Thursday, June 06, 2013

History Lesson

With the news that Thanet Duffer Central has offered the 'developers' of the Pleasurama Eyesore aka Royal Sands aka Titanic Towers more time to cough up the sponds to avoid further 'scrutiny' (ooh, they must be really scared!), I thought I'd take a trip down memory lane and see if history can teach us a lesson here.

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!


Barry James said...

wonderful Richard, if only they took notice

Richard Eastcliff said...

Quite. But they will keep on making the same mistakes time and time again, unfortunately, as very few of them seem to have any kind of business or commercial acumen.

Look at TransEuropa - secret deals, no market testing, no reports, bad advice from council officers, same old, same old.

Lyndon T Palmer said...

Ghostly voice of Godden.

"I never run outa buildings to incinerate. But if I had then a cliff collapse would be on the agenda. Where there's flame there's a claim."

But is the cliff insurable ?

Anonymous said...

Brilliant article, but the Executive of Thanet Council has for the past decade been too preoccupied concocting schemes for lucrative internal promotion to the point of incompetence and golden early retirement to be concerned about let alone learn from perennial mistakes.
The auditors report, but nobody is held to account.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the lesson Richard, without some wit to bring a smile we'd sink under despondency. The Ramsgate Society having paid for shelter improvements are, bless them, now planting out Maderia Walk and looking at the waterfall pump that TDC can't afford to maintain.

Richard Eastcliff said...

God bless the Ramsgate Society! I was very impressed with the new shelters when I returned to the Millionaires' Playground earlier this year.

Anonymous said...

You've just reminded me. Now that Godden Jnr has 'access' to Dreamland Cinema I wonder who has it covered for fire insurance?
TDC? Godden? Nobody? Both?
And what odds against it accidentally catching fire are on offer at the bookies in town?

Richard Eastcliff said...

Strike a light! I don't think there's any suggestion that Young Godden will be stepping into his father's asbestos shoes, Mr Blow! I'm sure he's a very decent fellow.

Anonymous said...

IT not quite pantomine season yet but.

Oh not hes Not !!

Anonymous said...

Put idiots in charge and this is what we get. I certainly don't think we need to be paying off McGonigal when she's finally ousted.

A spell in Holloway would be cheaper and of more use given all these crooked goings-on.

With MP's recall being developed is there an e-petition or something for a vote of no confidence in mcGonaigal and the civil servants.

They've led the old grandpa's a merry old dance for too long.

David Fagg said...

Got it in a nutshell Richard...absolutely perfick! Well done and thankyou!

Ian Driver said...

Mr E you provide a succinct and extremely amusing account of the beginnings of Pleasurama. I would have laughed a lot more was I not sickened by the cost of missed opportunity, officer time, legal fees, cliff repairs etc etc that Pleasurama has caused without a single flat being built.

Anonymous said...

Why don't TDC swap the Royals Sands leases with some on that other Ramsgate wasteland called The Port of Ramsgate.
I see the Port of Ramsgate web site is still claiming that TEF is operational.

Anonymous said...

I think Ian Driver is going the right way about things. TDC officers and councillors needs to be publicly accountable and are hiding behind the council. Individuals are at fault here.

I suggest all of them - council leaders and officers - need to resign. How do we got about forcing that issue, making their positions untenable?

Anonymous said...

labour had an open goal on TEF and Pleasurama and still managed to f¥$k it up. Clive has to go, he has been very badly advised.

This is by no means a partly political broadcast by the blue rinsers - I would not trust them with the shrapnel down the back of the sofa.

Anonymous said...

I think we need a peoples' court to try the duffers. How about twleve good men and women assemble in the Belgian Bar next Thuirsday evening and we'll hold a trial. We can invite the accused to come and defend themselves but, if they don't turn up we should truy them in their absence. Any suggestions for a maximum sentence?

Anonymous said...

As far as the cliff face is concerned Ms McG never understood the gravity of the situation.

Jimmy G had a comprehensive scorched earth policy.

With regard to harbouring doubt Ms McG agrees the financial analysis of Cllr Biggles. You can't lose money you never had. The question of how much one spends not to receive the money one never had should be passed over.

Child care and the ghettoization of vulnerability. (IE Social Services and Bail dumping in Margate). That was OK until care home operators had to tell the police they are operating. Margate we have a problem. How many kids are going missing from care in the last resort ghetto ?

Water ? The Westwood Triangle. Anthrax burials, Sericol and Thor.

If you have a people's court to try the cllrs then sentence them to eating cauliflowers grown in mid Thanet on that lovely solvent cocktail ground water. And hard labour in the laundry at Northwood where they can inhale the steam of directly abstracted water.

