Monday, April 28, 2014

Just How Naive Is Roger Gale?

In just a couple of hours' time, Thanet North's Tory MP Sir Roger Gale will step up to the parliamentary plate for an adjournment debate in the House of Commons on Manston Airport.

Whether there'll be more than one man and a dog listening is less than certain. In fact Sir Rodge may find himself talking to thin air, as I'm not sure David Blunkett counts saving money pit airports as one of his priorities.

Looking increasingly like Neville Chamberlain waving around worthless bits of paper whilst standing next to a plane, Roger's latest mutterings during the 'packed' meeting of 300 airport supporters at Margate's Winter Gardens on Saturday saw him make this statement: 'Half an hour ago, I held in my hand a letter from a significant potential investor, who I am satisfied - and I may be naive - has the money to make the bid.'

The key word there is 'naive'. Yes, Roger, you may well be naive, if your unwitting advocacy on behalf of a bunch of Thanet VAT fraudsters who have just been thrown into prison for a total of 27 years is anything to go by.

For this, dear reader, is where it gets interesting. In 2006 Sir Wind was standing up in parliament asking this question, according to Hansard: 'To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer when HM Revenue and Customs expect to be in a position to repay the sums owing to Amber Communications Management Ltd. of Margate.'

To which Dawn Primarola, then Paymaster General, responded: 'Section 18 of the Commissioners for Revenue and Customs Act 2005 does not permit HM Revenue and Customs to disclose information relating to the tax affairs of individual taxpayers.'

Fast forward to 2014, and it appears that Amber Communications Management Ltd. of Margate was nothing other than a vehicle for a colossal VAT carousel fraud based around mobile phones, which ended up costing the public purse some £27m. It was such a whopper that HMRC even gave the investigation its own handle - 'Operation Chert'. You can read the full report in GoMoNews by clicking here.

Now of course nobody in their right legal mind, least of all little old me, is suggesting that Windy was in cahoots with these fraudsters. Far from it. Everyone agrees that Roger is a fab constituency MP, and he was probably just doing what he thought was best for his constituents.

But without a due diligence check or two? P..l...eeeeeeeeze! He's been an MP around here for 30 years, you would have at least thought he might have wondered why he hadn't heard of this amazing, hi-tech Thanet business that was turning over millions and was 'owed' significant sums by HMRC, wouldn't you?

Meanwhile Ann Gloag, the airport's Scottish squillionaire owner, is apparently so on tippy-toes to receive Roger's next piece of paper that she's taken leave in Africa to spend time with her charities. Nuff said.

Click here to vote on Save Manston blog against overturning the night flight ban

Friday, April 25, 2014

Terminal Decline
Holy airports! With just 24 hours to go until the big 'Save Manston' meeting over on the seedier north side of the island, news that he's a 'confirmed guest' appears to have come as, well, news to Councillor Biggles, the island's self-styled resident expert on all things aviation.

In response to a story in The Gazunder alleging that he'd be attending along with usual suspects Sir Roger Gale MP and Laura Sandys MP, Simes sent this rather sharp tweet back to the hacks: 'I have not confirmed anything other than I am working on Saturday!!'

In all likelihood he'll be up in his teeny-tiny plane, hand on joystick, tugging a banner over Old Trafford. Which seems to be his regular gig these days.

Hey-ho. Support for the 'Save Manston' campaign has hardly set the tarmac on fire. I've seen only one 'Keep Calm and Save Manston' poster displayed on the island (in Westgate, natch!), and the mini-mob in the photo seems to be composed of a few old gippers and some embarrassed children who've been dragged along by their grandparents. Do they really think they're going to fill the Winter Gardens? I expect some of you will tell me tomorrow!

Meanwhile it's been revealed via one of those Freedom of Information thingies that Kent County Council couldn't be arsed to even look at the legals when the current owner, Scottish squillionaire Ann Gloag, bought the place for a quid off Infratil last year. Neither, indeed, did KCC's Tory leader Paul Carter, aka Sir Paul Ruddyfaced-Man. And they're not even bovvered about casting their glass eye over any of Sir Rog's current 'negotiations'. Here's what KCC's FOI response says:

I can confirm that neither Mr Paul Carter, nor any officer of Kent County Council (KCC) holds any information relating to the Heads of Terms or the sale by Infratil of Manston Airport. Also, neither Mr Carter nor any officers of KCC were they shown any Heads of Terms either by the buyer or the seller or any third party. Furthermore, KCC holds no information on how many and which businesses who asked for the closure of the airport were prevented from taking it over and in response to your third question relating to negotiations reported in the media, KCC holds no information that you requested. KCC has not been and is not a party to any of these negotiations.

