Thursday 18 August 2016

A modern coup

With support for Manston waning and Beau Webber and Robert John Pritchard in charge of the committee it had become apparent that the membership had lost confidence in the "Powers That Be" at the top of the Save Manston Association (SMA). This was more than apparent at Minnis Bay recently when the "Glorious Leader" set up a stall.
Some of the decisions taken by the committee have seemed very strange, with the recent support for Riveroak's Pre-Consultation taken to a new level of stupidity. Even the Planning Institute saying "don't do it" They went ahead and leading lights in the SMA being "Meeters and Greeters" and they even supplied the Security for the event. Well the results were predictable please read a sample.
 David Davidge, a security guard in his day job seems to think this is extremely funny forgetting that this has reflected badly on the SMA Committee's decision to get involved in the first place.

To digress slightly SMA was set up to try and get Manston reopened, however it wasn't set up to reopen Manston at any cost and that's what seems to have happened, and whether the recent actions will change this only time will tell.

Well what has happened with the Facebook page?

By Beau Webber | 2016-08-18 The Chairman, Officers and all but one of the Committee of the Save Manston Airport association have had their Facebook admin powers removed and most have been removed from the Save Manston Airport site.

We have confirmed that all the independent moderators (who act to keep the SMA page “clean”) have had their moderating powers removed.

The “founder” of SMA (2014) Dan Light, and the then Chairman Keith Churcher voluntarily relinquished the group (then ~3,000 members) to the management of an SMA Committee in 2014, led by Chairman Dr. Beau Webber. The legitimacy of the Committee was further established by an SGM in 2014 and an AGM in early 2016.

We have evidence that Dan Light has recently assumed dictatorial powers on the SMA site (now ~10,200 members), adding and deleting posts and members without discussion, and has now removed the Admin and other powers of the Chairman, Officers and all but one Member of the Committee of Management on the Facebook site, and has blocked the Chairman and others from access to the site. The actions taken by the Founder do not affect the powers of the Chairman, Officers or other Committee members within the governance of the Save Manston Airport ASSOCIATION.

So it looks like Keith Churcher and Dan Light have taken over the Facebook page however it seems the Real World Committee have decided that they will have to start again on FB. Now it makes you wonder which group will win out and whether either have any friends outside of their narrow world.

One of the main issues with the SMA campaign was the personal abuse directed at anyone who didn't share their viewpoint. Whether Keith and Dan can control the alleged 10000 members is also another moot point. They have so alienated TDC that it is doubtful TDC will ever support them especially if they continue to support a Freight Hub as envisaged by Tony Freudmann and Niall Lawlor. It is clear from the Pre-Consultations that Neither gentlemen want anything to do with TDC the local authority that controls the area of Manston.

Taken from replies given at the pre-consultation

·         “Niall Lawlor said that the Leader of TDC is in bed with the two guys who own the site who want to build 2500-3000 houses. He said: “Why do you think we went to the Planning inspectorate? I took it away from Thanet Council.”
 ·         “A gentleman asked how many planes they needed a day to break even. Mr Freudmann said maybe three or four. The man asked how many jobs it takes to service three or four planes a day. Tony Freudmann said: “probably about 50”. The man said: “So that's what we're talking about. The virtual destruction of Ramsgate for 50 jobs.” 

·         “I asked about night flights. RiverOak say they want to emulate East Midlands Airport and they have dozens of night flights every night. He said that he wasn’t saying that RiverOak needed night flights but that the Planning Inspectorate had asked RiverOak what they were going to say in their consultation about night flights. He said that they had to include night flights because the Planning Inspectorate said that they were mandating Heathrow, Gatwick, Stanstead, Luton and every other major airport in the South East to come up with a policy for potential night flight traffic. The Inspectorate had said: “We cannot have you involved in the DCO when we are seeking to potentially do a DCO on Heathrow and we have not asked you to do a review on night flights.” What on earth does this mean?”
“Mr Lawlor said that Thanet Council was “duplicitous” and that they had been supposed to be backing RiverOak. He said that he had told them that to their faces and that he was gladly saying it here as well.
“Mr Lawlor agreed that his aim was for a cargo airport the size of East Midlands. He then said that that's not a lucrative proposition. The lucrative proposition is a mechanised assembly line doing aircraft recycling. So it looks as if the cargo idea is just an excuse to get hold of the site. I reminded him that the application to the Planning Inspectorate is on the basis of a cargo hub airport and that a recycling unit for planes is not a national asset.”
“I asked Tony Freudmann about night flights. He said that they might need them but had no plans as yet. I asked him whether or not a lot of cargo operators say they need night flights. He agreed that they did. He also agreed that cargo operators pretty much determine the flying schedule that they want from an airport. I’m conscious that this is the man who managed to negotiate TDC into accepting unlimited, unscheduled night flights of planes as big as a 747-400. He knows he’ll need night flights if RiverOak get hold of this airport.”  

So will anything change? Well the past doesn't bode well for the future. Certainly Beau and Pritchard have done their campaign no favours and Pritchard's support for the disgrace Collins and Smith have alienated many in the campaign. (seems supporting a liar and cheat is fine)

Also treating people who have a different opinion as badly as they have done doesn't bode well for how they take it forward. The whole campaign which included death threats, raking through the past, personal abuse etc. These will all need burying because if it's same as before then neither party will be able to continue. 
Maybe it's about time for apologies to be made and the removal of the nasty element from their pages. Maybe its past time to make the group open instead of a closed hidden group. Think of Groupthink.

If anything changes then I'll ramble on further
Statement from Dan Light
 Dear members

Those who have been here for a long time will know that I was the original founder of the Save Manston Airport Facebook group way back at the start of 2014. To new members, welcome.

