Sunday, July 31, 2005

Thanet Skies

With no air traffic control over Thanet today and an open-day at Maypole, we, the local farm-strip pilots that is, have been trying to work what happens next at Manston.

St Mildred's Bay Sunset

As far as I can work out from reported conversations with pilots and ATC controllers, everything stops from tonight, as the Manston people have only been paid up until today. and will meet with the administrators on Monday. With no emergency coverage and without this, I assume no insurance, this could mean, I'm told, that Manston is now unlicensed, in principle at least and nothing can move. So what happens to all the commercial aircraft on the ground, 747 cargo aircraft and even the Coastguard flight unless they moved out overnight?

Answers on a postcard please!

Next weekend, Sunday, is the Woodchurch Wings Airshow over towards Ashford and it's a great family day out if you like airshows. It includes the B17 Flying Fortress Bomber, Sally B, Mustangs, Spitfires and Hurricanes, so don't miss it if you are an aviation enthusiast.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Vacant Lot

I took some flack from a reader yesterday over my jaded observations on the state of Cliftonville and for not mentioning the many positive aspects of the area, which I'm sure exist but don't hit me right between the eyes when I'm cycling around taking photos, as I do. You may note MP Roger Gale's letter below, which dwells on the subject of foster homes, a high proportion of which can be found in the Cliftonville area, alongside our many refugee visitors and apparently a number of individuals recorded on the sexual offenders register. It can only get better, surely, because there has to be a point of turnaround for the area that I can remember as it was twenty years ago.

Meanwhile, the local rag reports that there are as many empty buildings (3,728) on the island as there are people (3,400) on the council's housing waiting list. More empty properties than Brighton apparently. The council aims to try and bring 1,500 of these back into use but it faces an uphill problem and I suspect that next year's changes to pension regulations may actually make the matter worse, as from next April, the new self-invested pension plans (Sipps) will be allowed to contain residential property. That means you can buy a house or flat for up to £215,000 and, if you are lucky enough to be a top-rate taxpayer, you will get 40 per cent tax relief.

The Times comments: "

It is weird enough that a Labour Chancellor is giving such a huge subsidy to the richest taxpayers at a time when ordinary people’s pensions are so inadequate. Datamonitor calculates that the bung to Times readers and our ilk will cost the Treasury more than £2 billion. That is more than the (disappointing) amount that less well-off people have put into the low-cost stakeholder pensions.

But what is even odder is that Gordon Brown should be seeking to boost the housing market just at a time when its excesses seemed to have been brought under control.

Thanet Life
MP "slams" Back at Foster Agent Critics

North Thanet's MP, Roger Gale, has this weekend hit back at foster agents who have criticised the stand that he, with Thanet Council and Kent County Council, have taken over cared-for children.

Speaking in his constituency the MP said:

"There are more than three hundred cared-for children in East Kent and some of them are living cheek-by-jowl with a significant number of registered sex offenders. That may be an unpalatable fact but it is a fact endorsed by social services and the police."

"To suggest, therefore, that we are "picking on the weakest in society who have no voice" and that we are "using looked after children in a political game " is a travesty of the truth and suggest that the foster agents employed by the London Boroughs who made those comments either have not read the Thanet Report or are seeking to protect their own commercial interests."

"It is precisely because we seek to protect and promote the interests of some of the most damaged and vulnerable children in society that we sought, nearly two years ago, to persuade the County Council (in tandem with a Government Inquiry) to instigate a thorough investigation into the circumstances surrounding placement in Kent and to report accordingly. The results of that published report are damning and are in line with the findings of the Commission for Social Care and Inspection and will, I believe, be endorsed by the Government's own report."

"That is why we have now been to see the Children's Minister, Maria Eagle, and why we are pressing for a moratorium on unilateral placements by other Local Authorities."

"There are some excellent specialist Children's homes in the area - I am a regular visitor to some of them - and some deeply caring private foster parents who effectively offer children a fresh start and a new "family" for life and we have never suggested otherwise."

"It is a fact, though, that some London Boroughs and their employed agents do use East Kent as a dumping ground, particularly for the "Friday afternoon children". It is a known fact within London Social Services circles that if there is a crisis on a Friday afternoon then the victims of that crisis tend to be bundled off the to the South Coast and frequently to East Kent. That "dumping", as it has correctly been described, takes place because the Local Authorities concerned have chosen not to make their own provision. "

"Established best practice dictates that a child in need of care should, whenever possible, in that young person's best interests be placed as close to home, friends, extended family, neighbourhood and schools as possible. To do otherwise leads to an inevitable sense of isolation and alienation, often with tragic consequences."

"In extreme cases, where a child needs to placed out of area for their own protection and safety, then it is vital that proper arrangements should be made not only for a host family but for education, primary healthcare and local social services support - with the appropriate funding following the child. "

"If we succeed in bringing about the same sea-change in other local authority practice that has already successfully taken place in Kent then the young people who so desperately need help and care can only benefit. I believe that to be a cause worth fighting for and I leave it to my constituents to judge whether or not they think that we are right."

Thanet Life

Friday, July 29, 2005

New Powers to Tackle Drinking

But Half of 600 Pubs and Bars Seek Extended Licensing!

An order made by Thanet Council means that the police will have the power to stop people drinking alcohol and to surrender any alcohol in their possession, if they are causing nuisance, noise or public disorder. Failure to comply with this could lead to an arrest being made.

The order applies to anti-social drinking in all public highways and pubic places in the District, but is not a comprehensive ban on drinking in public.

