Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Dreamland amusement park carve up?

Later this week Thanet District council will be proposing a new briefing document for Dreamland and Margate. How astonishing is it that is Thanet District council, have come up with a plan for dreamland, which closely matches, one suggested by the developers Waterbridge.

As far as a planning considerations were concerned for Thanet's most critical site in terms of both character and future prosperity, most of us were still under the misapprehension, that Thanet district council would somehow play the game.

When the great minds of Thanet Council last chewed over this particular problem, they decided to ignore the advice from a government inspector, which had suggested retaining the whole Dreamland site for its traditional use and allow Waterbridge to have a change of use on the site, if they could prove that an amusement park was not economically viable on the site.

I'm sure that Thanet District council, are just being helpful to our friends from Reading, rather than make them go through the motions of presenting their case for a seaside housing estate, and then agreeing with them, to save all that fuss and bother, they would just move the timetable ahead a bit and save all those embarrassing arguments as to whether Waterbridge is profiteering at the expense of Margate Town.

Anyway for those of you who are interested, or have the stomach for the details of this carve up of Margate Town centre, you can see what your Tory councilors are doing, click here for the cabinet agenda for Thursday's meeting, click here to read the report by the head of development services, and click here for the brief (which gives details of not only how dreamland will be decimated or should that be desiccated but also plans to disrupt traffic into Margate and Cliftonville).

Just as a side issue, it seems a rather sad that the save Dreamland campaign, have apparently embraced this nonsense about a heritage theme park, what they have actually agreed to by the looks of it, is a museum of rusty dusty and musty fairground rides. One of the things that used to make Dreamland so exciting was the constant change, this heritage nonsense is almost as exciting as a Thanet district council cabinet meeting.

I bet that the management of Waterbridge, cannot believe their luck in choosing to plough their money into an area with such a helpful local authority.

Incidentally my apologies for not blogging recently, but I have had more important things to do recently, driving over to Ashford for instance, to catch the Simpsons movie in a decent cinema (hopefully it will not be long before we have a new cinema at Westwood), also I had been attempting catch up on Harry Potter, although since my sister told me the end of the last book when I was halfway through, what's the bloody point.

Anyway if I can drag myself back to the keyboard, I will do, I must say I find real life more fantastic than fictional worlds.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Thanet District council capitulate over Dreamland

Thanet District council have announced a major step forward for Margate's regeneration. What a surprise that the council will be the bending over backwards for developers at the Dreamland site. The news item on their website, says it all, firstly they acknowledge working closely with the Margate Renewal Partnership (this is an organisation set up by SEEDA), next they refer to working closely with key stakeholders as they should, although their idea of a stakeholder, is not quite what it would seem.

Just shooting off at a tangent, the term stakeholder, is one of those of new labour sort of words, which sounds good but in actual fact means anything and nothing. If you thought you, as a local resident and or contributor to local taxes, were a key stakeholder think again, in Sandy Ezekiel's administration key stakeholders are SEEDA (South East England development agency) Kent County Council, English partnerships (more unelected civil servants), and the save Dreamland campaign (who seemed to have given up the fight).

Anyway it looks like without waiting for Waterbridge, to submit their grim plans for yet another housing estate, Thanet planning authorities will be making life even easier for developers once again by tampering with the your local plan.

Thanet Council are now encouraging more housing, and by going along with the so called heritage plan for Dreamland site, I am convinced that any so called heritage amusement park will fail, and will a few years down the road become just another phase of residential property development. You only have to have, visited the site last year to see how to sink a fun park.

It'll be interesting to see how much support, Kent regional newspapers (Isle Of Thanet Gazette), give this news since they are heavily reliant on advertising from Thanet District council, as well as doing a little bit for the Margate Town centre regeneration company.

About the only concession Thanet council are not making is renaming Margate as Reading-on-sea.

Read Thanet District councils miserable news posting click here

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Margate's pride 2007

Unfortunately or maybe even fortunately on Saturday, due to work commitments I was unable to attend Margate's first celebration of gayness (not sure if that's right term), I'm not convinced that the non gay population, were either welcome or invited the organizers website was not too informative.

