Cruise ship in major Channel fire alert

Contributed by editor on May 06, 2006 - 11:19 AM



 Calypso cruise ship

Firefighters were scrambled to a ship in the English Channel last night after a Mayday was received saying it was on fire.

The blaze broke out around 4.00am (6 May) on board the Calypso cruise ship which had 708 people on board.

Firefighters flew out to the ship, reported to be about 20 miles from Beachy Head and managed to put out the fire shortly after 6.00am. 

There were no casualties and it was not necessary to evacuate the ship.

The fire on the ship which is carrying 462 passengers was tackled by members of the ship's 246 crew before firefighters arrived on four lifeboats and in a rescue helicopter. 

East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service firefighters tackled the blaze, and a service spokeswoman later said 18 firefighters had stayed on board to cool the blaze area. 

Dover Coastguard is to send a maritime surveyor out to see if it will need to be towed.

Dover Coastguard Rescue Co-ordination Centre manager Spike Hughes reported to the BBC it was likely the Calypso would be towed to Southampton, Hampshire. 

A six-strong fire team from the Maritime Incident Response Group (MIRG) has been taken to the vessel by helicopter, to investigate and make a decision on whether to evacuate the ship. 

The MIRG is the UK's first specialised fire and rescue service for incidents at sea and is one of the first of its kind in the world - this incident is its first live job.

Vomit Comet!

Contributed by editor on May 05, 2006 - 03:04 PM


Dear Ed,

Re: New fast ferry is a perfect fit

I bet it won't be a "perfect" fit.

Such craft are o­nly fit for those who like extreme dieting methods!

Yours as ever,


Howard's Way 4 May 2006

Contributed by editor on May 05, 2006 - 01:21 AM


HOWARD'S WAY.... a weekly column from Michael Howard MP

May 2006<IMG height=195 hspace=10 src="images/michaelhoward3.jpg" width=130 align=right vspace=10 border=0>

When should a Government Minister resign?

A bewildering number of different answers have been given to that question over the last few days. But Charles Clarke, the Home Secretary, gave the right answer himself when he was interviewed by Jon Snow on Channel 4 the day the storm over foreign prisoners broke. He would resign, he said, ‘if he was shown to be personally culpable for the failure to consider the recommendation of the courts that over 1,000 dangerous criminals should be deported at the end of their sentence.

Within hours he confirmed to Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight that he was personally culpable. He said that what had happened was the result of a “shocking failure� on his part and that of others. So the fact that he has failed to accept the logic of his own test is astonishing.

Almost every day since then has brought a fresh and damaging revelation. Mr Clarke said that the number of prisoners released since he knew about the problem was very, very few�. It soon became clear that the number was 288.

What is more Mr Clarke subsequently admitted that he knew that number when he gave his misleading answer.

Then we were told that it had taken Mr Clarke three weeks to report on the problem to the Prime Minister and, more importantly, to the police.

Last week, we were told, the police were knocking on doors to try to find those who should have been deported. Why weren’t they asked to do this three weeks earlier or indeed ten months ago when Mr Clarke was first warned there was a problem?

These are not abstract questions. We know that at least 5 of those who should have been deported have committed further serious offences. People have suffered injury, or possibly worse, as a direct result of Mr Clarke’s negligence.

He has repeatedly said that he takes full responsibility for what has happened. But what does that mean? I am afraid that if it means anything at all, it means that Mr Clarke must go. That is the true meaning of ministerial responsibility.

Deadly tick fears after dog dies from bite

Contributed by editor on May 04, 2006 - 11:22 PM


A tick which can kill dogs has spread to the British mainland scientists believe.

The disease was diagnosed by a scientist at the University of Bristol following a dog which is walked near to railway lines used by Eurostar trains, died after being bitten by the insect.

The pet, whose owner lives in Ashford, died from the blood-born disease babesia, caused by a tick not previously known to be in the UK.

