Today's Weather for Cliftonville

Tuesday, 30 October 2007

Cliftonville House Blaze

Sixty firefighters fought for more than 12 hours to bring a house fire under control.

Kent Fire and Rescue were called to the three storey property by a neighbour who saw smoke rising from the building’s roof and was concerned people were trapped inside.

The owner was found outside the blazing house in Lydhurst Avenue, Cliftonville near Margate on Monday.

Deputy divisional manager Mick Rowney said: “Several teams of firefighters in breathing apparatus were sent to tackle the fire from within the building, but due to the blaze’s ferocity had to be withdrawn. An external firefighting operation was put into place and crews managed to restrict the fire to the building’s roof void by using a water cooling barrier.

“Thankfully everyone was accounted for and no one was injured.”

Crews remained at the building on Tuesday to continue to cool it and check for hotspots.

Senior Officers have launched an investigation into the cause of the fire although they are not treating it as suspicious.

Friday, 31 August 2007

Hang 10

Young people in Margate Central and Cliftonville West are now getting extra support from Hang 10, thanks to money from the Safer Stronger Communities Fund (SSCF).

A new dedicated mobile information vehicle is now working in the two areas, along with a voluntary team of detached workers, three nights a week. An additional two sessions each week are provided by Sport 4 NRG and Pipeline.

Hang 10 is a multi agency detached youth work project, in partnership with Pipeline, Connexions, Thanet Community Safety Partnership, Youth and Community Service, Kent County Council and For Young People. They work with young people on issues such as drugs, alcohol, education, training, employment and sexual health.

Following the success of the SSCF funded project, Kent County Council have also provided £4,500 to fund another youth worker in Margate Central.

Mike Andrea, Team Leader at Pipeline, said: “This money has enabled us to get into the Cliftonville West and Margate Central areas in a way that just wasn’t possible before. We had to turn down requests to work in this area, because we just didn’t have the resources we needed to expand our services. Thanks to this funding from the SSCF, now we’ve got dedicated resources that can make a real difference to the young people who live in these two wards.”

Margaret Main, Cliftonville West resident representative on the SSCF Programme Board, said: "Hang 10's project is all about achieving some of the SSCF's key aims, including cutting the fear of crime and reducing anti-social behaviour by working with young people, who are often perceived as being responsible for crime in the area. Providing activities for young people helps to reassure local residents that something positive is being done in the area. It also helps to build community spirit, because Hang 10 rely on volunteers and working with a range of different community groups."

Wednesday, 25 July 2007

Revealed: east-west divide in Kent life expectancy

A huge gap in life expectancy between people in a part of Thanet and in Dartford has been revealed at a county council meeting.

The council heard how there is a difference of more than 16 years between life expectancy for children in Castle ward in Dartford, where they can expect to live to be 89, and Cliftonville West in Margate, where on average they will reach only 72.4.

The figures were revealed during a debate on Kent’s public health strategy, drawn up by KCC, West Kent NHS Primary Care Trust, and Eastern and Coastal Kent NHS Primary Care Trust in liaison with the district and borough councils.

The strategy aims to reduce health inequalities, heart disease and alcohol and drug abuse, to cut the number of teenage pregnancies, improve children’s mental health and wellbeing, and increase the number of older people able to live at home with chronic disease.

Sunday, 3 June 2007

Bucket and Spade Run

Palm Bay Recreation Ground was the destination for today's 2007 Bucket and Spade Run. Around a hundred and fifty classic and veteran cars set off from a warm and sunny Chatham Dockyard at around 10am, most of them arriving in a misty Cliftonville at around mid-day.

For a modest entrance fee, visitors (and there were plenty of them) were able to wander down memory lane, and well beyond. Many wonderfully well-preserved and restored vehicles were on display, together with just a few (sadly) customised specimens.

A few photo's of the event:

Monday, 28 May 2007

Big Event Road Closures

Thanet District Council has announced the following road closures around Cliftonville and Palm Bay for 16th and 17th June, the weekend of Margate's Big Event.

(Closures will be in effect between 6am and 10pm on the Saturday and between 6am and 6pm on the Sunday)

  • Length of streets at Palm Bay
  • Palm Bay Ave from the junction with Palm Bay Gardens to the junction with The Ridings.
  • Palm Bay Gardens at the junction with Palm Bay Avenue.
  • Northumberland Ave from the junction with Lonsdale Ave to the junction with Palm Bay Ave.
  • Leicester Ave from the junction with Lonsdale Ave to the junction with Palm Bay Ave.
  • Gloucester Ave from the junction with Lonsdale Ave to the junction with Palm Bay Ave.
  • Clarence Ave. from the junction with Lonsdale Ave to the junction with Palm Bay Ave.
  • The Ridings at the junction with Palm Bay Ave.
  • Princess Margaret Ave from the junction with Springfield Road to the junction with Palm Bay Ave and The Ridings.
Residents of the areas affected by these closures will be issued with passes allowing them to move their vehicles through the closed roads during the event.

Friday, 18 May 2007

Taken for a ride?

It could well be that I was taken for a ride last night. I don't know.

