A few weeks ago I noticed that Margate's flagship cultural strategy website had been taken down and any enquiries to the www.thisismargate.co.uk URL were re-directed to the very bland and unappealing website for the Thanet Regeneration Board. I posted about it here on Feb 12th. I then wrote to Thanet Council's Chief Executive, Sue McGonigal. Sue said she would look into it. A few days ago I got a reply back from a Justine Wingate.
I have a number of issues with the reply and stance taken by TDC. Not all of my questions have been addressed. I simply cannot see why it is an either or situation. Surely, the Margate website could have stayed up as well as launching the Thanet Regeneration Board website? And who has made the decision at TDC to stop promoting the individual character of Margate and merge into the one district brand? I don't recall being contacted or included in this huge change, which seems to be undoing all the work many of us participated in at various workshops and consulation exercises over the last few years.
Margate has a strong cultural identity. As do the other towns and villages in Thanet. The Thanet Regeneration Board is not.
How many of you were contacted about this change?
And the fact that key policy documents were just removed without a trace is worrying. Especially after attending the Ezekiel trial last week when these very board meetings from the Margate Renewal Partnership Board were discussed.
From: Justine Wingate
Date: 1 March 2013 17:31
Subject: RE: Margate's marketing website has been removed?
To: Louise Oldfield
Dear Ms. Oldfield,
Thank you for your feedback in relation to the 'This is Margate' website.
The implementation of the Thanet Regeneration Board was not intended
to replace the 'This is Margate' website but was instead a deliberate
move to ensure a more inclusive approach to regeneration for the
Thanet district as a whole. The council still absolutely recognises
the cultural and creative sector in Margate but it is important that
our websites equally reflect this across the district.
The council is still committed to using the Live Margate branding and
as you rightly pointed out, this is currently being used for the
Housing Regeneration project. We are also committed to ensuring that
all of the Thanet towns are equally represented and intend to include
branding and searchable geographical content for all of them as part
of the ongoing improvements to the functionality of our new website.
The council is currently reviewing and updating its digital presence
and as part of the review an audit of council websites was undertaken.
As a result of this it was noted that the 'This is Margate' website
had received very little unique traffic (following its launch), other
than during the time that it was utilised for the promotion of the
Countdown to Turner campaign in 2011. It was taken down in September
2012 when the Thanet Regeneration Board launched.
I appreciate your point about maintaining the engagement of the small
creative business community and I will include this, for consideration
across the district, as part of the new Economic Regeneration
Strategy which is due to launch later this year.
I will also ensure that any policy documents that were available on
the 'This is Margate' site are reinstated on the Thanet Regeneration
Corporate Information & Communications Manager
Thanet District Council
From: Louise Oldfield
Sent: 12 February 2013 09:36
To: Sue McGonigal
Subject: Margate's marketing website has been removed?
I hope you are well.
I was confused last night to see that the Creative Industry centric
marketing website for Margate www.thisismargate.co.uk has been removed
and replaced by the Thanet Regeneration Board website.
I don't recall hearing about this major strategy u-turn.
Please can you give me some details on how this decision has come about?
Where are all the policy documents and content from the Margate website?
Surely, seeing as we have already paid for the site it should be up as
well as the TRB?
I would also like to know how we as the engaged small creative
business community can be involved with the TRB?
How were the current board members chosen? And how long will they
serve on the board?