A look at some of the events in Thanet during 2021

Some of the happenings in Thanet in 2021

January

Covid

Just days into 2021 and Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a national lockdown with people being told to only leave home for shopping, work if it could not be done from home, exercise once a day, medical care and for education or childcare if eligible. Schools were told pupils would again move to remote learning.

Government announced the measures were due to a new variant of covid – dubbed alpha – amid rising covid rates, hospital admissions and deaths. Mr Johnson said the number of Covid patients in English hospitals was some 27,000 – 40% higher than the first peak in April 2020.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the action the new variant of covid was up to 50 to 70% more transmissible.

Dr Ash Peshen (right) with GP colleagues Mocketts/Margate team: Dr Subbiah, Dr Sohail, Dr Reddy

Two weeks after the announcement a large vaccination programme got underway in St Peter’s, headed by GPs from the Mocketts Wood and Margate hub of surgeries. This later moved to the Saga site in Ramsgate where it continues.

Margate harbour arm (Stone Pier) Photo Jamie Horton

Thanet council revealed the authority would take back management of Margate’s Stone Pier from February 24 saying the lease with then landlord Margate Harbour Arm Ltd  (MHAL) would not be renewed.

MHAL had leased the harbour arm for a nominal £1 per year from 2008 until February 2021. The original lease up to 2018 was extended by an extra three years in 2014. The agreement for the extension was made back in 2011 by then-Cabinet member Roger Latchford as compensation for the loss of income from four parking spaces, required for hard landscaping and improving access to Turner Contemporary.

A row erupted in 2017 after former councillor Ian Driver revealed the £1 rent and questioned the loss to tax payers.

February

Manston airport site Image RSP

A Development Consent Order granting approval for an air freight hub at Manston airport  was officially quashed with a new decision needing to be issued after a re-examination of the Planning Inspectorate evidence.

The action came as the result of a Judicial Review challenge to the decision, launched by Ramsgate resident Jenny Dawes in 2020, which was to have been heard in the High Court.

The substantive hearing was due to look at whether the Government followed correct procedure in reaching the decision to approve the DCO for airport landowners RiverOak Strategic Partners.

But, in December 2020 the Department of Transport acknowledged that the decision approval letter issued from the Minister of State did not contain enough detail about why approval was given against the advice of the Planning Inspectorate and said the Judicial Review would not be contested.

An official consent order from the court on February 15, said the DCO. The Secretary of State is yet to issue a renewed decision.

Photo Frank Leppard

It was also confirmed that the Dreamland estate was sold by Thanet council to park operator Sands Heritage Ltd for £7million.

The sale, one of the biggest asset disposals in Thanet council’s history, included the amusement park, the TDC restored Dreamland cinema and Sunshine Café building and the 400 space car park.

Part of the sale income paid the compulsory purchase order compensation to the park’s former owners DreamlandLive -formerly Margate Town Centre Regeneration.

Total CPO compensation and related costs amounted to £5.8 million, of which £2.15 million had already been paid.

The sale of the Dreamland complex freehold was agreed in principle by the then-Conservative run council in August 2019 after ten months of talks with SHL.

A report published on February 22 showed the sale of Dreamland park, cinema, scenic railway, rides and intellectual property was for £2.3million and the exchange of contracts for the sale of the car park was for £4.7m.

Jenny, Clive and Karen

The end of an era was marked when village store Attwells closes its doors for good.

Attwells store had served residents for 69 years but the loss of owner Clive Attwell in January and the struggle to keep afloat forced the sad decision to shut.

Clive‘s parents took over the newsagents in Minster in 1952 when Clive was eight years old. He carried on the family business when his parents died and worked up until the morning he was taken into hospital last November. He worked 364 days a year.

Village resident Karen Brazil had worked alongside Clive after first coming to the shop some 54 years ago, aged six, with her mum Doreen Giles. Colleague Jenny started her job at Attwells as a Saturday girl some 40 years ago.

Clive passed away peacefully at Saint Michaels home in Westgate after battling several health issues.

Karen said she was heartbroken to have to make the announcement of closure but the shop had been struggling for the last five years.

