Wednesday, 27 May 2009


I wrote in January about the campaign to get a suitable memorial to Sir Keith Park, wartime mastermind of Britain's air defences. I am pleased to update that planning permission has been granted for a permanent statue in Waterloo Place, Westminster. Even better there will be a temporary location on the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square if the Mayor of London agrees.

Hopefully the permanent statue will be erected in September 2010 to coincide with the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Britain.
The Campaign for a memorial was launched in March 2008, veterans, supporters and members of the Park family were accompanied in Trafalgar Square by a Spitfire. The unveiling will form a principal part of the commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Britain next year.
It is no exaggeration to say that the leadership given by Sir Keith Park was crucial to winning the Battle of Britain, and therefore to the ultimate outcome of the Second World War.
The fact that he was a New Zealander also reminds us of the countless thousands from other countries who have fought alongside British servicemen and women during the World Wars and in the years since.
I would be grateful for knowledge of plans in Thanet to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Battle of the Britain. I hope Thanet Council will back all local initiatives to mark this part of our local history.

For more details of the campaign please visit .

Sunday, 24 May 2009


Pleased to have caught this butterfly in the photo, but like all organic Thanet gardeners time to get out the netting to protect my brassicas.
Here's an exciting initiative a Tuesday Market Stall at the Windmill Community Allotment Project on the corner of Dane Valley Road and College Road, Margate.

There will be local and seasonal fresh fruit and vegetables for sale.

Opens Tuesday 26th May from 12 - 4.30pm
Check out the Smoothie Bike too!

Free seasonal recipe cards available. More information from 07919491 791 OR 07717 531 589

This is a new scheme to offer better quality food, reduce food miles, skill up local people and, in the longer run, create more jobs.

Wednesday, 20 May 2009


Please have a look at this latest lazy cut and paste click here. This offering is from Laura Sandys Conservative candidate for Thanet South, and Roger Gale MP who hopes to be Speaker. Now to take these two people seriously, this is the sort of press release they should issue if they are sincere about cleaning up standards in public life:

Thanet Tories call for Council Election

Give the people their say to restore trust in Thanet Council

Roger Gale and Laura Sandys are calling for Thanet Council to be dissolved and for a council election to be held and are asking people of all political persuasions to support a move that urges Sandy Ezekiel to dissolve Thanet Council and give the electorate a say immediately about the future of their elected representatives.

“This call for an election is not a partisan request. It is about restoring the trust and dignity that the Council must recapture, and it is only through a fresh election that Thanet Council will be able to address the significant troubles that our democracy and Thanet face with the confidence of the people,” says South Thanet`s Conservative, Laura Sandys .

“This is not about party politics – this is about our Thanet Democracy. This current Conservative Thanet Council no longer has the confidence of the public. We need to get every sitting Conservative councillor who voted for Sandy Ezekiel, to stand on their record and put themselves to the people,” says North Thanet`s MP, Roger Gale.

David Cameron has said “This Thanet crisis has been caused by my Conservative politicians, so I don't think the Conservatives alone can solve it. The public have got to be involved. I know that Roger Gale and Laura Sandys have worked hard to ignore bad behaviour, and misconduct by the Conservative Leader Sandy Ezekiel and his Deputy Roger Latchford who joined him in publicly shaming Thanet.”

He concluded: “I am asking to run the country, but I cannot even ensure good behaviour by a Conservative run District Council. My local Conservative representatives have done nothing whatsoever to address the concerns of the Thanet public. My local Conservative councillors keep re-electing Cllr. Ezekiel as their Leader no matter how often he swears and misbehaves. That's the Conservative way, we talk big but when it comes to action we look the other way.
Cllr. Ezekiel is a well known former boxer, I am backing him as the Conservative who can put the punch into Punch and Judy politics.”

1. Thanet Council Leader Sandy Ezekiel in 2007 "The ethical standards officer concluded, based to a significant extent on Councillor Ezekiel’s own evidence, that Councillor Ezekiel had been offensive and discourteous towards the retiring mayor and another councillor.” Full details of the Standards Board here.
2. Thanet Council Leader in 2008 aggressive again and damaging Thanet's reputation. Full details here. (Slow download)
3. 2009 OK so far (fingers crossed)

To show your concern you can email
Click here to see emails she does not respond to, and laws she ignores.