Still to me it seems a curious concept, to have an event based on sexual preference. Since this is now 2007, I imagine that most of society accepts that homosexuality etc. is part of normal life, therefore I'm not entirely clear, quite what such events are for.

This seems to me to be a hedonistic indulgence, which given the fact we are often informed by the media, that the gay population is generally more affluent than the population as a whole, I wonder why Thanet council amongst others were sponsors of this event.

As a point of principle, I personally do not think that local councils, or any other public body should overtly be promoting any particular lifestyle choices, such events are naturally divisive in my opinion.

Concerns voiced over super quangos

News that the SEERA the south east England regional assembly, is to be scrapped, appears to have upset the leader of Kent County council, Paul Carter.

Regional assemblies were set up in the nineties, purpose of which was to scrutinise regional development agencies and formulate regional planning strategies, the makeup of these organisations, was similar to much of are unelected government, in that the assembly members were all appointees either from local councils other organisations and therefore not democratic in any sense of the word.

Now I find it surprising, that Paul Carter should be getting excited about the prospect of this organization being wound up, and much of the power being passed on to the SEEDA (South East England development agency).

Paul Carter expresses fears that this will result in a super quango, and is quoted as saying that the best solution would be to devolve these powers to local authorities.

The way I interpret it, is that, his concerns maybe more about control rather than any serious concerns over accountability.

In today's Kent on Sunday, there is a picture of Paul Carter praising the work of "locate in Kent" which I am fairly sure happens to be a quango, since most of its money is derived I believe from local authorities.

Were Paul Carter to suggest the abolition of all these small, organisations, otherwise known as quangos, in favour of committees within our local councils run by elected councilors, then I feel he will have a valid point.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Locals board at Hartsdown

Having a minor interest in matters local and political, the opportunity to attend, KCC's Thanet local board, proved irresistible, particularly when weighed up against the evenings dross on a television (a close-run thing).

For those of you unfamiliar, Thanet local board, is a twice monthly meeting where mainly old people meet their local county council representatives and hear what a bloody marvellous job that they're doing on our behalf.

My main reason for attending being the fact, this is one of those gatherings apart from funerals where I am still considered a young person (relatively).

Now this last performance at Hartsdown Technology College, was as ever a mixed bill. The meeting was opened as previous ones, by Mr Bill Hayton who acts as master of ceremonies at these events.

The first to address the meeting was John Hayward marketing director of Turner contemporary, reprising the role of David Chipperfield by giving us a repeat performance of the presentation penultimate design phase for the new gallery (I have never been a fan of school productions but this wasn't too bad). Of course as ever, there is still a great deal of resistance to the whole concept of the gallery, personally I believe things have moved too far, to criticise at this point.

Then we had a presentation on the role of police community support officers and community wardens, which was helpful to the likes of me, since until this meeting I was unaware, that PCSO's and community wardens had different roles, and the latter not surprisingly being more community related in a community sort of way.

The big finale, the Highways update proved somewhat of a disappointment, since the average age of the audience, must have been in the late Sixties or early Seventies. I had been looking forward to some tough questions regarding the hitherto lacklustre performance of Kent council, in the connecting me and others with the outside world. Obviously Chris Maw (programme delivery manager from Kent Highways services) came prepared to deal with the elderly residents of Hartsdown area and this is where the Thanet local board becomes a big let-down.
These meetings are supposedly for the benefit of the whole Thanet Community, but a Highways update that only looks at the immediate area of Hartsdown is focused too narrowly, for Thanet residents as a whole.

I wonder if this is deliberate, in common with many people of working age, I use the local roads, to get to work and in my job, (ironically since I work on the railway) there is no alternative. As with most things transport is an area where local government, is doing its damnedest to make life difficult, apparently KCC will shortly be doing what ever they can to slowdown and disrupt journeys around Hartsdown. Since the audience is largely of that age that no longer goes to work, an extra 10 minutes on their day hardly matters but for those of us who work every additional 10 minutes is a killer.

