Wednesday, 13 February 2013

A history of the Royal Sands Development on the Pleasurama site in Ramsgate.

There is so much information and misinformation appearing about the Royal Sands at the moment and this combined with most of the information I have put on the internet over the years being in the order that I wrote it rather than in some sort of chronological order, I though it was time I sorted out something in the form of dedicated website to cover the issue.

So over the next few weeks I will try to put together the information in a way that is easy to follow.

I don’t think there is much point in covering the period before SFP came along in 2002 apart from the district auditors report on Pleasurama audit 2001 2002$Agenda%20Enclosure%206.doc.pdf which is the official story of the site up to then. Those of interested in raking over the errors that occurred prior to 2002 will find this document interesting.

This is the oldest SFP document I know of it is the initial proposal presented to the council as part of the tender for developing the site

Hindsight is a wonderful thing and I guess some of the things that are obvious now wouldn’t have been obvious then.

Apart from the obvious aspect that it looks like a Whitbread development although pretty soon after the council decided to go with it Whitbread distanced themselves from the project, saying that they had only expressed an interest in when approached and had made no commitment to it.

The key part is 9.17 Funding Arrangements.

“SFP bank will be funding the project overall through SFP Ventures Partners Limited and Mr Shaun Keegan.”

I guess looking back two of the things the council should have checked before selecting this tender where Whether Whitbread had a made firm financial commitment and whether SFP Bank actually existed.

Obviously as Whitbread pulled out they didn’t.

The SFP Bank thing is a bit more complicated.

Despite what the document says Société Financière Privée S.A (SFP), wasn’t actually a bank at that time it was submitted to the council 2002, I think to understand this you would have to understand the meaning of the French word Financière, which means stockbroker.

Without a banking licence granted by the Swiss banking authority they wouldn’t have been allowed to finance a foreign property development.    

In 2003 Société Financière Privée S.A. (SFP) was granted a banking licence so it changed its name to Société Bancaire Privée S.A. (SBP), it continued to trade as a bank – apart from a period when its licence was revoked – until mid 2009 when it got into difficulties, was taken over and became Banque Profil de Gestion (BPDG).

One aspect of the document that I think is important is that the whole development was supposed to have been finished by 2003.


  1. I find recomendation 6 interesting on page 11 of the district auditors report -

    "R6 Formal minutes should be kept of all meetings with potential developers, and copied to the relevant third party
    to minimize the risk of future disputes."

    According to cllr Poole no minutes were kept in the meeting between SFP and the council held in december.
    maybe the chief exec could tell us why?

  2. There are a number of things which bother me about the Pleasurama debacle, but one thing really rankles. Why is it that only one of our elected councillors is kicking up a stink about it? We have over 50 councillors at TDC but only one appears to believe that things have gone awry. We elect councillors to look after our town and it seems as if only one councillor is doing this. The rest seem to be doing their best to cover up the mess to protect themselves and their respective parties. Perhaps a councillor could respond and explain why heads aren't bouncing down Margate High Street. If councillors run the council they must be responsible for this mess.

    1. Anonymous 7:52,

      I too am puzzled by this. The whole project is rather odd.

  3. Almost 20 years this has been going on for

    Terrible, terrible wasted opportunity.

    Councillrs talk about the financial crisis causing delays - this should have been done and dusted years before that started. Shame on all of them, and more shame on labour, specifically Poole, for letting driver run rings round him. Labour should have dealt with this as soon as they get into power. Or do they have something or someone to hide....

  4. Labour had the £25k ChinaGate bung-donation so hardly squeaky clean. As Driver says looks like Pleasurama was an offshore payday for councillors and civil servants too. The sheer number of unanimous votes and then silence (as well as councillors voting projects almost completely opposed by the public) looks like a mix of idiots and corruption.

  5. Party politics aside how does one bring what appears to be a monumental fiasco to a close? There must be a fair number of past and present councillors likewise council officers who are aware of what has been going on legal or otherwise.
    I liked the restrained language used by the District Auditor in spoke volumes!

    1. You put the whole thing out to professionals who know what they are doing (not idiots like Poole and Mcgonigal). You ask for a full report and then a proper legal opinion on the options available (not from Captain Darling). There is far too much at stake to not get this one right.

      There appear to have been a number of false claims by the developer at the outset which might be in the Council's favour now. Trouble is TDC don't have a history of getting anything right.

    2. I cannot help wondering if TDC makes use of gagging agreements?

    3. Jon, How did you guess. Of course they do.

  6. John I think gagging orders are superfluous to requirement. Shame, an inclination to admit nowt and embarrassment does the trick.

    There is a culture of obstruction and cover up at TDC though. If I paraphrase dealings between MOP (member of Public) and BORE (Mr Borley TDC public servant solicitor

    MOP Did Cllr Hayton give evidence at Aldwych High Court in 1998 ?

    BORE Do you have any evidence that he did ?

    MOP Yes

    BORE Oh ! What is the query ?

    MOP Did he tell the High Court there was no procedure of inquiry relating to Cllr George Maison ?

    BORE Have you any evidence that is what he said ?

    MOP Yes the account of Cllr Mortlock who successfully sued Maison for libel

    BORE Oh ! But you don't have the court transcript ?

    MOP No but I don't have to pay out a grand to get the transcripts when it is your duty to ascertain the truth about Cllr conduct

    BORE If Cllr Hayton gave evidence it was at a time he was not a TDC cllr so we don't have a duty to act

    MOP Did he give evidence about a planning cttee meeting when he was a cllr ?

    BORE If he did it was as a witness of fact. There being only two categories of High Court witness Fact and Expert

    MOP Was he on honour withdrawal at the time of the incident in which Cllr Mortlock accused Cllr Maison of assault ?

    BORE Have you any evidence that he was on honour withdrawal.

    MOP That is why I am asking you for the record

    BORE Shan't give it to you

    MOP If he was on honour withdrawal he was beyond sight and earshot of the meeting. Thus he cannot be a witness of fact. There is only one other category of witness expert. He must have been in that category. This carries duties to the Court and not to the party he purportedly supported Cllr Maison. Which means he has a duty still to the court now he is once again a TDC cllr. Which means it is within TDC Standards jurisdiction

    BORE Oh ! I already advised Standards they have no jurisdiction and they agreed.

    MOP Yes But that was at a Standards meeting in which we now know Cllr Neville Hudson withheld the evidence file from the meeting

    BORE Oh yes I admitted that didn't I ??? mmmmmm Must run into Cllr Hudson and get back to you

    Tick tock tick tock the years have gone by. Hayton stays schtum let the High Court lie lie ?

    Then years later how come Cllr Hayton quit as a trustee of East Kent Maritime Trust during Charity Commission inquiry and during dispute with Steam Museum Trust. Surely trustees had an inescapable unlimited personal liability ? And there was the matter of EKMT at that stage not filing annual accounts and an apparent historical failure to declare the Quarter a million pound Butler legacy. Why was TDC a party when Charity Commission did not even know about the alternative dispute procedure ?

    Richard Samuel's first move as Chief Executive was to send Kent Police a copy of documents like the evidence file with held from his own Standards Cttee. Fulfilling a Common Law obligation to report but probably safe in the knowledge that Kent Police weren't going to investigate a member of their own Police Authority ?

    Keep laughing.


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