Saturday, May 26, 2007

Puff The Margate Dragon

Reader Rachel from Ramsgate writes:

I was aghast to see the awful puff piece for Margate on BBC South East News last night. I presume one of the producers has just bought a little investment number there, or TDC press office finally managed to take somebody out to lunch, or both! The town's putative renaissance appeared to be based on three interviews - one with Eli who runs the Sugar Lounge, who seemed rather non-committal if you ask me, the property developer who renovated the Sea Bathing Hospital (they would say that wouldn't they) and someone from SEEDA (they would say that wouldn't they). Ken Wills' Westwood Chinese business park had also suddenly become part of Margate to give it the 'tiger economy' feel. No mention was made of any setbacks such as the recent closure of the Outfitters Gallery, or the Turner Contemporary fiasco, or the fact that Ramsgate, not Margate, has received all the positive property press in the past year or two.

The BBC played straight into the hands of TDC, whose draft plan places Margate at the top of the list for any creative or arts funding, and Ramsgate as a dormitory for a port and airport. Ramsgate used to have a vibrant arts scene, and still does to some extent, but this is being gradually and deliberately eroded as the plan from Margate takes effect. Latest rumour is that the Gallery IOTA people, who were forced to move out of their building in Ramsgate, have now been tempted over to Margate to regenerate the pier.

I'm not saying that Margate doesn't need some help, of course it does. Paigle did a magnificent job on the Sea Bathing Hospital, it should have been the Turner Centre, but that's in the past. And Eli deserves all the luck he can get. But none of this should be at the expense of Ramsgate. Our town is undergoing cultural cleansing in this mad dash to do something, anything, for Margate. I think a lot of people here are beginning to get extremely fed up with all the initiatives and funding that come out of North Thanet for North Thanet, and are beginning to wonder why they should bother paying their council tax if they're not going to see any benefit for it.

Update: You can watch the report again on the BBC South East website for a limited period here, click on the story entitled 'A New Vision For Thanet'. That's if you've got the right plug-in for the awful BBC player.


emmeline said...

I saw it too! No offence to true Margatonians as you say - they need all the help they can get BUT that programme was yet another example of exactly why we need our own town council.

Justin Brown said...

Were IOTA forced out of their gallery by TDC, then? I was of the impression that it was their Greek landlord, Phallus, or whatever his name is, who wanted to build an indoor kiddies playground, that buggered them off.
So that missive was, perhaps, a tad misleading, I think.
Maybe peoples' time would be better spent, Rachel, offering alternatives to what is happening in Thanet, rather than bemoaning those people that ARE doing something, whether it be right or wrong!
Emmeline, you have your own Council now. What are you going to do with it that you couldn't do with TDC, I wonder?

Eastcliff Richard said...

Well I think Rachel has a point. I agree that IOTA suffered at the hands of their landlord, but nothing positive was done to find them alternative accommodation - West Cliff Hall perhaps? - here in Ramsgate. Our library is only just being rebuilt after three years (if it is actually being rebuilt, see yesterday's post) and why couldn't we have a Van Gogh Centre where the Pleasurama eyesore is?

As for a teeny-tiny council, though, look what that got Boredstares. Some twinkly lights, even narrower streets, and an office move.

Rachel said...

I think you may have misconstrued or misread what I was saying Justin. I am not a Ramsgate First person but having been born and brought up here I find it sad to see how our cultural and architectural heritage is being hijacked by a council which is based in Margate and looks after Margate first. I am old enough to remember how vibrant and culturally exciting Ramsgate used to be now all we get are proposals for luxury apartments while our public buildings are left to fall or burn down. That's what makes me angry.

I understand that Ramsgate cannot just go it alone in this day and age of globalisation, but I would like to make a plea for our elected Ramsgate officials to state our case more clearly and forcibly within TDC and KCC and question decisions rather than just swallowing every 'jam tomorrow' scrap that's thrown at them.

Regeneration is fine, but at the expense of my town's heritage and identity? No thanks!

Anonymous said...

I would loved to have seen the BBC report, eastcliff can you put it up hear, as it were?... The only person in margate to speak any sense is often philip page, see his films on BBC video nation and you will see what i mean.

Anonymous said...

So maybe emmeline can tell us exactly how a Ramsgate Council would have prevented this, and at what cost and who would have paid, Justin as yet Ramsgate does NOT have its own Council.
I dont know if Rachel attends TDC meetings but if she does she will know that the elected representatives ( not officials ) of Ramsgate more than adequatly put forward the veiws and interests of Ramsgate, of course if you are relying for information on what passes for 'newspapers' here in Thanet,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

Cllr Mike Harrison.

Eastcliff Richard said...

You can watch the report again on the BBC South East website for a limited period here, click on the story entitled 'A New Vision For Thanet'. That's if you've got the right plug-in for the awful BBC player.

And yes, I know what you mean about Philip Page, in fact I've made two films with him for ECR TV.

Anonymous said...

I am sitting here writing and listening to a CD of Cajun music which I bought at the bandstand last night - pity it was so cold as the music was great. I was very encourages to read Cllr Harrison's comments about our local so-called press. I did say to the editor (acting) that I was getting pretty fed up of reading full page articles about a trip to a DIY store or a broken down computer. Whatever journalistic thrill this gave the writer it is not NEWS. Needless to say they did not publish my letter that week! The recent election coverage contained lots of errors too.

Justin Brown said...

Maybe you could be encourages to write something 'error free' for them, anonymous.

Eastcliff Richard said...

I notice the letters page has been cut back substantially in recent weeks. Understandable, I suppose, as many of the letters seem to be moans about people who take out full page ads in the paper.

Rachel said...

Cllr Harrison - I did not intend to 'get at' any councillors in particular and I know that many do an unenviable job with only the best of intentions.

I suppose what I am really frustrated with is the fact that Ramsgate is controlled by North Thanet given that TDC has a Tory majority and most of those votes come from outside of Ramsgate. That, as they say, is democracy but the perception is that it leaves us here on the south of the island without any effective control over what goes on in our own back yard.

But best wishes to you and your Ramsgate colleagues for continuing to shout as loudly as you can on our behalf.

adrian said...

Now that you poor people in Ramsgait have a 'Mannings' You're ascending the cultural heirachy. But don't start getting uppity, thinking you're as good as us in Margoat. We've been enlightened in the whelk division since the Vikings.
We are holding Philip Oldfield and Co. in a secure location until some kind of er, art scene happens.