Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Great Takeaway

Back home for a while at last, which is a relief. Last night I found myself smoking a shisha pipe outside an Arab cafe on the Edgeware road, watching a large police raid going on at a shop opposite. Milling around too were I assume, overflow Saudis from the King's six jumbo entourage, who arrived in London on Monday to see the Queen, President Gordon and order a few £billion more Eurofighters in return for our keeping quiet about human rights.

This week I've been doing a little 'Organised Crime' in London and among the fascinating statistics I stumbled across I discovered:

Thirty-five people a day try and climb the Eiffel tower in an attempt to jump off, which is why it has state-of-the art security cameras attached to it.

Fraud in the UK could be £24 Billion, £30 Billion or even £40 Billion, depending on who you listen to. Government is spending £29 million to try and stop it.

Our taxes are rising because as much as 10% of the country's VAT takings have been flooding into a private bank into the small state of Curacao, run by one very clever businessman, for and on behalf of the criminal gangs that lie behind the enormous EU' VAT Carousel' fraud.

Fujan province in China is home to the ultimate financial takeaway and most of the 'Snakehead' trafficking gangs.

There's more, much more of course which is sadly confidential but without watching Blue Peter, I did learn how easy it is to set-up a premium rate line fraud which could net me £14,600 a day without getting out of bed and a great deal more besides, including how granular IP address resolution by the authorities now is.

The moral of the story though is that if you are going to be an organised criminal, be a big one - we have around 400 of these in the UK -. It's the smaller felons who do the time and the really big guns, much like the story of Al Capone, who are dismantled by HM Revenue & Customs, who are relentless in discovering new and interesting ways of recovering assets from 'Homo Mafioso' and his friends.

Mind you, did you see the settlement for the Chairman of Merril Lynch, pensioned off this week after the bank's catastrophic "sub prime" morgage exposure? $160 million. Now that's what I call serious and organised!

PS. I forgot to add, that I actually had a letter back from the PMs office at No10 in response to my own about policing in Thanet. How about that!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Revolution Ingles

I see that Thanet North MP, Roger Gale, now believes, like many other English MP's that the 'Commons' should be abolished and replaced with an English parliament. He writes:

"The concept of `English votes on English issues for English MPs` currently being considered by our (Conservative ) party does no go far enough. I believe that the time has come for radical action to protect our democracy and the United Kingdom.

When I first put forward my proposals, getting on for ten years ago , in the context of the creation of a Scottish parliament and the abolition of the hereditary peers, I was regarded as at best eccentric and more probably as plain bonkers!

This is, though, a debate the time for which has arrived.

My suggestion is quite straightforward. We should abolish both the House of Commons and the House of Lords. We should replace the former with English, Scots, Welsh and Northern Ireland parliaments. Those parliaments would each elect their own First Minister and would deal with all parochial and domestic issues relating to Health, Education, Social services and the like and raise, within the nations, the finances to support them. Unelected, unloved and unwanted guanos such as `regional assemblies` would be abolished and the national parliaments would work within the County structure to deliver services.

In tandem we should then elect a Senate on a two member per United Kingdom County (irrespective of size) basis. That Senate, retaining Her Majesty the Queen as Head of State, would from within itself elect the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and take responsibility for Foreign Policy, Defence and macro-taxation. Those were, in reality, the prime duties of parliament until the nineteenth century. Raise the taxes to pay for the forces to enforce foreign policy and defend the realm. All other matters at that time were dealt with either locally or as private members` legislation. I see no reason why we should not return to that concept: to do so would both retain the Union and create freedom for the Nations of that Union to determine their own domestic policies according to local needs and priorities as reflected by their electorates.

I am constantly told that this would be "very difficult to implement" but it is always possible to find either excuses why something cannot be done or to find ways in which something can be achieved. What we have now is a camel of a horse designed not even by a committee but by apprentices tinkering with machinery that has worked for centuries.Now that we are where we are the time is surely ripe to take a grip of the whole constitutional issue and to address it through radical surgery."

Ed: What do you think? Time for our own Parliament and give us the same rights as the Welsh and the Scots? Would it make any difference? Time for an English democratic revolution but who will play the part of Fidel Castro or 'Comrade Che' in this case?

Don't worry, I'll get bored with the Cuban theme soon!

Havana Crunch

Staying with Havana, this picture from Tony. There is so little traffic in Havana, cars being hard to come by, that an accident must be an unusual event. Your'e more likely to see broken down vehicles being worked-upon by their owners and I came to the conclusion that every Cuban male is an expert motor mechanic, capable of repairing any vehicle with some string, wire and tobacco leaves and help from passers-by.

I see that the city is on the BBC news this morning having won a United Nations award for its restoration programme. There's an awful lot still to do, as you can see from my photos.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Save Your Local Post Office - Gale's View

You have, if you have not already done so, about a week left to write to the Post Office to express your considered concerns about the closure of local sub post offices.

Objections should be based upon fact, rather than nostalgia!
The address to write to is
Gary Herbert,
Network Development Manager
c/o The National Consultation Team,
FREEPOST Consultation Team

Or you may e-mail (print off a copy and keep it) consultation@postoffice.co.uk.

While it is important that you write individually and personally it would be helpful if you would also sign one of the parliamentary petitions that are in most post offices and also circulating with the community. These will be presented to parliament and forwarded, also, to the consultation team.

It has been said, by some posing as "independent", that "local politicians have sought to turn this into a party-political issue." Let's be absolutely clear about it. While the decisions affect the whole community, whatever the personal politics, the manner in which the "Network Development" programme is being implemented is indeed party-political as it is being driven by the Post Office shareholder, the present government. Anyone who tries to pretend otherwise is either a fool or a charlatan.

The earthly remains of Thanet's failed "grey party" have stated that both Conservative and Labour parties have overseen the shutting of Post Offices. That is factually correct. And although I have opposed, on geographical and demographic grounds, the closure of specific outlets (The Crown Post Office in Birchington and the Greenhill sub-post office in Herne Bay are examples) I would also say that there is all the difference in the world between a sixteen stone man slimming down to twelve stone and a ten stone man slimming down to six stone. One is acceptable - possibly even desirable - and the other is dangerous.

The Conservative Party recognises that the new Royal Mail and Post Offices have to compete in an electronic world where other carriers are allowed to deliver goods, letters and communications. That, though, is the case for pursuing the policy of allowing Post Offices to develop other financial and related services rather than making them work with both hands tied behind their backs and then, when they are not viable, claiming that they have "failed".

