Tuesday 25 February 2020

Public Meeting: Margate's Millions! - Thursday 27th Feb - Come and discuss how to best spend £25 million to benefit local people

Back in September 2019, the Government announced a list of 101 towns eligible to each bid up to £25m as part of the £3.6bn Towns Fund. Margate was one of the towns listed as eligible to bid for this money. I've previously written about the background to this funding here. In my piece, I pointed out that underlying research behind the scheme identified the areas of Dance Valley and Cliftonville West as the reason why the funds were targeted in our town.

On February 10th 2020, members of civil society groups in Margate and Cliftonville sent an open letter to Thanet District Council regarding the bid. Read the signable letter here. I'm a co-signee of the letter and also co-organiser of the following event. We believe its imperative local people are involved in this whole process of this bid for Margate.

These civil society groups have come together to organise a public meeting called ‘Margate’s Millions’. The meeting will be a chance for citizens of the town to discuss how we could use this multi-million-pound scheme to improve the lives of local people.

Margate residents are invited to come together on Thursday 27th February 2020 to start the conversation with their neighbours. The event is free and open to the public. It starts at 7.30pm sharp at St Paul's Community Centre, Cliftonville, CT9 2DB. The venue has limited capacity so all are advised to come early to avoid disappointment. Please signup for a place at Eventbrite.
The Margate Millions event has been organised by A Better Cliftonville, the Grotto Hill Area Street Scheme, the Gordon Road Area Street Scheme, the Athelstan Road Tenants and Residents' Association and the Margate Conservation Area Advisory Group.

More info:

Monday 24 February 2020

Community Group Reps Send Open Letter to Thanet District Council Regarding the £25 million Margate Town Deal Fund

On February 10th, representatives of Margate community groups sent an open letter to Thanet District Council regarding the process and implementation of the £25 million Margate Town Deal funding from central government.

You can sign it here.

Monday, February 10th, 2020

Dear Madeline Homer and Cllr. Rick Everitt,

We were delighted to learn that Margate had been invited to bid for up to £25 million from the Towns Fund set up by the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG). Spent wisely, £25 million could have a transformative impact on the social fabric and economy of Margate.

However, we are concerned that very little has been published by Thanet District Council (TDC) about the bid so far. Councils leading bids must, according to the Government, be “open by default.” and they should publish the Town Deal Board’s governance and ways of working. Following which, the assembled Town Deal Board appoints a Chair.

We understand that you are advertising for the role of Chair before you have appointed a Board, which is the wrong way round.

We call on TDC to advertise the vacancies for the Town Deal Board so that residents who wish to serve have a chance to put themselves forward. We also call on you to explain to residents how the Board will be appointed and how it will engage with the town’s citizens.

We call on TDC to appoint a Board that reflects the diversity of our town and to pay particular attention to the communities in Dane Valley and Cliftonville West. Margate has been invited to bid for £25 million because of the unique challenges these wards face. It would be wrong to appoint a Board that did not enlist the insights and understanding of the people who live here.

We call on TDC to appoint a Board that consists of people who live in Margate, or who possess deep and relevant expertise and a track record of outstanding public service. We expect all Board Members to abide by the seven Nolan Principles of public life, as stipulated by the Government:

1. Selflessness
2. Integrity
3. Objectivity
4. Accountability
5. Openness
6. Honesty
7. Leadership

Furthermore, all Board members must meet the most stringent available “fit and proper persons” tests. Given the impact of austerity on our town we are particularly anxious to ensure that no individual found to have engaged in tax avoidance be permitted to serve on the Board.

We call on TDC to allocate some of the money it has already received from central government (£162,019) to encourage meaningful participation from all of our citizens in the development of the bid. We remind you that the town does not have long. The Government’s Prospectus states that bids must be submitted by the end of the Summer.

We are all members of civil society groups in Margate and Cliftonville. We don’t claim any special authority, but we want to see Margate flourish. Let’s make sure the bid we submit at the end of the Summer is as strong as it can be, by bringing the town together from the very outset around a vision for our shared future.