At around 10.00pm I remembered I needed to fill up my tank, so I drove around to the petrol station opposite Tesco in Northdown Road, less than a minute from home.

Having filled up and paid paid up I went back to my car and opened the door, but before I could get in I heard a voice .

"'Scuse me, mate".

Now, call me middle aged and stuffy, but normally I hate that kind of assumed familiarity from a stranger. It was cordial enough, though, so I did at least turn to listen. Approaching me was a tall lad of perhaps 17, dressed in jeans, trainers and hoody. I waited for the expected request for a light or for a cigarette. Directions, perhaps. But no:

"Goin' anywhere near Palm Bay?" he asked.

"Not really," I replied (truthfully).

"A gang of lads from Ramsgate is threatening to beat me up," he continued, "and I could do with a lift home".

At that point my conscience flickered briefly into life. But then, just as quickly, it fizzled out.

"No, I'm sorry. I'm only going round the corner, and I really need to get home quickly," I said, avoiding eye contact. Well, it was half true.

I got into my car and started the engine, drove ten metres and then stopped abruptly. Why had I just refused to help a fellow human being? Only last year I myself was forced, on at least two occasions, to ask strangers for a jump start late at night. Surely a refusal went against everything that had been instilled into me since a child. Had sunday school counted for nothing?

Well, the only two reasons I could think of were firstly that I really couldn't be bothered to put myself out sufficiently to give up five minutes of my precious free time, and secondly I thought there was a fair chance that this alleged threat of violence from our Ramsgate friends was mere fabrication. My suspicion was that this lad had most likely squandered all his money on booze and hadn't any left to pay for a bus or a taxi. Let him walk.

But then how was I going to feel when I opened next week's local paper to read of a brutal attack on a Palm Bay youth as he walked home at night through Cliftonville? Could I risk that?

No, of course I couldn't.

I wound my window down and called to him across the forecourt.

"Ok, jump in," I shouted.

"Thanks, mate," he said, running over to the car. ""I respect that."

Respect? Yes, well.

Yes, there was indeed a faint smell of booze about him. But he was quietish. And not impolite. And when we reached the Co-Op in Palm Bay barely two minutes later he jumped out with a brief and mumbled word of thanks, then disappeared off into the night.

Well, that was harmless, I thought. And didn't I feel better for it? Well yes, I did!

In less than five minutes I was back home with a full tank of petrol and, I admit, just the hint of a self-righteous glow.

It was only the reaction of my teenage sons to this this story that brought it home to me just what a monumental and naive risk I'd taken. My initial instinct to refuse help had been based on laziness and not wishing to be exploited as a soft touch. The safety element wasn't a consideration.

What a fool I'd been. Those local headlines might, in fact, have read very differently. "Hijack at filling station". "Good Samaritan knifed at the wheel".

What instant considerations, balancing risks and morals, each of us can be forced to make in this day and age.

Had I been a woman, of course, I don't think giving a lift to a strange male at night would have even crossed my mind. But I'm not. I'm a middle aged man.

What if the request for help had come from a girl in distress? Would my gut reaction to refuse have been so strong? I don't think it would. But then what kind of allegations might I have been laying myself open to by inviting her into my car?

How on earth is anyone to know? Oh, for a return to simpler and more trusting times.

Tuesday, 8 May 2007

Cliftonville renewal projects

Two major projects by Thanet District Council’s Renewal Area team to improve the appearance of the area have been completed in Cliftonville West.

Work by the Council’s Environmental Action Programme to illuminate St. Paul’s Church in Northdown Road was originally suggested by local people and ward members and has been funded with £20,000 from the Renewal Area. Spotlights and energy efficient floodlights have been installed to highlight the features of the building and provide additional lighting in a previously dark area that had been prone to incidents of anti-social behaviour.

Sixteen hanging basket trees have also been installed by the Environment Action Programme’s Rapid Response Team along Northdown Road and will be filled with flowers from late May or early June. The basket trees have been funded by the Renewal Area team and the flowers have been funded by Safer Stronger Communities Fund, after the original idea was put forward by the Cliftonville Partnership.

Renewal Manager Carla Wenham said: “Both these projects were suggested to us by the local community as ways of improving the appearance of the area. The work of the Renewal Area team is very much led by local people. We’re here to deliver improvements in Cliftonville West, but we need to ensure that those improvements are exactly what residents want. That’s why our team spends so much time meeting with local people and discussing their vision for the area, so that we can then deliver it. These two schemes are another excellent example of that process.”

Sunday, 6 May 2007

"East is East and West is West and ne'er the twain shall meet"

Results of Thursday's local council election meant only one thing for residents of Cliftonville : "No change".

The major parties maintained their respective strangleholds, with 2003's councillors being returned for another four years.

Successful candidates in Cliftonville East were:

Sandy Ezekiel (Conservative) 1225 votes

Brian Sullivan (Conservative) 1240 votes

Martin Wise (Conservative) 1381 votes

Turnout 41.9%

and in Cliftonville West:

Clive Hart (Labour) 657 votes

Doug Clark (Labour)
599 votes

Linda Aldred (Labour)
581 votes

Turnout 27.5%


Councillors' contact details can be found by clicking their links at at the left of this page.

