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.


  1. All good stuff, Ken, and I like your suggestion for the make up of the cabinet. I sincerely hope you are right, but feed back from the induction meeting is not good. Still the same old political posturing and the usual class war tribalism coupled with triumphalism from you know who.

    Shame also about Ramsgate for the previous council make up was far better. This sounds like a recipe for confrontation if Conservatives retain control of TDC. Although the airport was a major player in this result, it was based on a campaign of scare mongering about 'beyond fly date' jumbo jets thundering over throughout the night. This after Mike Harrison at least, on the Labour benches, was the first to post way back about about 'Night Flight Hysteria,' though political expediency changed his mind.

  2. Bill, I have studied planes landing at Manston from various vantage points in Thanet and I have come to the conclusion that unless you are resident in Eastcliff Ward, Central Harbour or Nethercourt especially, there is no comprehension of what it means to have a Jumbo Jet landing over you head, day or night.

    I believe with the whole airport expansion still in the consultation period required by the Core Strategy, any separate consultation on night flying would be premature and not be appropriate. This has nothing to do with party politics in my mind.

  3. Bill's comment does not augur well for the next 4 years. What does it take to make these muppets see sense?
    The night flights issue is big in Ramsgate - the problem was that the Tories didn't realise how big. They preferred to listen to Jill Kirby, who's negative views on her electorate were often to be heard around her colleagues salon.
    Cllr Hart and his cronies need to remember that they failed to gain control despite the national political climate being very much in their favour. Neither they, nor the national Labour Party have much to crow about.
    As I said in Ken's last post we need to develop some means of keeping the Council in line. Blogging isn't the answer but I think the local press is. That and a strong and continuing presence from the truly Independent candidates

  4. Ken, I would agree the airport should be about what is best for East Kent and the concerns of those directly living on the flight path in Ramsgate are part of that. Unfortunately, Labour saw it as an election vote winner in marginals around Ramsgate and changed their own stance from consultation to a hard line against night flights, period.

    I was involved for some years with a school in central Ramsgate so I know all about the noise disturbance of larger planes in that area, but then again, try getting yourself heard in classrooms around Staines, Hounslow and even down in Egham, yet they manage.

    By the way, I also served in the RAF with planes much noisier than commercial ones so I do comprehend what it means to have them over your head. Actually, you get used to it like folk do around any busy airport.

    My concern, irrespective of politics, is that, by taking a firm stance against night flights outside ongoing consultations about the future of Manston airport, it might just mean that the airport owners walk away. Thanet has already lost too much through such negativity.

    I am retired and enjoy my peace and quiet, but I would hate to think I do so at the expense of jobs for our younger people. Sadly, Labour do not mind a high proportion of the population being unemployed or benefit dependent because they see those as captive votes.

  5. Bill, I think you hit the nail on the head when you said the "airport owner walk away". I believe their intention is to get approval for six million passengers, Parkway station, China Gateway, Night Flights and then sell the airport at a profit to to whoever. The next owners will then have "carte blanche" to do as they like.

    Controlling airport expansion is not the same as restricting it, but control is essential for good growth not expansion at whatever cost.

    More jobs can be created by promotion of diverse business throughout Thanet rather than putting all your eggs in one basket which may or may not take off.

    I think a study should be carried out to determine how many unemployed there are in Thanet and how many are unemployable. With that information employment and employees can be matched. Thanet Earth was trumpeted as a major employer and look what happened there.

  6. Ken, I am not a complete idiot and would never advocate any kind of carte blanche for the airport owners and would suggest such was never proposed. TDC's stance was consultation, but the Labour group, eyeing votes, went for no night flights pre-discussion. That could drive the owner away long before any plans were on the table to discuss.

    All the studies on Thanet's unemployed have been carried out and, yes, there is a case for a range of businesses so we are not dependent on a handful of employers as in the past. Mines, fishing, seaside holiday guest houses and Pfizer spring to mind.

    This, however, should not be an excuse for ignoring the possibility of a flourishing regional airport. Just watch the proposals for the Richmond power station site and stand by for the anti-brigade to launch off on smell, traffic, destruction of flora and fauna or anything else that springs to mind to prevent progress.

    Sadly, all Thanet seems to do is study, propose and then oppose. Progress locally is a dirty word.

  7. Bill, I was certainly not implying you were an idiot. Everything I quoted is contained in "Shaping our Future" which would have been approved before the last election, had there not been opposition to the many flaws contained in it.