Today there have been several changes made to the Save Manston Airport Facebook group. This morning I removed all admin, moderators and committee when it became apparent that an alternative secret Facebook group had been set up without my knowledge. I took this decision for the good of the group as I did not like the direction my group was taking. Many of you have mentally switched off, and have felt you cannot discuss certain things for fear of getting shouted down; the campaign was starting to lose a lot of puff, there were no guts left in it left in it, and people were becoming disillusioned.

I have listened to many of you who have messaged me and spoken to me, and took this decision, to steer this whole thing back on track; at the moment we need people on our side. Unfortunately we alienated a lot of important people who could actually work with us and help us. I was not of the same opinion as others on the committee, and after countless talks falling on deaf ears this was another reason to make drastic changes. I was on my own, alienated, I wasn't listened to and when I tried to put forward my concerns I was talked down to like a child. My opinion as founder didn't matter it seems, and I also found, whilst at work, things were going on behind my back on which I had no say, which really hurt the campaign badly. I could not trust the people who were supposed to be working with me, not against me.

I understand this may come as a shock to some of you, and if you want to leave due to the changes that is your choice and I accept that. If you want to carry on being a member of John Pritchard and Beau Webber's formal Association please do so here
They are governed by a formal constitution. I feel that on a Facebook group there is no need for that and that is one of the reasons why the group lost its appeal. They are welcome to carry on with their formal campaign and I formally relinquish anything to do with it.

In the meantime this campaign will once again grow legs and get back to basics like it was at the very start. We will allow differing opinions in the group about RiverOak and also about other investors; no one will be shouted down for their views. The people now administering the group (not a committee) want to make a change for the better and carry this on in the way it was intended right from the start. There will be rules but more about that later.

I hope you do decide stay and carry on the fight with us; if you feel you can't you are more than welcome to leave and I will respect that. Let’s move forwards in saving Manston Airport.


Thursday 4 August 2016


This is the reality of 18 years of piss poor communication from Thanet Councillors. Promises made and broken by a series of Conservative and Labour Councillors and lack of a will to take the land back and develop it for Leisure.
This is the press release from FORS on the 1st of September 2014 and sod all has changed. The only thing to change hands is the Freehold of the land.

Dated: Monday, 01 September 2014
Re: Pleasurama Site
Following the release of the Cabinet papers today Friends of Ramsgate Seafront would like to make it clear that the proposed deal with the current builders Cardy allowing them to rewrite the Development Agreement with TDC is inappropriate and is the wrong use for the site.
Allowing for the caveat that Planning has been granted in 2004 and “work” had started it is unbelievable that TDC would still be considering allowing housing on this site despite their own call for leisure related activities in their own plan (Ramsgate Renaissance documents) in 1998.
Notwithstanding this we believe that 3 things are made clear in the new Development Agreement that will have to be signed by TDC and Cardy before building can start.
  1. The Freehold of the site must remain with Thanet District Council and not be sold to Cardy or any other party
  2. That the cliff face maintenance be part of the leaseholders responsibility as it used to be up until the current leases were assigned
  3. That proper “due diligence” be done on the new developer to ensure that Shaun Patrick Keegan and his associates cannot benefit in any way from any profits ensuing when the development is sold
FORS want to make it clear that we in no way condone the Council’s actions however we understand the position past actions by previous administrations have placed the Council in a very difficult situation.

Further to this a previous member of FORS asked TDC in an Freedom of Information the following questions

Dear Thanet District Council,
Please provide details of any payments the developer(s)/buyer(s) of the Royal Sands Development, Ramsgate is/are contractually bound to pay Thanet District Council as per any legally extant planning permission, development agreement, contract of sale, memorandum of understanding OR any other document which might contain this information.
Where payments have or will be made please provide the following information for each amount:
(a) Name of organisation providing the payment
(b) Purpose of payment
(c) Date funds paid/will be paid to the council
(d) Details of any conditions attached to payment
Yours faithfully,

Their answer last May (2015) was to refuse citing the following answer

 Thank you for your communication received on 15/04/2015 where you
requested information about contractual payments regarding the Royal Sands
I apologise for the delay in responding to your request, it is the
councils intention to publish this information once the legal process
concludes so this information is exempt under section 22 of the Freedom of
Information Act and is therefore being withheld. 

So like any concerned ratepayer we all sat back and waited, well on the 20th July 2016 all contract work was concluded with the payment of the outstanding £3M and the required statement was made by TDC as follows:

"Thanet District Council can confirm that the sale of the former Pleasurama site on Ramsgate seafront completed on Wednesday 20 July 2016 with Cardy Ramsgate Ltd.
The council has received the monies from this sale.
The site has transferred to the south-east based firm who will be responsible for delivery of the scheme.
Once complete, the development is set to include a hotel, residential apartments, leisure/retail facilities, cafes, shops and a playground. This is in line with the existing planning consent.
The scheme is expected to employ up to 200 people. This would include opportunities during construction and jobs in the hotel trade, commercial units and in the servicing of the residential areas.
The council understands separately that Cardy Construction Ltd. has filed a notice of intent to appoint an administrator. The council does not have any further information in relation to this process at this stage.
The Sale Agreement for the site was completed on 13 March 2015. This marked the exchange of contracts binding the council to complete the transfer of the land.
As with the original development agreement, the council retains ownership of the cliff wall and completed works here in April 2016."

Now if you compare the promise to the actual it is patently obvious that the response last May is a denial of the right of the individual to have the truth. 

 18 long years Ramsgate has been waiting for this scandal to be sorted and time and time again what we get are broken promises. It has to stop. Administrations promise to sort out the messes caused by previous administrations yet all they succeed in doing is making it worse.

Follow the story on the original blog here