Thursday, August 31, 2006

Happy Families

Interesting story from the BBC today:

“Tomorrow's potential troublemakers can be identified even before they are born, Tony Blair has suggested.”

“Mr Blair said it was possible to spot the families whose circumstances made it likely their children would grow up to be a "menace to society".

Ed: Has this only just occurred to the leader of our increasingly dysfunctional nation I wonder or has he been walking around with his eyes closed for the last twenty years?

Jack Russell Stolen from Outside Tesco Westwood

Reader Charles Bates writes:

To all my friends in the Thanet area have you seen this young three year old Jack Russell, she was stolen from outside of Tesco store at Westwood, at approx 10.00 am Wednesday 30th August 2006. As you can see her two front paws are white, her face and eyes mainly black quite a clear marking on her back especially her left flank and white around her nose and mouth. Please also note brown eye brows and left cheek.

The owner is offering a reward for her safe return. She is micro-chipped and the police have been informed.

Contact is Mrs Lorraine Deadman 07980144731.

Please copy this email to your local friends asking them to do the same. Thank you. Charles.

Ed: Hooray... Missing Jack Russell found and handed in at the Westwood Pets@Home!

Opt Out of Junk Mail

A story in Yesterday’s Daily Express, revealed that if you’re already getting junk mail through your letterbox, then you’re going to get rather more in future.

Roughly a quarter of the junk mail you receive already goes to boosting the Royal Mail’s revenue and a change in the rules will now open the floodgates even further.

The Royal Mail is keen to keep its opt-out process “virtually secret” and even went as far as suspending a postman who voluntarily distributed an opt-out form to residents on his post round.

If you wish to opt-out, which means that Royal mail will not deliver any junk mail, then email optout@royalmail.co.uk or call 08457 950 950 giving your address and a request not to receive any unsolicited mail or junk mail that Royal Mail has been paid to deliver to your address.

If you simply want to reduce the amount of direct mail addressed in full to yourself you can do so by registering with The Mailing Preference Service. www.mpsonline.org.uk

Ed: The ultimate irony is that Royal Mail will email you back a form to "post" to their address, so they can wring the cost of a stamp from you rather than do it all by email! What can I say!

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Water Water Everywhere

If you want to know how much residential building is going on in Kent, start by counting the water treatment plants, which I had to do today with a water company photographer. It took three hours in all across Kent and included the work now underway at Westwood cross.

Looking from above at some of the places they are squeezing in new estates, particularly around the Medway, I’m doubtful that there’s enough water for the staggering numbers of homes that are planned.

That said, a quick check on the Bewl Water reservoir revealed that it is now looking rather healthy in contrast with the photos I took at the beginning of the summer. You wouldn’t know there’s a drought still on by looking at it.

Given the attraction of the South-east as a source of new homes, one further item of interest I noticed today, was the density of ‘Travellers’ dotted around in groups of caravans in fields and lay-bys across Kent and Sussex. There’s quite a lot I thought and I wonder if the Government has any real idea of the numbers? Probably not is the answer I would expect.

A Stab in the Dark

More happy goings-on in Margate, where detectives are appealing for information after a 20-year-old Polish man was stabbed on Thursday, August 10th.

Police say the victim was approached in the street by three men who asked for directions. Suddenly, one of the men produced the flick knife and stabbed in the man in the hand.

The incident occurred behind a church and near a cafe in Dalby Road, Margate, between 8.30pm and 10.55pm.

One of the offenders is described as tall, skinny, aged about 18 with a spotty complexion and local accent.

The victim, who lives in Margate, has given a similar description regarding a second man. The third man is described as "a little fat," and wearing a light blue baseball cap.

A police spokesman said: "There is no indication that there was a racial motive for the crime and no further details are known at this time."

The case is being investigated by Det Con Sara Jackson, of Margate Police, who would be interested in talking to anyone who may have seen the incident or who has knowledge of the offence. She can be contacted on 01843 222071.

Skating on Thin Ice

It’s not often that we hear from Cllr. Iris Johnston but she’s written-in and asked me to share this letter on local matters skating and revolutionary with you all:

"It would seem that Mr Keith Morris of Thanet Community Development Trust has forgotten my various requests that he should give presentations to Thanet District Council over the years.

When Labour controlled Thanet Council prior to 2003 Keith gave an update on his work to Full Council following my request.

This year several councillors asked for a presentation to Scrutiny on The Big Idea which Keith was promoting. At the end of that presentation, which had nothing to do with TCDT, I asked Keith if he would come back and give an update on the Trust wearing his other hat. He said he would.

In April this year when concerns were raised about the Trusts proposed increase in rent to Revolution I spoke to him at Charles Dickens School before a KCC and Community Safety meeting. I again suggested it would be useful for him to update TDC at Full Council so that we might have some understanding why the Trust were in difficulties.

An officer at TDC had already noted the request for such a presentation.

If Mr Morris wishes to be helpful he could reveal in your newspaper exactly how much is spent on his and others salaries and expenses.

Only then will we know if savings could be made to help Revolutions."

No Exit Tonight

Total chaos at the St Nicholas roundabout this afternoon as a large foreign “juggernaut” truck has turned over on its side and is blocking the exit towards Ramsgate.

Equal chaos coming into and out of Birchington for the second time this summer as traffic is detoured from the Thanet Way while Police try and recover it.

Westgate Weekend

Has anyone more detail on what may have taken place in Westgate this weekend, raised in a comment from one of our readers below.

“Is it true the CCTV camera in Westgate is switched off over the weekend? If indeed it was on you might get some footage of the appalling attack this evening on the foreign students, and the footballs being kicked at the traffic, public and bus windows... If indeed the cameras are working, switched on, manned, in focus... up to the job?”

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Maiden Flight

Over the Reading Festival (2006) this afternoon towing a banner for rock group, Iron Maiden for what was planned to be 90 minutes but we noticed a tear in the banner fabric - you can just see it in the pickup photo at the top - so to save their banner from further harm, we cut short the flight to take it home for repairs.

Apologies to a disappointed Iron Maiden but these banners are like the sails on yachts. Made of hi-tech material able to take enormous forces, just occasionally and very rarely, a seam will fail and if that happens, it's best to get them backon the ground quickly to avoid the risk of an unsightly bundle of washing behind the aircraft if a tear expands in flight.

Meanwhile, on the ground below, I can't remember seeing so many thousands of people packed into such a tight but very large space. You could see the stage from miles away!

Absolute Rubbish

Do our new “Wheelie Bins” have a spy chip built into them? Does anyone know?

The Independent on Sunday reports 500,000 wheelie bins are being fitted with special microchips to monitor the amount of waste discarded by householders.

Councils say they are necessary to gather data about people's rubbish disposal habits and are also a vital tool in settling disputes over bin ownership. But experts are warning that these bugs, which transmit information to a central database, could be used to fine those who exceed limits on the amount of non-recyclable rubbish that they put out.

About 500,000 bins across England already carry the electronic devices which are slightly bigger than a one-pence piece and are screwed into a plastic recess in the lip of the wheelie bin. As the bin is lifted up for emptying by council workers, a sensor on the refuse truck scans the chip, which carries a serial number assigned to each property in the street. This then enables the monitoring equipment to identify the bin's address and record the weight of the rubbish that is in the bin.

According to The Mail on Sunday newspaper, a computer inside the truck weighs the bin as it is raised up, then subtracts the weight of the bin itself and records the weight of the contents on an electronic data card.

Once the truck returns to the depot, all information collected is downloaded onto a central computer. Householders can then be billed for the amount of waste that has been collected from them, even though they have already paid for rubbish collection services through their council tax.

The chip itself costs around £2 to make but the cost of fitting the equipment to a council dustcart is around £15,000.

Friday, August 25, 2006

He's Back - Ask Sandy

He’s back! – It’s “Ask Sandy”, our council leader rested from his cruise around the Caribbean on his luxury yacht, now safely berthed at Ramsgate Marina.

He writes:

“This morning, as I write, someone or some group has taken considerable effort to knock over the palm tree pots along the seafront. We've heard a great deal on the council's efforts to tackle anti-social behaviour but reader comments on this site suggest that the "customer service" needs improving in regard to both availability and response.

Given concerns that the local police presence is also in the process of reduction, and the overall sense of a growing culture of random violence across the island, what can the council do, if anything, with local elections not far away, to address a problem that is high on the list of local concerns?

Let’s clear something up first – I’ve certainly not been lounging around on my yacht in the Caribbean over the last few weeks. If only I owned a yacht! I’ve been in Thanet, enjoying the wonderful summer and all the great events here.

Now on to business. Anti-social behaviour. It’s something we hear a lot about and the impression seems to be that there’s a quick fix to this problem, something that can be provided by local Councils and the police. That’s not the whole picture though. I know some people will say this is a cop-out, but the truth is to tackle anti-social behaviour, there’s a third party that is perhaps the important in this and that’s the local community. Without your support, we’re not going to get anywhere on this problem.

