Saturday, September 30, 2006

Up in Smoke

The BBC reports that thousands of people have looked on while an 82ft-high (25m) sculpture of a man built out of rubbish was burned to the ground at Dreamland as part of the Margate Exodus extravaganza inspired by the Old Testament story of Moses.

The Waste Man, designed by Angel of the North creator Antony Gormley, was the climax to a day of live public performances in Margate, Kent.

Teams of volunteers spent two months collecting waste materials and packing them into the sculpture's framework.

Some of the activities will appear in a film to be shown in cinemas in 2007.

A Little Tapas

Sorry, been away in Birmingham, at something called "Education 2006." It's quite remarkable how cosmopolitan the city centre has become since I was last there; there must be hope for Margate yet, although I haven't seen any signs of a Spanish Tapas bar opening in the Old Town. Perhaps I'm wrong.

At a guess, I think we'll run past the 200,000 mark by Monday morning. I wonder who the person will be to run up the zeroes. If it's you, let me know.

As I haven't been around much over the last week, I'm a little short of news, so the winding-down feeling on the weblog must be self evident. Thanks for your messages of support and I'm inclined, from what readers are telling me, to keep a series of irregular entries running, rather than stop altogether. After all, there's a great deal of diverse material sitting-up here, that acts as a useful resource and it would be a shame to let it gather dust.

If you have your own stories and fancy being a contributor, then send them in to me. You can find an email link at the bottom of the links section. The readership isn't anywhere as large as the local printed papers but it's an audience that quite possibly has embraced many if not most of the internet connected users in Thanet.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

All About Frogs & Lice

"Over the past 30 years the seaside town of Margate in Kent has grown used to letdown and disaster. It has seen its iron pier swept away, and its tourist industry follow; its aspirant football club demolished their stadium, only to discover they lacked the means and planning permission to build a new one. When the economy hit rock bottom, the town was left with a deserted high street and a string of council-backed regeneration projects that failed to reach fruition. So, when locals heard that plagues of boils, frogs and lice were coming next, you could have forgiven them for shrugging their shoulders and carrying on as normal."

Carry on reading the story in today's Guardian about the Margate Exodus.

Drunken Dipper

The Isle of Thanet Extra reports that a drunk jumped into the sea from the end of Ramsgate pier in the early hours of Monday.

Thelifeboat was called at 2.07am after the man was seen attempting to swim between the pier heads.

It launched seven minutes later and arrived shortly after the motor boat Bumble, the owner of which had also seen the man’s foolish swim.

He managed to get the man back to the Dover steps, despite the man's attempts to leap back into the water, where he was delivered into the arms of the waiting police.

Meanwhile, the town's lifeboat rescued a woman who had been cut off by the tide on Sunday.

She was trapped between Stone Bay and Joss Bay at about 11.50am when a member of the public alerted Dover Coastguard.

The inshore lifeboat was scrambled and plucked the woman to safety, dropping her back at Stone Bay.

In the crew’s second launch on that day, the All Weather Boat towed a yacht to safety after its engine failed in the south West shipping lane. There was little wind so it was left drifting and in danger.

The lifeboat launched at 4.08pm and after a long tow, brought the yacht Sirocco home at 8.13pm.

Margate Pizza Rapist Faces Long Jail Term

Could it be any worse?

Kent Online reports that a 29-year-old pizza delivery driver convicted of raping two women and sexually assaulting another at his flat has been warned he faces long jail sentences.

Qadar Hazarmeshe, of Union Crescent, Margate, had denied the rapes implying the first victim may have been attacked by his brother who was staying at the flat at the time and who had since disappeared.

Hazarmeshe went on trial at Canterbury Crown Court originally denying three rape allegations as well as sexual assault, but one rape charge was withdrawn from the jury on the direction of the judge.

Sentence was adjourned for reports and Judge Anthony Webb said the dangerous offender provisions had to be considered.

He told Hazarmeshe, who had no previous convictions: "The jury have convicted you of these serious sexual offences. I am going to put the case back for reports because I have to consider if there is a significant risk to the public of serious harm occasioned by the commission by you of further offences if you were to be released.

"In any event, you face very long sentences of imprisonment," said Judge Webb.

Hazarmeshe was remanded in custody and will be sentenced sometime later in October.

Your Views on Cliftonville Bedsits

A public meeting is being held in Cliftonville West for people to give their views on a proposed policy to limit the number of new one bedroom flats, bedsits, and houses in multiple occupation in this area.

The area already has nearly 400 properties that can be described as HMO’s and a Crime Audit, carried out by the Thanet Community Safety Partnership, showed that Cliftonville West had the highest level of burglaries in Thanet, partially due to poor levels of security in HMO’s.

The proposals for new planning guidance are aiming to restrict the number of houses in multiple accommodation (HMO’s), along with the number of one bedroom self contained flats and bed-sits given planning permission in the future in the Renewal Area. The aim of the new policy is to try to rebalance the make up of the community in the area, which is in danger of becoming over-developed with small residential units and to ensure the area can become a viable, inclusive community where the residents can live in safety and comfort.

The public meeting will be held on Monday 30 October at 7.00 p.m. at the Winter Gardens. Focus groups are being held with local residents on Friday 6 October at 1.30 p.m. and on Monday 9 October from 6.30 p.m.

Two discussion groups are being held early in October to allow landlords in the Cliftonville West Renewal Area to give their views. The sessions are taking place at the Media Centre in Margate Old Town on Monday 2 October from 6.30 p.m. until 7.30 p.m. and on Wednesday 4 October from 2.00 p.m. until 3.30 p.m.

Cllr. Ingrid Spencer, Cabinet Member with responsibility for Housing and Community Services, said: “We hope that residents, landlords, developers and letting agents in the Cliftonville West Renewal Area will get involved in this consultation and tell us what they think of the proposals. This is all about improving the quality of life for people living in the area and it’s vital that we hear from everyone who may be affected by these proposals, whether they live in these properties, own them, are looking to let or develop them. We need to know what the community wants and then we can ensure that we deliver it.”

Litter Bugs Beware!

More than 25 people have received warnings from the Council's team of Community Safety Wardens about dropping litter since the launch of the Thanet is Beautiful campaign.

The warnings come ahead of an increase in the fines for dropping litter, dumping rubbish and allowing your dog to foul, with the penalty set to go up from £50 to £80 in October. On each occasion, the person put their litter in a bin when they received the warning, meaning no fine was handed out, but under the new system that is being introduced, on the spot fines can be handed out with no previous warning.

The campaign was launched in July with the message Thanet is Beautiful
- Let’s keep it that way by not dropping litter. It aims to show just how much there is to be proud of in Thanet and warns people of the penalties they could face if they are caught dropping litter.

Cllr. Ingrid Spencer, Cabinet Member for Housing and Community Services, said: "Hopefully these warnings will have struck a chord with people and from now on, they'll ensure that they don't drop litter. That's the message behind the Thanet is Beautiful campaign. As well as reminding people what a beautiful area we live in, we want to remind them that the new, higher fines are coming into force shortly and when that happens, there'll be no more friendly warnings and second chances, before fines are handed out. Thanet Council is serious about keeping Thanet beautiful and that means cracking down on those who litter, dump rubbish or allow their dogs to foul. That's what local people have told us they want and that's what we will be delivering."

