Monday, November 25, 2013

Another DFL Goes BTL

Holy ballot papers! Our local MP, the lovely Laura Sandys, has announced that she won't be standing in the next election in 2015!

She writes on her Facebook page:

It is with great sadness and regret that I wish to announce that I will not be standing at the next general election in 2015. For the last six months I have been considering my future in light of a wide range of family demands and have decided that I cannot combine the level of dedication and service needed for the constituency with my growing personal responsibilities to those closest and dearest to me.

It has been a difficult and heart-wrenching decision to make as there is no greater honour and privilege than representing the constituents of South Thanet. The people of South Thanet are an inspiration to me with their dedication to our communities, their strength, their steadfastness and their sense of identity. I want to thank all those who have worked with me to ensure that we are getting the best for our local towns and villages.

Over the past few years, I believe that we have together secured many positive improvements to the quality of life in South Thanet: £40million of small business support funds; improved High Speed train services; flood defences; new international business investment into the area; an extended visitor season; and improving standards in our schools and colleges.

I want to thank my colleagues – the councillors and the council candidates – who I have worked closely with to achieve the best outcomes for our residents.
I wish to assure you that between now and the next election I will work tirelessly to achieve more for our wonderful area, making representation for our causes, supporting community groups and taking on individual cases on behalf of residents. My team and I will be at full steam until we can hand over the work to the next Member of Parliament.

These years working and living in South Thanet have been the most memorable of my life. I hope that I have been able to repay what you have given me with some lasting benefits that will improve the future life and prosperity of all our residents.

I've met Laura a few times, and despite the fact that she's a Blue Rinser, I have to say she's always seemed charming and committed to her constituency. Quite what the real reasons behind her departure are, who can tell? No, seriously, if someone knows, do tell me.

You can read the full text of Laura's resignation statement on her Facebook page by clicking here. It includes a comment from Thanet North MP Sir Roger Wind, who, unfortunately, isn't resigning.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Ellington Woots

Jolly well done, and all that, to the team behind the bid to win a slice of lottery money to tart up our lovely, but slightly shabby, Ellington Park here in the Millionaires' Playground.

They've reached the play-off next Tuesday on ITV Meridian East (What's that? - Ed.), and stand to win a whopping £50K if they beat the DFLs from Hernia Bay, who are also bidding to tart up a spot of greenery.

If you want to find out more about their plans, there's an open meeting at Churchill's this afternoon, 4pm kick off. And if you want to vote for them on Tuesday, you can get more info by clicking here.

On Monday it's the turn of Boredstares to bid. They're asking for fifty grand to build a shed, and are up against some poor bastards in Seahaven who need food.

 Pip pip!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Have A Go On My Poll

Cripes! With our beloved council booting out a critical report by its own Standards Committee last night, resulting in the mass resignation of the committee's independent, public members, and with every meeting now seemingly the subject of squabbles over whether or not cameras should be allowed in, it feels like political business over at Thanet Duffer Central is rapidly descending into chaos.

Of course, TDC doesn't have a lardy, crack-crazed alcoholic for a leader, like they do in Toronto. But nonetheless, we have still managed to carve out our own little corner of political notoriety here in the tip of Kent!

Readers with long memories will recall that it was ever thus. In the eight years I've been writing this drivel, I can barely recollect a day when I said 'Hurrah for TDC!'. That goes for both the reds and the blues.

True, there are some intelligent, dedicated and hard-working councillors around, albeit thin on the ground. And I'm sure that somewhere in the bowels of the administrative machine there are people beavering away, and trying to do their best. It must be extremely frustrating for them to have to deal with the numpties in their midst, but let's hope that sense prevails, and that we all live long enough to see TDC transformed into a modern, transparent, fit-for-purpose organisation that does what it's supposed to do - serve the voters who pay for it.

There, I've had my two pennorth! Now you can have yours by voting in my 7 day poll in the sidebar on the right!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Ferry Interesting

My spies on the continent with the twiddly moustaches and little grey cells report that the second TransEuropa rustbucket that was holed up in Oostende, the Larkspur, has now been sold for €400,000.

This follows the sale of TEF's other tub, Gardenia, for €750,000 in September.

Of course, Thanet Duffer Council, which allowed TEF to rack up £3.4m in the secret Ferrygate deal, will see none of this as they never put their name on the list.

