Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Making an Easy £5 Million

In the words of a great comedian “I wanna tell you a story”
It is the story of sharp practices, secret meetings, misinformation, and keeping Councillors in the dark. No this isn’t Thanet but Peterborough where Shaun Patrick Keegan got involved in buying a football club.
Briefly Peter Boizot, the founder of Pizza Express, decided he needed a knight in shining armour to come and rescue Peterborough United Football Club.
Barry Fry, manager of the club, recommended his mate Colin Hill (Shaun Keegan’s son-in-law) to Peter. Colin being a self made millionaire property dealer and owner of Wetmore Foundation, registered in Lichtenstein, was obviously the right man for the job. In Barry Fry’s own words “Colin Hill is a SHREWD businessman with no interest in football”.
Big mistake!!!
Was it because there was plenty of land to build houses? I doubt it but it might have been the original intention however Wetmore’s (Colin Hill) solicitor would have pointed out the Restrictive Covenant 1 (see below) at the time of purchase.
Could it be they wanted to hold the Council to ransom? Maybe because there was a further Restrictive Covenant 2 which should have allowed the council a six month window in which to buy the football club and land attached to it.
Wetmore (Colin Hill) bought the club on the 29th April 2003 (start of six month window) and transferred the land to a holding company in November 2003. During this six months there was a private meeting with the Council Leader (10th October) and 4 days later the offer to buy was declined by the Council (leader). There were NO public consultations nor were there any discussions in Council. The transfer to the holding company took place in November 2003. Shaun Keegan resigned his directorship of the football club and became a director of the holding company at the same time.
Eventually Peterborough Council, on the 29th June 2010, come to their senses and bought back the land from Shaun Keegan for the sum of £8M netting Colin Hill and Shaun Keegan at least £5M profit for sitting on the land and doing nothing.
Sharp business practice or amoral behavior I will let the reader decide


Covenant 1:
Stated the land could only be used for football, athletics or sports ground not housing.
Covenant 2:
“If....the Purchasers (PUFC Ltd) shall desire to sell the property comprised herein......The Vendors (PCC) shall have the option of repurchasing the same in manner and on the terms following.....the purchasers shall make an offer IN WRITING to sell the property aforesaid....”  and that PCC should be allowed 6 months to make an offer.
Abbreviations
PCC (Peterborough Council)
PUFC (Peterborough United Football club)

15 comments:

Lyndon T Palmer said...

Colin Hill's Wetmore Foundation stake in the SBP bank

Peter Checksfield said...

I'm not sure I'd call the late great Max Bygraves a comedian, more of a singer & all-round entertainer.

Barry James said...

Lyndon keep watching I will be following that up in another blog. However SBP was taken over and the stake is over 13% in 2012

John Holyer said...

Peter,

Max Bygraves started out as a comic actor. He first found fame in the early 50s on radio in 'Educating Archie'. He also made regular appearances in comic sketches on TV in 'Sunday Night At The London Palladium' working with the likes of Billy Cotton Snr, Norman Wisdom and Bruce Forsyth. He also did stand up routines.

You were not around at this time. However you can occasionally hear Max Bygraves in 'Educating Archie' on BBC Radio4xtra.

Duncan Smithson said...

This feels very very very similar to Pleasurama. It feels like a plan, played out over a long time. Enjoyed the blog :D

Lyndon T Palmer said...

Barry I watch with interest.

I wonder if you would weigh giving more emphasis to Michael Child's commendable record of being right on the plan shortcomings re site safety.

The reason I say this is that if the build went had gone ahead then there is no doubt that if tragedy occurred it was foreseeable. IE Not misadventure (Non blaming area).

It would seem that a genuine developer would have revised plans and followed Environment Agency risk assessment protocol.

Because to plough ahead would appear to be bad business.

The alternative would be that health and safety and risk were paid no heed because there was never an intent to build to plan ?

Anonymous said...

I don't understand this. The council officers are supposed to perform a due diligence exercise before entering into any sort of major contract. How is it that they failed to find out about this case? Is this yet another case of incompetence?

Barry James said...

Lyndon I checked with Michael before I started as I know he has done a lot of work already. I am trying to tell the story in small bites and there is a ways to go yet.
If there is any info to share you can use email address
Barry

John Holyer said...

Lyndon T Palmer,

You say,

"The alternative would be that health and safety and risk were paid no heed because there was never an intent to build to plan ?"

This is a trenchant observation.

Lyndon T Palmer said...

Yes John. There is a tendency for some people to confuse "Relate" with "Conflate".

If the question of whether or not "Being concerned together" (Hill, Keegan etc) arises then the Peterborough history would, IMO, become relevant to Thanet considerations.

Similarly the history of Michael's commendable questioning of safety is relevant.

Surely a developer of good intent would act quickly to ensure that all foreseeable structural risk is planned out.

A friend of mine has done several builds and renovations in Thanet. Yes up to 3 storey mansion new build and not on the scale of Pleasurama.

My friend is the ultimate anti-authoritarian. Yet he gets on well with Thanet and Dover Building control inspectors. And he gets on well with English Nature (?) the body who tell him how to maintain an acreage of oak woodland he owns in Kent. Not all regulators are pedants. With TDC and Dover any question re the build he phones the council building inspectors. They usually site visit. Resolve how it is to be done. And that is how it is done.

He has said never let on that a part of TDC works well (The Building Inspectors) because the cllrs will learn about it and mess it up.

He has encountered structural problems to resolve due to the nature of the planning requirements. So it ends up with the Building Ipspectors working with him to resolve how to put together a structure that meets the constraints of the planning consent.

The lesson is that sound build and safe build is good business.

I can tell you for a fact that if he was doing a build that featured on Michael's blog he would ask to meet Michael to resolve any problems Michael may have spotted.

Use Michael as a resource and not treat him as an irritant.

It is good business.

John Holyer said...

Lyndon,

It has always puzzled me why the simple matter of obtaining a flood risk assessment was so robustly resisted. Unless of course the developer did not intend to build anything anyway, in which case an FRA would be considered nugatory expenditure.

Barry James said...

John it has always puzzled me why SFP were chosen at all... further why no attempt was made by TDC to discover with whom they were dealing and what their track record was. I will be dealing later with just where they said they had previous developments. and John if you google Colin Hill and football clubs it wasn't just Peterborough

John Holyer said...

Barry,

The evidence has long suggested to me that choice of SFP was curious.

Anonymous said...

The comment "Colin hill has no interest in football" is untrue, he managed my local club ,Harwich, for a couple of seasons back in the mid 90s very strange set up as some players were contracted to him rather than the club. He was quite succesful but very ruthless and not, i believe, a man to be messed with

Barry James said...

anon the comment was made by Barry Fry now director of football