Friday, 3 June 2016

Lets Save Dreamland

I’ve always supported Dreamland. It’s an essential part of Thanet’s economic regeneration. But what I’ve not supported is the incompetence and maladministration of Thanet Council  in its implementation of this project, particularly the role played by the previous Labour administration and some senior managers in rushing this project thorough despite warning signs of problems. That’s why  I have spoken out about Dreamland and will, despite some hostility, continue to do so. Because  now is the time for Thanet Council to take some bold and decisive action if Dreamland is to be saved and realise its regeneration potential.  

If, as I think is likely,  Sands  Heritage Limited (SHL) are unable to resolve their financial problems,  then Thanet Council should exercise its options under the Dreamland   lease agreement to take  back the site from the operator. The Council should then conduct an urgent and fundamental review of its strategy and plans for the site, bringing in expertise from outside to advise and assist. Such a review should not be the typical “top down” “we know best” Thanet Council approach but should also involve the local community and local businesses, who will all directly and indirectly benefit from having a thriving and successful Dreamland.

But thriving and successful it’s not.  Clearly visitor numbers have been far below Thanet Council’s and SHL’s expectations and that’s why SHL is in very serious financial trouble. I agree that the non-delivery of a functioning Scenic Railway until four months after the opening of Dreamland was a monumental mess up by Thanet Council, but that’s not enough to explain Dreamland’s failure. The failure is because Dreamland is too small; there’s simply not enough to see and do and it is   appallingly bad value for money. These weaknesses were clear from the beginning, but TDC and its senior officers and political (Labour) leadership pushed ahead with opening the park at break neck speed, regardless of the warnings about the risks they were running. What we got as a result of this stupidity was too little too soon,   a wave disappointment, and subsequent failure.
My view is that Dreamland should never  have  been opened in phases,  but all at once with a fully completed  amusement park, the Sunshine Café and  Cinema all up and running together and with a single operator, ideally a not-for-profit charitable trust,  managing the three elements as an inter-dependent whole. This would have offered visitors a much larger and varied destination which would been more attractive than what we currently have. Thanet Council now has the opportunity to do exactly this. It can take back the failing amusement park from SHL, rethink its business plan and strategy for Dreamland  whilst working on the refurbishment of the Sunshine Café and Cinema. On completion of these works Thanet Council can then relaunch a bigger, more attractive Dreamland than we now have which will offer much better value for money to its visitors.

One final thought is whether the original concept of restoring and promoting  Dreamland  in the guise of  a 1950s theme park was a good idea. Whilst the 50s are undoubtedly an important aspect  of Dreamland, I’m now inclined to argue that  instead of focusing on the past  Dreamland should also be embracing the future and incorporating new technologies such as virtual reality and robotics into the mix and perhaps using some of the space  on, or adjacent to the site,  to build a state of the art skate park for young people.
The failure of Dreamland operator  SHL whilst a sad, but not unexpected,  turn of events could, if managed properly,  provide opportunities to develop something new, more exciting and vibrant, than what’s there now   which will have a better potential to succeed  and help to regenerate Thanet.

PS please have a look at the Margate Architecture blogsite. There is a link to it on this page. Louise Oldfield has made some very interesting comments about Dreamland with which I totally agree.


  1. I am really not convinced that the concept of a 50's theme park really works. I live in Thanet and have not been to and have no real interest in going to Dreamland . I much prefer the adrenaline type attractions associated to Thorpe Park and Alton Towers. Unfortunately there are many other I know who feel the same, that look upon Dreamland as another " White Elephant". I would view the input of tax payers money to fund any future schemes as grossly irresponsible,

  2. No it was not a good idea. There should have been an integrated heritage approach. Amusement park with historic rides etc , steam museum (if they can be brought in) "Doctor Margate" sea bathing machines and to reflect the rest cure heritage some alternative medicine small business (Herbs, osteopath,etc) museum from punch and judy to Dunkirk etc, Build around the health break heritage upon which Margate built (Sea Bathing etc). Simulator attractions like try to match one tenth of the famous rowing feat of the 19th century Margate lifeboat crew. And fulfil lottery heritage fund requirements !!

  3. At the CPO appeal this was stated:
    "Richard Glover QC, for DreamlandLive, told the judges the order should be quashed as the Communities Secretary Eric Pickles's conclusion that the heritage amusement park would be "commercially viable" was legally flawed and based on factual errors and misleading advice."
    Looks like you ideas here are what was proposed by the DreamlandLive company who wanted to provide and amusement park but with commercial development and housing. Maybe the housing and commercial buildings would have supported a successful amusement park that was to include a state-of-the-art 4D experience space simulator.

  4. We need Dreamland reopened but we also need to root out the failures at TDC. Simply allowing Kenyon etc to continue would result in the same problems later. Iris like most councilors is imply too stupid to know what to do other than being led by the officials

  5. With Blatter's secret salaries and bonuses appearing - when will TDC publish their salaries and pensions before the same thing happens to rip off the taxpayers?

  6. Which of our councilors is calling for a review of Dreamland and the Port corruption? They're sheep doing what the bureaucrats tell them! A council tax strike would waste less tax...

  7. Why are the councilors so scared to sack a few of them?

  8. There's rumours of the TDC and RTC elections being murky...where is the election information?

  9. There is lot of articles on the web about this. But I like yours more, although i found one that’s more descriptive.

    Labour Cost Management Solution