Thanet Star

(Un)Happy Christmas wishes from TDC

It seems that the council have been up to their usual inelegant customer care ways again.

shocked

Thanet Star has, via a few different sources, heard tell of the council mailing out a lot of families in the run up to Christmas to say by the way you've been owing us money and we've been letting that debt build up without saying anything. Here's a nice Christmas surprise of a massive bill.

Quite why any organisation that needs to collect money (Council tax and Rent in the case of Thanet District Council) from clients would not send out monthly account statements is beyond me but it seems that despite some pretty confusing changes in terms of benefit reductions (aka The Bedroom Tax), and other changes Thanet District have seen fit to not let people know that they need to start coughing up more money. Then as the most expensive time of year comes round they drop a bombshell on families.

One angry mum wrote to us and said:

I would like to know why they allow money owed to get to over 200 before sending out letters? and why their system doesn't flag an account that's going unpaid before it gets that high?

So many people I know, including myself, have received letters in the last few months saying that 200 plus is owed for the period blahblahblah and it needs to be paid by x date. I think it's disgusting that they can do that and worry so many people at this time of year. Many families are already struggling with bedroom tax and stuff, and then to get those letters saying the council want more is unfair, horrible and stressful!

...

» Continue Reading: (Un)Happy Christmas wishes from TDC

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Doing better thanks to you

As your eyeballs cannot help but noticed we switched over to the new Thanet Star theme this week and, of course, the grumpy commenters got their moan on.

Meanwhile Jay, Illisia, John, Keith, Laura and others have been putting their money where their mouth is and forwarded design ideas, logo designs and CSS commentary. The general gist is that the older design elements have not scaled well with the new Thanet Star design. So we are looking at ways to minimise business and remagine the legacy parts. Some, like Jay, have been taking time out to talk design and technology with us for some time now and deserve a big round of applause.

We've been looking at newspaper designs, tri-column website layouts and other sources of inspiration and slowly been honing the design to work more effectively with the design objectives. The main design objectives are focused around keeping the navigation minimalistic and the news stories centred. We've used some advanced JavaScript to stop column breakers from overflowing left or right and in early tests this almost hidden addition resized over sized images seamlessly.

Feedback suggests that the advert prominence is about right balancing visibility with ongoing engagement. The only complaints in that regard have been in the form of full engagement. I have worked hard to stay clear of pop-ups, pop-unders, interstitials, slide ins, full-screeners and redirect ad-pauses all of which are seriously annoying.

The design contest for a new long term logo for Thanet Star remains open and Jay and I have been talking over email about integrating social media sign-in to commenting. The big choice at this stage is if we continue to allow anon comments after we have done this. Jay's fresh perspective has been refreshing and is most welcome.

There's still time to give your feedback about the new design and to help us do even better. As for the vocal minority that seem to want only to be critical but not offer any constructive with that criticism there will always be a few like that and if you have, in the past, been one of them now might be your only chance to speak or forever hold your peace.

Thank you to all of our readers who have helped with the transition to a new upgraded Thanet Star.

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Can you do better?

Thanet Star logo

Can you do better at design than Me?

One thing that I have always told my development clients is that I am not a designer I am an engineer and if they would like top level design then they will need to pay for a designer. Judging by the very small smattering of comments on site one could be forgiven for thinking that the new design was without merit.

This is a design that was put in front of a fair few folk with largely positive feedback.

However not being one to pass by an opportunity to let the readers get involved I bring you not one but three different ways that you can help "improve" the Thanet Star design.

Are you ready to put your money where your mouth is?

...

» Continue Reading: Can you do better?

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A fresh new look

Thanet Star is now sporting a whole new look.

After a whole bunch of testing and one or two embarrassing technical errors the new improved design has been rolled out for you to enjoy.

The main thrust of this design change is to reduce the amount of navigational options getting in the way of the good reading while at the same time making that reading bigger, brighter and more visually appealing. Also there is a general move away from the Mat-centric design to one that embraces the whole team.

You will also notice a new feature the Byte Sized posts. These are titchy tiny nibbles of information. Matt (that's me) is working hard on creating background tasks that will update the Byte Size with a link to new posts by interesting Thanet bloggers because Thanet is bigger than any one news source.

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A few changes

And it starts...

Thanet Star is making a few technical changes. Hopefully everything should continue as before. If not it will soon be fixed.

