Monday, 23 December 2013

“To boldly go where no truck has gone before”

Ramsgate’s “Secret Weapon” Unveiled!
The latest edition of TUNNEL TIMES not only wishes everyone a Merry Christmas but also promises a very exciting New Year.  The “secret weapon” in the form of an EPCV (Electric Pedestrian Controlled Vehicle) will boldly go where no vehicle has gone before, into the depths of the Ramsgate Tunnels system. Routing out dilapidations and fixing them, on its missions deep into this space, blazing a trail which many will follow in the future “Ramsgate Tunnels Explorer”.
Work starts early in the New Year to clear the tunnels and make them safe for explorers. This will be followed by improvements to access and escape routes together with essential services installations and finally some historical exhibits. There will be opportunities for volunteers to train as guides, taking groups into the far reaches of the tunnels, trips are scheduled to commence in June 2014, subject to all permissions and funding being approved.


Sunday, 24 November 2013

Oh for a PROGRESSIVE council.

“Don’t shoot the messenger” was a blog comment I read…………............... It should have read “Don’t shoot the messenger and tear up the message without reading it”

To be fair, there are many hard working councillors on both sides, there are also many good officers struggling to cope with their workload. But this was not the point that four honest men (persons) and true were trying to make. What their report stated was that the public in general hold the corporate body in low esteem. A totally different thing! Can’t be proved scientifically but to anyone who spends more than a week in the vicinity it is bl**dy obvious.

Blame was heaped on one nameless councillor who is running amuck. But why can he cause so much havoc? Let in filming and he has no soapbox. Explain why an offshore company was the preferred bidder for onshore development. Find a port operator and past losses may be forgotten. Get public buildings back into gainful employment. And most of all stop acting like muppet MP’s and remember the individual hard work should be backed up with civil debate for the benefit of the electorate, not an irrelevant party.

Social media is not the enemy, it can be the means to communicate ideas, stimulate discussion and most of all promote communication. If you live in a digital age and are switched on to analogue then perhaps it’s time to pull the plug.

Thursday, 7 November 2013

TDC Credit where credit is due.

Port Ramsgate.

The local blogsters are swift to pounce, like a pack of hyenas, on guff which regularly emanates from a certain office building in Cecil St, Margate, but when a forward thinking proposal is presented to them they are as sharp as a blind man in a brothel..

The above diagram / aerial view of Port Ramsgate shows four proposed new berths to take small container ships with land based sites to facilitate the business. The new link road and port access tunnel are already in place so this could actually be a starter

It is certainly better to concentrate on a brighter future than continually dredge up the mire from the past.

Thursday, 8 August 2013

What is needed is a PLAN!

                                            National Maritime Museum, Falmouth, Cornwall.

It could be a Local Plan, it could be a Neighbourhood Plan but, most definitely, it must be a comprehensive plan. There is one consensus of opinion in the town of Ramsgate, that the Eastern under-cliff resembles a derelict bomb-site rather than a seaside resort or holiday destination. However the proposed solutions vary from a skateboard park to a restaurant on heritage slipways and other dubious, small minded drops in the ocean.

Ramsgate has the best maritime frontage in the country, King George IV proclaimed it so when he designated it “Royal” and no other seaside town in the UK can boast that title. It is about time Ramsgate started thinking Royal and not fourth division. We are saddled with a council that believes the sun rises and sets over Margate and anything other than CT9 must be trashed in case it competes with the new utopia.

Thanet, as a whole, could be a world class resort for London day trippers and short stay visitors. Instead they turn their backs on the East and head South or West to Brighton or the West Country. Thanet has as much to offer, if it could shake off its “Eastenders” image, stop shafting everyone and end up shafting itself.

The Pleasurama site should be re-designed as flats, by a reputable developer, supported by a Flood Risk Assessment and the numbers reduced to 80-90 units so they do not appear above the cliff top. These high end residences will be in demand and bring many economic benefits to Harbour Parade and the Town Centre. Wetherspoons or another reputable national company (not an offshore company) should be welcomed into the Royal Victoria Pavilion to spent £2-3 million on its restoration. The Maritime Museum and Ramsgate Slipways should be combined into a new Ramsgate Maritime Heritage site with a development to rival the National Maritime Museum at Falmouth in Cornwall and complement the Turner Contemporary and Dreamland.

Add to this The Ramsgate Tunnels which are progressing towards opening as a new tourist attraction and a suitable leisure / residential development on the marina swimming pool car park. All this would revive Ramsgate Waterfront to an extent that would attract visitors rather than repel them, provide tourist income rather than be a burden to the taxpayer. Thanet District Council is responsible for the whole of Thanet and Ramgate residents have a right to demand similar attention to that lavished on Margate Waterfront. (A tub or two of flowers would be nice!) It is YOUR TAX they are spending whether it originates from TDC, KCC or Central Government.

“Wouldn’t we just love it if a PLAN comes together !”

