A look back at some of the news in Thanet during 2022

Thanet news in 2022


Remembering Dan O’Leary

Thanet lost one of its most colourful characters with the death of Dan O’Leary – also known as Desperate Dan.

The dad, grandad, great-grandad and Thanet shop owner died from covid in Thailand.

Dan had travelled to the country at the end of December 2021 on a mission to reopen his dog sanctuary in Pattaya.

The 81-year-old had also made plans to highlight the 14th anniversary in March of his son David’s murder in Lydden, Margate, for which no-one has been charged.

Born in Ireland and brought up in Paddington, London, Dan moved to the isle a little over 40 years ago and most recently was living in Margate. He had a second-hand shop, originally in Ramsgate but them moving to Northdown Road in Cliftonville, which was emblazoned with posters over the years as he campaigned for the arrest of David’s killer, He had the shop painted bright pink as he started on a new venture inspired by boxer Tyson Fury to raise awareness of bi-polar.

Manston centre Photo Swift Aerial Photography

The former Fire Training and Development Centre at Manston  began use for processing those that arrive in the country seeking asylum through ’irregular’ routes with the closure of Dover’s Tug Haven short-term immigration detention facilities.

In December 2021 the Home Office confirmed that part of the Ministry of Defence site at Manston would be used as a processing centre for asylum seekers.

The Home Office said people would be brought to the site for initial screening and processing before going onto longer term accommodation.


Charlotte (green coat) and other tenants at Godwin Road who were facing eviction

A mum of two young children was among tenants who received eviction notices at flats in Cliftonville because the landlord decided to sell up.

Charlotte Croxon  lived at her flat in Godwin Road for 19 months after being in temporary accommodation. She was one of 12 families to receive notice to quit from three properties in Godwin Road owned by the same landlord.

Charlotte had no idea where she and children India, 6 months, and Hendrix, two, would end up.

Tenants in the properties were told to leave by April 6.

The Godwin Road properties were managed by Lovetts, an independent agent based in Cliftonville and with offices in Birchington.

Managing Director Richard Crosby said new regulations, such as those requiring higher ratings on Energy Performance Certificates, had resulted in landlords sell up in droves.

Paul Mathews said he expected to die in his home of 15 years

In the same month a terminally ill man was among ten tenants at two properties in Broadstairs served with eviction notices following the sale of the buildings to a new landlord.

Paul Mathews, 70, and his 19-year-old cat Alfie, had until March 15 to leave their Chandos Square home of 15 years so new owners Tomes Homes could renovate the buildings.

Former psychiatric nurse Paul, who suffers with conditions including emphysema, said the notice  came “out of the blue.”

Luckily both he and his cat found new, supported accommodation in Ramsgate.

Thanet council said there had been an increase in notices to quit being served since October 2021 due to factors including increasing property prices, changes to tax rules, the increase in the conversion of rental accommodation into holiday rental properties and the possible abolition of ‘no fault eviction’ Section 21 notices.

Photo John Horton

The set for the Sam Mendes movie filmed in Margate was uncovered.

The site known as ‘Godden’s Gap’ was transformed with the temporary build of an Art Deco style cinema for love story Empire of Light.

The film, which is the first solo screenplay written by Mendes, is set in and around the cinema on the South Coast of England in the 1980s. It stars award-winning The Crown actress Olivia Colman and Micheal Ward, of Top Boy fame, as well as Colin Firth, Toby Jones, Tanya Moodie and Crystal Clarke.

The unveiling preceded months of filming in the town.


The former JC Rook & Sons site

J C Rook & Sons shops closed with staff being told on the day that the firm had gone into administration.

Shops in Broadstairs and Ramsgate and the factory site in Ramsgate were among those where staff were made redundant.

J C Rook and Sons had been trading in Kent for well over half a century.

The company operated 11 shops in East and Mid Kent with a production and distribution facility in Ramsgate. The company employed more than 130 staff.

It was later revealed the firm went into administration owing more than £2million.

Documents published by joint administrators Neil David Gostelow and William James Wright of Interpath revealed that there were also more than 150 traders who were still owed money, including Thanet firms.

On top of this there was £166,000 owed to Lloyds which has been recouped and £559,000 owed to the Financial Services Compensation Scheme and HMRC in relation to  VAT, PAYE, employees’ National Insurance contributions (‘NIC’) and Construction Industry Scheme (‘CIS’) deductions.

This brought the total debt to £2,001,237.

