Thursday, March 31, 2005

Keep it Clean

Green Clean
Originally uploaded by DrMoores.

After giving up the battle to post a comment on this Weblog, Cllr Ingrid Spencer, who I spoke with a week ago, has very kindly taken prompt action on behalf of residents and written a reply to the earlier concerns expressed over seafront rubbish and other issues. She briefly refers to my observation over Heroin "sharps" but I did point out that when I discovered these, nobody from the council actually came 24 hours after I had reported their presence on the seafront to the council and so I very carefully disposed of them myself. She writes

Dear Dr Moores,

Further to our telephone conversation regarding rubbish in Westgate.

• It is a priority of this Conservative Administration to see a clean, tidy and safe Thanet that all residents can take pride in.

• After more than a decade of the ubiquitous black bags that have been a blight on Thanet, this Conservative administration is introducing wheeled bins to the majority of the island. This will have a twofold effect: proper containment of waste will drastically reduce the amount of littering by cutting off a source of food supply to seagulls, vermin and other animals that forage in the bags and windblown litter resulting from poorly secured bags; whilst at the same time increasing the level of recycling. Those properties deemed not suitable for wheeled bin containment will not be excluded. Officers are in contact with other Authorities regarding alternative methods, what works and what has not worked so well. Changing attitudes will not happen overnight, but once TDC has done “its bit” in supplying the means, then residents unwilling to accept their responsibilities will be targeted and enforcement action taken. The present system makes enforcement extremely difficult.

• There are only two authorities in England and Wales that pay more for street cleansing than for waste collection. Oxford is one and Thanet the other. Whilst I do not know Oxford’s reason, I am certain there is a direct correlation between the poor method of waste containment in Thanet and the amount spent on clearing litter. This has been borne out in the S.W.A.P. report into Thanet’s waste service.

• Since taking control of TDC, this administration has increased the amount of recycling from a paltry 4% in 2001/02, 6.4% in 2002/03, to 13.47% in 2003/04, missing our target by .53%. This year we should achieve our statutory recycling target of 18%. Considering where we started and the extremely limited amount of resources at our disposal, this achievement in such a very short space of time is a credit to both the staff of our waste and recycling department and the willingness of Thanet’s residents to recycle. This administration takes its responsibilities to Thanet and the wider global community very seriously. Considering the Kyoto agreement was signed in 1997 and the EU Landfill Directive in 1999, I was surprised to find that no provision whatsoever had been made for recycling in the waste contract signed by the previous administration in 1999.

• The frequency of beach cleansing does decrease during the winter months. Similarly, a considerable number of litterbins are put into storage during the winter and re-installed for the season. Each bin costs between £300/£400 and vandals destroy many each year. This summer, there will be even more bins on Thanet’s beaches supplied through our Environmental Action Programme, an initiative introduced by this Conservative administration.

• You are possibly aware that TDC is bringing the waste and street cleansing contract back in-house as from April 2006. The grounds maintenance contract has already been brought back in and we are looking to streamline and integrate the services in order to remove barriers to more cohesive working.

•As part of the new service, we shall be investing in more mechanised cleansing methods. This will be in addition to the Schmidt machine purchased from my budget that has been instrumental in cleaning from the town centres years of accumulated ingrained grime, and is now used extensively by the Environmental Action team. The next area to be targeted by the EAP is Cliftonville West.

• With regards to the Westgate matters you raised, I arranged to have the area swept and litter-picked and I twice visited the site on Thursday to ensure the work was being carried out. SITA were clearing rubbish and removing litter caught in the fencing whilst at the same time, TDC’s grounds maintenance crew were weeding the rockery and clearing litter from the beds.

• The matters you raised regarding drug supply I shall pass on to the Community Safety Partnership.

• I checked with Peter Thomas over the matter of drug paraphernalia on West Bay; a team from TDC had been sent down but could not find any syringes etc.

• Westgate will soon see new floral enhancements along the Canterbury Road, courtesy of the Environmental Action Programme.

• The sunken gardens at Westbrook do give rise to problems. It’s prone to vandalism and wanton destruction. Two years ago I had to call out emergency services at the weekend as vandals had broken off a tap head and water had been gushing out since at least the day before. As I think I mentioned to you, I have seen mothers sitting chatting whilst their children have run through the flower beds trampling plants and compacting the soil. It’s not just yobs who ruin the environment for others, but a society that has difficulty with the word “no” and the concept that rights go hand-in-hand with responsibilities.

If there is any further information I can give in respect of my portfolio I shall be happy to do so.

Yours sincerely

Cllr Ingrid Spencer
Westgate Ward Councillor
Cabinet Member for the Environment & Community Development

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Tony Says

I'm just watching the Sky News interview with Tony Blair as I prepare to catch my midnight flight back to a very different-looking seaside town in Thanet, from the view over the beach here in Muscat.

Why I wonder, is there so little crime, is everything so neat and tidy, the people astonishingly polite and I can let my small daughter roam away from sight at will, knowing that she's safer here than anywhere in Europe?

In 2001, on the evening before a visit to the region, representing the Cabinet Office, one of the Prime Minister's advisors called me at home asking what I was up to. He told me that "We have nothing to learn from a bunch of Arabs", when I explained there were some useful lessons to learn from the experiences of some of the smaller Gulf States. I disagreed quite strongly with this rather jaded view because I believed there were all kinds of things we learn. Among them of course, is a stong sense of national identity and pride, very little alcohol of course and a very powerful institution of marriage. Every country has its problems but in most, if not all the countries adjacent to where I'm sitting, the very things that escape us in Britain, are accepted as the norm.

Of course, there is no convention on human rights to follow and justice is swift and frequently uncertain but then there are no ASBOs or evidence of drugs-related or alcohol-fuelled crime. education and teachers are held in the highest esteem and there's no snow to stop the trains in Winter.

