Thanet Star

Unite plan a week of action against Thanet Earth

Horticulture Week ( are reporting that Unite plan further protests against Thanet Earth over working conditions there with a week of action. Locals (although they do not say which of us) have allegedly complained that Thanet Earth have not stuck to their promises of creating 550 new jobs and the word on the street seems to be that exactly no local people are working at Thanet Earth.

Thanet Earth's main customers are Asda, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, M&S and agency HRGO. It is these customers that Unite are planing to target. Unite are calling for two specific things firstly Unite want to see an end to the use of a casual workforce at Thanet Earth but they would also like to see recognition of the union by Thanet Earth along with "union rights" which perhaps Thanet Star's more informed readers might like to expand upon for us.

Investigations by the Gangmasters Licensing Authority into the claims that Thanet Earth employs 90% casual workers with almost no rights and even less job security are still under way. According to the article Thanet Earth employ mainly migrant workers through four different agencies and the general impression I now have of Thanet Earth is that should you complain about something no mater how unfair that something is then you no longer have a job.

Unite to stage further protests against Thanet Earth as GLA investigates union's claim | Login | Horticulture Week

Log in to Horticulture Week to read Unite to stage further protests against Thanet Earth as GLA investigates union's claim and other horticulture industry news and jobs. Login is required to read the article but you might want to try this link

Let us know what you think.

Have you had an opportunity to work at Thanet Earth?

Do you know if the products you buy come from Thanet Earth and would you choose to buy it if you did know?

Are Unite right to push the issue in this way?

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The real reason the council press office cannot cope

Martin Wise has demonstrated that Thanet District Council do not know how to run a press office.

That's quite an inflammatory opening line but it also happens to be true. Martin Wise wrote to Michael Child (Thanet Online) and said in justifying closing the press office to all but a few: It is not the sending out of information by E-mail to bloggers, it is the flood of requests that follow for each one that is the problem.

That right there indicates the source of Thanet District Council's problem - poor press releases. The solution, then, is not to withdraw the service of the press office but to educate the press release writers to do the job properly.

Now if you Google "how to write a press release" you will find thousands of articles and each one will say something like "it is important to include everything that a journalist needs in order to write your story with minimal effort". Something Thanet District council has utterly failed to grasp.

Take a standard press release and you will find several elements the first part usually starts with something like "for immediate release" and then gets on with the telling the story. The first sentence should summarise the content of the release sot hat one could stop reading and know what was going on. The remainder of the release expands on the first sentence and should include a quote from a relevant person.

It doesn't stop there. After the main body should be further information. For example if you quote Bob Smith you should include a paragraph that tells the journalist who Bob Smith is and why he is qualified to comment. If you announce a new report then you should include information (like a URL, for example) on where the report can be obtained. Press releases often include photographic images for use with the story, back ground details and contact information.

After all every journalist knows that a good story answers the five main questions: what, where, who, how and why.

For example who is this Councillor X mentioned in the release and what do they do as part of the council? This information should have been written up when the councillor took up the new role and can be pasted in each time a press release mentions them. It's not rocket science to write a release that explains things properly.

For example: Why should I care? Where can I read more? What is the importance of this? Why did they say or do that? Who said it and who are they? When did this happen? When did they say or do that? Where did they say it? Where is this event taking place? How can I help? How will the road be built? How long will it take?

A well written press release should enable a lazy reporter to look no further than the press release to write their own story. If the Journalist has to pick up the phone for clarification then already something is wrong with the press release. The only reason for calling should be to set up an interview and even then if the quote in the main body of the release is good enough this should be unlikely.

Most articles on writing press releases talk about the importance of getting your release published. This means giving the editor everything they need to write up the story in the shortest amount of time. Journalists, you will be told, a hard pressed for time and will often ignore a release that contains too little information or is badly written.

