Sunday, 6 September 2015

Sunday Ramble, Manston, Pleasurama, Salinger, Dreamland.

I guess those of you who follow our blog of pictures of the books going on to the shelves of our bookshop in Ramsgate realise that I have been very busy recently.

I think the main reason here is that we seem to have the last secondhand bookshop in the area dealing with large book clearances, the last one being about 500 mostly maritime books. Quite a lot of these were not in the best of condition and so went on the shelves at very low prices.

I have been having a lazy Sunday afternoon reading Salinger’s short stories, my 1953 edition seems to have had many incarnations, starting in The Free Library of Philadelphia. The stories mostly relate to the youf of today around the time my parents were the youf of today, strange stuff.

The Ramsgate Pleasurama saga continues with what looks like close on another £1m of cliff patching repairs, I would guess that efforts to make this 100 metres cliff suitable for people to live under must have mopped up more money than any other 100 metres of cliff in the area.

The council still haven’t answered my two main questions about this one; will the council be able to economical maintain the cliff from the narrow gap between the development and the cliff for the life of the development? And will the council go into taking the liability for the 150 year old sea defence that holds the development’s foundation in place without a flood risk assessment?

At the moment the cliff repairs are supposed to be finished by 16 October, I would guess there will either have to be some drastic corner cutting or they won’t be finished on time.

I guess with the demise of the local blogs the most lively local forum with about 3,500 members has to be the FaceBook group We Love Ramsgate recent highlights being.

This from ex Ramsgate Mayor David Green.

“On Wednesday evening, I attended the Ramsgate Town Council meeting of its Town Improvement committee. I was the only member of the public there. 6 of our Town Councillors didn't turn up including the Chair of the committee. He preferred an entirely inappropriate appearance at TDC's Governance and Audit Committee. I attended because after 4 months in office, I thought our new Councillors would be brimming with new ideas for the improvement of Ramsgate, and I wanted to hear them. I also wanted to hear whether they would be progressing any of the projects that were being progressed by the previous council such as refurbishment of the dolphin lights, the creation of a town square in pier yard, or the creation of a beach club on the marina car park. I have to say, I was profoundly disappointed. There were precisely no new ideas, no mention of the previous projects and important reports from the Ramsgate Town Team and the Town Promoter (whose role is to be discontinued) were treated with disdain, bordering on rudeness. The majority of those present obviously couldn't get the meeting finished quickly enough and get home to their cocoa.”

The first believable Manston cpo poll, I say believable inasmuch as it is a facebook poll which shows who actually voted which way and it isn’t on a pro or anti airport site.

The results are about at third for the TDC RiverOak cpo and about two thirds for letting Discovery Park get on with developing the site.

Although I was for reopening the airport I have grave reservations about an airfreight hub we can’t fly from instead, anyway I voted for Discovery Park and added my reasons to the page, here is what I said there.

“Just voted for the Discovery Park option and think I should explain why.

The choice here isn’t between an airport and a mixed use light industrial and residential development but between RiverOak who as far as I can see have no verifiable record of creating any jobs and Discovery Park who already run the development that is the largest local employer.

As a local businessperson I am only too aware that a very large proportion of my customers, who have an income sufficient that it means they can afford to buy more than essentials, work at Sandwich Discovery Park.

I have looked long and hard to find any references to RiverOak doing anything more than operating as a residential real estate hedge fund company. By this I mean investing clients funds into housing to produce a return on the rents.

I can find no verifiable link between RiverOak and commercial property investment, in fact they don’t even own the freehold of their own office.

I can’t see how any credible company could go through years of trading without leaving a media and internet trail showing what they have achieved, this may of course be because my it skills are not up to the job.

So if you want me to change my mind and believe that RiverOak would be a viable company to run the largest commercial site in Thanet, you only have to send me the links to the media coverage of their other commercial ventures.”

No one put up anything to change my mind.

Of course the main issue here, raised by TDC, the leader of UKIP, et al, is not do the council proceed with a cpo, but are RiverOak a suitable indemnity partner that the council could proceed with a cpo in a way that the council’s risk was minimal.

As I said in my comment there is very little on the internet about RiverOak’s past but I guess the most comprehensive is their own news archive, links down the right hand side of this page

Much has also been said about how much money the council would have to find in terms of compensation where the cpo to succeed.

I think it is pretty clear that they would have to pay the present site owners enough to buy and relocate to another 700 acre brownfield site in the southeast, so £300m give or take.

The compensation to those affected by the cpo is less clear, but I would expect the noise and air pollution caused by a major cargo hub to have a significant effect on local property values and life expectancy.

Onto Dreamland and it looks like TDC are going to have to cough up an extra £2m to cover expense overruns.

With KCC spending so much on subsidising Turner Contemporary and TDC so much on Dreamland, perhaps TDC ought to consider lowering the Dreamland prices to the point where Dreamland is really busy.


  1. Maybe Dreamland have got it wrong by charging everybody on the basis that they are all going on the rides. Some of the shots I have seen on the local news and recent photos in local newspapers show a very empty park. And how much have those Deamland TV ads costs? I have seen nothing in the press to say that the Dreamland CPO compensation has been settled and how much. The current owner wanted to build 400 dwellings on part of the site which could have bought them in £20 millions. If the current heritage use have not delivered the goods in terms of footfall then the basis of the claims made in court at the CPO hearings wont stand up and maybe the e owners have a case to get possession back,

  2. Dave the issue with the fair and the fare is an old one and really works best when each ride is run by a showman who takes the fare for the ride on the ride, adjusting the price depending on how busy it is.

    I guess the next best thing is a wristband it token system with the park open to the public.

    Gate entry only works where the demand is very high and the public captive like the big theme parks.

    At the moment they have a daily ticket that costs £15 and one that lasts for a whole year for £50 this gets even more bonkers as an annual ticket letting you go on all of the rides for a whole year is £60 for two adults.

    My guess is that if you made it £1 a ride and opened the gates it take much more money than it is at the moment.


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