Ramsay, who is Lithuanian, has been a part of Ramsgate’s community for 12 years

The owners of a Russian and Eastern European restaurant in Ramsgate feared the war in Ukraine would finish off their business because some people did not understand that they originate from the Eastern Block not Russia and are vehemently against Putin’s military attack.

Ramsay Taralis and Tanya Taraliene have run CCCP restaurant in Chatham Street for more than 12 years and are a part of the community.

Ramsay, who is from Lithuania, is also an on-call firefighter for Ramsgate fire station.

The pair, who have a secondary school age daughter, said they were against the invasion in Ukraine but had still suffered a drop in bookings and seen some unpleasant comments on their social media because people mistakenly believed they are Russian and also did not realise many Russians do not support Putin.

The CCCP restaurant serves food originating from the former United Socialist Soviet Republic, or U.S.S.R which was made up of 15 republics: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Estonia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan.

Customers rallied to support the family and CCCP is still trading.


Thanet council’s monitoring officer Tim Howes was dismissed from his role with immediate effect following a ‘behind closed doors’ extraordinary council meeting.

Mr Howes had been absent from the authority since the end of 2020 although a reason for his suspension was not made public.

A letter sent to council staff in February 2021 confirmed the suspension.

It is understood the issue was connected to an ‘unsubstantiated’ report made to Kent Police.

Mr Howes, who had been at TDC since 2015,  was the second senior management team officer to leave the authority in six months.

The previous October Thanet council’s deputy chief executive Tim Willis left his role with £280,000 severance pay following mediated talks with Thanet council leader Ash Ashbee. An apology over his suspension was publicly made by Cllr Ashbee following Mr Willis’ departure, iterating that he left with a “spotless record.”

The dismissal of Mr Howes marked the start of an eventual clear out of the top management team at Thanet council.

New Haine Road homes plan Image Sten Architecture

A full planning application for 178 homes with open space, play area, landscaping, parking, infrastructure and earthworks and an outline application for a further for 322 homes at land off New Haine Road in Ramsgate was granted permission.

Barratt David Wilson Homes Ltd made the application for the three phase project for the total 500 homes including up to 150 affordable dwellings, on agricultural land.

Phase 1 was for land to the west on New Haine Road, Phase 2 land east of New Haine Road and the Phase 3 land to the west on New Haine Road.


Olivia Colman on set Photo Steven Collis

Filming for the Empire of Light movie in Margate wrapped up towards the end of May after several months of shoots in the town – and brought an estimated £4million into the Thanet economy.

The Empire of Light teams started to arrive in Margate in November last year and said that since then the production would have contributed the £4million through everything from accommodation and food costs to items and services bought locally.

Many residents responded to the call for movie extras and 1300 people of all ages were cast as background artists throughout the shoot.  The locations team liaised with the local film offices and many residents keen to further their careers in the film industry became part of the crew as location trainees and marshals. Costume, hair and make-up, assistant directors and the set decorating department engaged locals to work as part of their teams.

The film comes to Thanet cinemas next month.

Granville theatre and cinema Photo Frank Leppard

The Granville Theatre in Ramsgate was put up for sale in the open market.

Thanet council owned the freehold of the building, which was also used as a cinema. The site has been closed since the COVID-19 pandemic began in March 2020.

The Granville is the town’s only multi-purpose entertainment venue. It takes its name from The Granville Hotel.  The theatre’s patron was actress Brenda Blethyn.

The building was listed as an asset of community value in 2019.

The council took formal possession of the venue in May last year after the impact of covid left the Granville Theatre Ltd team – who had been running the site – with no option but to relinquish it.

In October 2021 Thanet council invited expressions of interest from eligible community groups to become the new owners the theatre.

A submission from Kent Film Foundation was rejected as not meeting the relevant criteria.

The Granville has since been bought by Westwood One Ltd, which also operates Under 1 Roof Thanet in Pysons Road and Under 1 Roof Canterbury.

The company is headed up by Ramsgate sisters Zahra and Parisa Tarjomani and Pyramid Martial Arts & Just Kids Parties owner Matt Milchard.

The plans for the building are to bring it back into use as a theatre and cinema with café and community arts space.


Disturbance on Margate Main Sands

The month saw a series of disturbances in Margate and Broadstairs as visitors swarmed to Thanet beaches.

In Margate at least one beach business shut for the day following a large group of youths causing disruption on the main sands. This was then followed by a mass disturbance later the same day resulting in Kent Police imposing a dispersal order on the area.

