Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Election of a Councillor for NEWINGTON WARD and a bit of ramble

OK a bit of a rolling ramble here, the first bit of hard to find info is the list of candidates standing as a district councillor for Newington, here is the link

There is also one for the Parish election which actually Ramsgate Town Council, here it is

Dreamland is reprieved for the time being, various stories on the net but basically their creditors have agreed to easy terms for Dreamland so they won’t go into administration and close.

I will carry on writhing this as the day progresses, depending on how busy my bookshop is.

The Manston Airport site next 

I like the rest of us have banged my head agents the brick wall of Riveroak’s latest ploy to acquire the site this time it’s a DCO, something that doesn’t even have it’s own Wikipedia page.

The main stumbling block here seems to be putting a substantial amount of money upfront to even get to stage one of the cpo process, which is making a reasonable offer for the site and showing that you actually have the money that you have offered.

The first stage would have to be making every effort to acquire the site, for around the value of the site, without resorting to the cpo process and critically showing that you actually have the money. 

The site is designated brownfield and covers 700 acres, so working on £500,000 per acre that’s £350m, taking the likely value up down or sideways isn’t likely to get under the 100 mil mark, and from a company that couldn’t put up the cash for TDC to make an offer in the 10 mil ball park it doesn’t look that likely.

Of course there is always the possibility that a cpo could work outside of the normal independent valuation ball park, but this doesn’t seem very likely.

For me, as a local businessman, the Manston issue has always been mainly the problem of uncertainty, I guess if it did happen and Ramsgate wound up at the end of the runway of a busy airfreight hub I would move my bookshop somewhere else.

Pleasurama, with this one I have put in another customer feedback request asking what’s going on:- Did they use the wrong paint on the Façade? Will it have to be sacffolded again for the “final” coat? Have they got a reprt showing it’s safe to build residential accommodation in front of the cliff? Have they got a report saying how far the development needs to be from the front of the cliff? Have they got a report saying why they don’t need a flood risk assessment to build on an EA designated high riswk flood zone?

Same old, same old, and going nowhere as ever.

I spoke to a few council officers, none of them seem to know who if any council officer is responsible for coordinating the project, so I guess we can expect the uncoordinated.

Spoke top Cardys who say:-

“You will need to speak direct with TDC on the specific details of the matter. As we have not been party to the works to the Cliff Face.
We have been advised that completion of the Cliff Face works by TDC have been delayed till the Spring.
Until such time that the Cliff Face works are complete we will obviously not be in a position to commence the Development.”

A one time I would have asked the councillors, leader and cabinet members what is going on, this time I haven’t even bothered as I don’t think they know.

Pavilion and Weatherspoons turning it into the biggest pub in England business, I did ask the council if there was a problem with the plans being invalid and they said no and that the planning consent was going through in the normal way.

The Slipways development.

I sent the following off to TDC customer services.

“Hi I have looked at the new planning application for the Hornby Visitor Centre on the slipways in Ramsgate and while I am happy with the development there and don’t wish to object to it I can’t find any sign of replacement buildings to operate the slipways on the plans.

Could you please tell me the following.

1 Will the temporary building housing the slipways workshop be replaced with something and if so what?

2 Where will the offices for the slipways boat repair business be?

3 Will all of the replacement buildings the be of the same spec building materials design and so on as the new visitor centre?”

Bookshop wise it’s a funny old Christmas this year as Christmas eve falls on Thursday our closing day so we will be closed from the end of today until Tuesday morning.

The upturn in book sales continues steadily, which means a lot of work for us as prices have fallen considerably over the last few years, lots of books going in and out of the shop as you can see from our working day blog posts at I think we are the only bookshop worldwide putting pictures of the books we are putting on the shelves up on the internet like this.    


  1. Not only would you move you book shop elsewhere but the outlook for selling £400k apartments in the Royal Sands development would try the most able estate agent.

  2. questions that need answering and then communicated to people living in Ramsgate.
    1. Do Cardy own the freehold to the site?
    2. Has the £3M+ been paid to TDC?
    3. Has Shaun Patrick Keegan been removed as principal shareholder?
    4. Have the Leases been revoked?
    5. When will building work start?
    6. Who is paying for the repainting of the cliff face?

