Peppa Pig worth every penny, says Dartford council leader Jeremy Kite accused of wasting Portas Pilot money
Peppa Pig in Dartford
by Lizzie Massey
Dartford council leader Jeremy Kite
has hit back at critics who claim the council is squandering Portas
Twelve towns were selected to be
Portas Pilots – backed by marketing guru Mary Portas (pictured
right) – and each received a payout to spend on improving the
area. So far, Dartford council has spent £17,251 of its
Just 12% of the £1.2million awarded to
councils across the UK last May has been spent.
Dartford council was criticised in a
national newspaper by retail expert Paul Turner-Mitchell for
spending £1,610 on hiring a Peppa Pig costume.
Cllr Kite (Con) said: "I think the way
in which our spending was presented was particularly grotesque. We
did spend that money on the Peppa Pig costume, but nobody asked me
about the benefits we got from it, financially and in boosting
morale in the town.
"We launched the Sunday trading scheme
for more shops to open on a Sunday – or open for longer hours – and
traders approached us asking for something which would draw people
to the town.
"We got Peppa Pig down and it was
packed; people spent far more in local businesses than we spent on
"The fact that we haven't wasted all
the money immediately is a good thing. We wanted the time to choose
the best things for the money - it’s not about the figures we
spend, it’s the results we get from them.
"£80,000 doesn't go as far for an
entire town as you might think so we want to use it on things which
will make the most difference to local people, businesses and projects, but at the same time
raising the profile of the town and giving people in the area
things they can enjoy.
"It's very negative and grinch-like
for people who don't know the facts to come out with these comments
and it's important to remember that we do have many other projects
in the pipeline as well.
"We're working with technology company
NCR to provide free wifi and information screens around the town
and if you go to The Orchard shopping centre you will see the
community centre we set up, which is regularly busy with various
groups of people coming together."
The figures were released to Mr
Turner-Mitchell under the The Freedom Of Information Act.