Which is quite surprising really, given the kerfuffle KCC and Sir PR-M have made about Manston. What with their talk about a new railway station, planes 'flying straight out to sea', 'longest runway in Britain', and the like. Not to mention all the lovely taxpayers' lolly they've lavished on it over the years.

The words 'washing', 'their' and 'hands of it' spring to mind. You do have to wonder whether they were just using the place as a stalking horse to chase off Boris Island, thus keeping their lovely, northwest Kent cottages nice and peaceful at night.

Needless to say, Paul Carter, like Biggles, is not a 'confirmed guest' for tomorrow's meeting. Happy landings!!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Dim Tim Sin

Holy green curries! Poor old Tim Garbutt - yes, he of the constant spamming of the comments on these jottings - has got himself in a bit of a Twitter pickle with top restaurant critic Jay Rayner!

It seems from a twatspat that's been twittering on over the past 24 hours that 'Mayor' Tim took on The Observer's foodie fanatic over a review of his Surin Thai restaurant in Ramsgate's Harbour Street. JR objected to his continuing use of the review, which is now something like a decade old.

But as we know from bitter experience, Tim is like a dog with a bone. Here's a slightly reheated and rehashed taste of the Twitter exchange:

Tim: Surin is 'one of the best Thai meals I have ever eaten', Jay Rayner, The Observer and BBC Food Critic. Ad inf.

Jay: Stop quoting (my review). It's out of date.... Every time you quote me I'll call you out for dishonesty.

Tim: Do not threaten.... How rude and childish... I'll contact the Observer to disown you... We can quote it as we wish.

Jay: Which bit do you not understand? I haven't been (to your restaurant) in ten years so I can't stand by that review.

Tim: Your ego is in overdrive.... Just stop the bullying.

Kevin Harris: (Who he? - Ed.) Best to avoid Surin it seems, the proprietor can't control himself.

Jay: I have no idea whether Surin is any good. But I'm sure that (Tim) is what my people call a bit of a schmuck... I don't expect people to try and promote through something a decade old.

Tim: After this nasty bullying you (Jay) are not welcome.

Jay: That will be the next quote Surin use: 'A Jay Rayner-free restaurant since 2014' :)

Tim: Your nastiness just silly.

Jay: I'm going to sit in the corner and think about what I've done.

Tim: It was a great piece of writing. Shame it's soured a bit.

Jay: TEN YEARS AGO. And do stop snivelling. It's unattractive.

Tim: Annoyed/ashamed of you. Expect better.

Jay: Restaurants change. Chefs lose their touch.

Tim: Bullyboy reviewer banned.

Jay: Does this mean you'll stop quoting my review? I mean, if you now hate me so much and I'm not welcome how can my review be valid...?... After this I can say I have no interest whatsoever in the restaurant you represent. Well done.

In my opinion, poor old Tim has just committed culinary hurry-curry there. My threat to come round and give the Surin an 'honest review' in response to him spamming my blog would now seem a trifle redundant!

Still, I don't expect we'll have to wait long for his perspective on it! Pip pip!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Eastern Eggs

It's a four day weekend coming up! Hurrah! Hopefully we'll get lots of lovely visitors cramming down here to the far eastern tip of Kent to enjoy all the superduper stuff we've got going on, as well, of course, as our gorgeous seascape, architecture, nosh and booze.

To that end, I've updated my What's On In Thanet guide in the sidebar on the right. If you're on a smartphone, you'll have to click on 'view web version' to see that. To be frank it's not as comprehensive as it once was, given that the Visit Thanet website has improved over the years and is now pretty kushti. So apols if your particular shindig has been left out.

Also in my sidebar is my Recommended Nosheries column. This, er, needs a bit of updating, especially the Margate and Broadstairs sections.

I'll be tooling around the towns over the Easter break to sample the delights of the island's eateries, and reporting back. So restaurant owners beware! Prime cuts only please - no fingers in pies!! And if any of you lovely readers have any grubby experiences to report, do drop me a line in the comments section below.

As ever, I like to promote Ramsgate over Margate, especially given all the public dosh that's been spent attracting tourists to the north side at the expense of the south side over the past few years. So I'm pleased to announce that the Millionaires' Playground can now boast a new museum and gallery to equal the Turnip Contemporary! Step forward The Micro Museum, which boasts a collection of computers, electronics and video games from the 1970s, 80s and 90s. What with that and our Pinball Museum, all we need now is a glass eye collection and the tourists will be flocking!

Haha, no, only kidding. Ramsgate is a great place to visit, and this will be the first Easter for a century during which the happy holidaymakers won't be deafened by knackered old jumbos dive-bombing their barnets.

