Thursday, April 28, 2011

Thanet Earth - Should Fruit and Veg be grown in Agency Culture

Unite (Transport & General Workers Union, in old money) are conducting a campaign to highlight conditions of migrant workers (as reported on BBC today), in this instance those who have the luck to work at Thanet Earth.

The suggestion by Unite, made in a recent press release, is that migrant labour is being exploited, I would point out, that such conditions are not exclusive to migrant labour unless they are also suggesting racial discrimination.

Assuming Unite's points are valid it, it leaves a bad taste, particularly given all the implied environmental benefits, we have previously heard in connection with Thanet Earth.

Thanet Earth is a multi-million pound project, and yet much of the staff are paid minimum wage, which may be also subject to deductions (such as transport to the remote worksite), and employed on a temporary basis, allowing termination at a moments notice.

Surely it is not beyond Thanet Earth, to offer fixed term or even permanent contracts to a majority of workers, rather than pay a premium to agencies to profit from hard working "temps".

A  couple of points to make, one I used to be a member of the T & G ( a long time ago)and also I happen to have some knowledge of working as a "temp" at Thanet Earth and have heard nothing in the reports coming from Unite which I'd discount as being too fanciful.

Still employers have to make profits, however I have to say, Labour had 12 years in office, in which temporary employment blossomed, and exploitation of migrants not unheard, it is to Labours shame, that they chose, to allow industry to ruthlessly exploit cheap labour during their recent time in office.

Labours much hyped minimum wage, isn't worth a toss, since casual employment, agency work, importing cheap labour, falling wages has in the last few years become norm, for many of us, and Labour know it.

Coming back to the main topic I attended a meeting recently, not because I hold to some radical agenda but because I was curious to see whether my own impression of Thanet Earth was objective. The gathering organised by Unite detailed evidence and set out to progress help to those working at Thanet Earth.

As a side issue have to say it was no surprise that Local Labour despite all their rhetoric about social issues, didn't send a representative to the meeting. Just me, Unite and some workers and "activists".

Thanet Earth understandably see things differently to Unite and the BBC have the following comment "Thanet Earth Marketing, which employs several hundred workers in peak season, says it carried out its own investigation when Unite first made the allegations in March 2010, which it says was concluded satisfactorily without any action.

Perhaps Thanet Earth have reason to be satisfied, still having worked there myself, I might suggest that Fresca Managing Director could contact me for another insight and I would be pleased to discuss concerns I had, whilst briefly working at the plant after it first opened.

For me, I didn't feel I suited to Thanet Earth and was fortunate to have the ability to walk away without needing to make an issue, still some are not so lucky such as those in a new country with differing customs, laws and language.

Unite have opened a reasonable debate and done what unions should do, which is to support working people, myself despite my frequent rants and raves, I have to say that I'm not an "activist" sort of person more a commentator so come on Thanet Earth sometimes even business has to take into account social consequences of the operating practices and in my view your "own investigation" may not quite hit the spot.

Published and promoted by L. Latham on behalf of on behalf of the Liberal Democrats, Flat 1, 2 Prospect Road, Broadstairs, Kent. CT10 1LD

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Turner Contemporary opens late on Fridays even Good Fridays

Turner Contemporary gallery opens late till 10pm on Fridays, why I don't know but it is a great place just to watch the sun go down.

Even for those half empty people, Margate a week after the opening is still looking more than half full. 

Just a quick note to regular readers, I'm not likely to be blogging much for a week or two for reasons you'll be aware.  However since I've been plugging away for more than five years, on pretty much most local subjects, you could always trawl the archives or click labels such as the one at the bottom. Turner Contemporary which will drag up 60 previous postings on the subject.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Turner Contemporary Opens

The Turner Contemporary was opened today by Jules Holland and Tracy Emin, a really pleasant atmosphere smiles all round, art lovers, the public, have today, been served up with what is a world class gallery.

Margate has been full of people like me who are doubly pleased, to see so many visitors, who looked happy and satisfied by the gallery the art shops, pubs, cafes.

It's proof that Margate is better than the spiral of doom and gloom perpetuated by many, and for anyone champing at the bit to wallow in misery, I suggest you get your bottom off the sofa and do what I did this morning walk down to the Contemporary, have a look, visit the galleries and shops run by local artists, have a  drink and something to eat.

I will be going back to the gallery its a great place, in fact I did go back later this afternoon with my granddaughter (9months) who seem throughly engrossed in the surroundings. 

