Saturday, August 30, 2008

Touched By Your Presents, Dear

With my 29th birthday only a couple of days away the glitterati are already assembling here at the old cliff top mansion for a weekend of fun and frolics! And the presents are pouring in! I got this, er, moral compass from my old chum the Archbish:

And JG popped round, as ever generosity personified:

So I'll be hors de combat for a few days. Shame really, as I'd lined up a few corkers for you, viz:

- District Auditor raps Wigan Council for bending the rules in their haste to grant CGP planning permission for their oop north Chinese business park
- CGP posts £7.8m loss for the six months to May 31, up from £445,000 a year ago
- Why flights from 'convenient' RAF London Kent Ramsgate Manston International Airport end up in a minibus trip from Gatwick
- 'Disillusioned' local Tory councillor set to relocate to Panama. With or without canoe.

Ah well, they'll just have to wait. The Krug is chilling, the Beluga is in the fridge and the pool looks oh-so-inviting. I just hope Barrymore doesn't gatecrash the party again this year!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Tory Story

Well, well, well! I see Tory stalwart Chris Wells is quitting his post as a KCC cabinet member in order, on the face of it, to concentrate on constituency matters. Ordinarily this news would be about as interesting as watching seaweed rot in Minnis Bay, despite being described elsewhere as a 'shock' and 'surprise'.

But remember it comes at a time when the Blue Rinsers are in some disarray here in Thanet. There's the ongoing police investigation into the Tesco bag of China Gateway documents, which hint at a closer relationship between the council and developers than would appear seemly. The planning decision itself was deferred by Ken Gregory's planning committee to a full council meeting, which we were told was going to be on 11 September, then 29 September. Latest intelligence is that it might now take place on 9 October. And all because Deputy Rodge apparently forgot our Sandy was due to be on yet another mission to China next month. Honestly, this lot couldn't organise a conflagration in a disused fun park!

Then there are the persistent rumours that the Tory young(-ish) turks are plotting a palace coup to oust the gruesome twosome currently in control. Will the Three Musketeers - alleged to comprise of flying doctor Simon Moores, rock doctor Alasdair Bruce and legal eagle Ewan Cameron - see Cllr Wells as their D'Artagnan? And where is our glorious council leader while this house of cards comes tumbling down? Depending on which rumour you believe, he's staying as a guest at a local developer's Portuguese villa, or sunning himself in the Med on SS Shagpile!

Click here to read Cllr Wells story in Thanet Extra

Update: KCC boss Ruddy-Faced Man has now spoken on this, saying: 'Chris Wells has chosen to spend more time running his consultancy business and feels he needs to focus on working on local issues in the run-up to the county election next year, recognising the marginal nature of his county division in Margate.' More here.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

A Winter Gardens Tale

So, Margate's Mike and Bernie Winter Gardens are to get a Grade II listing from English Heritage. Hurrah! Here are a couple of piccies of some other Grade II listed buildings in Thanet that I took recently:

Breaking News - China Meeting Delayed

And I'm just getting word in my earpiece that the extraordinary council meeting set for 11 September to decide on planning permission for China Gateway has been postponed to 29 September.

According to sources the unconfirmed reason for the delay is that our glorious council leader is booked on a trip, to, er, China. As I say, that story just breaking. We'll bring you more later in the blogramme. Meanwhile, sport. And for that it's over to a fat man in a suit...

Update: Story now running on Isle of Thanet Gazunder website. Click here to read.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

No News Is No News

Yawn. Apart from helping out the Gazunder's intrepid young reporter Thom Morris by answering a few questions just now, I can safely say today is as dull as it gets. Does anybody know of anything interesting going on? Or do I have to resort to rummaging around in that Tesco bag again?

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Regen Gallery Costs Council £17m+

I'm indebted to regular contributor Millicent for winkling out a news item about a regeneration project in West Bromwich, based on an art gallery, which on the face of it seems to have gone horribly wrong.

The Public in West Bromwich opened recently, three years late and £20m over budget. The centre has attracted very few visitors, with one concert drawing an audience of just 17 people. Despite the Arts Council coughing up £30m for the project, the local council has now been forced to donate a further £3m on top of the £500,000 a year it already contributes to the running costs and the £14m it paid out in the first place. A new architect had to be appointed during construction when the first went bust, but the whole thing still had to be put into administration in 2006 and only threw open the doors six weeks ago. According to the article:

A local newspaper counted 12 people walking into the centre during a quarter-hour period at Friday lunchtime. Five went straight through and out the other side; three were contractors; two went in to use the toilet and two sat down for a tea.

Sound familiar? Well before you get all hot and steamy under the proverbial, the story was in the dreaded Daily Mail, which is not a paper known for its, er, appreciation of the arts. Nonetheless I have to say it sent a bit of a shudder down my spine!

Click here to read full story in the Daily Mail. And don't forget to wash your eyes out with soap afterwards.

Monday, August 25, 2008

China Gateway - The Kazakhstan Connection

Ferreting around the old interbollocks just now, I came across this surprising headline in the Railway Gazette:


Now, I know some poor demented souls round here think a spur into RAF London Kent Ramsgate Manston International Airport would be a wizard wheeze, which might serve the proposed 3m sq ft Chinese business park too. But this was banging on about a '278km single-track 1520 mm gauge railway', commencing operations to the Chinese border in 2012. Geography was never my strong point, but even I can work out that 278km wouldn't get you as far as a Chinese takeaway in Paris, let alone the Chinese Border!