OK.. some of this may be a little tongue in cheek because I'm not advocating that we all move to Oman but what I am saying is that in terms of the most basic demands that we make of our own politicians, they seem to have solved the problems here, that make it a nice safe and tidy place to live. Where did we go so wrong in Britain I wonder?

Silicon Clip
Originally uploaded by DrMoores.

I'm not so sure I want to be reminded of this association. Just back from the Middle-east, it's come back to haunt me and I'm about as far way from New Labour and it's policies as one can be these days!

Monday, March 28, 2005

Thoughts on Jetskis

The Jetski season is almost upon us again and I'm responding to a couple of comments over remarks I made on the subject last year.

Jetskis are noisy, fun and an unavoidable fact of life for anyone living by of visiting the coast in summer. While many, if not most Jetskis are ridden by responsible adults, a great many are ridden by anti-social adolescents who pay little or no regard to the offshore rules governing the use of such machines or simply don't care. On any weekend, watching such craft between Minnis Bay and Westbrook, this is the only conclusion that can be reached.

Jetskis enroaching inshore at high tide are as much as a hazard to swimmers as are speedboats. I can vaguely recall the last fatality at St Mildred's Bay, when a swimmer was struck by a speedboat and I suspect that it's only a matter of time before this happens with a jetski or jetskis, as the hooligan element are frequently observed to operate in pairs. When I get back to the UK I will attempt to find a photo of such a pair being cornered by the inshore-rescue at Westgate, much to the embarassment of their riders, who looked to be in their late thirties.

Being absolutely selfish, I would like, as I have done for many years, to be able to swim between the bays without fear of being hit if I stray outside the yellow lifeguard patrol buoys.

So by all means let's have people play with their noisy hi-speed toys. After all, I have an aircraft and a motorcycle but let's also play by the rules of the air, the road and the sea, for safety's sake if nothing more.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

This Way Home

Originally uploaded by S'mart.

Easter weekend, except that I'm posting this from half way across the world. Has anyone noticed if the council has made any effort to clean-up the seafront between Westgate and Margate while I'm away?

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Briefly Interrupted

So there I was then, sitting in a bedouin tent, drinking coffee and puffing on a "Shisha" pipe, one of my favourite activities, when my cellphone rang and a client asked if I had the contact details of the Deputy Director of the US Secret Service.

Old Photos 088
Originally uploaded by DrMoores.

"It's a secret", I said but was forced to part with his email address. The voice at the other end seemed a little surprised when I told him where I was and what I was doing.

Thanks to Vodafone's ability to "reach-out" and touch me, I'm just as available here, at the edge of the Desert with a four hour time zone difference, than I am, sitting on the seafront at home in the UK. You can run of course but you can't hide. From Vodafone that is and the same is probably true of the US Secret Service too!

I'm afraid that my connection here in Oman this week, is only a dial-up link, which is going up and down like a yo-yo, so I can't post as easily as I might like. I'll do what I can though.

The Germans are, I see still up early and leaving towels draped over the best sun-loungers around the hotel pool. I suppose that's how the Second World War "Kicked-off". A group of heavily armed tourists decided to leave their towels all over Poland but the British and French objected.

The first thing I observed here last night was no rubbish and absolutely no graffiti. Perhaps they can teach us something in Thanet. After all, you can try littering or being artistic on someone else's wall but they're a little tougher on such things here. Nobody ever tries it a second time!

A note on leaving comments please everyone. No personal attacks and please let's keep any criticism objective or at least humorous or satirical. As adminstrator, I can remove material but I very much wish to keep this as an open and democratic discussion site for all.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Coastguard Over Margate

Coastguard Islander Margate Harbour
Originally uploaded by DrMoores.

The Coastguard Islander seen over Margate this afternoon. An interesting challenge to fly, very enjoyable and thanks to the very professional team at Air Atlantic who operate these aircraft for the Coastguard. Pilots Adam Hunt and Richard Baker, - See Below - based at Manston at TG Aviation and keeping an eye on the waters around Thanet.

Coastguard Cessna 406-1
Originally uploaded by DrMoores.

Above, along for the ride, taking photos and keeping us company in the Cessna 406 and Pilots Baker and Hunt seen reading this month's Pilot Magazine.

Coastguard Pilots
Originally uploaded by DrMoores.

Select any photo to see more shots from today.

Minnis Bay Sea View

Minnis Bay Sea View
Originally uploaded by DrMoores.

A nice sea photo of Minnis Bay by Tom Gardner.

Busy day for me as I'm off to Oman at the crack of dawn tomorrow for a week. If I can post from the Intercontinental in Muscat, then I will, as it should have a broadband connection. It raises an interesting thought over posting a Thanet website from half way across the world.

Today, I'm seeing EUJet's Stuart McGoldrick at 3pm and this morning, I'm taking the Coastguard aircraft out on a "Mission" from Manston. Writing reviews for magazines like Pilot, offers some interesting "test drives", a bit like Top Gear but with aircraft, so I'll post any good photos up here when I get back

Monday, March 21, 2005

Better School Meals Campaign

Vote Now!

Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver is imploring internet users to get behind his campaign to improve the quality of school dinners. It doesn't sound like much but the impact of a healthy diet on the development of a child is life-shaping and Oliver is now attempting to remove the sugars, fats and E-numbers from their schooling.

The Feed Me Better website has already amassed 150,000 signatures which Oliver will present to UK Prime Minister Tony Blair later this week. (So sign up now if you haven't already.) Over the weekend the number of signatures increased by 50,000, suggesting the campaign is really gathering pace at 'internet speed' as 10 people tell 10 friends, who all tell 10 friends - you all know how it works.

You can lobby your local MP about better school meals in Thanet by followingthe sidebar links or leave a comment here. Roger Gale, the Thanet North MP is a regular visitor to Thanet Life.

Please Pass Around

Thanet Life Advert
Originally uploaded by DrMoores.

