Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Thanet District Council, The Royal Sands Development Ramsgate and The Freedom of Information Act.

After five months, I really have lost count of how many emails, I have finally had my request for the Pleasurama development agreement officially refused.

Click on the link for the correspondence http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/foi/id18.htm please leave the officers surnames out of any comments, my emails in red theirs in black to make it easier to follow.

This isn’t the end of the matter, as I will pursue it to the bitter end, something that will probably take several more months, mainly because there is a point of principle here.

As the Pleasurama saga roles on it would seem highly likely that the site will stand deserted for another summer season, during which it could be used both for parking and leisure, something that would be highly beneficial to Ramsgate during these harsh economic times.

So if you see some more bankrupt and closed businesses in the town during the next year, you may consider that a contributory factor to their demise will be a failure by highly paid and very senior council officers to face up to and admit the practical problems related to building on this site to the existing plans.

In this particular instance the development agreement is important because the council are using a technical regulation to hide information that would normally be in the public domain, for a development of this size and significance.

The key public document would normally be the planning agreement, something that most importantly when considering the years that this unused and hideous building site has blighted the main leisure part of the town, would have set out some sort of time scale for the development.

There is no development agreement because one isn’t mandatory and the reason it isn’t mandatory is because the council own the site.

The picture, click on it to enlarge is of the site being used normally.


  1. Rear view mirrorMarch 16, 2010 3:02 pm


    Do you think you could estimate how much money the council has spent dealing with all your FOI requests, without spouting about how the council has made them complicated.

    Having spent a little time following the trail of some on your blog, I would suggest you have far too much time on your hands.

  2. RVM A couple of thoughts here, one being the council has a department to answer foi requests, so I am a little unclear about what they would be doing if they were not answering them.

    I am afraid that you have to accept that say, Mike the freedom of information assessor is probably earning more than a thousand a week and he will do so week in week out regardless of how many foi requests he answers, this is the way our government works. So unless they have to take on extra staff to answerer my requests something that would seem unlikely as I have only requested 10 documents under the act, since the act came into force.

    The other is that the Pleasurama development saga and the years of ongoing delays directly effects my business and all the other businesses in Ramsgate, so if I can bring the thing to some sort of sensible conclusion, I should have a lot less time on my hands.

  3. Keep up the good work Michael, do not be put off, if TDC can afford £20,000 on mARgaTe they can afford a few bob replying to you.

    I for one would like to know why a £98,000 THANET flood risk assessment did not include Ramsgate eastern undercliff.

  4. Example Council values quote:

    •The Council will actively promote participation in the democratic process and protect each citizen’s right to vote fairly, freely and secretly.
    •It will listen to and take account of the views of the people.
    •It will be open in its decision-making, except where the law declares otherwise.
    •It will obey the law of the land.
    •Democracy entails a set of liberal values (below) including certain rights and their associated responsibilities.
    Human Dignity
    •Every citizen has a right to life and freedom from mental and physical harm, and also to self-determination in this respect. These rights will not be overridden, except possibly where this conflicts with the same right of another individual or group."

    RVM UNLESS the Developer has a conflicting right to life then the values and the underpinning law support Michael's position.

    I take it you believe in the rule of law ?

  5. Keep at it Michael if they can afford to pay silly wages on silly jobs they might as well have something to do.

  6. Very unlikely that TDC will have a dedicated officer for Freedom of Information requests. It will be stuff that people have to do over and above what they already do.

  7. I think tdc have several officers involved in the FOI process, and most of the effort seems to be directed at not supplying information requested, finding some reason or another to hide behind various clauses hoping that people will give up. Well done for keeping at them.

  8. Michael
    Is there not a period when the accounts are open that you could ask pertinent questions that they have to respond to, possibly asking for financial information under the terms of the 106 agreement.

  9. Michael, keep up the good work. TDC and local/national government depts up and down the country need to realise that what they do is for us. We have a right to know exactly what is being done in our name and with our money.

    If it takes thousands/millions of man hours or millions of pounds for them to realise it, that will eventually be our issue. Services will be cut.

    It makes the council's stance on not openly sharing information all the more absurd.

  10. To Rear View Mirror,

    Clearly you are connected with TDC. Maybe you work for them. If so then I suggest that you do not waste our money by picking quarrels with the public. TDC exists to serve the public.


Please note comments that may be libellous, comments that may be construed as offensive, anonymous derogatory comments about real people, comments baiting internet trolls, comments saying that an anonymous comment was made by a named real person, boring comments and spam comments, comments in CAPs will be deleted. Playground stuff like calling real people by their time stamp or surname alone, referring to groups as gangs, old duffers and so on will result in deletion. Comment that may be construed as offensive to minority groups is not allowed here either, so think before you write it, remember that the internet is a public place, that it is very difficult to be truly anonymous and that everyone who uses it leaves a trail of some sort. 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. When things are particularly difficult on the commercial spam front I may turn comment moderation on for periods.

If you feel that someone has left a comment that is offensive and directed at you personally please email me (link on the sidebar) asking to have it removed, you will need to tell which post and the date and timestamp of the offending comment. Please do not reply to the offending comment as I will assume you continuing the dialogue as meaning that you want the comments left there.