Monday, February 28, 2005

A Warm Welcome in Thanet

Tourist information
Originally uploaded by DrMoores.

A little tourist information for visitors to Thanet. The snow has gone, for now but may return later. Thermal underwear recommended over the next few days and don't even think of trying to catch a train unless the temperature is above zero, as they are inclined to stick to the tracks.

Welcome to the Dentistry Desert

North Thanet's MP, Roger Gale, has described East Kent as "An NHS Dentistry Desert" following figures revealed by a Health Minister.

Originally uploaded by G.S..

The MP comments: "No NHS dentists in the Thanet Primary Care Trust region are taking any new NHS patients at all."

Meanwhile, South Thanet's Health Minister, Dr.Ladyman, is faced with the embarrassing closure of another practice in his own constituency and is calling for a dental action team to relieve trouble spots like Thanet and Ashford.

The Government's advice? "Floss regularly".


Thanks to the snow, Thanet is an island once again.

28-02-2005 08-33-33_0028
Originally uploaded by DrMoores.

One reader reports that at 06:30 this morning, she was stuck for two hours at Birchington when her train to Victoria broke down. The new trains are notorious for breaking down in the snow and the same happened to me last year. In her case, she'™s back at home now trying to work out a route to London, with the BBC reporting the coast road closed at Whitstable in both directions and the M25 and M26 blocked with accidents.

28-02-2005 08-19-58_0020
Originally uploaded by DrMoores.

For local children, it's all great fun as you can see from the photos. More snow is forecast into the early evening. (click on photos to see more)

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Hare Freight Service

In preparation for Easter and to assist in the further development of Kent International airport, Charlotte Moores of Chartfield School in Westgate, plans to start her own "Hare Freight" service from Manston in the school holidays.

"I've identified a gap in the market for the export of Easter Bunnies to France through Le Touquet", said ten-year-old Charlotte, who has been flying light aircraft since the age of six and plans to become an airline pilot or a vet, preferably both, when she grows up.
KCC Plans to Sue Government for £15million

If the Home Office fails to pay-up the £15 million it owes Kent taxpayers for picking-up the immigration bill for the County by March 10th, then Kent County Council plans to sue.

In the last Thanet Life account, we revealed how Thanet North MP, Roger Gale had pressed Home Office Minister Des Browne, in Parliament this month, only to be given the arrogant reply "If it is found that money is owing, 'consideration' will be given to payment."

Home Office Minister Des Lee

KCC and our local MP have now had enough of government's procrastination over a massive debt which goes back to 2002 a shortfall in funding which threaten services in the county. Sir Sandy Bruce Lockhart, head of the council, has now written to the Home Office threatening legal action and if many people in Thanet had their way, they would widen the Wantsum channel, turn Thanet back into an island and declare a republic until the debt to local people is paid in full.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Gold Medal for Local Man

Congratulations to Ramsgate martial artist, Peter Gibbons who won a gold medal at the recent European Jodo championships.

Peter Gibbons seen bottom left

Jodo is the way of the Jo, or wooden staff. It was started around the end of the 16th century by Muso Gonnosuke (Katsuyoshi).Very little information is known about him. Most accounts associate his invention of the staff techniques with an encounter with the famous swordsman Miyamoto Musashi, founder of Hyoho Niten Ichi Ryu and author of the The Book of Five Rings.

Iaido is also practiced in Thanet. It is the art of reacting to a surprise attack by counter attacking with a sword. As a martial art, Iaido has been passed on directly from teacher to student over generations in an unbroken lineage for 450 years and information is available from Richard Obbard.
Thanet College - Needs You!

Weekenders Saturday courses!

Do you want to learn a new skill, study for a qualification or take up a hobby?

Do you want to develop your IT skills, learn some basic brickwork, or refresh your language skills?

Or perhaps you would like to do an Art or IT course with the family, or relax while the kids prepare a tasty treat on our Junior Masterchef courses?

Do something interesting with your Saturdays!

Thanet College offers courses in IT, DIY, Languages, Cookery, Personal Development, Art, Digital Photography and much, much more!!!

Many of our courses are FREE and run on a Saturday between 10.00 and 4.00 pm at the main College Campus, in Broadstairs.

Childcare and dining facilities are available, and assistance is available with course fees and other expenses (if applicable).

Request a copy of our Weekenders brochure now, and see what exciting courses we have on offer! Call Central Admissions on 01843 605040, or visit our website at


I'm grounded this morning. Airads did have an appointment with BBC Scotland on a farm-strip somewhere near Edinburgh but the weather is too bad to risk flying up there with a cloud base as low as 200 feet in places.