Please help us build the readership and pass around this piece of promotional artwork for the website. You'll find a weblink to the file for download, HERE. Thanet%20Life%20Advert.jpg

Thank you!

Unpaid Help

I've just been picking up some of the rubbish along the promenade at St Mildred's Bay. It's Monday, a single bin was available on the seafront to take litter over the weekend and it filled-up on Saturday afternoon, with the inevitable result that broken glass and litter is sprayed along the beach, which is hardly child or dog friendly.

The owner of Pav's cafe appears equally disgusted at the mess. "Don't really know what I pay for anymore," he told me. "Most mornings I sweep the area myself." He echoed my own thinking that the council had given-up on keeping the seafronts tidy out of season.

I've just spoken with Cllr. Ingrid Spencer who has agreed to comment on the problems by email. She tells me that the rubbish collection contract will be taken back in-house by Thanet Council in twelve months time but until then, they need to find the money and a "joined-up" solution to the on-going litter problem. I think we all agree and she's going to be taking the matter up with the council today.
Kent Police "Blue Light Decision" - "Bizarre" - MP

North Thanet`s MP, Roger Gale, has described as "bizarre" the reported decision that Kent Police intend to remove the blue lights and sirens from ordinary police cars.

"Of course accidents caused by police and involving innocent members of the public are regrettable,” says the MP "but surely there must be a sense of proportion about measures to reduce such accidents. Removing some of the basic tools of the patrol car's trade hardly seems to me to be the best way to instil confidence in the public or in the police officers themselves.

To add, as appears to be the case, that this is likely to lengthen response times that many regard as already too long is to compound the situation.

How are patrol officers, responding to 999 calls generated by road traffic accidents, anti-social behaviour, burglary and the like, to be expected to swiftly reach the scene of an incident if they are unable to use the blue light and the siren to clear a path through traffic?

If this story has appeared in a couple of week's time one would have treated it as an April Fool's joke. As it is, it would appear that once again those whose wish would seem to be to make the fight against crime more difficult have won the day. If police drivers need more and better training then give them that training but don't ask them to do what is already a difficult and sometimes dangerous job without the means to help them get to the scene of crime or accident as fast as possible

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Minnis Bay Sunset

Minnis Bay Sunset by Thomas Gardner
Originally uploaded by DrMoores.

A delightful photograph of a sunset at Minnis Bay, one of Thanet's most famous attractions, thanks to the work of painter, Joseph Turner, who dominated British landscape painting during the first half of the nineteenth century.

Turner's watercolors and oil paintings proclaim his innovative technical virtuosity: full of movement and drama, they investigate the mutable effects of light and atmosphere in compositions that frequently border on abstraction. (Photo by Thomas Gardner)

The Silent Majority Speak

Thanet Says No
Originally uploaded by DrMoores.

Is this what the Silent majority in Thanet really thinks but local democracy isn't giving them a voice? You tell me.

How the same picture might looking hanging in the Turner Contemporary. A bargain at £1.00 when contrasted with the price of local artist, Tracey Emmin's dirty bedclothes or Whitstable beach hut.

Turner Centre 2005
Originally uploaded by DrMoores.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Hidden Gem

Tucked in next to the arcades on Margate's Marine Parade is "Space City Gifts and Collectables." If you have any interest in model or many kinds, militaria and military history, then pop-in for a look. I was quite amazed by what I found in there today, as I walked in by chance.

Originally uploaded by DrMoores.

Everything from detailed scale models of aircraft and armoured vehicles to a small library, covering ancient warfare to the present day, with collections of highly specialist works, such as the "History of the Eighth Airforce" or "German Aces of the Russian Front."

Not for everyone, I know but hidden-away behind the candyfloss on Margate seafront it's a little gem for the enthusiast. (tel 01843 295549)

Margate Walk

I’ve just returned from a walk into Margate, following the paper trail of rubbish along the seafront until I finally arrived in the High Street to do some shopping. The experience left me wondering whether all seaside towns suffer from the same problems we have here.

Margate Sands
Originally uploaded by DrMoores.

On the way to Marks and Spencer, I encountered enough examples of mischief making and disorder to deserve a cursory police presence but didn’t see one at all in the course of an hour.

There was the group of fifteen or so teenagers milling around the Clock Tower, in plain view of the CCTV cameras and amusing themselves by kicking a football off the side of passing buses, as they climbed the hill to Cecil Square. I watched as one bus driver stopped for a “word” and saw him threatened and abused in return. Perhaps he radioed-in, I don’t know but he stayed there with his hazard lights flashing for a long time and his passengers can’t have been happy.

At the Nayland Rock shelter, the space was divided between alcoholics and the immigrants enjoying the Turner sunset and further down the promenade towards Westbrook, I had to give way to a quad-bike, racing along the promenade at 40mph, piloted by a wild-looking thirteen-year-old, my guess. A little further on, in the shadow of the old Sea bathing Hospital, two more teenagers were indulging in drugs but I couldn’t work out whether this was crack or marijuana, more likely the latter that they were carefully preparing.

This is Margate
Originally uploaded by DrMoores.

Why haven’t we at the very least community police officers patrolling the seafront on a Saturday afternoon or have we surrendered any idea of local law-enforcement to CCTV cameras which deter, well nothing, from what I witnessed.

Why is there so much litter spoiling miles of seafront? We have hordes of perfectly able refugees paid for out of our Community Charge and hundreds of young unemployed men milling around aimlessly in a limbo where even the government has given-up any hope of finding a university that might take them off the statistics. Is it politically incorrect or a violation of their human rights to suggest that we have these people contribute something to the community by tidying it up or is that fascism rather than a practical solution to a local problem?

It does not have to be like this and so I wonder why Thanet is getting it wrong? Where are the policeman and the litter collectors and what are are we paying for with our local taxes. Where are the priorities? Who’s in charge and how can we rescue Thanet from so many problems?

