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Monday, 25 January 2016

Dreamland Risk Warning Supressed by Thanet Council??

Former Green Party councillor, Ian Driver, has accused senior Thanet District Council (TDC) bosses of supressing warnings about the  “considerable risks” associated with the prestigious Margate Dreamland Amusement Park. In a report dated 5 February 2015, which was commissioned by TDC at the cost of £5,500(1),  GVA Grimely, one of the country’s largest commercial  property advisers,  warned the council  that “there is considerable risk associated with the viability of a scheme of this nature  particularly in a secondary/ tertiary coastal location”(2).

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”.

14 comments:

  1. Well said Ian yet more Tdc secrecy and incompetence. Why did Sands Hotel and not Dreamland Trust run this project?
    Why did Sands also sue Tdc? Yet another mess.

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  2. I take it you know where the Private money came from,both destinations? If not ask,Remember both destinations! Good Luck.

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    1. Do explain 01:18...

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    2. I'll let Mr Driver explain,when he discovers the the money trail if he doesn't allready know? Follow the Yellow brick road.

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    3. You know nothing 19:33 other than trying to appear clever. If you know anything say so or run along

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    4. All for one and one for all use only your logic 18:58.

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    5. meaningless again 12:43 - speak up or shut up

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    6. 12:43 vague cliches again. Speak up if you can or be quiet

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  3. How comes Sharpe Pritchard the Law firm are there among the Dreamland,Hotel,pleasure deals and Manston investigation? If you would be so kind.

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  4. The report seems quite a junior estate agent but rightly problematic it was hushed up and indeed the opposite stated by Tdc. Who was in the 2 meetings? Is it Iris playing games again?

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  5. Sharpe are the same lawyers as PleasuramA? Hired by Tdc?

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  6. By the coast tgus not 360 catchment....except tourists. Is this estate agent a plonker or a genius?

    Problems with economy and weather. ...that rules out anything in uk then...

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  7. Howes at Tdc and SharpeP lawyers have some explaining to do after the Cardy deal and now Sands...and being sued for millions

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  8. 19:18 he's a plonker as no seaside town has a 360 catchment area. ...Bournemouth does ok....did we pay for this report for tdc backside covering

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