Aaaanyway, turns out the whole flippin' thing is in Borat's alma mater, Kazakhstan. Which got the brainbox ticking. Are all international projects run in conjunction with Beijing called 'China Gateway'? I think we should be told!

Click here to read full story on Railway Gazette website

Council Cancels Christmas

Further news of cost-cutting and blood-letting at our beloved council has reached the old Eascliff lugholes. Yes dear reader, even on a Bank Holiday Monday I must be a slave to your news lust and forgo plans to whip out my trusty old throbber and give it a thrashing!

My spies on Uranus report that Chief Executive Yosemite Samuel ushered grim-faced senior officers into a meeting last week to give them the gloomy news that large pruning shears are being sharpened and that even 'the topmost branch may go too'. Presumably if you add diminishing receipts from credit-crunched tenants and council taxpayers to the interest being paid on assets that are becoming increasingly worthless, it all adds up to a large pile of sod-all. Hence the need for drastic action.

So it looks as if the only turkey Thanet Council will be carving up this Christmas is itself! What worries me is that they can barely be classed as competent in the boom times, let alone with all these costly chickens coming home to roost!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Hello, Hello, I'm Back Again

On second thoughts that may not be the most propitious of headlines.

My thanks to Sister Assumpta for keeping the big chair warm and, er, unsettlingly moist for the past week. I can thoroughly recommend Georgia for a break. The people are amazingly hospitable and the grub and glug are as cheap as chips. Although as the aforementioned grub and glug consists primarily of aubergine and fruity red wine, I practically propelled myself unaided the 2000 miles back to Heathrow.

Anyway, thanks to the prevailing wind I see I'm back just in time for the Wantsum Jazz Festival at our super-duperised, out-of-this-world East Cliff bandstand!

Friday, August 22, 2008

BBC On The China Trail

And it's not feckin Beijing I'm talking about yer eejits! That reporter feller Glenn Campbell from BBC South East is making a fillum about the China Gateway project and wants yous all to turn up at Acol Village Hall next Thursday 28 August. He writes:

The meeting has been arranged through Cllr Sheila Bransfield and will take place from 4pm onwards. It's really a chance for us (the BBC) to get to meet and interview local people concerned about the China Gateway project.

Sure I hope he's not thinking of putting it to the tune of Rhinestone Cowboy now!

Duffers Investigate Dreamland Fire

Click on picture to enlarge

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Close But No Cigar

Yikes! Yes, it's yours truly here! I'm currently getting tanked up in Tbilisi but I just had to rush to the blog on the news that our beloved council's planning committee has voted 8-7 to defer the planning decision for CGP's 3m sq ft China Gateway business park to a full council meeting.

What a shock result! It seems the Blue Rinsers have dissenters in the ranks. A quick call to my spy on the spot last night elicited the following eyewitness account:

You should have seen the look on the CGP chap's face at the end - priceless! Blimey, I bet Ken Wills is climbing up the walls of his mansion right about now.

Cllr Gregory (head of the planning committee), cheerful soul that he is, tried to put a brave face on it but eeeeee, I dunno, don't think this one's quite done yet. Moores and Kirby were on the sidelines looking happy that the issue has been put back. I get the feeling that it's Moores and Bruce who could really be the key men in blocking this, if, and it's a big if, they'll make a stand against the gruesome twosome...

So, the plot thickens! What's just as surprising is that a quick call to my broker confirmed that CGP has yet to announce this decision to the stock market. Surely it must be regarded as vital market information? I think the shareholders should be told!

Right, I'm off for a coffee and shot at Near Opera, a cafe which, as the name implies, is, er, near the opera. There's a very attractive waitress there who keeps giving me the eye. I must say, over the past few days she's been on my my my my mind quite a bit!


Update: The full council meeting to decide this issue has now been set for 7pm on 11 September.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

China Gateway Decision Deferred

Regular contributor Jenny writes:

The (Thanet Council) planning committee (convened to decide on whether we should get a 3m sq. ft. taste of Chinese globalisation) tonight voted 8 to 7 to refer the planning application for China Gateway to a full council meeting. The next listed one is for October but I assume they will call a special one before then.

Update: Full story now running on yourthanet website here.

Ask Sister Assumpta

Only in your super, soaraway Eastcliff Richard! Each week our holy mother of all agony aunts, Sister Assumpta, tackles your personal problems!

Dear Sister Assumpta, I am a politician who has recently acquired a number of big ticket items. Wank. Now people are saying they were presents from my developer chums. Fuck tosser. Should I give them back? S. (PS: The camomile tea you recommended for the Tourettes does not fuck seem to be working wank.)

Sister Assumpta writes: Sure yer a bit of a feckin chancer aren't yer? Stop actin the feckin maggot and get down on yer knees and pray for forgiveness yer arsehole.

Dear Sister Assumpta, I am a property developer with an important meeting to attend. Should I go in a suit or 'smart casual'? K.

Sister Assumpta writes: Jaysus feckin Christ will yer not be botherin me with yer feckin questions? God I've got a scaldy ring like the back of Batman's car after listenin to yer whinin!
Now piss off yer Bombay shitehawk.

Dear Sister Assumpta, I have an important decision to make due to my political status. Should I defer it and hold out for a new Bentley? K.

Sister Assumpta writes: Sure you're a feckin eejit. Why would yer just be standin around with yer lad in yer hand when you could be havin a good old pray? Now feck off, yer pain in the Swiss!

That's enough Sister Assumpta - Ed.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Separated At Birth?

