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Friday, 10 October 2014

Dreamland Nightmare


Green Party Councillor and Thanet South Parliamentary Candidate Ian Driver has blasted Thanet Council for its maladministration of the  prestigious Dreamland Heritage Amusement Park project. According to a leaked e-mail obtained by Driver (see below),  Thanet Council has decided to offer a long lease (rumoured to be about  100 years) to a commercial operator to run the amusement park on behalf of TDC. The shock move follows last week’s decision to terminate the unsuccessful   procurement process to attract a management operator on a 35 year lease, which is believed to have attracted only one applicant.

Said Driver, the Council secured the Dreamland  Compulsory Purchase Order in  2013  on the basis that it would manage the park in  association with the not-for-profit Dreamland Trust. The Council then argued (without much supporting evidence)  that its deal with the Trust was probably in breach of EU competition rules and began a process to  competitively procure a partner to operate the park on a 35 year lease.  The Dreamland  Trust, for reasons unknown, (reportedly relationship difficulties with senior TDC managers)   decided not to engage in the procurement process, which in any event  appears to have been a total failure with only one interested party submitting an application.

The Council is now in the process of re-advertising for a  park operator with a lease close to 100 years. Granting such a long lease is, as Cabinet member David Greens says in his e-mail to Deputy Council Leader Richard Nicholson “effectively a disposal”.  “I must agree with David Green on this point” said Driver, “the granting of lease close to 100 years is indeed like giving the park  away  to a commercial operator for what I am led to believe will be a very modest annual rental. And all this after having invested what will probably be more than  £5  million in taxpayers money into the project. I very much doubt that the Council will ever be able recover this investment”.

He went to say   “I am very concerned that the legal basis upon which the Council secured  the Dreamland CPO -  a partnership with the not-for-profit Dreamland Trust,  might  now be invalidated and that the previous Dreamland owners may have a significant claim against TDC”.

Driver, who is a firm supporter of the Dreamland Heritage Park, said that the flagship project, is a brilliant idea which will help to regenerate Thanet , attract tourists and  create many jobs,  but sadly its success is being  marred by "third rate management". The project budget is unrealistic with the cost  of the scenic railway restoration coming in at more than  £400,000  than estimated. The final cost of the CPO is likely to overrun  by at least  £1million and the cost of emergency works to the cinema are unlikely to be reclaimed from the owner. Driver has been prevented by senior council bosses from seeing the income and expenditure figures for the Dreamland project. He is now appealing to the information commissioner to order the Council to release the figures and “make public to the people of Thanet what they have been hiding”.   Said Driver "with all the budget difficulties,  the late start to the restoration of the scenic railway and the major problems with securing an operator for the park I simply can't believe that Dreamland will be opened in by the April 2015 deadline regularly touted by Council Leader Iris Johnston and Acting Chief Executive Madeline Homer”.

I have been calling on the Council, for quite some time,  to conduct a thorough review of the Dreamland project and budget and come up with a more realistic plan and timescale for the opening of  phase 1. This project is too important to the people of Thanet and the local economy to be crisis managed as is so clearly the case now".

Wednesday, October 8, 2014 3:47 PM
To: cllr-Richard Nicholson
Cc: cllr-Iris Johnston; Madeline Homer; Steven Boyle; cllr-Richard Everitt; cllr-David Green; cllr-Elizabeth Green; cllr-Mike Harrison
Subject: Re: Fw:

Dear Richard
You may have gathered from the previous informal cabinet when officers came forward with the news that we would be asked to extend the lease in order to facilitate our only potential managing agent obtaining the required capital, that I was very uneasy about what was proposed. We have incrementally move from a Not for Profit partner (Dreamland Trust)  to a lease to a commercial partner, to what is effectively a disposal. I have subsequently had chance to discuss with Madeline. I asked her whether we had done sufficiently robust due diligence on our potential partner, and whether there could be any comeback from the previous owners. Madeline said she would get answers to these questions.




14 comments:

  1. bring them day good old day please i spent most of my child hood days theres as young c hild when i was in bording school my mum and dad all ways would tack me there when would come and see me and tack there all the time

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    1. This boarding school you went to. I'm assuming they didn't teach English grammar?

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    2. I went to a school in Yorkshire which was not boarding, but where i was taught that the message was more important than the envelope. I am l also dyslexic which means that my spelling and grammar are not the best. That's why I value constructive criticism and feedback such as yours. Perhaps you could tell me where the grammatical errors are located and what they are and i will try to put them right. Thanks for your help.

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  2. What another multi-million pound shambles - vote of no confidence in the current administration ?

    Labour losses:-
    TransEuropa....£3.4M
    Dreamland.......£5 M
    Airport CPO.....£?
    Ramsgate Port. £? etc etc...

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  3. I don't see how a CPO valuation can come in at anything less than £20 millions for a 16 acre site where the current owners have put in planning permission for over 400 dwelling plus retail units and leisure use. The senior team of offIcers at TDC being one down with its acting chief is overstretch at the moment and only a poor performance from them can result. Its been the situation since June, when is it going to be resolved?

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  4. Dead right 00:47, here goes "Transeuropa 2 the sequel". I just want our local authority to deal with mundane matters like the bins and street sweeping. They have enough difficulty with that. They should be legally barred from dabbling in anything that it not a core council service to the whole community. That means they should not be involved in managing or setting up Ports, Harbours, Airports, leisure complexes, theme parks, etc. If they do the directors should be personally liable for the losses. You can't find a toilet open, when endless millions of pounds have been found by TDC to cover up the secret Transeuropa debacle and then the live export fines, and Dreamland is headed the same way. I want an end to incompetent posers in the council spending my money.

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    1. Agree! I reckon the rest of Thanet would too if they had it explained to them properly.

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  5. Excellent point 08.54. No money for loos etc, but hundreds of thousands being thrown at people with no experience, gushing about how hip Dreamland will be. And then they will be gone, having emptied the trough.

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  6. Agree with all the above and we need Ians foi on the Dreamland costs. Any official weitholding documents from any councillor should be sacked on the spot

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  7. More on Everitt and Port/Pleasurama secrecy on Tony Flaig's blog: Everitt needs to resign or be voted out.

    Also a vote of no confidence in TDC for Pleasuama and Dreamland, Ian? Even a call for a tax and business rates boycott: every pound to TDC is a pound wasted.

    You are right that TDC have already wasted another year before any 2015 opening.

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  8. The corruption continues: https://storify.com/margatearchi/margate-humbug

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  9. I have been reading your tweets from last night. Some of the figures are astonishing. One and a half million pounds for rides (excluding the roller coaster)? What on earth are they getting for this money and who are they buying it from? Are they disclosing what they are paying and who are the sellers?

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  10. Who at TDC was chasing Ian down the street?

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  11. Which judge and tdc staffer raised an injunction against you?

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