Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Dame Tracey Of Margate

Did anyone else catch Our Lady of the Soiled Bedsheet chatting to the dreadful Pierce d'Organ last night? Yes, that's right, Tracey Emin, formerly of this manor. Well, in my humble opinion the woman should be immediately elevated to the peerage, if not sainthood.

Why? Because she's such a role model for Thanet kids, that's why. Forget the old Daily Mail 'Is it art?' cobblers. As one commentator put it, she could have ended up working in a pie shop. Not that there's anything wrong with working in a pie shop, but it doesn't demonstrate much aspiration or ambition, does it? Yet here's a woman who's now worth millions, famous throughout the world, and all because she decided to get up and do something with her life. Last night's docco should surely be made compulsory viewing in every school on the island!

I have to admit a tear almost formed in the old glass eye as she charmed the pants off d'Organ with her rather odd combination of Margate and Mayfair vowels. She's got her knockers, but she's also got balls and spunk. I for one would be only too happy to treat her to tea at the Walpole next time she's down this way! (Tel: 01843 587001).

Click here to watch The Dark Side of Fame with Some Old Hack: Tracey Emin (until 6 October)

Emin: Soiled but not stirred


A reader writes:

Bad news. There was a suicide last night in St Augustines Road, next to the old motor museum. A woman jumped out of the window of flats in the big old regency building which also holds the language school. Apparently she tried it on Saturday, threatening to jump off the cliff near the Motor Museum, but staff at the Churchill Pub stopped her. She was sectioned, was released yesterday, and jumped to her death last night. Tragic.

How many suicides, or attempted suicides have we had on the island recently? Way beyond the national average methinks.

Update: More details now running on Thanet Extra. Click here to read.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Ramsgate Culture Goes West Via The North

Off island reader Veronica writes:

So sad to read that the museums are due to be closed. Is the UK's history no longer of interest? What is wrong with the local government there, have they no idea how to raise funds to keep important places open?

I think the key words there, Veronica, are 'no' and 'idea'. Let's take the Millionaires' Playground as an example. Wikipedia can only manage two lines on Ramsgate under the heading 'Arts and Media':

The Gallery IOTA (Isle Of Thanet Arts) is based on the towns west cliff. Ramsgate Maritime Museum near the harbour quayside has exhibits showing the evolution of Ramsgate Harbour and East Kent maritime history. Ramsgate's sole cinema and theatre is the Granville Cinema, situated on Victoria Parade, in the town's Eastcliff area.

Hmmm. Now, can anyone spot the deliberate errors? Yes, that's right, IOTA skedaddled almost two years ago and are now based on Margate Pier/Harbour Arm/Jetty whatever it's called these days (where they're currently exhibiting the wondrous works of Baldwin and Bushell). Ramsgate Maritime Museum is about to close so that it can be flogged off to developers by the nuff-nuffs at the council. That leaves the Granville Theatre and Cinem who try their hardest, poor loves, but, really, I think most people would struggle to describe a rolling programme of 'psychic nights' and amdram productions as 'culture'. I guess our library, oops, sorry, 'gateway', which got toasted in 2004 is currently being rebuilt, but there's no sign yet of when it's going to re-open.

Still, there's no point feigning surprise that Ramsgate's culture has disappeared or gone 'oop north'. It's all in the Politburo's 5 year plan, which they published last year, and which can be summarised thus:

Margate - Turner Centre, arts and culture
Ramsgate - Port and flight path
Broadstairs - Don't for gawd sake touch this as most of us live there and we like it the way it is
The Rest - Concrete.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Rumour, Fact Or Fiction?

I say! There seems to be more than a whiff of desperation creeping into the pro-China Gateway campaign! Perhaps they've only just woken up to the news that not everyone on our dinky little island is prepared to roll over and have their tummies tickled every time someone makes another empty promise of jobs.

Some of you will no doubt remember '10,000 New Jobs!' being trumpeted on the front page of the Gazunder way back when the airport was sold off. I'd be surprised if, almost a decade later, the number of actual jobs created has even reached three figures.

It speaks volumes that the pro-Gateway lobby are now coming up with those time-honoured tactics of last resort - casting doubt on the veracity of those who would protest. A letter in this week's Gazunder accuses protesters of 'factless verbal diarrhoea', closely followed a few pages later by Our Glorious Council Leader banging on about 'the fiction that is being put out concerning the China Gateway Project'.

Well Sandy, just what are the facts? In particular, I'd like to know more about the facts pertaining to your trip to China last November. Did you know the developers, CGP, were fronting up all your expenses? If you did, how can we believe a word you say about China Gateway if you're in their pockets? If you didn't, doesn't that demonstrate a stupendous level of ignorance? And if you can be that ignorant, how can we trust you to know what you're talking about now?

In case, dear reader, you didn't catch it, I'm reproducing below the recent article in Private Eye, which sets out the contents of the 'Tesco bag' documents in more detail than has so far appeared on any Thanet blog. It's worth reading to remind ourselves of just what we are dealing with here.

And let us not forget that the Eye is a national publication, not a blog. They have an unsurpassed reputation for breaking stories ahead of the wider press. This article has not, as far as I am aware, attracted any libel suits for 'defamation', 'fiction', or 'verbal diarrhoea'. Nor has it even provoked a stiff letter of denial from Our Sandy, or any other member of Thanet Council come to that.


Inspector Knacker is looking into a bag of documents which may shed light on why Tory dominated Thanet Council is so keen to plonk a 3.5m square foot Chinese business park on a greenfield site above the area’s aquifer.

