Friday, December 31, 2010

Here and Now

A few random New Year's Eve thoughts before I set-out for a cycle ride an attempt to shift a week's worth of indulgence over the Christmas break.

2010 was the year that the public became bored with 'blogging' as much in Thanet as anywhere else. While rumours of its death may be premature, as people search for other means of expression, such as Twitter and increasingly Facebook, the citizen journalist is here to stay or perhaps the remaining survivors who had something to offer the curious.

In Thanet, the 'blogosphere' has been decimated since its height, with the 'mysterious' disappearance of Eastcliff Richard among others. Codes of conduct aside, several local bloggers, anonymous and otherwise, discovered in 2010, that the laws of libel and defamation extend to them as much as anyone else and the same is true for anyone leaving anonymous comments on their weblogs, as several recent courts cases have demonstrated. A court order is now sufficient to reveal the owner of any weblog, who remains accountable in law for the content and the process of defense can prove both stressful and expensive, in the many thousands of pounds, as several bloggers have discovered. What this illustrates only too clearly, is that offering a platform for single-issue anonymous nutcases is a risky strategy in the pursuit of a rather vague notion of free speech and that if one is prepared to publish a false or mischievous allegation as a 'citizen publisher', the costs of defending such a statement can be equal to the value of one's home.

2011 may offer some rays of sunshine with a stock market now back to where it was before the crash but there's no doubt it's going to be tough for all of us with a rise in VAT and excise duty on petrol forcing us to reconsider the value of the humble bicycle over the cost of petrol. I've two aircraft to operate as well as a car, so the consequences of a bigger fuel bill will be painful for my own business much like any other that depends on fuel prices. However, if we look to the opposite side of the Irish Sea and the VAT hike in the Irish Republic, things could be a great deal worse. The Labour Party and the Trades Unions simply don't grasp that to support a huge public sector of the type that has been built-up over the last decade, somebody has to pay for it and as the outgoing Secretary to the Treasury, Liam Byrne, wrote, with a small note for the incoming David Laws in May: "There is no money."

I will concede that there's an ideological struggle at the heart of policy this coming year. The Conservatives believe in smaller government with a larger and healthier private sector; think of Shanghai or Hong Kong as examples and Labour believes equally firmly in big 'Government' with lots of expensive non-jobs, with magnificent gold-plated pensions, the one's you see advertised in the Guardian newspaper, which suck the lifeblood out of the private sector in the form of taxation and regulation. A fundamental consequence of all this is the pensions 'Black Hole' where every penny you and I pay in council tax will soon be absorbed by the public sector pensions commitment of a rapidly retiring population without swift action to remedy the problem, which this Government now recognizes. Of course the Unions are having none of it and the RMT have already booked me to fly a banner over a Trades Union march in 2011, which is somewhat ironic, as I'm sure you'll agree.

So do I have a New Year's resolution? To be honest, other than shaking-off the Christmas dinners, I haven't thought of one yet. Be more patient with the opposition's rather limited grasp of the economy and local government finance perhaps? I'd be a little more encouraged if I thought any one of them read the Economist magazine or even shared an occasional copy!

Perhaps I'll think of something novel on my cycle ride!

May I wish everyone a very happy, healthy and prosperous New Year?

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Walk this Way

Walking through Westgate village earlier, I see the Thanet Gazette is attempting to sell papers on the back of a headline outside the newsagents: "Top Councillor in Plane Banner Woe." Very catchy I though and I had to smile. "Read all about it!"

Remaining briefly with the subject of banners, I've a marriage proposal booked for Thursday but it's looking rather unlikely as the rest of Kent, which includes Rochester airport, still appears to be buried under snow. With the Xmas holiday to kick my heels it's more than a little frustrating gazing out at a uniform gray view of the world from my window.
Each new year is interesting in its own right and 2011 should be no different. Let's not forget as well the end of the world being forecast for December 2012 as well, which doesn't give us much time to get things done! Come May, everyone will have their chance, through the local elections to express their feelings on national politics. In reality, one shouldn't be a forum for the other but invariably, this is the case and by then, many people will have forgotten that the present government is working quite hard to tackle the complete mess, both social and financial, left by the previous regime.