MP Craig Mackinlay

South Thanet MP Craig Mackinlay was one of 63 MPs to sign a letter to say there would be ‘no justification’ for any legislative restrictions on public life to remain once all nine priority groups – meaning all those over 50 and those who are clinically vulnerable – had received a covid vaccination by the end of April.

The letter sent to Prime Minster Boris Johnson was from the Covid Recovery Group – made up of Conservative MPs who opposed the UK government’s decision to introduce a second period of lockdown.

March

The mum won her right to appeal the family court ruling

A Thanet mother  who was one of four at the centre of a  landmark hearing  concerning domestic abuse cases in the family courts, won her appeal after the presiding judge at her original case was heavily criticised for his ” wholly inappropriate comments” and attitude.

The young mum’s case centred around her child and a contact agreement with the father which the Royal Court of Appeal accepts she did not make freely.

Her appeal to the Royal Court was against the ruling made by HHJ Richard Scarratt on 5 August 2019 which resulted in a consent order setting out time to be spent between the father and the child.

The mother’s representation said the judge was wrong to make an order by consent when there were unresolved allegations of serious domestic abuse, including rape. The appeal highlighted ‘wholly inappropriate comments’ made by HHJ Scarratt during an earlier hearing in March 2019 where the mother was threatened that: “if this goes on the child will be taken into care and adopted’.

In the Royal Court of Appeal judgement it said: “The judge’s unguarded comments, made to the mother, not only to have her child taken from her but to have her adopted and, on two further occasions, to refer the case to social services, have to be regarded as having had long lasting repercussions for her.”

The National Day of Reflection took place during Marie Curie’s Great Daffodil Appeal

A National Day of Reflection was held on March 23 to mark the one year anniversary since the first lockdown was introduced in the country due to the covid pandemic.

The day was led by the Marie Curie end of life charity.

Margate Town Deal Photo Steven Collis

It was also confirmed that Margate was set to receive up to £22.2million of funding following the Government’s Town Deal programme announcement in the Chancellor’s Budget.

The funding was awarded after Thanet District Council – working with a dedicated Town Deal Board– submitted its Town Investment Plan to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government in December 2020.

April

Baby Harry Richford Photo with thanks to http://harrysstory.co.uk/

East Kent Hospitals Trust pleaded guilty to a charge of failing to discharge its duty to provide safe care and treatment, resulting in avoidable harm in relation to the death of seven day old Harry Richford and care of his mum Sarah at QEQM Hospital in  2017.

A hearing was held at Folkestone Magistrates’ Court on April 19 for the prosecution brought by the Care Quality Commission.

Harry’s parents Sarah and Tom and family members were in court for the hearing before District Judge Justin Barron.

Defence for East Kent Hospitals, Mr Spencer, said the Trust was “deeply sorry” and gave “unreserved apologies for the failure” to the Richford family.

Campaigners Karen Farmer, Maureen Farmer and Sonia Stewart

Also in April a Thanet campaign group launched a petition in a bid to stop further development of farmland across the isle.

Westgate & Garlinge Action Group against Houses on Farmland  said building on 50 acres of land off Shottendane Road – which was earmarked for 450 homes by Gladman Developments Ltd – needed to be rejected.

Gladman Developments Ltd propose to build the homes, a new distributor link road connecting Hartsdown Road, Shottendane Road and Manston Road, two new roundabouts, public children’s play areas and recreational routes.

The application was in fact rejected three times by Thanet council’s planning committee. Gladman’s appealed to the Secretary of State against the refusal and the inquiry by the Planning Inspectorate will open at 10am on January 11.

The hearing is at Thanet council’s offices and is scheduled for four days. The public watch virtually as it will be streamed via the council’s YouTube channel.

May

Amended plans for Westwood Lodge

Plans for 153 ‘modular’ homes to be  created at the Westwood Lodge site in Poorhole Lane were approved.

An initial proposal for the site had been rejected by Thanet council in August 2015 but was approved on appeal by the Planning Inspectorate in February 2017.

Former developer applicant Places For People Homes Ltd pulled out of the scheme and new developer Rooksmead Residential Ltd agreed terms with L&G Modular Homes on a revised set of proposals.

L&G Modular Homes made a series of amendments including moving new builds further away from the existing buildings and retaining more of the trees onsite. There have also been added habitat and biodiversity features as part of a ten year woodland plan.

