Arts & Elbows

A catalogue of commentary on events in Thanet and occassionally the rest of the world.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Say "Bonjour" to Regeneration

The reality of the "Continental Market" imposed upon Margate High Street is a less than clever combination of making the lower High Street look like there's a gas leak and the extension of the ghost town feel of the old town a few hundred yards more. Today hundreds of cars turned the corner from Marine Parade, paused at the ugly barrier and then drove away.

Where the parking bays have been suspended for the placing of stalls there's actually a line of white vans. So folks like us who pay both rates and additional fees for parking are forbidden from parking there while traders who make no contribution to the town are given "carte blanche" to park where they choose and free of charge too.

So should you ever try parking illegally, as these vans did because suspension of parking means exactly that, just produce a yellow piece of paper with the words "Continental Market Trader" on it. If it works for them surely it'll work for everyone else?

For some free parking in spacious bays just isn't good enough. So armed with the all powerful scrap of yellow paper some were free to park on double yellow lines. An attractive addition to the High Street I'm sure you'd agree.

A couple of businesses were allowed to have deliveries as usual but if you're not a bank but a trader who doesn't use security firms to move cash around you're stuck. Good to see the crew of one such armoured van find the whole situation hilarious, no where else would they see such a stupid way of doing things.

The lads at Warreners spent the entire day wondering just where all their customers had gone. Suggestions that this scheme was bringing more people into the town were met with responses which I prefer not to quote.

Meanwhile at Domino's they stood around wondering not just how customers are meant to drive up to order a pizza but also how they're meant to run a delivery service when access to their premises is so limited.

So there you have it, a scheme dreamt up to increase trade by closing roads and parking spaces which started on Thursday and looks set to damage trade all the way through to Saturday. Luckily because it's a Margate Town Partnership idea no one at Thanet District Council is lumbered with any responsibility, neither is anyone elected. It won't stop there though, they'll all be grinning inanely and nodding positively when they claim it was a massive success.


Blogger Richard Eastcliff said...

Strike a lumière, what a coq-up.

1:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why can't we have a "Margate Market" rather than a continental one. "Continental" is French for "Expensive"

4:27 PM  
Blogger Clive Nutton said...

Perhaps the traders of Margate could come up with a way of encouraging trade for themselves.

Perhaps if they embraced the local distinctiveness of Margate in the goods they sold and in the way they were presented (from window displays to shop fronts) and created shopping events which reflected local tradition instead of presenting a standard, generic high street experience indistinguishable from any other the length and breadth of the UK, they wouldn't need gimmicks like a continental market to show them how it should be done.

I agree with much of what you say but come on, retail is about selling goods. If the traders of Margate can't attract customers they should stop whingeing about one offs like a continental market and get their fingers out to come up with a scheme themselves to get shoppers flocking in from far and wide.

It's ironic to note that Margate's famous surfboat was called the "Friend of all Nations". Perhaps a continental market is not such an unsuitable theme for the traders of Margate to get behind in good natured competition presenting "the best of Kent and England" alongside produce from continental Europe.

Intercontinental trade has been a tradition on the Isle of Thanet for centuries but I see no reason why it should be all be one sided so long as local traders can be creative in offering a locally distinctive experience.

See my blog at

9:55 AM  

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