Thursday, 26 May 2011

Night Flying consultation NOW would be inappropriate and maybe illegal.

Your ‘aving a laaff!

Infratil pay an “independent” consultant to trot out the same old figures contained in their two year old Master plan and some sections of the population in Margate jump up and down like the coming of a second Messiah. Is it not a coincidence that the publication of this report coincides with the formation of our new hung “parliament”?

Ask yourself some simple questions.

Why is Manston the only airport in the UK which needs night flights to expand?

Why does Manston think it can attract planes at night, when it cannot attract them during the day?

If Manston can create 3000 “imaginary” jobs for 24 hr operation, why can they not create 1500 ”real” jobs by daytime operations?

Why does Prestwick, Infratil’s other UK airport only support 300 jobs for 1.8 million passengers?

The answer to all these questions is the SAME. Infratil has no intention of providing either 3000 jobs or night flights. They just want to hoodwink the council into agreeing to everything and then sell the airport to some unscrupulous operator who will utilise these concessions to our detriment.

So why the headline?   Night flying is an expansion of the airport beyond the existing planning agreements. Airport expansion has not yet been approved within the Core Strategy document “Shaping our Future”, which itself requires a second public consultation and approval by an Inspector from the Secretary of State. To stage a consultation about night flying expansion before approval of airport expansion would certainly be inappropriate and would pre-empt any decision by an Inspector, this may prove illegal.

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Where have all the flowers gone?

Where have all the flowers gone?
Long time passing
Where have Ramsgate’s flowers gone?
Not long to go
Where have all the flowers gone?
None on the seafront, yet again?
When will they ever learn?
When will they ever learn?

Friday, 20 May 2011

Margate – or bust.

I had a couple of visits to Margate recently, one outside the Turner Contemporary and one inside. The outside visit was a walk around the Old Town area which has been nicely restored and provides an interesting backcloth to TC. It was Wednesday morning so things were quiet but on Thursday when I returned it was a bit livelier. What struck me from an architectural point of view was the thin veneer of prosperity which has been added to the seafront facing the TC. This will be extended towards the railway station with the renovation of Dreamland Cinema, maybe Tesco’s new superstore and eventually the Dreamland vintage amusement park.

Behind this veneer are acres of derelict and semi-derelict premises which in years gone by would have been buzzing with holiday makers or supporting the establishments who were accommodating the holidaymakers.  Now those holidaymakers have gone elsewhere there are just too many buildings to find practical uses for their future. Where this happened in Northern towns, the councils purchased many with the help of Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott and bulldozed them, making parks and open spaces between the remaining buildings. This approach was not considered a success up North so it is probably not the best solution for Margate.

What is needed is to make the seafront “relevant” again. People used to flock to the seaside, they do no more. Children were allowed to roam free; they are now permanently supervised by protective parents. The whole nature of society has changed. If a Middle Class mum wants her children to go swimming, dancing, ice skating, horse riding, or whatever, she puts them into a car, takes them there and brings them back.

There are many financially secure families, living in private houses on Thanet estates, working probably in Canterbury, shopping at Westwood Cross and only going to the beaches when the weather is baking hot. Run down historic town centres have little effect on their lives. We must make the seafront relevant again by introducing family orientated and supervised entertainments and also have a serious re-think on car parking strategies

Monday, 16 May 2011

What is Art?

Since the opening of the Turner Contemporary there have been two main questions buzzing around the Isle blogs. Was it worth it? – and – what is art?.  I think I will leave the first question for you to answer yourselves, otherwise I may be accused of damaging the tourist intake potential.

So – What is art?  I have been involved in architecture all my working life and the general consensus about architecture or “art in the built environment”, is a building becomes architecture when it contains qualities which lift it above the mundane. Therefore a Barrett house “may” not qualify but the TC building definitely would.

