Friday, November 30, 2007

Big Bird Donates Large Cheque

A local environmental group is set to embark on a new tree-planting project thanks to sponsorship from Kent International Airport and Oasis Hong Kong Airlines.

Trees for Thanet gets young people involved in helping to improve the countryside around them by planting trees on Saturday mornings throughout the winter.

Many of its members are from Ursuline College in Westgate and are carrying out Service to the Environment as part of their Duke of Edinburgh’s Award.

Since its formation in 1996, the group has planted 7km of hedgerows and 20,000 trees around the countryside in Birchington and Manston with the help of more than 300 youngsters between the ages of 14 and 18.

Trees for Thanet relies completely on sponsorship and fundraising to carry out its work.

The latest project, a new hedgerow on the busy Shottendane Road in Birchington has been made possible by Kent International and Oasis Hong Kong Airlines, who use the airport regularly for pilot and crew training, agreeing to split the £3,000 cost.

Young members from Trees for Thanet visited the airport on Tuesday 27 November to receive the money that will allow them to get to work.

They were met by Matt Clarke, Chief Executive of Kent International Airport, and Gerard Clarke, UK General Manager for Oasis Hong Kong Airlines.

The youngsters also got up close with the Boeing 747-400 series aircraft used by Oasis, which is one of the largest and most modern airliners in use today, and were shown round by the crew.

Work on the new project gets underway on the 15th December and it will see more than 2,000 hedgerow trees planted in a 530 metre double row hawthorn ‘wild-life’ hedge along the Shottendane Road between Park Road and Minster Road, with 26 wild cherry trees situated at 20 metre intervals.

Paul Wells, Trees for Thanet Project Leader, said: “We believe that the development of Kent International Airport is a vital strand to regeneration in Thanet and that care of the environment locally can go hand in hand with excellent commercial development.

“The group is very grateful to the airport and Oasis, as we rely solely on financial backing like this, supported by our own fundraising efforts. The results of our previous projects are there for all to see and we can’t wait to get started on this one.”

Matt Clarke added: “It’s a pleasure to hand over this money to Trees for Thanet, who do fantastic work improving the local countryside, while getting children involved in community and environmental interests at the same time.

“The airport also passes on a special thanks to Oasis Hong Kong for getting involved with this initiative.

“Infratil has always recognised the key role that facilities like airports play in communities and we are keen to offer our support to projects like this. I am sure it will be a great success.”

Gerard Clarke also commented: “With our pilots training at Kent International Airport, Oasis Airlines is proud to support local community initiatives.

“Trees for Thanet is an extremely valuable scheme and we are very pleased to help them improve the local countryside. We look forward to seeing the results of this project."

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Police Appeal after Abduction in Ramsgate

Kent Online reports that Police are appealing for information after an allegation that a 40-year-old man was driven across the county against his will.

Police officers were called to Broad Street in Ramsgate at about 12.40pm on Monday by concerned members of the public.

They reported seeing a man being forced into a silver Toyota people carrier and being driven off.

The men in the car were described as black and were wearing high visibility yellow jackets.

Police officers from Medway were called to Forestdale Road in Chatham, a wooded area off junction three of the M2, just before 2pm on Monday where they found the man.

He had suffered facial injuries, which required hospital treatment.

A man aged 43 and a 20-year-old man were later arrested in east London and taken to Margate for questioning. They have been bailed until December 31 while detectives continue their investigations.

Anyone with any information or who saw anything suspicious in Ramsgate, Chatham or on the roads in between is asked to contact Det Sgt Mark Dennis at Margate police station on 01843 231055.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Railfare Increases - Highway Robbery - MP

North Thanet`s MP, Roger Gale, has today described as "highway robbery" Southeastern Trains proposed fare increases faced by travellers from Thanet and Herne Bay.

"These are above-inflation costs of a kind that would have made Dick Turpin blush" says Roger Gale. "we are looking at a deteriorating service, dilapidation within our stations, wasted resources, journey times that take longer than the best times achieved in the 1920s and ever-rising prices.

This is precisely the wrong way to entice passengers out of cars and onto public transport and is, qiote simply, unacceptable. It is one of a growing number of concerns that I shall raise with Southeastern trains Charles Horton when I meet with him next week".

Children in Care Review

It appears that growing pressure to stop stop councils across the country from placing their vulnerable children in Kent and in particular, here in Thanet may have forced a review of a policy which has led to a disproportionate level of cost and disruption across the island.

Kent County Council has announced that government legislation aimed at preventing the practice would halve the number of children placed in the county by other social services departments and prevent the lives of children being disrupted.

Figures show Kent is looking after more children from other authorities than actually come from within the county.

In July 2006, the figures stood at 1,145 Kent children and 1,213 children from other local authorities.

Beverley Hughes, the Minister for children, young people and families, says the law is to be changed to compel all social services authorities to keep children in care within their own areas unless there are specific welfare grounds for placing them elsewhere.

Welcoming the move, Cllr Chris Wells (Con), KCC cabinet member for children, families and educational standards, said: "This is good news for Kent and good news for children in care. The outcomes for children placed in care far from their home communities are usually worse than those for children in care generally.

