Sunday, December 31, 2006

The Hidden Lido Revealed

Underground Kent has an excellent story on the Margate Lido. Visit the site for more information and photos. An extract below:

"In the 1920's the Lido at Cliftonville was completed to cater for the popularity of sea bathing. The Lido was built on the existing Clifton Baths Estate, beneath which ran many passageways used by smugglers in previous centuries. The underground complex consisted of bars, cafes and an indoor warm sea water pool with nearby changing facilities. The Lido was hugely popular from it's construction right through to the 1960's. A winter storm in January 1978 which destroyed Margate Pier also wreaked havoc with the Lido, particularly the outdoor pool. Reconstruction work was never even considered, and even today the Lido faces almost certain demolition."

Pandora's Box

I'd like to wish all our readers a Happy & Prosperous 2007 ahead with a tip for those of you who maybe using the internet to listen to music online.

If you haven't found it already, try 'Pandora' its a profound shift in the way you can find the music you like and listen for free, Simply enter the name of the artists or albums you like most and Pandora will suggest a track to listen to. As youlisten, you rate the tracks and after a short time, Pandora, using something called "The Music Genome Project" will intelligently guess at your music tastes and build your own private internet radio station.

Try it, you'll be impressed!

Pandora - Find New Music, Listen to Free Web Radio

If you can't be bothered to build your own radio station than you can select the ones created by other users, called Pandora Radio, there's even a James Brown tribute station.

Body on Westgate Beach

A body of a man in his seventies, was discovered on the beach, opposite the slipway at St Mildred's Bay, Westgate at 07:45 this morning.

By the time I appeared to walk my dog, the scene was cordoned-off by Police and at 10am the body was removed by ambulance. There's no other information available at present.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Council Tax Rises as Private Firms Profit

The Times reveals that householders face inflation-busting council tax rises of at least 4 per cent in April to help to pay for the costs of private sector contracts.

The spiralling cost of contracts for rubbish disposal, road repairs and support services, such as care for the elderly and the handicapped, has caused fees to rise from £10 billion to £18 billion in five years.

Ministers have been so alarmed by the increase that they are setting up a high-level review with industry and council leaders.

At a meeting before Christmas, I heard that 17% of the UK population now work in one form or another for their local council from the overall estimated population employment figure of 32% now working for the public sector.

You might say that the Council Tax rises are equally a product of a Government employment programme which is starting to resemble France; with fewer private sector jobs available, employment has to be found somewhere and as you look north of London towards the Midlands and Scotland, the public sector starts to become the biggest and most lucrative employer of all; particularly for private sector companies like large management consultancies. The Mayor of London is one of the finest examples of this.

However, with the cheap goods that fuelled our Christmas (70% coming from China according to the Chancellor) we can't keep growing the public sector infrastructure and expect taxation to pay for it. One day the straw will break the camel's back and the eighties recession may look mild by comparison.

Council tax soars again :

Thursday, December 28, 2006

A Political Internet Channel

The internet has always offered a stage for dramatic reinvention. Now, internet television lets professional politicians play the role of citizen-reporter

18DoughtyStreet Talk TV launched in October as Britain's first political internet TV channel. It describes itself as "an anti-establishment TV station on the internet" with "citizen journalist reporters" who will be "championing rebel opinions" and "constantly questioning authority". But its five directors are all former Conservative candidates or employees and it advertised for staff in America with the claim that it would be "Like Fox News".

18DoughtyStreet streams up to five hours a night of political chat (talk radio for the eyes) untroubled by Ofcom regulations that require "due impartiality" from broadcasters. And it is not subject to Ofcom's Broadcasting Code that states, "No politician may be used as a newsreader, interviewer or reporter in any news programmes unless, exceptionally, it is editorially justified. In that case, the political allegiance of that person must be made clear to the audience. In any event, it's bound to drive our New Labour leaders a little crazy, which is as good an excuse as any to give it some space here.

I wonder if Tony is watching it from his borrowed holiday home in Miami?

TravelAgent to be Based at Manston Airport

Manston is to benefit from an on-site travel agency, due to open early next year.

Brockmans Travel, a Kent-based independent travel agent, will officially open a branch at the airport on January 13th. The company will offer its full range of products at the on-site location. This includes flights from travel companies such as Kent Escapes, which flies to Faro and Barcelona, and Newmarket Holidays, which flies to Italy.

Passengers will also be able to book flights from Manstonto Norfolk, Virginia in the US through Cosmos.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Neighbours Use Wheelie Bin for Fire Rescue

A mother and her two young children have had a 'very close call' after being saved from a fire at their home.

A neighbour put a wheelie bin against the side of Abby Cahill's house, in Minster, Kent, and helped the family down from a first-floor window.

The fire escape. Another useful idea for the Thanet wheelie bin:

Free Calls for Xmas

Reader D.O writes:

"Yes I know some of this is already known by some of you but its worth remembering about Free Landline calls during the festive period.

Free 5 min FREE TRIAL call ANYTIME landline to landline.

This is quite reliable too, Quality good too..No need to sign up. Just visit Freecall.com

Just press redial on screen when the call ends....."

OR

Free Calls XMAS Day only.

Secret Memo Warns of Crime Wave

As if we didn't know it already and just in time for Christmas, the country is in a complete mess. A new report for the Prime Minister reveals that nine out of 10 crimes are either not reported or go unpunished.

On top of this, half of all crimes in England Wales are committed by just 100,000 people and on that basis, I wonder what proportion of local crimes, here in Thanet, are committed by, say 100 people? Any guesses?

Secret memo warns Blair of crime wave :

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Elf Yourself

If you haven't "Elfed" yourself and your loved ones, then perhaps you should try?

Here's one member of the family in the Christmas "Elf" spirit of things

Here's the main link to the website.

Retail Greed - A Need to Re-visit the Law Says MP

The Sunday Trading laws will need to be re-visited to address the issue of "creative" Christmas Eve opening hours, says North Thanet's MP, Roger Gale.

Speaking in his constituency this morning the MP, a consistent opponent of Sunday trading and a supporter of the Keep Sunday Special campaign said:

"The large stores may be prepared to "bend" the law to extend shopping hours by introducing "browsing time " and "checking out time" but that is simply based upon retail greed and flies in the face of the spirit of the law.

We had to re-visit the Act to deal with the days when Christmas Day falls on a weekday and we will have to look again at how to plug what is clearly a loophole in the law.

Responding to the suggestion from the "My Sunday, My choice" group to the effect that shoppers would be "confused" by different hours the MP said:

"I think that this is a fatuous argument: people know that Christmas Day falls on December 25th and when that is a Monday they can probably just about work out for themselves that Christmas Eve is likely to be a Sunday! We have more than three hundred and sixty shopping days in which to get ready for Christmas and it's time that more consideration is given to the fact that store staff, like everyone else, want to get home early on Christmas Eve."

Friday, December 22, 2006

Making Waves Not Wind

I may be making "waves" on the windfarm story.

The new £500m windfarm opposite our coastline is set to make a fortune for its owners - just six years after they were involved in the spectacular collapse of Independent Energy that left investors, lenders and creditors hundreds of millions of pounds out of pocket.

Failed energy trio make windfarm killing :

Speed Awareness - Beware Speed Traps

The police are busy speed-trapping outside the QEQM today, so be aware.

Reader Mr EJ writes:,

"My father has been the unhappy recipient of a notice of intended prosecution for an alleged speeding offence. I am pretty sure that it was the camera van that got him - the location was given as Canterbury Rd Birchington. The second lot of papers have now arrived offering him the chance to escape the 3 penalty points by attending a "speed awareness course". The course lasts some 6 hours and costs £111. That works out at £18.50 per hour , per person attending the course!

When I heard about these courses being offered in lieu of a fine and penalty points I thought that it offered some credibility to the argument that it wasn't all about collecting money.

I am shocked that people are being asked to pay for the course and astounded that it is nearly twice what the fine would be.

Needless to say , my Dad will be opting for the fine and penalty points. It is almost as if this new initiative is sneakily making 3 points and a £60 fine look attractive! The courses are offered at Maidstone and in the Medway area.

I enjoyed your "watch out" article and thought this may interest you."

Ed: It does and thanks for letting me know. Your'e reader #3 with the same experience. The others paid the fine too, also expressing outrage that they would have to pay for an awareness course on top of the fine, if they were to lose the three points on their license. I guess if your'e up to the limit thought, you've got no choice!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Only in Thanet

"Fancy a DC9 jet engine mate? One careful owner, no questions asked."

Kent Police have charged two of the four men arrested yesterday in connection with the theft of a jet engine worth £60,000 from African International Airways at Manston.

A 36-year-old has also been charged the theft of two jet engines from African International Airways site on December 5.

Both have been bailed to appear before magistrates at Margate on January 9.

Ed: I can't imagine why anyone would be stupid enough to do this unless they simply planned to melt the engines down for scrap. It's not that you can sell the parts on

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Wet Feet

A burst water main along the sea front at Westgate today opposite Dane Road. It's ditching about a year's supply of domestic water along the road and down the slope into the sea every ten minutes or so.

