Friday, February 22, 2008


Following that little, er, local difficulty last week I've got two weeks' worth of the Gazunder to get through. So I may be some time in totting up the pro- and anti-council stories this week.

Interesting, though, to see our local flying councillor on page 2, telling us that he's on the prowl for a blogger, and claiming there has been a concerted effort to discredit him. He tells the paper: "I have been accused of being homophobic, xenophobic and racist. I've been accused of computer misuse and business fraud. These outrageous messages are affecting my professional reputation. The whole thing has left an unpleasant taste."

Apparently he's now sent a discovery request to Google to find out who is responsible for various posts.

Following a swift consultation with my wolf pack of highly trained media lawyers, I think I'll be turning on comment moderation for the time being!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Green Light For Turnip Centre

Hurrah (again)! Or is it 'Boo!'? Well whatever, our beloved council has finally granted planning permission for the new Ike and Tina Turner Centre over on the seedy north side of the island. So love it or loathe it, you're gonna get it. Probably.

So far it's only cost £8m (Turnip Mk I - DNS) + £15m (Turnip Mk II - yet to be built) + £2.5m (bit of a top-up) + £0.75m (road improvements/ruinations to Fart Hill) = £26.25m + VAT. Bargain!

Click here for full story on BBC website

Oops, no, sorry, that was exactly the same story from 2003. Click here for the same old, same old five years (and one day) later. Except with no mention this time round of works by JMW Turner being exhibited.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Comeback Kid

Hurrah! As regular readers will know, you can't get rid of me that easily. A bit like a verruca, really. And after 48 solid hours on the blog, I think I've cracked it. Only trouble is, now that I'm back in glorious Technicolor I find myself lost for words!

PS: While I'm getting my breath back, you may care to take a shufti at my old organ.

You Need Hands

My thanks to regular contributor Mr X for pointing me in the direction of this clip from BoobTube. Media trainers will tell you that it's important not to distract from your message by using too many hand gestures when you're delivering a presentation. Here former US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld demonstrates just how it shouldn't be done!

Collision Course

As regular readers will recall, my finances aren't exactly flush at the moment. Not wishing to be a burden on the state any longer than I can help it, I was flicking through the jobs pages in Kent on Sunday when this caught my eye:

Freelance and full-time sub-editors required. Just the ticket! What qualifications do I need? 'Excellent QuarkXpress skills' - tick. 'Competent at using Photoshop' - tick. 'Able to spot a a typo at 100 paces'...

When do I start?

Who Wants To Blackmail A Millionaire?

Well here I am again. Yes, it really is me, although I have no way of proving it. Perhaps the construction of that last sentence will give it away. Or that one. Cripes, this could go on indefinitely! See!

It seems that a 'colleague' here at the old, er, cliff top mansion availed himself of my computer to make one or two alterations to the login and password details on a number of my accounts which I had foolishly left sitting open in Firefox. His contract was coming to an unexpected end and he was feeling less than completely gruntled with his severance package, which he was endeavouring to enhance by causing a little electronic mayhem.

Following a full and frank kicking, however, he has been made to see the error of his ways, and will not be darkening the doors of the Eastcliff Corporation again. I'm afraid I can't name and shame him as that would contravene the terms of the, um, agreement we have reached. And would pretty much give away my real identity, something which hasn't escaped the toe rag despite the fact that he isn't much smarter than the average bear. Anyhow, I'd much rather save my thoughts for the next time someone comes to me asking for a job reference for the little bleeder.

Now, where's that backup file?

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Thanet Death

In Memoriam
Thanet Life
Popular Tory Blog

So, Farewell
Then Thanet

'Thanet's alternative
That was
Your catchphrase.
'The Isle of Thanet
With a blue tint',
That was

Still, just like
I expect you'll be

After all, that ruddy-faced Governor of Kent can't go on forever.

E.C. Richard (29)

Monday, February 11, 2008

Beside The Seaside

Following my triumph at the Baftas last night (dishing out 500 prawn vol-au-vents in under an hour is no mean feat I'll have you know), I've decided to reinstate my name above the title.

