Friday, 23 March 2012

Royal Sands Development on the Pleasurama Site in Ramsgate, open letter


I have sent an open letter to all of the cabinet members about the Royal Sands development, I did something like this with the previous Conservative Cabinet when it came before them about three years ago, so it will be interesting to see how a Labour cabinet responds to this one.

It’s a bit long I’m afraid but then my excuse is I wrote it during a busy day in the shop, I guess this is the largest development and the most important one for Ramsgate, so any decision will be critical to the way the town rides the current economic problems.

Anyway here is the open letter: 




I am writing to you as a cabinet member as the development agreement is coming before cabinet once again.

As you are probably aware it came before cabinet about three years ago, with the officers recommendation being not to proceed with the development on the grounds that there were insufficient financial guarantees, but the then cabinet decided to proceed with the development with reduced financial protection for the council.

At the time I discussed this issue with the two main officers concerned, Doug *** who was then head of major projects and Brian *** who was then head of building control.

My concerns discussed with them at the time related to the safety issues of what is a very demanding construction site, on a high risk flood zone and adjacent to a an unsupported chalk cliff.

At that time they made assurances that the problems related to these issues would be handled by the council’s building control department at the building control stage, when they received detailed construction plans.

The flood risk aspect had already been highlighted by The Environment Agency, see http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/ea/ their main concerns being related to wave overtopping and emergency escapes for the 1,000 or so people inside in the event of a tidal surge storm.

At this time the plan accepted by the council and Jacobs the council’s civil engineering advisors was to pile bore the building, in layman’s terms; screw it firmly to the chalk bedrock below the site, see http://www.thanetonline.com/cliff/id2.htm

Due to several unforeseen events, both of these senior officers leaving the council and building control going to a private firm, changes were made to the foundation design that appear to have been the result of poor communication between all of the parties involved.

The fundamental problem is that despite this site being in a high risk flood zone the flood risk assessment strongly recommended by The Environment Agency has never occurred.

The geological structure of the site is solid chalk bedrock at about the level of a low tide extending from the bottom of the cliff to the sea, created before the construction of the harbour and caused by natural sea erosion of the cliff.

The construction of the harbour caused a sand beach to form below the cliff and in 1860 when this beach was converted into a railway station the chalk spoil from the railway tunnel was laid on the sand, bringing the whole site up to the level it is now.

On the seaward side of this pile of chalk flagstones were laid forming an inclined frontage to the promenade.

I have written to Mike **** the council’s engineer and he has confirmed that that council has no plans for any subsequent modern sea defence there, founded in the chalk bedrock below.

All of the rest of the promenade in Ramsgate is fronted on the seaward side by modern Environment Agency designed concrete sea defences set into the chalk bedrock.

In what I take to be a mixture of a lack of communication and the lack of a flood risk assessment the foundations for the new development, that have been partially completed, only extend down to the sand beach and are not attached to the chalk bedrock beneath.

The same railway company that built this structure in 1861 also built the sea defence between Reculver and The Isle of Thanet that failed in the 1953 storm, leading to the loss of about seven square miles of land and about four miles of railway track in one night. 

I guess as you are an intelligent person I don’t have to draw you a diagram of the potential public safety issues.

My understanding is that the promenade structure is entirely the responsibility of the council and that any improvements to achieve a structure suitable to protect a large residential structure with shallow foundations from the sea, would have to be paid for by the council.

I expect that you are already aware that the council has expended about £1m on repairs to the cliff façade, these repairs haven’t been entirely successful and further essential repairs to the repairs have already occurred.

In view of the large safety area needed for those repairs, the investigation of part of the cliff façade carried out by the development contractor Cardy Construction, see http://www.thanetonline.com/cliff/index.htm and various representations made by me that resulted in a hse investigation that instigated emergency repairs and a safety cordon, the council agreed to put in place a program of regular surveys and maintenance. The first of these surveys occurred at the end of last year and I am still waiting for the report relating to it.

It is important to understand that the cliff façade structure wasn’t designed as a cliff support structure, as the harbour arches or the Marina Esplanade arches were, so this is an unsupported chalk cliff.

The normal standard applied to unsupported chalk cliffs i.e. it is ok to walk in front of them but not to sit beneath them doesn’t apply in this case, as people will be living 4 metres in front of the cliff face.

Once again all of the maintenance liability appears to rest with the council.

Unfortunately all the cabinet discussion about this issue is subject to the exclusion of the public, so none of the related documentation is available to me, I obtained the development agreement and that variation to it, that relate to the previous cabinet meeting of 16th June 2009, via the foi and that is published here http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/pda/ in a series of linked pages. This puts me in the difficult position of having to guess what the developer is asking for this time and what aspects would be require secrecy.

What the developer promised the cabinet in 2009 was.

June 2009 enabling works for piling and drainage.

January 2010 commencement of groundworks, piling, services and surface drainage pipe.

August 2010 completion of groundworks, piling, services and surface drainage pipe.

March 2011 commencement of structural frame transfer slab of the hotel and the first residential block. (the one next to the hotel at the lift end of the site) 

What actually happened was the surface drain pipe from the site to the harbour was put in, but no work started on the site until about a year ago, when a heath and safety licence for 200 workers was posted at the site gates. This was then followed by between two and four workers on site for most of the last year pouring the shallow concrete foundations.

Now the site has the look of being left hurriedly in the middle of work in progress, doors of one of the storage sheds left open, I have contacted the contractor about this but after about a week it remains open, part encased and unencased reinforcing rods for the transfer slab support pillars, looking rather bent and rusty.

There is no sense of one stage finished and another due to start, but very much a look of a project in progress that was suddenly abandoned possibly because the money ran out.  

So my guess is that the main forward investor the hotelier pulled out at some time and that the developer’s emphasis has moved away from the hotel. Indeed during such work as has been carried out over the last year the emphasis has been away from the hotel end of the site where no work has occurred at all, so one would assume that the hotel, which was to have been constructed first hasn’t been a priority since work started on site.

Because I am working largely in the dark here, but hope to get you to consider a way forward with this development that would be least damaging to Ramsgate’s economy, I have to consider a variety scenarios and outcomes. I also want you to understand that it is about ten years since the Whitbread project was first proposed and that economic damage to the town of having a building site on the town’s main leisure site has been considerable.

If the cabinet decides to continue with the project I would ask you to consider using any bargaining power available to ensure that the development is at least safe, perhaps insisting on a flood risk assessment if this is possible and an independent assessment of the cliff façade.

With a flood risk assessment any protective works could be negotiated now rather at the whim of some future storm.

An independent cliff façade assessment would mean that there was some understanding of the ongoing liability here, that wasn’t prepared by the same people who supervised the work that has already proved to be defective.