I dunno. Next time I have to pay my council tax, I think I might just get the money out in cash, pop it in a black sack, and bury it in a landfill somewhere. That way I'd be cutting out the middleman!!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Before They Were Famous

I'm indebted to one of my eagle-eyed readers for this.

A long time ago in the year 2000, in the beautiful Buckinghamshire hills, there was a council. And this council was called Chiltern District Council. Now, the good councillors of CDC wanted to save some money, so they decided to create a trust and hive off their three leisure centres, which meant they could avoid paying business rates. They called their not-for-profit trust the 'Chiltern Leisure Trust', and off it sailed, and everyone lived happily ever after.

Well, not quite.

Four years later, the trust had run up almost £1.2m in debt. More than half of that was owed to the council itself. So the poor councillors were left with no other option than to write the money off. They were very sad, as the amount represented roughly 10% of their council's annual income.

Does that story sound familiar? A little like writing off the £3.4m that Thanet Council idiotically allowed the decrepit TransEuropa Ferries to run up before it went bust?

Well it may not surprise you to learn, then, that one of the directors of Chiltern Leisure Trust was none other than Thanet Council's very own Corporate and Regulatory Services Manager Harvey Patterson, star of my previous post. Not only that, but HP was also Head of Legal Services for CDC during the same period.

So, now you know what Harvey was doing before he was famous!

Click here to read the full story of the Chiltern Leisure Trust debacle on the Guardian website.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Happy Bunny?

Word has reached the perfectly formed Eastcliff lugholes that Thanet Council's Corporate and Regulatory Services Manager Harvey Patterson may be heading for pastures new.

If the rumour is true, and I have to emphasise that I'm only running it up the old flagpole, it could mark the start of an admin shake-up at Duffer Central. Mr P has been the legal mandarin in the eye of many a recent Thanet storm, including the loss of £3.4m in the secret Ferrygate deal, the ongoing Pleasurama eyesore, and the recent row over the Royal Victoria Pavilion.

Of course, the head honcho in all these dubious doings has been Chief Exec Dr Sue McGonigal, and in my ever-so-humble opinion it should be her who's throwing in the towel. But then who am I to explain the Machiavellian machinations of the Margate machinery?

If the rumour proves true, I wonder if, in time-honoured Cecil Square tradition, Mr P will be offered a huge wodge for walking away? I think we should be told!

Meanwhile I see that the four independent members of our beloved council's Standards Committee, who are all members of the public rather than politicians or apparatchiks, have today reported that 'there is a local suspicion of secrecy, corruption and distance between the Council as it is perceived in the offices in Cecil Square, the reality of people’s lives and the needs of the district'.

They can say that again!

In fact, I think I'll say it again! 'There is a local suspicion of secrecy, corruption and distance between the Council as it is perceived in the offices in Cecil Square, the reality of people’s lives and the needs of the district.'

You can read their tut-tuttings in full by clicking here.

Update: After a, er, lively meeting of Thanet Council on Thursday, the Standards Committee report was rejected by our arse-covering councillors, following which the four independent members of the committee resigned en masse. Nuf said.

Update Feb 2014: My scoop about Harvey Patterson's departure finally makes it to The Isle of Thanet Gazunder. Quite why they get paid to print 'news' that I've already published two months earlier is beyond me. Kuh!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Signs Of The Times

Apologies, ECR fans, for the lengthy lacuna!

I've been having such good fun working with my new best chum Clive Anderson that time has fairly whizzed by!!! Then, of course, there was all the kerfuffle at Dreamland yesterday. Following that I fell in with Antiques Roadshow expert Mark Stacey, and we both decided to take a snoop around Albion House here in Ramsgate, which was open to all-comers today as part of the lovely Emma Irvine's initiative to turn it into a boutique hotel by next June!

Phew! It's a hard life being a sleb!!!!!

Any-old-hoo, poking around Albion House, where, as we know, the young Queen Victoria used to hang her bloomers out on the balcony to dry during her summer hols, I couldn't help noticing that there was still some evidence of its more recent incarnation as council offices. If you've ever wondered why the duffer at the end of the line doesn't appear to be taking your call about that dodgy lamp post very seriously, wonder no more!
And speaking of the Highways Department, here are some other signs I've spied in my recent travels around the Millionaire's Playground:
I particularly like the full stop after 'NO'. And the miniscule 'K' as a half-arsed attempt at rectifying the typo!

