Now the councillors have decided to terminate The Royal Sands Pleasurama development agreement I guess some people will be wondering where that leaves us? Will we be seeing the site put to some use? And when?
I think the key to all of the answers is that the council didn’t plan for the eventuality of the development not happening. Rightly or wrongly the council officers and the councillors made the assumption that the developer intended to develop the site and that the developer had the experience and financial resources to do this.
From the point of view of the uninformed and unconsulted onlookers and even the few people who were expecting the Whitbread development and had seen the artist’s impressions of this and read the bumph about it being set well below the clifftop, the first indication that something was amiss was when the planning drawings appeared for a completely different development that towered over the clifftop. The next indication was being told by the council that although the plans hadn’t been approved they wouldn’t accept any objections to them.
This is when I got involved as did various other people after this slowly and reluctantly the council admitted that they had no idea if the surrounding infrastructure, which was to be maintained out of council tax, was in a viable state to support the development.
The main issues here are, flood risk, distance from the cliff face to allow for cliff face maintenance and the road access down the inclined Marina Road viaduct. Obviously all of these things have to work in a reasonably viable way for the life of the development. Of course the other side of this coin is that council tax usually pays for the infrastructure to reach developments, the road to your house, street lights etc.
In the case of The Turner Contemporary in Margate both a cliff support structure and sea defence that should last abut as long as the gallery were built at large public expense. With this sort of thing there has to be limits, if you want say to build your house on the edge of the cliff, then you may lose it when the cliff collapses.
In the case of The Royal Sands the council seemed to be underwriting the developer doing the equivalent of building on the end of the cliff and I think the councillors slowly began to appreciate this problem.
My understanding of the situation with regard to the council ending what has become a great local farce was there were three options, one being to terminate the development agreement, one being to enter into negotiations with a third party that hoped to take over SFP and the other being to offer further concessions including delaying the completion date to 2017.
The council decided to terminate the development agreement.
Going down the road of terminating the development agreement the problem faced by the council is that the development agreement doesn’t contain any really definite dates by which the developer would be seen as having failed to do certain aspects of the development and therefore be in beach of the agreement. I think in legal terms this is described as there being no long stop date.
So now the council has to get an expert building consultant to produce a building time framework and wait for the developer to go outside of that framework before thy can legally terminate the agreement. Once this happens then the council should be able to terminate the site leases. How long all this takes is dependent on what the developer does. If the developer starts to get on with building the site then there isn’t anything the council can do about it while the developer sticks to the framwork.
While all this is going on of course the developer has the site leases so there isn’t much that can be done to the site, of course the developer may decide just to hand the leases back to the council, but this seems unlikely.
My own feelings are that we are likely to be at the beginning of a legal battle between the council and the developer and that the site is likely to remain derelict for years rather than months.
On to the business about comments on blogs and likes on facebook covered recent by Simon Moores http://birchington.blogspot.co.uk/2014/02/reasons-to-be-careful-1-2-3.html and some newspapers http://www.theguardian.com/media/2014/feb/23/rival-facebook-campaigns-stir-storm-margate-tesco
The keys here being anonymity and liability. One aspect of the internet is that it is possible to publish information to it anonymously, there are various ways of doing this but the net result is the same.
The nearest non internet equivalent is graffiti and to a lesser or greater extent the responsibility of those involved who are not anonymous, like the owner of the wall that has had the graffiti painted on to it.
To explain this it is easiest to make up an unacceptable word “xxyyxx” will do.
So if someone writes xxyyxx on my wall I probably have some legal or moral obligation to remove it.
With the internet things become more difficult, for instance it is possible for someone to anonymously write xxyyxx on a wall and then someone to like it who isn’t anonymous. It is possible for someone to comment xxyyxx and for the blog administrator to allow the comment.
This blog is actually owned by Google and rented to me by them for nothing and my stance is that I am safest allowing comments and then deleting those which are either unsuitable or may be unsuitable, particularly if a third party asks me to remove a comment. This is basically how Google cover themselves, if you find xxyyxx on a blog and you write to Google they will remove it.
I have a wall and you can write on it as opposed to I have a wall behind a grill and I unlock the grill to allow you to write on it, which is the position when the administrator of the blog applies comment administration.
We now have a situation where the law and policing are very unclear, let us suppose that I call you an xxyyxxer on this blog, you could of course take action through the civil courts, but most likely you will make the reasonable assumption that this is a case of cyber bullying and therefore criminal, so you may ask the police to take action.
The answers to what constitutes a UK crime are pertinent to everyone in the UK with a blog or facebook account and even to anonymous commentators unless they are absolutely certain of their anonymity
There is of course the argument that this is wasting police time when they out be out stopping the costa from jumping on his coffee, but this is a new area of crime, and as such there is very good argument for the rights and wrongs of to be thrashed out using public funding.
I will ramble on here