Here in Thanet, we've had to tighten our belts, because like everywhere else in the country, the good times of Labour spending everyone else's money on generous public services, without regard to the consequences, are over. For interest, here's a link to a report by The Economist magazine but at the Cabinet level we have to make some tough decisions on what we can afford and where local priorities should lie, given the large cuts in central government funding. By sharing services with neighbouring local authorities, such as IT and Human Resources, we hope to achieve economies of scale that will make a significant contribution to the bottom line of the council's budget and I'm hoping that further efficiencies across the council's service structure, will shield much of the population from the true impact of reduced central government grants.

The Economist points out, quite correctly, that the 'councils most reliant on central government grant because they are in poorer areas with populations requiring more help, would have been hit far harder than those in better-off parts which raise a higher share of their spending from council tax. The solution has been to group councils into four bands (according to their reliance on central funding) and to set limits to cuts within each of these bands.'

Perhaps the most fundamental question of all for the people of Thanet is that of who you want to run your council and carry you through the tough times ahead? Is it the present Conservative administration of which I happen to be a junior member or an untried and broadly unqualified opposition, which carries with it, a great deal of ancient, socialist political baggage, as we are constantly reminded in the local press? I'd simply say in conclusion that we can't spend money that we don't have and this coming year is one that demands an attention to detail and finances, in a way that may not have even been seen before in local government.

I may write more later as the muse takes me.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Accident Black Spot

A nasty car crash outside my home in the last thirty minutes,as one car appears to have pulled-out from a side road in the path of an on-coming Mercedes in Westgate Bay Ave. Two fire crews are busily involved in cutting-out one of the drivers with ambulance crews giving on the spot medical attention.

This part of Westgate where Westgate Bay Ave meets Westbrook Ave is a well-known accident black spot and I plan to re-approach our KCC councillor, Robert Burgess and the council's Joint Transportation Committee to revisit the proposal for traffic calming measures.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Santa's Snow Problems

Reportedly, Santa has had problems with icy runways and cold reindeer this year but with the help of Google maps, The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) has employed all its hi-tech equipment to follow Father Christmas as he, and his reindeer, travel the globe delivering presents.

Seen rushing down the Thanet Way towards Manston on two-wheels, earlier today, where reindeer and air-freight are being prepared, hopefully nothing will fall off his sleigh en-route to his North Pole depot!

I've a marriage proposal booked, to fly around Leeds castle on New Year's Eve but having lost two similar flights due to the bad weather and snow last week, I'm not optimistic about next week. Normally it's very quiet at this time of year but unusually I'm seeing more proposals than I've seen in the past.  Hopefully, Santa, with his near Harrier-like capabilities will succeed tonight undaunted by the threat of heavy snow being forecast with a Met-Office weather warning for the South-east.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Raining and Cold

Time to write something I suppose!

I'm trying to find the courage to leave the house and venture into the teeth of the howling gale and freezing rain outside for some last minute supplies from the village. I'm finding that people I have been calling on business today are very sensibly somewhere else, Spain and Hawaii to name but two! There is of course nothing to beat the beach at St Mildred's Bay at Christmas, I tell them but they remain understandably unconvinced and I can't blame them, having been gazing at a sea view from my room at the Officer's club in Abu Dhabi only two weeks ago!
I see that the flu is starting to spread again and its hardly surprising at this time of year as the population presses together during the frantic shopping period, inadvertently giving the virus the critical mass it needs to explode. Much like putting a grain or rice on the first square of a chessboard and doubling the number with every subsequent square. Before you reach the last square the earth will have been completely buried by rice grains a mile high!

The Thanet Gazette has discovered or perhaps will 'reveal', that I dropped a marriage proposal banner in a garden in Brighton in June, a bizarre accident, caused by a failed steel attachment cable, in which nobody was harmed. The unmarried owner of the house was somewhat surprised to have a  proposal flutter down from the blue, much like a parachute and hang from her roof. The woman who the proposal was for, standing on the end of Brighton pier actually said "Yes" and the local Brighton Argus paper covered it then as a 'happy ending' story but much like the sinking of the Titanic and the outbreak of the Second World War, it's taken the Thanet Gazette a little time to catch-up. An entry for 'Smudger' on Friday I suppose and hardly headline news!