Before setting off for the smoke yesterday, I went for a stroll along the prom here in the Millionaires' Playground. Glorious sunshine, heaps of visitors, no training flights, everything a seaside town should be in the summer, except in February! But being the 'living, gloating metaphor of all that's wrong with our society', you wouldn't expect me to putting up pictures of happy people enjoying themselves, would you? No, thought not. So here's what I clocked:

Rubble cleared from the recent 'conservation' of our Marina Restaurant. Builders in charge appear to be Willow Construction Ltd. It seems to have become a bit of a tourist attraction in its own right, albeit in a shaking of the head in disbelief and tut-tutting kind of way.

A bit further along, these listed buildings on Kent Terrace are in a fine old state (click on the picture to see the full gory details). How long before a puff of wind sends them the same way as the Marina? I gather the owners have been asked to tart them up, but with an outlook that includes ten acres of flat roof felt above an amusement arcade, on which someone has dumped an old sofa, I can see why there's little incentive.

The end of my stroll, and the charming vista of illegally parked foreign lorries on the Western Undercliff. Our beloved council charges them £10 for a stay in the port lorry park, but has only ever issued one ticket along here, so it's a no brainer as far as the drivers are concerned. The only downside is that there are no toilet facilities, but hey, no worries! An empty bottle of Lucozade, or a plastic bag if it's biggies, soon fixes that!

The obvious solution would be for port security to patrol this area and clamp any offenders. But that would involve one part of the council (Maritime Services) talking to another (Foreshores? Open Spaces? Answers on a postcard.) And we all know that ain't ever going to happen, don't we?

Saturday, February 09, 2008

'Job Lot Clots' Blot Plots

A reader signing himself merely as 'Concerned Resident' has emailed me regarding yet more palisade railings going up on the island. This time it's Ramsgate Cemetery that's getting the, er, makeover. He writes:

They are truly awful, one neighbour compared them to a concentration camp. I am genuinely upset as I used to enjoy the view from my house in Cecilia Rd. They will also form many a final resident's journey enroute to the cemetery!!

The council did not consult with the residents before removing the original iron railings and replacing them with this hideous option. There have been bouts of vandalism and I do sympathise, but this has really spoilt the aesthetics of the area. I am sure other options would have been more suitable and less intrusive in a residential area such as mine.

The cemetery area was originally donated to the town by Sir Moses Montefiore - along with the old railings I presume? When I rang the council they "explained" that the site is internal and that after consultation with their Planning Office they did need not need any planning approval. I have just built a house in Cecilia Road and know how stringent they were with me - it seems like one rule for us and another for them. They did however state that they could be painted, just remove the bloody things I say!

It does seem as if our beloved council has picked up a job lot of these hideous railings and adopted a 'one size fits all' policy towards their installation. If, as you state 'CR', the original railings were part of the Sir Moses Montefiore bequest, I'm pretty sure he'd be turning in his, er, mausoleum. But not to worry, there will no doubt be a delegation of councillors along shortly to explain why this is 'progress'.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Auclair On The Eastern Front 2

Thar she blows! So, the experts in whose capable hands the restoration of our Marina Restaurant lies appear to be registered in the Isle of Man. Rather odd for a Swanley based firm, don't you think? Why does this not inspire me with confidence?

Click here for Isle of Man Companies Registry

Dirty Joke

As I've nothing better to do than twiddle my thumbs and wait for my next benefits cheque, here's an example of Thanet humour that reader Tom snapped in Birchington recently:
Photo: Tom Betts, YourThanet

Auclair On The Eastern Front

I see today's Isle of Thanet Gazunder is towing the party line about the 'necessary' demolition of the listed Marina Restaurant here on Ramsgate's Côte de Rubble. One interesting fact to emerge from the story, though, is that the developers are a company called Auclair Properties in Swanley.

So, who are these well-known, experienced, heritage-loving people entrusted with the rebuilding of one of our town's fine Victorian edifices? Are they on the internet? Not according to Google. How about Companies House? Nope, not a sausage. Hmm. Perhaps they're hiding their light under a ton of bricks!

