Council fail to declare they were to buy 37 properties on Royal Victoria Hospital site owned by Leo Griggs
Updated 11.35am 9/09/2020
So it’s just as we said way back on Nov 28th 2018:
We also understand from well placed council sources, the Council’s company Oportunitas Ltd is intent on buying up to 40 properties on the RVH site, “off plan” for approx £5.5m to £6.5 million. This would allow them to further expand their loss making commercial arm in the vain hope it will turn a profit one day.
And yesterday at the Overview & Scrutiny Committee (8th Sept 2020) at Appendix 3 – Oportunitas Ltd Business Plan 2020-2022 at page 10 it states:
Oportunitas has been involved in negotiations to purchase ‘off plan’ from the developer at a cost of £6.45 million, the first two phases of the proposed RVH development (Folkestone)…
The council are to purchase 37 properties from RVH Folkestone Ltd owned by Leo Griggs and should take ownership of the first 18 properties in July 2021 and the next 19 in July 2022.
As of the 7th August 2020, the Council had paid the developer Leo Grigg’s company RVH Folkestone Ltd, £1,605,750.
Now Council officers and Dr Susan Priest – the Chief Exec of Folkestone & Hythe District Council allege the idea was first put to the Oportunitas board in Nov 2018. As such the council must have been in discussion with Leo prior to Nov 2018.
According to a variety of well placed sources we know council officers were in discussions as early as June 2018.
However, as we understand, Leo was encouraged to purchase the site by certain sitting Cllrs at the time; and so set up the company RVH Folkestone Ltd, on the 7th June 2016, according to Companies House. He was so a variety of well placed sources say, promised in 2016 the Council would buy into the proposed scheme at a later date.
So it would come down to when the heads of terms deal was signed, or when the parties shook hands on the deal.
As a general rule, the law in the UK considers verbal contracts to be as legally binding as written ones, and therefore they do hold up in court. However, where you may encounter difficulty is proving the terms of the contract, for which you’ll need to provide evidence to the court.
Now in Dec 2019, Y12/0980/SH – Royal Victoria Hospital, Radnor Park Avenue, Folkestone CT19 5BN (Agenda Item 45) came before the Planning Committee and nobody mentioned the Council had done a deal with the developer as long as as Nov 2018.
It’s clear to us that any objections made by residents, cllrs or Folkestone Town Council was not going to stand in the way of permission being granted, and granted it was as the Council had skin in the game and the planning system was gamed
Moving on, for those of you who are not aware, Oportunitas Ltd was incorporated on the 14th May 2014, It’s first director was Dr Susan Julia Priest, the Chief Exec of the Council. It is a company 100% owned by Folkestone & Hythe District Council
Oportunitas Ltd has never made a profit in its six years of existence. In fact Report Number C/20/32 at Paragraph 4.3 states:
The company is forecast to continue making an operating loss over the period before returning a profit once the full additional revenue stream from the RVH scheme is received. The cumulative projected operating loss at 31 March 2022 is £478k.
The report goes onto say:
Financial modelling undertaken predicts it will take up to 7 years to clear the accumulated operating loss from the end of the business plan period.
So no operating profit then until 2029, some 15 years after the company will have been in business. Oportunitas can only survive this long because it’s sole owner is the council and they have your money to spend.
We must not forget Leo Griggs the owner of RVH Folkestone Ltd is a member of the local Conservative party.
Leo far left
And the RVH site was closed down by the Health & Safety Executive in August 2020, for alleged breaches of: scaffolding, handrails and labourers having invalid CSCS cards, according to very well placed sources.
There is more to Leo’s company getting into bed with the Council than meets the eye.
Finally we note that Cllr David Wimble, Cabinet Member responsible for planning, whose company Radio Waves Media Ltd was registered at Leo’s home address in Meadowbrook Sandgate, on the 16th July 2020. According to Companies House, he moved the company’s registered address to his own address in Littlestone on the 27th July 2020.
The Shepway Vox Team
Journalism for the People NOT the Powerful
Pretty much what seems to be going on here has similarities to those in Kensington and Chelsea. Such as lack of consultation, poor workmanship and ignoring safety regulations etc.
Given that Mark Anderson was K&C’s director of regeneration before Deborah Upton hired him at EKH I think it is only to be expected ?