The Labour Party, in government, has systematically presided, as the shareholder, over the removal of television license, road fund tax and benefit payments from sub post offices. It has made it as difficult as possible for those wishing to collect benefits from Post Offices to do so and it has undermined even the grudgingly introduced Post Office Card Account by announcing that it will be phased out.

It has done all of this with no apparent thought to replacement business and then has the gall to say that closures are necessary because business has fallen! Of course it has. And it is therefore small wonder that some postmasters, who are small private businessmen, have had to recognise the writing on the wall and agree to take compensation for closure now rather than face bankruptcy later.

I and my Conservative colleagues in Kent are united in our view that the sub post office is, very frequently, the hub of the local community that sustains local small shops, is a meeting place for the otherwise housebound and isolated and should be preserved and encouraged to grow and offer a wider range of services to its local clientele.

North Thanet`s "not-the-parliamentary candidate", who will not be standing in the "not The Election" that will not be held on November 1st. postures outside a local post office that, we are told correctly, offers a valuable service to that local community. South Thanet's Labour Member of Parliament appears to take a different and pr-government "closure is inevitable" view. Perhaps they should talk to each other!

Soon, no doubt, we shall be told that the campaign to secure a referendum on the European Constitutional Treaty is "a party-political issue"! Now I wonder where Yesterday's Man from Birchington stands on that!

Twinned with Havana

Other than the drop in temperature, not a great deal appears to have changed in Thanet during the few days I've been away.

Havana is a run-down, poor but architecturally rich and incredibly vibrant city with its bars, markets and music and it left me wondering whether we could import the same kind of atmosphere into the old town of Margate? I'm sure that a great many Cubans would love the opportunity of moving-in. How about Margate "Twinned with Havana"?

Dream on....

For interest, some more of my photos can be seen here.

Has Anyone Seen Sir John

The 8th Baronet of Althain, 75-year-old Baronet, Sir John Onslow, who suffers from memory loss, was last seen in Margate on Monday.

He was seen in Northdown Road and at the Prince’s Gardens. He was also seen in Ramsgate on Wednesday.

A distinguished yachtsman, Sir John is 5ft 11, with grey hair and a beard.

He owns a distinctive yellow Subaru SVX that he may be driving.

Officers have asked anyone who has seen him or know of his whereabouts to call PC Steven Conway on 0845 456 4567

Friday, October 26, 2007

Viva Che

With Fidel Castro fast approaching that time when he will join his iconic compatriot Che Guevara in a socialist heaven, it was only right that he should want to hear about the progress of the revolution in Thanet. So I obligingly popped-over to Havana to update him on the news of the Turner centre, Westwood cross and of course Dreamland.

Ironically, a friend, who happens to be General Secretary of one of our UK Trade Unions was also there, with a group of young activists but we missed the chance of a drink together at La Floradita, which still has a statue of Ernest Hemingway at this favourite seat at the bar.

How the larger than life Hemingway managed to remain on his feet and write his novels after half or dozen or more of his favourite drinks, defeats me. I recommend watching this clip from Michael Palin's 'Hemingway Adventure' to understand what his favourite drink, now called a "Papa Hemingway" can do to much less distinguished writers.

Havana is a city of stark contrasts but it's one of those places that really has to be seen and enjoyed for what it is. I'll put up a selection of photos of the city for you to look at, later this weekend, if you are interested.

Ola Ola

Well, the PC hasn't fallen over for a few hours yet, so maybe I'll stay lucky or perhaps the dreaded 'Blue screen of death' will strike, just as I'm in the middle of something important!

I had to leave the country last week and was back into Gatwick on a Virgin flight , early this morning, just in time the ever popular OASIS 747 taking on passengers for its scheduled flight to Hong Kong.

Any guesses where I've been from the photo?

Bloggus Interruptus

I'm back but my PC keeps crashing with a nasty system error, which is causing a certain amount of Bloggus interruptus."

Other than that, I'm on the hot Lemsip and so I'm not feeling that inspired to write anyway. I'll try and get the computer running properly and then hopefully, I'll be able to start posting. I've got this far without another crash - five already - so it's looking hopeful!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Out to Lunch

I'm shutting-up shop for a few days to concentrate on other projects. About time I had a few days off anyway, so the blog will go quiet for the next week while I put my feet up.

Back soon!

Fifteen Years for Mazza

Cliftonville man, Daniel Mazza has been told by a judge that he will not be considered for release until he had served 15 years for the murder of David Gavin, in Clifton Gardens.

Kent Online reports that Maidstone Crown Court heard during the two-week trial how Mazza went out armed with a knife up his sleeve after a row with his girlfriend Siobhan Laming.

He returned home and told her: "I hope you are happy now. I have f------ killed him. He is brown bread."

Mazza plunged the blade into 26-year-old Mr Gavin three times - once in the head and twice in the neck.

The victim staggered into his nearby basement flat in Athelstan Road, Margate, but bled to death in the lounge.

Mazza was obviously an incident waiting to happen. He already 63 convictions and has been recently released from a three-year prison sentence for robbery. He was still on licence when he committed the murder.

Ed: "Tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime." Don't make me laugh! The trouble is that I am told there are many more young men like Mr Mazza living in Thanet, enjoying the sea air at the taxpayers expense and still on license, so be careful out there!

Turner Extraordinary

Margate's MP, Roger Gale, has described as "Turner Extraordinary" the final design for the Turner Contemporary Gallery presented to the public by award-winning architect David Chipperfield this week.

"The design is extraordinary in the literal sense of the word" says the MP. "An extraordinary amount of intelligence has been applied, by David Chipperfield, to the concept. An extraordinary degree of attention has been paid to the need to create public space that meets the real needs of real and sometimes disabled people. Extraordinary use has been made of the geographic location of the site and of the northern light and the southern light that is available. The cladding - in re-cycled glass - is extraordinary and the design itself is exciting and outstanding".

Speaking at the close of the launch presentation of the project at the Theatre Royal, Margate, the MP said:

"The Chinese say that a journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step. When those of us who have been party to this project took that first step I am not sure that we could even see the horizon, much less the end of the journey. But we have come a very long way along a winding and sometimes bumpy road and I believe that our faith has been justified. Though the exciting talents of David Chipperfield and the dedication of the artistic director, Victoria Pomery and her team, we are in reach of something very special indeed.

