Coathangers at dawn! Mary Portas rocked by Margate walkout
Rows and resignations after 'Queen of Shops' turned up in seaside town with TV crew
Mary Portas was expected to bring Margate's high street a fresh start – but a series of resignations has left the seaside town's hopes in disarray.
Four of the key people behind Margate's successful attempt to persuade the "Queen of Shops" to help the town have resigned in disgust.
Robin Vaughan-Lyons, chairman of the Margate Town Team, is the latest member to walk out, following the vice-chairman, Roxanne Tesslar, the treasurer, Ian Darker-Larkings, and the secretary, Louise Oldfield.
The departures have come amid a series of accusations that Ms Portas's film crew was more interested in putting together a controversial documentary than in helping Margate.
Three months ago, the town was celebrating after being selected as one of 12 "Portas Pilot" towns which were to receive free advice from the retail guru and cash grants from the Government to revive the fortunes of their high streets. Margate is to get £100,000. But discontent began to surface when Ms Portas arrived with a Channel 4 TV crew and appeared to suggest that the television show was a pre-condition of getting the Government's money.
She said: "We either let the cameras in with me, or I go back on the train and some other town gets it." She later admitted she had made a mistake.
Mr Vaughan-Lyons said the attentions of the camera crew had fuelled a bitter power struggle and accused Ms Portas of having "completely blanked" the town's leaders while filming.
"I'm absolutely devastated, but I was left with absolutely no option," he told The Grocer magazine. "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 encouraged by the film crew to make personal attacks on us. The filming has led to all sorts of disgraceful activity. What's happened has left me completely disillusioned with the whole initiative."
Ms Oldfield said in her resignation statement: "I have been subjected to public bullying by individuals seeking to further their own personal interests rather than the aims of the bid."
Peter Cross, a spokesman for Mary Portas, said the loss of the Town Team was "a terrible shame for the individuals" but that it wouldn't stop Margate benefiting from the initiative that should help revitalise 27 high streets around the UK. "Margate deserves it," he said. "This Town Team has failed. It's not for us to get into the politics. There are going to be many more obstacles to come. Mary would say it's far better to try than to do nothing. Margate will succeed. It will succeed with a different Town Team."
Channel 4 insisted last night that whether businesses co-operate with the making of the television show would "in no way" affect the assistance they get from Portas in her retail tsar capacity.
- 1 Home Office says Nigerian asylum-seeker can’t be a lesbian as she’s got children
- 2 What happens to your body when you give up sugar?
- 3 Japanese island overrun with cats after population explodes
- 4 Apple and Google users being spied on for a decade because of 'Freak' security flaw
- 5 Have sex with your iPad thanks to the new sex toy no-one asked for
The City of the Monkey God: Archaeologists claim to have found city lost for 1,000 years in remote Honduran jungle
Japanese island overrun with cats after population explodes
Delhi bus rapist blames dead victim for attack because 'girls are responsible for rape'
Bubonic plague-carrying fleas found on New York City rats
London property boom built on dirty money
'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia
Durham Free School: 'Creationism taught at' free school facing closure
Nearly 100,000 of Britain's poorest children go hungry after parents' benefits are cut
Ukip would cut billions from Scottish budget to fund English tax cuts
End of the licence fee: BBC to back radical overhaul of how it is funded
Ukraine crisis: Top Chinese diplomat backs Putin and says West should 'abandon zero-sum mentality'
£16000 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Project Administrator is requ...
£30000 - £35379 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The company is based in Welwyn ...
£20000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...
£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Resource and Recruitment Manage...