Friday 12 April 2013

Friday night events in Margate - dogs in snorkels and art in the Grotto

You'll probably have heard by now that I decided to stand as an independent candidate in the upcoming District Council byelection for Cliftonville East seat. More info on TDC's website. I'll be launching a new website this weekend, where I'll publish everything to do with the election. It's been a mad couple of days, as is the nature of getting a candidacy together for a byelection at the last minute. And doubly so as an independent. 

I'll leave you this fine Friday evening (looks outside at the weather...well, perhaps not so fine...) with news of two very lovely events going on tonight.

If there's a thing I like, it's dogs. And dogs in hats and snorkels, even better. So tonight's opening of renowned urban artist Teddy Baden's Atopy and the Raindog show at Margate Gallery is set to be a real treat. It starts tonight 6-8pm. More info on their website. There's a do to do with it all on at the Great British Pizza Co. too I think.

And a mere 5 min walk away over at The Shell Grotto is an opening of a 
diverse show in mixed media from Mandy Quy-Verlander, Sue Rumsey, Karen Richards and Elisia Hogben, Fine art students from UCA in Canterbury. And if dogs in snorkels isn't enough, a great show in one of the world's finest, bijou mystery attractions? More info on their website, too.

Karen Richards

Mandy Quy-Verlander

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.