Sunday, October 07, 2007

Dawn ramblings...

I try very hard to avoid serious comment here, on politics, economics and certainly sport, mostly because of my sceptico-cynical assumption that little I say or do will affect what THEY do anyway, and I can't imagine anyone else is interested in my opinions, but as I'm pointlessly awake at 6 am on a Sunday, I might as well let off a little steam.

ELECTION FEVER - very funny to see David Cameron ranting on the news last night about Gordon Brown "cancelling the election". Well not quite Dave, you can't cancel a decision that was never announced and you just got so caught up in the combination of Brown's apparent dithering and pretty obvious spinning and the inevitable poll bounce that follows a moderately successful conference that you thought you were in with a chance. Although Gordon Brown has come out of this looking a bit (a lot?) indecisive, and spinning just as dizzily as his predecessor he now knows several key Tory policies which he can either demolish or steal in the next few months. I expect everyone will be hopping up and down for a week or two, but then we'll be back to business as usual - and the idea that Gordon really needs a mandate is of course rubbish - at an election we elect MPs to represent a constituency, it's not a Presidential election system just yet (although Blair did his best to make it one, after the huge strides in that direction by Margaret Thatcher).

RUGBY - not normally a big fan, but the two matches yesterday, England-Australia and New Zealand-France were as exciting as you could possibly hope for. Damn. Now I'll have to watch the rest of the World Cup.

PROPERTY - house prices are finally starting to fall, mortgage lending is down 11% on the same period last year, HIPS has had some effect with fewer 3 and 4 bed properties coming on to the market, and repossessions are bound to increase as the end of two and three year deals sees a big bounce in monthly payments for many, and renting is officially cheaper than buying for the first time in many years. And yet the rush to build 2 bed flats across the whole of England seems unstoppable. I really want Margate's Sea Bathing Hospital and Ramsgate's Royal Crescent developments to succeed - lovely old buildings, nicely done up, and of course we should welcome the spending power of new residents, but surely there's a limit to the number of new flats that can be sold. Or is there?

LOCAL DEVELOPMENTS - ok, I'm a newcomer to Thanet (hey, it's been over a year now), but it's still a little depressing to see things apparently under threat all over the place. Unique local cinemas threatened by the forthcoming multiplex; harbourside cafe culture in Ramsgate threatened by a likely endless stream of construction traffic; grammar schools under threat without promising an obviously better solution; Dreamland under threat along with its cinema. The Up-side? Well local support for better alternatives is heartening, if they can just get past the apparently remorseless barriers of council and big business interests.

SOLUTIONS - oh that's easy. In no particular order (and no claims to originality for these of course): a combined heritage and modern amusement park for Dreamland with just enough housing around the edges to make it a viable development; site access to the Pleasurama (sorry Royal Sands) construction site through the old railway tunnel; West Cliff Hall returned to public use; Royal Pavilion also returned to the public for creative and cultural use, incorporating an indoor arts and crafts market, performance and gallery space, cafes on the terrace and windows you can look through - and a camera obscura on the terrace too; an initiative to bring in some quirky and mainstream retail to both Ramsgate and Margate to keep the town centres alive whilst allowing Westwood Cross to sell the boring stuff - peppercorn rents for a period to allow fledgling businesses to have a go and do for King Street (Ramsgate) and the High Street (both Margate and Ramsgate) what North Laine and Old High Street have done for Brighton and Folkestone; get Ramsgate town council up and running and pray TDC don't use all their powers (including the mighty power of indifference) to sabotage it; keep the post offices open if the subpostmasters (not the PO) think they're viable businesses; oh and dredge the harbour.

With the high speed rail line (and maybe those shiny new trains to service and maintain), all the jobs from that big greenhouse complex and the planned windfarm, not to mention the inhabitants of all the new flats, the Chinese tech employers on the industrial estate (haven't heard much about that recently) there should be some sort of financial inflow due in the next year or two - if we can just combine that with a lively and interesting cultural, architectural and retail environment then it'll be just luvverly.

That's that solved then. Still no sign of daylight. Sigh.


Eastcliff Richard said...

Couldn't agree more with that.

I'm sure the Tories are secretly relieved that the 'election' is off. As for the local stuff, why don't you have a word with Gerry O'Ramsgate? I hear he's a bit short of candidates for the teeny-tiny council elections which are due next year. Heck, I might go and have a chat with him myself!

ZumiWeb said...

hmmm, I'm not sure a newcomer would do too well in local elections, even if I did fancy public office (which I don't, the thought terrifies and disgusts me in equal measure). I'm sure there's a local bookshop owner somewhere who'd be a much better candidate...

Eastcliff Richard said...

I'm with you on the terrify/disgust thing. But I think I'd be more terrified and disgusted if the Tories had their evil way with Ramsgate.

As for being a newcomer, don't give it a moment's thought. We'll outnumber the locals 2:1 in a few years anyway!

BTW, forgot to say congrats on your 1st Ramsgate birthday!