Tuesday 23 February 2010

London Flickr Meetup Group daytrip to Margate

I love to see what catches the eye of people visiting Margate. The Londonflickrmeetup group came down to Margate last weekend and captured a snapshot of our town by the sea as viewed by outsiders.

Monday 22 February 2010

Why do place names change?

Was just mooching through a lovely old 1836 map of Thanet from the brilliant website Old Ramsgate The Great War that I picked up via the equally nice blog Promote Thanet. I walk my dog most days out at Botany Bay and the name has always struck me as odd. Looking at the map it says it's called Barleymow Bay (that's me squinting and can't really read it that well). It's a lovely name. The Bay then goes round the corner to White Ness and then on to Kingsgate. Which reminded me of the small changes that have come in even over the last few years: The Parade is referred to in the media now as The Piazza and The Stone Pier as the Harbour Arm. Rebranding of place names without good reason sits oddly I think. What's the purpose? It's not as if there has been a disaster, some awful event which makes a name change necessary. Personally, names shouldn't be changed without good reason.

Monday 15 February 2010

We Make Margate Blog

Margate's stitchers, makers and doers are organising a workshop on Empty Shops and general 'let's do stuff' stuff. Check: http://wemakemargate.blogspot.com/

Friday 5 February 2010

Broadstairs Visitor Information Centre Cut

​THANET council is to axe the staffed visitor information centre (VIC) in Broadstairs, replacing it with a telephone.

The decision to axe the VIC member of staff from the desk at Dickens House is part of £75,000 in cutbacks which the council is making.

The plan is to continue tourism services alongside the museum but without staff. Instead the council will install leaflet racks and a free phone line to the VIC in Margate.

Bill Hackney, who runs the town’s South Lodge Guest house and is a member of the Isle of Thanet Tourism Association, said: “The Visitor Information Centre services are critical to the ongoing and upward development of tourism. I think the council is cutting off the nose to spite the face. Tourism is worth more than £160 million a year to Thanet. It is a very big part of the Thanet economy. To cut back on a fundamental cornerstone of the economy even in these hard times is short-sighted.”

This new cutback comes as a blow for Broadstairs, which lost its first visitor information centre in 2004.

Zoe Holeness, chairman of the Broadstairs Tourism and Leisure Association, said: “It is a sad loss. Ramsgate has something in place and in Margate they have decided to keep the Visitor Information Centre. This is unfortunate for Broadstairs which has more visitors than the other two put together. We would like to keep our VIC open for one more season so we will be contacting the council to put our views forward.

“It is such a shame tourism isn’t on top of the list. It is an easy way to make cuts in a time when the country is in recession. People are advised to holiday in England but there is no advice for them when they get here.”

Brian Sleightholm of St Peter’s Village Tour said: “It is obviously unfortunate because we are a tourist area. It is difficult because it has been good outlet for promoting our village tours. Visitors have been there a staff have mentioned our village tour and on many occasions booked people on the tour. Nevertheless I realise what the financial conditions are like and hopefully we will still have an outlet for our leaflets. Having said that, we have had more and more bookings through our website which shows how things are changing.”

Angela Curwen of the ITTA said: “There is an ongoing discussion going on between the ITTA and the head of the visitor information centres and we are working to make the best of the changes.”

Cllr Shirley Tomlinson, for Thanet council, said: “Information will still be available in Broadstairs. Although the council’s visitor information team may not be based there in the future, there is already an exceptionally knowledgeable team who work at the museum and who help and advise visitors about the area. They are a great resource for visitors and they will be supplemented by a freephone service that will allow people to speak directly to one of our VIC team.

“This may not be the approach that people have been used to in the past, but we’re in tough economic times and need to make savings. We’re not alone in rationalising our visitor information services. Many other councils are doing exactly the same thing as well, as it’s not a service that councils legally have to provide. However, it’s something that remains key to us and that’s why we’re looking at new ways of working that allows more information to be accessible to both residents and visitors.

“If any commercial operators are interested in helping provide visitor information in Broadstairs, we’d be delighted to hear from them.”

Press: ‘Turner effect’ has got the Old Town buzzing

Margate’s cultural quarter is already feeling the so-called ‘Turner effect’, according to some traders in the Old Town.