The next is pretty self-explanatory:
And it appears to have worked! Hurrah!!!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Before They Were Famous

Hurrah! It's part deux of my 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 - our goofy youth seems to be celebrating his tenth birthday in this pic, but he's now a high flyer. With Constable's Hay Wain in the background, you can tell he's a conservative kind of guy!! (Geddit???!!!!?!????!!!!!!)

Good luck!!!

(He looks exactly the same today, so this isn't much of a competition, is it? - Ed.)

*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, November 11, 2013


Holy joysticks! You pop off oop north for a few days to film a couple of pilots for Dave (Wags Or Nags? and Celebrity Cake Mix), and what do you find when you get back? 100s of comments about the flippin' airport, that's what!

Oh well, the news today that Boris Island is going to be built just off the north Kent coast means there shouldn't be any more debate about the future of Manston. It hasn't got one!

That said, I expect the sight of a plan to build a six-runway lump on their doorstep will be giving the good people of Whitstable and Herne Bay a few sleepless nights. They'd better move to Ramsgate toute de suite before property prices plummet, it's going to sooooo quiet here in the Millionaires' Playground!

Click here for full story on BBC News website.

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Wetherspoons Rank Outsiders

The result of my latest 7 day poll is in - and it's an overwhelming vote against Wetherspoons taking over the Royal Victoria Pavilion here on our lovely Ramsgate front! For the record, here's how you voted:

Question: Which future for the Royal Pavilion?

Wetherspoons Pub: 36% (35 votes)
Market And Community Space: 63% (60 votes)

So that's that, then. We should be getting our foodie market and community space any time soon! Hurrah!!!

Meanwhile, up on the grimmer west side of town, I see that the Project Motorhouse initiative to, er, create a community space in the old Motor Museum has been re-christened by the mandarins over in Margate. Riffling through the 240 pages of guff about 'Key Performance Indicators' and 'Summary Outturn Positions' that's being presented to TDC's cabinet next week, I came across this gem (click on the pic to big it up):
I know that nice, Australian, Dr Who lady who's spearheading Project Motorhouse won't mind me saying that she can be a bit gobby, but 'Project Motormouth' is going too far, I'd say!

Meanwhile a building has collapsed on Ramsgate High Street, not completely of its own accord, it has to be said. Oh well, nothing new there then.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Cock And Balls Story

If you're going to the Boredstares fireworks display tonight (see What's On In Thanet in my sidebar on the right for details), let's hope they have the good sense to follow Glasgow's lead and treat us to a display that aptly reflects the spirit of the area (see Fannit Flag, also in my sidebar on the right)!!

And don't forget, you've got until precisely 4.43am tomorrow to climb onto my big, 7 day poll on the future of Ramsgate's Royal Victoria Pavilion (and, er, that too is in my sidebar on the right). It's completely anonymous, and will no doubt be enormously influential on our beloved council's decision-making process over the future of the building.

And if you believe that cock and bull, you'll believe anything!! Be safe!!

Sunday, November 03, 2013

Councillor's Pants On Fire?

Us millionaires are accustomed to things burning down on our lovely front. So it's no surprise that the current political conflagration over whether Ramsgate's listed Royal Victoria Pavilion should be a Wetherspoons or community-space-cum-market appears to be shedding more heat than light.

But from the emails I've seen bouncing back and forth this weekend, one thing does seem clear. Yet again Thanet Council, and one councillor in particular, have proved themselves either incompetent, past their sell-by date, or they really do believe that us simple Fannit folk are easily hoodwinked by smoke and mirrors.

Step forward Labour Deputy Leader Alan Poole. We've all seen Cllr Poole sniggering at the great unwashed at public meetings, and treating the people who vote for him and pay his expenses like chumps. He's been instrumental in fending off the justifiably gigantic public concern over the Pleasurama eyesore, and at times has seemed like Swiss Tony and his mysterious backers' only ally.

Now he's doing it again with the Pavilion.