We have always said that the Turner Gallery would be the cornerstone of the Margate Waterfront Development and so it will be.

But those of us who are elected members at District, County and Parliamentary level have to play our part. The Car Parking and the regeneration of the Old Town and the High Street and the provision of mundane facilities such as public lavatories require detailed attention if we are to create a destination resort that is user-friendly for visitors and residents alike.

David Chipperfield has created the jewel - it is up to us to create the appropriate setting."

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Shadow Home Secretary David Davis Visits Thanet

On Wednesday, Shadow Home Secretary David Davis will visit Thanet to see how local youth services are improving the lives of young people.

Accompanied by Laura Sandys, the Conservative Parliamentary Candidate for Thanet South, David will be visiting the Quarterdeck Youth Club in Cliftonville and Margate Police Station where he will meet Chief Superintendent Peter West, to discuss how local Police are tackling local crime and anti-social behaviour.

If you have any concerns or suggestions that you think should be raised, do comment here, as I'm sure Laura will be visiting this weblog to take a look.

Arsonist's Playground

The BBC reports that an elderly man was treated in the QEQM after arsonists started a rubbish fire near his house in Crowhill Road, Margate.

The 84-year-old was treated for smoke inhalation and Police believe the fire at 3am on Friday was started deliberately and have appealed for witnesses.

Passers-by raised the alarm after spotting smoke getting into the man's house through open windows.

Ed: What can I say, they start with allotment huts and the Sea Cadets building and become more ambitious as time goes! - No excuses about, 'issues' and broken homes, arsonists should be sent-down for a very long time. Does anyone disagree?

On another note, I was quite amazed at the lengths the graffit artists will go to to tag buildings between Bromley South and Victoria, along the railway line. Every square inch of space is now covered and the tags are now going vertical, up blocks of flats! They must be using scaffolding and climbing equipment!

Going Underground

I can confirm that the London Mayor travels by underground. Mind you, with the size of the congestion charge he's set for the city, I was hardly surprised to see him sitting on the same train alongside a carriage packed with the inevitable Eastern Europeans going about their day in our great city.

At the same time, I can confirm that our Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith, is even smaller than she appears in real life and that having trampled on her, quite by accident, outside Comittee Room 6 at Westminster, I must now flee the country as a potential terrorist suspect!

Security at Westminster is even tighter than ever. I watched two of our 'Lords', one being a Baroness, having the full body 'pat-down' treatment, which suggests that the state of alert is somewhat higher than usual.

I left, just as Sir Menzies Campbell the leader of the Liberal Democrats, was taken outside and shot, "after a brutal coup by his own MPs."

The final 'coup de grace' was given by Party president Simon Hughes who said in a statement: "Over the past two years, Ming has given stability and purpose to our party. "

Police Seek Armed Smoker

You may recall we ran this story a week or so ago. the mugger with a poor taste in clothes, but now the Police have come up with a CCTV photo, which I have cleaned-up for them. There aren't that many people in Ramsgate who will fit his description, so keep an eye out for him, particularly if you happen to be anywhere near a bookmakers!

Detectives would like to talk to this man in connection with a robbery (or even worse, smoking in a public place) in which a man had £200 winnings from a bookmaker’s stolen.

The 46-year-old victim was threatened by a man in Alexandra Road, Ramsgate.

The offender is described as being in his mid 30s, Afro-Caribbean and wearing a purple and white striped shirt and black trousers.

During the robbery he searched the victim's pockets until he found the money.

It is believed the offender, who had been spotted in the Coral bookmakers in King Street, Ramsgate, earlier then ran off down Alexandra Road, St Lukes Avenue and headed towards Boundary Park.

The robbery happened just after 3pm on Tuesday, September 25. Det Con Clare Walker on 01843 222071 would like to hear from any witnesses or anyone with information.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Gone Fishin..!

Over at Brands Hatch today for the British Superbike Championships, on what looked very much like a summer's afternoon. One of my 'apprentices' who has just been given a job flying much larger aircraft came along for the ride and to tell me what it's like flying passengers out of Gatwick. He was busy doing training circuits last week and I made a point of telling him to avoid Ramsgate at all costs, as it transpires that the airline he now works for occasionally uses Manston for pilot training.

Rochester airport very kindly let us do a special banner over the hospice, just off the end of their runway this afternoon; a very touching 40th wedding anniversary message from the children of a much-loved father and mother, and from above, I could make out the family group in the sunshine outside the ward waving, with Dad wheeled out specially for the occassion.

This weblog will be going very quiet over the remainder of October, so be warned. I'm in and out and away alot and I've more CAA exams to study for and the "Tackling Organised Crime" conference I have to chair, so I'm going to find it very hard to make regular posts. Normal service should be resumed by month-end though!

From the photo, you'll see that an alternative use has been found for the much-publicised sandbank in Ramsgate harbour!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Mine All Mine

Did the earth move for you this morning?

The BBC reports that a World War II mine was detonated off Margate at 10:35 am after it was caught up in a fishing vessel's nets.

The controlled explosion about 1.2 miles from the harbour registered with the British Geological Survey (BGS) in Edinburgh.

Numerous calls were received by Thanet council and BBC Radio Kent, from people fearing a repeat of April's earthquake around the coast in Folkestone.

A BGS spokesman said the equivalent magnitude was 2.5 on the Richter scale.

The coastguard spokesman said it was thought the mine, described as an 8ft-long and 3ft-round metal cylinder, could have contained up to a tonne of explosives.

Margate and Herne Bay History - One Shilling

I received an interesting new publication from local historian, Michael Child, today. The Margate and Herne Bay guide previously published in 1866.

Michael runs the aptly-named "Michael's Bookshop" in Ramsgate and is a treasure trove of local information on an incredibly eclectic range of subjects.

More detail on this new book on Margate's colourful history can be found on the Michael's Bookshop website here.

Tax and Spend

In case you wondered why you receive less public services in return for higher community charges, the map below says it all. And if you live in the South-east, as we do, then there's worse to come. You may have read this week that government owes Kent County Council £7 million for taking more than its fair share of child refugees. It appears that government has little intention of repaying the debt, which is likely to lead in service cuts on our side of the so-called 'North-south divide'.

The latest analysis of government spending shows that the South-East provided £15.1 billion more in taxes than was spent in the region.

