Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Mr White Truly Loves Ramsgate Seafront

At tonight’s packed public meeting to discuss the O’Regan Group plans for the Port of Ramsgate I spotted 2 familiar faces who had turned up to  represent  the developer; Mr Doug Brown a former planning manager with Thanet Council and Mr Brian White the former Director of Regeneration and Planning at  Thanet Council and Mr Brown’s ex-boss.
I am sure they are doing a great job for O’Regan and providing excellent value for money. I am equally sure what they are doing is perfectly legal and above board. But I do believe that there is something unethical about  former senior  public servants moving into to the private sector and then using their public sector knowledge, expertise  and contacts to negotiate with their former employer on behalf of their new bosses – the so called revolving door. It simply doesn't feel right to me.
Nor does it feel right to House of Commons Public Administration Select Committee, or the Committee  for Standards in Public Life or the  highly regarded anti-corruption charity Transparency International  all of whom have recently published reports which highlight  the dangers of the so-called “revolving door”  which they argue can sometimes give rise to corruption, preferential treatment and unfair advantage in business dealing. Not that I am suggesting that this is the case here.
But seeing Mr White and Brown  did get me to  thinking and I suddenly remembered that as  Director of Regeneration Mr White had more than passing interest in the future of the port of Ramsgate. In fact Mr White was one of main architects of the ill-fated and top secret TransEuropa debt-deferral agreement which resulted in council tax payers having to stump up £3.4 million to cover the unpaid fees when the ferry company went bust 2 years ago. It was the same Mr White who was involved in the Pleasurama development which continues to blight the seafront more than 12 years after SFP Ventures was appointed as the developer.
Mr White has now teamed up with the O’Regan Group to use his  undoubted knowledge, skills and experience, and his remarkable track record of successfully  managing developments and business on Ramsgate seafront, to bring us something we desperately need  to kick start our leisure and tourist economy – a large waste wood and concrete block manufacturing facility. Located right next to the Royal Harbour; adjacent to a site of special scientific interest and a European special conversation area; within a stones throw of residential areas and cafes and bars.Likely to be noisy, smelly and dusty and use massive amounts of fresh water in an area described by experts as being water stressed  – this development is just what we need!
Despite the unanimous opposition of the 250 or so people who turned up to the O'Regan consultation meeting, Mr White appeared to suggest that his client will continue to  push on with its plans to develop a potentially polluting facility at the port of Ramsgate which if it gets the go ahead will almost certainly impact negatively on the revived tourist economy in Ramsgate.
But who am I to make comment on this issue  because Mr White has demonstrated through his actions over the years that he is man who truly loves Ramsgate seafront and who would do nothing to harm its interests.

By the way, before anyone gets the bright idea of serving another injunction on me the Council was ordered by the Information Commissioner to release these confidential TransEuropa Ferry  papers to me last year. This is the  ill-fated deal which cost you £3.4 million and which was kept secret from you for more than 2 years by council bosses and the Conservative and Labour Party Leaders. This was a shameful and expensive scandal  which demonstrates Thanet Council's continuing culture of secrecy and mis-management

 If you want honest and open government in Thanet vote Green in 2015 


  1. Well done Ian: so that was 100% against this development but White thinks he can still get it through?

    He's popped up like a bad smell but seems we will see the last of him with the collapse of this terrible development.

  2. It appears that TDC did not even follow the somewhat ludicrous advice contained in this memorandum, the freebie extended from months to years until failure. Where is the Annex 1 referred to in the document?

    As for the Chatham House bash, well, O'Regan must have known they had no chance, I mean they couldn't even be bothered to dress for the occasion. What a motley back street mob they look. This shows their contempt for the people of Ramsgate.

  3. nimbys 1 jobs 0 says it all

    1. I hardly think that over 250 people from all walks of life from Ramsgate can be described as nimbys. My advice to you is to call a meeting supporting the O'Regan plan and see how many people turn up.

    2. Ignoring the Nimbys bit, Still. Jobs 0

  4. I'm unclear - are you saying that Mr White and Mr Brown shouldn't apply for jobs for which they are qualified, or that they should somehow not be allowed to use their skills and experience to gain paid employment with which to support their families?

    If this is so, how would you suggest that they access gainful employment?

    1. The Government prevents senior civil servants and cabinet minsters from working for for private sector companies who lobby and have business relationships with the Government for a period of 3 years. Not that this prevented Thanet South Labour MP Steven Ladyman from moonlighting as a consultant lobbying Government less than 3 years after losing his transport minister post. The Committee on Standards in Public Life and the respected anti-corruption charity Transparency International argue that these Government rules should be applied to local government as well and I agree! As to Mr B and Mr Ws right to work there are, excluding Thanet Council, 11 district councils, 1 county council and 1 unitary council in Kent and of course a massive and lucrative Environment Agency licencing process. So if Mr W and Mr B were excluded from Thanet Council related work for 3 years there are plenty of consultancy opportunities elsewhere. Indeed I understand that TDC was generous in their severance payments to Mr W and Mr B and I am also led to believe that Mr B uses his skills experience and training to apply for planning permission on behalf of clients in London. All permissible and all ethical.

    2. Well said. They could of course also take up another career outside of the civil service.

      What were their payoffs Ian? Any councillors support Oregan?

  5. Brian White's payoff per TDC published draft accounts on 11/7/2011 compensation for loss of office £67,000 enhanced pension £83,000 total £150,000, after he had started the ball rolling towards a Transeuropa bad debt of £3.4million. (The same note referred to Richard Samuel being paid off at cost of £173,000. That after only 9 years service, and would've been due to retire shortly anyway, then we got wonder-woman McGonigal, off sick due to skiing accident 2011, off sick most of 2014, now the rumour is she is in negotiations for yet another massive payout)
    I think many would say go and piss on someone else's doorstep, or a lot worse than that.

  6. Didn't Mr W oversee the disposal and development of allotments in Ramsgate?