending?

I just wonder how much our local council has to contribute to any local matter. Recently along with other tame district councils, Thanet Council signed an agreement with the KCC "the Kent Commitment", the aim of which is to improve services and achieve significant savings, some chance. We all know what improving and cost reduction mean, well if you work for TDC in back office operations, it most likely means your job is going to be exported, up the road to Maidstone where 'County Tories' have traditionally taken care of the own with your money (like free buses for Kids in Tunbridge Wells, Canterbury and Tonbridge).

Do you remember the local council having any public consultation with you or I, not bloody likely. This is yet another case of the local council playing second fiddle. It seems the councils first defence of local people is to role over and have their tummy tickled rather than stand and fight our corner.

Since local elections are due in May perhaps our local political parties could try and think strategically for the benefit of those of us who work and live in Thanet. The council ought to be leading developments at Turner, Westwood, Manston, Dreamland instead they give every impression of being passive bit players in our future.

Local political parties could spend a little time offering a manifesto for Thanet instead as I imagine devoting most of their efforts in jockeying for positions, chair of this committee Mayor of that town. In fairness one or two councilors appear to take their duties seriously but most look as if they have joined some exclusive club.

SEEDA Directors Who are they? Bi ogs ere

Sunday, February 11, 2007





A quick glance at today's Kent on Sunday, led me to believe momentarily that they had gone too far with their headline "Barbarians at the gate", in close proximity was a photograph of Jeremy Clarkson, whom I regard as more cynical opinionated perhaps even slightly moronic, rather than barbaric adjusting my focus I realised I'd misread the story which referred to the Bishop of Rochester and his worries over the decline of Christianity.

The Bishop, has some justifiable reservations about the Islamic ideology representing as he does a Christian view, but the thing that really worries me in this week's is the cosy article on freemasonry.

Apparently members of the provincial Grand Lodge of East Kent are keen to welcome tourists and visitors to their museum. The article suggests that secrets of this ancient society need not be so secret anymore, reassuring isn't it. Representatives for the museum are keen to dispel myths, particularly ones that suggests members gaining advantage through the Society. I am sure they are genuine in their belief.

Being a liberal who am I to criticise consenting adults, who choose to meet in secret, wearing their little aprons once a month, membership of the freemasonry is clearly an individual choice, its certainly been my experience of those who join, at least have some expectation of advancement with one confirming it, though since membership is a secret who knows whether they were telling the truth.

As an outsider it's not possible, to have a clear view of freemasonry, for me openness is the cornerstone of democracy, the Society however innocent their aims, ought to reconsider the need for secret membership, with apparently 18,000 in Kent alone clearly they are quite influential, so why not openly declare membership if they are the benign organisation they claim to be.

Given the notoriety of freemasonry this may well be my last blog. Still if they wish to maintain their mystery and secrecy they can hardly blame the likes of me for imagining the worst as I do. Since I'm a Atheist likely to remain, I will never qualify for membership, so I will never have an honest view from inside this organisation.

Link East Kent Freemasons (Assuming you don't already have a funny handshake)

Link Kent on Sunday

Friday, February 09, 2007

Margate, Dreamland and the missing link

No I'm not referring to our local council who don't seem have any relationship or part to play in representing our interests with major projects in this area, I'll save that for later, no I'm referring to an electronic link.

A great amount of publicity has been given to the consultation process by developers for Dreamland amusement park. The local paper gave a two page unquestioning, spread plugging the interactive website and the Chairman of Margate Town Centre Regeneration Company mentioned it during his presentation yesterday as you would expect.

I even have a pen, part of the generosity of the company with however I have been unable to log on to this site more than the once, and speaking to people yesterday they have experienced similar problems.

Now I don't know, why it would be unavailable given the promotion but I will place a link to it not that I have any confidence that it will work perhaps you could let me know maybe it's technical perhaps an expert could give an opinion.

Given that Thanet bloggers are generally available 24/7 and most sites are free from google, I just cannot fathom why there site is unavailable I have heard of something called net neutrality in America whereby telecoms companies slow traffic to some websites, anyway enough of that nonsense.