The introduction of the regulations comes after similar powers were implemented in May 2002 in a limited number of streets and public parks. The Thanet Community Safety Partnership, a group of organisations, working in partnership to make Thanet a safer place, sent out letters last summer to a range of organisations and individuals, asking for their views on extending the restrictions to the whole of Thanet and the responses received showed overwhelming support for the idea.

Cllr. John Kirby, Cabinet Member for Development Services, said: “These new regulations will give police the power to tackle the problem of anti-social drinking. This is not a complete ban on drinking alcohol, it’s about dealing with those who become rude and abusive while drinking and affect other people’s enjoyment of the area. No-one has any problem with people sitting outside, quietly and responsibly enjoying a drink at a café or as part of a picnic on the beach. What we want to stamp out is the abusive, irresponsible and threatening behaviour of some people when they drink in public places. We want our town centres to be safe places at all times of the day and night and clamping down on anti-social drinking in public is one of the ways that we can achieve that. Thanet is one of the first local authorities in the south east to adopt these legal powers on a District wide basis, covering all public highways and places.”

Thanet Life

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Nobody Home

I was up in the air this evening at 19:00 and called-up Manston Approach for Flight Information as I have hundreds of times in the past. "That's funny", I thought, there's no answer and so I tried again. Nothing, not a sign, not a word.

Normally, one can't get anywhere near Manston without permission from the controllers and so I floated towards it at 1500 feet, remainingly cautiously legal but still nothing. From above, it was deserted, no sign of life at all. And so I flew up and down the runway, practiced an instrument approach, which is normally expensive when the tower is manned and flew back to land at my home base.

It seems then that Manston is now only manned during office hours, all a bit disturbing really, particularly as I've made sure of reminding other pilots in the guide to Le Touquet I've just written, to make sure that they work Manston Radar rather than London Information for the best service across the Channel from Dover.

So until this mess caused by the collapse of EUjet is sorted out, North Kent is now uncontrolled airspace after six O'Clock until further notice. Good time for the French to invade I suppose!

Thanet Life
The Right to Know

Just over a week ago, I commented that subjectively, there appear to be more stories in the local papers involving sexual offenders and crimes, than I thought might be statistically normal for an area the size of Thanet. "Were", I asked, "sex offenders from other regions being "dumped" on Thanet along with the other unwanted social services categories that find their way into the many accomodating hotels and B&Bs around the island?"

Two independent sources inform me that the number of registered sex offenders now living in Thanet who might cause alarm to local parents is between thirteen and fifteen. Instead of being sent to live on a deserted island in the Outer Hebrides, the majority are conveniently situated within walking distance of children's homes, a concern echoed in this month's Thanet Report. Apparently, if you happen to be a parent with young children and are worried by this, you can write to Kent Police requesting information about on who is here and they're supposed to supply it, with some level of detail too!

So, later today, I'll be writing a letter to our Chief Constable and copying it to our MP, Roger Gale and when I find out anything more, I'll let you know. If you would like to add your name to the list, then please send a comment, as of course they will be able to read opinions from this website.

Thanet Life
EUJet - The Inquest Begins

The Times newspaper reports that passenger groups are demanding to know why the Irish aviation regulator had given P.J. McGoldrick an operator’s certificate, despite knowing his poor financial record. The chief executive of EUjet, has been involved in a number of failed businesses and ran another airline that collapsed four years ago.

Mr McGoldrick, had traded on his previous experience running Ryanair, which is now Europe’s largest budget airline. But he was in charge 15 years ago when Ryanair was losing £5 million a year and on the brink of collapsing. The airline only became a success when Michael O’Leary took over as chief executive. Read the full Times story.

Sources close to the airport tell us that it may lose its emergency fire cover at the end of the month. If this happens then it will no longer be able to operate as a commercial airport, so this is a space to watch with interest over the coming week.

Thanet Life

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

EuJet A Photo Tribute

Lee Salway -3

Just to remind ourselves that while thousands of angry passengers try and make their home home from destinations across Europe and others worry about compensation, five hundred people, many of them living locally, have lost their jobs with the collapse of EUJet yesterday through no fault of their own. Here's a small photo memory of the people who worked hard to try and make the struggling airline a local success story over the last ten months.

EUjet Photos

Manston - "Desperately Sad But Not The End"

Roger Gale (MP)

The news that Planestation is to seek voluntary administration and that, therefore, EUjet has ceased flying from Manston has been described as "desperately sad but not the end for the Airport" by North Thanet`s MP, Roger Gale.

The MP, who was at the airport as staff were briefed on redundancies, said last night:

"It is desperately sad for all those, and particularly the staff who have given such commitment and put such faith in the airline, that so many people now find themselves at least for the moment out of work. To see people leaving the terminal in tears was quite awful."

"It is also very sad for those many local people who have forged a relationship with "their" airline and have enjoyed travelling with EUjet."

"We must, though, look forward."

Kent County Council have made it plain that Manston is part of our transport infrastructure in the Local Plan and is therefore not up for grabs for housing, business park or retail development.
We have believed, and continue to believe, that Manston has a significant role to play as a regional airport within the South East and EUjet have proved the potential and the growing demand. Given the fast rail link for which we have been campaigning there is every reason to believe that Manston can still grow and prosper as an airfield and we must work to that end.

Even as I speak moves are afoot to put together a package to maintain the aviation at Manston. In the meantime MPs and the County Council and TDC must do everything possible to help those who have lost their present jobs through what will clearly be a very difficult patch"

Thanet Life
Easy Rescue for EUjet Passengers?

Received this morning.