Similarly, eastern areas of England contributed £5.1 billion they did not see back from the Treasury.

For each man, woman and child in the South-East, £9,397 was taken in taxes. But they each got back £7,544 in public spending - £1,853 less.

In the Labour-dominated North-East, public spending provided each individual with £3,133 more in services than was paid in taxes.

On the radio, yesterday, I heard Thanet North MP, Roger Gale challenge Thanet South MP, Dr Stephen Ladyman to a by-election in Thanet. Gale is happy to resign and stand again in a test of public opinion if Ladyman does the same. Somehow, I doubt the latter will take him up on the challenge!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Margate - Twinned with Yalta

Several "plugs" for Margate last night during Michael Palin's tour of Europe and visit to the beautiful seaside town of Yalta in the Ukraine.

Margate, will of course more closely resemble the fashionable Yalta in the video, once we have finished with the regeneration plans! Well, I hope so!

I can still remember how Yalta was twinned with Margate in those happy days in the 70's and early 80's when "Soviet Weekly" used to be delivered to the staff-rooms of schools around Thanet.

Did any reader actually go on a "Fraternal visit" to our twin-town to enjoy the extravagent hospitality of the old Soviet Union before 'Glasnost' and 'Perestroika'? Did the Russians come to Margate and if so, what did they make of it?

Tell us all about it!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Fantasy Island

I heard, with some amusement today, the Prime Minister, insisting that new powers given to police and local councils were sufficient to deal with the problem of drunken anti-social behaviour in our towns.

It would be nice perhaps if a zero-tolerance attitude to alcohol consumption in ‘zoned-areas’ like the centre of Westgate was enforced but I’m told that invariably, our thin-blue line resources are required to deal with more important problems elsewhere in Thanet.

As a result, I’ve written the same letter to both the Chief Constable of Kent and Gordon Brown, pointing out to the Prime Minister that I believe he is being misled. It’s more likely however that there is a rather more proactive attitude adopted, and more resources available to deal with alcohol-related public order offenses in Whitehall than there is in Westgate or even Broadstairs? I’ll be interested to read any reply!

Meanwhile, back in Westgate, you’ll recall we have been experiencing “sign-blight”. This involves the distribution of “To-Let”, “For Sale”, “Let” and “Sold” signs in a density that has given rise to complaint. I’ve visited one particular agent twice now to politely point-out that they are, in my opinion, “taking the ***” but to no avail, so now I’ve had to ask the planning enforcement officers to intervene.

This is annoying because the council planning officers are busy enough without having to remind a local estate agent of the law concerning the placement of such signs. You might have thought that two personal visits from a local councillor; one of these carrying a broken sign, might have been enough to encourage a little cooperation but apparently not.

Maybe this is simply indicative of the general malaise; the prevailing atmosphere in our society today. I’ve got this funny, old fashioned idea that a ward councillor exists to lobby for the community and act as the local intermediary between the people he or she serves and local government, with all its legion regulations and services. To that extent, when a councillor asks for cooperation from police or local government or business it should be present in all cases because without this, people would have good reason to feel disillusioned over the increasingly visible failings of our democratic process.

That said, there’s probably no point in posting my letter to Gordon Brown because of the impending national postal strike, so I might just drop it in by hand on Monday.

Teen Talk

Some local parents might be shocked to see what their children have on their social networking sites like 'bebo'. That's of course, if: A) they know how to get on to the site in the first place and B) whether they can translate the "Teen-talk" they'll find there without the help of an interpreter.

This week, the government has admitted that Parents are "ill-equipped" to keep their children safe from violent and damaging influences on the internet. An inquiry will investigate the risks new technologies pose to children's safety

Very few families are aware of the extreme images in many video games and websites used by thousands of young people every day, it is claimed Ed Balls, the Children's Secretary, said only one-in-20 parents knew that many children gave out personal details online, raising fresh fears that uncontrolled access to new technology may be undermining childhood.

It's a bit late to come to that conclusion. The web is becoming a rolling disaster for many people unequipped to deal with it. Ths is best illustated by the thousands falling for "West African" scams and identity theft. However, without proper supervision or instruction, the web is even more of a dangerous place for children but I can guarantee that nothing sensible will be done about it because nobody knows how!

Tax Credits - Ombudsman`s Report backs MP`s Claims

Claims made by North Thanet`s MP, Roger Gale, that Gordon Brown`s Tax credit system is operating unfairly and causing hardship to families have received dramatic support from the Ombudsman, Ann Abraham.

In her report, published today (Tuesday) the Onmbudsman acknowledges that the system is too complex and that it has not taken account of information supplied by claimants leading, as a result, to overpayments. She also highlights the weakness in the Revenue and Customs "Code of Practice 26" which says that even though official errors may have been made claimants should have been aware of those errors and therefore are responsible.

"In the course of this year I have held private meetings with the Adjudicator, Dame Barbara Mills, with the new Chairman of Revenue and Customs, Paul Gray and with Ann Abraham, the Ombudsman, herself. I am delighted that the Ombudsman, whose position was becoming difficult to say the least, has so clearly underscored the weaknesses in the system.

I have, at present, about forty cases of hardship caused as a result of COP 26 and the Revenue`s insistence that "we were wrong but you should have known that we were wrong so we are right and you are wrong and we want our money back!".

The Chairman of Revenue and Customs has told me that the operation of COP 26 is under review and of course I hope that this will lead to changes. However, Government must now respond to the Ombudsman`s report. I am due to see the new Minister responsible, Jane Kennedy, shortly and I shall press the case for all current claims for repayment to be written off.

It`s simply not good enough for the Treasury to say that "this is taxpayer`s money" and that it must be reclaimed: the fact is that the money has already been spent, in most cases in good faith, by claimants who now are not in a position to repay it. That is the fault of Brown`s system - it was he who introduced it and claimed its "success" - and the Treasury must foot the bill, if necessary out of cuts in its own departmental budget. Perhaps the Chairman who received a knighthood for presiding over this incompetence, Sir David Varney, would like to make a contribution to the refunds."

Ed: I sat-in on one of Roger Gale's surgeries this month and was shocked to see the level of incompetence displayed by the tax authorities and the impact and hardship this has on local families caught-up in the unrelenting clutches of this beaureacratic monster.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Crassly Negligent - Verdict

Kent Online reports that a judge has criticised local police after a couple were forced to turn detective to help solve a burglary at their home.

