Friday, 9 November 2012

DFL-ephant in the Room

Lisa Richards, owner of local restaurant Great British Pizza, has stirred up a hornet’s nest by writing an article about the regeneration of Margate. Described as a 'love letter to Margate', the article appears to perpetuate some negative and rather patronising stereotypes about local people – something which, let's be honest, I'm sure we've all been guilty of at some point – and the resulting public backlash has gone viral.

I feel very bad for Lisa. Even though she’s apologised, she’s rapidly become a victim of cyber bullying and I don’t think she deserves such vitriol. I once emailed her asking for an interview about how her use of social media had helped promote her business and she was kind enough to respond. Regrettably, with this incident, it seems like her Midas touch has backfired somewhat!

However, Lisa’s article does confirm what some locals have feared about DFLs for years - that they regard local people as 'lowlifes' and that before rich Londoners came to save the day our town was a 'no-go area, full of drunks waiting for their benefit cheques to clear.' There's a word for that, and it's 'snobbery', sadly. I doubt whether Lisa meant it to come across like that, but it does make Margate seem like it's nothing more than a slum tourist destination for the 'well-heeled'.

However, I do hope Lisa's business survives this media furore. Great British Pizza is an asset to the town, so let's hope that the phrase 'no publicity is bad publicity' holds true! I am yet to visit Lisa's restaurant and this incident certainly won’t put me off doing so. However, I’ll probably avoid asking for a can of Stella at the bar!

Image © John Mallon via Flickr and licensed for reuse. The inclusion of this image is not an endorsement of this post.