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Thursday, 1 April 2010

Village Green for Herne Bay

The Village Green application that will protect The Downs forever (if it succeeds) has finally made it to the front of the queue. Kent County Council have advertised the application in the Kentish Gazette, thus starting the 6 week consultation period. An impressive 1,181 people have taken the trouble to sign witness statements saying they want The Downs to be a village green. It's probably the largest village green application that KCC has ever received.

We now need to persuade Canterbury City Council to give us our village green. If they support the application, we could have our village green in a matter of weeks. If they fight the application, it could drag on for years, and we may never get our village green. Click here to find out how you can help Herne Bay get the village green we want.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010


The Save Our Downs blog is upping sticks and scampering off to, a new website of my own concoction, where it will be able to snuggle up to assorted other campaigns, hobbyhorses and bonnet-bound bees. In NewBizSpeak, the critical mass will synergistically trigger tipping points. In English, it may be a good way of getting things done. is about, for, and by Herne Bay. The aim of the new site is to:
  • celebrate the great, good and quirky things that our town has to offer, and to make that information readily available to all the people who live here, and everyone who visits
  • highlight the things that need fixing, improving, or stopping
  • provide a contact point and discussion forum for anyone with ideas and actions that will help with either of the above.
Click on the link, have a look around and let me know what you think.

Best regards,


Saturday, 13 March 2010

A spring in your step

Yes, folks, the pages have been flying off the calendar and it's time for another Bounds of The Downs walk. This one celebrates The Downs as winter turns to spring.

The Spring (or Vernal) Equinox apparently happens at exactly 17:32 on the 20th March this year, and the Bounds of The Downs traditionally happens on the nearest Sunday, so Sunday 21st March is the day, starting from the King's Hall at 10am.

Back by popular demand will be the Quizzical Treasure Trail, complete with (wait for it, wait for it!) a complementary commemorative pencil for the early birds. Gosh! Gasp! You feel loved and pampered now, don't you?

The plan is to go clockwise, starting from the King's Hall. The full tour of The Bounds of The Downs is about 3¼ miles, but there are shorter routes. The red shortcut, up the Hundred Steps, brings it down to a very manageable 1¼ miles. The yellow shortcut, up the slope leading to The Lees makes a 1¾ mile circuit.

The long-range weather forecast is mild and dry, so come along and enjoy The Downs and the start of Spring.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Beach: cleaner

A motley crew of hardy local volunteers scoured the shoreline by The Downs, Herne Bay last Sunday in a regular beach clean and rubbish survey. It was pure happenstance that we weren't out the previous week, when we would have been drenched and frozen in a howling north-easterly. As it was, we had a lovely bright morning - "brilliant blue sunshine" as my Gran would say.

Unsurprisingly, picking up all this crap changes (or perhaps just hardens) my opinion of rubbish and rubbishers. Crisp bags are evil. Ever wondered how it is that crisps can stay crunchy for months in the bag, but soggify within hours of exposure to real life? The answer, my friend, is blowing along our beaches. Crisp bags are made of some kind of micro-engineered multi-layer laminate that (a) would put NASA to shame, and (b) is as impervious to the forces of Nature as an artefact from an alien civilisation. If you seek immortality, just print your name on a bloody crisp bag.

Cotton buds: bastard little things. For reasons that escape me, some people automatically flush their used cotton buds down the loo. The filtering systems in the sewage works are, of course, designed with turds and turdlets in mind. The cotton buds fly like miniature safety javelins through the grills and meshes, and down the pipes to the open sea. The cottony ends obligingly disintegrate, but the little plastic sticks just bob around forever. There's millions of them all round the British coast, simply because people don't have the wit to bin them rather than flushing them. If there are bio-degradable cotton buds with wooden or cardboard sticks, they should be compulsory.

Apparently, ships sailing out of Tilbury are major culprits for littering the sea, and not just with cotton buds and crisp bags - I'm guessing the plastic cutlery is theirs. I am reliably informed by wise seadogs that it's standard practice for ships in port to use a large oil drum or two as an all-purpose rubbish bin, and then empty the lot overboard as they leave the estuary for the open sea. Scumbags.

Monday, 1 March 2010

It's like pulling hen's teeth

Apologies for the mixed metaphor, but getting a straight answer out of CCC is slow and painful, and results are few and far between. Here's a case in point: the forces of Mordor (aka Canterbury City Council) have fixed their beady little eyes on a slice of The Downs, with a view to turning a fast buck. Before they can start developing it, they had to strip it of its Public Open Space status, even though it's in a ward which their own Open Spaces analysis describes as having a dearth of recreational open space. What they overlooked in their unseemly dash for cash was national Planning Policy Guideline 17 (PPG17), which requires them to identify and supply suitable replacement land.

An inquisitive local resident wrote to Cllr Vickery-Jones, who is the portfolio holder for foreshore, beaches and beach huts:
When will the Council (finally) start addressing its responsibility to provide a suitable and matching replacement for the land it stripped of Public Open Space designation over a year ago? (A duty under PPG17.)
And this is what came back:
This question is interesting as it raises issues such as proportionality. To explain that I must tell you that in my view Councillors have a duty to act without regard for the ballot box, of course they carry an obligation to listen to all residents but they also have a duty to look at the needs of other residents who do not normally raise their voices until the opportunity is lost. I do not and will not ever let people down because I have not been robust in exploring any and all opportunities to improve the ability of Herne Bay to thrive again, even though I am criticised for it. How anyone can ever take the view that this proposal is anything but good for our town, frankly is beyond me.

Our town where 70p in every £1 is spent elsewhere, where our kids can't stay because there is little work and where the average wage is £11,000. Who can possibly live on that? My daughter is 14, you may well have young people in your family, where is their future?  I have a duty to provide for their needs as well, as best I can.

I am aware that there are quite a few people who have signed a petition against this proposal, however I am also aware that there has been many scare stories circulated which did not provide the full picture. The Downs have never been under threat from this proposal, no one has ever played cricket or football on the area in question nor has any one flown a kite or even walked their dog unless they suffered being torn to bits by the brambles, the cliff is subject to movement which is the reason that very large rain water drains are installed in that particular area. In all this area is totally unsuitable for any of the activities claimed and would only sustain temporary and light structures such as Beach Huts.

Lib Dem Rob Bright stood shoulder to shoulder with me in the local paper because this matter was never 'Political' it was always about what was perceived as being the best for all of Herne Bay. We have the same passion for Herne Bay as you obviously do, we only differ in that you can afford to be very 'local' whereas we councillors cannot, simply because we have to take a 'broader' view, such as what is good for the whole town.

You state that you are an independent individual which gives me some hope that you may take an objective view and with that some better understanding of the issues.

These are entirely my personal views and should be considered in that light, they give a true and accurate of the way I see the matter. if I can assist you further please do not hesitate to contact me, my only request is that you do not ask the same questions as I have answered these, using the sum total of my knowledge.

 Load of cock, if you ask me.