Click here for full Gazunder story

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Mocking The Afflicted

A reader from Westgate-On-Sea writes:

I must object to the distasteful trivialisation of hip replacement operations in your recent post Cheap As Hips. Many of my friends are elderly people who fought for your freedom in the war. I think I can speak for both of them when I say that I find you a living, gloating metaphor of all that's wrong with our society. Given the regularity of your postings, I can only assume that you are one more welfare sponger with an axe to grind.

Sorry old bean. I won't do it again. Promise.

Click on image to enlarge

Rubble Trouble

Our local biblio-bloke and tireless Ramsgate campaigner, Michael Child, tells me he's going to be on BBC Radio Kent tomorrow morning, talking about the 'conservation' efforts down on the front.

They interviewed him today, and you should be able to catch his dulcets between 7.30-8.30am. Of course, it was me that tipped them off. Well, if you've got connections use them, that's what I say!

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Striking News

Suffering spam filters! With all the increased traffic on my site recently, I'm being inundated with email! I'd need an entire newsroom of highly trained hacks to sort through the gossip and check out all the stories you're sending me. So rather than going to all that bother, I'll just reprint this little missive just in from a usually reliable source:

From Wednesday next week the binmen are on strike. I don't suppose Biggles knows about this as Council members haven't been officially informed yet. There are no plans for a 'catch up' collection so those with wheelies will have to go a month without a collection and there will be no 'side waste' collected from the backlog!

Roger Gale is being taken to an Industrial Tribunal by a disgruntled ex-employee for unfair dismissal who is so p*ssed off with the Tories she has volunteered to work for Steve Ladyman!!

South Thanet Conservative Association is in receivership and the Sandys woman is having to work from Gale's office as the Ramsgate one has been closed due to said receivership.

From April this year those Thanet residents fortunate enough to have a green waste collection it will be abandoned and all of us will have to pay £6.00 for up to three bags of green waste to be collected. This will of course lead to even more fly tipping, thus more expense for the Council to clean up. Why not just leave it free? Probably cost less in the long run.

Phew! There's enough there to fill an entire newspaper!

Update: Just as I was thinking I might have been the victim of a beyond-the-grave prank by the late, lovely, dearly-departed Jeremy Beadle, along comes confirmation that a series of bin strikes will be going ahead on:

Wednesday 13th February
Thursday 21st February
Friday 29th February
Monday 10th March

As for the rest of it, surely it's just a matter of time!

Click here for full bin strike story on KOS media

Let's Shoot The Harbour Master!

Not the new slogan for the Sunseeker Owners' Club's Campaign for Real Dredging. No, somebody wants to make one of those fly-on-the-wall series about our port and Royal Harbour!

Given my experience in the TV game, and my prominence on the interdoo-da regarding all things Ramsgate, it's not surprising I get approached by production companies after a bit of free advice. If you recall, last year I was in discussions with a TV outfit that had the rather outlandish idea of making Ramsgate - The Musical. Now a researcher for the people who bring you such student cult classics Cash in the Attic and Car Booty has sent me the following email:

I'm after some stories about the port of Ramsgate. Although the council can provide me with (limited) statistics, it's more annecdotal stuff I'm after. The reason I'm asking, is that we may be doing an observational documentary about the Port of Ramsgate, but I need to know if there's enough going on there to fill a series of programmes.

I'm not sure how many jolly, fat, gay men with goatees or homicidal bottle blondes work down the port, but go on...

What's the story with the Ferries? What's the main reason people catch them? Is it mainly booze cruises? Someone mentioned antique hunters as well. What's the draw of Ostend/Belgium?

You may well ask.

Illegal immigrants. What have been the main busts? What else has been memorable in this area? I heard about a Russian people smuggler sentenced recently.


Is there a lot of activity with regards to (the aforementioned)? We can fill programmes with human interest stories, but obviously it would be great to have stories related to the unique challenges working in a port provides? Any help you can provide would be appreciated.

So, anyone got any answers? The researcher concludes:

If you can keep this to yourself for the time being.

Oh dear. Didn't notice that bit before. Me and my big mouth!

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

All Go(ne) Ramsgate!

