Friday, May 30, 2008

Margate Library revisited

Since I happened to be near Cecil Square to today, I revisited the library, just to see how things were as for those of us who take an interest in the local community, will no doubt have read this weeks yourthanet, which highlights Kent councils apparent confusion of just how well their brilliant Gateway collaboration with Thanet council is panning out.

Well for me there is no confusion its a bad idea poorly executed, just what smart alec ever thought that there was a relationship between claiming housing benefit or paying parking fines and more cerebral matters such as information, inspiration, education and distraction which is the mainstay of a libraries existence, ought to be named and shamed.

Just prior to popping in to the library or council offices, I noted soon to be retired (from local government) Rodger Latchford holding forth to a group just outside the library and tempting as it was to listen in, I resisted the urge, though since I have struggled and tried to guess at the intent of this gathering, and here is my best shot, I reckon the great man was taking time out of his day to reassure a group of former nervous library users that their was nothing to fear from the well mannered non-aggressive Thanet residents waiting for a chance to have a chit chat with someone from housing benefits.

The most striking thing as you enter the "Gateway" is that considering the purpose of the building (information) there is a lack of signage or quick way to tell who to approach. Once I had established who worked for TDC I asked how I would make a freedom of information requests, after a pause I was given the name the council Press person. This being quite apt since I'm interested in the council relationships with local media, since last year we learnt that Tory run KCC think nothing of blowing millions on advertising and I guess our local Tories squander on a pro-rata basis.

The upshot of my enquiry is that I shall have to put my request in writing, I had hoped to have some "officer" dragged away from their desk, cup of tea and hobnobs to personally transcribe my request, still it saved having the indignity of waiting an hour with a numbered ticket waiting to be called (a bit like the delicatessen counter in some supermarkets).

I cannot help thinking that for those who work in the Library part of Gateway that it must be soul destroying, I only assume that genius behind this project has never used a library and begrudges those to whom libraries are a vital community service. Still for those who always claim that Margate is looked after I understand that their will be none of this Gateway Bollix in Ramsgates rebuilt library.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

A Cynic out of water on Margate's Harbour arm

As I mentioned in my previous post, I've been fairly busy, particularly this last weekend so I was unable to partake of the celebrations for the refurbished Harbour buildings.

It wasn't until yesterday, that I actually took a stroll in that direction, as you can imagine, I set out on my journey with a completely open mind, with no cynical thoughts whatsoever or intention to confirm any negative ideas that I had already formed.

Since I rarely visit the Harbour, I usually nip into Droit House, to see what's occurring on the Turner front although much is wasted on me, I generally find that there is someone available to explain exhibits to philistines such as myself.

Anyway after sheltering from the wind, I continued on to the refurbished fishermen's workshops and found myself wandering around the IOTA gallery. I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the exhibits and impressed with the enthusiasm of Phil Oldfield, who is the driving force behind IOTA.

Obviously there are some finishing touches to be made to work on the Harbour arm, but once the units are occupied with purveyors of coffee, food, gifts as well as the artist's studios it will be the perfect accompaniment to the Turner Contemporary.

I would advise anyone with nothing better to, who has some time on their hands, to take a walk along the Harbour arm and visit the IOTA gallery, where you will see some visually stunning work which will possibly make you feel less cynical about the arts. I particularly liked Lost shoe 6 by Dan Bass which is worth the walk on its own, so my I suggest you get off your backside and take a gander.

I would like to thank Phil Oldfield, for taking the time and trouble to show me around, the Harbour arm and anyone else associated with this project including Fiona (comments in earlier post Question Re Margate Harbour).

Quote of the week -mindless yobs

Due to my busy schedule, I have had little time to post any thing, although this quote lodged somewhere in my brain, as I scanned through the Gazette last Friday.

"WHY is it the few mindless yobs can make the residents' and visitors' lives hell?

So asks, our distinguished council leader Sandy Ezekiel, in his regular column in the Gazette, referring of course to the lively behaviour of some of broadstairs residents on broadstairs beach and not of course any unpleasantness one might encounter elsewhere.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Question Re Margate Harbour

Having just past the harbour i wonder why there are so many still working on the improvements to the harbour area .

I thought there was some sort of opening do this weekend ?

Careless Council ?