    1) Cardy will own the freehold of the site on completion!
    2) Completion of the sale is expected to take place early in the new year and funds will be paid at that time!
    3) Transfer of shares is a condition for completion!
    4) This will happen on completion!
    5) Development will begin after the final painting is completed in the spring!
    6) Apparently, not all of the cliff face needs repainting. The problem with the paint has only occurred in a couple of areas. It was not the wrong paint, just the wrong conditions. That is why the decision was made to delay until the spring. Only once dry is it suitable for damp conditions. There will be no need to erect another scaffold as the area affected is at lower level and can be reached from an access platform. There will be no additional cost to TDC as the paint to be reapplied is covered under the defects warranty in the contract!
    Cllr Lin Fairbrass.

  3. Dave as I said, from a business point of view it’s the uncertainty that is most damaging, and I guess people relocating to Ramsgate is where I see the most benefit with a shop here.

    The airport is a very good example of what I mean as airports have up and down sides, the up being better transport connections and the down being noise and air pollution.

    The trouble is with the uncertainty that you don’t know if you are going to get all down. It’s certainly very strange to most people considering relocating here, that where everywhere else only has anti airport groups here we have a pro airport group. Very difficult to explain to outsiders why there is a group ostensibly wanting increased local air and noise pollution with the associated reduced life expectancy that an airfreight hub would bring. I recently wound up telling a couple from America, that if Thanet was offered the chance of a major hazardous waste reprocessing plant which would cause significant life expectancy reductions then it is highly probable that we would have a strong local protest group supporting building it that included most of the local politicians. I told them we have a strong death instinct locally.

  4. Barry I long ago stopped worrying about the economics of Pleasurama and have concentrated on the safety aspects, which are pretty much all I bother to question the council about.

    For the council, just considering the cliff and spending around a million every ten years on it for the life of the development – which on past form is a moderate estimate – then if the development is supposed to last for 100 years, that’s £10m against 3 for the site makes the 7 out of pocket. When you go on to consider that the council seem to have full liability for the sea defence there too, it doesn’t look sensible.

  5. Happy Christmas Michael . Keep up the good work informing us as to what is going on in and around Ramsgate.
    Looking forward to your 2016 blogs.
    Malcolm Walker

  6. Happy Christmas to you too Malcolm. Frankly keeping people informed about what’s going on locally is much more difficult than it was, I don’t think even the councillors have much idea of what’s happening. The most you’re likely to get is – the other party messed it all up and spent all the money.

  7. Michael, You say, "I like the rest of us have banged........." Please do not include me in your coterie. You should know that you do not speak for me and, I suspect, many others.

  8. Michael, TDC are responsible for any cliff repairs regardless of whether Pleasurama is built or not

  9. Chatham, its just that if Pleasurama is built the plans show the rear access road being narrow and the normal method of cliff repairs would not be possible and thus additional costs would be involved for repair works (if it is possible).

  10. Happy Christmas John, I am glad to know that someone understands how a DCO could work with respect to a Manston cpo, the most I have got out of anyone is very uncertain.

    I guess from my point of view when we have a company like Riveroak saying they want to run an airport in Thanet the first thing I do is search the internet to see what experience they have at running airports. With Riveroak I discovered they have experience arranging finance for relatively small, less than $20m real estate projects, and no verifiable experience running airports, I am concerned about the old Thanet problem. SFP had no verifiable experience developing apartments, Sands Hotels no verifiable experience running funfairs, type of thingy.

    Conversely, Weatherspoons have pub experience – so we can reasonably expect the pav to become a pub and employ people, Discovery Parks have experience running mixed use industrial developments – the Sandwich one being the largest local employer now and many of the people who work there being customers of mine – so we can expect Stone Hill Park to employ people.

    Now were a company with a history of successfully running airports that should be easily verifiable using the internet trying to obtain the Manston site it would be a different matter. But then were this the case then I think TDC would have accepted them as an indemnity partner.

    1. Michael,

      Do not cloud the issue. The point I was making is that you should not purport to speak for me; nor indeed for any imagined majority.