Friday, 4 May 2007

Safer Stronger Communities Fund

Around 150 local people turned out to find out more about the Safer Stronger Communities Fund and what it’s achieved in its first year.

Set up to improve public spaces and the quality of life for local people living in the two wards of Cliftonville West and Margate Central, and the green space of Dane Park, the SSCF was awarded a total of £3.7 million over four years from central government. In the first year of operation, the team have funded 20 projects to help make the area safer, cleaner and greener and encourage the community to work together.

Representatives from some of the projects, which were funded by the SSCF, were amongst those at the Open Day, held at the Margate Media Centre last week (Thursday 26 April). One of the newly funded police bicycles for “Project Bike Cop” was on display and the police and fire service were on hand to give advice and talk to residents about safety issues. Amongst the other organisations attending who received funding were St. Paul's Community Trust, Cliftonville Primary School, with information also on hand about planned Green Flag improvements to Dane Park. The SSCF stand gave additional information on what the programme is all about and how people can apply for funding for this year.

Paul Trumble, Chair of the SSCF Board, said: “We were delighted with the turnout at the Open Day, which allowed local people to see where the money from the SSCF is being spent in their community. Residents could also find out about how to apply for funding in the future and we look forward to receiving more applications over the next few months.”

Maggie Woods from St Paul's Community Trust said of the event: "It’s good to see talk about regeneration resulting in positive outcomes and the degree of local ownership was impressive. I think the SSCF team should be really proud of what they have achieved in such a short space of time".

Community groups such as Gordon Road Area Street Scheme and the Dalby Square Project had displays to show what they have achieved. Both of these groups have recently been awarded SSCF funding to extend the good work that they do, building community spirit in their areas. Staff from Thanet District Council were giving information on Housing Renewal Grants, waste and recycling, sporting opportunities, benefits and about Margate’s Big Events, with representatives from the Thanet Coast Project also on hand.

Information was also provided by the Thanet Community Development Trust, Thanet Volunteer Bureau, Kent Victim Support, Focus to Work and the Local Strategic Partnership. Presentations were given by the SSCF Neighbourhood Champions on the community development work that they plan to do in the coming year, Sustainability Actions on the mapping exercise they have completed of the community and voluntary sector, and the SSCF team on the Residents' Survey, which looks at the priorities of local people, and they feedback on how the SSCF money is being used to address them.

To find out how an individual can apply for up to £1000 project funding from the SSCF (closing date 31 October 2007) click here (opens PDF document).

Monday, 23 April 2007

Saint WHO?

Yes it's April 23rd once again! The flags are flying proudly from every public building, bunting flutters the length of each wall and gateway, morris dancers strut their stuff on village greens the realm over and millions of children, freed from the drudgery of the classroom for one day, raise their eyes to the sky to watch the annual celebratory flypast of pigs.

If ever a day was tailor-made for a celebration of all things English it was today. April 23rd. As if being St. George's Day was not reason enough for a celebration, a Mrs. Mary Shakespeare of Stratford Upon Avon thoughtfully gave added significance to this day by giving birth to her son William, whose very name would become synonymous with the country of his birth.

Years later William himself, as if acknowledging his countrymen's reluctance to enjoy a knees-up without good reason, made one more valiant and selfless effort to remedy the situation, somehow stage-managing his own death so that it, too, would coincide with Saint George's Day on April 23rd 1616, his 52nd birthday!

Three fantastic reasons for the English to celebrate on one day.

And do we? Well yes, of course - why, in Tesco's car park this evening a single patriotic motorist was displaying a limp plastic flag of Saint George.

Or, then again, maybe it was a forgotten remnant of the World Cup.

Wednesday, 18 April 2007

New Faces on the Block?

There's just a fortnight to go before the District Council Elections, and with very few votes separating the candidates in 2003 (at least in Cliftonville West) even a marginally higher turnout could see a dramatic turnaround in fortunes, and not just for the major parties.

On May 3rd the "Big Players" will be joined in battle by candidates from both The Green Party and The UK Independence Party.

Electors in Cliftonville East will be choosing between

  • Sandy Ezekiel (Conservative)*
  • Dennis Franklin (Green)
  • Sandy Hart (Labour)
  • Margaret Main (Labour)
  • Patricia Moore (Labour)
  • Brian Sullivan (Conservative)*
  • Martin Wise (Conservative)*
While those standing for election in Cliftonville West are
  • Linda Aldred (Labour)*
  • Justin Bishop (Conservative)
  • Doug Clark (Labour)*
  • Trevor Cooper (UK Independence)
  • Clive Hart (Labour)*
  • Patrick Miles (Conservative)
  • Greg Wood (Conservative)
* denotes current members of the Council.

"Margate's Big Event"

Those left disappointed by the announcement that there would be no Thanet Air Show in 2007 will be pleased to read the following announcement which has appeared Thanet District Council website.

Plans for Kent’s leading air and land festival have been announced, with the Red Arrows, Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, live bands, including Abba Magic, and street entertainers just some of the highlights.