Foggy Day

A foggy start to the morning but with every chance of the spring sunshine following by mid-morning.

Boating Pool-3
Originally uploaded by DrMoores.

A view of the beach at St Mildred's Bay with visibility down to a hundred yards or so.

Westgate Fog -1
Originally uploaded by DrMoores.

A Tale of Two Thanets

Thanet represents a microcosm of life in Britain today. On the side side, you have the urban side of the island with problems of drink. drugs, antisocial behaviour, imposed multi-culturalism and a touch of almost inner-city-type neglect in a few well known areas of Cliftonville and Ramsgate. On the other side live the majority, who are deeply loyal to the island and want a peaceful, clean and tidy environment in which to retire or bring-up their children in one of the prettiest seaside areas of the country.

Thanet Springtime
Originally uploaded by DrMoores.

Thanks to the community charge, living here isn't cheap. My own charge has now risen to £155 a month and like the silent majority, I would like to see something tangible in return for such a large sum. I want to see the seafront and flowerbeds kept free of litter. I want to see the same public areas with the grass and hedges cut neatly back, somewhere that tourists fleeing from the centre of Margate or Ramsgate might wish to stop and enjoy the view and quiet in the summer.

"I want, I want" sounds childish but as a child, living in Thanet, I remember that the place was kept neat and tidy by a council that had a sense of pride in its work. Old postcards of the sixties might give you an idea of the well-kep scenery along the island's seafront, which now, like the Sunken Gardens in Westgate, is a crumbling and unkempt shadow of what it once was.

Most people everywhere want the same and yet I sense that Thanet Council is so split into "jobsworth" silos of responsibility that they don't give a damn whether the seaside is clean and tidy or even vaguely presentable. With almost everything outsourced to the lowest bidder contractor,we've lost our sense of pride in where we live or rather, they have because management doesn't live here anymore.

Rocks in Fog
Originally uploaded by DrMoores.

This has got to stop, even if it means a mini "poll tax" revolt one day. Rather than multiple and expensive hare-brained tourist schemes, like the Turner, let's get back to basics and spend the money where it's most needed and start with the public areas between Westbrook and Birchington before summer arrives.

Say "No" to litter and "Yes" to the return of a sense of pride in where we all live.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Original Pipes

Original Pipes
Originally uploaded by DrMoores.

Not quite the most romantic view of Thanet but an interesting shot of the old pipes running into the sea at St Mildred's Bay on a glorious spring day. If there were any crabs remaining after the mysterious mass extinction episode this month, you might be able to see them, as the water is unusually clear today.

Ed: This is, I think an old, disused sewage or overflow pipe, no longer working I hope.

Pipeline Fog
Originally uploaded by DrMoores.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Council Planning Debate

As a member of the TDC Planning Committee, Cliftonville West ward councillor Clive Hart has been lobbying the Planning Chairman for several months to hold a ‘special site visit’ in the Surrey Road area of Cliftonville in order for members to see for themselves the particular circumstances of an area that has suffered badly from anti-social behaviour over the past two years.

At Wednesday night's planning session Cllr. Hart repeated his demand for a ‘special site visit’ and eventually the Chairman and committee agreed that they would hold one shortly.

This is an unprecedented move for the planning committee who usually only hold site visits in order to view individual planning applications.

Cllr. Hart said ‘I believe it is important that my fellow planning committee members are made fully aware of the particular circumstances faced by residents in this area of Cliftonville. I sincerely hope that the special site visit will go a long way to improving their understanding of local issues and thereby help them to make better informed decisions in future’.

Local Character

Local Characters
Originally uploaded by DrMoores.

Sent in by Barrie Smith, this is local Picture Framer, Tony Hyde, who has his business in Station Rd, Birchington.

Barrie tells us that Tony is "An excellent framer, he is always pleased to help and welcomes customers in his art-packed shop."

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

A Seafront Disgrace

Westgate Seafront Rubbish
Originally uploaded by DrMoores.

So this is how we have to live in Thanet? The first signs of spring and the daffodils are out on the seafront flowerbeds and alongside them the usual litter blight, with more photos visible behind this one if you look.

It's a constant disgrace and the council should be ashamed or shamed into taking action here at "Rubbish by the Sea."

Unhappy reader Barrie Smith writes:

"Wednesday is bin day , last week they did not collect anything from my full bin, this week I was on hand to check. They did the bin but would not take a small amount of carpet, when I asked them if they would take it, I was told, "sorry Mate council say we can't take that". I did not believe him so I called the refuse dept of TDC they said they would collect it for £10.50! So the bin men were right, The Council not only want the most expensive rates but they want to charge twice to collect anything which is out not in a black bag. "

"Another TDC rip off, worst is, that they do this to the poorest part of the community without cars to go to the dump, OAP who can not lift heaver loads or afford to drive over to Sandwich, the Margate tip is closed. They wonder why there is fly tipping all over Thanet. "

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Missed Post

Good news forEUjet, a 100% jump in bookings this year but one of our readers is a little puzzled by EUjet's grasp of local geography. Unable to use the comment facility on the ThanetLife website, which appears temporarily broken, he writes:

"According to the EUJET website Manston Airport is only five minutes away from Ramsgate Station! And according to the website they have "shops" at the airport as well - I only saw one there last week but the others must be hiding I suppose."

Now I think he may be wrong. If I jump into my car at midnight, put my foot flat on the floor and don't stop at any point between Manston and Ramsgate station; traffic lights and the Westwood speed camera included, five minutes is quite possible. Mind you, in all honesty, it's easier than Heathrow. I'm in Oman next week and have to leave Thanet at 4am if I'm to stand any chance of getting through the M25 to my 9:05 flight from Terminal 4. I rather wish EUjet flew to Oman instead!

Another reader Tony Carpenter writes:

"It's very difficult to find a proper timetable for EU Jet but - and it was my ears and belated memory that did eventually kick in - but where have all the planes gone?