It's a pity that the audience for this type of meeting, is so skewed towards elderly people, also it would be nice if these meetings could be publicised more, looking at the KCC's website for the Thanet board, it was interesting to note that nobody felt it necessary to publicise either the time of the meeting or the location, perhaps someone will rectify this for the next one. I only found out about this meeting, as a result of reading David Green's excellent Eastcliff Matters blog.

Met briefly Linda local blogger, the thought occured that although most bloggers have written or read each others blogs but never met. I wonder whether a meeting of Thanet's Blogerati would make for an interesting evening, well I will leave that thought hanging. Just imagine the clash of personalities ECR & the Dr for instance, we could all pat each other on the back for either being witty, entertaining, informative, inspirational etc a bit like er .... a Local Board meeting.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Thanet sidestep employment protection

People often think, that in this modern society jobs are protected by law, well this is simply not the case as Thanet councils proved by sacking six of their visitor information centre staff.

Apparently after receiving advice from the Kent tourist alliance, existing staff were forced to reapply for their own jobs, now any decent employer, would retrain existing staff, if they needed new skills which according to Kent tourist alliance they did.

According to the report in today's Thanet Times newspaper, the council renamed their job title and it's goodbye to six staff members.

Just imagine the upheaval, at Thanet district council, if it were possible to add the word "competent" to management titles (and expect the current occupants to re-apply for their posts).

Those who run the council, forget that many members of the public, have higher standards of ethics and decency than they do.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Oxford University brings itself into disrepute

News of that a student of Oxford University is facing disciplinary action as a result of evidence gleaned from Facebook, strikes me as incredibly petty.

Apparently university proctors (I think this means bosses), have been rifling through Facebook, in an effort to find incriminating evidence, of what would seem to be minor antisocial events.

Never having had the opportunity to attend a university (unless you include the university of life), this seems like complete nonsense.

One often associates universities with liberal thinking, just what were, these proctors thinking, for all their education, presumably they have no sense of proportion. You expect large corporations and a multinational companies, to ferret around in your personal life, but for a university to do so seems perverse. The mental image of crusty old academics, ferreting around in yooff websites just seems so unsavoury, if they have any real world friends maybe could explain to them.

Monday, July 16, 2007

The politics show calls on the usual suspects

The chances are that yesterday, despite the appalling weather, you had something better to do than watch BBC south east's politics show. Now for those of you who missed this, the programme highlighted the decline of coastal towns, Margate being the prime example, if you click here, in the next day or two you should be able to see the program in question.

Now local author Jane Wenham-Jones gave an "expert" opinion in her report on Margate, at one point posing the question " what's gone wrong here?" Unfortunately I don't think she gave the answer or even pointed us in the right direction, still this is my highly subjective opinion.

At this point I will digress slightly, and ask the question, apart from being a local celebrity and author, couldn't the producers, have come up with someone perhaps a little more involved in Margate affairs maybe one of Labour's local councilors, or even one of Margate's carpet bagging developers.

Anyway once the, rather depressing report, packed full of clich├ęs (odd camera angles of derelict shops) had terminated, we had the usual suspects lined up, local council chief Sandy Ezekiel, and Thanet Sorth MP Stephen Ladyman. Obviously budgets are limited at the BBC, and presumably the easy option is to get Sandy & Steve to put in an appearance. The way I see it, is that we have heard, both of these politicians more often than is good for us, admittedly they need the publicity, but us the viewing public could use some fresh ideas.

I reckon that the BBC could spend another 10 minutes in preparing this programme, and maybe throw up, local businessman or other local community members.

Finally coming back to a question of what's gone wrong here? To me it's pretty obvious, weak local government, has allowed developers and others into Margate with their own agendas, key to the future of Margate, is the rebuilding of attractions and places of work, unfortunately for you and I who live in Margate, those in charge of local government are under the delusion that building thousands of new homes is the answer to regeneration. Building homes is one aspect of the town's regeneration, giving people somewhere to work and earn a living is far more important, unless of course Thanet's conservative administration wish to encourage a dependency culture.