In Broadstairs armed officers were called in to attend a ‘disturbance’ following reports of a group of youths with knives heading into the town after getting off a train.

Kent Police officers, including armed response, attended the High Street and a bladed weapon was located and seized.

A 48 hour dispersal order was put in place and, following investigation, three boys from Sittingbourne, two aged 16 and one aged 15, were arrested on suspicion of a public order offence.

Chief executive Madeline Homer’s exit from Thanet council was confirmed with an understood £327,000 severance pay.

A statement issued by the authority said her exit was a ‘joint’ decision made by TDC and Ms Homer.

Her exit followed an independent report into failings at the authority, which included ‘serious breakdown’ in relationships of the top management team and the use of disciplinary action against staff trying to raise complaints.

In July the post was taken on an interim basis by Colin Carmichael, previously the Chief Executive of Canterbury City Council for more than 25 years.

The 69-year-old also worked at the London boroughs of Hackney and Camden prior to his appointment with Canterbury council. He was awarded an OBE in 2013 for his service to local government.

Mr Carmichael left his role at Canterbury in March. He had been responsible for around 500 staff at the authority.

Flags, crowns, Kings and Queens could be seen across Thanet as Platinum Jubilee street parties were held over the four day weekend.

There were cakes, bunting, royal-themed cut outs and lots of fun as residents marked the Queen’s 70th year on the throne.


Inspirational Andy Barrett Photo Chris Constantine

Thanet lost yet another of its most colourful characters with the passing of Old Kent Market and Ramsgate Promenade Market owner Andy Barrett.

Larger than life, instantly recognisable with his trademark beard, hat and colourful clothes – Andy had been a force of nature on the isle for more than 20 years.

He brought a taste of something new to the hospitality scene with the opening of Ramsgate’s Belgian Bar in 2000. The popular venue was a hub for food and drink but also music and art with works by locals displayed on the walls, a regular spot for the isle’s belly dancing troupe and a piano that was available to anyone who fancied playing a tune.

Andy, 74, was remembered by friends as “a kind, enthusiastic, energetic, entrepreneurial and inspirational” man who loved to see others having fun, would give up his time and his space for those who needed it and faced life with quirkiness, creativity and kindness.

Global Generation Church in Margate

Thanet’s Global Generation Church members were told it was shutting its isle operation, including the Pipeline activities for youngsters, the annual Lark in the Park family event and the Hang 10 mobile activity scheme for youngsters.

The church and its activities had been running in Thanet for more than two decades.

But it emerged that a member of the eldership at Glo has stepped down and the church was dealing with financial issues.

This came on the heels of an investigation launched last year over complaints made against Thanet’s Global Generation Church founders and former leaders Mike and Stella Andrea.

A  total of 36 individuals contacted an independent investigator raising concerns about some of their experiences of Glo Gen.


The Winter Gardens is currently closed Photo Frank Leppard

Crowds enjoyed live music at Margate Winter Gardens for the last time before the doors shut for the venue to undergo an “option appraisal.”

The Grade II listed building hosted its last performance on August 7 before the lease was returned by then-operator Your Leisure to Thanet council and the doors were shut to the public in readiness for  surveys which will be used to determine the building’s future.

Thanet council is using Margate Town Deal funding of £300,000 to create a plan for the site which includes building surveys, a legal report, a night time economy report with options for the Winter Gardens use and marketing packs to attract commercial investors and/or operators.

The authority plans for reports to be complete by March 2023, when it will begin to market the venue, and expects to hold an open day for prospective operators in April. The aim is to have a recommendation for the site’s future brought to council Cabinet members by June.

A public meeting will be held on a date yet to be confirmed.

A pregnant mum and her father were killed when a Manston drug–driver hit a family of five with his car in Ramsgate.

Nitesh Bissendary, 31, killed Yoram Hirshfield and his daughter Noga Sella when he mounted the pavement and crashed into them in Leopold Street on the evening of Wednesday 10 August. Noga’s husband Omer suffered internal organ damage and their five-year-old daughter suffered serious head injury. Their son was also injured in the incident.

Bissendary had travelled around 30 metres on the pavement before colliding with the family  and then fled the scene immediately afterwards.

Bissendary admitted causing death by careless driving but denied the more serious offence of causing death by dangerous driving, in addition to causing serious injury by dangerous driving. He was convicted following a trial at Canterbury Crown Court and sentenced to16 years.

Manston airport site Image RSP

A Development Consent Order for an air freight hub at the Manston airport site was redetermined and granted by government, again.

