Wednesday, April 30, 2008
Speaking of which, where will all the, er, jobs go once all the jobs have been created? Not straight down into our water table, which lies directly beneath, one hopes!
Click here to read Thanet Strife on China Gateway project
Click here to read biblio-bloke Michael Child on same
Maybe you should have a link on your articles regarding MK Airlines that show the official air accident investigation report as well as a one sided, biased report by a journalist. Get your facts straight first.
Deary me, Clifford. I'm afraid you must have gotten me muddled up with someone who gives a sh*t!
Click here to read about MK's appalling safety record in The Times
Still, I suppose that's what you get with knackered old jumbos flying inches from your bonce every eight minutes - an accelerated decline back to the natural, eyesore state! Word is the airport bosses now believe regular, nocturnal freight flights are the way to go. If that's the case, the least they can do is hand out free mogadons on the high street.
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
Whiffling around their website the other day I came across an advertisement for a Commercial and Marketing Manager. Here's what it says:
Europe’s budget airline boom, congested rival airports, location, accessibility and inbound tourist development, have spurred the privatisation of secondary airports. IAEL owns Glasgow Prestwick Airport (GPA), Kent International Airport (KIA) in Manston, and most recently 90% of Luebeck Airport in Germany (LBC), with ambitious plans to make a number of additional acquisitions in Europe in the next three to five years.
However, despite a significant increase in passenger volumes and earnings, IAEL faces the on-going commercial challenge of improving each of its airport’s returns, through reviews from aero and commercial sources and managing cost.
New branding throughout the terminal, retail facilities, shops and car parking, new routes and frequencies, have been particularly successful at GPA, which now operates as a 24/7 operation, with one of the highest growth rate of the main Scottish airports.
The ad goes on to list the qualities they're looking forward - leadership blah integrity blah team leader blah blah blah - the usual HR baloney. It seems they also want someone with 'political shrewdness' who 'applies sound judgement at all times'. I'd be curious to know how the candidate would apply 'sound judgement' considering they got rid of all their noise monitoring equipment yonks ago, but hey-ho.
Meanwhile it looks as if they are indeed going to be in need of someone with a bit of commercial nous. My spies tell me there's a rumbling on the pilots' rumour mill that Canada-crashing, oozalum-flying MK Airlines have pulled the plug, and that this year's charter flights are less than, er, fully booked. Could it be a case of Boeing, Boeing gone?
Click here to read Infratil ad
I feel the local community needs to know what is currently happening in Ramsgate Cemetery allotments - my cabin was burned to the ground and there was another fire during the week. I also had to call the police a second time after spotting someone in the cemetry shooting the wildlife - recent count is 7 parakeets, 3 squirrels and 2 hedgehogs.
Considering the horrendous amount of money spent by Thanet Council on open prison type fencing all over Thanet including the Cecilia Rd allotments I am angry, especially since the vandalism here was minimal until the offending fencing was erected. Not to mention the entire destruction of my sanctuary by arsonists this week.
Sounds like the wild west over there, Foxy. Perhaps, instead of spending all that money on hideous fencing, the council would have been better off hiring a sheriff!
Monday, April 28, 2008
So regardless of what you make of the design and purpose of these blocks, regeneration really is coming on apace here in the Millionaires' Playground, what with that and the titanic Royals Sands development on the Pleasurama wasteland. Except, oh dear, right, well according to the planning history for this site, the first application to erect a block of flats there dates back to 1973. And still no sign of anything springing up other than weeds!
Click here to go to Gazunder website
Click here to go to Thom Morris's blog
AN OPEN LETTER TO THE CONSERVATIVE TDC LEADER
A year of high-level investigations is now over and I write to demand an apology for your aggressive and abusive behaviour at the Mayor’s Retiring Ball.
By your own evidence, you accept that you shouted vulgar abuse at me in a failed attempt to goad me into becoming involved in a fight. That was absolutely appalling behaviour, especially coming from a District Leader at a civic event.
Instead of phoning me the next day to apologise, you then deviously set about ‘slinging mud’ in each and every direction in order to cover your own shortcomings. The most serious aspect of these actions was to make spurious and malicious allegations to the Police against me, which were extensively investigated and thrown out by the Crown Prosecution Service, the Police and finally, the Standards Board for England.
You knew only too well, that due to your senior position, your bogus allegations would have to be thoroughly and exhaustively investigated by senior officers whose valuable time would be wasted.
If you still refuse to apologise to me, you certainly should, at the very least, apologise to the female staff and guests at the Winter Gardens who were forced to witness your outburst of aggressive behaviour and loud yobbish ‘gutter’ language.
As the District Leader you should also apologise profusely to all the decent residents of Thanet, especially ratepayers and taxpayers, for wasting a whole year of time, energy and resources of our local Police and other agencies with your spurious and malicious allegations.