Following the announcement that EUJet has suspended all of its operations, easyJet, Europe's leading low-cost airline, will offer those passengers stranded at their European destinations, a special rescue fee of £25 to return home to the UK.

easyJet has made this offer available to any EUJet passenger due to travel inbound to the UK during the next seven days (offer available until 23:59 Tuesday 2 August).

To claim the exclusive £25 rescue package, passengers should call easyJet customer services on 0871 244 2366 (other telephone numbers: in Spain 90 229 9992; in Switzerland 0848 888 222; in the Netherlands 023 568 4880; in France 08 25 08 25 08; in Greece 210 353 0300; in Germany 01803 654 321; in Italy 848 887766; in Denmark 7012 4321; in Portugal 808 204 204; in Republic of Ireland 1890 923 922; If you are telephoning from a country not listed above, you can call us on 0044 870 6 000 000) where a maximum of £25 will be charged for the flight. Passengers must provide the agent with their EUJet booking reference number and present their EUJet booking confirmation at check in as further proof of booking.

Meanwhile, another pilot tells me that there was no answer from Manston Radar yesterday afternoon but the airport tells me that it's fully operational today.

In addition, The Times Newspaper reports:

"EUjet is the latest in a series of small budget airlines that hoped to capitalise on the boom in low-cost travel but found themselves unable to compete with Ryanair and easyJet. Air Polonia, Volare and Duo all collapsed last year, affecting about 300,000 people. Several other airlines are struggling to survive among the 50 budget airlines that have sprung up in Europe in the past five years. "

"EUjet’s collapse will strengthen the case made by the Civil Aviation Authority for a fund to be set up to help stranded passengers. People who book package holidays are covered by the ATOL licensing system but budget airline passengers have no protection."

Thanet Life

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

She’s Gone – Wave Farewell to EUjet

It’s a tragedy for Kent and a greater loss to Thanet. The demise of EUjet dashes the hope of developing an area of the country that badly needed the business the airline could have generated to help build a relatively poor local economy. The loss of EUjet means that other budget airlines are unlikely to take the same risk in future and this also raises tsome ough questions over the future of Lydd Airport and its own expansion plans, represented by the millions being poured into re-developing the airfield by its Saudi owners.

EUjet has now suspended all flights to and from Kent International Airport, a day after shares in its parent company were suspended. Even worse, passengers have been left waiting at the airport, with no flights into or out of Manston running. Five thousand passengers are reportedly affected and five hundred jobs will be lost, with some airport staff openly shedding tears as they had to deal with angry passengers marooned at the airport this afternoon.

EUjet ran four Fokker 100 aircraft, flying from Manston to 18 destinations in the UK and Europe. Unable to hit its target of 500,000 passengers in the first year, the airline had already axed two of its destinations - Madrid and Glasgow - because of low passenger numbers, and postponed plans to start flights to Cologne. It was however bullish, perhaps unreasonably about the future if it could make its investment money last. - See my April interview with Managing Director, Stuart McGoldrick - However, the company claims it has 100,000 advance bookings, worth five million Euros and one wonders why, with such strong progress visible, the bank "pulled the plug?"

I suppose that instead of towing a banner for the company on Sunday, I should have towed an obituary! It's all very sad and I feel for the marooned passengers and suddenly out of work staff and crew. Meanwhile, Quentin Wilson, is still promoting EUjet in a TV advert running during tonight's "Holidays from Hell." Perhaps someone had a sense of irony at ITV?

Monday, July 25, 2005

EUjet in Crisis

The BBC reports that the future of budget airline EUjet could be in doubt after shares in its parent company were suspended.

The PlaneStation Group's shares were suspended after the Bank of Scotland said it could not support any additional finance for EUjet, based at Kent's Manston Airport.

Battling to make the airline a local success story, EUjet lost £6.5m in the second half of 2004 and last month, parent group, PlaneStation had to sell off its 75% interest in the Kent International Business Park in Manston, blaming EUjet's poor passenger numbers. Let's hope, for the sake of local employment and the future of the local economy, that it manages to pull through this crisis.

Last December's re-funding was largely underwritten by stockbroker Evolution at 10p a share. The shares were today suspended at 5.35p after they fell more than 8% in early trading. The company's debts are thought to total more than £22 million.

In a statement today, The group said: 'Until now, the directors had no reason to believe that support from its bank would not be forthcoming. However, discussions with the company's bank over the last 48 hours have not been positive, and the company was informed this morning that the bank is no longer able to support the company with additional facilities.'

Flights are running as scheduled and I notice that this afternoon, there are flights from Manston to Seattle and Charlotte, North Carolina, not EUjet I should add.

EUjet reports that it has now flown 270,974 passengers since scheduled services began in September 2004. with total net bookings since commencement now total 373,175. See
The Great British Weed

Seaweed collection in full swing at St Mildred's Bay. In the relentless dizzle of a deserted seafront, no holiday-makers are around to notice or get in the way of this summer's harvest of smelly green stuff.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Spelling it Out

"Your'e not going up in this?", said another pilot this afternoon, as the rain lashed down on the aircraft next to us. "Got to", came the answer, "Bit like the Pony Express, EUjet want their banner over the War & Peace Show at exactly 16:30 and Airads have to be there."

At least we had the skies to ourselves on the way down to position for the banner and broke out of the rain and dense swirling clouds in time to find the grass runway exactly where it should be.