Tuesday, 19 May 2009


Guest blog from Cllr. Alan Poole, Kent County and Thanet District Councillor, writing here as Chair of South Thanet Labour Party:

"I want to thank Steve Ladyman MP, for publishing his allowance claim forms and receipts on his web site, which can be found at……

It can be seen that a large part of his allowance claim is attributed to the running of his constituency office in Ramsgate, where he employs three members of staff answering constituents concerns and queries.

Steve is well down the list of those claiming allowances, being 440th out of 646.

Labour Party Members and South Thanet Constituents are appalled and dismayed that some MPs, of all parties, have been abusing the allowance system with particular reference to the practice known as 'flipping'. These MPs may claim that they have not broken any rules but they must know that the practice is immoral.

Members of the South Thanet Constituency Labour Party will be debating a resolution on Friday 22nd May calling on the Prime Minister and the NEC (Labour Party National Executive Committee) to dismiss any Labour MP found guilty of this practice. Steve will be present to answer questions from Members.

Steve works very hard for his constituents and I have every confidence in his honesty and integrity."

Monday, 18 May 2009


I have been deeply saddened by the conduct of MPs on expenses. It particularly hurts when MPs you had respect for, have been shown to have behaved badly. One of the Telegraph named individuals is someone I have known well (albeit as an opponent within the Party) and I regret I have little doubt from my previous knowledge of them, that they systematically exploited the system for their personal gain. That and other revelations have lead me to sign this letter. I hope grassroots activists in other Political Parties will take action to ensure their miscreants are unable to stand at the next election in their Party colours.

Here is the text of the letter:

Dear National Executive Committee (NEC) Chair,

We are writing to you to register our protest at the conduct of many Labour MPs, ministers and cabinet ministers in allowance and expense claims funded by hard working British taxpayers during the tenure of this Parliament. We are also gravely concerned that the Party Leadership has failed to take charge of a critical situation on an issue so fundamentally defining to the character and reputation of our Party, its supporters and activists.
We are particularly disappointed with a number of aspects of the leadership’s response including:

• The continued reference by Labour spokespeople to the 'system' being wrong and 'needing reform'. Undoubtedly this is the case. But the 'system' does not force LabourMinisters and MPs to make specific claims that abuse public trust and in some cases arean abuse of public money. Making an expense claim is a matter of individual responsibility. Our Party has been left looking incredibly insensitive and out of touch with hard-working and fair minded citizens.

• The Prime Minister, and the collective leadership of the Labour Party, have been negligent in protecting the reputation of the party by failing to speedily apologise for our MPs, by failing to take immediate and clear disciplinary action, and by regularly appearing to side with Ministers and MPs who have made excessive and exaggerated claims in the face of justifiable public anger.

• Many of the claims are for things that, in all conscience, 99% of Labour Party members outside of Parliament would never be able to bring themselves to claim, even if a 'system' allowed them to.

Therefore, we ask that the NEC:

• Organise a thorough review of suspected excessive and abusive claims - regardless of whether they were eventually signed off by an over-worked Fees Office.

• Support the immediate removal of the whip from individual MPs who have brought the party into disrepute over this issue and allow Constituency Labour Parties to trigger reselection ballots against them.

We write this in a spirit of solidarity and heartfelt concern for the reputation of the Party that we will continue to work hard for. We are a group of leading loyal activists from across the breadth of the Labour Party, who will not hesitate to defend the future of our Labour movement, which should always stand for fairness, compassion and integrity, no matter how inconvenient living by these values may be.

In solidarity,

Cllr. Mark Nottingham and 120 other Labour Party activists

Saturday, 16 May 2009


I want to add a little to my colleague Dave Green’s post on expenses.

I have got to know dozens of MPs in my personal and professional time in politics and the finest representative I have come across is Steve Ladyman. I think Gordon Brown when he makes changes to his administration which he undoubtedly will, would be well advised to find a senior place for Steve in his government.

It is typical of Steve that he has spent much time preparing all his expenses and publishing them a model for other representatives of all parties.