Here are some links which may be useful.

PS I am experimenting with an opinion poll placed on the side bar which isn't to scientific probably a bit biased and since you may not be able to design your own Dreamland as the Thanet Times puts it you cannot least have a vote!

**** Server not found ***** (This seems to be a recurring problem)

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Welcome to Margate Town Centre Regeneration Company Dreamland consultation

The MTCRC public consultation was slightly more impressive in some ways than I had expected. Not knowing the natue of the event, I did not arrive at the Winter Gardens until about a quarter to 12, when I arrived, a presentation was being given by one of those consultant type chaps, had the MTCRC advertised the fact that there was to be a formal presentation I would not have dawdled and been there five minutes late instead of 45 minutes late.

Now whether I missed anything of importance that Toby Hunter, Chairman of the MTCRC had to say, I will probably never know. I must say I am mortified, at having missed most of Dan Anderson's (one those consultant types(senior consultant TRIBAL consulting)), giving an enthralling lecture I think on social economic geography of Britain, which I presume supports the MTCRC assertion that theme parks are not viable, so tough tities to luddites like me.

The question and answer section, was very good and this blogger was able to ask questions of the chairman, unfortunately as per usual I probably rambled on a bit, becoming more incoherent as I went on but I feel I got reasonable answers even if they weren't the ones I wanted and to be fair Toby Hunter did well to decifer my mumbles.

As I mentioned in my previous post, big-money is at stake over the development potential for Dreamland and MTCRC were generous enough to provide a choice of liquid and other refreshments, anymore hospitality and I would have begun to agree with them.

After the presentation there were several areas set-aside to allow those who attended, a chance to discuss what they would like to see happen, with the site. These discussion groups seemed to be handled quite constructively, except when challenged by a simple-minded chap like myself who sees the best future for this site, as an amusement or theme park. All the MTCRC people seemed faintly hostile at the suggestion that Dreamland should revert to being a major attraction.

One of the good points, was having the time to talk individually with people including Toby Hunter, Dan Anderson and Liss Werner (DLA architecture) even if you don't necessarily agree with them.

The overall impression I got from that consultation was too much information and to many suggestions leaving the MTCRC free to interpret as suits their needs (what Americans might call a snow job).

One thing I could agree with wholeheartedly was the suggestion by Toby Hunter that Thanet council lacked any clear vision for Margate.I'm pretty sure a majority of Thanet residents do not want to see a change of use for Dreamland wouldn't it be great if the council developed some backbone and supported local wishes.

Toby Hunter’s assertion that he is an invester, does not necessarily mean that his company somehow, has final say over the use of the land, this is why we have planning authorities, who have to balance the interest of devolopers and the social & environmental needs of the community. Those investors bought a theme park, if they were forced to use this land for its existing purpose they have only themselves to blame.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007


Dreamland is not the only part of Kent heritage at risk, during the consultation meeting for Dreamland I met a couple who actually moved to this part of the world because of our seaside culture and in particular Dreamland.

However for them another icon of seaside life is under threat this time seaside chalets at Swalecliffe. Many of these chalets have been in place since before the last war, but now site owners are asking owners of the chalets to move them or face the probable demolition.

If you object to the destruction of our heritage visit their site where you'll find an online petition.

If that was you I lost the piece of paper e-mail address so my apologies for not contacting you directly.
Dream on Dreamland

Two significant moments in the regeneration of Margate are shortly to be made public first the Dreamland consultation this week followed next week by the architects David Chipperfield with the initial designs for the Turner contemporary.

First up we have the Margate Town Centre Regeneration Companies consultation at the Queen's Hall, Winter Gardens, Margate Wednesday 7th February 11am - 3pm & 6:00pm - 10pm, Thursday 11 am - 3pm

Now at of the time of writing (evening before MTCRC consultation) I have yet to visit the consultation but I am willing to take a guess as to the flavour of the event.