Thanet Trees group had previously  demonstrated, dressed as zombies in reference to a possible plague pit at the site, against tree clearance on the land.

Election time

Also in May, polls opened for county council elections, district by-elections and one seat at Ramsgate Town Council. There were also elections for the Kent Police and Crime Commissioner and a vote on the Broadstairs Neighbourhood Plan.

Turn out for county elections was 29%.

Members of the Margate Town Deal Board agreed the list of projects to be put forward for the £22,2 million Margate Town Deal scheme.

The listed Dreamland Cinema Image courtesy of The John Hutchinson Collection, Campbell Reith Collection, RIBA archive

Projects include renovation of Dreamland Cinema with a controversial £4 million allocation; working with Work Wild Ltd to establish a new Creative Land Trust; investing in the Theatre Royal and a major project at Walpole Bay, which will secure long term affordable space for creative industries as well as funding a feasibility study for Margate Winter Gardens.

Protest camp: Campaigners Dan Bradley (right) . Tony Waite and Dosh Archer Photo Frank Leppard

A 10 day occupation of an Old Town plot to protest at the planned felling of a Sycamore tree at the site came to an end on May 6.

Permission to fell the tree was originally given in 2018 as part of an approval for a planning application to develop the site.

The plot which had been earmarked as a community garden until Thanet council sold it in 2017 and granted planning permission in 2018 for a four-storey property with five flats and a commercial unit.

Save the Duke campaigners wanted to preserve the tree and revive the community garden proposals.

During the 10 day occupation the campaigners built a stage, had live music and belly-dancing and were visited by a Kill the Bill march.

But on Bank Holiday Monday the site owners turned up and a confrontation took place leading to police arresting the owners and two protesters. All were later released without charge.

June

A brave little girl who fought a rare and aggressive cancer for more than a year lost her battle.

Nine-year-old Aurora Pile-Gray, who was just days away from her 10th birthday, had been brought home for her final “days or weeks” after a bone marrow transplant procedure failed.

Devastated mum Keisha Pile-Gray, who lives in Garlinge, shared the devastating news that  Aurora -affectionately known as Rory – passed away on June 29.

Rory won the hearts of the Thanet community during her battle with cancer with many following the family’s progress through Keisha’s blog Growing Pains and Paper Planes and also donating to a fundraiser for life-saving treatment.

People also signed up on the bone marrow register following Keisha’s inspirational campaign to highlight the desperate need for donors, especially people of mixed ethnicity.

Warning signs following the waste water discharge Photo John Horton

Also in June  advice was issued against bathing at 11 Thanet beaches and bays following the release of sewage from Southern Water’s Foreness pumping station.

The advice against bathing was in force for seven days. A large, public protest march was held. Thanet council leader Ash Ashbee also sent a scathing letter to  the Chief Executive of Southern Water  to express her concerns following the incident.

In the letter Cllr Ashbee expressed “utter dismay” at the pumping station failure.

July

The Larkins stars Bradley Walsh and Joanna Scanlon in Broadstairs Photo Steven Collis

Thanet was a filming hotspot in July. At the start of the month The Larkins cast and crew were in Broadstairs and Walpole Bay.

The six part comedy drama is a remake of the ITV series The Darling Buds of May. Bradley Walsh takes lead role as Pop Larkin and Joanna Scanlon as his wife Ma.

Killing Eve being shot in Margate Photo Frank Leppard

Later in the month cast of Killing Eve, including Sandra Oh and Jodie Comer were in Margate to film for  the fourth and final series of the drama.

The series follows Eve Polastri (Sandra Oh), a British intelligence investigator tasked with capturing psychopathic assassin Villanelle (Jodie Comer). As the chase progresses, the two develop a mutual obsession.

Cast and crew were caught on camera by isle photographers including Frank Leppard as they shot scenes at spots such as Margate’s Imperial Bar and Meze Kitchen, Harbour Arm, the Lido and  Dreamland.

Laleham Gap School

Also in July a Judicial Review brought by a parent with a youngster at Special Educational Needs school Laleham Gap in Ramsgate resulted in an order for Thanet council to quash planning permission for homes at Stirling Way, overlooking the school playground, with the decision branded as unlawful and having the appearance of bias.

