I started wearing out my trainers, a little earlier, delivering election leaflets around Westgate. I don't think I'm allowed to say which Party or candidate I'm delivering them for because we are now officially in pre-election 'Purdah' but I would like to thank everyone else who is involved in doing the same, across all the wards in Thanet. It's a pretty daunting task when you are given several bags full of leaflets and a local map with the street plan inked-out in yellow highlighter.
It never ceases to amaze me how many of the large family houses from my own youth are now divided in multiple flats, from the attic, all the way down to the basement. This is a problem that needs real attention under any new government because in the rush by property speculators and landlords to turn any large building into homes of multiple occupation, Cliftonville, being a prime example, the housing stock for families simply disappeared, leaving a chronic national shortage of affordable housing in its wake.
A little earlier, I walked to Margate with my small dog to enjoy the spring sunshine; it's a remarkable day. There and back I counted a new 'Pit Bull' record of nine for the round trip, although one man had three, that he was busily training to attack a rather deflated football in the rough ground adjacent to Westbrook car park. Call me timid if you like but I picked-up my own dog to walk past this small pack of excited dogs and in my view, three of these animals off the lead, is nothing short of an offensive weapon. I needed my walking stick on Westbrook beach to vigorously fend-off another dog that sprinted, quite out of control, after my own, which once again sought refuge in my arms.
I've nothing sinister against any properly trained and controlled dog but you've seen me write about this kind of thing before and I worry, not just about other dogs being pursued or attacked but the potential risk to small children, as the summer approaches. In a very short period of time, we appear to have seen our local canine 'demographic' change from the customary middle-aged dog walkers with Labradors and Yorkshire Terriers, to a growing number of young men, out during working hours, with poorly controlled, randomly defecating and potentially aggressive Bull Terrier crossbreeds.
Government really needs to get a grip on this problem and I really don't care which Government it might be because it broadly reflects the 'Broken Britain' debate when an encounter with potentially dangerous dogs under the control of irresponsible owners starts to be a normal consequence of a morning walk along the seafront.
Yesterday, there was a meeting of the Westgate Residents Association at the community centre to discuss the problem of Sunday bus services. It was chaired by Cllr Tom King and both Sandy Ezekiel and I attended along with Mr Easton of Eastonways transport. It was a two hour meeting which also attracted residents from as far afield as Dane Valley and involved listening to residents' concerns and explaining how the concessionary fare system, operated by the county council.
To cut a long story short, we all recognize the importance of delivering public transport to all parts of the community and in particular, the elderly, who can find themselves quite isolated without it. Between all of us who were there, we hope to find some kind of solution that satisfies the criterion that every bus service has to be profitable in its own right and can't be legally subsidised by other routes. In this deep economic recession, that's a big challenge but it was important for everyone to have their say on the subject and think about a way forward that joins up all the communities in Thanet in a workable business proposition to the bus companies.