But before I do so, I would like to see the company involved MTCRC take a fence (no I don't mean offence) down, as I understand a while back the owners of Dreamland built a stonking great big fence, right through the middle of the park. Why you might ask? Well as far as I can understand a massive steel fence 2.4 metres high was built across the site without planning permission and now they have appealed against an enforcement notice requiring its removal. What has this to do with the consultation process? Assuming they believe in consultation, you might have expected them to comply with the council's enforcement notice to remove the fence.

Anyway what can we expect from this consultation event, firstly I would imagine that the presentation will be slick and professional. It is said that they are spending £250,000 on the consultation. I imagine that great emphasis will be placed on dreamland amusement park as an historical fact, by that I mean no effort will be spared in the presenting theme parks as a completely unviable business (ignoring Alton Towers, Blackpool Pleasure Beach, Drayton Manor Park, Chessington). Also I think it is safe to assume that whilst a minimal part of the site is given over to token attractions such as a skate park their intentions are to develop as much building for residential and business purpose as possible.

Looking in this week's Thanet Times they seem very positive as well they might, given the full page adverts placed in their newspapers (Trinity Mirror), they even have a two-page spread suggesting ''Dreamland bosses are giving you the chance to decide what should be built in the Margate theme-park'' well having checked their interactive website it appears that one of the things you cannot build in the Margate theme-park is er, a theme-park.

Big-money is being spent here and another guess is that they will have possibly one or two tame politicians along with the company representatives on hand for interview, should the media turn up, to commiserate over the death of the amusement park and also to look to the future, put a positive spin on viable redevelopment for the site and possibly even mumble yet again about cafe society.

To me I feel cynical business motives are all that count in this consultation, what Margate needs is not another housing development it needs a big attraction. This last summer I visited what was left of dreamland amusement park and walking around I got the impression that you could not have made an amusement park more inhospitable had you tried, as ever that's my opinion (click here to read about my visit).

I'm no expert but I imagine it's easier and quicker to make money by developing the Dreamland site for retail and residential business rather than put the effort in to create a popular theme-park, particularly since most of the old Dreamland site has already been bulldozed.

Margates prosperity was based on its visitors, the current decline is resultant from declining visitor numbers only by giving people a reason to visit, will Margate ever be prosperous again and it's obvious to most that Dreamland is the only attraction that could possibly generate substantial visitor numbers because Turner Contemporary will never have the same broad appeal.

I hope that I have got it wrong and by the time most people read this, it will all be over!

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

New improved Thanet blog list

As the local Blogarati will be aware the 'independent' Thanet blog list has recently been improved however I have noticed a possible flaw in this otherwise excellent site.

Anyone who reads Bignews regularly will realise a couple of weak points with my posts, the terrible grammar and the second my loose grip on facts.

For this reason I frequently go back to my past scribbles and hopefully correct some of the more appalling errors, this then requires me to republish, and as a result the posts reappear months later, as a new 'news feed' in RSS type thingys, such as the RECENT FEEDS section of the Thanet blog list.

Beware stale news

Therefore I suggest that readers of the Thanet blog list click onto the title of any recent feed and check the date for freshness, this is particularly important as many of my ideas and opinions are indigestible at the best of times, left to ferment and fester, who knows the effect on a feeble minded reader it could be penicillin but more likely E. coli.
Thanet council sidesteps residents pleas for adequate security

Funny how Thanet council can find £300,000 a year to fund car-parking for themselves but are unable to find a similar amount of money, to protect vulnerable Ramsgate residents of Trove Court and Kennedy House.

Now according to the report by Kathy Bailes in today's Thanet Times councillor David Green has asked for 24 hour security to be put in place in addition to better security doors and improved CCTV to protect residents who have been subjected to intimidation by drug abusing scum for many years. This sort of security apparently would cost Thanet council more than £300,000 a year, really?