Regular contributor and gobshite Samantha writes:

I wonder if anyone else has spotted the similarity between disgraced pop singer Gary Glitter and Ming Po, the Kung Fu master in the popular 70s series of the same name? Are they by any chance related?

Ah so, Grasshopper!

Arsehole bra-popper

Drivers Wanted For Kampfner Van

The lads at the Turner Contemporary are advertising for trustees so I thought I'd be after applying. Any fecker can go in for it yer don't have to be some arty-farty type. I thought I'd be a shoo-in for the place as I could spend a couple of minutes having a good old pray every day to see if Our Lord would inter-feckin-vene to stop it turning into a feckin great white elephant.

Journalist John Kampfner is yer man in charge, he says in the application pack:

I am looking to build a team of up to a dozen energetic and experienced people, each with different expertise, to be part of this challenge. The showcase is the new gallery in Margate, designed by award-winning architects David Chipperfield Ltd. Construction is scheduled to begin this autumn, and I hope the first meeting of the board will roughly coincide with the ground-breaking of the site. This will be a major moment, for Margate, for Kent and for the arts in Britain. This will be the biggest gallery in the south-east of England outside London, and is scheduled to open to the public in early 2011.

If you relish a challenge and share Turner Contemporary’s artistic, educational and social vision, I would be delighted to hear from you.

The closing date is 3 September so you'd better be moving yer arses. Anyone who has an unspent conviction for an offence involving deception or dishonesty is barred from applying so that rules out most of the eejits in the feckin council.

Click here for more feckin details on Turner Contemporary website

Monday, August 18, 2008

Noah Hope For Thanet

I'll be going round and having a word with those feckin eejits at the Environment Agency so I will. Standing up today and saying they'll be abandoning our beautiful south coast to the sea. Sure already the arses have put forward a bollix plan to flood the place as far as the Thanet Way. We'll be after building a feckin ark next.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Chopsticks At Dawn

Typical! I'm going to miss out on all the fun when our beloved council finally meets to rubber stamp CGP's 3m sq ft China Gateway business park this coming Wednesday. What a cha siu bunfight that promises to be! Sadly I'll be sunning myself in the Caucasus courtesy of Mr Ceaucescu (no relation).

I can offer a bit of an André Preview, though. Rummaging through the now infamous Tesco bag in the corner of my study here at the cliff top mansion, I see the Uranian planning department has recommended approval but with a squillion stipulations, viz:

- provision of a southern access link road
- provision of a travel plan
- highway improvements
- pedestrian and cycle links
- HGV route control
- education and training provision
- landscape, ecology and drainage management and monitoring
- pubic art provision

Not quite sure about the last one, but the rest sounds like more than a plateful, and might well have the developers choking on their chop suey. The council's planning department are also recommending the construction of mains sewers rather than the icky-sounding cesspits CGP previously wanted to put on top of our island's lovely aquifer. There are a squillion other stipulations regarding the control of noise and light pollution, landscaping and archaeology, etc etc blah blah blah. I would go into more details, but bugger it, the blasted thing's 54 pages long and I haven't yet packed my Louis Vitton!

Next week your host will be 'nun' other (geddit?!!!?!) than Sister Assumpta, the island's new agony aunt sensation. The holy mother will be here to sort out your life, relationship and ethical problems, as she puts it, 'not with a bang but a wimple'. I trust you'll give her a warm, ECR welcome and by that I do not mean a hot poker up the jacksie. Pip pip!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Airport Freight Drops Off

Holy balance sheets! I see Infartil, the Kiwi owners of RAF London Kent Ramsgate Manston International Airport, have reported a 5% year-on-year nosedive in freight volume compared to the amount the airport had handled at this stage last year.

The shock news is revealed in their 14 August 2008 update to shareholders. Grasping at a positive spin, though, they add:

A survey of more than 10,000 Kent residents, which was undertaken in partnership with a local publishing company, showed an overwhelming majority remain positive about the airport's ability to offer successful scheduled services. The survey found that 71% felt scheduled flights are 'very important' and 86% said they would be 'very likely' to use them.

Would that be the survey that was actually a cynical marketing ploy, run in the otherwise excellent Kent on Sunday? Besides, 86% of 10,000 is, if the old digits are working, 8,600 or 0.005% of the population of Kent. Infartil themselves quote 16,000 passengers a year, so that would represent almost a 50% drop!

At that rate, what's the betting it'll be a wind farm within five years?

Plain Wrong

I see the Gazunder's Plain Jane has waded into the murky world of Thanet blogging this week, with several of the top blogs given a mench. Yours truly gets a guernsey (of course) as does Bignews Tony and Bertie Biggles.

The old Eastcliff ego, already quite dangerously inflated in some people's eyes, swelled even further at being dubbed 'the local blogging king' and 'often the first with breaking news', and I was even contemplating a trip to Boredstares to plant a couple of 'mwahs' on PJ's cheeks. But then there was an audible POP! as the mincers copped the fact that she'd called me East Kent Richard, and given my web address as, which as every blog fan knows is the address of Councillor Green's site. So much for culling a few readers from our local blue top!

Oh well, it's a good job I'm off to Mr Ceaucescu (no relation)'s dacha in South Ossetia for a little break next week. Hopefully the R&R will help soothe my bruised sleb pride. Fear not, though, as I'm leaving the big chair in the capable, clasped hands of my occasional correspondent Sister Assumpta. Now there's a woman who would give Plain Jane a foul-mouthed run for her money!