I would hope that Roger Gale would do the same as the other Thanet MP. I also understand that whereas Steve Ladyman MP has his constituency office open full time, Roger Gale MP has his office open only in the mornings. I think we need to see a clear explanation for why this is. If Roger is only claiming half the expenses then that is fine, but my understanding is that this is not the case.
Roger has this from They Work for You on his website. This on his spending.
I think he should address his lack of detailed receipts, especially in light of his disgraceful support previously for Derek Conway MP who was expelled from the Conservatives for expenses irregularities. The BBC reported Roger Gale saying:
"If Derek Conway says his son did the hours which he said he did, I do not doubt his word."
Mr Conway was reprimanded by the Standards Committee after "no record" was found of Freddie Conway doing any work for him as a researcher. The student was paid more than £40,000 for his three-year employment period.
Roger Gale's attitude to Conway's abuses shows the old attitude that needs to be removed.
(I have amended the above 3 paragraphs from "Roger has" in light of Hugin's comment below.)

To find full details of Steve Ladyman's expenses click here. There are further links to other documents but it is important to read Steve's overview. In previous years Steve has made details of his expenses available for inspection in his office and I expect he will do the same with these.

All MPs are not the same and it is good that South Thanet is represented by somebody who is ensuring full transparency. That's one of the many reasons I support Steve Ladyman.
UPDATE 16.5.09 20.45 Steve Ladyman has published this statement:
"People are understandably angry about what they've read in the newspapers and heard on the news in the last week but although copies of receipts and claim forms had been leaked to the Telegraph, the same information wasn't available to MPs in a form we could publish until a few days ago. In the interests of full transparancy I've now published everything I can via my website. Some information has been redacted to stop bank account details being released and to comply with data protection laws because third parties were referred to but otherwise my constituents have now got everything that I've got." "I hope that people don't tar all MPs with the same brush. I've long advocated a reform of the expense system and greater transparency and done my best through my own web site to set an example. The vast majority of MPs are hard working and honest. If some have made mistakes they should be held to account but we should not all be blamed for their mistakes." "On the doorsteps of Ramsgate today and as I've met people all around the constituency in the last few days most people have said they understand that not all MPs have expolited the system, they want those who have done so punished but they don't blame us all for the errors of the few. I'm also pleased to say that they have been very kind and understanding to me personally."

Friday, 15 May 2009


As a supporter of alternative energy sources I am pleased to see that Vattenfall the company behind the Thanet Offshore Wind Farm (TOW) is having a Drop In Session for anybody with questions about their work.

It will be on Tuesday 19th May from 2pm-6.30pm.

It will be at the former departure lounge at the Port of Ramsgate - Follow signs through the harbour tunnel to Ramsgate Ferry Terminal. Everybody is welcome. It is an opportunity to meet the Project Director and other staff, ask questions, look at a display and have a tea or a coffee. As I have commented before, always good to see big local organisations being open. Perhaps those involved with Pleasurama on the other side of the harbour might want to arrange something similar?

Thursday, 14 May 2009


Regular reader Ted from Garlinge gets in touch.
He says he is a keen observer of the local blogosphere and likes to see things accurately reported.

Further to my post yesterday, he has pointed me in the direction of a story in yesterday’s Financial Times. The London Array project is bringing jobs to Ramsgate and is being helped with government money. Good to see green jobs being created locally and the picture shows parts for wind turbines in Ramsgate Port.

The key parts of the story are:

"The London Array, set to be the world's biggest offshore wind farm, has been given the go-ahead after being rescued by a boost in government subsidies. In January, Eon, the German company that has 30 per cent of the Array, said the project was "on a knife edge" because of soaring costs and a finance shortage.

I hope this project is a success.
In the Budget, the government changed the renewables obligation, the subsidy scheme for electricity from renewable sources, to make it temporarily more generous to offshore wind farms. If approved this year, offshore wind farms will receive twice the annual subsidy, known as "renewables obligation certificates", paid to onshore developments. Previously the payment had been 1½ times greater.

The government has put a high priority on the Array, described by Gordon Brown as a "flagship" project for his ambition to cut carbon dioxide emissions and secure energy supplies.
Frank Mastiaux, chief executive of Eon's global renewables business, said: "It has been the upgrade to the . . . certificates that has allowed us to get this into the economic range of other projects." He said the Array had also been helped by the recession. Raw materials prices for turbines such as aluminium and steel had fallen "by a mile", he said, and the project partners were able to negotiate much better rates with suppliers."