A DCO granting approval for the air freight hub was initially granted in July 2020 but quashed in February 2021 following a Judicial Review challenge by Ramsgate resident Jenny Dawes.

A new decision then had to be issued after a re-examination of the Planning Inspectorate evidence.

In August fresh approval was issued by Transport Minister, Karl McCartney MP.

The DCO approval is once again the subject of a judicial review bid by Ms Dawes. If permission is granted, the hearing should take place no later than six months after the claim was issued, which would be by March 2023.


Books of condolences opened at sites across Thanet for those wishing to leave their respects following the death of Queen Elizabeth II on September 8.

Reading of the Proclamation marking the beginning of His Majesty King Charles III’s reign took place across the country in the following days.

Nationally, the Proclamation was made at St James’s Palace on Saturday 10 September. A second Proclamation was read in the City of London, at the Royal Exchange on the same day.

On Sunday 11 September The Proclamation was then read across areas including the isle.

Theatre Royal Photo Sheradon Dublin

Councillors discussed plans for the future of Margate’s Theatre Royal include marketing it with neighbouring 19 Hawley Square so facilities for food and drink can be created.

The proposals are part of the £22.2 million Margate Town Deal.

The Theatre Royal shut in April while the future for the venue is examined.

The historic Theatre Royal has been allocated £2million from the Margate Town Deal fund to help with renovation works.

A report to Cabinet members said a costed condition survey by Lee Evans Partnership carried out in 2021 reveals the theatre requires £2 million of necessary improvements to bring it up to modern standards, with £370,000 of this identified as urgent.

The Theatre Royal project will be carried out in phases.

The first stage, includes the use of the Margate Town Deal Funds to complete the urgent works for minor roof repairs, removal of the asbestos stage curtain, and fire protection measures and the provision of a proper ventilation system.

Once the urgent works have been completed, the next step will be to complete other structure works including; window repairs and decorations, plastering in lime plaster where plaster has failed, and ceiling repairs to the value of £400,000.

The Theatre Royal and 19 Hawley Square will be marketed as a package to find an operator/commercial partner.


Alexi wanted to return to Thanet

A teenager from Margate was desperate to return to the isle after being moved into emergency accommodation 60 miles away in Gravesend.

Alexi Price, 18, said she knew no-one in the town, had never been there before and was unable to access a GP for her medication.

Alexi has a lack of family support because she is a foster care leaver and as a transgender woman she is also dealing with her transition with little guidance.

After leaving foster care Alexi was in various supported living placements in Dover, Ramsgate and Canterbury but said there had been many challenges, some due to being transgender and others arising from friction within the foster and supported living system.

Finding herself homeless she turned to Thanet council for help and was initially placed in Margate’s  Florence Court Hotel but Alexi said an incident of a person attempting, and then succeeding, to enter her room by forcing the door key out and then unlocking it, left her feeling too unsafe to remain. The incident was reported to Kent Police.

Thanet council later confirmed it was investigating a number of complaints about the Florence Court Hotel in Cliftonville which the authority had been using for emergency accommodation for people facing homelessness.

Alexi has since managed to find a home in Ramsgate.

Manston processing centre Photo Louis McLaren

The Home Office confirmed cases of diphtheria affecting a ‘small’ number of people at Manston processing centre.

The former Fire Training and Development Centre at Manston has been used this year for processing people that arrive in the country seeking asylum through ’irregular’ routes following the closure of Dover’s Tug Haven short-term immigration detention facilities.

But the site hit the headlines when the POA trade union, which represents members who work on contracts supporting Immigration Services and Border Force Officers, raised concerns about the conditions and delays at the centre.

The union said the target of holding people for 24-48 hours was “purely aspirational” with people actually detained at the centre for weeks due to the large number of people brought to the site in the autumn.

The situation continued to build with the centre ending up with some 4,000 people instead of the 1,600 maximum it is meant to cater for.

In November all people were moved out of the centre to accommodation while it underwent a deep clean and adjustments. The site has not been stood down and continues to be used for security and identity checks.


Former student accommodation on the ex-Canterbury Christ Church University site in Broadstairs was being used for people seeking asylum.

Some 30 people moved in to the 86 room site which was being operated by Clearsprings Ready Homes which has a 10-year contract to manage asylum seeker accommodation in England and Wales.

Accommodation was being procured by the Home Office to alleviate issues of overcrowding at processing centres including Manston.