The first thing is making sure that we’ve got the information to tackle the problem and we know that doesn’t always happen at the moment. Some people are too scared to report incidents and some feel that they’ll be passed from pillar to post when they do report it.

That’s why we’ve introduced a new number to report ongoing problems of anti-social behaviour that’ are blighting your community. You can call our Anti-Social Behaviour reporting line on 577 888. Give us as much information as you can about what’s affecting your quality of life in your neighbourhood and, provided you leave your contact details, one of the officers in the new Safer Cleaner Thanet Unit will call you back and work with you to resolve the problem. Calls to this number will be logged and monitored for progress by the Council’s Anti-Social Behaviour Coordinator, so you will see results.

The new unit’s been created to be the central point of contact and to coordinate the response to anti-social behaviour, but we need information to take action. Let’s take the example given about the palm trees on the seafront. Our Safer Cleaner Thanet Unit would want to know which seafront is being talked about, when the incident happened and if it was reported to the police. Without this information, we’re not going to stand a chance of finding out who was responsible. That means an unsolved case and the Council picking up the bill for any damage.

So let’s all work together on this. If everyone supplies us with as much information as they can, then we stand a lot more chance of being able to take action and tackle the problem.”

Sign of the Times

Thanks to Thanet Council Foreshore Services for putting up a sign banning powered launches - i.e. Jetskis - from St Mildred's Bay.

According to the lifeguards I've spoken to, the Jetski problem is certainly there, with examples I'm told of the craft even "taunting" the safety patrol boat in Margate and then speeding off!

The feeling is that we need a police jetski patrol like the one now available at Herne Bay.

An Offline Experience

The BBC reports that around 5,500 customers have had their broadband internet service cut off amid a row between their Ramsgate supplier and BT.

Euro1Net's service has been suspended after BT Wholesale said the company,had repeatedly failed to pay off its invoices.

Some customers had paid hundreds of pounds upfront for a two-year broadband connection with Euro1Net.

The company was not available for comment but said on its website that "action by BT" had seen its service withdrawn.

Ed: Having been a director of two internet service providers in the past, I do wonder why anyone would choose a service-provider based in Ramsgate of all places rather than a company with a demonstrated track-record. It's relatively simple these days to find out which companies are in the "Top ten" and which are reportedly miserable failures when it comes to customer service and I won't mention NTL and some other well-known names.

Would you buy your telephone service, from a Telco based in Ramsgate? Possibly not, if only because the people you need for the job demand very competitive salaries,not likely to be found easily in Thanet.

A Quiet Cliftonville Retirement

Two teenagers have been arrested following an incident in which an 82-year-old man was threatened with a knife outside a nursing home in Cliftonville on Wednesday evening.

They held a knife to his face after their first demand for cash was refused. The pair were chased by staff and arrested an hour later.

A boy and a girl, both aged 17, are being questioned by police in Margate

Ed: What are the odds that the two are already in care or have issues and will face little or no sanction for the offense? It seems ludicrous to me that we are pitching Cliftonville as a booming retirement spot while we have so many reported problems with both local youth and a transient population on benefits.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Sunset Boulevard

There were cars parked-up all over the place watching tonight’s spectacular “Turner” sunset; one with an intensity and colour you only see once every few years. The time I really needed a camera, I didn’t have one with me.

I’d just been wading back through the rain towards Thanet from Brighton. I don’t know if the drought is officially over or even close to being called-off but from the air Kent is looking very wet indeed and we certainly ad more than our fair share of rain here today.

So did anyone catch any photos of that sunset?

Big GCSE Improvement for Marlowe Academy

The BBC reports that The Ramsgate School, Kent's first new city academy, once branded the worst performing school in England and previously, has seen 29% of pupils get at least five A to C GCSE grades.

Principal of the Marlowe Academy, Ian Johnson, said it showed the school had made real progress in the year since it had replaced the Ramsgate School

This year's results are in contrast to the 1% of pupils who passed in 1997, and the 4% who passed five years ago.

"I Don't Believe It"

Let me see if I understand this correctly, a story running in the newspapers this morning and yet one more example of a government fiasco.

In the past month, we’ve had prisoners – still in prison – being paid a “Jobseekers allowance” and we’ve had EU migrant workers being paid child allowance for children who don’t even live here and without tangible proof of their existence.

Today we have the news that short-term immigrants will soon become eligible for a full state pension - even if they stay in the UK for only a year - because of little-noticed changes to the UK retirement system.

Changes being made under the Pensions White Paper in 2010 will mean immigrants from European countries no longer have to work for a minimum of 10 years to be able to claim the basic state pension.

So pop-over for a gap year in Britain, Margate would be a good place to start, find a job but if you can’t, never mind and then go home and we’ll pay your basic state pension in your old age. Without doubt we must be the most generous and foolish nation on the face of the earth.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Mobadoo It

Here's an interesting new eCommerce website, http://www.mobadoo.com that I'm doing some work for around the M25 every other day.

In concept, it's rather like eBay I suppose but with a couple of noticeable differences, one being that if you don't have a succesfull transaction, you don't get charged. Anyway, have a look, as I'd be interested in what you think of it and whether it will catch on as widely as eBay. Who knows!

Microsoft and The Office

Ooops... Silicon.com reports that Microsoft is investigating how two of its internal training videos created by UK comedy duo Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant have surfaced on the internet.

The humorous videos are titled 'The Office Values' and were made three years ago. The pair agreed to write and appear in them, on the condition they were never made public. Although Microsoft did confirm their existence in 2004, it refused at the time to release any details.

But earlier this month, the two videos turned up on the internet. Although some sites appear to have removed them after encountering pressure from Microsoft or Gervais' representatives, they can now be seen on Google Video and YouTube as well as some blogs.

He also warns computer "boffins" of the dangers of hard work, as "too much thinking makes Jack a mental case".

In the videos, Gervais plays the role of David Brent, the anti-hero star of The Office, the critically acclaimed television show written by Gervais and Merchant. Brent visits Microsoft UK's offices as a management consultant, to advise and educate its staff.

During the videos, Brent suggests he would make an excellent managing director for Microsoft UK, as long as he could be awarded a salary and company car commensurate with the importance of the role - namely £40,000 per year and a new Mondeo.

He also warns computer "boffins" of the dangers of hard work, as "too much thinking makes Jack a mental case".

As for how they got onto the Internet, well, it wasn't me, honest!


Land Securities Purchases Westwood Cross Land

Land Securities has announced that following the purchase of an 8.5 acre site from Rosefarm Estates for £7.2m it has received planning consent from Thanet District Council for a new 96,000 ft2 leisure scheme on the site.

The site, which is adjacent to Land Securities' Westwood Cross shopping centre, has received detailed planning consent for a leisure and entertainment scheme, which includes provision for a hotel, multi-screen cinema complex, casino, bingo hall, restaurants and 530 car spaces.

Read the full story here.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Blitz on Abandoned Vehicles

Thanet has been chosen as the first part of Kent to pilot a new way of removing abandoned and untaxed vehicles from the streets.

A new way of running Operation Cubit has been introduced, which means that twice the number of vehicles can now be removed at any one time and a five day crackdown last week (week commencing Monday 14th August) saw more than 50 abandoned and untaxed vehicles taken away to the pound.

Under the new scheme, vehicles can also be removed immediately, whereas previously they were clamped and then the teams returned for them later. Areas targeted in last week’s blitz included Ramsgate, Westgate, Cliftonville and Margate. The week also included a multi agency roadside stop at the St. Nicholas at Wade roundabout.

The scheme involves Thanet Council, Thanet Police, Kent County Council, the DVLA, Kent Fire and Rescue Service and NCP.  

In total, 53 vehicles were taken away during the week long crackdown, while owners paid for another five to be released at the roadside. They had to find £200, of which £120 is refundable if they tax their vehicles within two weeks. If they fail to either tax their vehicles or declare them as being off the road, there will be a follow-up visit to check whether the vehicle is still being driven illegally and if it is, it will be removed.

Six owners, whose car tax expired at the end of July, also received warnings and their details were forwarded to the DVLA for enforcement action, although their vehicles were not removed.  

Project Manager of the Thanet Community Safety Partnership, Nigel Cruttenden, said: “Thanet consistently gets excellent results whenever we run Operation Cubit, which is why the area was chosen to pilot this new version of the scheme. This is a much tougher Operation Cubit, with vehicles being removed from the roads more quickly than previously, with no need for clamping first. The changes to the scheme mean we can also take away more vehicles than before, so if you’re the owner of an untaxed vehicle, then be warned, Operation Cubit is back and we’re able to achieve more than ever. It’s also important to remember this isn’t just about old, abandoned and unroadworthy vehicles, although that’s part of what we’re targeting. Over the last week, we picked up a lot of newer vehicles without tax, which just goes to show the impact that Cubit has already had in removing older vehicles from Thanet’s streets.”

Strike a Light

Now I thought that Margate enjoyed the epithet of ‘Arsonville’ but Ramsgate isn’t too far behind this week.