Click here to read Plain Jane on the Gazunder website

White Van Manhunt

Reader Colin, who's on holiday here in the Millionaires' Playground, writes:

I looked out of my room yesterday morning to see a number of police officers crawling over a white van which had had its windows smashed. They seemed to be particularly interested in the contents of the van and were searching the surrounding area. I took this snap. Any clues as to what was going on?

Er, no Colin. But there has been a great deal of police activity in these parts since the dreadful robbery/assault on Clarendon House student Sam Eastwell in Albion Place last week. Another reader who was out and about last night writes:

Last night myself and some friends were making our way in a taxi from Broadstairs to Ramsgate when we were stopped along Victoria Parade not once but twice by hi-vis clad police officers asking if we had seen anything suspicious on the night of August 6/7 as apparently there had been a 'burglary' in that area. We said our usual 'No officers, we were at home asleep in bed at that time, honest!' and continued on our merry way and ended up at the Belgian Bar.

The night wore on and I decided to head on home with my friends in tow. When we reached the top of the stairs by Madiera Walk we were stopped once again by a group of police officers, one or two in Reebok jackets! Each asking whether we had seen anything on the night of Wednesday 6 August as there had been an assault. It occurs to me, why spend a week doing nothing before taking action on a crime by randomly stopping people THREE TIMES and asking incredibly vague questions, why have two VERY different stories as to what had happened on the evening of august 6/7 and why start asking questions in the middle of the night? Altogether there were (approximately estimated by my 'I'm sober, honest I've only had one shandy!' friend) about 15 police cars, 6 vans and 25 individual officers all just standing around chatting and chewing gum.

There is an ongoing police operation in the area involving, apparently, 70 of Kent's finest, some of whom will presumably as a matter of course be on gum-chewing and standing around duties. However, 17 year old Sam is still critically ill in hospital and has yet to regain consciousness. The cops say the assault could be linked to two other robberies, the first in Newington Road on Wednesday evening and the second in Victoria Parade less than an hour before the Albion Place incident. A watch, mobile phones and cash were among the items stolen.

The suspects in the Victoria Parade incident are described as white, aged about 18 or 19, between 5ft 10ins and 6ft, both slim, but one heavier built than the other. One was wearing a yellow and grey striped hooded top and dark jogging bottoms. The other was wearing a white or light-coloured hooded top and dark bottoms.

Unfortunately that description narrows it down to any of around ten thousand youths here in Ramsgate, but the message is the police are clearly desperate to nick these violent and dangerous offenders. So, if you have any information contact police on 01843 231055 or Kent Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555111.

Click here for more on Thanet Extra website

Update: Two teenage boys have now been arrested in connection with this incident. Click here to read more.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Blogs Have Ears

Ahem. It's come to my attention that the, er, authorities have been crawling over my blog. I'm not at liberty to go into details, although I can confirm it's not connected with a certain Tesco bag. Quite why these people have nothing better to do than peruse this drivel, lord only knows. But there you go.

It's not the first time Thanet bloggers have provoked harassment in recent months. Clearly it gives the lie to Lovely Rebecca's editorial in last week's Gazunder when she wrote: 'If bloggers impede the work of rightly-respected people with mindless scandal-mongering, people will quickly stop reading what they write.' It seems that the contrary is the case, as the more mindless scandal mongering I put up here, the more it seems to get rightly, or perhaps wrongly, respected people's attention.

Meanwhile, don't have nightmares as I've taken one or two, um, precautions. Right, I'm off to buy a pair of sunglasses and a false beard!

More Rubbish From The Council

Regular contributor Samantha writes:

Following the recent dreadful state of the roads behind Victoria Parade in Ramsgate after the rubbish has been collected I wrote to Thanet Council to complain. Here is their response:

'Your comment concerning spilt waste is common at this time of year. Due to the actions of local seagulls it is a prevalent problem, it is one of the main reasons that we are gradually introducing wheeled bins into the district. It is appreciated that a number of properties will be unsuitable for wheeled bins, at the current time those properties will continue with the sack/dustbin weekly collection service.

As the number of wheeled bins increases this enables us to reduce sweeping in those areas and concentrate on areas where we either have a sack collection system or other litter issues i.e. other areas with heavy footfall like town centres.

In the interim period it is clearly the householders responsibility to securely contain waste prior to collection. I appreciate that may be difficult, however that does not change the legal obligation. In addition to using sacks you may also place the sacks in a dustbin for secure containment, alternately some residents have advised me that placing a sheet over the bags offers an effective deterrent.

Our refuse crews are required to collect suitably contained waste, they do not have the time to act as street cleaners, if they did so a number of other households would not receive a waste collection on the right day. For this reason we try to program sweeping as close to refuse day as possible. This is not always achieved due to staff holidays, an obvious problem at this time of year, or sickness, however our cleansing teams will consider how to improve this aspect in your area.'

Hmm. So let's translate that from the Uranian, shall we?

1. You're one of a long line of whingers.
2. Don't blame us blame the seagulls.
3. We're introducing wheelie bins which will sort the problem, but don't count on getting one before the next ice age.
4. You probably won't get wheelie bins where you are anyway.
5. When enough wheelie bins have been rolled out in other areas your street cleaner will probably be redeployed to help our cafe culture pals who are far too important/lazy/cheapskate to clear up their own mess.
6. We just said it was the seagulls' fault but actually it's yours. However, we won't bother enforcing any of these 'legal obligations' on inconsiderate householders who dump their bin bags on the pavement all week.
7. Staff holidays are an obvious problem at this time of year, so obvious in fact that we haven't bothered to make any alternative arrangements. So it's no wonder the place looks like a shithole at a time when many people will be, er, taking their holidays in the area.
8. Er, that's it.

