The report describes the Dreamland scheme as having a “substantial risk profile” and being “extremely speculative”. A SWOT analysis of the project, carried out by GVA Grimely identifies “that the risk outweighs the benefits”. The risks identified by GVA Grimely include –· Margate is not regarded as a key coastal destination
· Highly speculative in location
· Limited direct catchment not 360 degrees
· High cost of the development
· Need for annual investment to ensure product remains interesting and attractive
· English Heritage / listed building constraints
· Development of competition in and around more popular south east locations with consideration of the substantial scheme planned at Swanscombe for example (£2 billion Paramount Theme Park)
· Economy and weather
Said Driver “TDC bosses appear to have suppressed this important report and kept it secret from elected councillors. No mention of it was made by senior council officers and Council Leader Iris Johnston at the cross-party members briefing on the Dreamland project held on 23 February 2015, at which I was present. No mention of it was made at the Council’s Governance & Audit Committee held on 17 March 2015 at which councillors reviewed TDCs Corporate Risk Register. In fact, at that meeting councillors were advised that the risk of Dreamland project failing “would reduce significantly” to a medium to low classification because Sands Heritage had recently been appointed as the Dreamland park operator”(3).
“What has happened here is utterly astounding” added Driver, “Top council bosses and, I believe, certain members of the Council’s ruling Labour Cabinet, were in possession of, or knew about, a report from a large reputable firm of commercial property advisers warning of the high risk of the Dreamland project failing. Instead of acting on the warnings and working to develop contingency plans to secure the project, the report was withheld from councillors. At least £6 million of council taxpayers money had been invested in Dreamland by TDC, democratically elected councillors have a right to know if this investment is at risk, but they were kept in the dark by the officer and political leadership at the council. This is plain wrong”“I have always been a big fan of Dreamland. It’s vitally important to Thanet’s economy. But is becoming increasing clear now that top bosses at Thanet Council and the Council’s then Labour leadership have badly mismanaged the Dreamland project. They massively overspent taxpayers money on developing the project; misused Heritage Lottery funding (HLF); failed to keep the HLF properly informed about project progress and the appointment of Sands Heritage (SH) as the park operator; delivered the flagship scenic railway months late causing hardship for SH; had to pay SH about £1million in compensation for handing over an amusement park not fit for purpose. Now it has emerged that top council bosses and, I believe, some Labour Cabinet members, withheld warnings that the project had a high risk of failure and appear to have misled councillors responsible for reviewing TDCs risk register about the level risk faced by Dreamland”
“With incompetence, maladministration and cover-ups of this magnitude, is it any wonder that the Dreamland operator came close to bankruptcy and the future of the attraction remains in the balance? At least £6million of council taxpayers money has been invested by TDC in opening Dreamland – that’s £45 for every man, women and child. I think there should be a full independent enquiry into TDCs management of the Dreamland project which will, I hope, lead to the resignation or dismissal of those senior officers and politicians identified as being responsible for this monumental and expensive disaster. The council should, as a matter of the greatest urgency, also be developing a Plan B to identify and reduce further risks to this project and secure the future of Dreamland before its too late”.