"It is almost always best for children to stay within their own communities, attend the schools they already know and maintain links with their friends."

Graham Badman, KCC’s managing director children, families and education, who arranged the visit, said: "If this legislation is approved it will also halt the influx of children into Kent from other counties.

"Inevitably, this places a significant burden on public services in Kent. But it is vulnerable children that have borne the brunt of this policy, enduring unnecessary disruption to their lives of vulnerable children and potential shortfalls in their care and monitoring."

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Give Generously

Quite apart from the surprise letter from the Inland Revenue on Saturday, apologising for the loss of both your personal and financial information you may well receive a second letter from the Labour Party, offering to return the handsome donation, made in your name to deputy leader Harriet Harman or unknown other members of the front-bench team in the past.

Thanks to a Sky News investigation, office-worker and loyal party-member, Mrs Numismatist of Margate, discovered that in an uncharacteristic and absent-minded fit of generosity, she had donated £10,000 to a needy member of the Cabinet and she was delighted to be informed that the money was to be returned in the same brown manilla envelope with her name and address, written clearly on the back.

Asked what prompted such a sizeable donation to a political party, Mrs Numismatist replied that she couldn't remember but that she thought that she might have done it several times!

Ed: Can truth be stranger than fiction? You tell me?!

China Matters

The Thanet District Council (TDC) delegation visit to China last week appears to have prepared the way for a significant investment and employment initiative at Manston Business Park.

Leader of the Conservative group, Cllr.Sandy Ezekiel, who with Cabinet member, Cllr. Roger Latchford, spent four days visiting companies in both Hong Kong and Beijing, commented:

“Our visit to China was exceptionally worthwhile and we have a far better understanding now of the project being proposed. The idea of Chinese companies coming to Thanet is very much a realistic prospect and it’s clear that this is a fantastic opportunity for the area and one that we will be working hard to ensure we seize.”

Cllr Ezekiel added:

“The message that we kept hearing throughout the visit, was that the Chinese, was that Thanet is exceptionally well-placed for their needs, with its location close to both London and continental Europe. "They have made it clear", said Cllr Ezekiel, "that they are keen to have a base here and that would in turn lead to a major jobs boost for the area, with many of these being recruited locally; with a knock-on effect for other businesses in the local economy.”

The TDC delegation met with the President of the China-Europe Association for Technical & Economic Cooperation and the Chairman and President of Chinamex, an outward investment company supported by the Chinese government. The latter plans to visit Thanet early next year and a planning application is expected in the coming weeks.

Ken Wills – CEO of Commercial Group Properties PLC, whose company owns part of Manston Business Park has been working in China since 1989. He made the introduction and acted as 'co-host' with Chinamex, which has a mandate from the Chinese Government to globalise Chinese businesses through its 'China Gateway' initiative.

Ken remarked:

"We are extremely pleased with the response from the Chinese businesses and the welcome that they extended to the delegation from TDC and we now have the basis of what will be a great partnership to develop the Manston Business Park as a ‘China Gateway facility bringing business from china to the UK to allow them to develop their own businesses throughout Europe.”

Monday, November 26, 2007

Self Propelled Canister Threat

A four hundred metre exclusion zone has apparently been established around Monkton road in Minster this afternoon amid concerns that a worshop containing propane gas canisters might explode.

Residents have been evacuated and firefighters have been pulled back from the fire while they wait for a hazardous material officer to assess the situation.

Kent Online reports that as many as 30 firefighters were called out just before 1pm to tackle the blaze.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

The Big Issue

I love this story in the Mail on Sunday, this morning, which follows swiftly on the heels of a Government collapsing under the weight of missing Inland Revenue records:

"A builder who lives in a former council house in Newcastle and "can't stand" Labour has been named as one of Gordon Brown's biggest donors – prompting fresh questions over the party's finances."

There's more of course. It appears that a number of other people in ordinary jobs have appeared on the lists as wealthy donors begging the question, "Where's the money really coming from?" All a bit dodgy but are we really surprised anymore?

My wife had a letter of apology from the Inland Revenue yesterday, regretting the loss of of her bank account and personal details, alongside those of my daughter. I expect many of our readers received an identical letter. "Sorry."

Meanwhile, Government statisticians are a little worried having had to revise their calculations to take account of the latest birth and immigration figures, now Government has been forced to be a little more truthful about the true numbers. Latest predictions are that by the second half of the century, we will have to accomodate 91 million people and let's be honest, they aren't all going to fit between Dartford, Dover and Ramsgate, so where are we going to build all the new houses? It's a mystery. Mind you, by then, the face and character of Britain will look very different indeed and be as unrecognisable to us as Britain today would have been to my own Grandfather.

Dragon Days

Kent on Sunday, is, I see reporting on the potential opportunity for Thanet from the visit as a result of a visit by the Leader of the Council and its Chief Executive to China last week.

Discussions were taking place with Chinamex, the government agency responsible for Chinese companies setting up in the West, following-on from the signning of a Memorandum of Understanding with the Government of Baotou City to establish a research and development, manufacturing and distribution centre in Thanet.