Can't be doing the road foundations any good either.

Christmas Ideas

It's called dog-wear and you can find it at "New Look" at Westwood Cross. But hurry, these cute Christmas presents for your favorite pooch are selling like hot cakes - especially the "hoodies", so be quick!

Monday, December 18, 2006

Approval Expected for Wind Farms

Plans for two major offshore wind farms in the Thames Estuary have been agreed by the government.

The London Array wind farm will be the biggest of its kind in the world, spread across 145 square miles, 12 miles off the coast between Margate in Kent and Clacton in Essex. The DTI also approved another development off Ramsgate, 100 turbines sited seven miles off north Foreland. The combined output of the schemes could be up to 1.3GW - "enough to meet the needs of a third of homes in Greater London".

Given last week's report on how inefficient wind power actually (1.3gw may be wildly optimistic) is with wind generators positioned here in the south, it looks as if someone is going to be making a great deal of money somewhere in government subsidies at the expense of the local view.

BBC Report:

Sunday, December 17, 2006

In the Dark

Over at Manston today and I was told that the company that runs the very succesful Kent Airshow in Palm Bay each June, has gone into receivership. If this is correct, then it rather begs the question of what's going to happen in 2007?

The airshow would have been in its third year and brings in thousands of visitors to Thanet. Can anyone offer us update please?

Here, by the way, is a short video of tonight's landing at Manston for any of you who might be interested in what it all looks like coming in when it's dark!

The Matrix - Sort of

I circled around Westwood a couple of times in the dark, late yesterday afternoon on the way into Manston. It didn't look as busy as I thought it might be. I'm told by the charity collectors on the ground that this is a tough Christmas, the pennies aren't flowing into the boxes as quickly as they normally do. This may reflect the overall retail picture of the worst pre-Christmas business in twenty-five years for the shops.

I'm guessing that with higher energy bills and a raft of other taxes and charges, people are tightening their belts, with the prospect of a New Year that holds higher council taxes and Gordon Brown as Prime Minister- that's if the police enquiry doesn't get him first - In the latter case, you just know that 'Brown Labour' will most likely squeeze the taxpayer in a way that hasn't been seen since the good old days of Robin Hood; every reason to hide a few pennies away under the floorboards. I did feel sorry for the man selling "The Big Issue" in Margate High Street this week. Not the best place for a charity pitch I thought.

Remaining with the subject of taxes, I see that Parachute training in the Army is set to be halted for four years as part of a £1 billion cost-cutting programme by the Ministry of Defence. It's back to tethered balloon jumps, I suppose, but they aren't qute like the real thing, even though I would argue it's a more frightening experience for the jumper.

Meanwhile, today, I've been caught-up in today's Observer news story that Cherie's 'Matrix Chambers', may have had to resort to legal action to defend themselves against internet pirates who are using Matrix's personnel, host of awards and high reputation in an apparent money-making scam.

I'm not quite sure the author understood what I meant by "website cloning" but it's a passable story and for once we can sit back and watch the lawyers fight it to a very expensive conclusion at their own expense.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Sorry, We're Full

The Government is being urged to introduce new laws to stop other local authorities “dumping problem children” in the county.

Kent County Council says it is being asked to do the impossible by having to take on hundreds of foster children from other areas without notice and when no school places are available.

KCC was ordered to pay £5,000 compensation this week for failing to provide an education for a foster child moved into the area from Essex.

But KCC leader Paul Carter says the fault lies with the Government for allowing better-funded counties to flood Kent with their emergency problem cases.

Cllr Carter said: “It should be illegal for other authorities to place foster care children in our care without first making sure there is adequate educational provision.”

There are currently 2,513 looked-after children in Kent, around half of which have come from 77 other councils, including better-funded London boroughs.

The county must provide and pay for the education of all foster children living or placed in its boundaries.

Last week, Local Government Ombudsman Tony Redmond found both Essex and Kent county councils guilty of maladministration for failing to properly educate a teenager with learning and behavioural difficulties.

Essex was criticised for moving the 16-year-old boy to a foster home in Kent before suitable education had been arranged for him, while KCC failed to educate him for six months.

Cllr Carter acknowledged: “We were a little be slow off the starting block in this case, and that is regrettable.

“But in my view we were asked to do the impossible.”

North Thanet MP Roger Gale has 550 looked-after children in his constituency, 292 of which are from other authorities.

“We are being asked to wash other local authorities’ dirty linen,” he said.

“It isn’t the children’s fault - it is the fault of other local authorities and the Government. They have to stop dumping their problem children in Kent.”

A KCC spokesman said the council placed 120 foster children in other local authorities’ care last year, and the majority had been moved so they could live with family members or their permanent adoptive families.

Full Story:

Friday, December 15, 2006

A Little Conservation

I attended a council meeting last night which also figured a good number of Westgate residents. Their reason for being there, aside from a collective concern over new planning applications to build even more blocks of "retirement" flats in the town, was to see how the vote for the extension of the conservation area proceeded.

I'm pleased to say that it was carried and so the area of Westgate protected from the developers has expanded and will now include Beach road and Boundary road. Mind you, worries over the density of building persists and it will take more than conservation orders to protect the local landscape from the march of high-rise concrete.

The designation now extends to eight different parts of Westgate, including the area around Lockwood's Yard, a grade II listed building, the area around Westgate Library, properties on St. Mildred's Road, which previously formed one of Westgate's private schools.

Westgate was developed as an exclusive seaside resort from the late 1860's, complete with residential squares, seafront villas and promenade gardens. Although the development proved popular, the project ran into financial problems and in the 1880's and 1890's, as large houses became vacant, many were taken over as boarding schools.

Over the last six months, extensive public consultation has been carried out about the idea of extending the Conservation Area, including a public meeting in July, leaflets sent to local residents and questions to the Community Matters residents' panel.

Cllr. John Kirby, Cabinet Member for Development Services, said:
"This decision will give additional protection to the rich heritage and architecture that can be seen today in Westgate. It is a unique area, having originally evolved from a private estate town in the country and much of that history can be seen in the buildings that remain today. We need to ensure that these are conserved for future generations. With the extension of the Westgate Conservation Area, we will now be able to check that any repairs or maintenance works are carried out sympathetically and ensure that we retain as much of the history of Westgate as possible."

Thursday, December 14, 2006

The Caravan Has to Go

Enforcement action is to be taken against a Cliftonville property owner over two caravans in his back garden.

Thanet Council's Planning Committee last night (Wednesday 13
December) authorised the issuing of an enforcement notice against the owner of 28 Norfolk Road.

It comes after the owner appealed against non-determination of his planning application for a change of use from residential to dual use residential and a five bedroom bed and breakfast hotel.

The Planning Inspector's appeal decision was to allow the part use of the dwelling and the use of three bedrooms on the first floor of the property for bed and breakfast accommodation. However, he refused permission for retention of the two static caravans in the rear garden for use as ancillary accommodation for family and friends.

The owner has one month to comply with the enforcement notice, from the date it becomes effective. The Council is now going through the legal process of serving the notice.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Bereaved Families Pay Legal Fees

North Thanet's MP, Roger Gale, has today called on the Government to meet the legal fees for bereaved forces` families to be represented at inquests.

Speaking at Parliamentary Question Time today the MP challenged the Prime Minister:

"When inquests are held into the deaths of service personnel whose bodies have been returned to the United Kingdom the Government is represented by the Treasury Solicitor. The Treasury Solicitor has, effectively, unlimited access to taxpayer's money to hire QC`s, call witnesses and produce reports.

Bereaved families attending the same inquests have to pay for any legal representation out of their own pockets. Is it right that the dice should be loaded against the bereaved?"

In response the Prime Minister indicated, in broad terms, that "bereaved families should be given the assistance that they need".

Speaking outside the Chamber after the exchange Roger Gale said:

I have constituents who lost their son on active service in the gulf and others who lost their daughter in Iraq. I have been fortunate in securing the services of a sympathetic lawyer to represent the interests of one family and he has been both generous and helpful. At the end of the day, however, a potentially large bill will have to be paid and as things stand my constituents will end up footing the bill. There is legal aid that is theoretically available but that is means tested and it is likely that my constituents, although of modest means not in receipt of benefits, would not qualify.

It has to be wrong that the Government can hire a battery of expensive lawyers at taxpayer's expense to protect its interests but that no assistance is practically available for those, the bereaved, who have the most personal influence in the case.

I hope that the Prime Minister means what he said and that the Lord Chancellor will be charged with the duty of ensuring that reasonable funding will be made available to all bereaved families who wish to be legally represented at these inquests.

We continually pay lip-service to the sacrifice that our young men and women are making in Iraq and Afghanistan: the time has come to turn that verbal appreciation into real support backed by hard cash."

Keeping Margate Dry

Research is to be carried out into the future level of defence that might be required to reduce the risk of flooding to Margate seafront and Old Town.

