“Do what ever it takes to make it stack up”
Cllr Martin was of Course refering to Princes Parade at the Overview & Scrutiny Committee on Valentines Day. He also made it clear there had been “political interference” regarding the project
He also raised the “loss of local peoples money” all “£5m” of it and “much more” . It is clear we’ve got where we are due to “engineered data“.
But it is to Cllr Monk we turn, as he made it known on the 14 Feb at the O & S Committee, the Council:
“have had an offer from someone to buy the whole kit and caboodle, and deliver it, including the Leisure Centre”
This can be found in Report Number C/22/88, to go before Cabinet on 22 Feb. Of course, as is par for the course, regular readers will not be shocked to know, the name of the prospective buyer for Princes Parade is [REDACTED].
However, the prospective buyer states:
“The objective… is to secure the future of the development and the delivery of the leisure centre and to bring forward both the residential and commercial consents at Princes Parade.”
The offer goes on to state that
“we believe that with some degree of replanning and simple re-engineering we can make the scheme more viable and less costly to deliver”.
They also state:
“Our offer for the whole site including the delivery of the Leisure Centre, roads and infrastructure and residential allocation would be in the sum of [REDACTED]
We would also undertake to reimburse the council its costs to deliver the pre-commencement planning conditions which we understand are currently being discharged, on an open book basis, to a maximum amount of [REDACTED]
Unconditional basis subject only to the variation of the S106 for Delivery of the Leisure Centre
Agreement to a set of build/employer’s performance requirements for the delivery of the leisure centre”.
And then in steps Cllr Susan Carey, who basically says with words of hindsight, regarding Princes Parade:
“It might be a better to outsource early on, so that we’ve got an external partner, who can actually deliver without the necessary processes… Without the things which seem to have slowed it down from our side, because going slow has definitely been to this project’s disadvantage.
Then comes a bombshell coment by Cllr Carey, regarding Otterpool Park, she recommends the idea
“looking ahead to Otterpool, I wonder whether we should be looking to sell that project, so it is not similarly bogged down, in endless reviews, because we have our skills as Cllrs, and a Council, but we are not property developers, and maybe we need to actually take the profit that will come to us for the district to use for services for local people. And that would perhaps be one of the lessons learned” [from Princes Parade]
This is extraordinary, a Cllr openly admitting the Council is not “a property developer”, yet it has been acting as one for Princes Parade, Otterpool Park, Biggins Wood, Ship Street and Highview.
It shows the Tories who’ve run our Council since 2002/03, and have given us the highest council tax in Kent for the last 19 years, and soon to be 20, have only understood the price of everything and the value of nothing. The Tories have NOT managed this balance well, but neither are Council officers covered in glory either.
Princes Parade matters, as does Otterpool, and the other sites they intend to develop. There is more value in retaining these two sites, as they have substantial value to the communities they effect.
Engineered data, an admittance finally they are “not property developers”, and the loss of much more than £5m on this project alone. It makes ones mind boggle, how much the Council might waste on the £3bn Otterpool Project. The risk is excessive given how the Council have so evidently mismanged the finances of the Princes Parade project, as is made clear by Cllr Whybrow.
In the financial year 2021/22, with the evidence publicly avialble, according to that, – £4.5m has been run unchecked due to a lack of internal controls, and caused the financial and contractual irregularities we have raised, time and again. Given the sums Cllr Whybrow mentions, regarding Princes Parade, this figure would appear to be in excess of £9m.
Taking stock and reflecting on how the Council should move forward, with regards to Princes Parade and Otterpool Park, is a sensible precaution, given the levels of risk involved. In our view, the offer should be refused and Princes Parade opened up as a park, for all to enjoy. That said, the Council have a £16.5m deficit and they need the cash to plug the forecasted deficit over the next three to four years.
And finally, in the land purchase agreements made with landowners around Otterpool, there is a clause in the sale of their land to Otterpool Park LLP/Council; which makes clear the sale is:
price dependent on the market value at the time of sale
If planning permission is granted, the value will go up, and the cost to buy as well. Value for money for the taxpayer?
We’ll leave you to ponder that
The Shepway Vox Team
The Velvet Voices of Voxatiousness