However when it comes to Thanet news Thanet District Council is always going to be news worthy and, it seems, has given up making an effort with her press releases. As a result the online press, who often lack the time to spend hours and hours digging up answers that are missing will simply pick up the phone and get the press office to fill in the blanks. Blanks that should not have been there.

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Arlington Square: Your views

Now that the planning decision for Arlington Square and Arlington House has been passed to central government there is little to do but sit back and wait to see what they say.

While we wait to find out if we will have a Tesco there now is a good time to throw open the floor to see what you think. This link is to a detailed alternative. Is having a Tesco there a good thing? Will it work or will it go horribly wrong?

A plan for Arlington « Margate Conservation Area Advisory Group

Russell Diplock’s 1960s vision for Arlington Square united beach, cars, shopping and living to create a civic space with pride and optimism. There were some negative aspects which need to be put right and the space has been treated badly.

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Lies, damn lies and press offices

No one can be trusted when it comes to cash (Featuring Cllr Chris Wells)

The debate over Thanet District Council excluding bloggers from access to their press office took a turn for the surreal today both Cllr Iris Johnston and Cllr Chris Wells finally got their replies in to me. With Mr Well's reply mostly consisting of calling me a liar.

Back on the fourteenth I sent a Freedom of Information request to Thanet District Council and to help it along I copied in a few councillors known for caring about Thanet. This list included Cllr Iris Johnston (Labour). I figured that Cllr Wells would not be interested in this subject but he seems to want to pipe up anyway.

This is what the currently unanswered Freedom of Information request said:

Dear Sir,

It has been announced that TDC will no longer send press release emails to individuals. The email in question cites costs.

1. Please detail exactly what size of saving is being made with this move.
2. Please detail the evidence for such a saving.

Thank you

My suspicions that this was a move not from the top but from deep within the bowels of the unelected (and some might say over paid) officers of Thanet District Council were strengthened when Iris briefly responded to my questions by saying First I have heard of this Matthew! It cant be that expensive!

Meanwhile Mr Wells (Conservative) shows up on the Thanet Star blog having finally noticed that we've noticed that he and Iris are both carrying the can for homelessness, museums and land charges (among other things). His reply to this is to try and start some sort of fight by accusing me of being a liar many moons after the news that his duplicity on the subject of a certain park in Broadstairs and the building there on had been exposed, shouted about and almost forgotten again.

Of course Chris being Chris tried to make it a slur on the entire Liberal Democrat party to which I recently subscribed. Fortunately I have no buttons to push in that regard. I do however take exception to being called a liar and so Mr Wells now finds himself the unflattering subject of some amusing artistic comment on the whole affair.

The major complaint that Chris Wells makes in my general direction from time to time is that we bloggers (or me specifically) lack sufficient information and according to Chris "make stuff up" a situation that is not going to be improved by lack of access to quality information. I am sure that even as I write Chris Wells is doing his best to help bloggers get informed... or maybe pigs might be flying.

Meanwhile back in the land of the sane we are talking about the Council's attempts to shut down any investigative journalistic attempts that might uncover more of their misdeeds (like trying to sell a building project as a Broadstairs funded initiative when it is clearly funded largely by a joint effort between Thanet District Council, Kent County Council and a few assorted lenders. Luke Edwards (Thanet Waves) rightly points out that Bloggers should act as a check to the power of authority by proving the public service of questioning our "leaders" especially when there is little will to do so in what is left of the local press.

Part of the problem according to Cllr Wise (in his reply to Michael Child (Thanet Online)) is that Thanet District Council have not got the foggiest notion how to deal with the volume of inquiry they currently get concerning every press release they make. Or in other words they don't know how to run a modern press office.

Mr Wise went on to say that the reason people read Thanet Blogs was not for information but because they like us dishing the dirt on the council and that Bash the Council is a popular sport round these parts. No idea why that might be...