PS.Why didn't Jane point the damn cameras at the old town area for a second?

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Just how old I am I

I had cause to ring Saga on Friday, and was surprised at how polite the staff are, however that's not really any cause for comment, what shocked me was the choice of music being played whilst on hold.

Now most companies, seem hell bent on providing the most bland music, presumably with the intention of making any wait that much more irritating, however on this particular occasion they appeared to be playing the rolling stones " Sympathy for the devil", I'm hoping when I next ring I'll maybe get the sex pistols " god save the queen".

Should I live long enough, maybe I'll be able to hear the killers or perhaps the Kaiser chiefs. Still I'm in no rush.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Kent County Tories find fresh talent

in the backwaters of Thanet
News comes this week from the Great Tory Chief in Maidstone, Paul Carter that he has dropped two members from his cabinet Dr Tony Robinson (Tonbridge) and John Simmonds(Canterbury West) in favour of a couple of appointees from the Kent coast one from Whitstable and the other more relevant to us in on the fringes of civilisation is Chris Wells one of our more competent politicians (and that's not just because of his occasional contributions to Bignews (comments)). Chris is now a cabinet member with responsibility for family services and education.

One can only guess what prompted this reshuffle, but maybe one telling comment in the local paper was the fact the Cllr Wells will be the first county councillor from Thanet to hold a cabinet post at KCC.

Apart from good luck! to Chris Wells, I would also say about time, that those in Maidstone, who've a rare skill in spending our money, on what I take to be hare brained schemes, such as trips to Virginia, forty plus on an all expenses trip,this month, paid by you and I at a cost of around £300,000.

Its a pity that Chris wasn't around when County Hall, was handing out free bus passes to kids in the richest districts in Kent, ignoring those out on the coastal fringes.

Perhaps Paul Carter has realised that those of us who contribute large chunks of our earnings, will no longer put up with our money being put to first use by those affluent west Kent areas, that have been taking advantage for many years.

This is just an impression but it seems to me that Kent has been ruled by a group of well healed privileged Tories for too long, who appear to confuse county Hall as another exclusive club rather than the multimillion pound organisation that they are only too ready to describe when wasting vast sums of money.

Paul Carter is quoted in the Gazette as follows "I believe it is time to bring some fresh thinking into the cabinet team" all I can add, is you couldn't do any worse. I'd take a look at Alex King next, who has been working hard for us, unfortunately quite a bit of his time, seems to have be on the wrong continent though in Virginia.

Local plan and the case of the duel standards ?

Some news, makes you think, whether our council is all hogwash and duel standards. Now I may be mistaken but what was the most compelling reason for the Tories, pushing through consent for the hideous development of the new Westwood housing estate? Good taste, a pressing need for more traffic congestion, just so that profiteering developers, could turn the sweet smell of cauliflowers, into the even more coveted whiff of money. It was none of those, no, they had to agree, despite universal condemnation of joe public because the little known local plan, suggested that housing was required.

I personally don't think Thanet needs to plough up vast acres of farm land to satisfy developers, however it seems that the planning authorities are nothing if not inconsistent. Case in point Thanet councils odd decision to refuse a planning application for 100 houses at Minster, in this case they have refused because of a lack of information from the developer. Well as far a I know details are not entirely clear as what's happening with Westwood, for instance they may or may not build a school or provide retail space etc.

It will be interesting to see how our friends from Reading are treated with there application for a another housing estate at the Dreamland site, I expect our planning functionaries to bend over.

Roger Latchford is quoted thus “Our planning officers look very carefully at every application that the Council receives before making a decision. As this shows, if they do not feel that adequate information has been provided by the applicant, then they will refuse it. The problem here was not the proposed use of the site, as it has already been designated for housing in the Local Plan, but the layout proposed and the lack of information and justification provided with this application.”

I think we had some pretty vague information as to the final number of houses being built at Westwood, concerns as far as the local water supply and quite inadequate transport so this is the question, what's different about Minster? This is one for Roger Latchford.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Spotted in Birchington

Not quite sure what these vehicles are for but I assume that they are some sort of new experimental buggy to replace those electric motorised chair things , much favoured by the elderly. I spotted these earlier in the week, tearing up and down the pavements of Birchington's mean streets.