Wednesday, 13 May 2009


Last night at Thanet Council's Overview and Scrutiny Panel I questioned Cllr. Roger Latchford who leads on Regeneration about the Council's commitment to carbon unfriendly tourism events such as the Air Show, quad bikes and previous powerboat races. Despite signing the Nottingham Declaration he said the Council remains committed to tourist events such as these.

I find this an interesting juxtaposition. As I noted last night, he is rightly proud of initiatives like Thanet Earth, London Array at Ramsgate Port and Thanet Offshore Windfarm which is currently being constructed. Indeed it was good to hear that all 4 major local supermarkets are taking produce from Thanet Earth. We also talked about a major sign alongside Thanet Way to highlight Thanet Earth. I think this would be a good thing branding Thanet as somewhere where green initiatives are welcome.
It was disappointing though to find out that there will be no review of green initiatives by the Council for 12 months. Whilst this is a corporate policy I think it is wrong. Signing the Nottingham Declaration means you need to take action in 2 years so this seems a complacent approach to me. We will be half way through before things can be changed.
It is also regrettable that the Council is not going to take the opportunity to say this year will be the last air show. Cllr. Sandy Ezekiel as Leader when signing the declaration committed to
"achieving a significant reduction of greenhouse gas reductions from the authority's own operations"

Unlike Manston Airport which is a private business, the Airshow is a Council initiative so by putting money into aviation fuel the effect is to both burn our money, and to burn our future. I think it will be hard for the Council to meet its commitment under the Nottingham Declaration if it continues to promote tourism based on planes.
I saw today an initiative that I think Thanet should engage with more. When looking at conservation I always think of the land. Of course Thanet has miles of glorious coast and Marine Conservation Zones offer a marvelous opportunity. The scheme has only just started. It will not get fully going until 2012. A South East version of a site like this would be a good start.

This offers opportunities for walks at low tide and diving. More boat trips to see seals and other initiatives. Far more sustainable tourism than an airshow. Something that can be enjoyed every day of the year. Our past, our present and our future.
Roger Latchford said last night that the air show was only 30 minutes. That's the worst short term thinking I've heard of in quite a while. It is regrettable that Thanet Conservatives don't get conservation.

Sunday, 10 May 2009


HG Wells wrote science fiction, here is a guest blog from Cllr. John Watkins, pictured here on his beloved Sundowner in Ramsgate Harbour. John writes here about political fiction. He is the Labour agent for Clive Hart and Iris Johnston who are standing in Margate and Cliftonville in the forthcoming Kent County Council (KCC) elections.
John Watkins writes:
"I have seen the leaflet introducing Chris Wells as the Conservative Candidate for Cliftonville and Margate. A copy of the key part is below. The leaflet says Chris Wells played a major part in securing funds for the Oval Bandstand. The facts are - the hard working volunteers of Cliftonville Residents Association accessed the £130,000 government funding to build a new bandstand and refurbish the inner/lower level of the arena. Even before he became a councillor, Labour man Clive Hart, as the Residents Association honorary secretary at the time, completed the application forms to obtain the funding, along with Keith Chadband - the super hard working Residents Association Chairman.

It then says Chris Wells delivered refurbishments at St Pauls and St Johns. The facts are, he was simply an individual member of the large Safer and Stronger Communities Fund Board which delivered those refurbishments with Labour government money. Chris was not a very active member either. During his time as the County representative on the Margate & Cliftonville board he has often sent substitute Conservative colleagues from other areas such as Westgate, Broadstairs, Ramsgate and even from as far away as Tonbridge to cover for him at meetings and to help make decisions about Margate and Cliftonville in his absence.

The leaflet says Chris Wells was instrumental in bringing a Childrens Centre to Cliftonville. The facts are that along with his District ward colleagues, Clive Hart has been fighting desperately for the local childrens centre. The Labour ward councillors have attended many crisis and steering group meetings for the Cliftonville Childrens Centre over the past few years and I'm informed Chris Wells has NEVER been present. Indeed, despite the government's clear aim for childrens centres to serve our most deprived areas, the former Tory Children, Families & Education Cabinet Member - one Chris Wells - actually oversaw dozens of children's centre's being built in much wealthier parts of Kent long before Cliftonville. Appallingly, thanks to the way Chris Wells and his ruling Conservative colleagues at KCC have run their Children Centre programme we are in the perverse situation where Cliftonville West is one of the very last Children's Centre's to be created, despite the area being one of the two most deprived wards in the south east of England (Cliftonville Children's Centre is right at the end of a wave of creating around 70 centres set up across the rest of Kent).

