Thanet Star

Shop Local

There’s a term that is often bandied around in Thanet these days - "shop local".

It sometimes appears with a hashtag: #shoplocal. It is all over the various local Facebook groups and Twitter feeds, proudly displayed by those who brandish it as a banner of their local loyalty, and rightly so.

Within me there is a defiant punk streak, something that rallies against the establishment of corporate chains and mass production. It is the part of me that loathes franchises and international brands, and embraces the shop local ethos.

For example, if I am in Margate and fancy a decent coffee, I choose my destination carefully. I will walk past McDonalds whilst wondering why anyone would go there for a coffee, even if what they serve is better than Starbucks. I will avoid Costa, and instead walk down to Proper Coffee House. There are two reasons for this: firstly, I don’t want to support a global corporation that already has pushed local traders out of business and insists on setting up shop on every possible high street; and secondly, because Proper Coffee House do better coffee.

Similarly, if I am in Broadstairs of an evening and want a beverage of the alcoholic variety, I will frequent one of the many independent pubs that appear there. The beer is better, the service is better, the atmosphere is better, everything is better.

This column is now in danger of becoming a rant, so for some perspective I will consider the downside of shopping locally.

It is so easy to drop into a supermarket and pick up all the food you could want for a month, and I have to be honest and say that I do this. The cost of purchasing all those items from local shops, plus the inconvenience, means that supermarkets have the upper hand. It is a shame. I don't buy vegetables from the supermarket, though.

A few years ago I joined a veg box scheme, which basically means I pay a monthly subscription and then every Thursday go and collect a bag of fresh vegetables. Not only are the vegetables organic, and usually still covered in soil as they have just been picked, but I also have an excuse to visit one of my favourite independent pubs to pick up the bag each week.

Ultimately I believe in and fully support shop local, and I think it is an excellent idea, in principle. Reality, however, can sometimes be a little more complicated.

About Seb: When he is not writing guest posts for Thanet Star Seb Reilly is a fiction writer and occasional musician from Thanet. Seb maintains a website at www.sebreilly.com.
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Hidden Creatures

Have you ever turned a corner and found yourself face to face with somewhere, or something, that you were not expecting?

There are lots of hidden places in Thanet; unique parts of it that can only be discovered by wandering around. I often find myself walking through new and interesting areas I hadn’t visited before, and by default stumbling across strange creatures.

Maybe these things shouldn’t be surprising. Animals live in the world, same as we do, and we all share the space. If you see a cat or a dog or a pigeon or a seagull you’re not shocked.

But this is a place where wild green parakeets live in the trees.

Who knows what else is here? They’re all over Thanet, these things. Odd beasts lurking around the corner, just waiting to be found.

There is something special about unearthing a hidden world, a patch of the land that is lesser tread. Seeking them out becomes an adventure. Sometimes you have to go a little further, stray outside the boundaries, but within a short distance of Thanet the most bizarre sights can be seen.

Have you found any?

About Seb: When he is not writing guest posts for Thanet Star Seb Reilly is a fiction writer and occasional musician from Thanet. Seb maintains a website at www.sebreilly.com.
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Roads closed after man climbs on roof

In the early hours of yesterday morning a man in Cliftonville climbed onto a roof forcing roads to be closed and people evacuated because he was throwing roof tiles.

Firefighters attempted to reach the man on the roof of the Riz Restaurant building on the corner of Ethelbert Road.

Police attempted to negotiate with the man but it is still unclear at this stage why he was on the roof.

According to the BBC Insp Julien Lawton said the safety of the public and the man was the force's primary concern.

@Kent_Online tweated these pictures of the drama unfolding.

According to the Kent Online Website: Housing officers from Thanet council have arranged to work a shift pattern at the centre, where they are offering refreshments and advice. By which I can only guess they mean that Thanet council have been manning a centre to support local residents displaced by the drama.

Kent Online Website also report that a Thanet council spokesman has said: Anyone unable to find a place to stay due to the evacuation will be put up in a local hotel.

I imagine that this has been a trying time for people who have been kept out of their homes by the man's actions.