    I have worked with many local authorities throughout the UK and Thanet takes the biscuit for daft ideas. Perhaps that is why nothing stands up to criticism and scrutiny.

    What is lacking in Thanet and Ramsgate in particular is community self esteem. This can only be improved if the general public are proud of their town and their elected officials are taking good care of it.

    A long way to go yet.

  8. Ken, your last comment applies very much to Broadstairs where, despite an almost one party monopoly, most folk are proud of their town and happily re-elect their councillors.

    Even the Labour inspired anti-community centre people had to be largely imported from elsewhere to put together a token crowd.

    Sadly both Margate and Ramsgate have areas of deprivation inducing something of a 'giving up on hope' attitude in some quarters. Guess that is what we really need to tackle. Elsewhere Broadstairs, Westgate, Birchington and the villages are all doing pretty well.

  9. Bill, In some ways the people of Ramsgate are their own worst enemy, they seem to be unable to pull together and every time a new scheme is proposed a new organisiation is created to try and get it off the ground.

    There are more organisations and associations in Ramsgate than you can shake a stick at and none seem very willing to work with any other.

  10. Had some experience of it in years of trying to bring about a sensible federation of Ramsgate's two grammar schools, often frustrated by opposing groups, interests and even the then MP who was anti-grammar.

    Shame is that it is such a potentially lovely town, interesting buildings, great harbour and with sea to one side and countryside on the other. What more could one ask for?

    We can but hope though the make up of the new town council does not make for balanced debate.

  11. You could both try being a little less patronising. Ramsgate has two largish council estates, beset with the problems that these bring. It also has other wards where the electorate feel a little remote - spiritually and physically - from HQ in Margate. Tried driving through Westwood recently? Where is everything - police station, tourist information et al based? Explain why Margate has become the centre of gravity and you go some way to understanding some of the issues on this side of the Island

  12. FedUpWP, I think your post only reinforces our arguement, every town in the UK has its council estates and community problems. I agree that a Margate based remote council does not help, but I am afraid to say there still remains a reluctance by many groups in the town to work together.

    Neither Bill nor myself were being patronising, just lamenting the situation as it exists and hoping to improve it

  13. Only the person being spoken to can determine whether the speaker is being patronising.
    You might try nnaming some of these uncooperative organisations. Ramsgate First - a political platform for GoD; and judging by his toy throwing outburst in last weeks IoTG we are well shot of him.
    Look at all the Ramsgate attractions; Motor Museum, Maritime Museum, Neros, Pleasuramam oh no, you can't because they're all cloised with no prospect of reopening. What do we get instead of Pleasurama? Yuppie flats.
    Drive, or walk, down the High Street. Why is the desolation here, or in King Street or Hardres Street or at the back of the Eastcliff not being highlighted? All we ever hear about is the sad plight oof Margate High Street.
    You'll get used to the aircraft noise.m easy to say if you live in Broadstairs. Its a bit different when you're washinng the black soot from part-burned kerosene off the front of your house. You'll get used to it - like I could get used to being beaten at ten minute intervals throughout the day
    I voted Independent but I can tell you all why Ramsgate went red. It's because it perceives itself as having been deserted by a blue Council. If the last Council had been red, Ramsgate would have gone blue

  14. FedUpWP, if you re-read the posts you will find I was addressing Bill not you.

    However I am not in the business of "negativity", I think anyone either resident or non-resident of Ramsgate, who cares for the town and is willing to work towards a better future should be encouraged.

    There is a lot to do as your list illustrates and I think the gist of the conversation between Bill and myself was we would all be more effective pulling together.

  15. Well it certainly does not auger well for co-operation if Ramsgate will always vote to oppose the colour of the ruling party at TDC.

    For the record, I went to school in Ramsgate, socialised there in my teens, have been involved with schools there in more recent years and actually have a very high regard for the town. It gives me no pleasure at all to see it with problems, but I do believe a spirit of mutual support might go a long way to help.

    Why there was even a time, not so long ago, when the head teachers of the two grammar schools were at daggers drawn with one of them being a traditionalist and the other having some vision of a gigantic greenhouse on Pysons Road housing four schools in unison. The latter idea, having huge comprehensive written all over it, much supported by the then MP and the local Labour Group.

    Think about that for a moment and what would it have done for Ramsgate town centre to take away two schools and the spending power of the pupils, their parents and a very large sixth form of students, who largely go into town for lunch. Even an idiot should have been able to forsee the economic calamity that would have been yet it was a tough battle, and at times a very close call, to keep those schools in Ramsgate.

