The Future of Thanet

There is a lot of doom and gloom around the local area at the moment and there don?t seem to be that many people around with positive views of the Thanet area or its future. Maybe we?re all suffering from SAD but it goes deeper than that and it seems that most of the people are losing their faith in what was once a truly great area to live in or visit.

Most of the local blogs or the newspaper articles I read point towards an area in steep decline but surely there is something we can do? On face value it appears that there is nothing we can do, but that is me being pessemistic, and just because the council are happy for the towns to die doesn?t mean that we should be.

It?s easy for me to moan like this, because what am I going to do? Really? I?ll probably just trundle along until everything that is good about Thanet is steamrollered over (with Luxury flats built on) and then it?ll be too late to do anything.

It?s the double standards that really get me. The removal of funding for local museums in Margate and Ramsgate (100,000 p/a) and the spending of 20,000,000 (yes twenty million pounds! maybe even more) on the Turner Centre which to be frank, is something that I have no interest in, is shocking (article here). How can the council really believe that this will save our towns? In gambler?s term they are ?married to the pot? having spent 7,000,000 (yes seven million ponds!) without even laying a brick, and instead of cutting their losses, they are pouring more and more cash in. Just think of what that type of money could?ve gone towards (including funding the local museums and more).

Will the Turner Centre really bring in enough visitors to Thanet? No. It may be my opinion but I would virtually guarantee it will not.

We should all be proud of the history we have, the history of the area, and not just the history of one person. We have had a great part to play in British history over the best part of two centuries (and more), so much that should be cherished and so much that we could and should share, but when museums close, listed buildings get knocked down, and town centres are left to rot and decay (more of that later), then there will be no turning back and it will all be lost.

Around various blogs there?s been suggestions that the opening of the old tunnels running around Thanet would be a great way to increase tourism and I?d have to agree. It?s amazing the history these tunnels have and each one will tell a story. Could you imagine getting a guided tour around them with the history of each one, stories to be told, how they were used as air raid shelters during the war, or which ones were used by smugglers? It would be amazing, and something that could not be replicated anywhere else unless of course they had their own historic tunnels, but the history these would tell would be ours. They are unique. I wonder what the feasability of this would be? Who owns them? Are they stable? etc. Dover Castle operates tunnels so could we look to them as a guidance template?

Another question that I would like to ask is why are so many shops closing down and being left derelict? The success of online shopping can definitely be attributed to it, but one major cause is the development of Westwood Cross Shopping Centre, which sitting handily between Ramsgate, Margate, and Broadstairs has been taking people, and therefore their money away from the towns. Capitalism at it?s best. I?ve got nothing against being successful, but when it comes to the detriment of local small shops then shouldn?t we really be asking questions and thinking things through a little more instead of bending over backwards to support a Shopping Centre which is removing the character from the area? OK, let the big shops move up to Westwood Cross, but don?t let the little independants suffer. We should be doing something to keep our town centre?s breathing. We should have a strategy, but at the moment there is nothing, and soon the town centre will die, all the buildings will be turned into flats, and all we will have is a generic shopping centre. But yet again the question is what can we do? What kind of businesses do we want in our High Streets? And how do we attract them? It can?t be a case of just getting in one or two new shops. It needs to be something a lot bigger and something well orchestrated, so that everything that is done has a purpose. More questions to ask are who actually owns the derelict shops in our high streets and what would it take to get them in fit shape again. Think of Queen Street in Ramsgate and the old run-down buildings there, and then think of them with a lick of paint and some pride.

Ultimately all I?ve done is put a few things out there without really answering anything, but I hope that this gets some kind of response from you local bloggers reading this, and please comment on what you think. We could start something?. or just sit here and waste away.

This entry was posted in Local News, Margate, Ramsgate and tagged Margate, Museum, , Thanet Blogs I Read, tunnels, Turner Centre. Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to The Future of Thanet

  1. I could not agree more with your sentiments. With regard to the shops, there are places that thrive without the chain stores by encouraging small, independent outlets, but most of the ones I can think of are in affluent areas. We don?t have that luxury here in Thanet, so what?s the answer? Free parking would help, I think, and a reduction in the rates. But our council are already strapped for cash, or so they say, so the cost of these is going up not down.

    All we can hope is that, even in the current uneven economic climate, there are still people who find the area attractive and who want to move down here and build a life. That way we could hope that our built and natural environment will be preserved and even improved, and the local economy boosted. I still get emails from people like that every day, so perhaps the outlook isn?t quite as bleak as we think.

    Alternatively, how about an idea akin to the Totnes Pound? In Totnes the small traders issue their own currency that can?t be spent in the big stores, only the independents. Worth a punt?

  2. jonny says:

    1. You don?t half bloody moan you.

    2. I have a solution. Get out of dodge and move somewhere class like Canterbury.

    3. I think Westwood Cross is a positive thing for the area. Most of the people I work with don?t live in Thanet but they travel to Westwood to shop which brings in a lot of trade. Capitalism is not evil!