Yours sincerely,

Joe Bacon, ARTRA
Simon Bell, GRASS
Stephen Darrer, GRASS
Jo Goodson, ABC
Hubert Green, Margate Conservation Area Advisory Group
Kate Harrison, ABC
Dan Hind, GHASS
Liam Nabb, Margate Conservation Area Advisory Group
Louise Oldfield, Margate Conservation Area Advisory Group
Matt Shoul, ARTRA
Peter Thomas, Margate Conservation Area Advisory Group

Tuesday 28 January 2020

Research behind £25m Towns Fund for Margate cite Dane Valley and Cliftonville West as key communities in need

Back in September 2019 the Government announced a list of 101 towns eligible to each bid up to £25m as part of the £3.6bn Towns Fund.

Margate was one of the towns listed as eligible.

On November 1st, the Government published the Towns Fund Prospectus which laid out the details on the thinking and research behind the need for the fund and the process Lead Councils should follow to administer the £25m fund, set up a Town Deal Board, and develop Investment Plans to apply for the funding by the summer of 2020.

On January 16th, Thanet District Council (TDC) posted an advertisement on their website with a job description for the role of Chair of the Margate Town Deal Board. The deadline set by Thanet District Council for applications is February 10th. The job description listed a series of attributes/skillset for applicants. These are not from the government Prospectus:

"Person Specification
- Proven ability to think strategically
- Relevant experience of a senior or influential position demonstrating strategic leadership and effectiveness over a significant period
- Experience of providing effective direction and leadership, including developing, implementing and monitoring corporate business strategies
- Ability to apply interpersonal, influence and networking skills to build commitment and consensus within a wide constituency of business community and political stakeholders and to deliver agreed outcomes
- Knowledge of Thanet is desirable
- Experience of regeneration and economic development
- A background in the private sector, which could include a Community Interest Company"

According to the Government Prospectus published in November, TDC will have received capacity funding of £162,019 to cover the costs of:

“- Running business and wider community engagement events;
- Developing Town Investment Plans;
- Providing technical expertise for business case development;
- Convening [a] Town Deal Board.”

The Government Prospectus outlines a specific process and states that Lead Councils should publish the Town Deal Board’s governance and ways of working. Following which, the assembled Town Deal Board appoints a Chair:

“2.23  The Lead Council should publish the Town Deal Board’s governance structure and ways of working, such as a statement for how the board will engage stakeholders and agree decisions over time. Lead Councils should set out how capacity funding will be spent, and how that will support the process of developing a good Town Investment Plan.
2.24  Whilst the Town Deal Board serves an advisory function to the Lead Council, we expect all members to adhere to the Nolan Principles, set out clear Terms of Reference, and agree to a Code of Conduct.
2.25  While we recognise that each place is different, Town Deal Boards should appoint a Chair. Where appropriate we expect this Chair to be from the private sector.”

- The Prospectus states the process of setting up the Town Deal Boards and the development of Investment Plans should be ‘open by default’.
- That the terms of governance and ways of working should be published on the Council’s website.
- And, crucially, that the Town Deal Board should themselves appoint a Chair.
- The funding already allocated of £169,019 should be utilised from the beginning of the outlined process to engage with local people in the community.
- Local people have talents and knowledge. Funding is stated as eligible to be spent on bringing in business expertise, should it be required, to support the work of the board. What’s imperative is that the process is open and transparent and seen to be so.

Background to the Towns Fund scheme
The fund Prospectus mentions ‘levelling up’ of a number of regions in the UK that are the background to this funding allocation. Margate is a coastal town on the east coast. This is related to recently published research that identified some of the UK’s areas that are facing unique challenges in combatting deprivation levels.

Why is Margate one of the 101 towns chosen for funding?
The Towns Fund Prospectus references research that was commissioned by Local Trust, an organisation that was established in 2012 to run the National Lottery-funded Big Local scheme. This committed £1m each to 150 neighbourhoods across England. You might have heard of the Big Local scheme in Newington, also in Thanet. Through their work with communities, Local Trust found that some towns and areas suffering high deprivation faced further difficulties and challenges, predominantly around the lack of meeting spaces, connectivity and transport. This restricts the ability of communities to come together to meet, organise to rejuvenate. Local Trust commissioned research consultancy Oxford Consultants for Social Inclusion (OCSI) a spinout from the Social Disadvantage Research Centre at the University of Oxford. The resulting research is covered in the report Left Behind? Understanding Communities on the Edge report, published in September 2019.