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What's On In Thanet: Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Episode

Day Of The Doctor gets a second-chance showing at Westwood Cross: Tickets still available!
Day Of The Doctor promotional image
As many of you are likely aware, today marks the fiftieth Anniversary of when the first ever episode of British science fiction television series Doctor Who aired its Pilot, 'An Unearthly Child'.

A feature-length special episode titled 'Day Of The Doctor' will be shown simultaneously around the world in hundreds of countries, and at selected cinemas in glorious 3D. One such cinema, the Vue at Westwood Cross, though completely SOLD OUT of the initial showing, has due to popular demand decided to add an additional showing at 21:30, shortly after the first showing ends. There are also two more screenings on Sunday.

So, if you want a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see The Doctor and his adventures on the big screen for this very special occasion, book your tickets now, because spaces are very limited!

For more details, and to book, visit the official Vue Cinema Westwood Cross website.

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Fit for Purpose?

Finger face with a question

In case you missed it the big question being asked is this "Is Thanet Council much use for anything?"

So let's throw this open to all of you.

Do you think that Thanet Council is up to snuff? Is it any good? Do you trust your councillors?

What is your opinion on the council?

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Who else has been blocked by Clive Hart?

Clive Hart does not, it seems, like questions and blocked a bunch of people on twitter including Thanet Star. What might be happening here and why?.

Twitter Bird logo
Now before we go on I should stop and explain what a twitter block is and is not. It is not a way to stop your tweets being read and commented on or of silencing critics or even of letting a person know you think that they are blogger scum.

Twitter assumes that public accounts (such as @CliveHart) have granted permission for everyone to subscribe. A twitter block is simply that permission removed one at a time (See support page for more). If you block me on twitter I'm no longer allowed to get your updates automatically but I can still go to your profile page and read what you say, I can reply and retweet but you will not be notified that this is happening. Ignorance being bliss and all that.

So in short: blocking someone on twitter is a way of ignoring them.

The side effect of this is that for an account like @ThanetStar is it is harder to keep up to date with all of politics because the "leader" of the council refuses to let his tweets appear on our homepage.

Clive Hart chose to ignore Thanet Star permanently when we asked the hard questions.


I asked the one Green Party member what he though about the twitter issue. I guess he blocks questions on twitter because he is entirely dependent on council officers drafting his letters, emails and speeches and is unable to give on-the-spot answers without access to officers. Said Ian Driver.

That's where #BlockedByCliveHart started.

...

» Continue Reading: Who else has been blocked by Clive Hart?

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What's On In Thanet: November 18th - 24th

At a loss as to what to do this week? We have you covered!

Thanet Map

MONDAY 18TH


Broadstairs Writer's Circle. A meeting of creative writers in Thanet held twice monthly at Brown Jug Inn in Broadstairs between 19:30-21:30, reading and discussing their work.

TUESDAY 19TH


Thanet Families In Need Committee Community Interest Meeting: Open Invite. Local charity Thanet Families In Need have relocated to a new Community Center and are holding an open-invitation meeting with a chance to come and meet the people at the charity, see what it is that they do, find out about their forthcoming projects and plans, and sign up to be a volunteer if you so wish. We also invite other community organisations, charities, clubs, groups, projects ect to come along and see the wonderful space we have to offer. . Refreshments will be served.

WEDNESDAY 20TH


German Conversation Group. A get-together of German speakers at Gerry's Coffee And Art House in Ramsgate at 14:00.
Can Art Shape Our Values?, an interactive and unconventional seminar featuring special guests Dorothy Cross and Tom Crompton of WWF-UK, discussing the art of living together. Light supper included in entry price. 16:00-18:30, 4 concession, 6 full price.

THURSDAY 21ST


Viva La Dreg, a critically acclaimed show fresh from it's London fun, featuring special guest Sam Buttery from hit BBC series The Voice, live at Margate Winter Gardens. 19:30, tickets from 17.

FRIDAY 22ND


Observatory Public Viewing Evening at Monkton Nature Reserve. Between 19:00-23:00 come to Monkton Nature Reserve near Ramsgate to experience the wonder of the sky at night through the huge telescope there, weather permitting. Warm clothing is recommended, as is phoning on-the-day to assure that the event is still going ahead. Advanced booking is essential.

