Questions over future of Fort Hill shelter as temporary boarding remains in place three years after installation

The Fort Hill shelter Photo Carl Hudson

Three years ago today (August 22) the Fort Hill shelter in Margate was boarded up by Thanet council as a temporary measure due to safety issues.

Today, that temporary measure is still in place and plans for its future are not clear.

Residents in the town are now questioning whether the boarding will ever come down.

According to a Freedom of Information response, some £16,000 has been spent on work including boarding it up and recently adorning the structure with More to Explore TDC campaign graphics. Residents say that money could be used for refurbishment similar to the work carried out by The Friends of Birchington Shelters group who restored all nine of the village’s seafront shelters. The Friends, who first took on the refurbishment in 2017, raised funds for the work which was mostly carried out by volunteers.

In Ramsgate seafront shelters have been repaired and maintained by volunteers and The Ramsgate Society, which initially raised £540,000 for work on 14 structures. In Broadstairs painting work, which included shelters around Victoria Gardens, was carried out by people on the community payback scheme.

The Fort Hill shelter when it was first boarded up Photo Seb Reilly

The Fort Hill shelter was initially closed off to the public with Thanet council saying: ““Fort Hill Shelter has been temporarily boarded up in the interests of public safety. On 22 August 2019, the council’s Building Control team deemed it a dangerous structure and served a Section 78 Building Act notice to immediately make it safe. The danger has now been removed in accordance with these requirements and the Shelter is now deemed safe.”

How it looked before Photo Labour for Margate Central

The plan was for members of the Margate Now group to display artwork on the boarding in the run up to the Turner Prize coming to Margate. Thanet council said following that: “an independent assessment will take place to inform future options and ensure due process is followed.”

Edgar Road resident David Orford said: “It’s a disgrace that for not much more than £16,000 the community in Birchington completely rebuilt each of their shelters and yet in Margate the money has been spent on keeping us locked out.”

Fellow local resident Moon Ferguson agreed: “It’s completed unjustified how they have treated it and makes no financial sense.”

In 2019 Photo Jools Moore

A suggestion has been made that some of the £22m Town Deal money could be used to bring the shelter back to life but Thanet council says it is not an appropriate project for the scheme.

Peter Blem is a former member of the Margate Town Deal People’s Panel who was dismissed in a squabble about his questioning the allocation of the deal’s funding.  He said: “The Town Deal almost entirely ignores our legacy assets. Unless there is a serious change of direction, expect none of the £22 million to reach any of our neglected heritage that needs it.”

Photo Carl Hudson

Thanet council says there are no plans to sell the shelter and the authority is open to working with the community “once suitable plans are approved.”

A council spokesperson said: “The Fort Hill Shelter was found to be in urgent need of repair in August 2019, due to damage to the pillars supporting the shelter’s concrete roof. Immediate action was taken to secure the site, and the structure was boarded up to ensure the safety of members of the public.

“There are no plans to sell the shelter. The council will be working on a plan to determine the most appropriate future for the building. The Shelter is not an appropriate project for Margate Town Deal funding.

Photo Carl Hudson

“We welcome support from community volunteer groups on refurbishment programmes, once suitable plans are approved and the correct permissions and insurances are in place.”

On other parts of the coastline work has taken place to replace the roofs of shelters in Westbrook and Foreness Point and TDC says it is “actively seeking funding to continue a programme of maintenance work.”

Additional reporting by David Orford


  1. More Lies
    More Incompetence
    More Negligence

    The shelter is not an appropriate project for the Margate Town Deal funding but giving £4,000,000 to Dreamland, a private company, is more appropriate?

    • Well yes, but when the Dreamland CEO sits on that board what does anybody expect? Why is the ridiculous BLM group, running vanity project non-white, hair lectures that she moved into Dreamland, that wants to divide people by race, getting money over this?

      • Steve, why don’t you just say “I’m a bit of a daft racist”, and get it over and done with? I mean, tell us you don’t get BLM without telling us…

  2. What exactly do TDC spend our money on (things that benefit the community that is)…….. answers on a postage stamp please!

  3. This is a not dissimilar story to the Clock Tower toilets.

    Money has been spent year after year on boarding up the shelter and then more money spent on applying advertising slogans promoting Margate. (Why advertise Margate to people who are already in Margate ?). All that money could have been spent on refurbishing the shelter in the first instance – rather than wasting it and allowing the shelter to further deteriorate behind the hoarding.

    The same principle applies to the toilets. TDC is now spending money year after year on hiring portable toilets (and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future) rather than spending the money to refurb the existing toilets.

    It seems that the lunatics are running the asylum . . .

  4. Apart from emptying household refuse and cleaning the beaches from april to September,what to TDC actually spend the money ,can someone from said council please explain ,because I am baffled,everything is closing down

    • I have defend TDC in a small way. They have spent £327,000 on Madeline Homers leaving present, and I think I am right in saying that Gavin Waite is still on full pay. While he is suspended .At the end of this suspension, he will need a leaving present to go with a NDA. Also we are paying for a part time CEO who has retired from CCC. So not all the money is being wasted.

  5. Totally agree the underground toilets have been closed to long I think it was a cost cutting exercise only thing when labour were in charge nothing was done about the shelter and the toilets I have been pushing past and present administrations to deal with the shelter on marine drive to get repairs done the answer from council officials it keeps getting vandalised the pay back scheme could sort it out.Its coming up for council elections next year the opposition parties will start saying about things they could have dealt with.

