My KCC Election Manifesto & Video

Sunday, 15 March 2015

NO SWEET DREAMS @DREAMLAND

Thanet Council's Triumphal Press Release 1 Year Ago
Readers of my blog will know that  I am 100% behind  Dreamland and believe that it will  play an important role in the regeneration of Thanet, But I have also  been critical about the way in which the Council has managed this project. I have said, and have  been proved to have  been  right, that the much touted April 2015 opening of the amusement park was unrealistic. I have argued that the budget is inadequate and complained that there is insufficient contingency to pay the costs of the final Compulsory Purchase settlement which is yet to be decided. I also said that the long lease which is being negotiated with Sands Heritage is likely to be extremely long and tantamount to giving the visitor attraction away to the private sector; when the original plan was to have a not-for profit organisation operate the park.  A trustworthy council insider recently advised  me that questions about the finances of park operator, Sands Heritage, are reportedly being asked  and that the Heritage Lottery Fund, which has invested several £million into this  project,  is not too amused by the amusement park shenanigans. Which brings me nicely to the purpose of this post.
3 weeks ago, I attended a councillors briefing meeting about Dreamland. At this meeting councillors were told that TDC would be signing a legal agreement with Sands Heritage in a matter of 2-3 days. On signing this agreement Sands Heritage would officially become the operator of the Dreamland Amusement Park.  I remember feeling uneasy about this meeting. Something in my water told me it was not quite right. Apart from being very short meeting, there seemed to be an  unspoken sub-plot at work with  officers going to extraordinary lengths to re-assure councillors that they had done everything by the book and took as much advice as possible on their dealings with Sands Heritage. So strange was the meeting that I took the unusual step of tweeting about it.
Well 3 weeks later there have been no self-aggrandising press releases from Council Leader Iris Johnston claiming that her single handed efforts  have  succeed in securing the Dreamland project. So I took the liberty of emailing  the Council’s Head of Property and Regeneration, Edwina Crowley,  for an update on why the legal agreement which councillors were told 3 weeks ago would be signed  in 2-3 days,  had not materialised.  Here’s the correspondence

From: Ian Driver [mailto:ianddriver@yahoo.co.uk]

Sent: 09 March 2015 13:29
To: Edwina Crowley
Subject: Dreamland and Sands Heritage

Dear Ms Crowley
2 weeks ago I attended a members briefing meeting at which Councillors were told that a legal  agreement would be signed with the Dreamland Operators within 2-3 days. Please tell me if this agreement has been signed. If not, could you please tell me why the signing of the agreement has been delayed and what the reasons for this delay are. I look forward to hearing from you. Yours sincerely Councillor Ian Driver


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.
RegardsEdwina

I must say I was less than impressed by the rather curt one line reply from Ms Crowley. I have now asked her for a full explanation as to why what I was told would take only 2-3 days has not been accomplished in 3 weeks!

I may be worrying unnecessarily and everything might be hunky-dory. But those niggling doubts I had at the councillors briefing meeting 3 weeks ago have come back to haunt me.  Are there any legal difficulties with the drafting of the agreement with the Sands Heritage? If so what.  Are negotiations with Sands Heritage taking longer than expected and what are the sticking points?  Are the Dreamland funders concerned about any aspects of the agreement with Sands Heritage? Has the Council’s  due diligence of  Sands Heritage revealed any concerns?  Either way a 3 week delay in completing something which a senior officer advised councillors would only take  2-3 days and a rather disrespectful  e-mail  have got me to thinking that sweet dreams might not be being dreamt in Dreamland 

6 comments:

  1. A very curt response indeed. Nothing to say and wont say. I think you are entitled to know exactly what's going on...they will swear you to secrecy though!

    ReplyDelete
  2. This and the mess with the CPO at Manston Airport. Surely Labour are NOT fit to run TDC.

    Labour being supported by the "Say No to Farage" is really a bad sign for Thanet.

    Although I am not a Green supporter, and I do not like your anti-airport stance. I do hope Ian you beat Labour for Thanet South at least you have a stance on things and never sit on the fence.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Dear Ian please see my FOI requests link to TDC asking exactly what appropriate due diligence has been carried in respect of firstly professional suitability and secondly financially investment capability and economic sustainability in relation to Sands Heritage Ltd, its directors and its associated companies such as Sands Properties Ltd, Sands Hotel Margate Ltd, Retail South East Limited, Sands Beach Huts Ltd and others by means of company check services it would appear that in terms of available liquid funds the group has available with borrowing in any way which must not be allowed then its not in great shape to say the least, I have of course asked these questions directly to Edwina Crowley at TDC via FIO request and it would appear that they are currently either unwilling or unable to tell exactly what due diligence has been done .... this is indeed very concerning under the circumstances... please see FOI link via What do they know: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/adoption_of_sands_heritage_ltd_a#outgoing-428937

    ReplyDelete
  4. Where has Sands come from?
    Sands Ezekiel perhaps???

    ReplyDelete
  5. The roller coaster repairs look like plywood from BandQ who approved it? Sands? Tdc?

    ReplyDelete
  6. Interesting reading. I have been told that someone has just left the Dreamland team, because they can't stand Eddie and don't like how it's all being managed.

    ReplyDelete