Kent Police’s Serious and Organised Crime Unit was handed the bag after it was sent anonymously to a local blogger. The contents related to a council ‘fact finding’ trip to China last November and had evidently come from the offices of Commercial Group Properties (CGP), the AIM-listed outfit proposing the controversial China Gateway development in conjunction with the Chinese government’s outward investment arm Chinamex.

At the time the council assured locals the trip was organised and funded by Beijing, not CGP. PC Plod may reach a different conclusion. For example, a copy of a CGP email confirming room reservations in Hong Kong shows them booked on a CGP employee’s credit card. Another document, evidently minutes of a CGP board meeting, states: ‘By travelling with members of the council and paying their expenses the Company could be accused of trying to obtain planning consent in respect of its various projects by unfair means.’ Hmm, good point. But this is answered in the very next sentence: ‘KW (CGP boss Ken Wills) confirmed that every consideration and action was being taken so that this impression was not given’, with the handwritten addendum ‘,and reimbursement by Chinamex should be forthcoming’.

There’s more. A scrawled note of thanks to Chinamex chief Chairman Hao transforms miraculously into a formal letter on council headed paper from leader Sandy Ezekiel, closely followed by a quote from Ezekiel’s shagpile emporium for carpeting CGP’s offices ‘at a discount of 20%’. Another handwritten note, ostensibly to council Chief Executive Richard Samuel, reads: ‘Upon reviewing your hotel bills for the trip to China I would like to thank you and your three colleagues for keeping the expenditure down to a minimum by, for instance, not using the in-room minibar.’ It continues: ‘If you or your colleagues have any bills for out of pocket expenses please could you forward them to me for dealing with immediately.’

Surely pure coincidence, then, that CGP, which is proposing a similar scheme in Wigan, and which wants Thanet Council to erect signs on its borders saying ‘Welcome to Thanet – Home of Chinese Globalisation’, has dropped its plans to drain foul water into cesspits since these documents came to light, and declared itself in favour of the Environment Agency’s recommendation that it spend £600,000 on mains sewers to prevent contamination of Thanet’s drinking water. Even stranger, Thanet’s planning committee mislaid its customary rubber stamp last week and narrowly voted to defer the decision to a full meeting of the council.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Street Cleaners Take A/The P*ss

Regular reader Kate writes:

A couple of weeks ago my mother and I spotted one of our TDC street cleaners in the shared communal alleyway opposite our place. Originally I thought he was clearing away some of the left over rubbish. But he did not, he unzipped his fly and pee'd.

He then made a great pretence of looking to collect rubbish and walked off. We had noted in the past he had some unusual habits like drinking leftover bottles of alcoholic liquid.

Anyway we did nothing and thought best to let it pass. Then earlier this week we passed a communal courtyard again to a block of flats. There was a dust-cart/trolley all on it's own, with a different road sweeper peeing up against the wall beneath one of the windows of the flat. This time mum told him that it was not acceptable, and he grumbled off saying: 'I don't bloody care'.

We phoned the TDC customer relations line to speak to the head of the waste disposal team, who had his voicemail on, so mum left a message. We waited all day for a return of our call. The very next day the original offender was back in the alleyway and we saw him yet again unzip and pee.

So in light of it all, you may have rubbish in your street, but at least your operatives aren't adding to it!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

No Hacking Cough But Hacks Hacked Off

Whilst the Kent Messenger is shedding 10% of its workforce, plans are afoot at Gazunder owners Northcliffe Media to ensure their hacks will be the only ones left to report it when the end of the world finally arrives.

The Daily Mail owned group is offering all 17,000 employees free doses of the anti bird flu drug Tamiflu at a cost of £850,000, according to journo website Hold The Front Page. Ken Thompson, the group's Employment Director, has written to staff saying scientists believed a flu pandemic was 'inevitable' and would lead to 'significant and sustained disruption to our businesses'. He continues: 'The development of a vaccine to treat a pandemic virus cannot begin until there is an outbreak of the emerging strain. A vaccine would therefore not be available to the general population for six months after the start of the pandemic. Antiviral drugs such as Tamiflu provide an alternative to vaccines but will not provide immunity to influenza. They limit its effects and increase the chances of survival.'

Mr Thompson added that the UK government has been stockpiling Tamiflu but they only have sufficient supply to cover 25% of the population which includes all essential workers. He said the Daily Mail recognised the importance of its talented people and that it had taken the action in an attempt to protect all its employees from the threat of pandemic influenza. Workers' close friends and families will also be offered the drug.

How comforting to know that, come the pandemic, a small group of Daily Mail and Gazunder hacks will survive to re-populate Thanet and the rest of the UK!

Meanwhile I hear that not all the bunnies at Gazunder Towers are happy ones. With lovely editrix Rebecca Smith on six months maternity leave, her stand-in has not exactly been winning friends and influencing people, according to word reaching the old Eastcliff shell-like. The paper is already advertising for a news editor, and other scribblers are said to have the collywobbles following a vicious rumour that's spreading like bird flu that Rebecca is planning to make her absence permanent. However, I have it from a number of horses proverbials that as soon as her six months is up, the newsroom will again be resounding to the joy of Bex!

A Statement From Mr Richard Eastcliff

For years I've been banging on about the parlous state of our island nation. The time for banging has now ended, and the time for action has begun. Egged on by my small but influential band of supporters, I've been persuaded to stand up and have my votes counted.

As of today, I will be out on the streets campaigning for my new party, Eastcliff Richard First. My aim will be to represent myself at both the local and national level, with a view to earning a terrific salary and shed loads of expenses your trust and support. Organising and funding a new party will not be easy. This is not a job for a novice. Which is why I have entrusted the important job of Treasurer to my long-standing associate and accountant, Cyril.