The development by Kentish Projects was for 23 houses,15 flats and parking for 59 cars.

More than 30 objections were made by parents and head teacher Les Milton but the application did not go to committee and was instead granted by officers.

In response a parent, supported by Parents at Laleham Gap School (PALS) launched the Judicial Review successful bid.

A  planning application for the project has since been resubmitted.

August

Margate Winter Gardens Photo Frank Leppard

It was announced that bookings for Theatre Royal and the Winter Gardens in Margate will be put on hold in 2022 as the future of both venues is examined.

Bookings are scheduled to pause at both Margate entertainment venues, with Your Leisure’s annual rolling lease at Theatre Royal ceasing on 28 April 2022 and a pause in Winter Gardens bookings from August 14, 2022, although Your Leisure retains its lease which runs until 2024.

A statement from Thanet council said: “The impact of COVID-19 has been profound, not just on the Margate venues but on the leisure industry as a whole, as a result of enforced closures and subsequent restrictions. Of 944 theatre venues, producers and businesses, 95% are reported to be worse off financially due to the pandemic.

“Although entertainment venues were able to reopen to the public from June 21 this year, income has been substantially impacted and both the Theatre Royal and Winter Gardens buildings are in need of significant refurbishment works. Like many attractions across the country, they now need to secure a more sustainable future.”

An update this month (December) said the venue will be shut for ‘a period of time’ possibly as long as a year. Margate Town Deal funding of £300,000 has been earmarked to create a fully developed plan for the Winter Gardens.

Photo Frank Leppard

Also in August, Cliftonville Farmers’ Market at The Oval Lawns was cancelled ‘until further notice’ by the new site owners .

The freehold for the Oval Bandstand and Lawns in Cliftonville officially transferred to GRASS Cliftonville CIC from the local authority in July.

This means the site and associated buildings are now owned and managed by the not-for-profit social enterprise organisation.

The site had also been the setting for the volunteer-led farmers market which was established by June Chadband and her late husband Keith in September 2001.

The farmers’ market has since relocated to the Walpole Bay Lawns, at the back of the Walpole Bay Hotel.

Photo Bill Harris

Broadstairs writer Jane Wenham-Jones died just three days after the publication of her seventh novel. She was 59.

Jane would use Thanet locations and was amused when readers would tell her they recognised themselves – wrongly – as being the inspiration for characters in her books.

She described herself as a Jacqueline-of-all-trades. As well as her popular romantic novels, she wrote self-help guides such as ‘Wannabe a Writer’, thousands of magazine and newspaper columns, and was a popular host at literary festivals, talking to some of the country’s best-known authors. She was a columnist for The Isle of Thanet News

One of her proudest achievements was being a co-founder of Broadstairs Lit.

September

Margate pumping station (Image Southern Water)

Southern Water was fined a record £90million for illegally dumping raw sewage into the sea.

During a sentencing hearing at Canterbury Crown Court, it was heard the water company pumped an estimated 16bn to 21bn litres of untreated sewage into protected waters around the south coast.

Southern Water faced 51 sewage pollution charges which took place between 2010 and 2015.

The case was said to be the biggest ever brought by the Environment Agency after sewage was released across the south coast from 16 Wastewater treatment works and one sewer overflow.

Southern Water entered guilty pleas to all the offences during a previous hearing, admitting 6,971 illegal spills from sites in Hampshire, Kent and West Sussex over five years.

The same month the water firm agreed to implement a number of action points previously drawn up during a meeting between Margate councillor Rob Yates, representatives of natural beauty business Haeckels and Walpole Bay Swimmers and Environment Agency senior officer Peter Ehmann.

Cllr Yates said there would be a bathing water task force and the Environment Agency was planning to test water quality in the Walpole Bay tidal pool directly for next year, rather than tests being carried out further to the west.

A councillor’s briefing was also told that Southern Water had paid the combined Rotary in Thanet for an innovative installation to collect plastic waste and given donations to volunteer groups Friends of Botany Bay and Rise Up Clean Up for their help with litter picking.

The water company, which Macquarie Asset Management bought a majority stake in during August, paid £100,000 compensation to Thanet council.