Leader of the Conservative group, Sandy Ezekiel, commented before he left:

"If there’s a deal there, we’re determined to clinch it for Thanet. This is a major opportunity for the area, and has the potential to create up to 1,000 jobs over time. With recent job losses, that’s more important than ever!

We’re unique in Kent. We’ve got the land available, great road access to Manston, and also the port and airport. We’re on Europe’s doorstep, and that’s ideal for import and export.

"Flights, hotels and everything is being paid for by the Chinese government. I want the people of Thanet to know this trip isn’t costing them anything."

Friday, November 23, 2007

Westgate Roadworks Update

A quick update for Westgate residents in regard to the planned roadworks in the village which are set to start next week.

These are to lower the kerb and create a crossing on the junction of St Mildred's Road and Westgate Bay Avenue. At the request of traders, worried by the potential interruption to business over the run-up to Christmas, I have spoken with the supervisor at KCC Highways Department and have been assured that every effort will be made to minimise disruption. The works should only extend from the double yellow lines at the corner of Westgate Bay Avenue, as far as the antiques shop. We may lose one or two parking bays and single alternate lights may be installed temporarily.

Residents have also complained over the parking or lack of it, in Grove Road as the old building beside the railway line is converted into flats. With the narrow approach crammed with contractor's vans - I've just walked over there - there's not much really that can be done; the conclusion after a call to the council's parking control officer, as all licensed vehicles share the same right to park on the street. I will however keep an eye on the situation.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Password Pop

Remaining with the subject of identity theft, Gunter Ollmann, a security researcher, I know well, who now works for IBM, has concluded that identity "profiles" are worth far more on the digital blackmarket than credit card details.

Complete banking identities - including full contact information, mother's maiden name, bank account number, and account password – can be worth eight times as much as standard identity details, depending on the bank. Although stolen credit card details rapidly go out of date, the same is not true for identities which are, of course, much harder to cancel.

"Identity" itself is now a form of currency, according to Ollmann, who reports that it's more common for identity information to be traded rather than sold.

One growing form of trade involves the login credentials to porn sites. Crooks may pay $250 for a batch of 7,000 logins. The logic of the purchases has little to do with porn sites themselves, but rather that people tend to use the same passwords for a range of different sites.

That also means hackers who break into a low-profile site to gain password credentials can use these identities to mount brute force attacks on more useful sites. Or sell login credentials onto third parties interested in attacking ecommerce or banking sites.

So the moral of the story readers, is be aware that using the same password or a set of passwords common across all the sites you visit, represents an opportunity for criminals; i.e. your eBay password may be the same as your email password, your internet gambing site or even your favourite 'Porn' site.

However, if people are daft enough to have credit card accounts with porn sites anyway and the figure runs into millions, then don't expect any sympathy, as so many of these are run by organised crime groups anyway!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Irvine Residents to Meet with Council

The BBC reports that residents of Irvine Drive will get their chance to talk about the fate of the property at a meeting with the council this week.

Thanet District Council have already stated that it will "Seek the views of the residents and the families of the victims before we make any decision" on the future of the property and Ward councillor,Edwin Watt-Ruffell, commenting on the tragic story that has unfolded in the street over the last week, said: "It's an ordinary community, there are young people, disabled and elderly. It is a normal mixture of people, working class and middle class.

He added: "We are meeting with the residents and the vicar and there will be a briefing on Thursday at the council offices about the future of Irvine Drive. "I can't say any more than that at the moment."

I'm from The Government and I'm Here to Help

I did feel sorry for the Chancellor, Alistair Darling this morning. I was guilty of giving him a bit of a kicking on Radio 4's 'PM Show' yesterday and having started the ball rolling with 'Catastrophe' at lunchtime, it wasn't long before all the big 'Political guns' waded in with versions of the same in time for the evening news.

How the Chancellor can say that "Banks are monitoring the affected accounts" I don't know. The systems to 'monitor' 7.5 million bank accounts will only look - as far as I am aware - for remarkable activity based on the account history, a bit like a thermostat. So £5,000 suddenly going out would provoke a reaction but £500 might not.

The organised criminal gangs - mainly Russian - that are in this kind of business are far more likely to try and rob a million people of £100 than 100 people of a £million. It's the Nigerian/West African gangs that are more frequently detected because they are often greedier and are more inclined to make silly mistakes.

Anyway, the good news is that the discs remain lost but their intrisic value on one of the many thriving criminal equivalents of eBay - they do exist see photo of the Shadowcrew site - courtesy of the FBI - is enormous.

Outside of the loss of the information, the critical question that needs answering is why on several occasions, every data protection rule in the book was broken by the Revenue's staff. HM Revenue & Customs have a fundamental duty of care to the citizen, as does the medical profession and for them to ignore such fundamental safeguards is both shocking and alarming and begs the question as to whether we should trust the agency with anything a basic as our tax calculations? The recent fiasco concerning family tax credits which has caused such hardship in Thanet, suggests not!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Developers Sought for Margate

Developers are being asked to come forward with plans for a new commercial development on two major town centre sites in Margate.

