Sunday, August 20, 2006

Revolution in Jeopardy

Kent on Sunday reports that the future of the Revolution Skate Park in Broadstairs is in jeopardy after Thanet Community Development Trust (TCDT) has doubled its rent from £20,000 to £40,000.

The story reveals a number of concerns over the management and finances of TCDT and worries over what will happen when bored teenagers have nowhere to go.

Revolution is a great facility and one I believe that should be supported in the greater interests of the community.

39 comments:

Chris Wells said...

The Trust is quite correctly being called on to justify its position, which appears money grabbing, greedy, and against everything it is supposed to stand for in providing resources for community engagement. I have been promised explanations and evidence that has never arrived. If Keith Morris does not wish to discuss his salary and benefit package, he would do well not to use the openly published figures of Revolutions Director to butress his own weak argument. Similarly, TCDT is at the centre of more than one company with more than one directorship each, the suspicion has to be that these gentlemen pay themselves from more than one source, perhaps a little transparency would help. According to the simple accounts of TCDT they have in excess of 600,000 pounds in net assets lying around awaiting use committed or in reserve. There is property, and I believe a 25 year agreement with EDF on rental with low payments during the first 5 years. The margin TCDT and its associated stand to make on this arrangement is where it becomes interesting. If, indeed, this organisation is for the benefit of the community, then it must be able to be scrutinised and open to public view. Right now it is secretive, almost conspiratorial in its operation and methods, reacting like a child caught with its fingers in the sweetie jar every time it is criticised or questions are asked. If TCDT is for community benefit, then the community must know much more about how it does its work and why it makes the decisions it does - I openly challenge them to be transparent in their operations - or take the consequences when situations like this arise.

Anonymous said...

I am not familiar with the remit TCDT has and what 'public' funding it has received but I support Cllr Wells in his call for transparency in its affairs if public money is involved.

In the case of Revolution and its growing poularity and success is it not correct to assume that as a commercial venture it is now able to stand on its own without a subsidised rent? In other words if TCDT has given it the start up buffer it needed and it is now an established successful and commercial concern then it should no longer require TCDT subsidy and a market rent needs to be paid. If this eats into profits but still leaving a profitable and viable business, so be it.

Anonymous said...

Revolution Skate Park is a facility that is well run and supervised, and keeps many youngsters of all ages occupied and therefore not hanging around the streets looking for mischief. I have been quite happy for my son to go there for several years, and feel that it not only provides an outlet for his energies, but a reasonably safe environment for him to have harmless fun. As a ratepayer, I would gladly see some of my money utilised for this and other projects that engage modern youth in healthy activity. Any grant that is employed in keeping this type of establishment running must still be far cheaper than the cost of vandalism by bored kids. It is certainly better employed here than on futile projects like the Turner Centre. If TCDC is a registered charity, don't they have to publish accounts and be accountable to the Charities Commission? If not, surely accurate and certified accounts have to be lodged yearly with Companies House. Where do they get their money from anyway? Jammy Dodger, Birchington

Anonymous said...

Very interesting. I have been informed that Chris Wells is not the only Cllr who has asked for financial details and accounts from TCDT - and has not received any information.
I must start digging around and poking my nose in as well.
Watch this space.

Anonymous said...

On their website

http://www.tcdt.org.uk/

Chief Executive Keith Morris claims it is a Charity run by up to 12 volunteers and the income is reinvested in the community.

That makes it sound like there aren't any salaries.

This it seems is possibly stretching the truth somewhat.

An address in Norfolk Rd is mentioned which will bear investigation as a starting point.

It is so much better for everyone to be open about money matters, now a veritable can of worms will open up for Keith Morris.

If he has any sense at all he will come clean immediately, then the fuss will die down. otherwise who knows what may come out?

Anonymous said...

TCDT has also claimed that Revolution management has assets of £93,000 and is suggesting that profiteering is going on whilst the Park is pleading poverty.

Anonymous said...

TCDT may be correct in its assertion that Revolution is now well established and financially secure and can return to a commercial rent.

Chris Wells said...

I have Revolutions accounts. To achieve the figure claimed by TCDT you have to add all the assets together (including equipment) at book price, all the working capital, and assume the period immediately after accounts closure was similarly balanced. I have TCDT's accounts, which are harder to determine and understand, with linkages and directorships to at least 2 other companies. Using similar measurement I repeat to me they seem to have £600,000 plus, some of which is connected to current projects. Some of this is KCC money, and I believe I must start asking some audit and scrutiny questions there as well.

