Sunday, September 30, 2012

Thirty Years Down the Mines

Readers of Friday's Thanet Gazette, may have been surprised by one of the items on the letters page, ostensibly from the older sister of the Labour Leader of our Council, challenging the story the family were raised in abject, cloth-cap-wearing Dickensian poverty. This denied the popular Party myth, that the young Clive was apprenticed to a pit pony, at the tender age of eight but instead, enjoyed an unremarkable, happy and comfortable family life.

While I don't agree with using the letters page of the local paper as a platform to air family differences, I thought a little classic humour from the Monty Python team might offer a little comment to the make us smile!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Standards Below

If there was any question whatsoever in readers' minds about a small group of Thanet councillors, bringing local politics into disrepute, then perhaps, last week's council webcast, now available online, should swiftly settle the matter. I recommend that readers move swiftly towards minute 50 and beyond to observe the debate involving the 'Diversity Champion' and the issues and complaints surrounding the absence of transparency under Clive Hart's Labour administration.

At minute 61 we have Cllr Driver accusing the Conservatives and Ken Gregory of "criminal homophobic attacks' and complains about 'Unsubstantiated, politically-motivated attacks' on Cllr Worrow, 'The best diversity champion in Kent' and driven by 'Underlying homophobia' by the Conservative Group.

At minute 63:45secs I pop-up and try and explain to the chair that Cllr Driver is being rather economical with the truth and the record of the Thanet Independent Group and its diversity champion, Cllr Worrow is available at www.tigabout.blogspot.com . Cllr Wells, at minute 70, points out that diversity has a very broad brush but oddly enough, Cllr Worrow has only championed a very limited spectrum of interests.

Cllr King's speech at minute 77:00 deserves some attention.

If you can bring yourself to watch the video, which isn't very clear in important parts where background remarks have been edited out, I would be interested in any comments on what took place.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Welcome One and All

You've seen me express my deep concerns before on the continued and irresponsible 'dumping' of refugees, asylum-seekers, criminals on probation and vulnerable children, here in Thanet but this week, even one of our more senior police officers has broken ranks and publicly stated what others have confirmed to me in private.

According to the This Is Kent, "An influx of criminals and looked-after children to Margate and Cliftonville is fuelling crime and deprivation" and Inspector Mark Pearson has revealed: "We have got the highest concentration of prisoner releases and most are from outside the area, attracted by the cheap private accommodation."

Inspector Pearson adds: "One third of all prisoner releases [in Kent] come to Thanet and half of those are in Margate Central and Cliftonville West. "We are also looking at overseas offenders who have criminal records that settle in the area." 

A further pressing issue is the proximity of dangerous criminals to vulnerable children in Cliftonville's care homes and in particular one street which I can't mention here. Kent County Council revealed last week after being pressed by the BBC, that more than twenty Thanet homes housed exclusively young people from outside Kent.

There is no mention of sex-offenders on the register but my information is that Thanet has the highest density in the County and once again these are focused on the key problem wards in the District with the Police previously declining to share the numbers involved after I lodged a Freedom of Information request several years ago.

So just for once, I would like to hear rather less about 'Diversity' and 'Homophobia' as  local council priorities from the Labour administration and rather more about measures to deal with a problem that is seemingly beyond any sensible notion of public control, if the Police are now prepared to go public with their concerns.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Catch 22 in Thanet Council's Wonderland

Sadly, there were no press present to report on tonight's Council meeting, which soon turned into a ding-dong affair over guess what? The 'Diversity Champion' of course.



I try very hard to keep my sense of humour in these meetings and in particular when we have such heart-warming, if not tear-jerking performances from Cllrs Worrow, Driver and Cohen. And let's not forget Cllr Iris Johnston as the heavy artillery lending fire support from the front row. After all, who wants to have the awkward truth get in the way of a good sob story?

So once again, we hear that Cllr Worrow is the subject of homophobic persecution as we were reminded by all three TIGs and Cllr  Clive Hart; quite forcibly in fact by Cllr Ian Driver, who once again labelled all  the Conservatives opposite as homophobes; a criminal offence.

Cllr Worrow read out a long speech praising Cllr Hart and the Labour Group, pointing expansively across the Council chamber with rhetorical gestures and a trembling lip; looking for support from the public gallery. He claimed all the allegations made against him were unproven, vindictive and slanderous. I stood-up and as a point of information, reminded everyone present that while Cllr Worrow was trying very hard to rewrite history, all or most of what he has attempted to conceal about the Thanet Independent Group and its policies, have been conveniently saved from deletion and can be found in the TIG archive.

OK, it's apparently all lies and nobody can prove it, so I opened up my iPad, to show members and the Chair that the website I refer to actually does exist and it clearly states Cllr Worrow's intentions and policies as Diversity Champion.

"Sit down" said the Chair. "Cllr Moores I'm surprised at you," he added.