Some clouds can have hard centres when one's flying over hills and the Met Office is showing that airframe icing in cloud will start at 1000 feet, so I don't really fancy trying to follow a GPS through the Scottish valleys, in cloud and with ice growing on the aircraft. Even Newcastle, our refuelling stop, is giving 500 feet and as the minimum descent height is 700 feet for my IMC rating on the instrument approach without a visual reference, that's out too. Pity we had a job to do over Man U on the way back as well.

People complain when flights are occasionally delayed or cancelled out of Manston but very few understand how "interesting" some conditions can be for the pilot, in freezing low cloud, even with all today's electronic toys.

Near Broadstairs
Originally uploaded by les2001.

An unusual photo of the seafront near Broastairs, entitled "Not the Circus Maximus."

Friday, February 25, 2005

St Mildreds Bay Seaplane Base 1914

More aerial views of the RNAS seaplane base at Westgate on Sea in 1914 looking South. (select photo to zoom in)

St Mildreds Bay 1914
Originally uploaded by DrMoores.

Note the shadow in the photo cast by the wires of the biplane taking it. You can clearly see three seaplanes parked in front of their hangar on the seafront. Compare this with the other postings this week.

Seaplanes St Mildreds
Originally uploaded by DrMoores.

A seaside view of the same Royal Naval Air Service station at St Mildred's Bay, in 1914.

Dirty Beaches

News that Thanet Council is to reduce it's 2005 -2006 beach and street cleaning services budget by £75,000 should be a source of concern to all.

Shopping Trolley
Originally uploaded by DrMoores.

Keeping Thanet's seaside clean and tidy is already a hopeless struggle as you can see from the photo of Westgate's childrens boating pool and cutbacks will only make matters worse.

Would Somerfield in Westgate like to send someone to collect the missing trolley seen in the photo please? It's not going anywhere soon!

Losing the Political Plot

All is not well in Thanet South. Disgruntled Ramsgate Labour Councillor, Ken Gregory, has joined the Conservatives, accusing his former colleagues of "Political point scoring" and "Losing the plot."

"What shall we do with Thanet South? They've lost the plot"

Meanwhile Thanet South Conservative Parliamentary candidate, Mark MacGregor, has had his campaign fund lifted by the donation of £21,000 by former party treasurer, Lord Ashcroft, narrowing the chances of Labour's Steve Ladyman, successfully defending Thanet South even further.

When the General Election date finally appears, the future of Thanet South is likely to go down to a nail-biting political finish. Perhaps we're worth a flying visit from Tony Blair in an effort to secure more votes?
Where Are the Fokkers?

I was catching the 6:25am train to Victoria this morning, when I overheard another passenger on the platform, complaining angrily to his friend about EUjet cancellations this week.

Apparently, he had been trying to get to Edinburgh and his flight, along with a number of others, were cancelled due to the bad weather we've seen. "Acts of God", he could put-up with but he told me, he was really annoyed at being unable to find any information on the phone or the Internet when it came to checking the status of his lost flight.

"The phones were constantly busy", he said "and when I did get through, nobody seemed to know what the situation was. For an online business", he added "all the EUjet Web site could tell me was that the flights were 'scheduled' and nothing more. It simply isn't good enough."

I have some sympathy. In November, I was at Dublin airport looking at the departures screen, trying to find the check-in my ride back to Manston. It wasn't there.

I found myself standing with a group of equally puzzled EUjet passengers who had been told they were on the right spot by another airline but nobody from EUjet was to be seen.

I also tried calling the main EUjet number but didn't fancy a long hold and a large bill on my mobile phone and so I called the Head Office number and asked: "There's about thirty of us milling around the counter here at Dublin Airport, what on earth is going on? Are you flying back to Manston today or not?"

"I don't know", said the young lady at the other end of the phone but I'll find out."

Ten Minutes later, the departure screen suddenly flashed up our flight, a desk opened, followed quickly by a call from EUjet telling me that everything was now in order and apologising for the inconvenience.

Now that was a good customer service experience, quickly recovered by the girl at EUjet but only because I had their numbers stored in my mobile phone. Given the influence of weblogs, such as this, as a force for dealing with consumer issues, I would hope that EUjet make some subtle changes, putting-in place a separate flight information line, clearly labelled on their website and perhaps, an even better idea, an online flight information service, with up-to-the-minute passenger information on delays and cancellations.

It's a great little airline but like so many other budget operators in the airline business, it needs to iron-out a few rough edges. Customer service wins every time.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Snow Showers

The snow finally reached us this afternoon with a relatively thick dusting in Westgate but at present, it's not cold enough to offer a foundation for anything heavier; famous last words perhaps?

Snow Shower Westgate 2
Originally uploaded by DrMoores.