“The report suggests that places to meet, connectivity – both physical and digital – and an active, engaged community are vital to secure better social and economic outcomes for people living in deprived neighbourhoods.” Local Trust, 2019
OCSI have now developed the Community Needs Index. This is available to public authorities and organisations.

The data within the Community Needs Index lists two Wards in Margate: Cliftonville West and Dane Valley.

Cliftonville West Ward

Dane Valley Ward

It makes sense, therefore, that investment funding from the Margate Towns Fund is prioritised to benefit those two areas within the future Margate Town Investment Plan. This is because the data behind the Left Behind? Report, the Community Needs Index are referenced in the Towns Fund prospectus and thinking. Margate is identified as eligible for this funding, because of the challenges identified within Cliftonville West and Dane Valley. That’s not to say that 100% of the funding should be allocated there, but it’s evident that improving the lives of people living in these two wards and should be a clear focus.

OCSI kindly provided me with data sheets to share, illustrating this. Google Sheet here.  There are other areas of Thanet within the Community Needs Index (Eastcliff, Newington and Northwood). However, they are not part of Margate and the 101 towns selected by the government this time around for funding.

More information from Local Trust on the Community Needs Index:

"It supports the case for new solutions to ‘level up’ civic infrastructure (such as community centres, libraries, green spaces) and improve connectivity and community engagement. It asks government to answer the call of the Community Wealth Fund Alliance for the next wave of dormant assets from stocks, shares, bonds, insurance and pension funds to be invested in left-behind neighbourhoods for this purpose. 
The report also asks government to establish a joint cross-government/civil society task force to consider evidence and develop recommendations to improve social and economic outcomes for people in left-behind areas, and to allocate an appropriate proportion of the £3.6bn Stronger Towns Fund and the proposed UK Shared Prosperity Fund to them.’"

What needs to happen, is that local people are actively involved and invited to participate with the entire process, and this should include the decision-making and assembling the administration of the funding scheme. This should include recruitment to the Town Deal Board, the appointment of a Chair and setting the priority areas of Cliftonville West and Dane Valley for the fund to benefit. There shouldn't be a prescriptive, top-down approach that overemphasises the so-called corporate skillset of board members or Chair. There is money to bring in business support and guidance should it be needed. What's key is that this fund is administered with an understanding and the trust of the communities it is set up to assist.

Tuesday 26 September 2017

Plastic windows installed on Margate's Grade II listed Stone Pier tower

What have they done!

I noticed today that the tower on Margate's Grade II listed Stone Pier (aka the Harbour Arm) had scaffolding up and as I got closer I thought it looked odd. All of the metal framed windows have been removed and replaced with UPVC plastic! The tower has also been painted a shade of what I can only describe as a cream magnolia. It looks awful. Something between a kitchen extension and a porta-cabin.

According to Thanet District Council's planning enquiry line (01843 577150) there's not been an application for Listed Building Consent nor landlord's permission.

Whoever has done these works to this much loved, prominent Margate landmark which had a delicate industrial character looking out to sea, seems to have just turned up and carried out the works without the necessary permissions.

Thursday 7 September 2017

Thanet District Council's Public Space Protection Order Consultation response

Dear Thanet Council,

I'm writing to comment on the Council's proposed 
Public Spaces Protection Order. I'm a dog owner of nine years in the Thanet area. I consider myself to be a responsible dog owner. I have two dogs and I live in Margate Central. I would like to make the following points:

"The Anti‐social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 The Public Spaces Protection Order – (Thanet District Council) 2017 Thanet District Council (in this order called ‘’the Authority‘’) hereby makes the following Order: This Order comes into force on Monday 16th October 2017 for a period of 3 years. 

Offences 1. Fouling If within the administrative area of the Authority a dog defecates at any time on land to which the public or any section of the public has access, on payment or otherwise, as of right or by virtue of express or implied permission and a person who is in charge of the dog at the time fails to remove the faeces from the land forthwith, that person shall be guilty of an offence unless a) has reasonable excuse for failing to do so; b) the owner, occupier or other person or authority having control of the land has consented (generally or specifically) to his failing to do so. "
I support this proposal.

