Friday, September 17, 2010

Quick Flick

Flicking through your weekly, fun-packed, Thanet Gazette this morning, I was somewhat bemused to discover that very little if nearly nothing, of what council leader, Bob Bayford and I told this week's Westgate & Westbrook Residents Association meeting, was actually reported.

The future of Hartsdown park and that of the seafront land adjoining Barnes avenue in Westbrook were both dealt with and more besides but not a whisper on the subject from the newspaper on this or even my taking one of their journalists flying over the weekend to illustrate the facts about Manston's flight path in contradiction of the earlier front-page story on the subject.

Once again, I read in the newspaper's 'Letters page' – the regular anti-Tory, anti-Gale, diatribe from Mr Muir of Westgate, having a week off – that the council is wasting people's money building a Turner Centre, when the cash should go to regenerating Margate High Street or some other good local cause. This myth is perpetuated by the paper which knows full-well what the facts are.

It's fast reaching the point where to find out what's really going on behind the scenes here in Thanet, you have to read some of the local weblogs, which says a great deal about the decline in the quality of local journalism and the growing influence of the internet.

8 comments:

Peter Checksfield said...

Simon, what did Bob Bayford and yourself tell this week's Westgate & Westbrook Residents Association meeting? Or is there another blog where I can read about this?

I did plan to go along myself but unfortunately I couldn't make it this time.

DrM. said...

Peter

I had rather hoped that the paper might give over two hours of talking and vigorous Q&A a little more attention but in a nutshell:

Bob talked eloquently about some of the challenges we face at a time of financial austerity.

I spoke about seafront space in adjacent Barnes Ave, now secured and might well become a local nature reserve of sorts. - see WASPs website

Hartsdown.. rather more detailed but I have the whole thing under review in regard to consultation, five a side pitches etc. So well local people might have drummed up a petition that I'm happy to receive, they can be reassured that their concerns are being properly dealt with, their views listened to and nothing taking place there in the immediate future while I review the entire picture with officers. In fact I had a meeting on the same subject yesterday afternoon.

What it's important to stress and these last two are good examples, is that rather than let the rumours run wild, encouraged by the paper, it's much easier to simply ask me to look into something and provide a definitive answer.

Anonymous said...

who is the organ grinder and who is the monkey

Anonymous said...

As regards Hartsdown, full planning consent has been given so I can't see that much can be achieved. Why weren't you kicking up a fuss about this a few months back? The football club announced it had approval in the summer.

DrM. said...

Clearly I must have been taking a nap!

In fact, the first I heard there was a problem was a few weeks ago and I acted immediately. This all happened before my time as cabinet member for planning and there was considerable support shown for the football club application, which was why it was granted.

For some unknown reason people have been representing their views in the wrong direction but as you know, I'm both easy to find and quick to respond.

Michael Child said...

Simon the problem here is that public information about important planning and licensing applications are concealed in plain view by the council.

Major applications that really effect a lot of people’s quality of life have the same presence as minor applications that effect a few people who would be notified due to living close by.

The council’s signage is pretty atrocious and badly positioned, in this case at the entrance to the football ground not the park effected.

Major applications that effect a lot of people in an area in this case all of those who use the park, need at the very least a council press release.

In this case a public park is virtually cut in half and public access to a large part of it removed.

What is probably due to a misunderstanding by the council is translated in terms of people’s perceptions into the council appearing to be concealing important public information.

With this one you now have 500 park users and petition signatories feeling resentment towards the council, because the council didn’t perceive that gifting a large part of a public park to an organisation that intends to make it paid entry, warranted clear signs on the park gates.

From the public’s point of view there is really no way to access major new planning applications and modifications or changes to those applications. I do my best with the press release site but there is no viable way I can find even major changes to applications or sift minor applications for things like shop signs and windows from major applications.

DrM. said...

Michael

I will take your comments on-board and see if there is a way of 'tweaking' the process to make it more visible where such major applications are involved in future.

Michael Child said...

Thanks Simon I appreciate your positive response and appreciate that it may be more difficult to achieve than it first looks.

I was made particularly aware of this over the Ramsgate slipways development recently, where the initial application for demolition was dated the 1st of the month the next application, the one to build, appeared on the planning website around the 15th but although it was a different application number was also dated the 1st so it never actually appeared to someone searching regularly for each weeks applications.

Sorry if this sounds a bit muddled, trying to explain how an application can be dated two weeks before part of it was written is a tricky one.