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The Story of Thanet’s Water

10 Sep

Thanet. It’s in Kent which itself is just south of London. Here in this sleepy and largely mismanaged corner of the UK a storm is brewing.

Something called the China Gateway is being proposed. Allegedly the local district council (TDC) are invested in it as are county council (KCC) but it is a privately run venture backed with borrowed money to convert farm land into a warehouse site for Chinese companies.

The two big players are EKO LLP which is a project funded and run by the County and District councils and CGP the private firm that will make most of the money. This has raised more questions than answers and local bloggers are wondering if the authorities are able to keep interests separate. More interesting the company was established only to obtain the Thanet site (and one other) and obtain planning permission on it. If the planning permission fails the company goes bust.

But this build were it to go ahead will bring little or no work to the area. Nor will it bring inward investment from the building work and yet there is strong favour at all official levels. Meanwhile the pubic have an altogether different view.

The proposals involve turning 175 acres of countryside into a huge warehousing development for Chinese electronics on Manston business park.

To start with this project will be housed on top of the islands drinking water. People are upset about this. All the same the project leaders are trying their hardest to not spend money to protect the water supply.

There is a suggestion of increased flooding risk which itself threatens the water supply for the 130,000 people that live there.

A criminal investigation is under way because lost documents that turned up in a TESCO carrier bag show that councillors may have lied bout funding for trips to China. (Indeed other scrutiny suggest other minor misdeeds in this case indicating people not being honest). Word is that local newspapers refused to touch a story that hurt their biggest paying advertiser (the local council). So poor was the local paper’s handling of the story that it led to an Assistant Editor at the Telegraph Media Group in London declaring journalism dead in Thanet but for a few blogs in quite earthy language on his blog.

Planning information is still being withheld although public opion is yet to deicide if this is incompetence or deliberate corruption. Vital reports seem to be missing. This is from a local planning committee that is no stranger to suggestions of misdeeds.

The planning application is going to go before the entire District Council by the slim difference of one person’s vote on the planning committee.

The roads can not handle the traffic: China Gateway has over 4,000 car parking spaces and 566 HGV parking spaces so they obviously expect considerable extra traffic, the airport has capacity for 400,000 tonnes of freight and 1,000,000 passengers per year, they will have to invent a new word gridlock doesn’t get anywhere near it. says Local Businessman, Michael Child.

The local search engine Thanet Finder has set up a special page on it’s blog portal to track the topic of the China Gateway.

Local environmental groups are worried The Kent branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England is against plans for a large industrial estate at Manston, which it believes will eventually expand and encroach on the countryside. says Kent News. Indeed many think it may already be too late after the hugely disruptive “Thanet Earth” project slipped though almost unnoticed only to start causing harm that was somehow not reported anywhere before.

Even Private Eye had a pop at our council over the Tesco Carrier bag mess. Yet despite all signs of back handers and misdeeds (not least of which is the failing to inform the public properly about planning) things continue apace.

Unsurprisingly it was a bit cramped in the hall when a local film maker Christine Tongue called a public meeting on the subject. Even non bloggers are getting a word in and that word is largely “no thanks”.

Planning stories like this happen every day in every part of the world. Many go unnoticed by the press and when the press do notice they often say nothing because they don’t want to offend the biggest source of money. What will scare you is that just 30% of the people voted in the last election and the suggestion sit that the current power in Thanet was put there by just 18% of the people or 23,500 people which is about the size one would expect for the political party’s paid up membership (and their friends and family).

The budget in Thanet is in and it shows that even if those on benefits are treated most roughly the council will have a hard time covering the over spend. The truth is that the local council is not skilled enough to run the area – councillors from other councils point at Thanet’s council and laugh. Yet even in more able districts of the UK the story is similar – businesses and authorities silently getting on with developments that any right minded local would oppose.

So what’s the answer?

The story of the Tesco carrier bag was broken because a blogger was handed what the paper’s refused to touch. Even the Assistant Editor at the Telegraph Media Group in London suggests in his blog that the blog format is the only way forward. Informed and insightful local blogging could be the only power on earth able to slow down the damage the current system is doing. It costs nothing but a little time to blog and you area needs you.

Please note I blog about Thanet but much of my information is sourced from other blogs and news sites and is only as accurate as my sources. I add this now because one or two of Thanet’s rich types have got a bit trigger happy with the legal team, as it were.

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One Day Silence

18 Apr

A one day blog silence has been proposed for 30th April. Initially, the event was to be held as a mark of respect for the victims at Virginia Tech. However, this seems to have been expanded to include victims of violence around the world.

Some people are questioning the merits of a silence at all, saying we should be talking instead, debating the issues and looking for answers. Although, I believe those things are very important I have to disagree with them because sometimes silence can speak far more eloquently than thousands of words, and sometimes, it is important to take a step back to remember and reflect.

In the course of my life I have seen instances of people uniting together in silence, which have been incredibly powerful. Men and women standing before war memorials, a far away look in the eyes as they thought of the ones who didn’t make it home. Tens of thousands of football fans filling stadiums with silence instead of the usual chants and songs, as they remembered the victims of the Hillsborough disaster. What seemed like a whole town-full of people stopping whatever they were doing and falling quiet as a mark of respect to those who died on September 11th.

The people who have lost a loved one as a result of violence know a different kind of silence. It’s the silence of a bedroom whose occupant will never use it again. The silence of a house that no longer rings with laughter. The silence at the end of the phone, instead of a much loved voice. The silence of sleeping alone in a bed bought for and by two.

By taking a day to reflect we are telling these people that although we may not know them personally, or the details of their loss, they are still important. OK, it’s not a big gesture, and in the great scheme of things it isn’t going to do much, but surely it’s better than nothing, better than simply going about our business as though nothing else matters.

Then we can get back to talking.

Originally published at Kate Blogs About . . .

Should the BBC sign up for the bloggers code of conduct?

11 Apr

Over the last couple of weeks the BBC have been reporting the news about a possible code of conduct for bloggers, this follows their coverage of the Kathy Sierra case. Curiously, although Auntie seems to very keen to discuss acceptable standards of behaviour in the blogosphere, she doesn’t enforce the same standards on her own forums, or at least, not on the ‘Have Your Say‘ (HYS) section of the BBC news site.

At one time HYS was a great place to visit, one found a wide range of views and opinions being discussed in a vigorous, but articulate manner. Sadly, this has changed in recent months, and the boards have been infiltrated by what I can only describe as a bunch of Daily Mail* reading morons. It is easy to spot these folk, they have a tendency to blame anything and everything on either immigrants, single parents, the working class or just women in general. Today, conversation sunk to a new low – the castigation of low income pensioners**. For example:

Should’ve saved up and funded their own retirement properly…….

Stephen J Brown, Down South, United Kingdom

The fact that some commenters hold these views isn’t the problem, everyone is entitled to their opinion. No, what I object to is the BBC publishing the sweeping and derogatory statements made by these individuals which stereotype and insult vast sections of society. These people are nothing less than trolls, if they posted this kind of content on any other blog, it is likely that their comment would be deleted, or only allowed on a blog which encouraged inflammatory remarks. However, the BBC isn’t just any other blog.

The British Broadcasting Corporation is a publicly funded body. Every single television owning household in the country pays a compulsory television licence fee which is used to fund the BBC. In other words, the BBC belongs to the people of Britain, we are it’s shareholders and amongst those shareholders are a sizable number of immigrants, single parents, working class people and women (and pensioners). Bearing all this in mind, surely the BBC has a greater than average responsibility to keep it’s blogs and message boards free of insulting (and inarticulate) comments.

I believe everybody has the right to voice their thoughts, but there is a world of difference between arguing passionately but logically, and a bigoted rant. I do not want to read the latter, nor do I wish to pay for the privilege of doing so.

* Notorious for it’s support of Hitler in the 1930s
** You may need to click back a few pages, posts were coming in very quickly

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The Indie really doesn’t get blogging

30 Mar

Do you remember my post last year about an article on the Indie website in which it was claimed that women don’t blog? It seems they haven’t learnt anything from the backlash to that, and yesterday posted this little gem. So now it seems we bloggers are just a bunch of horrible misogynists – well not me obviously, I’m a woman and therefore don’t blog.

I’m not suggesting that there is no misogyny in the blogosphere – unlike Joan Smith, I don’t believe in making blanket statements about entire groups of people who may or may not be alike. However, I will say that such views are found everywhere, both on and offline. Maybe, Joan doesn’t get out much so isn’t aware of this fact.

Kathy Sierra’s experience is dreadful, but it is hardly typical. Yes, there is a sub-section of male bloggers who get their kicks by belittling women, but in my experience they are a minority. I spend a lot of my online time in a techy, male dominated environment, and for every man who has suggested that I should worry my pretty little head about something other than coding, there have been a hundred others who have helped and supported me.

Many of my regular readers are men, all are pleasant and articulate, and extremely unlikely to harass me, or any other woman. Maybe, I just struck lucky, but I don’t think so. In fact, I suspect the clue to the real reason for Joan’s rant can be found towards the end of her article.

“In this pseudo-democratic universe, the novel that has just taken me nearly five
years to finish has no more value than a blog that someone dashed off in 10
minutes. The sheer quantity of words available on the internet has prompted a
false analogy with the enclosures of common land in the 18th century, in which
novelists, poets and historians are cast in the role of wicked landlords.”

Joan isn’t railing against supposedly misogynistic bloggers at all, she is worried about her book sales and, casting around for an excuse for the lack of success of her novel, her eye has alighted on bloggers. Well Joan, I hate to break it to you, but the blogosphere has no bearing on the success or failure of your book, or at least it didn’t. (Now, you are likely to get some stinking reviews.) I have found bloggers to be voracious readers, and, being realistic, nobody is ever going to think reading a blog post is the same as reading a book, any more than they would read a newspaper or magazine instead of a book. It’s extremely patronising and elitist for you to suggest that anybody would.

You may be surprised to hear that many, many writers, both famous and less so, are amongst the bloggers you so despise. Why? Because they recognise the value in holding a direct conversation with their readers. Maybe you should try it.

Oh, and who has cast novelists, poets and historians in the role of wicked landlords? Any suggestions? Can’t say that is an analogy I have ever come across.

This article was originally published at itisi

UK bans baby blog – help fight back

27 Oct

I make no apology for copying this article from my blog here

The UK government have banned a blog of baby Charlotte Wyatt and issued a take down court order to blogger.com (owned by google) forcing them to remove the site.

The google cache

of the site is a beautiful read. Some one called Hannah writes regularly requesting prayer and thanking God for each improvement.

Is it their faith, family troubles or honesty they would ban this site for?

I think they want to ban a shocking exposure of the lack of care they give to children. I think the UK officials are rightly ashamed of what they are doing.

Help me to protect the innocent and stop this censorship. I have downloaded a copy of the website from the cache. It is here. See the read me.

I have zipped the file for easy download. Please help me by uploading it where ever you can reasonably do so to preserve a copy of this document.

Files :: zip file

I am outraged and embarrassed by my countries behaviour. Help me make this evil action of no avail.

Do it for Charlotte, do it for freedom, do it for parents everywhere… but do: do it!

Laws to silence bloggers…

29 Sep

This article is based on another written by me entitled: UK council member banned from blogging. In that article I reported how Thanet District Council had silenced councillor David Green for the simple act of blogging.

The power to do such a thing comes from something called the Standards Board for England. This will go some way to explaining the appearance of this post at the councillors blog:

The full text of The closure notice

This blog is closed for the time being.

The author is under threat by the administration at Thanet District Council of referal to the Standards Board for England over certain remarks made that were critical of the Council and its actions.
These were:

Remarks on this blogsite that criticized the proposals for Ramsgate and Margate Libraries.

The “tone” of an email that criticized the actions of the Chair of Council in refusing to allow questions to Cabinet members at Council meetings.

Remarks on another blogsite cricizing failure to publish the detailed reasons behind the collapse of Turner Offshore.

The author belives that these were nothing more than acceptable political comment, but is obtaining advice.

If you look to the wikipedia for any input it will tell you this (and a bit more no I’ve added a few edits).

The Standards Board for England was set up under the Local Government Act 2000. It enforces the code of conduct for English local authority councillors, which all local authorities are required to have. Members of the public can complain to the Board if they believe a councillor has breached the code.wikipedia

However, I think you will find this bloggers description just a little more enlightening.

what is the Standards Board of England, well this is a piece of nonsense ironically by that highly respected Labour figure, John Prescott, which to be honest I had never heard of, and is meant to police ethical standards in local government, outlawing as an example car owning councillors from discussing parking schemes.
Big News Margate

It boils down to a way to cripple local councils and to remove every elected representative who stood on a particular issue.

Effectively if I seek election on the issue of parking fines the one thing I can not vote on is parking fines.

This is indeed a fine way to remove all opposition by radical “independent candidates” and those with well established views.

The Deputy Prime Minister is accused today of undermining local democracy and stifling free speech by imposing “draconian” rules on thousands of councillors.
telegraph.co.uk

To abuse a quote: They take our votes and we fall back, they take or freedom and we fall back, they take our right to free speech and we “fall back”! No more! The line must be drawn here. This far and no further!

It is rumoured that Cllr Green directly accused the Council of corruption (something that I have been saying on my Thanet related blogs since 2004). So they invoke the Standards Board and silence him.

It seems while we were all napping the UK government has taken the same path as the US into anarchy but with an added form of paranoid dictatorship.

There is particular concern about the board’s belief that councillors should not be allowed to debate a subject if they have already made up their minds on the issue — the crime of “predetermination.”
telegraph.co.uk

Once it was the UK that was the leading example of democracy for half the world. Now we are an example of power gone mad.

In another example, John Pickersgill, a member of Derwentside council in Co Durham, organised a local referendum on plans to build more wind turbines in his ward. His survey found that four out of five local people opposed the proposals.
telegraph.co.uk

I have no shame in saying the UK government scares the **** out of me.

Fortunately I was able to announce at thanetcouncil.info the return of Mr Green to blogging but without another word on the gagging. I wonder if his right to speech is not so free as it should be.

Further reading: here

The al-Jazeera report.

4 Sep

I must have been napping because this one slipped right past me and didn’t even get a mention at the fix the law wiki.

PRESIDENT Bush planned to bomb Arab TV station al-Jazeera in friendly Qatar, a “Top Secret” No 10 memo reveals.

But he was talked out of it at a White House summit by Tony Blair, who said it would provoke a worldwide backlash.
mirror.co.uk

This raises fresh doubts that the suspicious US claims that previous attacks against al-Jazeera staff were “military errors” are anything more than lies.according to blairwatch

After Blair’s threat to jail any editor who reports the Bomb Al-Jazeera memo, we thought there would be an outcry. Who would stand up for press freedom, or at least the freedom not to be bombed to buggery?

Not really surprising then that I learn that requests for the publication of the memo have been turned down.

And so if Mr Blair is threatening jail time for publication of this document just get me a copy. I’ll sign my full name to the bottom and publish it to every free hosting server on ever continent in the world. I’ll use every free portal so that Blair has to suppeona Google, Yahoo, AOL, Slashdot, BoingBoing and Godaddy. I’ll (ab)use my opensource development access to upload copies to servers of every university in the world and future participation be damned.

I’ll post it in every forum I can get to so that the UK must address companies big and small to get a takedown from definitive-hosting to Microsoft themselves.

While I’m at it I’ll post it to everyone in my address book and ask that they hide a copy too. While that’s sending I’ll add it to bittorrent and as many peer-2-peer systems as possible.

If I have time I will then foobar the PC so that they can’t even track where it might be.

When they come to drag me away it will be too late. Far too late.

Blair has broken too many laws and breached too many human rights in his quest to a police state and I, for one am now one really pissed off blogger.

They can torture me for all I care and I will never say who leaked the document to me.