Tuesday, 26 July 2011
Tuesday, 19 July 2011
Two big items of business at tomorrow’s Planning Committee meeting. First is the redevelopment of Hartsdown Park. Approval should be routine seeing as the proposal is an improvement to the previous one which received Full Council's unanimous support back in 2006. There has been controversy round this for a few reasons such as the refusal to grant a Section 73 amendment, which coupled with subsequent discussions on the blogs and the Conservative manifesto pledge that any new applications or leases would require fresh public consultation led to fans questioning TDC’s support of the club. Personally I think the manifesto pledge was unnecessary. Public consultation goes without saying but the pledge sounded like barrier building. I hope this meeting will help to draw a line under all that so that the fans can focus on the action on the pitch rather than off it.
Second big item of business is an application by Sainsburys to create a scheme of development with its current site, and land behind it, including Group Antolin up to the Saga roundabout. Its enormous and in all honesty Ive not had the time to read the report fully but Im sure the local blogsphere will keep an eye on the application.
Friday, 15 July 2011
Another Council meeting last night with negativity clouding most speeches.
First up, there was unanimity over live animal exports. Despite the motion being proposed by Cllr Fenner, it was Cllr Driver who has been the driving force (pun not intended) behind this after setting up the public meeting in Ramsgate and summing up well what the Chamber felt.
Night flights was rather different. The proposed motion (the recommendations of the last Airport Working Party) was seen as invalid because it was deemed to be ‘pre-determination’. The incoming Localism Bill will scrap this rule, but as the moment the rule still stands. Labour’s motion is pre-determination, especially when considered alongside Labour’s manifesto pledges on Manston. Last night Cllrs Hart and Fenner both referred to the importance of the Labour manifesto, something Cllr David Green has also done on his own blog. The manifesto pledge is very clear. Labour doesn’t want night flights and would rule them out. Labour's already decided how they would act were a night flight proposal to appear. It is what it is.
During this debate very heated comments were made by Members, the vast majority coming from Labour. One Member made extremely serious allegations. They know who they are and they know what they said. They should either withdraw those comments or go through the proper process. It should not be aired in the Council Chamber.
This will continue while Labour Leader Cllr Clive Hart fails to keep control of his group. By calling last nights behaviour “robust debate” he only justifies it. Its not good enough to just dismiss it. Ive been to enough meetings to know how normal last night is, but it doesn’t change the fact that its unacceptable.
Thanet is changing. Things dont have to be the way they are, nor should they be. We must strive to change Thanet, transforming its prospects and boosting its profile. Last nights behaviour undermines this by showing Thanet at its worst.
Change must come to the Council Chamber.
Cllr Hart has made a statement on Margate Architecture's blog detailing his outrage at the night flights debate last night. Ive already mentioned the rule of 'pre-determination' above which fully explains the reason why the motion was denied. The meeting was adjourned for 10 minutes to allow Members time to read the legal advice and they asked questions afterwards for over 10 minutes on top of a 15 minute adjournment from the previous agenda item on live exports. Cllr Hart's comment that the motion is in keeping with the manifesto pledge only further undermines his case.
Cllr David Green has said on his blog that the motion from last night was not because Overview and Scrutiny deferred consideration of the Airport Working Party's recommendations until the next meeting. Cllr Hart states that actually it is the reason. So who's right, Cllr Hart or Cllr Green? Labour's entire policy on Manston is untenable..
Cllr Hart now calls the debate "intense" rather than "robust". Will he go the whole hog and just admit that his Members behaved appallingly and that one of them made a serious allegation and will withdraw it at the soonest opportunity?
Friday, 8 July 2011
The Old Town is what was Dreamland and Arlington Square. Back in the day, they were bustling with huge crowds. The Pride of Margate, mere relics. Faced with proposals of redevelopment, it's opposed by local residents because of a lack of trust in those proposing it, possible heavy traffic and noise and because the main store is going to be a Tesco's.
Looking back at the New Town, those reasons are exactly the ones raised with the Turner Contemporary and look what happened. It’s a complete turnaround and even those who had doubts about it now preach of what a great success its become. Locals working there speak of the enormous change and what benefits it will bring to Margate. Margate Football Club is looking to build a new stadium which will contribute to a vibrant Margate seafront and community spirit, not to mention helping to bring tourism to the town.
The proposals for the rebuilding of Arlington Square are well known and the arguments are as well versed. I don't doubt their sincerity or the strength of opinion in the Labour ranks through their two Ward Councillors that the plans need to be carefully scrutinised but we must not put the cart before the horse. Central Government has approved (Ed-not approved but allowed to be taken locally) the plans and now we can look forward to it coming back to Council to make it a reality.
Change is fuelling the regeneration of a town which has for too long been looked upon with derision. But the town mustn't be complacent. Instead we must strive to improve it further so that Arlington Square and Dreamland is once again the Pride of Margate and earning Margate the envy of Thanet.