If you believe in a fair society, a society that treats all millionaires as equals, I urge you to rally to my cause. Please send your donations to:

Eastcliff Richard First
PO Box 99
Dutch Antilles

Please make cheques payable to Campaign And Support Holdings or C.A.S.H. (Please note: minimum donation from local developers £25,000).

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Councillor Ken Calls For KM Boycott

As those of you who've been following the debate raging in the comments section of the post below will already know, Councillor Ken Gregory, Blue Rinser of this parish and Head Honcho of Planning, has called for a boycott of Kent Messenger Group publications following the redundancy plans they announced recently. KG writes:

A friend of mine is being made redundant after 27 years. The level of his redundancy is abysimal. I would urge you all to stop supporting any KM company.

Now, while any redundancies are clearly a very sad and traumatic affair for those concerned, should one of our elected finest really be calling for action that would undoubtedly put a further 500+ jobs in Kent on the line because one of his chums has got the bullet? I'm sure you've got an opinion!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Don't Shoot The Messenger

Holy financial black holes! I see the Kent Messenger Group is to slash around a tenth of its workforce, blaming a 25-30% drop in its advertising revenue. The family owned business publishes Thanet Extra hereabouts, a weekly freesheet which I get to see, ooh, about once or twice a year due to a rather erratic delivery set-up on the south side. When I have seen it I've been rather impressed, I must say. Now KM Group are closing six of their smaller offices and 'restructuring' their editorial operation, saying adios to 61 employees.

The news must also cast a shadow over our very own Isle of Thanet Gazunder and newcomer yourfannitinnit. Which is a pity since, no matter what you think of them, by having such a healthy crop of local newspapers, the stories they don't want you to hear usually manage to seep out over time.

Oh well, let's hope the generous, milky nipple of public sector advertising in these parts supplies them with enough sustenance to carry on. Except, of course, even greater reliance on the aforementioned public sector nipple will lessen the chances of anything juicy seeping out as they'll be reluctant to bite the teat that feeds them. Er, I think I've taken that metaphor as far as it will go now.

Click here to read Kent Messenger story on BBC News website

Update: It seems that Thanet Extra will be saved for the nation for now. According to the Kent Messenger website, offices under consideration for the axe are Dover, Faversham, Sittingbourne and Tunbridge Wells, along with radio studios in Maidstone and Tonbridge. Click here to read more.

Monday, September 22, 2008

G'Day Mate!

As if the Millionaires' Playground didn't already have a full complement of media celebrities (me), my spies report that chisel-jawed Aussie presenter Aaron Heslehurst has just relocated to Ramsgate. Aaron can be seen in the early hours on BBC World talking (in Strine of course) about suity stuff.

We'll soon be positively awash with Antipododians and creative types at this rate. And with RAF London Kent Ramsgate Manston International Airport in, er, terminal decline (geddit?!?!!), and coming under even more pressure from the Mayor of London's proposed new Boris Island, there's half a chance they might find it pleasant enough to stay here for a bit!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Ask The Experts

Only in your super, soaraway Eastcliff Richard! Each week we ask the experts the questions that count on the burning issues of the day! This week P G Tipps, Thanet Council's Head of Cultural and Administrative Affairs, is in the hot seat!

Q: With the announcement that local museums are to close, you've been accused of lacking a vision for the island. How do you counter that?

A: Aaaa-aa-aaaa eee-ee-eeeeee-e-ee ooo-ooo aaa-aaa aaaaaaa ooo-oo-oooooo.

Q: That may be the case, but you also recently announced that the promised revamp of the island's swimming pools would be put on hold. Doesn't that demonstrate the council has got its priorities wrong?

A: Eeeeeeee-EEEEE EEE-EEEE ooooooo-ooo aaaaaa-aaa-aaaa-AAAAA-AAAA oo-oo-oo aa-aa!

Q: If I could put it another way. Many of Thanet's former leisure and cultural facilities have been allowed to rot by your administration and then sold off to developers literally for peanuts. Is that a prudent use of resource?


Exits left waving a banana

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Let's Go Fly A Kite

Don't forget it's the Big Sky Kite Festival over in the Arsonist's Playground this weekend. Last year it was held at Palm Bay, but this year it's shifted to Margate beach so in theory there should be a lot more to do other than watch kites oh who am I kidding? Unfortunately there's not a lot of wind about at the moment. At least not here on the south side, unless you count the hot air emanating from a certain cliff top mansion on the East Cliff.

Any-old-how, you could top the weekend off by catching Chas'n'Dave in concert at the Mike and Bernie Winter Gardens tomorrow night. Sorted!

Click here for more details of kite festival
Click here for details of Chas'n'Dave concert

Grubby Thoughts

During my assignation with one of our lovely local authors earlier this week, the discussion turned to the woeful lack of fine dining hereabouts. Of course, it would be great if the island's papers carried restaurant reviews. But you could be certain that the first mention of a dodgy prawn at a Thorley establishment would see their advertising revenue going down the gurgler along with everything else. So that's out of the question.

There are some excellent eateries - the Indian Princess in Margate springs to mind, or the relatively recent Age and Sons in Charlotte Court here in the Millionaires' Playground. But how do you tell the perfectly matured fillet of beef from the Turkey Twizzler if you've never been before?