Cllr. Clive Hart (TDC and KCC)
AND FROM DISTRICT COUNCILLOR JOHN WATKINS
At the Mayor’s retiring ball last April, Councillor Doug Clark who had just completed a busy year of engagements representing Margate, was the victim of an unwarranted, brutish and disgusting verbal assault from a man who at the time would not have been in a fit state to tie his own shoelaces. Councillor Ezekiel, having been restrained by a number of concerned and horrified people, including his own wife and the deputy mayor, then turned his attention to another TDC member, in an attempt to goad him into a fight. This disgraceful conduct was subsequently reported to the Standards Board for England. On learning of this fact Ezekiel then made a complaint to Kent Police, concocting allegations that were clearly intended to mitigate his own culpability. These were fully investigated and found to have no foundation. The second part of the attempted damage limitation exercise, concerned spurious claims of months of racial harassment, based on a shorthand entry in the Mayor’s diary and a query regarding the Council Leader’s religion prior to a Civic service.
The claim that Cllr. Doug Clark, a senior East Kent Magistrates Court Chairman and a JP of 27 years standing is in any way racist is ludicrous. Aside from the fact that his former wife is herself of the Jewish faith, Councillor Clark has for many years provided accommodation in his house for hundreds of students from every corner of the globe. This pillar of the community, who spent last Christmas day in Cliftonville, cooking dinner for the homeless, has now had his good name besmirched on the front page of a newspaper by a man, who is so out of touch with contemporary morality that he can conduct himself at a public function, exactly like the foul mouthed yobs he has complained of at public meetings. Anti social behaviour coupled with hypocrisy was then followed by false allegations to the police, wasting hours of their time. To say that I am disgusted, would be putting it mildly. Thanet needs and deserves much better leadership, Ezekiel should resign forthwith.
Cllr. John Watkins (Margate Central Ward TDC)
I have no way of actually verifying that this missive is from Councillor Hart, but it would seem likely. And, of course, in the interests of balance I must add that I've had no communication from our glorious Tory leader putting his side of the story. So, Sandy, if you're listening, would you care to comment? And please, if you do, keep it clean.
Saturday, April 26, 2008
Click here to see Standards Board's case summaries of allegations re: Messrs Hart, Clark and Ezekiel. Sounds like a firm of shonky lawyers if you ask me.
Seldom has anywhere more gentrified become more chavvy. What, I wonder, would (Dickens) make of the town now, perfused as it is with tracksuited, gel-haired denizens of Margate and Ramsgate? Indeed, the whole of this coast feels like some suburb of outer East London, so full is it of the sights and noises of the busy world... The sandy bay that is the town's focus remains, girded by white cliffs of chalk and terraced houses, complete with micro-interwar pleasure gardens and a lift down to the beach that looks like an off-whitewashed crematorium chimney.
Hmm. Not a fan then, Will? Maybe you and Sir Bob should get together!
Click here to read Will Self's article in the Independent
Friday, April 25, 2008
If you recall our Tory head honcho and former pugilist was alleged to have called the Mayor of Margate a 'f*cking tosser' at a black tie do last year, on the same day he had given a speech condemning anti-social behaviour, and allegedly said to Labour councillor Clive Hart who attempted to intervene: 'Come on, just put your face in mine.' Councillor Hart has been cleared of any misconduct relating to the incident, but is still being investigated over claims of racist language, alleges the Gazunder.
The paper makes it clear that it's running the story ahead of official publication of the Standards Board of England verdict, and adds that it understands the Board will not be taking any punitive action. It also reports the incident extensively from our Sandy's point of view, who claims that he was provoked after enduring months of racist comments. He tells the Gazunder: 'It was clear (Doug Clark) was in an aggressive mood. My first reaction was to turn away but he started berating me in a semi-coherent manner,' and adds: 'Hart came towards me with clenched fists. I told him if he put his face in front of mine he would pay.'
In response the Labour group launched a stinging attack today, accusing the story of being 'inaccurate'. They claim that members of the public who witnessed the 'shameful' incident were 'horrified', with the former Mayor accusing Sandy B of 'yobbish behaviour' and making 'false allegations... in an effort to cover up his own appalling behaviour'. Councillor Hart has demanded that Sandy should 'apologise to all concerned'.
Oh dear oh dear oh dear. Will any good come of all this? Somehow I doubt it!
If you recall, Thanet Council is holding a consultation on whether Botany Bay or Pegwell Bay is the most appropriate, er, shaven haven for skinny dipping. Top Thanet nudie Peter Checksfield has already stated his preference for Pegwell Bay due to its superior facilities, but it seems the majority of you have voted for the better beach at Botany, which has traditionally been the venue for whipping out your matching cuffs and collars (not that anyone seems to go in for full mufti these days). For the record, here's the final tally:
Question: Where would be the best Thanet beach for naturists to get their kit off?
