Thursday, October 31, 2013

Putting The Willies Up The Old Folk

Which in another context may well be termed gerontophilia. But no, this is about Halloween. My neighbour Betty, who's 76, finds all the trick-or-treating quite scary. So this year she's fashioned this rather esoteric pumpkin, or 'bumpkin' as I like to call it, in the hope that the sight of it in her front window will put the little blighters off. Good luck with that, Betty. My guess is that it may well attract something a bit scarier than a couple of 8 year olds dressed as vampires, but hey-ho.

Personally I don't mind the rascals, and have shipped in a box of Charbonnel et Walker Champagne Truffles especially for the occasion. Not only are they delicious, but they could well redirect the local oiks onto a more aspirational path!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Who Wants To Be A Pavilionnaire?

I don't!

But after five years of neglect and dereliction, there now appears to be competition for the honour of owning the lease on the Royal Victoria Pavilion, one of the tryptic of tragic eyesores on Ramsgate's dilapidated front (the other two being Pleasurama and the old Motor Museum. Oh, and our deserted port! Er, that's four.)

I was the first to suggest, back in 2008, that Wetherspoons should take it over (click here to read the story), when Rank scarpered to their current shed out at Westwood Cross. And now it seems my plan is coming to fruitation, with The Duffers extending the lease to 100 years to accommodate J D and his crew.

But wait! Coming up the rear is the lovely Emma Doherty-Irvine, the owner of several successful seaside rental properties here in the Millionaires' Playground, which attract thousands of visitors to the town every year. Her plan is to use the Pav more as a community space with food stalls and a market, along the lines of London's thriving Borough Market.

Emma is a highly motivated, young, Irish architect who is currently in the early stages of turning Albion House, here on the East Cliff, into a boutique hotel. She seems to have the knowledge, drive, and, most importantly, access to the financial backing to make things happen (it'll take millions to tart the place up). She fronted the film for Ramsgate's bid to win a portion of the Portas Town Team money last year, take a look...

So which horse to back? The decision will be crucial for the future of Ramsgate. Lord knows, we don't want to end up with another Royal Sands on our hands! Look what happened there, with TDC backing Tiny Terry's lame Swiss horse as if it was the only nag in town!

I'm not knocking Wetherspoons, they seem to have a tremendous track record when it comes to tarting up old buildings, they have the sponds, and Frank Thorley could certainly do with some competition. But they only want two-thirds of the building, and as far as I know there's no mention of using the rest for community space. And what if they do a runner in ten years time, like Rank?

Then there's the question of whether we need more 'community space'? Surely that's what that nice Dr Who lady is proposing for the old Motor Museum up on the grimy West Cliff? Kuh! I dunno!

Anyway, make your own mind up. You can watch Emma's very thoughtful presentation by clicking here, and take a gawp at her Facebook page here. Then vote in my 7 day poll on the right!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Before They Were Famous

Yes ECR fans - it's the start of a brand new feature here on Fannit's favourite, fun-filled factsheet!!

All you have to do is guess the identity of this now-famous Fannit face to win a fantastic firkin of fizz!!!!!!*

Here's a clue - with his handsome, Gilbert O'Sullivan looks and brunette bouffon, he's a 'hair today, hair tomorrow' kind of chap!!!!! But I ain't gonna Labour the point!!! (Geddit???!!!!?!????!!!!!!)

Good luck!!!

*Prize will consist of one half bottle of Shampagne, courtesy of the Ramsgate Aldi. Terms and conditions apply. One winner only. No cash alternative. Competition and prize may be withdrawn by Richard Eastcliff Enterprises Ltd at any time and without notice. Closing date for entries: 1 January 3014.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Great Wall Comes Tumbling Down

Or, to purloin another musical metaphor, Hey Jude!

