Thursday, June 07, 2007

Creeping Up

Just in time for the beginning of Gordon Brown's 'Presidency', the BBC reports that unemployment levels are creeping back to the bad old days. Subjectively, I'm noticing a softening of the economy generally, with two separate accountants telling me that small businesses they work for are starting to struggle and this is particularly noticeable, I'm informed, in the Thanet retail sector outside Westwood Cross.

In recent months reports the BBC, "The unemployment rate has been creeping up again and currently stands at 1.7 million, according to the ILO labour force survey.

Although the way unemployment is measured has changed over the years, both the ILO survey, which measures the number of people seeking work, and the claimant count are roughly the same as they were in 1979. In percentage terms it is slightly higher at 5.5%, compared with 4.7% in 1979.

"At that time", say the BBC, "it was seen as a national scandal, with the Conservatives claiming in an iconic general election poster "Labour isn't working".

On this occasion, the Conservative party is remaining diplomatically silent bceause to draw attention to the government's rising employemnt crisis would also remind voters that unemployment subsequently rose above 3 million after Margaret Thatcher won that 1979 election. This may be almost 20 years on but this government, as you may have noticed, loves to remind people of the 'evils' of the Thatcher era before waxing lyrical over the manifest triumphs of New Labour. "

On an entirely different note, we should be proud that Margate girl, Tracey Emin, is representing the UK at the world's longest-running international art exhibition, the Venice Biennale. I'm not impressed however that the best piece of world-class art she can deliver to impress the visitors, is a bunch of sticks in the middle of the exhibition floor.

I wonder, if nobody told you that disjointed wooden mess in the middle of the room was the product of a great artist, would you stop to ponder its random profundity or simply move on, wondering why the workman had left without cleaning-up.

Art for Arts sake or the Kings new clothes? - You tell me!

21 comments:

stuart said...

I don't agree that small retail businesses in Thanet (apart from Westwood Cross) are struggling because of the National economy. I'd say it's caused more by Thanet not being large enough to carry three town centres and a rapidly growing out of town centre!

DrMoores said...

Are you saying then that small businesses, in general aren't struggling in the present economic climate?

Anonymous said...

Tracey Emin has about the same amount of talent as the clowns that designed the Olympics logo. The Emperor's new clothes as far as I'm concerned.

stuart said...

In general, i don't agree that it is a bad time for small business - of course there are business failures but we aren't exactly having hard times are we? There is more competition these days and if you aren't good at providing the service or your product isn't good then you will fail!

Anonymous said...

anon again!

The only small business that makes a profit in Thanet is the drug dealing one.

Also, the TDC!

They take more money in Council Tax, and deliver only a QUARTER of last years service! Let me clarify.
Last year, I had my own dustbin that was emptied weekly. This year I have a wheely bin, and that is shared with the flat upstairs! Thus, *service halved*.
This wheely bin is only emptied every 2 (two)weeks now, so that is only a *quarter of the service*.
This morning, I put out the mown grass, a bag for me, a bag for my neighbour. Both bags were there when I got back from work this evening.
Now, if I knocked a quarter OFF my Council Tax bill, I would be arrested and Jailed.

TDC, you're on to a winner, how the blazes can you hoodwink so many people, and get away with it?

DrMoores said...

Just to note.. Accountants BDO Stoy Hayward claim more than 17000 UK firms failed last year!

DrMoores said...

If your garden waste hasn't been taken, then a simple call to TDC should have it picked-up. If not, then contact your local councillor.

In regard to value for money, I do sympathise as we are all in the same boat. However, where do you think the money comes from to provide all the services?

Central government gives us next to nothing and we can only fund services through the principal instrument of council tax in a deprived area with one of the worst recovery rates in the country I'm told.

So if it costs an example £10 to provide the most basic level of services we all require and we can only raise £7 can you tell me what the solution is?

Have a look at the Richard Littlejohn column I mentioned earlier this week!

Anonymous said...

Stuart, if local people are finding spare money hard to find, it is not the result of too many shopping outlets. Brown's stealth taxes including the Council Tax hikes, combined with interest rises are now hurting. The Regency and Tajmahal in Westgate are noticing the drop in local customers; less visits, increase in take-away rather than eat-in and smaller orders.

The Government's RPI calculations, like Orwells' Ministry of Plenty announcements, bear no reality to inflation as many households have discovered and factory gate prices have been rising. Pay rises in the public sector have been less than the inflation rate. In my budget at the moment I am having to find an extra £25-£30 per week to stand still. Voluntary bankruptcies, IVAs, house reposessions and missed mortgage payments are rapidly increasing. The Labour Party gained Tony's 3rd term by reverting under Gordon's management to a traditional Labour fiscal approach of raised taxation with profligate and wasteful Government expenditure. On housing and house prices, we now have inadequate levels of 'social housing' and too many people chasing too few properties. What effect on the housing market does having 1,000,000 plus legitimate immigrants matched with hundreds of thousands of illegal ones and almost every young person from Poland over here in the past 10 years? Unless they are all living in sheds in gardens or in tented camps up and down the land, no wonder we have a housing shortage! The proportion of income to pay for a roof over one's head is now astronomical for renters and buyers alike. Gordon Brown, has waited 10 years for his place in the sun and what a price is waiting around the corner for all of us who will soon be paying the price for it. The sad fact is that the poor, the elderly, recent migrants and the disadvantaged have already started to pay the price.

Anonymous said...

Now come on folks, play the Councillor's game. He has tried three times in this strand to get you to agree that small businesses are failing so he can press his argument about the state of the economy. You're just not playing ball by turning the issue round to criticise Thanet District Council!