Officers were called to a house in Westbrook Avenue, after the owner discovered a break-in in August.

But Canterbury Crown Court heard that the officers failed to find burglary tools left behind by the thief.

A judge has now ordered a full investigation into what he called a "crassly negligent" probe by police at Margate.

Prosecutor Eunice Shang-Simpson said the owner Mr Hollands and his family had been on a camping holiday and returned to discover two windows broken in their conservatory.

Three days after the break-in, Mrs Hollands found a screwdriver and a pick axe that didn't belong to the family.

Forensic evidence on the items led to the arrest of Phillipe Colley, who was living in a hostel in Cliftonville. He admitted the break-in and told officers about four other burglaries.

Judge Timothy Nash: "I am saddened by what this couple had to do. It is the duty of the scene of crimes officer to obtain evidence and the evidence was there.

"It brings great shame on the East Kent section of the force. Many would say that failure to pick up evidence by looking in the surrounding area was crassly negligent."

After jailing Colley, who admitted five burglaries, for 18 months, the judge ordered an investigation into the incident.

He also recommended that Mr and Mrs Hollands receive an apology from the police.

Post Office Campaign - Launch of Parliamentary Petition

North Thanet`s MP, Roger Gale, joins with Laura Sandys (South Thanet), The deputy Leader of Thanet Council, Roger Latchford and other Thanet Councillors this (Monday) morning to launch a parliamentary petition that seeks to persuade the Government to place a moratorium on post office closures pending a reappraisal of the programme.

The petition will be launched at 09.00 at Minnis Bay Post Office at the time when many pensioners gather to collect their money.

"We are seeking to raise hundreds if not thousands of signatures on this petition which I shall then present to the House of Commons" says Roger Gale. "We accept that there is a need for change within the post office network but we believe that it is wrong both to deny local communities facilities that are, in many cases, vital to their existence and also wrong for government, as the major shareholder in Post Office Ltd, to deny to those small businesses trading opportunities that will make them both viable and competitive in a modern environment.

There is a huge public interest at stake and the response from the general public since the consultation was announced and plans revealed has, notwithstanding the postal strike, already been very considerable."

Ccommenting upon the postal strike the MP adds:

"I have visited sorting offices and spoken personally with postal workers. Our local postmen and postwomen are not militant and they do not want to damage the businesses and communities that they serve any more than they want to damage their own jobs or place their mortgages and financial security at risk.

They do, though, want to be treated fairly and they want a just reward for working what are often anti-social hours in appalling weather conditions and they also want to maintain the high standard of delivery and service in which they take a pride.

Postal workers are caught between a highly-paid and arrogant management in Adam Crozier and Allan Leighton , who will no doubt in due curse be rewarded with New Labour honours for their mediocrity, and by a Trades Union Leadership, in Mr. Hayes and his colleagues, that represents a throwback to old-style neanderthal union approach to industrial relations. It would probably be helpful if a fresh and competent team were to look at both sides of the argument, to address issues arising from working conditions, pay and most particularly pensions and to endeavour to reach a fair settlement.

Failure to bring about an agreement will further damage the small businesses that rely upon the postal service and will, ultimately, finish of the once-cherished and unique Royal Mail service for good."

Criminal Damage?

If you saw some of our teenagers hanging around the streets of Thanet, dressed like this, would you see it as a fashion statement or simply intimidating behaviour?

The outfit pictured is made by a company called "Criminal Damage", so there's a clue to its appeal and the Conservative shadow home secretary David Davis said the clothing, which can be zipped up over the face, could be part of a "hooligan's tool kit".

Mr Davis said the Tories would not usually want to ban people from wearing their own choice of clothing, but the new hoodies presented a different problem.

The tops,come in a range of styles. One design is made of camouflage material with two plastic discs for the wearer to see through.

Jas Aytan, a director at Criminal Damage, dismissed the criticism. He said: "We are a street wear company that develops fashion items in line with the demand from our customers."

What do you think?

Sunday, October 07, 2007

More Balls in Play

Kent County Councillor Clive Hart has been confirmed as the Chair of Governors at Laleham Gap Special School (in Thanet). Clive has been performing the role of Chair for several months on a temporary basis and on Tuesday (2nd October) the board of governors asked him to continue for a further full year.

Cllr. Clive Hart said ‘it is both an honour and a privilege to be elected chair of governors at Laleham Gap. It really is a wonderful school. We have recently become a leading light in relation to anti-bullying and healthy eating and as a centre of excellence in relation to our special school status staff and pupils really do shine.

The ‘outstanding’ status awarded to Laleham Gap following this years OFSTED inspection is a testament to the hard working pupils, the dynamic head teacher, the conscientious staff and a supportive board of governors.

The coming year will be a very exciting one with the strong possibility of vastly improved premises being provided through the Governments impressive Building Schools for the Future programme and our first item of business on Tuesday evening was to start formal negotiations with the Local Education Authority to that end’.

Ed: Your photo captions are welcomed! I have taken the liberty of correcting a spelling slip in the original text of the release as I don't think Clive really meant to write "Conscious staff". If he did, then please let me know and I'll correct it from 'Conscientious'.

One for All and All for One

I've spent a great deal of time in the Arab world and visited a number of their very good universities and yet I've never heard of students, refusing to attend a lecture on their chosen degree subject if it conflicted with their Islamic beliefs.

The Sunday Times newspaper had a disturbing report today that a small minority of medical students are refusing to attend lectures on the treatment alcohol and sexually-related conditions because of such a conflict. The Hippocratic oath appearing irrelevant in a strictly interpreted Islamic sense.

Apparently, the General Medical Council (GMC) has also received requests for guidance over whether students could “omit parts of the medical curriculum and yet still be allowed to graduate."

Furthermore, it has emerged that "Sainsbury’s is also permitting Muslim checkout operators to refuse to handle customers’ alcohol purchases on religious grounds and its pharmacists to refuse to sell the morning-after pill to customers."

In the same week that the government washed-its hands of the 'veil debate', passing any responsibility in the matter back to head teachers I wonder if this is sending out quite the wrong messages in a society which risks increasing and dangerous division if a minority are permitted to exploit the concept of both opting-out and different rules for different religious groups.

What do you think?

Saturday, October 06, 2007

That Was Quick..!

Less than ten minutes after the call from Gordon, Roger Gale sends in his own response. I wonder if the Prime Minister called him too?



