Friday, January 20, 2012

Kicking Around

Last night's council meeting went-on a bit, starting with a report on the proposed and controversial QEQM A&E  service move to the William Harvey at Ashford. It moved on to a  fierce political argument over the budget for flowers and whether this should be cut or not and James Maskell offers a good summary on his blog.  What we did witness was Ian Driver voting with the Conservatives, which does rather put an end to any thoughts he might have had for a prodigal return one day to warm bosom of the Labour Group.

It was interesting, that twice in one evening Ian voted for the common-sense position of the Conservative group, to derisive howls of outrage from his former Labour colleagues, who must by now be somewhat nostalgic for the return of Mark Nottingham.

The broader principle of last evening, which is why Ian Driver left the Labour Group, is that Labour plan to spend the modest pot of money in the Council  budget that the Conservative's had put aside as a contingency against the economic situation worsening or further Government grants being cut. I suppose this is what makes the two political groups different from each other.

Labour are now a minority in Thanet but hold the council  on the whim of  two independents, each with his own unique personal agenda, Jack Cohen and John Worrow, which I'm sure many readers would agree is an unsatisfactory position for democracy on the island.

As I predicted in an earlier post, the Council voted on recommendations for the future of Margate Football Club and firmly kicked the back to our dithering Cabinet to decide the issue and the final length of any leases. The 3G artificial pitch was recommended for refusal but my argument surrounding the length of any long lease for the hotel, once again shot right over the heads of heckling Labour members.

Without going into detail, the club and the council will now 'negotiate' a long lease but the club has to produce financial documents proving why they need it. I wish the Council luck as I've been trying for many months to get the owners of the club to explain why their 'nonnegotiable' 125 years requirement was necessary while my own information suggests that a rolling thirty-five year lease might be more common practice in such circumstances.

According to my last email exchange with the club a week ago, their new deadline for a decision on the award of a lease for the hotel development, runs out on Monday but I've seen so many similar 'deadlines' over the last year that I'm sure another rabbit will be pulled-out of the hat.

I'm sure every councillor is behind the club's aspirations but as I said last night, one can't throw the proper process out of the window where the award of public land is involved. Planning consent exists for the hotel but the insistence on a 125 year lease gives an impression that there is a hidden agenda where the land is involved.

Last night Council moved that if the club wants the hotel and the lease, then Mr Piper and Mr Lever are going to have to finally produce the financial evidence that supports their position to give the Council the confidence it requires to grant a long lease. I'm sure readers would agree that this is not unreasonable and I would urge the Labour Cabinet that makes any final decision on the lease, to make quite certain that firm conditions are in place, in regard to the future use of the land and the completion date of the hotel.

I wish the fans and supporters luck after such a long game.


Anonymous said...

Which party did JW vote for?

DrM. said...

John and Jack voted with Labour

Luke Edwards said...

I suppose it's only an "unsatisfactory position for democracy on the island" if you happen to be sympathetic to the idea of proportional representation, right, Simon? *wink wink, nudge nudge, say no more!*

DrM. said...

Not really Luke. If the people of Thanet had an opportunity to see and hear the two men in the flesh then they would quite rightly worried. Worrow represent one end of the political fringe as you will have noticed from his blog, Cohen, the other.

Anonymous said...

I think there is a hidden agenda over the 125 year lease which has absolutley nothing to do with Travelodge. After all just ask yourself which succesfull buisness would need 125 years to recover there initial investment + a profitable return. After all would the hotel not need rebuilding in that time scale.

I think Piper and Lever have a lot of questions still to answer.

Readit said...

"I'm sure every councillor is behind the club's aspirations"

See Simon, it is not really that difficult to work together for the good of Thanet.

By working with Labour you would sideline the rebels and make their position irrelevant. You would also illustrate to the voters that you can rise above the petty squabbling

DrM. said...

Working with Labour is an Oxymoron Ken.

Readit said...

"Thanet working together" is the real oxymoron Simon.