That's why, as a service to my fellow Thanetian gourmets, I'm offering you the chance to put your restaurant reviews here on the island's premier blog. And if you can give the place a knife and fork rating out of five, I can begin to build the ECR Guide To Good Food In Thanet. So, whether it be a simple pub meal, a great curry, perfect fish and chips, or the dining experience to die for (from E. Coli or not as the case may be), send your reviews to richardeastcliff@yahoo.co.uk

Friday, September 19, 2008

Museums Are History

Yikes! I see from caff-crushing car-crushing councillor Dave Green's blog that our lovely Maritime Museum is finally to close, along with Margate Museum. The move follows almost a year of wrangling after the withdrawal of £100,000 in grants from Thanet Council, and the failure of East Kent Maritime Trust, which runs the museums, to deliver any accounts for the past three years.

Apparently the Ramsgate museum will be vacated imminently. Rumour is it may become a fish restaurant. However, EKMT have another seven years of their lease to run over in Margate. What will happen to the exhibits and Thanet archives is currently uncertain, but one reader writes:

I suspect that a fire sale of TDC owned paintings etc or possibly an auction will shortly be forthcoming. No doubt an officer of TDC will be given this erroneous duty and he/she will no doubt be the nation's expert on this matter. As for me, this is my field of expertise and I have informed TDC/EKMT I want all my possessions on loan/gifted, back...Tout de suite.

Click here to read more on Councillor Green's blog

Update: I've now managed to get hold of the full statement from EKMT, which includes a quote from Deputy Rodge, the council's 'Culture and Economy' member. Click on the image to enlarge.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

TDC's Dirty Secret

Perusing the entries on the excellent Fix My Street website, I notice the number of complaints about street cleaning in Thanet has rocketed. Why? Because without so much as a 'by your leave' the Uranians have quietly implemented a new cleansing policy.

If you've noticed that the sweepy-uppy chap hasn't been down your way for weeks, that you're having to wade knee-deep in filth just to toddle down to the local shop, or that lawns are growing where once your kerbs were, it's because residential roads are now only swept on an irregular basis, usually at the point where someone complains that they can't back their car out of the drive due to the drift of empty tin cans, cigarette ends, barkers' nests, dirty nappies and pizza boxes that has blocked them in.

TDC now only applies its daily or weekly efforts to town centres and sea fronts. Although you won't have read about it, confirmation came at the recent Margate traders meeting with the council, who responded to complaints about the state of the town centre streets with the announcement that they now 'pull people in from other areas'. Of course, we want our public spaces to look tidy and well cared for, but surely not at the expense of the residential roads that feed into them? And when it rains, the muck presumably just washes down the nearest drain and clogs it up? All that from the people who promise on their website: 'Thanet District Council is committed to improving the look, cleanliness, vitality and safety of the the local environment.' Kuh!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Concrete Evidence

Hearty congratulations to all of you who jumped on my latest 7 day poll asking whether you'd prefer a council with a larger set of cajones when it comes to fronting out developers who develop out the Ile's front, back and sides. A whopping 53 people cast their votes, here's the final tally:

Question: What's the way forward for Fannit?

Developers? No thanks!: 13% (7 votes)
Concrete is my friend!: 9% (5 votes)
More discretion by a stronger council: 77% (41 votes)

An overwhelming majority in favour of our beloved council showing more red cards and fewer green lights. Not that I expect them to take much notice. It seems you only have to give them a bag of toffees these days and they'll re-designate your agricultural land for industrial use before you can say 'JOBS!'.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Margate Traders Up In Arms 2

One of my spies has sent me the following full account of last night's meeting between traders in the Arsonists' Playground and Thanet Council:

TDC fronted up their chief executive, chief financial officer, cleansing and planning people for this meeting. Sandy was also there, making sure everyone towed the party line. Steve Ladyman also attended, but Roger Gale was noticeable by his absence.

First up there was a lot of talk about the credit crunch, then a load of stuff about street cleaning in Cliftonville, which seemed irrelevant. Then it was on to the big issues but by then most people had already been bored into a stupor. Arlington House is apparently out of their control, but they are considering boarding up the car park (what a welcome for visitors!). Dreamland is also out of their control, but they seemed pleased to have 'secured' the Scenic with the new fencing.

There is apparently no way they can now develop the M&S building, which currently houses Turner Contemporary, due to the economic climate. They do, however, appear to be cock-a-hoop at the 19,000 visitors the TC has brought in this year (most of whom have been bussed down from other parts of Kent on free trips). They may develop the upper levels of the M&S building but I happen to know they are in a very poor state.

Construction of the new Turner Centre is out to tender, there seemed to be some confusion as to when building would start with council officers saying four weeks, and Sandy saying 'before Christmas'. Again the credit crunch means the full development planned for the Rendezvous site will not be possible but they will go ahead with the hotel. Which won't go down too well with other hoteliers in the area. And anyway, wasn't there a hotel there in the first place, before they knocked it down for the Turner development?

Worst of all was an announcement that they will be trialling pedestrianisation in the Lower High Street for 18 months. This seems to have been as a result of an aggressively run petition by Kaylene Health Foods recently, who have subsequently pissed off to Cliftonville! Questions about why there couldn't be a consultation first were just brushed aside. None of the traders seem to actually want this - six months of roadworks earlier this year with no through traffic was enough to kill off most of them. I suspect it's a cynical move to get the rest to relocate, so the Lower High Street can become Luxury Apartmentsville!

Iris was there, of course, and had her Watt Tyler moment when she thought the whole thing was drawing to a close!

Margate Traders Up In Arms

Last night's meeting between Margate traders and the council appears to have turned into a right old bunfight, with 70 retailers complaining that business had gone down the gurgler.

