Saturday, January 14, 2012

In Search of A Loaf

I was in Northdown Road earlier today and could not help but notice the prominently-placed estate agent's sign, advertising local properties in Polish, which came as a bit of a surprise. Passing through, I popped-in to a convenience store to buy bread and milk and was equally bemused to discover that the bread was from Poland too, with the exception of a lonely-looking Kings Mill sliced white loaf, which was cheaper than its European cousins and which I adopted and brought home with me to Westgate.

I think it was the estate agent's sign rather than the bread which surprised me most because it made a powerful statement about the changing nature of the community in Cliftonville, The last council report I saw, told me that only 17% of the local population (Margate Central and Cliftonville West)  are originally from Thanet and over 30% of the population come and go over any twelve month period.

We have been hearing a great deal about 'diversity' over the last week but in Thanet, it's the changing population demographic that I first think of when I see the word. Of  late, we've been seeing some confusion between 'Minority' and 'Diversity' coming from one source on the island, a topic I believe, which needs to be more inclusive and rather less narrow and excitable than the argument.

In particular, we need to reflect on how we adapt locally,  to both managing and interpreting the needs and interests of so many diverse,  Eastern-European and Middle-eastern cultures, crammed tightly into a handful of wards across the island. These are resource and cost intensive for all the local and central Government agencies involved in trying to achieve positive outcomes for the communities involved.

But if you think about it, Thanet is fast becoming as much of a multi-cultural society as anywhere else in the country, it's just taken a little longer for it to happen because the road and rail connection from London stops when you reach the seafront. I've written many times before that the challenge for the future still lies in stimulating a local economy, in a way that  attracts big businesses like the offshore energy industry and offers real jobs, careers and opportunity for everyone. Instead and more often than not, we are frequently seen by cynical newspaper reports, as the end of the line for benefits claimants, exported from overcrowded, struggling London authorities.

Perhaps I'll write more later but for now I intend to sleep on it.


Peter Checksfield said...

I guess people in the UK once thought that Kebab Shops, Chinese Takeaways & Indian Restaurants were strange too... Maybe you should've tried bread that's a little more adventurous than Kingsmill Simon, you might've even enjoyed it.

DrM. said...


I was tempted but at £2.40 a loaf I resisted the urge. Beans on toast is fine on Kingsmill.

Anonymous said...

Welcome to the real world of Cliftonville!
Shortly before Christmas I opened the door to an electricity meter reader. Her first words were spoken very slowly, 'Do-you-speak-English?'.
She was even more surprised to find that we are actually owner occupiers too.
At least we save the costs of travelling to Eastern Europe to experience another culture!

Michael Child said...

Simon when in Northdown Road, you may wish to consider that the bread in Aldi is about 50p a loaf.

Tim Clark said...

Careful Simon the Emperor of Diversity will add racism to his already (in his own mind) charge of homophobia.
Didn't you Councillors all agree a blogging protocol a few years ago? Seems like Our Champion - his latest manifestation - hasn't signed up to it. This continued public assault is surely something for Standards?

DrM. said...

We had a blogging protocol to advise and inform councillors of their responsibilities under the code of conduct in public life but Labour and in particular, Cllr Nottingham, would have no part in it.

Anonymous said...

The telling stat is 30 per cent of the population in those wards coming and going in a 12-month period. In other words there is a large slice of the population with no stake in Thanet's future, quite simply because they won't be here. They are transient, rootless. They cannot realistically be expected to respect their environment, their neighbours or take any interest in local democracy or take an interest in any local institutions that help to create a cohesive community. The sad fact is that many of us are just drifters at the beck and call of globalised capitalism. That is why it has been a massive mistake for the left to be so rabidly pro-immigration (the main purpose of immigration has been to keep wages among the working-class low and to make the rich richer). The left has alienated itself from those who once may have supported it.

Anonymous said...

Isn't it a very stupid and possibly extremely expensive thing to accuse someone online (i.e. publicly) of homophobia etc unless you have some very convincing and factual proof.

Are you just biding your time DrM until a certain "crusading-but-dim" local councillor has dug himself into the biggest possible legal hole?

I could do with a good laugh watching him trying to bleat his way out of that one.

Easy money.

Anonymous said...

The poor Birchington Crusader probably thinks if he deletes his libellous stuff that its gone. What a plonker.
For Lawyers and clients there's cash in the cache!

James Maskell said...

His actions and online comments speak for themselves. Ive considered complaining but am minded against it as it would give him the publicity he wants, thus his blog entries including the most recent drama Dean post looking to stir those he sees as homophobic.

He needs pity, not punishment.

Anonymous said...

Strangely enough, the gay Dean post has gone the way of the Minnis Bay Boy George lookalike competition and several other provative items. I think James is right and these are just posted to draw out what JW perceives as the homophobic.

Today we have what can only be described as the "cover my back in case of legal action" post where he attempts to claim he has not accused Simon of being homophobic. He could have fooled the rest of us.

DrM. said...

I'm gratified to see that John Worrow writes that he does not believe I'm homophobic, doubly so as, along with Chris Wells, I spent considerable time attempting to reassure and counsel him in his somewhat unusual view of life and what a councillor's duties are.

If you read the hundred plus comments across Thanet's weblogs, you'll see that there are, I'm sorry to say, a great many reasons why people are antagonistic towards John but his sexuality does not count among them. The sooner he realises this the happier he may be.

Tim Clark said...

Presumably someone blew quite hard in his shell-like.
The whole equality/diversity industry does a great disservice to those it purports to represent. I work in an industry with a significant number who you might call LGBT - none of them would use the term because none of them feel the need to be labelled. They just get on with life and their example is a far better advert for diversity than any number of pompous tub-thumpers.

Anonymous said...

Cllr Worrow is the sort who likes to dish it out but isn't man enough to deal with it coming back at him.
He also seems oblivious to the fact that there are serious consequences to his actions.
He knew for some time, that a well known and respected local councillor has been battling a very serious illness. But brave, campaigning Cllr Worrow picked a fight with him anyway, knowing full well he couldn't answer back.
If Cllr Worrow knew what a lot of the public in Birchington and Westgate were saying about him he would leave Thanet, and good riddance.

Peter Checksfield said...

Having got bored with Boy George look-a-likes & Gay Vicars I see that JW is now campaigning on behalf of Muslims! I wonder what next week's cause will be?