Well, only one tile went missing from the roof here at the old cliff top mansion during the Great Storm Of 2013, which I regard as a bit of a result. But a tour of the Millionaires' Playground in the Toyota Priapus this morning revealed that GO'D's own Great Wall failed to make it though the night, leaving the Pleasurama Eyesore looking more like The Great Hairy Mound Of Ramsgate.
A team of crack Cardy-ologists are already on the scene, making good with the wood, so hopefully the winner of the All-Comers Badly Painted Krankies Lookalikes Competition 2011 will be back in its rightful upright position soon!
I suspect a few other nosey bloggers have taken the opportunity to wander around the open site, checking the foundations of cliff walls etc, you'll probably be hearing from them shortly.

Meanwhile, around town, there seemed to be little damage apart from the odd fallen branch. Oh, and the beach appears to be in the process of reclaiming our lovely, but deserted, port!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Gale Warning

Cripes! I would sooooo like to turn this into a caption competition, but my wolf pack of highly trained legal beagles have advised against it. Hey-ho.

With the St Jude storm about to hit our septic isle and mash everything to a gelatinous pulp, one of my correspondents has alerted me to another blast of dreadful wind which emanated from Sir Roger Gale, Member of Parliament for Fannit Norf since 1874, in the House of Commons this week.

As usual, Sir Rodge was guffing on about the airport in his customary, swivel-eyed manner (anyone recall his plan to turn Manston into the London Olympics Airport? Nope, nobody does, as it never happened.) Here's the entire text of his latest meanderings from Hansard:

I am delighted to see you in the Chair this afternoon, Madam Deputy Speaker. I am grateful to the hon. Member for Liverpool, Riverside (Mrs Ellman) for generating the opportunity for us to debate something of absolute national importance. Finally, I am pleased to see my hon. Friend the Minister on the Front Bench and welcome him to his new job. I look forward to welcoming him to Kent in the not-too-distant future - he does not know that, but it is going to happen.

I do not want to rerun yesterday's debate either, but during the debate on air passenger duty, the hon. Member for Blackley and Broughton (Graham Stringer) referred to the loss of business to Schiphol and Charles de Gaulle - he might have added Frankfurt - and several other locations in Europe. This is crucial for the economy of the UK. We cannot gainsay the fact that the economic hub of the nation is in London. There is much good business in Manchester, Birmingham and Scotland, but the place that people have got used to interlining through, and therefore also doing business in, is London.

Frequently people just change planes, but equally frequently they stop over. Because they are coming through London, they take the opportunity to take in a show or do business in the City of London. It is not just the thousands of jobs at Heathrow or Gatwick that are at stake and which we could lose to mainland Europe; this is about all the other, ancillary jobs, and the tourism and business that go with them. The cost to the country from the loss of aviation business in the south-east to mainland Europe is almost inestimable.

A long time ago, I upset my right hon. Friend the Member for Saffron Walden (Sir Alan Haselhurst) when I championed the cause of the airport at Stansted. I remember saying then, "It's not Heathrow or Stansted; it's Stansted or Schiphol." That is even truer today than it was then. If I need to underscore that point, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines and Air France are now flying from Manston, in Kent, twice daily to Schiphol, as they are from a number of other regional airports. They are not doing that for fun; they are doing it because they can see there is business to be taken, from the south-east of England in particular, to Schiphol to interline and to go on to all the other places in the world - literally, anywhere that it is possible to fly to from Schiphol. We cannot afford to sacrifice that business.

This debate is about aviation strategy, but my worry is that there is no aviation strategy. There is a commission, and Sir Howard Davies will do his job and report by 2015. Then there will be a debate and more discussion, and there will not be another strip of tarmac or another building, or a Boris island, for 20 years. That is how long it will take. We are losing business today - not tomorrow, in a year's time or in five years' time, but today. As we speak, business is transferring from the United Kingdom to the mainland European airports. We cannot afford to sustain that loss.

