The Insider - Business Bulletins

Your Business Bulletin from Thanet & East Kent Chamber

Thanet & East Kent Insider

 

16th April 2011      Issue No.: 152

 

1. The Big Story

There has been one major story in Thanet in the past week. It concerns business and art. There has been quiet from those who sit back and complain about the representatives they have elected, who moan about the environment in which they live and who always ask what Thanet can do for them and not what they can do for Thanet. There has been a huge noise from those who believe in our democratic system, who cherish the community where they reside and who are prepared to support the future of East Kent. The story is of course the opening of the Turner Contemporary. For the Chamber’s view, click on http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/p00fxwlh/Breakfast_with_John_Warnett_and_Clare_McDonnell_15_04_2011/ and fast forward to   0:48:20; available until next Friday. Our good friends at BBC Radio Kent put together a superb programme that proves again how blessed we are to have BBC Radio Kent, Academy FM and KMFM all covering local issues on our airwaves. Clare McDonnell and John Warnett, assisted by that consummate professional and ex-Radio Caroline star, Graham Cook, put together a superb broadcast live from the new gallery. As you will hear from the recording, they did not shirk the difficult questions but they did not miss the glory and the joy at the opening of this world class gallery on Margate‘s seafront.

 

2. What’s So Special About Turner?

As a Chamber of Commerce, we celebrate the economic impact of a £17.5 million investment in the future of Margate, but we must not forget the artist whose name the gallery bears. Anyone with the middle name Mallord deserves respect, but Joseph Mallord William Turner is one of Margate’s own who lived spent his youth in Margate. His house stood on the site of the new gallery. Arguably, he remains Britain’s best loved painter as evidenced by his Fighting Temeraire winning the title of ‘the greatest painting in Britain’ in a survey by the BBC in 2005. To give a measure of the competition, Constable’s Hay Wain came second and Manet’s A Bar at the Folies-Bergère was third. If any name can bring the punters in, it must be that of Turner.

 

3. Curtain Raiser

If there were doubts before the Turner Contemporary was built, there were no doubts during the evening curtain raiser last Wednesday evening when an invited audience was treated to a preview of the building and its paintings. The formal speeches provided a neat framework to the unbridled joy of the VIP audience which included self-confessed Kent immigrant Dr David Starkey, who was in fine form, and familiar faces in the business world such as Lord Howard and Rod Douglas, Chairman of the soon to be defunct Seeda. Amanda Cottrell, the much praised Chairman of Visit Kent, could hardly contain her enthusiasm for this prime addition to the tourism offer. In a speech to the assembled great and good, Pam Alexander, Seeda Chief Executive, echoed the thoughts of many in emphasising the role of the gallery as the ‘jewel in the crown’ of East Kent which will ‘shine like a beacon’ to attract visitors. Introducing the speakers was Chairman of the Turner Contemporary, John Kampfner, who must have been delighted with the success of the building programme and the words of praise from Cllr Paul Carter, Leader of Kent County Council and Cllr Mike Hill also of KCC who has administered constant medical care to the gallery from its embryonic state and near still-birth to its present healthy arrival as a bouncing regeneration baby. Cllr Bob Bayford, Leader of Thanet District Council, paid tribute to his predecessor, Cllr Sandy Ezekiel, and explained that the money for the gallery was available only for arts regeneration and would not have been available for any other pet project. Also enjoying the evening was Cllr Clive Hart, Leader of the opposition at Thanet District Council, who was immaculately dressed and accompanied by his elegant wife, the relatively newly elected Councillor Sandra Hart. Political discussions were off limits for the evening as all those with Thanet’s best interest at heart were thoroughly enjoying the occasion and keen to see the whole of the East Kent coastal business community make the most of the commercial opportunities the gallery will bring.

 

4. The Turner Gallery Opening

The countdown to the formal opening of the Turner Contemporary earlier today was voiced by Jools Holland with the delightful participation of the students from Tracy Emin’s former school, Trinity & St John’sCEPSchool, who will doubtlessly remember the day for the rest of their lives. Known by many as the presenter of television’s ‘Later with Jools Holland’, this former pianist of The Squeeze may not always be at his best for morning engagements at the weekends, but he is now the UK’s most celebrated jazz pianist with a worldwide reputation for excellence in popular music. In his capacity as a Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Kent, Jools Holland said: “I can genuinely say that Her Majesty the Queen wishes you the best and the best for this museum of Kent”. Nobody seemed to mind too much that Jools had rechristened the gallery as a museum. Tracy Emin rose to the occasion in fine style and said: “This really is a tremendous, fantastic, important day, not just for Margate but internationally and for the world’. Her poise and measured delivery suggest that she might have a future in public life beyond her sometimes controversial art exhibits. Smiling broadly in the morning sunshine, the audience certainly responded warmly to her words. When she added: “Margate is going to be one of the truly fantastic places to have a day out, to have some fish and chips, have some sea food, to see some art. It’s just going to be brilliant”, she voiced the feelings of the vast majority of the huge crowd gathered in front of the gallery. John Kampfner and Victoria Pomeroy must have been thrilled with the reaction to the opening of the Turner Contemporary.  The Thanet & East Kent Chamber wishes this Chamber member every success. We leave the last words on the subject to Tracy Emin who, like JMW Turner, is one of Margate’s own: “Art is going to be the best and the strongest thing that is ever going to happen to this town”.

