Sunday, April 23, 2006

Losta Costa

A sobering look at seaside regeneration in the The Sunday Times today. Among the resorts examined: “Margate, brutalised as it is by time and neglect, “is a breathtaking place potentially”.

So some good news but we are reminded that:  “Cheap and cheerful went on down through the floors to the deep subbasement of cheap and cheerless. Hotels, bed and breakfasts and seaside landlords all too literally went for bums in beds. “Costa del Dole” became the headline writers’ shorthand for what the seaside was now becoming. As MPs, councillors and shopkeepers fulminated, the Department of Social Security (as it then was) funded a seaward migration of job seekers, single-parent families and others who had fallen through holes in the working economy. A latter-day Dickens would have sketched human tragedy not through the Bridewell but through a Hastings bed and breakfast.”

Read on.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

What a depressing Times article. The history of other resorts reveals the futility of the TC and unless we use Dreamland to host a regional attraction we may as well forget it. There is a lot to be said for just reviving the Thanet Towns purely for those who live here. But of course we have killed Margate as a town by allowing Westwood Cross. A thriving Thanet for those who live here should be the duty of our elected Councillors and any tourism would be a welcome but not vital extra.

Anonymous said...

anon again!
I think that if the TDC lowered the Business Rates for the tumbling dumps in the High Street (instead of the £20-£30,000 they charge at present) more smaller shops would never be closed. As it is at the moment, I have the choice of opening at a new shopping centre, or a crumbling tumbledown dump. Need I ask which I would choose.
Now, if the Council said to me
"We will look after the frontage of your building and make sure it stay well presented, but inside the shop was our resonsibilty"
there would be NO dumps after a few years. Long term, with a reduced set of Rates to help pay the modernisation of interiors, Margate High Street 'could' become the attraction it used to be.

DrMoores said...

A truly excellent point 5:28pm.. councils everywhere stand accused of killing small business with unreasonable rates and in the present circumstances, I would have thought that Margate High Street should be zoned as a "Free Trade" area until it gets back on its feet,m at least for businesses prepared to invest and that meet well defined criteria. - .e.g not arcades, sex shops, etc etc

James Maskell said...

Considering that the arcade next to the British Heart Foundation was approved on appeal, not by the Councils own choice (they refused it), its not really fair to blame the Council. The Council werent allowed to appeal the decision.

Is it not contradictory to call for a "Free Trade" area, whilst saying that there should be restrictions on what should be there. Isnt that just protectionism?

Correct me if I am wrong but doesnt Central Government set the business rates and the Councils just calculate it, send out any tax relief and act as the collectors of it?

DrMoores said...

"Free Trade" is a little tongue in cheek I admit but in principal at least, it doesn't strike me as being beyond the realms of the impossible for the council to incentivise business to re-occupy the Hight Street and establish criteria, in the best interests of regeneration, that identify the kinds of business that would best qualify for relief or a grant. If it can be done in Dubai, why can't it be done here I wonder!?

Anonymous said...

Surely there must be a mechanism in existence to reduce business rates if an area is in terminal decline? I was under the impression that similar deals were used in the past to attract the 'big boys' into out of town shopping areas?

James Maskell said...

I dont know for sure, and I comment as a layman here with no experience with the business rates system. It looks though like it would be up to the Deputy Prime Minister or the Valuation Office Agency. Do any readers here have any experience in this that they could share or more information as to whether any such mechanism currently exists?