It's all go (or gone) here on Ramsgate's trendy East Cliff! Concrete mixers for the repairs to our crumbling cliff face:

Diggers building a magic new roundabout:

Demolition men... oops, sorry, I mean conservation types restoring what's left of our Marina Cafe:

Careful with that, lads! It's got to go back exactly how it was now:

Even Gerry O'Ramsgate's getting around to painting out that objectionable yellow stripe on Ronnie Corbett's teeny-tiny kiosk:

Job (half) done!

Cheap As Hips

I suppose with a large elderly population here on the Ile de Thanet, there's fierce competition in the private medical sector. I wonder if there's a discount for getting both done at the same time? Or all three, if you're Jake the Peg.

If I was an octogenarian with a gammy leg, I'd jump at the offer. Well, after the op that is!

Monday, February 04, 2008

Cracks Beginning To Show

The demolition... oops, sorry, 'conservation' of our listed Marina Restaurant here in Ramsgate has caused a right royal rumpus. Now it transpires that our council's own Heritage Development Advisor has written to English Heritage asking for their support, and inviting them to make a site visit in the 'near future'.

The council officer's email, which has been leaked to me by one of my, um, deep throats, is clearly the source of Councillor Green's Post earlier today, but I make no apology for reprinting it in full here. Well, fuller actually, as there were a couple of important bits he missed out.

Dear Alan (Alan Byrne, English Heritage),

Your assistance is required. No 1 Granville Marina is part of JT Wimperis' 1877 development of a beach resort for Edward Pugin's Granville Hotel. As originally devised, the development consisted of shops, houses, shell grottos, tea rooms and a 'wintergardens'. No 1 was built as a photographer's studio. Numbers 1-4 were listed Grade II on 21/12/2004.

Last year Thanet Council became increasingly concerned about the condition of the building. Its last used was as a restaurant, a use that ended some years ago. It was, however, still owned by the catering company who - despite several offers - refused to sell it. A change in the management of the company saw it being sold to a firm of Ramsgate developers in the middle of last year.

I had a meeting with the new owners in August last year at which it was clear that it was their desire to demolish and redevelop. It was pointed out to them that this not an option since the building was listed. Being concerned that they were not going to take any action, we served an Urgent Works Notice on the owners on 15th August 2007 - with a compliance period of three weeks. The Notice required the sea facing elevation to be shored up and the structure made secure and watertight.

The developers appointed a structural engineer who designed shoring for the defective elevation. As the autumn progressed it became clear that the developers were not going to carry out the works and it transpired that they had dispensed with the services of the structural engineer. We therefore engaged the same engineer, had the structural works priced and appointed contractors to carry out works in default. The contractors started work on 28/1/2008.

On the morning they started the owners turned up saying they were sorry and that they would carry out the works immediately. We withdrew our contractors. On Thursday 31st January there was a considerable south-westerly gale and a considerable crack opened up in the south west corner - the left hand side of the sea facing elevation. By Friday morning it was clear that the sea elevation was becoming too 'live' to prop anymore and would have to be demolished. Our structural engineer was in attendance - together with our Building Control section. Once the front was down it became clear that the lateral walls were being forced apart by the roof and two thirds of the building ended up being demolished - see attached photographs.

The remaining third is, at the time of writing, being stabilised using a Notice under the Building Acts. Any loose historic material from the demolished parts is to be collected and put in to storage. It is the Authority's intention to serve a Section 48 Repairs Notice requiring the owner to re-instate, on a like for like basis, the demolished parts. I am of the opinion that the Ramsgate THI scheme could underwrite a compulsory purchase notice. English Heritage's support in this matter would be greatly appreciated.

Would it be possible for you to make a site visit in the near future?

Nick Dermott BA (Hons) Dip Arch RIBA IHBC
Heritage Development Advisor
Major Developments Team
Thanet District Council
PO Box 9
3rd Floor
Cecil Street
Kent CT9 1XZ

Does anyone remember the demolition of the famous Firestone factory in London 30 years ago? I think I'm getting déja vu!

