Thursday, January 31, 2008

Museum Matters

The wind appears to be blowing from the direction of a Ramsgate weblog today and one local councillor who has been busy raising a petition against the so-called plan by Thanet District Council to close the Ramsgate museum.

It concludes "We will be presenting the petition to our MP, Stephen Ladyman and to Thanet Council. We would welcome letters of support from all who love Ramsgate and its heritage."

You are of course encouraged to read this story and a reply from Cllr Ewen Cameron, which clearly states:

"Nobody is closing the Trust or the museums. We fully understand the pride in both towns, Ramsgate and Margate, in their heritage and history. We cannot continue to give a grant which equates to the Council Tax retained from over 500 band D households.

Cllr Green cannot have his cake and eat it. One moment his is alleging black holes in the Council's budget, the next he is implying an unaffordable grant be contiinued, despite his own bench's support for its withdrawal.We are keen to do everything we can to help the Trust carry on its work. The Leader of the Council is hoping to meet soon with the Trustees to discuss this.

Let's also not forget there are a number of outstanding charitable Trusts which run succesfully, without substantial council funding. The Spitfire and Hurricane Memorial is one whcih springs to mind. It shows it can be done. "

Ed: What amazes me is that we councillors should all know quite clearly what the position is and so I have no idea why a story, whipping-up a frenzy over a "non-closure" should be run. But on reflection, why should anyone be surprised.

42 comments:

Anonymous said...

(Eastcliff Matters 31/01/08)

31 January, 2008 14:18
Ewen Cameron said...
Before anyone runs away with pink-tinged myths here, Cllr Green omits to mention (as usual) that the withdrawal of EKMT grant funding had Labour support. I will be happy to produce the Minute of what was said, and by whom.

Nobody is closing the Trust or the museums. We fully understand the pride in both towns, Ramsgate and Margate, in their heritage and history.

We cannot continue to give a grant which equates to the Council Tax retained from over 500 band D households. Cllr Green cannot have his cake and eat it. One moment his is alleging black holes in the Council's budget, the next he is implying an unaffordable grant be contiinued, despite his own bench's support for its withdrawal.

We are keen to do everything we can to help the Trust carry on its work. The Leader of the Council is hoping to meet soon with the Trustees to discuss this.

Let's also not forget there are a number of outstanding charitable Trusts which run succesfully, without substantial council funding. The Spitfire and Hurricane Memorial is one whcih springs to mind. It shows it can be done.

Cllr Ewen Cameron


31 January, 2008 14:23
Cllr David Green said...
Why, whenever you write Ewan do you always have to sound so cross?
I can tell you, that closing Ramsgate Museum does not have Labour's support. Why would I be standing outside in the cold collecting signatures if that was the case?
You may be confusing our support for reviewing expenditure, including the grant to the trust, which we did when in power. Its fairly obvious, because the Museums are still there, that we concluded that our support should continue.
I'm pleased that you are now looking for ways to help the Museums to continue. I'm sure the thousand or so residents and visitors that have signed our petition so far, would agree

Anonymous said...

It appears that Thanet's national political parties are fighting with each other yet again. This is just one of many reasons why the Isle's residents are supporting a local party that puts Thanet's people first.

Cllr John Worrow
Leader,Thanet Independent Action
BPC Member (Birchington North Ward)

PFLT said...

Well put, Cllr Worrow! I am also glad to see you making sure that no-one can possibly confuse you with a TDC Cllr or even that elevated personage, a KCC Cllr; the 'Doc' can be prickly about that. May the Independent Action Party thrive under your leadership and hopefully consult and involve Thanet's people when you manage to oust the entrenched politco's who all follow a 'party' line and put their independent minds to sleep.

Ewen Cameron said...

Cllr Green;

I rarely get cross. I just like to stick to facts. If facts sound cross, then that's perhaps a shortcoming in my writing skills. Or it may be a legacy of 22 years working in a law firm.

You haven't commented on the fact that the grant withdrawal was supported on the Labour benches.

Closing the museums does not have Conservative support either. As our respective benches are agreed on that point, and on the withdrawal of the grant, Parish Councillor Worrow's comment is, as usual, wrong.