A report, looking at the issue, went before Thanet Council’s Cabinet last night (Tuesday 12 December). It explained that Margate’s harbour arm plays a vital role in retaining Margate Main Sands and that, along with the sea walls in the area, they help to protect Margate Old Town and the Dreamland site from flooding during storms. Although the Old Town was flooded during an extreme storm in 1953, the sea walls were subsequently raised to reduce the risk of such an event from happening again.

As part of the original Turner Contemporary project, work was due to be undertaken to reinforce the harbour arm, but with the changes to this scheme, that work will no longer be going ahead. In order to get funding for any work from the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), a project appraisal must first be carried out, which will form the major part of an application for funding. Cabinet have now approved £50,000 to pay for the project appraisal, all of which will be repaid by DEFRA, provided the scheme reaches their criteria for grant aid.

Cllr. John Kirby, Cabinet Member for Development Services, said: “We have good sea defences, but obviously we do need to maintain them. The risk of flooding to the seafront or the Old Town area has not suddenly increased and is still very low, but this is something that we need to be thinking about now and planning for, as none of us knows when the next extreme storm may be. We’re looking to the future and starting to put measures in place to ensure that these areas are protected from potential floods for generations to come, but that won’t be a quick process. Firstly we need to look at what the current situation is and what protection we will need in the future, before we can prepare a bid for funding. That’s the stage we’re at now. Even once we submit that bid, it’s unlikely that we would get any funding until 2009.”

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

The Sun Focuses on Thanet Sex Offender

Thanet figures in the Sun newspaper with a paedophile story.

The headline :"A child porn pervert is living in a flat overlooking a nursery school playground" - the ABC Nursery in Kingsgate.

Some of you may recall that when, under the Freedom of Information Act, I asked Kent Police to reveal the number of registered sex offenders living in the area that might constitute a danger to children, they declined, on the basis that such information "Might lead to public disorder."

Sun Newspaper Story:

Monday, December 11, 2006

Canterbury Rd Lights Accident

Obviously a serious accident at the Canterbury road traffic lights at Westgate this afternoon. It's 10pm and the police are still measuring-up the scene.

Does anyone know what happened?

Which Reminds Me


Labour Banner 1
Originally uploaded by DrMoores.

I was towing this around for Tony during the General Election but can anyone remind me what has happened since then?

Post Office Closures - Thanet Tories Back Sub Post Offices

Thanet Tories Laura Sandys (South Thanet) and Roger Gale, North Thanet's MP, have this week again joined forces to speak out against yet more proposed post office closures



Roger Gale says:

"Nobody should be fooled by the weekend "spin" initiative orchestrated by Blair's government. The idea that you can leak the possible closure of "half the network" and then pretend that you are somehow "saving" all but a few thousand sub post offices will not deceive a public that have seen, since 1997, far too many local lifelines cut.

In North Thanet Greenhill, Studd Hill and William Street in Herne Bay, all essential to the communities that they served, have gone in spite of protests and petitions. In Margate, Victoria Road, Monkton, Cliftonville and Acol have gone and others look set to follow. Every one of our small Post Offices matters to local people and many feel isolated by the removal of locations where they meet not only to do business but to talk to friends".

Laura Sandys adds:

"It is urban village Post Offices as well as those in the rural villages that are under threat from the government's removal of pension, benefit and other business from these local post office counters. Outlets like Ash and Wingham are vital to the people that live in these communities and Summerfield Road, in Palm Bay, provides a focal point not just for Post Office business but for the parade of shops that provide for many elderly people and for young families as well. Unless we speak out boldly I fear for the future of small businesses such as these."

And in a joint statement these East Kent politicians comment:

"South East Postwatch, the consumer watchdog, says in its December newsletter that

"Local Post Offices are extremely important to rural life. They provide postal advice and additional services for rural customers in a convenient location. Often post offices can also be the social hub of the community. Many people rely on their local post office and would be reluctant to accept alternatives"

If the Post Office and Government will not listen to political voices then perhaps they will pay at least some attention to the industry watchdog. Postwatch have determined that people are opposed to such alternatives as automated postal services, kiosks and `secure boxes` and regard them as unreliable. And no amount of IT and automation can properly replace human contact and personal service. Once this network is destroyed it will be gone for ever so we have to urge those that care to speak out and resist any further cuts

No School - No Jobs

And a problem that we can now observe in Thanet, with parts of Ramsgate now described as 'No Go' areas after dark.

There are now 1.24 million people aged between 15 and 24 who are neither in education, work or in a training scheme — a 15 per cent increase on 1997. The rise has been particuarly rapid for 16 to 17-year-olds and men, both up by almost a third.

Today's report – entitled Breakdown Britain – suggests that 30 years of laissez-faire welfarism has been a disaster for the country and cannot continue. It estimates the cost of family breakdown at more than £20 billion a year. Unless there is a radical reappraisal of Government policy towards marriage and the family, social tensions will grow and communities will fall apart.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Proud Family Unveil Iraq Memorial

The husband of the first British servicewoman killed on duty in the Iraq conflict wiped away tears as a memorial was unveiled to commemorate her life.

Flt Lt Sarah-Jayne Mulvihill, 32, from Kent, and four male colleagues died when their helicopter came down in May.

Her husband, Lee, 37, stood alone in front of the picture of his late wife as it was unveiled by her brother at at Manston.

I'm sure all our readers would wish to send their sympathies to Flt Lt Mulvihill's family.

BBC NEWS Story :

Park & Pay Time

Millions of householders face paying a tax of hundreds of pounds a year for parking their cars outside their homes, in council tax changes introduced by the Government.

A Commons written reply by Local Government Minister Phil Woolas said that the new computerised system for calculating council tax in the future would take account of parking.

Given that so many home in Thanet have had their front gardens turned into driveways, I wonder if any of our Labour councillors would like to comment on whether this new attempt to squeeze more blood out of the council tax stone is a good idea or not?

Windmills - More Wind

I watched, with some interest, the news coverage on the deficiencies of wind power yesterday.

Apparently and according to DTI figures, the windmill farms we see sprouting off our coast, are at best, only 24% efficient and appear to cost rather more money than they are worth as a return on investment. However, the subsidies and grants given for building wind farms are rather large, which goes some way to explaining the enthusiasm for wind from some quarters.

Time to reconsider building another wind farm opposite Ramsgate perhaps?

Friday, December 08, 2006

Ring Them In

New cards are being issued to encourage people to call in confidence with information on graffiti vandals.

Residents can call the anti-social behaviour hotline on 01843 577888 in strictest confidence if they know who's responsible for any graffiti attacks across the District. Credit card sized cards, with the phone number on, and a message urging people to fight vandalism, are now being given out by the Thanet Community Safety Partnership.

Cllr. Ingrid Spencer, Cabinet Member for Community Services, said:

"These cards are another way of encouraging people to call in with information about the mindless minority who graffiti our beautiful area.

We are determined to tackle this problem and that's why we're introducing these cards. We understand that sometimes people may know who's responsible for graffiti, but equally they may not want to come forward and by calling the anti-social behaviour hotline on 577888, they can give us information in complete confidence."

She added: "We realise that there is the potential for people to abuse this system by calling and giving us anyone's names, but that idea won't work. Any information we receive on the hotline will be checked with other intelligence and evidence we've got to ensure that we don't just rely on one person's word."

The anti-social behaviour hotline can also be used to report other issues, such as vandalism, intimidation, harassment and dumped rubbish, giving as much information as possible about incidents, such as times, dates and places.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Fire in the Old Town

No amusement arcades involved though!: A fire that wrecked a garage unit in Margate old town is being investigated by police as a suspected arson.

At the height of the blaze neighbours reported 50ft high flames dramatically illuminating the night sky above the fire scene at Fort Mount as 40 firefighters from across Thanet fought to stop them spreading to nearby buildings.

I'm sure that lots of people will have witty comments to make on this subject. On that note, Blogger appears to be having problems publishing comments today and so if your's doesn't appear, you know why; it's nothing to do with me.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Local Politics - Dream On

I'll have to admit that life's rather more peaceful now I don't feel compelled to write so often and have lost, for now at least, the blogging compulsion.

Meanwhile, I see we have a new lady blogger in Ramsgate to inject a little lively enthusiasm into an often tired-looking Thanet literary scene.

I was reminded today that local elections aren't so very far away. Time perhaps for local people to think long and hard about some of their sitting representatives and what they have done or are doing for their constituents. Even with the rosiest of spectacles on, there's a great deal that needs to be improved and local people I speak with feel very disconnected from local politics. Perhaps we need a revolution and that's not the skatepark either!

A little inspiration may be required from T.E. Lawrence perhaps, my most favourite of quotes:

"All men dream dreams, but not equally. Those that dream in the dusty recesses of the night wake to find that their dreams were vanities. But beware of the dreamers of the day, for they live to make their dreams realities."

Tax and More Tax

Surrounded as we are by an avaricious and rapidly growing police state, using private sector involvement in its taxation - try civilian operated speed traps - it now appears that the taxman has been given access to a vast database of property details under a deal with the website Rightmove.co.uk .

