Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Local Labour

I’m glad to see that the Labour Party have finally discovered ThanetLife, so to avoid any allegations of bias on my part, here are a couple of local opposition stories, passed in my direction by the party, in the shape of Clive Hart, this morning:

“The Labour Group on Thanet District Council kept its word with the residents of Margate and Thanet by again trying to convince the Council to adopt the very reasonable recommendation, made by an independent Planning Inspector for the Local Plan, which strongly came out in favour of Dreamland remaining as an Amusement Park.  The Tory Council agreed in January this year to allow other uses including housing for the site.

Leader of the Labour group, Cllr R Nicholson said, “We warned the Tories in January this meant the end for Dreamland as a place to attract visitors to Margate. The inclusion of housing effectively renders the site as uneconomic for anything else, a view supported by the Planning Inspector. Last night we tried again to persuade the Tories but they all seem scared or unwilling to stand up for Margate. Neither were they willing to pay any attention to local views on this matter, which overwhelmingly supported keeping Dreamland alive.

My colleagues and I now see a slow but unstoppable death for this site with housing and a few leisure connected businesses remaining in the near future. Margate and Thanet was let down badly by the Tories, not for the first time and no doubt if they remain in control then residents will continue to be effectively ignored.”

The Labour Group was also shocked by the Conservative Group attempt to change, at the last minute, the recommendation on the adoption of the Local Plan.  At least three times an additional recommendation was read out and each time it was different.  Council officers had to come to the rescue of the Tories to make any sense of the proceedings.

The Labour Group argued strongly that this was the wrong time and way to change a document that had taken five years to write and although most of the content was in fact set out by Labour members on the council they were unable to support this last minute change and therefore in the public interest did not support the Local Plan.”

Broken Promise

“The Labour group on Thanet District Council were unsuccessful in trying to make the Tory administration keep to promises previously made to Thanet residents and businesses over the type of development permitted at the Westwood area.

When agreement had been initially approved the Council promised to do what it could to protect the interests of small shops in our town centres. One way to do so was to agree the units being built in the Westwood area were of a certain size. Now the Council has given the go ahead for smaller “high street size” units to be developed.

Leader of the TDC Labour Group, Cllr R Nicholson said, “Labour was determined to stick by our word. Whilst we of course fully support development of retail at Westwood we felt we had to try to get the Council to keep promises previously made. Although the action taken last Thursday is initially limited, the Tories have now agreed a precedent and all future requests will be hard to deter, if not impossible to resist now.

However I and my Labour colleagues will, not like the Tories, give up on the town centres and we will continue to work tirelessly with local Town partnerships to enhance our local shops in all areas of Thanet. We need local businesses in local areas for our local residents.”

11 comments:

James Maskell said...

Having left the Council Chambers after half an hour, I missed the proposed changes. Perhaps someone who was there could give us a report of the changes proposed? Otherwise its a case of Labours words against the Conservatives.

I am likely to be in a minority on this point, but the point of the Dreamland Option chosen is that first and foremost its for it to be a theme park. If its not viable (and Im sure there are tests) then its only reasonable that other uses for the site be found.

Im grateful to whoever popped the latest issue of Cliftonville West Matters through the letterbox. Scarily, Ladymans in it! Naughty naughty with the Conservative leadership comments though.

Anonymous said...

If Ladyman is scary, James, have Gale - he's revolting.

Anonymous said...

I am surprised to read that the Labour group will give up on the town centres.

James Maskell said...

The scary thing was that Ladyman was in Thanet at all, though Im sure its not as scary as his driving! Perhaps someone should tell him where his current constituency is...hes straying across the border. He has constituents in Thanet South to represent...

Anonymous said...

James,

It's a shame you missed the end of the meeting. Given you've previously complained about the behavior of some Save Dreamland supporters in the past (*) I think you missed out on the far worse behavior of a room full of councillors acting like kids! Worthy of particular mention was Clr Ezekial's rant on "wheelie bins" during what was supposed to be a planning debate on an important asset to Margate.

I also think you are rather naive as to the ability of a determined developer (Waterbridge appear to have no real interest in running the site as an amusement park) to work around any "viability test".

* - A situation I'd argue was forced by the council having totally ignored repeated public consulations and then running the council meeting as an Extraordinary Meeting meaning no one from the campaign could officially speak).

stuart said...

James Maskell - we wait to see what the 'viability tests' will consist of. Some may argue that we already have the results of the only test possible:

An operator is willing to purchase the site (at a value reasonable for an amusement park) and invest millions of pounds over 10 years.

ONLY when no further operators are interested in the site should its change of use be considered.

Putting a few travelling rides on site and then saying no one came, it's not viable is not acceptable.

And 500,000 visitors came in the last year Godden ran it and that was after he'd taken away the essence of the park and several major attractions.

consevative but not local said...

I am so glad that there are others out there who share my thoughts that Waterbridge is deliberately running the Dreamland site as an unviable site. One wheel like one swallow doth not a summer make.

Thank you Labour Councillors for doing your best on behalf of Thanet people's wishes. You must battle on, on this issue, it is so vital to Margate!
Why is the Tory group acting in such an extraordinary way? There are a lot of us out here who will be so enraged by all of this that whatever happens nationally, local Tories are likely to be targeted next year by Save Dreamland candidates. Go for it, 'Save Dreamlanders'.

Anonymous said...

So all the Save Dreamland Campaign wish for Thanet is a tatty two bit amusement park which opens for 3 months and a few weekends a year, with nothing but a derelict wasteland for the remainder. Hurrah for such forward thinking and civic minded individuals, and the neanderthals of Thanet Life, who support them. If this is the best you and Labour can offer, then success at the next election is assured for the Tories.

Anonymous said...

To Anonymous (9:46)

Try a little bit of research (www.save.dreamland.co.uk), your view couldn't be further from the truth about the aims of the Save Dreamland campaign.

The aim of the campaign is something much closer to Southend's Adventure Island, a park that opens all year round, is well managed and has succeeding in improving the area it is located in. The "tatty two bit amusement park" currently on the site is a symptom of the current owners desire to achieve maximium land value by deliberately running down the park rather than something the campaign would aim for!

Anonymous said...

Apologies, the address above should have been

www.savedreamland.co.uk

James Maskell said...

anonymous 6:07pm: It is a shame. I wanted to stay for the whole meeting, but had to leave (blame my passion in the beautiful game that is Chess - parents...teach your kids Chess, its well worth it. There are some very good Chess clubs in Thanet). I am curious as to what exactly was said at the meeting. Ill look into it. As for the comments about viability,
we will have to see what "tests" have been put in place.

stuart, you're right basically. I cant argue with it. I dont know what the viability tests are. I hope they are robust though and ensure that the Dreamland site, if not used only as a theme park, is used in the best way possible to boost our tourism industry which has faced tough times. I would prefer that it be a theme park as we already have a retail area in Westwood Cross. I remember Dreamland in its hey-day and it was incredible. We shall see.

conservative, Im afraid that the option that the Labour Group supported would have been the worst option as it is an all or nothing option. If it cant be a theme park, it must remain empty and that doesnt help Margate. I think that the option chosen by Council was the best one, giving a priority to a theme park but also allowing other uses of the site, based on proving the non-viability of the site against robust tests.

anonymous 9:46pm. I dont think that the SDC want that. They want a successful theme park. But thats why we should be open minded about it as Ive said before.