 

5. Think Global, Act Local

The title of this item is a much used phrase that has its origins before WWI. At this Chamber of Commerce, we want it to mean that public bodies think about spending their money on suppliers in East Kent before they look elsewhere. Our long-running campaign has had some successes of which the most gratifying is the magnificent response of ThanetCollege. Under Principal Graham Razey and enterprising senior staff, notably Anne Leese, Karen Evans and Karen Pilgrim, ThanetCollege is continuing to redirect an increasing percentage of its spending on non-pay related services towards Chamber members and local companies. From a 2009/10 base of 22% of budget, at the end of the three-month period to 31 October 2010, this had risen to 34%. We are delighted to report to Chamber members that this has now risen still further to 38% for the last reported quarter. In the first six months of the financial year, the total spend on local suppliers reached a figure of £436,000. This is a superb performance that shows that a predominantly publicly-funded body can understand the needs of its local business community and respond in the best possible way, by becoming a large spending customer. We understand that service levels to ThanetCollege students and trainees have not suffered in any way. The developing warm relations with local business were a key factor in establishing ThanetCollege’s new Business Solutions training centre at Manston. We have the permission of ThanetCollege to quote the percentage increases in the local spend in the different departments. The following figures refer to the percentage of budget at the end of January 2011 followed by the previous figure for the period ending on  31 July 2010;  Capital 31%/21%; Catering 59%/59%; Equipment and Consumables 13%/15%; Marketing 94%/61%; Professional Fees 38%/19%; Repairs & Maintenance 67%/56%. The Thanet & East Kent Chamber is continuing its campaign with other public bodies in the area and will report to members on our progress.

 

5. Five Hundred Pounds Is Waiting For You

We are grateful to Martyn Young, business partner at Atlantic Business Resources, tel: 07813 537456, for news of a £500 pound energy grant available for energy reduction measures. A company in East Kent with fewer than 250 employees is eligible to apply if the annual turnover is below 50 million Euros and no larger firm has more than a 25% controlling interest. Electricians, electrical contractors, heating engineers and any Small or Medium Enterprise specialising in energy saving installations will also find the grants to be of interest. At the time or writing, there are 109 grants remaining. If you would like more information, Chamber members are invited to email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with the subject line “Energy Grant April 2011’.

 

6. More About Energy

On the subject of energy savings and the benefits of a low carbon economy, we are grateful to Roger Gabriel, of Kent County Council, also Skills Manager at the Kent Economic Board, for news of an event at East Malling Conference Centre on Monday 23rd May 2011 entitled “Low Carbon and Energy Production”. Paul Carter, Leader of Kent County Council, will begin the session at 1500 hrs followed by three short presentations from ‘respected experts in their fields’. We are informed that there will be time for delegates to express their views on what the Local Enterprise Partnership should be doing to support local businesses. Capt Steve Gobbi, Group Marine Director at Peel Ports, will be acting as business champion for the meeting. For more information or to book your place, email Sylvana at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or telephone 01622 221940. The meeting is expected to finish at 1800 hrs.

 

7. Pfizer Update

Pfizer is holding a Job Fair Open Day on Wednesday 18th May 2011 from 1030 hrs to 1500 hrs. DBM Consulting has engaged the company ‘to assist departing employees at its Sandwich location in securing new employment opportunities outside the organisation.’ Employers looking for staff can expect to find a wide range of trained professionals available in scientific disciplines as well as in more general areas such as Procurement, Finance, Human Resources, IT, Legal & Patents and Global Operations. Coordinating the day are Barbara Beacon, email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., and Mike Molloy, email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 

8. Yet More About Pfizer

Job Centre Plus’s Rapid Response Team is now located on the Sandwich site and is accessible to all Pfizer staff. An initial awareness session is scheduled for 20th April 2011 ‘at various locations on the Sandwich site’. More information on the service can be obtained from your local Job Centre office.

 

9. A Charity Too Far

One Chamber member has contacted us with news of an interesting sidelight on collecting for charity. We have our doubts about this story, but we leave it to readers to judge for themselves. “I lived in Paris in the early seventies. It was a great time in France after the ’68 reforms; young people were still in their element and many of them were living the high life in more ways than one. I was studying at home in my flat one afternoon when the doorbell rang. When I opened it, there was a young couple there with some sort of official badge on their lapels. I asked them what they wanted and they said that they were collecting money “for the widow of the Unknown Soldier”. That seemed like a worthy cause and I duly gave them ten francs. Remember this was before the Euro arrived and you could get an excellent bottle of wine for 10 francs in those days. SWIFT Codes for all Banks in Australia I returned to my books feeling very pleased with my generosity and then I started thinking. ‘Just a minute, the Unknown Soldier was buried in the Arc De Triomphe around 1920. Surely, his widow could not still be alive and if she was, wouldn’t the French state be looking after her?’ Then it struck me good and hard. How on earth can you collect money for the widow of an unknown solider? If he is unknown, the widow must be unknown too.  Realising I had been fooled like a complete idiot, I determined to put it down to experience and promised myself never to be fooled like this again. It was some five years later that I read that this particular couple had been arrested. In the meantime, they had accumulated a considerable fortune. Either the victims had not realised that they were being conned or perhaps they were too embarrassed at their own gullibility to admit it publicly. This Chamber member learned his lesson well and is happy to pass on his experience to others. If a couple with French accents knocks on your door asking for money for the family of the Unknown Soldier, please direct them to the Thanet & East Kent Chamber. We have reserved some special words in French with which to welcome them to Thanet.

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