Lastly, and the biggest distortion of all, the leaflet says Wells was instrumental in bringing the Freedom Bus Pass to Thanet in January 2009, months ahead of the rest of the county. At a meeting of full council at KCC on 14th September 2006 where Labour member Clive Hart was desperately pleading for the scheme to come to Thanet in order to benefit our generally poorer children, it was simply astounding that Cllr. Wells actually argued strongly that Thanet was not at all suitable for such a pilot scheme. Consequently, thanks to his comments, the Kent subsidised transport scheme has been operational in many wealthier areas of the county long before coming to us here in Thanet (youngsters in Tonbridge, Maidstone, Tunbridge Wells & Canterbury have enjoyed the scheme for many months). A true statement would be that Chris Wells put wealthy areas first, and brought the Freedom Pass to Thanet several months BEHIND the rest of the County. No wonder politicians get a bad name.

Chris Wells own words sum the situation up perfectly. In one of his very own annual KCC reports for Margate and Cliftonville Division, published last year on the KCC website, Chris Wells wrote “Furthermore, I involve myself with more local matters through my regular attendance at the meetings of Broadstairs Town Council”. And guess what – out of 7 of those Broadstairs town council meetings last year he reportedly turned up to just 2. Have a look at Chris Wells attendance record at Kent County Council and then compare it to Clive Hart's. If people want a full time County councillor, not a part time one the answer is clear from this independently recorded evidence. Clive's the choice!
Chris Wells as a Broadstairs Town councillor has NOT provided a regular surgery for Margate & Cliftonville residents over the past 4 years nor delivered any regular newsletters to keep residents informed of his work.
Clive has!"
I will publish any repsonse I receive from Chris Wells.

Friday, 8 May 2009


Regular readers will recall I posted on the need for Thanet Council to ditch its desire for quad bikes and aeroplanes, and to look to sustainable tourism. Tomorrow is the start of the Isle of Wight Walking Festival. There are 300 walks including a 5am dawn chorus, dinosaurs (Thanet's got some of those, the Rock Doc Cllr. Alasdair Bruce is very well acquainted with where they are locally), wild food, Christian Aid....
There are so many different themes click here to see them all. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery so it would be great if Thanet could adapt (nick) some. We could develop things further. Next week on Wednesday The Apprentice television programme features Margate.

"Once a jewel of the Kent coast, Margate still has a faded grandeur, but it is up to the teams to bring a much-needed sparkle for the 21st century."

and the rumoured proposal for Margate to become more gay centred. The Isle of Wight Walking Festival has a speed dating walk, how about a gay speed walking event? We could call it Gays at the Bays. Perhaps it could be added to the Thanet Pride event on 18th July to gauge the level of interest.

The picture is of one of my favourite walks, the foreshore of Pegwell Bay.

Tuesday, 5 May 2009


In politics it is always dangerous to have opponents commenting on internal matters. This post is based on information from a normally reliable source, but it is a little speculative. At present there are many Thanet Tories who are unhappy with Cllr. Sandy Ezekiel's leadership, with his Standards appearances a particular concern. Some of my Labour colleagues have started calling them the decent and indecent Tories. Decent Tories when you are alone with them, will say how embarassed they are to be associated with the regrettable behaviour of Leader Sandy Ezekiel and his Deputy Leader Roger Latchford.