Kuh! And to think people actually get paid to manage this mess!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

An Ugly Night In Margate

Crumbs! I see Sir Gob Beldof has been booked to turn on the Christmas illuminations in the Arsonists' Playground this year! If you recall, the soap-dodging celebrity was panned back in January for talking about 'the ugliness of Margate' in an edition of Kent County Council's free newspaper Around Kent. But in a subsequent ECR poll the tables were turned when he was voted uglier than the town he'd vilified.

Thanet Extra is reporting he'll be switching on the lights in November, presumably just after the last trader to leave has switched them off. I gather, though, that it won't be an event for the little 'uns. I mean, Sir Bob and our Sandy on the same stage? You wouldn't want to give the kids nightmares, would you!

Click here for full story in Thanet Extra

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Blog Off

We apologise for this interruption to our blogrammes. We hope to return you to our Isaac Hayes tribute Chef's Chocolate Salty Balls Go Into The Oven One Last Time as soon as possible. In the meantime, here is some music.

Fire In The Hole?

Eagle-eyed reader David sent me this snap of the fire chaps attending something or other on Margate's recently super-duperised Lower High Street on Sunday. At first glance it looks like the boys with the Bryant and Mays have been at it again, but a much more prosaic answer has been provided over on the excellent Margate Architecture blog. Apparently some scaffolding had fallen down.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Bogus Professor Faces Jail

According to Teletext South East news, a bogus Margate professor is facing jail after pocketing a fortune by illegally providing immigration advice. Teletext reports:

Max Kingsley's greed left some of his clients thousands of pounds the poorer, while his incompetence often 'jeopardised' their immigration status. The 59-year-old was convicted at Southwark Crown Court and remanded on bail until September 11 for reports.

Hmm. Best turn comments off for that one!

Click here for full story on Teletext website

China Gateway In The Bag?

Crumbs! I see that only three weeks ago CGP, the people who want to build a 3m sq ft Chinese Business Park here on the Ile de Thanet, announced they were 'in talks with Beijing Huaqi Information Digital Technology Co. Ltd. regarding the possible lease of Manston site property to the latter, and expect a decision next month.'

Quite whether the decision they expected was from Beijing Huaqi etc etc or Thanet Council is unclear. But with the planning meeting slated for the 20th of this month, one can only, er, speculate!

Meanwhile I've picked up this little snippet from CGP's website:

The Company is in negotiations with a large Chinese company with a view to forming a joint venture to develop the Manston Site as a major distribution centre for both the UK and Europe for Chinese manufacturing companies taking advantage of the proximity to Dover Harbour. (Not Ramsgate, then?)

The Directors believe that such a project could give significant added value to the Manston Site (i.e make it worth a bomb if they get planning permission) and are discussing with local politicians ways to progress this project.

The Directors believe that the prospects of employment in the area arising from such a venture would facilitate the grant of consent for change of user and, in the process, deliver the possibility of adding value for Shareholders

Meanwhile there's as yet no mention of ChinaGatewayGate on CGP's 'media coverage' page, despite the Gazunder's front page splash on Friday. I thought, as a company listed on the stock market, they were obliged to inform investors of anything that might materially affect their share price? Oh well, perhaps I dreamt that up!

Friday, August 08, 2008

What A Yacht I've Got!

Excitement is mounting in Boredstares, I'm told, where Victorian bathing costumes are about to make way for the thrills and spills of hemp smocks and bladders on sticks.

Yes, the Dickensians are eagerly anticipating their annual Folk Week (or Drunk Week as it's become known locally), which kicks off today. Around 150,000 men and women with beards are expected to descend on the UK's second best seaside town, turning the camp site at Upton School into a mini version of Glastonbury, with the waft of illicit drugs such as Old Nutty Shag and Nadger's Dorchester Wobbly permeating the air.

Meanwhile, here in the Millionaires' Playground, we're anticipating something much more salubrious. Ramsgate Week, organised by our very own Shirley Temple Yacht Club, will see the cream of the yachting fraternity hoity-toiting on land and sea for six days as of tomorrow. According to the lovely Commodore Davena Green, 'Ramsgate Week now provides a real alternative to Cowes', which presumably has had to be cordoned off several times in the last few years due to foote and mouthe.

With one or two financial transactions still being in the, er, pipeline I shan't be participating in the sailing. But you will be able to spot me in my Captain's cap, brass buttoned blazer and deck shoes with the salty seamen on the front. I might even get my Rolex Oyster (Whitstable Edition) back from Hiltons for the occasion. And I'll definitely be rooting out my CockSox swimmers for the Hunks in Trunks competition!

Eastcliff Richard makes no apology for running this exact same article last year. After all, nothing's changed, has it?

Avast behind! Participants prepare to get their bottoms scraped
at last year's the 2006 Ramsgate Week

Plods Still Investigating At Albion Place

Regular contributor Walter has emailed me the latest episode of CSI: Ramsgate, aka the ongoing investigation into an incident at Albion Place, here in the Ms' P:

Late last night I noted two Met Police vans exiting Thanet at speed. This morning at 0 my god its early... around 05:00 the rozzers where crawling all over the Albion Gardens area. They did not look like your local rozzers, with lots of SOCO's about.

The lid is being kept on something awful, but interesting? I had to go back the Albion gardens way at around 07:00 and the rozzers were rummaging around the bushes. They had massive plastic bags to put items in, so they are really doing more than just the normal search for some local scroat.