My daughter Charlotte believes if she can tie Sammy, the Yorkshire terrier, Daisy the Labrador and Crispin the Highland terrier to a sledge, then she can set out for Alaska. Catching them may not be so easy.

snow dog 5
Originally uploaded by DrMoores.
Winter Fuel Allowance

This winter weather must have prompted some thinking on fuel costs. Note, the last date for claiming the winter fuel allowance is 30th March, if you fit into the government's birthday lottery!

"When this war is won, we'll all be warm, mark my words."

You need to be 60 or over 60 but there is the birthday lottery to consider.

If you are sixty in 2004, logic would say you are entitled to the winter fuel allowance for this winter but no !!

You need to be 60 before 30th September 2004 to qualify!

So, for some Libras, all Scorpios, Sagittarians and some Capricorns you have to wait till the winter of 2005/2006.

The Government............ are they mean or what? (Barrie Smith)
Drama Queens

If you happened to read the front page of the local newspapers, you might be forgiven for thinking that a dramatic emergency had taken place at Manston on Sunday with an EUjet Fokker 100.

Originally uploaded by DrMoores.

"We want an investigation" shouts one local action group. "Flaming wreckage might spill over onto the roads." "Our houses are in danger from the flight path." And so on.

If you look back to the Sunday entry in Thanet Life, you'll see I was listening to the story on the Manston tower and approach frequencies (126.35) and writing it down as events unfolded. What I heard on the radio in the short conversations between the crew and the tower and what I see written down in the local rags is at variance.

Even if there had been an undercarriage failure local lives and property would not have been threatened and from what I can see, the "emergency" was turned into a convenient exercise to test the police and the airport emergency procedures, which worked very well in the circumstances.

Battle of Britain

OberLt Drehs' ME109 of III/JG54 was shot down between Manston and Westgate on 12th August 1940, one of many Luftwaffe pilots who ended their missions on the Isle of Thanet. Manston was taking such a pounding from German bombers that it had to temporarily close.

For local people, not only were there the risks of bombs and aerial mines, such as the one which destroyed houses in Fitzmary road Westgate but later on, the "FreiJagd" roaming of fighter aircraft, on Hitler's orders, which attacked anything and anyone. on sight, including shooting the spire off the church at Westgate.

OBLT Drehs JH54
Originally uploaded by DrMoores.

St Mildred's Bay - Westgate on Sea

An AIRADS photo of St Mildred's Bay in Westgate from the summer. Note the tennis courts and the putting green that have taken the place of the Royal Naval Air Service seaplane base of 1914-18 and the housing, to the right of the photo that did not exist until the 1950s, when corn fields still lay between Margate and Westgate. (Select to zoom in)

Westgate on Sea - Click to zoom in
Originally uploaded by DrMoores.

The Seaplane Base at Westgate 1914-18

An original photograph of the Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS) base at St Mildred's Bay in Westgate for comparison with a recent photo from a similar angle.

Clearly visible is the "Round top" fortification on the top of the picture and the aircraft hangars and barracks to the right, where the putting green is today. Bottom left is the Coastguards house, the oldest building in Westgate which pre-dates the town to 1791. (Select to zoom in)

Manston 1914 Westgate - Click to zoom in
Originally uploaded by DrMoores.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

A Little Local History - D.G.Rossetti

Dante Gabriel Rossetti was a famous pre Raphaelite artist and writer, described by John Ruskin and Walter Pater, as the most important and original artistic force in the second half of the nineteenth century.

He is buried in Birchington and Art lovers will be familiar with his work, paintings and drawings of ladies including Jane, the wife of his friend William Morris, with whom he had an extended affair.

Rossetti came to Kent after his wife died, he was burdened by mental illness and drugs which eventually got the better of him. He was never able to recover from his illnesses and died in Birchington on Easter Sunday, April 9, 1882.

His gravestone is a large Celtic cross, made by his old friend Ford Madox Brown. There is a window in the church dedicated to him, well worth seeing. - Barrie Smith

Margate - City of a Million Dreams

Originally uploaded by S'mart.

Margate by night. A photo of the entrance to the High Street making it look rather more romantic than it is during the day.

Whitstable Beach

Whitstable Beach 1
Originally uploaded by Nick Reynolds.

A nice photo of Whistable beach from the website.

Sue the Government Says Local MP

Conservative, Thanet North MP, Roger Gale, says it's "Time to sue the government over local asylum costs."

Roger Gale MP

The Government has been accused of not paying its asylum seeker debts of £14.8 million to Kent County Council placing an extra burden on local taxpayers.