Cafe owner Pauline Dunhill said some 'appallingly damaging decisions' had been taken in the past and that Westwood Chaos 'should never have been allowed', adding that Dreamland 'shouldn't have closed'.

I hope to bring you an eyewitness report soon, but in the meantime you can read more on the BBC News website here.

The Writing's On The Window For Council

Tooling around the grubby back streets here in the Millionaires' Playground last night, on my way to an assignation with one of our lovely local authors, I spotted this notice in the window of a derelict shop:

Further along, I happened to glance over the cliff at the Pleasurama aka Royal Sands development:

Pants definitely pulled down, but not much rogering going on!

More Trouble On T'Cliff

Reader Kevin writes:

Late yesterday afternoon I thought I’d take a walk along the front between Westgate and Birchington as I don’t get up there much, and I fancied seeing how the rich live.

Lots of police there - three cars and a van, paramedics and an ambulance. The promenade below the cliffs was closed off and they were telling people not to go down there. I saw an ambulance leaving the lower promenade at high speed (lights and all). I would guess it was either a jumper, or an accidental fall.

Maybe one of the Birchington toffs got bad news on his Lehman Brothers shares?

This is the second report of a cliff top incident in the past few days. I wonder whether, in the interests of health and safety, the council will eventually be forced to sand down our cliffs into gentle slopes?

Monday, September 15, 2008

A Chance In A Pavilion

The ongoing row over whether Wetherspoons should get planning permission to turn some old church/cinema in a back alley here in the Millionaires' Playground into a pub aptly demonstrates the lack of joined up thinking in these parts when it comes to planning for a sustainable, seaside future.

In a prime pozzy on the seafront we have an edifice that would make an excellent hostelry - the Royal Pavilion, which has been empty all season since those Rankers upped sticks and relocated their casino to a shed at Westwood Chaos. Trouble is it's in a parlous state, as the council never saw fit to enforce the repairing terms of Rank's lease over the last 40 years. Which makes it a distinctly unattractive proposition for even an imaginative outfit like Wetherspoons, who recently opened a pub in Oxford called The Four Candles in honour of a former nearby resident, the late, great, dearly departed Ronnie Barker.

So now we have a rapidly deteriorating eyesore which will probably go the way of all our heritage bricks and mortar (West Cliff Hall, Marina Restaurant, Kent Terrace, the list goes on). If Wetherspoons do open an establishment in Ramsgate, perhaps they should name it the We'll Run This Place Into The Ground 'Cos The Council Don't Give A Toss And Then Bugger Off To Westwood At Which Point It'll Burn Down Or Be Accidentally Demolished and be done with it!

Click here to read about the Pavilion and Rank hypocrisy
Click here to read about Wetherspoons on Cllr Green's blog

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Rozzer Matter?

Pootling along Victoria Parade in the Priapus around 7pm last night, I saw a number of rozzermobiles and several of Kent's finest taping off a section around Winterstoke Gardens. Anyone know what was going on?

Friday, September 12, 2008

Sandy's Thanet Diary

Only in your super, soaraway Eastcliff Richard! Each week top Thanet politician Sandy Beach gives us his insight into the island!!!

Bloody 'ell! The fuckin' credit crunch has got evvrywun by the short an' bleedin' curlies!!!??? Unimploymen', bennyfits, meltdown, fuckin' tossers!! An' there's me wiv a fuckin' yacht an' five 'arses to support!!! Evvrywun's fucked off to Australia. Tie me kanger-fuckin'-roo darn!!!!!!!!!!!!

It's all the fault ov them flamin' China Gate whingers. Tossers. Wankers. Fuckin' tossers!!!! My mate Steve Ladyman's got the right idea!!! An' Roger!! In my face, yer friggin', whinin' bar stewards! In my chuffin' face!!!! Weev all agreed China Gate would be fuckin' kushti!!!?!??

So shut yer fuckin' pie holes yer leftie twats. We owe it to the young 'uns to maxermise oppertunities so that they can set art on life's jerney to 'elp acheeve their dreams an' asperations by 'andin' over their 'ard earned fer a luvvly bit of shagpile!!!!!??????!!!!!

That's enough diary - Ed.

Beating About The Bush

So, Republican Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin was confused in her first TV interview when asked about 'Bush Doctrine'. Surely the choice for a go-ahead young lady in the Noughties is simple - Brazilian, Hollywood, or, er, 'Mugabe'!

News Rubble

Right. Time for a round-up of all the flotsam and jetsam that's floated into the ECR newsroom over the past week, and which I couldn't be arsed to write about. I call it news rubble. Which is quite appropriate as it all relates to proposed or ongoing property developments here on the Ile. Oh, and by the way, none of these, er, facts have been checked in the slightest!

- East Kent Opportunities, the joint development agency run by Thanet Council and Kent County Council, display their Westwood Haine Road development plans at Clarendon House's media centre in Cavendish Street, Ramsgate tomorrow. Might be a chance to spot a councillor, if any can be bothered to turn up of course.

- There could be fireworks aplenty for the China Gateway development if a theatrical pyrotechnics firm doesn't shift from its current location. The firm has a lease on a building slap, er, bang in the middle of the proposed business park until 2013. No glass and steel structures will be going up in the current safety zone around them, methinks, unless they can be persuaded to shift!

- A new website - Say No To China Gate - has been set up to protest against China Gateway. It's still a work in progress but you can view it here.

- Ramsgate/People Firster Gerry O'Donnell has written to our beloved council asking whether SFP Ventures, who are developing the former Pleasurama site here in the Millionaires' Playground, have yet coughed up the substantial bond they were meant to pay as a guarantee of their bona fides in completing the project.