Revolution may be well established now. TCDT may have helped in crisis 5 years ago. If all parties truly understood the nature of the discounted offer is much murkier. That is the detail I have asked for and no one seems to have. Certainly, Cllr Iris Johnston, who was in on the negotiations at the time does not have the same recollection as TCDT - whose invoices started to reflect the discount part of the way through the period. Thus will run and run, it has all the elements, David and Goliath, charity activity that is hidden, profit making activity that is known and lauded. In their own minds and business plans TCDT may be right. To the community they seem to be simply bullying a smaller outfit.I am happy to help Revolution become a charity which will help. First the timescale has to be lengthened with a temporary agreement, and then it falls out of the spotlight for proper negotiation.

Anonymous said...

The offices of TCDT are at 21 Norfolk Rd

This internet page shows it:

http://www.go-se.gov.uk/gose/euroFunding/objective2/theAcademyKent/


There is an impressive array of plaques on the front of the building which show where some of their funding comes from.

These are the organisations it may be worth approaching with concerns about the accounts and actions of TCDT and Mr Morris.

Observer said...

Maybe Chris Wells can ask the two TDC representatives on TCDT board ( both Conservative Councillors)
for the information regarding the financial affairs of TCDT.
He can then make it public and we can all judge who is in a better position to afford a subsidised rent for Revolution,,,,,,,,,,,,,

Anonymous said...

Chris, keep at it. According to the web-site of TCDT they are a charity. However they do not quoute their registered charity number. Are they a Registered Charity and do the Charity Commisioners have details on them? If Revolution needs financial support, its an excellent way for TDC to do something for many of our young people in Thanet. £7 m wasted on no TC makes the small amount Revolution needs insignificant!

Anonymous said...

It sounds to me like Keith Morris may possibly not be the ideal person to be Chief Executive of this "Charity".

How long will it be before someone calls for his resignation?

Publicly sourced funds require public accountability - if he doesn't believe that then maybe he is in the wrong job.

Anonymous said...

Councillor Wells has, in his usual way, clearly articulated his views and concerns here. Picking up on Observer's comments of 6.59, why does Mr Wells not a) tell us who his two Party colleagues are who sit on the Trust's Board, and b) encourage them to challenge their Board colleagues over the park? They may only be two out of twelve (the Board apparently has twelve members), but tackling an issue from "inside" is usually the best route.

Anonymous said...

The two Thanet Councillors who sit on the Trust's Board are ROBERT BAYFORD, who represents Kingsgate for the Conservatives, and INGRID SPENCER, who represents Westgate, also for the Conservatives. She is also the Cabinet member with responsibility for Community Services. Surely, Councillor Wells can easily approach his Party colleagues to check out their stance and call them to account on this?

Observer said...

One would certainally hope so,,,,,,,HOWEVER,,,,one probably couldnt care less and the other probably considers skateboarders as part of the 'Great Unwashed' and a such should be avoided at all costs and certainally wouldnt condone giving ' these kind of people ' any support. This of course would be the same person who told Baroness Young that Thanet didnt have a problem with disabled people thats why the Council didnt ask for as much money as they could have.

Anonymous said...

Not looking good then, Observer!

Anonymous said...

We still await further info from Chris Wells; should be enlightening.

Anonymous said...

At least he could tell us how he plans to engage with his two Party colleagues and what they have been doing while all of this has been happening at the Trust. Anyone there Councillor Wells...???

Observer said...

Ho,,Hum Twiddle Dee, Dee,,,,
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Ho Hum,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,whats that song playing on the radio?
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oh yes,,,,,,,,,,,,Silence is Golden,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

Anonymous said...

Quite, Observer. I have placed a post on the the site's latest fawning overture to Ezekiel hoping to flush out the silent Tories, but I won't hold my breath. This one must be causing them a huge amount of embarrassment, and I guess they need time to cook up their cover story.

DrMoores said...

"Fawning overture".. what rubbish! You ask me to ask the Council Leader questions and I print the answers. Of late I haven't asked sent in many questions either because a: I'm not getting any which can sensibly be directed or be I simply don't have the time and it slips my mind. Simply keeping this site going is a big enough burden at present.

Anonymous said...

Instead of being rude again, Doctor, and dodging the actual issue here, I would suggest you put these questions and issues to Ezekiel.

Anonymous said...

Has Chris Wells borrowed his Leader's yacht and fled the country? Or has he "bumped into" his colleagues, Ingrid and Robert, down a dark alley? Come in number 7, your time is up!

DrMoores said...

Not rude but direct if you like. Among thousands and thousands of visitors, your comments are broadly tedious, poisonous and frequently downright unpleasant. You are in fact a "troll" - so grow-up or go and start your own weblog or I will simply switch you off for good!

James Maskell said...

Anon 7:50pm, Simon has already explained why he hasnt been able to ask many questions to Cllr Ezekiel. You were much more rude than Simon was.