Botany Bay: 42% (20 votes)
Pegwell Bay: 29% (14 votes)
Anywhere they can get a bum deal: 27% (13 votes)
Thursday, April 24, 2008
But believe it or not the worst is yet to come. Word has reached the old Eastcliff lugholes that no fewer than six retail outlets in and around the Old Town and Lower High Street area have pulled the plug or are planning to, citing the shambles that's being made of road works over there as the final nail in the plywood coffin. Work to widen the pavements in the Lower High Street was apparently completed at one stage, only for the road to be dug up again a week later. A further consequence is that the car parks now appear to be closed during shopping hours, and some poor souls who've braved the trip and parked up early have subsequently found their vehicles shut in for the day. What a bloomin' performance!
Meanwhile the upcoming Margate Rocks arts festival has had to be subsidised to the tune of £10,000 I hear, as no organisation in its right mind could be found to sponsor it, leading indirectly to the cancellation of the popular, environmental and locally-based Sea Art project. And talking of subsidies, how do you think the Turner Contemporary Project Space (the old M&S to you and me) has been drawing, er, sell-out crowds of 153 visitors a day? Yes, you guessed it, by bussing art lovers down from Medway - for free!
Update: My spies tell me that at TDC's annual staff meeting this afternoon at Margate's Mike and Bernie Winter Gardens, Tory leader Sandy Beach kicked off proceedings with the good news that Thanet is 'totally different' from four years ago (quite!) and that he only had to walk around the Old Town to feel 'very proud of the work that's been done down there'. The strategic aim is, apparently, 'to have the best seaside towns in England by 2020.' And John Bunnett, Acting Chief Executive, described the operation of Margate Library Thanet Gateway Plus as 'absolutely superb!' Hmm.
'The bird responded to me.' Uhuh, yeh, sometimes that happens, especially when alcohol's involved.
'I kissed her beak and she sucked my finger. I caressed her lots of times. I made one noise to her that I used to make and she repeated it immediately.' Um....
'I haven’t even been able to clean her cage out. I’ve left it exactly as it was.' Er... just give her the flippin' parrot back for gawd's sake! They're clearly very, er, close!Click here to read full story in the Times
This week's edition of the excellent yourfannitinit newspaper (available free in the corner of all your favourite local stores, usually behind the twelve boxes of Haribo etc.) carries a front page splash detailing the EA's recommendation that a full flood risk assessment of the site should be carried out, as their updated flood maps now show part of it lying in a high-probability flood zone. When the Uranians granted planning permission for the luxury apartments, hotel and retail outlets in 2003, the EA had no such concerns. But as we all know, the tide has been rising inexorably in the five years since then.
Thanet Council's blockheaded response to this was, according to the paper, to reiterate that all residential units will be on the first floor or above, so 'There is no need whatsoever to re-visit the planning application.' Or install lifeboats, for that matter. And presumably, if things do start to get a wee bit damp down there, they can always send their Head of Planning to sit on a deckchair and command the sea to go back!
Click here to read full story in yourfannitinit
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
What the extra W stands for, lord knows. Would anyone like to hazard a guess?
Erm, actually I think I might still be a little bit tipsy.
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
Michael was featured in last Friday's Isle of Thanet Gazunder, but for some strange reason they cropped the shot so that only his head appeared. Fortunately, being the good sport he is, he sent me the uncut version for the blog. So get down there to his excellent bookshop on trendy King Street (opposite the Pains of Waterpoo) and buy those tomes!
Do you have an embarrassing photograph of yourself? If so, why not email it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org so we can all have a laugh?
Click here to see what the CPRE has to say about Manston
Thanet's best known celebrity millionaire Richard Eastcliff said today that he was 'euphoric' following the acceptance of a marriage proposal by Mrs Ceaucescu (no relation), his Romanian housekeeper. Mr Eastcliff, 29, revealed he had popped the question in the back of a Bentley belonging to showbiz pal Harry Hill at the weekend over a takeaway fish and chip supper.
Mrs Ceaucescu (no relation), 19, was formerly one half of the internationally renowned dancing duo the Titty Girls, and has performed in many local clubs as well as Neasden's famous Rhino Revue Bar since her arrival in the UK in 2006.
Mr Eastcliff, who was previously engaged to Thanet estate agent Frances Oapen, told What Ho! magazine that a date had not yet been set for the wedding, or for his fiancee's divorce from her current husband Mr Ceaucescu (no relation). He added: 'We were euphoric afterwards, and once we'd dropped Harry off at his North London apartment we went for a celebratory kebab. I couldn't ask for things to have gone any better than they did.'
Mr Eastcliff is 29.
Monday, April 21, 2008
Local squillionaire Ken Wills, whose joint venture with the dodgy human rights abusers otherwise known as the Chinese is behind the China Gateway development, has clearly been very thorough. And I can't think of too many people round here who'd sit down with all that bumf for a spot of bedtime reading. All I managed was the glossy Environmental Statement, which reveals that some of the final development will be beyond the designated employment area and use up yet more of our precious countryside. The application rather arrogantly states:
Whilst this portion of countryside land would not normally be developable for such uses, it is considered an appropriate departure from current policy given its strategic location and the unique opportunities presented.
