Thursday, 7 September 2017

Thanet District Council's Public Space Protection Order Consultation response

Dear Thanet Council,

I'm writing to comment on the Council's proposed 
Public Spaces Protection Order. I'm a dog owner of nine years in the Thanet area. I consider myself to be a responsible dog owner. I have two dogs and I live in Margate Central. I would like to make the following points:


"The Anti‐social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 The Public Spaces Protection Order – (Thanet District Council) 2017 Thanet District Council (in this order called ‘’the Authority‘’) hereby makes the following Order: This Order comes into force on Monday 16th October 2017 for a period of 3 years. 

Offences 1. Fouling If within the administrative area of the Authority a dog defecates at any time on land to which the public or any section of the public has access, on payment or otherwise, as of right or by virtue of express or implied permission and a person who is in charge of the dog at the time fails to remove the faeces from the land forthwith, that person shall be guilty of an offence unless a) has reasonable excuse for failing to do so; b) the owner, occupier or other person or authority having control of the land has consented (generally or specifically) to his failing to do so. "
I support this proposal.

"2. Leads by Order A person in charge of a dog shall be guilty of an offence if, at any time, within the administrative area of the Authority They do not comply with a direction given to them by an authorised officer of the Authority to put and keep the dog on a lead unless a) has reasonable excuse for failing to do so; or b) the owner, occupier or other person or authority having control of the land has consented (generally or specifically) to his failing to do so. An authorised officer may only give a direction under this order if such restraint is reasonably necessary to prevent a nuisance or behaviour by the dog that is likely to cause annoyance or disturbance to any other person, or to wildlife or another animal."

- This statement does not describe what is the definition of a lead.
How long is a lead and should a person be holding it, or merely have a lead attached to a dog. Leads come in many lengths eg, 10m, 20m. Some extending leads that allow a dog to run free and range wide. I suggest the order should define the length of lead and that it be held not trailing.

"3) Leads A person in charge of a dog shall be guilty of an offence if, at any time, (during the period specified in the schedule if stated), on land detailed in schedule 1, and 2 below they do not keep the dog on a lead unless a) has reasonable excuse for failing to do so; or b) the owner, occupier or other person or authority having control of the land has consented (generally or specifically) to his failing to do so."
To request dog walkers put their dogs on leads if they are out of control, are likely to improve the daily life of responsible dog owners. I support this proposal.
"4)  Dog faeces Receptacle If within a public place in the administration area of the Authority a person who owns or is in in charge of a dog must have a suitable dog faeces receptacle to remove dog faeces on their person, if the person does not have in their possession a suitable dog faeces receptacle, that person shall   be guilty of an offence unless a) has reasonable excuse for failing to do so; b) the owner, occupier or other person or authority having control of the  land has consented (generally or specifically) to his failing to do so. "
- There is no evidence presented by the council to support this demand this of all dog walkers rather than targeting offenders. I support proactive efforts on behalf of the council to encourage responsible dog ownership, I believe this particular measure could see responsible owners being penalised unfairly. 
- There is a lack of definition of what is a suitable dog faeces receptacle. Requiring all owners to have to show receptacles on demand is a blanket application affecting responsible dog owners not those who have caused the problems. Not having a receptacle is not an indication that someone wouldn’t pick up faces, nor is having a receptacle an indication that an irresponsible dog owner would actually pick up faces. If a responsible dog owner’s dog had already defecated and was on their way home, they might not have a receptacle with them. But if a serial offender never picks up they may always have a bag on their person. The authority should be concentrating on targeting offenders not the entire dog owning community, the majority of whom are responsible. This aspect of the proposal is in danger of giving pay per fine wardens an incentive to target dog owners who they have observed already pick up after their dogs. In the same way they have been observed following people smoking in the street rather than targeting people actually littering. 
- The Council should demonstrate why the use of more targeted restrictions such as Acceptable Behaviour Contracts and Community Protection Notices would not be sufficient to deal with the problem behaviours they’ve identified.
"The Keeping of Dogs on a Lead between the hours of 10am to 6pm from 1st May to 30th September This order applies to all land described below: Map West Bay Westgate Westgate‐on‐Sea 2 St Mildred’s Bay Westgate Westgate‐on‐Sea 3 Westbrook Bay Margate Westbrook Ward 4 Stone Bay Broadstairs Bradstowe 5 Botany Bay Broadstairs Kingsgate Ward 6 Joss bay Broadstairs Kingsgate Ward 7 Louisa Bay Broadstairs Viking Ward 8 Minnis Bay"
- Is it the Council’s intention to relax the current permissions where they have 10am - 6pm dog bans? The PSPO proposal reads like it intends these now to be on-lead only restrictions at key beaches like Botany Bay and Joss Bay. Yet the maps show a dog ban hatched in green. I would suggest the current restriction of a dogs ban on these beaches between 10am-6pm is sensible to continue with rather than make them on-lead only between 10am-6pm. The map doesn't show an on-lead only area.