Monday, September 25, 2006

Rogue Trader

Reader, Barrie Smith just emailed me to say:

“Did you see it?

Tonight on BBC1 Rogue Traders, they did an interview in St.Mildred¹s Bay.”

Ed: Can anyone tell me what this was about? Why were BBC Rogue Traders in Westgate and who’s the rogue?

Everyone Has His Day

It took three hours by motorcycle this morning to reach the Microsoft Campus at Reading for a meeting. If I had tried the car, I might still be on the road, M20, 26, M25, M4, all with rain, road works and rush hour traffic that has to create a picture of abject misery for everyone involved.

Thanet, it seems is still very much at the edge of the known world and recent events seem to be conspiring to keep it there. As a businessman, EUjet, love it or loathe it, was useful. After all, Dublin to my front door in less than ninety minutes is rather better than Heathrow, where it took me another ninety minutes on Thursday to reach the end of the “Fast Bag Drop” line. Lord knows how long regular bag drop might take these days.

And now Ashford’s EuroStar service will be restricted when the new terminal opens near Dartford, eliminating another doorstep convenience for Europe at least.

No sign yet of a high speed rail connection to Margate and when it does eventually arrive, I wonder how reliable it will be, based on regular experience of the route to London; fallen trees, damaged bridges, iced rails, leaves; the list goes on.

Without the benefits of broadband internet access, Thanet is a very restricted environment for any service business and with unpredictable road and rail transport links, some might consider it close to unviable in terms of time lost en-route. That’s not good for the island and explains why it continues to struggle to attract new businesses that have the staying power to create jobs and improve local workforce skills beyond the rather limited horizon of Westwood Cross.

Having spent a couple of days speculating on the future of Europe 2020, I’m left wondering what Thanet will look like in the same timescale. Overcrowded, yes but with whom and doing what to support the local economy? More ‘Taverns’, superstores and perhaps a larger tourist economy but is that all we have to look forward to?

Anyway and to change the subject, as the magic 200,000 mark approaches, I’ve decided that I’ll shut-up shop here once it passes. I’m not ruling out a comeback but when I started this weblog there was nothing else and now we have a vibrant and frequently bizarre community of ‘Bloggers’ for you to choose from. Thanet Life has served it’s purpose, which was to encourage local debate and deliver a personal slant on local news stories but these days it’s taking too much of my time and I’m neglecting my other columns elsewhere.

So the local paper and several local ‘Bloggers’ can soon find something and someone else more interesting to occupy their interests and as Winston Churchill said: “Everyone has his day and some days last longer than others. “

tGovernment or eGovernment @ its Best?

One reader is still unhappy with the council’s electronic complain process. He writes:

“Dear Dr Moores

Have you been onto the TDC web site and followed the procedure to make a complaint electronically?

It’s an absolute shambles.  Several times today I have tried. You have to type in your name followed by your postcode.  If you click on the box below that gives your address.  Everything is deleted.  

Re start, type in your name and postcode ignoring the box below. Type in your comment etc. Click on the box to print out a copy of your article, everything is deleted.

Go through the whole procedure again but not clicking on the boxes for your address or a copy but just send, guess what? Everything is deleted.

You may/may not remember I am the person who let you know about the signs on St Augustine’s in Westgate following your ‘Council enforces Westgate Planning Decision.’

Following the advice given I sent everything off to TDC through the TDC complaints procedure website.  Hey ho guess what still no reply from the Council either from the Chief Executive the Monitoring Officer my local councillors and any/all of the departments concerned. Further I have received no form (as requested) to make a complaint to the Local Government Ombudsman.

The Councils website I believe state that they will respond within 10 days.  I think the ten days is up and gone. I get a far better response from my MP than I do from TDC whom are also Public Servants.”

Ed: Not a great illustration of eGovernment at its best. Has anyone else experienced similar problems they would like to share?

Beach Cleaning Record

A record number of volunteers have turned out from across Kent to help out with a beach clean in Thanet.

The beach clean was held at Minnis Bay on Saturday by the Thanet Coast Project with the Latter Day Saints Church Group as part of their "Helping Hands Day", which sees people volunteering for community projects.

Around 100 people turned up and cleaned the three kilometre stretch of coastline from Minnis Bay to Reculver throughout the day. The area past Coldharbour Lagoon to Reculver is one that the Thanet Coast Project has never reached before and they found it covered with litter. In total, 98 bags of litter were cleared, as well as a large fishing net, several oil drums and large pieces of wood.

Naomi Biggs, Thanet Coast Education Officer, said: "This work will make a big difference to our precious coastline. In particular, the shingle beaches by the lagoons on this stretch of coast are very sensitive for wildlife, as there are roost sites for internationally important wintering birds. It's vital we try to keep these areas free of litter and safe for our wildlife."

She added: "We may have organised the day, but it would never have been such a success without the help of other people and organisations, especially the Clean Kent campaign, who supplied much of the equipment, including gloves, litter pickers, first aid kits and refreshments and Thanet Council's cleansing team, who loaned out litter pickers and bags for the events and collected all the bags at the end of the day. My biggest thanks though go out to the volunteers who did such a superb job on the day. Not only did they make a real difference to our coastal environment, but it was also wonderful to see everyone working together and enjoying making a difference to their area."

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Europe - I Love It

European government still can’t understand why it’s not loved and why its constitution was rejected.

I listened to José Manuel Barroso, the European Commission president on Thursday and even managed to ask him a direct question about red-tape and productivity and yet the commission is hell-bent on enlargement while conceding that the absorption of new member states, namely Rumania and Bulgaria, may not meet the more optimistic expectations. I was surprised to hear that Spain has already issued 800,000 permits already to transient migrants – mainly from Africa - and yet it’s starting to suffocate under a tide it can no longer control.

My own view is that Europe may yet collapse under the weight of its own institutions and while I spent three days on a fascinating project that was attempting to create the policy and predict the Europe of 2020, my own strap line might be “Inventing the future, caught in the past”.

Is it possible, I wonder, to run a continent by committee, because the results will always be a compromise, much like the common agricultural policy, that costs billions and is locked into its own very special form of opaque bureaucracy?

But what does Europe really mean to those of you reading this? I’m not certain even of what it means to me but I given the worrying predictions I heard last week, involving water, climate, crime and immigration by 2020, perhaps we should all move closer to Australia instead?

A Digital Tension

The Thanet Gazette has done its readers a service by drawing their attention to the news of violence and intimidation involving Thanet teenagers at .

It’s bad enough when adults hide behind the anonymity of the web but imagine the impact on young people when threatening and abusive language is used against them and even camera-phone photographs of them being beaten-up.

What strikes is how helpless the police are to deal with this kind of behaviour from the internet. It’s the same everywhere in Europe, young people are using new technology to run rings around the authorities, where legislation can take years to implement and action is slow to non-existent because politicians fail to realise the implications and law-enforcement has other, more pressing priorities.