Roger Gale, afternoon described as "a disgrace and an abuse of parliament and of democracy" the chaotic and undignified manner in which the Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, has used a pre-recorded interview with the BBC`s Andrew Marr, to announce to the nation that there will be no general election this year.

Speaking in his North Thanet Constituency Roger Gale said:

"We have watched in disgust as, live on television, Marr scurried into 10 Downing Street to record an interview with the Prime Minister and then, acting as something akin to His Master`s Voice, emerged to don an earpiece and announce to the world that Brown had confirmed that he would not hold an election this year.

This episode demonstrates the contempt in which Brown, the "Son of the Manse" who wanted to engage in "a different style of politics" clearly holds both the public and parliament and also reveals alarmingly the manner in which an already discredited BBC seems prepared to allow itself to be used by this Labour administration.

Brown could, as Prime Minister, have ended all speculation through either a formal televised all-channels Prime Ministerial statement, with Opposition response, or he could more properly have saved his statement until the House of Commons sits again on Monday.

The fact of the matter is that in a manner shoddily reminiscent of the ten years of Blair/Brown administration the Prime Minister has lost his nerve and hidden behind Auntie`s skirts to allow the BBC to make his craven announcement for him.It has been said by commentators at Blackpool and since that a cancellation of Labour`s election plans is what we, in the Conservative Party, have been trying to achieve. Nothing could be further from the truth. We believe that, with a government poised to commit us to a European Constitutional Treaty without a referendum, an election is in the most vital Interests of our United Kingdom. We are ready for it locally here in Kent and nationally. We are, apparently, to be denied the opportunity to express our views through the ballot box by a Prime Minister who should for ever now wear a white feather in his cap and who has spoken not with the voice of authority but through a tame mouthpiece."

Ed: Labour has enjoyed a significant funding surge in recent months. According to Electoral Commission figures, from April to June the party received a total of £5m in donations, more than £1.5m up on the same quarter last year under Blair. Yet the party still has net debts of £20m, including £14m of outstanding loans. Not a great platform on which to fight an election

Speaking before Brown’s decision was made public, Stephen Ladyman,the MP for Thanet South, said he thought a late poll was in the party’s interest.

“If we wait, I think as soon as we go past Christmas we will see the Tories start to tear themselves apart wanting Cameron to go back to the right,” Ladyman said. “I think if we leave the election to 2009, they will implode.”

"Spin and Dither"

With apologies to Roger Gale, having posted his "View" earlier today; I sat in on his surgery this morning at Westgate library, I've just had a phone call from Gordon Brown, who wants to let the people of Thanet and not the BBC, to be the first to know that he won't be calling a General Election on account of the rather bad polls that appeared in the papers today.

This is of course good news for Dr Ladyman, who, with MPs in other Labour marginal seats, looked unlikley to have lasted until Christmas. It's also good news, in a way, for David Cameron and the Conservatives, who forced an over-confident and unelected Prime Minister to blink in the glare of the opinion polls and a rather good speech by Cameron himself at the Blackpool party conference.

It now remains to be seen what Gordon will do next. On Tuesday, we might see some bad results delivered from our new 'Darling' Chancellor with every sign that the wheels are coming off the Downing Street train in a number of places; even "God's" banker, Lord Sainsbury, now criticising the party that he has so magnificently funded.

Just in time of course for the papers to leak plans of a predicted £200 rise in council tax to fund repairs to the NHS. Bound to be a future vote catcher for Brown. What do you think?

Time to Call an Election - Gale's View

Mr. Blair, while in Number 10, used to like to describe himself as "a pretty straight kind of guy". This was regarded with the same intensity of derision as his friend Mr. Clinton's protestations about his relationship with Monica Lewinsky!

Mr. Brown, as Prime Minister, clearly now wishes to be accepted as "a Son of the Manse kind of guy". Sorry. It will not wash. Political leopards do not change their spots!

Mr. Brown, Prime Minister, is precisely the same Mr. Brown, Chancellor of the Exchequer, who has been at the very heart of this government's economics and policy since 1997. Cut the spin. His fingerprints are on all of the very many failures of ten New Labour years in power. Let's not forget that.

Mr. Brown is the same man who robbed a generation of thrifty pensioners of their secure old age through his multi-billion pound tax raid on pension funds. In so doing he also destroyed the best pension provision within the European Union - part of the "Thatcher legacy" that he now wants to be associated with.

Brown, remember, was the man who introduced a Child Tax Credit scheme so complicated that Revenue and Customs are still trying to claw back thousands of pounds in alleged overpayments from some three hundred thousand terrified claimants. And this is the man who, to his eternal parliamentary shame, sheltered behind his Paymaster General's skirts and never once came to the despatch box to answer to parliament for the faults of a system that was of his own making.

Foreign Secretary Mr. Miliband tells us that he would now like us to "learn and move on" from our military adventures in Iraq. But it was the man who appointed him who, as Chancellor, financed these excursions and acquiesced in the decisions to send our young men and women to their deaths in the full knowledge of the dodginess of Mr. Blair's dossier.

And it is the same Mr. Miliband who, echoing his master's voice, seeks to deny the British People the right to the referendum on the constitutional treaty promised by the Cabinet of which Mr. Brown was a part.

Mr. Balls, Secretary of State for Education, tells us that he wants to reverse the dumbing down of education achieved during the Blair/Brown years but his response to the crisis is typically Brownite. At yet more wasted expense, create a new curriculum regulator with, no doubt, more "targets" for hard-pressed and harassed teaching staff to try to hit.

In similar vein, the Health Secretary, Mr. Johnson, now seeks to rescue the battered NHS from a decade of massive waste, upon bureaucracy, of taxpayers` money by creating a new Health Service regulator! Mr. Brown and Mr. Johnson ask us to believe that they wish to create a "Personal Health Service" with GPs working in the evenings and at weekends. It was this self-same administration that removed these services through the GP contract that they agreed in 2004! They will now, they say, "concentrate remorselessly upon quality, access and safety". What, please, have these same men been doing in office for the past ten years?

The morale of the constabulary is at an all-time low. Officers bogged down in paperwork, systems and the ever-present "targets" cannot wait to complete their years and get out of The Job. Brown's gleeful response to this welter of red tape? Hand held computers that will allow the constable to complete his forms while remaining out on the beat!

