Monday, 10 October 2011

Council response: The Independent article East coast blues

The council has issued the following statement in response to today's
(Monday 10 October) article in The Independent 'East coast blues'.

Leader of Thanet District Council, Cllr. Bob Bayford, said: “It’s
been a long time since I’ve read such an ill informed and inaccurate
article.  It’s a real shame that no-one bothered to contact the
council to clarify the facts, and as a result they have widely missed
the mark.
It’s easy to make assumptions when you first arrive in a town, but
with some checking, it would have quickly become clear that the
hoardings around Dreamland are the first signs of life there, ahead of
the opening of the world’s first heritage amusement park on the site.
Far from the money having run out, we’ve already got funding in place
from the government and the council itself and hope to add a significant
chunk of lottery cash to that shortly. 

Of course we’ve heard of first impressions and we’re fully aware of
the impact that the tower block by the station has. Perhaps a bit of
research would have shown that there’s an application in from Tesco
for this site, not Dreamland, another inaccuracy, which includes
improvements to the appearance of that tower block. I’m sure the
residents (many of whom are owner-occupiers) would be delighted to know
that the report author wants to see it flattened and turned into open

It’s encouraging to see that we can at least agree on one thing, that
small independent shops are key to regeneration. A remarkable 78% of our
stores are just that, small independents, ensuring that Margate
doesn’t have a “cloned” high street. Part of that 78% includes
the 35 new businesses that have opened up in the town in the last 18
months alone, figures that will no doubt be the envy of many other high
It’s easy to criticise and claim out of town shopping is the cause of
Margate’s problems but the truth is that, without the introduction of
our new town centre at Westwood, we would’ve seen major high street
names quitting the area altogether. Given that choice, we chose to
retain them and that’s provided 3,000 jobs in an area with high
unemployment rates.
As for leadership, successive council administrations have promoted and
supported numerous regeneration initiatives including the hugely
successful Turner Contemporary.  The commitment of four million pounds
to the Dreamland project and extensive work to bring 52 derelict
properties back into use in the Old Town demonstrates that this council
has Margate’s regeneration at the heart of its agenda.  I call that
good, strong leadership and far from “managing the decline” of
Margate, I look forward to managing its resurgence over the next couple
of years”.

Ed. This is a response to the article Coastal erosion: Can a retail guru save Margate? Different title online.


  1. £4 million for dreamland, so thats where all the wind farm money from the Port of Ramsgate has gone !!!!

  2. Do not forget the marks and sparks sell off. That little venture cost us the rate payer a lot.

    Management - Strong leadership + TDC = a joke

  3. There have always been independent shops in Margate e.g. going back Peter Newman, Sample Shoe Shop, Harry Winston, John Brown's which have been replaced by more current stores but what has affected the percentage is the closure of so many major stores e.g. Marks & Spencer, Woolworths, Dixons, Mothercare, Adams, many major shoe stores etc etc which have largely not been replaced by other major retailers.

    The same has happened in Northdown Rd, Cliftonville where Woolworths, W H Smiths etc have been mainly replaced by independent takeaways, 'furniture' shops etc. Would love to know the percentage of independent shops in Cliftonville now - maybe another success story!

    Wish all the new independents in Margate every success though -it's great to have choice and variety.

  4. Methinks there's a bit of protesting too much! Sounds very defensivie defence of council policy. I've heard Bob Bayford acknowledge the effects of Westwood on town centres publicly many times. You can't go on "talking up" an area where the problems are very clear.

    The writer of the Independent article seems to think that Dreamland is only a shopping arcade of decayed shops! I wonder where they got that idea from.


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