Thanet council leader Ash Ashbee said she was “absolutely dismayed” that the authority was not notified or consulted about the use of accommodation– and revealed a council offer to lease the site for emergency accommodation was in progress.

The Conservative leader said she and the council only found out about the situation after being contacted by a resident who had spotted lights on at the 86 room site.

The use ended abruptly just three days later with people being moved back out.

The Modern Boulangerie opened the doors at its new Harbour Street premises in Ramsgate.

The business, started by George Bellamy-Adams in April 2017,  moved from its former West Cliff Road shop to the expansive Celandine Hall property.

George’s mum Karen, who is also involved in the business, said the site has been busy for the soft launch.

The bakery counter is open as is a deli counter which will be extended as further works take place. A hot food menu is also on offer at the grand four floor site, which offers 7,400sq ft of space.

The Modern Boulangerie is based on the street level floor with its huge kitchens below,The property, which was last used as an indoor market until its closure in 2014, now boasts a patisserie and deli  and café area.

The move has also provided the town with an employment boost with Boulangerie staff numbers going up from six to 20 people.


The Royal in Ramsgate

It was announced that The Royal on Ramsgate’s Harbour Parade had ceased Saturday night trading.

It meant the cancellation of events advertised for Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve.

A message posted on The Royal’s social media page said: “It is with great regret that we have made a tough decision to cease trading on Saturday nights with immediate effect.

“We will not be open on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve as previously advertised. We are still trading daily from 10am-7pm until further notice.”

The pub has been part of the Thorley Taverns stable for many years but has been going through the process of being sold.

Plans for the site were lodged with Thanet council back in June.

Applicant Jamie Copland wants to demolish part of the existing building and erect a five-storey side extension with recessed balconies, single storey roof extension and roof terrace. He also wants to add a new three-storey building to rear to provide 8 apartments and rearrange two existing apartments and reduce the scale of the current commercial unit housing The Royal pub.

A decision on the application has not yet been made.

Sites put forward following the call by Thanet council last year (image TDC)

It was revealed that Thanet council is considering around 200 sites on the isle that have been put forward as potential areas for development or open spaces.

Last year the council launched a ‘Call for Sites’ in which developers, landowners and members of the public were invited to put forward potential land for development.

The authority was looking for sites for housing, self/custom building, Gypsy and Traveller sites, employment space, retail, nature conservation and biodiversity offset sites and open/green spaces.

In response more than 200 plots were submitted which have now been listed on the council website. These will now be assessed against the needs in Thanet’s Local Plan review on criteria including suitability, availability and viability for the purpose proposed.

Thanet District Council has suggested two sites to be considered for affordable housing.

They are available to view on the Call for Sites page: https://thanetcouncilplan.inconsult.uk/TLPRCFS/consultationHome

Thanet council said: “The sites have not been selected yet. We’re reviewing them all now to see if they are suitable for the use that has been proposed.

“In September 2023, when we know which sites are deemed suitable for use, there will be a chance for members of the public to comment and share their views.”

The Thanet Local Plan was adopted on 9 July 2020. It is a blueprint for development in the district up to 2031 but the review is for a partial update to cover the isle’s needs to 2040.

The plan sets out how much development is needed to support the future population and economy.

And finally…..

The Guillemot Photo Caroline King

A ‘penguin impersonator’ that was spotted on Ramsgate sands was being cared for by staff at Briar House vets in Broadstairs and due to be moved to an animal welfare site for recuperation.

The little Guillemot caused quite a stir when he was mistaken for a penguin by a jogger who posted a video to facebook.

Broadstairs resident Caroline King also saw the bird when she was out walking her two dogs and decided to return to the beach and rescue him.

She said: “He was on the beach when I was walking my dogs but they were scaring him so after I took them home, I went back with a towel and a pot to put him in.

“Luckily he was very easy to catch! I’d asked for help on facebook because I couldn’t get near him with the dogs and people were very helpful.

“Briar House was also mentioned so I took him there and they were amazing  and took him straight in.”

Caroline confirmed the bird was the same one that had been mistaken for a penguin, adding: “He is the little penguin impersonator. They are incredibly like penguins, they even swim like them.”

Guillemots are native to the UK -unlike penguins. They come to land only to nest, spending the rest of their life at sea.


  1. Kathy – you did a piece early last year about the big issues to be faced by TDC in 2022, can you follow up by marking their homework and letting us know whether any of the issues were resolved?
    A similar prospectus for 2023 would be interesting.
    Thanks for all your hard work and best wishes for 2023.

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