This weeks Thanet Gazette carries the story of a young child, injured by a fence, which is partly the responsibility of Thanet Council and the Newington Community Association (the fence not necessarily the accident), now it would appear that neither the council or the community association have had the good manners to just acknowledge whose responsibility it is in such cases.

Thanet council and I understand the community association responded to press with the expected no further comment stuff, which is naturally, since this would be a condition of their insurance companies, but I just wonder whether either of these two organisations actually expressed regret or said sorry which I'm pretty sure would not be an omission of liability but a civilised response.

Perhaps one of my councillor type readers, could ring up Thanet councils chief executive and clarify the situation.

Story on

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The midnight knock on the door Cliftonville style

This little posting is entirely based on conjecture and guesswork, but anyhow I'll continue, parking up in Northdown Road, tonight sometime after six, I noticed, a couple of PCSO's strolling down the road, accompanied by a handful of casually dressed middle-aged nondescripts.

Having heard that there is a multi-agency clamp down, on all sorts of social deviation in the Northdown road area, I suddenly had a panic attack, since my car which is well on its way to becoming a "classic", assuming the rust doesn't kill it before its recognised as such, might give the impression of being ripe for crushing, by authoritarian multi agency types, who may assume its the type of vehicle driven by nair do wells (IE no tax insurance that sort of thing).

Any how despite giving me, the once over, these souls, edged toward a restaurant, appeared to check out the menu, then sauntered in, leaving one PCSO outside looking down a side entrance, after a minute or so, someone attempted to leave from a door to the side of the restaurant, they were swiftly bought to a halt by a polite request not leave the premises.

Now as this is going on I remember a bit more about operation "clean sweep"* not sure where I saw it but anyway what happens is every so often (I guess) desk bound "officers", parking wardens, trading standards, immigration, and the like, look at the clock on the wall and say something like "blimey its May already" then through the magic of PR suddenly their all proactive and in Cliftonville for a day or two.

So I reckon I witnessed a crack team of UK border agency staff, quietly going about their business, I suppose it could have been Thanet Council, enquiring whether they'd seen any foreign tourist, still since Thanet is apparently second only to Canterbury in popularity with overseas visitors according to Radio Kent and TDC. Assuming I'm correct in my observation I'd just add this, how lucky we are to live in a country which is so laid back in its law enforcement, most countries law enforcement is a little bit harsher.

*For more info on operation "clean sweep" delve into TDC's Web site HERE

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Home Secretary receives a caution

I doubt few of us would begrudge above average pay received by Britain's police force, since out of our the vast armies of public employees, these people actually do something useful. However rightly or wrongly the home Secretary Jacqui Smith, decided not to backdate a two and a half percent pay rise. For many officers this resulted in losing around a couple of hundred pounds and more for those who sit on their bottoms all day.

As someone who is equally as hardworking, probably works longer hours, in a hostile environment and without the fat pension (paid for by taxpayers) I believe that the chairman of the police federation Jan Berry has gone over the top of what is acceptable behaviour.

Now as far as I see it, I assume that the Labour government, have finally realized that public sector pay is unsustainable, many of us outside the cosy world of the greedy public servant, find it unbelievable that civil servants believe that they have some god given right to improved pay every year, whether they've earned it or not and even more remarkably with no reference to the overall economy.

Here's a quote or two from the charming Jan Berry " I am sure that you felt like reaching for a stab proof vest and perhaps slipping into an old habit it - lighting up, calming your nerves,"

" But as you've reassured us you've moved on from those past indiscretions. All recent crimes have been more for the serious fraud office than the drug squad" (is Jan Berry suggesting criminal activity by the Home Secretary)

" It was a monumental mistake, and I don't say this lightly when I say you've betrayed the police service." (surely a sense of proportion is called for here)

I'm sure the comments made by the chairman of the police federation, would not amount to police brutality but I shall certainly hide behind the sofa if this woman comes on TV again. Fortunately not all police officers are quite as forthright as I found Jan Berry, so please don't have nightmares.

BBC Video of Jan Berry I suggest you do not watch alone

Monday, May 19, 2008

Bob Geldof and KCC solicit Gordon Browns support for Kent TV

Apparently Peter Gilroy (KCC chief executive) and Bob Geldof have been busy soliciting interest from Prime Minister Gordon Brown, for Kent councils ailing Kent TV, one assumes from the report in Kent on Sunday, that Kent Council and Ten Alps are desperate for any sort of endorsement.