Still, the powers-that-be have done their best to put the mockers on it all, what with giving us concrete piles and now a burst main poo-drain down on the port, near, appropriately enough, the fart farms. It's not the first, and almost certainly not the last time Southern Water has treated us to this shower of proverbial during the summer season. Crimminy!

Right! I'm off to stuff some carbs in ahead of the Planet Thanet Beer Festival, which kicks off tomorrow. It'll be the ninth year in a row that I've sampled the delights of 180 real ales, then suffered the torture of beer-a-rear for the following week. To be honest, it's not been the same since it moved from Thanet's premier town to Margate Winter Gardens after the first year, but with Wetherspoons now looking like the faves to revamp Ramsgate's Royal Pavilion who knows, next year we could be welcoming the beardy beer imbibers back - to the biggest pub in Britain! Pip pip!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Smokin' Future For Manston?

The results of my big poll on the future of Manston are in! And the winner is.... well, it's a dead heat actually.

Asked what you thought RAF London Kent Manston Etc Airport should become now that its days as a runway are rapidly coming to a close, 22% of you went for 'leisure', while another 22% of you opted for a '700 acre cannabis farm'. Hmm. I suppose the two aren't incompatible. And when you add in the 15% who wanted the airport to be returned to agriculture, I think we have a pretty darn good consensus!

That should please Councillor Ian Driver, our appropriately Green local representative who is campaigning for a cannabis caff to open up on Kent's Ramsgate Peninsula. I mean, cripes! With 700 acres of the stuff on his doorstep, he could open up a cannabis superstore!! Here are the results in full:

Question: What future for Manston?

700 acre cannabis farm: 22% (32 votes)
Leisure: 22% (32 votes)
Renewable energy: 16% (23 votes)
Agriculture: 15% (22 votes)
Housing: 12% (17 votes)
Industry: 10% (14 votes)

Personally I would have voted for renewable energy, which came in third. But then, what do I know? Well, what I do know is that it will almost certainly become a mammoth housing estate, which came in second to last.

Meanwhile airport champion Sir Roger Guff has been meeting with airport owner Annie Get Your Gloags today in a bid to save the place. Initial reports are that Sir Rodge has said there is no offer on the table. Believe me, Rodge, there's not only no offer, there's no table, no chairs, not even a room to put them in.

Still, one cloud hanging over the future of the airport as a non-airport, which may in the end prove to be the ace up Roger's hole, is the very well-founded rumour amongst the fly boys that there are unexploded pipe bombs on the site, left over from the war. But then again, if they've been landing planes on them for decades, I can't see it's much of an argument really. Anyone for a housing boom?!?! (Geddit??!!!!!??!?!?!)

Monday, April 14, 2014


You know me, I like a good moan. But the weather's been so clement recently that I've been mainly whipping out my old throbber and thrashing it about a bit!

That said, I have been taking the odd snap on the way, so perhaps there's something to complain about on my camera roll...
Here's the crane taking the strain at that new development down on Ramsgate front. You know, what's it called, Watery Voles I think. Anyhow, they seem to be progressing at a pace. Much faster than that lot at the Pleasurama site ever did!

In fact there's building work going on all over the Millionaires' Playground, with developers finding no end of things to convert into luxury apartments. Hurrah! Of course, to feed the building boom you need the raw materials, which is probably why the mountains of hard core and gravel at the Bretts depot down at the port is growing like topsy...
Off to soggy Sandwich after that, and - Holy Noahs! Just like Russell Crowe, they seem to be building an Ark...
Not surprising after the recent inundations down there. Actually it's a £22m flood defence scheme, which means the Quay car park will be mostly hors de combat until some time in 2015.

Whistable next, and I was glad I'd donned my Rolex Oyster (Whitstable Edition) for the annual Toy Run hog-out...
Then later that day, back in Ramsgate, I happened to be trundling past The Goose (The Sovereign in, er, old money) on Harbour Street, which has been tarted up by the new owners...
Let's hope they've paid particular attention to the nasty khazis in there, otherwise their golden egg may end up cooked!

So, um, not a lot to whinge about really. Oh, apart from my brief flirtation with the eastern tip of the island, where I encountered this monstrosity...
A house covered in some kind of puke-inducing pink cladding! It's the architectural equivalent of a spray tan, and, of course can only be in Broadstairs, which generally requires four inches of bronzer and a pair of gold-plated hair straighteners to look even vaguely presentable. No wonder it's known around these parts as 'Boredstares'! Huh!

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Fokker Off

Holy joysticks! With the last KLM flight out of Manston departing this morning, I see the airline has vowed never to return to our septic isle!

In an exclusive interview with Air Transport World, KLM's Cityhopper MD Boet Kreiken said: 'We can’t leave the booking window open if they can’t guarantee operations after April 9. We can’t do business in a shaky environment. That’s not possible, not for the company, or our customers.'