Alternatively if the cabinet decide that there is no way that the development can proceed then I am hoping that you will seek some way that the site can be cleared so that it can be used for leisure and parking.

In a general sense I am not happy about this major local development on a council owned site, being only subject to discussion in secret and feel that there should be some involvement of local people and some public information available about it. So I would further ask you to ensure that if the project continues you will insist on some public information scheme.

At the moment I can see why the documents for next week’s cabinet meeting related to the financial situation may need excluding from the public although as the development agreement leases and variation are already in the public domain even this seems to have very little benefit, however I fail to see why those related to the rescheduling of the development should be. 

I am sending this as an open letter to all of the cabinet members and will publish it online, please send me any thoughts or comment you may have for publication.

Best regards Michael. 

67 comments:

  1. for goodness sake Michael, you're obsessed! just leave it to plod on. Your letters won't speed it up..or get it stopped.. let it happen at its own speed.

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    1. Sorry about that I don’t think I made introduction very clear this was intended for cabinet members, none of whom I believe live in Ramsgate, so I assumed that they probably would not be aware of some of the pertinent factors relating to the development.

      The main problem for me is that the reports they have to make their decision on and even what they are being asked to decide is excluded from the public, so I don’t know whether they are being presented with all of the facts or even a realistic summery of the state of the site now or the work that has been done on the site so far.

      For me what is of paramount importance is that this development is a safe one for the people who will be living in it, my guess is that the council officers concerns will either primarily or exclusively be about the financial implications.

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  2. Good on you Michael. Any competent person should be able to answer your concerns (in writing). The fact that they will not do so only serves to illustrate one of the key problems in this country at the moment; that those who are paid large salaries, which they justify by referring to their "responsibilities," do not seem to be accountable. It should be crystal clear who is responsible for the safety of this development and, they should know that they will be in the dock if a catastrophe occurs dues to events which were entirely predictable. But these are the same kinds of people who think it's OK to operate an airport without doing any kind of risk assessment. It is my view that they know they will not be held to account and so, they feel free to fob you off. As for the troll who tells you to leave it alone - who do you think is "accountable" for safety?

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  3. Iris Johnston by emailMarch 24, 2012 9:22 am

    Dear Michael,

    Thank you very much for this and for taking so much time and trouble to cover all the points.

    I have asked officers several questions in recent weeks and have had some reassurance on a number of points. However our Cabinet will look very carefully to ensure we have a safe site from both the financial and physical side.

    Many of the key decisions have already been made but I can assure you this Cabinet takes its responsibilities very seriously and we will do our best to get the right outcomes for Ramsgate and the wider public.

    Kind regards, Iris

    Harvey and Simon,

    Could you please speak to me on Monday re Michael's points. I will try to catch up with you around mid day.
    Regards, Iris

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    1. Hi Iris, thanks for the prompt reply, I do appreciate your checking out my concerns, I think that the key changes that have occurred on the physical side, since the previous council decisions were made, relate to the change in the type of foundations used.

      Please appreciate the main thing I am asking for is a flood risk assessment and as The Environment Agency has also strongly recommended this in writing, I think the case for proceeding without one would be difficult for the developer to argue.

      A very major concern for me is that the council have decided to make all aspects of this secret from the public, so it isn’t possible for me to be certain that cabinet members are aware of all of the issues relating to site.

      Only the other day I contacted Cardy Construction the site contractor and was told:

      “The structural columns which support the transition slab are all fully complete in readiness for the transition slab. Ahead of this the bricklayers will be progressing the masonry to the stair cores and the retails areas. This will help limit risk of ‘overhead’ construction activities to the site.”

      One look at the building sit will confirm that this is not in fact the case and that building work has stopped with incomplete columns and big unfilled holes in the ground, where the concrete should have gone for the next line of foundations.

      I have published you reply at http://thanetonline.blogspot.co.uk/2012/03/royal-sands-development-on-pleasurama_23.html

      Delete
  4. Michael,

    In order that we may assess the validity of your views, would you please post details of your civil engineering credentials, qualifications and relevant experience. It would also be helpful if you could publish the results of your own surveys of the site together with detailed plans of the structures, both old and new, on which you are commenting.

    As an intelligent person you will of course appreciate that without substantiating your views, no matter how well and how often they are presented they amount to nothing more than amateurish comment.

    This is a serious matter you’re commenting about. If we are to believe what you’re saying the developers, contractors, council officers, consultants, surveyors and other professional bodies involved may be guilty of negligence.

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    1. Anon perhaps if you want any credibility you would be better of commenting under your own identity.

      My own background is in general engineering, I have indeed published the information you ask for in previous posts and my previous surveys of the site lead directly to the council engaging in remedial work on site.

      Obviously I consult with various civil engineers, the UK ones I know are reluctant to put there names to anything where local authorities are involved as this is where a lot of there work comes from.

      I do however consult with one American professor of geology with a licence to practice as a civil engineer in the US I would imagine he would put his name to these concerns.

      However the flood risk is a simple problem, the foundations sit on a sand beach with no recorded sea defence between them and the sea, this information is confirmed by the council’s engineer in writing.

      I wouldn’t think you need much in the way of qualifications beyond some experience of building sandcastles on the beach, most of us gain this in the preschool years.

      Delete
    2. I do seem to recall your engineering background being something to do with Hornby Hobbies. Perhaps mistakenly, I thought you may have other areas of expertise more relevant to major civil engineering works. I also recall your previous “surveys” of the site leading to the council engaging in organic weed removal and repairing cracks, but I don’t recall any structural work as the result of your intervention.

      You have suggested I would have more credibility by not posting anonymously. I would apply the same rationale to the civil engineers and professor you consult with. The only difference between my anonymity and theirs is that as professional people they presumably have some kind of duty toward safety. Briefing the local bookshop owner is no way to discharge this responsibility; consequently we have to doubt their professionalism or your interpretation.

      I take your point about the sandcastles and I accept that this is something you are qualified to comment on. However, you have not produced any evidence to support your statement that the Royal Sands structural columns only extend down to the sand beach.

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    3. Michael, this may be the second time I’ve posted this as it disappeared the last time. I trust you didn’t delete it?

      I do seem to recall your engineering background being something to do with Hornby Hobbies. Perhaps mistakenly, I thought you may have other areas of expertise more relevant to major civil engineering works. I also recall your previous “surveys” of the site leading to the council engaging in organic weed removal and repairing cracks, but I don’t recall any structural work as the result of your intervention.

      You have suggested I would have more credibility by not posting anonymously. I would apply the same rationale to the civil engineers and professor you consult with. The only difference between my anonymity and theirs is that as professional people they presumably have some kind of duty toward safety. Briefing the local bookshop owner is no way to discharge this responsibility; consequently we have to doubt their professionalism.

      I take your point about the sandcastles and I accept that this is something you are qualified to comment on. However, you have not produced any evidence to support your statement that the Royal Sands structural columns only extend down to the sand beach.