In a written parliamentary answer to Roger Gale, who queried the non-payment of the outstanding millions, Home Office Minister Des Browne has said:

"The Immigration and Nationality Directorate does not readily agree with the claim by Kent County Council that any additional payments are outstanding. Officials from the IND are working with officials from KCC to reconcile the claim that money remains owing. If it is found that money is owing consideration will be given to payment".

"The Home Office response to my inquiry", says Roger Gale "is both arrogant and offensive. KCC have spelt out very clearly the basis for the claim that dates back more than two years. To challenge the legitimacy of the debt is in itself outrageous but to then say that "If it is found that money is owing then consideration will be given to payment" demonstrates the Government’s unwillingness to pay to a Conservative authority the money that is owing."

"There is no reason", he added, "why Kent`s Council Tax should be increased to bail out the Home Office: the Government should pay up immediately."

The Thanet North MP points out: "KCC`s County Secretary set out the position in a letter to the National Asylum Support Service on 10th February. That letter intimated that unless a resolution was found then legal action would be taken to recover the money. In the light of the Minister`s response I believe that the time has come for the County to sue this appalling Government for what is in fact our taxpayer`s money."

Ed: Kent isn't alone. As "Kent on Sunday" commented, government has short-changed County and District Councils across the South East and the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister has refused to accept the most recent census information in making the calculations upon which grant-funding is based. As a result Kent, already owed £14.8 million by the Home Office in unpaid asylum costs, has missed out by several millions more.
Utterly Crazy

One brave reader has asked about making a wing-walk to raise money for charity. The Utterly Butterly Stearman pilots and the delightful girls that accompany them, are regular visitors over the Summer, dropping-in to Maypole Farm in Hoath for fuel, tea and sandwiches between air displays, such as the Whistable airshow.

"You'll regret wearing the shorts when the slipstream whistles through your underwear at 120mph"
Ramsgate Harbour

A view of Ramsgate harbour looking North-west. You can see a pilots-eye view of the Manston runway (28) at the top left of the picture.

Photo Airads
Richborough Castle

Thanet is of course notable for the fact that when the Romans, in the time of the Emperor Claudius, decided to invade, to give Claudius the military success he needed to keep his throne, it was Richborough at the Southern end of the Wantsum Channel, where the fleet landed and where one of the largest triumphal arches in the empire was subsequently built. It is of course where Watling Street starts and is presently hidden to the North of the Pfizer complex.

The Romans crossed the Channel from Boulogne and legions with some support from elephants, were sent to conquer different parts of Southern Britain, meeting stiff resistance from tribes under Caractacus and having to fight two major battles to cross both the Medway near Rochester and the Thames, possibly near where the QEII bridge is today.

"So this Julius Caesar bloke then, is he any good?"

Of course, Julius Caesar was first but this was more of a reconnaissance in strength than a serious invasion effort, even for Caesar who probably landed at Deal, near Walmer Castle during the two Roman excursions to Britain of 55 and 54 BC.

In 55 BC, the Roman cavalry ships were forced back to Gaul by a storm, and Caesar's troops were confined to the shore. In 54 BC, a larger Roman expedition once again landed at Deal and penetrated inland along the River Thames.

Legend has it that his Tribune, Julius Berrus, is buried in a mound at Julieberry in North Kent, at the site of a battle where he fell.

In the photo, you can see a group of locals who were late for the first punch-up and are still hanging around.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Remember Hawkwind?

One of Thanet's most famous musical sons is Nik Turner, of Hawkwind fame. Having achieved no less than cult celebrity status he now lives in South Wales but used to live in Roxburgh Rd in Westgate in the sixties. Former racing driver turned-photographer, Barrie Smith of Westgate writes:

“I well remember his Sax music soaring from the top window of his family home on the corner of Roxburgh Road Westgate in the early sixties.”

Nik's mother had an industrial sewing machine, Nik was a dab hand at using it, he used to "drainpipe" our jeans for us in order that we kept with the latest fashion of the day. His gig dates can be found on his Web site ."

Photo Barrie Smith

Ed: I remember Hawkwind well. The band used to practise on the seafront at Westgate and "Hang-out" at Pav's cafe in the summer months.
Disruption on All South Eastern Services

As predicted, the world has come to a stop. While my part of Thanet at least, is without snow, Chatham and Rochester are giving a good impression of the Swiss Alps on the BBC's weather bulletin and the trains are "Subject to disruption and delay between here and London. This has forced me to cancel my meeting in the city this morning, as there is no guarantee that I'll get there in time.

Landing at Rochester may be a little tricky today!

Just to add a little extra touch to the problem of getting to London, the M2 southbound is apparently closed at Faversham due to an accident involving a jack-knifed lorry.

