Yesterday, I raised this matter with Kent County Council Highways. They told me that they were reviewing the hoarding licence and had just received an e-mail from the building firm Cardy who are the Pleasurama site Developers (SFP Ventures UK Ltd) contractors and who hold the hoarding licence.
Apparently, Cardy’s stated in their e-mail to the Highways people that work will be beginning on site in the summer of 2014 and that they need to retain the hoarding licence. This struck me as being strange because the Pleasurama Development Agreement signed by the Council and SFP requires the project to be substantially completed by 28 February 2014 – that’s in about 5 weeks time. No significant development work would be expected to be taking place on the site after this date, so there would be no need for a hoarding taking up thousands of square yards of public promenade.
For any significant development work to commence on site in the summer of 2014 Thanet Council would have to extend its agreement with SFP, or do a new deal with someone else. To the best of knowledge the agreement has not been extended by the Council, nor am I aware of any new development agreements in the offing. In fact the Council’s Scrutiny Panel will shortly be considering legal advice about whether or not the Pleasurama Development Agreement with SFP can be terminated. Something which could and should have been done in 2009 when Council officers advised Councillors that SFP was not an ideal development partner.
I have now alerted Kent County Council Highways to the fact that it is unlikely that development work will be taking place on the Pleasurama site in the summer and that the information they have received from the contractors is possibly based on, shall we charitably say, a “misunderstanding”. I have also sought the assurances of senior council officers that in their dealings with SFP, they have not taken any actions which may have created misleading expectations about the development
agreement. It is for councillors to decide the future of this agreement not officers.
Unless the Council's political bosses secretly stitch up a last minute dodgy deal with SFP, behind the backs of the people of Ramsgate, who have been forced to endure a decade of blight and dereliction on this otherwise beautiful stretch of seafront, I can no longer the see the need for a building site hoarding which encroaches on this stretch public land.Kent Highways should, in my opinion, terminate the hoarding licence as the earliest opportunity, ordering that it be moved back to the edge of the Pleasurama site and that any damage (and there is lots) to the promenade be reinstated at no cost to the public purse. Anything less would be surrender to a company who have blighted Ramsgate for a decade. SFP, Cardy and salesman/ spokesperson Terence Painter if you have any dignity, hand back the keys and walk away now. Your not wanted here. It’s time for a change