Then abracadabra! There we go! The magic words 'jobs' and 'regeneration' appear, which is bound to get our supine council drooling. As will the sentence: '(It) will put Thanet ‘on the map’ as a major international commercial centre.'
So get out the KY and let's all bend over backwards and/or forwards for the Chinese, eh? Why not let them bulldoze our pastures and build on top of our water supply, I say. Why not let them add up to 17,000 journeys a day to the area, and rumble lorries round our roads and fly knackered old jumbos over our heads? After all, we might lose our pleasant environment, but in return we'll get a few jobs and a load more sheds full of tut out at Westwood Cross. Hurrah!
Click here to go to the UK Planning website. Once you've selected Thanet District Council, go to M, then click on Manston Road. It's the second application down.
Speaking of 'dos', I'm told by the Standards Board for England, which oversees ethics at local councils, that its deliberations in Fannit's famous 'f*cking tosser' complaint have now concluded, and that the adjudication will be published 'within the next two weeks'. Regular readers will remember our glorious Tory leader, Sandy Beach, was alleged to have called the Mayor of Margate a 'f*cking tosser' at a black tie do in April last year, and apparently said to another Labour councillor who attempted to intervene: 'Come on, just put your face in mine.'
Word on the Ile's grubby streets is that Mr Beach may not come out of it too well, and could be forced to step down. Leaving the way open for, er... Well, maybe you'd like to make your own suggestions from the list of Dad's Army duffers who currently run the place. Or perhaps they'll go for 'new blood'? Step forward Councillor McSniggles?
Saturday, April 19, 2008
Still, I suppose a weekend in the Smoke will make a nice change. And it'll be good to see my old TV chum Harry Hill, who's up for a gong. I'm going to be accompanying him to the Awards and then we're off to one of those media parties. Moreover, being the splendidly generous chap he is, he's said I can do anything I like with the Bentley during the ceremony, and keep the cap and uniform afterwards!
Friday, April 18, 2008
Just about right on both scores, eh?
Word is that Ostend Council are closing their airport, where MK are usually based. (Sensible chaps, the Belgians.) And that Infratil have just signed a contract to ship heavy mining equipment in huge Illyushin transporters to South Africa. So we can expect to see more of this folly in the future.
There's also talk that the next meeting of the RAF London Kent Ramsgate Manston International Airport Consultative Committee might be open to members of the public. Should that be the case, and should airport boss Matt Clarke actually deign to turn up this time, I shall certainly be up on my feet in protest. Does anyone know where I can hire a very loud megaphone?
Click here to read about MK's appalling safety record in The Times
Margate for me should be somewhere I rejoice to come back to. A sort of spiritual place bound up in childhood memories and the fecundity of the sea. It should be a place of passion mixed up with Edwardian charm. A place of kinky contradictions, that's how Margate always used to be. But now every time I approach the Golden Mile I am filled with dread and fear of what I may think.
Every time I come here something has gone, something is missing. This time it's the scenic railway. Another time it's the big wheel. After the storms of 87 it was the pier. In the Eighties it was the entire Lido complex. Every single time I come something has been burnt, destroyed, fire bombed, boarded up, demolished or just completely forgotten about and left to go in to a tragic state of disrepair.
Tracey, take it from me luv, you're about the only thing the place has got left to crow about. Don't leave it too long until your next visit, otherwise you might find the whole place just one big pile of cinders!
Click here to read Tracey Emin's column in the Independent
Why not go the whole hog and bypass the town entirely? I'm sure they could build a new road through Stalag Culmers Land at very little cost, apart from a few veggies and, of course, the newly installed TDC palisade fencing. That way the old codgers and Crouch Enders could enjoy their seaside idyll in peace!
Click here for full story on BBC News website
Thursday, April 17, 2008
Update: The story has now appeared in Kent Online. Apparently the incident related to a disturbance involving an imitation firearm at a nearby block of flats. For full story click here.
I've just got an email from Joe McCarthy of TDC:
Further to a recent meeting the Council has decided to go out to public consultation on this matter in relation to the beaches at Botany Bay and Pegwell Bay. We will notify of the outcome from this consultation as soon as possible. Thank you
So, what do you think? Bottomy Bay or Pegwell? I've popped one of my seven day polls in the side bar on the right, so do feel free to express yourself.
Richard Eastcliff: You can't get rid of me that easily! (Not appropriate)
Lady Penelope: Parker - well done.
George Formby: Burned out nice again! (No)
Brucie: Didn't she do well? (May be objected to on sexist grounds)
Mr Humphries: I'm not free!
Harold Steptoe: You dirty old van.
Sir Alan Sugar: You're fired! (Not on Margate seafront)
Homer Simpson: Dole! (Definitely not)
Frank Spencer: Ooh! Jetty!
Hannibal (A Team): I love it when a planning application comes together. (That's enough catchphrases - Ed.)
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
In today's excellent yourfannit newspaper (available free in the corner of all your favourite local stores, usually behind the twelve boxes of Haribo etc.) police Superintendent Chris Hogben dismissed the rampant speculation in the town, saying: 'I cannot stress too strongly that the investigations have so far shown no connection between these offences.'