The Valuation Office Agency - the department of HM Revenue & Customs that allocates a council tax band to every home in England and Wales - will be able to use the data to find out about improvements such as double-glazing and conservatories that may increase your tax bill.

Estate agents sell house details to taxman:

Friday, December 01, 2006

Bulletin Board

Two pieces of local news for you:

Mr Friday writes: "On Sunday 3rd December Thanet Roadrunners AC are holding a 10 mile road race from Westgate to Palm Bay and back.

The race starts at 10am. There will be hundreds of runners travelling down from outside Thanet and it would be great if any Thanet Life readers are out and about early Sunday morning to encourage the runners en route as it is much appreciated and will give a good impression of the area to those travelling here for the event !!"

The Ursuline College has its winter fete running at the school in Canterbury Rd, Westgate, from 10am tomorrow, Saturday. All welcome.

Healthy Options

Two patients limp into two different surgeries with the same complaint. Both have trouble walking and appear to require a hip replacement.

The first patient is examined within the hour, is x-rayed the same day and has a time booked for surgery the following week.

The second sees his family doctor after waiting a week for an appointment, then waits eighteen weeks to see a specialist, then gets an x-ray, which isn't reviewed for another month and finally has his surgery scheduled for a year from then.

Why the different treatment for the two patients?

The first is a Yorkshire Terrier; the second is an old age pensioner.

Don't Forget to Watch

Channel 4, Saturday 2nd December @ 8pm. Putting Margate on the map!

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Gale's View - More Sports Facilities Needed.

If a local church (Holy Trinity, Northdown) can raise £1.4million to build a superb community centre then surely a County of the size and importance of Kent can generate sufficient funds to provide decent sporting facilities for its young athletes?

I raise this because we have, in both Herne Bay and Margate, exceptionally talented young swimmers that need and deserve the opportunity to train in an accessible Olympic-standard 50-metre pool. At present they have to travel far afield - even to Lille in France - to gain access to competition standard water. The University of Kent, the Amateur Swimming Associations preferred option as a venue, has land available but other priorities for the increasing fees and funding that it receives from State and students.

In Maidstone, I am told, there is a club with a demand for high-quality diving facilities. They too are denied the opportunity to train under championship conditions

The Canterbury coastal strip is bereft of adequate field sports provision and the Sports Hall on Herne Bay Pier, home of the Country's only international standard roller hockey club, is past its sell-by date and needs replacement. It needs replacement not with a shed at the back of the town but with a modern and purpose-built arena that can accommodate spectators and welcome visiting European teams.

In Margate, the Hartsdown Swimming Pool and Sports Halls are nearing the end of their natural life and the other Thanet swimming pools are ripe for upgrading. Would some of the most socially deprived young people in the South of England not benefit from the chance to burn off their excess energies through participation in high-level competitive sport?

I am quite certain that a similar situation prevails throughout much of the County and, to a large extent, throughout the South East. (The K2 Centre at Crawley in Sussex is excellent but beyond the geographical reach of many trying to combine sports with education or employment.)

We are told that, as a nation, we are becoming obese. The chances of producing the next generation of Thorpes and Thompsons and Davies and Holmes are, unless we get off our backsides and start delivering, remote. Either we are serious about the Olympic Games that Seb Coe and his team worked so hard to deliver or we might as well flog the project to France, let the Parisians pick up the tab and kiss thoughts of gold medals goodbye. Compared with the opportunities to train that are available, for most sportsmen and women participating in most athletic disciplines just across the Channel, what we have to offer, not just in Kent but nationally, ought to be a source of whatever sense of shame we have left.

In 1998, before this Government passed a new Lottery Act, Sport received £397 million from the National Lottery Fund. With millions siphoned off into the Big Lottery Fund to pay for costs otherwise and properly met through taxation by Central Government the money paid into sport has been cut by a third to, last year, only £264 million.

Kent County Council is, we are assured, committed to maximising the benefit, for its residents, of the 2012 Olympics. Like the County, however, our more local city and district authorities have been short-changed by central Government and are strapped for cash. That should not be an excuse for throwing in the towel.

We can either sit back and wring our hands and let nothing happen or we can develop a comprehensive plan and then set out to raise, from business and public subscription, through bequests and through every grant, however pitiful that we can acquire, the funds to bring those plans to fruition. To do that will, of course, require the active and determined support of the KCC and of local authorities that sometimes seem more dedicated to generating sedentary facilities than venues for sporting activity. It will also require the commitment of all of our sporting clubs and the people of the County and it will require a sense of vision.

We are faced with either an insoluble problem or a golden opportunity. The question is, do we have the will and the desire to participate and to win or will we prefer to sit on the sidelines as pathetic spectators and watch as the world overtakes us in the fast lane? That question needs an answer now, because time is running out.

Don't Breathe In

Just in from collecting the 'New Look" 2007 design for the Airads aircraft and I had to catch the train from Herne Bay station, where the kids were quite openly smoking cannabis on the platform at teatime. Pointing this out to the station master as he walked past me through the cloud of smoke drifting across the tracks, he replied that there was no point challenging them as he'd only get abuse in return.

I'm sure he's right but if teenagers believe they can smoke dope openly and freely in a public place what, I wonder, comes next? Perhaps I'm just old fashioned?

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Ramsgate FC Raises Money for Memorial Fund

A mixture of veteran Ramsgate players, along with some of the current 1st team squad, helped raise a total of £801 for the Jessica Smith-Bellem Memorial Fund at a match played at Southwood last Monday (27th November).Jessica was the 10 year old daughter of St Luke’s assistant manager Sam Bellem. She was tragically killed in a road accident in September in Canterbury.

As well as seeing Belmonte Bowmanor Thanet Sunday League Division One St Luke's face up to Ryman Premier regulars Ollie and Warren Schulz, Liam Morris, Stuart Vahid, James Gregory, Shane Suter and Chris May (in goal and out on the field), the crowd were subjected to other treats in the Ramsgate XI including assistant manager Danny Ward scoring a goal, Vice-Chairman Paul Jefcoate and his son Josh, Ada Hubbard (on the pitch without a medical bag), Nathan Jefferys, Aaron Perry, and legend Mark Harrop.

The final score was 7-1 to Ramsgate, including a Vahid hat-trick, and everyone packed the clubhouse after the game to see who had won the various raffle prizes donated by a number of people.

Sam was overwhelmed at the generosity shown. “I would like to thank everyone who attended the game and many thanks to Ramsgate FC, especially Jim and Danny Ward, Vic Todd, Arran Ayres, Martin Able and the players who took part. Ramsgate opponents for the evening, Paul and Anita Taylor and all the players of St Lukes Football Club. Finally a thank you to the match officials who donated their match fees.”

Tough on Dumping - Tough on the Causes of Dumping

Tougher action is being taken in Cliftonville West by the Renewal Area team to tackle the problem of dumped rubbish.

In the last month, five property owners have been threatened with legal action if they fail to remove rubbish from their front gardens, following complaints from local residents.

Four have now responded to the threat of Statutory Notices and have removed the rubbish. In the one remaining case, the Renewal Area team are proceeding with legal action against the property owner.

Cllr. Ingrid Spencer, Cabinet Member for Community Services, said:

“Local people living in the Cliftonville West Renewal Area have told us that dumped rubbish is a major problem in the area. It’s something that our Renewal Area team have been working on for some time, but it’s become obvious that simply asking people to deal with the problem on their own doorstep is not enough in some cases. Where people fail to respond to requests, the Council will not shy away from taking legal action and that’s exactly the line that the Renewal Area team are now going down. This should send out a strong warning to anyone who’s got dumped rubbish in their front gardens – that the community and the Council are not prepared to tolerate this sort of behaviour any longer.

If you don’t want to have legal action taken against you by the Renewal Area team, the message is simple – clean up your act or face the prospect of tough action to force you to do so.”

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Passports - Tighter Security Means Delays - MP

Tighter controls over the issuing of new British Passports will mean delay and inconvenience for applicants, says North Thanet's MP, Roger Gale.

Speaking following a Commons briefing for MPs given by the Executive Director of the new Identity and Passport Service (IPS) , Bernard Herdan, the MP said at Westminster:

"The price that we are all going to have to pay, in time, for enhanced security and the safeguards against identity theft will be measured in more time taken to process applications and a need to travel to IPS centres for individual interviews.

With effect from the second quarter of 2007 every first-time adult (over the age of 16) applicant will have to be subjected to tighter checks on biographical details and a personal interview before a passport issued and the 5-day fast-track passport will cease for all first time applicants. Interviews will be by appointment only at a time and a location that will, insofar as is possible, suit the circumstances of the applicant.

At present the closest Interview Offices for my constituents in North Thanet are planned to be in Dover and Maidstone. (I have today written to the IPS to suggest that there should be an additional location in East Kent) and all offices are required to be open on at least two days of each week, one of which days must be a Saturday.

The process will take up to six weeks from start to finish - so those planning holidays and student travel for the latter part of next year will need to allow plenty of time to ensure that passports are received in good time.

