Saturday, 30 April 2016

18 long years

On bank holiday Monday May 25th 1998, a major fire broke out on Ramsgate's sea front. Fire fighters from all over Kent went to tackle the blaze, about 150 in all. Local residents watch the blaze as it ripped away at the once palace of fun since 1927-1997.

On the 25th May 2016 it would mean 18 long years since the arson attack on Ramsgate Main Sands biggest draw. A whole generation of children who have missed out on summer fun. Both Labour, Conservative and TDC have failed the electorate and have missed plenty of opportunities to enhance the Ramsgate offering with currently work yet again stalled on building 107 flats that, to be quite honest, no one really wanted.
So what went wrong and I make no apology for this post.
After the fire James (Jimmy) Godden put in plan after plan and TDC refused mainly because the intent was leisure and Jimmy wanted Yuppie flats. Eventually he got TDC to agree a leisure complex including shops and a cinema however no work was started making it obvious he was holding out for flats. Eventually TDC's patience ran out and they threatened to CPO the land but to ensure Jimmy wouldn't fight it they TDC and the Labour Cabinet agreed to let him keep the insurance money. So in 2001 TDC got the land back and Jimmy got (allegedly) £1/2M in Insurance money.
What did Ramsgate get.
Which became this by 2003
So what did Labour do? Well they create a sales document which makes it quite clear leisure is what they want for the area

So with that document they make it clear that what is important is to enhance the character of the Royal Harbour and which enhances the quality of Ramsgate's waterside. So what do they do?
In November 2002 they choose an offer from an opaque overseas group who propose building 107 flats

What is odd is the offer is not from the chosen group SFP Venture Partners but is from a local estate agent.
So the Labour cabinet completely ignore their own document and agree to 100 flats with a hotel and ancillary A3 however by May 2003 they had lost the election and the Tories took over and in November 2003 planning is applied for and the flats have increased to 107 flats. Planning was granted in January 2004.
As people know no building started and the only change was an increase in the footprint and the "tombstones"






After various false starts Ezekiel's Cabinet signed a development agreement in 2006 and again in 2009 however this still failed to get a development and finally in February 2014 the 2009 agreement terminated, however did TDC take back the land from SFP? Did it heck another opportunity lost and 2 years on Cardy have yet to start building and so we get to 18 long years with nothing substantial happening on the site and councillors who have failed the people of Ramsgate wondering why there is little trust by the electorate in their ability to help and support the regeneration of Ramsgate.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

Bayford and Painter shared offices what do they know about the BVI company?

Anonymous said...

Much detail has been necessarily omitted from this short summary, but the bones of the story are there for all to see. I would argue that we are no further forward today than we were 18 years ago. My primary reason for saying this is that none of the political parties named in the summary has apologised for their appalling mismanagement. We have just seen a police chief sacked for failing to acknowledge the mistakes of the past. Why should local politicians not be held to the same standards? In my view, it's high time all contracts were torn up and the council started again, this time asking local people what they would like to see on the site. You can't argue that it's reasonable for the UKIP council to get involved in trying to issue a compulsory purchase a failed airport "because it's what the people want", and simultaneously argue that the UKIP council should not seek to reclaim the seafront site on behalf of the people. Nobody wanted flats to be built there and it isn't safe to do so. The only possible explanation for deciding to do it is that some or all of the people involved were corrupt.

Anonymous said...

What ever happened to the 'Friends of Ramsgate Seafront'? I thought the group was set up to protest about the flats being built on the Pleasurama site.It seems they are now focused on 'Litter Picking' at Winterstoke

David Green said...

I'm not sure why you feel a corporate apology from TDC would contribute anything significant to the situation Barry?
As you know I was a newly appointed member of the Cabinet when the original decision was made to explore the offer made by SFP. I recognise in retrospect that this was the wrong decision to have made, (hindsight is a wonderful thing), even though their "offer" at that time was by far the best in a poor field. What we should have done was turned all the candidates down and re-advertised with a revised brief that recognised that a minimum level of housing was probably economically necessary but severely restricted the amount and the location towards the east of the site. However the counter argument won the day, which was that we take the money on offer for the development which would give us the hotel, leisure related activity on the ground floor and the money used to develop the rest of the site for leisure uses. The proposed footprint was much smaller at that point. If you think that decision requires an apology, then I happily make one.
At that point, Labour lost control of the Council, largely because of unpopularity in Margate. Officers, along with the Tories under Ezekiel and Latchford continued to negotiate with SFP and eventually came back with the current development, much larger, excluding any possibility of leisure. Along with others in Ramsgate I opposed this development through planning eventually forcing it to decision of Full Council where the Tories voted it through. I also opposed the subsequent development agreement both in 2005 and 2009, which gave away any control the Council may have had over the development. I make no apology for what Ezekiel and Latchford Tories did that I opposed all the way. Eventually, the political pendulum swung and Labour took minority control finding itself with a leaseholder sitting on the site and advice from officers that they couldn't be removed without vast expense to the Council. There was feeling in Ramsgate that after this time SFP would never be acceptable to the public. I was instrumental in sugesting to Cardys that the way forward was for them to remove SFP from the equation and strike a new development agreement with the Council, this they have done. Once again Labour lost control at a crucial point, We will see how thingspan out from here.

Barry James said...

The article makes it very clear that the blame for this lies with all parties involved however it is also clear that TDC is gullible and easily fooled by any party who hide behind an overseas corporate smokescreen. If you think that Shaun Keegan is going to walk away into the sunset without some devious hold over Cardy then you are sadly mistaken David. Cardy are already involved in a development for Hill and Keegan in Lowestoft and I note that SFP still have Keegan as a shareholder.

Anonymous said...

Hi Barry, Is there anything to prevent TDC from walking away from this "deal" and starting again?

Barry James said...

That's for the UKIP controlled Council to decide

Anonymous said...

I can understand why ignorant councillors might be duped by an unscrupulous property developer, but surely the council's officers have procedures and protocols to make sure they aren't party to any dodgy dealings? I was under the impression that councils had a legal duty to ensure they know the source of any funds being used. I don't see how they can or could have ticked this box if they don't know the true identity of the buyer.

Barry James said...

They certainly do have a legal obligation it's called the Money Laundering Act 2007 however next time you speak to your local Councillor ask them the source of the £1M paid by SFP to TDC as a surety in 2009. I doubt TDC Officers know the real source of the funds even today and the money is still in TDC's possession

Anonymous said...

Well said on your points Barry and 16:41. Of course Pleausurama is corrupt - the concern is all the parties have had their hands on it. While the whole project could have been cancelled (as it undoubtedly will be this year) in February 2015.

Cardy and SFP are both tainted if not downright corrupt and we need to start again.

TDC/UKIP can cancel this project tomorrow at minimal if any cost.

Anonymous said...

You may find that the CEO advised Ezekiel NOT to do the deal but he overrode the advice. A yacht in the Med a Villa in Spain even a property in King Street, Margate, the dealings on the purchase caused a Jail Term for him and it wasn't the subject of a Proceeds of Crime order. How does that work!

Barry James said...

Anon at the time (2009) Macgonical wasn't the CEO, she was the finance officer. The rest of your comments about a villa and a yacht are conjecture and the house in King Street, Margate came years after the signing of the DA in 2009