Thanet Extra reported yesterday that a man had been found injured in the early hours and was in a critical condition in hospital. Click here to read full story.

Update: The victim has now been named by the cops as 17 year old Sam Eastwell aka Sam Armstrong. Three hours earlier, another 17 year old boy was punched in the face and robbed of his watch in Newington Road. A girl and boy, both 17, and an 18 year old man were also robbed of their mobile phones and money in Victoria Parade by two males in hooded tops, and police think these three attacks could be linked. Anyone with information should contact Kent Police on 01843 231055 or Kent Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

Click here for full story in Thanet Extra.
Click here for full story on BBC website.

Gazunder Leads With Story Shock

Holy water chestnuts! I see the island's most venerable paper has eschewed puppy dog tales this week and put a real story on its front page! Most of which has been gutted from my ChinaGatewayGate exposé earlier this week and the sterling efforts of our local biblio-bloke Michael Child. Needless to say, neither of us get a credit. Kuh!

Interesting that the paper puts a series of questions to our Sandy on page 5, most of which, in true politician style, he manages to fudge. Example:

Q: There has been the suggestion on the blogs that (the TDC trip to China last November) was funded 'inappropriately'. How was the trip funded?

A: Arrangements for the trip were made through CGP. The trip
was financed by Chinamex, an arm of the Chinese Government. Those that we met assured us this was the case.

Hmm. Shades of 'I know nothing' there, methinks. I wonder if Deputy Rodge could put his hand on his OBE and say the same? Oh well, we'll probably never know.

The paper also makes much of a current police investigation into the 'stolen' Tesco bag of documents (see ECR passim) and quotes CGP as saying Kent Police's Serious Organised Crime Unit is investigating. Later, in an editorial by the Gazunder's lovely editrix Rebecca Smith, yours truly and the biblio-bloke (the Woodward and Bernstein de nos jours) do get a mench. But only as part of a rather ambiguous, off-colour comparison to 'scandal-mongers'. Grrr!

Finally, the freshest ChinaGatewayGate news in the paper seems to be the statement by CGP, the outfit hoping to get planning permission for their 3m sq ft Chinese business park on top of our lovely aquifer, that their preference is now for more costly sewers, rather than their previous choice - the cheaper, icky-sounding cesspits that the Environment Agency has objected to. I wonder what flushed that U-turn out of the U-bend???!!!

Click here to read CGP's statement in the Gazunder
Click here to read lovely Rebecca's editorial in the Gazunder

And don't bother clicking anywhere if you want to read the front page splash - they make you cough up your 55p by not putting it online. Oh well, you know you read it here first anyway. Watch this space and who knows, you may read a bit more yet!

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Thanet Thunder In The Thunderer

Crikey! I see our glorious leader Sandy Beach has written a joint letter in today's Times (that's The Times, not the Thanet Times) with that ruddy-faced man from Kent County Council!

It follows a row over seaside regeneration that's been rumbling on in the Thunderer's letters pages ever since Weston-super-Mud's pier burnt down last month. On Tuesday Ramsgate DFL Steve Higgins had a scathing letter published complaining of a 'total disregard for the town’s heritage by its rulers, Thanet District Council', which even attracted a comment from Plain Simon, viz:

As a local councillor and Margate Charter Trustee, I can assure readers that every effort is being made to preserve local heritage and local history. The council can encourage development and new projects but it can't dictate what should take place on what is often privately owned property.

Not unless the council's 'privately owned' too, eh Simon? Now Sandy and the R-FM have waded in with their size 12s and the paper has, er, ironically illustrated their missive with a photo of long-gone Dreamland's long-gone Looping Star:

Sir, Contrary to Steve Higgins’s letter, there is a lot going on to improve Kent’s coastal towns — you only need to look at Whitstable as a successful example. Margate, Ramsgate and Broadstairs have received heritage lottery funds to restore Victorian buildings to their former glory and Pugin’s Grange on the cliff top at Ramsgate has been renovated recently. We will soon be starting work on the building for Turner Contemporary, designed by the Stirling Prize-winner David Chipperfield etc etc blah blah yackety schmack blah

(As an added bonus, there's a letter on the same page from a Mr Anthony Hodges of Broadstairs who's counted the number of red traffic lights he's encountered recently. And you wonder why they call it Boredstares.)

Anyhoo, this got me wondering how many of our super-duper attractions we've lost on the island since our beloved council came into being on 1 April (I kid you not) 1974. Let's make a definitive list, eh? Just click on the comments link below to add your two pennorth!

Top Banana

Now that many of us Thanet bloggers run a live feed from other local blogs on their sites (see Recent Thanet Natter in my sidebar on the right), I've noticed some competition has crept in. I won't mention any names Tony, but timing your publication so that you go straight to the top won't get you anywhere. It's certainly not the sort of cheap ploy I shall be stooping to!

Paxo Set To Give Isle A Stuffing?

My spies tell me that Newsnight presenter Jeremy Paxman was spotted in Pete's Fish Factory here in the Millionaires' Playground on Tuesday. The undercracker obsessed newsman was in the fish shop with a film crew around 3pm.

Then yesterday he was spotted filming again, this time in City hangout Dirty Dick's. So what's he up to? Surely he wasn't on the island just to make a cod piece? Perhaps it's a story about City traders relocating to Ramsgate, but I would have thought most of them were currently forming an orderly queue outside the Job Centre. Or maybe he's heard about ChinaGatewayGate and is preparing an explosive exposé!