With the introduction of "biometric enrolment" and the addition of fingerprints to passports in 2009/2010 every renewal will be subjected to the same process as existing passports time-expire. The service expects some 600,000 first-time applicants in the first year - about 1000 for each parliamentary constituency - and will have to interview an estimated 6.5 million people a year from 2009/2010. That is a very tall order indeed!

I have established that although from 2009/2010 all fast-track and 1-day passport renewals will be phased out there will be an emergency service to provide for the issue of a restricted passport in cases of family bereavement and other very exceptional circumstances.

A huge number of people are going to be adversely affected by the need to remove from the system a relatively small number of fraudsters but this is the cost of a world facing a terrorist threat and the requirement to enable law-abiding people to travel freely between countries. Unwelcome - but sadly a reflection of the world in which we now live"

Watch Out

Beware, it appears - now confirmed - that Kent police are using civilian operators in Thanet to operate the mobile speed camera van, frequently to be found concealed at the edge of the dual carriageway from Westgate in Birchington.

The legal issue of civilian operators being employed to catch motorists was supposed to have been explored in court last week I think, but I can't find the result yet.

There appears to be a loophole in the law that makes it illegal and motorist groups had raised a challenge.

The downside of this is that as a society - and I've just spoken to Kent Police - we know very well what "Trained operators" implies in real terms to the motorist encountering parking attendants and clamping companies on an everyday basis. The police don't operate a commission arrangement for police officers involved in everyday law-enforcement but one wonders what the motivation is for a trained civilian contractor with a radar gun? Was he or she "visible" to the public and wearing a yellow jacket or is it warmer inside the van I wonder. Can we trust the integrity, accuracy and the calibration of all civilian radar gun operators in the same way that we share absolute confidence in our police and London parking attendants to follow the rules?

You tell me?

Vive La Revolution

Good news for the Revolution Skate Park in a news release this morning:

"Thanet’s young skaters can look forward to years of fun after a deal - 25 year deal with 5 yearly reviews - was signed between Revolution Skatepark and Thanet Community Development Trust to secure its future.

A five year deal was brokered by Cllr Chris Wells after it was feared during the summer that the park might close. Cllr Wells said, “After many hours of individual discussion, and a number of meetings exploring every possible avenue, an agreement has been reached that everyone is happy with”.

Dan Chapman, owner of the Skatepark, expressed his delight at achieving a long term lease and greater order to the outdoor arena. The length of the lease makes investment in the park both more likely and more cost effective. Skaters can look forward to new and more exciting challenges, our future plans are very big, the sky’s the limit now – the next 5 years are about evolution as well as Revolution”. Mr Chapman would like to thank everyone who has helped and supported the Skatepark over this time.

Keith Single of Thanet Community Development Trust said, 'we’re delighted to have been able to play our part in keeping a Skatepark in Thanet; Chris Wells’ help was invaluable but the youngsters are the real winners.'

Cllr Wells said, 'When people stop me in Broadstairs High Street now I can finally smile and say, yes it’s secure. Revolution is staying, and I know they will smile at a job well done'."

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Rising Sea Levels

If you hadn't already noticed: Britain's coasts and oceans are being changed for ever by rising sea levels, bigger waves and stronger storms, a government report will warn this week.

Just a look at the beach at St Mildred's Bay - now more bowl shaped - and the tidal range along the Thanet coast have convinced me that something's up.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Political Hit & Run - Any Witnesses Please?

A story from one of our readers:

"On Sunday last (19th November) a silver BMW hit the North Thanet Conservative Office in Birchington, "(The Forge) and did significant damage to the building.

There is a crack from floor to ceiling on the outside of the building and the gas meter was shunted forward on the inside. Nearly a week later there has been no crime report number, no visit from the police to survey the damage and no questions asked by our 'boys in blue'. It would be fair to say that they have no interest in one of the oldest buildings in Birchington (300 or more years old) being significantly damaged by a hit and run driver.

One of the local councillors saw the offending vehicle in the road outside the Forge at 8.45 pm but did not see the damage done to the building so did not connect it. It wasn't until the following morning when I called him and he recalled what he had seen.

The police have not asked him for a statement.

The Conservation Department of TDC have been out (within two days) to observe the damage. There is upwards of £5,000.00 damage done, the corner of the building will have to be knocked down and rebuilt and this is the local MP's office !! Who is to say it wasn't a deliberate act, but then, if the police don't care, why would anyone else?

I thought perhaps you would like to run the story, after all, someone knows who the silver BMW belongs to. I have the smashed headlight glass if the owner would care to call in at the office to collect it!"

Friday, November 24, 2006

One More Stabbing - Police Seek Witnesses

This site is increasingly looking like a catalogue of local crime and it's not meant to be that way.

Two teenage boys have been charged in connection with a serious assault in Love Lane, Margate, on October 5th.

A 16-year-old from Ramsgate and a 14-year-old from Margate are accused of causing grievous bodily harm with intent following an attack on a 35-year-old Margate man who suffered stab wounds and a broken leg during a fight between two groups of people.

A 17-year-old Ramsgate girl was also arrested on Thursday but she has been released without charge.

Police are apealing for the occupants of a car that stopped at the scene of the attack to come forward.

DS Claire Munday said: 'During the assault a car stopped next to the group fighting and the occupants told the group to leave the victim alone before driving off.'

Another Margate Rapist

Another Margate Rapist Goes Down: "An Asylum seeker who raped a young mother has been sentenced under public protection provisions because he poses a significant and high risk of harm to women.

Both the men involved were recommended for deportation and will be on the sex offenders register for life while in the UK.

Ed: What's the bet they'll be with us forever because they'll be oppressed if we deport them back where they came from?

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Late Tackle

It’s been a little quiet here this week; I’ve been up in London chairing the “Tackling Organised Crime” conference and now I’m trying to type this on a lurching train, somewhere near Faversham.

I’m not joking when I tell you that the train was delayed because a car hit a bridge near Rochester, again, the second time this has happened to me in our journeys. Let’s not forget the fallen tree this summer too. The railways, bless them!

The state of organised crime in this country is now sufficient to leave anyone feeling depressed, I’ve heard from the SOCA, the Met, HMRC and several senior officers from the regions and it is, I think, time to look for that retirement home in Canada or New Zealand. The police appear equally unhappy at the game of political football being played by the Home Office with a possible rival for No10 incumbent and the lack of resource and funding that goes with. Government not taking organised crime as seriously as it should in their opinon.

You maybe pleased to know, that among other statistics, the influence of Jamaican ‘Yardie’ gangs is just about everywhere in England barring Middlesbrough, Liverpool and Essex! Kent and with it, Thanet was included on the map. Apparently the only reason that the Yardies aren’t in a handful of places is the energetic defense of ‘home grown’ gangs.

Another statistic for you, beyond the billions lost to VAT ‘Carousel Fraud’, gangs in city secondary schools are becoming a significant problem with children as young as 12 being recruited in a phenomenon that you would normally associate with Los Angeles and of course, violence and the gun culture goes with this.

I could write rather more but the confidential nature of some of the briefings means that I can’t share anything that is not in the public domain. Let’s just say that Thanet for all its anti-social problems with vandalism and hoodies is still much better off than Shepherds Bush. That reminds, next time you drive along the ‘Westway’ towards Hangar Lane watch out for cars swerving into yours. The contrived accident fraud is costing insurance companies millions with some popular hotspots. Some gangs can clear £100,000 a day in insurance claims involving fake accidents involving more than one driver; i.e. one car forces you into the second and speeds off, leaving you to think it’s a simple accident. Very often it isn’t.

It’s the new industrial scale and reach of organised crime which is so worrying and it occurs to me that it’s on a parallel to fighting the Taliban in Pakistan. We can keep on shooting and bombing until we run out of ammunition and they’ll keep on coming with no shortage of recruits and of course a bumper opium harvest to fund the attacks.

Is there a solution or perhaps a few words of comfort from what I’ve heard this week? I’m afraid not. It’s the ‘Red Queen Principle” from Alice in Wonderland. Anyone involved in fighting organised crime has to run as fast as he possibly can, simply to stand still. Perhaps we should simply tax it and like Northern Ireland, offer some of it’s best operators a seat at the table.

What do you think?

Monday, November 20, 2006

Call Time for Challenging Late Night Pints

Challenge the brewery and lose your house!: One to read today, given growing opposition to late night drinking and the problems that go with it.

A group of pensioners faces financial devastation after daring to object to their local pub opening into the early hours.

In a landmark case which threatens to stamp out any opposition to late night drinking, a pub giant is demanding £29,000 legal costs from four elderly residents who complained about their plans. "

Friday, November 17, 2006

Knife Attack Robber Hunted

Police have released an e-fit image of a man they would like to speak to in connection with an incident in which a 78-year-old man was robbed at knife-point.

The victim parked his car behind his home in Hertford Street, Ramsgate, at about 6.55pm on Tuesday, October 24 and was confronted by a man holding a knife demanding money.

He handed over the coins in his pocket, which totalled about £5, but the robber demanded notes. The man ran off towards Queens Street.

