Friday, April 11, 2008

Seaside Postcard 73: a familiar tale

ramsgate comic postcardA familiar theme today - lack of money forcing a change of plan. Feeling in the need for a general rant, I'd have to say that this card applies to our locality in a number of ways...

First, after a horrible week for lovers of Dreamland, it feels like another nail in the coffin - and if there just aren't the places to spend the money, how can we benefit from visitors? The other thing that baffles me completely is the economics of property development. I mean I understand the idea of building buy to lets, but the 500 or so flats being built at the Sea Bathing Hospital are going to take some shifting, given that you can buy (or rent) a nice victorian 3-4 bed house for the same price. And that's just one site among several quite large developments across the isle. Similarly, the plans for the Dreamland site included retail as one of the key elements - in a town with one third of its retail space currently available, and a council plan that rightly or wrongly directs any major retailers to Westwood Cross, just which businesses are going to fill this site? And new shops imply an increase in total consumer spending - or do the rest of the 'old' shops have to fall by the wayside to provide the cash flow for th new ones?

Secondly, as interest rates keep coming down, I can't help feeling that many of the banks are just seeing this as the Bank of England giving them a hand to keep their profits up, without feeling the need to pass on those cuts to borrowers. Some are, certainly, but others are currently raising rates, removing mortgage products, and generally finding new ways to make money from us. HSBC are sounding very helpful by offering to provide mortgages to people at their existing rate (if you meet some better criteria, have 20% plus equity etc) but are charging up to £5,000 fees for 'arranging' this mortgage. I though the interest was their fee, but then I'm ever so old-fashioned... and worried about our tracker deal ending in September - I expect we'll meet the income and equity requirements, after all we did when we got the mortgage in the first place two years ago, but just chucking away an extra £5,000 for the privilege is a non-starter... it's this cunning means of subtly forcing people on the standard variable rates whilst pretending to continue offering fixes and trackers that will boost their profits ever higher.

OK enough misery, the sun is shining, and it's been quite a nice week so far. The dredger appears to be beavering away in the harbour, we've got the Heineken Challenge delivering 20 or so old and old-looking sailing ships in one go next Thursday, so we'll have just a flavour of how it used to be...

And anyway, everything will be fine when the high speed train gets here next year. And the Chinese. And Thanet Earth. And the Turner Centre. And our new old library. And our new hotel, conference centre and shops on the seafront. Boom times ahead, clearly.

More postcards and less ranting coming next, I promise.

1 comment:

Michael Child said...

Zumi good rant I think though we need to be looking for solutions and fundamentally that means, stop any further residential development on leisure, shop, car park, school sites and in peoples back gardens to retain proper towns. So don’t forget to have a rant at your MP as that would need government legislation.

Also you could like us boycott out of town shopping and the shops like M&S that have grown profitable in our towns and then left them, well in the case of Margate, “to die” is the phrase that comes to mind, well I am trying to avoid using them altogether.

Oh yes and thanks for all the pictures recently