Many people have described the TC building as a large shed and it does have some “shed-like” qualities, but equally it has some architectural qualities. The six mono-pitched roofs facing out to sea are best viewed from the air (see Thanet Life) otherwise, on the ground, only three sections can be seen at a time. The glass cladding is an interesting finish but as yet I have not seen a convincing photograph of its reflective qualities, mimicking the Turner skies, as promised. It seems to have a blank grey appearance imitating a good Margate fog. I just hope the graffiti artists do not want to make a contribution to the Turner collection.

Architecture, similarly to art, does not have to please, you can love it or hate it but I suppose the main thing is, it should stimulate a reaction. The Turner Contemporary, either the building or its contents are certainly causing positive and negative reactions, so they are therefore stimulating and both should be considered art.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Election Reflections

From the blog that gave you “Thanet Independents’ Day” even if it was more by luck than judgement and only included 1 new Independent out of the additional 14 who were standing. A mop with a red rosette would have been elected in Ramsgate, such is the strength of feeling against night flying.  Anyway, I am now confident that drastic revisions will be necessary to “Shaping our Future” the Core Strategy document to 2026 to get it approved by a hung council.

What is the future for the new council? We all find out on Thursday, but it seems to me there are three possible outcomes.

1. The “three wise men” could sell out to one party or the other making them “not very wise men”. But being acquainted with the two returned Independents I feel a sell-out is very unlikely because they have strong independent opinions.

2. Case by case approval or opposition to each policy, as and when it is presented. This is the most likely initial way forward, but it will be a fragile stand-off not appreciated by the main parties.

3. An alternative scenario is that Labour and Conservative could make a show of working together in order to side line the Independents, making them irrelevant to proceedings. Pity there were not more elected Independents, a 20,20,16 mix would have been very interesting.

So what is my prediction for the leadership, let me see, where is my crystal ball?  Not much chance of a public elected leader I don’t think.  The fog of a negative AV vote is clearing and the local Conservatives are glowing in favour of proportional representation, is that a “U” turn or what?  In the absence of a more suitable candidate, I think Cllr Bayford will return to his seat of power, but more importantly I would like to see a cabinet with one Independent, one Labour and one Conservative, that would completely neutralise party politics whilst providing a balanced decision making forum for the good of Thanet.

Let’s wait and see what Thursday brings.

Friday, 6 May 2011

PUZZLED in Thanet.

After the initial shock of defeat had sunk in, the next stage was a post mortem on the strategy employed and I have to say, I do not think I could have done anything differently which would have made the outcome any better for my chances, or stood in another Ward where my chances could have increased.. I chose Thanet Villages to contest because I sincerely believe the biggest future threat hangs over the rural / urban balance of Thanet.

Watching the ballot papers being counted this morning it became obvious that I was scoring well on many papers but nowhere near as highly as Bob Grove. There was a large block vote for all three Tory candidates which gave them a sound base and the protest vote was going to 1 Independent (Bob) and two Labour candidates. Labour is never strong in the villages but this combination of 3 votes deprived me of contesting even one Tory for fourth place.

Funnily enough the overall election result was close to what the Independents were hoping for, a hung council but not with as many Independents as would be desired.  It would appear in Thanet, as some incoming comments on this blog had suggested “no party = no vote”, this also seems the case in Central Harbour and Eastcliff Ramsgate where Independents lost all seats to Labour.   On the other hand, there was an overall vote of “no confidence” in the Conservatives previous record, without extending a majority to Labour, so Thanet voters are searching for a new way which neither party seems to offer, as yet the voters do not have confidence in Independents to provide that new direction.

Unfortunately, the train is leaving Thanet at high speed and the people are on the wrong platform.

It is now up to the three elected Independents to try and get the whole council working together, let’s hope they can achieve something. Good Luck to all three.

C’est la vie.

Just returned from the count and found I have been unsuccessful in being elected, I would like to thank all those who supported me and voted for me, but it wasn’t to be on this occasion.

Good Luck to Bob Grove, Mike Roberts and Linda Wright.

Thank you all

Ken Read