As for trying to flush out the "silent Tories", Im sure theyve got more important things to do then being on the Internet responding to posters like yourself, who simply aim to cause trouble.

Observer said...

Quote:-
" You ask me to ask the Council Leader questions and I print the answers. Of late I haven't asked sent in many questions either because a: I'm not getting any which can sensibly be directed "

I suppose in fairness if Members of the Council are unable to get answers to written and verbal questions as provided for in the Councils Constitution, as I observed at the last full Council meeting, it is unreasonable for an ordinary member of the public to expect any better treatment. No doubt the questions posed here by both the Author and various posters will no be answered either,,

Pedagogue said...

We may not get a straight answer to a question from "Ask Sandy" and from politicians at Govt level we never do but at least the Leader of TDC is prepared to visit this site and engage contributers and their issues. Is there any other medium in Thanet that can do this as well as this site? Politeness, common curtesy and tolerant engagement in argument with the ability to agree to disagree should be the norm for all our disputation. I am saddened by personal attack, ill humour and vitriol. If the purpose of those thus involved in it is to drive our Cllrs away from this medium, then they do us all a grave disservice. I want to read Cllr Wells, Cllr Green and other Cllrs on this site. They can educate, inform and give insight and promote their position. Its great. Over this issue of Revolution, Cllr Wells has said he will come back on the issue. Give him time. intemperate comment does us all a severe diiservice.

Chris Wells said...

I have been not on a yacht, but in a tent in Hastings for the wettest week of the year so far. For the record, TDC has observer status on the TCDT Trust Board, the 2 observors are actually Cllrs Spencer and Ezekiel. Cllr Spencer has I believe been the more regular attender.

Public comment is useful for getting into a problem, but ince involved then public negotiation is less likely to be successful. I will report back as and when I can, and there is something substantial to say.

I'll be back!

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Councillor Wells. I am sorry that you had such a wet holiday break. The Thanet Council website shows Councillors Spencer and Bayford as the representatives on the TCDT Board, so it might be useful if that were updated.

I, and I am sure, others, will look forward to your feedback. I think the immediate question arising here is what those Councillors knew about the rent increase, what comments they made at the Board in relation to it, and specifically did they support or oppose it. In the light of your comments, it is also relevant to ask how many meetings they have each attended, and if they have not attended many, why the role has not been passed to another Councillor to spread the load. I do not think this needs to be delayed in deference to the possible "negotiations" to which you refer.

Anonymous said...

Mr Maskell, there was not the remotest hint of criticism in my post over questions being put to the Council Leader. I suggested Dr Moores might put some to him. I said nothing about whether this could or should have been done before now.

I recognise that Councillors are very busy people, and face many competing priorities. But they make choices about when to come here and share or promote their views and causes, so it is reasonable to press them to attend when there are serious questions to answer from "the floor".

You have offered direct, robust, and very personal criticisms of several Councillors on here - most notably Hart and Green. They both happen to be Labour. It is wholly unacceptable for you to say that when I, or anyone else, questions or criticises a Tory Councillor, we are trying to "cause trouble".

Anonymous said...

Dr Moores,a "troll" to me is a character from Norwegian folklore; a short muscular creature with long white hair that lives in caves in the wilder parts of the country. No-one who knows me would recognise me from that description.

You may, as you claim, get "thousands and thousands" of visitors to this site but the number of posts can be measured in tens. The overwhelming majority do not comment, so your contrast/comparison, and the criticism of me based on it, is fundamentally flawed. Indeed, I would also suggest that you have more like a few hundred visitors, who make repeat calls.

My comments may well be tedious, in your view, but does that mean they should not appear? And are everyone else's scintillating and exciting? I think not. And how or why are they poisonous?

When you closed the site down to non-registered users some weeks ago, you claimed that several people - so not just me - had been using bad language. I have never done so. I have never alleged corruption as others have done. I have never made rascist, sexist or in any other way prejudiced comments - as others have done. What I have done, on occasions, is challenge those comments made by others. I have also sought to balance some of the views you and others have expressed. I have criticised both the Thanet North MP and local Tory Councillors. That is NO different from the often savage criticisms you and others have made - as is your right - of national and local Labour politicians. I have referred in my reply to Mr Maskell to some of his. You allow and arguably encourage those; you never challenge. But in my case you accuse me of being "politically obsessed" and "poisonous".

In my remarks here, I have continued the "joke" YOU started about the Council Leader and his yacht. They are no different from jestful remarks you made some time ago about Jack Straw and homelessness. I have drawn attention to an apparent cock-up, or worse, at Thanet Council. Is that a bad thing? Isn't that what you do nearly every day over what you believe to be Government maladministration and folly? Shouldn't you be welcoming this investigative approach?

