Nick Harding tackles Thanet over King Kong

06/03/2013

Praesepe’s Nick Harding has attacked Thanet council as ‘bad for business’ following its refusal to allow an inflatable King Kong above his Margate amusement arcade.

Praesepe, owners of Funshine Amusements and Crown Bingo in Marine Terrace, invested more than £300,000 in the arcade and bingo hall but planners refused permission for a 15-foot blow-up ape to promote the venue.

Managing director Nick Harding said: “We came to look at the premises last year on a bank-holiday weekend and it was quiet as a grave.”I used to come to Dreamland as a boy and I couldn’t believe the state of the seafront but we overlooked all of that and invested in the potential of the area.

“We have brought a large part of the area back to life and believe what we are doing will complement the leisure offering at Dreamland.”

The firm, which now employs 40 staff, shelved plans to convert the upper floors of the venue following the council’s snub. Commercial director Byron Evans said: “The gorilla was a temporary installation and deflated every evening.

” It’s a bit of harmless fun and that’s what the British seaside should be about.” Hundreds of fans of King Kong, dubbed Marvin the Margate Monkey, joined a Facebook campaign to oppose the council’s decision.

But Thanet council rejected the company’s claims and said that it does all it can to encourage new investors. A spokesman said: “The council is particularly keen to support local businesses and, in this case, full consideration was given to the merits of the application for the gorilla sign at the premises.

“The advertisement attracted much public interest and it was necessary for the council, in making its decision, to balance consideration of the benefits to the business of the proposed signage against the wider visual impacts of the gorilla sign on the character and appearance of the Margate Seafront Conservation Area.

“The conclusion we drew was that the signage would be out of keeping and harmful to the conservation area.”

Another seafront trader said: “I am not a fan. It will be interesting if they get it on appeal. “If it does, then it sets a precedent for the rest of us. If they allow one inflatable, then they have to allow them all and the seafront will look like a zoo. It will make the place look cheap and tacky.”

The company has had promotional chocolates made featuring Marvin and taken out sponsorship with Margate FC. It is launching a campaign to save Marvin as a mascot at a cup tie next month to raise awareness of their battle.

A decision will be made next month by the Planning Inspectorate but bosses vow that King Kong will live on whatever the outcome.

 

 

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