"2. Leads by Order A person in charge of a dog shall be guilty of an offence if, at any time, within the administrative area of the Authority They do not comply with a direction given to them by an authorised officer of the Authority to put and keep the dog on a lead unless a) has reasonable excuse for failing to do so; or b) the owner, occupier or other person or authority having control of the land has consented (generally or specifically) to his failing to do so. An authorised officer may only give a direction under this order if such restraint is reasonably necessary to prevent a nuisance or behaviour by the dog that is likely to cause annoyance or disturbance to any other person, or to wildlife or another animal."

- This statement does not describe what is the definition of a lead.
How long is a lead and should a person be holding it, or merely have a lead attached to a dog. Leads come in many lengths eg, 10m, 20m. Some extending leads that allow a dog to run free and range wide. I suggest the order should define the length of lead and that it be held not trailing.

"3) Leads A person in charge of a dog shall be guilty of an offence if, at any time, (during the period specified in the schedule if stated), on land detailed in schedule 1, and 2 below they do not keep the dog on a lead unless a) has reasonable excuse for failing to do so; or b) the owner, occupier or other person or authority having control of the land has consented (generally or specifically) to his failing to do so."
To request dog walkers put their dogs on leads if they are out of control, are likely to improve the daily life of responsible dog owners. I support this proposal.
"4)  Dog faeces Receptacle If within a public place in the administration area of the Authority a person who owns or is in in charge of a dog must have a suitable dog faeces receptacle to remove dog faeces on their person, if the person does not have in their possession a suitable dog faeces receptacle, that person shall   be guilty of an offence unless a) has reasonable excuse for failing to do so; b) the owner, occupier or other person or authority having control of the  land has consented (generally or specifically) to his failing to do so. "
- There is no evidence presented by the council to support this demand this of all dog walkers rather than targeting offenders. I support proactive efforts on behalf of the council to encourage responsible dog ownership, I believe this particular measure could see responsible owners being penalised unfairly. 
- There is a lack of definition of what is a suitable dog faeces receptacle. Requiring all owners to have to show receptacles on demand is a blanket application affecting responsible dog owners not those who have caused the problems. Not having a receptacle is not an indication that someone wouldn’t pick up faces, nor is having a receptacle an indication that an irresponsible dog owner would actually pick up faces. If a responsible dog owner’s dog had already defecated and was on their way home, they might not have a receptacle with them. But if a serial offender never picks up they may always have a bag on their person. The authority should be concentrating on targeting offenders not the entire dog owning community, the majority of whom are responsible. This aspect of the proposal is in danger of giving pay per fine wardens an incentive to target dog owners who they have observed already pick up after their dogs. In the same way they have been observed following people smoking in the street rather than targeting people actually littering. 
- The Council should demonstrate why the use of more targeted restrictions such as Acceptable Behaviour Contracts and Community Protection Notices would not be sufficient to deal with the problem behaviours they’ve identified.
"The Keeping of Dogs on a Lead between the hours of 10am to 6pm from 1st May to 30th September This order applies to all land described below: Map West Bay Westgate Westgate‐on‐Sea 2 St Mildred’s Bay Westgate Westgate‐on‐Sea 3 Westbrook Bay Margate Westbrook Ward 4 Stone Bay Broadstairs Bradstowe 5 Botany Bay Broadstairs Kingsgate Ward 6 Joss bay Broadstairs Kingsgate Ward 7 Louisa Bay Broadstairs Viking Ward 8 Minnis Bay"
- Is it the Council’s intention to relax the current permissions where they have 10am - 6pm dog bans? The PSPO proposal reads like it intends these now to be on-lead only restrictions at key beaches like Botany Bay and Joss Bay. Yet the maps show a dog ban hatched in green. I would suggest the current restriction of a dogs ban on these beaches between 10am-6pm is sensible to continue with rather than make them on-lead only between 10am-6pm. The map doesn't show an on-lead only area.

