Sunday, November 03, 2013
Councillor's Pants On Fire?
But from the emails I've seen bouncing back and forth this weekend, one thing does seem clear. Yet again Thanet Council, and one councillor in particular, have proved themselves either incompetent, past their sell-by date, or they really do believe that us simple Fannit folk are easily hoodwinked by smoke and mirrors.
Step forward Labour Deputy Leader Alan Poole. We've all seen Cllr Poole sniggering at the great unwashed at public meetings, and treating the people who vote for him and pay his expenses like chumps. He's been instrumental in fending off the justifiably gigantic public concern over the Pleasurama eyesore, and at times has seemed like Swiss Tony and his mysterious backers' only ally.
Now he's doing it again with the Pavilion.
The phrase he uses in an email he composed yesterday, from Queensland in Australia (where he is presumably fiddling on his iPad while Ramsgate burns), is particularly redolent of the, er, old way of doing things here on our septic isle. It includes the phrase: 'Wetherspoons... are the only game in town.' This, you will recall, is exactly the approach that TDC were severely reprimanded for by the District Auditor way back in 2002, when they fell for the old Whitbread trick vis-a-vis the Pleasurama site. You can read my report of the auditor's report here.
Last month TDC issued this press release, stating: 'In June 2013, Cabinet members... agreed to extend the term of the lease of the building in order to generate the level of investment needed to get the building back into use. Cabinet agreed to open up the marketing of the site in order to offer an extended lease of over 100 years to a new potential leaseholder, with the council retaining the freehold of the property.'
Trouble is, there's been no 'marketing of the site'. There's diddly squat on CBRE's website (they're the people whose sign has been on the building for the best part of five years). Rank, who currently own the lease and whose gift it's therefore in, appear to have gone straight back to Wetherspoons with the 100 year promise, without passing 'go'. Yet Cllr Poole asserts in his email: 'We did advertise and Rank have advertised the vacancy but there were no takers with any money.'
There's even more.
It transpired on Friday, following a conversation between an interested party and Rank's Property Director Tony Robinson, that Rank offered to hand the lease back to TDC 'some time ago', thus releasing them (Rank) from any risk associated with assigning the lease to a third party. So TDC could have had full control of the building, and could have therefore held a public consultation over its future.
What makes this whole can of worms smell worse than a bad day in Margate Harbour is that there is now, it would seem, a viable alternative to Wetherspoons, but Poole and his cronies are spending our money on the last chance saloon without so much as a 'by your leave', or even troubling us with the facts.
If JDW get their 100 year lease, and the biggest pub in Britain turns out to be a non-starter or dead loss, we'll all be ashes long before anything can be done to reverse the decision. Talk about a bonfire of the insanities!!!