Thanet Earth

North Thanet MP Sir Roger Gale raised the issue of a lack of pickers and drivers resulting in Birchington-based Thanet Earth being unable to market £320,000 worth of produce in just three weeks.

Thanet Earth generated its first crop of cucumbers, tomatoes and peppers in 2009 and formed a partnership with Fareshare in 2013 to distribute surplus produce.

The business has grown, with six greenhouses now on site and plans for a seventh. Its turnover exceeds £107million per year.

There is a workforce needed in excess of 800 people but the UK was hit by shortages due to a combination of Brexit and covid.

Speaking at Prime Minister’s Question Time Sir Roger said: “On this Back British Farming Day we are at harvest time but all is not safely gathered in. In three weeks Thanet Earth, one of the largest glasshouse companies in the country, has had to trash £320,000 worth of produce because there are no pickers and no drivers, because of a lack of labour force. The crops are rotting in our fields and on our trees.”

Chris Butler, Managing Director of Thanet Earth, said the food had been redistributed or used for composting.

October

Margate protest Photo Carl Hudson

The month saw more protests about the release of waste into Thanet waters. Two public demonstrations took place in Margate and Ramsgate. Yet another pumping station failure, this time at Broadstairs, resulted in advice against bathing or entering the area below the high water mark at 14 of Thanet’s beaches.

Public protest about wastewater discharges Photo Steven Collis

The advice was lifted for 13 of the sites after nine days but remained at Joss Bay for a further two days. It was finally lifted at that beach just in time for the  final Tech Race of paddleboarding’s GBSUP National Series in Broadstairs.

The Viking Bay Classic was staged on October 16 in partnership with Kent Surf School and Kent SUP Racing.

Pier-Yard Town Square proposal from The Ramsgate Society

Ramsgate and Margate were among those named in the first round for successful Levelling Up bids to government.

A list of more than 100 successful bids was released as part of the Autumn Spending Review and included Ramsgate and Margate.

Funding bid amounts were £6,306,078 for the Margate Digital project and £19,840,000 for Ramsgate Future.

The Levelling Up bid for Ramsgate includes plans to create a ‘green port,’ a training hotel and restaurant at the Smack Boy’s building at Ramsgate harbour, a brasserie and a fishing facility for the local fleet to store and sell catch from; a new town square on the current pier yard car park, a refurbished clock tower building and two community sites in Newington and Ramsgate with training kitchens, community teaching.

The former Marks & Spencer building in Margate

The Margate Digital project is for a specialist industry-focused centre at the former Marks & Spencer building in the High Street.

Thanet District Council, in partnership with the EKC Group and The Margate School, aims to  create 2,000 sq m of cutting-edge, industry-relevant training space which will focus on digital technology.

Families were moved to the Port as an agreed stopping site Photo ‘concerned local’

The same month saw Section 77 eviction notices issued to Pavee Traveller members based at Ramsgate Port. The Gypsy and Traveller Coalition said the notices were served by Thanet council just days after the death of a two day old baby amongst the group.

Thanet council served the notice on some of the families at the section of port which has been in use as an agreed stopping point since the end of May.

The eviction hearing at Margate Magistrates’ Court on October 1 was taken due to a ‘new group’ moving onto the site without authorisation and displaying ‘antisocial behaviour,’ said Thanet council. The Gypsy and Traveller Coalition disputed this.

The case has been deferred several times and has now been adjourned to March 2 next year under a High Court order due to a Judicial Review application which, it is understood, has been made on the grounds of human rights breaches.

The Judicial Review has been raised following concerns over facilities at the port and attempts to move on the group. Thanet council says there is no evidence of continuing welfare needs but the Gypsy and Traveller Coalition say there are significant health needs with people suffering long covid, the effects of double pneumonia and other serious illnesses which are now being treated by an NHS team.

The Pavee group is receiving support from Ramsgate county councillor Karen Constantine, district councillors Becky Wing, Tricia Austin, Mike Garner and Raushan Ara and Ramsgate Town Council’s Anne-Marie Nixey as well as Father McNally who looks after the community.

Louise and Teddy are reunited

In more cheerful news a miniature poodle who had been living by rail tracks after going missing more than a month ago was reunited with his owner.