The robber is described as white, in his early to mid 30s, about 5ft 10in tall, of medium build, with stubble on his face. He was wearing a short blue coat with a hood, which was pulled up tight around his face, and white trainers.

Anyone with information about the robbery is asked to contact Det Con Sara Jackson at Margate police station on 01843 222069.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Animal Welfare

A 17-year-old boy admitted killing a hedgehog by kicking it more than 20 feet into the air and throwing it several times.

Leo Curtis was given a 10-month referral order and ordered to pay £500 costs.

The incident, which took place in Dunstan Avenue Westgate, involved Curtis reportedly 'showing off in front of his friends' and was described by the RSPCA as 'a despicable act of cruelty'.

Ed: This summer I was out with my daughter when I saw three Westgate teenagers attempting to beat a young seagull to death with a stick. Unfortunately a polite request wasn't understood but a little more colourful intervention saved the bird. What surprises me is that with so many animal welfare programmes on television is how the incidence of reported animal cruelty is rising so rapidly, according to RSPCA records.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The Undead

The Queen's speech to Parliament today left me feeling rather less than optimistic about the future, with a battery of new criminal justice measures to try and plug the gaps left by almost a decade of failed and failing initiatives aimed at tackling terrorism, criminal and anti-social behaviour.

Next week, I'm chairing the "Tackling Organised Crime" Congress and ID cards are bound to be on the agenda. The debate over whether these will work - much like wheelie bins in Thanet - rages on but to give an idea of the level of fraud being encountered in the UK, in 2005 CIFAS , the fraud prevention service, undertook a data matching exercises for a number of different agencies, the DWP, DVLA, HMRC and the then UKPAS to check how many of the addresses on their files were also on the CIFAS files as being associated with identifed fraud cases. The “average” match expected by CIFAS was 2 - 4%. That found was over 20%.

“Deceased Persons” Fraud has increased ten fold over the past five years (from 8,000 to 80,000 cases and is costing the Financial Services industry approximately £340 million (and therefore the UK’s Treasury £100 million in lost Corporation Tax).

Some comfort then, to think that when you shuffle off some person may well re-appear with your name, that's if they aren't using it already.

My advice, for what it's worth, visit www.creditexpert.co.uk and check your credit rating, just to make sure that your'e alive and well and not supporting someone else's credit card application.

Youths and Yobs

Sounds familiar to Thanet residents:

According to today's Times Newspaper, "No group has received so much government attention in recent years as the loutish minority. In September, the Downing Street Strategy Unit calculated that roughly a million youths and their parents were costing up to £250,000 a year per family in terms of the crime they cause, the state benefits they receive and the prosecutions undertaken against them.

The Government is spending billions of pounds a year trying to prevent or tackle problems associated with such people, who make up about 2.5 per cent of the population. There is a pressing financial need to sort them out, apart from the obvious moral imperative. "

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

From the Hart - A Little Local Nostalgia

Cllr Clive Hart Writes:

"When I was a teenager, Margate was host to a star act every single week of every single year. I really was a lucky kid!

This is a true story that brought back all those wonderful memories.

Margate was designed to foster entertainment!

One Friday evening in the late 90’s I was watching Top of the Pops when on came Whitney Houston. I can’t remember which song she sang but it was one of her softer numbers and she sang it superbly. When she finished I said to myself ‘beat that’. Then a beautiful young girl from Wolverhampton hit the stage and sang Greatest Day. Now I remember that song clearly but not Whitney’s. Beverley Knight sang her heart out on TV and won me over for life!

So just imagine how delighted I was to see this young lady performing live here in Margate on Monday evening.

She hit the stage running with a stream of magic hits and a voice so powerful it shook the cliffs either side of Winter Gardens. Slower numbers such as 'Gold', 'Sista Sista' and 'Shoulda Woulda Coulda' followed and the audience was simply spellbound by the dynamic range of Ms. Knight’s incredible voice.

She ended her main set with my original favourite ‘Greatest Day’ and by this time absolutely everyone in the ballroom was dancing.

Then, just when the audience thought it was all over, the magnificent venue exploded with light and sound into another string of hits for the mind-blowing finale!

This was what the Winter Gardens main hall was built for – a crucible to showcase true British talent and there is no talent in Britain with more energy than the wonderful Beverley Knight.

It really was – just like the old days!"

Friday, November 10, 2006

Hidden Entrance

A different kind of 'graffiti' has appeared on the promenade at Grenham Bay in Birchington. This is however much more in the way of art than the scrawled tags alongside it and inevitably, I suppose, the spray paint that will inevitably deface it.

I don't know who did it but in contrast to the teenage mess between Westgate and Birchington, I prefer this kind of original and rather imaginative art any day.

Does anyone know more?

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Bit of a Fix

If you need your home computer to be fixed don't go to PC World's repair centre, a new report has warned.

Consumer magazine Computing Which? carried out an undercover investigation of independent and major stores that offer a computer repair service"

In the report, Computing Which? advised its readers not to go to PC World if they need to get their computer repaired. The magazine's editor said: "We think that they [PC World] should overhaul their training – they could learn a lot from independent retailers."

PC World can you fix it? :

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Jam Busters


Husky 3

One solution to beating the Westwood Cross morning traffic jam can be seen in this photo. Dog food is still cheaper than diesel - Just!

Watch out for the TDC dog wardens though.

Keeping Thanet Tidy

Thanet Council's team of Community Wardens have been out and about across Thanet warning people not to drop litter and asking them to help keep Thanet beautiful.

Successful days in Margate, Cliftonville and Broadstairs have seen a total of more than 50 people receive warnings. All picked up their litter after being asked by the Wardens, so none were issued with fines, but they were warned that fines are being increased to £80 and if they drop litter again, they risk being fined.

The initiative is part of the Thanet is Beautiful campaign, launched in July, which aims to remind people how much there is to be proud of in the area, while warning them of the penalties for dropping litter.

Cllr. Ingrid Spencer, Cabinet Member for Community Services, said: "Our Community Wardens are playing a valuable role in helping to get the message across to the minority who still insist on dropping litter in our streets. The warnings that were given out made people very aware that if they persist in this behaviour, then they will end up getting fined. Our residents have told us that they're not prepared to tolerate people dropping litter, dumping rubbish or allowing their dogs to foul and that's why we're increasing the level of fines for those who continue to do these things."

The Community Wardens will be in Ramsgate next week and will also be on the trail of persistent bloggers.

Fake Hit & Run Assault - Police Appeal for Witnesses

A motorist was attacked after going to the aid of a fake hit-and-run victim.

The 35-year-old driver was pulling out of the Murco service station in Hereson Road, Ramsgate, when the incident happened.

He was flagged down by a young man who pointed to his friend lying by the roadside and said he had been knocked down by a car that sped off.

He asked the driver, from Broadstairs, if he had a mobile telephone and could help. When the man got out of the car to ring the police, he was grabbed and his arms were forced up behind his back. He was then punched in the face.

Police say he struggled with his assailants who grabbed, then dropped, his telephone. During the fight he headbutted two of them. He said there were more than eight young men aged between 18 and 25 involved.

They ran off along St Andrew’s Road opposite the petrol station and into Ramsgate cemetery.

The victim, who reported the incident later that day to police, suffered a quarter inch cut above his right eye in the struggle.

Any information about the attempted robbery that happened on Friday, November 3, between 5.45am and 5.50am should be given to PC Andy Eley on 01843 222074.

The Turner Report

Swept Away: Worries that a multi-million pound art gallery could be swept away by a freak storm lay behind Kent County Council’s decision to scrap the Turner Centre, a long-awaited report has revealed.

But while the report sets out some details of what went wrong and catalogues a series of problems and wrangles over the design, it omits to say how much senior county councillors knew about design changes that meant costs spiralled from £18million to £39million in a matter of just months.

Pizza Rapist Jailed

A Threat to the Public :

29-year-old Margate pizza delivery driver and asylum-seeker Qadar Hazarmeshe who carried out three sex attacks has been jailed by a crown court judge.

The Afghanistan-born man was given an indeterminate jail sentence after a judge at Canterbury Crown Court ruled that he posed a “significant risk” to the public."

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Say No to 0870

CS writes:

"I don't know if this is something you might like your site visitors to know?

I am on one of these systems (not talk talk) that I pay a fixed fee for all telephone calls and broadband charges. However if I dial 0845 or an 087... number I am charged an additional fee. There is a website www.saynoto0870.com that gives an alternative number. i.e. Southern Water: is 0845 272 0845 I am charged for this call however if I dial 01903 264444 I don't get charged for the call.

Hope this is of help."

Ed: Thanks CS. I'm sure this has been given a mention - the cost of charges - once before here. It's all part of a shameful racket by companies to squeeze even more money from their so-called customers for the privilege of what should be called 'Customer service' and plainly is not in many cases.

Nash Road Homes

One of our readers, David C. writes:

"You may care to know that on driving past Star Lane this weekend I notice that next to the proposed new development which would appear on the L/H side, on the R/H side (corner of Nash Road & Star Lane) the site there (former factory) has been acquired by Abbey New Homes. I haven’t noticed any other blogs pick this up yet."

