Friday, 17 April 2015

Dreamland Still No Legal Agreement

I am becoming increasingly alarmed about developments at Dreamland. Almost 8 weeks ago I attended a Councillors briefing meeting about the amusement park.  At this meeting we were told by a senior council officer that a legal agreement would be signed with the park operator, Sands Heritage, within 2-3 days.
Almost 2 months later no legal agreement has been signed. We now have the bizarre situation whereby an organisation which has no legal agreement with the council, has been selling tickets for the opening of the amusement park  on 19 June and recruiting staff to work in the park. This doesn't seem quite right to me.
Sands Heritage was chosen  to be the Dreamland Operator in October 2014 after a false start to the selection process earlier in the year. My sources tell me that Sands was selected  from a tiny handful of no more than one or maybe two applicants, which suggests to me that sphincters were beginning to become twitchy  about whether this flagship project would ever be realized.  Not that I am suggesting that this was the case with Dreamland, but when projects go awry there is often the temptation to choose the best of bad bunch to get back on track. But speculation aside, it does genuinely worry me that almost 8 months after selecting Sands Heritage as the Dreamland operator the legal agreement has still not been signed!
I want to know what the hold ups are. Is there a problem with
the due diligence of Sands Heritage? Are there finance problems? Is the Heritage Lottery Fund unhappy with the arrangements? Are there problems in having the Park ready and all the rides and amusements in place on time?  Is Sands playing hard ball with the Council and trying to get a better deal? There are literally hundreds of issues, or combinations of issues,  which might explain why, less than a month before the park opens Sands Heritage has still not signed the operator agreement with Thanet Council.
I have tried my best to find out why but in typical Thanet Council fashion I have been fobbed off with insufficient answers (see below). One thing is for sure if  Thanet Greens have Councillors elected to  TDC on 7th May they will be demanding a full explanation about what’s  been going on  at Dreamland.  Having said that I want to repeat that whatever thee issues might be, I'm 100% behind the Dreamland project. I believe that the restored amusement park could play a powerful role in  regenerating Thanet and creating much needed jobs. But the operation of the park and the legal agreement which covers this must be as open and transparent as possible.  Otherwise we are likely to repeat the mistakes of  Ramsgate Pleasurama or TransEuropa Ferries.

17/04/2015 Dear Cllr Driver,
We are continuing to work with our legal team to finalise the lease for Dreamland.  We will update you when this has been completed.
21/03/15Dear Cllr Driver, Further to your email, I confirm this is a complex project and our Solicitors need to ensure that they get the best terms possible for the council and this has involved lengthy negotiations. With a site of this size it does take time and unfortunately, although we are all working hard to get it completed as soon as possible, it is more important that the lease is right and ensures the very best  outcome for the Council. It is taking longer than we hoped, but both Sands Heritage and Thanet District Council are committed to completing negotiations and delivering an exciting project for Margate.
14/03/15 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.


  1. It is not clear from this as to who is currently holding the risk.
    Is all the work being done being paid for by TDC, and so the cost is being born at tax payers risk?
    If it is then getting the cart before the horse the way they have must be negligent, i.e. no agreement before main expenditure started,
    let alone the fact that their negotiating position must have actually been getting weaker all the time contrary to the 21/03/2015 email you have been sent by them.
    Either they don't know how to run these things or they are lying to you.

  2. Typical efficient TDC!! They probably only have one legal officer doing the work? If my experience is anything to go by they are probably on holiday or sick leave and you are being fobbed off go straight to top bypass the soldiers go to the organ grinder

  3. Has a agreement been made yet by the new council?