You may have seen the front page story in the 'Your Thanet' newspaper last week, that 'Rogue traders' had vandalised the car park of St Peter's Roman Catholic Church in Westgate, making it unusable for parishioners with a coating of sticky tar, following an alleged attempt to extort payment for unauthorised 'resurfacing work' from the priest, Fr. John Slater.
Other than Christmas, there couldn't be a worse time than Holy Week, to have a parish church's car par out of commission and having read the story I went along to have a look at the damage myself and found the car park ringed-off with tape with a large black sticky pool in the centre, immediately outside the entrance to the church.
Short of ideas and realising that the church would be facing a sizeable bill to have the damage made good, I called one of our pillars of the Westgate community, Darren Ellis of D.J.Ellis Construction and asked if there might be anyway that he might be able to help solve the problem. Darren came right over, inspected the damage and generously offered to have the car park repaired the same afternoon and for free in a true gesture of community spirit.
Unfortunately, with Fr. John Slater at the cathedral that Thursday afternoon, we couldn't get his approval to have the repairs done immediately and before Darren's men went off on holiday but he's delighted to hear they'll be back on Tuesday to give St Peter's church a working car park again.
I'll try and get a photo of both Darren and Fr. John, together next week with the car park repaired and once again, as a Westgate councillor, I'm sure that others will join Fr. John and me, in thanking Darren for his kindness and for moving so swiftly to help the church resolve a very unfortunate experience.
As for these cynical rogue traders, who knows where they'll strike next but be warned!