Thursday, 20 April 2017

19 years wasted

May 26th will see the 19th anniversary of the fire that destroyed Pleasurama. 19 wasted years will claim and counter claim. The alleged "firestarter" is no longer with us but his legacy remains.

What a waste of the last 19 years.

So what happened to Mike Stannard the man who the Labour Councillors said would resurrect this building site? Well it seems Mike Stannard has joined the list of Labour Councilors in being shafted by the real "puppeteers" behind this landbanking scheme. Today (because Companies House makes it hard to hide behind foreign companies) we have "persons with significant control" documents. This is the Company documents of the Ramsgate Development Company Ltd which clearly show the 100 shares are in the name of Albert Hollis (Colin Hill's tame ex accountant) but significant control is held by Colin Hill and his son Robbie James Hill.

You will note that their address is in Switzerland however Stutton House near Ipswich is where they live when in England. Current value circa £25M a far cry from the mess they have caused on Ramsgate Seafront.
Currently the people of Ramsgate and UKIP TDC is being held to ransom by these two men and legally there is nothing that can be done.

Monday, 6 February 2017

Stopping up order

Kent County Council are applying for a court order to re-designate a piece of highway to enable clear title on the piece of land as shown on this title map.
Why is this important is because currently the area marked in pink is still designated as a roundabout and highway because when they moved the roundabout up towards the tunnels in 2007 the legal work to change its designation should have been completed at the same time.

The original site
This shows the work being carried out 2007-8 clearly marked is the old road, carpark and roundabout
This shot is from the new roundabout by the tunnels showing the line of the promenade and where the original boundary line.

By 2009-10 this boundary had been moved to where it is today and at the same time Cardy decided to "borrow" some of the promenade to place their site huts. This actually saved them money as the promenade made a more substantial support for the huts

The last picture, courtesy of Michael Child's blog shows that the installation of the wall was in addition to the original boundary wall being erected.

Now why is this important:
1. It shows that KCC, who built the new roundabouts, have allowed Cardy to build on their highway and it shows that they were incompetent in allowing this to occur.
2. It also shows that when the site freehold was transferred to Cardy Ramsgate Ltd in 2016 part of the land being transferred was still a designated highway.
It also means that when this stopping up order is achieved then there will be nothing stopping the freeholders selling it on with extant Planning Permission.
From this
To this
I know which is best for Ramsgate.

Monday, 9 January 2017

What mistakes were made

With the fate of the building site still unresolved I thought a short history lesson might be appropriate. Many "mistakes" were made, some incompetent but some may have more perverse reasons. In 1998 the listed former station building burnt down. To date no one has been charged with arson but Ramsgate residents know who caused the fire.
After 3 years of wrangling with James "Jimmy" Godden he finally gave in and left leaving TDC to advertise the site for an alternative development. This was in 2002 and led to the release of a document called the Ramsgate Renaissance Commercial Development Opportunity. This document, whilst not ruling out housing, made it clear that the development should be a mixed leisure and retail development.
However after 6 initial inquiries were whittled down to just two the final winning bid emerged at a Full Council meeting in December 2002 which seemed to be residential in nature and proposed by a Broadstairs Estste Agent acting on behalf of (who we now now as Colin Hill) of an offshore comppany registered in Tortola, British Virgin Islands. This company was called SFP Venture Partners.

 I'll leave the reader to decide whether this offer meets the needs of the previous document and whether the money changing hands and the word Whitbread swung the vote.
Needless to say the Labour run Council chose SFP and whether the choice was right or wrong would only be known in the future. These are the original drawings submitted however this author believes this could have been stopped in its tracks with a simple phone call to Whitbread who, in early 2004, denied any involement in the development.
Note the use of Whitbread logo!!
You will also note it wasn't the Council or even an Officer that discovered this fact.

