HART'S BRIDGE - CLIFTONVILLE

Today is my dear brothers funeral and many will know Dennis to have been a strong Ramsgate councillor for Nethercourt Ward. However, Den was also a former cabinet member at Thanet District Council and took his Thanet-wide role very seriously indeed.

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And so it was in this TDC capapcity that he was able to re-link his own birth town of Margate and Cliftonville by way of accessing funding to re-build Newgate Gap Bridge.

Long-term Cliftonville residents will remember that at the turn of the millenium there was no bridge at Newgate for some considerable time. The original bridge was in a dangerous condition and had to be demolished for safety reasons.

Consequently, visitors to the area who came on foot around the seafront promenade from Margate would often get to 'the gap' and, not knowing a way around, simply turn and walk back to Margate.

This meant views of Cliftonville's most beautiful beaches at Walpole Bay and Palm Bay and the vast open Cliftonville cliff-top walks were not being enjoyed by many of our walking visitors.

This situation existed before I was a councillor and at that particular time I was serving on the committee of Margate Civic Society. The Chairman and committee asked me to lead a team to negotiate with TDC to get them to rebuild a bridge at Newgate Gap.

Not surprisingly funding for such projects was very tight and other areas and other projects were seen as priorities. However, after some considerable battles, the council officers we were negotiating with agreed to take our request to councillors and do their very best to access the funding required.

A little later I learned that the Cabinet Member for Finance - Cllr Dennis Hart - had eventually been persuaded that this Margate project had indeed become a priority and the new bridge was built and opened in 2003.

Ironically, due to a change in administration at precisely the point at which the bridge was completed, it was opened to some considerable fanfare, by others.

In my mind the 'new' Newgate Gap Bridge will always be Hart's Bridge in memory of my dear brother.

R.I.P. Den - always in our thoughts Bruv.

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I had the honour of serving with my brother Dennis (centre) in the Shadow Cabinet at TDC FROM 2003.

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Clive Hart