My experience is that people check the local blogs to get some independent insight into what is going on because they largely feel isolated from the process of local governance and thus have little understanding beyond "council bashing" when it all goes pear shaped (which sadly is more often than not). Thus isolating people from the council in this way will have two significant impacts.

1. Less trust for the council and a greater tendency to "bash the council", speculate and make stuff up when all else fails.


2. A greater need for bloggers to report everything they can to compensate for the councils secrecy.

No doubt this will result in more "bash the council" before things can get better.

can I am sure that Mr Wise will have noticed that Tony Flaig's (big News Margate) coverage of The Margate Big Event and his praise for the council moving it to the new location was hardly council bashing nor was Thanet Star's article The good things TDC have done. Of course one probably needs to ignore these things when making excuses to the press.

It also leaves an opening, so to speak, for bloggers to do more to fill the void sadly this requires doing more with less. A situation none of us emerge from as winners.

Of course we could all turn to the Freedom of Information channels which, I have no doubt, will find that they are run ragged with the enquiries that any decent press office should be able to deal with. For a fraction of the billions that some staff are apparently paid for making excuses I could help Thanet Council's out of date press office cope with the information request rate but that would mean trusting a blogger.

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Improving dangerous road is dangerous apparently

One of the issues that Bill, Tony and myself highlighted when campaigning during the local elections for Dane Valley was the issue of Broadley Road which parents tell me is the main route for their children to travel to Dane Court, Charles Dickens and St Georges schools from the Millmead estate. The road is unsurfaced and the area under the low bridge often develops a significant and impassable body of water when it is wet.

According to a press release sent to my inbox four days ago At Thursday evenings Thanet Joint Transport Board meeting Cllr Sandra Hart pleaded with highways officers, district and county councillors not to enlarge an accident black spot through a proposed cycle path planned to run between Dane Valley estate and the main St Peter's Road.

The argument is that the junction would be dangerous if the road was improved as it would be used. This seems to ignore the fact that it is used ans that the entire road is dangerous as it stands. The argument that paragraph 2.4 in the highway officers report says that there is a accident risk if the road is maintained for cars and other traffic would also apply if a bicycle route were implemented still does not address the fact that it is currently used as a bicycle route anyway.

Surely the answer is to find a solution to the potential danger rather than force children from the estate to go to school via a mud track that could present a very real risk of death by drowning (In kid you not).

Does Cllr Sandra Hart take her responsibility to Dane Valley (of which Millmead is a substantial part) so lightly that she refuses to act in it's best interest?

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The rain it falleth on the just and also on the unjust...

Today would be a good day for an umbrella salesman to be in Margate with his stock of umbrellas.

There have been moments of epic "tipping it down" today which I'm sure those at the Big Event enjoyed...

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Disabled people 'should work for less', says MP

I think some one is suffering from foot in mouth disease here.

Disabled people 'should work for less', says MP - Channel 4 News

A Conservative MP comes under fire for suggesting that people with mental health disabilities should be allowed to work for less than the minimum wage so that they can compete for jobs.

Why not go further and say that single parents, ethnic minorities, chavs, punks, goths, LGBT people, men, women, feminists, socialists, long term unemployed, teenagers, those without degrees and Sandy Ezekiel should all work for as little as possible because that will really help the job market...

It might sound like a good idea to undercut others to get a job but what you do is allow market forces to expect everyone to work for that rate and in Thanet that would mean working for about 97p an hour. Cheap labour gets little respect.

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Green Thanet and window ledge gardening

I might live in a flat but I have some whopping great big windows ledges idea for growing stuff upon (with the right pots).

Working with a budget of a handful of non magical beans has anyone got any advice they might be willing to share?

Specifically I need to source some compost (the allotment pile will not be ready this year and the soil there is too poor for much anyway). Also what might grow well in such limited conditions?

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TDC how you've cocked up, let me count the ways

In my last post I explained that I suspected that Thanet District Council's move to break up with bloggers was not about money but about statistics. The most likely explanation being that Thanet Council wish to force us to use the RSS feed so they can justify the existence of an RSS feed. That might not be the whole story.

