Saturday, November 10, 2012

Pizza Problems

Lisa Richards appears to have provoked outrage in some quarters, with her description of Margate. BBC's Southeast Today gave it coverage on Friday evening and even a suitably outraged Cllr Ian Driver, never lost for a soap-box on which to climb, announced to the world that he would 'boycott' the fashionable GB Pizza Company. No great loss to their popular thin-crust business I'm sure and as I reminded the BBC, he's from Ramsgate anyway and couldn't they find a Margate Councillor or even the Mayor? Normally, Iris Johnston will spontaneously appear in front of a camera, like magic but not this time it seems.

But hold on a moment, what terrible crime has Ms Richards actually committed other than describe a walk from Margate station which is familiar to many of us, warts and all?

Margate has its problems and I've written about these often enough here. Take any and every depressing statistic of deprivation, health, unemployment and poverty in Kent and frequently in the south of England and you'll find them within a pizza's throw of Lisa Richards new restaurant.

You will also, find aspiration, opportunity and vibrant signs of economic regeneration equally close to her pizza ovens and if you read her story closely, it seems packed with optimism for the town's future but warns of the unpredictable consequences of media exploitation and uncontrolled inward migration on its prospects.

Criticism is healthy and can act as a call to action and unlike Councillor Driver who believes her review was arrogant, I'm not so swift to condemn an honest impression of Margate from someone who is investing in the town and its future. Local politicians need to listen and what this story tells me is that the town is heading in the right direction but as a community of diverse and mixed interests, we still have a long way to go in achieving our goals.

Read it for yourself or watch it again on the BBC and tell me what you think.

36 comments:

Tony Beachcomber said...

Well at least one thing I have learnt from this whole episode is that I now know what DFL means. I was under the impression it was a facebook term for something rude. Perhaps I need to get out more.

Tom Clarke said...

Excellent article by Lisa Richards, much more about hope than despair and displaying the vision and entrepreneurial spirit so necessary to bring about revival.

Hardly surprising that Ian Driver, Ramsgate ward councillor who lives in Broadstairs, should leap in on a Margate issue for any soap box anywhere is manna to him. Also almost inevitable that he would fail to grasp the direction of the piece for it is a little too literate for his understanding.

All in all, I am with Lisa and I hope many other people are also. It is only by recognising and grasping Thanet's potential that it will ever be realised.

Anonymous said...

Spot on Cllr Moores. I actually had read the article before the furore no doubt in part whipped up by Cllr Driver. It is a thought provoking article which is a breath of fresh air badly needed in Thanet. We need more people like the author who are willing to invest not only their hard earned money in the area but their lives.

Laurence Davies

Anonymous said...

At last an intelligent responce
Driver oppotunist as ever to appear in front of a TV camera

Shinguard said...

Lisa and her partner are the type of people Margate have been crying out for, they have put their time and money into setting up a business here and along with many other people are transforming the area into a place where people put something back rather than just take out.

Her piece was brutally honest and maybe she bared a little more of her soul than some can take but if these people haven't thought the same thing about some of the lowlife that live in our town then they are lying to themselves.

1 o'clock Rob said...

Well said Simon and I am glad that a Councillor, albeit from a different part of the Island (closer than Ramsgate,) has had the balls to write about this.

Cllr Ian (have topic will grandstand) Driver has caused far more harm with his "official" declaration to take this to the Council! As if they are going to do anythign about it... NOT! Going to the BBC has instigated The Streisand Effect bringing far more attention to the article and Margate/Thanet than it ever would alone and in isolation.

Driver should be taking a leaf out of others books and rather than attack the messenger actually concentrate on the MESSAGE, Lisa is not telling lies when whe gives us her open and compelling personal commentary of what she experiences when walking the streets of Margate. What Driver should be concentrating on is how to make sure that the topics raised are of absolute concern to TDC, something I believe many of the electorate would rather he do than attack one of the more recent enterprising businesses to spring up in the Margate area.

Anyone who has followed the GB Pizza story via Facebook, Twitter or in person can clearly see that the team loves Margate and not only wishes it the best is actually doing something to help regenerate the area!

disgusted said...