Rigger Mortis

It's been so blustery here in the Millionaires' Playground recently that I thought I'd pop down to Riggers, our local outdoor shop, and treat myself to a new Berghaus. Trouble was, nobody had told me they've given up the ghost! And they're not the only ones. A five minute trundle around our town centre produced this haul:

So what's going on? Global recession? Greedy landlords forcing traders out with extortionate rents? Or could it be that our new out-of-town retail centre, Westwood Cross, has finished sucking all the life blood out of Margate and is now performing the same trick here too? I think we should be told!

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Redevelopment Ramsgate Style

I say! The developers are making swift work of 'restoring' that tatty old Marina Restaurant on the front. Here's how it looked last week:

And here's how it looked this morning:

To be fair, they do admit they encountered some, er, unexpected problems, and we've been reassured that this listed building will be put back to its former glory. I have every confidence that our splendid Planning Department, which was fined in 2006 after only discovering the same developer had squeezed an extra floor onto a new block of flats in Dorman's Yard once it had been completed, will be on their case. As they say around here, all it needs is a bit of TDC!

By the way, if you want to see more photos of how the Marina Restaurant looked last year, both inside and out, you can find them on the excellent Broken Britain site. Although in this case 'broken' might now be a bit of an understatement.

And click here to see Michael Child's photos of the, er, conservation work in progress.

Update: Our campaigning, car-crushing, caff-crushing (although not in this case) councillor Dave Green has now put a full history of how this sorry state of affairs came about here. To me it sounds like another greedy developer getting his own way. Rotters!

Give My Regards To Broadstairs

Just back from a night of carousing with my Dickensian chums in Boredstares. Actually the place seemed eerily quiet, with landlords complaining that business had slumped. Still, I only had to tiptoe past a couple of rivulets of urine rather than the usual torrent that gushes down the high street at the witching hour, so every cloud has a silver lining.

Looking up from my pint of Masterspew (I've yet to find an establishment that stocks the Gaddfather's finest over there), I spotted a familiar face. None other than my old showbiz chum Simon, er... Simon... of Trevor and Simon fame! Or, er, it might have been Trevor, I could never really distinguish between the two. Trevor and Simon were, of course, the comedy duo on the BBC's Saturday morning kids show Going Live! Sort of the Ant and Dec of the 90s. Except that Ant and Dec were the Ant and Dec of the 90s. And the 00s come to think of it.

Sadly I haven't seen much of Trevor and/or Simon on the old idiot lantern recently. Perhaps, like me, his and/or his career is suffering from the Thanet Effect. Although not a day goes by without me bumping into Timothy Spall trundling around our Royal Harbour, and he's in everything. There's hope yet!

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Separated At Birth?

Reader Amy writes:

I wonder if anyone else has spotted a similarity between the Tonbridge Securitas depot, scene of the UK's biggest ever cash heist in 2006, and Culmers Land, otherwise know as Stalag Broadstairs? Are they by any chance related?
Security depot

Walk in the park

Friday, February 01, 2008

Flightpath Of Fancy

Reader Helen from Surrey writes:

I spoke to (an estate) agent in Ramsgate this morning, with regard to a house in Wellington Crescent that we saw yesterday. She insisted that a) the Pleasurama site, aka Royal Sands, will not rise above the level of the cliff and b) there are 'only a couple of planes now and then' (she also said that Ramsgate was not on the flight path and then quickly retracted ). Do I believe her about the Royal Sands development? I certainly don't believe her about the planes. Do they think that we are all stupid? A couple of minutes research on the internet can uncover almost any potential nasties
Wellington Crescent: 'Not on the flightpath'


My team of highly trained researchers (Mr and Mrs Ceaucesu (no relation)) have established that this week's Gazunder contains three pro-council stories and four anti-council stories. The running total can be found in my sidebar on the right. After two weeks it's even stevens.

Boosting the anti-council tally, the paper finally caught up with the Stalag Broadstairs story (page 10) which I broke nearly two weeks ago, but tucked away the Audit Commission's findings that the council is only performing 'adequately' as a news in brief on page 7.

And no mention of the Cecil Streeters getting in a lather over a petition begging them to do something about the slow death of Margate's lower high street. So far the petition has gained 300 signatures. Oh well, maybe they'll follow it up next week, now that they've read it here!