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Eurostar - untold environmental damage

Contributed by editor on Apr 21, 2007 - 12:45 AM

Dear Editor,

Although I have travelled to France many times using the shuttle, I have never been across on the Eurostar.

I can't help thinking that after all the inconvenience of the building works, and relocation of many businesses in Ashford and the surrounding areas, not least Ashford's famous open air markets, that once again people have been conned by Government and 'big' business with a 'hidden agenda', with all the money spent to build the rail link for the benefit of all allegedly.

As a lot of money from the public purse was used, I think that any future Government funding should be withdrawn.

They were quick to 'butter up' local councillors and MP's with the promise of fast speed links to Europe, as well as 'blinding' the public with fancy digital presentations of how lucky Ashford was to be 'chosen' for the first purpose built station with direct links to Europe.

People should vote with their feet and completely boycott Eurostar now, and the Government should act swiftly to bring this renegade company to heel.

The untold environmental damage that was done to Kent, the 'Garden of England' in the name of profits by this company and it's backers is unforgivable, and to turn on the people of Ashford and the commuters that have paid and continue to pay is an outrage!


Girls rescued just 3ft from rising tide

Contributed by editor on Apr 18, 2007 - 02:23 PM

Three girls had to be airlifted to the William Harvey Hospital in Ashford after a walk along the coast near Dover left one of the teenagers with a broken leg.

The girls, one aged 13 and the others 15, were found on rocks beneath Shakespeare cliff by a coastguard crew after the youngsters raised the alarm using a mobile phone.

They were all suffering from mild hypothermia after getting into trouble just before 8.00pm on Tuesday night (17 April).

A coastguard spokesman said they had set out from Dover, heading for Folkestone, but did not appear to have a torch or any awareness of the tides.

A coastguard spokesman said the incoming tide was only 3ft from the girls when they were found.

"They were very lucky," he said.

"It's quite dangerous down there, especially at that time of night."

Tit Bits - 15 April 2007

Contributed by editor on Apr 15, 2007 - 02:14 AM

Let's have less negativity and stop this petty squabbling....

Okay, so there's an election looming and the candidates are out and about smiling and pressing the flesh ensuring you are in no doubt who to vote for.

But why is it that the policies, so carefully formulated, often take a back seat to the criticism dished out to and from our would be representatives?

Not that these slurs will be anymore troublesome than water on a duck's back, as these brave souls who put their names forward for election expect and I believe in some cases, actually enjoy the spat. But it takes the voter's eyes off the ball when it comes to the real issues.

Let's take a question often raised in the upcoming local 'hustings'; when is an independent not an independent?

It could simply be the assumption that the word independent implies just one, though I fail to see how 'Independent' can be any less plural than when used to describe the other political parties.

Hawkinge Parish council chairman David Callahan has been singled out over his so called defection to the Shepway Independents, but he's a seasoned campaigner and will no doubt be taking it all in his stride.

Should he have resigned as a councillor when he 'jumped ship' as one reader described it? Who knows, but I'm sure the electorate make their views known when they make their decision - at the ballot box.

Peter Smith, who like David Callahan fought and won the seat as a Lib Dem in the last Council election, is standing as an individual, and not an independent after his suspension from the Shepway Lib Dems.

He was allegedly spotted copying election literature on the Hawkinge Partnership photocopier which was claimed by some to be against council rules.

If he was paying for the copies, as any villager is able to do, and which I have absolutely no reason to believe he wasn't, it could appear to the electorate, who maybe do not understand or even agree with these so called rules laid down by the council, that he was being picked on.

And as we know the Brits tend to support the underdog. Who knows Peter may well gain substantial support if the voters feel he is being victimised.

But let's cast aside these red herrings, and focus on the issues upon which these elections should be fought. They should be an opportunity for candidates to put forward positive ideas which will hopefully make Shepway a far better place in which to live.

Let's have less negativity, and put a stop to this petty squabbling.

I will be casting my vote on the policies and record of the candidates who hope to represent us on the District and Parish councils; providing that is, they  promise to empty my wheelie bin every week!

Would you like to contribute to my page of tit bits?


The Hawkinge gardeners Sunday showdown

Contributed by editor on Mar 28, 2007 - 12:45 AM


The Hawkinge and District Gardeners Society will be hosting the Annual Inter-Society Spring Show against Newington Gardening Club on Sunday 1st April 2007 in the Hawkinge Village Hall.

