Thanet Star

Thanet's Divide

I'm sure that you're aware of the divide in Thanet - the geological divide, that is.

Margate: The place you don't want to walk alone at night.

Broadstairs: The place that you could leave your door open all night with a sign outside that says "I have millions in gold sitting in my lounge" and be safe.

Ramsgate: The one in between. Be wary but you're probably okay.

At least, that's what image they have. For the longest time, I've argued the toss that these opinions aren't accurate. Margate has its problems but it's not as bad as it's made out to be. Broadstairs isn't as great as it is believed to be. That's actually pretty true about Ramsgate, to be fair.

I recently saw crime stats for Thanet that did nothing but reinforce these notions. Kent police published the number of call outs specific streets had for violent and sexual assaults so far this year. Broadstairs had a grand total of one street with other 10 call outs. Ramsgate had 5 with the highest being 25 and an average of 14.6 callouts.

To put all of those into perspective, across the 5 Ramsgate streets there were a grand total of 73 calls. Northdown Road had 75 alone. Margate had 37 streets with over 10 call outs.

You can see the full details here and have a look to see if your street is on the list.

There's clearly a divide that does exist. There's even a life expectancy difference between the towns. If you live in Cliftonville West you're expected to live a couple of years less than if you live in outside the ward.

Why is there this divide? I don't have the answer, unfortunately, but there are numerous social-economical differences between the areas and that isn't helping. It's been well established now that poverty causes a lot of problems in the area, especially when the entire area is impoverished. Recently, Thanet Star's editor published an article over on Lord Matt calling on Thanet's people to start on the path to end the poverty in the area. Head over and have a look. It's not going to solve all of our problems, but if we can make a start, lessen the divide between the areas and unleash the potential in this isle that we call home, isn't that our duty?

David Chitty is a Thanet local who spends far too much time tending to his beard. He can be found on davidchitty.com or on Facebook.
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The Devil's Dilemma

To be in a dilemma is to be stuck between a rock and a hard place, caught between the Devil and the deep blue sea. Whichever way you look at it, itís not a good place to be.

It seems that Thanet District Council have found themselves in just such a dilemma, not that they have realised it yet.

A few years ago the media was all over the Dreamland campaign, talking about bringing it back and returning jobs and trade to the area, boosting the local economy, and so forth. Then, a year or two later, Manston closed. Save Manston, the people cried. There were campaigns and everything, and that became not only the focus of the media but of the parliamentary election for South Thanet.

Then last week it was announced that Sands Heritage Ltd, the company that runs Dreamland, have gone into administration. National press have covered this, locals are outraged, there are social media campaigns, everyone is talking about Save Dreamland (again).

Which is where we come to the dilemma. Thanet District Council have never been renowned for their accountancy skills, often sinking huge budgets into failed causes, and the current council leader has been declared bankrupt. That in itself lends little faith to the likelihood of TDC saving Manston, which they have been promising since the current batch were elected on that very pledge. Now, with Dreamland, there are two huge causes to deal with, and the council do not have the resources to go full steam on both.

Devoting its entire attention to rescuing Manston almost fully occupies up the Thanet District Council legal department, save for enough time for routine work. There is no budget for extra legal assistance, so no possible way any staff can be assigned to Dreamland. Unless, of course, Manston is put on hold and efforts are concentrated on an intervention into Dreamland. Either way, there can be only one, and even then a positive result is not guaranteed.

The only options we, the people of Thanet, have, is to choose which of these two dying behemoths we want to save. Manston, a loss-making enterprise that loses out to larger sites near London, or Dreamland, a loss-making enterprise that loses out to larger sites near London. That, unfortunately, is the dilemma.

About Seb: When he is not writing guest posts for Thanet Star Seb Reilly is an amateur writer and occasional musician from Thanet. Seb maintains a website at www.sebreilly.com.
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The Windmill Community Gardens.

I would like to think that most people would be against the mass use of chemicals that we use on fresh food these days.

It's been well established now that it has had a negative effect on our environment. The soil that we need to grow our food is degrading, this is resulting in more chemicals being pumped into the ground to counter this. The cycle repeats until we all start having to eat dust. There are other impacts, but, essentially if we keep farming the way that we are then we're pretty much screwed. So, how do we stop this?

Don't buy it. You don't buy something, the people will stop making it. I know all too well the argument of price, however, when it comes to buying organic or chemical free products. It's an argument that I myself use. I buy food that's laced with so many chemicals that I'm surprised my food doesn't glow. If organic food cost the same as non-organic food, I'd buy organic. But it can't cost the same; more work has gone into getting that chemical free product to your shopping trolley than its chemical counterpart. More work means more money.

What can we all do then? A little bit does go a long way. The majority of the fresh produce that I buy is not organic. But I do buy some that's chemical free. There's a great little place in Dane Valley called the Windmill Community Gardens. They run a great selection of activities but, I'm sure you've guessed where I'm going with this, they also sell chemical free produce.

Every Tuesday the Garden has a market stall between 12 and 4pm at their site on the corner of Dane Valley and College Road. On the stall, you'll be able to buy locally grown, seasonal fruit and veg and it's all chemical free. And it opens its door again this week - 17th May 2016 in case you're reading this in the future - The products they sell on the stall are beautiful.

I know it's cliche to say that they taste better, but they really do. They also have a weekly veg box scheme that delivers a bag of veg to a multitude of different locations around Thanet for as little as 6 pound a week. What have you got to lose?

Windmill Community Gardens truly is a Thanet Star...

David Chitty is a Thanet local who spends far too much time tending to his beard. He can be found on davidchitty.com or on Facebook.
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Shop Local

Thereís 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 donít 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 an amateur 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 hadnít visited before, and by default stumbling across strange creatures.

Maybe these things shouldnít 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 youíre not shocked.

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

Who knows what else is here? Theyíre 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 an amateur writer and occasional musician from Thanet. Seb maintains a website at www.sebreilly.com.
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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.

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Did you know?

Margate was the first seaside resort to introduce deck chairs way back in 1898.

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MP Roger Gail (Thanet North) wanted to increase VAT

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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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