Quite possibly and like me, readers may know people who have had the Christmas holidays ruined by the weather and are still waiting for flights from Heathrow or Gatwick. I've heard some real horror stories over the last week and for many, the experience has been deeply distressing, particularly where small children were involved in the fiasco. Good reasons in the eyes of many to have a thriving local airport here at Manston to save on that lottery of a trip to the London airports and the extortionate costs of parking when one arrives!

I'm waiting for Skype to make a recovery after its big network outage yesterday. Like many readers I've a number of international Christmas calls to make and Skype's the preferred option at this time of year!

Finally, I've been asked to draw your attention to the council's budget consultation for 2011-12 'Make it count'. This year the council is facing a large cut in central government funding. We now have to decide how to allocate our funds to ensure that our limited resources are targeted towards the areas that are most important to local people.

To take part in the consultation please go to www.thanet.gov.uk/budget to complete the online survey. Alternatively you can collect a hard copy survey from your local Thanet library council office or can request a copy by e-mailing consultation@thanet.gov.uk or calling 01843 577120.

The consultation is open until Friday 21st January.

Footnote: Having just read the fabulous 'soar-away' Thanet Gazette, it's reported I was carrying two passengers on the flight referred to above. If that's true, I would certainly like to know who 'they' were! 

Monday, December 20, 2010

Waste and recycling collections suspended

Waste and recycling collections in Thanet have been suspended today (Monday 20 December).

Although crews were able to make it into the council’s depot, it was too dangerous to get the refuse freighters out. The freezing temperatures have turned the layers beneath the snow into ice, causing vehicles to skid dangerously.

Mark Seed, Director of Environmental Services, said: “Although our staff have been able to get into work, the problem is getting our trucks out on the road to do the collections. We have 26 ton vehicles and once those start to skid on an icy road, it’s almost impossible to stop them. The last thing the council wants is an accident and, in this weather, we simply can’t take that risk. Our freighters also have to collect from side roads, which are often not cleared of snow and can be exceptionally dangerous. We will do everything we can to get the collections back on track as quickly as possible when the weather improves, and the fact that our crews working as usual during the Christmas week this year, including Bank Holidays, should help.”

If you are on a wheeled bin collection and were due to have your waste or recycling collected today, please keep your bin outside. The council’s refuse crews will try to get out to people, as soon as weather allows.

For those on black sack or blue recycling bag collections, please take them in to stop animals or seagulls attacking them. Please do not leave them outside overnight. Please put your bags back out for collection from 6am each day. Priority will be given to collecting black sacks, as soon as services resume.

With paper and cardboard collections, please take these inside and keep them until the next scheduled collection.

The council's website has a section on frequently asked questions when bad weather affects collections and we will always place the latest updates on disruption to collections on the council’s website, with information also available by calling 01843 577115.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Westgate Fun Day 2010 – Snowed Out


I've just come in from patrolling our local Westgate Christmas 'Fun day' and must have resembled a snowman! I can't recall a snow fall as heavy as this in a great many years and the side-roads are rapidly becoming impassable.

Great credit goes to the local traders for organising this annual event and the people out this afternoon, huddled in the blizzard conditions, who are supporting it but it's become too much of an environmental challenge. As I left, some of the entertainers were breaking down their stands, realizing that if they don't escape soon, they may be here for the weekend!

Several inches of snow are forecast to fall in the hours ahead and I suspect that the conditions are now so bad in the rest of Kent, where there is still the remains of earlier snowfalls, that the roads and pavements may not be cleared as effectively as we might wish. Would advise readers not to go out by car unless they really have to in order to avoid accidents. Already where I live cars are having problems in Westgate Bay Avenue.

I will be going back at about 4pm  to see how it's progressing once the snow stops, if it stops!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Through the Looking Glass

I've been floating above the snow-covered Suffolk countryside this morning over a stately-looking pile at place called Ellingham, where WikiLeak's Julian Assange is hiding from a small army of satellite vans and press photographers camped among the trees. It's bitterly cold out there and I'm only just getting the feeling back in my hands after putting the aircraft away. Somehow, I don't think Assange is likely to skip bail without someone noticing or him leaving footprints in the snow but I do feel sorry for the world's press as my aircraft's outside thermometer was showing -10 degrees Celsius at 1000 feet.