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    4. Michael, this may be the second time I’ve posted this as it disappeared the last time. I trust you didn’t delete it?
       
      I do seem to recall your engineering background being something to do with Hornby Hobbies. Perhaps mistakenly, I thought you may have other areas of expertise more relevant to major civil engineering works. I also recall your previous “surveys” of the site leading to the council engaging in organic weed removal and repairing cracks, but I don’t recall any structural work as the result of your intervention.
       
      You have suggested I would have more credibility by not posting anonymously. I would apply the same rationale to the civil engineers and professor you consult with. The only difference between my anonymity and theirs is that as professional people they presumably have some kind of duty toward safety. Briefing the local bookshop owner is no way to discharge this responsibility; consequently we have to doubt their professionalism.
       
      I take your point about the sandcastles and I accept that this is something you are qualified to comment on. However, you have not produced any evidence to support your statement that the Royal Sands structural columns only extend down to the sand beach.
       
       
       

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    5. Sorry about your comments vanishing, I have been out and your comments were in my spam folder, I would guess from some computing experience, that you have been a bit naughty on blogger.

      I first worked on computers in 1968, thing called the Minerva computer project, better not shame the establishment in question, the idea was to design a computer that learnt, some of our finest computing minds left the project when it was discovered that this computer, about the size of 2 double decker busses was indeed learning but unfortunately from the fluorescent lighting in the lab.

      I will respond in detail give a little time, but do have other things to do too, in the meantime, did you follow the links in this post which lead to the documentation I have based most of my hypothesises on?

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    6. One on site inspection

      http://thanetonline.blogspot.co.uk/2009/11/royal-sands-development-how-dangerous.html

      one subsequent council repair

      http://thanetonline.blogspot.co.uk/2009/12/royal-sands-development-cliff-facade_10.html

      there are more if you care to work back through the blog.

      With the sandcastle thing, pretty much everyone in Ramsgate has been watching the shallow foundations on sand being built, I guess I have published over 100 photos of the process linked to this blog over that period.

      I would say the absence of a pile-boring rig and associated team is a bit of a giveaway too. But I guess you can ignore all of that and read the letter from the EA’s development control technical specialist. http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/ea/id2.htm I guess you could write to her and ask about her qualifications.

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    7. Michael, My attempts at commenting have suddenly published belatedly from your spam folder. I’m afraid your “guess” that I’ve “been a bit naughty on blogger” is wrong. I assure you I haven’t. I sent my message twice via home broadband and once via my GSM network provider. None of the messages published on the blog. It’s strange that my mobile submission was blocked as I’ve never used it for blogging before. We can only speculate as to why this happened.

      Yes Michael, I have seen the problems, I have seen the repairs and I have watched progress. I repeat my earlier comment that the repairs resulting from your comments do not appear to be structural. For what it’s worth I think you did a good job in highlighting this to the council, but it hardly required engineering expertise to notice the defects. I do also remember the saga when you were telling people not to walk along the cliff top as it was in danger of collapse. This speculation was subsequently disproved by the professionals who were in possession of the facts.

      I have watched the Royal Sands foundations going up. Not being qualified in civil engineering, not being in a position to measure or inspect the work in any detail and not being party to details of the techniques and calculations employed I am definitely not in a position to comment on their integrity or the significance of no pile boring rig on site.

      You mention the Environment Agency report to substantiate your “hypothesis”. The report acknowledges that the development has the benefit of planning consent. It states: “it is impossible for the Agency to confirm whether or not the proposal as it stands is wholly consistent with current policy”. As you would expect the report recommends a Flood Risk Assessment but does not require one.

      I don’t think it’s necessary to check the credentials of the Development Control Technical Specialist of the Environment Agency. I would suspect this has already been done as it would have been for the various professionals employed by all concerned in this development.

      Your comments are not always accurate and consistent with the evidence and your inferred conclusions appear to be at odds with the professionals. As you are potentially damaging the local economy, I am merely asking if you can provide details of the expertise that leads you to your “hypothesis”.

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    8. Ok one at a time here, what we are really talking about here is the profile that Google makes of you for advertising, security and spam purposes which would link your gsm ip to your landline ip even to the extent of knowing, if not where you are, where your mobile device and your home broadband router is.

      As I run completely open comments that appear instantly when anyone posts, if I endeavoured to interfere with this process it would soon be obvious, your comments are the only legitimate comments to be spammed in about 6 months and there are 4670 spam comments in my spam folder as I haven’t cleared it for about that amount of time.

      Onto the wrong info about the cliff stability, this related to the middle arched part of the façade, what happened there was the council sent the wrong design plans to the hse, the contractor and me. The hse failed to act on the information available, the contractor dug a hole to see what was actually there and I discovered the plans were wrong. This resulted in a bizarre situation where the contractor requested the right plans from me, I suppose I could publish the request email but am reluctant to put people’s real names in the public domain.

      The situation with the other parts of the façade is still a bit of an unknown, the portal part was subject to a partial examination by the contractor and the report is published online at http://www.thanetonline.com/cliff/index.htm as you see the contractor investigated one support pillar of this part and found it defective, make of it what you like, but it does raise the question of would you be happy to live adjacent to it?

      We then come to the business of what constitutes structural, the bit where it cracked and bulged and subsequently appeared defective in photographs taken before the main contract. When the council spent £22k on repairing it they hacked it out with a spike on a 10 metre digger I would guess about 20 tonnes of chalk and concrete came crashing down where the new development will be.

      With the foundations and the pile boring, this isn’t a matter that is open to dispute, it’s a case of no drill no hole, it is also fair to say that these 1.2 metre deep load spreading foundations would be appropriate for sand were it not for the proximity of the sea and absence of a modern EA standard sea defence.

      With the EA report you have to appreciate that this was also based on the assumption that the development would be screwed to the ground. However the main reason they didn’t comment earlier was the problem of the levels on the plans, none of the earlier versions showed height above ODN and when they eventually got ones with levels on the time limit for them to insist on a fra had expired, a loophole in fact.

      The damage to the local economy due to the delays, well we have about 9 years due to the funding problems and the cliff repairs, I don’t think that a fra or independent cliff assessment would delay things at all as the work could start again based on confidence that the outcomes would be positive.

      However what this post is about is ensuring that the cabinet are in position of the facts and I am afraid that the contractor telling me in writing that the support pillars for the transfer slab are complete, when this is plainly not the case is not a good sign.

      Delete
    9. AnonymousMar 24, 2012 02:33 AMMarch 26, 2012 11:02 am

      Thanks for your detailed response Michael.