The show will be open to the public at 2.30pm and amongst the entries will be Vegetables, Flowers, Floral Arrangements and Baking.

There will also be the opportunity to purchase refreshments and have a go on the Tombola stall.

Jackie Burvill



Garden cultivator for sale

Contributed by editor on Mar 01, 2007 - 09:33 PM

Used cultivator for sale

No other tiller does so much with so little effort! The Mantis Tiller's powerful commercial-grade 2-cycle engine spins the tines twice as fast as other tillers. Its unique, patented serpentine tines quickly cut through hard sod, compacted soil, or tangly weeds, digging down 10 inches so your crops can establish themselves in soil that's cool, deep and water-retentive.
• Weighs only 20 pounds.
• Easy to handle, fun to use.
• Patented serpentine tines spin at up to 240 RPM and are guaranteed for a lifetime against breakage
• Easily tills down up to 10" deep.
• Cuts through hard sod, compact soil or tangly weeds.
• Weeds and cultivates even in narrow rows.
• Convenient 9" tine width
• Convenient, fold-down handles



Tit Bits - 1 March 2007

Contributed by editor on Mar 01, 2007 - 09:10 PM

Airport decision - out of our hands.....

MP Michael Howard has come down in favour of the Lydd airport expansion, but he insists that compensation must be paid to those whose lives would be disrupted by the proposed huge expansion of the small airport at Lydd. 

The peace and tranquility which many people wanted when they moved to the area would inevitably be lost as soon as the first jetliners fly into the expanded airport. 

Much needed local jobs

It's only fair that compensation should be paid but the airport would bring much needed local jobs to the Romney Marsh. 

The threats to the oldest reserve under the management of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds is a more difficult argument to understand.

Nearby Dungeness sits on flat marshland and shingle banks in the shadow of the nuclear power stations at Dungeness. The internationally renowned and ecologically unusual Dungeness nature reserve hosts about 60 species of birds such as goldeneye, smew and bittern in the winter.

Fails to deter the birdlife

Adjacent to the 1,000-hectare site are two military firing ranges, but the noise of small-arms fire fails to deter the birdlife and the thousands of birds still return each winter. Are they oblivious to the sound of gun-fire? Would the sound of aircraft make them react differently?

The fact is that birds can be a danger to planes and many airports now need to use bird-scarers to protect their aircraft. A UK company Safeskys is the world's largest provider of Bird Control Services and operates at 22 airports. 

Businessman, Sheikh Fahad al-Athel wants to extend the runway and build a new terminal to increase the number of passengers using the aerodrome from fewer than 5,000 a year to half a million. Eventually he hopes two million passengers will use the airport.

The single landing strip with its small buildings has already changed its name from Lydd airport to "London Ashford" in anticipation of its proposed status as a regional airport. 

The airfield currently takes only light aircraft and small executive jets and is more than 70 miles from the capital with few transport links apart from a minor road.

The drive to increase capacity has accelerated as regional airports, which used to be mainly owned by councils, have been sold off to private consortiums with an interest in increased productivity and no direct accountability to local residents.

Strategic airport status

The bonanza has been enthusiastically supported by the government, which set out its vision for air transport in its 2003 aviation white paper. This predicted that commercial air traffic would continue rising for the foreseeable future, and it set in place the mechanism to allow airports to cope with it.

In the last two years several very small airports with ambitious expansion plans, including Lydd, have been granted "strategic airport status" , meaning they can plan for millions of new passengers with the government's blessing.

It's not going to be an easy choice, but it may be a decision which is already out of our hands.

Would you like to contribute to my page of tit bits?


Pupil explains tragedy to Blair

Contributed by editor on Feb 25, 2007 - 05:42 PM

Prime Minister Tony Blair was visiting a primary school and he visited one of the classes.

They were in the middle of a discussion related to words and their meanings. 

The teacher asked the Prime Minister if he would like to lead the discussion on the word "tragedy". 

So the illustrious leader asked the class for an example of a "tragedy". 

One little boy stood up and offered: "If my best friend, who lives on a farm, is playing in the field and a tractor runs over him and kills him, would that be a 'tragedy'? 

"No, not really”, said Blair, “that would be an accident”. 

