Friday, 24 May 2013

A Friday ramble, Pleasurama, the ferry, the recent elections and so on if I get time.

First the Pleasurama update, which is about the large building next to the site, most recently called Ramsgate Boulevard and used as an amusement arcade owned by the late Jimmy Godden.

Over the last couple of years there have been various claims made by SFP and their associates that this building had been bought by SFP and would become the offices for the development and branch of the Terrance Painter Estate agents, here is the link to one of the news articles about this

Some time ago I looked into the matter and what seems to have happened is that the director of SFP Sean Keegan used another of his companies to begin the process of buying the freehold for this building from Jimmy Godden.

The reached the point where it appeared on the land registry certificate [(30.11.2011) BENEFICIARY: All Type Properties Limited (Co. Regn. No.
07219682)]in the way one would associate with the property transaction being underway.  

In the last couple of days posters have been put up on the inside of the building for a property management company owned by the Godden family, so it looks like they have put it back on the market.

While on the subject of the Pleasurama site, when I posted about this the other day to publicise the fact that the council are now moving towards repossessing the site there was some dialogue about the flood and storm risks there. John Hamilton in particular seems to confused about this one and I promised to put some detail in this post.

In engineering there are few safety definites, just a series of compromises, because the best way to avoid having buildings collapse is not to build any buildings and the best way to prevent motor vehicle accidents is not to build any motor vehicles.

With flood risk there is a series of compromises, where we talk about 1 in 50 year or 1 in 200 year events makes it very easy for people without any engineering or scientific background to get very confused.

This doesn’t mean that the property is going to flood every 50 or 200 years but is the way the risk is expressed so that insurance companies and banks financing developments on these sites can assess the risk.

With the Pleasurama site I would say the flood and storm situation was fairly marginal when the plans were first approved, the EA looked at the plans which were just over the designated ground floor commercial designated level, they assumed the staircase to the cliff was the pedestrian escape from the flats above and let them through.

Since then a mix of information has changed the situation, the EA redesignated part of the site a high flood risk, the architect produced new plans with the staircase moved and levels above the tide mark clearly indicated.

After this happened the EA wrote to the developer and the council recommending a flood risk assessment, here is a link to the letter

Since the beginning of 2008 even more information has come to light, some relating to historic storm damage on the site and some relating to the sea defences and geological structure of the site.

It all adds up to the site needing a proper flood risk assessment before any further uses of the site are contemplated. The difficulty for me is that the John Hamiltons of this world seem to think saying that the flood risk needs properly and professionally assessing, is the same as me saying the site will be washed away.

We now come to the debt the ferry operator wound up owing the council when it went bust.

A lot of comment here on the various blogs, with some people making the fundamental mistake of thinking the £3.3m was money the council lent to the ferry operator to keep their business afloat.

What this was, was mooring fees that the ferry operator should have paid the council but couldn’t afford to.

In very simple terms this equates to shop rents in our towns and factor which equates to Westwood Cross and the internet market that has caused so many of our shops to close, with the ferries this is the channel tunnel.

Obviously the ferry berthing facilities have been significantly under used since The Sally Line pulled out.

So suppose the council owns five large shops in the middle of Margate, four are empty and the other is trading with difficulty and paying a rent of a £1,000 per week and the company running this shop go to the council and say we can’t afford to pay the rent, but we hope to get an investor who will finance our business so we can pay it off eventually.

I guess the question here is what should the council do and how long should they do it for?

Obviously at any time they can make the company bankrupt by demanding the money they are owed straight away, but this will only result in five empty shops instead of four and no money.   

On to the UKIP result.

My guess here is that come the next TDC elections some of the existing Conservative and Labour councillors would like to get re-elected and that in the light of the recent county council elections there is a very good chance that most of them won’t be.

What happened at county level may very well be repeated a district level, either come the next elections or the elections after that and the main reason for this is that local people have lost touch with who their local representatives are and what it is they do.

I guess the thing that seems to have made the voting difference recently has been very simple messages that the voters can relate to, no night flights, a vote on whether we stay in Europe. What is very much apparent is that what the councillors get up to at a local level hasn’t made much difference to how people actually vote.

I think the last Thanet District Council meeting was a case in point, I couldn’t have attended if I wanted to and I guess a great many of the people who do actually vote – like me – have other commitments that prevent them from attending meetings.  

I tried to follow the meeting online, although I knew the microphone system that has caused problems with the webcasting of meetings had been fixed, the meeting wasn’t live streamed. This is particularly irritating as I know this can be done via youtube for free and I also know that once the meeting has ceased to be relevant and in any real sense interesting to watch, it will be presented by the council hosted on a paid for server at considerable expense.

There is also a difference between the council producing a fair and accurate record of the council meeting and something that is dramatic and politically motivated, which is well understood. However doing what they actual do, which is to produce something that is basically unwatchable, where the image quality is so poor that no one can be identified, is also unacceptable.  

Frankly if our local councillors want us to vote for them based on how they perform and not just to vote based on national issues they are going to have to make some sort of collective effort to present themselves as a viable council doing something that we the voting public can see is useful.