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Holy Kippers.

No sooner than the beautiful Ile de Thanet has declared UDI or was it UKIP and cast itself off into the choppy seas of fringe politics, than the district council is washed up in the £3.3m flotsam and jetsam of the latest ferry disaster. One fishy story is usually enough for each day but today we have been treated to two courses. It seems the well heeled property company with Swiss connections has lost its purse on the beach and it was washed out to sea. Michael said they needed a FRA, I think we all need one now, as the lovely Ile is sinking slowly into the mire which the local politicians have been stirring for years, or is it decades.

Don’t worry about the NIMBYs lads, just check the landing fees are paid up.

Sunday, 19 May 2013


I have heard it so many times in Thanet politics “You couldn’t make it up could you”.

No sooner than Roger Latchford OBE has donned his purple rosette on behalf of UKIP, he is on telly spouting off about his pet subject, Manston Aerodrome.  I seem to remember two years ago, the good people of Ramsgate gave a resounding NO to night flying at said aerodrome and voted in a Labour Ramsgate Town Council, tipping the balance at Thanet District Council in favour of Labour.

Well ol’ Rog OBE is now in charge of a group of virgin councillors without an email amongst them. Let us consider our Roger’s pedigree, he was the “brains” behind the Ezekiel Conservative administration. Well at least he was Deputy Leader. No problem there then.

When Rog was in power last time he was in charge of such successful schemes as EKO and Chinagate(way) which we all are  appreciating to this day.  Just a small reminder, in case you have forgotten, these schemes were joint KCC / TDC initiatives in the time of the Ezekiel administration. Excuse me for being a cynic but has Paul Carter just received SEVEN more votes.

Next we will be hearing that Pleasurama is starting again.

Thursday, 16 May 2013

GRIFF Hijacked

Griff Rhys Jones was in Thanet today in his capacity as President of Civic Voice, the supporting organisation for all Civic Societies in the UK. Griff arrived by high speed train in Ramsgate to help the campaign for restoring Ellington Park, he then moved on to inspect  Project Motorhouse and the newly renovated promenade shelters.

Whilst at the Project Motorhouse he was hijacked by campaigners with placards protesting about the lack of progress on the Pleasurama site in Ramsgate. However, it quickly became apparent that all parties were on the same side, wanting Ramsgate to be regenerated throughout. Griff in his usual jovial manner agreed to a photo shoot with the “protestors” as seen above.

After the visit to Project Motorhouse , Griff moved on to the Custom House for coffee and an interview with Kent on Sunday (don’t miss it!), before moving on to Margate in order to add his support to the clock tower appeal. Thanks for your support Griff and good luck with the rest of the tour to Faversham and finishing in Rochester on Saturday.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

The Great PR Disaster.

MARGATE 2013.  What an opportunity squandered! Not only does a television company want to make a programme about the town but they are also prepared to assist in the renovation of a couple of shops and provide a one day Winter Festival. Margate has received so much help to regenerate and yet it still bleats that it is not enough, not right or not what they want.  Perhaps they need to graft a bit for what they receive, to appreciate it.

Here is a shopping list of items received by Margate recently and I am sure it is not exhaustive

Turner Contemporary                                           £17+ million
TDC clean up for opening                                       £100,000
Old  Town renovation                                          £xxx million
Margate Flood Defence.                                         £5.2 million
 Dreamland                                                            £12+ million pledged
Potras Portas pilot                                                  £100,000
500 free rail tickets                                                £5000+
£10 LondonMargate rail ticket                          £???????
One day “Inland Pier” festival                                £???????

I think the £10 rail ticket should have been from MargateLondon, to allow some of the jaded people of Margate to return to the smoke.  Mary Portas’ comment that many towns have applied but not many have received the money was a coded message that “Margate does not deserve it”.

P.S. Just a quick bit of art I knocked up on the back of a envelope, I didn't realise it was ambiguous until I pictured it.:-)

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Welcome to Margate, maybe

I watched the Channel 4 programme “Mary Queen of High Streets” and was dismayed by the poor welcome given to Mary Portas. Margate was privileged to be chosen as one of three places in the UK where television programmes were made in support of the Portas Pilot schemes.

It was obvious from the television programme that Mary was visibly upset by the negative reception and publicity given to herself and her camera team. Perhaps some members of the Margate community did not want to be filmed in case it affected their benefit claims

One serious lesson which needs to be learned from the screening of this television programme is, if Margate wants to succeed as a 21st Century seaside town, it has to re-learn the meaning of “WELCOME".

Monday, 13 May 2013

British Virgin Islands? (BVI)

A really nice place for a holiday, so I am told. While you are there you can open up a company or two. As long as the government doesn’t shut down this tax loophole, the well heeled will stash their dosh into these companies.  But as ministers also probably “holiday” there it is not likely to happen sometime soon.

