|Everitt & Pals Wiping Pleasurama Slate Clean - Or Did They?|
But was Everitt’s confidence a confidence of convenience? And just how clean had the deal with Cardy wiped the filthy Pleasurama slate? Because despite Cardy’s takeover of SFP Ventures in 2015 those previously associated with the company continued to lurk in the shadows from where, I believe, they exercised a powerful influence and control over the new Pleasurama developers Cardy and its managing director Mike Stannard.
And on what do I base this assertion? Well in 2014 Cardy Construction was granted outline planning permission by Waveney District Council in Suffolk to build a £150million, 850 house development at the Brooke Marina site Lowestoft. As developments go this is quite substantial and possibly one of the biggest projects Cardy had ever been involved in. The profit to be made from a development of this size would, I image, be quite substantial and very, very tempting. But here’s the rub, the owner of the Brooke Marina site is according to Land Registry, Swiss based company Flight Services SA. A quick check on the internet reveals that Flight Services is owned by a Mr Colin Hill. This is the same Colin Hill who was the financier behind SFP Ventures Ltd. Hill’s father in law is Shaun Keegan who was, until Cardy and Mike Stannard took over control of SFP , its sole director. Between them they were responsible for 14 years of inaction at the Pleasurama site and the long-term blighting of Ramsgate’s seafront which continues to this day.
So for former Councillor, Rick Everitt to state in a letter to the Thanet Gazette that the agreement with Cardy “wiped the slate clean” was not quite true. Cardy through their Lowestoft link with Colin Hill continued to have a close working relationship with the very people who Everett and the Council claimed to have eliminated from the Pleasurama equation. I would suggest that this relationship, from Thanet council’s point of view, was highly risky because the leverage and influence which could be exercised by the promise of a contract to build the £150million Brooke Marina project would have made Cardy very malleable and highly likely to do the bidding of the former-SFP people.The Cardy-Hill Lowestoft link was never a secret. During the course of the 2014-15 negotiations between Cardy and Thanet Council, it was well know that Cardy had secured planning permission for the Brooke Marina development and that Colin Hill was the site owner. In fact a former member of the Friends of Ramsgate Seafront management committee, Barry James, wrote a blog about this relationship and he has told me that he spoke to several senior Labour Party councillors about this matter on more than one occasion. So when Thanet Council and Rick Everitt where negotiating in 2014/15 with Cardy about taking over the Pleasurama development contract from SFP Ventures it is extremely likely that they knew all about the Cardy/ Colin Hill Lowestoft link. Knowing of this link The Council and Everett must have recognised that Hill was in a position to exercise significant influence over Cardy and Mike Stannard. Surely knowing these facts Everitt and the Council should have exercised much greater caution in their dealings with Cardy and negotiated a much tougher deal with them, and certainly they should never have agreed to sell off the freehold of the Pleasurama site to Cardy. But they appear to have ignored the warning signs and failed to take action to properly protect the Council’s interests.
Moving forward 12 months, whatever the reasons for Cardy going bust we might never know. But it seems more than a co-incidence that Hill, through an offshore Panamanian registered company, Mintal Inc., lent Stannard and Cardy Ramsgate the money needed to purchase the Pleasurama site, just days before Cardy Construction entered administration. There is a charge for this loan registered against the freehold of the Pleasurama site. The question must be asked why this transaction ever took place when Stannard must have already known that Cardy Construction was going to the wall. It also seems strange that shortly after the Pleasurama site had been bought off the Council and Cardy had gone under, Stannard resigned as Director of Cardy Ramsgate to be replaced by long-time associate of Shaun Keegan and Colin Hill, 77 year old accountant Anthony Hollis.
You don’t need to be the sharpest knife in the box to have realised that Cardy and Stannard’s continuing association with Colin Hill made the Pleasurama development extremely vulnerable to an aggressive re-acquisition. And so it turned out, with the land and the development company now back firmly under the control of Colin Hill. With a little a bit of forethought and some focused research from Thanet Council this possibility would have been clear and with half decent planning it could been avoided.
This is why I believe Rick Everitt wrote his letter to the Thanet Gazette. He realised his deal with Cardy had collapsed and recognised that those previously associated with SFP, who had supposedly been “wiped clean”, had returned and seized control of the Pleasurama freehold. But instead of fessing up for overseeing and agreeing the shitty deal which made this possible and taking some of the responsibility he used his letter to quite shamefully pass the buck and heap the blame for this entirely foreseeable fuck up on council officers. Like a coward scared of facing the music Everritt claims in his letter that he began to have doubts early in 2015 about how council officers were managing the Pleasurama situation. Surely, if his concerns were genuine, he should have spoken out at the time, rather than waiting more than 16 months before expressing his worries. His long silence undermines his credibility and the timing of his letter is strongly suggestive of watching his backside.
So now that the Pleasurama deal appears to have collapsed; now that the freehold of this prime seafront site has been sold off; now that the people of Ramsgate are likely to have to face the appalling possibility of having their seafront blighted by this eyesore for many years to come; the Labour Party excuses factory gears up into action. I wonder who else from the previous Thanet Council Labour Cabinet will write weasel worded letters to the Thanet Gazette blaming someone else for their fuck up