Many are feeling more upbeat as the gallery takes shape, and new shops are opening each month as the arts scene begins to flourish.

The opening of the gallery, which is still being built, is due in the spring of 2011, but some in the town say they are already feeling the benefits.

Stephen Roper from the Old Town Gallery in Broad Street said: “The effects are already being felt, but the big push needs to start this year.

“It has taken a lot longer than we anticipated and we have had to hunker down for a good few years, but the time is upon us.

“These old streets are coming to life and the impetus is with us now.”

Mr Roper, a jewellery-maker and gallery-owner, used to run a business in Whitstable, a town that has been transformed in the last 15 years.

He says the same thing is now happening in Margate but more quickly.

“I saw that town change so much through the years, but I believe it is happening much faster here,” he said.

“I came to Margate because of the Turner as it is a project we really believe in and I see this place transforming in a way that Brighton or Whitstable did,” he said.

Artist and businesswoman Zoe Murphy, an acclaimed furniture-designer, has moved into an old pie factory next door to Stephen.

She said: “As a local artist I would definitely say there is a real buzz around the place at the moment.

“There seems to be more investment in the area with new shops opening and I think that is lovely.

“It gives you a lot of encouragement to see other people having the confidence you have and makes you want to stick around. Shops that are opening may not be frequented loads now, but you think they will be when more people come here. I’m optimistic about the next couple of summers.”

In recent months the Cupcake Café, an antiques shop, Helter Skelter, Busy Bs and My Old Dutch have all opened.

In the meantime, live-music venue The Westcoast goes from strength to strength, with top acts such as The Bluetones playing in recent months.

Anne Marie Nixey, chairwoman of the Old Town Action Group and owner of Oriental design store Qing, said: “It’s encouraging to see everybody’s hard work pay off.

“We have believed in the Old Town and realised the potential it has and that is really beginning to show now.

“When visitors find their way into the back streets they are delighted at the little secrets that are to be found.

“There are more shops opening soon and I get asked about the place by traders all the time. I feel lucky to be in my third year and see the transformation as it happens.

“This year really feels like changes are happening.”

Press: Trust boss vows Turner centre in Margate is value

THE Turner Contemporary will receive at least £1 million in public money a year once it opens.

A trust is due to take over the running of the gallery from Kent County Council (KCC) on April 1, but it will receive a grant of more than £1 million a year to help cover the gallery’s estimated £2.6 million annual running costs.

The grant is in addition to the money already paid by KCC, the Arts Council and the South East Economic Development Agency (Seeda) to build the £17.5 million gallery by Margate’s harbour arm.

The grant will continue until KCC leaders judge the gallery can support itself.

Speaking to the Isle of Thanet Gazette, trust chairman John Kampfner said the funding was agreed before the trust was appointed, but he was confident the project would provide value for money.

He said: “We’re not complacent. Everybody will always have their opinions and they are free to air them.

“We want to show people by our actions that this is a great thing for the town, not by what we say.

“The views I hear now are more of frustrated impatience at waiting for the gallery to open, rather than about the project itself.”

Former New Statesman editor Mr Kampfner now heads the Index on Censorship, which promotinges freedom of speech.

He said the trust was in close contact with other projects in the town, such as the planned redevelopment of Dreamland.

Mr Kampfner said 2010 would be the year when “it all comes together”, and welcomed Margate artist Tracey Emin’s installation planned for Droit House, which will be unveiled around the time the trust assumes control of the gallery.

KCC said the cost of Emin’s project, which will see a pink neon sign reading “I never stopped loving you”, installed over the entrance to the Droit House, has not yet been finalised.

Press: Inspector backs fewer bedsits plan for Cliftonville

Unfortunately, Margate Central has similar, if not in part worse stats than Cliftonville West. Yet bedsites and HMOs are not halted in planning yet.

Inspector backs fewer bedsits plan for Cliftonville

Plans to cut the number of bedsits in a Kent seaside town have been given the go-ahead by an independent planning inspector.

Thanet District Council has spent two years coming up with a plan for the future of Cliftonville, near Margate.

