Monday, 30 May 2011

Night flights study to be taken with a pinch of salt!

The recent study produced by York Aviation, and paid for by Infratil, is based on an aspirational Airport Master Plan which was also produced by Infratil. It was no doubt designed to influence the local media, Councillors and planners, and is an expression of Infratil's hopes for the future. Master Plans are at best guesses and should be treated with appropriate scepticism.
The Manston Master Plan, published in October 2008, predicts a throughput of 2.2 million passengers and 167,000 tonnes of freight a year by 2018 with employment rising to 3,500. There appears little or no justification for these figures as Airports and Airlines, for their own commercial reasons, tend to exaggerate the number of jobs that will be created by airport expansion: they have shareholders to keep happy.
Currently all Regional Airports are suffering due to the economic down turn and if new runways are ever built at Heathrow, Gatwick or Stansted the future for Manston could be very bleak indeed.
Thanet Labour Deputy Leader Cllr Alan Poole said "Manston is operating nowhere near capacity during the day (07:00 to 23:00) and the introduction of night flights from 23:00 to 07:00 simply cannot be justified. Night flights could bring untold misery to Thanet’s residents. Sadly our local health statistics are already the worst in Kent and sleep deprivation is known to cause heart problems and further reduce life expectancy. The health and quality of life for Thanet’s residents must surely remain paramount considerations".
Thanet Labour Leader Cllr Clive Hart said "In so many ways our relatively poorer district here in Thanet is all too often seen as a very convenient dumping ground by an otherwise prosperous south-east economy and the protection of our local communities and their delicate local environment must therefore be our main priorities. Let's be clear, we - Thanet Labour - most certainly want Manston to succeed and to be prosperous. We certainly want good jobs for local people but we will not be hoodwinked by a study so clearly designed to benefit private interest and run roughshod over the threatened local communities that we represent".

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Proud to be Pluralist

By Councillor Linda Aldred

The results of the recent District elections left Thanet with no one political party gaining an overall majority. Within the two main groups (Conservatives 27 - Labour 26) there are very different scenarios indeed.

The Conservative group is made up of 20 men and 7 women. The Labour Group is made up of 14 men and 12 women.

At Cabinet and Shadow Cabinet level the differences are more pronounced. The Conservative Cabinet is totally made up of men whilst the Labour Shadow Cabinet is made up of 3 men and 2 women.

Now I'm a great believer in the right person for the job, whatever their gender, but are the Conservatives really saying that there are no women members in their group good enough for the job? What message does that send to the general public as a whole?

At the first meeting of Thanet Council since the elections I was very pleased to look around our assembled Labour group and see a real cross section of the communities we represent. There was a reasonable balance of male and female members from a wide range of age groups, and our number came from many walks of life.

The view on the Conservative benches was altogether different. A group very much dominated by, and exclusively led by, 'senior' men.

Monday, 23 May 2011

Thursday, 19 May 2011

A good night at Thanet District Council

The newly enlarged twenty-six strong Thanet Labour Group took up their new positions on Thursday evening at the Thanet District Council AGM.
Firstly, in the council's primary civic roles, Cllr Doug Clark JP was elected as Council Chairman and Cllr Kay Dark as Vice Chairman.

On the political front, Labour Group Leader Cllr Clive Hart now heads a team of five Shadow Cabinet members including Cllr Alan Poole the Labour Deputy Leader and Cllrs Iris Johnston, Michelle Fenner and Richard Nicholson.

The TDC Labour Shadow Cabinet - left to right - Cllrs Alan Poole, Michelle Fenner, Clive Hart, Iris Johnston and Richard Nicholson.

Cllr David Green will be joint Vice Chair of the Overview and Scrutiny Panel andCllr Harry Scobie will Chair the Joint Transportation Board.
Cllrs Peter Campbell and John Edwards are now the Vice Chairs of Governance and Audit and Licensing respectively.
Labour Group Leader Clive Hart said "I am absolutely delighted to lead a much larger Labour Group at TDC. The outcome of both the local elections and Thursdays AGM undoubtedly means there will need to be more cross party working at TDC. However, it is very important to understand, this is not a coalition and we in the Labour Group are now stronger, with our own set of very distinct policies that we will pursue".

Thursday, 12 May 2011

Ed Miliband praises Thanet result

Ed Miliband has spoken positively in The Independent about Labour's promising local election results in Thanet last week. “We made big gains in Thanet and Thurrock,” he said. “We made progress, it's a staging post.”

Elsewhere, on the Progress website, Luke Akehurst referred to Thanet as a 'bright spot' in Labour's electoral fortunes by acknowledging that “good hauls of seats” were won.

Though no party won an outright majority, it is fair to say that Thanet Labour made impressively strong gains, so it's very reassuring to see Ed Miliband and Luke Akehurst recognize the good work that went into achieving this.

Thank you, once again, to everyone who voted Labour last week. In doing so, you've helped send a strong message of discontent to the local Conservative group about the way they've been running our council. It's now time for them to listen to what the people of Thanet want!

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Oh Roger

Roger Gale appears to be trying to rewrite history to turn last weeks local elections into a victory for the Conservative Party in Thanet. Lets look at the raw facts.

