This latest coverage from a national newspaper follows the same, tired old format. And I have to say it makes my blood boil. For those of you unfamiliar with the grubby world of press and PR, here's the formula:
- Thanet Council's press office rings umpteen old hacks muttering mystical keywords like 'Turner', 'Emin', 'regeneration', 'Bilbao', 'St Ives' and now 'Sir Alan Sugar'.
- Eventually one of the old hacks, who can no longer sustain a career by recycling the three ideas they've ever had, thinks it might be nice to have a day at the seaside.
- Hack arrives at seaside and is, er, treated by the press office to lunch with Our Sandy at one of his mates' cafés.
- Hack is then given the two-minute tour of the hole where the Turner Centre will eventually be, and introduced to Derek Harding from the Margate Renewal Partnership for a chat about 'regeneration' and the £60m being spent. (By the way, is it just me who thinks that figure's been plucked out of the air?)
- Hack heads back off to town on the rattler, mashing together 500 words on his laptop from Sandy and Derek's quotes and a load of other old tosh culled from the internet, and arrives home in time for G&T's at his local. Job's a good 'un.
Now, having said that, Fiona Hamilton who wrote yesterday's effort appears to have taken a few minutes from her hectic schedule to do some original research - by walking along the seafront and up the high street. During her tour she spotted 'rundown shops, fast food outlets and derelict arcades' and Dreamland which 'closed after an arson attack' (forgive me, Fiona, but Jimmy Godden had already closed it way before the, er, unfortunate fire). Later in her piece she spots 'fast-food outlets, deserted arcades and sex shops' again, along with 'gangs of youths wandering the streets'. 'Local newspapers often carry reports on knife crimes and assaults,' she adds. Yes, Fiona, they do. But probably not as often as they do in that London.
Eventually Fiona stumbles upon one Maureen Collington, who has lived in Margate for more than 20 years, and describes the approach by the council as a disgrace. 'They’re wasting all this money on art and it’s not what people want. Margate is proper seaside. But they’ve let it die.'
And a young mother shopping in the high street tells her: 'That Turner centre - it’s the biggest load of f***ing rubbish that I’ve ever heard of. What a waste of money. Most of our 15-year-olds are illiterate, they couldn’t give a stuff about going to an art gallery.'Which only goes to prove, a little original research can go a long, long way!
The Times goes to the seaside
The Apprentice does Margate