My KCC Election Manifesto & Video

Monday, 14 November 2016

Thanet’s £100K Dreamland Dream Team

Developments  at Margate’s troubled Dreamland Amusement Park took an interesting turn today. I was informed, by a reliable source, that barrister Mary Cook of Cornerstone Chambers in London  has been appointed by Thanet Council to head up its Dreamland Dream Team.  Supported by David Conboy and Graeme Tully of property  consultants GL Hearn the Dreamland Dream Team   will try to negotiate a  compensation deal with the former owners of the amusement park who, to the best of my knowledge, have been paid just £750,000 by Thanet Council for the purchase of the site. I understand that the former Dreamland owners have submitted a compensation claim to Thanet Council in excess of £16million.

According to a bio published on Cornernstone’s website Mary Cook has considerable CPO experience. She advises and appears for both acquiring authorities and objectors at public inquiries held to consider compulsory purchase orders made under a wide variety of statutory powers; town and country planning, urban regeneration, housing and highways, by Government departments, local authorities and other promoters. She also advises on claims for compensation for compulsory purchase and appear in the Lands Tribunal in such cases. Other inquiry work undertaken includes appeals concerning purchase notices and applications for certificates of appropriate alternative development under the Land Compensation Act 1961”.

GL Hearn’s website says that David Conboy “is a key member of the CPO team who joined GL Hearn as a CPO Surveyor in October 2008 having previously worked for District Valuer Services (DVS), a department of the Valuation Office Agency (VOA). David has successfully represented a broad base of clients in the negotiation of claims for compensation on behalf of land owners and occupiers facing acquisition and the valuation of land/property scheduled to be compulsory acquired”. Graeme Tully’s bio says that his  “specialist area is the planning, development and delivery of major mixed use town centre and area wide regeneration projects, where he is one of the UK’s leading advisors to both private and public sectors”.  

Putting together a specialist CPO negotiating team of such a high calibre will,  I think, leave Thanet Council with very  little change out of  £100,000. The choice of the Dreamland Dream Team members is a clear indication that Thanet Council are involved in high stakes discussions with the former owners and that they are taking the £16million compensation claim extremely  seriously. Even if, as is usually the case, a meet-in-the-middle compromise deal of £8-10 million is eventually agreed with the  former owners, I  wonder how TDC will be able to  pay now that its cash  reserves are so dangerously low (see my previous post  here    )

Compensation in the order of £8-£10million  means that Thanet council taxpayers will have paid a total of  £20 million towards the purchase and restoration of the Dreamland Amusement Park. That’s the equivalent of £145 for every man, woman and child living in Thanet. Add on to this over £10million funding from Kent County Council, the Heritage Lottery  Foundation and various Government grants and the  total public money invested into the Dreamland project is an astounding £30million!!!

And for what? A Park with its main attraction, the iconic scenic railway, non-operational for more than half the time the park has been open. A park with its operator Sands Heritage in administration. A park with its  leasehold agreement with Thanet Council and most of its rides in hoc to a tax dodging, offshore, Cayman registered  hedge fund and the High Sherriff of Bedfordshire. And with  the Dreamland Trust ,who is supposed to represent the community interest  in the park,  remaining pathetically and shamefully silent about these unacceptable fairground shenanigans.

By anybody’s standards Margate Dreamland has been unmitigated fuck-up. The people who have paid for this £30million public investment have been badly let down by Thanet Council’s politicians and senior officers; by the park operator;  by the Dreamland  Trust. If these incompetent fools had any remaining vestiges of decency they would have apologised and resigned ages ago. But of course they have no shame and don’t understand the meaning of  public accountability.  

I have said before and will say it again there must be an independent public enquiry into Margate’s  Dreamland Nightmare and those responsible should be named and shamed. No hiding behind a Dreamland Dream Team to protect your arses fess up your failings and face the music.

Talking of music here's 10cc's take on Dreamland - Art for Arts Sake Money for Gods Sake 



  1. Well said Ian: heads must roll at TDC - why has Wells not resigned over this and Manston and Brett?

  2. The end of Cartner/Gloag etc:

    1. Looks like they've freed up a lot of capital to start the redevelopment of Stone Hill Park.

  3. Is Tim Howes the TDC lawyer related to Kevin Howes the finance director at Discovery Park?

  4. A typical TDC fuck up. This is happening all the tine Ian. When will Senior Heads roll.

  5. Why are we paying Howes £90k to simply appoint other lawyers? A £20k clerk could do that

  6. Good research again Ian. I still think Riveroak may have a cause of action developing against TDC. It should be on TDC risk register with an officer "Owning" the risk.