Thanet Star

Falsely Accused

This may well be the hardest post I have ever written

Over a week and a half ago I received some important documents. I was not expecting these documents because no one should have to expect to receive them.

The document layout a case against me. A certain person (not connected to Thanet blogging as far as I know) with a history of making false allegations has landed a bunch of pretty harsh ones at my door. To say this took the wind out of my sales would be to under state just how shattering this was.

I determined within 24 hours to write about this and it has taken me all that time to get myself ready to do so.

I have seen this person do this to other people and I have seen how upsetting it can be. I've advised them to keep calm and that the allegations would come to nothing. Every time the allegations came to nothing.

Nothing can ever prepare you for having it happen to you, though. It hit me like a ten ton truck and literally stunned me into inaction for a good few hours.

I have a bucket load of charities (especially the children's charities) that I have had and still have active involvement with and I have had to ask myself at what point do I sit down with the respective directors and say "this harsh stuff has been said about me"?

Do I keep silent and hope it goes away or do I speak out and proudly proclaim my innocence?

What of blogging and social media? How much do I say or how little? If I say nothing and the allegations spill outside the court arena as they have in the past will I seem guilty though innocent? If I say something and the whole thing is dismissed as I hope it will be do I look like a fool?

There is no winning in a situation like this.

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No news is...

Whatever happened to Thanet Star?

I've not been writing for a little while now. There is a good reason and when I've gotten a few miles between me and the shock of it I will try to write about it. In the mean time please talk among yourselves.

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Relavancy and the contact link

Saying something off topic is not rocket science!

There are one or two readers of this blog who, for reasons known only to themselves, feel that it is okay to interrupt whatever the topic of conversation is to start another conversation. However, Thanet Star was leading the charge for staying on topic for years.

The forth pledge was Deleting or moving off topic, excessively aggressive, untruthful or hate filled comments is a service to my readers.

If I have removed you comment in the last few days it was because it was spam, excessively aggressive or just off topic. If you have something to say to me and it is unrelated tot he news topics that the articles here have started then please feel free to send me a message. You can do that by selecting contact which is found on every page.

If you have something to say

Now there is no reason to interrupt everyone else any more my one reader with the many names.

...

» Continue Reading: Relavancy and the contact link

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Thanet Snow 2013

Ah! The soft white stuff falleth at last.

So, the snow has fallen on the just and also on the unjust fellow. Now we shall hear little else on twitter and Facebook for some time to come. So while we are all being surprised by the annual snowfall and some of us are enjoying suprrise time off work or school or whatever why not share your snow images with us.

To share snow images you can tag ThanetStar on Facebook, @ThanetStar on twitter or message me in the usual way with a link to your images on FlickR (If you have my email address you can send them directly).

What of the snow today? Show us your photos.

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Is Thanet ready for the migration of people on benefits?

Thanet is about to suffer and it might just be all our fault

Croydon at a standstill July 7 2005
Bromley, Croydon, Enfield and Haringey Borough Councils will from April be capping the rate of housing benefit available to claimants. The justification for this seems idealistic (some might even ague fair) on the surface: people on benefits not being paid more than anyone in work.

However there are a few repercussions to be considered. Repercussions that we in Thanet are going to have to pay for.

The cost of living in these London boroughs is much higher than in other parts of England (say Thanet, for example). The cost of renting even a modest home is beyond people on he lower wage ranges which means that from April it will be beyond people on benefits in Bromley, Croydon, Enfield and Haringey. That goes the same for those who have recently been made redundant and are looking for work and those who have been out of work for some time.

The only answer is going to be to move out of those areas. So where do people go when there is a mass exodus of benefit claimants?

They go wherever they can.

Loop logo
The surrounding areas are unlikely to be able to absorb the need for people to move. There will be huge pressure on people to get out of London altogether. To go somewhere that is nice. Somewhere that is cheap. Somewhere where the benefits cover the rent.

That is where Thanet comes in. It is cheap to live down here, there is the beach, masses of properties that are available to rent, converted hotels right on the seafront... Land lords happy to rent out every last bit of space to whoever is desperate enough to take that option. Don't like what you are being offered? Too bad, there is a queue of people desperate enough.

It gets worse though.

...

» Continue Reading: Is Thanet ready for the migration of people on benefits?

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Wildwood for £1

Everyone loves a day out and what better day out than one that costs one pound?

