Sunday, 15 March 2015


Thanet Council's Triumphal Press Release 1 Year Ago
Readers of my blog will know that  I am 100% behind  Dreamland and believe that it will  play an important role in the regeneration of Thanet, But I have also  been critical about the way in which the Council has managed this project. I have said, and have  been proved to have  been  right, that the much touted April 2015 opening of the amusement park was unrealistic. I have argued that the budget is inadequate and complained that there is insufficient contingency to pay the costs of the final Compulsory Purchase settlement which is yet to be decided. I also said that the long lease which is being negotiated with Sands Heritage is likely to be extremely long and tantamount to giving the visitor attraction away to the private sector; when the original plan was to have a not-for profit organisation operate the park.  A trustworthy council insider recently advised  me that questions about the finances of park operator, Sands Heritage, are reportedly being asked  and that the Heritage Lottery Fund, which has invested several £million into this  project,  is not too amused by the amusement park shenanigans. Which brings me nicely to the purpose of this post.
3 weeks ago, I attended a councillors briefing meeting about Dreamland. At this meeting councillors were told that TDC would be signing a legal agreement with Sands Heritage in a matter of 2-3 days. On signing this agreement Sands Heritage would officially become the operator of the Dreamland Amusement Park.  I remember feeling uneasy about this meeting. Something in my water told me it was not quite right. Apart from being very short meeting, there seemed to be an  unspoken sub-plot at work with  officers going to extraordinary lengths to re-assure councillors that they had done everything by the book and took as much advice as possible on their dealings with Sands Heritage. So strange was the meeting that I took the unusual step of tweeting about it.
Well 3 weeks later there have been no self-aggrandising press releases from Council Leader Iris Johnston claiming that her single handed efforts  have  succeed in securing the Dreamland project. So I took the liberty of emailing  the Council’s Head of Property and Regeneration, Edwina Crowley,  for an update on why the legal agreement which councillors were told 3 weeks ago would be signed  in 2-3 days,  had not materialised.  Here’s the correspondence

From: Ian Driver []

Sent: 09 March 2015 13:29
To: Edwina Crowley
Subject: Dreamland and Sands Heritage

Dear Ms Crowley
2 weeks ago I attended a members briefing meeting at which Councillors were told that a legal  agreement would be signed with the Dreamland Operators within 2-3 days. Please tell me if this agreement has been signed. If not, could you please tell me why the signing of the agreement has been delayed and what the reasons for this delay are. I look forward to hearing from you. Yours sincerely Councillor Ian Driver

Dear Cllr Driver,
Thank you for this, the agreement have not been signed, as the legal agreements are not finished.  Unfortunately it will take a bit longer than we had planned.

I must say I was less than impressed by the rather curt one line reply from Ms Crowley. I have now asked her for a full explanation as to why what I was told would take only 2-3 days has not been accomplished in 3 weeks!

I may be worrying unnecessarily and everything might be hunky-dory. But those niggling doubts I had at the councillors briefing meeting 3 weeks ago have come back to haunt me.  Are there any legal difficulties with the drafting of the agreement with the Sands Heritage? If so what.  Are negotiations with Sands Heritage taking longer than expected and what are the sticking points?  Are the Dreamland funders concerned about any aspects of the agreement with Sands Heritage? Has the Council’s  due diligence of  Sands Heritage revealed any concerns?  Either way a 3 week delay in completing something which a senior officer advised councillors would only take  2-3 days and a rather disrespectful  e-mail  have got me to thinking that sweet dreams might not be being dreamt in Dreamland 


  1. A very curt response indeed. Nothing to say and wont say. I think you are entitled to know exactly what's going on...they will swear you to secrecy though!

  2. This and the mess with the CPO at Manston Airport. Surely Labour are NOT fit to run TDC.

    Labour being supported by the "Say No to Farage" is really a bad sign for Thanet.

    Although I am not a Green supporter, and I do not like your anti-airport stance. I do hope Ian you beat Labour for Thanet South at least you have a stance on things and never sit on the fence.

  3. Dear Ian please see my FOI requests link to TDC asking exactly what appropriate due diligence has been carried in respect of firstly professional suitability and secondly financially investment capability and economic sustainability in relation to Sands Heritage Ltd, its directors and its associated companies such as Sands Properties Ltd, Sands Hotel Margate Ltd, Retail South East Limited, Sands Beach Huts Ltd and others by means of company check services it would appear that in terms of available liquid funds the group has available with borrowing in any way which must not be allowed then its not in great shape to say the least, I have of course asked these questions directly to Edwina Crowley at TDC via FIO request and it would appear that they are currently either unwilling or unable to tell exactly what due diligence has been done .... this is indeed very concerning under the circumstances... please see FOI link via What do they know:

  4. Thanks for letting me know about this. I will cehck it out. Its reminds of the appalling lack of due diligence carried out into the Pleasurama developers SFP Ventures Ltd.

  5. "Transparency is the foundation of local accountability and the key that gives people the tools and information they need to enable them to play a bigger role in society. "

    "Timely : the timeliness of making public data available is often of vital importance. It should be made public as soon as possible following production even if it is not accompanied with detailed analysis. "

    Local Government Transparency Code 2014 October 2014 Department for Communities and Local Government

  6. Hi Ian.

    It may be a problem with Sands Heritage from the very start, Last Oct 2-14 TDC announced that sands were the preferd partner for running Dreamland, no other "partner" had come forward, This was because that it had not been advertised as it should have been through journals and European listings, which would have given interested parties time to study it and send letters of interest, Homer was asked about other interested Co's and only opened up to other parties 2 weeks before the closing date, which I believe was the end of Oct, by this time Sands was announced the "winner"??, Sands is also spending money like water, Who is backing them, have they already got the heritage lottery funding to spend as they wish, which originally was won by the Dreamland trust??. as stated how can they pass due diligence, they were only formed in Aug 2014, they would not have had 3 years worth of accounts, did they have to present a 20 year plan, like River oak was meant to produce over Manston's CPO, and where has Sands money come from, they are buying up all the propertys bordering Dreamland..
    The original Dreamland trust has been locked out, they are not in the loopover any thing, it has been said that The Dreamland trust were to be left out completely, and as far as I know do not even get updates or any communication, A journalist from one of the major broadsheets has come down to ask some awkward questions, but when he told sands he was coming down he was told he would be "escorted" by Sands PR Co and would have meetings with people whom sands would choose.
    Fortunately this journalist chose to come down and speak to some of the original Save Dreamland campaigners who have also been pushed to one side.
    Sands also want pay on entry, this goes against all the CPO of dreamland, The Dreamland trust recognised by making it free entry it would spread the spending of visitors over a greater area and so benefiting more local businsses, sands wants it all in house, pay to get in and spend all your money inside, so no one else even gets a nibble at the cherry.
    Most of this info may be confirmed by freedom of information, but it truly does not feel or look right, Sands at the end is a development Co, my personal suspicion is Dreamland, like Manston airport will be made not to work, then it will be, oh well we tried but it didnt work so we now have to build houses on a site worth 100 million [ figures given at dreamland CPO if it was house building land] who would benefit, TDC or Sands the development Co??.

    1. Interesting reading. I have been told that someone has just left the Dreamland team, because they can't stand Eddie and don't like how it's all being managed.

  7. Reading this gave my rock steady heartbeat palpitations.

    As it reflects the bigger picture of how the town/country/Europe/the capitalist world, is run.

    Stay on it. Standing by to help as needed.

  8. Where has Sands come from?
    Sands Ezekiel perhaps???

  9. The roller coaster repairs look like plywood from BandQ who approved it? Sands? Tdc?