Tuesday 19 June 2012

BBC gearing up to go live in Ramsgate, a ramble.

As you see from the picture the BBC were getting ready for their live radio economics broadcast in Ramsgate when I went out for a walk earlier, the timings are in the previous post.

There is a bit of an irony here as they are doing this right in the middle of Ramsgate’s most significant council induced economic disaster.

Outside the Royal Victoria Pavillion, next to the Pleasurama site and opposite the newly closed amusement arcade that has apparently been acquired to sell the apartments of The Royal Sands Development.

I guess there is a bit of a game of Monopoly or something going on here, I will ramble on I suppose, but I guess these subjects get tedious for us all.      

On a much more cheerful note there was a painting in progress on my walk, which is always interesting to me.        

Both the photos were taken with my phone so apologies if the quality isn’t up to much.

With The Royal Sands, I don’t want anyone to think I have dropped the issue, correspondence with the council about it is something of an uphill struggle, with the council wriggling very hard to avoid answering pertinent questions.

Officers seem to think it quite ok to sell the site to SFP without going through the asset disposal process, although I think some of the cabinet members may have reservations about this.  

I guess it is now much harder for the council to get out of this particular mess than it was three years ago when the developer came to them asking for concessions and more delays.

Of course then the officers recommended taking the site back, but the then cabinet decided not to follow the officers advice. 

Was this an act of spite by the then Conservative administration towards Ramsgate, or did the have some sort of good indentations (sorry Simon I must have meant intentions, typo, happens to some of us)? They wouldn’t and won’t say, so I don’t know.

Fourteen years of the main leisure site in the town a derelict and deserted mess is certainly something of an achievement and as it is council owned it does seem hard to imagine this could have happened entirely by accident.   

With the Pavillion, back in 2010 the council issued the following press release

“Repair work has been completed on one of Ramsgate’s most familiar seafront buildings.

Work has been carried out over the last four months to the Royal Victoria Pavilion on Harbour Parade by the Rank Organisation. It follows lengthy discussions with the council, which owns the building. It is Rank’s responsibility, as the tenants, to ensure that the building is kept in good repair.

Since work started in the summer, the roof of the pavilion has been repaired, partly recovered and redecorated. The external rendering was fractured and in poor condition in a large number of places, which was allowing weather penetration to occur in some of these areas. To avoid deterioration of the structure, these areas have been repaired, re-rendered and redecorated.

Cllr. Roger Latchford, Cabinet Member for Regeneration, said: “Most people in Ramsgate know the pavilion building and have wanted to see something happening with it, as has the council. We’re delighted that finally work has been completed on the exterior of the building to bring it back into good repair. Hopefully, now that this work has been undertaken, we can look forward to it being re-occupied.””

As I guess most people know I then went and took a look and the Pavillion was in fact totally derelict inside. 


  1. I think you mean "intentions" rather than "indentations" Michael.

    As for 'Spite' it mat surprise you to know that whether an area is Conservative, Labour or any colour in between never came into any Cabinet or officer meetings I has sat in on. We just do what we have to do to try and keep the local wheels rolling and more often than not with a fraction of the funding available to do what we need to do.

    1. So how come the Pleasurama site is still a 'deserted mess' after all these years. A simple answer will suffice Mr Moores.

    2. Simon I watched the Maritime Museum negotiations with interest and have occasionally dabbled in computing during the last forty years, so communications relating to this are not as closed a book to me as would otherwise be the case, frankly in the end I could form no conclusion other than the Conservatives wanted the museum to stay closed.

      Further to this I could only surmise that this was an act of spite towards a town with predominately Labour Councillors, albeit a Conservative MP.

      Do feel free to disillusion me, although do also consider that I may have access to shadow cabinet members correspondence on this issue.

      With Pleasurama, the question still remains why did the Conservative cabinet not follow the officers advice to terminate the development agreement and get the site back when it came before them for decision three years ago?

      The main advising officer was then the head of finance, no chief executive and the advice to determine the development agreement was on financial grounds.

      Why the Cabinet would wish to continue with a developer who never appears to have developed anything is a bit beyond me, perhaps you have some knowledge of some other successful development he has produced that you could point me at to restore confidence.

      In this instance it has been mentioned that the secret cabinet papers on last meeting leaked out under the new Labour administration, it is just possible that I could leak out the secret cabinet papers for the Conservative cabinet meeting three years ago, if that would help to clarify your answer.

      The bottom line here though is the all of the business leisure related space behind Ramsgate Main Sands, Pavillion and Pleasurama is derelict, council owned and crippling the town economically, the Conservative group had eight years to deal with this and they didn’t. I would say that it is most likely that losing Ramsgate is what lost the Thanet Conservatives power, I guess you need to say something, anything to restore our confidence and I don’t think calling long established Ramsgate businessmen like me socialist activists is going to do it. What I would like to hear about is some sort of plan to put our problems right, at the moment we assume that when you get back into power we are going to suffer.

    3. Michael. You keep telling everyone that you have access to these secret papers. Well if you want to prove your hypothesis that local Conservatives are motivated entirely by spite (forgetting in your theory that Ramsgate was not predominantly red until the last election)then go ahead and publish so that we can make up our own minds.
      You are right about one thing. Losing Ramsgate (and specifically Nethercourt) was what lost the Conservatives their majority. They have to ask themselves why traditionally Conservative Nethercourt swung round to two fairly off-the-wall Labour candidates. Then, once they've worked it out (and it's not really all that hard)they will be on the road to regaining power.

