The Broadstairs Tree Massacre: Following the money (part 1)
I recently picked up on this press release: "Demo to be held against tree massacre". I had to wonder why this centre was being build and who actually wanted it. I asked questions but I found too few answers.
Michael Child has published some of the planning diagrams. However none of the press releases allowed me to "follow the money".
I spent most of the morning tracking down information about the Pierremont Park development. I tried to contact Mark Nottingham (Labour) for whom this was the wrong part of Thanet, Clive Hart (Labour) who failed to answer and Chris Wells (Conservative) who refused to answer. This might be because Clive Hart has been ignoring bloggers and Chris Wells only seems to manage a "no comment" these days.
The first clue came from Liberal Democrat hopeful Louisa Latham who pointed me to this. However upon chasing Thanet District Council for answers no one seemed to know of the Pierremont Park development as a financial issue. Whatever part of TDC is funding this (if indeed they are) they are keeping things most secret.
The plan is based on the original plans submitted in December 2005 by a "Community Centre Trust" with the proposed centre being built where Park Hall currently stands. The question I was starting to ask was - who benefits from this and who was funding this trust?
Changes to the plans were made and approved in 2008 but this failed to become anything after Thanet College's planned move to Westwood was cancelled in 2009 which meant the community centre trust did not get much-needed funds under a planning agreement.
Finally the trust failed to get hold of a £2,000,000 grant from another trust and that seemed like the end of the plans. However someone somewhere must know what or who has happened to bail out this questionable plan and that someone is also likely to know what benefit our local authorities are getting from it.
A new development (planning application F/TH/05/1175) which has so upset people is (it is said) being funded by Broadstairs Town Council and with Thanet District Council and Kent County Council. Which makes it look more like a land grab for yet more office space for councils. However Thanet District Council seem to be misleading me or as much in the dark as I am.
Did they not get enough when they moved operations in the library?
Why do they need office space in the park too?
What I have to wonder is why £2,000,000 can be spent on an unpopular building but Margate caves can't have a tenth of that (£200,000)? Two million quid would be more than enough to reopen at least some of our museums or build some much needed social housing.
Residents of Broadstairs are upset that the Council will be cutting down trees needlessly in the park and yet there is a site there already where a building already exists and is going to be knocked down. It seems to many like a lack of joined up thinking.
Twenty trees in Broadstairs' Pierremont Park are threatened with the axe in order to make way for the controversial new £2 million "community centre" in Broadstair's historic Pierremont Park which, to me, resembles new office space for councils which are "down sizing".
A demonstration against the cutting down of trees in a Broadstairs park has been organized for Sunday 6th March.
The proposals have always been a disaster for green space in Broadstairs.Said Chair of South Thanet Liberal Democrat's and Bradstow Ward Candidate Louisa Latham.
But to add insult to injury, it now seems the town council want to use taxpayers' money to fund a so-called community centre that Broadstairs residents don't want.
I asked Louisa if she felt this was the right way for funds to be spent.
This comes at a time when Broadstairs needs all the investment it can get in existing amenities. She said.
As local traders continue to struggle, public toilets continue to close and our tourist economy is threatened, she added,
it seems our Conservative councillors still want to feather their nests with plush offices rather than look after the community they were elected to serve.
So it seems that I'm not the only one wondering why the council's of Thanet and Kent are trying to build office buildings on our parks when better venues and more pressing needs exist.
Norman Thomas of pressure group, the Thanet Action Group, said there is huge anger among local people at the proposal.
People are outraged by the whole idea. Pierremont is an incredibly small park – losing twenty trees will scalp the place.
Mr Thomas is not the only one to express anger at the loss of the last of our green spaces.
I have never seen so much destruction done to one area in 20 years, as I have experienced in Thanet. says Thanet Star reader Carole Russell
It is absolute sacriledge as to how different Governments and different Councils have ignored the once beautiful buildings and facilities Thanet had and allowed them to fall into rack and ruin. Not to mention the loss of so much farmland (which we shall desperately miss in the future) school playing fields, wooded walks,open spaces, animals in paddocks and pens and more.
this stretch of Thanet between Margate and Broadstairs was a lovely place to be, a lovely place to live. And then the houses came, lots of them. says Yourthanet editor Dave Mairs talking about how Thanet has changed.
As for the rest of us, we are left with a wholly impoverished environment and find ourselves living somewhere that really isn't that special any more – certainly not when compared with how it once was.