Anyway despite the spin put on Gordon Browns response which is as follows " I recognise the value of local television and community channels can have in bringing communities together through the provision of local news and networking information, as well as through shared cultural and sporting interests"

As you can see hardly the most enthusiastic endorsement, but this prompted Peter Gilroy to say this " ..... the Prime Minister sees the value in such a service which, with its new look, is moving from strength to strength", no doubt this would explain why, viewing figures have dropped to around 20,000 per month.

Anyway Bignews Margate's exclusive, is that according to an email I have received, from Peter Gilroy, Kent TV will be advertising for two members of the public, to join the governing board, this will apparently only be advertised on the TV station itself, meaning that the posts will only be available to approximately 20,000 people who view the station, rather than the one million plus population of Kent.

I would of course also point out inclusion of two members of the public, may come as a surprise to existing members of Kent TV's governing board, since according to the minutes of the last meeting it was agreed that "a member of the public" would be appointed.

As soon as I get my application form, I will let you know, also I may be seeking references, and perhaps in the interests of democracy, you might like to apply yourself.

Finally I find it rather touching, that Kent Council, still have faith in the judgment of the Labours beleaguered Prime Minister and one assumes Gordon Brown's spirits must have been lifted, by the thought that the anyone would actually give a hoot what he thinks. Well done!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Kent's court action a waste of money

According to BD online (Building Design) website, architects firm Snohetta (architects of Turner) have accused Kent Council of poor procurement methods and faulty project management in relation to the cancellation of the previous Turner Contemporary gallery.

They are further suggesting that by going to court, even more public money will be wasted, now of course they would say that wouldn't they but I for one tend to agree with them. Had Kent Council asked a few Margate residents with even a passing interest in the sea, they might just have realized how hostile, the Harbour arm was, and since the design was outside the main criteria, by being located 10 or 20 metres out to sea their choice just seems to be plain crazy.

I believe if those in charge at Kent had an ounce of sense, they would quietly let this matter die, since the more you delve into it, the more preposterous Kent's position is.

Out of touch Labour

Thank god I'm not actually a labour party supporter, although as a liberal whose slightly to the left, I find their current state very depressing.

Gordon Brown, now prime minister has proved to be even less charismatic and in touch with the British people than he did as Chancellor of the Exchequer. So much for prudence and a steady hand on the economy, last week's desperate tax giveaway shows how weak labour are.

The fact is labour have been living a lie, during the Blair years, when they unreservedly sold their soul, to big business with the cost been borne by working people who've had to bear the brunt of the importation of cheap labour.

Next week labour will undoubtedly lose the Crewe by election, and its interesting to see how leading labour figures such as Cherie Blair and John Prescott have published their grim little biographies, I for one have not had the stomach to read anything other than headlines from the newspapers concerning these books, John Prescott cheated his wife and family (and I assume the British public) and for that reason I have no interest or sympathy with the man and just glancing at reference to Cherie Blair forgetting her contraceptive equipment sounds about as frightening as things can get. Since I know little about Catholicism, the mind boggles as to the contraceptive equipment, what was it, maybe a blow-up priest, that stares at you, early night?.

The rather indecent rush to cash in on their time in office by Tony Blair's former colleagues, wife and not least himself, has shown just how committed they were to the labour party and how sincerely their commitment was to the working people that created the party.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

POINTS - The BBC, Indiana Jones and the shameless schedule

Having a few hours to spare, on Sunday evening I was pleased to see that BBC one were showing an Indiana Jones film, instead of the usual rubbish. But being the cynic I am, I thought that a feature film on BBC one was a rare event these days, still I checked and noticed that there is another Indiana Jones film next Sunday at 8.00 PM.

It just seems one hell of a coincidence, that Lucasfilm's latest Indiana Jones film will be released within a few days. Anyway here is a link to the official Indiana Jones website click here (maybe they'll send me a couple tickets for free).

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


It's two years since, Kent Council announced the cancellation of the original Turner contemporary gallery, which was to have been located at sea.If memory serves me correctly we as taxpayers have lost something in the region of eight million pounds, and not surprisingly Kent Council are seeking to retrieve some of that money by suing architects Snohetta and Spence.

