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Young and angry – and with something to say

By Isle of Thanet Gazette  |  Posted: February 03, 2012

  • PROTEST: Members of Occupy Thanet which has been set up outside Margate's Turner Contemporary gallery

  • UNDER COVER: Reporter Thomas Brown, centre, who braved sub-zero overnight temperatures joining the Occupy Thanet camp of protesters this week

  • global challenge: Protestors are inspired by the Occupy movements in London and the US

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TODAY marks a week since a dozen demonstrators set up camp outside the Turner Contemporary gallery, a symbol of Margate's recent regeneration.

While welcoming the progress made in Thanet, the movement called Occupy Thanet seeks to draw attention to the continued decline and deprivation in certain communities.

More than 30 people have taken part in the protest so far with a hardcore of a dozen campaigners staying on site at a time and others helping with food, water and supplies to the camp.

The group hail from across the district and represent a range of ages and backgrounds.

At Occupy Thanet, Jonny (the protesters refuse to give their surnames, claiming the movement is not about individuals but collective action) works full-time in Margate and joined the camp after seeing them set up last weekend.

He said: "The overwhelming response has been positive. People can see there are serious issues that need addressing and share our concerns.

"The odd person will moan about us and ask what we think we'll achieve but most who live in Thanet seem to share our views."

Visitors to the camp so far include Thanet North MP Roger Gale, district councillors and Channel 4 News anchor Jon Snow.

The protesters raise local issues like the Arlington House Tesco development and link them to the wider debate on austerity and responsible capitalism.

Occupy Thanet plan a series of events to publicise their campaign and speak to those affected by the economic downturn and public sector cuts.

An unemployed 30-something protestor from Westgate named Chris said: "There are so few jobs out there in Thanet and many vacancies that are advertised require specialist qualifications and experience that few people have.

"Young people are stuck at the moment as they don't have the experience or skills to get into work."

Another protestor, Emily, 19, pointed out the two-tier nature of Thanet's education system.

She said: "The three grammar schools select all the top students and the rest tend to be left behind."

The camp seeks to articulate the frustration they say many people feel with the failure of governments and councils to address inequality.

Occupy points to the lack of appetite of governments for tackling corporate greed or councils to address local issues. Occupy Thanet is particularly concerned with the proposed Tesco superstore on Margate seafront and proposed Kent County Council cuts to youth and social services.

Kent County Council announced last week that it needs to find £340 million of savings over the next three years with several unpopular cuts to support for schools (£33 million over three years), adult social care (one per cent increase in charges) and libraries. Many of Kent County Council's cuts, driven through from Maidstone, are top-sliced and activists believe this means impoverished east Kent districts such as Thanet will bear the brunt. It does not go unnoticed that only one woman and one east Kent councillor (from Canterbury) is in the cabinet at County Hall.

The recent public KCC budget consultation asked just six people in Thanet to chose between a range of several unpalatable cuts in services at a time when central government has withdrawn funding.

The venue, Turner Contemporary, initially objected as protestors blocked the disabled entrance to the gallery but Occupy Thanet agreed to move away from the entrance.

David Yard, head of communications at Turner Contemporary, said: "While we support the right of the Occupy Thanet group to exercise their free speech, they are in no way linked to Turner Contemporary and they do not represent our views.

"We have spoken with representatives of Occupy Thanet and they assure us that their event will not impact on gallery visitors."

Local businesses seem largely ambivalent to the protest, indeed some have benefited from the protest as activists buy hot food and drink from nearby shops.

Despite being portrayed as anti-capitalists, the Occupy movement simply seeks greater regulation and alternatives to spending cuts to stimulate the economy and create jobs.

Inspired by North African revolutions in last year's Arab Spring uprising, the Occupy movement soon spread across the world.

From occupations of Wall Street in New York to the London Stock Exchange protest in the shadow of St Paul's Cathedral, demonstrators seek to spark debate on the banking crisis, austerity and regulation of big business.

A central goal of the Occupy movement is simply to stimulate debate about the world we live in.

With temperatures tumbling further below zero this weekend, the resolve of the campaign will be tested to the limit this weekend. Spare a thought for the few brave souls who simply want to share their views.