Fortunately, the skies were beginning to clear from the west as the forecast had predicted. EUjet had its banner on time and I managed to throw a cup of coffee over myself as we hit turbulence descending through the clouds. All in an afternoon's work I guess.
War and Peace

There's no beach this morning to speak of, just acres of seaweed that rolled-in with the last tide, an unexpected surprise that local people may start to notice when the summer reappears. The weather wasn't much better up in Norfolk yesterday, although I did manage to find a grass strip to land at, where the Sun was out, the wheat was ripening and no sound from the modern world intruded to hide the calls of the Skylarks.

Today, the final day of the annual War & Peace Show at the Hop Farm near Paddock Wood risks being soaked and with it, the EUjet banner we're scheduled to tow over it after lunch. As the Laddingford strip is just adjacent to the show, I'll be wandering over tot he show when we're finished for a look at the different displays. If you see us, don't forget to say hello, you may get a free ride home to Thanet!

Saturday, July 23, 2005

How To Beat Rising Petrol Costs

Just when I thought I'd seen it all. The pictures speak for themselves but Huskies are cheaper to run than a car and will get to Westwood faster on any weekday morning.

So beat the rush, buy a Husky or better still two and cut your commuting costs down to the cost of steak and dog biscuits.

In fact the chap in the photo also has a microlight aircraft and a rocket-propelled shopping trolley but has become more ecologically friendly in the last year since his investment in canine thrust technology.

Thursday, July 21, 2005


Out and about today and the reservoirs and lakes around Kent are visibly running low on water. How we plan to accomodate 26,000 new homes a year without the onset of more rain than we are having at present is anyone's guess.

Desalination plants to convert seawater perhaps? Seriously though, the land is looking very dry indeed from the air.
The Thanet Report

MP and Local Authority Representatives to Meet Minister

North Thanet`s MP, Roger Gale, and representatives of Kent County Council and Thanet District Council are meeting with the Parliamentary Under Secretary with responsibility for children`s issues, Maria Eagle, to discuss matters arising from the recently-published Thanet Report.

Attending the meeting with the MP will be Sandy Ezekiel, Leader of Thanet District Council Peter Lake, KCC Cabinet Member with responsibility for Social Care and Community Health, Oliver Mills, Chairman of the Kent Child Protection Committee and Bill Anderson, Chairman of the Thanet Board of Inquiry and East Kent Director for Kent Social Services.

"We have arranged this meeting as swiftly as possible following the publication of what has been a thorough piece of work" says the MP. "because of the very serious issues arising from it. I am aware that there have been some criticisms - not least of myself - following the publication of the findings but I am more concerned with the future of the cared-for children than with the vested interests of some other local authorities, and their agents, who are the real source of our problems. We are discussing the futures of some of the most bruised and vulnerable young people in society."

In a letter to Maria Eagle the Leader of Kent County Council, Sir Sandy Bruce Lockhart, has said:

"As you will know, our 2001 public service agreement included a clear statement of intent that Government and KCC would work together to stem the continued flow into East Kent of high-dependency groups and reduce the numbers currently placed there. I am aware that you have received your own report into this issue and that the CSCI have also just published a report, Safeguarding Children, which highlights the need for placing authorities to provide better access to placements nearer to home".

Roger Gale adds:

"I share Sir Sandy`s hope that our meeting with the Minister can provide a platform for developing effective solutions to meet this need and to deliver the relevant key outcomes to all Looked After Children".

Thanet Life

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

I Love the Smell of Seaweed in the Morning

Reminds me of home!

The smell of rotting seaweed is stomach-turning in some parts of Thanet and is possibly worst at Westbrook and in and around Epple Bay towards Birchington, two points where the current hits the beach and also, by the way, will bring the sewage, from the outflow pipe opposite Palm Bay, inshore, if the wind and tide are in the right direction. I call it "The Yellow Brick Road", as the slick is clearly visible from the air.

Overheard this afternoon, two women beach-hut owners on the seafront asking what happened to the seaweed clearance that was a feature of previous years, when a bulldozer would appear on the beach and try and clear the worst of the stinking mess, which attracts flies by the thousand. Has the seaweed cleaning operation become a victim of council cost savings, leaving us to enjoy the smell for the rest of the summer?

Thanet Life
I Shouldn't Ask But...

How many sex offenders do we have living in Thanet, registered, convicted or otherwise?

A glance back through the local papers over the last six months appears to reveal rather more stories than one might think would be statistically normal in the local population.

Also, the age group and locations appears to involve late middle-aged men, who when caught, may also found to be living in temporary, rented accommodation.

Have other local authorities and social services around the country been quietly shunting some of their more dangerous problems in our direction or is this simply a "blip" in the local press catching my attention?

Thanet Life

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Gale`s View

"There`ll always be an England, and England shall be free.....

If England means as much to you as England means to me"

The song rang out over Dover castle last week. On Friday literally hundreds of primary school children from all over East Kent - including dozens from North Thanet - were subjected to the Home Front experience and given the opportunity to learn, in an ideal setting, a chunk of contemporary history.

To hear a thousand young voices singing along with the White Cliffs of Dover within a spit and a cough of those very White Cliffs was magnificent.

How the Education and Business partnership sneaked this past the "Thought Police" I will never know - but the young people present were exposed to ration books and gas masks and evacuation and jive and the jitterbug and some robustly unadulterated patriotism that reflected a spirit that brought our Country through the last war and is still alive and, if recent events in the capital city are anything to go by, very much kicking.

If "targets" are the order of the day then this event hit several bull`s eyes!

Back in the capital, do not believe that "life has returned to normal". First, for the families of the bereaved and injured and for those emergency workers traumatised by the sight of what has been euphemistically described as "things" trodden on in the heat and darkness of underground, life will never, ever, be the same again.