- I would further like to see a clear dog on-lead requirement on all seafront promenades that is clearly marked, so that people area able to walk on-lead dogs on what is effectively a pavement area and not the actual beach and that this restriction be all year round. This would create a safe environment for dog walkers and those without dogs free of off lead dogs that are potentially out of control. This is how dogs are managed on the public highway. The seafront promenade areas are like a pavement and it is safer for joggers, walkers, cyclists and indeed other dogs are on lead if dogs are only allowed off lead on the actual beaches of each bay. This will have the added benefit of reducing dog fouling on the seafront promenades because people pick up far more when dogs are on lead.
"(part) Birchington Birchington North 9 Walpole Bay Cliftonville Cliftonville East 10 Viking Bay Broadstairs Viking Ward Schedule 2 The Keeping of Dogs on a Lead 24 hours a day from the 1st May to 30th September"
Margate Main Sands:
There is a discrepancy in the area detailed by the Council on the map titled Margate Main Sands. The map doesn’t show the sea defence steps. There is no yellow hatched area at all indicating where the on lead dog rules would apply. Yet the table defines Margate Main Sands restrictions as on-lead between 1 May to 30 September. Either the whole of Margate Main sands should be yellow for on-lead or the table is in error. The lack of on-lead area in yellow will have the result that dogs will not be allowed to walk on the seafacing side of the road. The current rules under the DCO are a total 24 hour dog ban on the actual Margate Main Sands beach, but dogs allowed on the seafront promenade. I would be in favour of continuing this and with the clarification that dogs are allowed to walk along the promenade on-lead including the sea defence steps.  


- Walpole Bay: The map shows a yellow hatched area for on-lead only on the seafront promenade at Walpole Bay and a green dog ban on the beach section. The description of on a Lead 24 hours a day from the 1st May to 30th September  is therefore contradictory to the map. I would be in favour of dogs allowed on-lead on the seafront promenade from 1 May - September 30th and a total dog ban on the beach hatched green 1 May to Sept 30th. 


"This order applies to all land described below: All designated fenced children’s play areas, cemeteries, ball courts, and tennis courts"
I support these proposals.
Further comments:

A few years ago, the council removed without notice a fenced area on the cliff top at the beginning of The Ridings, which had previously been a golf course concession. For many years, dog walkers had used that area as a safe place to exercise dogs. There is a very real and constant risk of dogs falling off the top of the cliffs. A number of dogs fall every year. The area kept a number of dogs off the beaches and was an alternative exercise area. The Council has a duty to provide a place for dog walkers to exercise their dogs. As part of implementing restrictions, there is an element of dispersal issues that the Council should consider. I would welcome a fenced area such as this old golf course that had been fenced. If it was fenced with deer fencing, 1.9m high it would not be any more obtrusive than fencing around other amenities such as tennis courts and golf concessions. It would take a number of dogs off the beaches and give an alternative area for the summer months. 

Information on PSPOs from The Kennel Club

Friday, 4 August 2017

Massive hotel proposed for Hosers Corner Guy Hollaway Architects

Oh how interesting! Isn't it a stroke of luck that the planning for multiple flats on the Hoser's Corner was always renewed by Thanet Council for over a decade, despite the flats later not according with planning guidance for Cliftonville West. Some kind of trench was dug in July 2010 and Building Control witnessed a commencement of works just before the planning permission would lapse and no longer accord with the Cliftonville West planning guidance prohibiting one bed flats. I wrote about this here. When I last looked, it's a site that's been a derelict eyesore for years.
This is an unusual location for a hotel in Margate. It's not where I'd think most tourists want to stay when visiting the area (very busy corner with not great views) and also seems to be massively overdeveloped for a small site footprint.

Thursday, 9 February 2017

Thanet Parkway Station will bring broadly no improvements to Margate, Broadstairs and Ramsgate

A few days ago I saw Thanet District Council officer tweets about the improvements in train service that the proposed Thanet Parkway Station to be built near Cliffsend will bring. My own blog post on Thanet Parkway in 2011 raising the same concerns as today.