More later maybe

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Turner Contemporary this weekend

The Contemporary opens this weekend if we want Margate to revive, we need to be positive as the Turner Contemporary Gallery opens, and of course its no time for histrionics about rights, wrongs missed opportunities et cetera, the Turner Contemporary is the only game in town and in my opinion is looking quite good.

A couple of times when I've driven back into to town after work in the last few days I've had the urge to take a picture of the Gallery in bright sunshine and blue skies, reflected in the calm water of the beach and harbour, the only thing stopping me, the traffic and the limitations of the Iphone camera.

Last Saturday I had a leisurely, walk around Margate, starting at the top end, the high street is not as bleak, as has been painted in the press, once at the bottom its clear that businesses, notably arty shops have sprung up that didn't exist last

The town for has for a while felt busier, if only with amateur photographers although I'd imagine, a fair few journalists of the relaxed lifestyle art travel type, have also been trawling around, I myself I had one documentary maker spend a couple hours at Flaig Mansions asking my opinions, I think  he got all he needed, since he never came back, don't think I bored him witless.jw

Anyhow I realise that for many, they'd have liked to have seem some other way of enhancing the area, but Turner is here and now, enjoy and make the best of it, go along to the opening.

As far as I'm concerned, the only bad thing, about the Turner has been the delayed opening which can be fairly and squarely place at the doorstep of Conservative Kent Council and the original architects,  this should have opened four years ago, still better late than never.

Since I'm standing for the council and I would like your vote (Dane Valley) and just made a political point so best include imprint.

Published and promoted by L. Latham on behalf of on behalf of the Liberal Democrats, Flat 1, 2 Prospect Road, Broadstairs, Kent. CT10 1LD

Friday, April 08, 2011


I see the Independent reports on an attack by artist Dinos Chapman ( who he?) of Margate's well known and much respected artist Tracy Emin for donating one of her creations to the nation.

I known about as much about art as, I suspect Dinos, knows about good manners and the concept of giving something back the community, in a selfless manner.

Not surprisingly Emin is upset that her gift has (in my opinion) been twisted into a crass and cheap publicity stunt by Dinos Chapman, who until today had not registered on my own radar.

Apparently Dino is suggesting that Emin's public spirited gesture is somehow an endorsement of the coalition's continuation of Labours policy of charging for adult education.

According to the Independent Chapman is strongly opposed to the increase in tuition fees and has formed a group to fund legal fees of students caught up in protests.

Chapman ought to rethink his view as it seems to me to be simplistic and naive, a blunt spiteful political message out of proportion.

Emin' s done well, and what is wrong with her gift to the nation, I guess he understands the logic of his attack, I don't and few will except for a handful of luvvies, I think a thank you, to Tracy would be more in order.

Finally as Emin acknowledges her education 'as the greatest opportunity' is also quoted 'It would have not hurt him to have checked with me before he started inciting hatred' maybe Dinos could dig deep and apologise.

PS today I donated part of my income to her majesty's government via PAYE does this make me an accessory to all government policy, I hope not.

Thursday, April 07, 2011


For those of you who read the Thanet Extra, you will find in this weeks edition a quality piece of waffle as Roger Gale MP gives his opinion on AV.

I think his view is that should we change our electoral system, we'll suddenly find a host of nazi, socialists, cranks and nutcases take hold of levers of power, instead of the current mix of MPs' which vary from the principled, honest, to the ambitious, self serving, opinionated, uncaring, hypocrites we know so well.

Any how just what do I know about Roger Gale MP, firstly he replies promptly to correspondence, he's kind to animals, is rarely impressed with local train operators but apart from that, what are his politics, when did Gale ever pipe up on any thing of national importance.

Such things as economy education, health, foreign policy, really don't matter as far as MPs like Roger Gale are concerned since outside of a political tsunami they have as much chance of not getting elected, as I have of being invited for tea with the Queen to discuss the morality of inherited wealth and the Royalty.

How often have you voted like I have, not for your first choice but for some Labour deadbeat, rather than see some awful Conservative get elected or the other way round, once is too often but I'd guess some of us have voted tactically when if we had a more representative electoral system, we could make an honest choice.

Why any of this troubles Roger Gale is hard to see since he must be past normal retirement age and unlikely to fight again.

Of course I would have some sympathy with his view if safe seats such as his got a majority of the vote, but that is rarely the case.