A little girl raised her hand:  "If a school bus carrying fifty children drove over a cliff, killing everyone inside, that would be a tragedy."

"I'm afraid not," explained the Prime Minister "That's what we would call a great loss”. 

The room went silent. No other children volunteered. Tony searched the room. "Isn't there someone here who can give me an example of tragedy?" 

Finally, at the back of the room, little Johnny raised his hand...In a quiet voice he said: "If the aeroplane carrying you and Mrs. Blair was struck by a "friendly fire" missile and blown to smithereens, that would be a tragedy. 

"Fantastic!" exclaimed Tony Blair. "That's right. And can you tell me why that would be a tragedy?" 

"Well," says Johnny, "It has to be a tragedy, because it certainly wouldn't be a great loss and it probably wouldn't be a f***ing accident either."

Primary school caretaker held over letter bombs attacks

Contributed by editor on Feb 19, 2007 - 09:19 PM

A primary school caretaker has been arrested over a string of letter bomb attacks including one which injured a Folkestone security consultant.

Miles Cooper, who is in his 20s, was arrested at about 3.00am at a house in Cherry Hinton, near Cambridge. 

Police are searching Teversham Church of England School where he works and expect to spend several days searching his house. 

On February 3, Michael Wingfield suffered minor injuries to his face and stomach when a letter bomb exploded after he opened a small jiffy bag at his Folkestone home.

Seven letter bombs were sent over a period of three weeks and police have warned that they cannot guarantee that there will not be another one. 

Nine people have been injured by the devices, including four workers who were hurt when a bomb exploded at the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority centre in Swansea.

Tit Bits - 18 February 2007

Contributed by editor on Feb 18, 2007 - 08:41 PM

Ralph's cunning plan....

The proposals for a residential home on the employment land near Terlingham Village moved a step closer last week when representatives from the planners made a presentation to the parish council meeting on Wednesday.

Although it is only at a preliminary stage, there does appear to be considerable support from villagers, and the parish council too, seem to be "receptive" to the idea of a care home, I hear.

The land has so far failed to attract the businesses hoped for and the siting of a residential home, if planning were to be approved could make factory units even less attractive, especially if noise and pollution were to be a consideration. 

But who is going to complain? A home for our local elderly residents and the creation of over 100 jobs looks like a sure-fire winner to me.

Something I feel is less than a winner is the business plan for the Community Centre which was released last week. 

The plan appears to be dependent on grants to save it from financial meltdown and the report goes as far as to say funding for year 1 (which includes considerable grant monies) is crucial for the long term sustainability of the centre.

The plan unfortunately fails to address the lack of suitable space in the centre. For those of you who have never ventured in, there is a large hall, small hall, heritage room, committee room and foyer. 

Ralph could be being a tad naive but here is my cunning plan.

Install mobile partitioning in the small hall and instantly increase the letting space. Very few local groups want a room as big as the small hall, and on cost alone, few groups would  need to hire the large hall. 

But what do you do with the large hall? 

I suggest it is used primarily for sports facilities which could include five-a-side football, basketball or volleyball. The examples are team games which could generate a reasonable income.

With a cloud hanging over the future Folkestone Sports centre, an innovative management team could market the increased space and open up the centre to smaller local groups, increasing the number of community events and meetings without the locals being squeezed out by the more lucrative commercial letting mentioned in the business plan.

I have always been under the impression the Community Centre was built for the community, and not for business lettings. The villagers must come first, after all it was the village's money which built it.

It could turn out to be a Baldrick cunning plan but something needs to be done or the village could lose its £2m edifice. 

The business plan can be found on the parish council website.
.........Click here to view it now

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Expresso shopping is latest addition

Contributed by editor on Feb 15, 2007 - 01:43 PM

Starbucks coffee chain is the latest company to sign up for the Bouverie Place shopping centre in Folkestone.

The coffee house will be on the ground floor of the shopping centre, which hopes to start operating in October.

HSBC, which will move from its current location in Folkestone High Street is also moving into the new development.

Starbucks and HSBC will be joined on the ground floor by Bhs, Next, Peacocks, New Look, George and HMV.

The Asda superstore will be on the first floor, with its own car park opposite the store.

Folkestone's town centre management and Discover Folkestone will move into the office space in the shopping centre.

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