The way that Thanet Council's press office have handled this however is a PR blunder of truly epic proportions and a certain Conservative Councillor bleating on about this being "a fuss over nothing" is unlikely to convince the world otherwise.

So what did Thanet Council do so badly wrong?


» Continue Reading: TDC how you've cocked up, let me count the ways

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Thanet District Council press office breaks up with bloggers

While the writers at Big News Margate and Thanet Online understandably feel hurt by Thanet Council suddenly breaking up with them the real casualty here is the council itself.

Thanet District Council have for a good long while sent out press releases by email. Independent media (blog writers and the like) along with newspapers, pressure groups and any other interested party could have Thanet District Council's press releases arrive in their inbox.

It seems that Thanet District Council may be shutting down their press office but they are also cutting off all but a select few from mail shots which seems strange.

Keep reading to find out why they are doing this and how big a cock up they have made.


» Continue Reading: Thanet District Council press office breaks up with bloggers

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Chris Wells vs Iris Johnston

The new shape of the council has created a fascinating head-to-head with Cllr. Chris Wells being put in charge of Community Services and Cllr. Iris Johnston taking the same in the shadow cabinet.

Community Services is a mixed bag of contentiousness and hot potatoes which includes parking, museums and art. To put it another way it include the Turner Centre, Margate Town Centre's current parking problem and the whole can of worms surrounding the (lack of) museums and places of historic interest (say, oh, Margate Caves for example).

Rabbit Season, Duck season, Fire!

For those who want to know here is the full run down of the things we can expect to hear and see Chris Wells and Iris Johnston fighting over for the next four years.

  • housing need and homelessness
  • private sector housing
  • housing intervention
  • the Margate Task Force
  • licensing and land charges
  • community safety
  • parking
  • sport
  • art
  • museums
  • Thanet Coast Project
  • indoor and outdoor leisure
  • play services and events

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Of toilets, waters and gases (but not like that)

According to our local blogging expert the loos in the Turner centre are not it's best feature and could have used some actually thought. Still at least the risk of floods are diminished from that quarter at least until the coastal defences are added in to stop the site of the centre looking like a really bad idea.

However the loos in the Turner Centre might not be the only gassy water problem that Thanet might face. In a move that is sure to upset the bloggers dedicated to saving Thanet's Water Supply it looks like big business would like to frack for gas in our neck of the woods. The implication being that our water will then come with added methane. Nice (or not).

Thanet Waves: WHAT THE FRACK?!

I've just seen on BBC News that local green campaigners are protesting about a company's plans to drill for gas in Woodnesborough near Sandwich. Coastal Oil and Gas Ltd were hoping to use a controversial drilling technique called 'fracking', a form of shale gas extraction which has been criticised by environmental activists for contaminating drinking water, with scientists even claiming in a study that it has a danger of making H2O flammable. Yikes!

and finally...

IT looks like my photo quip was more insightful than one might imagine as word on the vine is that Simon Moores will be in charge of Waste and Parks (a natural combination one might uncharitably suggest).

New Simon Moores Branded Bins

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The News in Brief

The news regarding Thanet this week-end is a bit of a mixed bag. On the one hand we are being told that this end of Kent faces the loss of 13,700 potential job losses by 2018...

Your Thanet :: Article :: Taskforce calls for Government support ahead of 13,700 expected job losses in east Kent

A taskforce set up to help in the recovery of east Kent has called for a bolder approach from Government after economic experts warned of 13,700 potential job losses by 2018.

...on the other hand the BBc mentions that the Council's compulsory purchase of Dreamland has run into problems. The owners the so-called "Margate Town Centre Regeneration Company" is objecting to the purchase order as unsurprisingly it can make a lot more money if it can build a large number of houses.

