Thanet Star

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I truly feel that our local Grass Roots Media (commonly called blogging) is going to become one of the most fundamentally important forces for good in Thanet. For this reason anything I can do to help Thanet's newly growing community to continue to grow I want to do.

I do not have huge amounts of money to pay for big events or extravagant sponsorships but I do have advertising space. So I intend to give freely advertising space for all Thanet Grass Roots Media sites (blogs, forums etc) on the Thanet Star. I intend for this to be a permanent feature of this site.

To qualify your site must largely be about Thanet. Obviously obscene, illegal or hate filled sites may be refused at my discretion but largely I simply want to be sure that people who come to Thanet Star get a chance to visit other grass roots media sites too. Also various obvious disclaimers about no warranty, the management's discretion, acts of god, terror, power companies etc etc apply too.

I'm going to kick things off by making some simple advert images for some of the leading blogs but should I miss you out (and no doubt I will) all you have to do is email me at the address shown on the £1 advert image with your preferred graphic. All adverts will be randomly rotated on a background priority from now until such time you appear to have stop blogging (and I notice).

In the unlikely event that you don't want any free publicity just drop me an email and I'll remove you from the list.

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Panteli's Cafe - Reviewed

In order to kill a little time while my sister's car was being repaired we took a trip to Panteli's in Northdown road. Our choice was entirely due to the fact that it came highly recommended by my wife and it was near to the outfit that was repairing my sister's car. I forget the name of the place but it's on the corner of Sweyn Road and Northdown Road (Google's not much help so I'm guessing they don't have much web presence yet).


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Any how My wife, my oldest, my sister and I took a trip to Panteli's to eat some lunch and kill some time. It's not the worlds most impressive establishment but it has the stuff where it matters most. It feels friendly and relaxed from the moment you walk in and all the staff seem to great you with a smile.

Such a natural warm welcome is hard to to come by these days and combine that with the relaxed atmosphere and there were already doing great. Obviously Panteli's is "just" a cafe - this is no gourmet dinning experience but the food is well presented, not at all greasy and of quite a high standard as cafes go. The right balance of price and quality.

Plus they do ice creme in a whole bunch of flavours.

I vaguely recall going in there back when smoking inside such places was normal and legal and it has improved things no end now that the air is relatively smoke free however when the wind blows "just so" the strong smell of cigarettes blows in from those sitting outside. Even so this did not reduce the overall experience of one of Thanet's better non-expensive cafes.

If you like to dine in a cafe that makes you feel like part of the family then Panteli's is for you. On the other hand if you like you meal cooked by the head chief then a cafe is not for you in the first palce. Next time you are in the area give it a try and don't forget to mention we sent you.

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Getting a few things for free

With money getting tight nationally we have been feeling it first here in Thanet. To try and off set this a little Thanet Star has been looking at things that can potentially make things easier on us. For example recently we wrote about how you could Win a Car, cash and several other big ticket items.

One tool working for you should be a "digital reward card". Much like a store card for your favourite supermarket the digital reward scheme allows you to collect points and these points can be converted into goodies. The leading scheme is called iPoints.

Currently they have a number of offers going on including a free Twice the Spice Voucher just for signing up (which is free). Once you have your free membership you will, of course, be able to get more from your online shopping but you will also be able to get iPoints in other (free) ways too.

For example you can currently get iPoints for using certain search engines, grabbing free accounts, applying for quotes and taking advantage of other offers. This should soon add up to a whole host of free stuff for you cutting the cost of living.

You can scoop 200 points just for joining - which is what I did...

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» Continue Reading: Getting a few things for free

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Have the papers lost their edge?

Shock as KCC schools chief quits screams the headline from Kent Online. This is the "exclusive" by political editor Paul Francis who reports on how county councillor Chris Wells is standing down from his role already. This was no exclusive however.

This news item comes a full day after Big News Margate broke the news with the headline SHOCK ! CHRIS WELLS OUT OF KENT CABINET?

Kent Online published at 6.03am on Friday 29th August 2008 (today) and yet Big News Margate had the story out on Thursday 28th August 2008 (yesterday).

Does this mean that "main stream news" is losing it's edge and unable to compete with the Grass Roots Media (commonly called blogs)? What do you think?