KCC are running consultation events in various locations at the moment. There's a website with details. But what isn't on the website are details of how this shiny new, station manned by two employees and with parking for 300 vehicles in the middle of the Thanet countryside will affect Thanet's existing train service to their towns of Margate, Ramsgate and Broadstairs.

Both Thanet Council and Kent County Council's twitter accounts didn't answer the basic questions of how this new station would affect the existing train services of Margate, Broadstairs and Ramsgate.

One suggested I go to an actual consultation.


 Another offered up sending an email enquiry to thanetparkway@kent.gov.uk. Anyone would think their wasn't information relevant enough to be published on the official website





Concerns have been raised by many since the beginning of Thanet Parkway as a concept. It was originally a station to serve Manston Airport. It appears now to be for the benefit of a future new town, given all the planning permissions for housing around there. Here's what my good friend, Ed Targett wrote about it previously:
https://greentargett.com/2015/04/20/manston-parkway-bad-news-for-margate/ with the CPRE stating:
"
“It is claimed that ‘A parkway station will provide greater opportunity to access London via High Speed 1… However we question whether it would provide any greater access than is currently available, as people in Thanet & Dover have access to plenty of stations with the HS1 service; the Parkway could simply delay trains on the whole network.
“We are also concerned at the claim of: ‘Improved accessibility to job markets in London and wider Kent area’. The focus for Thanet should be the provision of local jobs rather than better access for commuting elsewhere. The climate change imperative requires less travel, not more.
“Furthermore we question the claimed benefit of: “Supporting housing and  employment development identified in the Draft Thanet Local Plan to 2031 Preferred  Option”, since the existing stations will provide at least equivalent benefit if the facilities at existing stations are improved as we suggest.”
So, I sent off my email to thanetparkway@kent.gov.uk On Feb 7th  and waited. I nudged some and finally, this evening two days later I got this reply [my added bold]
From: Louise Oldfield

Date: 7 February 2017 at 18:09
Subject: How will the proposed Thanet Parkway Station affect trains to the existing Thanet towns of Margate, Broadstairs and Ramsgate?
To: thanetparkway@kent.gov.uk

How will the proposed Thanet Parkway Station affect trains to the
existing Thanet towns of Margate, Broadstairs and Ramsgate?

1. Will there be improvements in the current time it take to arrive
from London to the towns?

2. Will there be the same number of fast trains to London to and from the towns?

Kind regards,

Louise Oldfield

From:  

Date: 9 February 2017 at 16:42
Subject: RE: How will the proposed Thanet Parkway Station affect trains to the existing Thanet towns of Margate, Broadstairs and Ramsgate?


Dear Ms Oldfield,

Please accept our apologies for the delay in responding to your email, all members of the project team were at a consultation event yesterday and so we were unable to respond to your query before now.   Please find a response to each of your questions below:

1. We expect the benefits from the Journey Time Improvement Scheme (JTI), which involves upgrading the railway line between Ashford and Ramsgate, to deliver about 3 minutes in journey time saving.  This will mitigate the additional time taken by trains calling at Thanet Parkway, and so we expect the journey times to and from Margate, Broadstairs and Ramsgate to be broadly the same as today.

2. There will be the same number of both high speed and mainline trains between London and the Thanet towns, and all trains that pass Thanet Parkway will call at the station.

Further information on the project can be found on our website www.kent.gov.uk/thanetparkway, including our consultation booklet and questionnaire.

We hope this answers your queries, however if you have any further questions please do not hesitate to contact us and we will respond as quickly as we can.

Kind regards,

Thanet Parkway Project Team | Kent County Council | Sessions House, County Hall, Maidstone, ME14 1XQ | Email: thanetparkway@kent.gov.uk | Visit: www.kent.gov.uk/thanetparkway

What this says is that the journey times to Margate, Broadstairs and Ramsgate will be the same. But then there's the word 'broadly'. Now this we should be worried about. What does 'broadly' mean? We saw with the Golf Open in Sandwich that high speed trains were just diverted from stopping at Thanet towns. 

What guarantees are there that we won't lose train frequency or suffer increased journey times? 

And if we have nothing to gain in times and the number of trains per day, why would Parkway Station in the middle of the countryside with all the added risks of congestion be being billed as improvements for Thanet by Thanet politicians and Council Officers? There is the very real risk that train services will be cut from the existing Thanet towns.