“Digital” tension is an expression I used at the EU conference in Lyon over the last three days to describe the relationship between Europe, the United States and China but it also has a place in describing the relationship between the generations where the internet is concerned.

I'll Be Back

In case you’re wondering at the absence of posts, I’ve been at the European Ideas Network in Lyon for three days, without risking my laptop through Heathrow security – which took 90 minutes - .

Now I’m back, there’s rather a lot of email to catch-up with and so normal service will be resumed as soon as possible later this coming week.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Fishing Boat Sinks at Ramsgate Harbour

Kent Online reports that two men were rescued as their fishing boat sank in Ramsgate harbour early today.

The Chananne R13 was taking in water and sinking as it approached the Old Marina just before 7.30am. It was returning from an overnight fishing trip.

The Ramsgate lifeboat crew was scrambled at 7.31am and was on the scene seven minutes later. As The Chananne R13 rounded the Northern Breakwater it was listing heavily to starboard and water was slopping over its gunwales.

The all-weather boat came alongside and plucked the crew to safety as she began to flounder, and she sank as they watched. The men were landed ashore at the boathouse by 7.43am.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Moses of Margate

The BBC reports that “Hundreds of locals will take part in The Margate Exodus at Dreamland theme park, where the Bible story of Moses is to be retold in a contemporary setting.”

Sculptor Antony Gormley is building a 82ft (25m) tall figure to be burnt as part of the project on 30 September.

Read on for more on the plague of frogs coming your way.

Monday, September 18, 2006

All Stop

The usual railway saga returning from London this evening. Apparently a “Rogue truck” hit the railway bridge at Rochester, which consequently halted all the coast bound trains until the Health & Safety people had made a thorough inspection.

Word from Westminster is that Simon Jenkins biography of Gordon Brown could help end his aspirations for the premiership. Apparently the smart betting is now on either the former trade unionist, the education secretary Alan Johnson or the work and pensions secretary, John Hutton.

If you find the site a little quiet this week, it’s because I’m a little busy with work, shifting out of the seasonal flying into a little “Organised crime”. If you can’t beat them, join them I suppose!

No Short School Friends Please

I had a call from a parent this morning who asked me if I could explain the new and rather confusing child car seat regulations.

The quick and rather glib answer is that if your child is under twelve, then he or she is not allowed to have any short friends unless you happen to have a ready supply of car booster seats available. Otherwise, the police, in between fining mobile phone users and cyclists without bicycle bells, will be checking your vehicle at the road-block, soon to set-up permanently at the St Nicholas roundabout.

The more sensible answer is to visit the BBC website where all is explained, with some detail I didn’t know; i.e. whether the human rights act is a defense or not. Anyway, see what the BBC has to say here.

Sunday, September 17, 2006


What do you think of a fine or even two years in jail for not having a bicycle bell?

Another soft target for law-enforcement perhaps?

Meanwhile, The Observer reports that the number of life-sentence prisoners being released from jail has almost trebled in only five years, a rise from 125 in 2000 to a record 351 last year.

Twenty-six of the 1,500 freed since 2000 have subsequently been convicted of further serious sexual or violent crimes and 28 per cent of the 330 life sentence prisoners released in 2003-04 were returned to jail.

To the man in the street this might suggest that releasing 'lifers' early in their sentence wasn't a safe bet in terms of community safety but the parole board knows better.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Spread by the Sword?

Not a Thanet story but do you think that the Pope, Benedict XVI, was unwise to quote remarks by the 14th-century Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologus, who wrote "Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached."

The context of the Pope's speech at the University of Regensburg in Germany, stressed that violence can never be justified by any religion and to illustrate, this argument, he drew on the dialogue between the emperor and a Persian scholar, which has caused such outrage in the Islamic world.

The Guardian writes: "Blog sites have been buzzing with the thought that the Pope may have the president of Iran in mind when he speaks of Manuel's Persian interlocutor. But we don't need to speculate upon a contemporary casting for this speech to recognise its dangers. For in claiming that Islam may be beyond reason, and then to claim that to act without reason is to act contrary to the will of God, is pretty close to the assertion that this religion is godless. And that's not how different faiths ought to speak to each other - especially when we all have each other's blood on our hands."

Is Islam above any criticism? Was the Pope wrong to use the quote he did or are both wrong? What do you think?

A Date for the Diary

Lice, Flies and Frogs. Not to be missed on the Dreamland site on 30th September. Margate to be transformed. The "Promised Land" perhaps?

Friday, September 15, 2006

Wet Feet

Given the sudden acceleration in climate change, it appears that plans to build 4,000 new homes in Thanet may be premature, as within a generation, they may join East London Westwood Cross as an underwater attraction. Has anyone noticed the tide coming in any further than before this year?

“The melting of the sea ice in the Arctic, the clearest sign so far of global warming, has taken a sudden and enormous leap forward, in one of the most ominous developments yet in the onset of climate change.” – The Independent.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Car Seat Law "Chaotic" - Gale

North Thanet's MP, Roger Gale, has this morning described as "chaotic" the Government's new child seat laws due to come into force next week. Speaking in his constituency the MP said:

"Like many ideas that start with the best of intentions this has been allowed by bureaucrats to get out of hand.  Of course parents and family want to protect children in cars but laws have to be sensible and enforceable.  It is weeks since motoring and other organisations flagged up the bewildering complexity of the Government's proposals but nothing has been done to kick some sense into the regulations.

This morning Dr. Ladyman, the Transport Minister, has said that "the rules are a little confusing"!

Apart from creating a bonanza for the Government's retail  "partners" in this exercise it is clear that it is going to cause misunderstanding and possibly friction between motorists and police.

Under age 3 (why 3?) a child has to be in a specialist car seat. That is just about straightforward although it takes no account of weight.

Between 3 and 12, or until the child reaches 4`5" (which also takes no account of size and weight) a child will have to be in an "appropriate" but undefined "child restraint".  This is a nanny-state recipe that could have been designed by Mr. Blair or Patricia Hewitt! It takes some account of (again undefined) "emergencies" but no account of the thousands of motorists who make occasionally take a child on a short journey.

The police (who of course have nothing better to do) will be required to check to see if a child is under 12.  So it's alright for a small thirteen year old to be on the loose in a car but a heavy 4`4" eleven year old will be in "an appropriate child restraint".!

Those of us who are old enough to remember Conservative governments recall the famous "cones hotline". This is a law that is designed to secure for the Minister of State for Transport a place in motoring history as "the first Minister for appropriate child restraint"!

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

A Little Restoration

Thanks to the wonders of digital photography, I've taken this faded and spotted photograph of the Royal Naval Air Station (RNAS) at Westgate during the First World War and restored it.

Notice the unbroken skyline towards Margate - no houses or Royal Esplanade - and the slipway with the crowd standing in front of what is Pav's Cafe almost one hundred years later.

Wheelie Workings

One of our readers has sent in a photograph. He writes:

“Having seen more articles on wheelie bins you may be interested in the attached showing the plastic hexagonal plug removed from my bin exposing what I assume to be a chip the size of a two penny piece.”