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More Expensive Town Centre Parking

According to John Healey (MP, South Yorkshire) car owners should pay even more to park in our largely deserted town centres to "force them to walk more and reduce traffic congestion". Yet clearly Mr Healey is not fit to do his job if he does not understand basic human economic behaviour. The only thing that expensive town centres will do is drive people to locations with similar services but lower costs.

Westwood Cross, for example, is a far more attractive option for motorists. All that an increase in charges will do is reduce the amount of customers that town centres are likely to enjoy. You can forget regeneration and by the same token you can forget filling the turner centre if it is ever finished.

Mr Healey's error is that he has assumed that town centres are were people want to go no matter what. This is at best extremely nieve and a demonstration that he does not have the requisite skills to speak on this matter. Perhaps he should get a different job especially if he thinks that high charges would "encouraging the use of local shops".

The Telegraph quotes the voice of reason in John Wright (national chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses) who is quoted as saying: The practice of local authorities using excessive parking charges to raise revenue is killing town centres. (More opinion from the Telegraph)

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» Continue Reading: More Expensive Town Centre Parking

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We have no idea what it is.

In this video you can see five minutes of "could be anything" flying about. That being the definition of UFO - the U standing for unidentified - I guess it passes muster and makes the entry for truly spooky blog "Real UFOs".

For the author's reference Thanet is in Kent which is near London. Kent is in the South East of England, England is part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and the EU.

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A Question of Beer

Taking a rare moment to relax the wife and I nipped off for a few drinks and a game of pool yesterday evening. The wife's choice was the Nineteenth Hole which is where we went.

Having not paid too much attention to the real ale they had on tap I took a moment to enquire about ales from our very own local brewery. The governor was very kind to tell me exactly how they manage guest ale and it seems there are two that they rotate mainly because they sell well.

I never really thought about it before but if a barrel of ale sits there too long then it's no good and ale unsold is not good for the bottom line.

Oh well, sooner or later I'll be somewhere that sells local ale and then I'll get to have a taste. It could take a while as it's a rare moment that I get to go anywhere near a pub these days. So if you happen to visit the Nineteenth Hole anytime soon be sure to say hi for me.

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A Question of Charity in Thanet

Before the credit crunch started to bite I used to do my bit for charity. It was never a lot a fiver here or there plus the odd couple of quid via standing order. The thing is that currently I, like everyone else, am rather occupied with trying to stop the cost of living getting to be more than the income I live on.

This has left me with some difficult choices. Like stopping some of the regular payments to charity along with cutting back on luxuries. (That's not to say I don't go out now and then but I'm pretty much getting ready to dig in).

The fact that I felt that this was always bound to happen (and had been saying so to my wife for a number of years now) does not help to actually make it through the rough times any better (or worse) than anyone else.

I feel like a complete cad for having to stop my financial contributions to charity and would very much like to contribute in other ways. The question is what other ways exist? I already contribute a large slice of my time to the local community mutual and frankly my time is as stretched as my finances.

Any ideas?

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China Gateway - What now?

If you have been keeping an eye on the latest posts you will no doubt already be aware that the development proposal (known as the ) has been defered to a full meeting of the council. What does this mean and where do we go from here? This is the quetion I hope to be looking at in this post.

That disision was carried by the slimest of margins. Had even one councillor obstained or voted agaisnt this move thent he planning would have already been aproaved - something that many strongly feel would not be a wise or good move. Unusually for a planning application the gallery was quite full and it was clear that this was a subject that mattered to a large number of people.

The final vote was 8 votes for deferal to 7 against. The news was greeted by cheers and applause from many who had filed in to watch the meeting according to kentnews.co.uk.

It was clear that almsot all that opposed the idea felt a cynicall sense of hopelessness in the face of a council well rumoured to do exactly as it pleases. Kent News highlighted this best with their quote from one campaigner who opposed to the project: I’m shocked but happy. This is totally unexpected he is reported to have said.

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» Continue Reading: China Gateway - What now?

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Win a car with Thanet Star

The yummy car pictured to the left is the Toyota Yaris and for the small price of nothing at all you can enter a prize draw to win it.

