Monday, 26 May 2008


What a sad weekend it has been. 16.5mm of rain on Sunday morning and over an inch of rain by mid-day meant that to all intents and purposes, Spring Bank Holiday has been a 'Margate Meltdown' but not the one advertised.
Passing along Marine Terrace at 4 different times today saw a distinct lack of viistors, bikers and coffee slurpers enjoying the cafe culture down at Old Town and Harbour Arm. In fact Police, Specials, PCSOs, Community Wardens, St John's Ambulance and TDC stewards (all in high vis jackets) almost outnumbered the general public. It was as sad as the small crowd of 50-100 who watched the fireworks on Saturday night.
MD Gifts opened for the morning but had closed by lunch-time.

Before you blame the weather, just think for a moment about the lack of an all weather visitor facility that could have been sitting on The Dreamland site. However, you must realise that the people directing where Margate is going know better. This article escaped my attention last year but it sheds light on what is going on. See Property and the article "Time to Leave Dreamland" by Sean McAllister at .

Our local papers talk about Graham Knight and Dr Fiona Sherriff of Margate Harbour Arm Ltd who are also Pineapple Property (Kent)Ltd and also Ramsgate Estates. The farce at Margate Harbour has seen May come to and end and its 2 restaurants/cafes/2 retail sheds/IOTA Gallery/ 7 twee permanent studios not ready. You might be pleased to read that Margate Harbour Arm/Pineapple/ Ramsgate Estates is in receipt of generous public funding via Margate Renewal Partnership from TDC and European Regeneration Development Fund and there has been a report that IOTA (to move from Ramsgate) and Margate Harbour Arm Ltd received a grant from 'Arts & Business?'

I urge you to read the article by Sean McAllister. Here are some bits to savour:


"After being sold to Jim Godden in 1996, the park was scaled down and permanent rides were sold off. It was effectively closed in 2002, despite attracting 700,000 visitors in its last year, and it was left to travelling fairs to lease the space for their temporary rides.
Godden clearly had property development aspirations, but there was an obstacle he could not move: the Scenic Railway."

This is about Toby Hunter of Waterbridge:

"Toby Hunter, chief executive of Waterbridge and the regeneration company, has plans for a £500m scheme that will comprise around 1m sq ft (92,900 sq m) of residential and 300,000 sq ft (27,870 sq m) of retail and leisure."

"But it is the residential element that really excites him. House prices have gone up sharply in Margate in recent years to more than £300/sq ft (£3,230/sq m) and rising, so Hunter can expect to make a substantial profit if he can secure residential planning and then sell off chunks of land to housebuilders." (Hasn't he done that now?)

This is Nick Laister on Dreamland (how his tune changed?):

"Leisure and tourism uses would be most appropriate,’ he says. ‘It is key to Margate or it will lose all the family trade.’ His ideal scenario would be something similar to Adventure Island in Southend, which attracts 1.5 million visitors a year.
Laister adds: ‘[A residential scheme at] Dreamland is not needed to provide all the housing that Margate needs.’"

This is about Graham Knight:
"Graham Knight, director of Pineapple Property, started buying property in Margate four years ago. Pineapple now has 100 residential and mixed-use buildings in its portfolio."

I described Margate as a bit like the 'Wild West' in early April, but now I realise that its really a dying 'steer' with the vultures circling for easy and cheap pickings from the carcass even before its dead. TDC, as the 'sherriff', will mark the grave with a big tombstone designed by Chipperfield by 2010, if the money actually is forthcoming to build it.

As the rain pours down at the end of a depressing day, weep with me for the Margate we used to have. The 'vultures'now have a cash flow crisis and will not be in a position to develop in the forseeable future so will just sit by the carcass for some years to come as it rots away. They will then pick over the bones.


Anonymous said...

My God man, get a grip, it is England.

I've had a good day because I chose to enjoy it.


Anonymous said...

Well, I'm normally out with a critical eye around Margate, but I have to disagree with you about the Harbour Arm. It was for all intents and purposes open. I enjoyed the stalls, the gallery and the bar! It was packed on Friday eve and Saturday and I enjoyed a lovely drink at the end bar on the Sunday evening, despite the weather. The biker event did suffer, today, but it was in no way rained off like you insinuate.
Try and see some good in things around you. I was proud of Margate this weekend.

Peter Checksfield said...

While it's hardly going to revive Margate in a big way, there's no doubt that what they've done to the harbour is a step in the right direction.

Anonymous said...

Don't strain yourselves.

Anonymous said...

The biggest problem in Margate is negative minded people who want everything done for them. And don't like it when others try to make the best of things.


Anonymous said...


With eerrrr...public money?


Anonymous said...


We elect councillors to make decisions. You can always stand at the next election for "Malcolm Moans First group".

Joking to oneside. I'm not just talking about public funds.

Tracy (ex-Thanet resident)

Anonymous said...

Are you the famous Tracy? You know the good looking one

anonymous labour councillor

Anonymous said...

It is about time the people of Margate started getting cleaner.

Too much litter and people on buses must do something about the B.O.

Then we can move on to bettter things

anonymous council worker

Anonymous said...

How do we know that you work for the council. You might be a Taxi Driver or an MP.

Anonymous said...

"Thanet, Margate ! Ain't that where they are all giro muchers who moan about their council ?"

Anon London cabbie 1970s

Plus ce change

Anonymous said...

munchers even

Anonymous said...

New Thanet Council

"There we have provided work for all which is walking distance from your homes, requires no skill or qualification and entails no work. Dustbins will be mptied every day and we will sort out the refuse into its recycling categories just chuck it all into one bin."