"The world`s worst terrorist atrocity is the one in which someone that you know personally and love dies." It is as true now as it was after 9/11 ...........and Enniskillen and Omagh and Canary Wharf and the Hyde Park and Harrods bombings and as it is true daily for the wives and families of our soldiers who find themselves targeted with dreadful regularity in Iraq and Afghanistan.

However, allowed to don a stab-vest and police uniform and this week to tamely walk along underground platforms alongside some of those heroes who did the real dirty work after the bombs, something else shines through: there is a real determination on the part of those, mainly young, people scurrying to work in offices to not only "not give in" to the terrorists but to send a clear, multi-faith, multi-racial message to the purveyors of hate and carnage that we are not just "back to work" but stronger as a result of this vile attack.

This is not a dewy-eyed romantic politician`s view of the situation: it is a view from the inside of one wearer of size ten police boots. It may happen again and it probably will and other mothers` sons and daughters and other wives and husbands may be blown apart.

But as the young people of Kent who were present at Dover Castle last week understood and as the office-workers and emergency services and doctors and nurses of London have so clearly demonstrated, and as the "Not Afraid" T-shirts being purchased by tourists still flocking to England proclaim, there is no place, here, for tyrants or their acolytes.

Thanet Life

Monday, July 18, 2005

Then and Now

From the Turner painting of Whiting fisherman at Margate in the 19th century, one has to wonder what the place must have looked like in the days when the paint on the Royal Sea Bathing Hospital (1791) had yet to dry.

Make the most of the sunshine, I was up at Tatenhill, north of Daventry this morning and wearing shorts and having left my flying jacket behind, expecting a heatwave, soon regretted it in the cold wind and rain. Ninety minutes flying time and a totally different climate from Kent this afternoon!

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Really Big Jellyfish

I spotted three of the Lion's Mane Jellyfish while kayaking this evening and the same number yesterday. These aren't small specimens, with a thick cord of tentacles hanging down, almost as thick as my wrist and about one metre long. It's advisable not to bump into one of these so-called "Sea Wasps" while swimming

Don't touch!

Lion's Mane - Sea Wasp

Cycling along to Palm Bay this afternoon, I couldn't help noticing that more resting wet-suited jetskiers and other boat owners appeared to be relaxing under the heat of the sun with cans of cold Stella Artois, rather than cola or lucozade; perhaps it's because the cans are more visible?

One BMW had a boot stacked with beer. A nice way to spend the afternoon of course if one doesn't attempt drive a high-speed boat or car afterwards I would have thought.

I think I'll take my chances with the jellyfish.

Saturday, July 16, 2005


Two photos of St Mildred's Bay at the end of a stunning day. The first shows a mother and child at the end of the breakwater enjoying the peace of the evening.

The second speaks for itself, mini-speedway along the promenade by the chap below and his friends. These small and very noisy bikes are not slow, my guess was at least 40mph. Anyway, here's a photo-finish, "bang to rights" I suspect!

Manhattan Skyline

Lot's of new building work, retirement homes being thrown-up along side Harold road.

Looks as if Cliftonville is the place to spend one's sunset years but I wonder if anyone has bothered to tell prospective new residents about the risks posed by the presence of some of the more antisocial residents in streets close by? I doubt it.

It looks as if the Time Team are working hard on the local archaeology in the photo below, when it's blown-up to full resolution. You can see the trenches on the left of the photo.

How long, I wonder, will it take to reverse the damage caused by twenty years of "binning" other local authorities problems into the so-called hotels that populate the Cliftonville area? Mind you, with new buildings going-up to replace those laid waste by Swan Vestas, "The smoker's match", there's always hope for a local renaissance.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Men in Dinghies

The RNLI is warning people to be careful when using dinghies

Four men in inflatable dinghies had to be rescued off the Kent coast when they were blown out to sea on Thursday evening. In fact, I was out in a kayak last night and noticed how fast the offshore wind was taking me out to sea, I calculated that it was moving me towards Southend at 5 knots. The people rescued didn't have paddles, strange that! and so when the wind took them, they were too far out before they noticed they were in danger.

It's also worth noting that while Medway Police will be chasing anti-social and dangerous jetskiers, reminding them that they come under marine law, our own police are firmly tied to their patrol cars for the moment.
Local Sites of Interest

First of all today we have the Margate Football Ground at Hartsdown, which I overshot at first because I didn't recognise it with it's new grass cover. It looks almost ready for the first match of the season! There are more photos in the "Thanet Views from the Air" section in the photo library.

Then we have the Royal Sea Bathing Hospital, what's left of it and the area around it, now being flattened. All over Thanet, new building works are going-up and if you look down from the air, the new scarring, between Margate and Broadstairs, which I'll describe as "Westwood Creep", is obvious to the naked eye.


The mess on my beach leaves me with a sense of shame this morning.

It’s not the council’s fault in that there are five bins placed along the promenade behind the beach. No, it’s the consequence of only one hot day, where the packaging from ice creams, fast food, bottled drinks and bags of crisps has remained where local families and visitors have left them yesterday afternoon, too feckless to even think of placing their rubbish in one of the bins provided.

Today may be another hot day and tomorrow is Saturday. Already, there is a backlog of litter along the beach and by teatime tonight it could be far worse and by Sunday who knows? Margate beach is of course carefully swept and manicured for the tourists but move towards Epple Bay and you can find not just litter and a stinking mass of seaweed as well.

The mess on the beach has in almost every case started life in the café or cafes behind. If people are not prepared to keep their environment tidy, which, from the evidence they are not, then perhaps one solution is to raise a local tax on café sales of five pence per item. From this and at the beginning of every day, it becomes the responsibility of the café and ice cream booths to keep the beach clean in return for their annual concession. The ice cream sales alone would, I suspect be enough to employ someone with a pointed stick and a black bin bag to clean the beach every morning.

