Monday, September 30, 2013

Mess Fine Mess

Apols for the graphic picture, but it does rather illustrate what we're up against here. Yes, I'm talking barkers' nests.

We all know that a toddle along Thanet's pavements and promenades can be a bit like tip-toeing through the proverbials. Nowadays I have taken to walking with my head down, scanning for the offending items, in the hope that my diamond-studded Church's brogues can remain uncontaminated by the digested remains of Tyson's Chappie and chips, thereby missing out on the wonderful views our island has to offer.

Still, we do know from all those signs on every lamp post that any owners caught failing to clear up after Fido can be handed a, er, 'on the spot' fine of £75, or a maximum penalty of £1000 if they're taken to a magistrates' court.

So, how many dog doo-doo fines have our beloved Thanet Council issued in the past year then? Go on, take a guess. 100? 50? Well, following an FOI request by one of my lovely readers, I can tell you the answer is 4. F-O-U-R, four.

Another request for the number of beach litter fines issued in the last 12 months reveals an even lower figure. The lowest figure you can get, actually. That's right, a big fat zero. And that despite the worst litter seen on Margate Sands for 30 years, when it took a team of 12 cleaners an entire day and night to clear the beach after July's Jamaican party.

You'd think for a council that says it spends more on cleaning than any other, and which has just poured £3.4m down the TransEuropa plughole, they'd be a bit keener at recouping some of our council tax!! Kuh!!!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Huge Erection At Very Short Notice

Reader Samantha writes:

I see the planning application for the massive development behind the Granville on Ramsgate's East Cliff is due to go before TDC's Planning Committee this Wednesday.

To put this in perspective, if this development goes ahead it will be about a third of the size of the proposed Pleasurama development on the front.

As a local resident who will be enormously affected by this proposal to build 38 flats with only 19 parking spaces, I feel that the council should really have given me more notice than a second class letter, posted last Monday, to arrange to speak before the Committee by today.

I have already objected to this development on the grounds of the materials used, the height, and the woeful lack of parking space. I understand that the plans have been altered since they were first submitted in January, and the number of parking spaces reduced even further! Neither the developer's architect - Clague of Canterbury, who I emailed months ago - nor the council, have updated me on any of these issues, despite being able to hold 'public meetings' with the current residents of Granville House and Granville Court.

I agree that the site, which has been derelict for 30 years, needs something done, but if it isn't done in close consultation with the people who live around it, the chances are that we will have yet another Pleasurama debacle on our hands. Yet again, it seems that local democracy and accountability is singularly lacking in Thanet.

Hmmm. Well, Samantha, that certainly is a poke in the, er, eyesore for Thanet Council!

Update: The application was rejected by the planning committee. A victory for common sense, methinks!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Sold Down The River By Thanet Council

So, my Belgian spies tell me that defunct TransEuropa's tub Gardenia went for €750,000 at the auction in Oostende yesterday, although that price can still be outbid (by a minimum of 10% on top) until the end of the month.

And the amount Thanet Council, which is owed £3.4m of our lovely lolly by TransEuropa, will make from the sale? Nothing. Zero. Nix. Nada. Not a sausage. Because someone at the council (step forward Chief Executive and Chief Financial Officer Sue McGonigal, for it is you!) failed to secure any of the debt on the company's assets.

Would it be too much to ask Ms McG to pass 'Go' forthwith, without collecting her £200,000? Kuh!

Meanwhile, in what writers such as myself like to call a 'bizarre twist', it's emerged that as late as April this year TDC joined an EU-sponsored organisation called 'LO-PINOD', one of those Eurocratic acronyms which, in this case, apparently stands for 'Logistics Optimisation for Ports'.

LO-PINOD'S blurb states: 'Through improvements to shortsea routes, local ports and their hinterland connections, LO-PINOD encourages a wider use of water-borne transport across the North Sea Region. Greater use of local ports will re-balance Europe's transport network, reduce road congestion, aid regional development and deliver more freight by sustainable sea transport.'

