Sunday, May 13, 2012

Sunday Ramble

I had lunch on Friday at a restaurant opposite St Paul's cathedral and looking at the other diners, mostly it appears from the surrounding city banks, that the recession that we feel so sharply along Margate High Street, remains quite invisible in some places.

With a little time to spare, I wandered around the great cathedral's grounds, which had of course been cleared, most recently of the 'Occupy London' group that set-up camp there during the winter months but it seems they had another attempt at returning this weekend in advance of the Dalai Lama's visit to collect the Templeton prize.

Returning home later that same afternoon, I made a point of watching who got on the train at Bromley South. I have a theory, I've written about before, that the station, a short bus ride from Lunar House, is a starting point for what one can only describe as welfare migrants, single young men and sometimes women sent to find cheaper temporary accommodation in Margate and Cliftonville, very much against the requests of our own Council.

With only the front four carriages of the train going as far as Ramsgate, it's not hard to guess who might be heading my way in ones and two's because unlike the other passengers, they look very much like people given a one way ticket to nowhere, with their belonging crammed into cheap sports bags.

Is there absolutely no way, I ask, that we can control this flow into our most vulnerable areas of Thanet for the greater good of the majority, who deserve the much wider economic and educational opportunities that go with a properly balanced community and not one constantly weighed down by demands placed upon us by other local authorities and agencies? Perhaps it's not politically correct to ask or perhaps our new 'progressive' Labour administration has some ideas but as the downward process of decline and inward migration in several wards accelerated under a previous one, I'm not holding my breath that any local Party has an effective answer to the mounting pressures of London's homelessness crisis..

I had to call BBC South-east news on Friday night, as they were busy writing Manston's obituary based on what they thought had happened during the previous evening's Cabinet meeting. The 'Beeb' apologised and agreed to correct their piece in the next bulletin but even with a forthcoming Council meeting, this month, to debate the Manston night flights issue, the damage is being done to the airport's prospects as it appears clear that Labour has taken a vigorous anti-airport stance. All this at a time when County and Government are talking-up the need for greater airport capacity, if only to head-off Boris' wild dreams of an island, estuary super-Heathrow within sight of our coast.

Sir Roger Gale, our Thanet North MP, has sent me a letter to publish in regard to Clive Hart's stance on the airport:
He describes as “contradictory nonsense” a letter sent by the Leader of Thanet Council, Cllr Hart, to the Chief Executive of Manston, Charles Buchanan.
This letter” says the MP “which has been widely circulated by TDC to the press, purports to support the development of Manston for commercial purposes.

In fact and Hart is of course well aware of this, the position taken by Thanet District Council at its Thursday meeting and the disingenuous nature of his letter, fly in the face of the recommendations of TDCs own commissioned report and pays no attention whatsoever to commercial reality.

In pandering to the rump of his party and to a handful of motley “independent” councillors Hart is placing at risk the huge employment potential of one of our greatest available job-creating assets. At the very moment when the Department for Transport is looking seriously at Manston for Olympic and post-Olympic potential development and is considering a further upgrade of the rail links between Manston and London Hart is effectively saying 'We do not want this business'. We all recognise the need to strike a balance between the environment and job-creating development but TDC is not seeking to strike that balance in any meaningful way based upon the evidence of their own report.

These statements tell me that this Thanet administration simply cannot be trusted either to reflect the truth of the report to its own electorate or to put the need for regeneration and job-creating development above partisan short-term populist headlines. The Council not only has no “Plan B.” It does not have any plan at all and it is a tragedy that while the coalition government and KCC, working with East Kent`s MPs, are busting a gut to help to get the economy of East Kent moving in the right direction a bunch of political Luddites appear determined to undermine the effort that is being made in spite of them.

Even at this late stage I urge Hart to re-visit his own report, get around the table with those trying to take Thanet forward, put the party-political agenda of his administration to one side and start to negotiate a serious plan to enable not only Thanet but the UK to take advantage of an aviation asset that the Country simply cannot afford to squander or lose.”