- I would further like to see a clear dog on-lead requirement on all seafront promenades that is clearly marked, so that people area able to walk on-lead dogs on what is effectively a pavement area and not the actual beach and that this restriction be all year round. This would create a safe environment for dog walkers and those without dogs free of off lead dogs that are potentially out of control. This is how dogs are managed on the public highway. The seafront promenade areas are like a pavement and it is safer for joggers, walkers, cyclists and indeed other dogs are on lead if dogs are only allowed off lead on the actual beaches of each bay. This will have the added benefit of reducing dog fouling on the seafront promenades because people pick up far more when dogs are on lead.
"(part) Birchington Birchington North 9 Walpole Bay Cliftonville Cliftonville East 10 Viking Bay Broadstairs Viking Ward Schedule 2 The Keeping of Dogs on a Lead 24 hours a day from the 1st May to 30th September"
Margate Main Sands:
There is a discrepancy in the area detailed by the Council on the map titled Margate Main Sands. The map doesn’t show the sea defence steps. There is no yellow hatched area at all indicating where the on lead dog rules would apply. Yet the table defines Margate Main Sands restrictions as on-lead between 1 May to 30 September. Either the whole of Margate Main sands should be yellow for on-lead or the table is in error. The lack of on-lead area in yellow will have the result that dogs will not be allowed to walk on the seafacing side of the road. The current rules under the DCO are a total 24 hour dog ban on the actual Margate Main Sands beach, but dogs allowed on the seafront promenade. I would be in favour of continuing this and with the clarification that dogs are allowed to walk along the promenade on-lead including the sea defence steps.  

- Walpole Bay: The map shows a yellow hatched area for on-lead only on the seafront promenade at Walpole Bay and a green dog ban on the beach section. The description of on a Lead 24 hours a day from the 1st May to 30th September  is therefore contradictory to the map. I would be in favour of dogs allowed on-lead on the seafront promenade from 1 May - September 30th and a total dog ban on the beach hatched green 1 May to Sept 30th. 

"This order applies to all land described below: All designated fenced children’s play areas, cemeteries, ball courts, and tennis courts"
I support these proposals.
Further comments:

A few years ago, the council removed without notice a fenced area on the cliff top at the beginning of The Ridings, which had previously been a golf course concession. For many years, dog walkers had used that area as a safe place to exercise dogs. There is a very real and constant risk of dogs falling off the top of the cliffs. A number of dogs fall every year. The area kept a number of dogs off the beaches and was an alternative exercise area. The Council has a duty to provide a place for dog walkers to exercise their dogs. As part of implementing restrictions, there is an element of dispersal issues that the Council should consider. I would welcome a fenced area such as this old golf course that had been fenced. If it was fenced with deer fencing, 1.9m high it would not be any more obtrusive than fencing around other amenities such as tennis courts and golf concessions. It would take a number of dogs off the beaches and give an alternative area for the summer months. 

Information on PSPOs from The Kennel Club

Friday 4 August 2017

Massive hotel proposed for Hosers Corner Guy Hollaway Architects

Oh how interesting! Isn't it a stroke of luck that the planning for multiple flats on the Hoser's Corner was always renewed by Thanet Council for over a decade, despite the flats later not according with planning guidance for Cliftonville West. Some kind of trench was dug in July 2010 and Building Control witnessed a commencement of works just before the planning permission would lapse and no longer accord with the Cliftonville West planning guidance prohibiting one bed flats. I wrote about this here. When I last looked, it's a site that's been a derelict eyesore for years.
This is an unusual location for a hotel in Margate. It's not where I'd think most tourists want to stay when visiting the area (very busy corner with not great views) and also seems to be massively overdeveloped for a small site footprint.

Thursday 9 February 2017

Thanet Parkway Station will bring broadly no improvements to Margate, Broadstairs and Ramsgate

A few days ago I saw Thanet District Council officer tweets about the improvements in train service that the proposed Thanet Parkway Station to be built near Cliffsend will bring. My own blog post on Thanet Parkway in 2011 raising the same concerns as today.

KCC are running consultation events in various locations at the moment. There's a website with details. But what isn't on the website are details of how this shiny new, station manned by two employees and with parking for 300 vehicles in the middle of the Thanet countryside will affect Thanet's existing train service to their towns of Margate, Ramsgate and Broadstairs.