Oh well, whatever the story let's hope he enjoyed his 'Bollack and chips':

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Bunfight At The OK Corral

Word has reached the old Eastcliff shell-likes that the Tories' Young(-ish) Turks are to go toe-to-toe with the Gruesome Twosome later this week over ChinaGatewayGate. Let us not forget that in Tombstone all those years ago, three gunfighters were carted away in pine boxes at the end of the day. Here's a bit of background from Wikipedia:

The Cowboys were not necessarily hated, but they were loosely organized criminals. They were good for business. However they enforced their interests in the town as a group, and going against one of them would likely be dangerous. Certainly they did not allow the law to hinder them.

Hmm. Sound familiar?

Click here to read more about Thanet, er, Tombstone

Royal Sandcastles In The Sky

Time to move on and put those Tesco bags in the cupboard, methinks. I'm sure you've all had an elegant sufficiency of ChinaGatewayGate.

Now as you know I'm not usually one for the red tops, but I couldn't help noticing that the front page of yesterday's Thanet Times splashed the news that people had been camping overnight to get a slice of Tiny Terry's Royal Sands development. You know, down here on Ramsgate front where Pleasurama burnt down. Well, I can imagine the DFLs haven't heard about the knackered old jumbos that will be circling over their penthouses, but apparently even Thanetians have been piling in. No doubt the lack of heavy training flights over the weekend won't have done Terry's open day any harm.

And speaking of knackered old jumbos, regular contributor Steve tells me he's had a call from those nice people at British Airways after his, er, inquiry following one of their 737s going round 40 times the other weekend. Apparently we can expect to hear more from them, as they've stopped training in France due to a plan to cut down their carbon footprint (= can't afford the fuel). Hey ho. Do Harrods stock earplugs?

Tuesday, August 05, 2008


Only in your super, soaraway Eastcliff Richard! Yes, your chance to win an all expenses paid trip to China!!!!

We've called it Beijingo!!!!! (Geddit?!!!?!?) And we've got some super prizes to give away!!!!!!! Just see what you can win!!!!!!!!!!

- FREE business class flights to China
- FREE accommodation in top hotels
- FREE trips to Royal Palace, Great Wall and 'bird's nest' stadium
- FREE meals and drinks

Just look out for the numbers on our planning applications which we'll publish each week on the UK Planning website. Then all you have to do is tick them off! Simple!!! So, whaddya waiting for????? Play Beijingo today!!!!!!

Terms and conditions apply. No purchase necessary.

Chinese Puzzle

Here's a poser. Which 'popular but beseiged™' Thanet blogger wrote last November:

With perhaps a more productive purpose in mind - possibly up to 1,000 jobs over time - and with the entire cost of the visit being met by the Government of the People’s Republic of China, the Thanet delegation, which departs on November 18th, includes Leader of the Council, Sandy Ezekiel, Deputy Leader Roger Latchford, Chief Executive Richard Samuel, and Corporate Director, John Bunnett. They will be meeting with Chinamex, the government agency responsible for Chinese companies setting up in the West, as well as meeting company Chairman Heng Fao.

And in response to a comment added:

Fat Cats? Carbon emissions? Get a life! - It's a gruelling schedule, paid for by the Chinese who are showing strong interest in investing in Thanet - a production facility - with all the right people present to reach an agreement. Just be pleased that it may be happening for the sake of local economic prosperity. Unless of course you are bright and entrepreneurial enough to suggest something more profitable?

Answer here.

Monday, August 04, 2008

That Tesco Bag In Full

Right! I've created an inventory of the remaining contents of my Tesco bag. Here we go:

1. Paper clip
2. Receipt for Tesco boxer shorts (3 pairs) (XL)
3. Thanet Council press release detailing visit to China last November
4. Small ball of fluff
5. Itinerary for TDC visit to China with handwritten amends
6. Email from CGP confirming reservations at Intercontinental Hotel Hong Kong
7. Three grains of washing powder
8. Board minutes dated 19 Nov 2007 with handwritten amends
9. Handwritten draft letter to Chairman Hao of Chinamex
10. Small piece of cheese
11. Draft letter to Chairman Hao with handwritten amends
12. Letter on TDC headed paper to Chairman Hao from our Sandy
13. Quotes for 'Shogun' or 'primo' carpets from local carpet shop
14. Twelve grains of sand
15. Action points for 'Manston project'
16. Memorandum of Understanding dated 24 September 2007 between the People and Government of Baotou City and TDC stating the former 'has agreed to provide mining resource and bring the mining industry enterprises from its region to the Thanet Area or nearby area' and 'agree to inspire a joint venture between the enterprises which are involved in all aspects of rare earth' etc etc

Phew! Quite what all the fuss is about, lord knows! Hang on, there's another bag over there...

China Syndrome

Hmm. I've been rustling around in that old plastic bag full of papers which I was about to put in the recycling and come up with one or two interesting snippets.

Like the minutes of a meeting held on 4 January which was attended by a senior councillor, three TDC officers and a representative of CGP, the people who want to plonk a Chinese business park on top of our lovely aquifer here on the island. The discussion appears to have turned to future visits by Chinese dignitaries, and the provision of 'branded gifts' such as:

- TDC cufflinks
- Embossed pens
- Glass paperweights with Thanet scene at bottom
- Turner picture enlarged as a scroll of Margate seafront

The meeting then appears to have gone on to discuss DVDs and Powerpoint presentations (yawn) in both English and Chinese, before turning to this little gem:

Signs as you enter Thanet (saying): Welcome to Thanet, the home of Chinese Globalisation in English and Chinese.