The number of flights seems drastically reduced - no early flights, only one flight a day to Amsterdam etc. What's up?"

On another note, I've just seen the video of the EUjet emergency at Manston last month. It shows very clearly that I was wrong in my first report and that the starboard wheel on the aircraft was not locked in the gear down position on one of the passes they made down the runway and the crew must count themselves lucky that the problem corrected itself.
Ongoing Website Problems

Apologies to anyone experiencing problems with the website. Blogger, who host ThanetLife are aware of this and issues, such as being unable to post comments are being experienced by everyone hosted on their Servers. They are working, I'm told, to resolve the problem.

In the meantime, if you have comments, please email them to the Editor.
Thanet Parkway Station "A Step Closer Today" - MP

The realisation of proposals to create a Thanet Parkway Station to serve East Kent and Manston airport has "moved a step closer today" says North Thanet`s MP Roger Gale.

Speaking following a meeting with the Director of Franchise Sponsorship for the Strategic Rail Authority, Roger Jones, the MP said:

"I am hugely encouraged by the outcome of what was a most constructive meeting. While the award of an integrated rail franchise for Kent cannot be said to be dependent upon the creation of a Parkway Station it is clear that the Director has an enthusiasm for the concept and will take proposals for such a station into account."

Old train
Originally uploaded by DrMoores.

The MP, who has promoted the Parkway concept for ten years adds:

"We now have a clear timetable for the bidding and award of the franchise. Following the completion of the Data pack by the end of this month there will be a 60-day period for the bidding process for the Integrated Kent Franchise to take place. The award of the franchise will be made and the new operator installed by Christmas."

"Hitachi have confirmed delivery of the first of the new trains needed to run on the fast link by January 2007 and following 18 months of test-running on CTRL and domestic track they should enter service in December 2009."

"We therefore have until that time to bring about the creation of the East Kent Parkway Station located to serve Manston Airport, the Thanet Towns, Sandwich and Herne Bay. After the meeting today I am more convinced than ever that this can be achieved and I hope and trust that the franchise will be awarded to a company that is able and willing to realise this opportunity. Like the East Kent Access Road, this project is vital to the economic development not just of the airport but of the whole of East Kent."

Also discussed at the meeting between Roger Gale and the Director were the refurbishment of Margate and Herne Bay stations and the need for more resources to combat anti-social behaviour on the railways in Kent.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Worried About the NHS?

With Kent apparently £34 million in the red, here's the BBC's Jeremey Paxman taking on Labour's John "Attack Dog" Reid in living video. Not to be missed. With a special guest appearance from Conservative spokesman, Andrew Lansley, and more statistics than you can shake a stick at, we may be short of a few bob but everything is just fine, or so we're told.

The interview has been awarded an "Annie's Oscar" - created by customers in the legendary Commons bar - for its realistic portrayal of the continuing class war in Britain.

The video nasty kicks off with Paxo branding Dr John a government "attack dog" , followed by the minister accusing the presenter of being a patronising sophisticate with a posh accent and a PhD who insulted him because he had a Glaswegian accent. BBC NEWS

Ed: I had forgotten when I wrote this entry, that two years ago, I was invited along to Newsnight to pitch up against poor "Bob" Ainsworth, the Home Office Minister that David Blunkett had tasked with removing some of our basic freedoms under the first draft of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) . This loosely awarded traffic wardens or any "official" the right to tap your phone. Paxman frightened me enough and anyway, I wasn't really needed. He cut poor "Bob" into sushi and then fed him to the BBC cat as the poor chap attempted to defend the indefensible. Didn't stop the final draft of RIPA getting through Parliament though.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Free Flights from EUjet?

Only if you're delayed though!

EUjet are offering passengers who find themselves delayed by more than five hours, free flight vouchers and refreshments in addition to cash compensation. The company has come in for much criticism lately and these new measures are in addition to the JetText service mentioned in a previous post, as part of an on-going efforts to improve its customer care.

Whether this will impress existing customers remains to be seen. One of our readers writes:

"My efforts to travel out of Kent by air are regularly thwarted by Extremely Useless Jet who have proved spectacularly unreliable over the last months, my most recent flight last Friday from Barcelona arriving 2 days and 3 hours after the date and time I expected to fly, and EUJET made no effort to comply with the new EU compensation and assistance rules except to issue a two euro voucher."

"I now hold various free flight vouchers which I won't even use, I am having one last flight with them to Budapest as its already paid for then its back to EasyJet and Gatwick for me."

EUjet claim that since it's start in 2004, only 2% of flights have been delayed and I have to admit, I haven't experienced any problems and have been generally impressed by the service in contrast with other low-budget airlines. However, people, papers and websites talk, so streamlining the customer service offering is critical to the airline's future, here at the very edge of the known world of aviation.
The End of Homework?

The new headteacher of the Ramsgate School is to ban homework in favour of a longer school day and I for one, believe this is a good idea.

In the eighties I sat on a committee which produced a House of Lords White Paper on Education which predicted many of the problems that education now faces in this country. Using the school day more effectively and keeping children "Off the streets" through putting the school day back to what many of us remember it to be, has to be a positive step forward, particularly for the Ramsgate School, which was once called "Britain's Worst".

Education and aspiration are a constant problem in Thanet and although it's been twenty years since I taught in many of the schools here, I don't see expectations have changed for the better.

Last week, I found myself in a social conversation with two local parents. Between them and in the same week, they had three children on suspension from different schools in Thanet leaving me to ask how we can better support our schools and teachers so this kind of problem becomes less acceptable?
It's Good to Sue

Kent County Council have decided to tell central government where to put their offer to pay half the outstanding £14.8 million of asylum funding and will now sue.

Last train to Margate from platform one

Last Train to Margate
Originally uploaded by DrMoores.