Has Ian Driver got his Leaders permission to comment. Surely any comments should have been given an airing on the TIG Blog, now they have a new Webmaster

Anonymous said...

At last. Someone with the guts to speak the truth. Well done Lisa. The only thing you have done wrong is to apologise.

Anonymous said...

Simon,
Moving on from Lisa'a excellent account of the current situation, as you will be aware the Council have a huge sum of money to buy up derelict properties in Cliftonville and turn them round. So far one is going to be demolished and a mini problem estate built and another with many of it's original features still in place is going to be ripped to pieces to provide even more squalid flats. Is there any chance that the Council could be as brave as the likes of Lisa and say NO MORE SOCIAL HOUSING in Cliftonville. I am not against social housing, but Cliftonville has such a huge social imbalance it cant sustain any more and needs more of the likes of Lisa and Co. Please think about this. It is a once in a lifetime change to make a real difference.

I'm not John Worrow said...

What Lisa has written is very hurtful to local pride, hurtful because it's a explicitly true picture of what all visitors see when they visit Margate, not just the down from Londoners.

Reference Cllr Ian Driver "He's going to raise the matter with the Council, because this article has caused conflict and a divide between people who live here and new people who are coming into the town to setup business's."

I'm sorry Simon, I know your trying not to talk about other Councilors in a bad way on your website, because the Council are reviewing this blog or something, but Cllr Ian Driver's a TWAT!

He is the one exciting conflict and divide on the matter by publically making his statement on regional television abusing his position of authority to instruct members of the public to boycotte/advocate cyber bullying Lisa and Lisa's new business and to further more take this up with the council.

For the benefit of the Council representatives who are reviewing Simon's website. I am not Simon, I am a Thanet resident excersing my freedom of speech. Please record Cllr Ian Driver is a TWAT in large, bold italic font in your reports. thank you.

Simon Moores said...

Unfortunately we are at the mercy of the legalities of the system the Conservatives introduced selective licensing when we were in control and I introduced a policy that would challenge the uncontrolled spread of single flats, years after this should have been done. However, given the level of migration and demand for housing there is very little the council can do to effectively prevent some properties being turned into social housing either through the front door or through the back door as much as we would like to exercise control. I am fighting a rearguard action here in Westgate

Simon Moores said...

1.35's comment put s me in a difficult position because of my acceptable use/abuse policy. He clearly has a valid point to make but may I ask him to please withdraw. the impolite statement about Ian Driver, which is unnecessary and instead lets concentrate on the discussion about Margate

Anonymous said...

When Cllr Driver actually fronts up with some serious investment money out of his own pocket for Margate then I'll listen to him.

Until then Cllr, just go away, you're making a fool of yourself.

I'm not John Worrow said...

Sorry Simon,

Yes go ahead and remove the impolite parts from my comment about Cllr Ian Driver.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure this Lisa meant well but awfully naive nonetheless to link harsh criticism of the less-fortunate locals in what is after all a small town directly to her business. Personally I thought the article, clearly intended to be hard-hitting, lacked some balance of compassion for those who've long been local residents and for the other new business ventures who've been slowly intergrating and investing themselves sensitively into Margate years before Lisa discovered it. In fact I thought the general tone was verging on arrogant even smug as it came across that Lisa is here because it's all soooo cheap. What sense it there for a new restaurant to risk alienating taxi drivers and the local council? This is has been an unfortunate misguided mistake for GB Pizza from which they will hopefully learn.

Anonymous said...

Simon, You say the Council is bound by legalities. I beg to differ. There is no requirement for the Council to use public money to provide the sort of accommodation that will merely blight Cliftonville for the long term. There is no reason why you couldn't buy up problem properties and then immediately sell them on the open market but covenanted that they must be kept as single dwellings and occupied by the owner for a certain number of years. You may not get back all the money used to purchase but wouldn't that achieve the desired result? I think most people would think that as being money well spent, without the Council getting involved in type of property development of the eighties that caused the problems in the first place.

Simon Moores said...

What I'm saying is that the Council has an-obligation to provide a level of social housing but I would agree that Cliftonville is a source of concern.