Thanet Extra reports that a fire that destroyed a building where vans are repaired and sold is being treated as suspicious.

Kent Fire and Rescue called the police to the blaze at Thanet Vans, in the High Street, Ramsgate, soon after 7pm on Sunday.

The road was closed between Belmont Road and South Eastern Road throughout the night.

The building was extensively damaged and a council buildings officer was called to the scene to assess its safety.

Police confirmed the fire was suspicious but the building had been so badly damaged it was difficult to determine the cause.

Transformational - Well Sort Of

If you have ever wondered what Transformational Government is, then you can find out, with a video on the popular video sharing website, “YouTube”.

Frustrated by attempts to explain how millions of pounds of taxpayers money is being wasted on a multitude of grandiose, frivolous and failing projects, like the National Programmer for IT, (NPfIT) HM Government is trying a trendier means of  justifying the black hole of IT spend which now surrounds us.

Watch the video here.

Race Hate Tackled with a Freephone Number

The victims of race hate crime in Thanet can now speak out and help to tackle the problem by calling a racial incident number.  

The freephone number, 0800 138 1624, is available 24 hours a day and callers can pass on information about the incident, choosing whether they want to give their contact details or remain anonymous. Follow up action will be taken in all cases, unless the caller asks for no further action.

The service is being run by a partnership of organisations across Kent, including local Councils, Kent Police and Lifeline. Calls are answered by a trained person from Lifeline and will then be passed on to the appropriate organisation to take action. The number does not replace the existing emergency service. Anyone in imminent danger or who is reporting a crime in progress should still call 999.

Cllr. Ingrid Spencer, Cabinet Member for Housing and Community Services, said: "Thanet Council has a zero tolerance policy on race hate incidents. We all need to work together to stamp out these appalling incidents and this freephone number gives victims of race hate incidents a voice to speak out at any time of the day or night to report these crimes. Anyone calling the report line can rest assured that action will be taken, unless they specifically request no further action. That's how committed all the partners are in this scheme to tackling race hate crime and wiping it out once and for all."

Posters advertising the service in a range of languages, including Kurdish, Polish, Czech, Bangladeshi, Farsi, Turkish and Urdu, have been distributed around the area.

The Wheelie Bins Cometh

Leaflets are being delivered to the homes across Thanet this week (week commencing Monday 21 August) who will be getting wheelie bins delivered later this year.

The second phase of the roll out follows a successful pilot scheme at 5,000 houses last year, which saw recycling rates in those areas hit 30%. Residents were asked about the scheme and nearly 90% of those who responded said that they were finding it easy to cope with the new, alternate week collections, now they could put out more items for recycling. The wheelie bins have also helped to make streets cleaner, with seagulls unable to attack the waste.

Now the scheme is being extended to 20,000 more properties in parts of Birchington, Westgate, Westbrook, and the eastern part of Cliftonville, Palm Bay, Kingsgate, Dumpton, the Whitehall and Northwood estates in Ramsgate, Cliffsend, Minster, Monkton and St. Nicholas at Wade. Every home which will be included on the new round will receive a leaflet explaining about the scheme and how it will work.

Homes will receive two wheelie bins, one with a blue lid for recyclable items, such as paper, card, cardboard, plastic bottles and tins, while the black lidded bin will be for rubbish that cannot be recycled, such as food and nappies. Rubbish is collected one week and recycled items are collected the following week.

Cllr. Roger Latchford, Cabinet Member for Commercial Services, said:
"Wheelie bins have already made a big difference in the pilot areas, helping to provide cleaner streets, which we know are a priority for local people, and have also dramatically improved recycling rates.

Despite initial misgivings about the scheme, the vast majority of people who took part in the pilot scheme told us that they found it worked well for them, as they were able to recycle much more than they could before."

He added: "We've learnt from the pilot scheme and are now providing even more information to those homes who will be receiving wheelie bins in the second phase of the roll-out. This should hopefully help to make their transition into the new, alternate week collections easier, as it fully explains how they can make the most of their new blue lidded wheelie bin for recycling."

Wheelie bin roadshows will also be held in the areas that will be moving on to the new scheme, with Council officers on hand to answer questions from residents.

The existing wheelie bin scheme that started at properties last year will continue as normal.

Ed: I’m not entirely sure how these will work in properties like my own, with a long narrow uphill path to the gate between hedges, where the layout won’t accommodate a wheelie bin. Does anyone know?

Monday, August 21, 2006

Deal of the Decade

Ocado.com, the ecommerce and home delivery arm of UK supermarket chain Waitrose, has got itself into a little difficulty with the following irresistable, email money-saving offer to one customer:

"Thank you for your recent Ocado order. We're always looking at ways to improve our service. We know that you have recently placed another order with us and therefore we wanted to remind you that you are closer to your final reward.

We hope that you will continue to love our colour coded bags, friendly delivery staff, fantastic Waitrose food, and convenient one hour delivery slots, but we thought it would be nice to introduce you to our service by offering you a gift to say thank you.

Remember all you have to do is keep shopping at Ocado.com. It's as simple as that. Just place 129 orders over £90 between now and 21st October and in your 130th Ocado order we will deduct £30 off your delivery."

This work out at £11,700 of groceries, and Ocado has confessed the email was mistake but that it had been sent to just a few customers and once Ocado had realised the error, it sent a further email apologising for the outrage.

As 'The Register' points out, at "Ocado today, £11,700 will get you 6,500 Mr Kipling Deep Filled Bramley Apple Pies (currently on a two-for-£1.80 special offer), or a staggering 123,157 150g bags of Werther's Originals."

Everyone's A Winner in the National Payments Lottery

Don’t you just love it? The revelation that prisoners have been receiving millions of pounds in payments to which they are not entitled.

Apparently, the taxpayer has handed out £13m of income support and Jobseeker's Allowance to members of the prison population over the past three years, despite inmates not being eligible.

What next, they’ll be happily paying family tax credits to the latest arrivals from the expanding European Community, now working here, for children allegedly living abroad. But that was last week’s news.

I wonder what I could be eligible for other than inheritance tax. There’s always an Ocean Finance loan I suppose!

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Revolution in Jeopardy

Kent on Sunday reports that the future of the Revolution Skate Park in Broadstairs is in jeopardy after Thanet Community Development Trust (TCDT) has doubled its rent from £20,000 to £40,000.

The story reveals a number of concerns over the management and finances of TCDT and worries over what will happen when bored teenagers have nowhere to go.

Revolution is a great facility and one I believe that should be supported in the greater interests of the community.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Yes or No

Unusual day of sorts. I had to open the Eastbourne Air Show this morning with a marriage proposal from girl to boy. These are usually a little tricky and don’t have the same 100% success rate of boy to girl proposals that we enjoy. However after two attempts to pick the banner up in the gusty conditions from an airfield near Brighton, we just managed to make my ten minute display slot before jets rolled-in. So in front of thousands of people lined up along the seafront to the pier, it worked I was told, so chalk one up for Cupid.

If you’re around near Whitstable Flats at 6pm on Sunday,we've been asked to do one there too. Boy to girl though.

Meanwhile, legendary rock band Iron Maiden have asked their own special banner for the Reading festival next weekend, so here’s a sneak preview for any fans.

Join the Queue

I find it curious that my earlier blog on the question of security profiling, i.e. my story of the detailed search of a very blonde mother and her equally blonde young children at Heathrow, last time I was there, attracted such rabid criticism elsewhere. Since then, it appears that the government, if only to get Heathrow back on its feet again, has concluded that a certain amount of profiling is both pragmatic and inevitable, with all the civil liberties and minorities problems that go with it.

One thing though, you might like to read this story on whether the whole binary explosives plot was feasible in the first place or simply a figment of Hollywood and our Home Secretary's imagination. You judge.

I will say that the most sense I’ve heard in the last week has come from the very direct CEO of Ryan Air, Michael O’Leary, a man who doesn’t waste his words and doesn’t suffer fools gladly either. I wonder if Ryan Air ran trains, whether they would run on time?

Meanwhile you can see what happens when a pot of cold cream, a prohibited substance, is discovered in a passenger's hand luggage, forcing the aircraft to return and make an emergency landing at Stansted.

Sunday League Announces New Sponsors

Thanet Sunday Football League have a new league sponsorship deal with local Property Letting Agents, Belmonte Bowmanor.

League bosses have also picked the Isle of Thanet Gazette to be their official media partner for the new season which starts on September 3. As part of the deal, the league - featuring 58 teams over five divisions - will change its name to the Belmonte Bowmanor Thanet Sunday Football League.

Chairman Ernie McGarvey said: "We are delighted to secure this new sponsorship deal and to be associated with such a growing local company. "We have been in discussions with a number of potential new sponsors over the last few months to secure a suitable sponsor at this time. Belmonte Bowmanor impressed us immediately and this commitment offers significant financial support to the league in terms of both the period and the amount of the contract."

The league have also launched a redesigned website www.tsfl.org.