Government had told Kent that it would pay half if the County Council dropped any claim to the remaining balance. Kent spends more on asylum than any other local authority in the country, paying out more than £260 million since 1997 in contrast with Essex and Surrey who had to find £26 million.

Perhaps we should simply refuse to accept any more asyslum seekers in the county until the problem is resolved and Kent taxpayers receive back, in the way of services, what it has lost thanks to the burden placed-upon the county by central government greed and incompetence over the immigration problem?
Problems Posting?

There appears to be a problem for Internet Explorer users posting comments this morning. Mozilla's Firefox appears to work OK but I've reported the problem on to the website operator. Meanwhile, if you can post a comment, anywhere, please do and indicate your browser-type, as this will tell me it's all working again.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

It's a PC World

Just back from a visit to PC World in Canterbury. The first observation is that simply getting there is a miracle. Sturry is still suffering from roadworks and the queue in and out of Canterbury is comparable with the first day of the January sales. It makes sense then to build a few thousand more houses between Sturry and St Nicholas I suppose. Just try driving into Canterbury in five years time. I doubt it will be possible.

PC World, as ever in my experience, had only one till open and two assistants on it. This time, the young lady in front of me appeared to be laundering the remaining notes from the Great Train Robbery and so now, the security guard became involved, with all three carefully examing a very large wad of £50 notes to pay for the electronic goods stacked-up on her trolley.

I asked the older of the two cashiers if they could open a second till, at which point the heavily tattooed security guard retorted that "This isn't Tesco's, we'll be finished soon".

I replied very politely, that unlike Tesco, PC World only ever has one checkout open, cleverly managing to combine bad customer service and bad management in one place. I apologized to the young lady in front of me with her rolls of £50's. "Nothing to do with you love but look at the size of the queue building behind us now because they aren't prepared to use a little initiative."

So PC World, you're prepared to take our money but even Comet has a more efficient till service than you, so whoever is in charge of the Canterbury store go and learn something useful about customer service from Tesco.

Ed. One reader pointed out, quite correctly, that I should support our local Thanet computer stores and not PC World. I do. However, when you have a ten year old who wishes to browse the hundreds of computer games and you want to look at Apple iPod accessories, PC World has a little more variation on offer than local stores but I would wish otherwise.
Is Westgate Vandalism Running Out of Control?

More reports of vandalism and the deliberate targetting of the elderly in Westgate again this week. The police don't have the resources to deal with such low intensity crime which is becoming a fact of life in Thanet and it's now a problem in many areas.

"Psst your wall is next mate"

Looking back on government research, apparently when a population of teenagers reaches above 20% in an area, particularly estates, this kind of vandalism and anti-social behaviour is a consequence. The latest "cool crime" is reportedly knocking down garden walls.
Report Flytipping

Apparently "Flytipping" costs the council £700 a day and is a big problem now in Thanet. If you see it happening near you, then take the number of the vehicle involved and report it on 01843 577777.

I had an experience of this myself, two years ago. I came home to find that a truckload of building waste had been dumped in my drive. A little detective work revealed from some utility bills in the rubbish, where it had come from. A so-called disposal company in Yellow Pages had been hired by a builder to remove all the waste, which they did very effectively, on to my drive. Both he and I called the company involved and received a number of threats and in the end, the developer had to send a second crew around to pick-up the waste, which was nice of him, as the Flytippers weren't going to offer anything other than the threat of violence.
There's a Coincidence

Following the earlier story, "Where are the Fokkers" on the problem of EUjet delays, the airline have started a texting service to passengers, informing them of delays, called Jet Text.

Is this sheer coincidence of something we said I wonder? Well done EUjet anyway for taking a big step forward in improving your customer service.
Dream On

That's it then, bye bye Dreamland, with news that Jimmy Godden has sold the site to developers for a mixture of homes and leisure sites. I can't think of anything worse. Who would want to have a flat in the middle of a dual-pupose amusement arcade on Margate seafront?

Until the planning permissions are resolved, the site will apparently be used for rides over the next two seasons and the famous "Scenic Railway" is protected by English Heritage. Mind you, in Thanet, things have a nasty habit of burning down by all account, so best keep a few buckets of water nearby just in case we have a hot summer.

Friday, March 11, 2005

ID Cards - I'll Have Two Please.

Lots of problems with the website yesterday which I hope are fixed this morning. Pictures appear to come and go without help. If you can see the cartoon below, it's more of a test to see if things are working properly, a little dig at the effectiveness of ID cards which government believes will make us all more secure.

On a related note, one of our local policeman told me recently that preventing our refugee guests in Thanet from driving uninsured and without a license was a near impossible task, particularly around Cliftonville. He pointed out that they might stop and confiscate a car carrying a group of young men but an hour later they would probably see the same group again in another "Banger" in Margate. He agreed with me that it's a local menace but said they didn't have the resources to deal with the problem and prosecuting them appears quite pointless.
A Little Now - A Little Later

The BBC reports this morning that central government has agreed to give Kent County Council half the £15 million it owes for immigration costs to avoid being sued for the full amount - see previous story - .

When any of this money will be returned is anyone's guess and one could imagine a situation where you or I told the Inland Revenue, "Sorry, I admit I owe you £15 million but you can't have it now. Will half do and will you take a cheque?"

Anyone who might have seen last night's disturbing "Dispatches" documentary on Channel 4 might also have heard that the government needs to build at least 1.5 million homes,mostly in the South-east, over the next two decades, simply to house the influx of asylum seekers and their families. Hardly an encouraging statement when according to BBC South-east last night, 60% of people in the region had voted "No" to the Regional Assembly's plans to build up to 30,000 more houses in the region, without the proper infrastructure to support such plans being in place.

In Parliament today, the battle to pass the government's new anti-terror legislation continues as the Lords and the Opposition continue to dig in their heels over a "Sunset" clause. To any observer in a free country, it might seem reasonable, that such a Bill removing one of our last safeguards should at least require Parliamentary review and renewal every year but Charles Clarke thinks not.
An Ambulance Service in Tears?