Margate’s Big Event will take place on the clifftops at Palm Bay over Father’s Day weekend, with non stop live entertainment planned on the ground between 10am and 10pm on Saturday 16 June and 10.30am and 6pm on Sunday 17 June. The event will be free of charge and is being organised by Thanet District Council.

Each day will have an hour and a half of flying displays, with the RAF Falcons and Tigers parachute teams dropping into the main arena, with appearances from a Hawk, the historic Stearman aircraft and the Tucano and Tutor planes, both of which are used for training by the RAF. The Aerostars and a SUKHOI flown by Will Curtis, one of the leading solo aerobatic pilots on the circuit, complete the aerial line up.

On the ground, arena acts will range from Jason Smyth, the only quad bike stunt rider in the UK, to the Solent Eagles Motorcycle Display Team and from John Evans, international strong man, and Chinese Acrobats, to Cyril the Squirrel and his racing terriers and a vulture and eagle show by Eagle Heights.

Both days will have live music, with appearances by Hulaballo, Rubber Biscuit, Ronnie Scott Rejects, Pulse and Umbrella Men. Saturday’s entertainment will finish with an Abba tribute concert, followed by a spectacular fireworks finale.

Other acts entertaining the crowds over the two days include trapeze artists, clowns, puppeteers, stilt walkers, acrobats, magicians and even a pair of resident robots, many of which are appearing in Thanet for the first time.

Corporate Director John Bunnett said: “Margate’s Big Event will have something for the whole family, with two days packed full of free entertainment, both on the ground and in the air. This will be Kent’s leading air and land festival and an unmissable day out. It’s the only place in Kent that people will be able to enjoy such a huge variety of entertainment in one place. Where else can you find the Red Arrows, parachute display teams, some of the best live bands in the area, along with trapeze and stilt artists and quad bike stunt riders and acrobats?”

Entry to Margate’s Big Event will be free of charge, with on site parking costing £3 for each day. The Thanet Loop bus service runs to the Old Charles Pub on Northdown Road, just 10 minutes walk from the site and a free open top shuttle bus will be running every 30 minutes between Margate station and the site.

Sunday, 15 April 2007


The unseasonably warm weather sparks a bit of a holiday mood, and with it some nostalgia.

(Click on image for readable size!)

In 1955 Butlins acquired 4 hotels in Cliftonville: The St Georges, The Queens (previously known as the Highcliffe), The Norfolk & The Florence. The original plan was that each would aim to attract a different clientèle: one families, one young children, one the retired and elderly and one those without children.

The Queen's Highcliffe Hotel

The following year another was added, this time The Grand Hotel (previously known as the Cliftonville Hydro).

The Cliftonville Hydro

All hotels were located close to each other and were marketed jointly as The Cliftonville Hotels. Later the separate classification for each hotel was dropped and they were all operated along similar lines. Guests were allocated a particular hotel but were free to enjoy the facilities at any of the others. At some point a sixth hotel was added, The Princes, which later became used for staff accommodation.

The Queens Hotel had a small indoor swimming pool with underwater viewing windows. This pool was later used as a dolphinarium with a pair of dolphins and sealions.

The Queens was demolished in the late 1970s.

By the 1980s only three hotels remained under the Butlins Cliftonville banner, the Grand, the Norfolk and the St Georges. All three were connected by an underground tunnel and had a total of 254 rooms between them. All three were later marketed jointly as 'The Grand Hotel'

The St George's

The Hotels were sold in 1999 to the Grand Hotel Group, but were resold in January 2004 to a local businessman who then announced plans to demolish two of them and convert the site into flats.

Wednesday, 11 April 2007

Cliftonville's Secret Society

This morning, quite by accident, I uncovered the existence of a top secret organisation based right here in the heart of Cliftonville. A local Mafia branch, perhaps? Maybe a small Al Qaeda cell? No, these would be relatively easy to track down, I suspect. The one in question goes by the name of The Cliftonville Residents' Association.

Of course I'm delighted to hear of its existence, but what is its function? Where and when does it meet? Who are the committee members? And, crucially, how is it that, having lived
in Cliftonville for seven years, the Resident's Association has hitherto failed to make itself known to me?

Well, no I admit I haven't gone out of my way to seek them out. But on the other hand, I really don't think I should have to.

  • Is there a Cliftonville Residents' Association notice board displayed prominently and proudly in the heart of the town for all to see? If there is, then it can't be prominent enough.
  • Is there a simple but informative and user-friendly website that celebrates its (no doubt) hard and worthwhile work in the community? Well, Google doesn't think so.
  • Have I had so much as a single newsletter or other piece of communication dropped through my letterbox in seven years? I'll be charitable and say that if I have, then the dog got to it before I did.
If any of these things are already in operation, then I stand corrected.

I do hope that someone in the upper echelons of our Cliftonville Residents' Association reads this. This is not an attack on you, merely an expression of disappointment that your work clearly goes on unnoticed by the majority. Cliftonville needs a Residents Association that listens to residents.

How on earth can they contribute if they don't know you're there.

Monday, 9 April 2007

Bank Holiday Paper Chase

You're entitled to ask what any sane-minded individual is doing even showing his head above the duvet at 8am on Easter Bank Holiday Monday. And it gets worse; I've actually just driven to work and back to collect some paperwork that needs doing during the week.

