Thursday, 25 February 2010


I post for your delectation, Roger Gale's thoughts on business opportunities that now abound in Margate. He adroitly makes no reference to Conservative TDC's disastrous Planning decision to allow 49% of our prime visitor attraction, The Dreamland site, to be allocated for housing and thus allow Dreamland to become a derelict site for 5 years that an Independent Planning Inspector forecast would happen and ignore his recommendation that the Dreamland Site and its careful devlopment as a visitor attraction was the 'key' to Margate's regeneration. So 700,000 visitors to a declining Dreamland (5 years ago) now becomes 130,000 for TC with a tax-payer subsidy from KCC of £1,000,000 per annum and a grant from a Labour Government of £3,500,000 to repair The Scenic Railway and fund a 'Heritage Amusement Park' on half the site! In the mean time 'Clampers' rip off visitors and drive them away from the town.

Well Mr Gale, with a Charity Shop setting up to compete as a Coffee Shop with the others at the bottom of The High Street ('volunteer' staff and no business rates to pay) and the 'Game Shop' due to close shortly, there are clearly plenty of 'business opportunities' available in Margate.

Gale's View - 24 February,  2010.

If I had the money I would, today, go out and buy a shop in the lower part of Margate High Street. Preferably one of the double-sided ones with access onto the seafront.

Following the publication of statistics revealing that Margate had one of the most `derelict` High Streets in the country I recently took a call from a journalist working for a national newspaper. "Is it", she asked "because of the recession that so many shops have closed".  The thrust was clear: please tell me that this is the result of the Government's economic policies because I want to write some knocking copy!

I hold Gordon Brown responsible for many of our economic ills and it is certainly true that his disastrous management of the nation's economy has not helped the retail trade over the past couple of years but the roots of High Street decay go back much further than that and were predicted, by myself and others, at the time .

A previous socialist Thanet Council likes to claim the credit for instigating the Westwood Cross project and although it was the present administration that saw it through to realisation it is certainly true that Mr. Nicholson's team set the ball rolling.  Unfortunately, in tandem with the neglect of the transport infrastructure needed to properly service an out-of-town shopping centre and which has led directly to much of today's congestion, no serious attention was paid to the likely effect of the migration of shops from the High Streets of Thanet to Westwood and no policy was put in place to re-invent the boutique trade that is the viable alternative to big stores.

The decline in the traditional British Seaside holiday business, and the fall in the number of visitors generated in part by the closure of Dreamland, seriously weakened retail demand.  The recession killed off Woolworths, certainly, but once Marks & Spencer and Next and a couple of other anchor outlets headed out of town it was inevitable that the footfall which is the lifeblood of smaller shops would diminish and those smaller shops would close. Up went the shutters and although the façade of the Windows of Opportunity promotion have helped to mask the reality the stark fact is that there are far too many empty shops at the seaward end of the road.

So now would be a very good time for those who have already missed the chance to put money into Margate Old Town to invest.

I have long said that the Turner Centre cannot be seen as an end in itself.  On its own it will not regenerate the Town.  It is, though, the vital and impressive cornerstone of the Margate Waterfront development and it has already had a hugely stimulative effect that has convinced those small traders with the courage to seize the opportunity to bring their money into the Old Town with an eye on the future.  The Lower High Street will follow and as the higher-spending Turner visitors arrive so will the demand for the boutiques and wine bars and restaurants needed to service their expectations.

That is why I now have no hesitation in saying to those with a commercial eye on the future "get into Margate High Street now before you miss the boat".


Anonymous said...

Dear Roger Gale,

Firstly, let me send you directions to Margate. You might then be able to see what has happened.

All the big company shops have shut, and without their presence the little shops have no footfall of customers.

This is due to the council pushing Westwood Cross and allowing big companies to lie to them. M&S,"We will stay in Margate!". etc.

As a result less customers in the street and the other shops then collapse as well. As Bertie has somehow found out, GAMESTATION in the High Street, the only game shop in Margate will close at the end of April. There you are Roger and Sandy, another nice big Business Opportunity for you.

This set of results, added together wth the extortionate price of parking ( free at westwood of course ) and a silly little market which not only takes up parking, but syphons money out of Thanet into East London traders pockets, and you have the death of a town.

Well done one and all, Tory and Labour; District council and MP.

But I'm being blinkered and negative of course and I shall remember that as I join the dole queue next month!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Does he really think a concrete block that looks more suitable for a prison than a gallery of modern art in it is going to bring visitors to the town?

Thanet has no long-term history of art appreciation unlike other towns.St.Ives had a thriving artists' community and had always attracted well-heeled visitors. Margate should have gone down the 'seaside theme park' route with traditional attractions updated for the 21st century.

I note he ignores the previous Labour administration's requirement, ignored by the Ezekiel Party, that shops in the towns couldn't re-locate to Westwood Cross as that was designed to bring in retailers not already in Thanet, like Debenham's or, if like M & S, they had to agree to keep their Margate shop open.

Whilst Dreamland is left to rot filling a huge piece of real estate close to the front nothing will improve Margate despite the best efforts of some dedicated locals.

Tony Beachcomber said...