Local Thanet North MP, Roger Gale, was on the radio this morning telling us that the local ambulance service was under such pressure, that staff have told him they were "Close to tears."

Not so, says the head of the Kent Ambulance service, conceding to seasonal pressures and admitting they are seeking to recruit more emergency technicians.

The truth probably lies somewhere in between and you may not find out until the day you have to call 999.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

The Westgate Dinosaur

Westgate Dinosaur Photo
Originally uploaded by DrMoores.

In the late seventies, a local beach philosopher, who I can only remember as "Old John", happened to notice a fossil protruding from the cliff, between St Mildred's Bay and West Bay. This caused some excitement because such things are not supposed to be found in the local chalk and if I remember correctly, paleontologists from the Natural History Museum in London, carefully removed the fossil, declaring it to be a late model Plesiosaur I think.

Over the years, the hole that remains in the shape of a dinosaur skull has weathered to the point that unless you knew it was there, you wouldn't find it. So before it disappears completely, here's a photograph of the Westgate Dinosaur or at least it's shadow in the cliff. Its head is looking to the right in the photo - you can see the curve of the skull to the left and it's angled about 20 degrees into the cliff from left to right. It's assumed that any other remains are buried in the cliff behind it.

As for old John. Does anyone remember him, out in all weathers with his bicycle, guitar, wire haired Terrier and friendly smile?

Remains of the Day

Remains of the Day - Westbay2
Originally uploaded by DrMoores.

Spring appears to have sprung along the seafront less than a week after the last blizzard. The flowers are also starting to appear but with a second cold snap forecast for the weekend, they may be a little premature.

The photo was taken this afternoon on the seafront at Westbay and more photos can be seen if you select it.

Ramsgate Marina Website

A detailed website exists for information on the Ramsgate marina, which holds, weather information, tide tables and navigational instructions for boats coming and going to the harbour.

This information can be found at on the Ramsgate Marina website.

Photo Airads
Michelin Map of Thanet

For a quick "Zoomable" map of Thanet which expands into good local detail, visit the Michelin site.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Wildlife of Planet Thanet

The Planet Thanet website is very much taken-up with photographs of local birds, insects and of course moths. It has some stunning wildlife photographs and is once again, worth a quick visit.

A second website, the Thanet Coast Project, is an "Educational Open Space" , described as a "Coastal Learning Zone." Something I didn't know about the island!
The Origins of Margate

To add to the websites about Thanet, I've found another with photos and information by the owner of Michael's bookshop in Ramsgate,. Called Thanet Online, it's a nice little website resource and worth a quick visit.

It tells us, by example, that Margate has its roots in a name that "Has been variously spelt as Margat, Meregate and in the 13th Century, de Mergate. 'Mere' could mean sea, lake or pool, and "gate" a way in or out of the country. Perhaps the Brooks, now the site of Dreamland, low-lying and fed by springs, did become a lake (sometimes freezing, to give the locals some skating). For another possibility, a monk of Reculver, Ymar by name, had a dying wish to be buried in St Johns Parish Church. Ymar could have become Margate in time. Tradition insists that an old stone coffin lid at the church was his."

Monday, March 07, 2005

Remains of the Snow

GAXGG Snow March 2005
Originally uploaded by DrMoores.

A desperate escape by two rough-looking characters, disguised as pilots, from the grip of the security guards at Teeside airport who at first refused to let us back out to our aircraft after paying for fuel. In one of those ironies of airport security gone mad, we parked next to the big jets, and walked through the crew entrance into the terminal with no fuss at all. But try getting out again without a full body search!

Back again briefly before setting-off for Leeds and you can see from the photos that Maypole Farm near Hoath, hasn't yet lost its snow. If you click on the photograph you can find more shots and evidence that Scotland was warmer and sunnier than Thanet yesterday.

Jacksons Garage Westgate est:1904

Anyone passing Westgate on the train may have noticed the sign on the large building in the Station Road, Jackson's Stables. Est.1879 This was to drop the horse for the car, it became Jackson's Garage.

Here is a photo of the old cars in 1904 then a more modern look after renovation in 1937.

I knew Cyrill Jackson pretty well, he was a real car enthusiast, in 1963 he let me use his facilities to build a Lotus 7 which I bought from the factory in kit form. This real garage was an Austin agent in those days (BMC) in the late 60's it was bought by Cheshires.

Cheshires was a Triumph dealer when they were the most popular cars, Heralds, Stags and TR sports cars.

Ken Cheshire, I remember restored a 20/25 Rolls Royce and a Jaguar XK120, both to perfection.

Thanks to Ken Cheshire who supplied the photos which give us an insight to Thanet Life in bygone days. Barrie Smith.

Ed: The space is now occupied by Coastal Electrics on one side and Beano's Cafe on the other.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Back Soon

Flying aeroplanes between here Edinburgh and Leeds over the next few days, so postings may be subject to temporary interruption. The Coastguard have very kindly agreed to a go on their Islander, from Manston, later this month and you never know, I might be able to offer you a pilots-eye view from EUjet, which is presently under discussion with the company.

A Brief History of Thanet

A good "potted" history of The Isle of Thanet, from the beginning of recorded history, can be found at a Website named Dexter's Creative Mystic Watch. Not the normal sort of place you might think to find a history of the island but it's there none the less. I would recommend it as a great source of information for school projects.

Don't forget also Wikipedia, the online encylopaedia, which has a large entry for Thanet.
Blot on the Landscape

Channel 4 television wants to know which Thanet eysore you would like to have knocked-down or blown-up for their new series, "Demolition" this autumn. You can vote by visiting the website at Channel or call 09013 263200.