Given the current credit squeeze I am sure more than one or two of us could do with a "small" win of this nature. The company is British run and so under the rules of the land is open to anyone. You will need a free account from which you can also win £500 in cash.

I'm already a member which is why I feel happy to promote such a tasty offer to other people. I have not expirenced any spam nor have I been flooded with "system messages" aside from when I have indicated I want more information about something.

I also understand that there is still time to Win a break to Las Vegas. So what are you waiting for?

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Bryn Haworth in Concert

Famous slide gutarist Bryn Haworth will be playing a gig in Broadstairs soon. The venue is The Vale Church Hall, The Vale, Broadstairs and this will take place on 11th October 2008.

In the late 1960s Byrn Haworth played with motown.soul outfit "Les Fleur de Lys" the house band for Atlantic Records. Later Bryn Haworth played guitar with various American bands such as Jackie Lomax Band and Wolfgang, (managed by the legendary Bill Graham) as well as artists of quality stock such as Led Zeppelin, Jefferson Airplane, Taj Mahal and The Moody Blues.

In the early to mid seventies Bryn Haworth returned to the UK touring both in the UK and Europe supporting Traffic, Bad Company, Gallagher and Lyle and Fairport Convention among others. He also found time to record music with Chris de Burgh, Joan Armatrading, Ian Matthews and Gerry Rafferty (notably on Rafferty’s "On A Wing And A Prayer", "Over My Head", and "Another World"); toure as part of the band with Cliff Richard and write music for other artists including Lulu, Sandy Denny and Mary Black (for the latter on her 1999 album "Speaking With The Angel").

Tickets go on sale from 1st September and are expected to be about £10. Bryn appears to be doing a number of gigs in or arround Kent and more information can be found on his site

Bryn Haworth interview and song "Didn't do me no good" care of youtube.com - so if you are not yet aware of the great smokey sound of slide now you can see what the fuss is all about.

If you want to know what you might have been missing here is the Cross Rhythms discography and profile and here is his myspace page with several music samples. Still hungry for links? Well okay then read more

Some biographical information summarised from the wikipedia (I might know a lot but I don't know everything). You can read his Wikipdiea entry here.

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Things to do in Thanet when it's Wet

The weather has been changeable of late and there is nothing worse than being stuck indoors without anything to do. This is the Thanet Star guide to things you can do in when it's grim outside.

Enjoy gold medal winning hot chocolate. If you nip down to MMPLCS (the millmead Sure Start) you will find a fantastic cafe there. Sit yourself down order a hot chocolate and enjoy watching the Olympics on the big screen there. There are things for the little one's top do so bring them with you and get some breathing room for you all. I can highly recommend the baked potatoes or the special which always is special and so is the price - healthy, yummy and affordable food... I sound like an advert so on tot he next idea. Plus I have written about this location before.

Read Thanet's Blogs. Bit of a no-brainer of an answer this one. Check out Thanet Finder Blog Portal to view the latest posts by topic. Alternatively take a look at Thanet Blog List dot co dot uk for a list of local blogs.

Take in some history. I was talking to a cab driver who after working the job for ten years still did not know that there was a Margate Museum (confirming that I was not the only one not to know). If this is news to you perhaps it's time to find all those hidden heratige locations and visit them before TDC close them down. Here is a map.

Visit the Shell Grotto. I would not mind betting that lots of us that live in the area have never been. It's inside and out of the rain plus it's quite amazing. It's not so far from so you might like to visit both. [more]

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» Continue Reading: Things to do in Thanet when it's Wet

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On topics and staying on them

When you post an item on a blog that has comments you start a topic for discussion. In effect you are the toastmaster. It seems only polite that should I visit your blog and join in that I stay on topic.

There seems to be a murphy-esk rule that dominates Thanet blogs that the topic is closed when the topic count passes 20. This "rule" and it's impact on our local blogging scene (one of the best local blogging scenes I know of) is an indictment of our current lack of ability to pull our collective heads from that place where the sun never shines.

Surely we can do better?

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» Continue Reading: On topics and staying on them

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Some fresh Thanet Blogging for you

I am always on the look out for fresh things in the world of Thanet blogging and have recently come accross one or two blogs that are new to me. Some found me and others I found.

