Sunday, 7 April 2013
I am becoming increasingly worried about the public scandal called Ramsgate Pleasurama. So are thousands of Ramsgate residents who have signed a petition demanding an end to the project and no sale of the Pleasurama freehold.
The developers SFP Ventures UK Ltd were appointed by Thanet District Council almost 11 years ago to manage this project. In that 11 year period no significant progress towards the completion of the prestigious flats and hotel complex has been made. All we have is an appalling eyesore that has blighted one of the most beautiful parts of Ramsgate's Seafront for over a decade.
Despite promise after promise, the developers have failed to raise the money to take the project forward. And to its everlasting shame Thanet District Council has failed to take robust action to deal with the failing developers. In 2009 senior officers advised Councillors to terminate the development agreement with the SFP. But Councillors from both the Conservative and Labour Parties voted by an overwhelming majority to continue with the agreement. Worst of all they also voted to extend the deadline by which SFP could complete the work until 2017!. That's AN INCREDIBLE 15 YEARS to build this project. I don't think the ancient Egyptian Pyramids took this long to build! And get this! the same councillors also voted to reduce SFPs performance bond from £5.6. million to £1million.
All this is the face of officer advice to terminate the contract. I wonder why a Council, led at the time by gaoled and disgraced Sandy Ezekeil, would want to ignore the professional advice of its officers, and give the failing developers yet another chance?
If this were not bad enough the project developers SFP Ventures UK Ltd, were originally called SFP Venture Partners Ltd which was owned by SPF Services. Both of these companies are/ were registered in the British Virgin Islands. Offshore companies such as these do not reveal who their directors are. I speculate as to whether the directors of these organisations may have had links with Thanet politics or business or both. We will never know.
But one question must be asked why did Thanet Council enter into a £multi-million legal agreement with an offshore company who's directors were unknown to the Council. This is incompetence of the first order and should have never been allowed to happen.
And the latest news is that SFP are now demanding that Thanet Council sell them the freehold before the development is completed for £3.3 million. I say that Thanet Council would be mad to do this. Under no circumstances should the freehold be sold to SFP. After all they already have an 199 year leasehold on the site.
I am the only Thanet Councillor who has been consistently speaking our against the Ramsgate Pleasurama development.
I call on Thanet Council to terminate its development agreement with SFP with immediate effect. Let's get rid of the failing developer and have a public consultation on what the site should be used for.
If I am elected to Kent County Council I will continue this campaign and will not rest until this development is halted.
Here is some footage of a recent public meeting about Pleasurama at which I spoke.