But that's not the issue. The issue is litter, road sweeping and rubbish collection, and how just a little bit of planning and co-ordination might work wonders in making the streets around Cliftonville look a little less like a land-fill site.

Today is Monday, and Monday is dustbin day. I've been caught out before on bank holidays; putting out the bin bags the night before and then leaving them there throughout the day in the vain hope that they will be collected. Alternatively, I've made the assumption that there's no way there will be a collection on bank holiday, I've not put them out, then at the crack of dawn cursed into my pillow in response to cheery bin-men-banter echoing up and down the road outside (prompted, no doubt, by the total absence of black bags awaiting their careful attention).

So, I was going to make no mistake today. Last night I logged on to the TDC's rubbish website (no offence intended, it's a very useful service) to check when my next collection was. There it was, in black and white: "Your next collection is tomorrow".

Out went my bulging black bags just before I went to bed. So far as I could see, I was one of only a handful who had remembered.

Now, you're probably already anticipating where this is going. And you'd be quite wrong.

Back to my early morning dash into work. As I unlocked my car I could already hear, though not yet see, the refuse lorry in the next street. Praise be! for a system that works, I thought. As I drove up Northdown Avenue I could see that the residents here had been really on the ball. Black sacks like sentries at every gate. Although the gulls were already up and at them even at this hour.

But what I saw next defied belief. Trundling up the road was a road sweeper with trolley and broom, stopping here and there to pick up cans and wrappers. And a very good job he was making of it. Real pride in his work. On Easter Monday to boot! Impressive!

But why, for Heaven's sake?

In half and hour's time, after the bin men had followed closely in his wake, this same road was going to be ankle deep in cans, wrappers, egg shells and putrefying vegetables! I almost stopped the car to vent my frustration, but the poor guy was at least working on a bank holiday, and I'm sure the issues of where and when he sweeps are not his decisions. Or are they? Who knows?

Sure enough, on my return home an hour later the pavements of this same street were absolutely awash with it, and the gulls were having a field day.

So, when is the next scheduled road-sweep? Who knows. Probably at the same time next week. About a half an hour before the bin men are due!

Sunday, 1 April 2007

Dane Park Consultation Period ends

The Dane Park public consultation period came to an end on Friday.

It opened with a "fun day" in the park on St. Valentine's Day, and Thanet residents were given until Friday 30th March to submit their completed questionnaires to the District Council.

Public consultations are all well and good, but let's hope that this one proves to be more than just a public relations exercise designed to placate residents and to create the illusion of a "listening council" prior to May's local elections.

When, I wonder, will the relevant Council committee be meeting to discuss the findings of the consultation. Before or after the elections? What are the chances of a new council surreptitiously "filing away" the consultation in the bin. Well, people have short memories, don't they!

New broom, new priorities, new agenda.

Let's hope not.

Voted one of the most popular parks in Thanet in 2004, Dane Park was presented to the Margate Borough Council by a local businessman at the end of the 19th century and was first opened to the public in 1898 by the Lord Mayor of London. Today, it is still the main park for Margate residents.

Below: A more genteel age - Dane Park in the early 1900s, complete with lake!

Saturday, 31 March 2007

Toilet death was murder

Police are now treating the attack which resulted in the death of a man in toilets in Cliftonville on Wednesday as murder.

A post mortem revealed that the victim, who has still to be named, died of multiple injuries.

Detectives have been given a further 36 hours to question two men, aged 44 and 21, who were arrested on Wednesday night.

Friday, 30 March 2007

Police hold two as attack victim dies in hospital

Thanet Police are questioning two people after the victim of Wednesday's attack in Cliftonville died in hospital.

A 44 year old Margate man and a 21-year-old of no fixed abode were arrested on Wednesday night.

The victim, said to be in his late forties, was discovered with severe head injuries by a cleaner at the toilets in Fifth Avenue on Wednesday morning.

He died in hospital on Wednesday night, a post mortem being due to have taken place yesterday.

A Kent Police spokesman said: "We urgently need to know how this man received such severe head injuries.

"I would appeal to the local community to have confidence in the police that any information provided will be treated sensitively and in confidence."

Wednesday, 28 March 2007

"Serious Assault" sparks major police presence

A large stretch of the Queen's Promenade was cordoned-off this afternoon after what was described by police as a "very serious assault".

A police presence was in evidence along the promenade from Third Avenue as far as the Bethesda Medical Centre, pedestrians being turned away from the area. Mobile surveillance cameras were being erected at the point where the promenade meets Third Avenue. Police were reluctant to give details, although one officer confirmed that a "very serious assault" had been committed in the public convenience attached to the Thanet Indoor Bowling Centre. The victim was said to be "somewhat poorly".

One witness reported having also seen police officers on the beach directly beneath the promenade.

Cordoned-off: The Queen's Promenade

The scene of the alleged assault

Police erect surveillance cameras at the scene

Sunday, 25 March 2007

Drop the Dead Driveway

The Council's introduction, several years back, of charging for parking along the main shopping stretch of Northdown Road had obvious advantages. Much needed revenue clearly topped the list.