Last night we had a meeting of the council and it was a bizarre, 'Alice in Wonderland' experience from where I sat. I've arrived at the conclusion that Thanet Labour group's strategy is to simply interrupt, disrupt and heckle in council meetings, in the hope that nobody will notice their complete lack of substance, political or intellectual. As an example, we spent almost an hour debating the sale of Montefiore tennis courts and an accompanying petition raised among local residents by councillors Poole and Fenner.
I conducted an asset review earlier in the summer (July 15th) and among those being scheduled for removal from the disposal register were, well you've guessed, Barnes Avenue car park and the Montefiore tennis courts. Both of these involved village green applications but while the WASPs of Westbrook have been happily working Barnes car park through with me and Cllr Latchford towards a happy conclusion, Labour's Cllr's Poole and Fenner busily maintained the myth of Montefiore tennis courts being knocked down for flats without actually making any effort to find out where the application stood before they whipped-up a petition against it!

In a scene reminiscent of Edmund Blackadder trying to explain simple mathematics to Baldric, council leader Bob Bayford tried valiantly for almost an hour between bouts of heckling, to explain to councillor Poole that Montefiore was as dead an issue as the famous Monty Python 'Dead parrot' sketch but without much luck.


Now I wouldn't dream of interrupting or heckling a member of the opposition in the chamber to in an attempt to score cheap and completely irrelevant political points; it's not something I would wish to indulge in. Here, perhaps! However, if you care to watch the video of the meeting when it appears online on the council website, you'll witness Cllrs Hart, Johnston and Poole, employing this tactic so often that the council meeting went on from 7pm until the watershed of 10:30pm. This represents poor service for the people of Thanet. We live in a challenging time and there is a great deal of serious work to do locally which is worthy of equally serious and 'informed' political debate, rather than repeat the constant litany of what Labour did in 2003 or how awful the 'LibCons' policies are or indeed how the recession and the crisis lies with the 'failure of the global banking system' and nothing whatsoever to do with a Labour Government that raided our pensions and both borrowed and spent more than it ever received in tax income.

As I wrote in my last blog entry. I really don't care if the consequence of a Labour administration is the promise of a socialist paradise as it's never happened anywhere yet. I don't really see anything to be proud about other than ghastly failure an empty treasury and hard times for all. Elected, part-time politicians like me, have a difficult job to do and I hope that readers trust that it will be discharged as responsibly and efficiently as possible and preferably without the kind of juvenile interruption witnessed last night. Alternatively, in May 2011, the people can vote to replace the present administration with the present opposition Labour cabinet, for which simple double-entry bookkeeping remains a mystery.


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Kapital Performance

I've just written the following for the letters page in the Your Thanet local paper, as I'm disappointed in the out-dated political rhetoric that constantly appears from the opposite side of the council chamber:

I have the greatest respect for Iris Johnston as a hard-working ward councillor but having read her letters in 'Your Thanet', week on week I really do have to remind her and her Labour colleagues, that in a matter of days, it will be 2011 and not 2003.

I'm a new councillor and cabinet member serving my first elected term and I'm confronted with immediate and pressing challenges, thanks to the perilous state of the national economy left by an outgoing Labour government. In case we should forget or suffer from the political amnesia afflicting many of Thanet's opposition councillors, the total public sector debt – described in an earlier entry this week - is about £159 billion and the costs of bailing out the banks totalled another £78 billion.

In 2009 -2010 the last government which coined the term, 'no boom and bust', spent more on welfare than it received in income tax and if we were now to try and sell every house and flat in the UK to balance the books, we would still be a £trillion in debt. In fact, we are accumulating more interest on the last government's debt than all the country's mortgages put together!

I'm really not that interested in what Labour claims it did for Thanet in the distant or even recent past, as its government carelessly built-up the record levels of public debt that my grandchildren will have to pay for. In the council chamber, I've heard opposition councillors address each other as 'Comrade' and the former leader of the opposition describe the recession as a 'Conservative invention' and frequently I have to wonder if they've yet caught-up with the 21st century 'realpolitik'.

Karl Marx may have enjoyed his summer holidays in Margate as did Friedrich Engels, in Broadstairs, as they collaborated on the principles of what became the Communist Manifesto but they've gone now, as has New Labour and Gordon Brown. 'Old Labour' here in Thanet, really need to get over it, rather than remind us, at every opportunity, of the glory days of socialism, when Soviet Weekly was delivered to every Thanet secondary school and councillors enjoyed fraternal visits to Yalta in the Ukraine.