(name witheld on request)

Planning Problems

An interesting thread starting to appear around the story involving local planning. I would be very interested to know why the council planning department has not taken action in regard to a sign in Westgate’s Canterbury road as one of our readers alleges in his correspondence.

He or she writes:

“I contacted TDC planning by telephone and spoke to the officer dealing with this application advising that no action had taken place with reference to the sign and lights. After one further month the sign etc., were still as previous. I contacted the same planning officer by e-mail asking for an update and seeking to know if an extension had been granted for the work to be carried out and advising that the sigh was now attracting graffiti artists (the graffiti now having been removed). A confirmation e-mail advising that my e mail was received by TDC was received by me. One further month later without any action being taken and without a reply from the planning officer concerned I again contacted the planning officer by e-mail. Yet again a receipt of my e-mail was received. We are now 35 days later still without a reply from the planning officer and no changes to the sign.”

Would anyone from TDC care to comment on this apparent delay in taking remedial action?

Gayle's View - Casino Royale

Asked if he was a gambler, Professor Stephen Crow answered, with engaging candour, "I do buy raffle tickets at the church fete".

Professor Crow is the head of the government's casino advisory panel that will be responsible for recommending the location of the new casinos proposed under the Gaming Act. His "raffle ticket" comment sums up the attitude that most of us take, probably, towards gambling. We buy raffle and tombola tickets at church and hospital and sports club functions and we invest a very modest amount in national lottery tickets.

Some of us have "a flutter" on the Grand National or the Derby, but would not dream of backing racehorses on a daily or weekly basis, and we may well shove some coins into "fruit machines" in the social club or the pub or in a seafront arcade on a wet afternoon. We do not consider ourselves to be gamblers but we do engage in the occasional game of chance. We condone gaming as part of our lives and we enjoy it.

I have great respect for those church leaders who have spoken out against the further spread of casinos and a particular regard who those few who oppose all forms of gaming but I do not share their view. Without the raffles and the tombolas a lot of church roofs would be in still greater need of repair and hospital leagues of friends would be able to give far less support to cottage hospitals. Although John Major's National Lottery has been cannibalised by government to help pay for things that the Chancellor would have to fund it still gives a large some of money to sport and heritage and the arts that would otherwise not be spent. And even the commercial seaside bingo parlours and amusement arcades make a significant contribution to the tourist economy and to the all-weather leisure facilities that a lot of towns would otherwise lack.

What many are concerned about, clearly and rightly, is the advent of the Vegas-style "super-casino”. I may be in a minority but I happen to believe that Mr. John Prescott is "a pretty straighter kind of guy" than the present and tarnished Prime Minister and I do not believe that Prescott is likely to have sold the rights to a casino in the Millennium Dome for a pair of cowboy boots or even a freebie Blairite holiday on an American Ranch.

There is, though, the whiff of stinking fish about the Super Casino process to date and underlying that stench is the concern that our current well-run and well-regulated casino industry may fall victim to the interests of organised crime if the wrong people are allowed to infiltrate our domestic gambling industry. Big Money breeds Big Greed.

I already have a casino in my constituency. I have, since it opened, not received a single complaint about the way it is run, about its probity or about one case of compulsive gambling leading to personal ruin that it has generated. If the same company, or another of those reputably operating in our native business as a member of the British Casino Association wishes to open up a further modest facility and, in so doing, generates funds that will perhaps provide much needed sports facilities for the East Kent coastal strip that I can see no well-founded objection to that happening.

That, though, is a far cry from the 50,000 square feet of gaming hall and the 1,250 slot-machine "Pleasure Dome" that this government has effectively invited the large American operators seek to inflict upon this country. During the passage of the relevant legislation the Opposition managed to secure a dramatic reduction in the number of proposed new gaming outlets and in the scale of those new businesses. It may not be within the remit of Professor Crow and his Casino Advisory Panel but it would be good if, so far a the super-casino policy is concerned, they were able to persuade Secretary of State Tessa Jowell to think again before it is too late.

Council Enforces Westgate Planning Decision

A Westgate man has been fined £2,000 and ordered to pay £75 in costs after pleading guilty to failing to comply with an enforcement notice.

Thanet Council's Planning Committee originally refused planning consent in 2004 for the installation of a shopfront and roller shutters at a property in St. Mildred's Road, which had been installed without planning consent, within the Westgate Conservation Area. They authorised the issuing of an enforcement notice requiring the removal of the shopfront and the roller shutters.

The owner, Jaspal Sohal of Minster Road, Westgate, appealed against this decision, but lost. Lengthy discussions then took place regarding a suitable replacement, but no agreement could be reached. The Council then began legal proceedings against the owner.

Yesterday morning (Monday 11th September), he pleaded guilty at Thanet Magistrates and fined £2,000 and ordered to pay £75 costs to the Council. Following the hearing, the owner has arranged for a new application to be submitted and the required suitable shopfront will be fitted over the Christmas period, providing it receives planning approval.

Cllr. John Kirby, Cabinet Member for Development Services, said:
"This case highlights how determined this Council is to take action on planning matters when we need to and sends out a strong message to property owners. Once we issue an enforcement notice, we will pursue it, no matter how long it takes, to ensure that we get to a satisfactory conclusion. As this case shows, that could mean taking legal action.
Equally, it could mean working with property owners. In this case, we are now at the stage where the action that the Council wanted is finally happening. It's just a shame that it had to go to court to get to this result."

Monday, September 11, 2006

Wheelie Bin Roadshow - Free Entry for All

Roadshows are being taken out to parts of Thanet who will be receiving wheelie bins later this year to explain more about the "wheelie easy" scheme. The initiative, which was first piloted at 5,000 properties last year, is now being extended to 20,000 more properties in parts of Birchington, Westgate, Westbrook, the eastern part of Cliftonville, Palm Bay, Kingsgate, Dumpton, the Whitehall and Northwood estates in Ramsgate, Cliffsend, Minster, Monkton and St. Nicholas at Wade.

Homes will receive two wheelie bins, one with a blue lid for recyclable items, such as paper, card, cardboard, plastic bottles and tins, while the black lidded bin will be for rubbish that cannot be recycled, such as food and nappies. Rubbish is collected one week and recycled items are collected the following week. All homes that are being included in the scheme have received leaflets explaining how it will work.

The Waste and Recycling team is also visiting meetings of Parish Councils and Residents' Associations to answer residents' questions and explain about the scheme. The team has already been to Cliffsend, Monkton and Minster Parish Councils, Westgate and Westbrook Residents' Association and over the next few weeks will be visiting a range of other meetings:

• Tuesday 12 September -St. Nicholas at Wade Parish Council
• Monday 18 September -Garlinge Residents' Association
• Monday 25 September -Birchington Parish Council
• Thursday 28 September - Newington Residents' Association
• Wednesday 25 October - Birchington Steering Group

Pat On the Back

Credit where credit's due.

Walking along the beach at Westgate this morning, I noticed it was near spotless, with two council workers busily picking-up any litter left over from the weekend.

On a remarkably beautiful morning, this reflects well on the same time last year, when I was complaining about the mess. Having a clean environment goes a long way to imrpving the local quality of life and the appearance of our island and while there are many other pressing problems for the council to deal with here in Thanet, this morrning's Mediterranean like scene reflects well on the efforts made this Summer to "Keep Thanet Beautiful."