But the scheme has brought huge inconvenience to local residents, and particularly to those living in the roads leading directly off the main high street. The majority of the houses in these roads date back to the turn of the century, a time when vehicular storage meant nothing more than finding a wall up against which to prop the bike.

Even today, therefore, garages on these properties are the exception; residents traditionally parking their cars at the kerb side. And until the introduction of charging for parking on Northdown Road they were quite often lucky enough to find a spot within a reasonable distance of their homes.

Not now. Shoppers, staff and business proprietors quite understandably seek to avoid the charges by parking their vehicles in the adjacent residential roads. And, let's face it, who can blame them?

But the problem then steps up a level. Having failed to fully consider the possible ramifications of the pay-to-park scheme, thereby inconveniencing those living nearby, the Council continues to exacerbate the problem by granting applications, seemingly willy-nilly, from desperate Cliftonville residents wishing to install dropped kerbs and hard-standing in front of their properties.

Dropped kerbs. Help or hindrance?

Now, dropped pavements
ought to be the obvious solution. And they are in one way. Well, at least they are for those who can afford them. And they are not cheap.

The problems occur when those lucky enough to have their own dropped kerb and hard standing for a vehicle decide to abuse the system. And they do. There are very few things that cause so much annoyance and frustration than to drive home with fifteen bags of shopping to unload, only to find that the nearest parking place is in the next street. But one thing beats even that, and it's this: arriving home with the same bags only to notice hard-standing left empty while the resident's vehicle is parked on the roadside in front of a neighbouring property. Hey Presto! Cliftonville's parking problems doubled at a stroke!

This practice is both irresponsible and selfish. And it happens a lot.

Advice on the legal issues surrounding dropped kerbs is confusing and ambiguous. Basically it depends on who is asked. Some authorities, including certain councillors, will tell you that whilst it might be considered unneighbourly, one is actually quite within one's rights (if there really is no alternative) to park in front a dropped kerb so long as in doing so one is not preventing the exit of a vehicle already parked on the hard standing. Other authorities deny this is the case. Even staff within the same department at TDC have been known contradict each other on this point. The police themselves give advice that, at best, lacks consistency.

Whatever the case may be, enough is enough. Cliftonville's residential streets can take only so many dropped kerbs. That limit was reached a very long time ago.

Thursday, 22 March 2007

Time up?

Last Orders from Ezekiel, Sullivan, Wise, Hart, Clark and Aldred?

For the past four years The Cliftonville Six have served as councillors on Thanet District Council. But now is the time to reflect on their performances, for elections loom (on 3rd May). Indeed, the dog has already feasted with relish on at least one piece of party propaganda before it had even hit the doormat.

But what do we actually know of our councillors' records in office? Will we bother to find out, and will that make a difference? Or will we treat the ballot paper in much the same way as we treat the weekly Lotto ticket? If so, why not just make the election a Lucky Dip?

So many people fail to grasp the fact that in District Council Elections just a few votes cast either way can be decisive. In Cliftonville West, for example, just 136 votes separated the top six candidates in the last election. The bottom Labour candidate, Linda Aldred, won her seat by a mere 16 votes!

Full 2003 results in the Cliftonville West ward (where the turnout was just 23.9%) were:

  • Clive Hart (Lab) 584 Elected
  • Douglas Clark (Lab) 536 Elected
  • Linda Aldred (Lab) 527 Elected
  • Martin Grant (Con) 511
  • William Pankhurst (Con) 508
  • A. Papa-Adams (Con) 448
  • David Wheatley 97

And in Cliftonville East (turnout 42.1%):

  • Sandy Ezekiel (Con) 1531 Elected
  • Martin Wise (Con) 1400 Elected
  • Brian Sullivan (Con) 1369 Elected
  • Colin Harvey (Lab) 524
  • Margaret Harvey (Lab) 516
  • Beryl Stapley (Lab) 471
Read results of all Thanet wards in 2003 (PDF file)

So, do any of us have personal experience of dealings with our Councillors? If so, share them here. No comments will be moderated.

Could we, perhaps do a better job?

Nominations for this year's District Council Elections close on April 4th.

Anyone wishing to stand can find out more by contacting Thanet District Council’s Electoral helpline on 01843 577500 or by e-mailing

Candidates must be at least 18 years old and must be either a British citizen or a citizen of the Commonwealth, the Irish Republic or another member state of the European Union. They must also meet one of the following four criteria on both the day of nomination and election day:

1. They are a registered local government elector

2. They have occupied, as owner or tenant, any land or premises in the local authority area during the whole of the proceeding 12 months

3. They have had their principal or only place of work in the local authority area during the whole of the proceeding 12 months

4. They have lived in the local authority area during the whole of the preceeding 12 months

Candidates must be proposed and seconded by two electors and eight assentors, all of whom must be on the Electoral Register for the Ward where the candidate plans to stand. There is no deposit payable for standing as a candidate in the District Council elections. Nomination papers must be submitted by candidates by noon on Wednesday 4 April.