      With regard to the spam issue, I purposely turned off the WiFi on my phone in case Blogger was erroneously blocking my IP address, as I know it can do. I do not have a Google profile on my phone and only tend to use it for email - none of which are Google addresses. I doubt if even Google could link my GSM mobile with my home IP address. I suspect there was a problem with Blogger as for a short while your Blog was not available at the time.

      With regard to the cliff stability problem, you have highlighted my concern over the information you publish. By your own admission you were in possession of the wrong information, a situation that only came to light after you had been banging on in public about the imminent danger of cliff collapse. You also involved the Fire Brigade, Council, Contractors, HSE etc. Putting any of these agencies on notice will no doubt have cost a great deal of time and money with internal procedures you are not aware of.

      Eventually you published details of the foundations that did exist but the amount of negative publicity far outweighed the positive. This is my point. I often applaud what you do, but it shouldn’t be done in public if you don’t have the facts. What you don’t know is often more important that what you do know.

      With regard to the weather proofing of the cliff, yes this failure was significant and as I mentioned I support your involvement in pointing it out to the council resulting in remedial action. As this is not structural I do not consider it a blight on the Royal Sands development, more of a failure in council maintenance procedures. I think your description of “20 tonnes of chalk and concrete came crashing down” is a little dramatic when by your own admission it was hacked out by a spike - a controlled situation that was necessary to carry out remedial works.

      You may be correct over the situation with the foundations. Unfortunately, unless you can substantiate your comments with fact or professional qualification they remain nothing more than comment. Can you tell us how you know the foundations are 1.2 metres deep? Do you have the correct technical drawings or did you go down and measure them? Are you in possession of the load bearing calculations and geological study of the ground that has allowed the professionals to arrive at this method of foundation? If so perhaps you could publish them to substantiate your comments.

      You have made several comments on the EA report, much of which is open to interpretation. As I read the report I draw the conclusion that the development was acceptable and is legal. In hindsight and with the benefit of revised procedures they would like another crack at it. Wouldn’t we all like that privilege in life! The only definite conclusion they appear to have drawn is that they cannot say how the development would stack up against current requirements without starting over again.

      Please don’t misunderstand me, you may be doing us all a big favour by raising these issues, but unless you produce evidence rather than opinion, your comments remain in the realms of gossip. Potentially harmful gossip at that.

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    10. It spammed again, I recommend you get a blogger id, this won’t compromise you anonymity but will help with the spamming problem, as you can then comment on all of my blogs and I can mark your id as not spam until the thing stops auto spamming you.

      As no other comments are being spammed there must be some sort of reason here and I am happy to help sort it out, I will reply in more detail when I get time.

      Delete
    11. Right one at a time again, long and quick so there be typos.

      The spamming issue would be the same for all of blogger so until it’s resolved your comments would be spammed on all blogger hosted blogs. Frankly explaining in detail what I think the causes are would only make it easier for others like you to get black listed in this way as this is I think not so much Googles fault as others using weaknesses in their system to your disadvantage.

      With the cliff stability problem, my point here is that at the time I took action, the hse, contractor and I all had the same wrong document and there was never any dispute that they considered the stability of the whole of that part of the cliff to be in doubt.

      I certainly think that they should have closed the cliff top until they were certain it was safe. You do have to consider it the other way round i.e. if the document had been the right one and the cliff had collapsed killing people.

      Still on this subject, the council’s technical advisors senior geotechnical engineer who I had a considerable dialogue with about this, until Richard Samuel the then council chief executive wrote to me instructing me not to discuss council related issues with him. You have to appreciate that this ongoing dialogue related to my providing historic photographs and historical information about the site so wasn’t formal aggressive questioning. Well this engineer instructed the council to instigate a weight limit on the top of the cliff about eight years ago, the council’s internal engineer has told me on several occasions that they intend to, it just never happens.

      On to the hacking out with a spike by point here and a one that has never been satisfactorily addressed, is how they do this with the building in the way, yes I concede there is a very expensive way of doing this, but if you are a local council taxpayer you need to remember that it is that council that will pick up the tab.

      On to the foundations and my qualifications, I used the simple expedient of asking the contractor doing the work, there really isn’t any dispute that these are shallow foundations cast in large plastic moulds, resting on the sand. On the qualification issue I am not prepared to go down the road that Simon Moores went down when he published his qualifications online, I have caused enough embarrassment to various academic institutions over the years, so that is a non starter.

      You also have to appreciate that I am not disputing the suitability of the foundations for this type of sand, just their level and proximity to the sea, without a fra and investigation of the sea defence.

      The EA report was made at a time when everyone involved had been assured that the foundations were to be pile bored, as say the adjacent development built last year was, overtopping can be a serious problem and as overtopping a large part of the harbour wall was severely damaged by overtopping in the 1970s the 2.5 tonne coping stones where lifted over the wall and sunk boats on the other side and the are higher than the ground floor level of the new development. The foundations being undermined by the sea shifting the sand that supports them is a more serious issue though.

      Looks like your comment got cut short too, nothing else in the spam folder.

      Delete
    12. Michael, just for your blog I’ve created a new Google ID. You’ll just have to trust me that I’m the Anonymous you’ve been talking to on this thread. I really don’t know what the problem is with your blog, but I use many Google services via my usual IP including Google analytics, API’s etc. and I occasionally post on other blogs without problems. I notice exactly the same happened to Tom Clark’s post. The only thing we apparently have in common is that we appear to be the only ones who question comments on here. Maybe we’re not giving Google enough credit and they regard this a bad behaviour resulting in us being sent to the “Sin Bin”!

      All I’m saying about the cliff stability problem (or lack of it) is that it would have been better to have found the right information before going public not after, thus avoiding a mass of negative publicity.

      With regard to the Royal Sands foundations, it appears that this whole saga is based on you asking the bloke digging the whole how big it is. Like with the cliff stability problem you may not be in possession of the full facts. I strongly suspect that at some stage fully qualified structural engineers have calculated and assessed different methods for foundations. Furthermore, as far as I know the foundations will have to be inspected and signed off as suitable by qualified personnel before construction can continue.

      I’m sorry Michael, I just don’t think you should be creating so much hysteria and negativity when the only hard evidence you can produce is the interpretation of the bloke from the bookshop based on what the bloke digging the hole told him. Have you never told a "pain in the backside" a load of rubbish just to get rid of him?

      Until you can substantiate your hypothesis with facts I really do think you should keep quiet and deal with it (if you must) out of the public domain.

      Again, you make several assumptions based on the EA report, none of which appear in the report itself. Having lived in Ramsgate all my life I know the power of the sea, but I also know there are contributing factors such as wind direction and wave dissipation. Without expert knowledge it’s impossible to say what the risks are from climatic events. Having said that, had the development been completed eight years ago none of the current hysteria would be taking place

      Delete
    13. RP in the first instance you will be glad to know that your comment went straight up and didn’t appear in the spam folder, Google very occasionally spam comments that have already appeared.

