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Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Pleasurama Labour’s Excuse Factory Begins Work

Everitt & Pals  Wiping Pleasurama Slate Clean - Or Did They?
Writing in this week’s Gazette former Thanet councillor Rick Everitt, the man responsible for overseeing the 2015 deal whereby building company Cardy replaced SFP Ventures Ltd, as the new Pleasurama developers said that this deal had “wiped the slate clean”. I assume he meant  by this that getting rid of the people associated with former developers SFP Ventures, Shaun Keegan and financier Colin Hill, who were responsible for 14 years  of inaction and the blight Ramsgate’s seafront, a new start could be made and the development could finally get underway.  Indeed in his letter Everitt actually says “when the Council signed the deal with Cardy Construction for them to take over the contract in the spring of 2015 I was confident work (on the Pleasurama site) would recommence that summer”.
But was Everitt’s confidence a confidence of convenience? And just how clean had  the deal with Cardy wiped the filthy  Pleasurama slate?  Because despite Cardy’s takeover of SFP Ventures in 2015 those previously associated with the company continued to lurk in the shadows from where, I believe, they exercised a powerful influence and control over the new Pleasurama developers Cardy and its  managing director Mike Stannard.
And on what do I base this assertion?  Well in 2014 Cardy Construction was granted outline planning permission by Waveney District Council in Suffolk to build a £150million,  850 house development at the  Brooke Marina site  Lowestoft. As developments go this is quite substantial and possibly one of the biggest projects Cardy had ever been involved in. The profit to be made from a development of this size would, I image, be quite substantial and very, very tempting. But here’s the rub, the owner of the Brooke Marina site is according to Land Registry, Swiss based company Flight Services SA. A quick check on the internet reveals that Flight Services is owned by a Mr Colin Hill. This is the same Colin Hill who was the financier behind SFP Ventures Ltd. Hill’s father in law is Shaun Keegan who was, until Cardy and Mike Stannard took over control of SFP , its sole director. Between them they were responsible for 14 years of inaction at the Pleasurama site and the long-term blighting of Ramsgate’s seafront which continues to this day.  

So for former Councillor, Rick Everitt to state in a letter to the Thanet Gazette that the agreement with Cardy “wiped the slate clean” was not quite true. Cardy through their Lowestoft link with Colin Hill continued to have a close working relationship  with the very people who Everett and the Council claimed to have  eliminated from the Pleasurama equation.  I would suggest that this relationship, from Thanet council’s point of view,  was highly risky because the leverage and influence which could be exercised by the promise of a contract to build  the £150million Brooke Marina project would have made Cardy very malleable and highly likely to do the bidding of the former-SFP people.
The Cardy-Hill  Lowestoft link was never a secret.  During the course of the 2014-15 negotiations between Cardy and Thanet Council, it was well know that Cardy had secured planning permission for the Brooke Marina development and that Colin Hill was the site owner. In fact a former member of the Friends of Ramsgate Seafront management committee, Barry James, wrote a blog about this relationship and he has told me that he spoke to several senior Labour Party councillors about this matter on more than one occasion. So when Thanet Council and Rick Everitt where negotiating in 2014/15  with Cardy about taking over  the Pleasurama development contract from SFP Ventures it is extremely likely that they knew all about the Cardy/ Colin Hill Lowestoft  link. Knowing of this link The Council and Everett must have recognised that Hill was in a position to exercise significant  influence over Cardy and Mike Stannard. Surely knowing these facts Everitt and the Council should have exercised much greater caution in their dealings with Cardy and negotiated a much tougher deal with them, and certainly they should never have agreed to sell off the freehold of the Pleasurama site to Cardy. But they appear to have ignored the warning signs and failed to take action to properly protect the Council’s interests.
Moving forward 12 months, whatever the reasons for Cardy going bust we might never know. But it seems more than a co-incidence that Hill, through an offshore Panamanian registered company, Mintal Inc., lent Stannard and Cardy Ramsgate the money  needed to purchase the Pleasurama site, just days before Cardy Construction entered administration. There is a charge for this loan registered against the freehold of the Pleasurama site.  The question must be asked why this transaction ever took place when Stannard must have already known that  Cardy Construction was going to the wall. It also seems strange that shortly after the Pleasurama site had been bought off the Council  and Cardy had gone  under,  Stannard resigned as Director of Cardy Ramsgate to be replaced  by long-time associate of Shaun Keegan and Colin Hill,  77 year old accountant Anthony Hollis. 
You don’t need to be the sharpest knife in the box to have realised that Cardy and Stannard’s continuing association with Colin Hill made the Pleasurama development extremely vulnerable to an aggressive re-acquisition. And so it turned out, with the land and the development company now back firmly under the control of Colin Hill. With a little a bit of forethought and some focused research from Thanet Council  this  possibility  would have been clear and with half decent planning it could been avoided.
This is why I believe Rick Everitt wrote his letter to the Thanet Gazette. He realised his deal with Cardy  had collapsed and recognised that those previously associated with SFP,  who had supposedly been “wiped clean”,   had returned and seized control of the Pleasurama freehold. But instead of fessing up for overseeing and agreeing the  shitty deal which made this possible  and taking some of the responsibility he used his letter to quite shamefully pass the buck and heap the blame for this entirely  foreseeable fuck up on council officers. Like a coward scared of facing the music Everritt  claims in his letter that he began to have doubts early in 2015 about how council officers were managing the Pleasurama situation. Surely, if his concerns were genuine, he should have spoken out at the time, rather than waiting more than 16 months before expressing his worries. His long silence undermines his credibility and the timing of his letter is strongly suggestive of watching his backside.
So  now that the Pleasurama deal appears to have collapsed;  now that the freehold of this  prime seafront site has been sold off; now that the people of Ramsgate are likely to have to face the appalling possibility of having their seafront blighted  by this eyesore for many years to come; the Labour Party excuses factory gears up into action. I wonder who else from the previous Thanet Council Labour Cabinet will write weasel worded letters to the Thanet Gazette blaming someone else for their fuck up

6 comments:

  1. Everitt seems a weaselly character trying to duck the blame after being booted out at the election for the secret Port/Ferry deal.

    And now we have Hill and Keegan related - and Keegan working for Painter, and Painter sharing an office with Bayford?

    Where is the £3M? Unlikely to be spent on Ramsgate if its held at TDC?

    Planning permission for Pleasurama needs to be cancelled now: not a brick will be laid

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  2. We had the equally slippery new Planning Director Abigail Raymond telling the Gazette that the Manston Parkway was vital...

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  3. Now UKIP leader in a party punchup and in hospital - how do we get rid of these idiots

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  4. Raymond seems to be part of the great sell-off at TDC to bolster their own salaries after all the planning failures - how do we get rid of her? The councilors are so feeble

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  5. You are Labour obsessed, get out there and do something about the current council stop harping on about things that happened years ago.

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  6. Calls for Mackinlay, Gale and Wells to resign over Mansotn fail increasing.

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