Night lockup to be at the base of the Pleasurama cliff.

Ho ho ho

Anonymous said...

A Peoples Court is a good idea. Although it should be termed a public inquiry with a petition etc.

Stopping council tax etc is also a way to force them out. A list here of the worst ten councillors and civil servants who should be sacked?


Who else is rubbish?

The police are too lazy to do it all themselves.

Anonymous said...

The Gazette says more Airbus training flights at Manston this Summer. What value do they bring to the towns?

Anonymous said...

I see that UKIP aren't calling for resignations over the Europa shambles. I wonder why.

Anonymous said...

1.18pm. It drives more people to Margate, silly!

Anonymous said...

1.18pm, I suppose it creates a straight fight between which senses do you want battered- smell (margate) or sound (ramsgate).

Residents in broadstairs are ironically so ancient both of these senses left a long time ago so would not be impacted by either. I'm told on a busy day in broadie, all you can hear is the sucking of werthers originals over the gentle lapping of the contents of colostomy bags.

Bernie said...

just had to say thank you for an excellent piece of writing!

I would love to know what, in a supposed democratic country, we locals can do about a council in whom the people have no confidence.

The District Auditor - great. But what happens as a result of their findings? Can they enforce anything? Do they actually have any power other to investigate and write a report?

I can think of other top TDC staff who should walk...firstly the highly paid person who told me that he CANNOT agree that the truth is the priority in a H&S investigation - when a child has been seriously injured.

Also that a H&S investigator can tell when staff at the premises where such an injury is being investigated really believes they are telling the truth about what happened (even though they weren't!) purely through observing their demeanor. No independent witness statements necessary!

Thanks to another investigator who didn't even make any notes I'm told during his visit to this establishment, TDC has recorded my daughter as having merely 'bruising', according to the Environmental health Dept. Team Leader - when in fact she had serious injures that will affect her for the rest of her life, and which necessitated two long operations, months apart, in a London Hospital as there was not one surgeon in the whole of Kent who would touch the operations, because they were so serious in one so young. Not to mention months and months of hydro-and physiotherapy, pain and suffering. yet she asks why we are so bothered about the investigation when all she had, according to their investigation, was 'bruising'! Thanks TDC! Great work!

Also for protecting the sanctity of H&S records containing false information, such as an elderly lady being present at the establishment at the time of the injuries, despite there being witness statements available to prove she was nowhere near the place. Refusing to remove such utterly false information.

Not to mention having to admit to the Information Commissioner's Office that TDC did not adhere to the rule of the Data protection Act and released one person's correspondence with TDC to a third party. Having justified their actions to the injured party, after she complained to the ICO, TDC admitted wrongdoing! Was an apology forthcoming though? Not so far! DR. McGonigal has been contacted but it seems she is "out of the office" - needing a lie down perhaps?!

I could go on but there is just too much I have experienced over almost two years of communications with TDC about their pathetic attempt at a H&S investigation into my daughter's serious injuries sustained at a local establishment.

In my experience, nobody really wants to know about TDC failures. It might be good for a bit of gossip for ten minutes on a slow news day, but when it comes to people actually caring and wanting to do something about this council and their local community, the eyes glaze over and people switch off.

It's so sad for Thanet and those of us living here and who want to see better things for Thanet.

And worst of all this disinterest and self obsession by the majority, their failure to want to contribute to their community for their own good as well as the good of others, is what allows people such as we have at present to carry on doing what they've always done, and we all suffer for that.

Oh and I have two Labour local Cllrs. whom I have asked on two separate occasions for help with certain issues, and neither has even bothered to acknowledge my emails, let alone offer any help. Despite chaser emails and emails and tweets to TDC and Cllr hart direct, who said they would be spoken to, I have still heard nothing! What decent people we have "serving" us :( x

Anonymous said...

Ukip convert ROGER LATCHFORD is quiet about this. I guess he has to wait until he visits his boss Sandy, before he tells Private Shonk what to say!

Anonymous said...

So Sandy runs Ukip from a Cell?

Anonymous said...

So Colonel Angry picks up the orders from Mr Big in the clink and hands them down Shonk and co? So Ukip are really the old Thanet Cons?

Anonymous said...

That makes sense now!, the local Tories have taken on the values of Nick Griffin MEP, and Ukip have turned into Sandy & Roger's Tories?

Anonymous said...

It was a bad mistake for UKIP to appoint Latchford as leader. He carries far too much baggage from the discredited Ezekiel regime.

Anonymous said...

I feel sorry for the True Ukippers, like Trevor Shonk, who Roger Latchford and his Boss Sandy Ezekiel used take the piss out of before a purple rosette became a new vehicle to power. I also hear that Roger has promised his mate Sandy a Ukip seat in 2015!

