At last! Serious and objective reporting about the dire state of Margate! Yep, it took intrepid, investigative reporter Rolf Harris to get to the bottom of things - Margate's dying on its arse. On his Made in England art show on BBC1 last night, the Aussie ocker said the town looked 'mostly shut' and one young Margatonian he interviewed commented: 'It looks like a shanty town.'
But believe it or not the worst is yet to come. Word has reached the old Eastcliff lugholes that no fewer than six retail outlets in and around the Old Town and Lower High Street area have pulled the plug or are planning to, citing the shambles that's being made of road works over there as the final nail in the plywood coffin. Work to widen the pavements in the Lower High Street was apparently completed at one stage, only for the road to be dug up again a week later. A further consequence is that the car parks now appear to be closed during shopping hours, and some poor souls who've braved the trip and parked up early have subsequently found their vehicles shut in for the day. What a bloomin' performance!
Meanwhile the upcoming Margate Rocks arts festival has had to be subsidised to the tune of £10,000 I hear, as no organisation in its right mind could be found to sponsor it, leading indirectly to the cancellation of the popular, environmental and locally-based Sea Art project. And talking of subsidies, how do you think the Turner Contemporary Project Space (the old M&S to you and me) has been drawing, er, sell-out crowds of 153 visitors a day? Yes, you guessed it, by bussing art lovers down from Medway - for free!
Update: My spies tell me that at TDC's annual staff meeting this afternoon at Margate's Mike and Bernie Winter Gardens, Tory leader Sandy Beach kicked off proceedings with the good news that Thanet is 'totally different' from four years ago (quite!) and that he only had to walk around the Old Town to feel 'very proud of the work that's been done down there'. The strategic aim is, apparently, 'to have the best seaside towns in England by 2020.' And John Bunnett, Acting Chief Executive, described the operation of Margate Library Thanet Gateway Plus as 'absolutely superb!' Hmm.