BBC News - Margate's Dreamland owners to reject forced sale order

The owners of Margate's disused Dreamland theme park say they will object to a compulsory purchase order from Thanet Council, forcing a public inquiry.

And finally...

It seems that some musical rivalry has broken out into real world vandalism.

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Thoughts on the week

Today was not a good day to be on a bike of any kind in London Bridge. In the space of less than one hundred meters I saw police and paramedics in attendance of two separate accidents. According to a cyclist I asked for directions from there was a third accident further up the road too. Unsurprisingly with some junctions blocked of by police things were not good in the traffic department there.

Meanwhile back home in Thanet buses have been following alternative routes today which have played havoc with time tables and schedules. Not to mention driving limits.

Apparently this is made worse for those hoping to catch the 8 or 8A as there are further difficulties in Canterbury and tomorrow is set to be worse.

As a result of all that the 8 which normally comes up into Cecil Square and then turns left had to go the long way round which took in sight of the Steam Fair at the Dreamland site and a quick drive past of the Turner Centre and Winter Gardens.

To be honest I've not been paying a huge amount of attention to goings on these last few weeks so seeing the fair was the first clue that I had that it was on. If anyone can tell us what it is like be sure to speak up in the comments.

A few minutes later, as I said, we passed the Turner Centre which reminded me that the council have suddenly become very concerned about flooding. One wonders at what stage someone began to question putting the building where it floods and started to put in defence plans. These plans should mean no flood for roughly 200 years at which point the Turner Centre will no doubt be in trouble.

It's not all bad news there as the BBC report that the art gallery has had 100,000 visitors in six weeks. Not at all bad I think.

In other news Primark are setting up shop in Westwood Cross which could cause a further downward trend for Margate high-street's much smaller (and often too busy to use) branch.

Primark signs for 70,000 sq ft Thanet store | Online | Property Week

Land Securities has secured Primark to occupy a new 70,000 sq ft anchor store at its Westwood Cross shopping and leisure centre in Thanet, East Kent.

Meanwhile just as Margate seems set to suffer another blow so too might Thanet Earth. Of course that rather depends on where they are exporting to but as Russia has just banned EU fresh fruit after an E. coli outbreak thought to be linked to vegetables that may have come from Germany. Even if Thanet Earth does not export to the soviet end of the world the sudden increase in hard to shift stock might have a knock-on effect as demand drops.

News flash: Russia bans raw vegetables from EU | The Rambling Epicure

Reuters has just reported that Russia has banned raw vegetables from the E.U. in relation to the E. coli outbreak which seemingly started in Germany which has killed 17 people and made more than 1,500 others ill in 8 European countries.

Of course as a keen allotment holder I can tell you that Chicken poo is the best stuff for making crops grow and there has been a growing danger from that side of things for the last thirty years. E. coli in the guts of chickens can become a super bug in just days when chickens are fed antibiotics for no good reason other than human greed.

You Want Superbugs with That?

Feeding antibiotics to healthy livestock is leading to an emerging human health crisis—one scientists and government officials have seen coming for decades.

Talking of drugs no new news on the doctor from Margate who faces action because he dared to suggest turning to the church for support. Although I should point out that Thanet Waves author Luke managed to get a segment in a pod cast on politics about this very topic. Nice one buddy.

Meanwhile in Ramsgate people are complaining about a long time empty property. Member of the Council cabinet Chris Wells said: The council is trying to contact the owner to find out their plans for the property. We take the issue of empty properties seriously and will do whatever we can to help bring it back into use.

Roughly translated this means I have made a mental not to snap off an email now that the problem is so bad that the news papers are interested. So pull the other one Chris, it's got bells on.

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Byte Sized


We got a mention in 5 ways to blog from Thanet now.

Byte Sized


Thanet Creative have a new webiste and a new name

Byte Sized

Local Art

Local Artist, John Wooster-Brown has a new website.

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.

Byte Sized


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


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