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5th November 2008
Comments from Howard Slight
As a resident of Ramsgate for 6 years. I am caused to write to you and to draw to your attention some observations I have made during this time, both from the position of a concerned resident, as a visitor with potential business interests, a new resident or as a holidaymaker. Particularly after reading in the “Isles” magazine, issue no. 13 for Autumn 2008 about the “Seaside Revival –Breathing new life into Margate” emblazoned on it’s front cover. Immediately followed by an article in the Thanet Gazette newspaper about the impending closure of our museums. Particularly the East Kent Maritime Museum in Ramsgate!
On arriving on the outskirts of Ramsgate, coming down the Thanet Way from Herne Bay. One finds the really good dual carriageway ends at the Manston roundabout. Having just passed massive earthworks, the Planet Earth Project. A new investment to provide employment via the growing, in environmentally friendly greenhouses, vast quantities of tomatoes, peppers, and salad crops. A potential asset for the local economy. Also a higher return on the investment than traditional crops!
You now find on your right a newly refurbished Motel opposite a new garage / supermarket complex serving the needs of the out of town commuting travelers .A new asset to this part of Thanet. Particularly when you are aware that to the left of this roundabout is to be found the developing road infra structure to support a new industrial estate. This is to include a new initiative known as the China Gateway, a development to support the importation of Chinese manufactured products, which will be closely aligned to the expected expansion of the Kent International Airport with more freight and passenger services. All good economic sense for the future. Albeit the risk of increasing levels of air noise and pollution of the skies and roads, does give rise to complaints from the established local residents who quite naturally would wish to continue to live in their rose cottage village environment. A some-what selfish biased tunnel visioned outlook as to the future prosperity of the local economy.
Continue towards Ramsgate on what is now a narrow single lane “a” class road alongside the fencing of the airport. A road that really ought to be a dual carriageway like the previous section. There is plenty of room for it. One can always tell that you are nearing Ramsgate by the smell of the cauliflowers growing in the fields on the other side of this road.
Glancing to your right, you will see on the road from Sandwich, conflicting images of the Richborough power station now derelict and nearby the unused modern high tech. wind powered electricity generator. Why are they remaining? Maybe monuments to past and future technologies. On this same now narrow “a” road (should be dual carriageway) from Sandwich to Ramsgate you will pass on your right a Viking Longship; a full scale historical copy of one that arrived here, many years ago and acts as a reminder of our heritage. Recently having undergone a major rebuild due to the ravages of time, wind and rain, neglect and lack of preventative maintenance. A pity that at great expense our harbour resources could not provide the skills or resources to do the restoration locally. At huge expense it was put on to a low loader and transported all the way to Gloucester. Whilst in this vicinity, should you care to look over the cliff edge, you would see what remains of the long redundant base structure of the Hoverport, car park, and landing/launching apron for the hovercrafts and customers transport. Now sadly left to nature to gradually cover it over and hide these embarrassing remains .Why not clean it up, there is a road onto the site with adequate parking and make a country park of it then link it up to the excellent nature reserve of nearby Pegwell Bay?
This Sandwich road now shortly joins up with the other road from Manston at what is known as the “Lord of the Manor” roundabouts. Cliffs End is this area, where there must be some very in depth consultation as to the way ahead to improve this major junction. Which at present causes a major hold up to traffic flow at peak periods The village of Cliffs End with its large fuel depot, garage and the railway bridges will be involved. These junctions are the main arteries to feed Ramsgate and Manston Airport from the Dover area and from the northwestern area of the Thames gateway, and Medway towns etc. What is in the future planning process for this extremely important complex key road, rail, and airport links whose improvement will through time prevent major traffic congestion and help in the regeneration of Ramsgate’s economic future?
The next section of road, a user-friendly wide section, leads into Ramsgate with a roundabout which feeds a road tunnel servicing vehicle access to Ramsgate’s commercial harbour. This tunnel is real asset to the town as it diverts heavy lorrey movements away from the town centre. However, smaller visiting tourist traffic from and to the ferries also has to use this route, and miss out the opportunity to visit Ramsgate without a long diversion. There was a minor route under the cliffs immediately out of the commercial harbour which allowed access to the town and marina, but has been closed except for periods when there is a need to close the tunnel. If this shorter route had been designated a road for light traffic only, then there would have been an opportunity to allow tourists to experience our town easily and maybe provide a source of income to the towns traders. Why cannot this route be reinstated as described?
Continuing on into Ramsgate via the cliff tops, Royal Esplanade, or Government acre at Westcliff. A nice green recreational area overlooking the harbour and Pegwell Bay. A croquet club, a bowling club, a small boating lake, with an exhibition hall badly in need of refurbishment and café serving the users needs. This is a nice area, but sadly is let down by the poor neglected shelters with their tattered roofs, broken windows and damaged seating. Not at all reflective of the title “Royal Esplanade”, but a stark example of the degeneration of property by vandals and or neglect by our council services. Sadly this state of affairs continues onwards. Past the now unused car museum and rotting buildings and gardens onto Nelson Crescent, a striking stretch of Victorian/ Regency architecture, constantly being maintained by their owners, but sadly let down by the squalid public shelters, whose only purpose other than to cause embarrassment is to house the itinerant dropouts and their effluent! Surely those charged with presenting a well-groomed appearance to the general public could find some time and resources to keep them in a presentable state. How about assistance from the probation services and their charges with community service hours to be worked out, be given this worthwhile task, what price a pot of paint? The other option would be to remove completely these decaying edifices to times gone past, and once and for all save further maintenance cost’s and removing a continuing eyesore.
A diversion down the steps known as “Jacobs Ladder” to the Ramsgate Harbour marina will show halfway down, a boarded up doorway, which once lead to the clubrooms of the British Sub-Aqua Club. Now dispersed and a loss of a very useful resource in this marine environment! Because of the removal of the council subsidy towards their rental of the premises, which are now empty and not producing any income, with the building now materially falling into disrepair. It seems there is a poor letting philosophy, which prevails, some rent is better than no rent!