At which point, Cllr Iris Johnston popped-up with one of her rambling wounded-saint style speeches and told the Council that she couldn't think of a finer person for the role of Council Diversity Champion. "Put that away, I don't want to see it", she said, referring to my showing her a web-page from the apparently mythical  TIG site from the benches opposite as evidence that she was telling politically-expedient 'porkies.'  Cabinet Member Michelle Fenner, enthusiastically echoed the support for John Worrow, telling us all what we suspected, that he's a fine chap an ideal champion and that he's been very busy strategising and speaking with faith groups. Who and which ones, I would dearly love to know.

Anyway, it should all be up on the Web in a week for any readers, looking for light-entertainment or experiencing a sleepless night.

So to add to my remark about 'Alice in Wonderland' earlier today, we can add Joseph Heller's movie 'Catch-22'. Clive Hart's administration being much like a 'Banana Republic' was once again mentioned by Cllr Tom King but I've used that joke already.

I suspect that not long before the next set of local elections, Cllr Worrow will once again continue his political migration and join the Labour Group, he so much admires, in order to try and save his seat in Birchington and his allowances. Does anyone think I'm wrong? As for his colleague, Cllr Dr Jack Cohen, on his present record of achievement, I doubt he will even merit a modest brass plaque on a memorial bench in Birchington.

Finally, while I'm pleased that Labour members had finally changed out of their beachwear to attend this first autumn meeting, what any Councillor has to do to bring the Council into disrepute or get sacked, I really don't know!

Footnote: For readers wishing to get in touch with me, the easiest route is through Twitter addressing your request or comment to @simonmoores . Setting-up a Twitter account is quick, costs nothing and can be very useful in following real-time news and views to your PC or 3-G enabled mobile phone.

The Train Now Standing

Up to London yesterday evening for a debate on the 'Politics of Information Sharing' and then home on the 19:55 train from Victoria.

As usual, I looked at my fellow passengers and tried to spot who was going my way. This time, I sent my observations in a quick Twitter burst: "Short train home, no visible guard and this evening's likely Margate-bound migrants comfortably enjoying their human rights in First Class."

How one of these travellers from distant lands could keep his telephone conversation going for two hours, with short interruptions for the loss of signal in the countryside, I can't fathom but to my surprise, he finally left the train the train at Westgate. I asked the guard who finally appeared to open the doors at the rear of the carriage, if SouthEast trains had given-up checking tickets but apparently they don't have the staff to do so, which comes as no surprise anymore.

Yesterday afternoon, the station at Westgate was a tip with three days of school childrens' rubbish littering the platform and the rails. This morning, when I delivered my wife to catch the 08:20 train to Victoria, it wasn't much better and of course, the ticket-office is now closed or should I say, open intermittently if at all.

Cllr King called me yesterday and asked me what we can do about it and my answer is 'very little.' Unmanned stations and ticket machines represent the brave future of rail travel at Europe's most extortionate prices. Nobody has any sensible answers for dealing with the crumbling railway stations that occupy the heart of many small towns and act as a magnet for anti-social behaviour.

Station Rubbish
Tonight has a full council meeting with very little on the agenda. In fact, quite why we are having it I can't say and it may well be over in record time. That said, local democracy is looking rather tired from where I sit these days. Labour is kept in control by the three TIGs, Worrow, Driver and Cohen and the Council Leader, Clive Hart is prepared to give anything to keep it that way and this involves stifling intelligent political debate on most subjects and allowing council business to descend into the farcical.

What springs to mind is the 'Mad Hatter's Tea Party' from Alice in Wonderland, which, looking at the actors involved on the Labour front bench opposite, seems rather closer to the political truth than one might wish.

Quick update: Incident at Westgate station today, At 3:30 I watched four rowdy youths running out of an off-license, which had previously had its license revoked, with cans of beer and Pringles. At 4pm I was called becuase of an incident at the station where reportedly four drunken youths had attacked a 15-year old boy among all the school children waiting for trains. The Police were called and apparently two of the youths have been arrested while two more reportedly fled towards Birchington along the railway tracks. I understand that three youths are now in Police custody.

Many of the local shop-keepers were standing outside appalled at what they had seen take place when I arrived.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Silence of the Lambs

Reculver Towers
A little early Sunday morning blogging this morning, to catch-up with what I haven't been writing of late.


Perhaps there is such a thing as 'Bloggers Block', a virtual form of what happens to real 'writers' who hammer away at typewriters. I have found it quite hard to find the enthusiasm in recent weeks and this, combined with an unusually active work schedule and a gnawing sense of existential depression, La Nausée, over surrounding social challenges and Thanet's spiralling political insanity, has kept me away from the keyboard for a while.

This last week, we had the ghastly spectacle of forty suffering lambs being destroyed at the port of Ramsgate and the revelation from the BBC, that none of the many vulnerable children within the islands care home 'industry' actually come from Thanet.

