Pressured by growing public anger, Thanet councillors were eventually forced go agree to set up an enquiry into the Ramsgate Pleasurama development project which has blighted the seafront for nigh on a decade. After being cheerleaders of businessman Sean Patrick Keegan and estate agent Terrence Painter's SFP Ventures (UK) Ltd for many years, councillors were forced, by the possibility of losing votes at the next election, to recognise that this company was extremely unlikely to build the 106 flats and luxury hotel by the agreed deadline of 28 February 28th 2014.
Last week councillors agreed that the so-called due diligence conducted into SFP Ventures in 2009 was entirely insufficient. Some (but not all) of the councillors expressing their dissatisfaction about the due-diligence, were quite happy in 2009 to uncritically accept the documents they are now concerned about and vote in favour of SFP continuing to be the project developer. A word beginning with "hypo" and ending in "crite" comes to mind.
At the same meeting, councillors also called for legal advice about whether Mr Keegan and Mr
Painter's SFP Ventures (UK) Ltd were in breach of their Development Agreement with the Council and what action could be taken to determine the agreement, sack the company and seize the land from them.
All good stuff and all heading in the right direction you might think. But hang on a minute there is a twist in my tale. Just when the council appears, albeit reluctantly, to be doing something positive about the Pleaurama scandal evidence of what might possibly be a secret double game has emerged.
An e-mail from Mr Mike Stannard boss of building company Cardy's who are contracted by SFP to do the Pleasurama construction work has been circulating in cyberspace. The e-mail suggests that the Council's Chief Executive approached him in on 21 August requesting an off the record discussion about the Pleasurama development. Here is that e-mail re-produced in full.
21 August 2013
This chap runs a local blog in Thanet, and I suspect without any doubt his interest in Cardy is fuelled solely by agitators and spoilers who are against the Royal Sands site.
I spoke with this chap about Two months ago, and at that time it was to put him straight regarding a story he was going to write then about Cardy Construction Ltd being struck off at Companies House....my call to him prevented a negative and damaging story. I doubt he has much of a following, and most of them would be odd.
I do not intend responding by email but I do think I should phone with a "positive" and up beat conversation.
Cardy Healthcare is separate to Cardy Construction Ltd and was a specialist company that we set up to develop and explore opportunities within the Healthcare Sector, including healthcentres, medical centres, GP Surgeries, Pharmacies and Hospitals both in the Private Sector and the NHS.
This has been a speculative 5 year plan , and our initial investment in this process has proved to have been very successful and we have a secured and confirmed order book of approaching £10million pounds of quality and profitable work.
Let me know your thoughts, I do not intend speaking with him today.
Ironically a took a call from the Chief Exec of TDC yesterday at 4pm. And he asked if he and I could have an "off line" chat re Royal Sands. He does not want lawyers or others involved and felt that me/Cardy and him were the two people in this project that could influence success for the project . Not sure why I have been singled out, but I guess if I can finally pull this one off, I would be Billy Golden Balls.
I am sure it will end up being more hot air. Seeing him at 8.30 this morning. Will update you.
If this e-mail is true then, apart from getting the gender of the Chief Executive wrong, it raises some very important questions about the way Thanet Council is being managed. Although speculation on my part this e-mail appears to mean that the Chief Executive wants to do a deal to save the Pleasurama development behind the back of the Council's Task and Finish Group which is currently reviewing the Council's options on Pleasurama.
Is it possible that the Chief Executive wants to tempt Cardy's away from the discredited developers SFP Ventures and offer it the role of project developer once SFP has been sacked? Also who authorised the Chief Executive to approach Cardy's? The Council's Cabinet says that it fully supports the work of the Pleasurama Task and Finish Group. But that would not stop them from commissioning a secret mission to try to save the Pleasurama Project. After all, Cllr Allan Poole the Cabinet Portfolio holder responsible for Pleasurama has on several occasions publicly sated that he supports the development. Did he order the Chief Executive to make this approach. Interstingly at the Task and Finish meeting last week Harvey Patterson the Council's Legal Officer argued quite strongly against the Group placing restrictions on the Council's freedom of action vis-à-vis SFP. I wonder why?
Anyway I have e-mailed the Council's Chief Executive to find out what's going on. Not that I expect a prompt or forthright reply. here is my e-mail.
Dear Ms McGonigal
I have had sight of an e-mail which suggests that a senior council officer recently approached the building company Cardy to hold informal and private discussions about the future of the Ramsgate Pleasurama development. I would be grateful if you could let me know if such an approach has been made, or if the building company Cardy has made such an approach to the Council
If such communications have taken place could you tell me which officer has been in discussion with building company Cardy and under what authority this officer has been conducting discussions. I would also like to know what subjects were discussed at this meeting if it has already taken place, or what subjects are being planned to be discussed if the meeting has not yet taken place.
This is a very serious issue, especially because an OPS task and finish group has been set up to consider all aspects of the Pleasurama development.
I look forward to hearing from you on this matter
Cllr Ian Driver
Assuming that this e-mail is genuine, the thing which concerns me most of all is that many people in Ramsgate want to see an end to the Pleasurama scandal and the decade long seafront eyesore it has caused. They want to have meaningful discussion with the Council about new ideas for the use of this important piece of valuable seafront land. But despite this powerful public feeling officers and politicians at Thanet Council appear to be secretly conspiring behind the backs of local people to force Pleasurama onto them against their wishes. This is not democracy its what I believe to be organisational and political corruption.
Also if this e-mail is genuine then I think that Cardy's Mike Stannard has made big big mistake by insulting the 1,200 people who signed the Pleasurama petition by describing them as "Odd, Agitators or Spoilers. Perhaps Mr Stannard should have joined his colleague Mr Painter at the public meeting about Pleasurama at Chatham House School in July. Had he done so then he might have been a bit more respectful towards local people and recognised that not many of them want his development.
In any event I agree with Mr Stannard on one thing - he really does need to have Golden Balls after pissing off so many Ramsgate people. If of course the e-mail is true, which it looks like it might be
"Further to your email and following an investigation by our IT manager, I can confirm that the email was edited and issued by an unauthorised person within our organisation and subsequently we will be undertaking an internal review. This review may well result in disciplinary actions being taken".
YOU CAN READ MORE ABOUT THE PLEASURAMA SCANDAL AND FRACKING IN EAST KENT IN THIS MONTHS EDITION OF THANET WATCH MAGAZINE FOR SALE IN MOST NEWSAGENTS