WI rôle in event of local disaster

Contributed by editor on May 04, 2006 - 10:49 PM


May cometh and so do the resolution meetings throughout the Women’s Institute.  It has long been the practice of Hawkinge, Acrise & Paddlesworth to encourage our members to attend by having a lunch first and this year was no exception.  I trust everyone agrees that it was a very tasty o­ne and the committee are to be thanked for all their hard work in making the occasion so enjoyable. 

When lunch was over the meeting opened with the singing of Jerusalem. birthday greetings were accorded to Mesdames Marshall, Bell, Jefferson and Cole, and additional congratulations were given to Avis Readman and her husband Guy o­n the occasion of their Diamond Wedding Anniversary; a beautiful arrangement of flowers was then presented to Avis.  

There were two resolutions for discussion; the first o­n “Sport for a Healthy Populationâ€? was presented by Gillian Philcox and after much discussion the members voted to support it. 

The second o­n “Renewable Energyâ€? (presented by Linda Barnes) was considered to be too wide ranging and after much careful thought and discussion the overall vote was to abstain.  Renewable energy is very much in the public domain now and there are many agencies dealing with it that it did seem a pity that this particular topic was adopted in the first place. 

We were then given a brief update by Gill Connolly o­n the East Kent Emergency Group.  This is an agency that the WI has joined and in the event of a disaster in this area those participating would offer tea and sympathy to the victims. After Gill’s very interesting short debrief seven more ladies signed up as volunteers. 

To lighten the afternoon a game was then introduced by Nora Cole, each member had a sticker put o­n her back with the name of a well known person o­n it and by asking questions of others had to guess who they were.  This did cause much hilarity and it was good to hear the hall ringing with laughter. 

The monthly competition was for any craft exhibit and was won by Barbara Pemble who had brought along a lovely framed piece of cross stitch which she had made to celebrate her wedding anniversary as it reminded her of the church she was married in.

Earlier in the afternoon Wendy Bell had given us a brief update o­n the works of ACWW (Association of Country Women World Wide) as the monies collected from the monthly competition (a silver coin is put o­n the preferred entry) are donated o­nce a year.

There are many events planned for this year, we are going to St Paul’s Cathedral in September, so why not come along and see if the WI is for you, you will be made very welcome. 

The next meeting is o­n Tuesday, 6th June, starting at 2pm in the village hall; the speaker is Lt Col Fairclough of the Salvation Army, the title “People Who Need Peopleâ€?.  Should you require any further information please don’t hesitate to contact either the secretary o­n 893858 or myself o­n 891734.

Linda Barnes

New fast ferry is a perfect fit

Contributed by editor on May 04, 2006 - 09:34 PM



The Spirit of Ontario

A high-speed ferry based at Rochester in the United States which was sold yesterday (3 May) to a British company for $29.8 million, is being heralded as a perfect fit for its future home on the English Channel by Alain Rousseau, port development manager for the port of Boulogne-sur-Mer.

The buyer, Euroferries Ltd., will operate the Spirit of Ontario between Dover and the French port.

They are pushing to start up this month and holding interviews for crew members in Dover, Calais and Boulogne.

A bid by Navmed Ltd, who also planned to operate a fast ferry across the channel was unsuccessful.

When operating in the Great Lakes between Rochester NY and Toronto in Canada, The Spirit of Ontario had struggled through abbreviated seasons in 2004 and 2005, hindered by late start-ups, minimal marketing and low passenger numbers. The first year it was a private operation, run by Canadian American Transportation Systems, and the second as a city operation, after Rochester acquired the ship at auction.

Howard's Way 27 April 2006

Contributed by editor on May 03, 2006 - 04:54 PM


HOWARD'S WAY.... a weekly column from Michael Howard MP

27 April 2006<IMG height=195 hspace=10 src="images/michaelhoward3.jpg" width=130 align=right vspace=10 border=0>

On Friday afternoon I chaired a meeting with the Head of Public Affairs at Marks and Spencer to try to persuade the company to withdraw its proposal to close its Folkestone store. I have previously written and spoken to Stuart Rose, the company’s Chief Executive, to emphasise Folkestone’s potential.