In Thanet, we are only seventy miles from the centre of London and yet we might as well be in the deepest reaches of Siberia but for the fact that there, it has to be below -30 degress centrigrade to have any impact on their limited public transport system.

We might have Broadband but in contrast with our European neighbours, the first sight of snow is enough to bring the country to a standstill.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Snow Time

For anyone reading this page from outside Thanet, it's official, the Siberian weather has now reached us here. With Manston forecasting more on the way, another dusting and it should be enough of a foundation for any overnight snowfalls.

The evidence

From experience, the appearance of snow is a recipe for chaos on local roads with people sliding and shunting to each other quite regularly, so please take care. As the first snowflake falls on them, the railways may grind to a predictable halt, as happened last year, when I managed to find not one but two trains that broke down under me between Margate and Faversham, where everything had stopped into London.

If you have any delicate garden plants, like my Fig tree, one visitor has just suggested that you cover them against the cold as the BBC are forecasting -6c for Thursday evening. Don't forget the anti-freeze in your cars!

If it really does snow hard then I'll try and find a better photo of the local scenery than the quick "snap" taken by my daughter above.
No Digital TV

Regular visitor Barrie Smith writes that Thanet is still outside the BBC's digital coverage.

"I use a digital box for my TV reception, checking with the BBC site I find they are still not quoting CT8/9 post codes as areas covered by their services. Thanet and the South East of UK is pretty heavily populated, so, why are we not covered by BBC digital services?

My reception is abysmal to say the least.

I have put this question to BBC S.E. but had no reply as yet."

Ed: What do we pay our outrageously expensive license fee for? "East Enders" and "Holby City" I suppose.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Survey Information

Readers will notice the addition of a new survey and polling feature to this website. All information is treated anonymously and in theory, you should only be able to vote on any subject once, as the engine should store your PC's dynamic IP address when you press "Vote".

You should then be able to see the results of the survey to date and we will be letting these run for a while before publishing the results, in order to make them as valid and as representative as possible of local opinion.

On a technical note, if you are using a Macintosh PC or the Open Source, Firefox Web browser, you may have problems completing the form and the first symptom is a voting form which doesn't display neatly.

If you are willing to indicate your voting preference at the next General Election (anonymously) then please follow the link to the Voting Form as a litmus test of political opinion in Thanet.

The Housing Question that Government Won't Ask You

As the Southeast Regional Assembly and the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister aren't going to give any of us the option to properly vote on the plans to concrete over large areas of the South-east, here's a fairer survey that everyone can answer and not just the head of the houshold.

It gives you the option to say "No", which you won't find in the one coming through your door.

How many new houses should be built in the South-east?

No more new housing

1,000 to 5,000

5,000 to 10,000

10,000 to 20.000

20,000 to 30,000

Don't know

Click above to vote

Wheels Down

A little drama over manston this afternoon with an EUjet (265) Fokker 100 with suspected landing gear problems. I'm listening to the story unfold with my aviation radio and the tower is reporting the gear is down and the crew are giving "Three Greens", so everything sounds alright.

From what I can gather, the crew weren't entirely certain the gear was down and made a few passes over the control tower to check. The weather at present is awful with rain and poor visibility, so it presented a challenge to all concerned. Apparently the aircraft was coming from Gatwick, where it had been undergoing maintenance. ( I wonder if it's the same aircraft that had problems with its undercarriage in Dublin some months ago?)

With no more news from the radio, after the crew calling "UNIjet 265 Cleared to Land" the aircraft seems to be down safely, not much fun the circumstances but all's well that ends well.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Class of 83

A third-year class at the Charles Dickens school in 1983. Over twenty years on, are they still living in Thanet?

Below is the the staff cricket team from the same year, the author, bottom left. Fill in the other names if you like? Chemistry teacher Peter Wray and John Cox on the right.. who else and what subject did they teach you?

It Works

The council, in the shape of the Waste & Recycling Department, have had the unsightly build-up of litter on the putting green at Westgate cleared-up.

Not momentous news by any means but a small start for Thanet Life. If one campaigns for a better Thanet, online and with photographs, attracting attention is that little bit easier.

The Waste & Recycling Department, who kindly removed the rubbish, point out that areas, such as tennis courts and putting greens are the responsibility of the Leisure Department, who don't appear to have any sensible mechanism in place for keeping the amenities that they operate tidy. - my words not theirs -

In fact, last summer was one long running battle to have grass and hedges cut locally, as these too had been outsourced to another contractor, who I was told simply weren't doing the job.

Apparently, there is a derisory fine of something like £5 a week for missing service levels, so it's easier, again I was told, for the contractors not to do the job they were being paid for.