Retro Night at Totally Wired Margate featuring (the real) Bodger & Badger! Local alternative nightclub Totally Wired are having a retro music-themed night with a very, very special guest appearance from 'Bodger & Badger', stars of 80s childrens television fame, and a special photobooth where you can have your photographs taken by local photographer TK Studios Margate. A special 3 discounted entry is available for those that Comment on the Event Wall on their FaceBook. Entry is 5 otherwise. 22:00-02:00.

SATURDAY 23RD


Bram Stoker's Dracula live production at Theatre Royale in Margate. Tickets from 8, doors open at 19:30. Recommended for ages 13+.

'Time Bleeds' Film Screening and Q&A at The Turner Contemporary. No details regarding Q&A on the website, phone for more information. The film is an experimental documentary filmed in Folkestone that is centred around The First World War and the question what if we forget?. The film will be touring throughout the UK at various galleries, museums and heritage sites in 2014, but see it here first! Entry is free. 11:30am.

Wheels & Fins Xmas Bash at The Pavilion in Broadstairs. Live music from Bubble B, Triple Vs and DJ. Optional dress code of jackets & ties for gents and glamorous gowns for ladies. 19:30-01:00, 5 tickets in advance sold at Joss Bay Surf Shop on the High Street, or 10 on-the-door.

SUNDAY 24TH


Cliftonville Bandstand live music. Every Sunday from 10am. Free!

Cliftonville Farmer's Market, an Award-Winning Farmer's Market featuring bread, cheese, honey, fruit, vegetables, wild game and more, held once a month between 10:00-13:00 at the Eastern Esplanade.

Ramsgate Christmas Light Switch On, the official switching on of the seasonal lighting display in the Ramsgate Town Centre on the High Street, Kings Street, Queen Street and Harbour Street. KMFM will be in attendance, along with choir singers, a craft fair, children's rides, and of course Father Christmas in his Grotto at The King's Theatre. Festivities start at 10:00 and the lights switch on at 17:00.

Coffee & Mince Pie Morning, Margate Lifeboat Station are opening their doors to the public for a morning of festive fundraising in aid of RNLI with Father Christmas, Christmas cards, calendars, souvenirs, and of course coffee and mince pie as the title of the event suggests. 1 entry, including coffee and mince pie, all money going to RNLI. 10:00-12:00.

Quex-mas Craft Fair at the Powell-Cotton Museum Quex House & Gardens in Quex Park. An annual event featuring more than 70 stalls from the whole of Kent selling a range of goods for the season, live musical entertainment provided, and an option to visit Santa next to the roaring fire in the Quex House Dining Room. Open 10:00-16:00, entry fee 3 for adults, free entry for children with accompanying adult and no fee for car parking on the front meadow.

MULTIPLE DAYS


Saturday and Sunday: Model Railway Exhibition at St George's School in Broadstairs, featuring tracks, model trains, trade stands and more. 10:00-17:00 Saturday, 10:00-16:00 Sunday. Admission 2 children, 4 adults, 3.50 concessions.

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SNK Official Opening!

Local healthy eating establishment finally opens it's doors to the public!

SNK logo

Thanet Star recently covered an interesting eatery that was due to be opening near the Margate High Street.

Though they have struggled with delays due to funding, inspections, permits etc, they are finally opening their doors today to the public at midday!

The official launch will feature a special Christmas themed raffle with three prizes up for grabs. Tickets cost 50p each and a free ticket is provided to any customers who spend a minimum of 5.

The menu is viewable on their FaceBook Page, featuring "Create Your Own Smoothies", a beautiful Salad Bar selection, bagels, ciabattas, croissants, and of course the very British option of tea (and coffee).

Head-on down to try out their food and show your support for this new local business!

Thanet Star will of course be there to give our "take" and will have a full report and photographs for you later.

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Sport: Thanet Lions Women Hoping For Win

Show your support for our basketball ladies!

After the men's half of basketball team Thanet Lions won their first match for this season this week, the women are absolutely determined that they want to do just as well!

On their FaceBook Group, one player confidently said "so basically, we have decided we are going to just go ahead and win Sundays game"

The ladies have two matches this week, with one Away Game in Canterbury at Canterbury Christ Church CCCU Sports Centre at 18:45, followed by a Home Game at Ursuline College in Westgate-On-Sea at 20:15.

Thanet Star hope to be at Wednesday's game, speaking with some of the ladies and their coach and taking plenty of photographs.

If you like sport, attend either game to show your support for our local team!