Now there are two conclusions from this report Thanet council is happy to subsidise its own personnel to the tune of £300,000 plus for car-parking but their unwilling to spend a similar amount of money protecting residents homes and secondly just how do they arrive at £300,000 a year, assuming as I understand these two tower-blocks are next to each other so by employing five wardens @ around £25,000 a year they could offer round-the-clock protection for a cost of £125,000 a year plus the one-off capital cost of improving entrances and security cameras.

This operation could be modified, once Ramsgates drug dealing low-life have moved on and the problems sorted. There would be benefits to this the residents could sleep easy and secondly it would send a message that Thanet is determined to make life difficult for criminals.

Just as a digression given the wild estimate of providing security to the residents of Trove Court and Kennedy House, I wonder whether this would explain why our council tax bills are so ludicrously high.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Your chance to influence the standards and ethics in Thanet!

Thanet council are currently seeking the appointment of an independent member for their standards Committee.

Well some of you will be aware of just, what the standards committee is, basically the purpose of this committee is to maintain and enhance standards and ethics in local democratic government although in practice the legislation and operation of Standards Board's has come in for criticism as previously mentioned in this blog.

The creation of Standards Boards I believe is the work of John Prescott and if that's not recommendation enough and you wish to be enlightened further, please click here to acquaint yourself with some background, personally from what I know the Standards Boards, are more likely to trample over the democratic process, than enhance it.

Anyway if you're not put off I suggest you contact the council by ringing 01843 577207 since although their advert suggests visiting the website WWW.Thanet.Gov.UK for an information pack , this possible applicant, was unable to find it or apply online, still, give it go click here and see if you can find it (I'm not infallible see last post).

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Blogger wrong Roger Gale right

Although yesterday was a perfect day as far as the weather was concerned this blogger was troubled by a couple of things firstly a letter received from my MP Roger Gale, highlighting not for the first time in my life, how dangerous assumptions can be.

A week or so back in one of my rare critical posts of our local MP I made the rash suggestion or inference that he could acquire a little more knowledge on the subject of track safety (as in railways) after a statement concerning Train Horns (click here ) and even took the unusual step of writing to him directly only to receive back promptly a letter pointing out that as a special constable with British Transport Police on London Underground he had in fact undertaken their full safety training including a walk down a busy track.

I ask you what is the chance of your local MP, having this sort of experience?

Anyway I thought a nice walk in the countryside, ten-minute drive out to Grove Ferry and a walk along the Great Stour towards Westbere, beautiful landscape, just the sounds of birds on the water and the peace only being shattered by trains blowing their horns miles away, oh and Mrs Me listening to football on my personal radio shouting when Chelsea scored.

So not for the first time have I been proved wrong for which I apologise. Roger Gale shows there is more to being an MP than simple politics, experience and knowledge help make him one of the better ones.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Regeneration is it best left to the private sector?

public sector no decision

Last year we were informed by the council, that with the aid of money from Seeda (South East of England Development Agency), they would purchase the Marks and Spencer's building in Cecil Square. I understand the reasoning behind this, was the building was of such significance, to Margate that the public sector could not risk, this asset being left in private hands and quick action was called for.

Some time around June or July noises came from the regeneration department of Thanet District Council (just one of those elements seeking to revive Margate’s fortunes) that the big idea for this building was a to create retail space workshop units and residential space (something for everyone effectively) also mention was made of access to the old town.

This is a large project a small fortune has been spent on regeneration of this property and it seems somewhat astounding that given, the sense of urgency & purpose with which they purchased the M&S building, they have yet to reach a firm conclusion.

Just as a contrast, it is interesting to note that the old a Munro Cobb building in Northdown Road, which in its own way is similarly significant to Cliftonville as M&S, was to Margate is currently being converted into as I understand 17 Flats whilst retaining street level retail space.

commercial development work in progress

Its pleasing to be told by the council that architects are working on plans and that some time in future there will be the usual public consultation nonsense etc however the Regeneration Dept cannot be to specific.

Well if this was my money and since I pay tax some of it is, I think that almost a year into this project we ought by now have firm proposals.

A year ago Thanet and Margate could not wait around for a commercial developer to provide a future for this site but is the public sector any better I don’t think so.