Three Lions on Your Shirt

The Thanet Referees’ Associationis looking to recruit more male and female referees.

Referees perform a vital role in the game, and with the growth in the popularity of football, particularly for women and children, the demand for match officials is increasing.

In conjunction with KCFA, the Thanet RA will be holding an FA Referee training course starting on the 4th September 2006.

The course is open to anyone over 14 years of age, runs over a 12 week period, and is divided in to two parts; ultimately leading to the FA Referee’s badge.

So why not take up the whistle for a rewarding and satisfying experience. If you a are current or ex player or simply love the game then get involved.

Call Rob Venn on 01843-834005 or 07841404583, e-mail webmaster@thanet-ra.co.uk, who will be pleased to furnish you with any information you require.

Friday, August 18, 2006

New Law Means Tough Action

Thanet Council has become one of the first authorities in the country to take tough action under a new law.

Council officers were called in to inspect 70 Sweyn Road, Cliftonville, after complaints from members of the public and neighbouring properties about anti-social behaviour of the tenants and damage to the property. Officers found the property had no hot running water, no secure doors to the premises, no banisters on the stairs, all the fire doors were smashed, the fire alarm panel broken and was generally poorly managed.

Because of the number of immediate health and safety risks in the property, officers used new powers under the Housing Act 2004, which came into force earlier this year, to impose an Emergency Prohibition Order. This effectively shuts down the property and prevents anyone from living there. The residents were temporarily re-housed by the Council’s Housing Needs Team and will not be allowed to return to the property, until remedial works are carried out. If it is to be used as a House in Multiple Occupation in the future, then it will require a mandatory licence under the Housing Act.

Cllr. Ingrid Spencer, Cabinet Member for Housing and Community, said: “This sends out a clear message to rogue landlords. We are not prepared to tolerate such appalling conditions in any property in our area and we are not afraid to take action to stamp out this problem. Landlords need to understand that they have responsibilities to their tenants and under the Housing Act, they have to provide good quality accommodation that doesn’t put their tenants in danger. We are working hard to regenerate Thanet and we will not let rogue landlords drag the area down. It’s time they realised they have two options – improve the standards of their properties or face action like this.”

The owner of the property is now looking at either improving the property, converting it into flats or selling the premises.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

First Minute


First Great Western_02

The firstminutefares.co.uk banner was supposed to be flying down in Devon today but awful weather turned us round near Newbury this morning, with the cloud and rain down to six hundred feet and up as far as three thousand feet into controlled airspace.

So instead of writing my weblog, I've been scuttling around Kent trying to find somewhere else to fly it and settled on Bluewater and the QEII Bridge, which seemed to work nicely.

Police Seek Help in Tracing Vehicle


Thanet Coastline July-1-2006_28
Originally uploaded by DrMoores.

Kent Online reports that a man was left needing hospital treatment after leaping out of the way of a speeding car.

Police are appealing for help in tracing the vehicle, believed to be a black-coloured two-door hatchback.

The car is alleged to have driven down King Street, Ramsgate, at high speed, forcing the male pedestrian to jump for safety.

As he did so he fell into a doorway, hitting his head badly.

The incident happened at about 10.40pm on Tuesday, August 8, and anyone who witnessed it or who knows the identity of the driver should call PC Neil Carroll at Margate Traffic Office on 01843 231055.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Spy in the Sky?

Not long after I finished flying a police anti-drugs warning over the town yesterday, another cannabis factory was discovered in Eaton Road, Margate..

Police say officers found several rooms fitted with equipment for growing cannabis plants together with a large number of cannabis plants at various stages of growth.

A spokesman said: "The scene has been preserved and further examination of the premises will continue today. No persons have as yet been arrested in connection with this incident."

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Cliftonville from the Air


Aerial Views of Thanet August 2006_10

One view of Cliftonville but I've also been busy taking photos of Birchington, Westgate, Margate and Broadstairs too. Hartsdown school is in there for the first time I think as well as more detailed shots of King Ethelbert's school in Westgate and the Ursuline College.

Folk Week Photos


Aerial Views of Thanet August 2006_04

Lots of new photos taken today with two hours spent over Thanet for Kent police. The complete library is at http://www.flickr.com/photos/drmoores/sets/246031/ but you can see that Broadstairs looks pretty busy from above.

Stamping Out Drugs - Dodgy Drivers Too!

All the police in Thanet appeared to be working around the St Nicholas roundabout today, as part of what I think was a crackdown on uninsured motorists. Further down the coast-bound carriageway there’s a white van parked with two cameras pointing at he oncoming traffic. I assume its capturing registrations and flagging the results to the small army of police at the roundabout.

Anyway, I counted at least sixteen officers from the air as we towed a police drugs awareness banner: “KENT POLICE - STAMPING OUT DRUGS!” over Thanet for two hours. It’s the message that was postponed on Saturday due to bad weather. Did anyone manage to get a photo?

Man's Skull Fractured in Margate Assault

As if we don’t have enough violence in Margate these days, news of another nasty attack.

A 21-year-old man suffered a fractured skull when he was punched to the ground by an unknown attacker.

The assault took place near to the Anchor Taxis office in Hawley Street, Margate. It is thought the attacker may have been part of a larger group.

The victim is from the Dover area.

Anyone with information about the assault, which took place at about 3.30am on Monday, July 30, is asked to contact PC Simon McCullum on 01843 231055.

Missing Methadone

Staying with Broadstairs, six bottles of Methadone, a potentially fatal drug used as a heroin substitute by recovering addicts have been stolen from a tent on a temporary campsite in the county.

Three 50ml bottles and three 30ml bottles of methadone were taken by an unknown person or persons from the Broadstairs Folk Week site at Upton School, Broadstairs, sometime overnight.

A police spokesman said: "We have consulted with a local pharmacist who stated that this is a very dangerous drug and unsupervised use could prove fatal."

Anyone with information is asked to contact Margate police station urgently on 01843 231055.

Out and About

A Guardian story today reveals that police are asking for powers that Police are pressing ministers for radical new powers to dispense instant justice, including the immediate exclusion of "yobs" from town centres at night, and bans on street gang members associating with each other.
.
Senior officers say the powers would be the "modern equivalent of a clip round the ear from the local bobby" and would ensure the introduction of neighbourhood policing across England and Wales has "bite" and meets public expectations.

This story caught my eye if only because I was in Broadstairs late yesterday evening and the sheer number of teenagers out and about caught my eye. The great majority were enjoying themselves without creating problems for anyone else but I did spot two large groups of boys around fifteen to sixteen years or age, one of which was milling around one of the side roads and forced me and another motorist to stop our car until the ‘whirlwind’ had moved on past .

What do Broadstairs residents think. Was this just an isolated example of Folk Week or something more regular?

Monday, August 14, 2006

Bandstand Gang Assault

More thuggery in Broadstairs, where  teenage student was set upon by a gang of around six people wearing baseball caps on Friday evening.

The teenage victim was walking near the bandstand in Victoria Parade, Broadstairs, when he was attacked.

He was punched and pushed to the ground before being repeatedly punched whilst lying on the floor.

His attackers were all young men and all wearing baseball caps. The main offender is described as being 5ft 8in tall and of slim build, wearing a blue TN baseball cap and a blue T-shirt.

Anyone with information about the attack, which took place at about 9.30pm on Friday, July 14, is asked to contact DC Kim Clemo on 01843 222062.
    

Migrant Suicide Identified

Kent Online reports the tragedy that took place at the Nayland Rock on Saturday. Apparently a 60-year-old Congolese man fell to his death from the fifth floor just before 7.30am

Pierre Palamba Kabamba, a Congolese asylum seeker who had been staying at the hotel on Royal Crescent under the care of Migrant Helpline, was declared dead at the scene.

He had been resident at the hotel with his wife since July.

Police are satisfied that there are no suspicious circumstances and their investigation has been closed.

'Look Ear Mate!'

Police are searching for Ramsgate’s own Hannibal Lechter, after a man needed thirty-two stitches after he was bitten on the ear during an attack by two other men.

The 26-year-old victim was walking down King Street, Ramsgate, when he was involved an argument with the two.

Following the assault, near Philip and Paul's barber shop, the victim needed hospital treatment.

One of the attackers was aged between 35 and 40, around 5ft 8in tall, of slim build with long hair. He may have been wearing an England shirt.

The second male was aged about 17, 5ft 5in tall, also of slim build with short, brown, scruffy hair.

After the attack the offenders ran off towards Boundary Road.

Anyone with information about the incident, which took place at about 5,30pm on Friday, July 21, is asked to contact DC Kim Clemo at Margate police station on 01843 222062.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Who Owes Who?

Kent On Sunday reports an argument between Margate Town Centre Regeneration Company (MTCRC) and Dreamland owner, Jimmy Godden over "Unpaid rent exceeding six figures" for the amusement park.

The argument appears to surround unpaid rent for the amusement arcades, with MTcrc threatening to sue, while Mr Godden claims he is owed: "A few million for work carried out on the firms behalf."

