Thanet Star

Shop Local

Thereís a term that is often bandied around in Thanet these days - "shop local".

It sometimes appears with a hashtag: #shoplocal. It is all over the various local Facebook groups and Twitter feeds, proudly displayed by those who brandish it as a banner of their local loyalty, and rightly so.

Within me there is a defiant punk streak, something that rallies against the establishment of corporate chains and mass production. It is the part of me that loathes franchises and international brands, and embraces the shop local ethos.

For example, if I am in Margate and fancy a decent coffee, I choose my destination carefully. I will walk past McDonalds whilst wondering why anyone would go there for a coffee, even if what they serve is better than Starbucks. I will avoid Costa, and instead walk down to Proper Coffee House. There are two reasons for this: firstly, I donít want to support a global corporation that already has pushed local traders out of business and insists on setting up shop on every possible high street; and secondly, because Proper Coffee House do better coffee.

Similarly, if I am in Broadstairs of an evening and want a beverage of the alcoholic variety, I will frequent one of the many independent pubs that appear there. The beer is better, the service is better, the atmosphere is better, everything is better.

This column is now in danger of becoming a rant, so for some perspective I will consider the downside of shopping locally.

It is so easy to drop into a supermarket and pick up all the food you could want for a month, and I have to be honest and say that I do this. The cost of purchasing all those items from local shops, plus the inconvenience, means that supermarkets have the upper hand. It is a shame. I don't buy vegetables from the supermarket, though.

A few years ago I joined a veg box scheme, which basically means I pay a monthly subscription and then every Thursday go and collect a bag of fresh vegetables. Not only are the vegetables organic, and usually still covered in soil as they have just been picked, but I also have an excuse to visit one of my favourite independent pubs to pick up the bag each week.

Ultimately I believe in and fully support shop local, and I think it is an excellent idea, in principle. Reality, however, can sometimes be a little more complicated.

About Seb: When he is not writing guest posts for Thanet Star Seb Reilly is a fiction writer and occasional musician from Thanet. Seb maintains a website at
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TDC missed out on £1.14m in EU grants

According to their own review documents, TDC managed to miss out on £1.14m in already approved EU funding.

The document in question covers a period from 2000 to 2006. During that time, TDC managed to obtain £4.4m in EU funding but somehow managed to lose out on a further million of already approved grants.

TDC missed out on EU money

We are not talking about possibly available EU grant money here but already approved grants. Money that was, in theory, there for the taking. Some of the money was not claimed and so TDC missed out, but over £600,000 was claimed only to be spent badly and then had to be repaid.

Read the figures for yourself. The total claimed by TDC was dwarfed by the amounts of EU cash that KCC were able to put their hands on. One grant alone (just for Thanet) was £26m.

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What's the truth about KCC Strategic Partnerships?

What do you know about the Mental Health Wellbeing Strategic Partners?

For many years now Kent County Council (KCC) has dished their money out to community groups across Kent, including Thanet. If you've used a local service such as Rethink, Mind (when it operated in Thanet), or a whole host of others, then KCC have probably funded it.

KCC spent the last few years talking about replacing their system of yearly renewed grants with a more robust system. They settled on Strategic Partners. KCC invited organisations from any sector to apply to become a Strategic Partner and, those that did, were taken through a process.

Sometime later two Strategic Partners emerged - Porchlight and Shaw Trust. Porchlight has done a fantastic job over the years of supporting the homeless and has recently done some great work in the world of mental health. Shaw Trust have done some great work supporting people with mental health difficulties to get back into employment. They could have picked worse people to be Strategic Partners.

Keep reading to find out what really happened next.


» Continue Reading: What's the truth about KCC Strategic Partnerships?

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Full Disclosure

At times, the actions of a few can drastically affect the lives of many, tarnishing those around them by association. It has been this way for centuries; stereotypes are born from an element of truth, even if that truth only applied to a small minority. Instead of being seen as an anomaly, the exceptions brand the rule.

This week the Care and Quality Commission finally published their report on Westgate College for the Deaf, part of the John Townsend Trust, which was put into administration last December. Following that, a video was released by the BBC showing carers acting wholly inappropriately around the young people they were tasked with caring for, at a drunken party in one of the residencies.

Having worked alongside staff at the John Townsend Trust, I can honestly say I am as appalled as everyone else with this footage. I was told that, before my involvement with the Trust, there had been an incident of staff getting drunk whilst residents were asleep, but the details were nowhere near to what was portrayed in that video. The only comfort to be taken, if any, is that the individuals responsible were removed from their positions immediately and subject to a police investigation.


» Continue Reading: Full Disclosure

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What does the EU vote mean for Thanet?

There can be no doubt that the referendum on the EU has a direct and measurable outcome for Thanet but the possible outcome remains undefined.

What is clear is that we have a choice - keep things as they are or role the dice and hope for something better. Make no mistake, the government has no exit plan, so if we leave it will be a gamble. If we vote to gamble and leave, what are we risking and what are the potential gains, if anything?

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» Continue Reading: What does the EU vote mean for Thanet?

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