In a press-release issued by TDC the then Labour Cabinet member Rik Everitt is reported as saying “I am delighted that we have been able to reach agreement with Cardy and bring this long-running saga to an end. This is a sensible solution for all parties, but most importantly of all this will bring about the regeneration of Ramsgate seafront and the town more generally …. Now at last we can move forward”. Thanet Labour Party went even further proclaiming in an election leaflet delivered to thousands of homes in Ramsgate that “Thanet Council’s Labour leadership has signed the deal with new partners Cardy to resume work on the Royal Sands … Labour has pledged that the £3million upfront cash boost will be ploughed straight back into Ramsgate”.
Well 9 months later, Cardy has still not begun work on the Pleasurama site and not a penny of the promised “£3million upfront cash boost” has been invested in Ramsgate. In fact it now looks as though nothing will happen on the Pleasurama site until well into spring of 2016 when contractors Steadline Ltd re-start the now suspended repairs and painting of the cliff face. This means that the earliest Cardy will be able to begin building the long overdue Pleasurama development will be the summer of 2016. So much for Rik Everitt’s misleading promise that “now at last we can move forward”! In fact it now appears that that all of the self-congratulatory propaganda about how TDC and its then Labour leadership had rescued the Pleasurama Project from disaster was actually a cynical exercise in the wilful mis-representation of the facts.
Why do I say this? Because just this week I received an e-mail for Tim Howes, Thanet Council’s Director of Corporate Governance who in answer to my question – “please tell me if and when the Pleasurama development agreement was signed by Cardy” replied “the Pleasurama agreement has not yet been completed therefore the council does not hold a signed copy of the agreement”. This statement can only mean one thing - the picture of Labour Council Leader Iris Johnston allegedly signing the development agreement with Mike Stannard of Cardy; the statement made by Labour Cabinet Member Rik Everitt that an agreement had been reached with Cardy; the Labour election leaflet claiming that a deal had been signed with Cardy were are all untruthful works of fiction aimed at misleading the people of Ramsgate. Shame on the Labour Party for abusing the trust of local people in such a deceitful and manipulative way in order to get votes!
The fact that the agreement with Cardy “has not yet been completed” and signed raises many interesting questions. Has Labour’s claimed “up front £3million cash boost” for the sale of the site actually been paid to the Council yet? Will Cardy downwardly revise their £3million offer to a much lower sum? Will Cardy demand that the site be handed over for free or will Cardy walk away from the deal. Without a signed agreement any of these options is possible. But whatever the final sale price might be, the cost of the repairs to the cliff face and the legal fees associated with TDCs negotiations with Cardy will all be deducted from that figure. Which brings my nicely to the subject of Steadman Ltd the cliff face repair contractor. As I previously reported the value of the cliff face repair and painting contract was, according to TDC, £314, 950. I have been advised that payments to date total £367,293 which is £52,343, or 16% over the contracted price. TDC has said that work will recommence on the cliff face repair and painting contract in the spring of 2016 which according a press release on its website “is estimated to only take a few weeks”. I reckon that this work will cost at least an £150,000. This will bring the total cost of repairing and painting the cliff face to £517,293 a staggering £202,343 or 64% more than the original contract price. How can a variance of this astronomic magnitude be explained and justified? Allowing for legal costs of at least £50,000 this means that a total of £567,293 must be deducted from the reported £3million selling price of the Pleasurama site leaving an upfront cash boost of just £2.4 million for Ramsgate – so much for Labour’s misleading and deceitful election promises of “ploughing straight back into Ramsgate” £3million. It was never going to happen and these hypocritical excuses for politicians always knew that.
As a campaigner for open and honest government in Thanet I am sickened by the way in which TDC and its then Labour leadership appear to have published misleading information about the agreement with Cardy. This information was published during the May 2015 local and general election campaign, presumably to secure support for the Labour Party. Many people would argue that politicians who knowingly engage in deception, mis-representation, manipulation and telling un-truths to the public are not fit to hold public office. I would agree with that.