Which will come as a, er, blow to all those Thanetians who were talking about hopping over to Amsterdam to enjoy the city's coffee shops. Actually, thinking about it, none of the ones I came across ever seemed to have the sponds to fund such a trip. Oh well, they'll have to hope that Councillor Motormouth's plan to open a cannabis cafe in Thanet comes to fruitation!

The KLM boss added: 'Now it is game over. We will redeploy the aircraft. We are gone. We can’t flip-flop in and out all the time. That is not the way we work.'

Cargolux have already relocated to Stansted, and Newmarket Holidays are eyeing up Lydd, so it's really looking like there'll be no happy landings for RAFMMTECNDMTSSPI Airport. Which is a bit of a shame, as I'll have to find somewhere else to park my Lear jet now.

Still, per ardua ad astra, as the fly boys say! Which is why I've popped one of my 7 day polls in the column on the right. What do you think the future of Manston should be? Pip pip!

Friday, April 04, 2014

Latchford's Legacy

Well, it's the end of another news week, fellow millionaires!

And as the whole of Ramsgate waits on tenterhooks to learn the outcome of last night's Duffer cabinet meeting to decide the fate of our Royal Pavilion (will it be Wetherspoons?), it's got me thinking about the devastation that has been visited on our lovely seafront over the past decade or so. One name keeps springing to mind - Latchford!

For it was none other than Colonel Sir Roger Latchford OBE (pictured above in happier days with his former chum John Worrow) who, in his capacity as Regeneration Supremo and Chief Ezekiel Toady under the previous Tory administration, presided over most of the crap decisions that have blighted the Millionaires' Playground, and continue to do so.

Pleasurama, for example. Wasn't it The Colonel who was the chief flag waver for SFP and Tiny Terry's Royal Sands development? And look what a pile of steaming whatsit that turned out to be! I understand the Duffers' legal eagles are even now going through the paperwork with an electron microscope to try and discover why The OBE-ed One insisted there was no 'long stop' date built into the contract. I suspect, though, they won't find the Holy Grail of a get-out clause. The Pavilion's woes also stem back to his time in the driving seat, when his hands were clearly on the steering wheel that was up Ezekiel's backside.

(By the way, where is our Sandy? He must be out of chokey by now. Has anyone spotted him? I'm offering a crisp tenner to the first person who emails me a recent photo of the ex-con!)

Of course, Latchford is now head of the Kent contingent of the Purple (Foreign) People Eater Party. So he can now presumably lord it up in Maidstone, without having to get his hands mucky with all this Ramsgate mullarkey. In fact I'm told that he's ordered his Ramsgate contingent to desist from the previous protocol of regular chinwags with the local great and good. That's democracy folks!

Anyway, the Dom is on ice and I've got some of that nice duqqa dip waiting. Before I go, I'd urge you to sign this petition. No, silly! It's not the one to save the airport. It's the one to save that skatepark in Cliftonville that the Duffers dug up last week! Thus demonstrating that, no matter which side of the island or what colour banner is flying above Cecil Square, the Duffers will always be, er, duffers!


Thursday, April 03, 2014

Big Deal Has Its Chips

Given all the hoo-ha about Margate's GB Pizza setting up shop in that London, it's about time to point out that Ramsgate is also doing its bit to export good grub to the rest of the nation!

The Bulgarian owner of Sunrise Fish and Chips here in the Millionaires' Playground tells me he's about to open another outlet down the road in Deal. That pretty much makes him a net exporter, given that anything beyond the Wantsum is viewed by most locals as suspiciously foreign.

Sunrise takes the accolade for best fish and chips in Ramsgate, in my humble proverbial. Lovely, freshly cooked food, humungous portions, and all served up with a smile and a small bill. What more could a Thanetian wish for!!??!

I dunno. They come over here, cooking good food, opening up successful businesses, employing people, contributing to the local economy. Tell Farage to put that in his Woodbine and smoke it!!

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Unhappy Landings

In Memoriam 
RAF London Kent Manston
Margate Tracey Emin
Chas 'n' Dave Maggie Thatcher
Schipol Skyport Poundland
International Airport

So farewell
Then, RAF London
Kent Manston
Margate Tracey Emin
Chas 'n' Dave
Maggie Thatcher
Schipol Skyport
International Airport.

You had the
Longest runway
In Britain
According to
Roger Gale MP.

And planes flew
'Straight out to sea'
According to
Paul Carter
Leader of
Kent County Council.

None of which
Was true.

You were supposed
To create
'10,000 jobs'.
That wasn't true either.

Now you have gone
To that great
Airport in the sky.

E. C. Richard (29)

Click here to read more about airport consortium pulling out on KM website.