    4. I was generally of the impression that the area was on the up from the 90?s slump. Westwood is bringing in business, they are building roads and high speed rail links (although they have been on about that for ages) which will atract more willing commuters. Ramsgate harbour is looking pretty classy these days (just don?t venture too far up harbour street). Get some optimism. Shame the airport idea died on its arse though.

    5. Turner centre is a big waste of money. Bring back Dreamland!

    6. Living here in the 70/80?s would have been brilliant. Hordes of weekenders coming down to party, loads of nightclubs, packed beaches, massive bands coming down to play gigs.

    7. That tunnel tour sounds amazingly boring

  3. Matt B says:

    1. ?jonny? misses a huge point about westwood cross. Yes people come and spend here but the cost is born by us (externalised) in none monetary form (those roads are not coping, for example) and as the stores there are ?big? the money flows out of Thanet and to the bank account of HQ. This is amazingly bad for the micro economic stability of the area.

    It also draws locals away from the small shops because (as I discuss on my blog) we humans like to copy each other.

    2. The turner centre is a steaming heap of poo, I agree. I like the phase ?married to the pot? it sums it up nicely. However the money came via KCC and Arts funding stream so TDC can only spend it on the Turnip Centre. Sad but true.

    3. What can be done. The only person I can be sure to change is me. (a little obviouse like wisdom for you). So I can only act of myself and am unable to give free parking. so what can I do that will change things?

    I can vote with my feet. I don?t like the Westwood Cross anyway and am well POed at HSBC for relocating there as their Cliftonville Branch is? least said soonest mended.

    So I choose to spend my time and effort in the service of the town. One thing we bloggers can do is give FREE PUBLICITY to the little guys. That?s a wealth of top interview material that should keep us going into 2009. (For example check out the Love Letters to Margate project I wanted to get down to see it but was quite ill?)

    I could offer discount to all SMEs in Thanet, and say £20 of free advertising for blogs that join me in supporting local businesses. That?s not a firm offer but I will post something in the next few days.

    4. The tunnels would not be for everyone but I?d be in that line for a look, for sure.

    5. To breath life into a town you need to provide some of the reasons for making a sale (I?ve covered this in my blog as it applies to web sites that sell but it applies to anything and don?t want to go over it again).

    6. I?ve said it before ? we bloggers hold a lot of power when we choose to focus it. Bloggers have in the past crumbled governments, faced down big industry and exposed conspiracy. If we put our heads together I am sure we can bring in a little change.

    7. Prime numbers are cool but I don?t have a real point 7. However it is the winter and things do die back. However it is the cold that stimulates the readiness for growth when the sun starts to shine.

    Are you ready to greet the sunlight?

  4. j. says:

    Did someone seriously propose moving as a solution???

    That seems to me that it would just be becoming part of the problem, wouldn?t it?

  5. Adem says:

    It?s okay. Jonny is a personal friend of mine?although he likes a good moan too.

    Best thing to do is ignore him!

  6. jonny says:

    I knew Adem was a loser but I didn?t realise that all other ?bloggers? were humourless self righteous ?twats?. I?ve not covered this in my blog?

    Power to the little people (not midgets)!

  7. jonny says:

    Actually, power to the midgets too!

  8. Adem says:

    Jonny? have you been drinking?

  9. jonny says:

    I?m drunk on capitalism.

    And gin.

  10. Hamish plod says:

    Just wanted to say Thanet is the best,Ramsgate mainly and Westwood Cross is great.Yes the access roads are bad and the soon to be extra housing will overload the infrastructure that the local KHS and KCC dont want to do much about and Thanet DC dont care they just want the people visiting however long they wait in traffic jams,but at the end of the day Thanet has had to move with the times.I have lived here since 1983 and being a city boy from Glasgow i can assure you there is no better place i have lived in my 49 years.So lets give praise to the area and who wants to live in london or even west Kent.I have lived and worked in both and you can keep it.

  11. Ramsgate Paul says:

    It?s sad but true that the biggest contributor to the downturn of Ramsgate and Margate is the only real entity that is on a position to help fix some of the damage.

    Thanet District Council could have done any number of things to make things improve.

    I approached them recently about opening an empty shop and requested a half decent concession on rates, they would not negotiate or budge on their policy, they would rather see an empty shop earning them nothing than offer a decent reduction in rates. So I didn?t take on the shop and continue trading from home.

    Now if I was in charge of TDC I would offer a 80% discount to any SME that took on an empty shop in the town provided they tidied up the outside to make it look bright fresh and clean.

    All you get for your business rates is the promise of police and fire brigade and street lighting, all of which would have to be provided by TDC if the shop was empty anyway. All business have to pay for their own refuse collection anyhow, so the way I see it, it?s a win win for both The town and the council.

    Parking is an issue and this I feel could be dealt with in 2 ways, firstly reduce parking fees, secondly impose resident only parking on all roads around the town, this would then make more people use the car parks and as the fees had been reduced they wouldn?t mine so much about paying.

    Advertise and promote what gems we have left, the council should be plugging and advertising as much as it can, there are still some good bits here, show em off.


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