Both Thanet Council and Kent County Council's twitter accounts didn't answer the basic questions of how this new station would affect the existing train services of Margate, Broadstairs and Ramsgate.

One suggested I go to an actual consultation.

 Another offered up sending an email enquiry to thanetparkway@kent.gov.uk. Anyone would think their wasn't information relevant enough to be published on the official website

Concerns have been raised by many since the beginning of Thanet Parkway as a concept. It was originally a station to serve Manston Airport. It appears now to be for the benefit of a future new town, given all the planning permissions for housing around there. Here's what my good friend, Ed Targett wrote about it previously:
https://greentargett.com/2015/04/20/manston-parkway-bad-news-for-margate/ with the CPRE stating:
“It is claimed that ‘A parkway station will provide greater opportunity to access London via High Speed 1… However we question whether it would provide any greater access than is currently available, as people in Thanet & Dover have access to plenty of stations with the HS1 service; the Parkway could simply delay trains on the whole network.
“We are also concerned at the claim of: ‘Improved accessibility to job markets in London and wider Kent area’. The focus for Thanet should be the provision of local jobs rather than better access for commuting elsewhere. The climate change imperative requires less travel, not more.
“Furthermore we question the claimed benefit of: “Supporting housing and  employment development identified in the Draft Thanet Local Plan to 2031 Preferred  Option”, since the existing stations will provide at least equivalent benefit if the facilities at existing stations are improved as we suggest.”
So, I sent off my email to thanetparkway@kent.gov.uk On Feb 7th  and waited. I nudged some and finally, this evening two days later I got this reply [my added bold]
From: Louise Oldfield

Date: 7 February 2017 at 18:09
Subject: How will the proposed Thanet Parkway Station affect trains to the existing Thanet towns of Margate, Broadstairs and Ramsgate?
To: thanetparkway@kent.gov.uk

How will the proposed Thanet Parkway Station affect trains to the
existing Thanet towns of Margate, Broadstairs and Ramsgate?

1. Will there be improvements in the current time it take to arrive
from London to the towns?

2. Will there be the same number of fast trains to London to and from the towns?

Kind regards,

Louise Oldfield


Date: 9 February 2017 at 16:42
Subject: RE: How will the proposed Thanet Parkway Station affect trains to the existing Thanet towns of Margate, Broadstairs and Ramsgate?

Dear Ms Oldfield,

Please accept our apologies for the delay in responding to your email, all members of the project team were at a consultation event yesterday and so we were unable to respond to your query before now.   Please find a response to each of your questions below:

1. We expect the benefits from the Journey Time Improvement Scheme (JTI), which involves upgrading the railway line between Ashford and Ramsgate, to deliver about 3 minutes in journey time saving.  This will mitigate the additional time taken by trains calling at Thanet Parkway, and so we expect the journey times to and from Margate, Broadstairs and Ramsgate to be broadly the same as today.

2. There will be the same number of both high speed and mainline trains between London and the Thanet towns, and all trains that pass Thanet Parkway will call at the station.

Further information on the project can be found on our website www.kent.gov.uk/thanetparkway, including our consultation booklet and questionnaire.

We hope this answers your queries, however if you have any further questions please do not hesitate to contact us and we will respond as quickly as we can.

Kind regards,

Thanet Parkway Project Team | Kent County Council | Sessions House, County Hall, Maidstone, ME14 1XQ | Email: thanetparkway@kent.gov.uk | Visit: www.kent.gov.uk/thanetparkway

What this says is that the journey times to Margate, Broadstairs and Ramsgate will be the same. But then there's the word 'broadly'. Now this we should be worried about. What does 'broadly' mean? We saw with the Golf Open in Sandwich that high speed trains were just diverted from stopping at Thanet towns. 

What guarantees are there that we won't lose train frequency or suffer increased journey times? 

And if we have nothing to gain in times and the number of trains per day, why would Parkway Station in the middle of the countryside with all the added risks of congestion be being billed as improvements for Thanet by Thanet politicians and Council Officers? There is the very real risk that train services will be cut from the existing Thanet towns.