August is often called the ‘silly season’ for political stories and shenanigans when the political world is running more quietly over the recess period. Westminster may be quiet but world events are worryingly active: potential military build-up on the Korean peninsular, and more appalling and senseless acts of ISIS inspired terrorism in Barcelona and elsewhere in Spain and Finland. We cannot grasp the horror of these events and the grief for the families concerned, but hope that the ongoing global fight against this warped interpretation of Islam will be successful.
It would seem that Westminster will be more quiet than many of us had bargained for, and also for longer. It seems beyond ridiculous that the regular chimes of Big Ben will be silenced for a full four years whilst renovations and repairs are undertaken to Elizabeth Tower. Surely possible with modern audio equipment to replicate the chimes from loudspeakers attached to Victoria Tower at the Lords’ end of the palace complex in the interim. It may be an over-reaction by all to the effect of the loss of the regular heartbeat of our democracy, but four years does seem excessive, reminiscent of one of those jokes “how many people does it take to change a lightbulb…”. A similar war of the bells is peeling out in Sandwich with the bells of St Peter’s Church threatened with silence following noise complaints. You could barely make any of this up.
Sticking with very local issues, I was pleased to examine the presentation by the NEMO project, the electricity interconnector with capacity to bring in 1 GW (about a 60th of peak UK demand) of electricity from Belgium via a 95 mile long cable to be laid on the bed of the North Sea, landing UK- side at Richborough,. Whilst I have little concerns about the connector itself, the effects of cable-laying and shoreside operations being minimal; I maintain my objections to National Grid’s unimaginative plans to then erect Canterbury Cathedral height new pylons across the Kent countryside.
I have met once more with the remarkable Reg Bell who heads up Thanet Against Live Animal Exports. I was as annoyed as many of you that exports through Ramsgate re-commenced a couple of weeks ago. Provided with new information I now have new avenues to pursue with DEFRA ministers and the Secretary of State, Michael Gove. I have a feeling that I shall be spending a lot of time with Michael once Parliament resumes, as his department will be at the forefront of new post-Brexit fishing rules. Initial signals are good which should strengthen the viability of local fishing fleets.
My post-bag/email inbox seems busier than ever with complaints about Thanet District Council. I don’t try to attack the authority, but the complaints about rubbish collection, planning, street cleaning, housing, anti-social behaviour and plain lack of responses has reached levels I’ve not seen before. I know that the Conservative group leader, Cllr Bob Bayford put his own concerns about the TDC administration into his own words in local media last week. I can only echo them.