      Tom’s comment didn’t spam, I think his browser cache just got to full for the page to change, you have to appreciate that bloggers spam filter isn’t specific to one blog and is mainly aimed at comments with advertising links in them.

      Easy to say with hindsight, but at the time I wasn’t prepared to risk walking on the cliff top and I guess the council may miraculously find adequate sea defence plans and make me look pretty stupid, then you will be able to say “I told you so”

      With the foundation construction it has been the subject of a long and protracted dialogue between me and the MD of Cardys, pretty sure his qualification is ACIOB, if he digs holes he has never mentioned it, I know he has an interest in old local photographs.

      On the flood risk issue I asked Laura Sandys and Roger Gale who I knew were meeting with the most senior EA officials to get written clarification of the exact EA position, this was before the change from pile bored to shallow foundations, this is copied from Laura’s email.


      “The Pleasurama development gained planning consent prior to the publication of the latest government guidance on development and flood risk, PPS25. When we were consulted in 2003 our floodplain maps did not show the site to be at risk and the design, at that stage, had clear evacuation routes to the the top of the cliff. But, having received revised plans for the development last year, we highlighted our concern over flood risk and recommended that a site-specific flood risk assessment be undertaken. This would inform appropriate mitigation measures such as recommended floor levels, flood resilient design and an evacuation plan to ensure that the development is made as safe as possible.”


      It would be helpful to me if you could clarify exactly which issues you feel need any further confirmation.

      Delete
    14. RP in the time I was writing your reply blogger belatedly spammed your comment, I think the only way to rectify this would be getting several bloggers hosted bloggers to mark your comments as not spam, it may work by you commenting on my other blogs and me marking them that way, I am not really sure.

      Delete
    15. You’re right Michael, my post did appear for quite a time before being spammed which makes a mockery of the spam procedure. From memory I believe the spam control can be blog specific if trained that way, but I could be wrong. I guess neither of us will get to the bottom of it and to be honest I don’t have the time or inclination to sort it out.

      Full marks to you if you did get the depth of the foundations from the MD of Cardys. I doubt if he would deliberately mislead you. Having said that there appears to be some discrepancy between that which Cardys told you only a few days ago and what is happening in reality with progress. Perhaps on both occasions the the information was unintentionally incorrect. You chose to believe one statement but not the other. Are you being selective, and if so, why?

      Thank you for posting the content from Laura Sandy’s email. Unfortunately it doesn't add anything which isn't in the EA report. Naturally the EA will recommend a FRA as they would be negligent not to. However, there’s nothing in the report that requires it or specifically mentions foundations. There is mention of a flood resilient design but I read this as being in the context of evacuation.

      As requested I’ll be more specific about my concern. As the plans have been drawn up by qualified people, and the design has been approved by qualified people, and the foundations will be inspected by qualified people, on what grounds are you rubbishing them in public? Do you have access to geophysical surveys of the ground below, are you fully conversant with different types of foundations and do you have the engineering calculations to support your views?

      Delete
    16. RP the blogger spam filter is a relatively new thing, about a year, there is no option to opt out and no control given to the individual blogger apart from spamming items, which if you spam a registered blogger id doesn’t trigger the spamming of further comments. The only other option I have is to mark comments that go into the spam folder as not spam when they appear and remain on the blog permanently unless I delete them or mark them as spam.

      Your last comment was in the spam folder when I first noticed it, I get a notification email for all comments including ones that blogger considers to be spam, but as I get about 20 genuinely spam comments on some days I don’t check that often.

      My email dialogue with the MD of Cardys goes back to the time they were made site contractor and before that I had email dialogues with the previous contractors management, I don’t think the publication of all of these would be beneficial.

      In this instance the dialogue was along the lines of.

      Me, I see you have changed the foundation design to shallow load spreaders on sand.

      Him, we have had them designed after testing the load bearing capacity of the sand.

      Me, have you investigated the structural integrity of the sea defence?

      Him, no why?

      Me, it’s the only bit in Thanet that isn’t a modern one designed to EA standards and I think may date from 1860, I will request the plans from the council, recommend you do the same.

      I then request the plans and the council engineer sends me the plans for the adjacent sea defence, the promenade design which dates from 1997 which is also shallow foundation on the sand. With a covering note that the actual sea defence is do old that if there were any plans the council no longer holds them.

      I then send them to the MD of Cardy’s who thanks me for taking the trouble and says he will forward them on to the people who designed the foundations.

      Here is the email from the council’s engineer:

      From: Mike.*****@thanet.gov.uk
      To: MichaelChild@aol.com
      Sent: 17/02/2012 16:09:45 GMT Standard Time
      Subj: Re: Thanet District Council - Your Information Request Response

      Dear Michael,

      Thanks for the email, and sorry I missed you this morning. I must
      apologise as I had not seen the part of your recent FOI which referred
      to construction drawings of the seawall at Ramsgate. I have had a look
      through the Council's archived drawing records but the archive does not
      contain any drawings of the old sea wall in front of the former
      Pleasurama site, this is probably due to the age of the structure. I
      have however attached scanned copies of a few drawings that do exist
      which relate to the refurbishment of the foreshore ramp adjacent to
      Augusta Stairs and the promenade improvement works which took place in
      1997. Although I have not seen them today I believe there are a few
      more archived construction detail drawings from 1997. These focus more
      on architectural detail than sea wall construction but let me know if
      these are of interest and I will retrieve them next week.

      I have also included a drawing from a sea wall refacing contract which
      took place in the early 1970's. This is possibly just outside the area
      of your interest but the work did extend as far as Augusta Stairs.

      Kind regards,

      Mike

      Mike ****
      Engineering and Technical Services Manager
      Thanet District Council

      Delete
    17. continued

      On to Laura’s email

      This resulted in various design changes at the time including; raising the road behind the development to mitigate the effect of the sea sweeping round the back of the development and stirring up the cars parked beneath the development; steel shutters on the ground floor front of the development to resist the effects of overtopping.

      This was all of course at a time when everyone was working on the assumption that the foundations would be pile bored, so the integrity of the sea defence didn’t come up. It only really occurred to me when was looking at pictures of the land reclamation after the failure of the 1860 sea defence on the north Thanet coast.

      As far as the plans for the royal sands go I would draw your attention to http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/tdc/id30.htm and let you make your own assumptions about the competence of the architects.

      Delete
    18. Michael, I’ll leave you to understand the intricacies of Blogger as this is the only place it affects me.

      So there’s dialogue between you Cardys and council officers. I still can’t see any evidence that supports your current theory. In fact if what you say is correct, it appears the design has been assessed and modified to accommodate current risk factors. Don’t you think it best left to the qualified professionals to sort out?