Okay so an out of doors trip might not be exactly what you were hoping for the first month of January but wrap up warm bring your thermos flask and have a great day out anyway. Up to four people (or print it twice) can get in to Wild Wood for just a pound each with this voucher.

Wildwood for £1 Each Jan 2013

Go on live a little.

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Stamping out rogue landlords in Thanet

For every good landlord it seems sometimes that Thanet has three bad ones.

When I responded to Shelter's call for people to write to their local council about rogue landlords and call for action I expected that I would be ignored and that would be that. I sent an email to Clive Hart detailing my concern over the situation with some very underhanded landlords but I did not expect the public response from my friends that I got. Who would have thought that posting a simple update on Facebook (as shown below) would result in such a flood of comments.

Iíve just asked my council to stamp out rogue landlords in my area. Join me and demand action from your council. http://shltr.org.uk/2wy
Slum in Medgidia
Now I've seen some people living in places that could with some considerable charity be described as slums. Buildings condemned by the council and yet occupied despite damn, fleas, broken windows, lack of heating, constantly running taps and even faeces in the kitchen. I wish to goodness that I was in the least bit exaggerating but I have been inside a bedsit in Margate that matched this description and worse.

I have friends whose landlord refuses to accept payment in anything but cash for fear of a paper trail.

I have friends whose landlord simply filed for eviction because the six months assured short-hold tenancy was coming to an end - no explanation given beyond the offer to sell them another six month tenancy. In other words he was blackmailing them with eviction for more money. I am not even sure if that is legal.

My point is that this goes on all the time and it is about time that, regardless of the party ruling the roost down at the council offices, action needs to be taken that will actually stop the abusive landlords without penalising the few good ones we have left.

Do you have any particular good or especially bad experiences with landlords in Thanet?

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Thanet is overcrowded by a factor of seven

Thanet has the second highest population density in Kent

Quad Biking at Margate
Thanet's population density (that's people per hectare) is comparable to Dartford which, while having a smaller population is only about 70% of the size of Thanet. The population density of Thanet is 13 people per hectare which means that it is beaten by Dartford's 13.4 people per hectare.

Thanet along with Dartford and Gravesham is one of the three smallest areas of Kent and yet has the fourth highest population. That population is packed into three towns with most of the land used for farming. Take into account that the average population density for Kent is 4.1 people per hectare (PPH) and that most of Thanet is farmland and it might be safe to say that Thanet is overcrowded.

As if that were not bad enough Thanet's sustainable population is 20,668 people whereas the population is 134,186 people. Don't believe me? The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations estimates that the minimum land required to feed a people is 0.5 of a hectare per person that's a population density of 2 PPH which only Ashford has. The land mass of Thanet is 10,334 hectares.

That's right in Thanet 134,186 living in 10,334 hectares while is Ashford 117,956 people enjoy a spacious 58,062 hectares.

To put it in context if all of Kent had a population density that Thanet has it would have to grow from 1.5 million people to 4.6 million people. Likewise Ashford would grow from 117,956 people to 766,714 people.

So if we were require all the people in Thanet to find their food inside Thanet we would have to reduce our population to around a seventh of it's current size. Fortunately we can buy food in from outside the area which increases the carbon footprint of the area and the price. If we the entire planet had a population density like Thanet's we would need six and a half planet Earth's just to feed us all.

We could argue, then, that Thanet is unsustainably populated as indeed is all of Kent (apart from Ashford).

Broadstairs Folk Week 2009

Base Data 2011 Census: Usual resident population and population density, local authorities in the United Kingdom. Derivative comparisons own work. Source: The Office for National Statistics. You can see figures for yourself. See also: the ONS
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Druids, Drunks and Divorce

Here's a few you might have missed.

In this round up of news from the past month we will look at drunken councillors, deaths, dreamland, druids and among the madness something approaching good news.

Suburban druid in the snow
Druids these days raise funds for charity at least in Thanet they do. The Thanet Druids raised £700 for Pilgrims Hospices.

Conservative Councillor for Garlinge Shirley Tomlinson on a drink driving ban. It seems Shirley had had to many gins and then got behind the wheel. She received a driving ban and fine.

Thanet council, Southern Water and the Environment Agency have been criticised in a report into a sewage spill that shut Kent beaches in the summer. The inquiry, set up by Thanet council, looked at how the incident was managed.

Pinnacle PSG wins five-year deal to maintain green spaces and "add colour" to Thanet Pinnacle PSG has won a five-year deal worth around £100,000 annually to look after estates and open spaces in Margate and Ramsgate. The contract with Orbit South is due to start on 7 January.

