My thoughts on Ramsgate, Manston, church bells and trade

Ramsgate regeneration always occupies a significant proportion of my time, arguably more than it should given extensive similar issues in Cliftonville. I am not ‘the Council’ nor want to be, but too often I am drawn into issues when Thanet District Council simply fails to do the basics like street cleaning and rubbish collection.

My first Ramsgate Regeneration meeting of 2018 on 12th January had no hard and fast agenda, but was an opportunity for the regular attendees from across the community to highlight areas of concern and to fix strategy for the year ahead. We had a lively debate across issues of parking, litter, the port, Pleasurama (aka Golden Sands) and the dereliction of various properties in and around Ramsgate Town Centre. Lots for me and my office to pick up, again due to failures of TDC to do the basics.

The Local Plan rejection by Councillors of last Thursday 18th dominates local news and discussions, and so it should. I salute those Councillors who voted to reject the flawed plan that would have re-designated the Manston site as ‘mixed-use’. Despite a last minute compromise suggested that would have set-aside this aspect of the plan, I agree with Councillors that this was too little, and too late. I have been saying for as long as anybody will listen that Thanet with Manston for aviation is a wholly different Thanet from one without. The timings of the Local Plan and with the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government pushing for completed Local Plans across the country adds to complications. It is now for myself and Sir Roger Gale to get the ear of the Secretary of State and to argue the case for the uniqueness of Thanet’s situation. Ideally, we need a Local Plan of two halves – a short-term plan for the next few years, and then a longer plan thereafter once the Manston issue is finally decided and settled. Politics is about the art of the possible.

In the southern part of the Constituency I’ve been fighting for Dover District Council to come to its senses regarding a noise abatement order issued against the 13th Century St. Peter’s Church which will force its clock chimes that have rung since 1779 to become silent by the end of February following a noise complaint by a single resident. This is in the realms of lunacy which adds to residents’ feeling, quite rightly, that the world has gone simply mad.

I attended a truly enlightening breakfast meeting at the Department for International Trade last week, chaired by the Secretary of State, Dr Liam Fox. We are not hearing enough of the excellent news coming out of that department. A substantial increase in UK exports, more inward investment to the UK in 2017 than any year on record, full manufacturing order books, successful trade delegations around the globe that are showcasing Global Britain and with it new orders and jobs. It is upon this background that I believe that a new Royal Yacht is important in a post-Brexit Britain – as a moveable showcase for the country that would return any capital cost within its first months in operation. Annoying to the Labour Party and those who support a Republic  I know – simply an added bonus to the concept in my view.

Finally a big congratulations to newly married local Councillors Paul and Carol Messenger. I was pleased to attend their reception held at the Pegwell Bay Hotel at the weekend. We wish them every happiness.