My own uneducated guess is that this will end-up as yet another write-off. What do you think?

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Seedy on Sea

Having taken the time to walk along to Westbrook with my camera, the source of many of our problems becomes all too obvious just by glancing at the state of the houses and hotels that lie between the Sea Bathing Hospital site and the Nayland Rock Hotel. One of the prettier ones is pictured left. Nice colour contrasts I thought.

As long as so many houses and 'Hotels' in the same area remain in such a run-down condition, they will continue to attract transient residents with all the accompanying problems that go hand in hand with such a visibly run-down neighbourhood.

Bathtime

Signs of a very wet August day on Margate seafront. The small seabirds taking their first freshwater bath in weeks and seemingly enjoying it too.

Nothing Seen

No Sign of any unusual activity at the Nayland Rock just before noon today. In fact, with the heavy rain, that postponed my flight for Kent Police, there was hardly a soul to be seen.

Ed: Here's the BBC report on what appears to have been a real tragedy involving one of the guests at the hotel.

"A man has died after apparently falling out of a window at a hotel at a seaside resort in Kent.
Police were called to the incident, at Nayland Rock Hotel in Royal Crescent, Margate at 0730 on Saturday.

The man, who was in his late 50s and not believed to be from the local area, was pronounced dead at the scene by South East Coast Ambulance paramedics."

Police said officers were investigating the man's death but it was not thought to be suspicious."

What Happened at the Nayland Rock?

"Murder and mayhem" appeared to be the order of the day at the Nayland Rock Hotel in Margate this morning.

Two of our readers have sent in emails. “Anorak” tells us that: “Police cars and policemen everywhere, a tent erected over a pavement area and a top floor window open. It was all cordoned off, looks like someone fell - or was pushed?”

“Amy” writes, “I passed Nayland Rock this morning at 7.50 to find every on duty policeman in Thanet and possibly Canterbury parked at Nayland Rock Hotel; 6 cars, one ambulance going no where in a hurry and area taped off.”

Does anyone have any more detail to share?

Friday, August 11, 2006

Big John Speaks

My jaw dropped when Deputy PM, John Prescott, appeared on television tonight, to reassure us that everything was under control and that he was in "Regular communication" with Tony Blair.

Thanks John, I feel much safer, as I'm sure does everyone else, knowing that a politician of your outstanding qualities has been left in charge of our country.

If it wasn't so sad, it might even be funny!

Meanwhile, I think I'll pass on a winter holiday by plane to the Sun this year. I suspect that Heathrow will be too much of a challenge. Interesting to note that one of the alleged suspects is a Heathrow security officer and even more interesting to note that while you can only take your passport and wallet with you through passport control, you can reportedly buy as much duty free as you like once inside. Why? Because duty free is supposed to be a sterile area.

I guess we all will have noticed that at Heathrow in particular, the seeming majority of the people working in that so-called sterile area are from ..........

Well we can't say but it does rather make a mockery of near strip searching everyone coming into the airport, when an accomplice working in a sterile area, can simply pass on the necessary items for the "Jihad operation" in question.

Finally though, there's the sneaking doubt that most of the 24 arrested are innocent and that the police and security services have made another mistake. I really hope not because public confidence in them and their political masters would fly out of the window completely.

Getting the Benefit

Shoppers in Margate can find out whether they're getting the benefits that they're entitled to at two special roadshows being held over the next couple of weeks.

Thanet Council's Benefits team will be in Somerfield in College Walk on the mornings of Monday 14 and Tuesday 22 August between 8.30 a.m. and 1.00 p.m.  

They will be offering advice on the different types of benefit available, including Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit, and giving out information and application packs to shoppers.

Cllr. Zita Wiltshire, Cabinet Member with responsibility for Customer Services, said: "It's vital that everyone who should be receiving some form of benefit is getting exactly what they're entitled to. We appreciate that people may not realise that help is available for them and that people don't always want to come into the Council offices to discuss their personal details, which is why our officers are heading out into Somerfield, so that they can talk informally to people. I hope that shoppers will take this opportunity to check out the information on offer and find out whether they are entitled to claim any benefits that they are not currently receiving."

New Look For Old M&S

Architects have been appointed to develop plans for a key site in the heart of Margate town centre.

The former Marks and Spencer building was purchased by Thanet Council earlier this year, using funding from the South East England Development Agency (SEEDA), with the aim of creating a mixed-use development on the site, which would include modern retail space, commercial floor space and an element of residential use. The neighbouring property at 51 High Street, currently used by the National Children's Home, has also been purchased.

CTM Architects in Hythe has now been appointed to come up with plans for the site, which would show what the new development would look like and how it would be used. As part of the process, local traders and residents will be asked for their views on the plans towards the end of this year.

Over the next few months, the now vacant building will be used for a temporary exhibition by Turner Contemporary, with the Margate Library set to temporarily relocate to the site in early 2007, as part of the plans to refurbish the library and create a One Stop Shop, which will see a number of Thanet Council services being delivered at the library in the future.

Cllr. John Kirby, Cabinet Member for Development Services, said: "The Marks and Spencer site is key to the future of Margate, which is why it was purchased. By introducing modern retailing space, offices and homes into the heart of the town, we will be creating job opportunities, investment opportunities and opportunities to encourage people back into the town to live and work. This scheme will provide all those opportunities and a base for a secure and prosperous future for Margate."

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Don't Mix Your Drinks

With all the chaos involving our airports this morning, I had a rush of Déjà vu.

At the end of last year I started writing a fictional terrorist plot which is almost identical to what we are seeing today. I haven’t added to it recently but it involves a Bank Holiday flight from Frankfurt to London with the terrorist carrying a liquid binary explosive.

I had the idea when I came back with two bottles of wine from Dublin last year. They weren’t given a second glance and with a little knowledge of chemistry and a simple detonator, it all adds up to a very nasty plot which has swiftly moved from fiction to reality.

Meanwhile, I see that Home Secretary, John Reid, refuses to be pressed on which members of our community were arrested and may have been responsible for this alleged plot. It could be the fairies at the bottom of the garden for all I know but political correctness means that any speculation is strictly out of the question.

The last time I was at Heathrow, I watched a mother and her three young children in front of me, "pulled" at the X-ray machine for special attention. Even her buggy was searched and the child removed. And guess what, she was young, blonde and middle class in a Laura Ashley frock. I guess she was the quota search, which illustrates how b***y ridiculous the whole thing is at times.

Even More Drugs Arrests in Thanet

The BBC reports that nine more people have been arrested by police targeting the supply of class ‘A’ drugs in Thanet.

A 19-year-old man from Leytonstone, north-east London, was appearing in court on Thursday charged with supplying heroin and crack cocaine.

A man and a woman from Ramsgate in have been bailed while a further five men and one woman, all from south-east London, are still being questioned.

It brings the total number of people arrested in the operation to 31.

Twenty-two were held in co-ordinated dawn raids in Kent and London on Tuesday.

Fourteen men were all remanded in custody when they appeared before magistrates on Wednesday charged with being involved in the supply of heroin and crack cocaine.

A man from Margate and a woman from Ramsgate are due in court on 15th August.

Three women, one man and a 15-year-old girl were all freed on bail pending further inquiries.

One other woman was released without charge.

Wet Bike Patrols

Was it something I said?

TDC may not concede that we have a local jetski problem but the BBC reports that officers policing the water around the coasts of Kent are patrolling in a two-seat Jet ski from this weekend.

Kent Police said the Jet ski, marked with the force livery, will complement other enforcement vessels.

Officers will tackle anti-social behaviour near the sea and rivers, with one driving and the other gathering evidence in the two-seater craft.

Each year, police deal with beach hut arsons, binge drinking, pier jumping, and speeding off-road and on the water.

Offences have also included Jet skis being used in bathing areas, and in areas protected for wildlife - the new craft will allow officers to engage with other Jet ski users which teams used to find difficult.

Ch Insp Mark Harrison said: "We want people to enjoy themselves at the seaside or on the water.

"But for the minority who ruin other people's fun or ignore restrictions we are more than equipped to deal with you."

He added: "We will be working to stop nuisance behaviour and we'll be looking for stolen craft, enforcing byelaws when required, but also be on hand to offer safety advice.

Ed: I wonder if they will get as far as Thanet? If anyone sees a policeman on a jetski, please let me know.

Digital Camera

I have a job to do for Kent Police on Saturday afternoon - 12:00 - 14:00 which will take me over Thanet. If any kind person spots the message and has a digital camera to hand, could you take a photo and email along to me for a news story. I might get lots, so thanks in advance and I'll use the best of them with a photographer credit here.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Only Six?

A team from the Youth Offending programme has helped to clean up one of Thanet's beaches as part of its reparation project.

Six young people helped the Thanet Coast Project to clear up rubbish from Epple Bay in Birchington, netting 14 sacks of rubbish, which included clothing, such as socks, plastic and a car tyre.