Urban Fallout is a blog by a person who comes from Thanet. He/She started blogging 3 months ago and seems to ave a working class and political slant to their blogging. It is refreshing in that it does not consider Thanet to in isolation but addresses narional issues as well. This blog seems to produce a new post every week or so.

Thanet By Air. Thanet's other pilot it seems has a sense of humour. the blog has been going since early 2007 and updates only sometimes. Nothing too seriouse here but some interesting photgraphs in the side bar.

Thanet No2ID Blog is one that I think made it to the Thanet Blog List but it seems on the whole to be a political blog that is talking to itself. I'm not sure if this is beacue the author (Gary) is not so hot at networking or if no-one cares about this issue (which seems to get no "air time" from other blogs) but it seems a shame to leave even one blog out in the cold.

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» Continue Reading: Some fresh Thanet Blogging for you

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Big Brother is Watching Us

Who's watching the bloggers?

From the tinfoil-hat Dept.

Thanet Star would like to know if Thanet bloggers are being targeted by Thanet District Council spying and surveillance as it starts to emerge just how fully local councils have been using "anti terror laws" to crack down on minor offences.

Even junior council officials are being allowed to initiate surveillance operations in what privacy campaigners likened to Eastern bloc police tactics says Times Online under the headline Terror law turns thousands of council officials into spies.

If you think I'm just being paranoid consider that Poole Borough Council [...] admitted spying on a family to check they were living in the correct school catchment area. Jenny Paton, 39, Tim Joyce, 37, and their three daughters had their movements scrutinised and timed by an undercover official. says guardian.co.uk under the headline Council used terror law to spy on fishermen. Meanwhile telegraph.co.uk says Council snoopers access 900 phone bills as they report Simon Davies, director of the campaign group Privacy International, said: 'Surveillance has become a free-for-all among local government. It's a game anyone can play and they do.

According to figures from the Office of the Surveillance Commissioner the number of applications from local councils for "directed surveillance" has doubled from last year to this to 12,494 requests where as the number of applications made by the police has fallen to around 19,000 applications.

So what can we do - read on to find out.

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» Continue Reading: Big Brother is Watching Us

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Recent News in Brief

The Thanet Gazette - will the last journalist to leave, please turn out the lights?: An Assistant Editor at the Telegraph Media Group in London gives the Thanet press a good verbal pounding and suggests the best reporting is to be found on blogs and user driven websites.

Big cats on the prowl: Apparently we have one or more large predators of the cat family running about Thanet. So say the KM group anyway. The story is nothing more than a teaser for the extra so does someone else want to break this story properly?

Margate's famous donkey rides grind to a halt: No more donkeys on the beach this summer. Nick Gunn, who has had the contract for running "donkey rides" for the last six or seven years, has quite suddenly because of "personal reasons". I just hope these reasons do not involve Thanet District Councillors.

Kent County Council Supports the Mugabe Regime: screams the headline from NHS manager (and qualified nurse) Stuart Jeffery. It's not exactly news, as such, but it is still an important and under reported item.

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» Continue Reading: Recent News in Brief

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Local Government Ombudsman?

Local blogging has a great number of sharp minds and insightfull persons writting for it and I would like to put this great resource to work on the following question: What shall we do with the Local Government Ombudsman?

In short I doubt that the Local Government Ombudsman is even worth spit and so therefore have to ask what good re they and what can be done about them?

In 1999 a MORI poll was carried out on the subject of "customer satisfaction" for the Commission for Local Administration in England (CLAE). It is the CLAE that provide the Local Government Ombudsman "service" (or lack thereof).

According to one report [...] of the 73% of dissatisfied complainants, 61% described themselves as 'very dissatisfied' with the final outcome of the complaint. the report goes on to point out that weak cases should be filtered out at an early stage (so the high lelvel of disatisfactio is unusual and not to be expected) and that 50% of people for whom the Ombudsman found in favour of were also unhappy with the result.

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» Continue Reading: Local Government Ombudsman?

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Monitoring Officer

Thanet District Council (TDC) employ a Monitoring Officer. This office is significant for a number of reasons but in terms of local news it relates most strongly to the questions of planning applications F/TH/04/0297 and F/TH/06/0984 (not to mention a few in between). These are the planning application numbers for a plot of land that Thanet Strife has recently written about (the one that Cllr Simon Day is closely associated with).