However it is the private landlords buying large houses and empty hotels which is the historical source of the problem. The blame for this lies with successive government and helpless local administrations overwhelmed by the tide of immigration that squeezed hundreds of thousands of vulnerable people out of London towards cheap accommodation in seaside towns with many well respected local businessman benefiting from the regular monthly income from the DHSS.

Anonymous said...

Simon,
I don't accept that the Council are helpless. You will have the result of the Selective Licensing JR shortly, but why did you allow that to be put at risk by trying to cover such a huge area. The three or four problem roads would have been so easy to justify and implement. That alone would have sent a loud wake up call to your "many well respected local businessmen", that enough is enough and to sort yourselves out. The gravy train is coming to a halt and you will not benefit from the vulnerable any longer. The Housing renewal money could have been the icing on the cake, but that is now being squandered on more poor quality housing. Not what we need.

Anonymous said...

The responses to this blog say it all. A pathetic piece of journalism by the BBC in reporting such a non-issue and giving air-time to a mis-guided councillor who's views do not reflect public opinion.

Simon Moores said...

Well.. On the first, we did what we did and in a large but well defined area because on officer's advice, we needed to be able to make a case and I think that was pretty well understood as to where and why an immediate intervention was required.

On the second point, you need to direct your argument to Labour\TIG as the allocation of funds and priorities is in there hands now and will likely remain so for the foreseeable future

I'm not John Worrow said...

@Anon 4.22pm.

ref "What sense it there for a new restaurant to risk alienating taxi drivers and the local council?"

So what sort of things would you define acceptable to upset a local taxi driver. Obviously if a taxi driver is racially offensive, by your definition it's fine and no one should upset the taxi driver.

What if a taxi driver is a murderer, rapist, paedaphile, is that ok to report or will that also upset the taxi driver?

I disagree with you, as some situations call for taxi drivers to be left with vulnerable adults and children. If there is any shadow of doubt about a taxi drivers ethics or other personal agenda's, he or she should never be in a situation of trusted responsability.

The last thing Thanet needs is for any potential new business's and visitors from different countries and racial backgrounds to be confronted by racial abuse from individuals. If Lisa has been experiencing it in the short time she has been down here in Thanet, then obviously the problem needs to be looked at.

John Holyer said...

Lisa Richards has invested in Margate, provided much needed employment and trade. Whereas Councillor Driver has ......?

I wish Lisa Richards well and so should Driver. Hot air will not fuel Margate's recovery. We need more Lisa Richards and fewer Councillor Drivers.

Anonymous said...

So Ian Driver is going to boycott Lisa's restaurant - that's a recommendation in my book! Lisa and her partner are friendly and produce a wonderful product....neither can be said for Mr Driver.

Anonymous said...

I like Lisa Richards, but I also like Ian driver.

I think both show a passion for the area that pretty much every other councillor lacks.

I suggest they settle their differences over a magherita with extra mushrooms as I think they are both fighting the same cause.

Down with party politics, up with independent operators in public and business!

Tom Clarke said...

Anon, 9:48, Ian Driver shows a passion for himself and self publication. He has damaged Margate by highlighting on regional TV the negatives of an otherwise balanced article.

Check out the man's local record. He lives in Broadstairs, represents a Ramsgate Ward yet will jump on his soap box for issues anywhere, even outside Thanet, if he sees a photo shoot, or more especially, TV interview slot opportunity.

Many of his recent years hot gospels have now fallen silent once there is no more publicity to be gained, but has he actually achieved anything. Most politicians, by nature of the beast, are self promoting, but this man has made an art form of it.

Anonymous said...

What this woman's article shows is the absolute visceral contempt that 'enlightened' liberal types have for those on low incomes. No wonder they turned their backs on the left long, long ago if that is their attitude to them.

Simon Moores said...

Readers may recall that Thanet is somewhat overpopulated with former members of Militant, - Cllr Driver - the SWP and others on the far left of the political fringe. The unpleasant mechandise celebrating - in advance - the death of Baroness Thatcher, was sourced from Thanet and let's not forget the Red Hall brigade in Broadstairs either.