  1. The Conservatives lost five seats, one in North Thanet and four in South Thanet.
  2. They only just held onto two more of their seats as they won by twenty five votes in Garlinge and only two in Beacon Road!
  3. There was a 5% swing in the vote from Conservative to Labour.
  4. Nearly every other Conservative Council in Kent was able to hold power (except Gravesham) and in many cases actually gained seats.
The result for the Thanet Conservative party when compared to the rest of the South East and Kent is appalling. When you look at Thanet against seats just like it in the South East like Dover and Dartford it really shows how bad the Thanet result was. Roger is right when he says no party won, but after his party has just taken a pasting in the elections perhaps he should think before he writes.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Thanet faces a huge task

By Will Scobie

I have just come back from a talk with the Chief Executive designate Sue McGonigal in the Council Chambers over the state of Thanet. During the talk several very worrying facts were brought up.

Thanet compared to the rest of Kent has: 
  • Lowest percentage of people working. 
  • The biggest percentage of retired people (by 2026 it is expected that proportion of retired people will rise from 33% to 44 %!). 
  • The lowest life expectancy ( recent report by the NHS in Thanet said that life expectancy is 5 years less for women, and 10 years less for men). 
  • The lowest available jobs. 
  • Highest level of jobseekers. 
  • The most amount of special needs children.
  • High levels of part time and low income workers. 
  •  6.9% of 16-18 years olds are out of school or unemployed compared to 4.1% elsewhere in Kent. 
  • Is bottom of the deprivation tables in the South East.

All of these different factors come together to form a deadly cocktail which will be exacerbated by huge cuts from Central Government. Transitional grants will help, but at the end of the day the question needs to be asked; why did Thanet have this money in the first place? The answer is because we have a huge amount of needy people and very few jobs. If the Central Government takes away the money then for many that leaves nothing. These are problems that I feel we all need to work together to deal with. The electorate have spoken to us and they have decided that they want all 3 groups to talk to one another. Now it is time for us to listen...

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Labour Councillors - Business as usual

As soon as the elections were over, Labour councillors across Thanet were straight back to business and doing business as usual. One example (pictured) was Cllrs Aldred, Clark and Hart holding their joint ward surgery at St Paul's Community Centre at the heart of their ward on Saturday morning. Labour councillors are rooted in their communities and work together with and for local residents - and not just at election time!

Saturday, 7 May 2011

After the dust has settled

Thanet Labour would just like to thank everyone who voted Labour on Thursday. The people have spoken and they have said that they have had enough of the local Conservative Council.  Six seats have been gained by Labour. Labour has gained two in Dane Valley, two in Nethercourt, one in Beacon Road, and one in Central Harbour. Labour also came within 2 votes of winning the second seat in Beacon Road, and 25 votes of winning one of the Garlinge seats.

The full results can be found on the link below:

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Thursday - Your day to vote!

By Clive Hart - Thanet Labour Group Leader

A month ago we launched our Thanet Labour Manifesto. We also launched this ThanetLab 'blog site and our goal for both projects was to set out our aims and objectives, clearly and concisely for all the people of Thanet. We've used the blog to expand on a number of pertinent topics and we hope that has been helpful. 
For example, the Labour government brought high speed trains to Thanet and we've outlined our continued support for shortening travel times to London. However, Thanet Labour is always mindful of our local environment so a Parkway station with (to quote the Tory Leader at the last full council meeting) a huge car park, just doesn't make economic sense and we will certainly fight to keep Ramsgate main station.
We explained that Thanet Labour will support the development of Manston Airport but will always be mindful of the impact on residents and the environment. To this end we will implement a policy of no flights during the hours of 23:00 to 07:00, except emergency landings and humanitarian flights. We have simply not been convinced that the economic argument has been made for night flights, particularly when the airport is so underused during the day. 
We have highlighted the sad plight of our local harbours under eight years of Tory neglect. Margate silted up and smelling of rotten seaweed and Ramsgate Royal Harbour and marina left in such a shoddy condition.
It was important to expose poor Conservative decision making. During discussions on a matter with serious financial implications and at a full council meeting last year, a leading Tory clearly said "lets make the decision now and look at the detail later". For this election, the Conservative's have also boasted openly on their leaflets that they help local traders by encouraging residents to shop locally, whilst having the very same leaflets printed in Canterbury.
Furthermore, the Tory fiasco regarding development in Pierremont Park in Broadstairs once again explained the Conservative's total lack of meaningful consultation and has all the hallmarks of their marathon fight with our own Thanet residents at the Montefiore Games Centre. That particular nonsense cost tens of thousands of pounds of ratepayers money and hundreds of hours of council time.
We set out our aim to have a Criminal Records Bureau check for every Thanet councillor and just to validate our claim that we need to improve standards at TDC, a Conservative candidate for Salmestone ward had to resign from the Conservative party only last week, due to appalling views he expressed openly on the internet.
For the past four weeks we have also been very busy delivering as many paper summaries of our manifesto as possible through residents letter boxes across Thanet (printed on the inside of Labour election addresses). It's been a fantastic month with wonderful weather and we've been joined by a number of leading Labour MP's including Harriet Harman and Yvette Cooper.
We gave our manifesto a great deal of time and thought and we sincerely hope we've informed you of our aims and objectives in one way or another. We know that everyone has busy lives these days, but this election will be a very close run event and every vote will count. We hope we have convinced you of our commitment to bringing back the pride in Thanet and that you will take the time to vote Labour on Thursday.
Thank you sincerely for your time.

May day with Harriet Harman

Labour Deputy Leader and Shadow Secretary of State for International Development Harriet Harman was in Garlinge Ward on Monday supporting Thanet Labour.