The phrase he uses in an email he composed yesterday, from Queensland in Australia (where he is presumably fiddling on his iPad while Ramsgate burns), is particularly redolent of the, er, old way of doing things here on our septic isle. It includes the phrase: 'Wetherspoons... are the only game in town.' This, you will recall, is exactly the approach that TDC were severely reprimanded for by the District Auditor way back in 2002, when they fell for the old Whitbread trick vis-a-vis the Pleasurama site. You can read my report of the auditor's report here.

There's more.

Last month TDC issued this press release, stating: 'In June 2013, Cabinet members... agreed to extend the term of the lease of the building in order to generate the level of investment needed to get the building back into use. Cabinet agreed to open up the marketing of the site in order to offer an extended lease of over 100 years to a new potential leaseholder, with the council retaining the freehold of the property.'

Trouble is, there's been no 'marketing of the site'. There's diddly squat on CBRE's website (they're the people whose sign has been on the building for the best part of five years). Rank, who currently own the lease and whose gift it's therefore in, appear to have gone straight back to Wetherspoons with the 100 year promise, without passing 'go'. Yet Cllr Poole asserts in his email: 'We did advertise and Rank have advertised the vacancy but there were no takers with any money.'

There's even more.

It transpired on Friday, following a conversation between an interested party and Rank's Property Director Tony Robinson, that Rank offered to hand the lease back to TDC 'some time ago', thus releasing them (Rank) from any risk associated with assigning the lease to a third party. So TDC could have had full control of the building, and could have therefore held a public consultation over its future.

What makes this whole can of worms smell worse than a bad day in Margate Harbour is that there is now, it would seem, a viable alternative to Wetherspoons, but Poole and his cronies are spending our money on the last chance saloon without so much as a 'by your leave', or even troubling us with the facts.

If JDW get their 100 year lease, and the biggest pub in Britain turns out to be a non-starter or dead loss, we'll all be ashes long before anything can be done to reverse the decision. Talk about a bonfire of the insanities!!!

Friday, November 01, 2013

Ramsgate Off The Rails?

Cripes! I see there's yet more froth in the local rags this week about a putative 'Manston Parkway' station, and the upgrade of HS1 for the whisking of Londoners thereto.

Quite why Manston needs a 'Parkway', when there's already a perfectly good station just up the road at Ramsgate, lord alone knows. But supporters like Thanet North MP Sir Roger Wind guff on about it deliriously, as if it's the perfect panacea for our lacklustre landing strip.

A bunch of developers are now trumpeting it as 'the key to cutting journey times to and from London - making it (their development) more attractive to investors'. Cogent Land, who are proposing 800 homes on a 112 acre site east of the airport that they've dubbed 'Manston Green', say locating the station within their development would provide an 'important transport link to Westwood Cross, Manston Business Park and Discovery Park'.

This all might be a bit of a surprise to Ruddy-Faced Man and his cohorts at Kent County Council, who have proselytised a Cliffsend location for the 'Parkway'. A recent FOI request brought forth this curt response from the mandarins at Maidstone:

'Kent County Council (KCC) has not had contact with Cogent Land LLP regarding Thanet Parkway Station. The current stage of the development plan for the station is that the business case is being refreshed for the site that KCC originally identified for the station to the west of Cliffs End, while a watching brief is being kept over the Manston Green proposals.

In the event that a new station demonstrates a robust business case then KCC will follow the correct planning procedures in pursuing a planning application. To date, KCC Planning Applications Group has not been involved in this matter.'

Mind you, that's from the people who built you a whole load of traffic calming measures in Cliffsend, then unbuilt them a year later. So I suppose anything is possible.

Meanwhile a reader emails to say that the high speed trains are being discounted to 'all sorts of locations, including Margate and Broadstairs, but not Ramsgate'. She continues: 'Ramsgate has beautiful sandy beaches, a gorgeous Smeaton harbour, fabulous Georgian architecture and is 1hr 15mins from London. It knocks the socks off Whitstable and Deal in terms of beauty. How could anyone screw this up? Well 'they' have. And they continue to do so. We are now 3 places ahead of Margate on the deprivation index. How long before we are top? We need to fight.'

Looks like KCC and the Moonshine Band are already preparing us for the closure of Ramsgate Station, if you ask me!

Finally, talking of letting the train take the strain, reader Mike has emailed me a photo of what must certainly be the winning answer to putting off all those pesky trick-or-treaters on Halloween.