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|
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.
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.