  1. Michael

    Your summary of the TEL situation seems to be spot on. It is, in many ways, mirrored by KCC support for Manston.I'm not sure what any Council would have done when presented with the situation in 2011. They could, indeed, have put the ferry company into administration, thereby losing local jobs in the port. Or they could do what actually happened, and negotiate a rescheduled debt repayment.As a result, port workers kept their jobs for another two years. I suspect that most local authorities would have chosen the latter option. There is also the question of what legal steps are being taken in Belgium; it is entirely possible that TDC hands were tied by pending litigation over there. I think we should all wait until the Council have had the chance to discuss it openly; assuming that Clive's "openness" extends to telling us what is happening here. If it's all done on pink or some similar subterfuge then we will know that something is not right.
    As far as JH is concerned he is never going to try and understand what you are trying to say regarding risk assessment. As far as he is concerned the whole thing is totally above board and there are no risks involved in living in a building behind a Victorian sea wall and in front of a crumbling chalk cliff.Best to agree to differ and see how things develop but if the Godden family are indeed taking back the Boulevard then I smell the end of the road for SFP.There are plenty of boarded up shops in King Street or the High Street if Terence Painter wants to move into Ramsgate.

  2. Present themselves as a viable Council!!! Not a hope in hell's chance

  3. re: the ferry you ask what should the council do and how long should they do it for? Where there is doubt over receiving money presumably it's a good idea to cut spending until you know 100% that you are going to get it or keep money back to cover the possible loss. The problem is if you spend money you haven't got.

  4. KCC's support for Manston was quite some time ago and they lost £750,000 in their attempt to keep Planestation/ Eu-jet going and on running flights to the USA. Less than 1% of KCC's budget and at that time councils were not strapped for cash. This year KCC have supported the marketing of the new KLM service to the tune of £100,000 but in a way that circumvented EU competition laws. Contrast this with TDC risking a third of their budget at a time when finances are being squeezed.

  5. Good effort at explanation Michael. John Hamilton is probably what psychologists call a "Codependent". By being obtuse, or obstinate, his inability to understand is addressed by his "Enabler" (Michael) whose human decency compels them to try different explanations till they find one bespoke for JH. Thus saving JH the difficulty of having to understand what is written for a mass readership. In colleges such students are known as "Lecturer baiters".

    The same personality disorder would lead to stalking or trolling, either infatuated with or blaming, the object of their attention (Ian Driver)

    My advice to you Michael is don't be an enabler.

    JH may be deserving of sympathy. But make it from a distance.

    1. anonymous 4:31pm,


      I am not defending John Hamilton's stance. But when two people disagree how does one decide which is the "Codepent". The Labour party and the Conservative party persistently do not agree on the way to run the economy; which one is the "Codependent"?

      I take your point about the "Lecture Baiter". You assume here that the Lecturer is infallible in his opinion of events. However, I am sure that like me you can think of times when the lone dissenting voice in the crowd turned out to be right. Galileo and Darwin had to argue their case against what was written for mass readership. Were they codependents?

      I repeat that I'm not seeking to defend John Hamilton's stance. Rather I am challenging your theory about "Codependents" which I find unconvincing. I was taught at school to always challenge received opinion, for this is the way we learn. In later life, especially at work, I learned that my decision would be educated by listening to the other chap's point of view, even if it was the lone voice.

      At the risk of being frank, I do not trust your psychological theory; and if that makes me a "Lecture Baiter" then so be it.

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

  6. Yes 4:31 we can do with much less of JH.

    The new Manston KCC/Visit Kent money laundering around EU rules £100k is interesting: what's that spent on?

    As with TEF nothing wrong with councils subsidising businesses for specific reasons but the slush funds and secrecy always bounce back onto the councillors with failure.

    And with animal exports TDC not only owned the Port but effectively the only ferry within it exporting the animals - and the councillors keep quiet.

    One final but important point - TDC knowing the ferry was struggling (rather than close/subsidise) could have sought other extra business. Clearly they didn't. The usual idleness and bumbling along from elderly councillors and overpaid civil servants. Add in corruption and incompetence and its no wonder TDC is one of the worst UK councils.

    And why no Blue flag for Ramsgate and Pegwell pollution?

    1. Oh dear anon, what a tangle you have got yourself into, I suppose having convinced yourself that the live animal exports occurred via the ferry service everything else you say makes sense to you.

      Like the money KCC spend to fund a Visit Kent project is in some way related to money laundering, you may be interested to know that KCC is our county council and Visit Kent the county’s tourism organisation.

    2. Quite so Michael but no ferry operator would mean no berthing by the animal exporter?

      While, the KCC/VK link enables funding to be slipped from one to the other as you know. Hence the parroting of everything KCC does by VK and LIK etc: quango applause for their paymasters.

      A KCC direct grant to KLM (a multimillion pound aviation company) would undoubtedly breach EU guidelines and certainly far more scrutiny than the unelected/similar membership of VK. Money laundering is a little exaggerated but not that much.

      Next you'll be telling us the funding of Manston was all above board. And we need a few more Dartford Crossing bridges and roads?