I would happily pay 5p extra for an ice cream if I though the beach would be kept clean as a result.

Unless you can suggest another. better solution?

Thanet Life

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

The Road to Cairo

That's curious. Someone at The Anwar Sadat Academy For Management Studies in Cairo, appears to be searching across this website for information on Beano's Cafe. It does rather make one wonder why? An entry in the "2006 Egyptian Traveller's Good Food Guide to Kent" perhaps?

A courier arrived earlier to take my sick PC back to Microsoft for a Windows resurrection job and so normal service may be resumed on Monday I hope.

Visitor number 20,000 will be coming-up on the site fairly soon. If your'e quick off the mark, you can claim a flight over Thanet; same rules as before - look them up in the archive - so good luck!

Ooops! Thanks to Tony Carpenter for pointing out I had the number wrong in the first edit.. it is 20,000!

Thanet Life

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Birchington Roundabout

The online edition of the Birchington Roundabout newsletter for the village can now be found on their website alongside an archive of previous months.

All announcements concerning village events will be placed free of charge, and will be incorporated in the bi-monthly issues on the website, along with local news and interesting facts and features.

Thanet Life
MP`s Backing for ICE Campaign

North Thanet`s MP, Roger Gale, is encouraging constituents to adopt the I.C.E. (In Case of Emergency) proposal.

"The idea came from a paramedic in East Anglia, I think,” says the MP "and it was my daughter that took the trouble to ask me to implement it myself. The concept is incredibly simple: it just involves programming into a mobile phone Emergency contact numbers under "ICE 1, ICE 2 and so on. Some 80% of the population carry mobiles and it has been shown that these devices - and particularly the SIM cards - usually survive even severe circumstances. In terms of tracing next-of-kin following, for example, something as sadly every-day as a car crash it could be an invaluable tool. "

"Clearly",says Roger Gale, "as with all such ideas, there is a potential downside: stolen mobiles could generate distressing hoax calls - but on balance it seems to me that it is a project worth encouraging."
Crisis What Crisis

My Windows installation has fallen over "Again", same problem as before, the notorious Isass.Exe error, which involves the administrator password being corrupted.

To cut a long story short, I'm locked-out of my main PC and using my old reserve laptop until I can get the problem resolved, either by M-Wise in Westbrook, with a system re-build or by throwing myself at Microsoft's mercy, as they have a tool which can fix the problem but isn't in the public domain.

Until then , I may be a little quiet.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Olympic Hopefuls

Chartfield Sports Day July 2005 - 37

The rained-off Chartfield School sports day was re-run under brilliant sunshine this morning in Westgate and parents who might have missed some of the action can download photos from the library here.

Some of these children will be just the right age for the London Olympics in 2012 where the sack race will be an exhibition event for the first time.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

World to Rights

Setting the world to rights this afternoon or at least trying. Pictured, Richard Ashworth, our MEP, Simon Moores, that's me , Cllr Robert Burgess (KCC & Westbrook) and Roger Gale MP.

And as reader Tony Carpenter points out:

"And 'Lo the huts - in the Westbrook car park - are gone apart from one pile of remnant pieces which were there this morning but might even be gone today...... !

Did you time it this way?

But you can tell them we, the amenity users are very pleased, probably only a bit disappointed that it took so long."

Friday, July 08, 2005

It Makes Me Wonder

My poor daughter's Sports Day was just about rained-off this morning, to be continued on Monday. The light was so bad that my camera simply couldn't catch any pictures of the sack race but one good thing came out of it, the father's race was abandoned and so I can look forward to being able to walk rather than hobble on Saturday morning!

You may have noticed that I was "On a mission" again in Le Touquet this week and I popped into the home, a lovely house in La Foret, of an Engishmen who works here but lives there. In contrast with our community charge, the rates, he tells me are outrageous at almost £5,000 a year but he said, the town is beautifully cared for, the Christmas lights are a major event and there's virtually none of the drunken, violent crime we have here, with low-key but zero-tolerance policing from the local Gendamerie. In his opinion, it's worth the money in return for the securityy and quality of life it offers his family and the Mayor appears to spend sensibly and in the best interest of the town and its residents.

Now the French have lost the Olympics and have significant social and economic problems of their own but they do have better food and wine and in places, appear to have their priorities right. I'm just reading the local paper and see that where I live, we can't afford to keep our public toilets open and yet our community charge is among the highest in the land. It does all rather make me wonder at the differences that exist between here and there with only seventeen miles of water and a tunnel in between.

Trislander to Le Touquet.pdf

Thanet Life

Thursday, July 07, 2005


A more genteel era and the baseball cap has yet to be invented, with memories of the Cliftonville fire, earlier this year that consigned the hotel in the photograph to the ashes of history.

Wind Tunnel

The Olympic committee can't have given much thought to the English weather when they gave us the 2012 games. Two weeks ago we appeared to be living in the middle of the Costa Del Sol and today, I'm seeing my garden being devastated by the gale raging outside.

Marked as a possible site for the new Olympic HQ

My 1975 diary tells me that the summer was pretty "blowy" then as well but perhaps, like me, you've noticed that the gales appear to be more frequent and last longer these days, global warming maybe but it's interesting to note how more "bowl-shaped" the beach is at St Mildred's Bay, indicating much stronger wave forces than I can remember.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Mess - And What To Do With It

Tony Carpenter's View

'We seem to have an interesting dialogue running in the earlier post over the issue of abandoned beach hits in the Westbrook car park. My thanks to Councillor Latchford for getting on the case and responding so quickly.'