Teddy was with a dog walker in  Broadstairs Memorial Rec on September 13 when he ran off. He was spotted the following day running on rail tracks at Broadstairs station but then the trail went cold until October.

After vegetation was cut down by Margate railway station on October 10/11 Teddy was spotted again.

Owner Louise Harrop received a call from Thanet’s Mobile Operations Manager to say: “a black poodle like dog that looks like it’s be living in the wild for a while was running about on the tracks near Margate Station.”

Laura Sullivan, from the Missing Dogs and Strays Thanet group which had been carrying out searches across the five weeks that Teddy had been missing, said: “For nearly an hour Louise sat on the floor on one side of the fence while Teddy sat up near the tracks just looking at her from afar.

“Slowly but surely he started to come down nearer so Louise still sitting side on in a non threatening manner to him slowly flicked smelly food not at him but near to him to lure Teddy to her.

“He was still track side but had lost enough weight to squeeze through the bars at the back of the estate.”

Louise and Teddy were happily reunited.

November

Temporary production set Photo Carl Hudson

It is revealed that a 20,000 sq ft sound stage enclosure was being installed at Dreamland for filming of the latest project by director Sam Mendes early next year.

The stage and production site will be used by the director and screenplay writer for love story Lumiere (Empire of Light). The film will be set in and around a beautiful old cinema – Dreamland’s Grade II* listed venue-  on the South Coast of England in the 1980s. It will star award-winning The Crown actress Olivia Colman and Micheal Ward, of Top Boy fame.

PM Boris Johnson

The Prime Minister announces face coverings in shops and on public transport become compulsory again, as a temporary measure, due to the detection of new covid variant Omicron in the UK.

A number of countries were added to the UK travel red list, including Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia and Angola.

Measures include requiring anyone who enters the UK to take a PCR test by the end of the second day after their arrival, and to self-isolate until they have a negative result.

Sabrina is driving the Safe Place scheme and son Lyon, 3, with a Safe Place poster

Westgate creates a Safe Place scheme following an assault on a teenage boy the previous month which left him with potentially life-changing injuries.

The incident shocked residents in the town but also drove them to take action to create safe places for anyone in need.

The initiative was joined by numerous venues in Westgate and headed up by resident Sabrina Ryan who was quick to shake off praise by saying she is “just a mum with a big mouth!”

In just a few weeks were meetings with town councillors and police, youth events hosted at the Westgate United Services Club and a whole list of businesses offering their venues as a safe place to make a call or go to if feeling unsafe.

Photo Nik Mitchell

Kent Film Office said a production company which left rubbish at the Western Undercliff in Ramsgate after filming  would be billed for the clear up and would not be welcome to film in Kent again.

Crews for Bollywood action production Ganapath were shooting scenes for the movie, due out in India in December 2022, but their production company Third Eye did not clear up despite it being a condition of their filming permit.

Instead the rubbish was cleared by Thanet resident Nik Mitchell who then highlighted the issue to Thanet council.

In a post on his Wildlife Conservation in Thanet page he said: “It’s been lovely having a film crew on our coast for the two days but it was extremely disappointing to see how much litter they left behind. Cable ties, tape, plastic bottles, coffee cups, plastic cutlery and more.

“We picked up the majority of it.”

UK facilitation company Third Eye Production Ltd were managing the shoot in this country and Kent Film Office says that company was liable for the transgression.

Connor and Joe have been training

A Ramsgate boxing trainer told how he was helping his childhood friend on his journey of recovery from life-changing injuries suffered in a brutal attack three years ago – and is due to open a community gym to help people living with poor mental health and/or disabilities.

Joe Shaw, 27,  suffered serious head injuries in an unprovoked attack in Ramsgate town centre in March 2018. The ferocity of the assault meant Joe had to be transferred to Kings College Hospital in London, heavily sedated and in the critical care unit in a coma, breathing through a ventilator.

The severity of his injuries left Joe unable to walk, speak or complete many basic tasks for himself. He also had to have reconstructive surgery to reform his skull.

Determination and hard work meant Joe returned to Ramsgate in August 2019 to live independently. He has since learnt to speak again, made significant progress with walking and has become a champion in fighting for disability rights.

Now Joe is working on co-ordination and fitness under the guidance of boxing instructor and  friend Connor Gorham.