The next opportunity to stop this development was when the actual planning application was made however by this time Labour had lost control of the Council to the Tories under Ezekiel.
The actual application was made in November 2003 and validated 15th December 2003. Now this is where I believe something occurred which was extremely unusual. Planning a development of 107 flats with ancillary uses as per this planning application should have been scrutinised with a fine tooth comb seeing as how prominent the position of the flats however planning was granted on the 28th January 2004 with work to commence within 5 years.

Please note the name of the planning officer (Mr. B. White)

So why did this application not receive the proper investigation it deserved?

No work was actually done on the site within the 5 years stipulated however KCC did move a roundabout and build a storm drain and that has been used as the reason to allow the PP to stand in perpetuity. Whether this is legal is a moot point as TDC will not rescind the PP.

In 2006 a development agreement was signed but a stipulation was that SFP (now a Ltd Company run by Sean Keegan) obtain a £5.6M surety to reimburse the Council should the company fail.

By 2009 it becomes obvious that Sean Keegan had failed to obtain the requisite surety (cynics might believe they had no intention of getting it) and again TDC fail to remove them as developers. The Chief Accountant of TDC actually said to Ezekiel the due diligence was inadequate yet Ezekiel ignored this advice and on the promise of a local builder being bought in (Cardy Developments Ltd) he swung the Council to accept the continuing use of SFP.

In February 2014 this Development Agreement ran out and at this point the land should have been returned to TDC however the legal advice given to TDC was somewhat ambiguous and TDC bottled it and continued to negotiate with a developer who had failed to develop the site since 2003, over 10 years of procrastination.

Since the Freehold was sold for £3.915M to Colin Hill there is simply no legal way the site can be taken back except by paying Colin Hill the money he demands. This is likely to be in the region of £10M and will be similar to the way he ransomed Peterborough Council from 2003 to 2008.

Thursday, 6 October 2016

Land Registry search

Since the freehold of the land was sold I have been waiting for Land Registry to catch up. All land tranfers will appear on the Land Registry portal eventually.

I blogged on this last month

and before that here

Now it seems that the site registry has completed. It throws up some interesting facts.

This is the area subject to the transfer

Price stated £3M which is at variance to the TDC press announcement of £3.515M, I wonder why?

The land cannot be sold or mortgaged without the written permission of Mintal Group Inc which as we know is Colin Hill and his son Robbie.

"(04.08.2016) Option to purchase in favour of Thanet District Council contained in a Option Agreement dated 20 July 2016 made between (1) SPF Ventures (UK) Limited (2) Thanet District Council and (3) Cardy Construction Limited upon the terms therein mentioned"

The above appears on the charges register however it is unclear why Cardy Construction are involved at the deal was made between Cardy Ramsgate Ltd not Cardy Construction. Has TDC's lawyers made a mistake?

Ian Driver blogged on this recently However I'm not sure if he is aware of the Land Registry documents. Neither am I aware whether he knows about the former roundabout which seems to have been removed from the Registry. "The Freehold land shown edged with red on the plan of the above title
filed at the Registry and being Land lying to the south of Wellington Crescent, Ramsgate.
NOTE: So much of the land tinted pink on the title plan as consists of highway maintainable at public expense is excluded from the registration.
So who owns this land?

Interesting that Mike Stannard's Cardy Construction has been granted outline planning on the site of the former Brooke Marine now owned by Flight Services SA which is another Colin Hill company.
The story of how Hill acquired the land is blogged here

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

FOI or bust

Back on the 28th July I asked TDC about the £1M they received in September 2009 as follows:
Dear Thanet District Council,
In or around September 2009 SFP Ventures (UK) Ltd paid to TDC the sum of £1M which was to be held as surety against the said company defaulting on the building on the former Pleasurama site in Ramsgate.
Now the site has been sold to Cardy Ramsgate Ltd can you explain where the £1M surety has gone. Is it still in Escrow with TDC and can you confirm whether you still have any control of this money and further who received the interest?

