Friday, 18 February 2011

“The wind in our sails”.

"Or the wind in our homes” and I am not talking about the after effects of too much figgy pudding. Renewable energy is here to stay whether you like it or not and whether you feel it is cost effective and environmentally friendly or not.  Ramsgate harbour is a major centre in the South-east of England for the construction of off-shore wind farms and as such maintains a working element to the harbour which had previously diminished with the decline of fishing fleets throughout the country. 
 Vattenfall is already installed in the port to service Thanet off-shore wind farm and London Array’s HQ building is under construction adjacent to the ferry terminal. The London Array building as featured on ECR’s blog promises to be “more than a shed” with some interesting architectural features lifting it above normal industrial building styles. New pontoons are planned for the port area for 10 wind farm vessels and a wave breaking pontoon in the outer harbour where the fishing fleet moors. With pontoons and working wind-farm craft the port and harbour have a real working future, I am sure the marine experts associated with this type of operation will ensure the council keeps up with its dredging responsibilities. Thank goodness the slipways have been protected as a marine amenity to this real working harbour.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Quality craftsmanship in the public sector?

Many Ramsgate residents live in listed buildings or in a house contained in one of the many conservation areas dotted about the town. When deciding to do repairs or alterations to your listed or conserved building you have no doubt come across the many restrictions placed on their owners. One particular requirement is the quality of craftsmanship and appropriate materials used in the works.

The picture above shows a “quality” repair carried out to a Grade II listed structure on behalf of KCC, after the brick pillar leapt out in front of a stationary vehicle which happened to be passing at the time. I will leave it to your opinion as to whether or not you think this is an appropriate repair. As least it shows what quality of workmanship is acceptable in the public sector. If the vehicle’s insurer had to pay for this repair I wonder whether they would be happy with a similar quality on a vehicle repair.

 While I am banging on about this subject, I thought it right to mention Eastcliff Lift, you know, the one renovated with “loadsa” money from a Lottery fund, complete with beautiful tiled floors. Another inappropriate repair!. There may be an excuse of no money for restoration but there is no excuse for spending good money on shoddy repairs to good buildings.

Monday, 14 February 2011

What PARTY are you joining?

Politics?  What Politics?  Election?  What Election?

No, I am talking about enjoying yourself,. Friday 29th April is a Bank Holiday for the Royal Wedding of Kate and William. Many street parties are being organised to celebrate the event, so get organised and get the party started. No need to worry about a hang over, you will have three days to get over it, before you crawl back to work. And I hear you may get a grant for it?

Sounds good to me! Hope the sun’s shining!. Lets get the party started!

Saturday, 12 February 2011

ERROR or Mis-information?

I read with great interest the Thanet Press Release which publicised the proposed Solar Park at Ebbsfleet adjacent to the Richborough Power Station. The press release stated the output would be 4000 to 5000 Mw, whereas documents attached to the planning application stated 4 to 5 Mw(p). Not being an electrical engineer I thought that I may be missing some subtle difference in these two output claims.

I have now taken expert advice and have been informed that an output of 4000 to 5000 Mw is ridiculous and cannot possibly be achieved by 12 Ha of solar panels. In fact if this power output were possible the world’s energy shortages would be solved.

The reason for writing this post is that the press release was issued by Thanet District Council, who is also considering the planning application. It is imperative that the planning officer dealing with the application is aware of the true output of this solar installation to be sited on 12 Ha of prime arable land, 4 to 5 Mw is about the same output as ONE wind turbine.

Additional Post.

I found this on Wikipedia which puts things into perspective.:
 "A typical coal powered power station produces around 600-700 MW (megawatts)."

Having read the planning documents in greater detail it would appear that the council press release is confusing Megawatts with Megawatt hours.  Megawatt hours is the output times the number of hours per year, interestingly 4000 to 5000 Mw hrs for a 4 to 5 Mw output gives 1000 hours per year which divided by 365 days in a year means the solar panels are operating only 2.74 hours per day on average

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

How NOT to win friends and influence people?

I never cease to be amazed at our council’s warped sense of serving the community. Four years ago we were asked to vote for the people who would represent OUR wishes and carry out the administrative functions in our locality. We will be asked once more in May to endorse these people again, or say “no you did not carry out our wishes”. Here are some of examples of their interpretation of “CARRYING OUT OUR WISHES”

The HOOT enquiry
Local residents desperate to save their tennis courts from asset disposal and development, organised an application to have the area designated as a village green. The council proceeded to employ expensive barristers at a cost to the taxpayer in excess of £20,000 to fight the residents in a public enquiry. Following that public enquiry at which the residents were unsuccessful in receiving village green status, the council then removed the land from asset disposal claiming some sort of “victory” that they acting in the best interests of the residents all along.

Elected Mayor
It was a statutory requirement that the council held a public consultation asking OUR views on what kind of future leader we wanted for the council. The statutory period of the consultation was not observed and required publication of the consultation was not adequately discharged. Not surprisingly a low response was received to the consultation, however the responses received had one thing in common, they all were in favour of an elected mayor.  At an extraordinary meeting which only took a few minutes all of these responses were ignored and a council elected leader was approved, on the grounds that the government may change the rules in the future. I just hope central government don’t mention they are considering the return of hanging or transportation!

Landlord’s Tax
Margate and Cliftonville landlord’s are being asked to cough up £500 per year in an attempt to kerb anti-social behaviour of their tenants. This would become a blanket charge on all landlords whether or not their tenants behave and no doubt if successfully extorted at Margate and Cliftonville it would be rolled out Isle-wide. The council and the landlords are already legally required to curb anti-social behaviour and there is no justification for a blanket charge across the board on good and bad landlords.