The Friday meeting was attended by David Monk, acting Leader of Shepway District Council, George Bunting, Mayor of Folkestone, John Barber, the Town Centre Manager, Roger de Haan, who explained the way in which his masterplan can transform the town and Alastair Shaw, representing Bridewell the developers of the new town centre currently under construction.

The message we delivered was that the company would be making a mistake if it left Folkestone and would regret any decision to close the store. The future of Folkestone is bright. When the town centre development is complete, when the high speed rail service to London is in place and, perhaps above all, if the de Haan masterplan is implemented Folkestone will be changed in a very dramatic way.

By the time you read this we may know whether our arguments have been successful. But whatever the result I believe that everything that could be done to save the store has been done.

I also found time on Friday to visit two schools. At Morehall Primary School I unveiled a mosaic designed and created by the children under the guidance of mosaic expert Martin Check. It was a really imaginative piece of work – and the first of its kind I have seen. Later in the day I opened the new Little Learners pre-school class at Sellindge Primary School, which will be a great boon for the village.

I also called in to see the new offices of Homestart in Cheriton Gardens. Regular readers will know how keen I am on this excellent scheme which recruits volunteers to help families faced with difficulties. More volunteers are needed. If you are interested, phone Homestart on 244836.

Market regulator suspends Eurotunnel shares

Contributed by editor on May 02, 2006 - 04:30 PM


Trading in Eurotunnel PLC shares have today (2 May) been temporarily suspended o­n the London Stock Exchange by the market regulator after the debt-laden company postponed the publication of its 2005 earnings.

The Financial Services Authority said it halted trade in the operator of the Channel Tunnel, which operates the tunnel between Folkestone and Sangatte in France, because they had failed to meet "continuing obligations."

Eurotunnel announced last month that it was delaying the publication of its 2005 earnings indefinitely, and asked creditors to extend the deadline o­n a restructuring plan. The earnings were due to be reported o­n April 12.

The company said it would not be able to meet its contractual obligations in the first half of 2007, and as a result its auditors were initiating an "alert procedure" concerning the company's stability.

Eurotunnel said it was not planning to make further announcements before a self-imposed mid-May review date, a company spokesman said.

Eurotunnel has been trying to reach an agreement with the holders of its £6.2 billion in debt in order to avoid bankruptcy. The company had until March 31 to agree to a restructuring plan, but asked that it be delayed until July 12.

The Anglo-French tunnel operator said the suspension of its shares in London was not a sign of a pending announcement on financial restructuring and that it was still in talks with creditors.

Hawkinge Gardeners Society plant sale

Contributed by editor on May 02, 2006 - 12:14 PM



By Ann Hutt

May I please remind villagers that the Hawkinge and District Gardeners Society annual plant sale will take place o­n Saturday 6th May 10.00am till 12.00pm in the Hawkinge Village Hall.

On sale will be a variety of bedding perennial and vegetable plants, hanging basket and shrubs. 

All will be of good quality and price. 

Refreshments and a raffle will also be available.

Dover Docks targeted by animal welfare groups

Contributed by editor on May 01, 2006 - 07:35 PM



Just days before the end of a 10 year ban on the export of live calves and cattle to the European continent, two leading animal welfare organisations are planning to descend on Dover docks to once again demand change.

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) and Compassion in World Farming (CIWF) have united to call for a range alternatives before the exportation trade is resumed on May 3.

EU chiefs imposed the ten year export ban on cattle in 1996 at the height of the BSE scare. 

Experts believe veal producers will return to traditional transportation methods as no cheaper options have been found.

The RSPCA and CIWF are now calling for measures to help prevent the suffering of animals as they are exported abroad.

Included in the proposals are calls for the the dairy industry, from which most veal calves are sourced, to seek alternative outlets for excess dairy-bred calves and for the British Government to explore financial support mechanisms for rearing dairy-bred calves under higher welfare conditions within the UK and to end live exports.

Charity chiefs also want the EU to agree higher welfare standards for live animal transport and the public to ask retailers, caterers and restaurateurs if they serve humanely reared veal from the UK.

For more information about the campaign visit or