    • You’d be looking at at least 500k to bring the underground toilets back into use , considerably more if there are serious structural issues.
      The shelter, probably 5k plus just to have it surveyed properly and a schedule of works drawn up, another few K to put it out to tender to find a contractor and probably a figure of 150k ish to sort it out properly. Only to have it covered in graffiti within a month of it being reopened. The cost of compliance to be on a council tendering list makes works absurdly expensive and means you need to use large companies with the attendant overheads, though they’ll often use subcontractors for the works. You’ve only to look at how TDC run their housing stock to see the huge amounts wasted. Largely to ensure that all the t’s are crossed and i’s dotted so that the council can say “not my fault guv”.

  6. This isn’t ’good but nothing like as serious as the now closed and ‘temporarily’’!!! boarded up Winter Gardens. How long is temporary? The winter Gardens is now set to deteriorate further during the winter months because it needs new boilers and leaks repaired. The building should have at least been made waterproof before being boarded in. Everyone knows that if a building is boarded up mould builds up at an alarming rate and destroys plaster very quickly. This action will mean that the Winter Gardens will deteriorate until it is beyond repair or, at the very least, cost more and more to restore as each day passes.

  7. I’ve sat there admiring the view over Margate many times in the past. Hope the seats can be repaired.

  8. Why are there no voluntary groups in Margate to repair the shelters, when there are groups in both Birchington and Ramsgate? Are they all too lazy and/or disorganised to do something?

    • I would imagine it is deemed too structurally unsafe for untrained & uninsured members of the public to do & that then runs into liability issues if anybody is injured or dies doing so.

      • Some of the Birchington/Minnis shelters have been completely rebuilt by a “proper” construction firm (and then painted by volunteers)… thanks to local fundraising efforts. I’ve been to a couple of fundraising quizzes myself, though I’m sure there have been other things.

    • Those voluntary groups, that don’t realise there’s a metric f*cktonne of lead based paint underneath the layers of said council shelters, remove said paint without PPE, and when removed is toxifying the locale for dogwalkers, birds etc al?

  9. This is standard practice for TDC – neglect, condemn, knock down. In the meantime, continue to provide pay rises for management and contemplate naval.
    Not fit for purpose from top to botom – has the new acting chief executive got the message yet?
    Maybe Kathy could do a ‘First Fifty Days’ interview to find out what he/she has been doing and what they plan to achieve?

  10. The obvious solution is to get the Turner Contemporary franchise to expand into a Winter Gardens refurbished and repurposed to gallery/performance space.

  11. The trick was to get yourself on the Margate Town Deal board then the money for your organisation started rolling in.

    • Isn’t it funny that for the last decade or so the trick has been for minority interest lobbies/vanity projects, that never make any money of have any hope of doing so, but tick all the right politically correct boxes that Arts Councils, Local & County Councils, far left media etc love & promote, to become friends with those on the board or get on it & divert all the money to themselves/each other year after year.

      While letting the rest of the area that was supposed/promised to be rejuvenated by the Turder Centre rot into oblivion?

      • Let the rest of the area rot into oblivion? Bruv, if you truly think that, you have been walking around the old town and high street with your eyes closed, yes?

  12. I do wish people wouldn’t call the Turner Centre by a childishly crude name. I don’t like football, or much contemporary music, but I hardly ever say anything about them to anyone. And there is quite a lot of contemporary art I’m not interested in.

    Nobody is being forced to visit a gallery, just as nobody is making me go to a football match . Why is modern visual art so different?

  13. There is so much tdc could do better, where have they bin spending our money. Maybe i should not ask

    Maybe they are being prudent and allocating 100% 0f our cash to their forth coming commercial energy bills. They use-we pay.

    The volunteers that maintain local sites do an absolutely great job, well done guys.

  14. Cnllr Yates suggests that if locals want this shelter refurbed then the way to do it is vote for a town council. I think TDC and it’s councillors need to listen to its residents
    and identify resources and mechanisms to refurbish this shelter.
    Margate does not need another tier of bureaucracy and more financial resources going into further administration and additional councillors expenses through a town council.
    It is a local disgrace that our councillors have allowed such a significant amount of money to be used from budgets to effectively mothball this public asset using some dubious health and safety rationale for so long.
    Let’s hope the new temporary lead officer will say enough is enough and resolve this issue as matter of urgency .
    Residents of Margate are tired of the corrupt and dishonest practices permeating council business .
    Yes take a look at birchington, Ramsgate and Deal their shelters are In a far better state or repair than Margate’s shelters. Why is that ?

    Cllr Yates please explain what the labour group have been doing over the past number of years to safeguard this community asset .

    • I don’t know about Deal, but the reason the shelters are in a better state in Birchington and Ramsgate is thanks to the hard work of local volunteers. My guess is that the “arty” Margate doesn’t have the type of community willing to do something similar (they’d rather just slap posters over it).

  15. Why don’t the demolition people knock all of Margate seafront down, make it a huge car park then charge to park, What a wonderful amount to appear in the council coffers to be wasted on goodbye presents for councillors

  16. Bottom line drawer this council well actually margate ain’t one. Nor is about 5 others all sit under charter trustees.. Another story.
    How can you give money to Margate when margate isn’t a council period.

    Thanet District Council is all those with council…

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