2005 is I'm told different. If it is, Thanet Life is saying to the Leisure Department,Tourism, and everyone else, "Pull the proverbial finger out. Accept responsibility, tidy the seafront, cut the grass and hedges, remove the litter and let's have Thanet looking like a picture postcard resort that really wants to attract visitors." And that means also removing the awful mess from the harbour wall outside the Turner Centre.

Perhaps the tourism section should find some photos of the seafront in the 1960's when there was no community charge but areas like the "Sunken Gardens" in Westbrook were a delight and not an increasingly derelict mess, a seafront with discarded lager cans and an occasional discarded hypodermic needle with the remains of a Heroin fix still visible.

How satisfied are you with Thanet council's cleaning services?

Not at all satisfied

Quite satisfied


Very satisfied

Don't know

Click above to vote

Thanet Parking Charges Shock
Special Council Meeting Report

Residents now face increases of up to 100% for on-street parking bays and a night-time charge of £1 each and every evening.

Margate High Street

Margate and Cliftonville councillors John Watkins and Clive Hart made a joint plea to Thursday night’s Full Council meeting to abandon proposals which would massively increase on street parking fees for the local residents and businesses they represent.

Cllr. Hart called the proposed increases completely unacceptable and argued that the new £1 overnight on-street car-parking fee would unfairly punish residents who live in nearby flats and have no alternative place to park.

Cllr. Hart also explained that he was amazed that the council leader Cllr. Ezekiel fully supported finance chief Cllr. Wise’s proposed increases, especially as he had been one of the noisiest campaigners against on-street car-parking fees in the past.

Cllr. Watkins pointed to the adverse effect such charges would have on Margate businesses and said that the newly refurbished multi-storey car park should be kept open until 11pm each day.

Both Cllr. Hart and Cllr. Watkins said that the timing of the proposed increases was disastrous in the year that Westwood Cross will open for business.

The Labour Group tabled an amendment capping parking increases to 4.5% overall, but the ruling Conservatives won the day and adopted Cllr. Wise’s proposals.

Residents now face increases of up to 100% for on-street parking bays and a night-time charge of £1 each & every evening.

Editors Note: Thanks to Cllr. Wise for sending this report to Thanet Life. Having recently moved back to Thanet from London, I would suggest that the last thing that the residents of the island need is the slow introduction of the local "Police State" parking policies that are an everyday fact of life in councils like Westminster and Wandsworth.

A most recent example was seen in one notorious London borough re-zoning its residential parking overnight and then setting loose its army of parking wardens the following morning book every car in the area for a parking violation. This is not the kind of society we want to see here in Thanet and while I recognise that the council needs to raise funds, squeezing the local motorist is a vote loser which wil result in a vigorous online campaign against such proposals. Please write in with letters or comments of support if you feel strongly on this issue.

Local Parking Charges Should Be:


Remain the same

Don't know

Click above to vote

News Update

Cllrs. Clive Hart and John Watkins have written a joint letter to council leader Sandy Ezekiel asking his leading group to 'think again' with reference to the proposed blanket overnight charge of £1 for on-street parking bays.

The councillors for Cliftonville & Margate are concerned that their residents living next to these bays are being punished unfairly and will be put at unnecessary personal risk of attack when the new fee is introduced.

Cllr. Hart said 'A young lady living in somewhere like Northdown Road who is returning from a nights work say as a waitress, will now have to spend time walking up and down a dark street fumbling with her handbag and then turn her back on the street to place the ticket in her car. Cllr. Watkins and I feel this is adding unacceptable risk to residents journeys in often in areas with high crime rates'.

Cllr. Watkins said 'We have solicitors in Margate who often work late and have to move their cars from the multi-storey car park when it closes in early evening. These people will not only have to find the extra cost of the multi-storey parking but when they have to move their cars in future they will be charged a further £1 for the privilege.'

Both councillors feel that the TDC leadership have failed to think these issues through and hope that even at this late stage they will find a way to overturn Cllr. Wise' ill considered proposals.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Look on the Bright Side

Councillor Iris Johnston PPC of the North Thanet Labour Party, responding to some of the harsher political comments on Thanet Life, has written in with a personal view of how life in Thanet has improved under the present government.

Iris writes:

"North Thanet has seen many changes in the last eight years with residents benifitting from a 57% drop in unemployment and the strongest national economy for 200 years.* Mortages are at an all time low and Thanet is already meeting some of the proposed targets for house building in the South East first proposed in 1994.

New doctors surgeries throughout the island and an updated QEQM make being ill a little more bearable.

Dentists, many sporting an Irish accent, are compensating for the loss of three dental training colleges in the Tory years. As the teachers I knew as a parent and governor at local schools retire its lovely to see some of the 570 new recruits since 1997 bringing teacher numbers for Kent up to 11,460.