The South East England Development Agency (SEEDA) and Thanet District Council (TDC) are seeking a development partner to bring forward two strategic sites extending to approximately 1.77 acres between Market Street, High Street, Queen Street and Cecil Square.

There is a possibility that the site area could be extended should a suitable proposal be put forward. Plans should complement the historic and architectural qualities of the area and maximise the opportunities offered by the emerging Creative Quarter in the adjacent Old Town.

A shortlist of developers who will be invited to make detailed proposals is expected to be announced in the course of next year, from which a preferred developer will be chosen.

Who You Going to Call?

Strangely enough, I found myself hauled along to Irvine Drive in Margate this afternoon by a combination of the BBC, SKY and ITN. Nothing to do with the tragic story from the house in that street but a consequence of 25 million child-benefit records being lost by HM Customs & Revenue.

“How would you sum up the problem?” asked the BBC’s Jayne Peel in a call I just had from the BBC 10 O’clock News team a little later. “If it falls into the wrong hands, then off-the-record we’re *****d” I replied!

“That’s what I thought”, she said, taking me through the Chancellor’s statement to the Commons for more comment. "I'm from the Government and I'm here to help!"

I felt really sorry for the news crews in Irvine Drive, as I joined them shivering in the rain. One surprise is that the BBC 24 reporter is the Home Secretary’s sister! – It’s a small world!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

No Dragons Please

Flying into Manston in the dark last night and found that I could spot, what I think was the scene of the Police search in Margate, from as far away as Reculver. A set of bright arc-lights sitting between Margate and Westwood. Cross in the Millmead area. The Police, as you may have read, have now moved their search inside the house and it appears increasingly unlikely that the family will ever move back in, given the damage that is taking place as the search for more victims continues.

This morning another example of 'Political' and 'Health & Safety' correctness caught my eye in one of the papers:

"A leading children's author was told to drop a fire-breathing dragon shown in a new book - because the publishers feared they could be sued under health and safety regulations."

"In Who Wants A Dragon? - published by Orchard Books last year - Ms Gardiner says: "I was told, 'You can't have the dragon breathing fire because it goes against health and safety.'"

If we ever needed more evidence that the lunatics are busily running the asylum, then here it is and the poor old Dragon is to be 'Oppressed' alongside te discredited Rupert Bear as a consequence.

Mind you, I hope you are carrying your identity papers? Passengers on domestic flights and ferries between mainland Britain and Northern Ireland will be required to carry identity papers for the first time from next year.

The move will effectively establish a highly controversial internal border within the UK and could pave the way for identity checks on all domestic flights and ferries in Britain!

Finally, it's official. 'Husband', 'Wife' and 'Spouse' have finally been killed-off under this Labour government. We are all 'Partners' for official purposes now', The Government says the move is said to take into consideration the range of relationships that now have a legal standing.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

It's Beautiful - Vive La Difference!

So what's your view on the new Eurostar poster promoting London. A great many people are outraged but if travel companies are going into 'Reality' posters, Lord knows what horrors they would come-up with for Britain's other cities?

Best not thought about in any great detail as we reach the judging stage of the "Thanet is Beautiful" photo competition!

You can see the finalists' excellent work and vote for the winner by following this link. Please join in the vote if you can.

Lets Move to Broadstairs

While Margate is in the news today, for all the wrong reasons, so, strangely enough is Broadstairs but with something a little more encouraging from The Guardian in its story, 'Let's Move to Broadstairs.'

The newspaper reports: ""But aren't we bleeding Guardian types bringing to Broadstairs prosperity, rising house prices and the newspaper's famous political tolerance"?

Apparently, "Life being slowly leeched out of it, and Ramsgate and Margate, by the vile (but jolly handy) Westwood Cross shopping centre" and " It can take 30 minutes to walk up the High Street because you have to stop and greet friends from the local community."

There's more of course, so read on.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Tagged Again

I noticed today that all the beach huts and the toilets at Minnis Bay have been liberally "tagged" in the last twenty-four hours.

Using our new direct line numbers to the Police, I have arranged for the tags to be photographed but I'm guessing with the calm and very fine weather we are having, the vandals may well strike again towards Birchington and Epple Bay tonight, as these are ideal conditions for them. So if you live nearby, please watch-out.

The Council spent alot of money cleaning and re-painting the seafront areas at the end of the season and in Minnis Bay, you would never know it.

Personally, I'm in favour of much harsher sentences for these vandals to use as a deterrent but in a 'PC' world dominated by 'Issues' and zero jail-space, that isn't going to happen!

Another Victim Found in Margate

I had a suspicion that this was the case earlier today but now the news are running the story.

"Essex Police disclosed the "significant development" in the search of 50 Irvine Drive, Margate, at 2pm today. The remains have been taken to the QEQM.

Officers began searching the grounds the house on Monday following information relating to the disappearance of Essex student Dinah McNicol, who was 18 when she vanished after a music festival in Hampshire in the summer of 1991.

During their first excavation of the garden the remains of Vicky Hamilton, a 15-year-old schoolgirl from West Lothian in Scotland, were uncovered."

How many more horrors are to be revealed about the alleged suspect in this case?