What is being done to help the homeless of Thanet? Thomas Brown looks at the issue of rough sleeping and support to bring people out of the cold. Homelessness is an issue in Thanet and has been for some time so it is good that there is action being taken to help those that do not even have a roof to sleep under.

...

» Continue Reading: Druids, Drunks and Divorce

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Criminal investigation into Ramsgate incident

The live animal transport report regarding Port Ramsgate is being held up by the criminal justice system.

stop live animal exports
The formal report into what happened in Port Ramsgate when over 40 animals were put down leading to a temporary closure of the port to live animal transport has been delayed due to criminal proceedings. Apparently Farming Minister David Heath received a specific request from Kent Trading Standards. Kent Trading Standards, it seems, is pursuing criminal investigations and wants the report out of the public sight until these are dealt with.

According to the Farmers Guardian a criminal investigation is preventing the publication of a report into an incident at Ramsgate port in September.

Mr Heath apparently also said that approximately 95% (that's 19 out of every 20)) of transporters using Ramsgate are not authorised in Great Britain. Which begs the question if only 5% of the transporters are legal what have Defra and AHVLA (Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency) been doing about it. Not enough seems to be the answer or, more accurately, issuing statutory notices and verbal warnings.

Reading between the lines here might I suggest that if the unsatisfactory transporters were off road then the incident at Port Ramsgate could never have happened.

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Thanet District Council is a tribalistic gang culture says BBC

Thanet District Council officially Dysfunctional according to the BBC with councillors spending more time contemplating their own navels than doing their job.

The department of stating the blindingly obvious also pointed to clear signs time wasting in meetings and playground bullying.

After being shown the webcast by BBC South East Today of the last full council meeting in September, Prof Jones, who lectures at the London School of Economics and Political Science, said it was "clearly dysfunctional". says the BBC Article

This goes only to underscore the need for TDC to be led by a directly elected leader. Someone with the power to put the childish councillors in their place.

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Isle of Thanet in a Marlin II Hovercraft!

From the summer of 2012 a trip around the coast.

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MP Laura Sandys has Facebook account compromised

News flash Facebook hacks happen to MPs too.

Laura Sandys has had her Facebook account hacked by one of those annoying virus/hack hybrids. She acted swiftly to correct the problem and alerted subscribers to what was going on. It happens to the best of us. Read More Here

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2013 Foretold

Some things that will happen in 2013 in Thanet.

My Future in a Crystal Ball

I actually wrote this on the first day of the year but got caught up addressing the issue of dispraxia so I've forward scheduled this post a few days.

Each year I make a guess at what will happen over the coming year. So here goes with my guesses for this year.

1. By-election (again)

There will be a by-election that will upset the control that the independents have over the council. If I had to put money on it I would say that Labour steal the seat from Conservative.

2. At least one new newsy blog starts for Thanet

The vacuum left by Tony's departure from the world of Thanet Blogging will be filled by at least one new blogger. I don't see the blogs especially making much headway into the open ground left by the loss of one of our main news papers although I wish we would.

3. Simon or some other Conservative from Thanet calls me a liar and then is proven wrong

It happens every year. I say something using information from my secret moles inside (ah, that would be telling) and the administration or Simon Moores will try to start a fight by calling me names. They will then, as every time before, be unavailable for comment when I am proven correct.

...

» Continue Reading: 2013 Foretold

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Dyspraxia Signs and Symptoms

Having addressed the issue of dyspraxia a lot lately here is some information for parents.

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How the Job Centre fails Dyspraxics

Is Iain Duncan Smith's crackdown on benefits harming the disabled?

We value thinking outside of the box but your "average" dyspraxic has never found the box to think inside it to start with. We innovate, change things and make the world better. However we might not be able to keep to appointments, file paperwork and order our thoughts on a way we can explain them if you put us on the spot.

The way the job centre is run plays against all the weaknesses that a dyspraxic suffers. Appointments are ever two weeks and can suddenly be moved in time or day. After a short period of time (three to six months) job seekers are moved from one program to another and expected to keep track of paperwork. Just one failure, just being a minute after twelve and the job seeker risks a loss of benefits.

My diagnostic assessment that evidences my dyspraxia and dyslexia cost my family £600. I am the lucky one but so many dyspraxics end up on job seekers allowance and have no help, no support and no evidence of their learning difficulties. I have an IQ of over 130 and can program with paradigms and languages that the average computer user would find baffling at best yet ask me to keep track of phone calls and bits of paper for two weeks and you may be asking too much.