Connor, who runs CG Boxing and Fitness, has known Joe since they were 10-year-old boys training at the ABC boxing club in Ramsgate.

December

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a move to Plan B covid restrictions due to the growth of the Omicron variant.

The announcement, which came alongside furore over an apparent Christmas party at Number 10 last year despite stringent restrictions on the country, meant the reintroduction of guidance to work from home; an extension to the legal requirement to wear a face mask to most public indoor venues, including theatres and cinemas and, despite an MP rebellion, the NHS Covid Pass made mandatory for entry into nightclubs, and venues where large crowds gather including unseated indoor venues with more than 500 people, unseated outdoor venues with more than 4,000 people and any venue with more than 10,000 people.

Photo NHS Kent and Medway

The booster jab drive picked up pace with the PM pledging it will be offered to everyone eligible by the end of the year. Spreading the booster jab message also resulted in a visit by the PM to the vaccination hub at Saga.

The team, led by Dr Ash Peshen, at the site recorded their 200,000th jab the day before meeting the PM.

Despite fears of further covid restrictions, no more were introduced prior to Christmas meaning families could get together for the festive period. The PM is being advised today (December 27) on the current situation for England. Further measures have already been enacted in Scotland, Wales and Ireland.

Doug and Sue Brown at their beach themed home

A Ramsgate couple who created ‘beach-themed’ blue and white cladding on their property extension won their appeal against a Thanet council decision to reject planning permission.

Doug and Sue Brown have blue, white and grey striped cladding on the property in London Road, Ramsgate, which they say is “based upon a common seaside theme, stripey deckchairs, windbreaks and beach huts and invites visitors towards those attractions.”

When the case went to Thanet council’s planning committee in April retrospective planning permission was refused with the council saying the cladding colour scheme must be removed.

The approved extension was proposed to be white render with grey UPVC windows and doors but is now white, grey and blue stripes alongside a with a ‘beach hut’ style silhouette. One complaint was made to Thanet council against the altered design.

Former town planner Mr Brown and wife Sue lodged an appeal with the Planning Inspectorate and this month were notified that this was successful.

Former Debenhams at Westwood Cross (LS Thanet Ltd)

Planning documents reveal that the former Debenhams building at Westwood Cross is set to be transformed into units for food, drink and leisure.

Planning applications submitted by LS Thanet for a new shopfront and illuminated WX sign have been approved by Thanet council.

Documents for the plans describe creating: “units for Food & Beverage and Leisure offers. This includes creating new shopfront and enlarging windows on the first floor.”

The Debenhams store closed at the start of this year when the ailing chain was bought by fashion retailer Boohoo.

The £55m sale meant the closure of the remaining 118 Debenhams outlets with goods being sold online only by Boohoo from early 2022..

It had been an anchor store for the Westwood Cross site since it first opened in 2005. The other anchor store is M&S.

Birchington Neighbourhood Plan

After five years in preparation, Birchington’s first Neighbourhood Plan was formally approved by the Parish Council. It has now been submitted to Thanet District Council which has the role of checking that the plan meets all the legal requirements before undertaking consultations. These are scheduled to start early in 2022 and will last six weeks.

The district and parish councils will appoint an Independent Examiner. They will scrutinise the Plan, all the supporting evidence and all feedback collected during the public consultations conducted by both councils. The Examiner may approve the Plan or recommend modifications before it can be formally approved and put to a referendum.

The former fire training centre at Manston will be use for processing those seeking asylum

The Home Office confirmed that part of the Ministry of Defence site at Manston will be used as a processing centre for asylum seekers by January 2022.

The new, secure site will be able to hold people for up to five days as security and identity checks are completed.

Short term initial accommodation will be provided for people during their time on the Manston site.

The Home Office said there should be minimal implications for those living near Manston, as people will be brought there for initial screening and processing before going onto longer term accommodation. The site provides all the amenities and services needed for a short term stay.

People who travel to the UK through safe and legal routes – such as the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy or Afghan Citizens’ Resettlement Scheme – will not be taken to Manston.

North Thanet MP Sir Roger Gale raised the plan in Parliament branding it a ‘kneejerk reaction’ railroaded through without any consultation with Thanet MPs, Thanet council or Kent County Council.

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