Following on from this item I can report some firm facts concerning the abandoned beach huts in the car park at Westbrook and beach litter collection.

The beach huts are the responsibility of Thanet Leisure Force and Thanet District Council in some joint way. In an apparent effort to reduce refurbishment costs on other beach huts, TLF have been cannibalising and salvaging material from the Westbrook huts on site to use in repairs thereby saving council tax funds.

So in this instance it was not a case of apparent random vandalism but organised work to the taxpayers benefit. All very laudable - the only bit missing being the supply of information to the taxpayers, which would have put their minds at rest, because not all were 'in the know'.

The remnants are due to be cleared in the next few days - possibly even this week.

As regards beach front litter and the lack of removal at the right time i.e. at the end of the day before the seagulls, wind or rain get at it overnight or at first light, the problem relates to a contract which is in force and was negotiated not to include for removal during 'silent hours' i.e. in the same evening.

The good news here is that when refuse collection is taken back in house all will be re-planned. Further good news is that our councillors are making strenuous efforts to make an interim agreement to cope with the problem over the rest of the summer. Here I think they deserve our full support since it is no easy matter to deal with contractors whose only concern is the wording of the contract and the ability to extract more money at the least hint of a variation of terms. Civic pride is not a contractual term - but we can wish our councillors all luck in this respect.

The total refuse and cleansing operation is under consultation and trialling of wheelie bins etc. - so fill in your questionnaire online at Again it is a whole can of worms because these out-of-house contracts pose serious difficulties when being rescinded - the most difficult area being the takeover of staff. So again wish these guys luck - the responses I had this week were very fast and showed great commitment at councillor level.

Of course, living in a democracy the consultation raises the converse issue - the instances of fellow residents who are adamantly and vociferously against the introduction of wheelie bins. 'You can't win 'em all' as they say. See 'Thanet Times' this week.

The Councillors other challenge is managing the change - in particular the mindset of individual employees who do not think that they owe anybody an explanation - ever. There are some very committed and responsive staff in TDC and TLF and they should be congratulated. And there are a few - probably a key few - who are not! This point was also raised by the Chief Executive in his recent interviews with our Ed. We should be encouraged to know that the 'hymn sheet' at senior level is the same one!

It was also made very clear to me that if council officers were proved to not be performing to standard, disciplinary action would be taken. It was also made very clear to me that councillors positively welcome direct support from residents by way of reports and requests for their intervention.

So on this hopeful note and in respect of the Jet Ski issue (and last Sunday it was 2 full size quad bikes at speed on the beach at Minnis Bay) and the lack of response from a council officer, the solution seems to be e-mail your councillors!!

Tony Carpenter for Thanet Life
Forget Turner.. It's the Turn of the Margate Olympic Village

It surprised me too, London actually won the bid to host the 2012 Olympics and amid the celebrations, we seem to have forgotten how much this will cost the taxpayer as ten thousand tracksuited athletes descend on South London in seven years.

Meanwhile, Margate maybe best advised to review the effort devoted to the Turner Centre and reinvent itself as an Olympic village instead. Locally the Olympics could be very good news for businesses that are in a position to leverage the traffic they will generate, EuJet and HeliCharter to name but two.

Also, this may be our last opportunity to rebuild the hotel trade, that's if we can expect a reliable and fast service from Thanet into East London for the hundreds of thousands of tourists who will not be able to afford London hotel prices.

Thanet North MP, Roger Gale, who is campaigning for Olympic standard swimming facilities at the University of Kent, describes the London win as "fantastic news for Kent" and adds:

"Kent has a tremendous opportunity to provide training and holding camp facilities for our own athletes and for visitors from overseas: we now have to press the case for enhanced facilities to ensure that we can make the best possible offer to take advantage, in terms of sports and tourism, of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity"

Roger is right. there's a huge amount to be done and while it might be seven years into the future, Monday would be a good time to start on using this opportunity as a means of re-invigorating Thanet. Who do we have around who's up to the job I ask?

Thanet Life
In Black and White

You can find the complete list of where you can and can't launch speed boats and jetskis on the Thanet District Council website, assuming that the people who break the rules even bother to visit it.

As an example, St Mildred's Bay is clearly a "No-go" zone for powered boats between 9 and 6pm but this is lost on those who regularly break the embargo and are perhaps seen towing their machines behind cars along the Thanet Way towards the beaches any weekend in the summer.

It's July and this is the first summer, since I was in my early teens that at high-tide I haven't regularly swum between St Mildred's and West Bay. It's too dangerous at weekends to leave the shelter of the yellow buoys across the beach as power boats and jet skis, often with drivers or riders in their early teens, come dashing in at high speeds from their designated launch points at Westbrook and Minnis Bay.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Oil Change

Jonathan Gordon Lydd Air - Trislander 4

You don't often see the aircraft Captain up on the wing checking the oil before the first flight of the day!

I've been over at Lydd Air and Le Touquet today, taking a right seat on the passenger flights to and from Le Touquet on one of the Trislanders that operates out of Lydd airport.

Nineteen minutes is how long it takes from the runway at Lydd to the runway at Le Touquet and for around £59 per person, it's a pretty good way of having a day in Le Touquet, browsing the shops - the sales are now on - and enjoying lunch.

Pictured above is Lydd Air Chief Pilot and training Captain, Jonathan Gordon.

The photos set from today, as promised to the passengers on the flight, can be found by following this link. Other photos of Le Touquet can also be found here.