Ed: By the way, Figures released in Nationwide Building Society’s House Price Survey for Outer South East England, show house prices up 5.2% for the year, the fastest rate of growth in the region since the first quarter of 2005. Growing infrastructure such as road and rail links and the promise of the high-speed rail link between Ebsfleet and Stratford continue to benefit the region, with house prices in Thanet in particular up a remarkable 15% this year, well above the rest of the region or the national average of 6.9%.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Big Bang


City View

Two days of stunning November weather, with high pressure sitting over the country. This is the view of London's 'Docklands' early on Saturday morning, on the way out to Turweston, just West of Silverstone.

Expect lots of fog around on Sunday as a consequence of the Guy Fawkes fireworks celebrations. The carbon particles in the air will hold the moisture and unless the wind increases from the predicted overnight calm, we'll have perfect conditions for post-fireworks fog.

November 6th is commonly one of the foggiest mornings of the year.

The Rising Cost of Energy

Energy bills reach £1,000: A report in today's Daily Express, focusing on British Gas, says:"Customers’ biggest beefs were allegedly inaccurate bills and British Gas’s failure to respond to inquiries" .

I was startled by the massive jump in my own standing order to British Gas, when the winter estimate arrived last week, even though I had taken advantage of their two year price protection scheme. It took me a long time to get through on the phone to their customer service line and when I did get through, the girl couldn't help. Apparently another department does the estimates and I have to wait until the middle of this month for a second letter which will give the details of the last six month's usage and their "Winter" projection, which triggered the rise in the standing order.

Not only is this grossly inefficient, it's worrying too. Energy bills appear to have more than doubled in the last year. The average gas bill is now £510.60 per year, while electricity is £453.24. Many customers are paying more. The painful hikes over thelast twelve months have only compounded earlier misery. Gas prices have almost doubled in three years, while electricity has gone up by around two-thirds.

If the Winter cold snap arrives at the end of this month as predicted, then the most vulnerable elderly people will surely suffer because they won't be able to afford to heat their homes or wait three months for a government heating allowance to appear.

It's even more scandalous when you hear that: "Last month Britain was so awash with gas that traders were forced to pay to get it taken off their hands. "

Friday, November 03, 2006

Council Considers Job Cuts

Council considers job cuts: icKent reports that Thanet Council is considering cuts to highly-paid staff to avoid a council tax hike.

Documents leaked to the Isle of Thanet Gazette show chief executive Richard Samuel is considering cutting two posts to save £100,000.

A review of managers at the authority began in the summer, in a bid to save cash and ''streamline'' the council.

The chief executive has drawn up a seven-page consultation document which includes seven options for change.

The proposals include axing at least one of the three directors, thought to be earning more than £70,000 each."

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Ramsgate Result In

Postal ballot papers, sent to nearly 29,000 homes in the unparished area of Ramsgate, asking if ‘they want a Parish Council for Ramsgate’ have been counted.

The referendum, which asked the question “Do you want a Parish Council for Ramsgate”, had been organised in response to a petition presented to Thanet District Council, calling for the creation of a Parish Council for the non-parish areas of Ramsgate.

Nearly 12,000 ballot papers were returned to Thanet District Council, which amounted to a turnout of 41.06%. The count, which took place over two days, revealed 58.47% in favour of a Parish council and 40.8% against.

Those who were eligible to take part in the referendum were those who were registered to vote on 1 September in the following wards:
• Central Harbour
• Cliffsend and Pegwell (excluding the existing Cliffsend Parish Council area)
• Eastcliff
• Nethercourt
• Newington
• Northwood
• Sir Moses Montefiore

The next steps of the referendum will be the presentation of report to a meeting of Full Council later this month (Thursday 23 November) with a recommendation that a report setting out Thanet District Council’s position on the creation of a Parish Council for Ramsgate be submitted to the Secretary of State.

Gale's View - Rural England Faces Meltdown

Be concerned. Be very concerned. Rural England faces meltdown.

We do not think much of our farmers, do we? Even here, in the Garden of England, surrounded by fields of potatoes and cauliflowers, orchards full of apples, top fruit and soft fruit and the occasional lamb or cow the fact is that most of us live on the coastal strip or in urban clusters. We work in offices and shops and schools and hospitals and there are more "Chelsea Tractors" in towns than there are of the real thing off the road and on the land.

Very few of us, these days, are left to "plough the fields and scatter" so they aren't worth a lot of votes and they get scant attention from the majority and, therefore, from politicians.

We do, though, care about animal welfare and thousands of us go fishing and walking and cycling and we expect our green and pleasant land to be there for us, with streams stocked with trout and sparkling in the sun, a landscape stuffed full of quaint cottages and tea rooms serving scones and cream, dry stone walls and neat hedgerows and fluffy things bouncing around in the sunshine.

Forget it! Unless there is a dramatic re-think and a Treasury U-turn all that could be a thing of the past.

The Department of Food & Rural affairs (DEFRA) has had its budget cut by a massive two hundred million pounds. Cynics say that this is the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon Brown, putting a warning shot across DEFRA`s David Miliband to remind the boy-Minister not to stand against him in the tussle for the keys to 10 Downing Street. Others say that DEFRA is simply profligate and needs its sails trimmed.

Either way, we lose. The Agencies responsible for flood defences and for maintaining our rivers and our pathways and our landscapes are now suddenly deprived of cash. And there will be significant cuts in the State Veterinary Service.

The SVS needs to expand, not shrink. Avian Flu remains a very real threat, particularly if the EU ends its ban on the sale of wild-caught birds as some mad Brussels bureaucrats would wish. Foot & Mouth Disease is not a distant memory. Equine Flu and other horse-diseases are all too easily imported. Bovine Tuberculosis is the most serious current threat facing livestock. And there is the small matter of the transport of live animals and the welfare of those beasts in addition to the policing of the pet passport scheme and other necessary regulatory controls over live and dead meat.

The chaos that is the Single Farm Payment scheme has already led farmers to bankruptcy and even suicide as late payments cause cash flow problems. Those caring for livestock do not have the money to pay for veterinary call-out fees and medicines to treat animals that, at market value, may be worth less than the cost of that treatment.

While the former head of the Rural Payments Agency (Blair's instrument for "managing" the payments) continues to draw his salary on "gardening leave" the new Minister responsible, Lord Rooker, tells Members of Parliament that there is no quick fix, that he will not make promises about when our farmers will get their money and that it "is all the fault of the computer"!. Which means that we can expect that more farmers will go to the wall.

As we gather for harvest festivals we need to remember that all is not safely gathered in. Unless we, in the towns, are prepared to take a stand for rural England the produce laid at the foot of the altar will, before long, all be imported and our Cattle and our Sheep and our Pigs and our poultry will be suffering from disease in a manner that most can only begin to imagine.

Urban Britain needs to wake up and start shouting before it is too late.

Gimme an ASBO

The Times newspaper reports that yobs want an ASBO as a badge of honour : "Half of antisocial behaviour orders are breached by teenagers, who regard them as a “badge of honour” among their friends, according to a critical report published today. "

I recall the same thing was written here months ago, when commenting on the record one of our local ASBO 'celebrities' in Cliftonville and I did notice this week, a second lad, whose face has appeared in the local paper, in Westgate with a friend, hanging around outside one of the childrens homes; leading me to wonder what he was up to this far west.

His photo was published partly as a warning to local people and I wonder if the result only makes anyone who sees him now, a little paranoid. What do you think?

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

As Xmas Approaches So Do The Scams

Beware of this fraud which is reportedly circulating locally:

The Trading Standards Office are asking people to be aware of the following scam:-

A card is posted through your door from a company called PDS (Parcel Delivery Service) suggesting that they were unable to deliver a parcel and that you need to contact them on 0306 6611911 (a premium rate number).

DO NOT call this number, as this is a mail scam originating from Belize.

If you call the number and you start to hear a recorded message you will already have been billed £15 for the phone call.

If you do receive a card with these details then please contact Royal Mail Fraud on 02072396655 or ICSTIS (the premium rate service regulator) at:-

http://www.icstis.org.uk/

or your local trading standards office. This is a genuine scam and is under investigation by ICSTIS.

Ed: £15 seems a little high - I think it's probably £1.50 looking at another user comment. Given ICSTIS track record on such matters, I doubt the fraudsters are particularly worried.

North Wind - High Tide

A dramatic view of St Mildred's Bay this morning, as the North wind, drove the high tide up over the promenade with a force that one rarely sees. Lot's of people pausing to take a look at the waves washing over the sea wall.

Other photos in the set can be found here for download if you wish.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Along for the Ride

In between some rather depressing local crime news, here's a little sunshine and music to remind us that summer is only six months away and Malaga is only £25 or less on EasyJet. I say Easyjet because the Seguro Holidays website which takes bookings for flights out of Manston appears to terminate on 31st October. I thought I'd take a look at what's on offer and was surprised when I hit a dead end.