Coincidentally I recently received the following anonymous email in response to a previous post about the Margate rumour mill being in overdrive:
I just read your post about the Tivoli, I know you are saying what people are thinking, but the media did actually f*ck it right up, reporting that petrol was sprayed over the machines. I can confirm this is untrue, it was a device that was left by the two spineless morons who put it there, with no thought to the school kids who were in there. Also I can confirm they didn't leave by the back doors as there aren't any (just a 20 ft drop into the back alley if they dug through a brick wall!). Police are satisfied that the Tivoli and indeed DV8 have no connection with the killing of Mr. O'Leary and as such the arson is not a result of it. These allegations have damaged the reputation to the club and to a certain extent the business too, we have sent out letters to the local press, hopefully some sort of retraction will occur, possibly too late!
As I said, you are one person saying what's on many peoples lips, and I respect your opinions, it is entirely up to you how you use this information I have provided, if at all, but I am trying to get the message out to people.
Which seems to confirm the police denial of any link. And at this point I'm going to get all public service on your ass and say that if you have any information about either of these horrendous crimes, please phone Margate Police Station on 01843 222076 or Kent Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.
Click here to read police denial of crime link in yourfannit
Ever since the laughable 'consultation' followed by inevitable closure of our local, teeny-tiny Post Offices™ in January, the main Post Office™ in the High Street has been rammed. A half hour or 45 minute wait before you get to the counter now seems to be the norm. Very annoying when all you want to do is pay in your 45p BBC royalty cheque from a repeat of that brief appearance on Wogan in 1992.
Meanwhile, over on the seedy, smoky north side of the island, our beloved council looks set to dispose of part of Margate's splendid old Post Office™ in Cecil Square. As ever the Uranians are on the lookout for assets to flog, and apparently they own a bit of it. Presumably this doesn't mean the Post Office™ itself will close. Or does it?
Click here to see TDC's cost-cutting, asset-flogging proposals
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
Probably not half as surreal and weird an experience as I had, though, when I accidentally clicked here!
Click here for full UFO story in Thanet Times
I thought I'd answer your comment on the Eastcliff Matters website about book suggestions for Ramsgate Library. As at any KCC Library you are welcome to make suggestions of books you would like Ramsgate Library to buy. Simply fill out a 'You Choose' card available from any Library. Most suggestions are bought if in print.
Necessarily we have already bought a large number of the books which will go to Ramsgate as we need something on the shelves when we open! But this will not mean that we will not continue to buy books. We continually weed old and tatty stock and replenish with new books in all our libraries.
Thanks for putting the record straight, Jane. And in the light of past and recent events here on the Ile de Thanet here's my suggestion.
The old Eastcliff brainbox clicked into gear as I was trying to research the number of fires the Ile has witnessed in the past decade. Finding what I wanted via Google was doing my nut, but imagine if there was a single repository of knowledge where you could rustle up that kind of info quick as a flash. All Thanet history, places, people, and concepts (e.g. 'arson', 'pit bull', 'track suit') would be there.
Mind you, we'd have to keep a close eye on it. Even Wikipedia, which can be edited by anyone on the web, suffers from the occasional attack of mischief. Last week the former Labour leader Michael Foot was temporarily dead for a few hours (as opposed to just looking as if he's been dead for the past 30 years), and the cause of death for one Herb Peterson, inventor of the Egg McMuffin, was rather cruelly given as 'salivary gland cancer' until someone who didn't get the joke removed it.
So come on Thanet, what are you waiting for? You've got the knowledge and the know-how, and I've got the sponds. Let's get to it!
Monday, April 14, 2008
If it hadn't been for the brave efforts of the boys in brown, who managed to put a fire break in the coaster, 'the whole thing would have gone'. Apparently insufficient water pressure was also a factor in the Ramsgate Library fire of 2004.
Now call me old fashioned but you would imagine that, for an island with such a smoky history, things like having enough water to put out fires would be something we'd have, er, on tap around here. There again, with the increasing number of developments being built due to our growing reputation as a property hotspot, perhaps it's inevitable that the best we can manage is a bunch of drips.
Sunday, April 13, 2008
Hmmm. Not the first time that point has been made vis-a-vis my jottings. If you recall, it wasn't too long ago that I was described by one local Tory councillor as having so much time on my hands that I must be a 'welfare sponger with a political axe to grind'. Fortunately, however, conclusive proof appears later on page 98 that I'm not the Ramsgate blogger Quantick has in mind. 'Your bloke in Ramsgate may be vain enough to think that someone cares what he had for tea on 5 May 2006, but even he doesn't think that everyone in the world needs to know.'
Having checked my entries for 5 May 2006, I can see no mention whatsoever of what I had for tea! Phew, that's alright then. No need to remove DQ from my Christmas card list!
Saturday, April 12, 2008
This will be a hot month, and many buildings in Margate will suffer spontaneous combustion.