On the doorstep of London there is a place called Manston, in Kent. It has the fourth longest runway in the country - it has taken Concorde and wide-body jets - and it is available now. I am not suggesting for one moment that Manston could or should be another London airport, but I believe it could have a major role to play. In, I think, 2005 - I stand to be corrected - the right hon. Member for Edinburgh South West (Mr Darling) published his White Paper on the future of aviation in the south-east, but since then nothing at all has happened in any meaningful or constructive form, apart from perhaps another terminal at Heathrow. I put it to him at the time that Manston was available, and I was told, "No, it's too far from London" - 76 miles.

Let us think about that. Manston is quite a long way - it is further than Gatwick and Heathrow. Actually, it is not, at least not in time. I hope we will eventually finish High Speed 1- my hon. Friend the Minister might have a hand in that. Indeed, I have travelled on the existing line, with old rolling stock, in under an hour from central London to Manston, and if that was possible then, with High Speed 1, it is even more possible today. We can get the journey time down to about 50 minutes. It takes more than 50 minutes to get from central London to Heathrow and almost as long to get to Gatwick. Therefore, in terms of time rather than distance, which is what matters to the traveller, Manston is viable.

So what do we have? We have an airport sitting in Kent, out on the peninsular, relatively out of harm's way in terms of overflying, available today and under new ownership - Manston was sold and bought last week. Its future was in a bit of doubt because it was on the market, but it has now been bought, so it is secure, at least for the foreseeable future. Manston is there and I say to my hon. Friend the Minister and the House that we have to buy time if we are not going to lose more jobs. Manston is never going to be another London airport. What Manston can do is take traffic from Gatwick to release capacity, allow Gatwick to take traffic from Heathrow and free up the capacity there, which is what we need in the short term while the Government take long-term decisions. Manston is a national asset - not a regional or local asset - and we need to use it now. This country cannot afford to waste it.

If you haven't died from a boredom-induced stroke (quite how Our Roger kept the bright young things tuned in during his stint as a pirate DJ in the 60s is beyond me!), you'll have seen that he perpetuates one or two inaccuracies there. Did you spot them? No?

Well how about '(Manston is) relatively out of harm's way in terms of overflying'? Oh well, perhaps geography isn't his strong point. 'Is secure for the foreseeable future'? Business and commerce not a strong point either, clearly. Unless by 'foreseeable future' he means the end of next month.

'Fourth longest runway in the country?' Er, it's the 14th longest, actually.

No wonder the bigwigs in That London don't take Sir Roger seriously. They've twigged he's about as reliable as Michael Fish!

Speaking of which, I'd better tool off and batten down the hatches here at the old cliff top mansion. Let's hope nothing blows off during the night!!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

End Of An ERA

With millionaires steadily deserting Ramsgate's sunny East Cliff for the artificially warmer climes of the Arsonists' Playground, it appears that the local residents' association has gone down the gurgler.

Which is a shame, as the ERA was instrumental in tarting up the area, not least by installing lovely girls on the Festival of Britain fountain on the front!

Still, it's not all doom and gloom, as there are still many civic-minded souls emailing me daily with their thoughts, discoveries and issues here on the trendy east side of town. So I've pulled together a round-up of the latest news, and called it The Round-Up Of The Latest East Cliff News!

A spate of graffiti has recently affected the East Cliff...
Apparently the Duffers' finest have been alerted and their crack team of graffiti removalists will be on the case soon.

One of the tykes that threw stones and smashed the glass in our lovely, restored shelter has apparently fessed up to the cozzers, and will no doubt spend the rest of his life in clink.

Finally, the pulhamite on the Grade II listed Winterstoke rock gardens is cracking...
This is apparently due to neglected, overgrown trees and mature shrubs, as the rocks and terraces were only intended to hold small plants.

Mind you, I was in Boredstares yesterday, now there's a place that really is looking shabby!

And that's The Round-Up Of The Latest East Cliff News!

Monday, October 21, 2013

A Fine Way To Welcome Visitors

One of my foreign spies has emailed me in disgust at the way he's been treated recently by Thanet's parking Nazis attendants.