Anonymous said...

Latchford was the brains of the outfit hence his quick resignation: he attended every KIACC meeting with Brian White when the monitors were removed by Infratil and TDC at Manston.

The new plans for expansion by Birmingham airport (9M passengers and 35 airlines) are the nail in the coffin for Manston (900? passengers and KLM and Cargolux).

Anonymous said...

We need to be rid of Hart, Bayford and McGonigal they're simply useless.

A few of the councillors should raise a vote of no confidence and call in the police.

Anonymous said...

Getting back to the non-political point being the negligence or incompetence of the executive of Thanet District Council in allowing the Transeuropa debt to mount in secret unsecured for well in excess of two years, McGonigal as the Chief Executive and S151 officer is responsible for this. Where the clear responsibility of Tories and Labour come in is it is they who agreed to and persisted with the dangerous management structure designed by McGonigal and her cronies which meant the previous Chief Executive R Samuel, and Regen Director White received lavish and unjustified early payoffs and McGonigal had a position created with too much power and responsibility in one post that conveniently she was the only candidate for, and one of the consequences, this £3.4m hit on what looks like a pile of defective budgeting, also McGonigal's responsibility, is now very clear to see.

Anonymous said...

Agree 12:50 these are nonpolitical points. You make a very good point that Mcgonigal has been both overpromoted and had an almost illegal concentration of power as CE, FD and 151. Spectacularly foolish by our councillors to allow that.

I doubt they'll be agreeing a payoff like Samuel/White when she's sacked.

I'd give her less than a month.

Anonymous said...

On the crucial concentration of power point, with such a risky management structure the role of the auditor in effectively safeguarding the public becomes even more important because the checks and balances of the Finance Director role on the CEO role have been wiped out. As far as the Transeuropa debt is concerned that safeguard seems not to have functioned, or was not sufficiently independent of the management, or failed to study the bare facts in front of them. A full investigation by a body totally independent of the management, the Councillors and the council's auditors is therefore required in the public interest.

Anonymous said...

Agree 4:50 -the auditor should be the independent voice for scrutiny etc but unfortunately Andy Mack and his team seem to think their role is to help whitewash the problem with the civil servants. Then when the problem appears it's in both TDC and the Auditor's interest to try and cover it up even more, as they are doing.

Anonymous said...

Mcgonigal's problem - like Buchanan's - is that in court on oath the costs and fake reports can be dragged up for scrutiny. The auditor whitewashing them will be no excuse.

Anonymous said...

Ian Driver has published correspondence in which McGonigal claims that the auditor agreed that the council didn't have to disclose the debt. If the auditor is now implicated shouldn't our MP be backing calls for a Public Inquiry?

Anonymous said...

The MP should call for a fully independent inquiry but despite the immediate issue being the failure of the Chief Executive, one suspects politics will come into play and the MP a Tory politician will be reluctant seeing this as a problem that appears to have commenced when other Tory politicians were in power, despite the fact the problem is with the executive that the panel of Councillors Bayford, Wise and Hart approved.

Anonymous said...

Market Forces -

this is a WIN-WIN situation for Ian Diver and his unemployed animal rights extremist mates. ..

The fact went bust because of Market Forces for fuck sake!

Anonymous said...

7:37 I presume this is Andy mack's view after the debt was revealed? If not, then he knew it was secret from other councillors. Hardly democratic.
We need some more arrests at TDC: Harvey and Mcgonigal seem relevant.

10:42 the issue is the secrecy of the ferry deal, lack of attempts to replace it and continuing wiht the debt. It looks like a secretive and lazy council wasting public funds.

Anonymous said...

Offtopic I know but Thames Water being done for tax havens and ridiculous salaries: sounds like Southern Water as well as Pleasurama

Anonymous said...

The "Resign" playing cards on Dr Moores website are rather good - is there 52 of them or just 3?

Anonymous said...

KCC making simialr economic mistakes: setting up "companies" with taxpayers funds to undercut the private sector then going bust with fraud too

Only £191k not £3.4M though.

How much spent at Manston? Now £100k via VisitKent when Infratil has more profit than KCC's budget.

Anonymous said...

If anyone should resign it should be Councillor Simon Moores and Roger Bayford, who knew all about it when they helped arrange the deal!

Anonymous said...

Not Moores with 0% salaries AND Pleasurama too? The Midas touch in reverse. Bayford hasn't detailed his links and conversations with Painter yet.

Carole Russell said...

Can you tell me the name of the chief executive of TDC in 1986? Can't seem to find the answer on the Internet, you didn't mention his name when mentioned the connection with Godden