Friday, 29 April 2011

Neglect of Thanet's Harbours

By John Watkins

After eight years of neglect by Thanet District Council’s Tory administration, Margate Harbour is now in it’s worst state ever, since John Rennie’s stone harbour arm was first constructed early in the nineteenth century. Due to the constant build up of silt that has been allowed, there is now insufficient depth of water to accommodate any reasonable sized sailing or motor vessel and boat owners have been forced to moor their craft elsewhere. Sitting on the front patio of the new Turner Gallery should be a great experience, with the view to the west, over Margate main sands, for both local residents and visitors alike. However, if the tide is not covering the rotting seaweed and mud in the harbour at the time, a very unpleasant aroma is likely to soon drive most people inside.

At Ramsgate Royal Harbour marina, the neglect is even more marked. The absence of any planned maintenance programme has resulted in health and safety problems with pontoons and ladders and the build up of silt in the inner marina. Sections of the main Commercial quay are now ‘no go’ areas, due to problems with subsidence. Large weeds grow out of the basin walls and some of the pontoons at the eastern end are now so old and unstable that they have even received their own ‘Royal Historic’ plaque. The Pier yard is a disgrace, decorated with it’s own rotting hulk on prominent display alongside the detritus strewn listed Smeaton dry dock. Meanwhile the grade two star listed,  Maritime Museum, closed for years now, becomes ever more run down, from the snapped off flag pole at the front to the smashed windows and yards of unsavoury graffiti covering the rear walls, neglect is everywhere.

Something urgently needs to alter the years of laissez faire mismanagement of Margate and Ramsgate harbours, and a change of political administration at Thanet District Council would be the swiftest way to achieve this.

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