Can you please enunciate precisely who is wanting to close the museums? Presumably, as you are petitioning, you know of someone who is plotting to do so. I would be very grateful to know who it is.

Oh - perhaps just a point of pedantry - it's "Ewen", not "Ewan". The latter is Ewan Blair's name!

Cllr Ewen Cameron

DrMoores said...

I rather wonder what the consequences of voting in the independent party might be?

Who would people feel more comfortable with in the direction the our local public finances given the choice at hand?

And why?

Anonymous said...

Mr Cameron, I have not heard of you before unless you are the same Mr Cameron that leads the Conservative party. Would you be kind enough to tell me what part of my previous comment you believe to be wrong? It is interesting that you say " as usual, wrong". as I do not believe we have ever met. Are you one of Sandy's boys?

Kindest Regards

John

Tony Beachcomber said...

Ewen, the Margate Museum is totally dependant on the Council grant.

I would like to quote the leader on this issue when, I wrote to him about running the museum and suggesting the museum could break away from the EKMT and run independantly for a year on a 40k budget with the objective acheiving financial sustainability.

I quote "However the museum in Margate is not a thriving and bustling attraction, and the subsidy per visitor is still very high. As an attraction for visitors and local residents the museum has not moved forward with the times, and making hard choices about its budget TDC have been fairly ruthless about the continuation of funding."

"This does not mean there should be no way to display artefacts in Margate, but this has got to be much less than 80,000. Even the 40,000 you have indicated will cause problems on our current budget projections, which still require over 1 million to be balanced, even allowing for the EKMT grant cut. The way forward has yet to be fully clarified, but the significant cut in grant funding is almost a certainty"

comment please

Tony Beachcomber said...

Ewen,

I received this letter in December from Cllr Latchford regarding my concerns over the way the councils art collection has been mamaged.

"In response to your question , EKMT has had 18 items returned from the Judges lodgings in maidstone where they have been on long term loan since 1985. Of these, 4 items were not listed but are now logged on the computor records of the overall collection held by EKMT of which we have a copy. Part of the problem in this context appears to be the lack of an original artefact list relating back to the transfer of items from the Borough of Margate in 1974.
The council does not have a museums or collections offficer, but is clearly conscious of the need to ensure that information about the overall colllection is as detailed and comprehensive as possible.
On this basis money has recently been allocated from the priority improvement fund to extend recent work done on the collection and this will involve ensuring that all extended loans of this nature are reflected in the new database, as well as seeking further information on the extent of the original collection."

Following the ridiculous situation where the council did not even know it owned the Webb painting that hung in the old library entrance. It was recently valued at 100,000

There is everything to suggest the council has lost control of its collection.

If the margate museum was to close there would also be the added problem of bequests, loans and donations. Bearing in mind no post 1994 artefact in the margate museum have accension numbers there would be another problem if the records do not tally.

I think TDC would like to close the museum and try something else with the collection but they cannot. It would make no saving whatsoever, in fact it would cost more in the short term, and it money money TDC can ill afford.

Tony Beachcomber said...

The councils art and artefact collection has not been revalued for at least 5 years so I do wonder how much do they know to insure it for. It has been suggested the collection has a minimum value of 500,000 which is not surprising when it consists of one 100,000 painting, two at 30,000a doll worth 25,000.

Tony Beachcomber said...

The councils art and artefact collection has not been revalued for at least 5 years so I do wonder how much do they know to insure it for. It has been suggested the collection has a minimum value of 500,000 which is not surprising when it consists of one 100,000 painting, two at 30,000a doll worth 25,000.

DrMoores said...

Tony. I do believe we are aware of this, as you have been corresponding and blogging quite vigorously on the matter. At present, It's a matter for discussion and I'm sure, future action, but lots of other and perhaps more pressing local priorities often stand in the way of people's best intentions.

Tony Beachcomber said...

Simon it it okay for people in "the know"to be aware of this information. People who are interested in the subject have no access to this kind of information and somehow I cannot see TDC volunteering such information.