And there you have it. News rubble. Don't forget, if you have any tasty nibbles for the ECR smörgåsbord, or just a few bricks to keep the old cliff top mansion from crumbling, just email me at richardeastcliff@yahoo.co.uk

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Manston Firm Nosedives

Yikes! It seems that Seguro Holidays, which operated out of RAF London Kent Ramsgate Manston International Airport as Kent Escapes, has crashed and burned leaving 2,500 British holidaymakers stranded abroad.

The company are blaming their collapse on the failure of Futura, a Spanish airline which operated four fifths of its flights. Futura has in turn blamed high fuel prices for its insolvency. A notice on the Seguro website says: 'The directors of the company deeply regret the closure of the business.'

It rather begs the question of how our beloved council can continue to justify putting the existence of the airport as the top priority in their current corporate plan. Instead of creating jobs, it must now surely be heading for negative equity, especially as airlines are currently dropping like flies (51 have gone tits up so far this year). And given that it confirms the Uranians' cock-eyed view of how to run the local economy, the news must surely cast even more doubt on their JOBS! justification for China Gateway!

Click here to go to Seguro website
Click here to read story on BBC News website

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

A Hair Do To Dye For

Finding a suitable tonseurist to tackle the old Eastcliff barnet has proven problematic since Jamie the Harbour Barber over in Margate's old town packed up his scissors and pulled down the shutters for good. Most of the Sweeney Todds in these parts wouldn't know a hair do from a hair don't.

But I'm pleased to report that an excellent new gentlemen's grooming salon has opened in Ramsgate High Street, just up from the NatWest. Run by a couple of enterprising Turkish lads who've relocated from Norf Lundun, New Image offers cut throat shaves, singeing, threading, pattern design work and all the, er, trimmings. Haircuts start at sick squid, with discounts for students, kids and OAPs. I took advantage of their hair colouring service. Well, knocking on 30 and working in the meedja one really has to say goodbye to the grey!

They're open all hours, including Sundays and Bank Holidays. Just the kind of hard working chaps we need around here. And who knows, if you click on the flyer above and print it out, they might chop a oncer off your bill too!

China Gateway Meeting

Last night's public meeting in Broadstairs to discuss the proposed China Gateway development was apparently jam packed. According to the organisers 'not one person was in favour of the development', with the mood 'angry' and 'for direct action, for protest'.

An account is now running on the BBC News website. For a personal take, including how a, er, larger gent can barge his way to the front of a packed hall, see Tony Flaig's Bignews Margate.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Fannit Under Fret

In my capacity as Professor of Seasideology at the Ramsgate Institute of Coastscape Studies, I've been giving a lot of thought to the way forward for our septic isle. Also I haven't had a job for weeks, so it passes the time.

Now, do we really want our lovely lump of chalk concreted over willy-nilly under the battle cry 'JOBS!'? It ain't necessarily so. Sheringham, a quaint seaside town in Norfolk, finally saw off a Tesco mega-barn yesterday after their district council opposed the development and stood up to the retailer that accounts for one in every eight pounds spent in this country. The planning inspector said: 'While the store would have some benefits for the town, they were outweighed by irreparable damage it could do to existing traders and the character of the lively resort.' Sound familiar?

On the other side of the coin, idle hands generally make friends with Mr Swan and Mr Vesta. It never ceases to amaze me how easily things burst into flames in towns that are surrounded by water! Only today, Fleetwood's historic pier went up in a suspected arson attack after being bought recently by a businessman who wanted to turn it into flats, against the wishes of the locals. Sound familiar?

Maybe there's a third way. Maybe a strong council, which put our coastal, rural and built environment top of its list, and stood up for sustainable and sympathetic development to create jobs, would get your electoral juices flowing. That's why, dear reader, I've added another of my 7 day polls to the sidebar on the right!

Click here to read Sheringham story in North Norfolk News

Click here to read Fleetwood Pier story on BBC website

Tongue Set To Get Tongues Wagging

Just a quick reminder that Boredstares will be the venue for a public meeting this evening to discuss the China Gateway project. Organised by local campaigner Chiristine Tongue, it kicks off at the Red Hall at 7.30pm and all are welcome.

And as if by magic, Ms Tongue's film Thanet Under Threat has appeared on BoobTube to coincide with the gathering. I've added it to this post, but to be honest I haven't watched more than a minute as the thought of enduring over an hour of Ms Tongue's dreary voiceover had me reaching for the phone to dial the Samaritans. That and her opening gambit: 'Thanet is in East Kent and has three historic seaside resorts, the most popular of which is Broadstairs'. Kuh!

Still, there is a very amusing, Noggin the Nog style opening animation which condenses the last thousand years of island history into a few seconds. I wonder if Our Greatest Living Thanetian, Oliver Postgate, had a hand in that? If anyone sticks with it as far as the end credits, perhaps they'd be kind enough to let us know!

Monday, September 08, 2008

Renaissance Man

Arts correspondent 'Brian Pseud of Broadstairs' has emailed me this painting by the artist Raphael. Dubbed 'The Vision of Ezekiel' and daubed in 1518, it's on show at the Pitti Palace in Florence. Brian writes:

Perhaps you can name and spot the protagonists. They seem to be riding on a large vulture, possibly Ken Wills? Is that Simon Moores under his left armpit ? I think the whole vision might have been the result of a dodgy scampi in a basket from a Thorley Tavern.