Thanet residents

"Why should we walk to work and put our bins out every night"

And it won't change. Short of Jimmy burning the lot down.

Anonymous said...

What a fantastic storm last nght. I never seen lightening like it!

Bertie Biggles said...

A marvellous storm that dropped 20mm on rain on Thanet in half-an hour. Spectacular stuff and no wonder the ancients believed the Gods were angry when they experienced similar storms.

Anonymous said...

Yes saturday was great on the harbour arm-over 3000 people visited and my friend and i sampled delicious indian food samples wine well run gallery etc-at least it's a positive start..

Anonymous said...

3000? As generous as the number reported visiting M&S in the High Street!

Fiona said...

If only Bertie Biggles could get his facts right. How can you possibly say the Harbour Arm was not ready?! How dare you call it a farce? Clearly you missed the point in a big way. If you read the flyers they said 're-opening to the public'. That's all. They did NOT say that all the new shops and restaurants would be open. At the weekend it was fit-for-purpose and safe for everyone to enjoy.
The re-opening was scheduled as soon as possible to allow the public to enjoy the space, which actually they did. Were you there on Saturday or Sunday? It was lovely and the feedback was great.
Would you rather the hoarding was still up until every single unit is occupied? The fact that the IOTA gallery was actually open was a bonus. The rest of the space was used to provide refreshment and entertainment in a temporary way.
In fact, all of the units except two (where there are structural issues to resolve) are ready for businesses to move into now, and most have already been allocated. It takes time to choose good businesses, sign leases and do shopfitting. And of couse IOTA's studio spaces are not occupied yet - they have only just been built! There is a list of artists who have expressed an interest and they will be carefully chosen. This doesn't happen overnight. The Harbour Arm will be quality, or would you prefer the usual Margate crap?
I also have to comment on the fact that you have made no mention of the private money that has gone into the Harbour Arm. We, as owners, have ploughed an immense amount of money into the project. Ever heard of matched funding? Why do you think we have done that? And why do you think we are investing in Margate? It is not because we are 'vultures'. Your comments illustrate your utter stupidity and lack of imagination. Go and sit in a hole and take some more valium. If you need some razor blades I can arrange it. This town would be better off without your negativity.

Anonymous said...

Well said Fiona.A great time was indeed had by all,my friends and I(all local people)are really exited at what is being achieved on the harbour arm .Good stuff

Fiona said...

It's so great to hear the positive comments. Sorry to put a damper on things but if anyone can help it would be great.
During Saturday's celebrations some B*****rds broke into my house and stole lots of stuff including two Sony Vaio computers. If anyone is offered any please can you let me know through this blog or email Thanks.

Phil said...

Hi just to set the record straight, yes IOTA did get a grant from arts and business, but not to move from Ramsgate to Margate, the grant was for entertainment on the Saturday and towards an on going public art project. IOTA does not recieve any renvenue funding, we earn money through projects, flag hire, (no not the ones on the harbour arm)and commissions, it is such a shame that you are so negative and foolish, we may be out on a limb, but you are out to lunch. I can assure you that the number over friday, saturday, sunday and yes even monday we had people out there, are fair estimation of visitors. We had more visitors in those four days than we would have had at our old space in Ramsgate over a three month period. I am not a bullshitter. IOTA has seen the amount of work that the main contaractors and directors of Margate Harbour Arm Ltd have put into this project and your lack of vision is of type that keeps Margate and Thanet back.
Regards Phil IOTA

Anonymous said...

All the grants spent on new commecial projects in Margate compete unfairly with the existing businesses. It is time money in the form of grants was spent on trying to retain the few existing established businesses left in our High st as the last few remaining ones still attract a few local people to the town. But to just let the existing shops die and gamble on the creation of new ones intially sponsored by grants is not the way forward for Margate, this will only create more empty shops as the grants dry up in the longterm.

Fiona said...

Dear Last Anonymous
I can see where you are coming from but I can't agree. Creating new stuff will increase the critical mass of reasons for people to visit Margate, and that will benefit everyone in the long term. I think it is the only way for the town. I know that Westwood Cross, the road works, etc have made it really hard for the High Street businesses and it is so unfair. TDC can't help with business rates as that is controlled by central government and there is no help available for existing businesses.
The problem is that grant money is never available to shore up failing towns/businesses. It is only there for new stuff. In many ways this is logical - grant money spent on flogging a dead horse would attract criticism. I'm not criticising the existing businesses in the High Street but let's face it, giving short-term money to ensure their survival really wouldn't help to shape the town in the long term.
I do believe that if people can hold out, that the town is on the up, and the good times are round the corner for everyone.

Matt B said...

At least a hosepipe ban is unlikely this year...

Bertie Biggles said...

Fiona, I am afraid that urgent domestic matters intervened since I put up this post. I was sorry to read in the IOTG that you were being burgled whilst working hard on Harbour Arm. What should alarm us is the inherent lack of security in some double glazing doors; they look pretty but are easy to break through.

Anonymous said...

I take it Fiona is a Financial genius with a lifetime spent in the Financial bearpits? Such vision and knowledge!

No! Then just a rather foul mouthed property developer!

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Bertie Biggles said...

Dear Anon, of 4 Aug 2009.

I have saved your comment and found it very interesting. I regret the delay in 'not posting' it but I am sure you can understand the reasons why. If you would comment on 'Strife' with 'FOR YOUR EYES ONLY BERTIE' , I would be grateful for any elaboration that you can give me concerning your comment or contact details and I would be pleased to hear more. This would be in strict confidence as Comment Moderation enables me to view all comments prior to me then 'posting' them.