The official Thanet Conservative Group release on the airport's future can be found here.

Next week, it's the annual general meeting of the council and many readers will now yawn and move-on. However, what takes place next Thursday evening, may come as a shock to even the most jaded cynics. Everyone knows three vital independent votes masquerading as a political party of misfits, that would do credit to the characters in the children's TV show, the 'Banana Splits' , will have to be bought, in a Faustian political sense, to guarantee that Clive Hart and the minority Labour Group stay in control. So don't switch-off quite yet!


Anonymous said...

Increasingly one hears talk of people seeking to move away before their homes become ever more devalued as Thanet slips further into an area of acute social depression. Whilst this may be music to the ears of left wing politicians and their supporters, it saddens the majority of us that love this area.

Just look around the place from the sunsets on the west side through pretty little Broadstairs to the magnificent Ramsgate harbour. It has so much to offer and yet much compires to drag the it down. From the ever increasing unemployed sector to the negativity shown by TDC to anything that might bring work, the image portrayed to the outside world is not good.

Ongoing sagas like Ramsgate's Pleasurama site do little to inspire confidence whilst decaying listed buildings in public ownership add to the run down image. It was almost amusing recently, if it was not so sad, to hear Cllr. Poole talking of giving Pierremont Hall a wash and brush up when the building is riddled with concrete cancer and is screaming out for a major refurb.
Even ten years of hard work to bring almost to fruition a new community centre to replace the crumbling park hall, was kicked into touch by the new Thanet regime.

Good to see some public spirited folk working hard to improve things in Ramsgate and the Turner has helped parts of Margate. However, unless there is a concerted island wide effort, led from TDC, to halt the social immigration and improve the job prospects it will not stop the decline. With the current political jerrymangering, using band waggoners in order to cling to office, it is difficult to see this happening.

At least a dog won BGT, but if it had been a Thanet one it would probably have left its droppings centre stage for everyone else to step in.

Anonymous said...

By the way, on another tack, sweet little film clip over on the TIG site demonstrating that all men can be heroes. Only trouble is, one glance at the berets and hair cuts shows they are not real soldiers.

Why can't the makers of such proganda at least do their research first.

Jeremy Jacobs said...

Isn't Hart's position so typical of the "narrow-minded" councillors past and present Simon?

Do you also suspect Labour is pandering to the eco-loony "green" agenda?

Anonymous said...

Perhaps you should tell your position to the Conservative members on scrutiny who voted unanimously against night flights as well.

simon moores said...

4:16.. would you care to expand on this a little... i.e what was voted for and when?

Michael Child said...

Simon I am a bit mystified by this issue, you seem to be saying that you support night flights, but not how many night flights.

My own take on this has always been that the airport should, if allowed night flights at all, only be allowed a similar proportion to day time flights as that enjoyed by Gatwick and Heathrow, otherwise Manston just becomes used for its night slots without the associated day time business, so we get the worst of both world.

So the a question for you, what sort of night flying allowance do you think Manston should be allowed and do you think this should be related to day time flying activities?

After all if we gave the airport all of the night time flying activities they want the associated extra employment wouldn’t produce as much as two jobs, without some sort of associated day time activity.

Anonymous said...

Michael, some of a red herring as usual from you. Most operators would require the flexibity to take the odd flight out of hours, particularly those delayed for some reason. Would you suggest say, that holiday makers who embarked from and expected to return to Manston, should be diverted elsewhere just because their flights from wherever was held up. OK perhaps for somewhere else to be disturbed after 11 PM.

This proportion argument is one used by the anti-night flights group, but it really has no merit when talking about potential eventualities.

The real issue here is not so much how many, but more TDC's total rejection of any based on a consultation that produce a response equivalent to about 1.9% of Thanet's population.

You are good with your questions, but how about you tell me the merit in rejecting a potential island asset without a real discussion with the operator on what they have in mind.

That said, at the end of the day it is not down to TDC and the national demands for runway capacity may make their pathetic procrastination irrelevant.