New Margate mayor elected – and Freeman honour announced for artist Tracey Emin

New Mayor Heather Keen, Tracey Emin and outgoing Mayor Mick Tomlinson Photo Frank Leppard

A new Margate mayor, mayoress and deputy mayor were elected at the Margate Charter Trustees annual meeting last night (May 16) – and a special announcement was made.

Cllr Heather Keen was elected Mayor, Caroline Friday as Mayoress, and Cllr Rob Yates as Deputy Mayor. The meeting was attended by residents and representatives of groups and businesses across Margate.

Mayor Heather Keen and deputy Rob Yates

Thanks were given to outgoing Mayor Mick Tomlinson and Lady Mayoress Shirley Tomlinson, who shared the news that Tracey Emin will be made a Freeman of Margate later in the year, in recognition of all she has done for the town.

Photo Frank Leppard

Mayor Heather Keen set out her vision for her term, which is to be firmly based in the community, covering all the seven wards of Margate. As well as being an ambassador for Margate at various events she will hold fundraising activities so that the Mayor’s Fund can continue to give grants to local charities and groups and asked that people support these events, knowing that money raised goes straight back to the community.

Outgoing mayor and mayoress Mick and Shirley Tomlinson with Tracey Emin Photo Frank Leppard

On the news of the Freeman status for Tracey Emin Cllr Tomlinson said: “I have had the great privilege of honouring Tracey Emin with a Freeman of Margate award. It was something that came up in conversation with my wife in the winter months and I’m glad to say everyone agreed.

“She has invested in Margate, putting a lot of money into our town and we should be proud of that.

“It was an announcement at my finale (Cllr Tomlinson says he will not return to the role of mayor in the future) and I was not aware at the time but Tracey was in the audience.”

Photo Frank Leppard

A date is now being arranged to hold a formal ceremony to bestow the honour on the artist with the venue likely to be Tracey’s gallery at the former Thanet Press building.

Tracey has bought the former Victorian baths and former morgue in Dane Road/Victoria Road, Margate, with plans to create artists’ studios, an Emin museum and hopes for a sculpture park, artist residencies and a life drawing club. There are also understood to be separate plans for a training school, possibly in the catering/hospitality trade. The 58-year-old artist has also bought The Brown Jug pub in Broadstairs.

The artist also previously pledged £100,000 towards a proposed skate park in Cliftonville and has donated artworks for fundraisers, including for The Margate School.

An exhibition by Tracey is currently on show at the town’s Carl Freedman Gallery.

A Journey To Death features new prints, large-scale monotypes and bronze sculptures and is on show until June 19.

Entry is free. The Gallery in Union Crescent is open Wednesdays – Sundays from 12-6pm

Please see visiting information for Carl Freedman Gallery before you visit.


  1. Emin was born in Croydon,only lived here for a few years.Their are more worthy people in Margate than her.

  2. With the change of guard, perhaps the community will finally get the facts that it needs to make an informed choice about MTC. Last year I submitted questions which the previous mayor and clerk refused to answer so I shall try again here. All of the Charter Trustees are first and foremost our councillors, that we elected to manage and hold to account TDC. There are 56 councillors and they are responsible for how £112m gets spent in 21/22. That’s effectively £2m each.
    On the MTC website they are offering us 34 functions that it could by negotiation take from TDC, and for which it would ask us to pay, as we can be sure TDC will not refund or charge us any less for services moved to MTC.
    The 17 Trustees propose to increase the precept Margate residents have to pay from £9.18 to £23.40, so that MTC has a first year budget of £300K, making each trustee effectively responsible for £17K each.
    My first question is, what is it that our elected councillors will be able to do with responsibility for £17,647 that they can’t already do with £2,000,000 each?
    Second question is, who would ever want to go through all the hassle of campaigning to get elected to be able to control such a tiny budget?
    Our TDC councillors are in the best possible position to know which of those 34 functions are left with TDC and which would be done better outside TDC (if we pay twice for that function), so why do they not tell us, and also tell us how much each function would cost us, so that we are properly informed before we choose to pay?
    The absence of such detail and the hard-sell of wishful thinking must stop.

    • Heather Keen will continue her and her fellow councillors campaign to form a Margate Town Council. This is not being non political.

  3. Mayor of Margate vote, my invite to vote as a resident must be lost in the post. Stitch up.

  4. A Mayor is A-Political, and must remain so throughout their year of Office. Our new Lady Mayor gave a short speech declaring she would do her best for Margate, as per usual.
    On the o9ther hand, Cllr Rob Yates (Deputy Mayor) broke the protocol of this solemn ceremony, by making not only a lengthier speech than his Mayor, but also asked for questions from the Public Gallery. Which, rather embarrassingly, ruined the entire Ceremony. I saw many of the captured audience cringing in their seats, sadly.

  5. Full of his own self importance.
    How he was elected as the Deputy Mayor, beggars belief!

  6. The Deputy Mayor’s long speech and question and answer session was quite disrespectful to the new Mayor.

  7. Congratulations to Cllr Heather Keen on her election to the role of Mayor. I am confident that she will do her best to serve the town in the role.
    I note that Birchington, Westgate, Broadstairs and Ramsgate all have their own elected town councils, that serve their towns well, it is to Heather’s credit that she has championed the cause of Margate too having the benefit of a town council. I was one of a group of local people who recognise the benefit it may bring to the town, having witnessed some of the improvements enjoyed in some of our neighbouring towns.

  8. Margate will never be arty.. Arty farty yes, an eyesore on seafront,art art art.. Its repetitive like Margate has Autism.
    Where are the spaces for different equalities. Autism, Dementia, and nothing else here to serve but crap art Look at the sea front tell me what’s good
    Dog poo art
    Sewage art
    Margate has been left to degenerate for over 40 years.
    Charter trustees take the towns precept which is wrong.

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