      I note your comment further down this post: “the change of foundation design has produced a situation where the safety of the development is compromised”. There’s nothing ambiguous about that statement, yet you still avoid posting details of your qualifications that would help substantiate such a comment. How have you arrived at this assertion without supporting evidence or expert knowledge? I think you’re right to question this issue but totally wrong to make such pronouncements in public with nothing to back them up. As you’ve mentioned yourself, the internet has a long memory.

      As for the floor height and truck, surely these were only design plans and were never intended as working drawings. I think you’re clutching at straws on this one Michael.

      This is all getting a bit boring as you keep hiding behind other people. Most of what you publish appears to be your own interpretation of what others are saying, carefully crafted in support of your own little conspiracies. I can’t recall anything significant that you have achieved after many years of council bashing. The only significant thing to come out of your blog is negative publicity for Ramsgate to the detriment of residents and investors alike. And perhaps increased publicity and turnover for your shop.

      Delete
    19. RP I think you have lost track a bit here, all of the plans were submitted to the council as the viable amendments, forwarded to me as an interested party, I looked at them on each instance, pointed out the errors, which appeared to result in the next amendment.

      The discussion however really relates to what I am asking for at the moment, the developer is building his Titanic, R101, whatever and this is very laudable as if the work ever starts in a meaningful way it will create lots local jobs.

      I am not saying don’t build it, not even saying add more lifeboats or use helium instead of hydrogen, what I am saying is spend a tiny proportion of the project cost to get an expert to assess the number of lifeboats or the type of gas i.e. the flood risk assessment strongly recommended by The Environment Agency.

      Perhaps you think discussion related to this subject should be withheld from the public, but the fact remains it is a major development on publicly owned land, where the public would have to finance any modification to the sea defence, this seems to me to look like all pay and no say.

      Obviously this blog and it’s content is a dark advertising ploy to promote reading books and the propagation of local history, like libraries and museums my activities are at the best dubious.

      Delete
    20. As far as I’m concerned there’s nothing wrong with using a blog to advertise or promote an activity, question a major development or take qualified people to task. BUT NOT TO THE DETRIMENT OF THE TOWN. Some of us are getting very fed up with it.

      Unlike the R101 and Titanic I suspect creating foundations is not cutting edge technology and I think you’re getting a bit desperate to make such an inference. You also state the EA “strongly” recommend a FRA. Perhaps you could point out to me where this is stated in the document you’ve published at "http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/ea/id2.htm"

      Yet again you have skilfully avoided answering questions by employing diversionary tactics. I’ll ask the question again.

      What evidence or expertise do you have to support your statement “the change of foundation design has produced a situation where the safety of the development is compromised”?

      Why will you not reveal your qualifications or calculations?

      Delete
    21. Sorry RP my mistake what they said was highly not strongly.

      “And whilst we accept that this development already has planning permission,
      we would highly recommend that a full FRA is undertaken which could inform
      appropriate resilience and resistance measures."

      I think you have got a bit confused here about the difference between the foundation designs being suitable for sand, which I am happy with and that sand needing to be protected from movement in a storm.

      There aren’t any calculations or qualifications that would apply to this without first having a site specific flood risk assessment and survey of the sea wall, unless any construction plans could be found for the sea wall.

      Historically it may be of interest to you, to note that one of the local newspaper articles for the 1953 storm says that a 12 ton crane that had been working on the beach was swept over the sea wall and into the funfair ground, fortunately it was winter so the damage was minimal.

      Incidentally your link didn’t work properly, but I was impressed that you attempted to encode a link, few do, so good marks on the computing aptitude.

      Delete
    22. First thoughts; yet again two unanswered questions. Have you considered a career as a politician?

      I’m not confused Michael. Your assumption is based on there being no effective sea defence but you’ve been unable to produce a shred of evidence of this. Even if you had, your comments are still not supported by any qualification.

      You have produced some journalistic evidence relating to the storms in 1953 and it may be of interest to you to know that I lived through these. To quote Wikipedia: “The North Sea flood of 1953 was one of the most devastating natural disasters ever recorded in the UK. Over 1,600 km of coastline was damaged, and sea walls were breached, inundating 1,000 km². Flooding forced 30,000 people to be evacuated from their homes, and 24,000 properties were seriously damaged”.

      I’m not surprised an unsupported crane was washed over the sea wall given the ferocity of the storm and the consequent overtopping. However, the sea defences presumably remained intact. I would say that’s a good test of their integrity rather than evidence to the contrary.

      I think it’s time to give up on this. You’re obvious not going to tell us how you’re qualified to make your assertions or support them with evidence.

      Personally I think you’re right to inform the powers that be if you have concerns, but unless you can provide evidence or qualified opinion you’re wrong to make public statements as if they’re fact. With your clever use of “labels” anyone searching the Royal Sands Development on Google will inevitably end up reading your blog. This will end up with hundreds, or perhaps thousands reading about the nonexistent imminent cliff fall or impending disastrous collapse of the development. Just what we need in support of our town’s biggest project for many years!!

      P.S. The link worked OK in the preview window. Presumably you’ve fiddled with it and it now doesn’t link to where it says it does. I’m impressed that you've had a go at rectifying it but unfortunately it’s wrong. Good marks for trying anyway!

      Delete
  5. I am sure that Michael will be happy to answer your questions, once you pluck up the courage to cease skulking behind 'anonymous'.

    ReplyDelete
  6. John, see you are on one of your pet issues on anonymous contributions. Frankly, if someone, for whatever reason, chooses to comment anonymously I see no reason why they should not and it does not make their comments any less valid. Indeed, I would suggest that most blogsites would be extremely dull without their contributions.

    On the same issue, what is in a name. What does John Holyer mean to me or Tom Clarke to you. Would we know each other in the street and the answer is an emphatic no. So how come our contributions are more credible than those of someone who chooses not to use a name.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. As anonymous (Mar 24, 2012 02:33 AM), I thank Tom Clarke for explaining the situation, and saving me the trouble.

      John Holyer: Just because I'm not necessarily a fully paid up member of the Michael Child's Fan Club, it doesn't mean I'm skulking behind anonymity. Just think of me as Mrs Anonymous and maybe you'll feel better about it.

      In your rush to decry me for posting anonymously you seemed to have missed the point of my post. Michael frequently enters into public debate about a subject on which he appears to have no qualification or practical experience. In his capacity as a second hand bookshop owner he presumably has a mass of historical reference material but appears not to have details of up to date procedures, survey results, engineering studies, calculations etc. The professional people who presumably have this information are probably not at liberty to discuss it in public, which makes the debate rather one sided and lacking in relevance.

      All I am trying to do is to asses just how Michael qualifies his comments. He frequently reminds us that this blog is read by many people. Presumably among these are potential purchasers and much needed investors in our town. It is only right that they should be reading accurate information, not amateur opinion.