After a bit of research I've discovered that this is not the only 'Vision of Ezekiel'. A much more realistic and less fanciful representation of the current state of our local Tory leadership, by 16th century Italian engraver Giorgio Ghisi, hangs in the San Francisco Museum of Fine Arts:

Cream Of The Crap

You'll recall that regular reader Samantha, the East Cliff's caped crusader when it comes taking the authorities to task for their woeful inability to keep the streets visible beneath the mountains of detritus left by litter louts and council operatives, has had a wasp in her bonnet recently over the state of Augusta Road and its environs.

Last month I published a letter she received from the council wallahs on Uranus, which basically said the mess was everyone else's fault bar the, er, council's. She has since progressed her complaint via Thanet South MP Dr Steve Ladyman, and has now received a slightly more action orientated response from the same aforementioned Uranians, viz:

Our inspections indicated that the source of litter in the area is primarily from dumped bags of rubbish. The area also suffers from gulls attacking poorly contained refuse which is prevalent at this time of year. I have tasked a driver to clear dumped rubbish on a daily basis this should be done by about 0900. We will also be looking at sweeping the area as close to refuse collection as possible, however at the present time our resources are stretched with beach cleaning and covering staff holidays.

Additionally I have requested that our enforcement team take some action in the area with a view to prosecuting offenders.

Hmm, so it seems at least some effort will be made to prevent the East Cliff drowning in discarded nappies and rotting food. But as Samantha points out in her email to me, it's still only sticking plaster remedies, and it's still liberally littered with excuses. What is actually required is some blue sky thinking (eurgh!!) to come up with a lasting solution for an area that the council has, for reasons only known to itself, deemed unfit for wheelie bins. Ideas on the usual postcard please!

Sunday, September 07, 2008

The End Of The World Is Nigh

With mad scientists in white coats about to fire up a 'big bang machine' which could cause a black hole that sucks off the entire planet, I'm skedaddling to the safest place on earth I know. My agent's wallet! Ba-da-boom ching!

Click here to find out more about how we're all doomed

Saturday, September 06, 2008

On The Of-fence-ive

Bloody hell! I must get a new headline writer! So there I was scanning through the 47 free newspapers that plop through the letterbox each week, looking for stories. As any media mogul worth his salt knows, there's no point reading the editorial content. You've probably seen it all before. No, what I always read are the adverts. And I wasn't disappointed.

On page six of the Isle of Thanet Extra I spotted this:

Notice of a public inquiry next Tuesday to appeal against our beloved council over the erection of 2.1m high security fencing without going to the awkward bother of getting planning permission.

The appeal is listed as having been brought by 'Samber Limited'. A quick search of the interwhatsit elicited the news that 'Samber Limited' is a Jewish charity based in Golders Green whose aim is: 'To advance religion in accordance with the Orthodox Jewish faith and for such other purposes as are recognised by English law as charitable.' The appeal refers to 'land adjacent to the Montefiore Synagogue, Honeysuckle Road, Ramsgate', where Samber Limited appears to have taken it upon themselves to install a large erection without bothering to ask the council.

It's not the first time, however, that 2.1m security fencing has caused upset on the Ile. Earlier this year there was a huge kerfuffle when it was put up, again without planning permission, in Broadstairs. And in April, reader Foxy complained about this new fence in Cecilia Road, Ramsgate:

On those occasions it was the council that didn't bother applying to itself for planning permission. Now, however, it seems that it's going to all the trouble of a public inquiry to test the good taste of our local boundaries!

Click here to view case on Planning Inspectorate website

Update: Reader Walter writes: Stop the bus!!!!! Samber purchased the land from a developer who put the fence up and a gate without planning permission. It was then blocked off by an inappropriate gate and the new/old owners were told to remove it - and we had a new right of way instigated after.. yup after yet another public inquiry. TDC are actually (and I spit in TDC's direction as I type this) the good guys in this case!

I have reworded this story to reflect this, Walter, and to eliminate my previous erroneous drivellings. All I can say is that my glass eye must have required polishing earlier in the day!

Friday, September 05, 2008

Ladyboy's Thanet

Only in your super, soaraway Eastcliff Richard! Each week local politician Dr Steve Ladyboy shoots from the hip! Politically speaking, that is.

Unemployment in Thanet is more than seventeen times the average for the rest of Kent, around 128 per cent above the average for the south east and something like 9,000,000 per cent above the average for Britain as a whole. It is one of the most deprived districts in the developed world, with life expectancy significantly below 23.

But if you talk to some of these people campaigning against the China Gateway plans for Manston Business Park you would think that the place was overrun with job opportunities and that everyone lived to 100.

If we want to cut crime, see our high streets thrive, build new leisure facilities, cut crime, get people back into work and see our high streets thrive, we need to attract extra cash into our local economy. That's why I accepted a £25,000 political donation from that nice chap Ken Wills, whose company, CGP, will be building China Gateway and bringing Thanet all the votes I so desperately need.

That's enough politics - Ed.

Batten Down The Hatches!

Blow me! Twiddling my proverbials here at the cliff top mansion, I've been checking the BBC weather site for a break in the rain, in the forlorn hope that I might be able to whip out my old throbber and give it a bit of a thrashing.

But the latest forecast for North Kent predicts a remarkable -99mph wind, in no particular direction. Talk about climate change! And that just a week after the BBC forecast a record 232C heatwave for Windsor.

Still, the prediction has reminded me of an old joke. Q: Why doesn't the Isle of Sheppey float off into the North Sea? A: Because Kent sucks!

