YOU’RE a TV star.
You want to make a reality TV show about towns that try and succeed at regenerating themselves.
You get the Government to put up a load of cash as an inducement to get the towns to take part.
But, in the interests of good TV, you need at least one town that fails with lots of bitterness and recrimination…
Is that town Margate? And is that TV star Mary Portas?
It certainly looks like it.
Until recently the Margate Town Team seemed on track to make real progress with the difficult task of turning the town round.
They had 100s of people putting themselves forward to start pop up shops and market stalls.
And they’d just persuaded their first landlord to provide them with rent free premises.
Then Portas and her TV crew turned up in town.
They DIDN’T contact the town team. They did some SELECTIVE filming of individual shopkeepers and the next thing anyone knows … the Town Team is in pieces.
The entire executive committee of Margate Town Team has now resigned, complaining of personal attacks and bullying.
This includes chair Robin Vaughan-Lyons who accused the TV crews of deliberately trying to promote disagreements between the team’s leadership and businesses in the town.
“There are a group of people who are more interested in publicity and being on TV than they are in helping Margate and they have been deliberately encouraged by the film crew to make personal attacks on us,” Vaughan-Lyons told the press. “The filming has led to all sorts of disgraceful activity.”
The whole thing has been devastating for the volunteers who’ve worked their guts out to help Margate win its bid.
And it raises serious questions about the use of public money to being used to support a TV programme.
But it all makes for great reality TV.
For an interview with Robin Vaughan-Lyons see the September issue of Thanet Watch magazine in shops and newsagents across the Isle now.