Well done!

Police Merger Shambles - How many Coppers has it Cost?

How many policemen have the government's aborted police merger plan cost Kent?

That is the question being asked today by North Thanet's MP, Roger Gale.

The MP is writing to Kent's Chief Constable, Mike Fuller, to establish the true cost, to the County, of the time-wasting exercise that led to Kent being awarded status as a stand-alone strategic force before Charles Clark's proposed national merger scheme collapsed in disarray and was effectively abandoned by new Home Secretary John Reid.

"Thousands of hours of police administrative time was spent nationally preparing plans and figures for unwanted mergers" says the MP "and all of that time and effort cost energy and money that could and should have been spent on the fight against crime.

We are now left with the worst of all worlds: a huge bill and no progress. I want to know how much this has cost Kent and how much it has cost the country because I believe that the Home Secretary should be compelled to fund, out of his existing budget, the looses incurred by police forces around the United Kingdom."

Pysons Road Fire

The BBC reports a large fire on Pysons road in Broadstairs early this morning.

Police were called by firefighters to the A1 Motorist Centre on an industrial estate at Broadstairs just after 3.15am and found the building extensively damaged by fire.

A rear door to the building had been forced open and an office inside had been burgled with an amount of cash stolen.

More than 50 firefighters from Thanet, Canterbury and Folkestone were called to the blaze that extensively damaged 30 per cent of the car repair workshop and caused smoke and heat damage to the rest of the building.

The cause of the fire is unknown. Anyone with information about the fire is asked to contact Det Sgt Claire Munday at Margate Police Station on 01843 222192.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Stop the "Get Out of Jail Free" Card Says Gale

North Thanet`s MP, Roger Gale, has this weekend expressed concern at new sentencing rules from a Government quango that could mean shoplifters will never face the threat of jail.

The Government-appointed Sentencing Guidelines Council is consulting on new guidelines for courts to follow. Under one option, shoplifters will never be jailed unless they commit an ‘aggravated’ offence, such as involving violence or using children. Under the other option, shoplifters would not face any custodial sentence unless they were ‘seriously persistent’.

Last year, retail crime was estimated to cost businesses £2.1 billion a year, but this figure is thought to under-estimate the full extent, due to under-reporting by shops.

Speaking in his constituency Roger Gale said:

“I think the public will be concerned that a Government body is seriously suggesting those who steal from shops should never be jailed. Such a ‘get out of jail free’ card sends the wrong signal to would-be thieves and gives the green light to more crime across (area). Small firms are the hardest hit by theft, and we all pay the cost in the form of higher prices in shops.

“Certainly, community sentences or fines may be appropriate for some offenders. But a jail sentence must remain as both a deterrent and a punishment for persistent shoplifters. I fear that the Labour Government’s policy of releasing convicted prisoners early, or not sending them to prison at all, is undermining confidence in our criminal justice system.”

Bridge Building - The Thanet Way

You'll note today's quote for the day: "Politicians are the same all over. They promise to build a bridge even where there is no river." - Nikita Khrushchev.

There's no such thing as bad publicity or so "They" whoever "They" might be, say. The result of this week's slanging match, whether you agree with comment moderation or not, has a least boosted the number of visits as you can see from the web counter at the bottom of the page, with just over 8,000 impresions needed before we reach 200,000.

In fact, the real target I have set is 250,00, which sounds like a respectable Blog number for a place like Thanet, particularly as I now have competition, which wasn't the case a year ago.

I've said it before and I'll say it again. Moderation is a pain in the backside and I'd much rather do without it as it takes up time that I only really have available for adding new posts and it means that when I'm away or busy, the comments won't go up in real time, which is very disappointing given the effort I've put into this weblog.

I would have thought that the people of Thanet would have more to be exercised about than the mud-slinging of local politics but at least you know that you can use this weblog as a means of opening a dialogue with city hall, when it comes to addressing all manner of local problems.

Descend into name-calling and that hard-won advantage may disappear with ThanetLife becoming another tacky source of jibes and criticism. There's a great deal that can be improved and even more that can be changed and there's a local election around the corner, so among other concerns and stories let's use the site to explore local issues intelligently and with courtesy regardless of any political affiliation or sense of ourtrage.

Comment Moderation

The constant drip of invective and personal attack on our Conservative MP and local council members continues from “Thanet Labour Supporter” which has forced me to turn-on comment moderation. Quite unable to be polite and frustrated by being “sent to Coventry” I and others wonder if he’s a local party activist worried by the collapse in confidence in his party of government and the implications for next year’s council elections in Thanet.

It all rather reminds me of the BBC drama series ‘GBH’ in the eighties and modelled loosely on Derek Hatton in Liverpool, which showed local party activists going to extraordinary lengths to silence any comment as the local elections approached.

Anyway, unlike our local Labour supporter, I’ve worked for the Cabinet Office, been at No10 and having once been a close supporter of this government, I walked away, when I witnessed the cynical reality behind the scenes. And now I’m quite prepared to comment on what I feel is wrong with it.

I’ll store some of the nastiest taunts and perhaps, the week before the local council elections, I’ll publish them all at once, so readers can see the level of political paranoia he represents. Otherwise, I stand by this site’s policy of respect as a forum for discussion, where people can comment freely and politely and can do so without worrying about being abused by what is after all one person in close to 200,000 visits.

Have a Safe Flight

Important news for those of you thinking of flying via Manston to Virginia, in the near future, is that gel-filled bras and KY jelly are being considered as potential weapons of mass destruction.

US officials should be aware that Jihadists could pack a standard tube with enough Ricin to kill around four million guinea pigs. To put it in perspective, that's the equivalent of a six-foot-deep layer of dead guinea pigs covering an area the size of three football pitches. It's a chilling thought.

Try this account of the indignity suffered by a 57-year-old cancer survivor en route to Majorca from a UK airport who was told that her "gel-filled breast would need to be checked in with baggage.

Does anyone know if security arrangements at Kent International Airport are up to speed with this new threat to air travel?

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Very High Tides this Weekend

Today’s Times newspaper reports that coastal towns are on flood alert this weekend as the highest tides in 20 years threaten Britain’s shores.

The Environment Agency has identified a three-day period from today until Monday evening when high astronomical tides are likely because of the gravitational pull of the Sun and the Moon.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Magic Roundabout

I picked-up a copy of the village newsletter, “The Birchington Roundabout” today and they have the results of a survey on their front page:

  • 66% respondents are dissatisfied with the policing of the village and how “anti-social behaviour seems to be tolerated by the police.”

  • 68% of respondents feel very dissatisfied with the failure of Thanet Council to quickly and professionally repair cracked and lifted paving stones.

  • 52% of respondents were dissatisfied with local planning decisions

  • 64% of respondents are unhappy with the lack of youth facilities

All was not gloom and doom with shops given a 97% approval rating – far enough from Westwood Cross not to be put out of business – and medical facilities were given 71% approval. An overwhelming 88% were happy to be living in the village.