Thursday, 1 September 2016

Nayland Rock Hotel, Margate "mystery owner"

From a recent article in The Telegraph on Margate's wonderful Nayland Rock hotel:
"The hotel is currently without a star to its name, but that according to Carol is about to change. As of last month it has been taken over by a mystery new owner who she is yet to meet. “They are intending to bring it up to a five-star standard,” she says. “Now this place is coming back to what it was." 
No idea why the Telegraph journalist didn't just look up the 'mystery owner' of the Nayland Rock Hotel! It's on the Land Registry as being bought for £1,750,000 by the Bristol based Tower Pension Trustees Limited. This is the same company that bought the pub at 50 Marine Terrace that was then leased on the same day as purchase on a 20 year lease to the operators of Dreamland, Sands Heritage Limited.

Further, Sands Heritage Limited Directors Nick Conington and John Adams have set up a new company called Nayland Rock Hotel Margate Limited (10175490) which has a 100% shareholder, a company called Brede Hotels Limited.


Brede Hotels Limited (10077315) also has Nick Conington and John Adams as directors and a shareholder with 100% of the shares a Nicholas Graham Niell. 

Nick Niell is the boss of the Arrowgrass Master Fund, the hedge-fund that recently lent Sands Heritage Limited £600,000 secured against the Dreamland 100 year lease with Thanet District Council. Arrowgrass is stated in the recent Duff and Phelps administrator's report as now being owed £2.4m by Sands Heritage Limited. See my August 11th post on this here. Arrowgrass was according to Nick Conington's Linkedin profile his previous employer from 2008 to 2012.



Niell and Conington were both registered as the inventors of a 'Media file distribution system and method' on a UK patent in 2002,  which was owned by a company called Digifi Limited (now dissolved). That's six years before Arrowgrass was formed in 2008. A director of Digifi Limited was also John Adams of Sands Heritage Limited.

Digifi's website lists they were partnered with Hush Technologies Limited.




Hush Technologies Limited, also dissolved, has John Adams as a Director and Secretary. Mystery or confusing?


Friday, 12 August 2016

Buyer of Nayland Rock Hotel and the pub leased to Dreamland now in receivership


Bristol based Tower Pension Fund Limited the purchaser of the Punch and Judy pub at 50 Marine Terrace which was then leased to the operators of Dreamland, Sands Heritage Limited has as of yesterday gone into receivership.




Tower Based Pension Fund Limited also recently bought another prominent Margate landmark seafront building, The Nayland Rock Hotel for £1,750,000 on June 30th.



Sands Heritage Limited bosses Nick Conington and John Adams are also directors of a newly formed company called Nayland Rock Hotel Margate Limited.


Let's hope for the best for Margate seafront, it's iconic landmark buildings the future of Dreamland and the creditors owed money.

Thursday, 11 August 2016

The Duff and Phelps Administrator's Report on Dreamland operators

"The Club and The Pub"

Last week, a Dreamland creditors meeting took place at the Shard Building in London. They're the unsecured creditors owed £2.9m out of a total of £8.4m by Dreamland operating company Sands Heritage Limited (SHL) The company is currently running a deficit of £14m. Many of the creditors are Thanet local and small businesses. And it looks likely they'll get a fraction of the money they're owed.

In December 2015, directors of Sands Heritage Ltd announced proposed a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) and appointed Joint Supervisors CCW Recovery Solutions. The CVA document is available to download here.

The CVA stated that SHL Directors approached "certain key creditors, including KCC and Design & Build Limited to see if support could be received in principle to explore the possibility of entering into a CVA..." 




SHL then appointed administrators, Duff and Phelps, who on July 19th 2016 published their own interim report. Download it here on the Companies House website. On reading the Duff and Phelps report, a few points are worth looking at in more detail.


1. SHL took on two 20 year commercial leases, one for Escape Nightclub and one for the Punch and Judy pub, both on Marine Terrace, both on January 30th 2015.

"The Club premises located at 49 Marine Terrace, Margate, Kent, CT9 1XJ over which the Company [SHL] has been granted a 20 year lease commencing on 30 January 2015."



The Club is better known as The Escape Nightclub. It was bought by SHL boss, Nick Conington for £500,000 also on 30 January 2015.

"5.27 In addition to the lease for the Park, the Company also leases the Pub and the Club from third parties on 20 year leases which both commenced 30 January 2015."
The Administrator's Report makes no mention of the ownership of the club. It's not stated why Dreamland would need to rent a large nightclub and only mentions one sub-tenant, Phases Dance studio, which sub-leases the top floor.



The business rates valuation for the Club is £62,500 per year.  Presumably, SHL aka Dreamland were then responsible for the business rates of the Club.




The pub at 50 Marine Terrace, also purchased on January 30th 2015 and leased to SHL for 20 years on the same day, locally known as The Punch and Judy . The pub was purchased by a Bristol based pension trust called Tower Pension Trustees Limited (Company number 02178783).