It was on 17 April 2013 that LO-PINOD welcomed the Port of Ramsgate to its fold, just three days before yours truly broke the story that TransEuropa had sunk without trace, and the whole Ferrygate scandal began to unravel. Did the TDC bureaucrat who signed up for LO-PINOD not know that, within hours, there would be no more 'logistics operations' or 'freight' from the Port of Ramsgate? Or is this yet another case of our beloved council's arse not talking to its elbow? I think we should be told!

Click here to go to LO-PINOD website

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Plane Jane Takes A Flight Of Fancy

Holy planet-boilers! My normally level-headed chum, lovely Boredstares writer Jane Wenham-Jones, has gone to Manchester to speak at the annual Woman's Weekly Live! event.

Nothing out of the ordinary in that. Except she's chosen to fly there via Holland from RAF London Kent Manston Margate Tracey Emin Maggie Thatcher Schipol International Airport!

Talk about carbon positive! Any right-minded, environmentally conscious celeb would have driven there in their Toyota Priapus, or taken the train. But JW-J is so besotted with the idea of Richard Branson commandeering RAFLKMMTEMTSIA and turning it into a trillion-passenger-a-month uber-hub on her doorstep, she was apparently determined to let the plane take the strain.

Oh well, I gather her 9.35am KLM flight from Manston was delayed until 11.10am, meaning she didn't get to the centre of Manchester until 3pm. With an hour's check-in time, that makes the journey about six and a half hours, whereas the train would have got her door-to-door in just over four hours, and at roughly the same price, when you add the cost of cabs to and from airports.

Then again, I hear she's currently obsessed with a pilot. A TV pilot, that is, about wannabe writers, which she's presenting. I've popped a link to it on BoobTube down below. I guess she must be hoping that it'll, er, take off! (Geddit??!!!!???!!!!)

Update: Click here to see Plane Jane's justification in the Isle of Thanet Gazunder. Apparently it was plastic cups, along with 'wine and little salty biscuits' that persuaded her to feck the planet!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

KCC's Box Of Bollocks

Yet more proof, if it were needed, that the Ruddy-Faced Man at Kent County Council doesn't give a proverbial about poor old Ramsgate.

If you recall, last month the Office for National Statistics came out with a report demonstrating that Ramsgate was now officially more deprived than Margate, thus proving what I've suspected for years, namely that all the public dosh is being spent on chi-chifying the Arsonists' Playground, to the detriment of us here on the sunny south side.

One of my lovely readers was so incensed that he wrote to KCC boss Paul Carter (aka Ruddy-Faced Man), demanding an explanation. Here's R-FM's response:

Dear ---------------,

Thank you for your email, regarding levels of deprivation in Ramsgate and Margate.

I read the report that you refer to from the Office of
(It's 'for' - Ed.) National Statistics with interest. The report is an analysis of the 2010 Index of Multiple Deprivation, therefore, the data on which it is based is now several years old. Nevertheless, I am very much aware of the levels of disadvantage that persist in Ramsgate and in many of our other coastal towns and tackling this is a crucial priority.

So what are we doing about it?

Firstly, we are working hard to attract new jobs and new investment into Thanet. We have secured £35 million in interest-free loan support to businesses looking to grow and expand in East Kent – with over £17 million already allocated and starting to create jobs.

Secondly, we are improving the transport network to make Thanet better connected. We have invested over £180 million in the East Kent Access road network, providing a better link to Ramsgate and Discovery Park. This year, we secured an additional £5 million to improve line speeds between Ashford and Ramsgate to cut journey times – with work starting next year.

Thirdly, we’re investing in local communities, with our No Use Empty programme already restoring over 2,000 empty properties to use. Many of which will be in Margate and Thanet.

Of course, we need to do more, and continued emphasis on coastal regeneration is vital in Ramsgate, Margate and the rest of Thanet.  But there is great potential in East Kent, despite its challenges and we are unlocking real growth opportunities – and new suggestions are always welcome.

I hope you find this response helpful.

Yours sincerely,

Paul Carter
Leader of Kent County Council

To paraphrase the late, great Sir Winnie: Never in the public sector have so many mealy-mouthed platitudes meant so little. It's as if R-FM has just taken the Thanet section out of his ruddy big red book and sprinkled a few Ramsgates in there for seasoning.