We deserve better than an electoral system that effectively allows a local MP to be chosen by a handful local party hacks, I won't bore you with the gorilla suit cliche but you know what I mean.

Finally AV gives you the voter more leverage, so candidates might feel the need to be more open or precise about what they stand for, as I mentioned at the top of this, apart from a few superficial notions I've no idea what makes Gale tick, where does he stand on the economy, health, did he admire Thatcher, Major what does he make of Cameron or even Clegg?

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Tough day for Mr & Mrs Smug or Worse-off Wednesday

photo (2)You will have to forgive me for not being too upset about "Worse-off Wednesday" myself I have avoided the news broadcasts, with what I would guess would be highly emotive reports telling us how terrible the new tax system is for some poor families, who just happen to be amongst the most affluent, earning a damn sight more than your average Thanet resident.

It seems that some families, on very comfortable incomes will no longer be receiving the generous tax credits, that they once did and despite all the doom and gloom, from presumably well-paid journalists, ( who I guess expect me to top up their generous incomes), it appears if you take what the government has said at face value, that something of the order of 80% of people, will actually be better off, this tax year.

In other news apparently Nick Clegg is once again the fall guy for the current government, his campaign to crack down on internships,  unpaid work and work opportunities that have been arranged through the old boy network, opening up, such opportunities to all, was the subject of an attack since Nick Clegg himself had been given his first work opportunity as a result of his father's networking, quite how this would effect his own view, that people should have an equal opportunity, to such work many years later is frankly beyond me.

Just why British journalists seem so hysterical and focused on singling out Clegg is beyond me, maybe it's a reluctance to accept anything other than the two party system, my view is that many national journalists are inherently lazy and anything other than black and white or left and right is just too difficult.

Coming back to the tax thing, my view personally is rather than "Worse-off Wednesday", it's more like "Same Sh/t different Tax Year" only some of us are a tad better off.

Monday, April 04, 2011

Liberal Democrat candidates for Dane Valley

imageI can't tell you how good it feels to have been asked to stand as a candidate for the Liberal Democrats in the May local council elections for the Dane Valley ward.

I will be joining Bill Furness local Liberal Democrat campaigner, and Matt Brown, a fellow commentator on local matters.

I hope that if you've agreed with my views over the near five years I've been writing this weblog, that you will consider voting for me and my fellow Liberal Democrat candidates here in Dane Valley and elsewhere.

I feel things need shaking up locally, many councillors seem complacent with the established order, and years of complacency seem to have resulted in the area being as it is and not as it could be.

Published and promoted by L. Latham on behalf of on behalf of the Liberal Democrats, Flat 1, 2 Prospect Road, Broadstairs, Kent. CT10 1RD

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Normal Service will resume

However not for a week or two, I had a couple of days off last weekend, and enjoyed a  quick break away.

Monday will be posting an announcement.

In the meantime, Bill Furness (Thanet Liberal Democrats) has some interesting thoughts

Margate: the ghost town on the isle of concrete

Margate was unkindly labelled "Britain’s top ghost town" recently by the national press. However did this come about?

It was the present Tory-controlled Thanet District Council and the previous Labour administration that badly let down the residents of Margate – a lack of leadership and vision have failed us all and given us this unwanted accolade.

The increasing expansion and planned construction of even larger shops at Westwood Cross is killing the high-street shopping areas of Margate, Cliftonville, Ramsgate and Broadstairs with its free parking and range of larger shops.

There are no real constructive plans or ideas to combat this attraction to shoppers, and older existing town centres have been left to die.

Even the Margate Caves – one of the town’s last tourist attractions – were shut down and boarded up in very puzzling circumstances, while millions of pounds are being spent on the Turner Contemporary in a bid to attract people to Margate.

This project has a built-in annual loss factor, and I just hope that this vision for the regeneration of the town does not falter or we, the taxpayers, will have to bail this venture out.

We are also lumbered with the plans to build 1,200 new homes on the green fields next to the shopping malls.

This will increase the amount of traffic on the already-congested roads around Westwood – why does the council not use the many brownfield sites in Margate, Ramsgate and Broadstairs before using up our fast-depleting green fields.

As an example of how things could be done differently – and better – the borough of Eastleigh in Hampshire used up every brownfield area that it could, saving a very large area of greenfield land that would have been needed to build a planned 6,000 new homes.

A visit by our local councillors to Eastleigh borough to see how this was achieved would be of great value to our community – we must stop concreting over fields when there is so much unused land within Thanet’s towns.