Monday, 24 November 2008


I am unashamedly opposed to the waste of tax-payers money to build Mr Chipperfield's mediocre Turner Contemporary in Margate and hoped that at some stage commonsense would kick in after KCC wasted over £6,000,000 and TDC wasted £2million on M&S for the 'Turner Regeneration Dream'.

Yet tomorrow will see the start of this folly. I have heard all the arguments that it is not going to cost us to have it built (all sorts of tax-payer's money is nevertheless being spent) but what is glaringly obvious is that it will not do the job of being a successful visitor attraction.

Local TDC Councillors Hart and Johnstone have expressed concerns that KCC would rather build apartments and an hotel on the Rendezvous Car Park than have a car park for the TC and I must share their worries. Where will people park? KCC insist that this development is essential to help pay for the estimated £2.3 million annual running costs. In other words TC is not able to pay for itself!

KCC Scrutiny Chairman Dr Mike Eddy said "The key to any project of this type is its long-term viability and I think we all are concerned about how the gallery will be able to pay its way. Thanet needs a successful Turner Contemporary and we need to ensure that the finances are sound after the big launch event is over". Well if we are so concerned, should this project proceed?

My understanding of local habits is that Primark attracts more visitors to Margate than any other attraction at the moment, so we would be better off with TDC issuing free £20 vouchers to visitors to spend at Primark than continuing with this ill-fated and mad project. Each visitor to the TC is likely to cost us local Community Charge payers a similar amount in subsidy.


Anonymous said...

Well it's worked in Penzance, also at the end of the line.

Anonymous said...

Excuse me but TDC did not waste £2million on the TC in M&S. It wasted £2million by making a development deal with a Commercial Company which it failed to conclude. TDC borrowed the money to purchase the building and then dithered about so long deciding what to build on the site that the development company got fed up and want the money they lent to TDC as part of the deal refunded.
Putting the TC in there is a stop gap measure to avoid leaving the building empty.

Rick said...

Yes Bertie. This may be a case of continue to condone the fool and continue to pay for the folly.

Way to go now may be to think of change of use for the building into a more viable operation.

National Centre of Excellence for cage fighting training ? Boxing training. Weightlifting training. Regular throughput of trainees staying for short course duration in the resort.

Perhaps sports physio and nutrition under same roof.

Then link marketing to Winter Gardens for grading competitions and tournaments.

You know it makes sense.

Centre of excellence for door steward training, including fire precautions and specialist first aid (such as dealing with "E" reactions etc)

Have building find better use. From loss making effete to profit making elite.

Tony Beachcomber said...

Bertie, one of the arguements which had no foundation used by TDC to close down the Margate Museum was that it cost them £10 a head grant money which was not true. In fact they were lying and they do seem to have got away with it.
Therefore if such a flawed formula is acceptable by TDC for assessing the Margate Museum then it should used to assess the Turner Center in the future.

Anonymous said...

The elders amongst us remember Chipperfields circus coming to town. well here it is again complete with a white pyrex elephant stall.
I watched the presentation meeting on kent tv, where a totally disinterested 'I dont want to be here'architect stated something like 'I didnt want it to be a box shape or something similar.
So what have we got. a box with tapered rooflines. not very exiting is it.
By the way are they going to eradicate the rats that live in the cliff face immediatly below where the photo was taken for this website.

Bertie Biggles said...

Tony, I couldn't agree more. What worries me is that projected visitor numbers just do not show a financially viable Gallery that will not need subsisies from Council Tax payers for its life-time. The level of subsidy will be eye-watering if TDC cannot already afford modest amounts for the attractions it has targeted this year.

Anonymous said...

I grew up in a city with a great tradition of art gallery/museum visiting where local families took children on a weekend to show the city's collections off with pride. There was a real sense of civic involvement that continued from generation to generation. There was a real feeling that these exhibits are important and belong to the community. You can't create that overnight so I fear if the Turner doesn't deliver in a few years that we'll be left paying the bills. This isn't St. Ives that already had a strong artistic community and an attractive tourist atmosphere as well.

James Maskell said...

Given the current economic problems, surely its a good idea to put this on ice until things improve...

Anonymous said...

Hear, hear and they made a fuss about at £30,000 subsidy for Northdown house.
(Excuse me 9.55 )whats this about a possible deal for M and S building - have we the taxpayers been furnished with any of these details about the council undertaking a bit of property development with our money, when they have failed miserably with all other attempts to flog anything in the asset management plans?Time for a bit of public accountability i think!? Were they going to demolish the existing building and build the Turner centre there? Fill us in please 9.55 you obviously know more than we the ones who have to pay for it!

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

Also dated March 2007:
The council bought the M&S building using funding from the South East England Development Agency, and is to submit a planning application in June for a 40,000 sq ft (3,715 sq m) anchor store, several small shops, 10,000 sq ft (929 sq m) of offices and about 80 flats, as well as improved connections between the High Street and the Old Town.