But their biggest find was on the lower shoreline, where the team discovered the insides of a fridge that had been dumped there. The clean attracted a great deal of attention from people out walking their dogs, with one local man stopping to thank the group for cleaning up his favourite Thanet bay.

Thanet Coast Project Education Officer Naomi Biggs said: "The Youth Offending team really came to our rescue with this beach clean by offering the help of these teenagers as part of their work within the community. And they were able to make a real difference to the local environment with this work by helping to ensure that one of the area's beaches was cleared of rubbish in time for the summer season. At no point did anyone complain about having to clear up other people's rubbish, of which there was a great deal. It's so sad that visitors to our beautiful coastline are leaving rubbish all over it. It's time that people remembered that Thanet is Beautiful and we can all keep it that way by not dropping litter or dumping rubbish. Just as importantly, by disposing of our rubbish in bins or taking it home with us, we can also help to protect our coastline's unique wildlife."

Thanet Drugs Raids

The BBC reports that Police made eighteen arrests in Thanet during dawn drugs raids yesterday morning.

A total of 16 people are due in court charged with various drugs offences after raids in Kent and London.

More than 100 officers from across Kent supported Tuesday morning's operation, the result of intelligence-gathering over the course of six months.

Fourteen men and one woman from Kent, and a man from London, are charged with being involved in the supply of heroin and crack cocaine.

They are all due to appear at either Margate or Canterbury magistrates' courts on Wednesday.

Another man from Kent will appear before Margate magistrates on 15 August.

Three women - two from London and one from Kent - and a 15-year-old girl from London were released on bail.

Another woman from London was released without charge.

A Kent Police spokesman said the drugs raids would have "a significant impact" on the trade in Thanet.

Fast Track MP

Shock horror…”Minister's boy racer shame”.

Read all about it in The Sun, how Transport Minister Stephen Ladyman has admitted he came close to losing his licence — for “Speeding”

“He notched up nine points and would have been banned for one more three-point offence.”

Apparently the M2 road works were to blame. “The minister added he was “a sinner repenteth”. He last broke the speed limit by about 10mph in 2002 as he was driving on the A2 from London to his South Thanet constituency in Kent.

Coming next week. “Roger Gale’s pirate past” perhaps?

A typical Sun non-story.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Guy Fawkes Blog

From the popular and much despised Guido Fawkes Blog – at least No10 loathes it; an element of truth though. Does anyone disagree?

“IPPR has a new heavyweight report out on the civil service - Whitehall's Black Box: Accountability and performance in the senior civil service. It seems to make sense in parts - not something you can always say about IPPR reports. It is wonk-porn in that it contains anonymous anecdotes. In places it borders on unattributed gossip about the TeeBeeGeeBees.

The report basically says no one gets fired for screwing up in the civil service and that there is no price for failure. It recommends some reforms that will not work because inherently governments have a coercive monopoly. Whereas in the private sector the profit motive works as an incentive because customers will stop buying crap services from businesses, hurting their profits. In the public sector if you stop paying your taxes the government will try and jail you. A mandarin hits it on the head in the report when he admits "Why is Whitehall poor at delivery? Because they’re aren’t any rewards or sanctions in place for civil service delivery." Where is the incentive for better government?”

Much Too Much

Council tax bills could rise by up to six per cent because of the Government’s failure to establish how many migrants from Eastern Europe are settling in the UK, according to the former leader of Kent County Council.

Sir Sandy Bruce-Lockhart, now the leader of the Local Government Association, has written to the Home Secretary warning the government’s failure to properly monitor the influx of migrants into parts of the UK was in danger of leaving councils out of pocket.

He said dozens of councils were being let down by a system which was failing to compile accurate statistics on migration.

“There are a number of local authorities for whom the current system of measuring the number of migrants in specific council areas is failing to ensure adequate funding to keep council services to local people maintained,” the letter states.

“Working migrants have become an invisible population whose children need school places, who need to be housed appropriately and in some cases need social services. Official statistics have failed to reflect this.”

As a result, there was a risk services would have to be cut by cash-strapped councils and local taxes would have to rise “disproportionately for the growing migrant population.”

The warning stems from concerns about the mounting pressure migrants from new EU member states are putting on some communities.

I wonder how much, if at all Thanet is hurting from the extra burden? Would any of our councillors like to comment?

M25 Tragedy Causes Gridlock

I just happened to be flying the M25 route on a traffic watch with a client, when we came across the story below.

You could say I had a “Bird’s eye” view of the chaos and the carnage unfolding on the motorway as total gridlock took place from the M23 all the way to Epsom on the M25 with the motorway halted in both directions and all the feeding roads from Croydon to Sevenoaks and Tonbridge stationary.

The accident was a truly awful scene from above. A terrible tragedy for all involved.

The BBC reports that four people, believed to be two adults and two children, were killed when their car was involved in a crash with a lorry on the M25 in Kent.

A lorry was in collision with a Volkswagen car. The driver of the lorry, a man in his 50s, was taken to hospital suffering from chest injuries and shock.

The Westwood Cross Conundrum

Councillor Chris Wells has his own thoughts on Westwood Cross to share with Thanet Life.

Dear Editor,

The agony of the public meeting at Hoverspeed, Manston, last Thursday evening was plain for all to see. It was, at the same time, tense, cynical, threatening, comic, and despairing.  In a less charged atmosphere, many of the misunderstandings could have been cleared away – but there and then it was always going to be tough.

Timescales became very confused, ranging from the early 90’s to the 2015’s. Intention became very confused, mixing the Councils quasi – judicial role in planning, with its policy for economic development of the area, and the government’s plans for housebuilding in the South East.

So, perhaps now in a calmer moment, can I suggest we all ponder the following points?

  1. The allocation of this area for housing was indeed put out for public consultation in the year 2000 (as a matter of record, no more, under the previous labour administration of TDC).  Since then, of course, Westwood Cross has opened and residents around it and travelling past it, feel blighted by the traffic volumes and seemingly ineffective highways planning for its development.  In plain terms, the original consultation and current anger stem from different baselines of experience.

  2. This comes at a time when other ‘pinch points’ – chiefly the Victoria Road traffic lights in Margate – are already causing huge frustration across the island.  This leads to more and more vehicles using side roads as rat runs to avoid the queues.

  3. In light of this, Roger Gale, Thanet District Council and KCC members have worked to bring forward the final connecting phase of the East Kent Access Road – which will assist.  However, to residents this still appears to feed into inadequate and ill thought out road arrangements around the new development, Manston Court Road and Star Lane.

  4. It is accurate to say that the government has demanded high housebuilding volumes across the South East.  It is also true to say that Thanet, with its housing waiting list and growing economy, needs new homes.  It is equally true to say that over the last 20 years or so, many people, perhaps especially around Manston, moved to Thanet because they did not want to live in '‘suburban roundabout hell'…and now it is pursuing them here.

  5. What residents don’t want to hear, but is almost certainly true, is that housing development will take place because of these pressures.  The key issue for residents in my KCC division – in Star Lane and Gordon Road – is that traffic should not be diverted through or around this formerly quiet residential area, already suffering with Westwood Cross overflow, frustrated rat runners, and a sheer inability at times to get onto the main roads at all.

  6. Restricting access was hardly mentioned on Thursday night, but may well hold many benefits.  Restricting access to Manston Court Road for lorries; to the Star Lane and Gordon Road area, to the new development from the Westwood Cross roads at all.  These are neither complicated nor expensive partial solutions, but would be seen by many as at least swift actions to try and lessen the impact on their daily routine.

We need some truly inspirational thinking from our housing and highway planning teams if this is not to be a running sore in relations with local residents to Westwood for many years.  Time to pause and think it all calmly through.

Yours sincerely


Chris Wells
KCC Member, Margate and Cliftonville

Monday, August 07, 2006

St Mildreds Bay to Have "No Jetski Launching" Sign

I’ve just had a pleasant conversation with the Foreshore Manager, over what I perceive as a growing jetski problem. He doesn’t share my opinion and believes that we have to accept the jetski traffic as a product of our times but concurs that both West Bay and St Mildred’s Bay are “Off Limits” to Jetski launches and has promised to put a sign in place on the slipway bridge at St Mildred’s, warning speed enthusiast mariners away.

Although he's never heard of ThanetLife, one facet of the conversation worried me though. The protected area for swimmers is of course inside the yellow buoys and the council has pulled these increasingly close to the shore to discourage people from “Swimming out to sea.”

The implication from the conversation was that if someone like me, who likes to swim a little further than two hundred yards, from point to point, across the bay, is run over by a jetski or a speedboat, then it’s my own fault for swimming outside the yellow buoys in the first place. The existence of high speed machines running up and down the bays outside the markers is apparently accepted as an unfortunate fact of life, with the only solution being one that hems swimmers into a tightly controlled rectangle, prisoners almost, in the front of each bay.

The speed limit for water craft which I think is 8 knots inshore of 400m except in designated areas appears to have gone out of the window. After all, who is going to enforce a “voluntary code”? A lifeguard with a kayak perhaps.