The decision was seemingly taken to hold discussions regarding the signs 'when planning permission is in place'. But why wait? I've had my team of top Photoshop designers mock the sign up - whaddya think?

Now, what else is there in that bag...


Cripes! I see local, campaigning biblio-bloke Michael Child has been looking into a 'bundle of documents' and found some 'serious irregularities in the way the recent senior councillors trip to China was funded.' Apparently this has led to consternation among the Blue Rinsers, culminating in three of them signing a document saying they are no longer willing to support the Tory leadership!

It all sounds very intriguing! I wish I knew more. Oh, hang on, what's that over there in that Tesco bag?

Click here to read full story on Michael Child's blog

The Aigo Has Landed

Crumbs! One of my sharp-eyed contributors spotted this sign over Manston way at the weekend, advertising Chinese firm Aigo's 'first UK facility'.

Call me old-fashioned, but I thought when it came to plonking a 3m sq. ft. Chinese business park on top of our water supply there was a small matter of, er, gaining planning permission to be overcome first. Or do they think they've already schmoozed a sufficient number of councillors' for it to be a matter of merely dusting off the old rubber stamp? I think we should be told! And I predict that within a few hours we will be!

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Doing The Lambeth Talk

The Bishop of Thanet, The Right Reverend Harry Piehole, reflects on three weeks of soul-searching for the Anglican Church.

When the Archbishop of Canterbury invited me to the Lambeth Conference I was delighted. It has been several years since I have enjoyed the delights of 'The Smoke', and any excuse to go up to town is always an indubitable pleasure.

Imagine my disappointment, then, when I discovered the 'Lambeth' Conference was going to be held just up the road in Canterbury! I mean, I go shopping there most Saturdays, so it was hardly a treat to spend three weeks in the place, sitting around in a dingy cathedral praying my arse off all day. Surely they've got a bloody cheek calling it the 'Lambeth' Conference? I ask you!

(That's enough religion - Ed.)

Separated At Birth?

Regular contributor Samantha writes:

I wonder if anyone else has spotted the similarity between our campaigning candidate for Thanet South, Gerry O'Donnell, and the popular cartoon character Family Guy? Are they by any chance related?

Cartoon character

Ramsgate campaigner

As a bonus, Samantha, I found this epic sequence on BoobTube of our Jezza battling a giant cock through the streets of Thanet. Watch out for a cameo appearance by our local, banner tugging Tory councillor!

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Granville Court Fire

Tooling down to the Costcutter for this week's Gra*ia earlier, the old Eastcliff eardrums were practically burst by the most deafening din. Several ambulances, fire engines and police cars were converging on Granville Court, here on Ramsgate's trendy East Cliff.

According to the locals, smoke had been spotted billowing out of one of the windows and apparently somebody had accidentally set themselves alight. Victoria Parade was blocked off, and last time I looked still was, although there was no sign of continuing conflagration. Luckily I had the trusty Leica with me:

Typical! You don't see a single member of Her Majesty's Testicle Scratchers in these parts all year, then four come along at once!

Update: Tragically it seems as if this fire resulted in a fatality. Thanet Extra is reporting that a 94 year old woman on the fifth floor died from burns after apparently trying to put out a toaster fire. Click here for full story.

Technical Hitch

Thanks to all the readers who've emailed this morning to say they couldn't access my drivelly jottings. I'm indebted to Tony Flaig at Bignews Margate for finding a technical fix - according to yer man with the hot dog on Margate seafront the counterstateromeriser most of us bloggers use currently has incompatibility problems with Internet Explorer 7. Whatever that means. Anyway, I've removed it, so you should now be seeing me in glorious technicolor!

One or two of you seemed concerned that I'd been 'got at' again, but no. That'll probably be next week.

Update: Apparently this bug has now been fixed, so I've reinstated my counterstateromeriser thingo. However, if anyone is still encountering problems accessing the Isle of Thanet's premier blog using Internet Explorer, do email me at

Friday, August 01, 2008

Strange Cloud On The Horizon

Reader Marie, who's been spending a week on holiday here in the Millionaires' Playground, writes:

Did anyone else see the weird cloud formation that rolled over Ramsgate on Monday evening ahead of the storm we had? It looked like the condensation trail from an enormous rocket. Is there any explanation for it? I enclose a photo for your blog.

Well Marie, Ramsgate has seen its fair share of UFOs and other strange phenomena over the years. And as regular readers will know, a great deal of stale, hot air flows out of Uranus and drifts in a north-south direction over the island. My best guess, though, is that RAF London Kent Ramsgate Manston International Airport has been allowing the space shuttle to do training circuits again, but if any readers have a better idea do let me know.

Thanet Misses Seaside Gravy Train

I see the government's just handed out 10 million smackers to help English coastal resorts regenerate and update their attractions. So, eyes down, who are the lucky winners?

Blackpool (£4m for a 22,000 seat arena and promenade)
Dover (£4m for castle and cable car)
Torbay (£2.2m for the 'English Riviera Geopark')

No mention of Thanet, which could probably do with £10m being spent on Margate alone, in addition to the £17.4m+ that's going on the Turnip. And while I'm at it, since when was Dover a 'resort'? It's just a corridor of foul smelling, brown guff pumped out by ferries and foreign lorries as far as I can see. Which isn't very far when you're walking along the front down there.

Still, who knows, maybe one of the duffers at our beloved council will put in for some of the £15m a year promised in 'Sea Change' grants before the well runs dry in 2011!

Click here to for full story on BBC website