One of my predictions for 2017 is that Cayman Island registered hedge fund, Arrowgrass Master Fund, is likely to become the new operator of Margate’s Dreamland Amusement Park.According to a document posted on the Companies House website on Xmas eve, Arrowgrass has loaned the current Dreamland park operator, Sands Heritage Limited (SHL) £1million. This latest development means that Arrowgrass has loaned SHL a total of £2.6million since May 2016. The loans have been secured via legal charges on the 99 year leasehold agreement between Thanet Council and SHL for the Dreamland Amusement Park site, and legal charges on other properties leased by SHL, next to the Dreamland site (see table).
Dreamland Operator, SHL, has faced mounting financial problems over the past 12 months. In December 2015, just 6 months after the opening of the amusement park, it entered into a Company Voluntary Arrangement with its creditors. In May 2016 the company was forced into administration owing a staggering £14million to its creditors. Insolvency practitioners, Duff and Phelps, who are overseeing the administration of SHL reported to a creditors meeting on August 2016 that once creditor’s claims have been processed they will “take the necessary steps to put the Company (SHL) into either Creditors' Voluntary Liquidation or into Compulsory Liquidation as they deem appropriate”. Liquidation of SHL would almost certainly lead to Arrowgrass Master Fund exercising its rights, under the terms of the legal charges it holds on the Dreamland site, to become the new lease holder and de facto operator of the Amusement Park. Arrowgrass could then sell on the leases to a third party, or assign another organisation to operate Dreamland on its behalf without any reference to Thanet Council.The likely takeover of Dreamland by Arrowgrass Master Fund, makes an utter mockery of the original vision and ethos for the amusement park. Dreamland was supposed to be a tourist-focused project, managed by a community charity, which would re-invest its profits into the desperately needed regeneration of Margate. But due to the incompetence and maladministration of both Thanet Council and SHL, we now have an Amusement Park which is likely to be run by a greedy, tax-dodging, offshore hedge-fund, which is more interested in paying its fat-cat investors handsome dividends instead of supporting the regeneration of Margate.
What makes me furious about this sickening debacle is that any profits screwed out of Dreamland by Arrowgrass Master Fund and its greedy investors, will have been made on the back of a least at £20million public money invested in the acquisition, restoration and opening of Dreamland.
There must be a public inquiry into this massively mismanaged project and those responsible must be named and shamed