So settle down, and please do pay attention at the back. Poole - stop playing with McGonigal's calculator. Yes, it does spell 'boobs' if you hold it upside down, put it down. Thank you.
Now, it all starts back in 1986 with Thanet Council leasing the site to the late Jimmy Godden. Yes Poole, you're right, that is nearly 30 years ago. Well done.
Jimmy didn't much like running amusement parks, but he did like burning them down, collecting on the insurance, then applying for planning permission to build luxury seafront apartments. In 1994, Jimmy and his chums at Thanet Council cooked up a scheme to redevelop Pleasurama which would retain the listed building at the heart of the site. It was agreed that a mixed retail and leisure development would be completed by 31st December 2000, and the council would be paid £500,000.
Then in 1998, before work on the development could start, what happened? No McGonigal, the council didn't receive lots of money and live happily ever after. Bayford? Hart? Any clues? No? I'll tell you then. The site burnt down, and despite the fact that the council could have insisted the insurance money was spent on the new development, they allowed Jimmy to trouser the lot. He then trundled off in his Rolls-Royce to burn some other seafront heritage sites down, leaving Pleasurama to rot.
The council's Chief Executive at the time argued that no further dealings should be had with Mr Godden, and what happened to him? Yes, McGonigal, you're right! He received lots of money, retired early and lived happily ever after!
By 2001, Ramsgate's residents were so unhappy with what was happening to their lovely seafront, and the incompetence of their council, that they called in the District Auditor. Does anyone know what the District Auditor does? No Bayford, he doesn't check bus passes. He's a scary man with a big stick who goes around asking lots of very awkward questions. In 2002 he produced his report, here it is. It concludes that the biggest single impact of what had transpired was 'the lost opportunity to-date of developing a key area of the district for the overall benefit of local residents', and that 'a considerable amount of (council) staff resources were expended on this scheme (615 hours) for very little tangible output'.
What's more, he chastised (it means 'told off', Hart) the council for lacking project management skills, carrying out negotiations with the developer in secret, failure to approach alternative developers, failure to get a proper valuation for the site, failure by council employees to provide proper reports to councillors, and failure to take proper minutes of meetings and keep proper records of costs incurred.
Now, Poole, Hart, Bayford, McGonigal - what do we learn from this? Poole? What's that, you say? Keep secretly negotiating for ten years with one 'developer' you know nothing about, and offer to change the pathetically sketchy agreement you have with them to suit the requirements of their 'bankers'? Stupid boy! Go and stand in the corner!