Anyway has EKMT presented the accounts yet. If so does the offices rented by EKMT above JGs arcade feature and the cost of the caretaker director/executive/ consultant get a mention.
Also when will the mess over the Cervia become public.

Ewen Cameron said...

John/Anon 6:39pm

I assume you are Parish Councillor John Worrow? You have not posted as a registered blogger, so I am unable to tell

(If this assumption is wrong, please disregard what follows, and my apologies to the Parish Councillor concerned.)

You may well not have heard of me. Millions haven’t, and have a perfect right to. I have little claim to fame.

I am merely a District Councillor, albeit my name, home address and telephone number have been cunningly concealed on TDC’s web site under the “Your Councillors” link for the best part of the last year. This also details the Committees I sit on, on behalf of my constituents. I also write a regular column in one of the local newspapers, under the pseudonym of my own name, and, to compound the felony, use a photograph of me to head it, just to flummox the KGB.

If you are, indeed, Parish Councillor Worrow, I suspect you would know this, as you profess to take a keen interest in local politics. Your Parish, after all, borders my home. I am very fond of Birchington, and try and support the shops and businesses there.

As for your own leanings, I am well aware of the fluff they represent (or rather, do not), and the profound lack of electoral support they command.

The “as usual, wrong” comment is based on the dismay of your own colleague Parish Councillors over the views you have expressed. This particularly includes independent Parish Councillors who have taken pains to disassociate themselves from the tendency you purport to represent.

For the avoidance of doubt, I welcome independent politicians at all levels, just as I welcome a healthy and vibrant opposition. But let’s just keep a grip on why we should be there. It’s to represent the people who selected us. The people of our area. It’s not a cheap soap box.

With regards

Ewen Cameron
(District Councillor, Bradstowe Ward, Conservative, Blood Group A Rhesus+. Height 5’11”, brown eyes, brown hair)

Ewen Cameron said...

Tony, I’ve a lot of respect for your intelligent and searching questions. You’re quite right. The artefacts should be properly catalogued, though alongside some pretty distinguished national names (list on request) we are behind the curve. Work needed.

It’s not really a question of being “in the know”. All you need do is phone or e-mail one of your Ward Councillors, asking what you want to know, and it should be forthcoming. If live in my ward, let me know and contact me.

We publish vast amounts of data. Frankly, I have trouble keeping up with even a small part of it at times. You Guys (and Guy-esses) are the ones that matter. Come tell us what you want to know or want changed, and we’ll go into battle.

Regards

Ewen Cameron

Michael Child said...

As a mere bystander trying to follow the political Newspeak here in Ramsgate where the rumour on the street is that a developer has got his eye on the Clock House, I would like to know what the options are for our museums and local history collections.

Sad to say I don’t trust the council on this one, the er improvements to Margate library have resulted in a whole room full of Thanet archives being sent to Maidstone where they are inaccessible to local people.

DrMoores said...

I've no idea Michael. Perhaps someone else has?

You can probably guess, that with shared interests, I am equally keen to preserve our history. However, I'm not convinced that the local taxpayers would stomach the rise in council tax that would result, I suspect, if we were to do, across Thanet, what you, I and I'm sure Tony "Beachcomber", would like to see.

I already offered, to the Gazette, to be the first person to put hand in pocket for a donation in aid of the Westgate Pavillion, if residents wish to create an action fund.

It would be wrong to under-estimate the financial challenges we face in view of the government settlement for 2008; it's little different to the average householder wondering how to cope with rising costs of essentials and higher taxes.

Ewen Cameron said...

Michael

I am happy to assure you there are no plans to sell the Clock House, nor is it listed formally or informally for disposal.

Regards

Cllr Ewen Cameron

DrMoores said...

How's that for a quick answer Michael? Cllr Cameron has a much better memory for the detail of what's on the asset register than I have!

Tony Beachcomber said...