Anonymous said...

Problem is that it isn't just the unemployment that people remember. We are still living with the legacy of the 'me, me, me' generation that the Thatcher era spawned. It is those very people who are know sitting in the Dog and Baggett (or whatever it is called) telling the Sunday People about how they are claiming benefit. Perhaps if they had more of a social outlook on life, instead of believing, as Thatcher clearly stated that everybody should be out for themselves, we wouldn't be in the state we are in.

It is only when those who have NO experience of Thatcher come through that we have a hope of claiming our society back.

stuart said...

If I judge by what I know, and what Labour claim then things are OK. Business is good for me, but not based in Thanet and neither are our clients! My friends and family are mostly comfortable and all employed and when I go shopping at the weekend the shops are enjoying good trade and there are more cars on the road (and in the shopping car parks!) than ever!

If you listen to the Conservatives then the situation is much more gloomy!

Pretty much all that is wrong with Thanet is caused by policy and the area taking more than it's fair share of other area's problems (oh, thats caused by policy too!)

stuart said...

By the way Simon, in 2004 BDO recorded the lowest business failure stat for 6 years (16,000) and now as you say the 2006 figure is 17000.

Hardly as sensational when you give a little bit more information is it?

DrMoores said...

Stuart, I despair .. I find myself thinking I'm living in a "Blackadder" sketch!

Anonymous said...

Commenting as a small retailer, yes things are tough at the moment both locally and nationally and a lot of this is due to customers having out of town shopping with free parking, and now being able to shop on the Internet. Frankly I suspect many of the people who are selling secondhand and collectable items online are on benefit making it impossible for any honest Joe to compete.

In Ramsgate the pedestrianisation was never completed as it was originally designed to be and that doesn’t help. So much of the street-side parking has been removed which doesn’t help either.

There is also the retail planning issue, where while the council continue to grant planning consent to turn shops into residential the rents rise to that of residential instead if reflecting what a shopkeeper can afford to pay.

The underlying problem being that it is not environmentally sustainable for people to have to travel far to shops, but when all the shops have become residences and we, as we eventually must have to travel less there won’t be any room for the shops.

National government has, I am afraid caved to the big retail lobbyists and local government to the property developers, the end result is destroying or towns and villages turning them into attractive housing estates where the only leisure facilities involve drinking alcohol. The future social implications are rather depressing and make one wonder what the point of government is in this respect, we are told that an improvement is occurring while witnessing everyday the reality.

Now while all of you are argufying party politics and presumably like me, noticing Thanet getting less pleasant what’s to be done?

Michael Child said...

Commenting as a small retailer, yes things are tough at the moment both locally and nationally and a lot of this is due to customers having out of town shopping with free parking, and now being able to shop on the Internet. Frankly I suspect many of the people who are selling secondhand and collectable items online are on benefit making it impossible for any honest Joe to compete.

In Ramsgate the pedestrianisation was never completed as it was originally designed to be and that doesn’t help. So much of the street-side parking has been removed which doesn’t help either.

There is also the retail planning issue, where while the council continue to grant planning consent to turn shops into residential the rents rise to that of residential instead if reflecting what a shopkeeper can afford to pay.

The underlying problem being that it is not environmentally sustainable for people to have to travel far to shops, but when all the shops have become residences and we, as we eventually must have to travel less there won’t be any room for the shops.

National government has, I am afraid caved to the big retail lobbyists and local government to the property developers, the end result is destroying or towns and villages turning them into attractive housing estates where the only leisure facilities involve drinking alcohol. The future social implications are rather depressing and make one wonder what the point of government is in this respect, we are told that an improvement is occurring while witnessing everyday the reality.

Now while all of you are argufying party politics and presumably like me, noticing Thanet getting less pleasant what’s to be done?

Anonymous said...

So Stuart is doing very nicely thank you very much. With his business, home and family outside Thanet making "loadsa money".
We on minimum wage with kids salute him!
Of course it then follows that he is an expert on all things Thanet and we should believe every word he says!
Personally I think he's so patronising and self-righteous he's liable to give himself a nosebleed!
Perhaps he should lie down and count all his money!

Anonymous said...

I would have to admit that I am no great fan of Tracey Emin's work, nor indeed of much modern art in general.

That said, you are right, Councillor, that Thanet should be proud of her achievements. She frequently promotes Margate in her travels and her interviews, and she is a high-achieving ambassador for the town. All too often, though, her initiative has been thwarted by a lacklustre reaction from locals - including the Council - which seems like a lost opportunity to me.

Thanet needs promoting, and it seems to me that we should seize the opportunity that Tracey represents.

worm said...

Most people both in Thanet and other parts of the country only appreciate art that portrays the local church, flowers,dogs,cats or imaginary country life.
I like art I have to think about for longer than 1.5 seconds. Sooo... I like Tracey!

Anonymous said...

In response to 7.37's 'plug' for the two Asian restaurants in Westgate, I think you will find that the Regency have noticed a drop in takings for another reason. I organised a function at the restaurant for 36 people. The next day 7 of them went down with a stomach bug. I haven't been back since and neither has my company. Bad news travels fast. It was all the more unfortunate since those 7 were high profile business people in the local area.

Anonymous said...

Thats funny, same thing happened to my business dinner last year. I was the only one who wasn't ill.

Anonymous said...

It wasn't a plug 5.31pm but this is. You clearly went to the wrong restaurant. Whilst the service at Tajmahal may be eccentric the food is excellent and in the past 8 years I know of no-one who has had an interesting intestinal problem resulting from Mr babul's food. He is happy to 'close' the restaurant for large dinner parties and family and work parties there have been a great success.