Tuesday 6 September 2016

Why didn't Labour follow through with terminating SFP's involvement

There has been much speculation and political hand wringing over the reasons why Labour, under the previous administration, didn't terminate Shaun Keegan's (SFP Ventures (UK) ltd) attempted landbanking scheme on the Pleasurama site.

The brief details are a Development Agreement (under Ezekiel & the Tories) in September 2006 and its variation in September 2009. The variations meant that the building had to be completed on the 28th February 2014, Something that was apparent was never going to happen and pressure was applied to Labour and TDC in Winter 2013 to serve notice of default and take back the land.

There were members of the local community that attended the Overview and Scrutiny that requested advice from Pinsent Mason LLP as to the correct procedure. When February came and went we all assumed the default notice had been served it came as a kick in the teeth when discussions resumed with Keegan and Cardy and to date no reason has ever been given as to why the advice from the lawyers changed.

The purpose of this blog is to speculate as to why from December 2013 when the legal advice seemed to be to "serve notice" to March 2014 "we have changed our minds"

One area that has always been clear is that the DA's didn't have a "Long Stop Date" incorporated within them. Could this have been incompetence by TDC lawyers (Eversheds LLP) or were they asked not to incorporate such a date (It would have meant that failure to complete would have meant an easier job of removing SFP). It should have led to TDC having set dates to manage the project against, something they had been heavily castigated for not doing in the District Auditors report in 2001/2
I repeat "Effective project management procedures should be adopted for all projects as early as possible in the life cycle of a development scheme"
In the summary of the 2004 report the auditor is satisfied this is being addressed

Now you would have thought that this was a priority especially in view of the "materiel defect" of failing to incorporate a "long stop date".
At many of the O&S meetings we attended we asked whether there was one officer tasked with overseeing the project and the answer was always NO.

Could it be that TDC's failure to keep on top of the project influenced Pinsent Mason's advice and that when engaged TDC didn't fully brief Pinsent Mason.

I wonder what else TDC might have not told them?

It was said at the time that SFP had complained that they wouldn't be able to use Marina Drive because of the weight limit (personally they had 9 years to discover this fact) but maybe they decided to use this material fact as an excuse. It was certainly cited by O&S as an excuse given by Keegan.

There was also much speculation that Keegan was prepared to cite an ex-councillor for attempting to sabotage the negotiations whilst he was a serving Councillor.

In the end Labour TDC didn't follow through with trying to remove Keegan an act that has upset many in Ramsgate and possibly led to their failure in the May 2015 elections.

Labour (in my opinion) need to come clean with why they took the way out they did and totally screwed over those who had campaigned to remove Keegan & Hill from interfering with Ramsgate Seafront.

BUT nothing will excuse the failures within TDC to manage this project whether it be deliberate actions or just plain incompetence but what it really shows is Hill and Keegan are so much cleverer at levering money out of Thanet District Council. I really wonder if this is the real reason TDC do not want the Pinsent Mason report made public. No one wants to be seen as an easy mark.

I know which view I prefer

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

TDC were paid £3M for Pleausruama - this well be spent in Ramsgate?

And with the contractor now bust the site can be reclaimed?