Paul Moore is the current Monitoring Officer for old TDC. I had read (somewhere, I forget where) that he had left the post but I am informed that he remains in the position until sometime towards the end of September after which he will move to Wandsworth. When Paul Moore departs us another Monitoring Officer will be appointed.

The task of the Monitoring Officer is to advise both the Members and the Officers of TDC on the standards they should adhered to. Furthermore it the Monitoring Officer's task to investigate any and all possible infringements, breaches and deviations from those standards. After he has completed an investigation the Monitoring Officer will decide to report to the local Standards Board, the national Standards Board (The Standards Board for England) or in some cases the Police.

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TDC Information

As many of you might be aware I have been trying to thoroughly address the issue of politics in Thanet. Some might say this is a foolhardy and unachievable aim. Those "some" might be right but I have been trying nevertheless.

I have been aided on this quest by a number of people. This number includes a councillor or two taking the time to explain things along with other people who have not explicitly said they wish to have their names mentioned.

(As Thanet seems quite concerned about privacy (and who can blame us) I'm only going to mention names when it seems fairly obvious that this is okay.)

TDC Information is a summary page written in simple English. I understand it to be the work of Cllr Mike Harrison to whom a big thank you is due for taking the time to kick off the quest to better understand the local council.

Cllr Mike Harrison also has said one or two things that have given me a great idea for a usefull service I think I should be able to set up. The basic idea is a simple form into which a person can type a question and select a category and the system can choose an appropriate person to email the question to. Obviously I will be looking for volunteers to pilot this.

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Councillor - this post is for you


Photo credit: iboy_daniel
At the time of writing 17 people have voted in the most recent poll where the question was Has Sandy Ezekiel brought his office or authority into disrepute 100% of those voted for the very last option And How! The man is a disgrace to Thanet! (Strongly Agree). However (as I mentioned recently) the election of a "leader" for the council descended into shouting and screaming when labour councillors had the gall to suggest Sandy Ezekiel not be elected. The roll of the Labour Party in this situation was, as the "opposition party", to suggest and argue well for an alternative. The fact that the conservatives at the centre of this disgrace did not want to listen suggests to me a party in crisis.

It suggests to me deals that once made could not be broken no matter how stupid they now seemed and how hard the results went against all good sense. It is common for people to see the council as having a hidden agenda (of their own) and these disgraceful actions only serve to reinforce that view. A view that many councillors actually do not seem to be aware of or, when those that do become aware, fully comprehend.

Cllr Mike Harrison recently commented

[...] please dont tar ALL Councillors with the same brush, there are quite a few on both sides of the political spectrum who are hard working, decent people just trying to do their best for the Community they represent and sticking to the principles in the Constitution.

This raises for me such a key and vital point that to do it justice I need a little more space than that offered by the comments. I did not want to take the basic thread too far off topic with a long comment on what would have been a side issue. The subject Cllr Mike Harrison raises is no side issue but possibly the most important issue in Thanet politics today.

Cllr Mike Harrison this post is for you.

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» Continue Reading: Councillor - this post is for you

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Byte Sized

Like to write?

If you love to write then the Thanet Creative Writers blog might be the ideal place to connect with your nearest writer group.

Blogs
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Hyper-localism

For those interested in blogging local news in and arround the UK this BBC article from last year is sure to be of interest.

General
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Did you know?

Margate was the first seaside resort to introduce deck chairs way back in 1898.

Facts
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Did you know

MP Roger Gail (Thanet North) wanted to increase VAT

Facts
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Did you know

MP Roger Gale (Thanet North) has never voted on measures to reduce tax avoidance

Facts
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Too popular

On Wednesday 28th May the article The staggering truth about Gloag's Manston deal was so popular that it was briefly unreachable as the server could not supply pages fast enough.

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How exactly does speaking up for others have anything to do with election results? Given...
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Enjoy your vowel-free comment courtesy of the disemvoweller. Trolls are not welcome...
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Who is it you claim to represent Matt? Given your drubbing at election time, it would...
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This should be a year-round campaign.
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I agree with Margaret Fields. Ban The Sun!!!
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Just a week?
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