Tuesday, 13 December 2011


A national report from retail expert Mary Portas, looking at how to revive the UK’s high streets, has praised Margate, describing it as having “real vision”.

The original seaside town was one of only a handful of places that Mary visited as part of her national review, commissioned by the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister. She spoke directly to high street businesses, local shoppers and the council on her visit.

Her report, issued today (Tuesday 13 December), says: “I saw for myself how real vision can secure new investment at the new Turner Contemporary gallery in Margate where the surrounding area has turned a corner, bringing new businesses and footfall to the lower end of this seaside town.”

She then goes on to say: “I have met many fabulous people on my travels and I believe that these people are out there. I also know that it’s impossible to predict where we’ll find them. I remember being hugely impressed by the Mayor of Margate and yet I remember being equally as impressed by the owner of an interiors shop in Rugby. Both these people are equally qualified to be champions of change.”

Leader of Thanet District Council, Cllr. Clive Hart, said: “It’s clear Mary was impressed with what she saw on her visit to Margate, particularly the Old Town, which is currently going through an amazing revival. The challenge now is to ensure that success feeds up and along the High Street. A lot of what Mary suggests is what Thanet is already doing. The report talks about every high street being different and needing to find its “bespoke response to revival.” Here, the Old Town is becoming successful by offering unique boutique shopping from a wide variety of independent traders. That gives visitors to the town a unique draw to come here. Mary also makes the point about the role local people can play in protecting their high street. In Margate, we’re fortunate to have some really passionate people, keen to promote the town and that’s something she’s recognised.”

He added: “There are some interesting points, particularly about parking and it’s encouraging to see references to free, controlled parking schemes. We need to think these matters through very carefully, as I know from my own experience that totally free parking can all too easily lead to people occupying free spots for a whole day, which actually makes it harder for shoppers coming into local town centres.

“I think the key thing Mary’s report recognises is how complex the issue is of bringing shoppers back to local high streets and that’s something we know only too well here in Thanet. Her recommendations make it clear that everyone involved in high street retailing needs to work together. Turning a high street, like Margate, around is not something the council can do on its own. Others have a role to play, from central government to retailers, developers and shop landlords.”


  1. I wonder how much she trousered for telling us the blindingly obvious?

  2. I, for one , question the PORTAS report. She tells us that Markets are good, High rents are bad,'Free' out of town parking is bad, 'free' town centre parking is good.

    One.. Markets are rubbish.. the goods are probably 'knocked off' or seconds...
    two.. High rents are greed by property owners... Uncontrolable.
    three.. Out of town parking is taxed.. it attracts business rate,and is therefore added to the cost of goods in the outof town shops.
    four.. Town centre parking can only be 'free' if you add the cost of enforcement to the local rates.

    Finally, people shop 'Out of Town' because they can put all their shopping in one trolley, unload into their car , and go home to their families. Saves time, saves money, and saves having to deal with rude, thick, and uninterested staff who cannot get jobs at large retail outlets!! Lets get rid of these money pits called high streets


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