Saturday, 9 February 2013

A dubious ramble possibly worse, Royal Sands, Ramsgate Tunnels, Margate Caves and local politics.

Starting on a high note a new shop has just opened in King Street Ramsgate, here is their facebook page

On to The Royal Sands on the Pleasurama site in Ramsgate, a far more depressing subject, there has been much coverage of this in the media, both the BBC and other local blogs.

I guess the most informative being the Margate Architecture post there is a series of voice recordings of some of the people involved being interviewed by the BBC that some may find amusing listening.

Another is councillor David Green’s blog post Dave Green is a TDC cabinet member, mayor of Ramsgate and the development is in his electoral ward. I guess if anyone knows what’s going on he should.

Pursuing a development on a high risk flood zone without a safety assessment has caused some friction between me and our local new Labour, I did try hard to get them to use the bargaining position of the developer asking them for further concessions as a reason for them to insist on a flood risk assessment.

I do understand how helpful to them it would be to have the £3.6m at this interesting point in time, but I do feel that public safety – particularly for people who are reliant on that public’s vote – should come first.

On to the peculiar business of the Conservative view about the local budget as expressed on Simon Moors’s blog at

My take on Thanet’s economic future is that there is no one solution, I would say it is highly unlikely that large scale manufacturing industry will ever locate in Thanet, if the balance of economic manufacturing shifts more towards the UK it is most likely that it will be the midlands and north of the country that would be most likely to benefit. There seems to be something of a dream among our local Conservatives involving a freight hub airport surrounded by dark satanic mills, perhaps they hope to find a new Jerusalem buried here in Thanet.

My guess is it will be a mixture of our climate, the best the UK has to offer and our costal location combined with the relatively easy journey to London, that will produce an economy based around people who relocate here and day out tourism.

Critical to this is having an all weather day out to offer people and I would guess the five miles of tunnels in Ramsgate are worth expending £10k on in the hope they may be able to provide this.

Back to The Royal Sands, some of the confidential documents relating to the 2009 cabinet’s decision to go against officer advice and not terminate relations with SFP have appeared online, to download the document as this file is hosted by FaceBook and you have to be logged on to a FaceBook account to download it   

Something that interested me with relation to The Royal Sands is that the Friends of Ramsgate Seafront group have been petitioning people about the development in Ramsgate today and have apparently got over a thousand signatures, what surprised them though was that all of the people the spoke to were completely against the development.

Watching both political groups apparently with a history of pursuing courses of action that are pretty much universally unpopular with the people who elect them, one does wonder what the solutions are.

I recently had a long chat with a previous leader of the council, batting around possibilities and the though that we all seemed to fare better when local government was more local urban district councils and the like.   

Considering that at the moment the Labour group although neither universally popular nor admired, seem to be still viewed as the lesser of two evils, I have to admit to seeing very little in the way of viable solutions.  

I will ramble on here if I get time.               


  1. The Louise Oldfield blog is wonderful. Alan Poole is priceless. And these people are in charge of Thanet's governance? Worrow worried about the rights of gay lemurs or whatever, Clive Hart bidding to take Rebecca Adlington's place whilst slowing stripping Iris of her powerbase. You couldn't make it up.

  2. You can make it up, Tim, for elsewhere in the news a Dr. Mills of the University of East Anglia is concerned that David Attenborough presents animals as straight and ignores their homosexual behaviour. As if, the man is telling us about animals, their evolution, reproduction, habitat and survival prospects in the main, not what they get up to in private. Surely a Cheetah hunting for and feeding her young is a bit more interesting, and more likely to keep the species going, than if she was into a lesbian relationship with another lady pussy cat. Presumably this ghastly bias by Attenboroufgh will be on the next TDC meeting agenda.

    Meantime, Michael thinks Labour are regarded as the lesser of two evils, well not in Broadstairs they ain't!

    1. Tom I assume you are a fairly traditional Conservative with associated Conservative values, which I guess if TDC Conservative councillors had followed the council would have been fairly well managed during the previous eight years of Conservative administration.

      My main gripe in Ramsgate is what happened with the council owned assets and how much this was to do with that administration’s management of them, the largest of these assets being Pleasurama.

      Now I guess you have read the private documents just published on the web, relating to the 2009 cabinet decision not to pull out of the Royal Sands fiasco.

      What do you make of it?

      The supporting bank SBP had closed earlier that year, there seems to a draft letter that was supposed to come from them, that looks like it was drafted by Mickey Mouse, the UK bank letter written a few days before Northern Rock, the supporting company the Virgin Islands one and not the UK one, the developers bankers not in the project directory although the contractors is, developers email a hotmail account,

      Wouldn’t a reasonably astute group have noticed these things?