    3. Simple really anon, to stop animal export the council would need to close the port completely, either that or they would be in contravention of European law.

      As far a KCC promoting the KLM flights which mean more employment locally, I am broadly supportive of this.

      I think you are making the error of assuming I am anti airport, which I am not, I would like the airport to be environmentally compliant and obtain an EP, I would also like any night flights to be linked to a number of day flights and therefore jobs.

      My feelings are that both the port and airport need either to incorporate a large leisure factor in their operations or they will both fail totally. My guess is that this is more marina for the harbour and possibly mote water sports, with Manston more emphasis on historic aircraft and aviation history.

    4. Sorry Michael but you seem to be using a great many words to not further your case for an FLA at Pleasurama.

      As insurance risk, and risk calculation in general is based almost totally on history, and evidence of past issues loss, the point is clearly what the past history of flooding and/or flood issues at the site of pleasurama. Twisting on the hook with what estimates are being made (which change daily, and vary according to which body are providing them) doesn't in anyway alter that history, or the risk in the future.

      I have asked you on numerous occasions when the station building was washed away, and how many poor people were killed during these momentous events. Sadly for your alarmist viewpoint, in 160 years, there has NEVER been appreciable damage to the station building nor any loss of life.

      You can post 1 in 200 year storm figures from now until the Channel freezes over (would there need to be a risk assesment for that occurance, incase someone slips on the ice?) it doesn't alter the fact that your theorhetical risk is totally disproven by 160 years of history. And before you post your irrelevant brake reference, once again, what you are doing is the same insisting that there be an expensive and utterly pointless investigation to understand what would happen to polar bears is all there ice melted and they got sunburn!

      Great summation of the run up to the debt incurred at the port though, completely aggree and I utterly condemn those now running around trying to make some cheap political points from the collapse of the ferry service. I agree with most of your points re Manston, it needs a LOT more support and protection from the usual nimbys from the council, to allow it to flourish.

      Anon 4:31 I would, suggest you address your issues that require you to hide in the anonomously shadows critisising those who clearly know better than you do.

    5. You make your case very convincingly John. So an EA flood risk assessment, although pointless in your view, would hold no fears. So why the objection?

    6. Who's objecting

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

    8. We need a few more Dartford Crossing bridges and roads.

    9. It's good to see that finally you are seeing the correct point of view Tim. A mamogram would hold no fear for me either but i feel no more comounction to waste time and NHS money having one, than i would seeing time and money wasted on a pointless FLA for Pleasurama,when clearky the evidence shows that there is no risk of serious flooding.

    10. If it keeps you happy John............

    11. So if building is going to happen why hasn't it? planning permission was granted in January 2004 well before the financial crisis occurred. In fact enough time occurred between Jan 2004 and the financial crisis to build several pleasurama developments.

    12. Facts keep me happt Tim, that's why i rely on them so heavily when dealing with alarmist nonesense such as the FLA which the evidence demonstrates in not required.

      Not sure why it's relevant James, but perhaps the incessant whining about height might have had something to do with it, followed by a recession. Seems you really do know as little about property as you do accountancy.

    13. Lydd is now forecasting 500k passengers - up from 500 last year! We have had the same nonsense at Manston for years.

      Without massive subsidy (as with the RAF, and now KCC) it's not viable. While Michael being supportive of the airport as long as it's environmentally-friendly is ludicrous given the 4x EU air pollution and the whole lot being on the water supply.

      I'm in favour of nuclear power as long as there's no radiation poisoning would be the analogy.

      Worryingly our councillors and civil servants thought a 24 hour cargo airport was the way forward for the area. Now they simply cling on to their pointless roles - on our tax salaries - and refuse to deal with the air and water and noise pollution.

    14. Manston doesn't need subsidy, it simply needs the support of TDC and to be allowed to operate as it needs to!

  7. Michael, You should have put anon 4:43 out of his misery and explained that TEF is an entirely different company to the Dutch animal exporters.

    1. Bit worried that it is 0% anon and the next thing will be asking me to call the police to arrest ex TEF staff for selling tickets to sheep.

    2. Michael. Now Now And what were they supposed to do with the sheep. We're not all Welsh hill farmers!!

    3. Bit racist, Anon 8:03, just what is supposed to be wrong with Welsh hill farmers? I bet they do not go around boring everybody to death with utter nonsense on blogsites. Too busy doing something uiseful like farming.

    4. Anonymous 9:15 am,

      Rob Brydon tells some good jokes about his countrymen and sheep. They might even crack a smile from a lemon sucker such as you.

  8. Should plan A fail getting another operator at the port Plan B could be to use the huge parking area with all its facilities as a park and ride for coaches and cars if it was advertised widely it would bring in much needed money and trade to the town visitors could be dropped off right on the sea front this should not cost to much to set up, if the port got up and running again then it could be discontinued If the port is left idle for a long period only vessels that can float on a wet sponge will get in because of the serious silting problem.

    1. Too true Stargazer. The ferries coming in and out was about the only thing that was dredging the port. They say buy land because they don't make it any more, but if no alternative service is found soon, TDC will have grown themselves a few hectares more to flog off to developers!


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