  16. No solutions then, just harking back to the past. I appreciate Bill's efforts with the grammar schools - I also played a part in laying the groundwork for the present Federation - but you are still both missing the point. The Ramsgate PERCEPTION is that the town is being allowed to slide further into decline as the price we have to pay for a Margate revival. Somehow this perception needs to be addressed. Only then will things change.

  17. We have many solutions but need to find the money to carry them out. I get the feeling we are all arguing on the same side and should direct our energies to the task.

  18. Fedup, (excuse familiarity but you used my first name), I think Ken is right and we are on the same side. Indeed, having regard to your remark about the federation, we probably know each other.

    Whilst accepting it is the future that is important, we have much to learn from the past. particularly the more recent past. It illustrates the way things have been done and the mistakes made and I do not think party politics have served Ramsgate at all well.

    For that reason, and irrespective of the actions or otherwise of the Ramsgate Town or Thanet District Councils, I do feel that the people of Ramsgate and those involved with bodies in the town could do a lot to improve things by pooling resources. Needs someone with leadership to pull it together.

    We already have plenty of agitators, not least of all Michael Child, but some action men would not go amiss. There I was not thinking of a bunch of mainly overweight TUC lookalikes doing battle with the 'blues' on the other side of the ilse.

    Perhaps someone should co-ordinate things by listing all the Ramsgate groups from Age Concern to RAFA and calling a meeting of the leading lights within them. How about it, Ken, for you are the aspiring politician?

  19. Bill, I think my political career will rank as one of the shortest on record, as I will not be pursuing that line of enquiry in the future.

    But watch this space, there is one organisation in Ramsgate getting things done and you will hear more about it this month or next.

  20. Bill, I suspect that my involvement with the Federation was a lot less than yours. I'm also still employed so you'll forgive me if I remain behind a nom de guerre for the moment.
    We are all on the same side and I agree wholeheartedly with just about everything that you say. Please just accept that there is a depressing sense of resignation in Ramsgate and that you will need a truly aspirational leader to shake people out of this. It's not that they don't care it's more that they think no-one else does. Every letter that appears in IoTG from Retired of Birchington saying that he can't see what all the fuss over the airport is all about, he can't hear anything just adds to the sense of desertion. Even worse are the ones that tell Ramsgate residents to stop moaning and act for the greater good of everyone.
    I was walking through Ellington Park this morning and there was a note stuck to one of the benches. In this note the writer asked whoever had stolen the flowers that had been planted behind the bench to return them, since they had been planted by the letter writer in memory of his/her parents who had recently died. At that point I began to wonder, and am still wondering, just why we are bothering at all.

  21. Fed up, I know your last sentiment well, but I guess we bother because somebody has to. It is about preserving what is good and taking a reasoned approach to new proposals. It is the latter at times that seems to attract total negativity, always accepting that views from Birchington will differ from those in Ramsgate.

    Then, of course, there is always the next contentious issue and I see live exports from the Port of Ramsgate has now reared its ugly head. Whatever ones views on this, in Thanet it immediately has to be some kind of conspiracy thus shrouding the real issue from proper examination. In order to avoid the cloak and dagger aspect I now stay away from 'thanetonline' and try to sort out the true story elsewhere. In that respect Ken offers a useful site free from overbearing self opinion from the blogsite author.

    Maybe tomorrow.........

  22. Bill, thank you for that vote of confidence, I try to stay objective on most subjects and listen to the comments, that way I learn more about what other people think and can try to direct my own efforts in the right direction.

    I was in Margate today, on a one hour parking so I did not have time to go into TC, so I wandered around the Old Town. Nicely prepared as a backcloth to TC but it is only a thin veneer of prosperity on the harbour side, the rest of the town has acres of derelict buildings. I don't think Ramsgate can expect much help from that quarter in the near future, I am staking my claim on "localism".

    I think Ramsgate played right into the hands of Margate orientated councillors by forming RTC.
    Any problems in Ramsgate, they now say are RTC issues even if they are beyond their limited remit. RTC needs to get into gear and model itself on Minster Parish Council, they get what they need and are efficient at dealing with TDC.

  23. Ken, many of the RTC are also district councillors so they don't lack voice in higher places. Ramsgate folk should still demand they represent their best interests at TDC though, at the moment, jockeying for power is probably the priority.

    See one of the newly elected Ramsgate and District councillors has come out as an ardent republican on his blog, Red Thanet (sounds like something HGW might have written about). Wonder if that was in the electioneering literature?