Saturday, 1 February 2014

Pleasurama Update

Yesterday I attended a meeting of Thanet Council’s Pleasurama Working Group. The meeting was called to consider the legal advice received by the Council about its relationship with Pleasurama developers SFP Venture (UK) Ltd. This company was appointed by Thanet Council 12 years ago to develop a luxury hotel and apartments on a prestigious seafront site. In this time the company has developed precious little. Instead it has succeeded in turning this once beautiful seafront location into a festering bombsite which has blighted an otherwise lovely area of Ramsgate for more than a decade.

As someone committed to open and transparent government I would like to be able to tell what the legal advice said and what the Working Group decided. However, on this occasion even I, who has previously released secret Thanet Council documents in the public interest, have to agree that the advice was of such a sensitive nature that it should remain confidential for a short while longer.
My personal view is that SFP has been in breach of its development agreement with the Council for at least a year and that the company should have been thrown off the site a long time ago. When I began to campaign for the removal of the developers more than a year ago I met nothing but from resistance, ridicule and downright hostility from the Council’s ruling Labour Group, especially Ramsgate Labour councillors, who openly supported the developers despite a decade of failure. Thankfully a number of Conservative Councillors including Jo Gideon, Ros Binks and Julie Marsden joined with me to call for the removal of SFP. It is only relatively recently, when the labour Councillors realised they might lose their seats at the next election that they woke up to reality and decided to take the matter seriously.

My view has not changed. I believe that the Council must remove this company of failed developers from the site as quickly as possible. Whilst not going into details, I believe that the legal advice received by the Council is very helpful in this regard. I repeated my views at yesterday’s meeting and I was not alone. There will be another 2 meetings where the legal advice will be discussed and a final decision on what the Council will do should be taken in the next 2-3 weeks.

I sincerely hope that the Council will decide to rid itself of its incompetent and failing developers as quickly as is legally possibly. If this course of action is approved and the Council recovers ownership of the land there should be a proper and  meaningful discussion with the people of Ramsgate about the Pleausurama site should be used for.



  1. I think that most of the people in Ramsgate would agree with you Ian. However, we are then faced with the question of why the council has allowed this mess to drag on, particularly when they were presented with evidence that officers had neglected to do the proper background checks and that the developers didn't actually have the money to build the thing. My perception is that councillors are far more concerned with protecting their mates who got us into this mess. The way out of this is for Laura Sandys to back calls for a public inquiry, so that any fraud and incompetence can be fully exposed and the individuals responsible named and shamed. Then, the agenda of covering up who did what will become redundant and we will be able to move forward. Of course, those in power are unlikely to back this call because many of them backed their chums and were equally negligent in not asking relevant questions. Let's have it out.

    1. The entire history of the Pleasurama Project and for that matter the TransEuropa Ferries scandal has been characterised by cock-ups, incompetence and maladministration and no-one - senior officers or politician has been named, shamed or disciplined for this. there will be more to come with regards to that shady organisation East Kent Opportunties which has cost Thanet taxpayers millions with zero returns. It makes my very angry and very sad about how Thanet Council is managed. Hopefully we can change all this at the 2015 elections.

    2. Off topic, Ian, but did you hear about the bedroom tax loophole? Some folk are eligible for a refund:

      But they'll have to be quick because the Lords are going to close it next month (scroll down to 2:58 PM 'Housing: Underoccupancy Charge') :

  2. The developer agreement needs ending and the site cleared ready for the Summer.

  3. Over to you Ian as a councillor: write to Mcgonagal, Sandys and the Police and ask for FOI of all documents, a summary and a Police inquiry. Unfortunately they are shuffling around trying to cover up/delay to protect pensions. A review of what has been paid to 0% Samuel etc would be useful.

  4. Yes a public inquiry into this and TEF.
    That way one hopes all those who left TDC having signed confidentiality agreements will have to answer questions.
    Perhaps someone out there can confirm whether this is the case.