It wants to increase the number of family homes and holiday accommodation.

The decision will allow planners to restrict the number of multiple occupancy homes and support other developments such as houses and hotels.

'Good news'

The inspector said the council's new policy was in line with legal and planning legislation.

Councillor Roger Latchford, cabinet member for economic development and regeneration, said: "This is excellent news.

"We have been working closely with the community in Cliftonville to make sure that these new policies, along with all the other good work going on in the area, will help improve the quality of life of everyone who lives or works there.

"The independent inspector asked some searching questions before concluding that our policies were sound, which is really good news."

Tuesday 2 February 2010

Spacemakers & RIBA London run workshops exploring "forgotten spaces"

More from Space Makers in London who are working on empty property initiatives.

Space Makers has joined forces with RIBA London to run two workshops this month exploring "forgotten spaces". Come and join us in Brixton this Thursday afternoon for the first of these!

Time: February 4, 2010 from 3pm to 5:30pm
Location: Brixton Village (aka Granville Arcade) - meet outside Unit 41/42
Organized By: Space Makers Agency & RIBA London

Event Description:
Space Makers Agency and RIBA London have joined forces for a pair of events this month, as part of the Forgotten Spaces design competition. Artists, students, designers, architects and space makers of all kinds are invited to take part in our mapping workshops in Brixton and Hackney.

The Forgotten Spaces competition invites proposals for overlooked pieces of land around the capital. Our workshops will explore the questions this opens up — who has a space been “forgotten” by? What roles might it play for different people who live or work around it? How do we go about “remembering” a space in ways which take account of the relationships people already have with a space?

The workshops will be led by Space Makers Associate Sara Haq and will involve exploring and mapping potential “forgotten spaces” in the local area, as well as developing ideas and perspectives from which proposals could be developed. We want to encourage people to think beyond the conventions of their professional practice and explore the complexities of space and memory.

The first event is this Thursday — the second, a week next Saturday. Here are the details:

Brixton: 15.00−17.30, Thursday 4 Feb

Meet outside Unit 41/ 42, Brixton Village indoor market, Atlantic Road, Brixton

Places for the workshops will be awarded on a first come first served basis and additional sessions may be held in other areas, subject to demand. You’ll need to bring your own digital camera (or cameraphone), notebook and writing materials.

The event is free, however all attendees must register in advance. Contact Jessame Cronin to book a place.

See more details and RSVP on Space Makers Network:

About Space Makers Network
Reusing empty space and creating new environments for work and play.

Monday 1 February 2010

Press Release - TDC's press after the Coastal Regeneration Handbook Launch

After last week's Coastal Community Conference, TDC released a press release. It does seem to play down TDC's role in putting forward some of the conference content. The Thanet Success Story at least was surely put together by Thanet?

Praise for Margate after conference

Margate has been described as a great venue by those attending a national conference in the town, with many pledging to return in the future.

The two-day event, organised by the Coastal Communities Alliance (CCA), called for greater recognition at a national level of the issues facing seaside resorts around the country. It brought together policy makers and practitioners in seaside regeneration.

A new publication ‘Coastal Regeneration in England 2010’ and website were also launched at the conference. They aim to stimulate new thinking about local solutions and clarify “who’s who” and “who’s doing what” in coastal regeneration.

Leader of the Council, Cllr. Sandy Ezekiel, said: “We were very proud to see Margate hosting this conference and I was delighted with the feedback that I got from delegates. Many of them were talking about coming back to Margate in the future and they were full of praise for the work that’s going on down here. There was a lot of talk about our regeneration plans and we were able to show them exactly what we are doing here, with Turner Contemporary underway and the changes in the Old Town. It would be great to welcome them back again in the future, so that they can see the difference in Margate when they return here. I think, from talking to various people, including some of the organisers of the conference, that’s something they’d be very keen to do. They were certainly talking about wanting to return to Margate for more conferences, which is very encouraging.”

The keynote speech at the conference came from Dr Phyllis Starkey MP, Chair of the Communities and Local Government Committee, which led an influential review into the problems facing seaside resorts. She told the conference that the coast has a great deal to offer the country and spoke about the importance of ensuring that different organisations in seaside areas work together and aim for the same result.