Thursday, November 15, 2007

PCSO & Police Information

Following-on from last week's story of my meeting at Margate Police station, I'm delighted to say that the information on your local Police and PCSO officers can now be found on the Thanet District Council website and I will add it to the sidebar here as well.

Don't forget, it's been agreed that people should be encouraged to report crimes and concerns by phone or text to their Police beat-officer and PCSO and you should easily be able to find the numbers now.

On another note, for Westgate residents, Cllr Goodwin, PC Bungard and I will be starting a combined surgery at the Working Men's Club, next-door to the cinema, on the last Wednesday of each month, starting from January. - Times to be announced here and at the library.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Search Me!

So, mathematically-speaking, the odds of a terrorist being an employee of the private security working at any one of England's airports is a great deal higher than the odds of the passengers queuing with you for two hours, to have their baggage checked!

A television documentary at the end of the summer, revealed the complete farce that was Birmingham airport and now, we hear that the security guard responsible for guarding the Prime Minister's car in the No10 garage is in fact an illegal immigrant, with the numbers having swelled from 3,000 to 10,000 since the Home Secretary's statement to Parliament yesterday.

Where will it stop I wonder?

Mind you, it's good to hear that security restrictions at airports have now been relaxed. You can take two items of hand lugguage on-board an aircraft but if the heavily bearded-chap rifling through your bag happens to bear an uncanny resemblance to Osama Bin Laden or 'Captain Hook', just don't ask. You will be arrested without a doubt!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Ghosts at the Theatre Royal

The Theatre Royal archive weblog has been digging into the theatre's ghostly past.

"The Theatre Royal, Addington Street, Margate, Kent, is perhaps southern England's most haunted theatre. Opened originally in 1787, heir to over 200 years of tradition and holding slightly under two thousand patrons, this theatre. has been associated with many famous actors. Its most famous manager was Miss Sarah J Thorne, who guided its fortunes until 1894. Something of a martinet, Sarah Thorne made her theatre celebrated in the south of England, but from around 1894, the playhouse began to decline. Over the years it suffered a number of vicissitudes and was turned into a furniture store. It was reopened as a theatre in 1930 and subsequently it has been in turn a cinema, a theatre, and a bingo hall"

It's a good story and you can read on here!


The tragic discovery of a young woman’s body buried in the garden of a Margate house, brings me back once again to the letter I wrote to Kent Police, under the Freedom of Information Act, in 2005. I asked how many registered sex offenders are living in the Thanet area that might constitute a danger to the public. I didn’t ask for their names or addresses, only how many of the names on their register might present a risk?

You may remember that Kent Police were unable to provide that information on health and safety grounds, fearing that it might provoke public disorder.

Today, we appear to have evidence of a serial killer who once lived in Thanet and is now in prison for the savage sexually-motivated murder of one girl in Scotland and is a suspect in the murder of an unknown number of others around the country. Whose Health & Safety is being protected when it appears we have rather more than our fair share of known and perhaps unknown “risks” living in our transient community?

I recall that many years ago, a Lion escaped from the disgrace that called itself a ‘zoo’ in Margate’s Dreamland. At the time everyone was warned to keep their children off the streets until it was captured. Different rules apply for different kinds of predator today but dangerous creatures still roam our streets.

Remains Found in Garden

Police have found human remains in the garden of a Margate house, while investigating the disappearance of teenager, Dinah McNicol, who went missing sixteen years ago.

A post-mortem will take place later today.

Meanwhile, The Times newspaper reports:

"Police are neglecting to tackle serious, violent crimes and focusing instead on more minor offences as they strive to meet government targets, the man charged with shaping the future of policing in England and Wales has admitted.

Peter Neyroud, chief executive of the National Policing Improvement Agency, said that over the past five years police had focused on increasing the number of “offences brought to justice”. But the former chief constable admitted that this meant that catching a murderer carried no more importance than apprehending someone who had stolen a bottle of milk."

Monday, November 12, 2007

Under the Radar.

Here's an unusual reader's story:

Two traffic patrol officers from North Berwick were involved in an unusual incident, while checking for speeding motorists on the A-1 Great North Road.

One of the officers (who are not named) used a hand-held radar device to check the speed of a vehicle approaching over the crest of a hill, and was surprised when the speed was recorded at over 300mph. The machine then stopped working and the officers were not able to reset it.

The radar had in fact latched on to a NATO Tornado fighter jet over the North Sea, which was engaged in a low-flying exercise over the Border district.

Back at police headquarters the chief constable fired off a stiff complaint to the RAF Liaison office.

Back came the reply in true laconic RAF style. "Thank you for your message, which allows us to complete the file on this incident. You may be interested to know that the tactical computer in the Tornado had automatically locked on to your 'hostile radar equipment' and sent a jamming signal back to it.

Furthermore, the Sidewinder Air-to-ground missiles aboard the fully-armed aircraft had also locked on to the target. Fortunately the Dutch pilot flying the Tornado responded to the missile status alert intelligently and was able to override the automatic protection system before the missile was launched".

