October 2012 Newsletter

Next meeting
Wednesday 17th October 7.15pm at Whitstable Castle. Graham West from “West Whelks” is to talk to us about Whitstable Oysters

Last meetings

Saturday 8th September – Our visit to the open air picture gallery, “The Great Ramsgate Wall” was well attended and much enjoyed by all. We were welcomed on a lovely sunny afternoon by Janet Weir from the Ramsgate Society who was our guide to the exhibition of over 100 paintings. The artists were all local people, both amateur and professional. Local schools had also contributed. The theme of the exhibition was Ramsgate in all its aspects and the variations of styles, colours and imaginations made it a wonderful vibrant exhibition of everyday life in Ramsgate. The paintings are currently exhibited on the promenade but will not be lost, a permanent home will be found for them. We finished our visit with fish and chips at Peters Fish Factory.

Wednesday 19th September – We were pleased to welcome Mike Philips, Recording Officer for the Kent Reptile and Amphibian Group (KRAG), who promote reptile and amphibian (herpetoforma) conservation in Kent. They endeavour to record distribution and to build up long term records for key sites in Kent, in an attempt to safeguard them from development or mismanagement. They also welcome sightings from the public, and are happy to work together with gardeners to help create and improve habitats for our herpetoforma. Both reptiles and amphibians are cold blooded which means that in the UK they are at the extreme of favourable habitats and species are few compared to countries with warmer climates.

In Kent we have five species of native amphibians, Common Frog, Common Toad, Great Crested Newt and Smooth Newt. The Natterjack Toad, which was extinct in Kent, has recently been introduced along the coast at Sandwich. Marsh Frogs along the North Kent coast near Oare are not native. Amphibians like ponds, especially where there are no fish. The Great Creasted Newt is fully protected. It is illegal to handle or move them without a licence, or to disturb their habitat. In Whitstable they are to be found along the line of the Old Thanet Way. There is a fungal infection of amphibians in the Canterbury area, so they should not be moved around. Members noted that infected frogs had been seen in Whitstable.

There are five species of reptiles in England, the Viviparous or Common Lizard, Slow Worm, Grass Snake and Adder. The fifth, the Smooth Snake is not found in Kent. Of the reptiles, the Adder is the most in decline and there is concern as habitat is disappearing. Adders like rough grass and lizards prefer open spaces. In Whitstable there are few lizards and there is only one recorded sighting of an adder which is unconfirmed.

Kath thanked Mike Phillips for an interesting and informative talk.

Knights Alley

We apologise to Councillor Wratten for an ambiguity of terminology in our last newsletter re Knights Alley. The following is a more accurate representation of what was said:
Councillor Wratten advised us he would support us in a bid for funds to enable the necessary work to be undertaken but that we, as an official society, would have more chance of success if we made a bid to the WAMP ourselves for funding from the 10K fund, and he advised us to do so. We are now preparing our bid for submission.

Making Whitstable Maps

The first steps have been taken in a process to enable Whitstable community groups to create comprehensive, flexible and easily updatable digital online and printed maps. A meeting was held at the Umbrella Centre, with all invited. A rough draft was agreed for the different layers
which can be selected to be overlaid on a base map to create general, or specialist, printed or online/downloadable maps. The current draft can be seen on http://tinyurl.com/8ko4yyb. It is constantly being refined. Comments please, for the time being, to gdcox@clara.net or via any WS Committee member. Councillor Mike Harrison has introduced us to KCC mapping experts, who create layered digital maps. We have already consulted by phone, and a delegation will visit their department in the near future. We will continue in consortium to develop the layers desired and seek everyone’s input to suggest what should be available in each layer; simply building, for now, a written list (with addresses of each item where possible). In parallel, and starting with the KCC meeting, the technical side of the mapping process will be initiated. Software products will be researched and, as a first stage, the various ways in which associated information is transferred to a databank will be examined.

Greens Tiles Update

The site was purchased by the old Whitstable Urban District Council not Canterbury City Council as stated in our last newsletter. We have now found copies of paperwork that proves that it was the intention to donate the land occupied by the skating rink for public use. We have made the Council aware of this. There was apparently no covenant but there were written undertakings given by the WUDC as a condition for the intended purchaser dropping out in response to public sentiment.

[When in 1944 the abandoned open-air section of the old skating-rink was offered for sale (the indoor section, now the tile-warehouse sold earlier) a local firm, Ryebar Labs. entered into negotiations to purchase. There was public criticism for sentimental reasons arising from the history of the rink and so belatedly the Council put forward a scheme to purchase it for a public open space for the elderly. Ryebar, as a public-spirited gesture, agreed to withdraw on a clear understanding of the Council’s intention and the Council purchased for £300. This arrangement was recorded in Minutes but not in the Deed of Sale, there being Dr. Ryebar said “a gentleman’s agreement” (with a Council!). In 1993 CCC, now the owner of the undeveloped site, published a development scheme for the whole of the Reeves Beach site under the title ‘The Warehouse Site’, putting a deck over the whole area at the sea-wall level, car-parking underneath with building on the Sea Street side and with “open space for some boat parking and public sitting-out areas” on the sea-wall side. The latter did not reflect any legal requirement but was a general planning consideration].
Geoffrey Pike

Whitstable Signage

Thank you to Anne Willoughby, who recently spoke at the WAMP re the lack of signage in Whitstable for Public Toilets. Also thank you to the WAMP as we have now been informed by Councillor Mike Harrison that the new signs will be in place in early October. This just illustrates that our councillors are there to listen to public opinion and it is worthwhile to keep them informed of our thoughts and ideas for the benefit of Whitstable.