By all accounts the man clearly intended to stay up there as long as possible. He is said to have a duvet and tablet PC.

Whatever his motivation for causing the disruption he clearly had time to think about what he was doing. Which leaves me wondering what on earth could have driven the fellow to such an extreme?

Local reactions have mostly been curiosity and interest.

Have you been displaced by the drama? What are your thoughts on what has been going on? Comment on site or tweet us @ThanetStar.

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Council board up sleeping space used by homeless

It seems that right now everyone has an opinion on the issue of Thanet's homeless.

Bringing things to the fore, most recently, was the highly visible use the shelter on Margate seafront. Where, as we mentioned in our Facebook post homeless people were highly visible.

Thanet Council's response: board up the shelter.

Showing an alarming lack of compassion and an equal absence of any understanding, the UKIP led council applied for an eviction notice claiming that the damage and graffiti (which had been there a long time) was caused by the homeless people that had recently moved in. A TDC spokesperson cited vandalism, graffiti and unsanitary conditions as well as drug use as their reason for acting.

The council managed to hit every last negative stereotype without offering the slightest evidence for their claims.

There are 48 homeless people the Thanet Gazette says, in story called THEIR STORY: Coldest night of year – and 'home' is a seafront shelter.

In stark contrast to the Council's heartless claims, the homeless themselves tell the unnamed journalist that rather than damaging the space they have actually been caring for it.

We clean up with a broom every day. says Mark, 58.

We do try and keep it clean. says David, 44.

One has to wonder if the true reason for TDC acting was that the council was simply embarrassed by the visible homelessness. This blogger has serious doubts about the validity of the TDC boilerplate claims.

The public seems largely unimpressed with the council's actions. Many taking to social media to say so.

For clarity, I should point out that @Thanet is a news twitter page unconnected with TDC.

Not all the people of Thanet are as sympathetic. One stand out commenter was simply upset that the homeless were mentioned in a hotel review.

Have a heart @Bob_Thanet.

To their credit, Thanet District Council claim to have finally housed most of the homeless from the shelter. An impressive u-turn, given that four weeks ago the homeless people were saying that TDC told them that they "were not a priority".

I will be a lot more impressed when and if the council house all the homeless people in Thanet and not just the ones that are embarrassing them by being seen.

What do you think? Did TDC do the right thing, even if it was for the wrong reasons? Could TDC do more and should they have acted sooner?

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Social Drinking

Lately, I have been thinking about the great British tradition of the pub. Thanet has more than its fair share, and that is most definitely a good thing.

The pub is a great social gathering point, a place to meet and spend time with others. Whenever my family roll into town and want to see me they always suggest a pub. The writing group I am part of, Thanet Writers, meet in a pub. I recently had a business meeting in a pub, and last week I was involved in some filming, also in a pub. The pub is the hub of the hubbub.

Personally, I'm quite fond of the micropub, a trend that began up the road in Herne back in 2005 with The Butcher's Arms. To date there are 169 micropubs, thirteen of which are within the Thanet borders.

There is even a tour that takes you around a selection of the local establishments. I had the dubious pleasure of taking this tour last year, and I must confess that upon reaching the end I could see twice as many people as when I started and the ground had developed a habit of moving like the deck of a ship on a rough sea.

Some take visiting pubs to a different level, touring the country to attend some of the most interesting and strange places. This is not something I indulge in, per se, but I have been to the oldest pub in the country, Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem, founded in 1189AD in Nottingham.

Locally there is plenty of variety, from pubs that double as bookshops to former undertaker's yards, and pretty much everything in between.

Even those that do not drink can enjoy the humble Thanetian pub as it is a place to spend time and enjoy the company of others. It can also be a location for excess and drunkenness, but so can a park bench. That doesn’t mean you can’t spend time there and enjoy the surroundings; you just choose the time you visit sensibly.

So let's raise a glass to the pub, a fine and valued tradition that is still alive and well in Thanet, and long may that continue.

About Seb: When he is not writing guest posts for Thanet Star Seb Reilly is a fiction writer and occasional musician from Thanet. Seb maintains a website at www.sebreilly.com.
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