Thursday, September 04, 2008


No, really. I've heard it all now. The excelllent yourfannitinnit has followed up my recent hint that one of our local councillors is off to Panama. Stephen Broadhurst, the Blue Rinser for Dane Valley, says he might move to South America permanently, but reckons he'll still be able to represent his ward. And presumably pass go every six months to collect his stipend.

What with most of the rest of the local Tory twitterati guesting at Portuguese villas or swanning around in yachts, why don't they just go the whole hog and banish themselves to a Jacuzzi in Majorca? After all, I'm sure the non-elected council officers can get on with the important job of implementing Conservative policies without any help from actual politicians!

Click here for full story in yourfannitinnit

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Council Cops One In The Eye

Cripes! I see our beloved council gets top billing in the Rotten Boroughs section of this week's Private Eye! Under the snappy headline 'Hao Do You Do?', the Eye delves into the contents of that Tesco bag of CGP documents at some length, noting that they seem to indicate last November's council 'fact-finding' trip to China was paid for by the developer, rather than the Chinese as stated for public consumption. The piece concludes:

It is surely coincidence that CGP (the China Gateway developer), which wants the council to erect signs on its borders saying 'Welcome to Thanet - Home of Chinese Globalisation', has dropped its plans to drain foul water into cesspits since these documents came to light, and has declared itself after all in favour of the Environment Agency's recommendation that it spend £600,000 on mains sewers to prevent contamination of drinking water. Even stranger, Thanet's planning committee mislaid its customary rubber stamp last month and narrowly voted to defer the decision to a full meeting of the council later this year.

I'd link to the item, but that Ian Hislop chap doesn't publish Rotten Boroughs online, meaning you have to go and cough up your £1.50 (like I did in Waitrose). Kuh! As if he wasn't already made of money!

Vets Needed In Broadstairs

The Dickensians are renowned for keeping themselves to themselves, so it was only a matter of time before somebody came up with the bright idea of publishing a magazine 'for Broadstairs, by Broadstairs'. The Broadie is an amusing little number, kind of like a print version of this blog, but nowhere near as good of course. I guess it enables the inhabitants of Thanet's sleepiest town to go on pretending they have nothing to do with the rest of the island, and that they are in fact located somewhere in Dorset.

Anyhoo, David Chamberlain, who writes for The Broadie, has sent the following appeal to Thanet's premier blog:

I have been asked to write a one off article for the November edition, Armistice Day. My brief is to interview three ex:service people of Army, Airforce & Navy and I thought I might add a slight spin and seek veterans from Korea or the Malaysian Emergency, Northern Ireland, Suez, Falklands War, Berlin Airlift, Aden, Gulf War 1 or 2, [Iraq] or Afghanistan as a lot has been written about vet's of WW1 & WW2 (not that I suppose there are any WW1 vets alive in Thanet). The persons interviewed need to be resident of Broadstairs. I will consider vet's of WW2 but maybe place only one in the article so the others get a look too if there are any there. I'd also like to interview a woman who served in one of them three services during any of the hostilities about her experiences. I can't offer any payment but maybe a bottle of something may help oil the vocal chords. Anyone? (P/s Merchant Navy too).

So, if anyone out there's got a tale of derring-do (or even of peeling spuds), do email David at david.chamberlain@rocketmail.com

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

News From The Front

Gerry O'Donnell aka Family Guy, the People First parliamentary candidate for South Thanet, has put finger to keyboard to whizz me a missive concerning the parlous state of our cliff lift here in the trendy part of the Ile's premier town.

Our teeny-tiny council/kiosk gauleiter has apparently been having a run-in with TDC over the on/off status of the up/down device, culminating in the following fulmination to the Uranians:

The continuous breaking down of this lift, particularly over the most important Bank Holiday weekends, summer months and in particular, during the various weeks in which international events have been staged is unacceptable. I would add scandalous.

Ramsgate has suffered enough from TDC's ineptitude and dereliction of its duty towards the good people of Ramsgate. TDC's attitude to any of Ramsgate's seaside attractions and facilities is and has been that 'if it needs fixing, close and demolish it'.

The lift should be working at all times, throughout the year, from 8am to 6pm in winter, longer in summer, as an essential utility/facility for the rate-payers of Ramsgate. I know that TDC doesn't give a fig for the disabled but a working lift on both cliffs would, in properly run districts, be considered essential for their inclusion in all of the town's beachside amenities.

I do not believe that vandals are to blame for any significant damage to the lift. I think it is poor maintenance flowing from poor and parsimonious management.

Clearly our Jezza is that steamed up he could crush a grape! He's got a point, though, as the following newsreel from ECR TV demonstrates:

Monday, September 01, 2008

Oh Those Crazy Russians

Well the hangover seems to be abating somewhat. Fortunately Barrymore was a no show, so it was only Elton's Bentley that ended up floating face down in the pool.

In fact I had a bit of a rude awakening this morning when I peered into my inbox. An email from a regular nark with the one liner: 'Watch out, Sandy Ezekielavich might be inspired by reading this, if of course he could read', followed by a link to a story on the BBC website:

The owner of an internet site critical of the Russian authorities in the volatile region of Ingushetia has been shot dead in police custody.

Magomed Yevloyev, owner of the ingushetiya.ru site, was a vocal critic of the region's administration. The Russian prosecutor's office said an investigation into the death had been launched, Russia media report. A post on Yevloyev's site says he was detained by police after landing at the airport of the main town, Nazran. The website owner was taken to hospital but died from his injuries.

Yikes! I'd better get my security adviser, Fat Kev, to look out the old kevlar vest toute de suite!

Click here to read more about shot Russian blogger on BBC website