Thankfully the most recent design from David Chipperfield, not only looks the part, but will be built on dry land (except when it's stormy) so fingers crossed this will get built within budget.

Now I just wonder how strong Kent council's position is, given the fact that I believed every bidder in the previous selection process, based their plans on the rendezvous site, whilst rather surprisingly Snohetta and Spence chose the unlikely offshore location (and KCC accepted), which I believe only showed up in part at the edge in one of the corners of the map given to competing architects.

Still presumably Kent Council know what they're doing, and hopefully we won't be left with an additional bill for an unsuccessful legal action. Still it's an ill wind that blows nobody any good and amongst other things, the Turner contemporary debacle was my prime motivation for starting this weblog almost worth the eight million itself!

Murdoch company loses to local law firm

"yourthanet" newspaper this week comes up with an interesting frontpage story. That being news of a local law firms, successful defence for their clients Total Web Solutions against News Corporation over the rights to use the Internet domain

Since solicitors Bell Dening were up against probably the world's largest media company, whose interests include film, satellite TV, and newspapers, this must be some victory. Also its encouragement to those of us, who often feel big business is too powerful.

Anyway the details are in this week's paper. Or you can click here for the online edition.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Why Kent TV is a failure

Kent TV has been a regularly item on the Bignews Margate, since it represents all that is bad in local government.

Once again, Kent TV crops up in the news, Kent on Sunday newspaper, draws our attention to the fact that visitor numbers to the broadband TV Service, have virtually halved since January and advertising revenues are only at 10 per cent of original predictions for the year.

Surprisingly Alex King deputy leader of the Kent Council, believes that the TV station will become self financing at some point, and is suggesting that printed publications will be reduced to make this possible. Unfortunately we are not told what publications may cease to be printed, although I personally hope " Around Kent" which features Paul Carter in various photo opportunities is one of the first go.

Ten Alps the production company behind Kent TV issued this comment through one of their spokesperson " Kent TV is for everyone who works, lives, visits or orstudies in the county and we hope it reflects the diversity of interests of real people or studies in the county and we hope it reflects the diversity of interests of real people.

A fine statement indeed, which suggests some sort of diversity, however it is not reflected in the makeup of Kent TV board of governors who appear to be either local authority workers, employees of Kent , quangos or media companies, you will not find amongst their number any laborers, agency workers, builders, shop workers, warehouse staff, sales reps, cleaners, or even businessman (unless they happen to be councilors or media bods).

Anyway at the last board meeting, it was agreed to advertise for a member of the public to join the board of governors for this organization, however unlike many KCC appointments, it will not be subject of a massive display advert in the local papers costing hundreds as is Kent's usual recruitment method but hidden somewhere on the Kent TV website.

Being a keen media watcher, I rang Kent TV this afternoon, to ask whether this advert has appeared yet, they seemed to know nothing about this decision. I have since sent an e-mail to Peter Gilroy, Kent council's chief executive, as I believe he chaired the last meeting of Kent TV, I hope that he may elucidate when this post is actually advertised. Just to make things easy I gave my own address, so that I might be first in the queue for an application form.

I have not received a reply at this point, other than an automatically generated email, telling me that Peter Gilroy is out of the office till Monday, no doubt on some vital mission for the benefit of the people of Kent.

At this point in time Kent TV maybe broadband but its governance is narrowband, that's why its failing.

Monday, May 12, 2008

A stroll around Margate

Its been a week since I last put finger to keyboard, which in part was due to a particularly punishing Sunday shift, but mainly my inbuilt pessimism etc. In an attempt to revive my spirits I thought, I'd take a walk around Margate, of course many of my walks actually involve driving somewhere first, so I took the car forgetting that due toThanets Pedestrians connections project, I can no longer connect with my favourite starting points using my vintage renault 19.
Having parked well away from the seafront and Harbour area, I headed into town through the High Street studying the sprawl of vacant properties, momentarily pleased to see what was I think Mackays, being bought back into use, less encouragingly as a charity British Heart Foundation shop. (still if and when I survive my first heart attack I shall no doubt be thankful of the work these people do). I noticed the high street was full of what I take to be either career benefits claimants getting some fresh air before settling down to Jeremy Kyle, bewildered visitors looking for shops, and the occasional office wallah. The sea front seemed to be quite empty apart from a gathering on the harbour where more "regeneration" is taking place in fact I recognised one of Thanet regeneration supremos. I took a walk to the visitor centre which naturally was closed, as you would expect living around here, which is a pity, since I was accosted several times for information, as I walked around the seafront by elderly visitors, who had come to visit the Margate they knew, not the "work in progress" or the "come back in five years time" Margate. Those visiting Margate this week, will at least be able to enjoyed nice bright weather hopefully, its just a pity that Thanet's chosen to tear up the roads and pavements to coincide with the start of the summer season. BRILLIANT ! The very least Thanet ought to do is open its visitor centre rather than force old dears to confront grim middle aged bloggers, who know nothing about buses and just want somewhere to park.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Hooray Labour lose

