My KCC Election Manifesto & Video

Friday, 6 January 2017

Margate Dreamland Hedgefund's £10million Takover.

Just over a week ago I wrote an article expressing my worries that Arowgrass Master Fund’s £2.6 million investment in Margate’s Dreamland Amusement Park had subverted the original concept of an amusement park managed by a charity  which reinvested its  profits  into  the attraction to create jobs and business opportunities for the people of Thanet. A large investment by an offshore, tax-dodging hedge fund, I argued, would mean that that the lion’s share of any Dreamland profits would find its way into  the bank accounts of already wealthy,  fat-cat, Arrowgrass investors and directors, rather than helping to regenerate the economy of one of the most deprived local authorities in the country.
Well they say a week is a long time politics and that’s certainly true in Thanet, because it’s now emerged that Arrowgrass has massively increased its investment in Dreamland.  Documents published on Wednesday (04/01/17) on the Companies House website reveal that Arrowgrass’ existing loan facility to the Dreamland Park operator, Sands Heritage Limited (SHL) has now been extended to a staggering £9.915million which means to all intent and purpose that Arrowgrass has financial control over Dreamland. They've taken over in all but name.
Arrowgrass, as I explained in my previous articles,  secured its loan by placing  legal charges on  SHL’s  99 year  lease of the Dreamland Amusement Park site  and also  by placing charges on other, non-TDC  properties leased  by SHL including 49 and 50 Marine Terrace Margate. The latest loan extension is, however, very different as it includes charges on properties which do not appear to be owned or leased by SHL.
image from Google Earth
The first of these charges has been placed on the freehold of   45-55 Eaton Road, Margate. The second charge has been placed on the freehold of 43-47 Marine Terrace Margate. These are properties which are adjacent to the Dreamland site and which would be strategically important to any future expansion and development of the amusement park.
According to the latest Land Registry information 45-55 Eaton Road is owned by Stour Side Developments Ltd (Company Number 03449710) and 43-47 Marine Terrace is owned by SIR Investments Limited (Company Number 09816584).  Stour Side Investments own Margate Lido and have held secret meetings with Council Leader Chris Wells and council Chief Executive Madeline Homer to discuss building luxury flats on the site. SIR Investments own the former Primark site on Margate High Street. Both SIR and Stour Side Investments share common directors and are linked to Russian investors who have large property holdings in Margate.
Allowing for time delays in updating Land Registry records, I assume that  SHL has used  some of the  £10million Arrowgrass loan to purchase  43-47 Marine Terrace and 45-55 Eaton Road from Stour Side and SIR Investments in order to consolidate it’s  control over property adjoining Dreamland. I will check this out in the next week or so to see if the ownership of these properties changes. If not, then perhaps Stour Side and SIR investments have done some sort of a deal which brings them in as a possible partners for taking over Dreamland with Arrowgrass. Either way, there’s some complex wheeler dealing going on here which makes my head spin.
But there’s one thing for certain, the extension of its loan facility to £10million and the charges on,  and possible purchases of,  the adjacent  properties clearly indicate that the  tax-dodging hedge fund, Arrowgrass, believes that there is a lot of money to be made for its wealthy investors and directors by the exploitation of Dreamland. How will this money be made? Well I believe that Arrowgrass will use its investment as leverage to force Thanet Council to grant it the concessions for running the Sunshine Café and the Dreamland Cinema, despite TDC’s public commitment to competitively tendering the management of these new phases of the Dreamland development. I also believe that  building housing either on, or around, the  Dreamland site is already the subject of discussion between TDC and Arrowgrass. The large, council owned, Dreamland car park and undeveloped parts of the amusement park will, I believe,  be gifted to Arrowgrass as a reward for their investment into the amusement park. When developed into housing these chunks of land  will cover  the £10million loan to SHL many times over and greatly enrich Arrowgrass investors and directors.