Thanet needs its politicians to plan for the future, live in the present and not obsess over the distant past, so please Cllr Johnston, no more reminders about Maggie, the 'global collapse of capitalism' and the socialist paradise that Thanet once enjoyed under a Labour administration, because we've more important things to worry about!

Christmas Wishes

There's always a danger of missing someone out of my Xmas card list and Linked-in tells me that I'm connected to 7,097,288 people, which is a lot of cards and about £1.8 million worth of stamps.

Somehow, I don't think Jason our hard working local 'postie'  (pictured) would thank me if only 1% of seven million people decided to send me cards in return, neither would BT if they were e-cards. So this year, as in previous years, I'm following a hybrid virtual strategy for my Christmas greetings. So if I've missed you out, my apologies and please accept this virtual e-card, wishing you and yours the very best for Christmas holiday and a happy and prosperous 2011 ahead!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Thanks Andy


The toughest part of being a politician these days is that one can no longer say what one really thinks of any subject anymore, even as a purely personal opinion, for fear of outraging someone or some group, who will then proceed to fan the flames at any opportunity. More frequently than not, such outrages are taken or quoted completely out of context or simply 'parsed', so that two relatively innocent sentences can appear damning when selective quotes are placed next to each other. I'm not describing any particular incident or example here but simply reflecting my own view that the public are not well-served when our rather sinister culture of political correctness stands in the way of honesty and open debate. Once upon a time this island was proud of its national sense of open and liberal democracy but today I wonder what remains.

A friend of mine was, until relatively recently, a Member of Parliament for a northern city and not a Conservative I should add. He once complained to me that the politics of the Indian subcontinent were more pivotal in his selection process rather than local issues. This was a subject he couldn't pass public comment on and he became sufficiently disillusioned to stand-down after a single term. I don't wish to debate the rights and wrongs of what he said but rather that as a Member of Parliament he felt unable to share what some observers might perceive as a legitimate concern over a sensitive subject.

Watching the lunchtime news today, I was somewhat outraged myself by Labour's Andy Burnham playing the role of students champion and condemning the coalition for their cuts. All this without saying for one moment what labour might have done should it have won the May election.

For anyone who might have forgotten, including Mr. Burnham, as an extravagant nation we are approximately £4 trillion in debt, (that's a consolidated figure as the total national debt - accumulated over many years - is about £848.5 billion.) which is a very large figure indeed. The total public sector debt, which is now being tackled is about £159 billion and the costs of bailing out the banks totaled another £78 billion. In 2009 -2010 the last government spent more on welfare than it received in income tax and if we were to try and sell every house and flat in the UK to balance the books, we would still be a £trillion in debt. In fact, we are accumulating more interest on the last government's debt than all the country's mortgages put together! Meanwhile, Harriet Harman, Labour's deputy leader, this weekend, praised 'heroic' immigrants on benefits who send welfare money home to family members.

Just to remind readers in conclusion, in Scotland, 61% of jobs are state-driven, in Northern Ireland, that's 73% and in Wales it's 77%. For a decade, Labour robbed the private sector to build thousands of non-jobs in the public sector and the consequence was state monopolies, a rapidly sliding education system with Sure Start a failure and standards in secondary schools have plummeting below nations such as Poland and Estonia. A health service with the worst outcomes in the advanced world and a national debt that our grandchildren will still be paying-off many years into the future. So you decide on who we should trust to run the economy given the size of the financial disaster that we have inherited and for which we have to thank the New Labour experiment.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Black Spot

The remains of yet another stolen car, arson incident, on the sea front grass, just to the west of Westbrook's Barnes avenue car park this morning.

It's another Mercedes, this time a 4*4 and completely burned-out in a sooty black mess, now covering my dog's paws. The only means of identifying the vehicle was the manufacturers badge on the bonnet.

I've spoken with the police who are aware of it and will be placing a tape around it later and have asked for the council to remove what's left of the vehicle on Monday.

Although the area under the cliff is well-hidden from the Royal Esplanade, I'm surprised that nobody head or saw anything. Looking at the tracks on the grass above the cliff, it looks as if whoever stole the vehicle did a little 4*4 driving practice before it was set ablaze!