Indecent Tories are unwise and shameless. Loyal no matter what happens, putting Party (and sometimes their personal position) before the reputation of Thanet. Indecent Tories always gives me the thought of naked Tories, which indecent Conservative councillor would you least like to see naked? OK Labour is not that well endowed, let's not go there. Thoughts you'd rather not have! Still perhaps it could be a tourism initiative. I saw this naturist beach is closing in Suffolk. Perhaps the indecent Tories could expose themselves on one of Thanet's beaches to start a new naturist tourist initiative to fill this gap in the market? It would be good to see a green tourism initiative. Can Thanet open for business before anyone else spots this gap in the market? I wonder if there would be any declarations of interest at the Planning meeting?
Which brings me to my mole's information. At a special meeting of Tory conspirators held in Thanet recently, it was decided that Cllr. Jo Gideon (pictured) will challenge Sandy Ezekiel at Thanet Conservative councillors Annual General Meeting this week. With it being 30 years since Mrs. Thatcher won power, those present were reminded that as Mrs. Thatcher said of her deputy "everybody needs a Willie" Whitelaw. With no Willie available, Wellsy (Cllr. Chris Wells) will be the Deputy Leadership candidate I am told.
If you are watching the Chelsea v Barcelona match tomorrow evening, the real battle of the Blues will be going on in Thanet. May the most decent Tory win!

Friday, 1 May 2009


It is interesting to read other bloggers take on the change of Labour Leader at Thanet District Council. I am not alone in wishing Richard Nicholson (pictured) would have continued in another role. If he wants a break then he has richly earnt it. He is a hard worker who takes a brief to pieces with his analysis. He also is someone who gets out and delivers leaflets and newsletters and campaigns on the doorstep. After 10 years he is entitled to a break, but I hope in time he will take on more responsibility again.

Tony Flaig wonders what a "comradely campaign" means. Well it means that both candidates campaigned by talking only to their electors, fellow Labour councillors. They did not try and play out a campaign in the media. They did not go around offering jobs, posts or making other promises. They talked about policy, and what they thought they could bring to the role of Leader. They both wanted to work with each other in leading positions, whatever the outcome of the election result. I have been involved in many election campaigns over the years, and this was one of the most professional, pleasant and respectful I can recall. I know it is a source of note to Council officers how united the Labour group is. One described to me how "tight" we are. Let's not make comparisons!
The other comment that surprised me was the ignorant suggestion (smear?) that there had been a "coup" by Simon Moores. I thought Simon was trying to not be political whilst the elections were on. It was a surprise to me and my Labour colleagues that Richard chose to stand down, but entirely his choice as his statement shows, and he concludes with the excellent promise that he will be back:
"I have decided not to stand again as Leader of the Labour Group this year. I have now had the privilege of serving as the group leader for 10 years and decided a while ago to take a break from the frontline.

In these 10 years I have, with the help of others, achieved what I think are several notable projects for Thanet. Including especially the bringing of the Thanet Campus to the area, the Innovation Centre at Westwood and of course Westwood Cross shopping area.

Other policies of note have been the 106 agreement controlling Manston Airport operations and the many other regeneration projects devised during my time as Leader of the Council.

However much satisfaction has also come from helping the many local residents, especially in the Newington Ward where I now serve. I will of course still be doing this job for them still and much remains to be done. Also I will still be active within Thanet Council and on the various committees I serve on. Of course I will remain an active member of the Labour Group and will give advice whenever it is sought.

I can also say that since being elected for the first time in 1995 I have served with many fine colleagues and now only two others from that time remain, however many other fine councillors have arrived and I thank all who have helped and supported me over my time as group leader.

I look to a more active role after this break."

Leader of the Labour Group Elect and current Deputy Leader Clive Hart has had the chance to learn from Richard Nicholson whilst working with him. He paid tribute to Richard:

"I would like to pay tribute to Cllr. Richard Nicholson who has decided to stand down as our leader. Richard has been a consummate leader of the Labour group in Thanet for the past decade and supporting him as deputy leader has been an honour, a privilage and a practical education in local leadership second to none. It truly is very reassuring to know that I have a man of Cllr. Nicholson's calibre and experience to call on for advice in the future".

Clive Hart went on to say:

"This really is a very challenging time for the Labour Party but I am heartened to know from personal experience as a councillor over the past six years, that in Thanet, all our elected representatives, at every level, are fully committed to their roles and to the residents they serve. The one thing that truly sets our councillors apart from those of the other political parties is their total commitment to local people and the real issues that affect their daily lives.
It is an honour and a privilege to lead a group of Thanet councillors so ‘well rooted’ in their local communities across our island”.
UPDATE 1.5.09 21.15 Mike Harrison has just posted (last paragraph) to confirm Simon Moores scurrilousness.