Monday, February 25, 2013

Enter the Clangers

On a rather too frequent basis, we see a flow of unreformed socialist rubbish appearing from Thanet's Labour Group. However, today, even I was amazed to discover that the national obsesity epidemic, is in reality, a sinister Conservative plot to oppress the working classes. This from a certain R.L.Symonds, a Labour candidate for Broadstairs and Sir Moses wards.

And what would this political meteor in waiting offer the people of Thanet if ever elected? "Move the main supermarkets into a franchised sphere of the economy, in a similar arrangement to that of the privatised railway companies" and learn from the Cuban revolution ."One kilo of mixed white rice and black beans peas and potatoes, were issued monthly to all families, free."

I'm absolutely certain that the good people of Broadstairs can't wait for the opportunity to reject Tesco and introduce not only their own modest version of the Cuban revolution to replace Folk Week but the simple state diet that accompanies such splendid ideologically-motivated class struggle. If they can produce good cigars as a by-product too then I'm up for it!

While I would be rather more concerned by the families that struggle locally to feed their children properly, this Guardianista-inspired political rhetoric sounds, rather like Cllr Driver and Cllr Worrow all over again.

If you didn't know already, local Councillors don't in fact have the power to nationalise our supermarkets or introduce the public to a healthy diet of rice and beans, even in the pursuit of a socialist utopia, like Cuba. Coincidentally, I've been there and I can tell you, that while rice and beans are a popular national dish, many people can't wait for the opportunity to enjoy calorie-laden fast food like their cousins in Miami.

If you weren't already convinced that Clive and Alan and Iris weren't already living in some ghastly pink parody of Oliver's Postgate's popular children's series, "The Clangers" then here's a short series clip to remind you of their many successes to date.

This week we have another full Council meeting and I have a question tabled over the £20,000 so generously given to the Margate Caves and Ramsgate Tunnels project.

Now, if we could bring both or either back into public use, that would be both welcome and wonderful but in the absence of any sound business plans or indeed, given the potential liability exposure and high estimated costs of safely bringing caves or tunnels safely into the tourism net, I'm wondering whether, with local elections only three months away, £20,000 is simply an extravagant political gesture in key wards at the taxpayer's expense.

After all, if you are going to pour money down a hole or even two, then you might rightly expect some kind of tangible, if not immediate return on the public's investment; oil  or votes perhaps? I'm hoping to see some figures on Thursday evening that will prove my cynicism wrong but I have a feeling that the Clangers' tunnel committee, may have dug themselves into an expensive hole and not even the fabulous Iron Chicken will be able to dig them out of it. Perhaps English Heritage will come to the rescue with a business plan or a large sum but I'm sure all will be revealed on Thursday night and I will be put firmly in my place for asking if there's any light at the end of this political tunnel, which starts in Margate and finishes in Ramsgate and perhaps more importantly, who feeds the soup dragon?


Readit said...

I can't speak for Margate, but Ramsgate Tunnels is ready to roll, feasibility studies completed thanks the JPM.

It could be a better long term tourism attraction, rather than burning the money on aviation fuel for the now defunct Big Event.

Simon Moores said...

That's very interesting. Last time I heard there was only money available for a feasibility study because given the size of the project, then total cost would demand a lottery or English Heritage windfall with lots of zeros!?

Readit said...

Well Simon, as they say "a little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing"

Anonymous said...

Great clip, Simon, always nice to see the Clangers.

But, I can't help wondering what the grandson of George Lansbury would have thought about his work appearing on a Conservative blog.

John Holyer said...

The Loony Left is always good for a laugh bearing in mind that they have no power, thank heavens.

Anonymous said...

What I never realised before reading this article was that the grammar school system in Kent is responsible for the rise in obese folk. Apparently, if you fail the 11+, you are doomed to be a fatty because you will not be educated enough to know that stuffing your face with fast food and sugar piles on the pounds.

Well, there we have it, and yet something else to blame for the misfortunes of life that befall us, after all, nothing is our fault and it is all down to some profit making rich bloke somewhere.

In conclusion I suppose it is fair to assume that in areas outside Kent, where they have no grammar schools, everybody must be over weight.

Gypsy Jack said...

Tom it is some years since Slugger O'Toole mentioned that the costs of Grammar Schools was less, per head of pupil, than comprehensive or other state secondary schools.

I have noticed that you show a tendency to assume an absence of causal link.

A rational possibility now arises. Grammar Schools save on the school dinner budgets. Whereas other state schools feed their pupils to the hilt, in the probable expectation they will fall asleep in the afternoons.

That Tom is actually an example of a conspiracy theory. A begging the question fallacy too.

Hope this was helpful.

Anonymous said...

With regard to the ramsgate tunnel, perhaps the additional costs incurred by the council both directly and indirectly ,having been reported to the information commisioner ,should be taken into account. A previous proposal for the tunnel would have bought a globaly unique facility to Ramsgate, supported by one administration but rejected by the next and all funded by the private sector.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Gypsy Jack, that explanation certainly eased the old constipation. Then again, that may have been down to the thought of my old school dinners and stodgy toad in the hole.

Sarah said...

It saddens me that community volunteer commitment is dismissed with such mean-spirited mockery. Pouring money down holes indeed.
The Friends of Margate Caves has achieved much since formation two years ago, professionally and on a shoestring. An Options Appraisal was completed some months ago, and shared with TDC. A full survey of the Caves by an internationally respected geotechnical engineer has been commissioned and completed, and shared with TDC. Pro bono work from quantity surveyors, architects and tourism consultants to a value in excess of £11,000 has been secured. A well-respected consultant with an excellent track record is currently finalising the Business Plan (funded by KCC Conservative Cllrs Wells and Jarvis, and TDC). A Stage 1 bid to the Big Lottery Reaching Communities Capital Grant Fund is being prepared, alongside a bid to the HLF Your Heritage fund. In both instances, the funders have indicated that they would welcome the application.
Please remember, when indulging in political point scoring, that there are real people out here, putting in hours, days and weeks of work simply to preserve our heritage and make our towns better places, for residents and visitors alike.
Chair of the Friends of Margate Caves

Simon Moores said...


