Sunday, 9 May 2010

Another election over

Here’s a letter in Kent on Sunday (P.27) on the election and some of the problems facing Kent and Thanet

Of immediate concern is the Ramsgate Town Council meeting tomorrow to elect Mayors and Committees – and crucially to sign contracts to leave Albion House for the Custom House.

This is an appalling decision given the public support for Albion House (one of the reasons for re-establishing RTC itself) – the only main requirement being to decorate the place after years of council neglect.

While having both Albion House and the Custom House on the rates seems silly – especially when none of the costs have been made public.

It seems to be another sell-off either for ideology, miniMargateism, property development and bolstering civil service bloat.

A year after the formation of RTC, and 2 or 3 years before that of public support for its own town council, the last year has been one of missed opportunities.

I hope Mayor Green is re-elected: he has a deep concern for the future of the towns and initiatives such as the festivals, concerns over Pleasurama etc.

Public concerns over the water supply an upgrades of the Southern Water treatment plant, Manston aquifer, Thanet Earth expansion and Thor mercury clean-up need detailed reporting and action.

Civil servants attending meetings would be useful rather than the current secrecy, flannel and inaction.

I think RTC can make some clear improvements though:

1. Publishing all costs and minutes, webcam etc – with funding for a new Town Clerk there’s simply no excuse
2. Cancelling the Custom House activity in favour of decorating Albion House and using the top floors as a permanent MP office rather than yet more speculative flats
3. Detailed plans on Pleasurama and the Lido: an ice rink for the former and a 2012 pool for the latter seem ideal
4. Improving the Eastcliff Bandstand: benches, flowers, the concrete floor, removing the derelict lamp-posts
5. Specific plans on the Granville: yet another redevelopment of council dereliction “saved” by adding a for profit glass stump on the side seems feeble especially in a Conservation Area
6. Rezoning Addington St for a “Brighton Lanes” shops programme as the street reverts back to housing as the economy collapses after Westwood Cross
7. A review this month of the use of the Port and Marina: dredging has been terrible and little seems to be happening on a foot passenger ferry – and water and air pollution needs more oversight
8. Demolishing Richboro and an overview of Pegwell Bay and the Old Hoverport – new UNESCO listings are already available
9. Detailing the c.£20M of Ramsgate council tax expenditure along with an annual programme of events
10. Reopening what was a state-of the-art Tourist Centre with better signage

A specific issue is Climate Change and much could be done to extend tree planting, flower beds and borders, and “pocket parks” of green space – even a solar panel factory and housing programmes to ensure Ramsgate leads the way.

Councils will always try and skimp on repairs: removing features, downgrading repairs, expanding car parks and filling fountains with concrete and investing in bureaucracy - while RTC seems to be too much linked to TDC of old - only investing in the council itself and not the public that fund it.

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