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Margate's Dreamland and Turner Contemporary regeneration praised in House of Lords report on seaside towns

By Matt Leclere

The work to regenerate Margate has been highlighted in a new parliamentary report published today.

Dreamland and the Turner Contemporary were picked out as successful examples of regenerating seaside towns and tackling the challenges facing coastal areas in the UK.

The House of Lords select committee for regenerating seaside towns released its findings after visiting Thanet in October on a tour around several seaside locations.

The Turner Contemporary, which is hosting the 2019 Turner Prize nominations, is singled out in the report
The Turner Contemporary, which is hosting the 2019 Turner Prize nominations, is singled out in the report

But while welcoming the praise in the Lords' report, Dreamland's boss says the work must continue to make sure coastal communities attract visitors throughout the year and not just in the summer months.

Eddie Kemsley, the chief executive of Dreamland, says Margate is a benchmark for other seaside towns for how to combine arts and leisure to boost their economies, adding: "We are extremely proud to be part of the story.

"We welcome this report and the acknowledgement of Dreamland Margate’s impact on the district’s growth and success.

"There is still work to be done and there is a lot of pressure facing local authorities.

Margate is praised as an example of how to regenerate coastal towns
Margate is praised as an example of how to regenerate coastal towns

"The onus is on private sector partners like us to forge partnerships and work with the public sector, local businesses and the education sector to ensure our town has a year-round offer for both visitors and residents."

The report was led by Lord Bassam, the chairman of the select committee, which made a series of recommendations to the government.

They include improving digital connections with high speed broadband, uniting businesses and higher education, a package to improve housing and increase pressure on landlords to offer better quality accommodation and increasing transport links.

Madeline Homer, chief executive of Thanet District Council says she is encouraged that recommendations in the report include suggestions made by the authority during the committee's visit to the district.

"Several of the recommendations in the report mirror the work we are all already doing to transform and regenerate our seaside towns," she said.

"We hope that the report will bring some of the challenges we face to the forefront of policy interventions and initiate much needed funding to help us realise our ambitions for Thanet’s seaside communities."

Dreamland says it has just taken on 200 seasonal staff for the new season, which opens on Saturday, and the park is looking at new ways to bring in visitors throughout the year.

Ms Kemsley added Margate needs to "regenerate not gentrify" and include post-school education in new initiatives to make sure younger generations are involved in the town's future.

Dreamland opens on Saturday for the summer season but the venue's boss says the park needs to work harder to attract visitors all year round
Dreamland opens on Saturday for the summer season but the venue's boss says the park needs to work harder to attract visitors all year round

But it comes as tourism services in Thanet come under threat with council funding cuts putting jobs at risk and uncertainty of the long term future of the visitor information centre at Droit House in Margate.

Campaigners launched a petition this week to lobby Thanet District Council to rethink its funding to support tourism in the area.

Figures published earlier in the year showed tourism is worth nearly £320 million to Thanet's economy and grew by 9.2% since 2015 with an extra 4.2 million visitors in 2017.

Read more: All the latest news from Thanet

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