OK, I was out by a couple of months, that being the prediction for June, but spooky!!!! Not only that, but I was working on a post just a couple of hours before the Dreamland blaze which began thus:
What with another building in Thanet catching light in Ramsgate barely a week after the Tivoli Arcade fire on Margate front, it might seem like we're living in a tinderbox here on the Ile de Thanet. However, we can all sleep soundly in our beds, thanks to the soothing miracle of statistics.
Unfortunately that was interrupted by news of the latest conflagration. Probably not a bad thing, either, as the figures from the Office of National Statistics show that, while the number of fires across the South East as a whole has steadily declined, here in Thanet they've actually gone up slightly. Still, Derek Acorah eat your heart out, eh? I feel a whole new career coming on!
Lights? Mysterious objects? In the sky? Birchington? You don't think? It can't be. Surely it's not? There again...
Friday, April 11, 2008
The Gazunder scoops an exclusive interview with Dreamland's head honcho Toby Hunter who has pledged to rebuild the Scenic, if he can find the original plans. Hunter says: 'Once we have determined what needs to be done to make the scenic safe, then our engineers will be piecing together if there is enough information to replace what's been burnt down.'
Hunter, boss of the Margate Town Centre Regeneration Company, which has funfair king Jimmy Godden as a major shareholder, added that he had no idea to what extent the historic ride was insured. He said the fire had in no way helped the company's redevelopment plans for the site as they had hoped to 'sink the railway into tanks of water and illuminate it to create a pier effect'. Hmm. If you ask me, it's a shame they didn't think of that earlier.
Click here for full story in the Isle of Thanet Gazette
I was surprised and delighted to see that the festering hole behind Granville Court in Ramsgate has been completely cleared by Thanet Council. However they have yet to sort out the perimeter which still contains a blighting mix of dilapidated fencing, temporary fencing and rubbish. Apparently though they will be sorting this out 'asap'.
She adds that the excellent yourthanet newspaper (available free in the corner of all your favourite local stores, usually behind the twelve boxes of Haribo etc.) followed up the 'festering hole' story this week, which presumably gave our beloved council the, er, prod up the jacksie it needed to get on with it. Our local campaigning, crap-clearing, caff-crushing, car-crushing councillor Dave Green also played a part in getting this mess sorted out, I'm told. Lumme, if this continues he's going to sound like a 70s soft drink ad.
So, three cheers for yourthanet and three cheers for campaigning etc. Dave Green. And, er, two and a half cheers for Thanet Council. Now that's something you don't hear me say very often!
Thursday, April 10, 2008
In the past Schillings have successfully had the plug pulled on a number of UK based blogs on behalf of ultra-wealthy clients, without the expense and inconvenience of having to go to court to actually prove defamation or libel. This they achieve by sending strongly-worded letters to quivering ISPs who generally without a 'by your leave' cave in quicker than a Thanet cliff face. Many people have had their life's work (well, their blogs at least) zapped as a consequence, including such luminaries as Craig Murray, the former British ambassador to Uzbekhistan, and Tory candidate for Mayor of London Boris Johnson. To read more, click here.
Quite why, and who, sent them this way one can only speculate. There again if you are thinking of speculating, on balance I'd rather you didn't.
Meanwhile rumours are spreading that the council may have to return up to half a million smackers in EU grants after Euro-auditors discovered a number of irregularities in the way the dosh had been administered. More cock-up than conspiracy, it seems, as one line of inquiry relates to an EU aided commercial development where some numb-nuts apparently forget to ensure the deeds to the land had been transferred into the council's name. I mean, it's almost like they're giving it away, isn't it?
Oh well, with Councillor Latchford and co currently swanning it up over in China, I'm sure they'll come back with the bacon. Maybe they'll have a torch procession round the island? No, er, on second thoughts in the light of recent fiery events on the Ile that may not be such a good idea!
Click here for breakdown of written-off council tax in England by area
Wednesday, April 09, 2008
Perhaps we can now get on with enjoying our lovely Victorian seaside town in peace. Although I wonder how this will affect RAF London Kent Ramsgate Manston International Airport, which relied on the oozalum training flights to keep going. Ah well, who cares! At least we won't have to put up with this sort of hideous racket any more:
It seems that Thanet Earth, who are building the world's largest greenhouse on the outskirts of the isle and who pride themselves on their green credentials, have grubbed up part of a commemorative 'Millennium Hedge' for access reasons. They say they'll restore it once they've completed construction so, er, watch that space.
And speaking of empty spaces, those nice Turnip people have announced they are pleased with the 153 visitors a day they've been getting for their latest exhibition at the Turner Contemporary Project Space, or the old M&S to you and me. What a load of pants. I must say, on the occasions I've walked past it's been completely deserted apart from the staff, with passers-by muttering: 'What a f*cking waste of money.'
Still, eventually it'll attract heaps more tourists than Dreamland ever did, I'm sure.