      I guess like me you get letters from banks and suchlike, signatures websites, contact email, the name of the person to contact, they all seem to be on all the ones I get. Banks ever tell you in the text of a letter that they hold a triple star rating?

      Considering that this was a decision of such importance £22m contract and so on and I don’t think Big Ears would have lent anyone his bicycle based on the documentation SFP submitted, what do you think?

    2. Dave Green as both Mayor and TDC Cllr is saying he supports Pleasurama. So much for him.

    3. Michael, if I am a traditional conservative it is with a small 'c' for I am not a party member or activist. I have long been disillusioned with the political classes whose decisions sometimes seem to defy all logic as well as totally ignoring public opinion. Unlike you, I do not deal in lessers of evils, but still cling to the faint hope that someone might emerge with real leadership potential and the ability to arrest the decline our failing administrations at all levels.

      Obviously you have gone much deeper into the Pleasurama saga than I, no doubt out of interest and the fact you are a Ramsgate based businessman, but, as a looker on, I wonder how an off shore listed company with no traceable development record were ever afforded this contract in the first place, never mind what happened in 2009.

      The cop left in me thinks this has the sniff of dodgy old dealings way back, for surely such a prime sea front site must have been of interest to more than just some pretty unknown developer or was it the local connection through their agent that won the day. Who knows for I certainly do not, but I think trying to switch the blame to 2009 is a bit of the stable door and bolting horse saga.

      Perhaps you can explain to me why, seemingly after ten years of negligible progress. the present administration, including the Mayor of Ramsgate, still seem to be supportive of the developer who hasn't developed. Is this out of fear of what a withdrawal confrontatiion may expose or of heavy compensation that may result. One wonders if there were ever any performance time lines in the original contract.

    4. Tom I agree with you that the Labour group shouldn’t have chosen SFP, although frankly the proposal SFP submitted initially was a bit economic with the truth.

      It purported to be a Whitbread proposal supported by Société Financière Privée S.A. (SFP) and said (SFP) was a Swiss bank, I guess much of the problem there hangs on neither officers or councillors understanding the difference between the French word Financière (stockbroker) and Bancaire (bank).

      As a Swiss stockbroker – no banking licence – (SFP) wouldn’t have been allowed to finance a property development outside Switzerland, in the fog of the documentation there was also SFP Ventures Parners, which appeared to be the investment part of the bank, but was actually a Virgin Islands company.

      Hindsight is a wonderful thing, and as during the Labour administration no one had smelt a rat, I wasn’t perusing them with questions about Pleasurama.

      It was only when the planning application came up for decision under the new Conservative administration and people including me noticed that it was too high, that I started to make a fuss.

      There may have been other times, I don’t have all the documentation, but the 2009 cabinet decision offered the only opportunity to get out of the thing without serious risk of liability that I am aware of.

      So what we have is a situation where the Conservative group, despite considerable efforts on my part and the parts of others, including the Conservative MP, failed to put right a mistake that was first made under a Labour administration.

      I guess now the big worry is that SFP and Cardy will take the council to court if they try to get the land back, but I still think it is the carrot of the £3.6m that most attracts the Labour group.

      In order to see the Conservatives as the lesser of the two evils, I would need assurances that the wouldn’t seek to close the Maritime museum, that they would enforce the pavilion lease and or get the leasehold back from Rank and that they would at the very least insist on a flood risk assessment for Pleasurama, so at least whatever happens there isn’t a potential threat to life and limb.

      There also remains the question of the other major council owned assets, tunnels, Westcliff Hall, Albion House, Magazine, slipways and so on, but basically it’s no plan no vote as far as I am concerned.

      There are only two available choices at district level Labour or Conservative.

    5. What Conservativew MP would that have been back in 2009, Michael? As for your lesser of evils, that is a bit like choosing between the guillotine or hanging which brings the question "Do I have to choose?" Since I do not have to, I can go for the best candidate in the ward in which I live irrespective of political banner or none.

    6. Sorry about that Tom I should have said candidate. I guess all down the line what I have done in the past is to select the best candidate regardless of party, but now I am concerned that the district Conservatives may wish to exact some form of retribution on Ramsgate, should they get re-elected and seek some reassurance to stop me voting along party lines.

    7. To regain power they would have to take a few seats in Ramsgate so those councillors would hardly seek to extract retribution on their own electorate. Likewise, Laura Sandys needs to pick up a fair few Ramsgate votes to hold her seat. I think you are over dramatising, Michael, but then, maybe next time TDC might have a decent balance of parties and genuine independents forcing them to work together. We can but dream.