Ever tried doing paperwork on a cold, wet, November night on Waterloo Station in the dark, Gordon? Ever tried to do that and at the same time control a drunken prisoner that does not like handcuffs? Get real! It is your policies that have undermined authority and promoted anti-social behaviour. Where were you, Son of the Manse, while the 24-hour drinking bill was being approved by the Cabinet of which you were a member? And where were you while your government's Gambling Bill was being debated?

The Justice Minister, Jack Straw, wants to "review", we are told, the rights of a man to protect his own home and family without risking prosecution. A pity, then, that the Cabinet of which Mr Straw and Mr Brown were Members did not back my private bill that would have done just that and give it a fair wind through parliament! Government by opportunism, by U-turn and by gimmick but not a new idea in sight.

Brown, as Prime Minister, says that he wants another ten labour years to, presumably, try to undo some of the damage of the last ten and to lay his own "legacy" to rest alongside that of his predecessor. Our country simply cannot afford to continue to suffer for that long. Stop dithering and call the election.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

One for the Road

Students in Thanet will be pleased to hear that scientists have delivered conclusive proof of what many people instinctively knew - booze makes you clever!

I wonder if cigarettes are good for you too?

Top boffins at the University of Auckland, New Zealand, by studying the mental performance of specially-created transgenic rats well supplied with drink, have found that moderate daily alcohol intake conferred "heightened cognition".

The rest of the story can be found here but while you read it but as a member of the licensing committee I'm off to the pub to study intensively for my next CAA exams. I'm now waiting for the announcement that one of our better-known local pub chains will be sponsoring the new Thanet Campus. Slogans below please but nothing libellous please!

Ladyman Plays Balls

Thanet South Labour MP Dr Steve Ladyman is reportedly to write to Ed Balls, the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families over Kent County Council’s recent announcement that it intends to retain both Chatham House grammar school and Clarendon House grammar school on their existing sites.

It is thought the county council was considering a merger as part of its strategy to deal with falling pupil numbers across Kent but that option was scrapped by the Conservative-led County Hall.

Kent Online reports taht Dr Ladyman said that the decision was politically motivated and had not been subject to any public consultation. He believes the council has yet to prove how its plans are viable.

“This decision was taken [by KCC] to get my Conservative parliamentary opponent of the hook and the national Conservative party off the hook,” he said.

He wanted the minister to “consider carefully” whether the government should give KCC grant money it wants to re-build and re-furbish the schools under the Building Schools for The Future, a government led programme.

“KCC’s announcement says everything about the Conservative authority’s desire to protect grammar schools and is nothing to do with improving education across the wider area. At the very least, KCC should be having a public consultation over this. I will be writing to the minister setting out what is going on and to say he should think very carefully,” the MP said.

The county council had failed to do its job properly by giving the public a say on its plans or by examining other options.

“They [KCC] have not done their job and the government should be telling them so. If a public consultation comes down in favour of keeping both, then fine - but I want everyone to be involved.”

KCC’s Conservative administration has denied its decision was political and said it wanted to end speculation about the fate of the two schools.

Ed: So what's wrong, if anything, with protecting our excellnet Grammar Schools in Thanet? I'm sure we'll have some interesting contribitions on this topic. Over to you Chris Wells?

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

The Big Fuel Boycott?

An interesting chain email making the rounds as a reaction to this week's fuel price hike; a bit of bad timing for Gordon Brown one might think.

To cut to the point, here's the salient part of the email, aimed at encouraging the population to place pressure on the big oil companies to drop their prices.

"Here's the idea: For the rest of this year don't purchase any petrol from the two biggest oil companies (which now are one), ESSO and BP. If they are not selling any petrol, they will be inclined to reduce their prices. If they reduce their prices, the other companies will have to follow suit. But to have an impact we need to reach literally millions of Esso and BP petrol buyers. It's really simple to do!"

If you haven't had this email already, would do you plan to join the boycott or is it a waste of time?

A New Plan for Manston?

Work is to begin on how Thanet District Council would respond to a new draft masterplan for Kent International Airport, which is expected to come forward in the next year.

A decision was taken on Tuesday, by the Council’s Overview and Scrutiny Panel, to form a Working Party to look at the development of the airport. They will review the available reports and information and consider the position that the Council could take when responding to a draft Masterplan.

They will also look at the results of the public consultation on the 106 Agreement, which was carried out in 2005. That showed that there was general support for the expansion of the airport, with significant opposition focused in areas under and beside the flight path. There was also concern about night flying.

Cllr. Bob Bayford, Chairman of the Overview and Scrutiny Panel, said: “This is all about preparing for the next stage of the development of Kent International Airport. The Council is aware that a draft Masterplan is likely to be produced by the airport’s owners over the next year and we need a set of ‘experts’ in place, who fully understand the background to this and are familiar with all the reports and data available. The best way of doing that is to establish a Working Party, whose members can learn all about what has happened and indeed what is currently happening at other airports across the country. That means that, when the draft Masterplan comes forward, they will be in an excellent position to advise the Council and its Cabinet when decisions need to be made about the future development of the airport.”

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Post Office Closures - Is Yours on the List?

Among those being closed in Thanet North are Minnis Road in Birchington, Dane Road in Margate and Canterbury Road in Westbrook.

You can see the Meridian News report here:

In Thanet South, Laura Sandys, the Conservative Parliamentary Candidate has condemned the Post Office culling programme that is proposing the closures in South Thanet - Cliffs End, Grange Road in Ramsgate and Bellevue Road in Ramsgate and the village post office of Woodnesborough.

"It cannot be right to close a post office in the small community of Cliffs End that supports the only shop in the village. The residents will have to either get on the bus or get in their car if the community shop does not survive. This will hit the most vulnerable the worst.

“Ironically Cliffs End post office was opened by Dr Ladyman MP to great fanfare. However since then it appears that he has done little to support it. In 2006 in Parliament he voted against the Conservative motion to help save our post offices and has done little to stop the Government’s policies of eroding sub post offices business opportunities.

“Woodnesborough has one of the prettiest post offices in Kent and serves the whole community of 500 households. It is at the heart of the village and again without the post office service will the shop survive?”

“Government policies have undermined the small post offices’ businesses. It has stripped pension and TV license and Road Tax business away from sub post offices and it is Gordon Brown who, as Chancellor, designed the financial plan for the Post Office and must carry the can for the destruction of a first-class community service.