Well I was having one of those thank god, its the weekend moments, well for a millisecond, then I remembered that I worked on the railways, so this weekend will be similar to many, a couple of 12 hours shifts but I must say the scale of the punishment felt by Labour will certainly make me feel better

I'll use language more appropriate to my day job, so wake up Labour and f**k your focus groups ,your midterm blues and 10p tax rate its worse than your worse nightmare and right now Gordon Brown and his fellow clowns have got as much in common with normal people with their sanctimonious aloof dual standards as did their predecessors in the Tory party with family values in public, mistresses in private,

Its a measure of Gordon Browns, inept government and he that doesn't realise that there is more to his traditional support deserting than the 10p tax rate, I think many of us don't like to have to compete with foreign workers for our own jobs, dont like being treated as second class citizens compared with Scotland and wales etc.

Gordon Brown hasn't got a Bloody clue, and Labour are pissing in the wind if they think he has.

Sorry for that rant but I feel better, must go, have work to do!

This post may contain errors since i have not time to go over it as I g4enerally do

POINTS-Gazette gets it wrong again?

Surely not, well I think they have, I've tried to steer clear of the great Ezekiel fracas nitty gritty but can avoid it no longer.

The Gazette have this week clarified their reporting on this issue of the standards board of england investigation, however on page 9 in the article "Cllr Ezerkiel says sorry" some confusion remains, since the article refers to Cllr Ezekiel "muttering f****ing t***er under his breath" or was it as the Standards Board findings "called another member a f***ing w***er", perhaps it was both.

In one of the findings it was reported that Cllr Clarke read out from his diary "the Jews do" which apparently was his short hand for Holocaust Memorial Day, now I accept that in making notes correct language is not an issue, but if you for whatever reason, read this aloud, then hopefully you realize your mistake and correct it immediately. Although I have seen no reference to it I assume it was unintentional and Cllr Clark has made an apology.

I know that for Cllr Hart was unwittingly bought into the affair and has been cleared of wrong but still remains of interest whether Cllr Ezekiel makes specific apology directly to him and Cllr Clark.

None of us is perfect, not even politicians, I think all those involved are just trying to improve things, and sometimes we make errors.

I frequently make errors, probably this post will be considered such, maybe our local papers should have published those open letter sent out last week, avilable here somewhere.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Will it ever end?

The answer to this one is no, and the subject is property development, still Rome wasn't built in a day. Now if you've ever sent me an email, you will be only to aware that it may be some days before I reply, if ever I do.

One of those emails concerned the Sea Bathing Hospital, my apologies to the contributor, but a couple of weeks ago, I thought I would go and take a butchers. I imagine for those who live near this site, the scope of the project and the length of time taken so far must be incredibly unsettling.

Just to look up from a nearby street at the crane brings two words to mind one being blimey and the other veritgo, plus a whole range of other thoughts, mainly of the what if variety, and some amazement that presumably, this massive structure, can withstand some of our gentle sea breezes.

Maybe the biggest what if, is with all the current & future development in Thanet and the credit crunch, will this development be finished any time soon, and with this thought, maybe developers ought to be given a time limit for completion, particularly with sites this big.

Finally looking at the rear of the site, I couldn't help but think of those hotel developments on the edge of spanish resorts, that never seem to progress. Also in the pipeline is the chance of even more residential development at Westwood, anyhow I'll get round to telling you about that in a day or er two, well sometime anyway if you cannot wait check out, apparently they have already consulted the public, which was news to me but there's always another day.