The business rates valuation for the pub is £39,750 per year.




2. SHL rented a residential property in Margate's old town at Wisteria Cottage in New Street, CT9 1EG from landlords Wink Developments Limited. 
"5.31 At the appointment date, the Company also held a short term lease over Wisteria Cottage. Wisteria Cottage was not required for ongoing trading purposes and accordingly the Joint Administrators entered into discussions with Wink Developments in order to arrange a surrender of the lease. The deposit held by Wink Developments totalled £2,406 In accordance with the lease, Wink Developments were entitled to offset amounts due to them for rental arrears from the deposit held, together with any dilapidations. Following correspondence with Wink Developments, and amount of £1,153 was recovered in respect of the rent deposit."
Wink Developments Limited (Company number 
09559791) is the company of SHL director, Christopher Rudgard Webster. The house, was purchased on July 17th 2015 for £183,000. The Administrator's Report makes no mention that it is leased from an SHL director, for how much or what for what trading purpose for Dreamland.




3. The Administrator's Report states that "In June 2014 the Company was successful in a tender process with TDC to operate the Park" This is incorrect. SHL weren't awarded the tender until November 21st 2014. There were two tender phases. The first in June 2014, when SHL was the only bidder. There was a second tender phase in the autumn of 2014 against other bidders. Here's the TDC announcement in October 2014.

4. "In order to achieve this , the Park was in need of significant renovation works, which commenced in Summer 2014 and had a scheduled completion date of 19 June 2015."

The timeline of events is again incorrect. SHL didn't win the tender to operate the park until November 2014 and didn't commence works in the summer of 2014. 

There is also no evidence that I've seen of a June 19 2015 opening being discussed in the summer of 2014.
5. "3.9 Arrowgrass had previously expressed an interest in working with the Company"


The report makes no mention of Arrowgrass being SHL director, Nick Conington's previous employer from 2008-2012 as per his Linkedin profile.



Arrowgrass is a hedge fund offshoot from Deutsche Bank. Prior to moving to Arrowgrass.Nick Conington worked as a Managing Director of Deutsche Bank for 15 years.

6. Shareholder details:




The report lists a 22 shareholders, they include Nick Conington with 750,000 £1 shares and Christopher Webster has 50,000. Wink Developments Ltd, which is Christopher Webster's company and owns Wisteria Cottage has a further 37,500. John Adams has 100,000 shares and he's also the director of Wyck Consultancy Ltd which also has 10,000 shares.  Stephen Groom (presumably the key creditor of Design & Build Limited) has 25,000 shares. Thanet Property developer Graham Knight has 25,000 shares. Dreamland CEO, Eddie Kemsley has 5,000 shares.






7. Arrowgrass is now stated to be owed £2,400,000, which is an increase from their original secured loan of £600,000 on May 27 2016.













Thursday, 14 July 2016

Breaking: Thanet District Council vote against debating motion on racism



Thanet District Councillors tonight voted against debating a motion proposed by Thanet's Labour Group on racism. The following motion therefore fell:
"We are proud to live in a diverse and tolerant society. Racism, xenophobia and hate crimes have no place in our country. 
Thanet District Council condemns racism, xenophobia and hate crimes unequivocally.
We will not allow hate to become acceptable.
 
This Council will continue to work to ensure local bodies and programmes have the support and resources needed to fight and prevent racism and xenophobia. 
We reassure all people living in Thanet they are valued members of our community."
Cries of 'shame' and 'disgrace' erupted from the packed public gallery. Independent Councillor Bill Hayton turned to the public gallery to state he wasn't racist.

UKIP Councillor Sarah Larkins, also deputy Mayor of Ramsgate, who recently apologised for a Facebook post in which she urged London voters to vote for "anyone but a Muslim" in the London Mayoral election also voted against debating the motion.

Women pension equality campaigners from the WASPI campaign stood up and walked out in disgust in their lilac campaign sashes. The Council had earlier voted in favour of a motion (again proposed by Thanet Labour] supporting their campaign for equal pension rights for women.

It was a night where two universal concepts were put to the Council for support and where only one had the support of the Council even in terms of affording it a debate. The women campaigning for equal pension rights could see the problem with not proactively debating the issue of racism. It's a shame the elected Councillors could not.

Edited to add:
The motion was based on an Amnesty International campaign encouraging local councils to take a stand against racism and xenophobia:

"Local leaders must condemn these actions immediately and do everything in their power to make people safe and welcome. Tell your council to speak out against racism, xenophobia and hate crimes now." Follow the hashtag #AgainstHate.