Although the police will not concede a pattern of crime without proper supporting evidence, as an amateur sleuth, I would be inclined to see a potential connection between two stolen Mercedes cars burned-out in exactly the same spot in a very short period of time.

If you did hear or see anything on Friday night, such as a fuel tank exploding in the vicinity of Barnes avenue car park, please do contact the police with any information you might have. I'm concerned that lightning doesn't strike twice in the same place without a purpose and wondering when we'll possibly see #3 if the car thief isn't caught.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Turner Contemporary Stands Tall

I've been along the cliff top in a bitterly cold wind to take a photo of the Turner Contemporary free of  scaffolding and proudly dominating the Margate harbour arm with the world's largest wind farm showing behind it, as the gallery goes through the final touches in preparation for its opening in April of next year.

I'm looking forward to seeing what changes the opening of the Turner may bring with it and the impact this may have on Margate as the summer of 2011 progresses. At that time I should revisit this entry with the benefit of hindsight, given that we have local elections taking place May as well.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

All About Money

I read that Tony Flaig, over at Big News Margate, this morning is exercised over local museum closures, a very old story, the reasons for which, I feel have been given in some detail, if not here then elsewhere in the past.

He writes:

"One particular omission that ought to be rectified is the abysmal decision by local conservatives for whatever reason to close the local museums particularly Margate's, I can only imagine of what pettiness or spite bought on that decision, perhaps Cllr. Bob Bayford leader of the council could redeem his apparent contempt for the Isle's citizens and do something positive."

It's all about money Tony or more importantly, the lack of it! The public sector debt may have passed you by but I'm sorry to say that thanks to the consequences of building-up around £160 billion of deficit, we in Thanet are now around £20 million short of funds and we have to make very hard decisions between what is 'nice to have' and what 'we need to have' to keep wheels of local government services rolling. Just as an example and I've given it here before, £11 million is the estimate for simply keeping all of our historic buildings repaired and we don't have enough for that hidden in some undisclosed piggy bank either!

I'm afraid that Tony Flaig and cynics like him are simply going to have to trust leader, Bob Bayford and my other cabinet colleagues to do everything possible to keep all of our essential services running smoothly and uninterrupted with a large slice of our grant budget now gone. We need to remember that as a community facing many different challenges, Thanet is and always has been highly subsidised by central government and while I for one would be delighted to see all our museums open and thriving, at this time, the money that this would involve (with each of a small number of  visitors being subsidised by about £10 a head)  would be better spent, I believe, on more visible and essential local services that the community as a whole would benefit from.

Finally, to put it all in perspective, Council Tax raises around £9.75 million annually of which we get to keep less than 20% as we have to pay for other county and centrally delivered services. The total council budget requirement adds up to around £44 million of which the local council has to raise around £21 million locally from fees, charges etc to plug the gap, which has just become much larger by almost £5 million a year.  Cut the Government grant, as has happened and we have to choose where we can afford to spend what little we now have available with the greatest return for the local community and if its museums you want, rather than public toilets or street-cleaning or shorter waiting times at the Gateway, then do please let me know.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Margate Parade and Westgate Lights and Fun Day Postponed

I've just heard from Phil Myhill that the Westgate lights and fun-day event has now been postponed until Saturday 18th December; a sensible decision considering the weather.

A note from Mick Tomlinson, the Mayor of Margate has also come winging in my direction. He writes:

"After some deliberation, the Mayor has reluctantly decided to cancel tomorrows Christmas Parade due to the weather. Kent Police have issued a warning that the weather will worsen this afternoon and overnight. The band that has been booked has advised us that it would not be able to get to Margate, and there is a strong possibility that if the weather did not improve, that the Schools would not be open, and the Students could not be expected to attend if the school was closed.

The Mayor feels that it would be a terrible shame for all the hard work that the students have put in to not be seen, and after discussion the Procession has been rescheduled for as a New Year Parade on January 7th at 17:00."

I'll keep readers informed here or by Twitter (@simonmoores) of anything else weather-related. The Thanet council offices will now close at 3pm this afternoon so that staff can get home safely.

Thanet District Council are 'Tweeting' updates on a regular basis and so if you use Twitter please follow them as 'ThanetCouncil.' If your'e a councillor of any party and are unfamiliar with the term then now's a good time to introduce yourself to the technology to save logging in and out of the council email system.