Talking of enrichment, I have already written about how SHL directors Nick Connington and John Adams have close business and employment links to Arrowgrass and its boss  Nicholas Neill. I publically called out Connington and Adams 3 times last year to declare whether or not they, or their relatives,  had any investments in Arrowgrass and whether, if they did,  they would make a profit from the collapse of their company SHL. They declined to comment. In light of the considerable profit which I believe Arrowgrass is likely to make out its Dreamland investment I once again call out Connington and Adams to fess up about any Arrowgrass investments they, or their relatives, might have. Because  the massive £20million public investment which has gone into the acquisition, restoration, and opening of Dreamland gives, in my opinion,  Thanet residents the  right to know if the owners of the company which was  appointed to run Dreamland any financial conflicts of interest.
Finally, I have said it before and  I will say it again,  Thanet Council’s  top bosses are to blame for the Dreamland debacle. Their incompetence and maladministration led to the appointment of park operator (SHL) which was clearly not up to the job. Even the council’s own internal audit team  recently expressed concerns about the appointment of SHL.  Also when  SHL collapsed in 2015, instead of acting decisively and  sacking  the failed operator,  taking  back control of the park and finding  a someone else to run it, TDC instead allowed Connington and Adams’ buddies, Nicholas Neill and Arrowgrass to dig their hedge fund claws into Dreamland and potentially make a fortune from it corpse.
Undoubtedly Dreamland will survive in the short-term and it will continue to attract visitors. The completion of Dreamland  phase 2 and 3  may even  mean that it generates  a small profit. But the regeneration potential of the original Dreamland concept – a not for profit charity running the park and ploughing all profits back into the local economy, has been replaced by a new  and very sad reality. An avaricious, offshore, tax dodging hedge fund siphoning  off the  lions share of Dreamland’s earnings into  the pockets of its already wealthy investors and directors, instead of spending it on the regeneration of Thanet. And don’t forget this, Arrowgrass will  only able to make, what I believe will  be, vast profits  on the back of  a £20million public investment which opened Dreamland in 2015. There must be a public inquiry. There must be resignations over this monumental fuck up.    

6 comments:

  1. Well researched and written. But it is like Pleasurama TDC being outsmarted by folks who know their game.

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  2. Ian

    Here are my predictions:

    Dreamland will close after the 2017 summer season.
    The Dreamland site will remain derelict for a number of years.
    Arlington Tower will be found to have "serious structural" problems and will eventually be demolished.
    The Dreamland site and Arlington Square site will end up in the hands of the same owner - a property development company.
    An ambitious redevelopment plan will be launched, TDC will sign over the freeholds to the property developers.
    A large apartment complex will be built.
    It will be marketed to second homers and DFLs. The properties will be too expensive for most locals.
    TDC trumpet will the project as an outstanding example of their vision in redeveloping a redundant site.


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    1. Did you use windolene on the crystal ball as it is performing with clarity.

      My prediction for 2017 is that Roger Gale will continue not to explain why he didn't tell the Commons in Jan 2000 (Sewage outfall Foreland all in Hansard) about contamination of Thanet water supply. TDC will continue in breach of Aarhus Convention to also conceal the matter of water supply contamination consequences. And TDC will continue not even to mention it to Thanet Clinical Commissioning Group.

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  3. Ian, thank you for the fine and outstanding work you are doing on behalf of the people of Thanet. It pains me to see the same levels of incompetence and corruption continue through TDC for decades. I heard from a very good source that Margaret Thatcher offered a knighthood to the leader of Canterbury City Council if he would take over TDC and put an end to the fiasco. But he clearly didn't think that was enough. Someone has to end this.

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  4. Brilliant, a £10m investment in Margate from a private firm is EXACTLY what this town needs. I think any local blindly fighting against this sort of investment and automatically assuming negative motives is doing a disservice to Margate, and certainly should not be speaking on Margate's behalf.

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    1. If you really are naive enough to believe that this £10million represents anything other than a smokescreen to fog the real reasons behind what Arrowgrass's intentions are, then you shouldn't hide behind an anonymous post. They are not investing in Margate, there won't be £10million pounds worth of new rides, which is what Dreamland needs. Neither will any of the long suffering creditors benefit from this apparent largesse. Having been involved in Dreamland since the early days of the "Save Dreamland" campaign, I can only shudder at what is to come- Pete Heath - Dreamland Vintage Arcade Ltd

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