    8. Tom I would say that the one major factor that lost them Ramsgate votes at the last district elections was that at the end of their eight year term in control of the council nearly every TDC owned high profile public asset was either just disuse or derelict.

      One would have been unlucky two could have been a coincidence, Pleasurama, maritime museum, pavilion, eagle café, tourist information office, Albion House, Westcliff Hall and so on looked like it could only have been deliberate and aimed at a town with a majority of Labour councillors.

      So yes it is reassurances, combined with some sort of plan to resolve some of our problems and I guess the best place to start this from is as an effective opposition.

      Parties in opposition have much less in the way of constraints and I guess if they want to generate some sort of confidence and a resultant vote from Ramsgate one would expect to see some evidence of them talking to us locals.

      There are other issues, animal exports, night flights and so on, not easy issues I know, but there doesn’t seem to be much in the way of an attempt to discuss or address these either.

    9. I think what lost the Conservatives Ramsgate at the last TDC elections was losing Nethercourt. Most of the rest of the town was already Labour with only Nethercourt and Pegwell Conservative. When the two Conservative councillors in Nethercourt lost it upset the apple cart. And just remind yourself where Nethercourt is and what Labour promised that swung the vote.

  3. "slowing stripping Iris"?

  4. Michael, the link to the documents is not working. Has the page been deleted? Could you just publish them here? It is our money after all!

    1. Seems to be working for me dfl it is a pdf download, you could try a different browser, and of course you will need Adobe or some other pdf reader installed, I am a bit reluctant to go outside of the council’s rules and publish it my self.

      If you still can’t get it to work email me and I will do something for you.

    2. Just read it. Oh dear. TDC are terrible, aren't they?

      References from foreign banks that are uncertified. References from uk banks on companies that TDC are not contracted to. Development plans that would not pass a GCSE examining board.

      If a firm or a council,is stupid enough to swallow this rubbish they diverse everything they get. Unfortunately, we the people are liable for this total disregard of simple business protocol.

      No wonder they wanted to do it behind closed doors.

    3. Link doesn't work for me in either FF or Chrome

    4. Tim I have discovered what the problem is, the file is hosted by FaceBook and you have to be logged on to a FaceBook account to download it.

  5. Tom I think "Man of Kent" on the David Green site comments well re evidence.

    This is an area in which I have no experience. In the 2008 David O'Leary murder case a similar issue arose. His annual return for Secure Scaffolding Ltd was due at the time of his murder.

    We know that he had prepared drawings for planning to demolish a bungalow in Ramsgate to build 3 town houses.

    But his annual accounts for corporation tax and his planning drawings could not be found at his home. The scene of his murder.

    Some weeks before his murder he had damaged a Rolex in a seafront club fight. he locked it in his office at home in a secure cabinet. He then added the Rolex to his household insurance. After his murder the watch was found in a bedside drawer. Rather suggesting that his office secure storage had been accessed ?

    In such circumstances if there was sufficient funding for a demolition and 3 house build ... was it going to be declared as profits of the Scaffold Company ? If so it would attract corporation tax and that might represent a reasonable suspicion re the cost of laundering money via the tax man ?

    The Ltd company was not wound up, by his executor, after David's death and no accounts were ever submitted. Thus Companies House struck it off which made assets of the Ltd Company property of the Crown. (Lorries, scaffolding etc)

    In the County Court case brought by David's father against Chief constable the executor admitted in evidence that she had sold off the scaffolding and lorries. But Judge Burgess refused a number of applications by Mr O'Leary to compel Chief constable and the executor to produce estate accounts.

    If an estate is half a million gross, nil net worth deeply in debt at probate how does it have value (such as a £15,000 Rolex to disburse later ? Judge Burgess forbade questions on the validity of the will (The two witness addresses could be shown to be false and the will was female, refused to compel production of accounts and then ruled the will valid.

    By this time Kent Chief constable was telling HM Coroner one thing, the County Court another and the IPCC yet something else.

    Mr O'Leary's point was that Kent Police had been happy to fuel press stories about his late son's alleged involvement in organised crime. So why no proceeds of crime inquiry ?

    I think, like Pleasurama site, authority tends to avoid money laundering/corporation tax work unless a criminal charge initiates it as a requisite follow up.

    And questions like why £250.000 bequest did not show on EKMT accounts and questions re £600,000 and SFP accounts ... disppear into unanswered question ether.

    1. For 13 years I lived in a block of flats beside the Thames in London Docklands which was built to launder money stolen in the Brinks Mat robbery. With this in mind it is difficult to accept that there may be similar criminal involvement with Pleasurama. For any half intelligent criminal would have had it built and scarpered with the profits years ago. I believe that the Pleasurama debacle is nothing more than a consequence of TDC incompetence.


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