For the moment, at least, the vile animal export trade has been suspended by the council, as we wait and see whether the operator attempts to mount a legal challenge, as he has successfully done before elsewhere. I very much hope he won't but in the past, other councils have discovered that the cost of defending animals from what many see as an immoral farming policy, backed by the EU, can be futile very expensive indeed. However, I fully support last week's decision to close the port to further animal traffic and line-up the lawyers in one more attempt to put a stop to it.
Cllr Tom King

I missed the BBC Southeast Today report on Thanet's children's homes but I'm not surprised by what it revealed. London's councils blatantly disregard the rules on finding accommodation for vulnerable children and once you factor-in Thanet's large fostering industry, the figures are far higher than people might think, with a consequental knock-on effect on schooling, policing and social services.  Will anything be done about this? I suspect that without legislation, seaside communities like our own will continue to figure as the last port of call for the vulnerable of all kinds that London authorities can no longer afford to keep.

Finally, some good news for local residents. It's Westgate's community fun day today, so pop-along, like me, to Minster road and see what's happening for a family day out. Attached are a few iPhone snaps of my own.

Mayor & Mayoress of Margate

Monday, September 10, 2012

A Westgate Aerial View

The eagle-eyed among you, may have spotted me circling on Sunday evening and here's some video shot from my wing camera between Westgate and Minnis Bay, for those of you who would like to enjoy the view from a thousand feet from St Mildred's Bay.



I'm told there's filming of a D-Day reenactment at Botany Bay today and I wonder if anyone has any more details or managed to watch or take photos?

I've just had a meeting with our Police Inspector Impey to discuss the problems we have experiencing in Westgate. What I can tell readers, is that our levels of anti-social behaviour in the town, do not merit the introduction of a dispersal order under the latest rules governing such actions, which will come as a disappointment to many.

The Inspector will do his best to step-up the police and PCSO presence with the limited resources he has available. Margate Central, Cliftonville West and Ramsgate Central Harbour and Eastcliff wards, basically, draw away most of the police presence in Thanet at the most vulnerable times of the day and night and the local model of policing is now highly reactive in dealing with such trouble spots. This means of course that relatively peaceful areas such as Westgate and Birchington suffer as a result, now the days of a dedicated neighbourhood police officer are a becoming a distant memory.

I've stressed the importance of a visible and regular Police and PCSO presence in order to inspire, if not rebuild confidence among residents in the town but I will confess, I'm somewhat depressed by the detail and magnitude of our local problems and challenges, much of which is placed upon us in well-known hotspots without attention or regard  to the risk presented by both transient adults and vulnerable young people, to our broader Thanet community without consultation of any kind

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Motorway

For me, it's the end of the summer season and all of a sudden it's like the recession never happened and I can't explain it, as I'm rushed-off my feet. It hasn't been this busy since 2008 and so I haven't been able to find the time to keep my weblog as up to date as I might like.

Simon Moores @ Cambridge Moller Centre
Yesterday I was at Churchill College in Cambridge on a fabulous late summer's day, giving a presentation at the Moller Centre, wedged between Google and a Harvard Professor, the former CTO of Sun Microsystems,  feeling sorely out of my intellectual depth. Being lucky enough to fly, there and back, took the pain off a three hour drive across the QE2 bridge and M25 in the rush hour, together with the city's awful traffic problem. Leaving in the evening, I was on the Cambridge runway at 6:20 and arriving through my front door by 7:30, the motorway traffic crawling along far below.

Just to keep Westgate residents informed, I'm meeting Police Inspector Steve Impey on Monday, follwing the arson attack on the cricket club and to discuss my concerns over what I see is growing anti-social behaviour in Westgate. In a written reply to my earlier email, the Inspector informs me: "Both crime and Anti Social Behaviour in the Westgate area are significantly down compared to last year (Crime is down by 25% and ASB by 32%) and we continue to strive to reduce both further."

 I'm delighted of course that the Police are continuing their efforts but perception is everything and residents are alarmed by what they see taking place around them in the evenings and don't recognise the broader improvement that the Police refer to. I've been asked to raise several issues by email by people and if you have any of your own, please comment here.

One problem  in particular, involves the War Memorial in Sea Road, leading one resident to write: "Sunday seems to have become the meeting place for the low life of the town, this being a number of youths who use the memorial garden as their urinal, place for drinking alcohol, damaging the benches and flower beds and playing football and skateboarding often until the early hours of the morning. The bushes around the garden serves as ideal cover for them to indulge in their activities and we have contacted TDC asking if hedges and bushes could be thinned and tidied in order that they cannot be used as cover."

There's a Residents' Association meeting in Westgate on Monday evening and I'm sure that more strong feelings will be expressed there as well.

Saturday, September 01, 2012

The Remains of the Day

Last night, Friday evening, a group of what has been described as 'Young Men,' went on the rampage in Westgate Station Rd and it appears, extended to the Westgate cricket club, which was burned down.

I really am too angry to pass sensible comment here tonight and over the last few days, have been away, flying pretty solidly and I'm out again tomorrow.

I have spoken with Cllr King and also emailed our local police Inspector Impey, requesting an' urgent review' of policing in Westgate.

I would ask though, that we resist pointing the finger at the 'usual suspects' , however tempting, until we have some hard evidence to support the speculation I am seeing.

For now, I have multiple flight plans to arrange before I crawl into bed for an early night and will add more when I can!

Remains of Westgate Cricket Club