Ewen,

I requested a list of art & artefacts from TDC in June 2006 as part of a FOI enquiry. This was refused, the reason being the Data protection act.
I had a meeting with the leader,deputy and a officer and I sensed I must have touched a raw nerve somewhere in the system. To be honest I wasn't worried they didn't give me a list. I just wanted loopholes that were blatant in the system since 1974 closed.
The reply regarding the 1985 maidstone loans was a honest reply from Cllr Latchford and I would have kept it to myself. It is just that it is annoying seeing TDC tories acting like white knight when in fact they are part of the problem and their actions are not a solution.
Look at the way the whole thing has been handled. I would have talked to EKMT first and then reduced the grant, todays article in the gazette should had been the first option. Obviously there is the problem extracting the accounts, but to cut the grant in such a public way and then decide to talk about it afterwards is nothing more than a cock up.
That is unless the TDC budget situation is more dire than originally thought.

Anonymous said...

Ewen,
if Nobody is closing the museums then Somebody must be because the fact is that they will close.

You also said " I am happy to assure you there are no plans to sell the Clock House, nor is it listed formally or informally for disposal."

Let us hope that those words dont come back to haunt you,
no on second thoughts,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,




Cllr Mike Harrison.

Michael Child said...

The fact that there is an informal list of assets for disposal is interesting one immediately wonders how the two lists differ and if they are available on the council website.

In Ramsgate one is very much aware that we have a heritage of building and artefacts, which if managed and intergraded properly would make the town into a commercially viable tourist attraction.

For instance while Dover Castles World War 2 tunnel tours are continuously sold out, Ramsgate World War 2 tunnel system remains closed.

Money could be saved immediately by putting the tourist information office in the museum it was relocated to a site where tourists can’t find it as part of what appeared to be a deliberate move to damage our leisure industry.

Here in Ramsgate there is a feeling that we are neither informed about nor consulted about important matters that relate to the town.

So Ewen perhaps you would like to tell us what are the star items on the list at the moment.

Michael Child said...

See what I mean at this moment a listed building The Marina Café is being demolished on Ramsgate seafront, the guise will be heath and safety, the developer will make a fortune, no consultation in Ramsgate.

Ewen Cameron said...

Michael, I have, with respect, posted explaining this before;

For many years (and under periods of control by both of the major political parties), there has been no formal register of assets scheduled for disposal. This process is now being formalised.

The objectives are twofold.

Firstly, it will improve public access to this information.

Secondly, it is a response to new central government funding rules. From next year, Westminster will be taking into account assets owned by the Council. Nobody quite yet knows how this will work yet but, put crudely, there is the power, if the mandarins consider we could be sweating an asset harder, to deduct any difference in “rent” from the Council’s core grant.

This is a worrying development, as it will obviously impact the ability to provide use of land or buildings free, or at concessionary terms, to public bodies or not-for-profit causes.

There are not “two lists”. I qualified it as “formal or informal” for the reassurance of those aware of the change in how this is being handled.

Cllr. Mike Harrison – I have no concerns over words coming back to haunt me. This is the factually correct situation, as of now.

Regards

Ewen Cameron

Anonymous said...

Ewen,
So already you are backtracking, first it was 'no plans'period now it is 'no plans as of now' as you well know, or perhaps you dont Scrutiny are currently working on a list of Council owned properties and their current uses. This list will advise any decision to dispose or not. You and I both know that any property that is empty and with no prospect of it being bought back into use will be deemed fit for disposal. Methinks that the Clock House in Ramsgate will fall into that catergory after TDC has pulled the plug from EKMT.

Cllr Mike Harrison

Mike Harrison said...

Ewen said

" Cllr Green omits to mention (as usual) that the withdrawal of EKMT grant funding had Labour support. I will be happy to produce the Minute of what was said, and by whom."

It is not now nor ever has been the policy of the Labour Group to support the closure of any Museum, I challenge you to produce the minute and the voting of Labour Members to substanciate this outragous claim.

Cllr Mike Harrison,
Chair,
Labour Group TDC

Anonymous said...

Lots of snide comments about parish Cllrs and yet the TDC corporate plan talks about close involvement with the community and Parish Councils! Whilst you TDC councillors snipe at each other over petty little points, don't you realise that you are putting people off? We want independent clear thought on problems, not entrenched political stances; there are local problems that need sorting out by locally minded elected councillors so get on with it please and desist from trying to score points off each other!

