All posts tagged 'Gravesend'

The Friday Five: the top political news stories of the week

by Paul on Politics, by political editor Paul Francis Friday, March 28 2014

This week's political round-up features Disneyland, more on the Manston airport saga and yet another setback for the Kent grammar school plan....

1. There have been plenty more twists and turns in the tale of Manston Airport. After last week's announcement that the owner Ann Gloag was consutling on closure, there seemed to be fresh hope when Thanet North MP  Roger Gale announced he had been in touch with a potential buyer.

But the consortium said to be interested in taking over the airport was shrouded in secrecy and it was unclear if the owner was interested in selling. Meanwhile, Saudi Cargo said it would suspend its operations from next week and KLM followed suit, saying it was not taking bookings beyond April 10. Meanwhile, KCC and Thanet council announced the creation of a task force dedicated to keeping Manston going. To coin a phrase, everything is up in the air...

2.  Councillors in Gravesham were in a spot of hot water over their plans to take a trip to Disneyland and other theme parks in Florida at taxpayers' expense. The reason?

The "fact finding" trip was planned so councillors and six officers could  examine how a theme park operated so they could better manage the planning process for the huge Paramount scheme expected to be built in north Kent. Inevitably, the council was forced on the defensive, saying that the council would be dealing with a scheme of "global significance". For some reason, that justification for the £15,500 trip failed to impress many....

3. There was yet another setback for Kent's grammar school annex plan with the news that governors of the Weald of Kent Girls Grammar had decided against going co-ed - a move that would have paved the way for it to become the sponsor school for the Sevenoaks satellite. Campaigners seeemd resigned to the possibility that this development might signal the end of the road for the project.

4. Canterbury must rank as one of Kent's most congested places so there was some potentially good news for long-suffering motorists and others with the announcement of a £53m package of road improvement schemes. The city council said the schemes represented the biggest shake-ups in the road network since the 1970s. 

5. Finally, there was a political spat over at County Hall in the wake of a backbench report that suggested that Kent could benefit to the tune of £100m from the EU in the next six years. The opposition UKIP group were distinctly unimpressed but the largely positivie report was welcomed by an unusual alliance of the Tory group, Labour and the Lib Dems. Mind you, they may have some trouble selling that on the doorstep in the run-up to the Euro election in May.

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Categories: Margate | Mayoralty | Precept

Cake, coroners and 900 elves; a visit to Gravesend's art world

by Collage Kent: discovering art in our county, with Alex Welch Tuesday, November 26 2013

I was expecting tea and cake; I wasn't expecting 900 elves, all gathering in the town centre in an attempt to beat the world record for the most elves in one place. Fighting my way through the throng of small green and red hats I found the Town Hall's Minerva Cafe locked and bolted. A coroner's inquest was taking place in the Town Hall which meant the facilities had to be closed for the duration. That was a bit of a nuisance as the installation I'd come to see was inside. It was cold, I was hungry and no number of elves could make me feel festive....

Empty out Time, copyright Wendy Cottam 2013

Artist Wendy Cottam's first solo exhibition, Empty Out Time has been inspired by her life and family history which is inextricably tied to the town and the river. The installation combines photgraphs, water and light to create an environment in which images of the town are filtered, distorted and re-imagined to present a whole new and evocative version of Gravesend. The installation works by projecting slides of photographs, which Wendy has taken, through sheets of falling water. In the dark, the light creates a dynamic three dimensional scultpure, ever changing in shape and scale. The images themselves are seen beyond the water, deteriorated by it so that they are unclear and only suggest a narrative rather than shout one. It is an exciting piece of work and as an artist just starting out, Cottam demonstrates a strong ability to take the prosaic and create something magical.

However, I only know this because I've seen it working in her studio. How was I going to experience it from outside the closed cafe? Fortunately a very lovely man on the fruit and veg stall pointed out another very lovely man with some keys who unlocked and showed me in. Although I couldn't indulge in any of the cake, I could see the installation in place. The machinery which engines this piece is industriual in design, mixing plastics, copper and wiring. Even without the water running it is an intriguing sculpture. Obviously not working (and apparently it hasn't been running for much of the time which is one of the problems of putting a water feature in a first floor, wooden panelled room I guess) there are still a number of prints on display which are taken from the the projected images. These are very beautiful, espcially "Woven Industries" and "The Water Tower".  For me, Empty Out Time suggests a dark, fairy tale version of Gravesend but I also think it fulfils an improtant role of art which is to ask questions rather than dictate answers. This asks, 'What is this town? How do we see it?" and that is always an important thing to ask about the places where we live. 

There is so much going on in this exhibtion, so many different elements to it, that I feel there are years worth of work to be developed and drawn out by the artist. Although the cafe is a beaufitul room it would be good to see the piece exhibited somewhere more suitable, with more space and appropriate lighting. However, if you get a chance to see it before it closes this Friday (29th November), don't miss it.

(And yes, in case you didn't know, the elves did beat the world record.)

Wendy Cottam's website


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Categories: Art, Art festivals, Art exhibitions

History in the making... and I was there!

by Nikki's world, with Nikki White Tuesday, July 24 2012

So did you see it? All that waiting for a small glimpse of a tiny flame, but it was so worth it.

The one thing I kept hearing from people as they waited for the Olympic flame to arrive was that it was a once in a lifetime opportunity and they couldn’t miss it. And I’m glad I was one who didn’t.

It wasn’t just about seeing the flame itself, but knowing that you were a part of history. In years to come, I’ll be able to say “I was there”.

We were lucky enough that earlier in the week, Kent man Paul Cloke – who had run with the flame days earlier in Sheffield – popped in to one of our offices.

When he turned up, his distinctive white tracksuit was hidden beneath his fleece, and under his arm he was carrying what looked like a very large Toblerone box.

There were no markings on the cardboard; nothing to give away that what was inside was something so special.

He could have been any bloke making a delivery to our office but within seconds, his fleece was off and there he stood in his now instantly recognisable uniform of an official torchbearer.

From that fairly non-descript cardboard box, he then pulled out the golden torch. I think the whole office held its breath and I’ll admit, I nearly shed a tear.

Paul was so generous, he let us each hold the torch, marvelling at its weight (quite heavy when you’re expected to hold it aloft and run with it) and its beauty.

He was only too happy to recount his moment of fame, a tale he’s probably told countless times already and will tell over again for the rest of his life.

He shared that with us, and let us reflect in his historic moment.

It wasn’t just us that were awestruck; when we took Paul outside our office to take some pictures, passers-by kept stopping, wanting to hear his story again and pose for pictures with him.

So when thousands thronged the streets to see the Olympic torch come through on Friday, I wasn’t surprised.

It’s been an often-repeated phrase but, for most of us, seeing the Olympic flame really was a once in a lifetime opportunity, and an incredible one at that.

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