Take blogging for example. I am both dyspraxic and dyslexic. That means that just keeping my thoughts in the right order and writing my articles in a way that does not confuse average folk takes time and effort. I make spelling errors that other bloggers laugh at, I type the same mistakes over and over again. For example "in the" becomes "int he" because my fingers operate out of sync with each other.

I have had a lot of contact with other dyspraxics. Dyspraxics who work for government, in adult education, in IT (so many of us in IT) and in theatre and arts. I know a number of dyspraxics who are parents and they are some of the most thoughtful, loving and dedicated parents that I know. I wrote Dyspraxia is not a crime, John because I wanted to defend these parents to you the readers and specifically to those that left comments doubting their experiences. Call me a liar all you want but these are real stories and they will be told.

When my department let me go earlier this year I found myself attending the job centre and have this year had to appeal a number of sanctions and that is with the "support" of the Disability Employment Advisor who, nice though she is, was not qualified or trained to support my needs and that is with the very expensive report recommending the reasonable adjustments that could be made to help me function as any other job seeker.

The world of work can be hard for people with dyspraxia. The world of the Job Centre is harder. Iain Duncan Smith's crackdown on benefits is hard on dyspraxics and the rest of the neurologically diverse community.

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Alexandra Topping please see me after class

This just in Alexandra Topping may not be a reliable reporter for Thanet Matters.

A short while ago we reported that there would be a four day enquiry into the Dreamland sale. This was in an aside about Tesco and Dreamland We said this because The Guardian's Alexandra Topping said it was so. However I can find no trace of any evidence that Alex knows what they are talking about. See also Save Dreamland: Latest News page for more likely to be accurate news.

There is no four day enquiry that I know of unless Alexandra Topping would care to share something that we are all clearly missing. Otherwise please do your homework. A phone call or a quick Google would be the least you could do when snapping out an item last hour before home time. Thanks.

I reached out to Ms Topping for a comment but have had no reply at this time.

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Dyspraxia is not a crime, John

Let us end this unreasonable prejudice towards dyspraxia.

When I wrote about the challenges of living on benefits the last thing I expected was to hear bigotry from my normally very open minded readers about the difficulties of living with dyslexia, dyspraxia and similar difficulties. It is 2013 not 1813 and it is no longer acceptable to remain ignorant of disability.

So to help you out here is a guide to what I hope will soon be better understood neurological diversities.

Dyspraxia

Dyspraxia is a lifelong neurological condition that is more common in males than in females. It causes problems with physical co-ordination which can be overcome with a little thought and some reasonable adjustments. On the whole dyspraxics tend to have a higher IQ than their peers although it is unclear why this might be.

The Guardian says that dyspraxia needs more recognition and that it is poorly understood compared to its better-known cousins dyslexia, ADHD and Asperger's syndrome. Back in 2008 The Telegraph wrote "Clumsy but clever" about dyspraxia.

Dyspraxia affects each person in different ways and can impact on different parts of life differently for each person. For example a dyspraxic might find that they can cope with taking their children to school on time as this forms part of a daily routine but seemingly arbitrary appointment times (say for job centre meetings) can be a challenge. This is why the new sanctions on benefits unfairly target the disabled, Peter.

The Wikipedia article on dyspraxia has a lot of helpful information including dyspraxia's connection with autistic spectrum disorders. The BBC health site has a shorter write up about dyspraxia.

Seth Godin rightly points out that Empathy Takes Effort and that on the whole we would rather ignore those that are different. So I think you for making the effort to better understand dyspraxia. Here to close for us is a video with a slightly technical explanation of how dyspraxia works and why.

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Sorry Simon but I'm just not that in to you.

Oh how I love the smell of insults in the morning.

It would seem that my one time dance partner Dr Moores is once more trying to rekindle the flame that was our very famous dance of Vroomfondel and Majikthise by slinging insults in the general direction of The Thanet Star. But as I have made abundantly clear already I am Simon is yesterday's news for me. I'm over him - there are more interesting dance partners on the floor.

When Simon "I know IT" Moores is ready and willing to actually back up his statements with more than his personal opinion then maybe, just maybe, I will take him seriously again. The "doc" blogs via a cheap blogspot address where his incoherent rambles site under the title Thanet Life - you can Google it for yourself.

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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

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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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