Arriving here in lovely Ramsgate on Saturday, our friend from across the water checked into the Travelodge on the harbour and parked in the Leopold Street multi-storey. Which, as we know, is free on Saturdays, so no need for a ticket. My correspondent continues:

We had a great time and spent a lot of money in the local pubs and a restaurant. After having a breakfast in the hotel we left at 08.30 in the morning only to find a fine attached to the windscreen. The attendant wrote the fine at 7.30AM. So Leopold Street is a jackpot for TDC, nobody in the hotel will get up early in the morning to put money in the machine. The proof was the many fines posted on the windscreens, many probably Travelodge guests.

The problem is that if you put moeny in the parking machine on the Saturday, you get a ticket which says you paid for the Saturday, which is free.

He goes on to say that the next time he fancies a sojourn across the Channel, he'll be staying in Deal or Dover, or any of the other locations where you can park for free on a Sunday, and not have to worry about getting up at sparrow's fart to feed a ticket machine.

Clearly the machines need to be re-programmed so that, if you put money in on a Saturday, it gives you credit for Sunday. But then Thanet Council would lose out on some of their £200,000+ a year parking fine revenue, wouldn't they? After all, they need to do something to make up for the zero beach littering fines and four dog mess fines they issued last year!

Our foreign friend signs off with: 'Leopold Street car park also has an unpleasant stench of urine.' He's not wrong there.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

15 Facts You Already Knew About Manston

Only in your super, soaraway Eastcliff Richard! We profile the airport that's just been sold for a whopping £1!!! (Shurely shome mishtake? - Ed.)

1. RAF London Kent Manston Margate Tracey Emin Chas & Dave Maggie Thatcher Schipol Poundland International Airport began life in 1915 as an emergency landing strip for the Royal Flying Corps.

2. Contrary to popular belief, RAFLKMMTEC&DMTSPIA does not have 'the longest runway in the UK'. It is, in fact, the 14th longest runway in the country.

3. Also contrary to urban legend, and contrary to what it says on the airport's Wikipedia page, NASA never had any plans to use the airport as an emergency landing strip for the space shuttle.

4. When the previous owners, Kiwi firm Infratil, took over in 2006 after the airport went bust, they predicted it would be breaking even by 2009.

5. In 2007, the airport was said to require millions of pounds worth of investment to sort out its drainage and fuel tanks.

6. Also in 2007, a poll conducted by Eastcliff Richard revealed that 73% of readers found training flights from RAFLKMMTEC&DMTSPIA a nuisance.

7. In 2008, 1500kgs of rotting food was impounded off a cargo flight, including 'fish that was so badly decayed some of it had become liquid'.

8. Also in 2008, Manston based holiday firm Seguro went bust, leaving 2,500 holidaymakers stranded abroad.

9. In 2009, Thanet North MP Sir Roger Gale pushed for Manston to become 'London's Olympic Airport'. 

10. Also in 2009, Infratil reported the airport was losing £4m a year, and were expected to sell it 'within 12 months'.

11. And again in 2009, British Airways World Cargo pulled out of negotiations to base themselves at Manston, preferring Stansted instead.

12. In 2010, regular Manston cargo visitors Meridian and Egyptair were severely reprimanded by the DfT and CAA for serious technical and safety failures.

13. Cargo flights have often been found to conceal contraband. In 2010, 3kg of cocaine was seized off a knackered old jumbo from Ghana.

14. Also in 2010, the airport changed its name, yet again, this time from 'Kent International Airport' to 'Manston - Kent's International Airport.'

15. During the last general election, Thanet North MP Sir Roger Gale came out firmly against night flights at Manston.

That's enough Manston facts - Ed.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Breaking News - Manston Sold For A Song

As recently predicted here on the big blog, RAF London Kent Manston Margate Tracey Emin Maggie Thatcher Schipol International Airport has been sold by its Kiwi owners Infartil - for a quid!

The new owners, who made their millions by founding the Stagecoach transport empire, seem more likely to be more interested in buses than planes.