I suspect that if the same survey was taken across the island, the negative view of policing would be broadly reflected elsewhere with too much emphasis being placed on Community Officers and too little emphasis on local knowledge and a visible presence of local “beat officers” outside of 9am to 5pm.

Save the Island

One local councillor, Miss Roxanne Chesher-Brazier, has started a leaflet campaign to “Save the Island” against the building of new homes on Thanet (I originally wrote Westwood Cross by mistake). I was handed one of these this morning and it says:

“Say ‘No’ to developments of 4,000 homes”

“Say ‘No’ to depleting water supplies”

“Say ‘No’ to diminishing quality of air”

And of course, say ‘No’ to a “Rising Crime Rate” as an afterthought.

James Maskell correctly pointed out that the 4,000 homes figure is for the island as a whole, still too many I would have thought, given the present congestion problems we are seeing.

You Couldn't Make it Up!

Hinduism no barrier to job as priest in Church of England

The Times reports that a priest with the Church of England who converted to Hinduism has been allowed to continue to officiate as a cleric.

The Rev David Hart’s diocese renewed his licence this summer even though he had moved to India, changed his name to Ananda and daily blesses a congregation of Hindus with fire previously offered up to Nagar, the snake god. He also “recites Gayatri Mantram with the same devotion with which he celebrates the Eucharist”, according to The Hindu, India’s national newspaper.

Read on.

Temporary Extension to the Revolution Agreed

News from Councillor Chris Wells, to tell us that Revolution Skatepark and the Thanet Community Development Trust have today agreed a temporary extension to Revolutions tenancy until the end of the year. In a meeting facilitated by Cllr Wells, the agreement allows Revolution to continue to operate on the Dane Valley site for an additional ninety days following the end of their lease in September whilst negotiations continue about longer term arrangements.

Cllr Wells explained:

“The terms of the temporary arrangement will remain confidential whilst the main negotiation resumes, and both sides have agreed not to make comment to the media during the forthcoming negotiations. I will continue to facilitate meetings between the parties as necessary until this matter is settled. My role is simply to assist in the negotiating process as an honest broker acceptable to both parties. All involved have agreed this statement and will not comment further.”

Keith Single, Financial Director of TCDT, said:

“I am pleased we are all back around the table and talking, and hope we will all use these three months to reach an acceptable solution for all concerned. I would like to thank Dan Chapman for his willingness to enter this temporary arrangement and trust we will now reach a mutually acceptable conclusion”

Dan Chapman of Revolution commented:

“Skaters now know they have at least three more months to enjoy the park as it stands, and with the immediate threat of closure receding can have confidence we will all do our best to ensure Revolution continues.”

What's Good About Gordon?

After yesterday’s ‘damp squib’ political excitement, I’m guessing that we’ve got Tony Blair until after his 10th anniversary unless Gordon can find a way of removing him before the local elections next year.

Although the Chancellor has still to go through the formality of an election rather than a coup d’etat I’m not convinced that Prime Minister Brown will be a good thing for either me or the people of Thanet. A move to the left and more taxation seems as inevitable under Gordon as a move to the right would have been under Maggie Thatcher.

The Guardian newspaper writes this morning: "Having fantasised about his very own administration for decades, Brown will not risk having the limo for only three weeks, becoming the Lady Jane Grey of Westminster. But the prudent move may turn out to be the risky one. Every unelected day he serves in No 10 may encourage the perception of a believer in the hereditary principle. Tony Blair, whatever else might be said about him, only ever took power through the ballot-box."

So, Gordon, who is about to deliver a lecture on “Britishness” today will most likely inject a Scottish Parliamentary feel to No10, given his close supporters, like Dougie Alexander but do you think that the arrival of Prime Minister Brown is inevitable and will Tony have the last laugh, leaving Gordon with a shrinking economy with growing debt and unemployment to deal with, a ticking time-bomb that looks to go off, well after ten years?

What’s good about Gordon? Let us know.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Eastcliff Fall

Cllr David Green’s “Eastcliff Matters” has temporarily suspended its service.

The reason given on the website states:

“This blog is closed for the time being.

The author is under threat by the administration at Thanet District Council of referral to the Standards Board for England over certain remarks made that were critical of the Council and its actions.”

There are other reasons given, so read on:

Blogs & Blogging in Thanet

The BBC's Robert Leslie called me last week and other Thanet Bloggers, wondering why there's so much 'Blogging' going on in Thanet. It seems his programme will be broadcast this afternoon and he's sent me a note to share with the readers.

"Hi Simon.

My radio feature will be broadcast this afternoon on BBC Radio Kent at 16:40 so do tune in. If you miss it, it will be available online by this evening. Just look out for my blogging feature on the BBC Kent homepage:

Going Nowhere Today

It appears that our part of Kent is closed for this afternoon at least.

The M2 is now closed in both directions, following what I assume is a serious accident, with tailbacks to the A229. This is, I think the third such incident in two months and I think that the A229 has been closed at least twice during the same period.

In fact, I can’t recall a time that I’ve noticed, either from the air or from being stuck behind several miles of cars, that the roads system has been halted so regularly due to serious and fatal accidents.

Ed: The latest news is that a tragedy unfolded on the M2 this morning reportedly, with one person pronounced dead and another crtically injured at the scene of an accident. Firefighters were searching for a third person in the wreckage.

The crash involved a car and a lorry and took place at 10.30am on the coastbound carriageway at junction five for Sittingbourne.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Details Revealed of Manston Flights to USA

Kent Online reveals the details of new flights to America from Manston.

The new holidays in America, which will be on a flight-only basis with prices starting from £329, are being offered by Bromley-based travel company Cosmos, using flights operated by Monarch Airlines.

The flights, aimed at the millions of people living within a three-hour drive of Manston, will start on May 2 next year.

Outward journeys will leave the airport at 1.30pm on Wednesdays, with return flights landing at 7am on Wednesday mornings.

Customers will be able to choose between seven, 14 or 21-night breaks in Virginia and North Carolina, or a combination of the two.

Ramsgate Property Owner Fined

A Ramsgate man’s been fined £500 and ordered to pay costs of £1,200 after being found guilty of intentionally failing to comply with a Repair Notice relating to his property.

The case related to 3 Vale Square, Ramsgate, which was visited by an officer from the Council’s Private Sector Housing team in July 2002. It was found that the front full-height bay window had become detached from the main structure of the building and scaffolding had been erected to prevent it collapsing on to the pavement and road in front of the property. Due to this structural instability, the house was deemed to be unfit for human habitation.

A Repair Notice was served under the Housing Act 1985, which required the owner Gerald Simpson, also of Vale Square, to carry out urgent building works to make the property safe by April 2004. After representations from Mr. Simpson, the Council extended the deadline for the works until July 2004.

However, Mr. Simpson failed to complete the works and in March 2005, criminal proceedings were started against him, as intentional failure to comply with a Repair Notice is a criminal offence. At the preliminary hearing on 11 October 2005, Mr. Simpson pleaded not guilty to the charge.