It's hardly mean spirited mockery but rather a satirical examination of what the council tax payers of Thanet can expect in return for £10,000?

Neither £1,000 or even £11,000 is going to secure the opening of the caves and I would ask you to look back to the much earlier debate on the same subject when I was the Cabinet member with responsibility, when Iris and fiends first turned it into a political football with photo opportunities, TV interviews with the BBC et al!

Sarah said...

That's a naive argument. You're aware of seed funding? Of the concept of using smaller sums to leverage significant funding?
And I'm really not interested in a 'she started it' argument on the political point scoring front. I wish you'd all stop, as do the rest of your electorate.

Simon Moores said...

I'm quite aware of seed funding and I'm sure you've watched 'Dragon's Den' as well!

As I have written here, I would welcome the caves being brought back into use but as public money is being spent I have a responsibility to that same electorate to ask on what and why; given the political interest this stimulated in the first place.

You will recall the present Cabinet Member for Communities announcing how Labour would save the caves. Excellent. So perhaps she can now share her plans in Council?

Phil said...

I would like to add my endorsement to Sarah’s comments. Thanks to a relatively small amount of money from Jubilee People’s Millions, the Ramsgate Tunnels Project is ready to move forward with surveys, reports and feasibility study. Another relatively small amount of money from TDC will now allow work to begin on clearing and preparing the tunnels for public access. It is these small amounts of money and the dedicated enthusiasm of volunteers that underpin future funding bids and development. It’s just a shame that many of these projects are frustrated out of existence by political point scoring. Not so for Margate Caves or Ramsgate Tunnels I suspect.

Simon Moores said...

Another feasibility study? The question that still remains unanswered and should be of immediate interest to politicians and public both caves and tunnels back into use?

Is it a bottomless pit or is there light in the end of the tunnel?

Without Heritage Lottery support, which both are unlikely to ge, rather then perhaps one it's all rather academic without any idea of costs.

Phil said...

Yes, there is light at the end of the Ramsgate tunnels, thanks in part to the council's recent grant. I must remind you that the Ramsgate tunnels have remained closed since 1945 and in that time they have cost the council a considerable amount of money in constantly securing and servicing them. I would estimate they have already cost the council a four figure sum this year. Unless something happens they will remain a financial burden to the tax payer.

Why do you think the projects are unlikely to get Heritage Lottery support?

Simon Moores said...

As I wrote above. It seems unlikely that both would receive HLF support but if we are lucky, perhaps one. If i was a betting man I might think the Ramsgate bid had an advantage but clearly, this is all a question of merit so let's be optimistic of success in one town or the other.

Sarah said...

As a Director of the Dreamland Trust and owner of the Shell Grotto, my knowledge of securing funding extends slightly beyond watching Dragons' Den.
Why are both the Tunnels and Caves unlikely to get Lottery support? You can't simply state that as a fact, when you have no knowledge of our bids. Your opinion it may be; but it's not a well informed one. If both the Caves and the Tunnels make strong applications, why wouldn't awards to be made to both? I read in your sidebar about how HLF wants to spend its money in Thanet after all.

Tim Clark said...

There's a fine line between satire and sarcasm and I think you have probably stepped over it this time. It would seem that you are doing your best to denigrate the efforts of people who are trying their best, often for free, to improve this Island and drag it out of the Slough of Despondency (or should that be Dependency?) where it currently resides.
By all means use this forum to say what you like - it is yours after all - but try, just occasionally, to demonstrate an understanding that you are not the only wonderful person in the world. Others are trying as hard as you are to make things better; invariably they are the ones that you sneer at.

Tim Clark said...

Is Laura lying then Simon?

Simon Moores said...

Well, Iris failed absolutely to answer "Any" of the direct and salient questions about the caves and the tunnels this evening. The answer, plainly and simply is that she doesn't know how much the costs might be and I'll write about this tomorrow.

It's clear that Sarah - above is struggling with my argument, a personal opinion - in between running to Iris complaining about me, as stated in Council this evening.

However, to be helpful, I plan to write a little more tomorrow.

It's a simple question of course. When the Council gives volunteer groups public money then it's only right and proper that the council is able to account for that money and indeed, what this is to be spent on and what return the public should expect.

Sarah said...

I didn't run to Iris and complain about you; you don't figure so highly on my radar frankly. I said that I'd heard there was a question tabled, and I explained why FOMC should be given the funding. Which was the professional thing to do.
I'll not be reading any more of your thoughts on this matter; there's real work to do, and precious little time to do it in.

Simon Moores said...

You'll have to take the choice of words up with Iris I'm afraid or watch the video when it comes out. Quite frankly though and based on my previous experience, I'm not really surprised.

Anonymous said...

Interested to read in these comments that the Ramsgate tunnels have been closed since 1945 for I recall riding the little train from Dumpton down to Ramsgate beach as a child. Since I am not that ancient that must have been well after 1945 and isn't that tunnel all part of the network.

I seem to recall that had scenic displays of exotic places in model form down the sides of the track. The station at Dumpton was somewhere near where the petrol garage is now as I remember

Anonymous said...

You’re right Tom, the Scenic or Tunnel Railway, which was just over 1000 yards long, closed in 1965. The 2 miles or so of ARP tunnels that lead off the railway tunnel have been closed since the end of WWII.