Friday, 5 April 2013

A peacock riding a toboggan

Image courtesy of @retrodan16
Today's Thanet Gazette has a feature on the latest departure of a key player from Margate Town Team. Wanda Rogers was Margate Town Team's Team Leader from September last year and took on the task of getting the flagship High Street multi-trader space of Poportunity up and running. 

Wanda states: 

"I am relieved to be out of the team. The essence of Portas Pilots has been lost. There's no project or action plan going forward. At least I had one for Poportunity. It was supposed to work with other elements of the bid like education, marketing and wi-fi but they haven't happened for one reason or another. "I feel let down for the people in there who are working hard."
Poportunity launched on October 20th as part of Mary Portas' 'Margate Relaunch' event for the Optomen Television produced upcoming series: Mary Queen of Shops. 

As far as we know, none of Margate's Portas Pilot funding has so far been spent on Poportunity. This was later clarified by retail expert, Paul Turner-Mitchell's series of FOI requests to the 27 winning Portas Pilot towns, where Margate was confirmed as having spent only £111.47 out of their £100,000 bid money. 

Richard Ash (centre)

Yet, Margate Town Team's Chairman, Richard Ash is quoted in today's article in the Gazette as saying: 
"I would like to thank Wanda publicly for all she has done in very difficult circumstances. The numbers have to add up. The graph plotting Poportunity's progress has been going downhill like a toboggan since October. The aim of Poportunity was always for start-up businesses to test ideas out but it cannot be treated like a bucket with holes in, with the town team endlessly filling it with money."

What an odd thing for Richard to say. Afterall, Richard has also been Chairman of Margate Town Team since last October, a full six months ago.

Back in November I blogged about an interview Richard had given to BBC Radio Kent, where he was keen to say how much of a success Poportunity was. Listen to the following section from 2:31 in:

In the same interview, Richard stated the only Portas Pilot funds spent so far was £800 on the annual checks of the High Street Christmas lights. The ones that in the end weren't working for Christmas. This was later clarified by TDC as being a Margate Town Partnership responsibility and the bill was covered by TDC not Margate Town Team. 

Then, in March Richard was quoted in the Sunday Times he was 'proud as a peacock' for the Town Team's progress so far in not spending any money.

So there we have it: The endearing image of a peacock, riding a toboggan down a dying High Street with £100k of winnings stashed in the bank at TDC. 


  1. Someone has been a bit silly allowing TDC to be the Accountable Body?

  2. How far away is Terry Painter in that picture.

  3. Louise

    It is sometime since I visited Margate High Street. Having looked at contributions from commentators from the Margate Double Standards Agency Blog; I wonder if you would kindly confirm that Wanda Rogers of Popportunity is not in fact Wendy James of Crafted Naturally of 16-18 High Street (tenant of Town Team Chairman Richard Ash's property)?

  4. But do they share the same premises Lousie? i.e. is Poportunity located at Mr Ash's property at 16-18 High Street as well as Crafted Naturally?(which is what I probably should have asked).

    I raise this because of the article written by Isle of Thanet Gazzette on the thisiskent website of September 04 2012, and I quote:-

    "Ms James credits the initiative of the Portas Pilot cash injection for helping her (Wendy James of Crafted Naturally) reach her business goals"

    If Poportunity(ran by Wanda Rogers) is not located at Mr Ash's property at 16 to 18 High Street alongside Crafted Naturally, then where is it? and who owns that freehold? I realise you may have already covered this elsewhere, but it surely will assist anyone new coming to this story. Thanks.

  5. Wanda Rogers was Team Leader and launched Poportunity at the top of the High Street in the old Qube shop building, owned by Panther Securities. Wendy James owns Crafted Naturally and this is in the lower High Street in a building owned by Richard Ash.

  6. I seem to remember something in the Gazzette last year about Panther Securities in Broadstairs(possibly Ramsgate also) and the condition of their buildings? I used to deal in property at auctions, but would not have had the nerve to do what these landlords are doing.

    I guess it comes down to the terms of reference for Portas Pilots Louise? It would be useful to clarify here who the beneficiary group/s are actually supposed to be?