What we need perhaps is what one reader suggested, a line of buoys, five hundred metres out to sea which demarcate the race track from the rest of the foreshore. This would make it safer for all concerned.

Perhaps our foreshore department will at least dip in here from time to time to read what others here might think of the subject

Enter the Frogs and Flies

The Margate Exodus is in the news today on a website, ArtDaily.Com, of all things, The report writes:

“The Margate Exodus will transform the seaside town of Margate into a contemporary setting for an epic film in which local people play all of the parts.”

“The project”, it continues, “is a dynamic fusion of internationally acclaimed artists and undiscovered local talent – combining music, theatre, site-specific contemporary art and film. A spectacular day of live events on 30th of September will include performances and the final display of Anthony Gormely's Waste Man.

Plagues of lice, locusts, frogs and flies, a 25-metre high sacrificial sculpture and a cast of thousands will dramatically transform the south coast town of Margate into a colourful and contemporary setting for an epic film inspired by the Old Testament Book of Exodus, in which the town’s residents will play all of the parts.

It is anticipated that a great many people from Thanet will take an active part in this ambitious project and that Exodus Day will attract a substantial audience from Kent, London and beyond.

Sounds like Margate then!!!

Read on….

Sunday, August 06, 2006

We Need More Bins Please!

Reader, Shirley Oyster, has been taking photos. She writes:

"This is just one property this morning in Ethelbert Crescent, Cliftonville with heaps of rubbish.

At least its not in the street, it often is, and probably will be in a couple of days.

Notice the residents' attempt at making bins out of old cardboard boxes, we may be poor in Thanet but we're inventive.

The other photo is of the alley at the back of Ethelbert Cres, rubbish as usual, often there's more.

Its a real hot spot for rubbish round the Ethelbert Cres / Dalby Sq area. Lots of tenants with no cars to take rubbish to the tip.

We need some big communal bins!

TDC could provide them but seem to prefer letting the rubbish blow about and make work for the road sweepers. TDC end up getting it anyway, lets make it easier and cheaper to collect.

Margate Carnival


Thanet Coast 060806_80

Lots of new photos of Westgate, Margate, Broadstairs, Cliftonville and Ramsgate, taken as I flew past the carnival this afternoon with a banner for Terence Painter, announcing the opening of his Ramsgate office. Help yourself to any photos you like and download them from the photo archive here.

MedEvac at Herne Bay

Flying back towards Margate this afternoon, I spotted the air ambulance, police and paramedics outside a house on the cliff top at Herne Bay. Minutes later the helicopter lifted the casualty to the QEQM in Margate. Does anyone know what happened?

Achtung Spitfire

So there I was, minding my own business, setting up a banner on the runway at Rochester, when this Spitfire appeared and started to buzz me. Good thing I had my camera to hand.

By coincidence the car in the photo below that was on show at Deanland airfield, has a Spitfire Merlin engine installed.

The noise is unmistakable and the petrol consumption, well, out of this world!



Beach Life

From a Sunday Times story today, Thanet doesn’t seem to be as bad as Cornwall where beach rowdiness is concerned.

The paper reports:

“Police have seized more than 500 fake identity cards from children trying to buy alcohol at a Cornish resort plagued by raucous public school pupils.

Locals in Polzeath are clearing up after weeks of beach parties which have seen teenagers arrested for drunkenness and drug-taking, bottles thrown and one 15-year-old girl taken to hospital after overdosing on cocaine.”

Meanwhile, I see the phantom “purple tagger” is busily making his way towards Westbrook from St Mildred’s Bay. I think I know what most of us would like to do if we caught him but that might be illegal and improper. Best call the police instead!!

Friday, August 04, 2006

Clive Says...

A Personal message from Clive Hart. Who said that local politics wasn't interesting? It's obviously all happening in Cliftonville West!

Clive also adds the following message:

"Dear fellow Thanet resident

Please find below a letter I sent to the ‘ local ‘ Chief of Police yesterday.

Since sending the letter I have been informed that changes are planned to policing in Thanet.

If you therefore share my concerns it is important that as many organisations, businesses and individuals as possible write to the Chief Superintendent at Margate Police Station, Fort Hill, Margate CT9 1HL to express them.

It is also now even more important than ever to report "every" single crime, as it is upon the local crime statistics that policing levels are based.

Please forward this email to every organisation, business or individual that you know in Thanet.

Thank you for your valuable time. "

Ed: Here's the letter Clive is referring to:

"Margate & Cliftonville Division – KCC

Dear Chief Superintendent West

I am writing with reference to strong rumours circulating at County level in regards to the possible scaling down of Police services at Margate Police Station.

I am also a district councillor for Cliftonville West and I have discussed this matter with my close colleagues Cllrs. Linda Aldred & Doug Clark JP (Cliftonville West) and Iris Johnston and John Watkins (Margate Central) who have also asked me to write to you for clarification.

We know from the Thanet Crime & Disorder Audit of 2004 that Margate Central and Cliftonville West district wards are sadly a crime hot spot in Kent. These facts were confirmed at this weeks meeting of the Kent County Council - Thanet Local Board.

Your recent amalgamation of the Thanet & Canterbury Police operations worried us here locally and we found the decision to site your office in Canterbury questionable, especially in relation to crime statistics across the two areas.

Moreover, we are now worried that you may be considering further cutbacks at the heart of a community where we feel we need a much stronger Police presence.

Any such move could have a negative effect on a whole raft of local initiatives that are aimed at making this particular area a safer and stronger community.

Can we therefore please have an assurance that services provided at Margate Police Station will not be reduced in any way?

Regards

Cllr. Clive Hart "

Can You Help Identify this Man?

An e-fit image has been released of a man suspected of an indecent assault in Broadstairs.

The 19-year-old female victim was attacked in Tippledore Lane, while she was searching for some lost property.

She was approached by the man who offered to help her look. He then suddenly held her against a wall and sexually assaulted her.

After the assault the man ran out of Tippledore Lane, but it’s unknown if he went toward Dane Court School or the St Peter’s High Street.

The man is described as white, aged 18 to 20, about 5ft 10in tall, of skinny build, with very short cropped hair, and an overbite. He wore a dark round-necked t-shirt, dark trousers and black loafer-style shoes.

Anyone with information about this incident, which took place between 1pm and 11.45pm on Friday, June 16, is asked to contact PC Shona Ross at Margate police station on 01843 222060.

The Chinese Way - To Margate

An Austrian man has been jailed for four years after trying to bring illegal immigrants into the country through Margate harbour.

German Fredjtof Thiele, 57, and his partner, Austrian woman Birgit Bilek, 27, were arrested at Margate pier on April 7 by Kent Police officers after the catamaran they were sailing was boarded near the harbour by Customs officers.

They not only discovered the couple from Hamburg, but 13 people purported to be Japanese tourists.

The 13 people were detained by immigration officers as illegal immigrants and it was later determined that they were in fact Chinese, using stolen, lost and forged passports.

Thiele pleaded guilty to the charge in Canterbury Crown Court and was sentenced to four years imprisonment. The case against Bilek, who is soon to give birth, has been discontinued.

Ed: I still think they were Japanese tourists looking for the Turner Contemporary!

Mail Van Heist in Ramsgate

A Postman was attacked and robbed of his mail van in Ramsgate this morning.

The Royal Mail worker had stopped on Bellevue Road, Ramsgate, just before 9am when two men assaulted him.

They drove off in his van, which was later found abandoned in Granville Farm Mews about half an hour earlier.

Several silver and red mailbags containing recorded and special delivery items were missing.

One of the offenders is described as white and around 6ft tall, while the other man was black and taller than 6ft.

Anyone with any information is asked to contact DS Claire Munday at Margate police station on 01843 222192.

Cross Roads Decision Needed

Westwood Cross - Road Infrastructure "an absolute priority" - Roger Gale

Improvements to the main and minor road infrastructure are an "absolute priority" prior to further development at Westwood Cross says North Thanet's MP, Roger Gale.

Addressing what he described as an "interesting and lively" meeting at Manston last (Thursday) night the MP said:

"It is essential that the East Kent Approach Road and the "missing link" in the plans to widen the Haine road are progressed before any further development takes place at Westwood Cross.

Following an much-publicised announcement that "this government will fund the East Kent Approach Road" we now know that phase two of the road is not in the plan until 2010-2015 - which probably means 2015! That is not, of course, what the people of East Kent were led and expected to believe by the Department of Transport.

The link between the Haine Road and the Lord of the Manor junction with the East Kent Approach Road also has to be addressed if we are to resolve the traffic chaos bequeathed to Thanet Council by the previous Labour administration: the fact is that they gave the go-ahead to a shopping centre with no road plan in place and have left the present council and KCC to pick up the pieces.

The Leader of TDC, Sandy Ezekiel, and I have already met with KCC Leader Paul Carter to discuss how the County, as the Highways Authority, although starved of funding by Central Government may use its borrowing power and leverage to bring these vital road schemes forward."