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  • gwion  |  February 16 2012, 10:22AM

    I revise my previous opinion on TESCO. It is sinister. They have recently opened a TEESCO Express In Ramsgate directly nearby to some small general grocers who will now obviously fail. How to compete with the economies of scale and loyalty card racket. The power ****s will soon link benefits to TESCO somehow. Maybe with rising fuel costs this is actually just nescessary organisational consolodation monopoly but it stinks of cartelism and american style tax backed corporatte corruption.

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  • gwion  |  February 16 2012, 10:14AM

    I recently read an article by some brownnose saying how tory hero sir roger gale is so amazing. Are the achievements which are very minor the result that he is a freemasonic millionaire, obviously so. And the illusionary royals in super brown nose A. Marr bragging on how the queen is so amazing because she silences rooms with her presesnce. The causality is reveres. Because she is the queen, royalists agape. Because Gale is a sir freemason millionaire public schoolboy Etonian, he does achieve achievements. Im not saying I dont like them but I probably wouldnt. Some of my friends are millionaires and I like them for themselves.

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  • gwion  |  February 10 2012, 10:36AM

    TESCO is irrelevant to me. but i wold have come for a chat. i like people who actually get ff the sofa and do something. education is the key to a better future. Maybe TESCO is somewhere nice for people on benefits to stay warm despite all the gas prices, i just go my grannies!!!

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  • The_Smugglers  |  February 09 2012, 5:17PM

    More jobs will be lost than created by Tesco. Rapports show this over and over again. Support the brave people of Herne and say no to Tesco.

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  • gwion  |  February 09 2012, 4:52PM

    job creation. cheap food. Canterbury Christian scientists actually bought me a cup of tea for building a Tesco express in Greyfriars when I was a hodcarrier. Anyway its a stitch up. If they can make money, they gonna do it.

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  • The_Smugglers  |  February 09 2012, 11:23AM

    12th of February was meant to be the 12th of January 2012. Thank you for your correction. TESCO should listen to the people of Herne and create a win win situation by moving to another location. TESCO is not talking but pushing its will up on on the people, this is wrong.

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  • gwion  |  February 09 2012, 10:18AM

    I dont mind TESCO. what a ridiculous thing to protest, you know they do brilliant squid tins and earl grey and cheapish malt, Morrisons is a bit cheaper and more local ethical though. Its all foul food by FDR standarsds though. I will cycle from Marmite to have a look/chat on the 12th, its nice you are reporting the 12th in the past tense on the 9th. I like timelords.

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  • The_Smugglers  |  February 08 2012, 12:30PM

    http://tinyurl.com/78m4dwm The last stronghold against Tesco, the battle for truth and justice has just begun. Stand up and join the brave people of Herne now. On the 12th of February 2012 the people of Herne united against their latest invader Tesco. The Tesco stock plunged almost 20% that day. We call upon the people of the world to join us. Peace to you all

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  • AngusFerguson  |  February 08 2012, 11:46AM

    People need educating. People know that its a bit silly to pay taxes and get no services. Uk will be like Egypt if benefeits are stopped(KEYNES). The masonic government will do it slowly though. Government has to celebrate humanism and create jobs, i want to take Ian Duncan Smith to the woods today and tell him. Dont blame the unemployed, and some people walk around head bowed because of these balding freemasons. I suppose the unemployed misery is the price they pay for their susceptability to millionaire mythology. Can I suggest that the council deduct facebook time from benefits to prevent people democratising their experiences. Zuckerman will provide the information for a reasonable fee. True democracy could be achieved by daily updates on broadband. It should change with time. Electing fresh freemasons whenever is not even funny anymore. Angus Ferguson PGDip, BSc(Hons.). I can beat all those freemasons at golf especially with all these envelopes to remind me of golfing priorities.-gwiontb@hotmail.com, 07798648383, Cliftonville.

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  • MissMontenaro  |  February 03 2012, 10:54PM

    "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." - Margaret Mead (16 December 1901 – 15 November 1978). It's unusual to find anyone willing to stand up and be counted - young or old - most people are too preoccupied with first world problems. If it doesn't directly impact them immediately they don't give a monkeys, so long as they can still update their Facebook profile with "how they are against this/against that" without actually doing the slightest thing about it. Bizarrely, they think joining a group against something on Facebook is "doing something about it" and makes them a hacktivist. They can then feel good about themselves because "they've done their bit". However, I can't help hoping they're going home tonight. It's far too cold to be out.

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