DrMoores said...

Refrence to Parish councillors appears to be in relation to accurate comment on this issue, rather than using their position to promote a political interest group.

I would love to see evidence of independent and clear thought from the parish councillors involved but I fear I will have to wait!

Tony Beachcomber said...

Annon 12:15 am I really do like your holy than thou comments. They are so pious.
Just look at the last "independant" party Ramsgate First and the public disagreements they had. Now look where they are now.Then there is all this upset at Cliffsend.
The point with local politics is that comments are not personal and once it is kept that way then it is a open playing field. I might disagree with the Tories, but that is all it is a disagreement.
The trouble with this independant clear thought common sense approach is that there is this tendancy to believe they are always right. In politics there is always something lurking around the corner and it is not easy getting it right. Finally when things are not going your way you cannot just pick up the ball and go home. Politics does not need a messiah so annon 12:15 please do not think independence is the solution.

Ken Gregory said...

Tony,

Do you remember back in 1997, when you said , Ramsgate Maritime , should be starved of its grant, and all the cash should go to the Margate museum? This because of the rumour of financial problems?

Ewen Cameron said...

Cllr Mike Harrison;

As ever, you seek to mislead by making a statement about one issue (withdrawal of grant funding), then asking a question about another issue (closure of the museums).

Reasonably typical Labour tactics, which may account for the long and inexorable slide in your Party’s support, membership and finances.

The premise of your question is also entirely invented. I have never said that the Labour Group support closure of the museums. I know your group does not, and neither does mine, so let’s avoid any idea of us being in disagreement on this.

I think the people who have elected both you and me deserve better than that.

Nonetheless, I am happy to answer your challenge (now there’s a word!). I would also commend you to spend more time on who has said what.

The Minute in question which is a public record (comments within “[ ] “) are added by me and are intended to be explanatory) is;

Minute – Cabinet 11th December 2007;

Councillor Mrs Johnston;

“Councillor Wise [Cabinet Member for Finance] has had to take a tough decision about the Maritime museum and I would have made that decision too Martin.

Closing a museum while we are talking about a cultural quarter (pause) I would ask you please to resist any chance of this. By all means take your grant back but please use that museum and there are letters from schoolchildren in that museum that show it is worth every penny”

As we are now doing challenges, could you please explain what is the difference between us?

Concerning backtracking, please let’s not get into the pit of naivety. You know as well as I do, Mike, that no one can predict or control the future. If the Monster Raving Loonies should gain control, there’s not going to be a lot that you or I can do about preserving the Clock House.

My personal view is that it is an iconic building for Ramsgate’s rich history and pride, and it would also be commercially foolish to contemplate selling it, and I will go into battle for that for the people of Ramsgate.

You seem to presume that EKMT’s museum relies solely and entirely on TDC funding to survive. It doesn’t, and shouldn’t. I refer you to my previously cited example of the Spitfire and Hurricane Memorial Trust, which exists with no Council funding, yet maintains a wonderful facility housing two aircraft and hundreds, perhaps thousands of artefacts (properly catalogued), worth tens of millions of pounds.

Cllr Ewen Cameron

Tony Beachcomber said...

A bit misleading Ken, all I wanted at the time was the EKMT to produce accounts to show how much of the grant was spent on margate under a seperate heading. EKMT opposed this at first then backed down. At the time it worked out to run Margate was 28,000 which I suppose is not bad value for money at the time.

anon again! said...

anon again!

Local Politics is a complete waste of time if no-one agree's to anything. If Party's were to merge and put all effort into improving matters instead of bickering here and there and not getting anywhere, except to annoy their faithfull followerr's.... Thanet MIGHT become a nicer place to live in!
Positive points. I am glad to see work has begun on the Margate Pier. I don't know why this point of interest has been ignored and let go in to delapidated state for so many years. (Local Politicians).
Goddens gap. Somebody pointed out the other day that insurance money must have been paid out by now, so where, Mr Godden, is the replacement building? (Local Politians).
Thanet Roads. When IS SOMETHING going to be done about them? They have to be among the worst in England. I have a nice car, but sometimes I purposely make a diversion so as not to damage it driving the areas affected. (Local Politicians).
Margate High Street. Enough said on this matter already. (Local Politicians).