Other speeches were made by Mark Simmonds, MP for Boston and Skegness, and Dr. Stephen Ladyman, MP for South Thanet.

The Coastal Communities Alliance is a UK-wide umbrella group, made up of more than 100 organisations and local authorities, with Lincolnshire County Council as the Secretariat. It was started in 2007, after the Government’s initial rejection of the recommendations from the Select Committee Inquiry into Coastal Towns.

Margate in the Press: The Arts Council 'Making over Margate'

The Dreamland Cinema c.1935

It's hard to miss Margate in the news these days, whether it's featuring as a location for The Apprentice or in a report about the latest installment in the story of its remarkable makeover.

Heritage amusement park Dreamland in Margate is receiving £3.7 million from coastal regeneration programme Sea Change, while Turner Contemporary, poised to be one of the south east's premier visual arts galleries, is inching closer to its 2011 completion with its recent topping out ceremony.

Margate is a great example of how art can play an effective role in regeneration. Once a popular seaside resort in the 1960s and '70s, Margate has been marred with multiple social and economic problems, dwindling resources, and a shrinking tourism industry.

As its most famous resident, artist Tracey Emin wistfully wrote: 'I want someone who is a giant to come along and treat Margate like their very own special model village. Make Dreamland a place possible for teenage lovers to have dreams, the Teddy Boys to whirl on the wurlitzer and Mods to dodge with their girlfriends on the dodgems... Margate has become Britain's tragic Norma Desmond from Sunset Boulevard, almost nothing can save her.'

Thankfully, Margate is no longer a lost cause. A combination of agencies, councils and organisations have played a crucial role in changing the town's fortunes. In 2006, Kent County Council and Thanet District Council joined forces with Government Office South East, English Heritage, South East England Development Agency, English Partnerships, and Arts Council England, South East to create the Margate Renewal Partnership, which has been overseeing regeneration plans.

At the heart of these plans is a cultural vision that sees art and creativity as the driving force for invigorating the local economy, inspiring residents, and attracting visitors - not as just an add-on feature.

'The change in Margate is palpable,' says Sophie Jeffrey, Regeneration Officer for Arts Council England, South East. 'When you get off the train now and see Turner Contemporary rising up on the horizon, it's as if you can actually feel regeneration in the air. And the Sea Change award to Dreamland - one of only two large awards in the country - is testament to that.'

'Having an arts partner changes the viewpoint of an organisation, from being site-driven to thinking about its communities,' says Sarah Wren, Arts and Regeneration Officer for East Kent, Kent County Council. 'The Margate neighbourhood plans are focusing on areas of deprivation and looking at the way council services are being delivered - and how arts and culture will be a key part of that. Turner Contemporary, for instance, has been successful in working with local audiences.'

The Margate Renewal Partnership's 10-year plan has earmarked development for 10 prime sites, including Turner and Dreamland. When complete, the new developments will also create 633 full-time equivalent jobs, 1565 residential units, 16,000 m2 of retail space, 13,000 m2 of leisure facilities, 37.5 acres of reclaimed brownfield land and 350 new hotel rooms.

Art and regeneration work has already benefited other areas in East Kent such as Folkestone, Dover, and Canterbury. 'All East Kent towns are fairly distinctive so the way in which arts and culture features in their regeneration plans is slightly different,' explains Sarah Wren. 'Dover is focused on the built environment and heritage, while somewhere like Folkestone has been good at setting up cultural agencies and small and medium-sized enterprises.'

Investment also increases an area's levels of talent and aspiration. Whitstable Biennale, Folkestone Triennial and Quarterhouse in Folkestone are all good examples. 'The Biennale has been successful at raising the game of the area in terms of visual arts, and it's put the town on the map in terms of its contemporary arts,' continues Sarah Wren.

As Alan Davey, Arts Council England Chief Executive, said at the Culture is Right conference, arts investment is a crucial aspect of regeneration - money attracts money. For every £1 the Arts Council invests, £2 is brought in. 'Private money likes to follow success,' he added.

The Arts Council's investment in time, money and resources across the region means that we'll be seeing more regeneration successes like Margate's in the future."