Monday, 19 March 2007

Cliftonville, Margate and T.S.Eliot's "The Waste Land"

I've been reading extracts from David Seabrook's book "All the Devils are Here" (published by Granta, 2002 ISBN: 1862074836 ) .

It took me some time to make any sense of the cover. (Turn your head 90 degrees!).

In one chapter Seabrook writes of the significance of Cliftonville and Margate to the great 20th century poet T.S.Eliot. Convalescing for several weeks in The Albermarle Hotel, Cliftonville (long since gone and buried somewhere in the rubble beneath new retirement homes) and spending much of that Autumn of 1921 in a shelter overlooking Margate Sands, Eliot drew inspiration for what would become his most famous, and possibly the century's most academically criticised poem, "The Waste Land".

Click here to order All the Devils are Here from the publisher.

An extract is reproduced below.

In autumn 1921 matters were serious. Eliot had been advised by a nerve specialist to leave London for three months and had duly obtained leave of absence from Lloyds Bank, his current employers. The seaside had proved therapeutic in the past. On a previous occasion Vivien had convalesced in Torquay. When Tom's turn came round they chose Margate. His intention was to move on later to rest in a cottage near Monte Carlo owned by Lady Rothermere, a friend and financer of the Criterion.

By late October 1921 the Eliots were installed at the Albermarle Hotel and breathing the perfumed air of Cliftonville, an exclusive area to the east of Margate, developed in the nineteenth century to separate the wealthy from the vulgar hordes. The Albemarle, though basically a superior guest house, nevertheless had an excellent address, for at 47 Eastern Esplanade it was close enough for reflected glory from the Grand at 43. 'This is a very nice tiny hotel, marvellously comfortable and inexpensive,' Vivien wrote to their friend Mary Hutchinson. She stayed for another week to see him settled in before returning to London.

Eliot's condition soon began to improve; he was gaining and looked younger, according to Vivien. He was certainly eating well. Lyndall Gordon reported that the first week he indulged himself in the "white" room and took all his meals. The next two weeks were spent rather more frugally in a modest room en pension.'

'Facing Sea' proclaimed proprietor Walter Beazley's advertisement, yet though the Albemarle's location was pleasant enough it can't have been particularly peaceful, especially from a convalescent's point of view. The hotel also faced, en route to the sea, the Oval bandstand on Fort Green and was flanked by Miss Courtney Page's School and Godwin Girls College, at 45 and 49 respectively.

Yet Eliot may have found the schools' proximity cheering. Prior to his clerkship at Lloyds he had been a schoolmaster for a time, a job he grew quickly to hate. Now, high on the Kent coast he was once more surrounded by pupils, though happily with none to teach.

Eliot remained at the Albemarle for several weeks and made a good recovery there. He sketched the people of Margate, practised scales on the mandolin his wife had bought him, rested for two hours every day and read nothing (or so he claimed). But he was writing. He resumed work on the projected long poem that had bothered him all year and he did this not in Cliftonville but in a shelter overlooking Margate Sands.

A seaside shelter in the middle of autumn—it seems a strange choice. But Eliot was soothed and stimulated by the sea, important to him since childhood days when he would sail out of Gloucester harbour and along the Massachusetts coast on family holidays. Moreover, the sea of Margate Sands was a 'muddy yellow', according to another American visitor on August Bank Holiday that year, and may have recalled the Mississippi in St Louis, where Eliot grew up. And this way he could compartmentalise his day; he could return to Cliftonville with his manuscript (the tram passed directly behind his shelter) and leave the poem's tired lifesick voices to drown in the Margate tides below.

By early November Eliot had completed fifty lines which became, in the published version, the final section of Part III, 'The Fire Sermon'. Six of those lines concern Margate itself: 'On Margate Sands./I can connect/Nothing with nothing./The broken fingernails of dirty hands./My people humble people who expect/Nothing.'

"On Margate Sands." The eye snags on that full stop. The statement is a postcard to himself, tugging his mind back from another place. It's a postcard to us as well since it appears to be the only occasion on which he described a real scene before his eyes at the time of writing.

So what exactly did he see?

Well, in that season the most impressive sight would have been what was always known locally as the Jetty, an iron pier with a vast hexagonal head accommodating a concert hall, pavilion, bandstand and other amusements. The Jetty was one of Margate's main attractions, heaving with holidaymakers during the summer season. (A stone pier was visible further down the front, forming part of the harbour wall.)

Out of season the poor could often be seen fishing from the Jetty, for cod, maybe, or eels, to supplement their diet. They also combed the beach below for summer sovereigns, trinkets or treasure from Margate's many shipwrecks, while the less optimistic searched for lugworms and peeler crabs to use or sell as bait.

That was the typical view along the sea front in autumn, but this autumn was different. Read Eliot's lines again and you hear a king addressing his subjects: 'My people humble people who expect/Nothing.' Eliot would have noticed more and more of these people, looking humble, looking elsewhere as they dispensed paper flowers in the weeks leading up to the first National Poppy Day, 11 November 1921.

Click here to listen to T.S.Eliot reading "The Fire Sermon", (Part III of The Waste Land).