Following an adjournment on 15 May 2006, a trial was set for 4 September 2006 at Sittingbourne Magistrates’ Court. At the conclusion of the trial, Mr. Simpson was found guilty of intentionally failing to comply with the notice and was fined £500, and ordered to pay a contribution to the Council’s legal costs of £1,200.

The Repair Notice remains valid and Mr. Simpson must complete the repairs required, or he could be prosecuted again.

Cllr. Ingrid Spencer, Cabinet Member for Housing and Community Services, said: “This property has been an eyesore in Vale Square for five years, with scaffolding covering the entire façade of the property. Being structurally unstable, and unfit for human habitation, the Council had to act, and it did. The Council will not let landlords shirk their responsibilities to the detriment of tenants and surrounding residents. Although prosecution is a last resort, it is a course of action the Council will not hesitate to take when it needs to.”

Blair's Premiership - Not Just a Matter for Labour

The future of Blair's premiership is not, and must not be allowed to be, just a matter for the Labour Party, says North Thanet's MP, Roger Gale.

Speaking in his constituency this (Wednesday) morning the MP said:

"Too many commentators, including those working within national television and radio, appear to be treating what is a leadership crisis as an internal squabble that is the prerogative of Labour Ministers and Members of Parliament. It is no such thing.

We are faced with an international situation in which British service personnel are dying almost daily in Afghanistan or Iraq; the ceasefire in the Middle East is highly volatile and renewed hostilities could erupt at any moment; at home the Health Service is facing financial meltdown and there are grave concerns over law and order and immigration. In the midst of all this the country is in the hands of a dead-duck Prime Minister whose staff appear more concerned with his "legacy" - or how to win him a Blue Peter badge - than with the running of the Country.

For the sake of the United Kingdom the premiership issue has to be resolved now, not in several months time, and if Blair still has any vestige of respect or affection for this country then he should recognise that fact and pave the way for an imminent leadership election and handover of power or, better still, call a general election and let the British people have their say."

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Ask Sandy - Setting the Story Straight

Here, is the answer to the reader question that I sent to council leader, Sandy Ezekiel, regarding the fate of the Revolution Skate Park. Sandy writes:

Let me quite clearly state the Council wishes to see Revolution Skate Park remain open.

Let me also make it quite clear that we do not have any members on the board of the Thanet Development Community Trust (TCDC).  Why?  Because I believe that a member of Council that sits as a board member of any organisation has an obligation to that board.  Cllr. Ingrid Spencer and I attended meetings of TCDC as observers and if they wish to discuss confidential matters, we make it clear that we will make our own judgements as to the confidentiality of any item on the agenda. Should TCDC wish to go into a closed meeting and not have the business placed in the public domain, they then have the right to ask us to leave.

To date, senior officers and I have met with Dan to gain an understanding of his business and why there is a potential vast increase in rent. The meeting was friendly, but frank about what we could and couldn't do.  

During the meeting, Dan was advised to: -

  • Obtain his own valuation on a reasonable market rent for his premises

  • Look into the possibility of arbitration under the current Landlord and Tenant Act

  • Try and seek a reasonable explanation from TCDC as to why the hike in rent is justifiable, as the current rental value as determined by the District Valuer for business rates is nearer the rent as currently being charged by TCDC.

  • Business rates are not subject to discounts by the District Valuer.  It is their job to obtain a fair market rent for business premises.

  • Look into forming a trust; this could bring benefits in savings, such as business rates.
I am still awaiting confirmation from Dan on the outcomes of the above matters raised at our meeting.

We are meeting with TCDC this week to see if we can reach a permanent solution. TCDC were set up by the government to enhance and benefit the residents of Thanet. I believe if they are to continue to be of benefit to Thanet, then they have the opportunity to just that in supporting the Skate Park.

Many of your readers will also be aware that Cllr. Chris Wells is also working with TCDC, Dan and I to try and bring about a solution.

Chris has expertise in funding and his help is most welcome by all.

Following the meetings that are taking place this week, I would be happy to meet with any of your readers to inform them of the outcomes.

A Note on Community Safety

I received this note to share with you all from the Project Manager Thanet Community Safety Partnership. I should add that yes, I was invited but sadly I was working; I have a day job too and so I couldn’t attend the meeting.

“Dear Simon Moores

You were invited to the press launch of this last Friday. If you had attended you could have dispelled any fears your readers have.

This is not a sole TDC venture is run by the Thanet Community Safety Partnership. TDC were chosen to host the site because of the high quality product they are using and the well trained team they have in there customer services team to operate it. It has not cost any additional money this has been set up along with the Safe Cleaner Team (which will be shown in the next addition of Thanet Matters- by making better use in a coordinated manner of existing services. This project and team has taken over 18 months to set up. It has not been done on a whim or rushed. It is not taking any responsibilities away from any agencies involved but is complimenting them. It is partnership working at its best.

The Anti social Reporting Line is not an immediate response line that is the role of the Police. It is part of the process in seeking long term solutions not just papering over the cracks.

Nigel Cruttenden Project Manager Thanet Community Safey Partnership”

Monday, September 04, 2006

A Safer Cleaner Thanet?

A new, dedicated team has been set up to tackle anti-social behaviour in Thanet, along with a new phoneline for people to report problems affecting their community.

The Safer Cleaner Thanet Unit is hosted by Thanet Council and draws together a range of organisations, including Kent Police, Kent County Council, Kent Fire and Rescue Service, voluntary groups and the business community. The Unit will targeting problems like vandalism, intimidation, harassment, dumped rubbish and graffiti. Incident diaries will also be given out to those experiencing persistent problems, which may mean that people don't have to give evidence in court. The team works closely with other groups, such as housing associations, local voluntary organisations  to work on problems that local people identify.

A new anti-social behaviour hotline has also been launched. Residents can call in the strictest of confidence on 01843 577 888 to report problems, giving as much information as possible about incidents, such as dates, times and places. Calls will be allocated to individual officers from the new Unit, who will then call the person back, providing they leave their name, address and telephone number, and follow the incident through on their behalf. This means that people will have one point of contact and will be able to find out what progress is being made on the incidents that are reported.

Cllr. Ingrid Spencer, Cabinet Member for Housing and Community Services, said: "We know that people want to feel safer and we also know that anti-social behaviour is a major issue throughout the country.

Here in Thanet, we're aiming to try and deal with the problem by establishing this unit, but let's be clear, this is a first step. To tackle anti-social behaviour, there's another group that we need to get on board and that's the community.

"The only way that the Safer Cleaner Thanet Unit can get results is by getting more effective information from the public. They're a vital part of dealing with this whole issue. They're the ones who can supply the details we need about the ongoing issues that are impacting the quality of life in their community. If you're not sure if a problem is affecting other people in your community, then why not ask around in your neighbourhood? The more people who are watching out for problems and reporting them to the new team, the more chance there is that we will be able to get results."

She added: "With the new hotline, there's now one place to call in complete confidence with all your details of the problems you're experiencing. We know that some people worry about reporting issues and that's why we've introduced this new number. We'd obviously prefer people to leave their details, so that we can discuss the matter further with them, but if you want to report incidents anonymously, our team will still follow them up."