Police Search For Missing Girl Clues

Kent Online is reporting that a Police forensic team has started to carry out a detailed examination of a house in Margate in connection with the disappearance of a teenage girl sixteen years ago.

Eighteen-year-old Dinah McNichol, failed to return home to Tillingham in Essex after visiting a music festival in Liphook, Hampshire, in August 1991.

In the days following her disappearance, cash withdrawals were made from her bank account at ATMs along the south coast.Essex Police is refreshing its investigation after new information was revealed following a review of the case by the force’s Serious Crime Review Team

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Shining Through

Watching the BBC Politics show today, I'm struck by Labour's latest 'mantras', as delivered by Cabinet Office Minister, Ed Miliband. If you were watching too, then you may have remarked at the number of times he repeated "Shining through" in regard to the Prime Minister's strategy and the arrival of "New Government'; I assume to place blame for any past mistakes firmly with the 'Old Government' of Tony Blair. "Nothing to do with us mate... we're 'New, new Labour' not the old mob, you know, Blair, (Brown - oops), Blunkett, Byers, Clarke and so on!

Meanwhile, full marks to Thanet South MP, Dr Steve Ladyman, who told the BBC that the people of his important marginal constituency were "inspired by Gordon Brown's vision.'

That's the 'new' Government vision I assume?

Would anyone who is indeed inspired care to comment?

On the Turner Contemporary, it's interesting that the BBC managed to include it - at least by name -and then say absolutely nothing about it, focusing instead on the 'Towner' gallery in Eastbourne. The gallery presence in the latter town apparently adds £16 million to the local economy, which is an encouraging figure for Margate for all those looking towards Turner for regeneration.

Lest We Forget

"Far-called, our navies melt away;
On dune and headland sinks the fire:
Lo, all our pomp of yesterday
Is one with Nineveh and Tyre!
Judge of the Nations, spare us yet.
Lest we forget—lest we forget! "

Rudyard Kipling.

A photograph of the dedication of the Margate war memorial on 5th November 1922 sent in by Tony.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Politics on Sunday - The Turner Contemporary

A note for your viewing diaries this Sunday. The BBC 'Politics Show' at 12:10 on BBC One will be looking at the "Towner Gallery" in Eastbourne and the Turner Contemporary in Margate.

The programme asks: "Should the government or the councils be putting money into art? Is Art the saviour or the region's coastal towns?"

You can text or email your views to : 07786 209252 or

Thanks to Michael Child for the attached photo from 1897. I cycled to Minnis Bay this afternoon and was surprised to see how much damage had actually been done by yesterday's tide. Lots of broken concrete and bent signposts. Looks like a number of the 'Doggie-waste- bins have floated out to sea as well!

Friday, November 09, 2007

The Big Storm of 1877

Tony has kindly sent in a postcard of the 1897 storm. I think that may be the Margate Sea Bathing hospital in the right of picture!

I have added it to the photo library gallery you can find on the links sidebar.

Harrop Passes On

Jeremy Jacobs reports on his weblog that Bob Harrop, a former "Margate FC legend and Manchester United player has died. Harrop played for 'ManU' on eleven occasions after the Munich disaster."

More information on Bob's fine career can be found on Jeff Trice's excellent Margate FC history site.

The Big Surge

Some photos from the tidal surge at 09:30 - but I'll go back out again at 10:30 to see if there's any noticeable change.

What amazes me is the 'muppet' who was playing tag with the waves earlier on at the edge of the promenade hidden by the wave.

Natural selection in action!

I have three videos on YouTube now. Here is one of them:

The Chinese Way

While Thanet is sending a delegation to China later next week for further talks leading towards potential development on the Manston Business Park, Tony Blair, remember him, has come under fire in the Chinese media for charging approximately £200,000 for a single speech - and reportedly not a good one at that in the industrial city of Dongguan.

With perhaps a more productive purpose in mind - possibly up to 1,000 jobs over time - and with the entire cost of the visit being met by the Government of the People’s Republic of China, the Thanet delegation, which departs on November 18th, includes Leader of the Council, Sandy Ezekiel, Deputy Leader Roger Latchford, Chief Executive Richard Samuel, and Corporate Director, John Bunnett. They will be meeting with Chinamex, the government agency responsible for Chinese companies setting up in the West, as well as meeting company Chairman Heng Fao.

In May, the South East England Development Agency (SEEDA) signed an agreement with the China-Europe Association for Technical and Economic Co-operation (CEATAC) for the establishment of a Sino-UK Economic and Trade Interactive Platform to facilitate growth of business between to the two countries.

In September , Thanet District Council signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Government of Baotou City to establish a research and development, manufacturing and distribution centre in Thanet. The Memorandum was signed jointly by Vice Mayor Wang Bo and Cllr Ezekiel.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Storm Surge

Sorry, one of those frantically busy weeks again which haven't left much time available for 'Blogging'.

The forecaster are predicting a dangerous confluence of wind and tidal factors in the North Sea tonight, peaking at 07:00 on Friday. Looking at the online wind map as I write this, I can see something unpleasant developing up towards Newcastle and out to sea, in terms of wind speeds. Wave height towards the Scottish border is already 28 feet as you can see if you look. The predicted increase in tidal height for the North Kent coast in the morning is five feet above normal with a danger of flooding and so I'll be up and about at first light to check the seafront at Westgate.