Local school is "hugely impressive" says Ofsted

Laleham Gap's main site in Northdown Park Road, Cliftonville.

Laleham Gap School has been rated by Ofsted as outstanding or good in every area.

The inspection was carried out three weeks ago by a team led by Mike Kell, who said "It is a hugely impressive school that enjoys the overwhelming support of parents. The whole staff team has produced an environment in which the pupils flourish. Very high expectations and a commitment to developing the pupils as young people are evident in all the school's work."

The school was formed in 2005 by the amalgamation of Laleham School in Northdown Park Road, Cliftonville, and Gap House School, Broadstairs. It now operates from both these sites, and also runs nursery classes at Newlands School, Ramsgate.

Laleham Gap School specialises in the teaching of pupils with speech, language and communication disorders. Almost two hundred pupils, aged between three and sixteen, are on roll.

Headteacher Keith Mileham said "We're delighted. It is a lot about team work and support from the parents. There are also excellent staff who go beyond their contract hours to support the children. We have a fairly small school and we know our pupils well. All of them have something extra even though they have special needs."

Click here to view or download the full inspection report.

Sunday, 18 March 2007


BBC News reports that two more arrests have been made in connection with the Athelstone Road murder.

Saturday, 17 March 2007

Victim named

The man whose body was found in a Margate flat on Wednesday has been named by Kent Police as David Gavin.

A post mortem has shown that Mr Gavin, who was 26 and was found at his home in Athelstan Road, died of stab wounds.

A 28-year-old man arrested on Thursday remains in custody.

Police have asked that anyone with information should call them on 01303 289600. Alternatively they can contact Kent Crime Stoppers on 0800 555111.

Friday, 16 March 2007

Arrest follows suspicious death in Cliftonville

A 28 year old man is in custody following the suspicious death of a man in Cliftonville. The incident has triggered an investigation involving in excess of 50 police officers.

A post-mortem examination was carried out on Thursday on the body of the 26-year-old, found in a flat in Athelstan Road on Wednesday night.

Witnesses report having seen the victim involved in argument in Athelstan Road earlier on Wednesday. More than two people are reported to have been involved.

Det Ch Insp Jon Bumpus said: "Although we have one man in custody, this arrest forms part of the investigation into this murder which is ongoing and still in its early stages. We would still like to talk to anyone who can help."

The victim has yet to be named.

Tuesday, 13 March 2007

Margate 1940 (John Betjeman)

Found it! Rarely anthologised I think, but Betjeman in his element - concerned with small-town England, English society, English quirkiness and the seaside. At the same time he addresses the fear of the time; that all this was in jeopardy.


Sir John Betjeman

From out The Queen's Highcliffe for weeks at a stretch
I watched how the mower evaded the vetch,
So that over the putting-course rashes were seen
Of pink and of yellow among the burnt green.

How restful to putt, when the strains of a band
Announced a thé dansant was on at The Grand,
While over the privet, comminglingly clear,
I heard lesser Co-Optimists down by the pier.

How lightly municipal, meltingly tarr'd,
Were the walks through the lawns by the Queen's Promenade
As soft over Cliftonville languished the light
Down Harold Road, Norfolk Road, into the night.

Oh! then what a pleasure to see the ground floor
With tables for two laid as tables for four,
And bottles of sauce and Kia-Ora and squash
Awaiting their owners who'd gone up to wash -

Who had gone up to wash the ozone from their skins
The sand from their legs and the rock from their chins,
To prepare for an evening of dancing and cards
And forget the sea-breeze on the dry promenades.

From third floor and fourth floor the children looked down
Upon ribbons of light in the salt-scented town;
And drowning the trams roared the sound of the sea
As it washed in the shingle the scraps of their tea.

Beside The Queen's Highcliffe now rank grows the vetch,
Now dark is the terrace, a storm-battered stretch;
And I think, as the fairy-lit sights I recall,
It is those we are fighting for, foremost of all.

The Queen's Highcliffe Hotel and The Queen's Promenade in around 1918

Monday, 12 March 2007


Welcome! It couldn't really be a better day for starting something fresh and new. A glorious Spring day! And yes, there really are even parts of Cliftonville that look bright and hopeful on a day like this!

This blog concerns Cliftonville, a small residential and shopping district on the edge of Margate, Kent.

Wherever I have set up home during my life I have found something of which I can be proud. Having lived in Cliftonville since 2000, there are days when I find myself struggling in this respect. Some lovely stretches of coastline, yes, but I can't deny that I find much of the town grotty, grey and oppressive; once-proud buildings showing the unmistakable signs of years of neglect, shops that appear to be in terminal decline, streets awash with litter .

Introduced to Cliftonville by Sir John Betjeman's evocative and nostaligic poem "Margate, 1940", I want to look for the good. I'm not suggesting that time can be turned back to Cliftonville's heyday, but I wish that the people who have made their homes here would take notice, take care and then hopefully take pride in their surroundings.

This blog will be concerned with everyday life in Cliftonville. The good and the bad. On a sublime day like today I'd like to think that hope and optimism will end up as the overall tone. We'll see. Please feel most free to make suggestions and observations. Who knows, perhaps the odd seed might germinate.