Some say their glass is half full, others say it is half empty, so view your time in opposition as an opportunity not a chore. You have been telling us for a long time you are the "intelligent" party

DrM. said...

It's policies Ken.. taking responsibility and being prudent with what little money we have and less in the future or spending it and hoping that the begging bowl will be topped-up by central Government in the future.

Readit said...

Seems to me there are only so many ways you can spend NO money.

I understand the main difference in policy is whether we have events and flowers or money in the bank but no-one can accurately judge how much income those items will bring to Thanet, and the place would be poorer without them.

Time to accept the budget and move on to the next squabble Simon, I am all for lively debate.

By the way, I am very pleased with the overall tone of the Ramsgate Port Masterplan. We don't criticize everything you and your colleagues do.

SteveP said...

The requirement for the 125yr lease is very straight forward. There is no way that Travelodge will be looking to put any money up front for the construction of the Hotel,instead they will, on the signing of the long lease, mortgage the same piece of land and release enough funds to build the project in full.
This can only happen if a 125yr lease is available as any less will not qualify for commercial funding.
So you will then have the situation of a third party having freehold interest over an area sarrounded by public land owned by the council, its like selling the family jewels and hiding the evidence, totally unrealistic and extremely dangerous if allowed to proceed.
The council have already shown great backbone in their decision to protect the open areas already, one can only hope that on reflection they realise that anything other than a 25yr lease is totally out of the question, at least it leaves them options open in the future, sell it with 125yrs and your sunk.
As stated by Simon earlier you cannot take anything that is said by mssrs piper and co as either truthful or indedd accurate.

DrM. said...

That's not what I said Steve. I passed no comment on the truthfulness of accuracy of any statement from Mr Piper. For our legal friends, that is your interpretation and not mine.

SteveP said...

I stand corrected, sorry for the implication. Indeed these are my thoughts and not yours..... Bloody close though !!

Michael Child said...

Simon thanks for the summery of the meeting, I wish it was webcast as obviously seeing some of the individual councillors in action is a major factor here.

Was it the intention of the Conservative administration to have no events or flowers had they remained in power?

DrM. said...

It is scheduled to be webcast next week
The absence if flowers argument is a red herring
Yes the budget would be reduced but there would be much greater emphasis on town councils, traders and communities finding the costs in a local basis

Michael Child said...

Thanks Simon I didn’t know, definitely one to watch, I will sharpen my pencil and do some sketches of the council in action.

I see you are a bit of a victim of corrective text here, but I see where you are coming from I think.

To be honest and this is only an impression from the outside, the events funding last year seemed very Margate weighted, so it will be interesting to see what happens.

Perhaps it is Ramsgate’s turn for The Big Event, looking at the state of the dredging I don’t think we will be getting The Tall Ships this year.

Considering how the New Year events went I am not so sure local traders and communities funding events will be supported by the council.

The Doctors are Here said...

Tell you what, how about the William Harvey A&E move theirs to the QEQM, why do we have to shut OURS? Screw them!

Anonymous said...

Actually, QEQM's mortality figures for emergency surgery are half that of the national average, despite having an elderly and poorer population. By contrast, the William Harvey has a higher mortality and complication rate. Fail to see how making the sickest and most vulnerable travel 60-90 minutes to Ashford is going to help improve outcomes. QEQM is an excellent hospital - this is just an attempt to save money at the people of Thanet's expense. These decisions are being made at Trust HQ in Canterbury - I doubt Thanets's best interests are top of the list...

Anonymous said...

Really crazy. Still can't understand why this is being considered. My aunt is a Sister at Margate hospital and has also worked at Ashford. She tells me that Margate is now the main centre of excellence for surgery, yet they want to move everything 40 miles away!!!

Wolfie Smith said...

Another reason for an Independent Thanet. No one west of St. Nicholas has our interests at heart. If the Scots can have one so can we.

Anonymous said...

I live in Sarre and I care!