They say no news is good news, but strange news combined with no response from those involved is often worse.
Last Thursday I went to the Manston Airfreight Hub consultation at Canterbury, this wasn’t a busy event while I was there, so the RiverOak representatives had plenty of time for me.
Now my take is that any commercial/industrial development on the old Manston Airport site has to be a balance between the environmental costs and the economic benefits. I will qualify this by an example of what I mean, we started off – the human race that is – with pretty much no pollution apart from the naturally occurring pollution generated by volcanoes and the greenhouse gasses produced by animals. This was all fine and dandy and I guess we – the human race that is – were pretty much how the most extreme environmentalist or perhaps a 1960s hippy would like to see it. The down side of all this was that like expectancy was less than 30.
Now we have a well developed industrial society generating massive amounts of pollution with a life expectancy of over 80. Most of the things that give a higher life expectancy relate to our high standard of living generated by the industrialised society in which we live.
Now the pollution associated with the commercial/industrial development of Manston falls into two brackets, actual day to day pollution, water, air, light noise and potential pollution which is mostly spillage of contaminants into the Thanet drinking water supply as the result of some sort of accident.
Now at this consultation I started out chatting to one of the pollution experts there and having the normal type conversation that I have had at previous consultations, like the Infratil consultation about the airport getting an Environmental Permit or the Discovery Park one about Stone Hill Park mixed development.
Now at some point in my visit this normal activity descended into something like a promotional circus where the people who were supposed to be listening to my views on the development went down a rabbit hole. Like Alice I realised that I was falling a long way and my mind switched to considering things like, had I fallen as far as the centre of the earth and how far that was, see http://thanetonline.blogspot.co.uk/2016/07/reminder-that-informal-manston-dco.html
In some sense or another, like Alice, after this sort of thing one comes to a series of doors and starts trying to open them. There were few silver keys on the glass table and the one I decided to try was the one to the DFT.
Up until now replies from the DFT have been prompt and informative and what concerned me was that I had met a lot of people wearing RiverOak badges but the majority of them didn’t seem to relate to them being part of a major investment company able to mount a significant national infrastructure project. In fact the only person I spoke to there who seemed to be in calibre told me he didn’t work for RiverOak but the company that RiverOak had employed as environmental consultants, and to be honest he seemed pretty much a sceptical as me about some of the environment aspects of the project.
So we have RiverOak http://www.riveroakic.com/ in Connecticut with as senior management team of 5 although they don’t appear to be in the Connecticut company register, we have RiverOak http://www.riveroakinvestments.co.uk/ with a senior management team of 7 also in Connecticut. Are they the same company?
This brings us around to Pleasurama, now this was to be built by SFP Ventures Partners Ltd, after about a year of asking the council this tuned out to be a company registered in the British Virgin Isles.
Back then this sort of offshore was pretty much unregulated and I think it was partly because of this that the Pleasurama saga has gone on so long.
Anyway last Friday after the business with Alice and the rabbit whole, I wrote to the DFT asking them for company details for RiverOak, now so far the DFT have replied to my enquiries within two or three days and minor questions like this by return.
To me it would seem pretty obvious that for a DCO to proceed the DFT would have to deal with a properly registered American company, list of shareholders, list of directors, published accounts and so on. Well so far no reply.
Then we to the latest on the Pleasurama saga, from what I have been able to unscramble, last week one of the developer’s subsidiary companies Cardy somethingoranother paid the council the millions of pounds balance for the freehold of the Pleasurama site. Then this week the parent company Cardy Construction has started down the going bust road. Administration bankruptcy, that type of kidney.
Where we go from here I think is, providing the money the council received passed the strict regulations that govern money transferred to bits of government. Summed up it must be properly and legitimately sourced and provided the company Cardy somethingoranother is a subsidiary of Cardy Construction then the insolvency administrator is obliged to get as much at he or she can for the Pleasurama site.
Lets just hope that both the DFT and TDC have made sure they are dealing with properly registered companies, because if say either companies Cardy somethingoranother or RiverOak are actually registered in a tax haven somewhere and no one can even find out who the shareholders or directors are and published accounts are in a machine full of butter with the DFT and TDC saying. “But it was the best butter.” We may have issues.
Anyway I also phoned TDC and asked them for an update on Pleasurama, this was on Tuesday I think and they said they would be issuing a statement in a couple of days and would send me a copy. Nothing has arrived from them either.
I notice Chris Wells the leader of the Council has put this on one Facebook. "Labour commitment to sell was supposed to extract us from that situation, and what we had seen elsewhere around the names associated with SFP. The Council will provide certain information as it becomes available. Until then constant speculation only hinders things for everyone. You all now know that the deal which Labour committed us to in March 2015 has been completed."
No RiverOak in Canterbury this Thursday, but some pictures.