Yours faithfully,
Barry James

Their reply

 Dear Mr James
Thank you for your correspondence of 28/07/2016 requesting information
about SFP Ventures (UK) Ltd paying Thanet District Council £1 million
Your request is being dealt with under the terms of the Freedom of
Information Act 2000 and will be answered within 20 working days. 
If you have any queries about this request, please contact me quoting the
reference number above.
Yours sincerely,

20 days is  25th August

Further reply received 7th September

f No:   91901/3546716
Subject:        SFP Ventures
Dear Mr James
Thank you for your communication received on 28/07/2016  where you made
the following request:
In or around September 2009 SFP Ventures (UK) Ltd paid to TDC the sum of
£1M which was to be held as surety against the said company defaulting on
the building on the former Pleasurama site in Ramsgate.
Now the site has been sold to Cardy Ramsgate Ltd can you explain where the
£1M surety has gone. Is it still in Escrow with TDC and can you confirm
whether you still have any control of this money and further who received
the interest?
I can confirm that Thanet District Council holds the information you are
seeking. Section 22 of the Freedom of Information Act exempts this
information. This is because the information is intended for publication
at a future date. Thanet District Council's Statement of Accounts are
published on its website on an annual basis and the information you seek
will be published in due course. Here is the link that will take you
straight to the correct page of the website.
Having considered the public interest, the Council's decision is therefore
to withhold the information at this time.

This is a silly response seeing as an official announcement had already been made about the sale of the Freehold to Cardy Ramsgate ltd

I asked for an internal review as follows:

I am requesting an internal review. The information has been disseminated via councillors recently so I am bemused by your very tardy response.
Clearly you have no intention of providing this information as you do not provide any timescale and clearly hope I will go away and forget I asked

Yours sincerely,

Finally today I get a proper response apologising for  their obvious fob off response.

Ref No:91901 / 3546716
Subject:Sfp Ventures
Dear Mr James
Thank you for your communication received on 7 September 2016  where you
requested an internal review of a previous decision regarding disclosure
of information about SFP Ventures.
Thanet District Council has now conducted the review and the decision is
In reviewing the case, the council had regard for the use of the Section
22 Exemption and the supply of a link to the council's 2015/16 statement
of accounts.  It is found that Section 22 was not applicable in this case
as it was unlikely that the statement of accounts would have given you
sufficient detail to answer the original enquiry.
The council would like to give you the following information which is
hoped will satisfy your request:
The council received £3.515m for the site. This was made up as follows: a
sum of £550k was paid in 2009 by SFP Ventures Ltd in 2009 (under the 2006
agreement); a sum of £1m was paid as a deposit by SFP Ventures limited in
2009 (this deposit together with accrued interest formed part of the
purchase price); the balance of £1.96m was paid by Cardy Ramsgate Limited
in 2016.
Following completion, the deposit passed to the council and is no longer
in escrow.  The council, therefore has complete control over it. It was
the purchaser who received the benefit of the interest on the deposit.
If you are not content with the outcome of the internal review, you have
the right to apply directly to the Information Commissioner for a
decision. The Information Commissioner can be contacted at: Information
Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9
Yours sincerely,
Information Governance and Equality Team 

 Now I have it confirmed that TDC received £1M in 2009 from a shell company set up as a single issue development company. It is now incumbent upon TDC to show that they identified the source of this £1M. because this money has been past into general funds it has effectively been cleaned.

So a new request has been made

Thank you for confirming what I already knew; that is the original request was correct and the response incorrect.
There is a further request whilst the files are in your possession. If you would prefer I restart the FOI process I will do so. In case you are amenable to carrying on with this as it a continuation of the original request.
The £1M surety was paid in September 2009 from a shell company SFP Ventures (UK) ltd. a device used by money launderers to pass funds to public companies which will be returned after a period of time in a clean state, which is why the Money Laundering Regulations 2007 Act was enacted.
With regard to the above act and the fact that SFP Ventures (UK) Ltd was only set up in 2006, and is a single purpose shell company, did Thanet Council make any attempt to discover the original source of the £1M passed to yourselves and placed in escrow.

Let's see what they do now.