The Soviet-era block of flats that dominates the Margate seafront view must be a popular first choice and removing the Nayland Rock Hotel might be welcomed by many residents of the island. Vote now.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Council Revaluation Bills May Soar After Election

Warning from South Thanet Conservative Candidate

Mark MacGregor today expressed his concern that council tax bills in Thanet and Dover could soar by over £260 a year under the Government's plans for a 'rigged' council tax revaluation. The revaluation process will start this April, with each home being re-assessed for council tax purposes, and new bills being issued in April 2007.

In Wales, two years ahead of England in the revaluation process, four times as many homes are moving up a council tax band as are moving down. Based on the new tax bands introduced in Wales, the average home in South Thanet could be forced up a tax band, from Band D to a Band E. Such an increase would typically add £267 to the current Band D council tax bill.

Mark MacGregor, Conservative Parliamentary Candidate for South Thanet explained:

"Under Tony Blair, council taxes across Dover and Thanet have already increased by over 80%. But I fear that the coming council tax revaluation will be fiddled to increase local tax bills by stealth. Even without any change in the headline rate of council tax, homes will face larger bills."

"Taking the figures for Ramsgate for example where the current average house is £132000, this revaluation would push the average home up from a Band D to a Band E - meaning an automatic hike in council tax bills by £267. This threatens to be a ticking council tax bombshell: intentionally primed to explode after the general election."

The Conservatives plan to introduce additional measures to keep down council tax - including a new 50 per cent discount on council tax for pensioners aged 65.
The 12:00 Snow Report

Snow still falling and the schools are closing again.

Photo Barrie Smith
Ramsgate Harbour Becoming a Beach?

"Oh Yes it Is" - "Oh No It's Not"..!

You decide. Residents fear it's filling up with sand.

Photo Airads
Ladyman Supports Terrorism Bill

Unlike the Thanet North MP, Roger Gale, Thanet South's MP is supporting the government's "Terrorism Bill".

Since this government came to power, we've lost most if not all, of the freedoms and privileges given to our ancestors that started with Magna Carta. The right to remain silent, the right to a jury, the presumption of innocence and now, with the new bill, it becomes far worse. Would you trust Home Secretary Charles Clarke with your own freedom I wonder?
Resurrection Plans

Dreamland may yet return as soon as Easter

Essex-based businessman, Harry Ayres is in negotiations that may yet see the Dreamland Amusement Park re-open this summer with new rides. Having circled over it last weekend, the area presents a forlorn and grubby shadow of the past. Without its amusements, Margate seafront has very little to offer visitors other than a collection of catch-penny arcades and bars, which clash with the more ambitious, up-market plans for the area defined by the Turner Centre.
Crab Mystery

Minus two degree outside this morning and I wondered, when I took the dog to the beach, why the crows were scavenging along the shoreline, it's unusual.

The answer soon became clear. The beach is carpeted with dead velvet swimming crabs, thousands of them and the Gulls, Crows and other sea birds are gorging themselves.

Does anyone know why? Not knowing much about crabs I would have thought it was too early for the breeding season but I may be wrong.

Ed: Apparently this has been reported all across the Island. Today 12th March, Westgate beach is still a carpet of disarticulated crab limbs and shells and the environment agency hasn't any ideas. One fisherman suggests that snow and tides has bought more sewage onshore, which has killed the crabs, but the environment agency say not. My estimate, based on what I have seen at Westagate, puts the toll in hundreds of thousands if not millions across the island.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

St George and The Bailiff

Surprised guests at the Cliftonville St Georges Hotel had their stay interrupted by the appearance of a squad of Bailiffs from Thanet Council, hoping to collect £55 ,800 in unpaid business rates. In lieu of cash, they removed three lorry loads of furniture, leaving the guests with nowhere to sit.

Normally it's the guests that are kicked-out of the Big Brother House but in Thanet, we've come up with a new twist, the furniture leaves first!

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Heavy Snow Covers Thanet

Snow Cover Thanet 3
Originally uploaded by DrMoores.

With the cold weather refusing to move on, heavy snow covered much of Kent today and skiing enthusiast Barrie Smith, find the easiest way of getting round the seafront at Westgate. Many of the local schools have now closed for the day and heavy snowball fighting is taking place as the children find their way home.

(More photos when you select this one)

Snow fight 4
Originally uploaded by DrMoores.

Around the World with B&Q
A Real DIY achievement

Record breaking solo sailor Ellen Macarthur hopes to discover Thanet on her next round the world trip. Seen here being reminded by local MP, Roger Gale, at a Parliamentary reception, that it's not just the Southern Ocean at the edge of the known world, Margate is worth a visit too.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Spooky Thanet

Do you have any hauntings or paranormal happenings to report? There's now a website, Spooky Thanet, devoted to ghostbusting investigations in the area. It currently details the strange goings-on at 74 locations but not my own house, built in 1791. That's 75 then!

Match of the Day

A thrilling afternoon of netball at the match between Chartfield and Upton primary school in Broadstairs.

Upton Chartfield Netball 2
Originally uploaded by DrMoores. (Click on photo for more highlights)

On a bitterly cold day, Upton school, in green, won the clash with a convincing 13 to 5 victory over the smaller Westgate school.

Speaking exclusively to Thanet Life, Chartfield goalkeeper Charlotte Moores (holding the ball) says:

"It was very difficult because they played quite hard but we put alot of effort into the game."
Airshow Website

The summer Thanet Airshow which will take place over Palm Bay, now has its own website. This can now be found at

New airside job opportunities at Manston

The promotional material tells us that: "Combining a spectacular air display with a host of ground activities, the EUjet Flight Margate Air Show will provide a dynamic and fun filled experience for the whole family."

The novel waterskiing display at Palm Bay didn't quite go as expected!

"The air display will take place over Palm Bay in Margate, providing stunning cliff top views of the very latest fast jets, vintage and World War II aircraft, helicopters, parachute displays and much more."

Ed: Better reserve your deck chair early!