Friday, 1 March 2013

Letter from the Isle of Thanet Gazette


IT IS good to see Councillor Ian Driver finally showing some interest in Ramsgate Town Council (“Ramsgate residents are not served well”, Your Views, February 22), because he’s had precious little to do with it since he was elected.

The town plan and the Pleasurama site, which he mentions, were both discussed at the full council meeting on February 6. As so often, however, Mr Driver didn’t turn up. This was despite the fact that he’d just been at a public meeting 50 yards away. Then again the council meeting wasn’t covered by the local television news, so why would we be surprised?

His criticism of the town council appears to be that it hasn’t managed to change things that he knows very well are entirely outside its control or legal authority. Among the things it has done, however, is to preserve and maintain a visitor information centre in Ramsgate, staffed by volunteers, as well as supporting financially and practically a thriving events programme delivered by the community. It is about to launch a new website promoting Ramsgate, as well as professionally marketed town trails. And it costs £27.45 per band D household a year. Mr Driver says that having the same people serve as town and district councillors is a conflict of interest – although presumably that logic must also apply to him, and even more so when he now stands for election as a county councillor.

Here at least is a matter on which Mr Driver can easily do something. We all know he won’t give up his cabaret role at Thanet District Council or shrink bashfully from the county spotlight, but the cost of a town council by-election on May 2, when elections are already taking place, would be minimal. He could therefore resign with a clear conscience as a town councillor and allow the people of Northwood to choose someone else, whatever their political background, who is actually interested in representing the residents at meetings – or indeed at all. The successful candidate could hardly be less useful than Mr Driver ’s empty chair.

Councillor Rick Everitt, by e-mail

LIKE many in Ramsgate I was horrified that after two years graffiti-free enjoyment of the paintings on the Great Wall, we now have mindless vandalism.

I note that Councillor Ian Driver has apologised on his website to anyone who believes that his earlier comments encouraging people to graffiti the Great Wall of Ramsgate was instrumental in the subsequent damage to paintings hung there. Because Mr Driver does not live in Ramsgate he may not be aware of the affection that many Ramsgate residents have for the Great Wall. To many it symbolised action by many individuals to create something positive at a time when Ramsgate was suffering neglect from Thanet District Council.

As Ramsgate mayor, I was pleased last year to be able to present one of the Ramsgate Society’s Town Image awards to Gerry O’Donnell and Mike Sansum, representing the many artists who have contributed to the project. The sequence of events would seem to indicate that Mr Driver’s words advocating the criminal act of graffiti and the subsequent actions of others were the height of irresponsibility, so much more so from a Thanet district councillor. I don’t know the exact figure each year that it costs taxpayers to clean up graffiti, but it is many hundreds of pounds.

In the same sequence of Facebook comments, Mr Driver appears to encourage others to occupy the Royal Sands site. Yet another reckless act the councillor could be encouraging. These are not the actions of a responsible councillor. Nor is the misuse and exploitation of a group of residents with legitimate concerns over the future of Ramsgate’s seafront. A belated apology now, Mr Driver, is not in any way good enough. You gained election through a deception, posing as a Labour Party member. I would suggest that resignation would indicate that you recognise that your actions make you unsuitable as a councillor.

Councillor David Green, Ramsgate

GRANT FROM COUNCILLORS WAS URGENTLY NEEDEDON BEHALF of the trustees of Project MotorHouse, I would like to thank councillors Peter Campbell, Rick Everitt, David and Liz Green for supporting our recent successful application for funds from the New Homes Bonus Scheme. It will be used for the condition reports on the old motor museum on Ramsgate’s West Cliff.

The site, currently derelict and owned by TDC, is a vital piece of Ramsgate’s infrastructure. It cannot be left to continue deteriorating because its walls support one of the main access routes into Ramsgate. Its roof forms the first 40 metres of the West Cliff Promenade and the retaining walls of the terrace hold up the cliff which overlooks the commercial port. It has been empty now since 2005 and water is continually seeping in. Trees are growing into the terrace and threatening the structural integrity of the retaining wall. Local residents and the TDC parks department used to go through the building and onto the terrace to weed and keep it clear of rubbish. That has now been deemed too dang erous. This grant is very timely.

Janet Fielding, Project MotorHouse


I READ Kent County Councillor Jenny Whittle’s comments about the Thanet children’s centres hoping she was going to announce an increased budget for these vital centres using money from savings made elsewhere, but I was sadly disappointed to read that “there are no plans to close any children’s centres” followed by the inevitable “but ”.

The centre in Broadstairs, in common with others in Thanet, provides an invaluable service to parents and carers in a climate where funding is constantly being squeezed. Another article on the same page highlighted the degree of deprivation here in Thanet, where 28 per cent of children live in poverty.

Children’s Centres aim to be inclusive, not just for the most vulnerable (however that category may be defined), offering access to many agencies and experts. There are parents who are making up for time lost at school through family circumstances, school phobia or for other reasons by studying for GCSE equivalent exams in English and maths, to enable them to enter the job market as soon as they can so that their dependence on top-up benefits might be reduced.

They and other parents and carers benefit from the services offered with visits from the midwife, Citizens’ Advice Bureau advisers, courses for new parents, visits from the mobile farm and this Easter, a visit to Farming World. I have seen myself how the self-esteem and confidence of the centre users has been boosted through using the facilities and accessing the help provided.

I hope the planned review of the various centres doesn’t lead to any more cutbacks or even closure. That would be a tragedy for the area.

Councillor Jennifer Matterface, Beacon Road Ward


ON JULY 13, 2010 I wrote to the Isle of Thanet Gazette about the ludicrous blaming of Labour and Gordon Brown for the economic crisis of 2008.

I pointed out then that Labour had kept the Triple-A economic rating for the UK throughout the economic crisis and predicted that the ConDem Government would lose it. Well, that has happened. Prediction is everything in science: you have a hypothesis, you design an experiment to test it and state what will be the conditions for proof. Although Eton is not hot on science, George Osborne managed to do that.

Conservative ideology says austerity, deep cuts in public spending, cures the economy. It failed the conservatives of the USA in the 30s, who had to be rescued by Roosevelt’s massive job creation from public money. But anyway, George set the test himself – the Triple-A rating – and predicted austerity would haul Britain out of recession. Result: the flatline continues, we are in recession and we have lost the Triple-A rating. The experiment has instead proved the null-hypothesis, that austerity does not cure the economy.

It shows that the Tories and their allies, cannot be trusted with the economy and should hand it back to those who know what they are doing

RL Symonds, Broadstairs

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