It is always somebody else's fault and we can argue until the cows come home what has been the root cause and point the finger of blame. The problem is with the Conservatives is that they are making everything so political at local level. The solution would be far easier if there was more of a collective responsibilty to improve Margate.
Unfortunately, they are creating a situation where it is always them versus everbody else which is not helping Margate one bit.

Anonymous said...

new blog re Kent Police Bertie if you want to post a linkie on the sidebar

ascu75 aka Don said...

anon 08:47 I went to St Ives I am neither arty type nor well heeled, Your reference to the "concrete block that looks more suitable for a prison than a gallery of modern art" shows you are in the I dont want that brigade. I am not a modernist but the gallery has been designed by someone who has international recognition .I found this quote whilst looking up the architects name "VICTORIA POMERY

Selling culture to Margate

The planned centre for the visual arts in Margate is challenging local residents’ ideas about both culture and their rather shabby seaside town."
and that's how outsiders perceive Margate. Lets Look forwards not backwards we are never going back to the 60's coach tripper days the world has moved on but has the population of Margate? Lets get off of the one tune recorded message and move away from the past. Margate has an opportunity lets not waste it.

Anonymous said...

"If I had the money" ????

Anonymous said...

Like the quote from Victoria ( I've got a job in a place that doent exist ) Pomery.

Selling culture to Margate.

You're not supposed to be selling it to Margate you stupid woman; you're supposed to be selling it to the 100000 visitors our council believe are going to visit.

Reality check. No shops or other attractions; no one bothering to visit no matter how good the gallery!!

Anonymous said...

Ah!! Surely the added concrete structure (Turner Centre)with Arlington House adds artistic balance to Margate . Burn a few more ammusement arcades down and make a few more gaps 'purfect'!
And don't forget we have good ol' Trace supporting it. We are really on the up.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, Don, but as someone who grew up in a city with a strong support for the Arts where families regularly took their families to art galleries, I feel reasonably qualified to comment on how locals feel about Art here.

Thanet has no history of enthusiasm for Art but a council that neglected its history and museums somehow seems to think a gallery that does look like something from a former Soviet Republic is going to regenerate a town like Margate.

A Waterworld or similar indoor attraction might as folk will go back again and again to that. To an art gallery, one visit perhaps?

Anonymous said...

The main point to grasp is that the local tories (i am traditionally one myself!) have done nothing over 20 years or more to improve the town, all they have wanted to do is line their own and their cronies pockets. Roger Gale needs only to look no further than the local district council upon whom the blame rests. The Turner centre was sunk, when the prototype sunk and the Tate declined to lend any paintings! Anything our local council or KCC has anything to do with is doomed i am afraid!(take the kent tv)
As another post has already said there needs to be a nucleus of art appreciators to feed off and to support local effort and i am afraid that is sadly lacking. As far as i understand those who have invested in old shops are those who have been Ezekiel's cronies and reckon they are in the know, we shall see?
The purchase of the M and S building in the name of art hasnt exactly been a resounding success either? If Roger could realise the fault lies with the lack of calibre in local tory politicians we might start to see an improvement in the town once this matter is addressed and better selection procedures/ incentives for decent people to stand as conservative councillors. No public spirited person wants anything to do with Ezekiel and his mates, or to be subjected to their harsh treatments!

Anonymous said...

You only have to go to other sea side towns to see how Margate could be - Torquay, Exmouth is not as rough as Margate in appearance.My teenage daughter was heard to comment at Torquay and Exmouth,"Ah! this is what Margate was once like!" Any idea of cutting back on funding for the parks will only make matters of appearance worse! They just have no idea mainly because they have no taste themselves and are so out of touch with those that voted them in ! hopefully they won't next time!

Anonymous said...

Bertie, do I detect a subtle hint of criticism of the N. Thanet M.P. here in your posting?

For a long time you've been an uncritical commentator on all things Gale so this seems an important shift in your allegiance to the N. Thanet Tory M.P.

Could it be anything to do, in addition to what you've written here,with Gale's refusal to comment in any way unfavourable on the attitude, behavour and general carryings-on of the Ezekiel Party?

I suspect Gale who after all has had a comfy ride for 27 years, may be losing interest in his constituents. I also think he fears any anti-Ezekiel comments will scupper the next four years of his cosy existence as he could be de-selected or find himself without any activists in sufficient numbers to hang on to his seat especially since he loses Cliftonville East and West with the boundary changes.

Bertie Biggles said...

07:34, I suppose so. He has to accept responsibility with TDC's Ezekiel Party for some disastrous decisions that have crippled Margate and in the past few years his local standing has declined as people see him powerless in influencing and cleaning up his local party.

Anonymous said...

Both Gale and his South Thanet counterpart constantly fail to tackle the way their party conducts affairs in Cecil Street and may well feel the backlash as a result. I know local and national politics aren't meant to be the same but they are whatever the pundits may say.

During local elections I've heard voters talking about national issues and vice versa in national elections so both Mr. Gale and Ms. Sandys need to think hard about the impact the shenanigans of the Ezekiel Party is likely to have on the voters in May.

Anonymous said...

Many of their door stop knockers are Ezekiel's cronies or even the man himself, would you be inclined to vote for Ms. Sandys if you had Sandy Ezekiel asking you to?His ward will now be in her patch!