      Delete
    2. Mr (or Mrs) Anonymous - are you better qualified to comment? If you are then tell us, if not then stop sniping.
      If the survey people have the necessary information then surely all they have to do is publish it - I cannot for the life of me see how this could need to be shrouded in secrecy. As regards the flooding risk assessment I would of thought that merely noticing that this development was only just above the high water mark was all the qualifications one needed to comment on the absence of this piece of work.

      Delete
    3. Tom anonymity is always an issue and always makes comment carry less weight, that said, I do try to respond to anonymous comments. I thought that everything I had said in the post was either linked to the supporting documents, written by qualified experts or so self evident it didn’t warrant further justification.

      It would however be refreshing if one of the supporters of the development put their name to something, or produced some documentation that showed why a flood risk assessment wasn’t needed, or how the cliff could be repaired with the development in the way, how the cliff façade has anything more than a short serviceable life.

      Anon I have responded to you in the comments above, if you feel there is some aspect of what I have said in the post above that needs further explanation or a link to the relevant expert documentation let me know and I will do my best to provide it.

      Tim I think the fundamental problem here is one of secrecy, which when coupled with a huge development, much bigger that The Turner Contemporary, in such a prominent position where we can all see the problems with the cliff and the foundations going on sand is rather ludicrous.

      Delete
    4. Michael, why does anonymity carry less weight? Do you assess the validity of comments by the name or by the content? Just for the record, I have always been against the Royal Sands development as I see it (rightly or wrongly) as nothing more than corporate greed. Having said that, it’s here and it’s legal so let’s stop whinging and let the professionals get on with it.

      Tim/Tom Clark (apologies if you are not the same person), I am not in any way qualified to comment on civil engineering matters. That’s why I haven’t done so.

      Delete
    5. Tim, if a corporate body spends many thousands of pounds on information gathering they will most likely not want their competitors to get hold of it. Very few businesses survive by giving their assets away. Also, negotiations may involve sensitive financial information which could benefit rivals.

      I’m a great believer in openness but accept that in reality it is not always practical. In such circumstances we must rely on our council officers to act in our best interests.

      Delete
    6. 4.34 I guess for me the biggest problem is anonymous bloggers who don’t use some sort of pseudonym so that no one can tell in a fairly complex thread with several comments like this one, which anonymous is which.

      This is the main reason I have changed the comment format to one where people can respond to initial comments in a separate thread, the bug with the time strapping is a bit of a pain but blogger assure me they are working on it.

      But frankly credulity is relative to the degree anonymity with no pseudonym rating bottom and real people using their real names like Simon, Tony and myself at the top.

      Granted an anonymous blogger saying grass is green has more credulity than one saying it is pink, however if I were to say grass is pink I guess I would lack credulity people would stop reading the blog, if you say grass is pink it really means nothing.

      5.52 I think much of the problem with this development is the lack of a known corporate body, if the developer was a known firm with a track record showing that he had even built so much as a garden shed, we wouldn’t be where we are now.

      A net worth of -£859 see http://companycheck.co.uk/company/05666803 is not encouraging, the mind boggles as to what their competitors commercial espionage would consist of.

      Delete
    7. Anonymous Mar 24, 2012 02:33 AMMarch 26, 2012 9:47 am

      Until you know details of the information you don't know about (because it has not been published), you're hardly in a position to judge its value to competitors!

      Delete
    8. Sorry, 0452. If a corporate body has undertaken a geological survey of the site then I think that is public property. I could understand it is we are talking about oil or other extractable minerals, but we are not. I can see no commercial justification in withholding it, unless of course it says that the site is dodgy.

      Delete
    9. Tim, I can't see what right the public have to a geological survey carried out on private land and with private finance. This is something that would most likely be sold to a developer, not given away. It may be different with the Royal Sands development being on public land, at least until the development is complete. I guess this would be covered in the development agreement.

      Delete
  7. Tom Clarke,

    I do not object to anonymous comments per se however, this post was nothing more than an attack upon Michael, an attempt to belittle him and a bit snide. In these circumstances, on reflection, I can understand why the writer thought it prudent to remain anonymous.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Tom, Just add to my point: I saw this anonymous blog not as a rational argument but more of a gratuitous snide. I think it wrong to shoot a man in the back - or have I seen to many Westerns.

      Delete
    2. John, I don’t think entering into a public debate with an alternative point of view is shooting a man in the back. In fairness to Michael he seems less offended than you. My comments may be a little snide to the more sensitive but have you ever studied Michaels comments from a non groupie’s point of view?

      Delete
    3. Anonymous,

      You do not understand or affect not to understand my point. Which is, if a person is going to be snide and belittle someone then they should have the courage, decency or self respect to reveal themselves. This does not apply to a reason argument or reasoned criticism. Michael never hides, as you well know. If you did not intend to be snide then my apologies.

      I do not understand you remark about being Michael's groupie.

      Delete
    4. John I guess the odd snide comment comes with the blog and no they don’t bother me at all, I have two ten year old girls, so am used to playground tactics when the argument starts to get difficult to win.

      You don't want to, trust me on this one.

      Delete
    5. "playground tactics", "argument starts to get difficult". That's a bit snide isn't it Michael?

      Delete
    6. Absolutely RP, the world goes round the sun, what qualifications in astronomy do you have to say it’s this, thinks… I was seconded to a radio astronomy project at ****** once but actually spent the whole time going to philosophy lectures, better not mention it didn’t Galileo get executed for saying the world went round the sun or was that Copernicus. Btw your comment didn’t spam.

      Delete
    7. Michael, take more water with it!

      Delete
    8. RP was discussing aspects of science with my children, which is far more demanding than repeating answers that I have already made about the development.

      Delete
  8. John, Michael regularly attacks the council, developers or individuals as do some other of our Thanet bloggers. Maybe in so doing they provide a service by highlighting issues and keeping officials on their toes. Nonetheless, if you attack you must be prepared for counter attack and I still think it unreasonable to dismiss those that do so anonymously. Likewise it is not unreasonable to ask what are Michael's qualifications to offer the opinions he does on the Pleasurama development. After all, if he has some it makes his criticism all the more credible, but, if not, then he is simply assuming there might be a problem. I have no engineering qualifications whatsoever, but find it hard to believe that the developers, their architects and engineers as well as the qualified staff within TDC have all overlooked the problems Michael keeps raising.

    As a lay person and resident, the biggest concern I would have is over the time it has all taken and the years that Ramsgate's sands have been blighted by this eyesore.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Tom I think if it’s all the same to you I will stick with the shop assistant qualification, for instance I was involved in computing at a time when it was developing very fast, Simon Mores another local blogger went down the road of revealing his qualifications in this field. This then caused a great many people who don’t understand how qualifications were acquired at a time when the subject was a new one to attempt to discredit him.