What started as a fine day in France, went downhill just in time for the rain to arrive as we shut the aircraft doors for the flight home. You can see my view of the world as we start the run along runway 34 which will take us back to Lydd in almost a straight line and in eighteen minutes at 155 knots. Beats taking the ferry or the Channel Tunnel for a day out in my view.

Trislander Review 2005.pdf

Broken Beach Huts

We seem to have an interesting dialogue running in the earlier post over the issue of abandoned beach hits in the Westbrook car park. My thanks to Councillor Latchford for getting on the case and responding so quickly.

On another note, Google appears to have re-indexed and lost us again. This could be because I'm using a proxy for Thanet Life but it's irritating as we disappear from the largest of the search engines until it finds us again on a consecutive index run. I hope anyway!

Monday, July 04, 2005

Margate Marries Art With the Sea
Architecture Notebook by Stephen Gardiner

An article in The Times that may bring smiles to the faces of local residents, notes that "Soon Margate will be known for much more than its legacy as a seaside town, enjoyed by children on their summer holidays, or for Tracey Emin's art. "

"After 2007 an important new landmark will have arrived - a beautiful, white, abstract work of modern architecture standing on the pier. This will be the Turner Contemporary Gallery, so-called to commemorate J. M. W. Turner's connection with Margate and his passion for the sea.

Inside there will be three floors of galleries showing past and contemporary art. One of these is described as a "creative space"; running beside it is a separate two-storey wing.

This fine work of architecture is a fascinating picture of invention. How is the billowing sculptural shape for the galleries to be constructed? How will it withstand crashing waves, wind and weather? It will not be made of concrete but rather be built like the hull of a ship.

At last Margate will have a possession that is uniquely its own. After all, other seaside towns along this stretch have something special to call their own - Ramsgate has its magnificent harbour set in the cliffs and Whitstable has its oysters.

To judge by the 25,000 people who have visited the recent exhibition of the Turner Contemporary's design, this dramatic new gallery will bring Margate into its own. "

Thanet Life
Child Dumping in Thanet Exposed by New Report

The report of the Thanet Inquiry published today by Kent County Council "blows the lid off the practice of dumping cared-for children in Thanet" says North Thanet`s MP, Roger Gale.

MP3 File Listen to the interview with Roger Gale.

The report, produced through the Kent Child Protection Committee, was generated as a result of a meeting with the Leader of the County Council, Sir Sandy Bruce Lockhart, Cabinet Members and senior KCC officers at the request of the Leader of Thanet Council, Sandy Ezekiel and the Member of Parliament, Roger Gale.

The report confirms the view, long expressed by Roger Gale and Sandy Ezekiel, that Kent County and the Margate West ward of Cliftonville in particular, has for too long been used as a depository for children in the care of Inner London Boroughs and other South East counties.

"This concentration of children`s homes has placed an unacceptable burden on local resources" says Roger Gale "and it is bad for the children in care and for local residents."

"In spite of the best efforts of the present administration of Thanet District Council and of the local constabulary the strains generated through anti-social behaviour, lack of primary and secondary education places, demands upon primary and hospital healthcare facilities and our social services have become intolerable."

"I am personally also gravely concerned about the juxtaposition of accommodation for very vulnerable young people with that of known and very predatory adults. That is a tragedy waiting to happen."

"For far too long other Social Service departments have entered into contracts with care providers without proper notification to the local authorities, without making advance provision for education and healthcare and without funding the facilities needed. Those local authorities are receiving large sums of money from central government to do a job, passing the problem on at relatively low cost and pocketing the balance to use for other purposes. This cannot be acceptable."

"Now that we have an authoritative report that substantiates and quantifies the concerns that we have expressed I am writing to the Children`s Minister (Beverley Hughes) to seek an urgent meeting with Sir Sandy Bruce Lockhart and Sandy Ezekiel and myself to discuss the social and financial implications of the report and to press for Treasury, ODPM and Health and Education Departmental action to address these very serious issues."

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Seagull Solution

A little expensive on fuel but does the trick nicely!

This afternoon, one (a seagull not a helicopter) attempted to steal two sausages from our BBQ, much to the annoyance of the dog it didn't succeed or we might have had something new on the menu,"Thanet Chicken."

Saturday, July 02, 2005


The first two windmills have now gone up on the Kentish Flats wind farm opposite Herne Bay, more will follow closely, as well as a planning application to place another wind farm right in front of Margate.

One can almost imagine a future where the view across the estuary is entirely obscured by windmills with no Don Quixote in sight to protect us from their march across the horizon.

With the first female NASA shuttle commander being launched in space, our future British hope was seen training hard on Margate beach this weekend. British Aerospace has high hopes for their strengthened elastic bands as a launch system.

Friday, July 01, 2005

The News

TG Stearman 36 Airads - June 2005
Originally uploaded by

No News is good news. I’ve been flicking through the local paper which appears to be a little short of news today, possibly a good thing, given the normal record of unfortunate events around Thanet in any week. You probably know what I mean, more ASBOs awarded to drunken teenagers, man bites dog, block of flats to be built on Sunken Gardens etc. It would be nice to find more good news than bad in the papers and it’s there to be found if you look hard enough. Most of us have a strange loyalty to the place, seagulls, hoodies and all.

If you happen to live along the seafront between Margate and Birchington, you might find your house in some of the photos of the TG Aviation Stearman biplane that follow. The ones on screen are relatively low resolution but Airads can sell you very high high definition 12 Mega pixel copies of any of the photos if you contact them

The entire photos set can be found at: