Thursday, 30 April 2009

ChinaGate donations: a whopper for the Gang of Four

The Sunday Times Rich list has a section on political donations.

Now I thought the donations from Ken Wills and CGP to Steve Ladyman and South Thanet Labour Party were very high.

Especially as similar offers were made to the Conservatives in North Thanet.

Clearly donations to both parties at the same time isn’t really motivated by support for either or any party.

And coming at the time of the largest-ever Planning application for cargo warehouses covering dozens of acres well, it looks fishy.

So much so the Conservatives sort of accepted then turned it down.

The public unanimously rejected the application – except almost all of Thanet’s councillors.

A very strange do.

Well, not really we can all guess what’s going on here.

But I never realised how large a donation it was: according to the Sunday Time the top 40 donations range from £2M to £50,000 – with most of the donations around the £50k mark.

So a donation of £25k or £50k is very significant indeed.

So significant it would make on e of the largest UK political donations. And so significant for Thanet that it matched the total donations for Thanet Labour…over the last 8 years.

A whale of a donation.

Especially when the Gang of Four are taken for a trip to China but tell the public it’s paid for by the Chinese – but the Tesco Bag reveals it’s funded by CGP and Ken Wills.

Kent Police remain silent for the moment but questions must be asked by our sheep-councillors.

Not one sheep-councillor has spoken up on: Infratil noise monitoring, Thor pollution, Sericol pollution – what do all 58 of them do except refuse to speak on politics, Standards Board each other on petty matters and exempt themselves from issues relating to politics or their constituents.

And suggest at election time they shouldn’t discuss politics.

Yet vote in ChinaGate or ManstonGate night flights with a nod, no debate and no inkling of what these matters are.

Now wonder the civil servants are voting for 0% pay rises that are actually £25lk increases.

Personally I don’t mind donations being accepted nor trips to China – but I’d like the full truth beforehand to decide if these are acceptable or not. Especially huge donations like these.

And I’d like a little more scrutiny than our MP’s and councillors waving a ChinaGate application through without even being able to say what it was.

It’s hard to believe that any Ken Wills or CGP application will gain acceptance in future. Probably neither will the SFP Ventures British Virgin Island company application.

The Gang of Four? And our MP’s? Hard to decide if they’re scum or scoundrels or stupid.

I think mainly scum now – what do you think?

Or if they think the same of the public that elected them and funds their salaries, expenses and pensions and largesse with public land.

As MP I will call on the Gang of Four and Thanet Labour to return the £25k and funds and time costs from their China dalliances. And deducted from their pensions for abuse of public office.

And ask Parliament to call in ChinaGate and Pleasurama.

And ask Silent Sandys what she thinks.

Time For Change.

Monday, 27 April 2009

Kent Conservative election manifesto shock

I’ve just read the Kent Conservative manifesto…and it’s pretty good.

I agree and disagree with specific points – but as a format for a political manifesto for the County it’s good.

Specific chapters on the main areas of Kent life eg Education. And then within those sections examples of what has been achieved and what the plans are for after the election.

A couple of caveats for improvement though:

#Many of the points are a rehash of existing policy: whoever was elected many of these points would be the same. It would be better to know exactly how Kent Conservatives (in power in Kent since 1934) would improve things over the other parties.
#Many of the points are weak eg “to reduce benefit dependency amongst 16-24 years olds” – you don’t say. And water is wet. From what level now to what level by the next election?
#Lots of the details are peripheral eg building low carbon communities…in Elham Village. Great but not really a stretching target – or is this a “pilot project”?
#The blurring of County and District responsibilities: KCC does seem to want to claim credit for big ticket projects – unless they’re going wrong. And no involvement in day-to-day improvements. Again, TDC is a model of an abysmal council and accepted as such by KCC and our MP’s
#No mention of any of the candidates or future Cabinet
#No mention of any innovative policies like closing museums or removing noise and air monitors from airports

Overall though credit for producing more detailed plans than the Labour manifesto. And where are the LibDems and Green and UKIP plans?

Don’t we have a serious democracy deficit when manifestos are issued less than 6 weeks before an election? How on earth can the public understand or raise these issues?

Maybe the Party Machines don’t want us to. Much better to keep quiet and hope no-one asks and maybe tweak the electoral boundaries around like cutting Margate into two.

As MP I will introduced a 6 month prior notice for manifestos and fixed election schedules.

Back to the Conservative manifesto though as there are some serious gaps:

#no mention of Thanet or other deprived areas of Kent: some of the worst deprivation in Europe around Coastal Kent – and not one word.
#Almost no mention of the 2012 Games: a reference to the Kent School Games – but with only £1M in the KCC 2012 budget there is almost no real evidence of real activity for 2012 a once-in-a-generation event. After 4 years of planning.
#Lots of “soft and wibbly” targets: creating a “Business Support Centre” (sounds good but I think that’s a webpage) or “working towards improving Kent tourism” (don’t ask we’re not sure but it sounds good). Wouldn’t it make more sense to redeploy some of the £2Bn budgets – like the £110M in bank charges?
#A blurring of the role of a County Council and other organisations: KCC lays claim to reducing crime with 100 community wardens – possibly but isn’t that down to Kent Police rather than the civil servants – and the Police budget?
#No mention of the costs of delivering these services – no mention of council tax, salaries, pensions, FOI and “Scores on the Doors”
#The briefest possible mention of Climate Change – no KCC or Kent Conservatives if the planet fries seems to have escaped consideration.
#Culturally there’s confusion and a tension over “the environment” – to most people that’s things like trees and flowers and plants – to Kent Conservatives it usually refers to the “built environment”: roads and houses – the opposite of trees and flowers. The council tradition of being in thrall to the road-building and construction lobbies is ever more important in the Kent of London’s Patio.
#Reducing quangos? Hardly. Rather like the absurdity of massive bank charges for simply handling Government funds, Kent is an alphabet soup of quangos – many of them simply KCC departments by a different name eg Locate in Kent: KCC Regeneration. No wonder Kent has a 40% public sector economy if Paul Carter is spending his time changing SEERA into SEEDA or ASLC or vice versa: these are just the councils going insular. Deckchairs on the Kent Titanic. Has he gone native and now can’t differentiate between public sector priorities and private sector priorities? Councils are funded from the private sector ie the public and direct Government funding: they don’t exist by for for themselves. That would be silly.
#No mention of elected officials in “partner agencies”: Kent Police, Education etc. Again a blurring of what are adopting some of these organisations aims and achievements but no oversight of them.
#No mention of Manston airport and the drinking water: the biggest public health and flytipping disaster in Kent with polluted drinking water and dumped jumbo jets and every safety measure breached.
#Nor Thor mercury and Sericol poisoning the drinking water over years and decades.
#Nor ChinaGate.

On the whole a good attempt at a County manifesto, but there are serious gaps and omissions after 70 years of power and a £2Bn budget.

And never once being able to reduce council tax.

Unless the first duty of Government is to expand Government.

Clearly after the Budget and the latest recession the emphasis now is on slimlining the public sector: more value, redeploying efforts and less cost. No mention of that in the manifesto – simply existing resource with larger budgets.

I wonder if we’ve reached the point where KCC has the cultural assumption that the Conservatives are KCC and vice versa. Room for serious flaws in not fast-forwarding regeneration and serious polices, a reliance on flannel and career preservation polices - and a reliance on KCC the organisation rather than KCC the public’s provider of services.

A reliance on “rubbing along as usual” rather than driving real reform.

And KCC as Maidstone’s County Council with a reliance on the Tunbridge Wells Triangle. Rather than the council for all of the county of Kent.

As MP I will insist that all manifestos include staffing levels and cost assumptions for Country manifestos.

And as the political parties age and decline we are now witnessing a New Weald Order of the last automatic Tory generation in County Hall.

If Labour and Tory ideologies are now Thatcher-Blairite then there are no real differences other than specific details of policy and performance.

Labour poses little threat and will likely be washed away at the General Election by the recession – and the rise in UKIP, BNP, LibDems, Greens and Independents are the real challenge.

Plus the spectacular switch off of the public from voting for any of these policies and candidates. Most County elections now have turnouts of less than 30%. The ruling party is elected on the tiniest margins of the electorate.

A serious democratic deficit.

And one question.

How can I as a Thanet resident vote for Paul Carter and his administration? On their performance?

I can’t. We seem to have District elections masquerading as County elections.

As the Blazers and Builders drift out of County politics what will be left?

A truncated County system stagnating without reform?

As MP I will call for real Kent County elections in a regional Senate format with a mix of Kent Ambassadors and Kent MP’s as appointed and/or elected for oversight.

Time for Change.

Friday, 24 April 2009

Policy #3: End Chinagate - an open letter to UN business agency and SEEDA

An Open Letter to Dr Kamellah of UNIDO the United Nations small business development agency for Third World poverty reduction. And Kent.

Dear Dr Kamellah

As Chairman of UNIDO you may be aware of a recent proposal signed by UNIDO China and James Braithwaite, Chairman of SEEDA UK regarding the ChinaGateway scandal in Thanet, Kent.

This is a strange proposal – unless its purpose is to lend a little UN kudos to what is often seen in Kent as a tale of corruption and incompetence.

UNIDO specialises in working with developing economies rather than export activity from China to UK: both members of the G20 and so with little South-South or UNIDO input or cooperation required. Certainly it's unusual for SEEDA to be involved at this stage.

No doubt a bold and imaginative use of your scarce resources.

The ChinaGateway scandal includes Thanet council – one of Britain’s most corrupt and incompetent councils as rated by the UK Government itself – suddenly and unanimously in the face of almost total public opposition allowing the development of cargo warehouses around Manston airport in the area’s largest-ever Planning application.

All to be built on top of the drinking water supply which sits underneath(!) the airport and suggested cargo warehouses – and surrounding farmland. All built directly opposite Ostend Cargo Airport.

It is claimed by CGP the development company (a holding company of 3 Directors) that Chinese companies would want to expand into UK to manufacture American Blackberry phones from China(!) or Chinese mobile phones.

Certainly the acres of already existing SEEDA warehouses at nearby Hersden suggests that there is little need for further construction – unless every regeneration problem requires a SEEDA cargo warehouse construction solution.

These claims were no doubt helped through donations to the local MP’s and political parties at the time of the Planning application – although no details of the hundreds of Chinese companies were ever provided. Reference though was made to the Chinese equivalent of SEEDA as if this was an actual company rather than a Government department.

Separate regeration projects by British Virgin Island tax haven companies have fallen flat as much of the local towns have fallen down or burned down through a mix of incompetence and "regeneration by fireball".

With SEEDA acting on behalf of the local council could you raise this within UNIDO as to your position on how your organisation is claiming to support this activity.

Separately I hope you will be able to take time to visit Kent as there are many initiatives locally to support Africa and Asia especially Sierra Leone - for example Kent village in Sierra Leone is twinned with Kent, UK with recent events including building a school and a choir concert in Canterbury Cathedral.

As a former Trade Minister though I’m sure you’ll be aware of how the reality on the ground is various different sometimes from the claims made in conference rooms.

And how many of the activities around ChinaGateway are the subject of Parliamentary Inquiries.

You may want to bring your own supply of bottled water in visiting Kent though, as there are several concerns over the pollution from Infratil into a UNESCO wetland nearby and the Thor mercury factory that was closed in South Africa by Nelson Mandela some 20 years ago but is still operating in Kent.

The poisoning of the water table and ill-health and death of the local community from mercury poisoning are well-documented by the UN.

Given these issues would UNIDO consider providing inter-governmental funding to the UK? Perhaps chem-hazard cleanup teams from South Africa? Pollution monitoring teams from China? Rural development assistance from Mozambique or good governance from Sierra Leone for our MP’s and politicians?

I look forward to hearing from you.

Kindest regards.


Tuesday, 21 April 2009

10 More years for Thor? 4 more years for Leader Carter?

Clearly Andrews Pearce and Ogden at the Environment Agency in charge of clean-up at Thor and Infratil is building some fat into the system.

10 More years?

Since 1988? And 2005? And the Thor African factories closed in 1993 for poisoning local workers and the surrounding water table.

What are they waiting for to clean up one factory site?

The site only ceased manufacturing from the permits issued by the Environment Agency and supervised by TDC and KCC in 2005.

TDC now claim “pilot stage” (bureaucrat speak for almost nothing) clean-up began in 2008 – after the chemical fire at Xmas 2007.

The Environment Agency are unable and refuse to provide under EIR the reports of the extent of the mercury spillage and contaminated assoil and water.

What has Andrew been doing?

10 More years? Building the Olympics site only takes five years. 10 More years?

And when will our MP’s visit the site as it poses no threat to human health? Messrs Gale and Ladyman claim everythig is fine and no threat to people: a refreshing drink of Thor water on TV would be more reassuring.

And why exactly was the site open since 1988 when it was meant to be closed.

And how exactly have arrived at a further 10 years of inaction?

Plenty of padding there as the pollution seeps ever further into the water and soil.

Leader Carter at KCC is unable to confirm what’s happening on the site – it’s as if KCC have no idea of the impact of mercury on the surrounding housing estate, retail park, offices and farmland.

After 20 years since the site was supposed to be closed - for poisoning the workers and the water.

And are simply relying on our MP’s to buy the EA some breathing space from the series of avoidable calamities.

Thanet’s 58 sheep-councillors stay quiet. The Gang of Four poison the water and pocket their £100,000 salary increases for failure.

With the County elections underway what exactly is the KCC Cabinet’s position on pollution and Toxic Thanet? 4 more years of the same?

The only concern now is if Cllr Carter is unable to clean-up then who in the Cabinet can? Most policy decisions are simply budget overviews rather than proper scrutiny.

Many of the Cabinet have changed several times over the last few years and perhaps Mark Dance is the only member with credibility and experience left if Cllr Carter isn’t up to the job.

10 more years of Thor? Make it 20 years or 40 years to make sure the problem is really buried deep. 6 feet under.

Andrew Ogden can be contacted on or 08708 506506 and reports/documents/emails requested under “FOI and/or EIR right to know “ legislation.

Paul Carter is away.

Any time in the next 10 years.

Failed. Failed. Failed.

Time for Change.

Monday, 20 April 2009

Planning for failure 2004-09: the collapse of regeneration in Thanet

The Gang of Four and our MP's : a busted flush

* Godden's Gap fire 2003 - still there
* closure of Dreamland 2004: plans for retail and hotel
* Dreamland rollercoaster fireball - charred ruins: Kent Police and Roger Gale have no suspects
* Ramsgate Pleasurama 1999-09: fireball and British Virgin Islands company
* Grupo Antolin: Spanish car door manufacturer closed and relocated to be nearer to the UK car industry: grants taken and no employment
* Planestation: bust and accounting fraud
* EUJet: bust within 6 months - fake consultations and 106 breaches
* Infratil: 2005-08: 3 year plan: fewer flights than ever and repeated breaches of 106
* Thor mercury: closed in 1988 and again in 2005: widespread pollution
* Sericol: old pollution site: pumps turned off
* Pearce sings: closed
* WoolGate: bullying and £10,000 legal costs for taxpayer
* Westwood Cross: traffic chaos and link road to develop farmland
* Town centres: Woolworths close and relocations to Westwood Cross
* Ring Road to nowhere and EKO KCC/TDC quango: £70k salaries
* ChinaGate: council and MP Tesco bag trips and £25k donations: massive public opposition
* Ramsgate and Margate musuems close
* SEEDA funds Manston car park as EUJet collapses: 20,000 Kent citizens stranded abroad
* KCC funds US flights: collapses with 90% tickets unsold
* Broadstairs visitor centre closes and relocates to Dickens museum: Margate and Rmasgate opening hours cut
* Powerboat event: gone
* Infratil/Environment Agency Pegwell Bay pollution: 3 years
* Pfizer: job cuts
* Planning permission for passenger terminal at Manston: cargo sheds built
* Jet Summit building built back-to-front from original Planning permission
* Election Ferry: in time for the County election and one year lease for National Election - doesn't fit the harbour
*Kent Escapes: bust
* Environment Agency highlights dangerous water pollution to TDC and Infratil: 3 years ago
* 90% drinking water polluted: Roger Gale and Steve Ladyman blame the public


* Turner Gallery begins construction after 10 years and £7M wasted
* Thanet Earth grows tomatoes in an industrial unit on farmland
* French truckers provide manure on the beaches
* Pay rises for the Gang of Four: 0% seconds after £25k increase each
* Thor clean-up to take 10 years after 4 years already and after the original 20 years
* KCC council tax rise: 3.99% on 0% interest rate: lowest in history
* Kent Police council tax rise 5% on 0% interest rate: lowest in history
* TDC council tax rise 5% on 0% interest rate: lowest in history
* Kings Hill ex-airport opens in West Kent with mix of housing and new businesses
* Steve Ladyman joins SEEDA Parliamentary inquiry - for Dover
* Roger Gale campaings for tax cuts for expats with a converted barn in France
* Laura Sandys campaigns for new zebra crossing

Clearly TDC and our MP's are a busted flush but have KCC washed their hands of Thanet?

Failed. Failed. Failed.

#1: Sack the Gang of Four
#2: Close Manston and jail Infratil
#3: End ChinaGate

Time for Change

Policy #1: Sack the Gang of Four. Go . Go now.

With the soon-to-be confirmed termination of the Gang of Four: Ezekiel, Latchford, Samuel and White, and the closure of Manston Airport I’m beginning to be concerned that I may not have enough to do as MP.

As the Gang of Four cling on hoping to wait until after the June elections it's best if they go and go now. We have a lame duck council and lame duck MP's.

David Cameron has confirmed in The Sunday Times today that he recommends the number of MP’s is to reduce by 60. I think this is a sensible policy: as with Messrs Gale and Ladyman they’ve simply failed the area.

Roger Gale now has no policies except in fitting out his French 2nd home and taxes for expats.

And speaking for Silent Sandys: the latest parachute candidate for Thanet.

I’ll be writing to Conservative Head Office recommending delisting of Roger given the failures at Thor, Sericol and the repeated burning down of Margate requiring Margate’s electoral boundaries to be split in two at the next election.

With Roger in Minster expect an increase in mystery fires and barn developments.

The UK is overstaffed with MP’s (over 600) and Lords (over 700): these could be slashed by half for little impact in lawmaking or debate given we are a developed economy and most new laws are simply updates of existing ones or derive from Europe.

I’ll also vote to remove the last few hereditary Lords. Plus fixed terms and elections for MP’s.

The USA manages with 400 in the House of Representatives and 100 Senators.

And with ChinaGate pulled in for Scrutiny I’ll need to think of more policy detail to improve the area.

A dozen French truckers parking and defecating on the beaches can be herded away by a single reporter with a notebook but in 3 years it’s impossible for councillors, civil servants or Kent Police to do anything. No action. No salaries. The evening Kent Police squad car patrol or RAF Police don't seem to care.

Maybe 8 council meetings a years plus random EGM’s to hustle through changes with fake consultations on the quiet isn’t the best way to run one of the UK’s worst councils.

Sacking the Gang of Four is a good improvement.

Check out which details public concerns over street repairs at KCC and TDC: these should form regular Cabinet and Police reports for action. No action. No salaries.

Missing noise monitors at a supposedly international airport.

Never-supplied noise and air monitors for the towns.

Broken radar at a supposedly international airport.

Industrial solvent, aviation fuel and poison in the water.

Plus broken signs, potholes and council tax increases. It’s an absurd turnaround of effective public services for a modest charge on the public.

The Gang of Four are incompetent and our MP’s no better.

For years and decades.

Steve Ladyman says: “Of course there are risks surrounding activities at the airport but these are being managed properly as are industrial practices in the area”

Roger Gale says: "This (water pollution) isn’t necessarily the fault of the airport or big business”

And all Thanet’s 58 sheep-councillors are silent and follow the Party Line.

The Kent Kipper should be introduced to stand against under-performing councillors.

With regular street cleaning rotas and reduction of civil servants and councillors these problems are easily fixed. TDC should be a useful benchmark in witholding pensions and pay increases for failure.

I’ll need to spend a little more time on foreign policy as MP and outline thoughts are:

# an Inquiry into Infratil’s operations in Scotland and Germany: If they’ve breached all known aviation guidelines in Manston then they’ll probably be doing the same in Prestwick or Lubeck. Unless those towns have a more effective council. I’ll invite the New Zealand ambassador to view the pollution damage to a UNESCO Bay too by the Kiwi Criminals.
# calling in KCC’s investments in Total and Burma – then nationwide: the last main investor in what the USA describes as a “war criminal” regime
# World Parliament assembly as recommended by the UN and EU and many nations for a “House of Commons” elected citizen assembly in the UN instead of just appointed Ministers and Ambassadors – I’ll call for the first UK elections in Kent
# similarly the foolish KCC investments in tobacco companies: I’m not aware of any local government investments in tobacco now. A central register should be kept for investment policy of “beyond the pale” corporations
# recalling Planning permission for Total petrol stations: selling them to BP or Shell
# appointing Aung San Suu Kyi as Chairman of TDC or KCC: the current role is meaningless given a casting vote and should be ceremonial/unpaid anyway given Mayors - while appointing a British citizen jailed for 20 years in one of the world’s most repressive dictatorships will highlight the problem
# inviting the Belarus heads of state to Kent to see democracy in action: the recent EU travel ban for the last repressive regime in Europe is about to be lifted
# twinning Africa with Kent towns: initially to help end the conflicts in Congo, Chad, Somalia, Sierra Leone and Central African Republic
# forward aid delivery with EU peacekeeping troops in Africa and Burma
# increased sanctions on North Korea via China

I need to given these more thought but with the sacking of the Gang of Four, the closure of Manston and the end of ChinaGate some of these will need developing alongside improving the local area given the years and decades of failure by a bottom 10% council in a county with £2Bn income.

With the DirectGov website listing all government services, most local government services, or those from Quango’s, seem high on flannel and short on action. And less on delivering real and improved services against clear targets.

Direct funding of the town councils from KCC and consolidation of what few council services there are, and the termination of foolish white elephant schemes like international cargo airports opposite an international cargo airport in Ostend.

And an international ferry port next to Dover the world’s largest international ferry port, an Election Ferry that don’t fit the harbour, and an out-of-town- shopping centre built 5 minutes drive from the town centres will free up more funding for regeneration.

And more effective regeneration.

And less for motorways and 2-bed flats that seems to form much of previous Kent policies as London’s Patio.

Our council has failed and our MP’s have failed.

The Gang of Four are little better than criminals.

Time for Change.

Saturday, 18 April 2009

ChinaGate Takeaway

And out of the woodwork pops ChinaGate.

The front cover of the Thanet Gazette details how Ken Wills and CGP want to spend £3M to purchase part of the ChinaGate business park from KCC and/or EKO and/or TDC.

I thought they had anyway but never mind. Perhaps CGP haven’t spent one penny into TDC’s coffers yet apart from the China trips and Ladyman donation.

With no other regeneration on the horizon from the Tesco bag Gang of Four except the Election Ferry.

And claims from Ken/CGP that work will start anyway in October – it seems Council and Public permission is optional for CGP.

And funding is coming direct from the Chinese – time to open a renminbi account at the bank in Broadstairs.

Cobblers the lot of it.

And as credible as the architects drawings of hundreds of acres of cargo warehouses shunted into view a fortnight before the TDC shambles vote.

And all shortly after the Gang of Four creation of EKO and trips to China funded by CGFP. And Steve Ladyman’s £25,000 donation.

As with much of ChinaGate - when the whistleblower information dribbles out into the public domain - the realities are rather different:

The whole of Manston airport and the surrounding suggested business park sits on top of the drinking water supply. Any development would necessarily reduce and endanger the already polluted water supply.

The case for development is unproven even if the water supply was not there: the units at the new Manston Business Park lie empty as do almost all the units at the SEEDA Lakesview Industrial Estate on the former coalfields of Hersden just 15 minutes away – throw in the recession and the failures of Grupo Antolin etc and there are hundreds of business units available.

Unless the whole point of ChinaGate is simply to make a developer profit on turning the land.

As with Manston airport the issue is not whether you want to develop on top of the drinking water supply or not – it’s simply unfeasible. A Planning disaster from the time of Sopwith Camels and WW2. Like building a new cargo airport opposite Ostend Cargo Airport.

I’ve yet to hear any reason as to why Aigo the Chinese mobile phone manufacturer would want to manufacture American Blackberry phones in England and make a profit. Again Grupo springs to mind: securing investment in a Spanish car door manufacturer in the furthest part of the UK for the car industry.

Unless the aim is to make a developer profit on turning the land. A lot of public money and time can be burned that way. Take a look at the Hoverport fro the 1970’s equivalent.

Steve Ladyman remains very quiet on the £25,000 donation to Labour Party funds: 50% of the total donations for 8 years.

Surely in the face of overwhelming public opposition and rather murky dealings TDC’s councillors would want to call this application back in for scrutiny.

I know as MP I’ll be calling for a Parliamentary Inquiry into ChinaGate and the back-top-front CGP/Ken/Jet Summit building on the aquifer contravening planning permission – and the cargo sheds at Manston airport built with the planning permission for a passenger terminal.

As with Infratil and Grupo the reality is that public land and public funding simply circulates, being cut ever tighter for Ponzi profit until the projects are unsustainable in the first place, collapse after years of failure in the second place or the cheapest and nastiest development results with corners cut all down the line in the third place.

Squint at Debenhams Westwood Cross, Fenwicks Canterbury and Debenhams Ashford and the results of cookie-cutter planning and developing are plain to see. Kent looks like Milton Keynes.

Thus might just be acceptable on contaminated land such as CGP’s plans in central Wigan or MOD housing refurb in Dover but not for existing farmland surrounded by dozens of vacant business units.

TDC is merely another short-sighted and incompetent council going along with developer greed out of laziness, foolishness or political fear at the failures to date.

As with the Election Ferry and Infratil’s 2M passengers the schemes are half-baked white elephant nonsense. With ludicrous extrapolations of quick-fix jobs (jobs! Jobs!! JOBS!!!) to keep the politicians quiet.

97% of businesses in East Kent are small businesses. 99% of employees are in small businesses. And 100% of residents and voters. All held hostage to half a dozen politicians and developers in bloated vanity schemes.

It’s not better or worse to deal with big business – it’s just easier for our lazy politicians and sheep-councillors.

When Infratil collapses – after 4 years of not one extra job being created when Planestation left – then the failure at TDC will be complete with the sackings of the Gang of Four and clear-out of lazy MP’s and civil servants and sheep-councillors.

Ring roads to nowhere, derelict town centres, out-of-town shopping centres built near-to-the towns, minimum wage retail jobs and hundreds of empty flats and houses. Old and new. And 12% unemployment in Margate.

And thinking aloud if Westwood Cross was such a great idea: new public services (that’s nonsense for a start) and certainly providing new retailers and increased retailing space (largely true) – then where is the extra uplift in council tax and business rates revenue?

Two minor glimmers of light at the moment: Thanet Earth (built on farmland to grow tomatoes) and the Turner Centre an art gallery.

A council by the people for the people and the construction industry bottom line.

And Steve Ladyman (majority 664) remains very quiet on the £25,000 donation and what exactly this has been spent on.

As MP I will call in ChinaGate, seek the public distribution of Steve’s £25,000 and pull planning permission for the back-to-front building and cargo-shed-passenger terminal.

Manston airport will be closed, decontaminated and redeveloped to protect the drinking water, straightening and improving the perimeter/access road to Ramsgate and redevelop Richboro.

Matt Clarke and the Infratil Board will face criminal charges for the repeated pollution and public endangerment and 106 breaches: the traditional free trip Down Under in chains awaits the Kiwi Criminals.

Westwood Cross and the empty business parks and houses will be the legacy of the Gang of Four. As MP I will reverse salary increases and reduce and freeze pensions to evaluate performance with the New TDC.

CGP’s Chinese takeaway will be goneaway as the first failure of Climate Change Construction.

Failed. Failed. Failed.

Time for Change.

Thursday, 16 April 2009

Policy #3: End ChinaGate: the cost of failure

Isn't it time for greater reform of MP's and Councillor expenses?

Steve Ladyman has provided his expenses online and it's a pretty good summary of costs although without the ease of reporting and clarity of Word and Excel summaries.

As MP I will introduce an Annual MP Report that provides not just ongoing monthly and quarterly summaries of costs and expenses but also details of projects and activities.

I call on other candidates to do the same.

For too long MP's and Councillors simply do not provide clarity on what they are doing and what they cost.

With good reason in many instances: Thanet seems to be largely a system of councillor allowances as pension top-ups and extra committee fees.

For incompetence and failure.

While the practice of Councillors "double-charging" by holding Parish, District or County seats with further expenses is a gross abuse. And a reduction in democracy. Two seats are effectively held by the same person reducing local choice.

The Party machine seems desparate to cover over the public dissatisfaction and reluctance to vote for them by combining seats rather than leaving them empty.

As with MP's this murky system seems to be designed to keep the overall salaries down but then increase them with hidden costs.

The list of donations is worrying though in Steve's expenses.

A total of c.£50,000 in donations to South Thanet Labour party between 2001-09.

And £25,000 of that just last year from CGP's Ken Wills, the company and man behind the ChinaGate propsals and China trips for TDC's Gang of Four and our MP's.

50% of 8 years of donations at the time of Thanet's largest-ever Planning application by the Director of CGP.

And a bizarre situation where nobody in the 12 months that ChinaGate hurriedly appeared could explain exactly what it was.

Jobs of course. Jobs! Jobs!! Jobs!!! But no details. Just vote on it quick!

Then only two weeks before the Council vote we see outline plans for hundreds of acres of cargo warehouses around Manston Airport.

Both MP's urge Councillors to vote it though. And it does in the face of overwhelming public opposition.

Only the Thanet Ten opposed the destruction of Thanet by our sheep-councillors and the political nobbling that sees repeated Manston 106 breaches.

And nothing more is heard.

And where is the EKO quango with Rogers Latchford and Gough on the Board of the public's land managed by TDC and KCC?

Yet another foolish and failed regeneration plan and abuse of democracy in Thanet.

When Manston and Infratil collapses the record will be complete: decades of total failure.

Now we have the "Election Ferry" that pops up for the County and through to the National elections but so hurried is it that - it don't fit the harbour.

It must be time for Steve and South Thanet Labour to donate their £25,000 to a public charity: the Community Fund for Infratil pollution to top-up the DVD player and village hall chairs?

Mercury testing kits for the local population around the Thor factory?

As MP I will not only call on MP's to issue full Annual Reports, but also Councillors, available on the council websites and in their offices and library, and seek a Parliamentary Inquiry to end ChinaGate.

As MP expenses become FOI compliant the practice of recruiting your spouse into the office on bloated salaries will die out. Roger Gale's £50,000 for "Director of Office" will be lowered.

Thanet Conservative donations seem very low too: only a few thousand pounds over several years. it's as if local politics are simply reliant on national Party funding and policies and bussing in outside candidates from the Party Machine like Mark McGregor last time or Laura Sandys this time.

It could be Thanet or Thurrock or Broadstairs or Birmingham. A seat's a seat on the gravy train.

As the sleaze and incompetence at Thanet Council begins to die out it's time for the future.

Policy #1: Sack the Gang of Four.

Policy #2: Close Manston Airport.

Policy #3: End Chinagate

Time for Change.

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Thor mercury: a Toxic Disneyland

Thor mercury was supposed to have closed in 1988.

And clean-up begun after several poisonings of the workforce and the water.

The Thanet Times today contains a report that decontamination will taken yet another 10 years.



Manufacturing of benzene and mercury was still going on until 2005!

In 2004 an underground tank( isn't that a bit silly putting poisonous chemical s undergorund on the water table!) leaked 2 tonnes of effluent and chemicals into the soil and water table. Plus another 50kg of wood reposervative.

It's like a Toxic Disneyland.

And all of it managed by the EA and TDC and KCC and our MP's. What has been going on: has this been a regular Council item?

And clean-up only began at pilot stage (not very much at all presumably) in 2006!

Serious questions need answering by TDC and KCC and our "sink MP's" - it's our fault the water supply is polluted they say remember.

* why was Thor not shut down in 1988? Or 1994 like in Africa? Or 1998 when the Thor Board were taken to Court for several deaths and pollution?

* why was Thor co-ordinating the cleanup? Are the EA simply paper shufflers not experts?

* where are the EIR records of contamination, signoff of pollution levels over the years etc?

* what was leaked in the 2007 fire?

* how much of the water table and soil is contaminated?

* who was in charge then and now?

This is a major international scandal to allow repeated pollution and manufacture of mercury in Kent.

This isn't paint or oil tipped down a sink - these are massive pollution incidents. Of the most dangerous chemicals known to Mankind.

And all next to a shopping area, offices, hospital, housing estate, main road and farmland.

We know our MP's and TDC are incompetent but KCC seems to have no idea what is going on either.

Surely Paul Carter wants daily and public updates of this massive pollution incident in his backyard or is Maidstone too far away to taste the water? Or to care?

Kent Police should be stationed at the gates making sure the site is sealed.

We must be told the truth.

Cleanup must move faster.

This is a toxic disaster.

And hardly a one-off given Manston/Infratil repeated pollution and 500 tonnes of chemicals from Sericol.

What has been going on?

Friday, 10 April 2009

Has Kent stagnated?

Or has Kent governance stagnated over the last 5 years?

With the collapse of Thames Gateway, Margate regeneration by fireball and repeated failures to reverse the degeneration of Dover, Folkestone, Chatham and no plans or activity delivered for 2012 after 4 years – are we witnessing the ever-rapid expansion of the public sector as compensation for stagnation?

Does the spiralling wage bill and head counts represent a failure to invest in diversified sectors beyond construction of motorways and 2-bed flats?

And a focus on public sector unproductive bloat?

Certainly. The South East economy is at least 40% in the public sector. At least.

Removing SME businesses which form 99% of the economy there are simply no medium or large businesses to offset the inertia of the public sector.

The new recession is no ideal situation but definitely not a major factor in these years and decades of ongoing problems.

We seem to be entering a new era in the 21st century where the Imperial Decline of the 20th Century is now Public Decline in the 21st Century.

Most research indicates public discontent with the failures of the traditional party system: in Margate for example the decimation of the town is met not with improved policies but a rejigging of the electoral boundaries to cut Margate in two and ever-more expensive public sector expansion.

The Nineteenth century success of public improvements planned and outsourced from a small public sector has been turned upside down to merely failed policy by PR release.

The absence of council tax or public sector cuts and the lack of scrutiny for any increase above inflation suggests endemic failure in monopoly services.

The focus on Climate Change, Eco-Economics and Regeneration are the only credible way forward both before and the failure of the Banking system and Public Sector.

We have the planning of plans and plans for planning, and plans for process and process of planning but no actual doing.

Or even credible plans for doing.

The political system simply props up failure with yahboo politics of “it’s the other lot” and defence of the indefensible to see if the public shouts loud enough as a political strategy.

Perhaps Kent is merely meant to be a speed-bump on the way to London or Europe.

Or a backwater for geriatric policies?

The disastrous failure of Dover etc, Manston, Lydd, 12% unemployment in Margate, the Election Ferry, poisoned water supplied with water tax increases and the largest employer being the local council suggest that the wheels are coming off the Kent tractor.

As MP I will call on Parliament for an Inquiry into Regional Reconstruction - plus the unthinkable for the current Party system: a reduction in MP’s and Councillors, pegged salaries and headcounts through “Scores on the Doors” and greater accountability though elected roles and specific plans.

The opportunity for reform of course will have drifted yet further away with the moveable feast of variable elections.

The contempt of the Parties for democratic elections shows in vague or nonexistent manifestos and simply false statements to the public.

Steve Ladyman can’t fix things: directorships and ChinaGate deals will be only more of the same.

Roger Gale can’t do it: 30 years of bluster and burning of Margate will be more of the same.

Laura Sandys is silent.

The current Party machine, and these products of it, simply want to maintain the existing system.

KCC is a 4 star council comprised of 1 star district councils with the money gone North to centralise Maidstone.

Failed. Failed. Failed.

Time for Change.

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Who's been pouring mercury down the sink Leader Carter?

Steve Ladyman and Roger Gale tell us that the mercury pollution and aviation fuel pollution are down to the public pouring paint or oil down the sink.

The Environment Agency say so too.

KCC liaise with the Environment Agency to safeguard Kent.

We spoke 4 weeks ago.

I spoke with the EA 4 weeks before that.

It's clear there is significant pollution at Infratil, Sericol and Thor with either slack clean-up procedures or "political nobbling" of the necessary safeguards that endangers the public.

Is it the public pouring aviation fuel down the sink and into the sea? Or is it Infratil?

Is it the public pouring mercury down the sink and into the water table. Or is it Thor mercury?

The United Nations in Bangkok 2 years ago detailed Thor mercury repeatedly polluting the population and the water table in Margate and Africa: see below.

And confirmed it closed in Margate in 1987.

Roger Gale in 2007 confirmed that the fire at Thor's factory was of no concern.

What has been going on in Kent's backyard?

Under the EIR regulations please provide copies to the public via the KCC website of the monthly EA contamination reports and all documentation, emails and notes since 1987.

What has been going on for 20 years?

We know TDC and our MP's are scoundrels and layabouts - but KCC and the EA too?


In the 1970s Thor Chemicals operated a mercury-production facility at Margate, Kent, England. When excessive levels of mercury were found in the air and in workers’ urine in the 1980s, the Health and Safety Executive of Great Britain threatened prosecution. Thor closed the Kent plant in 1987 and relocated to Cato Ridge, South Africa, a small, industrial village in the self-governing province of Kwazulu-Natal. The facility at Cato Ridge was to be a mercury reclamation operation and it began accepting mercury waste from the U.S. and UK, ostensibly for treatment and recovery. The mercury shipped to Thor SA contained 30-45 percent organic content, a level generally not accepted in the U.S. or Europe (Earthlife, 1994). The unskilled Zulu-speaking labor force employed at Cato Ridge was not trained in the dangers of occupational exposure to mercury.

Tests conducted as early as 1988 showed that nearby rivers and streams (drinking water sources)– had mercury levels greater than WHO recommendations (UMich, 2001). The Environment Ministry announced in 1990 that South Africa would no longer import hazardous wastes (Ward, 2002). Nevertheless between 1991 and 1994, three U.S. companies shipped over 2500 drums of mercury waste to South Africa, without notifying the U.S. of these exports, as required under the U.S. Resource Conservation Recovery Act (Greenpeace, 1999). Borden Chemicals eventually recalled 150 drums under intense international scrutiny from environmentalists (UMich, 2001).

In 1990 Earthlife Africa received reports of Thor workers “going mad” (UMich, 2001). A doctor from the Industrial Health Unit (IHU) diagnosed mercury poisoning in four workers and further investigation revealed that 87% of workers had mercury levels that were above the safe limit (Butler, 1997). By 1992 two Thor workers had died of mercury poisoning, and an IHU study revealed that almost 30% were in danger of permanent health damage from it (UMich, 2001). The families of the deceased workers sued Thor in a British court and were awarded almost US$2 million. Compensation for injured workers, however, has been much smaller and barely sufficient to cover their medical expenses (Lipman, 2002).

In fact, Thor had not been processing the mercury waste at all but merely storing it. In 1994 a visit to the site by delegates from the African National Congress uncovered a sludge pond brimming with 2500 tonnes of mercury, and three warehouses overflowing with more than 10,000 rusting and leaking barrels of mercury waste (Earthlife, 1994). While Thor officials contend the process designed to capture mercury turned out to be flawed, environmentalists say the treatment never existed and that Thor never intended to do anything other than store and incinerate the waste-mercury (Greenpeace, 2002).

The discovery of catastrophic contamination levels around the plant convinced the Department of National Health to close Thor’s recovery plant and incinerator in 1994, but thousands of tonnes of stockpiled waste remained on the site in leaking barrels and Thor was allowed to continue producing mercury catalysts until 1999 (Njobeni, 2004).

Saturday, 4 April 2009

Can broken Thanet be fixed by KCC with Margate unemployment now at 12%

Roger Gale can't fix it. Margate has burned down.

Steve Ladyman can't fix it. Ramsgate has fallen down and the ferry don't fit. Except for the County and Gerneral elections.

Laura Sandys can't fix it. Silence. Roger speaks for her and their foolish 2012 airport policy that won't do it. As that will be in 2012. For a month.

Thanet has been sacrificed to their Westminster and Party careers.

Thanet councillors can't fix it. Moving up the improving rankings from "useless" to "abysmal" is seen as a victory.

The Gang of Four can't fix it. They can't even paint the bandstands in the centre of town. Years go by and things get worse. No-one ever got fired for failure at TDC.