Meanwhile, KCC have today said they're applying to build a ruddy big new hotel on a Thanet seafront! Hurrah! At long last, something is being done about that hideous Pleasurama eyesore! Er, no, wait a minute, it's going to be on the old Rendezvous site round the back of the Turnip in - you guessed it - Margate!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

UKIP's Trembly Finger On The Button

If you're sending a rude email about someone to a colleague, who would be the last person you'd want to copy in? Yes, that's right, the person who you are being rude about.

So North Thanet Constituency Labour Party Chairman Malcolm Bailey was not a little surprised when he opened his inbox this morning to see an email from Herne Bay Ukipper Brian MacDowall to his colleague Nicholas Bond, describing him as a 'socialist agitator'.

Malcolm had been trying to raise awareness of the potential closure of a children's centre in Herne Bay, and had been in correspondence with the UKIP Kent County Councillors over the matter. After one or two 'fobbing-off ' emails, he was then copied in on this:


at the meeting yesterday roger drew my attention to this guy.
he is a socialist agitator who has, it seems, little else to do but constantly stir up trouble by getting into protracted correspondence with whoever he wants to annoy
Zena W says she wont deal with him

believe he lives in Thanet not sure; you can either ignore him or draw his attention to your previous reply and say unless you are one of my constituents( don't think he supplied an address) I cannot help you.

'Roger' there being Sir Roger Latchford OBE, Boer War hero, former Conservative deputy leader of Thanet Duffer Council, supporter of disgraced and jailed TDC leader Sandy Ezekiel, and now ship-jumping Lord Admiral of the newly-elected UKIP opposition at KCC.

In addition to using language that almost certainly hasn't been in vogue since the Spanish Civil War ('socialist agitator'), it seems Brian MacDowall can't even get the name of one of his UKIP councillor colleagues right (it's Zita Wiltshire, Brian, not Zena).

Still, as most of Thanet voted for this shower of See You Next Tuesdays, I can only opine that you get what you pay for!

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Ferry For Sale - One Careless Owner

Ahoy fellow salty millionaires! I'm just back from my annual break in Cannes. What a lot of yachts they've got!

And talking of floaters, my Belgian spies have alerted me to the fact that one of the two old TransEuropa tubs that's rotting away in Ostend is being put up for auction this month.

Bidding on The Gardenia takes place at the Hotel/Restaurant Weinebrugge on Saturday 14th September at 2pm. So, er, do pop along if you fancy grabbing yourself a rusty bargain.

It's worth reading the small print, though, since there's a whole list of debtors attached to the sale, amounting to some 5m Eurowhatsits of prejudged charges on a ship that's probably not worth much more than a mill. Strange, though, that despite the Port of Ostend, a number of Belgian companies, and sailor types (who are presumably attempting to claim back unpaid wages) attached as having a charge over The Gardenia, there's not a single mention of Thanet Council or the Port of Ramsgate being owed a bob or two. So what's going on there, then?

The Ostenders reckon they're owed €2.5m by the defunct ferry line, which, they say, is about the same as us Fannit taxpayers are out of pocket. Although my calculator makes that about £2.1m, way short of the £3.4m that Thanet Duffer Central has fessed up to so far. And not even a chance to make some back on the auction. Kuh!

Meanwhile, I see from my copy of Krant Van West-Vlaanderen that Ostend Council are, not surprisingly, vexed about the €25,000 a month it's costing them to keep The Gardenia, and its sister rustbucket The Larkspur, moored up in their lovely port. Each ship apparently has to have a three man safety crew on board, and there are other costs such as popping the odd Euro in the lecky meter. All of which is coming out of the public purse. The Krant Van West-Vlaanderen also mentions there have been talks about restarting an Ostend-Ramsgate service. Apparently 'there may be Italians or Greeks interested'. Yep, I'll believe that one when I see it!

Click here to read the notice of the Gardenia auction in Ostend.
Click here to read the TransEuropa article in Krant Van West-Vlaanderen