Is this really YOUR representatives working for YOU?

Monday, 7 February 2011



Number of days to opening of Turner Contemporary = 68  (Thanks Tony)

Number of days to the Local Elections = 87

Co-incidence or WHAT ???

Sunday, 6 February 2011

ROLL up! ROLL up! For the greatest bout of the century.

THANET PROMOTIONS proudly present the contest you have all been waiting for on this sunny southern Isle. Two nationally acclaimed giants of the leisure scene come head to head for an epic battle of the Titans.

In the azure blue corner with white yachts bobbing is the reigning Champion a favourite with Kings for centuries and holding the royal crown to boot. Their success through the ages has been acknowledged by famous celebrities from all over the world and continues to draw the crowds on hot sunny days with spectacular aqua events unrivalled in the country, the world and the universe
Iiii giiiive yoooou THE Royal Harbour. Ramsgate

In the sunset red and stormy sea corner , The young contender backed by multi-millionaire investors and bringing a whole new art to the game, Nimble on their feet and with a very modern outlook hoping to attract a whole new range of spectators to the sport. Precariously perched and untried but showing every sign of promise.
Iiii giiiive yoooou THE Turner Contemporary, Margate.

12 rounds, 30 or so days in each round, we need a good clean fight with no underhand tactics, before a re-match next year when both contenders will be older and wiser. Referees for the event will be the residents of Thanet, hoping to spot an advantage in one area or another, they can build on for future success

This is Chalky Walker handing you back to the main studio with the words:
 “For Thanet’s sake – let’s hope they are both winners.”

Friday, 4 February 2011

"Don’t mix business with pleasure."

Continuing today with the Royal Harbour theme.

A recent planning application for building a bar and restaurant complex on the site of demolished slipways was refused by the council, and quite rightly so. It is not that Ramsgate can afford to turn down such investment but illustrates that a clear vision of the right place and right time is essential to good planning. Ramsgate is a town of two halves, the first half is a safe haven harbour and the second half is a leisure and recreational centre.

The waters between the two halves should not be muddied. Visitors come to Ramsgate  because of the harbour and like to see a working harbour not a “Noddy town” harbour.  Boaters, both recreational and professional use Ramsgate for a safe haven, repair and maintenance facilities. The strange thing about the waterfront at Ramsgate as a town planning exercise, is that it works successfully. The two uses co-exist and are entwined but are not mixed.

By drawing an imaginary line from the Obelisk, along the centre of Harbour Parade, Royal Parade, The Paragon and Westcliff Promenade as far as Westcliff Lift , then designating everything seaward of that line as marine-related usage, inappropriate residential and leisure developments in the harbour can be avoided.

On the landward side of that line there are scores of under-used buildings and sites suitable for a whole range of leisure and recreational uses. In that way both marine and leisure uses can be promoted side by side without one threatening to overrun the other. We must remain vigilant otherwise an inappropriate use may slip through providing a precedent to open up the flood gates

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

“Let the sun shine in?”

I was going to consider aspects of the Royal Harbour this week but there is never a dull moment on our psy-idyllic isle. Following a mood of doom and gloom, justifiably spread by the shattering news of Pfizer’s exit as a Sandwich filler. Two more dramatic events are now on the cards. Firstly the long awaited proposal for a new Margate Tesco superstore has been unveiled. It is an interesting place to build between the Art Deco style Dreamland cinema and the modernistic slab block which is Arlington House. A 21st century superstore approach is really the only appropriate way forward amongst such dominating buildings “very little helps”.

Secondly and of more interest to me, is a planning application to put a solar array on 13Ha of green-field site at Ebbsfleet Farm just north of Richborough ex-Power Station. This one is really a difficult one. The site is green-field and for that reason should be opposed, but the field is surrounded by a derelict power station, a sewage works and the new East Kent road to a “soon to be vacant” R&D facility. It covers green-field land in glass but so then do poly-tunnels and Thanet Earth. It is a green technology but provides no jobs other that of construction and maintenance. It provides “free “ electricity when the sun shines but the whole 13 hectares generates only 4 to 5 Mw, when the sun shines, about a similar amount to one offshore wind turbine, when the wind blows.

I found the “pros and cons” of this one difficult until I remembered the derelict wind turbine at the power station site. Would I like to see 13Ha of arable field covered in solar panels or the old wind turbine rebuilt, taking up no further space. The answer is simple I would go for the rebuilt wind turbine any day, especially as there have been some chilly winds blowing in Sandwich lately but not much sunshine.

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

“The World in our backyard.”

Pfizer at Sandwich to close.
Today’s announcement by Pfizer to close their site at Sandwich is a cold reminder to us all that Global decisions can have local impact, for years, maybe decades we have been hearing about jobs being re-located away from the shores of the UK. This is just the latest and closest blow in continuing globalisation trends.  Jobs in East Kent are relying on decisions being taken in some remote corner of the world and it is not really helpful that one colour politics is blaming the other for the situation.

So what can be done, local politicians could stop bickering for starters and look objectively at the situation for the good of the local workforce and population as a whole. Pfizer states they intend to run down their facility in the next 18 to 24 months, is there any chance they can be persuaded to change their mind in that time?

If not, we must recognise that a very large and specialist research facility is about to become vacant in Sandwich. That research facility is a very complex and expensive investment which Pfizer will be anxious to offload to a suitable purchaser.  The best way forward without Pfizer is to look for a suitable company to replace them in their existing premises, the quicker and smoother a transition, the less pain of unemployment to the area.

Not having much knowledge in the area of pharmaceuticals I cannot suggest where to start on this, but there must be other similar companies out there who would appreciate a ready made research facility, built, working and ready to roll.