Click here for Thanet Earth story in yourthanet
Click here for Turnip story in yourthanet
Tuesday, April 08, 2008
1997 - Nero's, Ramsgate (fire)
1998 - Pleasurama, Ramsgate (fire)
2003 - Mr G's, Margate (fire)
2004 - Ramsgate Library (fire)
2008 - Marina Restaurant, Ramsgate (majority demolished)
2008 - Tivoli Arcade, Margate (fire)
2008 - Dreamland Scenic Railway, Margate (fire)
Plus many lesser mishaps too numerous to mention.
The fire is being treated as suspicious and rightly so. It constitutes nothing less than an act of terrorism against the people of Margate, a town already on its knees. The Scenic was synonymous with Dreamland, and Dreamland was synonymous with Margate. The town used to be a place where people came for a fun day out. Now it's nothing more than a sick joke. It's fast becoming the arson capital of the UK, and much of what hasn't been burnt to the ground is boarded up.
Unlike a terrorist act, however, I doubt that any substantial resources will be applied in bringing the perpetrators of this crime to justice. As in the past, we're unlikely ever to know who the culprit was, as there is a strong suspicion that the local police and the council are, to put it very mildly, less than motivated.
Personally I would like to see this crime investigated by a senior police officer from outside Thanet, preferably from outside Kent. I would also like to see a full, independent audit of the council's conduct over the development of the Dreamland site, as happened following the May 1998 fire at Pleasurama in Ramsgate. They will bleat that it was 'out of their hands because Dreamland was privately owned.' Bollocks. It's a prime, seafront site in Thanet's largest town, and through woeful dithering, collusion and incompetence they have let it rot, then burn down.
Meanwhile, the Save Dreamland Campaign say that only 25% of the Scenic's track has been destroyed and that, seeing as it was a Grade II listed structure, it should and will be restored. It may seem harsh, but my response to that is 'dream on'. Who's going to pay for it? And how many other listed buildings in Thanet have been destroyed and restored? Brighton's West Pier was a Grade I listed building, and that's been a rusting hulk since the 90s. Sorry and all that, but it just ain't gonna happen.
So on a much more practical and realistic level, may I suggest that we commemorate this dark day in our history with an annual 7/4 bonfire on Margate's beach? We could even put an effigy on the top. Any suggestions as to who?
Monday, April 07, 2008
Took these shots around 5.45pm from the top of Mill Lane car park looking west. The fire appears to have started around 5pm. Three snorkels on site, a large section of the track seems to have burnt and collapsed, but it also appeared to be on fire in two other places. The whole town smells like one of those wood-burning ovens you get in pizza restaurants. Looked to be pretty much under control when I left around 6pm, though.
So, that's the second major fire in Margate in little more than a week. It seems that whatever's not boarded up, the morons are determined to burn down. When will it all end?
Cynics might say it was only a matter of time before this happened.
Update: Just been over there to see for myself. Three snorkels pumping water onto three separate parts of the track. Smoke billowing, flames. The track has completely collapsed in one section. Tragic. Will put up photos soon.
Further update: BBC South East Today is reporting that the fire is being treated as 'suspicious'.
Scroll up the page for photos and video footage.
Click here for photos of aftermath.
Click here to go to discussion on Save Dreamland Campaign forum.
Click here for full report on Save Dreamland Campaign website.
Click here for wry, video thinkpiece from Bignews Margate.
Click here for thinkpiece from Eastcliff Richard.
Click here for latest news.
I can see how our discreet, British signage to the effect that only cars and motorcycles are permitted to park in the bays off the Western Undercliff might confuse our foreign friends, who are probably more used to four metre high signs depicting a large lorry crossed out in red. But parking on a pavement is pretty much a universal offence, surely?
PS: I see yet another building caught fire hereabouts yesterday. More details on Zumi's excellent Ramsgate blog here.
Click here for full fire story and photo on Kent Messenger website
Sunday, April 06, 2008
It makes for fascinating reading, particularly if you've run out of Horlicks and are in desperate need of a kip. It would be too tedious by far to reproduce it all here, so I've distilled it into an executive summary:
1. We need to save money.
2. At the same time, we need to ensure that our 'senior remuneration package remains competitive.'
3. We're so good, our senior staff are being poached.
4. We're therefore going to create more senior posts, despite the fact that we chopped a load of them a while back on grounds of efficiency.
5. So if Heads of Service perform well, we'll promote them and give them loads more dosh.
6. And, er, we'll be the ones who'll decide if they're doing well enough to be promoted, thank you very much.
7. To afford all this we're going to make some people redundant who were actually doing quite a good job really.
Other, um, priceless information includes disposing of assets 'in a way which maximizes any regeneration benefits' and this:
It is generally aknowledged that the Margate Renewal Programme (What, the one that puts photos of Ramsgate Harbour on its This Is Margate website? - Ed.) is beginning to develop positive results and to avoid future uncertainty it is proposed to make the currently externally funded post part of the TDC establishment once the external funding expires in 2009 should this be required once there is greater clarity from SEEDA about their intentions.