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Did Clive Hart just threaten me?

I am hoping some people who know Clive Hart (TDC Leader) better might provide some insight.

Clive Hart

I messaged Clive on facebook regarding an ongoing twitter related topic. (More on that soon). His closing message went on about people abusing him and then reporting (other?) people to the police. Then out of the blue the last paragraph.

If I were you Mathew [sic] I'd be very careful who you talk to regarding your planned article.

Did Clive just threaten me?

Is he trying to recommend how I should blog?

I really do not know how to take that.

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SPORT: Basketball Win!

Local basketball team Thanet Lions won tonight

Congratulations to our very own men's basketball team Thanet Lions on their win tonight against Folkestone Saints, with a close score of 55-49!

The next game is at Tenterden on Monday, go along and show your support for our boys!

Thanet Star are hoping to cover a lot more sport, keep your eye on our website and Like us on Facebook for updates.

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Now with sports

In an effort to cover those things that other bloggers miss we bring you thanet sports.

now I must confess that I know next to nothing about sport but the other writers that have recently joined Thanet Star tell me that they have this in hand. They are looking at what different teams play where and it seems there are a lot more sports than there are writers in this team.

So if you attend a match or fixture perhaps you might like to share a match report? You would certainly do a better job than I could and see your words on the site.

Sport

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How is your post these days?

We here at Thanet Star HQ have been hearing that people have been experiencing problems with their "snail" mail.

Day 144 - Royal Mail
Have you had items returned undelivered?

Have you discovered that the postman failed to even leave a "Sorry We Missed You" card? Or maybe he or she did but failed to even knock or ring your doorbell first? (That's something that really irritates me).

Our Illisia has recently experienced similar difficulties. So far she has complained to Royal Mail on eight separate occasions.

Likewise family members have reported mail that was returned to sender without them ever knowing it had "arrived".

In one case we heard of a lady whose parcel was with a neighbour for almost a month because no card was left to tell her and being new to the area she preferred to keep to herself.

Are these isolated incidents?

Have you had problems lately?

What might be the root cause of this suddenly poor service? Share you experiences and insights on Facebook or in the comments below.

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SNK: Eat Healthy, Live Healthy

Thanet Star takes a sneak-peak at a unique forthcoming eatery in Margate

SNK logo
After hearing tell from several sources of a new eatery opening in the centre of Margate, we got in touch with the business and insisted on an interview to find out what all the fuss was about.

SNK, founded by twenty-two year old Kevin Peake, is a healthy eating option unlike any currently available in Thanet. The slogan above the windows reads 'Eat Healthy, Live Healthy', referring to the healthy eating options contained within. Unlike other 'chain' food providers in the area, this independent establishment provides a 'fast food' option that is tasty, but does not pile on the calories, and supports the local economy.

SNK exterior slogan, photo Illisia Adams

Both indoor and outdoor seating will be available, with hot and cold food options including a Salad Bar, croissants, ciabatta and bagels, all of which will be made from fresh - locally sourced where possible - ingredients. All drinks will be pure, no chemicals, with an option to concoct your own smoothie creation from the provided ingredients or select from their pre-prepared menu.

Kevin told us that he is not qualified for cooking food, but he has a real passion for it. The idea sprung from this passion, and from other similar businesses in London, where he is from. Honestly, when we first got in touch, I had no idea that I was speaking to someone so young! I was pleasantly surprised when we met in person at his age, yet maturity.

When I asked about where he got his funding, he told me to my disappointment of how Thanet Council did not provide funding for his business plan due to the location not being directly on Margate High Street, but this did not hold him back. Although, he admitted, his initial business plan was not very well written, it was well thought-out and so he took it to The Chamber Of Commerce who saw the potential and helped him develop his concept and get the funding needed to make it happen.

He had plenty of contagious positivity, meeting our concerns about his location with counter-facts about how being 'just off the High Street' in an enclosed area will protect him, his staff and customers from the weather, allowing for eating outside even during the colder months or rainy weather, and how he thinks that with a little time and effort, Margate could very much be brought back to life with plentiful shops and tourists, etc, and business will flourish.

SNK advert, from FaceBook

Kevin is convinced that SNK can stand with the mainstream competition, with the quality of their food spreading through word of mouth and personal experience of customers, attracting tourists and regulars. Parents in particular he hopes will prefer the make-your-own salad and smoothies option for their children rather than the 'Happy Meals' available at the local McDonalds, for instance.