I've just loaded new batteries into my camera and so if you capture anything interesting along the coast with your own camera on Thursday morning, please share it!

I did notice yesterday that the Xmas rush seems to have started already at Westwood Cross. If I didn't have a motorbike, I'm not sure that I would have found a parking space the other day and I still haven't managed to persuade TDC's planning department to approve a conveniently short runway in beside the Haine road either!

The pilot of the aircraft in the photo had other problems as you will have guessed!

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

All Klingon to Me

Just in case any Klingons out there are feeling oppressed, Google has launched a Klingon language version of its search engine.

Now given the real costs of software development; the BBC - bless them - having managed to burn £100 milion of license payers money on a media player that nobody wants, you can excuse Google for putting some small change into looking after the off-planet minority.

If you wish to learn Klingon and receive a Government training grant too, start here.
If you see any Klingons in Thanet, please write-in and report your experience!

Finally, you may have heard that Britain's daftest law is the one that forbids anyone dying in the Houses of Parliament - so now you know.

Second up was the rarely-enforced legislation which makes sticking a stamp bearing Her Majesty's head upside down on an envelope an act of treason, closely followed by the Liverpudlian bylaw which prohibits women going topless unless they work in a tropical fish store.

If anyone who has worked in a tropical fish store has come across this piece of legislation in practise, please write in and let us know!

Ridiculous Laws:

It is illegal to die in the Houses of Parliament

It is an act of treason to place a postage stamp bearing the British monarch upside-down

In Liverpool, it is illegal for a woman to be topless except as a clerk in a tropical fish storeMince pies cannot be eaten on Christmas Day

In Scotland, if someone knocks on your door and requires the use of your toilet, you must let them enter

In the UK, a pregnant woman can legally relieve herself anywhere she wants, including in a policeman's helmet

The head of any dead whale found on the British coast automatically becomes the property of the King, and the tail of the Queen

It is illegal not to tell the tax man anything you do not want him to know, but legal not to tell him information you do not mind him knowing

It is illegal to enter the Houses of Parliament in a suit of armour

In the city of York it is legal to murder a Scotsman within the ancient city walls, but only if he is carrying a bow and arrow

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Remember Remember the 5th November

Jason from Broadstairs writes:

The seafront was packed last night for the November 5th Firework Display.
Here's a link for an edited six minute display for those who missed it!"

Monday, November 05, 2007

Zero Tolerance Policing

I had a very useful and constructive meeting with PC Chris Bungard and Inspector Morris at Margate Police station this morning and passed on a number of readers' concerns/comments in addition to my own on issues surrounding the problem of underage drinking in Thanet and in particular, anti-social behaviour in my own ward, Westgate.

For everyone’s benefit, here are some actions that I came away with:

Firstly, that the Kent Police website be rapidly updated with both local Thanet PCSO and local ‘beat-officers’ mobile numbers with the aim of encouraging local people to report problems or crimes by text or by phone directly to the man on the street. As an example, PC Bungard’s number in Westgate is 07980 683782 and the excellent Westgate community support officers Tony Bailey and Laura Peskett are 07979 583922 and 07969 584178 respectively.

Readers recognise the centralised problem that has come with the move to Maidstone and with it; the loss of local knowledge and we agreed it was important to rebuild confidence – outside of 999 calls – by asking residents to use their mobile phones to report any anti-social activity in their communities that needed acting upon.

As I wrote earlier, one can’t expect miracles but if you can find the numbers - and I’ll include a link into the Kent Police (local) web information on the sidebar – it’s a start! I had a meeting with our council leader, Sandy Ezekiel today and he has asked the council webmaster to to reproduce the community-safety contact numbers for wardens on the council website.

Keeping local officers informed (intelligence-led Policing) is also part of a zero-tolerance attitude to alcohol and anti-social behaviour on our streets. This is now the policy in Westgate as well as elsewhere and PC Bungard will be joining Cllr Goodwin and me in a monthly community surgery; regular dates to be announced.

It’s a little too early to establish any firm metric for success but at least in Westgate, I’m anticipating real progress now PC Bungard is back with us. He is reading this weblog and I’ll also be putting-up any news of scams and doorstep salesman that are passed in this direction.

Personally, I would like to see zero-tolerance mean just that, in addition to the present Police-Council partnership, both in my own Ward, here in Westgate and across Thanet in general, so if you live in Westgate, let’s see if we can use those telephone numbers to focus our Police team much more effectively.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Safer Streets

After kicking-up a fuss with both the Chief Constable and The Prime Minister, I have a meeting with the police tomorrow to discuss, among other things, the control of alcohol on our streets.

Figures released in the papers today reveal an alcohol abuse crisis among children and show a 40 per cent rise in the number of under-age drinkers in treatment in just one year , thanks, experts say, to the example of so-called hard-living celebrities.