Time ran out.

chris wells said...

The intention for the M & S building was always to try and turn it into a modern retail development, and bring a little much needed heart back into the High street. The purchase was mad with money made available through SEEDA, and if memeory serves me correctly, will have to be repaid if the purpose changes substantially, as SEEDA is interested in creating jobs.

I was part of the decision to accept the money and buy the building. My personal view then, as now, is this is a real opportunity which must not be wasted - by which I mean we will not get the likes of these sums of money easily again, so we must make the deal and reinvest the proceeds in another building/development for the high street, and use the funds to leap frog different areas within the high street forward.
If you had told me at the time that the banking system was going to collapse, Woolworths go into administration, and the govt of the day hang defaultable debt round the necks of the next four or five generations... I might have had a different view. However, none of us forecast that, did we?

Anonymous said...

Time for a change of blog Bertie - we want more recent info? !

Bertie Biggles said...

Could I apologise for delay in putting up comments and as 22.28 has pointed out, a lack of fresh items. My only excuse is that other matters have taken up most of my time this week!
Chris Wells throws some light on the best of intentions going pear-shaped in these difficult times!

Anonymous said...

Didn't the TDC budget for the next 3 years forecast decreasing Council Tax increases, in spite of the Turner circus coming to town?

So on what do you base your hypothesis Bertie? I think you live in a fantasy world.

Once again, why don't you phone someone who might have an answer before posting a story?

No wonder people say blogging is the lowest form of political comment

Bertie Biggles said...

10.02, I will keep putting up your comments so that I am not accused of censorship but I must question your motives for this rather repetitious approach to your comments on this site and elsewhere. If you have information that rebutts any arguments made on 'Strife' then please feel free to share it.

So it seems your argument boils down to this, if TDC state it, you believe it? Forgive me but does not TDC have a budget deficit and would the situation not be a mess locally if Cllr Wise had not acted positively earlier this year in regard to TDC's deposits. So KCC has a problem with £50 million in Icelandic Banks and has stated that it will have to find upto £4.7 million for the Turner project? I do not know about you but my Council Tax appears to be levied by KCC and TDC. So whether we like it or not, Council Tax payers are effectively paying towards the TC. What do Mike Eddy's words mean to you? So, if TC does not pay its way, who pays? Could it be the 'Tooth Fairy'?

Anonymous said...

If you thinking backing Primark is any way to help a town for the next 20 years, with respect you need help.

Bertie Biggles said...

I think you miss the point I am making 00.00. Have a think about it?

Anonymous said...

Doesn't it make more sense to get ratty over the money councillors grant for themselves than a facility like TC? Nice new hard wood panelled decor at County Hall at the cost of god knows what. A nice refurb of Cecil Square offices once the plebs were banned from entering (partly at the expense of DDA money) jollies to Iceland to discuss their own bad investment, hundreds of thousands for business advisors who gave them the bad advice in the first place, a TV station no one watches.
If you want to get mad about waste, try doing it over things that actually are!

Bertie Biggles said...

Most people are annoyed at waste of tax-payers money, 10.24 and you have highlighted other areas of waste. The TC though is surely in a class of its own? With more than £6 million spent on nothing so far and a 'business plan' that effectively means it will not pay its way, the future costs will end up on our Council Tax bills.

Anonymous said...

Hertie, it is you have missed the point. The results of a failing economy are already on our council tax and income tax bills, as we pick up the unemployment benefits tab together with all the other socio economic costs that deprivation brings.

The TC and other regeneration efforts are an investment by KCC and the government agencies that will allow the people of Margate to stand on their own 2 feet in the future. And a £17m spend is not much in the greater scheme of things when, for example, there are road junction projects in Kent that cost more than double that amount.

And if you were to ask for and read the budget papers as I do every year, then you would know that there is always a deficit in the TDC budget due to inflation and other government imposed costs. In the old days the council used to be able to make council tax increases to cover the deficit, but these days they have a cap of 5%. I remember one year when Shepway added 37%!

So my reading of the papers this year is that the council have stripped out some of the corporate plan projects that were "nice to have", rejigged the organisation taking advantage of a few high level departures, built in a contingency for unknowns that will hit them in the future, and produced a balanced budget for the next 3 years with an ever reducing council tax increase.

Yes there are still issues to address, particularly on the capital side, but do give credit where it is due.

Anonymous said...

What do we need to give credit for - that Cllr Wise was bright enough not to move our money to Iceland but KCC wasnt?

Bertie Biggles said...

Yes, 19.16, I think we do. KCC was not the only Authority caught out and lets give Cllr Wise credit for getting it right.

14.11, thanks for that and I hope the optimistic projections and the measures taken achieve the result you suggest. Keeping my fingers crossed!

Anonymous said...

If all the local bloggers had their way, we wouldn't have anything new at all.

You people should try being a little more optomisitic and perhaps you wouldn't come across as being so down right miserable all the time.

No wonder all the youth want to leave Thanet.