As the Ramsgate Pleasurama development deal collapses Into uncertainty and confusion, desperate Thanet Council bosses have issued a Question and Answer crib sheet to soothe nerves and steady the ship. But hang on a minute, instead of publishing the Q&A on the Council’s website and issuing a press release about it, this important document appears to be intended to be secret. According to an email I have seen the Q&A “has been prepared for Councillors only and is not being issued externally”. Excuse the bad language but keeping this important document secret form the public is nothing less than taking the piss out of Ramsgate residents! That’s why I am publishing it in full below.
For more than 20 years the people of Ramsgate have been forced to endure having their seafront blighted by the stalled Pleasurama development. I do not believe there is another seaside town in all of the UK in which a large area of its seafront has been blighted, overshadowed and despoiled by the presence of a massive derelict building site for such a long period of time. The economic implications of this situation are appalling. £millions worth of investment in Ramsgate and the jobs that might have been created by it, have almost certainly been lost as a consequence of the seafront dereliction. Many thousands of visitors have undoubtedly been put off coming to Ramsgate because of the neglected run-down feel of the seafront.This is simply not acceptable. Whatever their excuses and despite their weasel words, the blame for this situation lies entirely with Labour and Conservative councillors who could have done much, much more to end the blight and dereliction of Ramsgate’s seafront, but chose not to do so.Surely it is the people of Ramsgate, who have had to live
with the consequence of the bad choices of their politicians, who are owed a full and frank explanation of what is happening at the Pleasurama site. But no! Being true to its culture of North Korean style secrecy, the bosses at TDC act as if they do not need to be truthful and accountable to the people who pay their wages and to whom they are supposed to be accountable. Instead they mail secretive Q&A crib sheets to elected councillors, rather than publically publishing this information in and open and transparent way. This a disgraceful and undemocratic way to run a council.
But my anger and frustration over this tight lipped approach to democratic accountability is focused most of all on Thanet councillors. I am astonished that not a single councillor, especially Ramsgate councillors, have had the guts, decency and respect for their constituents to publish in full the Q&A crib sheet which was circulated to them a week or so ago. Surely it is the democratic duty of elected councillors to keep their constituents fully informed of what is going on, especially on important matters such as the Ramsgate Pleasurama development which has now hit extremely seriously problems. Yet, to the best of my knowledge not a single councillor has publically mentioned the existence, or contents, of the secret Q&A. This is an inexcusable piss take of the people of Ramsgate who, in my view, are being treated like fools by their councillors.
|Labour's Iris Johnston & Rik Everitt celebrate deal with Cardy which is now in trouble|
Labour’s TDC councillors for the Ramsgate area; Caroline Constantine, Peter Campbell and Michelle Fenner, and the 2 Labour Ramsgate Town Councillors; Penny Newman and Susan Kennedy have been silent on this extremely important issue. To the best of knowledge not a single one of them has published the secret Q&A document, nor have any of them made any public statements about the worrying Pleasurama situation. Furthermore there has been no mention of Pleasurama on the South Thanet Labour Party website or the South Thanet Labour Facebook page. This is a gross dereliction of Thanet Labour Party’s duties and responsibilities as political opposition group and in neglecting these duties they have badly let down the people of Ramsgate who will continue suffer the economic consequence of the continuing dereliction of the seafront.
But Labour’s silence might well be explained by the fact that it was they, when in charge of the council in 2014-15 who negotiated, approved and signed off the deal with Cardy which is now unravelling so badly. It is their short-sighted and badly thought out deal which was paraded by them as an election gimmick in 2015, which is now allowing associates of the former developer SFP Ventures, to regain control and influence over the Pleasurama development and potentially gain ownership of the freehold of the land. Is there any wonder that these incompetent so-called politicians now wish to remain silent in order to avoid attracting attention to their own appalling failure and mismanagement of Pleasurama.Here is the secret Q&A which your councillors were too spineless to publish. It raises many more questions than it answers. I will be writing more fully about the Q&A shortly. In the meantime feel free to comment on the document. Unlike your councillors and TDC I am happy to promote free and open debate about what is happening to Ramsgate seafront.
BackgroundThe Council entered into a development agreement for Royal Sands, Ramsgate with SFP Ventures Ltd in 2006 - which was subsequently modified in 2009. The development then stalled. Both parties undertook a mediation process which resulted in discussions with the introduction of Cardy Construction Limited to the process by SFP Ventures Ltd. It was agreed in 2014 that Cardy would purchase SFP Ventures limited which enabled them to renegotiate the terms of a new agreement with the council.
Further detailed information can be found in the October 2014 Cabinet report at:http://democracy.thanet.gov.uk/documents/s39152/Royal%20Sands%20-%20Cabinet%20Paper%20final%2016%2010%2014%20version%203.pdf
Q 1. Who were the parties to the 2015 agreement?
A new agreement was entered into in March 2015 between SFP Ventures Ltd (since they had the benefit of the 2006 development agreement with the council), Cardy Ramsgate Limited (who agreed to purchase SFP Ventures Limited and purchase the freehold of the site) and Cardy Construction Limited (who were the guarantors for SFP).
SFP Ventures Ltd is now wholly owned by Cardy Ramsgate Limited.
Q 2. So who owns the Royal Sands site?
It is now owned by Cardy Ramsgate Limited.
Q.3. How much was paid for the site and by whom?
The council received £3.515m for the site.
This was made up as follows: a sum of £550k was paid in 2009 by SFP Ventures Ltd in 2009 (under the 2006 agreement); a sum of £1m was paid as a deposit by SFP Ventures limited in 2009 (this deposit together with accrued interest formed part of the purchase price); the balance of £1.96m was paid by Cardy Ramsgate Limited in 2016.
Q 4. What provisions are in place to ensure that the site will be developed?
In the agreement, there is a long-stop date of three and a half years with measurable milestones, by which the site must be developed. If it is not developed then the council has an option to buy it back.
The first milestone relates to the completion of piling (and certified practical completion of that piling) for the hotel within two years. The second milestone relates to completion of the building works so they are ready to be fitted out within three and a half years.
If those milestones are not met, the council has an option to purchase the site back from Cardy Ramsgate Limited.
Q 5. Hasn’t the piling already been completed, if so, why was this condition imposed?
Only the hotel site needs piling, together with the certificate of practical completion – which Cardy Ramsgate Limited has two years to complete
Q 6. What is the impact on the agreement, of Cardy Construction Limited’s insolvency?
Cardy Ramsgate Limited is a stand-alone company, completely independent of Cardy Construction Limited.
Cardy Construction Limited was identified as the builders by the original developer. The council awaits confirmation of which contractor will be completing the building of the development.
Q 7. Were any checks carried out into Cardy Construction Limited prior to the council entering into an agreement with them?
A due diligence process was conducted into Cardy Construction Limited following the Cabinet decision in October 2014. That process included:
· Evidence of meeting funders requirements for the scheme and funding in place
· Development viability appraisal
· Compliance with TDC Money Laundering regulations
· Credit Checks - 3 year audited accounts – including asset and liabilities statements
· Evidence that Cardy Ramsgate Limited have purchased 100% share capital of SFP Ventures Ltd
· Full breakdown of Company structure and CVs on key individuals
Q.8 Why were there delays with this scheme?
This has been a complex agreement to put together given the history of the site and there were further difficulties with completing the cliff works due to adverse weather conditions.
Q.9 There has been a recent change to the directors of Cardy Ramsgate Limited, what difference does that make?