If it's not alcohol, then its drugs and this worries me even more, given that 50% of all crime in the UK is committed by around 200,000 drug addicts. Last week's conference on Organised Crime that I chaired, showed me how the peddling influence of "Yardy" gangs is increasingly 'reaching-out' in our direction and so I was appalled to see an email from one of our readers this morning, making an allegation of open dealing in Westgate's Station road last night, among up to 20 youths and after the police had attempted moved them on and left.

This being Britain in the 21st century and as a simple ward councillor, I'm not expecting miracles, just a polite hearing as we have a successful programme of partnership between the council and the Police in regard to the tackling of anti-social behaviour in Thanet. However, if you have any local experiences of this kind you would like to share, either as a comment or by emailing me - see sidebar - in confidence, then I'm happy to include it as material for discussion.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

It's All Humbug

Even newspapers as far away as Canada have picked-up on the suggestion from the IPPR, Labour's think-tank, which calls for the downgrading of Christmas to help race relations.

They say we must give all religions equal prominence or risk alienating newcomers and ""Britain is no longer a Christian nation and Christmas should be downgraded in favour of festivals from other religions to improve race relations."

It continues: and calls for a new form of "birth ceremony," at which the state and parents would agree to "work in partnership" to raise babies. It demands action to "ensure access" for ethnic minorities to the "largely white" countryside, advocates an end to "sectarian" religious education in schools and encourages people to fly flags other than the Union Jack.

Finally it concludes: "Any liberal state should recast the civic oaths and national ceremonies, or institutions like Parliament and the monarchy, in a more multi-religious or secular form."

"Well hurrah Blackadder" is the only comment I dare make, lest I offend the sensibilities of my more left-leaning readers. I'm in favour of "liberty, fraternity and equality", as are the French, but at what point do we simply give-up and hand the keys of the country and with it, tradition, culture and history, to vociferous and increasingly politically powerful minority groups?

Do we know anymore what it means to be British or even a Judeo-Christian European culture? I'm not so sure. What do you think?

Friday, November 02, 2007

Holy Trinity History

Tony writes in with one of his excellent collection of local photographs and a little history lesson:

"A postcard of Holy Trinity Church Margate and the new war memorial to honour the dead of the Great War.
On the grass in the foreground is a flower bed in the shape of a anchor. The quality of the postcard is poor due to the fact that prior to the Great War most quality postcards were produced in Germany. After the war the anti German feeling led to all postcards being home produced at a lower quality.

When Adolph Hitler came to power the persecution of Jewish people led to refugees settling in the EC1 part of London. Some of the refugees were postcard producers and eventually set up businesses producing postcards of quality again.
Holy Trinity church was destroyed by enemy action in the summer in 1943 in a daylight raid. After the second world war it demolished and became a car park."

Now You See It..

Now you don't!

The Bungalow in Westgate's Ethelbert Square was being knocked-down this morning. I did try and prevent this, as did my fellow ward councillors and many of the residents of the area but the new flats will apparently be "in keeping" with the conservation area that the square occupies.

This morning, I read in the Thanet Gazette that the council is overzealous in allowing planning applicatons but that's not my impression now I've seen the process from the other side. Councillors live here too and there's not one I've spoken to who is happy with the speed and density of development that we are seeing in Thanet. The problem lies with central government and the narrow rules under which committees and departments have to work. Unless an objection has a solid basis in law then the developer (who invariably has considerable funds and resources at his disposal) will go to appeal. The law presently favours the developers and 80% of appeals succeed.

So who pays if we fight a development on appeal and lose? You do, through your council tax. Now multiply the legal costs by the potential number of appeals and you'll arrive at a figure of hundreds of thousands if not millions, in an already cash-strapped area.

You'll understand then why the council is very careful with your money when it comes to challenging any planning application without a very convincing set of arguments under the rules set down by this government.

It's rather like the thousands of new houses and flats set to be built in Thanet over the next decade. Hands-up those of you who want to see this happen? Not many I suspect but when you are standing on one leg with your hands tied behind your back, which is how any objection to planning under the rules, works these days, you need to come-up with a better argument than "It's the council's fault." Would you agree?

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Birchington Roundabout

Stuart Horner, Editor of 'The Birchington Roundabout', writes in to tell us of his new book on Thanet which has over 300 colour photos of the island.

More details can be found at the Roundabout web site:

Wait for the Big Bang

Prepare yourselves for a big explosion off the coast of Margate today when a wartime mine is detonated.

The 1500lb device was trawled up a mile offshore yesterday by the same fisherman who netted a similar device three weeks ago.

When that German mine was exploded it sent a massive plume of water into the air and shock waves rattled houses, shops and offices around the coastline.

The Margate coastguard say the latest mine will be set off between 11.30am and 12.30pm.

One of our readers, Tony, has kindly supplied a "Photo of the demolition of the jetty during the famous explosion period (early 1979). This picture was taken after the first explosion leaving the lifeboat house remains tilted. The sections of the jetty were cut up and floated ashore using compressed air bags. The sections were later cut to specification for the Sheerness steel furnaces."

Ed:The trawlermen could have waited for November 5th but rumours that the fisherman planned to leave said mine on the beach inside Ramsgate harbour are entirely alarmist!