Still having extreme computing problems.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Tour de France
(or Kent's tour de wealth)

Its great to see the tour de france is once again, visiting Britain and its nice to see it in Kent, but before I go to far in complementing the authorities for encouraging this the world's biggest annual sporting event. I thought prior to me setting off I'd take a look at route, and was struck by how the route missed the poorer parts of Kent.

Since the local authority has been spending big on this one, I assumed that it would some how benefit the whole community, well as with most things in life I'm wrong.

Looks like as with much in Kent's sphere of influence, that West Kent and the cosy affluent areas come first. I often wonder whether those Tories in power actually realise that those of us who live on the coast and to the east, also have to pay massive tax bills to keep Kent Council afloat.

Its estimated that the costs to Kent, are in the region of one million pounds, of which most will not be seen again, an argument is put up that much business will ensue, wild estimates vary up to 40 mill, of coarse as with the current squandering on Kent's loony investments in the State of Virginia, standing around £700,000, its unlikely that there is any system in place to actually monitor any benefit imagined or real.

I made several calls to various Kent wallahs, trying to establish whether they had any such mechanism in place, apart from “voice mail” the best I got was one of their brighter members of staff who in a moment of brilliance determined that I was “a member of the public” and inferred that for this reason I could wait till next week or until a cure for global warming had been found.

I think I might return down to the power boat thingy at Ramsgate, had a pleasant afternoon yesterday good music, but strangely didn't see to many power boats. Good range of food is available French, Polish, Asian etc as is alcohol (not cheap) from Thanet's dominant supplier, wonder why Thanet Leisure Force isn't running the beer tent? I recommend the German sausage purveyor.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Ladyman to be voice of the South East

Steve Ladyman has taken news of his dismissal from government a bit better than one would expect. As a fellow Thanetonian his role as Transport Minister, is one that didn't appear to offer an advantage to his constituency or surrounding area.

A quick glance at our transport links shows, little improvement over his years in office, the road to Sandwich is still a pigs breakfast, there is no dual carriage way into the heart of Thanet and the much hyped up rail link is going to be overpriced, a little faster and into the wrong part of London for many commuters.

Mr Ladyman is waiting for clarification on his new job for the Labour party, apparently he has a remit to travel around the south east and feed the government with information on issues concerning this area, this would be great, were it not for the fact that Gordon Brown, is committed to continuing the outrageous situation, that allows Scottish politicians to vote on matters concerning England, but not the other way round (see Guardian).

We've heard how Gordon Brown wants a fair more consensus manner of Government, but where England, south east or north west is concerned we already know where Gordon Browns coming from and unfortunately for us, its Scotland.

Kent Online

Bignews Margate moves to new home

The reason that I have not been posting this week, is down to the fact that I have decided to purchase a newer computer than the one I have been using for the last few years, the older model has been making increasingly odd noises (bit like me since I reached fifty), so after a couple of panic attacks, I have now made the move to newer technology.

I hoped it would be a simple matter of just nipping down to PcWorld and bobs your uncle. Unpacking my new toy, I assumed I would be up and running in a matter of minutes which it was but not for long, as my toy shutdown, and after reading the bumf, following the instructions, ringing the helpline, it was back to the shop to sort it out.

As part of my upgrade I decided to liberate myself from the Study (spare room), by getting a wireless modem. Having got a working computer, I thought right, I'd install the wireless modem, ureaka! the thing worked after a phone call or two, then when I tried make the connection secure it died, I rang the help line, (they love me I think) they keep telling me how important I am, they let me leave them little messages, when the fail to find an operator, to help me. I just know that my calls will be returned any day now.

My thinking is that in making myself more mobile I could sit in the lounge, with Mrs Me although I note she has chosen to go out this evening, also I'm not sure that the preference for soap operas and reality TV is conducive to blogging.

Monday, July 02, 2007

technical probs

Unable to communicate, due to technical probs will resume shortly after a bit more swearing