The Environment Agency can't fix it: tonnes of pollutants in the water and a Planning regime of failure and idleness that allows Thor mercury to continue polluting for 20 years.

SEEDA hasn't fixed it. Research prosposals highlighting there is a problem that needs a problem-solving solution won't do it.

KCC hasn't fixed it. Decades of failure. And now 12% unemployment in Margate.

12% unemployment.

Across the whole of the USA credit-crunched from bank speculation unemployment is at 8%. In the UK it's at 3%.

12% in Margate.

For the first time in decades KCC is faced with the wholesale failure of an area on a par with Chatham Dockyard.

Can KCC rise to the challenge.

They're off the map here though.

2 bed flats won't do it.

Another motorway won't do it.

A cargo airport opposite Ostend cargo airport won't do it.

More zebra-crossings in Tunbridge Wells won't do it.

A Town Council and District Council structure won't do it.

Party politics won't do it. The Conservatives are in power in TDC and County Hall and it's failure. Just as when Labour was in power.

How will the County authority be able to regenerate decimated Thanet?

Thames Gateway is stalled and Dreamland a burned-out husk.

Next week a series of articles on regeneration for Thanet.

As MP I will call for Parliamentary scrutiny of every deprived region in Kent - every quarter.

Since when was 1930's levels of deprivation acceptrable in Kent or the UK. Not even in the 1930's.

The problem with party politics is the parties themselkves: see Policy #6 electoral reform. Failing to invest. Investing in their own boroughs. And investing in foolish white elephant schemes.

Failed. Failed. Failed.

12% unemployment.


The electoral reform structures will create a New Kent.

Not the failed generation battles of Thatcherism and Foot.

Not the economic policies of Backyard London and Concrete Kent.

A Garden of England for the 21st Century.

Time for Change.

Thursday, 2 April 2009

Tourism: the ferry don't fit

Who'd have thought it.

Ther mysterious Ramsgate ferry service that was suppoesed to start a couple of weeks ago and run for a year: nicely timed for the County electioins and upto the General election.

TDC and our MP's have "been working hard" for many months and years on this ferry apparently.

The idiots haven't worked out though that the ferry doesn't fit in Ramsgate harbour.

Or Boulogne harbour.


Given the Ostend boats could carry foot passengers - and for the last 4 years - presumably detailed discussions have taken place on that. Or not.

TDC can't even stop French truckers throwing merde onto the beach from their lorries - for want of parking in the ferry car park and a couple of portaloos.

Presumably Sunday working hours are beyond TDC's councillors and staff and Kent Police.

TDC's £20M budget has 75% taken up on salaries - presumably people that do things and organise things for the area. Or they issue memos saying they have.

Next they'll be letting a 1950's vintage power station lie derelict and crumble into a UNESCO Bay.

On top of Infratil's aviation fuel - don't pour aviation fuel or mercury down your sink says Steve Ladyman and the Environment Agency.

All downstream from the Thor mercury factory and Sericol's 4,000 oil barrels-worth of industrial chemicals.

With views of the fallen down seafront buildings and burned-down Pleasurama British Virgin Islands tax haven project.

The Gang of Four stay silent.

I think this is the tourism strategy.

Worth remembering Canterbury Cathedral is one of Britain's top tourist locations suffering from an excess of tourists - barely 20 minutes drive away.

And Margate used to have 2M visitors before it all mysteriously burned down without Roger Gale knowing anything about it.

Remember there is no regeneration plan for Margate at the moment.

4 years.

8 years.

10 years.


SEEDA are cutting back 25% of their staff from a budget shortfall on their £400M plans invested elsewhere.

Clearly Steve Ladyman is a busted flush and Roger Gale is silent except as Laura Sandy's absentee mouthpiece.

As MP I will call for a Parliamentary Inquiry into the mismanagement of Thanet's Tourism, with council tax rebates and refunds for years of political and civil service failure and fast-forward the regeneration of seaside Thanet.

Failed. Failed. Failed.

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

How the Czechs handle mercury poisoning, Leader Carter

An extract from the UN report on mercury poisoning:

In 2004 the Czech State Health Institute analyzed the mercury content of the blood, hair and urine in residents of the community. Blood mercury concentrations in residents living near the Spolana chloralkali plant were twice as great as levels in a control group and in the rest of the Czech Republic population. The symptoms most frequently identified were all related to the nervous system, typical of mercury exposure (Kuncová, 2004b).

An Environmental Impact Assessment for Spolana and a decontamination process were prepared and agreed upon in 2004. The clean-up method will include encapsulating the mercury, demolishing the buildings, and removing the surface layer of soil. The waste will go to a thermal desorption process to remove mercury and then the clean waste will go to the landfill. The costs are estimated to reach more than $US 20 million.

Several weeks later, KCC aren't sure where the factory is.

The EA say there's definitely no hazard to health - but can't produice the clean-up reports.

TDC and Laura Sandys are silent.

Roger Gale and Steve Ladyman - even wth the Thor fire - say it's our fault for pouring paint down the sink.

Infratil drain aviation fuel and kerosene into the water table and sea.

Serciol lost 4,000 oil drums worth of solvent into the water table. To put that in context the whole of the USA in 2004 has had less pollution spills than that.

Is there a culture of deceit and incompentence at KCC and TDC where public safety is concerned?

Surely no public authority in the UK would allow expansion of an aiprot built on the drinking water, a mercury plant to close for 20 years but not close,and massive pollution dumping on a scal that is an international scandal.

Surely Leader Carter needs to take a firm grip on Thanet.

Still silence on Richboro pwer station built to a 1950's specification with brown asbestos and derelict for 30 years. Presumably it will be remediated as it falls onto the main road and into the UNESCO Bay.

No news from the Gang of Four, nor our MP's, on the Infratil missing noise and air monitors.

As MP I will of course be calling for a Parliamentary Inquiry with views on funding and salaries and pensions.

It may be too late by then for some people though.