You see, the point I am trying to make clear, is that our Local Politians, regardless of which Party they represent, are a WASTE of time and money. They don't get on with the work they are paid to do.... so really, we suffer a kind of irritating but "Legal" fraud. If they fought together to improve Thanet, surely, this can only be beneficial for us all, and bring back some of the proudness we all seem to have lost.

Ken Gregory said...

Anon again,

you miss the point. If each political grouping has an opposition, there is a chance it will think carefully before using ratepayers money.

An authority made up of 'independent' cllrs will a, get not very far, and b,deal(or try to)with loads of 'single issues' but not be able to deal with Thanet wide problems. You may not agree, that is your right, but the history proves me correct.

Tony 'B' Not misleading, but a relection. You are right though, on local politics not being personal

DrMoores said...

In that case 4:36, as a local politician, should I resign and go and live elsewhere, Le Touquet perhaps, Dubai or even the leafy glades of Surrey, rather than use my skills and my time to try and benefit the area in which I grew up?

And then perhaps you can take my place?

Tony Beachcomber said...

Ewen

One thing striking thing about Cllr Wise he is no mug when it comes to money. The rest goes for any other councillor in the past who has been in that position. It quite simple no accounts no money, it doesn't take much savvy.

The finacial policy has really left the conservative groups cultural policy up in the air and I reckon the fur must have been really flying behind closed doors.

To mention the Spitfire and Hurrican museum one can only assume that your party is searching for solutions and you need them quick.

The labour party campaign has prooved there is massive support in Ramsgate for the maritime museum, it has the backing of Steve Ladyman.Ramsgate maritime will also have support of the new Town Council.
The EKMT no longer has to worry about the Cervia. Also being a important maritime museum nationaly it can survive with out the grant provided it is supported by the public and helped by TDC with grants from other sources. That includes renewing the lease to the clock house which I believe is runnning out as the trust was formed in 1983 on a 25 year lease.

The problem is the EKMT cannot run the Margate Museum without a grant. For the EKMT to move forward there has to be a solution for future of Margate.

Now that the u turn to keep the Maritime Museum open has been annouced. I think a statement on the Margate Museum is required and its relatonship with the EKMT.

anon again! said...

anon again!

Aha, I see I've ruffled a few feather's!
This is exactly what I mean... NO-ONE is interested in doing their best for Thanet, only out for themselves.
Local Politicians very often ACT AGAINST the very wishes of the people who voted them in. I could mention the Turner Contemptible Gallery (but I won't). They don't even accept it when a petition signed by thousands was laid.

Nah, Local Government....all a bunch of Hoser's.

Tony Beachcomber said...

Cyril or Jack ?

anon again! said...

anon again!
Cyril!

steve said...

mr moores

dubai - too much hot air already

surrey/le touquet - small fish, big pond. not for you.

you are better off here.

visited the ramsgate museum today for the first time. very charming highly infomative, £1.50 to get in, 6 people in there, commercially disastrous. it will need public money to continue. perhaps the raise in harbour berthing costs could contribute?

and nice of you to get 'excited' about the marina cafe demolition. it almost sounded sincere.

DrMoores said...

It's quite clear that 'Steve' has decided he doesn't like me much and so I'm sure I can look forward to more comedic and incisive quips in the future.!

steve said...

Mr Moores,

I admire your willingness to stick your head above the parapet as a counciller and blogger, but this does leave you open to friendly banter as well as differences of opinion. Certainly nothing to do with liking/disliking you.

Anonymous said...

But unlike you, DrM isn't an anonymous character without the courage of his supposedly dearly held convictions. I didn't vote for DrM in the last elections, but I will in the next. It seems to me that your all too angry to recognise it when someone (regardless of party) actually cares about and tries to do their best for Thanet.
I find a lot of the viscious comments directed at DrM really pathetic because the people who do it are what I call political eunuchs! They're anonymous and will always have to remain so. They talk the talk, but don't have the equipment to actually DO anything!