      As I said before if there is anything in this post where you think I am mistaken, tell me what it is and I will point you at the supporting documentation, most of which is written either by the developer’s or the council’s qualified experts.

      As far as the years of eyesore goes much of this falls on the previous cabinet decision not to determine the development agreement against the advice of the senior council offices. In this instance I would prefer not to publish the restricted internal council documentation substantiating this, as I don’t think it would serve much purpose.

      Delete
  9. If Michael is posting genuine concerns about structural safety (and I can't see how anybody could argue that this is not what he is doing) you have to ask yourself, who would feel it neccessary to attack him under the cover of anonymity. It could just be one of those internet trolls, in which case we have nothing to worry about. On the other hand, it could be someone who has been involved at some level and is concerned that Michael's queries are getting too close to the mark. If everything has been done to the letter, I can see no reason why his questions can't be answered in full, and I can see no need for any Council documents on this subject to be secret. I'm always suspicious when people try to stifle free speech.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. How can you comment anonymously about other people doing so under the cover of anonymity. I think if you bother to look through all the postings Michael has put on this blogsite on the Pleasurama development plus all the letters he has written and replies received, most of the queries have been answered at some stage and some several times over.

      No one disputes this development has dragged on far too long and that the council were very probably remiss in not setting a time stipulation in their consent. What becomes tedious is the repetetive allegations of structural flaws in the work despite these being disproved on more than one occassion.

      Delete
    2. My reply to the above, which was there not long ago, has mysteriously disappeared, presumably into Michael's spam net we hear so much about.

      Delete
  10. And now it is back! This is too Harry Potter for me so I am off to watch the TV even though the recption is shite. Now there is something you could campaign about, Michael.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Nuffin to do with me Tom, Nuffin in mi spam folder either, you may need to clear your cache, really our spammed anon must have wound up the omnipotent Google in some way as they were the only comments to go wrong here for at least six months.

    But seriously the foundations are on the beach and there is no record of a proper sea defence, what some of the council officers have to say about this situation off the record isn’t printable, and all I am asking for is a professional flood risk assessment, which would cost what 25% of the cost of an apartment at the outside.

    It isn’t as though I am saying stop building it, or anything like that, just a relatively minor safety check, which could just show that the council lost the plans to a sound and solid sea defence and everything in the garden is rosy.

    The cliff is another matter and I can’t see the council giving any ground here until another bit drops off, as their main consultancy firm supervised the main contract, mind you if you had paid to have your house filled and painted you could have been a bit miffed if the cracks and weeds had started to appear in less than a year.

    Laura Sandys is the one for sorting the TV reception, or you can of course watch live UK TV on your computer now, bbc website and click on iplayer.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Keep pressing Michael. The mere fact that people try and put you off should be reason enough to carry on.

      A blog on TV reception might be worthwhile. The switchover is only 2 months away and our digital reception at the moment, with the present high pressure weather system firmly lodged over the UK, is rubbish. I know Laura was on the case but these things do have a habit of dropping on to the back burner.

      Delete
    2. Tim I assumed that the analogue repeater station in Ramsgate would be converted to digital giving us a much stronger signal than the one we get from Dover at the moment.

      If this isn’t the case I will take the issue up as I understand the technical issues so should be able to ask the right questions.

      Delete
  12. Rick Everitt by emailMarch 26, 2012 1:25 pm

    Michael,

    Thanks for the detailed information, which is very useful. I will
    consider what you say and discuss with colleagues.

    Regards,

    Rick

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Rick, I have to admit that I hadn’t put two and two together and realised that you are my ward councillor as well as cabinet member for finance.



      My main concern with this one is that the cabinet members are being presented with accurate information about the site and development, this came to a head recently when I received an email reply from Michael Stannard the MD of Cardys the present contractor for work on the site.



      In he says:



      “The structural columns which support the transition slab are all fully complete in readiness for the transition slab. Ahead of this the bricklayers will be progressing the masonry to the stair cores and the retails areas. This will help limit risk of ‘overhead’ construction activities to the site.”



      This is plainly not the case, I guess as you live in Ramsgate you are probably aware that the site was deserted about a month ago with the look of work in progress and about two thirds of the support columns complete.



      Even more bizarrely they left the door of one their storage sheds open and it is still open now.



      On the financial front I do have some concerns that may not have been presented in the cabinet documentation, the main one of which is that SFP publicised the fact that they have bought the adjacent building, this was most recently an amusement arcade.



      What the owner of SFP seems to have actually done is used a different company that he owns to buy it. Whether this has financial implications I don’t know as I don’t have access to anything more that the companies house report of SFP, which says this a company with negative assets and pretty much dormant. There is certainly nothing to suggest that they have ever produced any other development or has any track record to substantiate the claims on the Royal Sands website.



      In a general sense I am not happy about everything related to this decision being done in secret, particularly as the leases, development agreement and variation are in the public domain as a result of my foi request.



      Obviously I accept that some of the financially sensitive information may need to be kept secret and that the contact details of the individuals involved could need to be.



      However being secretive about what issues to be discussed and any changes to the scheduling of the development I don’t really think is acceptable as this is a council owned site that has had a long term detrimental impact of the town’s economy.



      Your email and this reply published at http://thanetonline.blogspot.co.uk/2012/03/royal-sands-development-on-pleasurama_23.html




      Best regards Michael

      Delete
  13. I want Michael to be wrong but I am not convinced that he is.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I too hope he's wrong; because, if he's right, this will prove that you can't trust anybody involved.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Michael - I suspect that if you asked any company to disclose their full finacial details to the public then they too would have a problem. Would you let us have the details of the mortgage and ownership information on the properties that you own or lease.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. All of the Royal Sands leases are contained in the development agreement linked to the post. This isn’t what is at issue here, it isn’t the financial details that I am asking to be in the public domain but the changes in scheduling of the development and the l progress reported by the developer which seems to be different to the actual progress on the site.

      But most of all if the change of foundation design has produced a situation where the safety of the development is compromised.

      Delete
    2. Yes, of course it has, Michael, which reminds me I am tired. Yawn! Please wake me up when you write something interesting or different for a change.

      Delete
    3. When I was a little girl my Nan used to read me a story about a boy who always used to cry wolf. There was never a wolf and it always turned out to be a figment of his imagination. One day a wolf did turn up but no one believed him and he got eaten. Michael Childs has conjered up so many differe

      Delete
    4. Oops, a wolf seems to have eaten part of my comment!

      Delete
  16. Jimmy Godden has died.

    ReplyDelete

Please note comments that may be libellous, comments that may be construed as offensive, anonymous derogatory comments about real people, comments baiting internet trolls, boring comments and spam comments will be deleted. Also note the facility to leave anonymous comment will be turned of during periods when I am unable to monitor comment, this will not affect people commenting who are signed on to their blogger accounts.