Thanet North MP Sir Roger Wind has trotted out the same trite statement welcoming the new owners that he's trotted out for the previous two, neither of whom could make a go of the place, viz: 'We now have a company taking over the airport that recognises its potential.'

Talk about flogging a dead duck!

Click here for more info on the BBC News website.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Rubbish Rubbish Collection Collection

With our lovely council's new, 'improved' system of bin collection just around the corner, my spies tell me that they're already struggling to cope with two wheelie bins per household, let alone the 4,583 bins we'll each have come November!

A reader from the grimy north of the island writes:

I want to know what happened to our bin men this morning. Everyone's bins were mixed up, are you seriously telling me a man can't take a wheelie bin from a property, empty it, and then return it to where he got it?!!!! Neighbours, including a lady pregnant with twins, have been out trying to find their own bins up and down the street. Apparently there are wide bins and skinny bins - who knew!?! I now possess a skinny one which wasn't mine before they came, but I haven't been able to get out and scour the neighbourhood for a wide-that-I-thought-was-standard-size bin!!!! HMPH!

Well that doesn't really bode well for next month, does it? Let's hope the £2,482,245 The Duffers have spent on a fleet of 15 new bin lorries proves worth it!!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Gimme Shelter

Or more appropriately 'gawd gimme strength', as the rubber-lipped one also no doubt intoned at some point.

According to reader Ben, this damage was done to one of the recently restored shelters here on the East Cliff yesterday afternoon. The vandals were apparently four nippers, aged around nine or ten, who were, er, getting satisfaction out of heaving stones at the shelter.

The rozzers were called and some names have been taken, let's hope they don't have any sympathy for the little devils. (That's enough Rolling Stones tracks - Ed.)

I had been meaning praise the restoration of these Victorian edifices (14 in all along our lovely front), which the Ramsgate Society supervised having won a £500K grant from the Townscape Heritage Initiative. My picture below shows their previous, parlous state, back in ye olden days (2007), after they'd spent a number of years being neglected by that other gang of mindless vandals, Thanet Council.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Snooze Newz

Cripes! All that talk of my kip being interrupted by knackered old jumbos has forced me to reassess the sleeping arrangements here at the old cliff top mansion!

And who better to consult than the Ile's leading bed emporium, Thanet Bedz?!

Their same day delivery and 'honest prices every day' policy make them the ideal place for the discerning, yet mean, millionaire to find that divine divan or superking snoozeriser at a massive discount. They also do sofas, bedroom furniture and dining tables, so I might as well get the entire place kitted out while I'm at it!!!

Why not tool along to their Ramsgate or Margate showrooms and see for yourself? Or give them a call on 01843 595858. They're also offering a FREE £400 silk pocket sprung divan for every 1000th Facebook like, so you should really check that out as, who knows, you might soon find yourself sleeping like a millionaire too!!!!

NB: The fact that Thanet Bedz are now sponsoring this blog, having left a substantial sum in a manilla envelope behind the hot water pipes in the Cavendish Street khazis, has had no influence on the content of this post.

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Manston Pickle

You know me, I'm not one of those swivel-eyed rabble-rousers who's prone to posting controversial stuff in the hope of whipping up the lethargic locals into a state of revolutionary frenzy.

But no less an organ than the British Medical Journal has just reported a link between aircraft noise, especially at night, and the risk of heart disease and death from stroke. The report confirms what other studies have found, including one large-scale German analysis that concluded there was a 66% increased risk of heart attacks in men, and a whopping 139% increased risk in women, should knackered old jumbos be whining over your bonce while you're trying to get a bit of the old shut-eye.

I've run those odds past Cyril, my bean counter (he's a whizz with an Excel spreadsheet), and apparently that means there's a statistical chance of everyone in Ramsgate being dead by next Tuesday, should RAF London Kent Manston Margate Tracey Emin Maggie Thatcher Schipol International Airport decide to bust the toothless no night flights ban, which, er, it already does anyway.