Tankerton promenade cycle track update

A copy of an Order has been placed at either end of Tankerton promenade by CCC stating that they are applying to the Secretary of State to alter the By-law regarding cycling. It was not published in Whitstable papers nor was a copy sent to ourselves, the Whitstable Society. By the time that we were aware of this Order it was too late to respond. We have voiced our concern to CCC, who have responded to say that it was available in the Whitstable Library and is still publicised on their web-site pages at www.canterbury.gov.uk/transportation.

Public notices are placed in Kent on Sunday as a newspaper circulating in our area following a tendering exercise which achieved significant financial savings. This is where they believe KCC also place the bulk of their public notices. We are not happy with this as the Kent on Sunday is not a paper that is delivered locally and have responded accordingly.

The Open Spaces Society and ourselves were unhappy with the order to convert the footpath alongside Gorrell Tank to a cycle track. The width was stated as 3 metres, but in reality it is less. CCC agreed to put up signs asking cyclists to dismount along the busy stretch between the car park steps and Tower Parade. Objections were withdrawn.

Planning Matters

The Paddock, Millstrood Road – Update

The Planning Officer is still waiting to receive further documents from the developer before a further consultation period of three weeks will take place. The latest revisions, however, include an idea to redress the lack of crossing facilities for the less able who cannot use the footbridge. This is by means of an uncontrolled road crossing to be sited at the island between the roundabout and footbridge rather like the one currently used to cross to Tesco from the Swale Park side.

There will be no controlled stopping of cars and we are concerned that this will lead to incidents involving the less agile and children from the school as they try to cross this busy road. Further details can be found on the council’s website and you can express your views in writing to the Planning Office direct should you wish.

Beach Huts

The plans for how the new beach huts will be managed are being put to the CCC Overview Committee imminently. It was claimed in the officer report that the Community Strategy Group recommended selling off all the Whitstable huts, but we (the Group) did nothing of the sort and the protests from ourselves and others in the Group have been sent to the Overview Committee. Officers may be sceptical of the commerciality of short-letting the huts, but they should let entrepreneurs decide and have no justification to jump straight to the total sale option ignoring all other options; such as seasonal/annual renting. After all, if the Harbour Board (a CCC Committee) can do it, why not others? We have suggested alternatives and indeed these are in the body of the officers’ report, but the conclusion suddenly jumps to sales only and, as an anathema to all groups, states an undifferentiated conclusion for all huts regardless of hut type or which town they are in.

The Council do not even need to fund building the huts for rent. The sale of about 15% would create the cash profits to build all the huts for rent (sale price £25000, build cost no more than £3500) which can then be leased to a renting business or organisation. The council could then use, for other purposes, the £120,000 reserve in the CCC capital budget. The gist of our recommendation, trying to assist CCC with its aims and maximise community access to those who can’t afford to buy a hut and others that want less commitment, is as follows:

1) Invite expressions of interest for short term letting of the huts (with winter seasonal).
2) If no interest, make the same invitation for seasonal/annual rental (no auto renewal if there is a queue) by an entrepreneur or an organisation, or CCC itself to rent the huts off in this way.
3) Only if all the above are unworkable, consider total sell off

Civic Voice

The following is the response of Civic Voice to the Governments latest announcement to further relax planning applications: “We are concerned that after an extensive debate and a thorough review of the planning system over the past year, leading to the introduction of the new National Planning Policy Framework, the Government has chosen to make further changes on an ad-hoc basis to the system which may well result in damaging not just the green belt, but other places and settings of our most attractive buildings, ancient and modern. We welcome the increased investment in housing and infrastructure and we recognise the need to get the economy moving, but we think that short-term measures to rush proposals through the planning system will be counter-productive”.

Support With Transport

If any Members living in the Whitstable area having difficulty attending meetings wish to have help with transport, please phone Kath on 01227 792974

Whitstable Society Walks

14 Oct Sun 10.00am Meet at the Hare and Hounds P.H. Blean CT2 9EF we have permission to park in the car park on the gravel section to the right. They do a nice Sunday lunch here at a sensible price. Tel: 471594 if anyone is interested.
Alan and Ann will lead this walk. Enq: Ann T 277671

4th Nov (1st Sunday in the month) 10.00am Meet at Woodland Estate, Blean. Ann Johnson will lead a walk through Blean woods and then back to her home for refreshments.
[Thank you Ann] Enq: Ann T 277671

9th Dec 12.00noon Meet at The Monument P.H. Whitstable for a Christmas meal book early. This was very popular last year. Enq: Ann T 277671