Disabled Man Attacked in Ramsgate

Is it my imagination or is Ramsgate increasingly becoming a focus for acts of random and unprovoked violence?

Kent Online reports that a 63-year-old disabled man suffered a fractured hip when he was attacked the town centre.

Police say the victim was pushed over by two men in an unprovoked assault.
Investigating officers are seeking witnesses, particularly a couple who stopped to help the victim.

The attack happened in Effingham Street, Ramsate, on Friday, August 25, between 2pm and 3.45pm.

The man has been unable to give any description of his assailants to police - any person with information should call Det Con Paul Coughlan 01843 222071 or Kent Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

Kent Must Resist Brusselisation of the Map

North Thanet`s MP, Roger Gale, has this morning spoken out against what he has described as proposals to "Brusselise" the map of Europe.

Under the plans, drawn up by Eurocrats, Kent and Sussex are destined to become, with Calais, the "Transmanche" Region of Europe with the rest of the United Kingdom also broken up into "Balkan States".

"Kent has very strong links with our neighbours on mainland Europe" says the MP "and it is in our interests that that should be so. Those links of trade, tourism and friendship are, however, a far cry from the proposals seeping out of Brussels that are clearly designed to exercise central bureaucratic controls at the expense of traditional national boundaries.

We have resisted attempts to create an elected regional assembly that our own government would like to see replace the Shire Counties and we must, as a county and as a nation, resist the meddling ambition of those who loathe the sovereign state to create euro-regions that would undermine our proud and individual identities.

Kent is, and must remain, "Invicta".”

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Tough on Toerags - Tough on the Causes of Toerags?

As Thanet Council gets tough on Anti-Social behaviour, perhaps they can do something to address the regular complaints that appear on this website that calls to the Police are ignored.

One of our regular contributors, “Mr Friday”, writes:

“I remember reading a few weeks ago of the "crackdown" on mini-motos and the like in Thanet.

I was watching the Thanet Marathon today on Cliftonville Seafront and one of the local ‘toerags’ was tearing up and down the promenade making people get out of his way in case they were hit.  It was also causing inconvenience to the runners who were on the last legs (literally in some cases) of a tough 26 mile run.  The last obstacle they were probably expecting was this sort of anti-social behaviour - not a good advert for Thanet when so many runners were from outside the area.

Anyway, I phoned the police and, after being diverted from the Margate Police Station to the HQ who had no concept of where or what Cliftonville Promenade was they assured me that a patrol car would be along "immediately" to sort it out.  Anyway, I waited, and waited and waited.  As I was watching the Marathon I was there for a further 3 hours after I made the phone call and not one police car turned up.  Eventually the rider just rode his ‘moto’ down the path one more time and vanished.

Tough on mini-motos ?  I'd say.”

Power Station Protest

The BBC reports a protest at the Richborough Power Station site, by environment campaigners against a possible waste incinerator being built.

Thanet Friends of the Earth and Sandwich Action Group for the Environment (Sage), were demonstrating against the disused power station being one of four places selected as possible sites for waste incinerators by Kent County Council (KCC) in a consultation paper.

Sunday's demo was part of a global action day against burning rubbish.

War of the Worlds

I know that Tony Flaig, in his weblog, speculated that oil exploration might be taking place in the waters off Margate but from where I’m standing it looks as if the War of The Worlds has started, with one of the Martian machines just about to blast the Rendezvous car park with its death ray!

Today should have involved a visit to the “Goodwood Revival” but with the weather we’ve had over the weekend, it’s the revival that will need reviving, as I assume visitor numbers will have been badly affected.

Given the hottest July on record and the gloomiest August since 1986, it must have been a mixed bag for the tourist industry in Thanet and I rather wonder what takings were like in Margate, with very little now left to bring-in the numbers of visitors that packed the beaches in previous years.

From the air at least, there have been some days when the beaches have been busy but not as I remember them from before and through August, there were some days when I looked down and they were nearly deserted, with Broadstairs being the only spot I’ve seen with a consistent density of people on the sands.

With a great deal of effort on the part of the council to try and bring in visitors, was this a good summer for Thanet or not? What’s your verdict?

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Ramsgate Knife Attack

More violence in Ramsgate where a man could need at least a year to regain the full use of his right hand after being attacked with a knife while on his way home.

The 19-year-old was approached in Wellington Crescent by two men and a woman.

One of the men barred his way and tried to stab him in the stomach. The victim defended himself with his right arm but was slashed across his hand and wrist.

He needed 50 stitches to the external wound and severed tendons in his hand.

The offender and the other man and woman walked away down Madeira Hill following the incident late last Friday.

The man with the knife was described as having a foreign appearance, aged 17 to 20 and with black gelled hair.

The two other people with him were of a similar age.

Roman Bathhouse Revealed

I see the BBC has revealed the source of a landmark that has been puzzling me of late.

“An archaeological dig in Kent has turned up a Roman bathhouse described as "totally unique" for the county.

The remains of the 5th Century building were uncovered in a field in Faversham by students working with the Kent Archaeological Field School.”

I wondered what this was as I fly over it regularly and next time the weather permits I’ll take some photos for you, even though it’s not Thanet but close.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Appeals Dismissed

Magistrates have dismissed appeals by two drivers, whose licence applications to be private hire drivers had both been turned down by Thanet Council.

The application by Lee Clarke (40) of St. Anthony’s Way in Margate was heard by the Council’s Licensing Board on 23 May and was refused, after Councillors heard that he was convicted at Canterbury Crown Court in September 2002 of possession of drugs with intent to supply, when he was sentenced to a total of four years’ imprisonment. Magistrates dismissed his appeal and awarded the Council £50 in costs.

Kevin Howard (46) of Selbourne Road, Margate had his application refused by the Licensing Board on 20 June; after Members were told that he was convicted at Maidstone Crown Court of conspiracy to import class B drugs and was sentenced to 14 years imprisonment. Again, his appeal was dismissed by the Magistrates and he was ordered to pay the Council £100 in costs.

Both applications had been refused by Thanet Council, as they contravened local guidelines, which state that people with drugs convictions cannot be licensed to work as private hire drivers.

Cllr. John Kirby, Cabinet Member for Development Services, said: “We’re delighted that, in these two cases, the Magistrates backed the Council’s original decisions. This highlights how seriously Thanet Council takes its role of licensing private hire drivers. Anyone who gets into a private hire vehicle needs to know that they will be safe and that’s why the Council put in place certain guidelines, so that our residents and visitors can use these vehicles and have confidence in the drivers.”

Green Light for Ramsgate Wind Farm

The BBC reports that Thanet Council has backed the Ramsgate wind farm proposal, the world's biggest wind farm, which will provide electricity for up to 750,000 homes.

London Array's scheme will see up to 271 turbines sited 12 miles off Ramsgate, enough to meet the electricity needs of 750,000 homes.

The Danish-made turbines would be assembled at Ramsgate port where the concrete foundations would also be made creating at least 800 jobs

Chief executive of Thanet District Council, Richard Samuel, said if the project went ahead a new quay would have to be built in Ramsgate to enable boats to be loaded.

He estimated that it would cost about £10m but said there would be no impact on council tax payers.