To say, or allow others to say, that when all of this is done against those whom you dislike, fine, but when the same is done against those whom you LIKE it is poisonous or trouble making is unacceptable. You must see that.

James Maskell said...

The tone of your post is rude. Simon had already explained why there wasnt much in the way of Sandy Ezekiel quesitons. If you feel your questions are being ignored, then contact the Council and ask yourself.

As for my comments on Cllrs Clive Hart and David Green, they both have the right to respond, as Cllr Green has done previously. If anyone wishes to complain or comment to me about any of my postings on this site, or elsewhere, they may do so. My email address is on my profile.

As for my not criticising anyone on the Tories, thats not true. I have disagreed publicly with Cllrs Wells, Wize and Ezekiel not to mention disgreeing with Roger Gale and David Cameron. I have also been highly critical of Cllr Fuller (which many Salmestone residents are aware of). I am highly critical of the Tories on occasions, though locally I have less problems than with national policies.

A troll is someone who goes on an internet forum simply to cause trouble by posting messages that they know will lead to a reaction. Its a form of Internet bullying and its pathetic for someone to stoop so low in order to attract attention. Theres no justification for that sort of behaviour.

Chris Wells said...

I would disagree with your assertion, anonymous, that whom I have spoken to about what should be publicly available right now - not to protect any individual, but to preserve necessary confidences whilst trying to agree a conclusion.

I will report back in due course, and when I do will answer any questions then.

Anonymous said...

Councillor Wells, I have not suggested that you should reveal what you have said to whom. If you re-read the questions that are set out here, I think that will be clear.

Anonymous said...

Mr Maskell, I would strongly urge you to read others' posts (more carefully) before you write responses.

I have NOT complained about your criticisms of, and comments on, Councillors Green and Hart. You are free and entitled to make them, and, as you acknowledge, the individuals are more than capable of dealing with them. What I HAVE questioned is why you should call me a trouble maker for challenging, criticising, and offering comment on Tory councillors. That smacks of base double standards and is wholly unacceptable.

I have NOT (even remotely)suggested that you never criticise your fellow Tories. I have no idea where you have drawn that from. My only (simple) point is the double standards one in the previous paragraph.

The only possible rudeness in my 609 post was the use of the word "fawning". Given the disquiet it seems to have caused, I shall withdraw it unreservedly. It adds nothing anyway to this serious story of a cock-up, or worse, within Thanet Council. Perhaps Dr Moores will also withdraw his visceral remarks posted at 808?

Lastly, thank you for enlightening me about the new meaning of the word "troll". Surely YOUR comments are intended to prompt a reaction? Surely, the stories Dr Moores publishes are intened to prompt a reaction; indeed he has said so this weekend (422 under "A Quiet Cliftonville Retirement"). Why should "troll" therefore be a term of abuse, as you and Dr Moores are intending it? Do you in fact mean that anyone who disagrees with the site owner, or the majority view, is a "troll"? If you do that is very dangerous territory my friend!

Chris Wells said...

WE all have too many meetings to go to - that is not a defence - I was allocated a role to represent the council on a local organisation, and gave up after 2 years having not made a single meeting. Sadly, no one else could be found to do the role after I stopped. Observors do not necessarily vote or speak, and the plans for this issue probably formed a small part of any board meeting which perforce will,be aboutgeneral principles for developing the trust. The only question is if the councillors should have realized the impact on Revolution and if they could have done anything differently if they had. I am notwilling to discuss that right now as it leads into general discussion about the attitudes of the main protagonists, which would not be helpful right now. OK?

Anonymous said...

I do not share your political views and opinions, Councillor Wells, but I have always been impressed by the thoughtful and considered way you have set them out and the honourable way you have given account of yourself. Apologies if that sounds patronising or presumptuous; I intend to be neither.

I for one am content to wait for your fuller reply in time - as long as that doesn't project too far into the future. And I do understand the often ludicrous demands made on a councillor's time, and how the problem you have described can come about. But those TDC representatives on the Board do need to clear this up and answer for themselves - not necessarily via this site.

They should be able to answer the questions that have appeared in previous posts, and say categorically if they knew about this rent increase and what stance they took when it was discussed - if they were there at the time. It puts the Council in a highly embarrassing position if on the one hand you are pursuing policies to reduce mindless vandalism and anti-social behaviour whilst on the other you are strangling - even if accidentally - an initiative which might help towards that objective.

And incidentally, in addition to the TDC website showing Councillors Bayford and Spencer as the Board members, the TCDT site, in the annual report section, shows them as Trustees, not observers. Another point that really should be cleared up.

Chris Wells said...

Thank you. Your points are noted and will be considered I promise you.

Observer said...

I shall observe this space with interest,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,and probably a lot of patience!!!