The Margate Exchange

Nursery classes denied to generations are now the norm with Cliftonville Primary school putting its planning application through last week. Several others are up and running and complementing SureStart and other family friendly initiatives.

The Thanet Campus,Surstart at Millmead, Hartsdown Road and soon at The Six Bells, along with the Innovation Centre and enlarged Thanet College are giving all ages a chance at improvement.Working Tax credits are helping 7,200 families and the minimum wage is lifting thousands out of poverty and exploitatation.

The Margate Football Club could have been helped better in the summer of 2003 and in early 2004 should have been guided by the Tories at TDC to apply for some of the 11 million allocated to the South east through Sport England. An opportunity to help was lost and all work that went on prior to May 2003 has been thrown away. Dreamland,which had a buyer in January 2003, is now struggling to find an operator for this season and is in a very sorry state.The outstanding monies from the Scenic Railway campaign are no where to be seen. Arlington House residents are locked in battle with Freshwater who have done nothing to look after communal areas and allowed phone masts on the roof until we forced them to stop recently.

Councillor Iris Johnston PPC North Thanet Labour Party holds Surgeries every Tuesday at the Baptist Church Cecil Square Margate 8.45am to 9.45am, and at 44 Northdown Road every Saturday from 9.30am to 10.30am and Herne Bay first Tuesday Monthly CVS offices Beach Street Herne Bay from 2pm to 3pm and Roving surgeries elsewhere as advised by leaflet drop."

* Editor's note: The latest employment figures show that 1,126,000 young people were not in work, education or training. under-25’s neither working nor in full time education is 44,000 higher than when the government came to office.

The ONS statistics show that employment has risen steadily from 25.3 million in 1993 to 28.4 million today. But its report also makes clear: "While employment levels have generally been increasing over the past four years, the rate of increase has been no more than in line with population growth, leaving the trend in the employment rate largely flat since 2000."
Thanet Airshow or is it Margate?

I see that the Thanet Council website is having problems. Any attempt to search on, well anything, returns an error. As local government websites go, its nothing to be proud of, simply look at the "What's On" page which looks as if it's been coded by a volunteer on a youth opportunities scheme.

I've pointed out that the search engine is broken but have so far resisted the urge to remotely "NMAP" the website to reveal any other problems that may be hiding beneath the surface.

In fact, I was trying to find out about the summer "Margate Airshow", which I subsequently discovered has been outsourced to an events company, Tonge International. The council were however quite happy to sell me advance tickets although there was some question as to whether these might be parking tickets or tickets to view the air display. In fact airshow tickets I've found out will cost £5.00 for a place on the beach at Palm Bay and the organisers are hoping to attract a number of popular displays, including the Red Arrows.

Calling it "The Margate Airshow" will cause all kinds of confusion on the Internet as there already exists a really big airshow in Margate, South Africa, which might confuse some of the pilots on the way here, if they punch it into their aircraft GPS. Best call it the "Thanet Airshow" I think and that way, it's unique.

As I wrote in an earlier entry on the Thanet airshow, there are lots of historical local aircraft hidden around on the island that might be persuaded to fly-by as well, such as the Tiger Moth, Currie Wot and Stampe 1930's biplanes now at Maypole.

The Maypole Stampe

Now based at Maypole farm, G-BRXP started life as a French Stampe SV4C with an inverted engine, strengthened airframe and Renault PO5 engine in 1948 and found its way to the Armee de L'Aire as a trainer at Etamples. In 1955, it moved to St Yan (SFASA) a special aerobatics unit, with a distinctive red and yellow colour scheme in which it is painted today.

Between 1956, its first major overhaul and 1961, it served with the Patroille de France, St Yan touring airshow, and then when its CofA expired in 1966 found its way first to New Jersey and then to Lebanon, Tennessee in the united States where it was renamed "Kindred Spirit."

In 1990 it arrived in Britain and was given the registration G-BRXP and it was planned to give it a 160hp Lycoming engine. Problems having this approved resulted in it being given a Gipsy Major 10 Mk2 conversion from a Chipmunk.

In 2001 it was bought by Terry Brown and shipped to the legendary Brian Mayo at Maypole Air in Kent for a total rebuild, which was carried out over a three year period. Its UK CoFA was issued on 21st July 2004
Football Comes Home

Margate Football Club should be back in a rebuilt stadium in time for next season. Work should start immediately, as the stadium already has the necessary planning permission but it won't be up to the 5,000 capacity Nationwide Conference standard.
On Council Tax Rises

Council tax bills will increase by more than twice the level of inflation this year with town halls giving warning of even steeper rises in 2006.