With regards to the future, he spoke with us of hopes that SNK could work with local gyms, dance studios and other such businesses to encourage an overall more healthy lifestyle in the area, and has stated in an email to me when discussing his menu that he is hoping to add a bit more seafood choice into it and maybe a veg soup.

The commercial property was available for them to work on from September 5th, and although there have been various delays, myself and Matthew were impressed with the progress that had been made, in the space between then and now, by only a small team of friends and family working together to help. Even the exterior has been lovingly hand painted.

SNK hand painted exterior, photo Illisia Adams

The boards on the windows have now come down and final changes being made to the property before it has the required final inspections that will allow it to open, hopefully in time for the Christmas season.

You can Like them on FaceBook to show your support, view the menu, and stay informed of their progress, and Thanet Star will of course be doing follow-up reports on Kevin and his efforts.

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Demolition of building

Following the unauthorised demolition of a building in Ramsgate questions are being asked as to why it was torn down.

According to a quote in KentOnline it is a criminal offence for any person to carry out the demolition of buildings within conservation areas without valid planning permission. Which leaves one wondering what exactly happened (beyond scaring the pants off of locals).

At the time rubble spilled out into the road and caused quite a lot of disruption.

Reader Laura sent us these photographs of the building now that it has been cleared up.

Demolished building in Rmasgate

demolition of building within conservation area without valid planning permission.

...

» Continue Reading: Demolition of building

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The council gathers to approve the copy and paste...

On the 14th The Council meets to argue and rubber stamp it's way through another three hours* of questionable usefulness.

I am talking, of course, about a meeting of the cabinet of Thanet District Council. The commentary has already started on the things that will be discussed including plans for the port at Ramsgate which has already had suggestions of being copied from a council that knows what it is doing.

* If a full meeting is anything to go by

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The Royal Victoria Pavillion Ramsgate

Have Thanet District Council misled the people of Ramsgate regarding The Royal Victoria Pavillion?

That's the big question being asked at the moment.

The background story is this: After the Pavillion has sat empty for so long Thanet Council approached Wetherspoons about taking over the lease. However, it seems that they should have publically advertised the building allowing for competitive bids to come forward rather than creating an exclusive arrangement with the pub chain.

However they claimed in a press release that the Cabinet agreed to open up the marketing of the site in order to offer an extended lease of over 100 years to a new potential leaseholder. Whereas in reality it looks like Wetherspoons were approached directly and no one else got a look in. Naturally people are upset doubly so as Alan Poole (the councillor whose name was blanked considerably over the on going Pleasurama issue) is also deeply involved in this sell off too.

The bigger problem here is one of trust. With the lease being extended for 100 years if the pub chain fails to do anything then the building will still be empty and rotting long after every one of us has died of old age. The local commentary community do not have a lot of love, trust or confidence in Alan Poole as Pleasurama's lack of progress is already a giant elephant in the room.

Often sartirical blogger Eastcliffe Richard has even weighed in on this issue with a fairly seriouse post on the subject showing that there might be some things in this district too seriouse to joke about.

Local blogger and business owner Michael Child has been talking to Thanet's councillors in an effort to understand what is going on.

Alan Poole in a forwarded email cited on the blog called Wetherspoons the only 'game in town' which is hotly denied as incorrect and misleading.

Emma Irvine in an email to Michael Child has suggested that there may be grounds for Judicial Review of the actions of Thanet's council.

In an email (of unclear origin it is stated that There are both inaccuracies and more importantly references to minutes which are a misleading record of what exactly was proposed and agreed at cabinet level.

There is also the question of the building's stability as it is prone to flooding from the sea when storms get busy with the highest of the high tides coming right up tot he steps of the building and, as Michael Child points out, no sea defenses in place. Photos of the inside of The Royal Victoria Pavillion Ramsgate, Ramsgate which were taken by the aforemetnioned Michael Child who tells us that the building is already over a hundred years old.

Royal Victoria Pavillion
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Well, that's embarrassing.

Sharp eyed readers will have noticed that an old story about folk week managed to find its way to the front page today.

For reasons that I am currently looking into a draft folk week article that was never published from earlier in the year managed to find its way into today's news stream. The chances are that this was due to upgrades and fixes that were applied last night.

Don't you just love technology.

Gremlins
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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
Help us remove these Ads.
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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.

Facts
 
 

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