An alternative way to spend a weekend I suppose, is shown below courtesy of the Spanish Air Force. It's amazing what can be achieved with several Stugeron anti-motion-sickness tablets and a small hand held video camera.

Suspects Caught by Armed Police

Thanet Extra reports that armed police have arrested four men in a swoop at a hotel in Ramsgate.

The raid on the Oak Hotel, on Harbour Parade, was a joint operation between Kent and Sussex police in connection with an armed robbery at a jeweller’s in Chichester.

The men they were hunting were guests at the hotel and armed police swooped at about 10.30am on Sunday.

The men are in custody but police are still hunting other suspects from the raid. The operation is continuing.

A New Initiative on Assaults Tested

A new initiative is being tested out in Thanet to try and get a more accurate picture of the number of assaults being committed.

It comes after research showed that only a quarter of violent assaults are ever reported to the police, which means that no-one knows the full picture of when and where assaults take place and who the victims and attackers are.

Now hospital and ambulance staff are helping assault victims complete a simple tick box questionnaire, which is designed to find out the scene, date and time of the crime, the nature of the injury, the victim's age, gender and race and the number and gender of the attackers. The questions will also try and find out whether the victim or the attackers had consumed any alcohol before the attack, as almost half of assaults are believed to be drink related.

The scheme was first developed by the Shepway Community Safety Partnership and is being backed by the Thanet Community Safety Partnership. Project Manager Nigel Cruttenden said: "Although this is about getting a true picture of the number of assaults in Thanet, let's remember that the chances of becoming a victim of assault are much less than you might think. Generally, you're more likely to be a victim if you're male, aged 16 to 24, under the influence of alcohol and out very late at night or early in the morning. This research will be really valuable to us in finding out whether these assaults are just 'one off' incidents or whether the victim has been attacked by the same person, or people, before. Only by getting the full picture of the level and types of assaults taking place in Thanet can we put measures in place to help tackle the problem. I'd ask everyone who is a victim of assault to help the emergency staff in filling out these questionnaires, as they will provide valuable information for us and will help our work in making Thanet a safer place to live and work."

Kent Police - Welcome for Partial Home Office Refund

North Thanet`s MP, Roger Gale, has given a cautious welcome to the Home Secretary`s decision to give Kent Police at least a partial refund of the money that the County Force has spent in preparing reports in relation to Home Office proposals for police force mergers.

The MP,(one of the founding members of the Police and Parliament scheme) who has been campaigning in the Commons for the refund, said at Westminster this morning:

"The announcement that Kent police will get back from the Home Office £100,000 of the money spent fighting the aborted merger plans is of course wselcome.

This exercise has cost a very considerable amount of high-level police time and effort that could and should otherwise have been spent on law enforcement and the total cost of the work is estimated at nealy a quarter of a million pounds so this is clearly not a refund in full.

Nevertheless, some good will have come out of the study, which will assist in force re-organisation and in streamlining Kent Police as a flagship stand-alone strategic organisation.

Hopefully, Mike Fuller, the Chief Constable, and his team will now be able to put this behind them and get on with the very real task of delivering for the people of Kent the policing that is required to make and keep the County safe and lawful".

Gone to Blazes

One of our readers, Gina writes: "Just thought I would forward you the photo of my daughter's car which was fire-bombed in Essex Gardens Birchington on Wednesday last at 10.30pm.

There was no apparent motive for the attack but it mas malicious and personal, we cannot think of anyone who would do such a terrible thing. A brick was thrown through the car window and petrol poured inside the car, which was then ignited. The only reason we can think of is jealousy.

The car was my daughters 18th birthday present and she cherished it, needless to say she is extremely upset. Although insurance will pay out they never actually match the cost of replacement. Once again we lose out to mindless thugs....makes you want to move out of Birchington!"

Ed: Quite agree Gina. I had heard about this and its an awful example of how times have changed in Thanet, with thuggery escalating beyond more simple vandalism - keying a car - into far more serious crimes. What can I say? I'm sure that readers will feel just as angry as me at the damage done to your daughter's birthday present.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

A Little Surveillance

Interesting day at Rochester on Friday, with the airport turned into a filmset and closed to visiting traffic. They were busy making a film called "Surveillance", starring Simon Callow and others, where the plot involved stealing an aircraft in an attempt to leave the country.

Lot's of takes and 'derring-do' aerial chases, the internet and all that I'm sure, so I won't spoil it for you. It's due to be screened at next year's Cannes Film Festival.

I rather wondered, from this and the Ridley Scott production in June, where actress Keira Knightly was cast as as a lost pilot, how on earth they ever get these films finished, as so much time appears to be spent preparing for filming, standing around waiting for takes or sitting in the canteen.

That's show business for you I guess.

Broken Blogger

Blogger appears to be broken again. This seems to be happening quite frequently these days with the Blogger servers collapsing under the strain of several million weblogs, many of which are now based in Thanet.

If you can see this, then it's all working again; that's unless it fell over after publishing, which leaves me in a logical contradiction.

After Dark

Halloween is upon us and in the New Labour paradise in which we now live, the BBC reports that 1.7 million of us are frightened to venture out on the streets of Britain after dark. It's a sobering statistic and police are gearing up to deal with this annual product of the pumpkin marketing industry, by promising to issue £80 fines for anti-social behaviour. Finding the police walking the streets after dark might be more effective.

In fact Halloween here is unlike the Halloween I remember from living in the USA. There's a more provocative and unpleasant undercurrent, if you listen to the BBC news report, with the elderly in or on the fringes of large estates dreading the evening to come. I do wonder how many might actually have heart attacks brought on by the stress that comes with hearing marauding gangs of teenagers or "kidults" coming to the door and demanding "Trick or treat". The sad thing about it all is that it's an imposition and not an option. Business has decided that such a thing should exist and make money and has gone to considerable lengths to modify social behaviour in order to encourage a quasi-American perception of the "celebration." For those that would rather be left in peace, celebrate it as a friendly community effort for kids, or simply ignore it, can't, there's no opt-out where marauding pumpkins and hooded witches are concerned.

Watching Sky News interviewing solidiers in Iraq, I was struck by the comments that people at home "have a go" at them for what they're doing over there. We've lost too many of our people in this rather hopeless war, I would agree but the men and women of the armed forces are doing a thankless job and placing their lives on the line because it's their duty, not because they necessarily want to be shot at by the militia and the Taleban.

I recall years ago and when a very different enemy was involved, the Argentinians, that public support was high but as a soldier, if you wanted decent kit and even waterproof socks - very important in the Falkland Islands- , you had to do your shopping at Millets. Today, the personal shopping part is still largely true but when the troops are fighting in the most intense actions since the Korean war and you have well-reported incidents, such as a wounded soldier harangued in an NHS hospital ward, one wonders why some members of the public forget so easily that the armed services swear allegiance to the Queen and it's only an unhappy political coincidence that they happen to be the unfortunate but very brave instruments of a bungled foreign policy initiative in the Middle East.

Thanet Life

"Banana Dictatorship" - Gale's View

The Thanet North MP and former current affairs journalist Roger Gale, has accused the government of "banana dictatorship tactics" in its endeavour to deny Independent Television News journalists full facilities in Iraq.

Roger Gale said:

"I spoke with the editor of ITN earlier in the week when the dispute between ITN and the MoD first emerged and at that time it seemed hopeful that commonsense would prevail.

Tonight's news reports indicate that the government is determined to "punish" ITN for its audacity in daring to report the truth as its journalists perceive it.

British journalists have reported upon the war in Iraq with great determination and courage and at Prime Minister's Question time this week Blair shed what must now be seen as crocodile tears over the death of one such television journalist.

That reporters have found it necessary to cover what they have regarded as the plight of British servicemen returning to the UK to be treated for battle injuries is a matter of fact. That Blair and his apologists find this uncomfortable should be no excuse for employing the tactics of a banana dictatorship and for trying to deny ITN journalists in Iraq full reporting facilities. The suggestion that "British servicemen cannot have confidence in the reporting" is, frankly, offensive. Servicemen and women and the British public will no doubt choose to believe either the journalist's assessment of Iraq and its casualties or the view of the authors and publisher of the "dodgy dossier".

I have just returned from a Festival of Remembrance in Margate where we celebrated the memory of those who gave their lives to defend our liberties - the greatest of which must be freedom of speech. I feel that it ill-behoves those in high places, up to and including the Prime Minister, to seek to gag our reporters because they do not like the message."

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Missing Canons - Anyone Seen Any?

Valuable 18th century bronze canons were stolen from the Powell Cotton museum in Birchington in what looks like a well organised raid involving a flat bed truck.

With each one weighing almost half a ton, a bit of history looks destined for the scrap metal merchant’s foundry.

Only in Thanet, one might think that villains are so desperate that they go after a museum’s guns but it’s no longer unusual. Remember the stolen Henry Moore sculpture?

Given some of the many valuable exhibits in the Powell Cotton museum, I wouldn’t be surprised if the crooks came back for something rather easier to carry in the future.

Thanet Life