Meanwhile Manston's bosses Infratil have been on a shindig to Shanghai, where they've decided to offload their other UK loss-making lump, Glasgow Prestwick Airport, onto the poor old Scottish taxpayer. You'd hope they'd be paying Lexy Salmon and his kilted crew to take it off their hands, but we all know from recent experience here on the Ile de Thanet what dunces public servants are when it comes to doing a commercial deal.

With RAFLKMMTEMTSIA up for sale since March last year, what's the betting Thanet Council's cack-handed Chief Executive Sue McGonigal trumpets a fabulous deal in the next few weeks to buy the £4m-a-year lossmaker for a bargain £3.4m, thus saving the twelve jobs at stake?!?!!!!?!!!

Click here to read about the latest BMJ report on aircraft noise.
Click here to read about Infratil's sale of Prestwick to the Jocks.

Thursday, October 03, 2013

Down From Hackney

(With apologies to Chas & Dave)

Well now I've got that lottery grant from The Tate
To fund my installation down in Margate
I'm gonna blow the cash tomorrow, a site-specific plot
We'll catch the fast train, don't be late, we'll be there on the dot

Get the Earl Grey ready, Victoria, 'cos we're coming...

Down from Hackney
Don't forget the Fairtrade espresso and soya milk
Down from Hackney
With my friends from Hoxton and everyone of that ilk
Down from Hackney
We'll see the Turner, discern an earner by the sea
Down from Hackney
You can keep your chips and cockles
We're above the usual grockles
'Cos we're down from Hackney
Alex, Josh, Arthur and me!

Along the prom we'll try to get granola
And shun the arcades, bingo and Mazola
The kids will all enjoy themselves on their iPads and phones
And look at all the chavs and sigh with patronising groans

Behave yourself Noah, or I'll block your iTunes account

Down from Hackney
Don't forget to put it on Tumblr, Twitter and blogs
Down from Hackney
We'll be wearing O'Neill wetsuits over our togs
Down from Hackney
We'll buy a pulled pork, sour dough sandwich for our tea
Down from Hackney
You can keep Shoreditch and Stokie
From now on they're much too low key
'Cos we're down from Hackney
Alex, Josh, Arthur and me!

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

RoRo Yer Boat Gently Down The Income Stream

There'll be a rustling of brarn envelopes down at our lovely port tomorrow, as the sealed bids are opened in the race to become Thanet Council's appointed consultant with the unenviable task of finding a RoRo operator to replace TransEuropa Ferries.

The, er, 'lucky' winner will have until June next year to entice an operator to the port, and will get a percentage of whatever income that attracts. Presumably the lowest percentage (or the envelope stuffed with the most fifty pound notes) wins.

The council's tender document, a copy of which I have in my hot little hands, states:

The Council has a desire to attract a ferry service(s) back to the Port of Ramsgate, as having an active ferry service assists in regenerating the locality, delivering jobs and retains skills within Thanet.

The Port of Ramsgate knows that it can deliver the relevant services to a ferry provider as it has successfully facilitated operational support for previous operations.

The Council’s aim is to have one or more ferry companies operating out of the Port of Ramsgate to regain public confidence in the both the Council and the Port of Ramsgate. It raises morale within residents of Ramsgate and brings support businesses to the area.

'Successfully facilitated operational support for previous operations', eh? Well you can't argue with that, can you? I'd say that stuffing £3.4m worth of our council tax into a dead duck was a right little morale booster for Ramsgate residents, wouldn't you?

Long term readers will recall that the last time we were on the verge of getting a new ferry operator was in 2009, when I made the above video commemorating the imminent arrival of Euroferries' new vessel Bonanza Express. Needless to say, it never did arrive. Neither has their latest ghost ship, despite it being trumpeted all over their website.

On the plus side, warm and heartfelt congratulations are due to me for clocking up half a million page views since July 2008 (and more than three quarters of a million since I started this blog in January 2006, according to Site Meter). Three cheers for me!!!!!