One of my spies has sent me the following full account of last night's meeting between traders in the Arsonists' Playground and Thanet Council:
TDC fronted up their chief executive, chief financial officer, cleansing and planning people for this meeting. Sandy was also there, making sure everyone towed the party line. Steve Ladyman also attended, but Roger Gale was noticeable by his absence.
First up there was a lot of talk about the credit crunch, then a load of stuff about street cleaning in Cliftonville, which seemed irrelevant. Then it was on to the big issues but by then most people had already been bored into a stupor. Arlington House is apparently out of their control, but they are considering boarding up the car park (what a welcome for visitors!). Dreamland is also out of their control, but they seemed pleased to have 'secured' the Scenic with the new fencing.
There is apparently no way they can now develop the M&S building, which currently houses Turner Contemporary, due to the economic climate. They do, however, appear to be cock-a-hoop at the 19,000 visitors the TC has brought in this year (most of whom have been bussed down from other parts of Kent on free trips). They may develop the upper levels of the M&S building but I happen to know they are in a very poor state.
Construction of the new Turner Centre is out to tender, there seemed to be some confusion as to when building would start with council officers saying four weeks, and Sandy saying 'before Christmas'. Again the credit crunch means the full development planned for the Rendezvous site will not be possible but they will go ahead with the hotel. Which won't go down too well with other hoteliers in the area. And anyway, wasn't there a hotel there in the first place, before they knocked it down for the Turner development?
Worst of all was an announcement that they will be trialling pedestrianisation in the Lower High Street for 18 months. This seems to have been as a result of an aggressively run petition by Kaylene Health Foods recently, who have subsequently pissed off to Cliftonville! Questions about why there couldn't be a consultation first were just brushed aside. None of the traders seem to actually want this - six months of roadworks earlier this year with no through traffic was enough to kill off most of them. I suspect it's a cynical move to get the rest to relocate, so the Lower High Street can become Luxury Apartmentsville!
Iris was there, of course, and had her Watt Tyler moment when she thought the whole thing was drawing to a close!