Anyway say you set up one of these BVI companies and then want to use it to do an odd development or two in the UK. Say a block of flats or maybe a hotel. In order to protect your identity you set up a UK front company with supposedly only one director and one shareholder. This company signs all the documents for your many projects and slowly but surely the BVI is airbrushed out of the picture.

My question is if you have sunk your hard earned cash into the BVI you would want to keep a tight rein on that director of the front company in case he turned out to be a crook. So how would you do that? Some-one around here must know. Answers on a postcard please.

Saturday, 2 March 2013

UKplanning – Pleasurama

Cllr Ian Driver’s recent post containing a “secret” document regarding allocation of the development site known as Pleasurama, Ramsgate, gives considerable credence to the notion that there is something untoward about this transaction. The report may or may not be genuine but it deals with a part of the timeline (2002-3) for this project which has interested me of late.  This was the period when the Audit Commissioner was preparing a report about Thanet District Council, following a complaint to his office by a member of the public, that scathing report was not published until October 2003.

During this period the Labour administration had been ousted by a Conservative victory in the 2003 elections, and reading the above “secret” report a planning application was eagerly awaited for the Pleasurama site. The earliest document I have seen for the SFP scheme on Pleasurama is one shown on Michaels Child’s blog here. This was prepared in 2002 by PRC Fewster Architects of Surbiton in Surrey and appears to be a preliminary scheme by SFP Ventures backed by Whitbread plc.

So, coming to the point of this post. I have examined the UKplanning documents for the Pleasurama development and what appears to be the same scheme at a more advanced stage, submitted on 4 Nov 2003 by the same architects, PRC Fewster of Surbiton, Surrey, states that the applicant for the site is Robert Leonard Group plc of Southend on Sea, Essex. They paid £22,000 for the privilege of submitting the application for approval.

Even more curious is that some 3 months later, the application was approved but the approval document carries the name of SFP Ventures Partners Ltd. The Robert Leonard Group would have had to advise Thanet District Council of a change of applicant and that correspondence should be on the planning file. It also means that The Robert Leonard Group must be aware of the identity of SFP Ventures Partners Ltd. This is particularly strange because the only UK based company which would have a "Ltd" suffix is SFP Ventures (UK) Ltd which was not formed until 2006.

P.S It has since occurred to me that a planning permission issued to the wrong applicant, who is in fact a fictitious company may be null and void

Thursday, 28 February 2013

A “hole” load of potential.

Ramsgate Tunnels have now reached another phase in their objective to open for the public. A successful completion of feasibility studies to ascertain if there were any insurmountable problems to opening has confirmed that subject to a suitable cleanup there is nothing to prevent the tunnels from becoming a heritage asset for the town

There are two aspects of the tunnels, the older and larger railway tunnel dating back to the 19th Century and the smaller but more extensive Air Raid Protection tunnels which were constructed in 1939 as a precaution against the imminent outbreak of the Second World War.. Having been closed for over forty years these tunnels provide a fascination to many who wish to explore the subterranean environment. Rather than having illegal break-ins to explore the tunnels, it is proposed that the tunnels should become a tourist attraction for Ramsgate and safety conscious guided tours arranged for visitors who can experience the exploration of this forgotten world. An excellent new blog, RAMSGATE TUNNELS gives an insight into the world under our feet and explains where the project goes from here.

There are already over 1000 “Friends of Ramsgate Tunnels” all supporting the project’s future, and an enthusiastic committee are planning ever more exciting outcomes for this project , visit the BLOG and add your support.

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Who is SFP ????

Buying a flat?  Want to know who built it?

It is a reasonable request to identify the developer who is responsible for constructing the accommodation in which you intend to invest your life savings.

Considered purchasing a seafront flat?  Maybe in Ramsgate?

Well, SFP Venture Partners Ltd is (supposed to be) building 100+ flats on Ramsgate seafront. It is a fantastic position facing south, overlooking a sandy beach, adjacent to the only Royal Harbour in the UK and views of the English Channel.

Sounds idyllic, but who is the developer?

A 20 page marketing brochure and a 16 page specification brochure say nothing about the developer of the project. This is surprising considering they are supposed to be an international company with developments as wide as Dubai and Ipswich

A front company SFP Ventures (UK) Ltd is supposed to be constructing the building but that company was only formed in 2006 and the agreement and planning permission for Royal Sands goes back to 2002-3 when SFP Venture Partners Ltd (SFP) under the guise of  Société Financière Privée SA (SFP) (A Swiss based stockbroker, now defunct) secured a long lease on the development site


The Royal Sands website states the “Developers for the Royal Sands development are SFP Ventures (UK) Ltd a UK based Commercial and Residential Development Company with experience in mixed schemes in both the UK and overseas”  A Company Check shows that company is worth exactly minus £3399, also an internet search finds  no previous developments. 

So if any SFP Venture Partners Ltd directors are reading this and I KNOW you are local,

 RAMSGATE has no confidence in your track record or ability to deliver.