Today’s muted council tax forecasts demonstrate once and for all that local democracy in Britain is neither local nor democratic. Householders will be relieved to learn that only 12 councils plan to raise taxes next year by more than 5 per cent. But they should also beware: the lid that ministers have rushed to place on council tax in the run-up to the election will soon blow off again. (See The Times)

The council tax increase facing Thanet residents is 4.46%, just under the government ceiling of 5%
More Later

Presently no news to report in Thanet but back later!

"It's mine and you can't have it"

Thursday, February 17, 2005

A Birds Eye View

Nothing much to see when I was floating above Thanet today other than a crane, that has appeared in the grounds of the Charles Dickens School in Broadstairs. Instead, here are a couple of bonus photos from the summer, first one angle of Ramsgate and then, very recognisably, Canterbury city centre. These are actually hi-resolution JPEG files that enlarge in fine detail but can't really be appreciated from these small embedded versions.

However, with a little help from a combination of a good Nikon lens and computer imaging software, a photo can be enlarged enough to see my wife using the pressure washer from space!

If readers are interested in having photos of their own houses, this can be arranged on inquiry.

Ramsgate town photo

Canterbury from above but shown below.

Canterbury city centre
Organ Sale

To help raise funds for the Tsunami appeal, local resident Mrs Hill, is putting her fabulous Wersi Spectre organ up for sale, the "Rolls Royce" of organs we're told! For more information please send an email.

Does Salmestone Matter?

A letter from reader James Maskell

Last week the local Labour Party published a small magazine entitled "Salmestone Matters". Sadly not a single word actually related to Salmestone ward.

Labour could have congratulated the QEQM hospital on working so hard to run an efficient and effective hospital service often under the most tremendous stress.

Perhaps they could have mentioned the great primary school results achieved in Salmestone ward.

The staff and pupils at St. Gregory's, Draper's Mills and Salmestone Primary schools should be very proud of the hard work that they do.

Perhaps the Labour Party could have mentioned the number of small businesses in the ward which are still around despite the tough regulations imposed under New Labour.

The lack of a statement by Cllr Young on his work for the ward is surprising. Is he now a "non-person" in the New Labour catalogue?

I have lived in Salmestone ward for twelve years and am proud to live and work here. Salmestone matters to me. Why doesn't it matter to Labour?

Historical Note:

Salmestone Grange
is one of the best preserved and most interesting examples of monastic granges in Europe. Set in beautiful, tranquil surroundings to the west of Margate in Kent, Salmestone Grange is steeped in history and is one of the area's oldest inhabited buildings.

Between 1290 and 1400 Salmestone Grange served as a rural 'retreat' for the abbot and monks of St. Augustine's Abbey at Canterbury.

Small Island - Many Cars

How many more cars can Thanet take before it sinks?

Cars are increasingly a local problem as most of us recognise. Our local roads were never designed to take the traffic volumes that they now have to cope with in rush hour. Parking is a nightmare in some areas and jams are becoming a regular fact of life on our narrow roads.

A view toward Birchington. Unspoiled Thanet

Add to this the scourge of abandoned cars and the local habit of selling vehicles from the side of the road and we’re reminded why “Del Boy” Trotter spent his holidays here in the television series.

Take Westgate Bay Avenue in Westgate as an example. It used to be quiet but now acts as the morning relief road for the Canterbury Road between Birchington and Margate. The blind hill opposite the tennis courts, where the road narrows is an accident blackspot, with five accidents in two years. This is where one enterprising local car dealer, we’ll call him “Del Boy”, cleverly positions his “pre-owned” bangers, knowing that traffic, reduced to a single lane has to stop and look at them or occasionally, run into them.

The police and council point out that although the Canterbury Road is zoned and street trading is prohibited, Westgate Bay Avenue and Westbrook Avenue are still open to “licensed” street traders, except that Del, the police tell me, isn’t licensed, is fast on his feet and has a string of mobile phone numbers and occasionally sends Rodney and Trigger along to move the used cars around when their tax expires atthe end of the month.

How about the council banning street trading along Westgate and Westbrook avenues in the interests of public safety and improved traffic flow? If I’m right, there will be another accident in the same spot within six months and this column will come back to haunt the traffic department.

A Statement from the relevant council department in response to a concerned local resident's letter says:

"Thanet District Council and KCC have produced a list of roads where such activities are prohibited, unfortunately, Westbrook Avenue is not one of these roads. As such, any action taken would depend on the status of the vehicles. If they are untaxed, they can be treated as abandoned vehicles and arrangements made for their removal. If they are parked in a dangerous location, then I am afraid that it would be a matter for the police to enforce."

Of course the Police have better things to do and if you want to have an abandoned car towed from your street, call 577066 and the council will send someone along to deal with it.