  11. Chatham we have the situation where TDC are responsible for maintaining cliff façades all round the island to the standard where most have signage reading don’t sit under the cliff.

    The Pleasurama cliff façade was designed to protect a summer funfair from minor cliff falls cased by weathering and has been subject to major winter cliff falls (thousands of tons of chalk and masonry) during the winter, the last one was in 1957.

    I have repeatedly asked TDC to provide an engineers report saying that the cliff façade is safe for people to live under, or that it can be made safe for people to live under.

    The development is also to be built on a high risk flood zone and TDC say it doesn’t need a flood risk assessment, I have also repeatedly asked them to produce a costal engineers report saying it doesn’t need one, the EA have already produced a costal engineers report saying it does.

    My take is yes we can afford to maintain the site to the standard of the other cliffs around the island and if people wish under an unsupported cliff the it is those peole who should be responsible for the cost of maintaining that cliff to a high enough standard to do so.

    Don’t confuse this with the local cliffs that have support structures, like the harbour arches, Marina Road Arches or Harbour Parade arches, all of which have arched support structures with wall at right angles to the cliff.

  12. Michael,

    In the unlikely event that the flats ever get built why not let the market decide. The purchaser's conveyance solicitor will no doubt seek the same assurances that are troubling you. In addition the insurance companies will take a view bearing in mind that flood risk is uppermost in their minds at the moment.

    It is unlikely that Cardy and TDC will consult you on the subject and, without wishing to be rude, why should they. I'm sure that Cardy and TDC are well aware of the problems and I expect they get annoyed with you nipping at their heels.

    Cardy and TDC know that if they adopt a casual approach to safety standards then they are in peril of being done for corporate manslaughter.

  13. As I understand it a Development Consent Order is the means of obtaining permission for developments categorised as Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects (NSIP). Does Manston really come into that category.
    Prior to even submitting an application, the developer is required to carry out extensive consultation on their proposals. The length of time taken to prepare and consult on the project will vary depending upon its scale and complexity.
    Have River Oak got an proposals?

    1. I have a 5 year business plan from them. It doesn't meet NSIP level

  14. Hi John, I think the point here is; who pays? The way things work at the moment it seems that the council will guarantee to maintain the infrastructure for the life of the development, say the next hundred years. Now I am both a Thanet council taxpayer and a Thanet business ratepayer, so I guess that part paying the piper means I think I get a part say in the tune being played.

    To put it another way, my rather dubious family has been engaged in the scurrilous and subversive business of bookselling the last few generations and may go on doing it for the next. Suppose I got the council to flog us one of their in or under cliff buildings with a guarantee they would maintain the structure for the next century – on the rates – what would you think?

    I guess I should add that when it was a funfair it was the funfair operator that paid to maintain the cliff façade and yes I know this is one of the reasons that it’s a fairly dodgy bit of civil engineering, but even so…

    1. And it was Ezekiel that changed who was responsible for the cliff face maintenance :) I wonder why they didn't pass that onto Cardy?

  15. Hi Richard. I think the main point about a DCO is that no one is really sure what the parameters are, hence no Wikipedia article and nothing I can find that clearly explains a DCO to Joe Public on the net.

    The known parameter however would – according to the legal bod I know – be the cpo which pretty roughly has to conform to the normal cpo parameters.

    One part, which is a bit of a grey area is the valuation and reasonable offer for the site part, which has to occur before the cpo can start, I we think that an independent valuation of the land has to take place and the firm seeking the DCO has to make an offer in that ball park.

    Another part is the compensation for those affected or perhaps effected, which with the particulate air pollution would be most of the Thanet population where there would be a reduction in life expectancy and with the sound pollution, mostly for Ramsgate, would be a reduction in productive work and study output.

    The way I understand it the existing activity which wouldn’t make much difference to continued operation of the airport is negated under the terms of a cpo and all Thanet residents should be able to claim compensation, in the same way they would if the land at the bottom of their garden was subject to a cpo resulting in a motorway there.

    The legal bod I asked about this suggested that this could be the reason there is a local pro airport lobby and that the hope to sell part of their lives for cash.


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