Ho-hum. Look, if you want to read more, just email me and I'll send over all 15 pages. Right, I'm off to watch Graham Norton try and find a Nancy.
Saturday, April 05, 2008
Not that I was looking for a tracksuit of course. No, that would be too silly for words. But I took the opportunity whilst plonking the old Toyota Priapus in the Rendezvous car park of imagining how it will look in 2010, once the £25m (so far) Turnip Centre has been built. You know, there didn't seem an awful lot of space, bearing in mind that the lifeboat station will remain and there will also be a major commercial development on the site.
Safely back at the cliff top mansion on the super south side, I rummaged through some old papers and found a press release from Gleeson, the company that Kent County Council appointed last month as 'Preferred Development Partner' for the site, which witters on about 'a substantial scheme', including 'a four star hotel (in Margate?), some commercial development, and a new, substantial residential crescent.'
Personally, I can't see how they're going to fit it all in. Not unless the architects' models are, er, the actual buildings and they're planning some kind of renaissance of Ramsgate's defunct model village. Surely it can't be that they're going to build on the space created by de-dualling Fart Hill? That's been met with strong denials, and I for one believe every word of them. Meanwhile I see down the road in Dover they copped 4m regeneration mazoulians this week just for sending in an application on the back of a postcard.
I'll leave you with the words of one of our former local bloggers, who has recently become 'popular but beseiged™'. Speaking in 2004 he said:
Why the fiscally challenged planners at Kent County Council in conjunction with Thanet Council believe that opening a gallery in a famous artist's name, with none of his paintings on display, will suddenly transform Margate into a cultural Mecca and attract hordes (sic) of cultural day-trippers is anyone's guess... £20 million pounds for the Turner Centre means higher poll tax bills for the local population... and £2o million wasted, when it could have been put to much better use on other schemes...'
Nowadays he's a Tory councillor and fully supports it. Politicians, eh!
Click here for Gleeson press release on Rendezvous site
Click here for government press release on regeneration grant to Dover
Friday, April 04, 2008
Pootling down to Waitrose earlier to stock up on Millionaire Shortbread for the weekend, I was accosted by a KCC representative canvassing my views on what colour the interior of the rebuilt bibliotheque should be. My first instinct was, of course, to opine that it should be reminiscent of the glorious red, gold and green interior of Pugin's Grange here in the Millionaires' Playground.
That suggestion was, however, greeted with what I took to be rather huffy disdain, and I was shuffled over to a board covered in photos of municipal (urgh!) libraries from around the county. I must say they all looked more like something Linda Barker might have designed for a children's ward after a bad night on acid, but I eventually settled on a not-too-tawdry puce-coloured scheme. Having pointedly asked if the library, which burnt down in 2004 and is due to re-open later this year, would contain a museum as before ('No'), and whether we would be consulted on which books would be stocked ('No, we've already bought them'), I turned to the thorny question of whether it would be mostly a 'One-Stop Benefits Shop' as has proved all the go in Margate. 'No, that hasn't exactly been a rip-roaring success,' came the rather sharp response.
Meanwhille I see that our local biblio-bloke, Michael Child, met with a lukewarm reception when he tried to take photos of the ongoing works the other day. You can see his report, and pictures, here.
What with the ongoing work on our crumbling East Cliff here in Ramsgate, and the large number of parakeets that inhabit the area, I have been inspired to re-write the lyrics of that old, wartime classic The White Cliffs of Dover. I enclose some sample verses. Would you be able to pass them on to your old showbiz pal Dame Vera Lynn?
There'll be green birds for sure mate
On the Red Cliffs of Ramsgate
Just you wait and see
There'll be crap apartments
Small as railway compartments
Just down by the sea
There'll be builders' lorries
And more dog borries
Just you wait and see
Hmm. Not sure it's quite the thing for Vera, but I'll run it by her.
Wednesday, April 02, 2008
The bay, which is a Site of Special Scientific Interest, has already been dogged by dogging and deluged by dead starfish. According to top Thanet nudie Peter Checksfield, the council has now offered it as a special spot for those with no clothes. The naturists normally enjoy letting it all hang out at Botany Bay, near Kingsgate, but have been told that's, er, not on.
Well, earlier today I stopped Mr Ceaucescu (no relation) in the middle of masticating the upstairs shower room and sent him out in his best birthday suit to see if he could come up with any alternatives. The result? Broadstairs... of course. And it seems he made a friend!
No, this is Maypole Airfield, just off the Thanet Way between St Nicholas-at-Wade and Hernia Bay. It also happens to be where our local doctor/councillor tugs many a banner from. And where some of the local residents object to the aforementioned banner tugging.
It's on the market for £1.25m, and for that you get 56 acres, 'five spacious hangars', a toilet block with two WCs, a club house, equestrian facilities, and a three bedroom bungalow. Lovely. I suggest the Doc gets down there quick with a wad of folding, before the locals club together and, er, queer his pitch.
Click here for details of sale at Browns Country Property
Click here for Maypole Airfield website