“The Post Office is putting forward proposals for Mobile Post offices, home visits and the like but these will not assist the small retail businesses that are vital to local people and that have historically been founded upon and around post offices.

“I hope that communities up and down the County will write individually in response to the "consultation" so that we can save those community post offices that serve the most vulnerable in our towns and villages.”

Please send letters to me and to Garry Herbert, Network Development Manager, FREEPOST – Consultation – or sign my petition on line at http://www.telllaura.org.uk/ and go to petitions. I will forward your names and comments to the post office."

License Revoked

Chris Wells, former TDC Cabinet Member for Safer Communities, was present yesterday, supporting local residents from Broadstairs who were taking real action against the noise and disruption of late night drinking.

At a hearing in the Council Offices, the licence for Harpers Wine Bar in Harbour Street Broadstairs was revoked after committee members heard reports of 'background' music that could be heard in surrounding properties, timed and dated reports of admitting people clearly drunk onto the premises, disruption caused by taxi pick ups, use of the street and surrounding area as toilets, and acts of vandalism and fighting outside the premises.

Chris commented:

"The law allows us to make a case against any licensed premises where disruption to surrounding properties is an issue. Local residents have come forward today and faced the licensees of this establishment with the consequences of the way they have run their business. I applaud both their community spirit and courage in coming forward today, and hope others facing similar difficulty across Thanet will take heart that there are ways to reclaim the peace and tranquility of their area.

I hope all Thanet landlords are watching and listening. The night time economy does not take precedence over the needs of residents to sleep and conduct their lives without intereference from the effects of drink.

I have said from the beginning that this was a poorly drafted and hastily assembled piece of legislation, based on a myth - that the drinking habits of generations can be changed overnight by increasing access to alcohol. I understand Gordon Brown may now agree with me, presumably having forgotten how he master-minded a previous election campaign that included the text message - 'Don't give an xxxx for closing times, Vote Labour.' When residents hear the consequences of 24 hour drinking on their streets I trust they will remember how the labour party caused the problems, and it is Conservatives like me who are fighting the consequences for their residents!"

Dane Park Sniper

Central Park in New York appears safer than Dane Park these days!

Apparently, a 15-year-old boy was hit in the head by an airgun pellet as he walked with a friend through the park on Saturday.

He was taken to the QEQM hospital where the pellet was removed.

Police say the boys cannot be more specific about the time of the shooting which was between 3pm and 7pm.

Anyone with information is asked to contact police on 01843 222178 or Kent Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

Ed: A four hour gap in the memories of the two boys does seem a little bizarre, don't you think?

Fashion Victim

A fiend of mine told me yesterday how his car was broken into in Ramsgate last week. He arrived in time to see a man stealing his radio and gave chase but the thief took a short cut across the railway line, so my friend decided to let him go.

I rather wonder what would have happened if he had caught the thief as my friend is a 2nd Dan. He is more likely to have been the one slapped in jail I suspect!

Back in Ramsgate again, Kent Online reports that a man was robbed of £200 after leaving Coral the bookmakers in Alexandra road.

The 46-year-old victim was approached by and threatened by a man who searched through his pockets until he found the cash.

He is said to be in his mid 30s, Afro-Caribbean and wore a purple and white striped shirt and black trousers.

The robbery happened just after 3pm on Tuesday, September 25, and Det Con Clare Walker on 01843 222071 would like to hear from any person who saw the incident or can help with the inquiry.

Ed: Given the description, the mugger may stick out a bit in Ramsgate. After all a purple and white shirt, I ask you?

Banks and Banking

Being reasonably well-placed to hear the gossip, I was told, two weeks ago, at a London conference, that Northern Rock wouldn't be the first UK institution to feel the pain from the turmoil in the US sub-prime mortgage market and two other prominent UK high-street building society mortgage lenders were mentioned but for obvious reasons, I can't use their names here.

Since then, of course, the Chancellor, has swiftly guaranteed personal savings up to £35,000. Why would he do that if Northern Rock was an isolated case. This week of course Swiss bank, UBS announced it would be making a loss, an earth-shattering revelation and more are now on the way.

This puts Gordon Brown in a very difficult position in regard to calling a General Election. There is a chance, the wheels will come off the economic train in coming weeks and that would not be the best time to call the public to the polls to vote on Labour's prident fiscal record which has created an economy built on a £trillion of consumer debt. Let's hope, for all our sakes, that the ship weathers the financial storm which is to come. Intervention by central banks is likely to create all kinds of problems for the future and let's not forget that Gordon sold-off much of our gold reserves at a knock-down price after he came to office. Another decision, like the pensions raid he may live to regret!

Meanwhile, who thinks that scrapping inheritance tax for the likes of you and me is a vote-winner for the Conservatives? However, if it looks even marginally like a good cause, expect Gordon to reluctantly claim it as his own and pull the rug out from underneath the Tories at the vital moment, along with being the party of law & order, families etc.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Cleanup and Crackdown in Cliftonville

It’s all happening today over in Cliftonville today, as a concerted multiple agency effort descend on the area as part of an initiative to give people living there, the same right to enjoy a decent standard of living and environment as anywhere else in Thanet.

Cliftonville West has suffered badly as a result of a central government policy, which has encouraged the displacement of other local authority problems to Thanet from as far away as Glasgow and Manchester, very much against the wishes of the Conservative-controlled Thanet District Council. Today, the police, the immigration service, environmental services and the benefits agency, are among those involved in the clean-up and crackdown on anti-social behaviour, litter, fraud and crime.

Rather than applaud this positive action in addressing the many problems in his ward, Cllr Hart (Lab) has registered a protest at the secrecy involved in the operation. However, given recent leaks of confidential information to the press and the involvement of both the police and the immigration service, it was judged sensible to keep the details of the operation, on this occasion, within a very small group.

Both the standard of accommodation and legal residency position of a number of occupants of the many small hotels in the area are being investigated, together with a concerted effort, led by Cllr Shirley Tomlinson, to rid the area of rubbish, both on street and outside neglected properties. The council is presently looking to expand this initiative into other areas of Thanet, where and when necessary.

Laura Sandys, the Conservative candidate for West Cliftonville, comments:

“I welcome the actions taken by our authorities to help the residents of Cliftonville to reclaim their streets. Cliftonville should be a beautiful area but is blighted by anti-social behaviour, crime and general degradation. With the help of the police and the other enforcement agencies, we now have an opportunity to support the community in taking back control of their streets."