Among this minority are those who celebrate and pursue their primitive notion of class war built on a vague and limited grasp of Marxism and who would rather see Margate collapse into some Dickensian slum to vindicate their political idealogy.

It's an aspect of Thanet which disturbs and distresses me because I see little hope for our children's future while adults still obsess over the miners strike or preoccupy themselves with revolutionary Marxism among a population that needs aspiration and regeneration not the discredited slogans of class warfare!

Anonymous said...

Simon, I don't know what marxism smells like, nor have I ever waged war on other classes - if I had, teacher would have told me off.

But I know a gang when I see one, and blue rosettes don't like red rosettes in the gang war taking place in thanet.

It's a shame the victims in this battle seem to be margate, broad stairs and Ramsgate, which have all suffered while the gangs fight each other and not for the people they are supposed to represent.

Simon Moores said...

I guess it revolves around what one stands for. Personal responsibility progress and aspiration or the language of class war and the cycle of disadvantage and resentment which causes many of the brightest and most ambitious to leave Thanet to find their opportunities elsewhere.

The little pizza biopic of Margate reveals how the lines are drawn and one only has to listen to Cllr Michelle Fenner in Cabinet last Thursday, placing our woes firmly at the feet of 'greedy international bankers' to see how woefully short of imagination our leaders can be at times.

1 o'clock Rob said...

Simon I would be interested to hear of anything that comes of Cllr Driver bringing "PizzaGate" to the attention of the larger Council.

To me it appears a clear cut case of "grandstanding" and "Soapbox-ing" if such words exist in the dictionary. I am not happy that in some official capacity he called for a boycott on a new business in Margate and wonder what he would do if you or someone from Broadstairs called for a boycott on a business in his ward.

If he doesn't take it to the Council then it would only prove further to me that he likes nothing more than getting his face on the TV and in the printed press.

With that I am leaving this sorry saga well alone and will be showing my feelings by arranging a beer and pizza at GB Pizza Co in the coming days!

James Maskell said...

Gotta hand it to him, Driver is certainly using his position to the max. At Cabinet a few days ago it was revealed there is to be an Overview call-in (not yet official) and yet another Task and Finish group, this time on the Kent Waste Management Strategy.

I'm not John Worrow said...

Oh Wow!

Just spotted the Tigger's Treats post in the bloglist entitled "I'm Not John Worrow".

Yay, I'm famous now LOL.

Anonymous said...

Why is the normally loud and involved in everything Cllr Iris Johnston SO silent about this issue in her ward?

She won't defend the Restaurant even though its in her ward. Why, because it means she has to slag off Ian Driver whose vote is keeping her and Labour in power and on a nice income in these hard times.

So if you live and work in Margate, don't get on the wrong side of Ian Drver, Jack Cohen or John Worrow because Iris can't and won't even say a word to help you.

Such principles Iris, and so very flexible!!

Come to think of it, the Mayor of Margate, Will Scobie's silence is pretty deafening too........So much for supporting Margate businesses!

He's probably keeping quiet until the County Elections are over and he gets another Taxpayer-funded position!

1 o'clock Rob said...

I emailed the producer last of Southeast Today last night and received a response today. Although I was not happy about the piece on the regional news programme it would appear that several people, includig Emin and Portas (of all people) were contacted but didn't comment. Lisa Richards was asked to do an interview but decided not to. I think that was a missed oportunity for Lisa, I think she could have turned things around. In general terms this appears to have died down on GB Pizza Co's Facebook page with very limited comments since Sunday. I'll be making my thoughts felt on th subject by continually getting people tp go and have a pizza! The views from the window (even with the portaloo) are some of the best skies to be seen in the UK.

Anonymous said...

DFL = Down From Leeds. Now where does Driver come from......?

Tim Clark said...

I've just read the "offending" article and I think it's a very fair, and extremely upbeat piece of writing. She clearly wants to make a go of her new venture and equally has started to fall in love with Margate. We really do need new money here and if the DFLs are going to bring it, then the more the merrier I say. Suspect that the writing was too literate for Cllr Driver; what's more he probably couldn't read it properly because the spelling and grammar were correct.