  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    1. Sorry 4.18 you can’t accuse named officers and councillors of fraud and corruption here, continued abuse of this blog will result in difficulties for you when using blogger.

  3. 4.18 OK Michael it's your blog. How best to refer to the 0% salary increases as part of a discussion on Thanet council issues? You go first :-)

  4. Once again Michael it is very difficult to take you seriously when you only go back to the conservative decision of three years ago; but ignore the original labour decision to choose a development partner who could not be fully subject to due diligence. If your 'sources' are as good as you claim you would know that the last cabinet discussion was open, free flowing and contained no party political bias. But, i suspect your sources are not as good as you think they are.......
    The issue of the Maritime Museum is simple: is its potential worth the commitment of at least £1m from the council over 25 years? Discuss.

    1. Chris, my understanding is and correct me if I am wrong:

      The original development was to be by Whitbread the brewer, part funded by SFP.

      During the change of administration, I guess about nine years ago Whitbread pulled out leaving SFP who changed the planning drawings to the higher than the cliff ones, leaving the planning and design statement the same saying it was lower than the cliff.

      My understanding is that there was cross party consensus to go with the Whitbread project, and indeed if a major UK company came up with a sensible project for the site now I would be supportive of this.

      From my point of view it was only when I discovered the change in the drawings i.e. higher than the cliff, that I took any interest in local politics and tried to object to the development based on the fact that it was barmy i.e. it didn’t fit in the available space between the high tide mark and the top of the cliff.

      I approached both Steve Ladyman the then Labour MP and my ward councillor, I also wrote to the council, it is my understanding that my ward councillor and several other local resident pursued the issue too.

      The net result was we were told it was too late to object to the changed plans, i.e. it got in under the radar, whether the outgoing Labour administration, the incoming Conservative administration or the officers were to blame I don’t know, a bit of all of them I suspect.

      After that I think the only realistic way of getting out of this deal with a development partner who could not be fully subject to due diligence, was I understand at cabinet three years ago.

      So years I agree bad decisions nine years ago, probably bad decisions by the previous Labour administration.

      We now come to the current round of decisions and agreements, my understanding is that these are thwarted by the existing development agreement which doesn’t set proper time frames, so if the council tries to get the site back they could be subject to litigation from the developer trying to reclaim the money he has already spent.

      Two massive roundabouts the purpose of which have never been properly explained, the one at the Broadstairs end seems to be for huge vehicles that wouldn’t be able to use the aging and frail viaduct to actually get to it. The one at the pavillion end already has paid parking spaces round it and no sign that its huge size would ever be required. The surface drain into the harbour, which seems to be OK and of course the foundations laid on the old sand beach behind the 1860 sea defence that the council holds no plans or maintenance record for.

      So now I am looking for some support from the opposition party in resolving this mess, any ideas?

      With the Maritime museum you seem to be saying that keeping it closed, evicting the historic vessels from the historic vessel pontoon, letting the dry dock and Cervia decay would have in some way recovered the £1m spent, as I am sure this isn’t what you mean, what do you actually mean?

    2. £1M over 25 years, compared to say £1M per year (or more) for the Turner Centre looks excellent value.

      Add in the decay Michael mentions, lost revenue, wasted council time, (don't include the £50M build cost of the Turner twice) and it's unbelievable the Maritime Museum has been closed even for a day.

      Just for TDC to then sign it over to volunteers/charity. Expensive tax for such failure?

      Then there's the mystery costs of Pleasurama or Chinagate (£20M?)?

      Or £80M on a half-mile road.

    3. Anon 2.19 dont get confused between what TDC and KCC each spend.
      The Turner build costs of £16.5 millions was funded by KCC and central government via The Arts Council.
      The Arts council contribute about £.5 millions towards the annual costs and KCC £1.5 millions and since KCC own the building KCC pay at least £200,000 for maintennce and insurance.
      KCC akso seem to have spend a lot on Fort Hill.
      The £87 millions road to nowhere was funded by KCC £6 millions and £81 millions from central government.
      So that leaves TDC to spend just £40,000 a year on Ramsgate museum.
      And to make the cliff safe for the Pleasurama development TDC have spent £1 million, not sure what your £20 millions is.

    4. 4:20 I'm not sure there's a vast difference on what's been said about the budgets: Thanet activities are funded by TDC, KCC and national quangos through tax.

      It's all public funds from council tax, business rates and national tax/VAT.

      A handy way for the councils to pass the blame though while doing nothing.

      Your point on the budgets somehow leaving 40k is simply not correct. TDC or KCC could have funded the Museum form their 60M and 2Bn existing budgets as they now have done, or fobbed it off onto volunteers.

      Expensive salaries and pensions, and tax, to do nothing. TDC has again increased staff with 2 90k jobs?


Comments, since I started writing this blog in 2007 the way the internet works has changed a lot, comments and dialogue here were once viable in an open and anonymous sense. Now if you comment here I will only allow the comment if it seems to make sense and be related to what the post is about. I link the majority of my posts to the main local Facebook groups and to my Facebook account, “Michael Child” I guess the main Ramsgate Facebook group is We Love Ramsgate. For the most part the comments and dialogue related to the posts here goes on there. As for the rest of it, well this blog handles images better than Facebook, which is why I don’t post directly to my Facebook account, although if I take a lot of photos I am so lazy that I paste them directly from my camera card to my bookshop website and put a link on this blog.