Commenting on plans to build 1000 homes at Westwood over the next ten years the MP said:

"Kent County Council and TDC have done their best to limit the number of housing starts imposed open us by central government and as a result the figure for Thanet stands at 4500  homes, of which 3500 will be built on brownfield sites.

These developments are in the structure plan approved by the Secretary of State and were the subject of consultation commencing in 2000. Our job, now, is to ensure as little environmental impact as possible and to ensure that the roads, water and sewage systems, education and healthcare and public transport facilities, are all in place to meet the needs that will inevitably arrived.

Faced with a government that is determined to build thousands more houses in the South East and a Secretary of State who has indicated that she will impose financial penalties on local authorities that do not deliver I do not believe that to do nothing is an option. It is baying at the moon to believe that a Labour administration would do other than build social housing estates on these sites.

Houses must be built, and affordable housing provided through share-ownership for first-time buyers but we can and I believe will phase the infrastructure improvements and the development to limit the damage.  That is my objective, that is the objective of the Leader of TDC, Sandy Ezekiel and that is the objective of the Leader of KCC, Paul Carter. We are determined to try to make a virtue of necessity and to make sure that East Kent derives the maximum benefit from all the funding that will become available."

Commenting on the views expressed at the meeting the MP added:

"Our main concern in the immediate area has to be for those with homes in Manston Court Road which is already used as a rat-run by heavy vehicles. As the plans move forward there must be the maximum consultation to ensure that any proposals limit the inconvenience and environmental disruption as much as possible"

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Sierra Del Costa Del Margate

Margate will be welcoming hundreds of visitors from the Sierra Leone community for the carnival weekend (Saturday 5th August).

The trip will bring people to the area from all over the country and has been organised by a community group from London, who have been working with Thanet Council over the last few weeks to ensure that the day trip is enjoyable for everyone.

Cllr. Roger Latchford, Cabinet Member for Commercial Services, said:

"To have so many people heading for Margate for our Carnival Weekend is excellent news for the town. It's a great boost for our local economy and traders in the town. It's no surprise that this group is heading for Margate, as we have so much to offer visitors, from our award winning Main Sands, which showcase the beauty of Thanet, to fun for all the family at Dreamland. Alongside that, this weekend will see a fantastic line up of free events, including bands, a free fall parachute drop, funfair and a continental market on the harbour arm.

He added: "This is an excellent opportunity to remind everyone, both residents and all those who visit Thanet that we want to keep the area looking at its best. That's why we launched the Thanet is Beautiful campaign, to remind people to take pride in our area and not drop litter. As we head into a busy summer weekend, it's even more important that we all work together to keep Thanet beautiful and ensure that we either put our rubbish in the bins provided or take it home with us. We shouldn't be leaving anything on our beautiful beaches, except footprints."

Hooray… and I’ll try and take some photos of the same footprints when I fly over on Sunday afternoon with a message from one of our local sponsors!

"We Need More Play Space"

Clive Hart has written in to point-out that according to the Thanet Public Open Space Audit, published by TDC, the Thanet provision for children and young people is below the national average and well below the national recommended level.

He adds: “Following publication of this report the current TDC administration should now immediately remove the threat of development of the open green space in Dalby Square. This information strengthens our campaign to preserve the open green space at the south end of Dalby Square in Cliftonville as a much-loved and well-used community facility.”

Ed: Perhaps the beach is considered open space enough?

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Mini Menace

With mini-motorcycles now a bit of a local plague, new rules mean that even a five-year-old child get points on a driving licence he is too young to even have.

Under the rules, if a child is caught riding one on the road, pavement or in a public place they will now face prosecution, just like adults do. Any penalty points handed out by the court will be kept on file and activated as soon as they are old enough to apply for a driving licence at 17.

Insurance companies can refuse to insure them once they have passed their driving test. At the very least, their premium will be sky high. But will the riders or more importantly, their parents care?

Somehow I doubt it.

A Local Talent

The BBC reports that two customs officers, Paul Weaver and Steven Phillips (pictured) from Ramsgate have been jailed for helping to smuggle millions of pounds worth of alcohol and cigarettes into the UK.

Both admitted their part in an international smuggling ring which cheated customs of more than £7m duty.

Weaver was jailed for four years and Phillips for four-and-a-half years.

They had pleaded guilty to conspiring to evade duties between 1 January and 10 December, 2003.

Four other members of the gang, who were convicted after a five-month trial, were also jailed.

The court heard the "sophisticated" cross-Channel plot saw the contraband stashed in secret warehouses before being sold cheaply across Britain.

A string of co-ordinated swoops eventually brought the year-long enterprise to a halt.

Luke Whitworth of Walmesley Road, Broadstairs, provided the corrupt customs men with details of vehicles and drivers and slipped them backhanders. He was jailed for three-and-a-half years.

Margate, warehouse company director Brian Murray of Botany Road was also jailed for five-and-a-half years.

He escaped a six-year sentence only because he had previously been involved in charity work and was of good character.

Night Flight Controversy

The Isle of Thanet Extra reports that Thanet Council has been ordered to make public legal advice it received over controversial night flights from Manston Airport.

The council caused controversy when it entered into an agreement in 2005 with the airport’s operators Planestation that permitted additional scheduled flights to take place beyond 11pm.

At the time, many residents in the area were dismayed, saying they faced noise disruption. There were claims that the change was one that should have required planning permission.

Council chiefs had initially refused to disclose the advice of its lawyers, relating to a variation in the terms of what is known as a Section 106 agreement.

It rejected a request made under the Freedom of Information Act, saying the advice was legally privileged information and there was no public interest in releasing it.

But now an information tribunal has officially ruled that the council was wrong.

A panel that considered a formal appeal said councillors had already referred to the legal advice during the course of a public council meeting when the issue of the impact of night flights had been raised.

As a result, the full contents of the lawyers’ advice, which addressed the issue of whether the change in policy needed planning permission should be released, the panel concluded.

In a statement, the council insisted it had not deliberately sought to suppress the information. The statement said:

“Thanet District Council is committed to providing as much information as possible to the public. However, the council took legal advice in this case and we were advised not to release any information which would jeopardise the future of a passenger service at Kent International Airport.”

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

The Middle East - Bring back Blair & Parliament - Gale

If ever there was a time to recall parliament it is now, says North Thanet's MP, Roger Gale, who says:

"This is not a knee-jerk reaction to the appalling deaths of women and children in Lebanon but a mounting concern over the most dangerous situation that has faced the world for a considerable time.

If there are to be UN resolutions and if an international force, which will almost certainly include British troops , is to be committed - as it surely must be  then the parliament of the UK should discuss those issues.  The Prime Minister should cut short his PR exercise in the United States and return, with the rest  of the House, to London immediately"

Commenting on the growing crisis the MP added:

"Nobody in their right political minds holds any brief for terrorism but the Israeli reaction can only be regarded as, to say the least, disproportionate.  We have witnessed the murder of UN representatives in the Lebanon, the suppression, in Israel itself, of the truth and the substitution of propaganda for objective reporting and we have seen the supply of arms, by the United States and through the United Kingdom, that have almost certainly been used to kill innocent civilians.

The fact that a 48-hour ceasefire has been unilaterally announced and that the American Secretary of State is now calling for UN resolutions and "urgent action" should not delay the response of the United Kingdom any longer: we have a voice in the world forum and that voice needs to be heard in the interests of decency and humanity now."

Jetskis What Jetskis?

Perhaps it’s my imagination, problem jetskis that is. I had a polite reply from the council today and others may wish to contribute with an answer I can direct back to them.

Apparently, “The Foreshores team are not aware of any specific problems with jetskis at present” but if there is something that our Foreshores team should be investigating Please let them know, with as many details as possible.

Vandals Desecrate Church Crypt

Vandals have hit a new low, breaking open coffins in St. Lawrence Churchyard in Ramsgate.

The vandals managed to open up a family vault in the churchyard sometime on Thursday (27th July) and crawled into it, before removing lids from the coffins.

The vault has now been bricked up by Thanet Council and the Council is looking at ways of clearing away some of the vegetation in the churchyard to reduce further vandalism at the site. Some of the undergrowth at the site has already been cleared away to try to reduce hiding places for anti-social behaviour.

Cllr. Roger Latchford, Cabinet Member for Commercial Services, said:

"This latest incident is absolutely appalling. Those who sink to breaking into coffins really are the lowest of the low and it's unbelievable that we are now witnessing crimes like this. Thanet Council will be doing everything it can to ensure that this kind of distressing incident doesn't happen again. In particular, we'll be looking at how we can cut back vegetation to help prevent anti-social behaviour. I know that there have been concerns about the work that's been done at this churchyard previously to cut trees back because of the potential loss of habitats for birds, but public safety and minimising distress to people's relatives has to be our top priority. If this work will stop anti-social behaviour and incidents like this occurring in the future, then it will be worthwhile."