Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Herd mentality

I really believe that Riveroak may be losing their way bogged down in a process they neither understood nor planned for.
A DCO (Development Consent Order) is a six stage process underwritten by a proscribed series of events. The problem for Riveroak is they assumed it dance to their tune bulldozing all opposition and be over in less than 6 months. They also believed they could bamboozle the National planning team and not have to play by their rules. Despite it being a government department the PI know what they are doing and it seems Riveroak aren't listening to their own advisers. *1
Cracks are starting to appear in their support as people in the campaign to get planes flying again are beginning to realise that Riveroak are out of their depth.
The same questions were asked by supporters when the Avia report was published and despite the spin from the pro-supporters Avia did actually ask Riveroak for details of their plan for Manston and didn't take at face value their boast they were prepared to put £300M into Manston.

They did however take exception to the spin from pro supporters that their report wasn't fact based especially as they are respected within the aviation sector. After 7 weeks a fact based repudiation from Riveroak is still awaited. Riveroak's Legal team did question the validity of the Avia report especially concerning the report ed plans from Riveroak however Thanet Council responded to these concerns which showed that Avia gave Riveroak the correct weight in their report.

Now many of the pro-supporters will not accept that Chris Wells and Madelaine Homer are acting in the best interest of Thanet residents despite much proof that they are and it would seem strange that normally sensible people will accept the words of an American Real Estate Investment Limited Liability Company and not the sensible words of the Chief Executive of Thanet Council.

There needs to be an investigation as to why large numbers of normally sensible people are acting in such a strange way.

Firstly there is an aspect of their behaviour which has meant that much of what TDC do today is undermined by previous actions in the past. The two main incidents are Sandy Ezekiel's fall from grace when he was convicted (Sandy was leader of the Conservative Council from 2003 until he resigned) and secondly the audit report in 2013/14 which stated the Council was toxic and led to the lay members of Standards resigning "en masse" after being verbally abused after they presented their report to council.
Secondly there is a "herd mentality" in operation where the actions of a few are orchestrating the actions of the many. This is mainly seen in the various Facebook pages such as SMA and SMAa where the admins censor anything they don't want the members to see and where topics are manipulated so that a consistently biased message takes centre stage. These pages encourage behaviour where the main enemies are Ann Gloag, Paul Carter, Chris Wells, Cartner & Musgrave and Pauline Bradley are dehumanised and vilified without mercy. Where twisted truth is applauded and where no one questions the words of Tony Freudmann and Riveroak.
thirdly and linked to the second point is groupthink (of which I have posted before) where the collective mind believes without question their own insular viewpoint and where minders ensure that any deviation from their norm is censored aggressively.

Some might say that their campaign has many of the hallmarks of a religious cult however there is no evidence that they pray for deliverance as yet.
 Finally I believe many current Councillors believe it would be political suicide to change the airport to a mixed use and housing format because of the potential loss of votes as the change would ensure no airport use would be possible in the future. This is based on the support for the airport consistently stated by the pro groups. Councillors sitting on tiny majorities may mistakenly believe that in 2020 they would no longer be Councillors should they be blamed for losing Manston. In my opinion the fault for this belief lies with the propaganda put out by the pro supporters and their support for a freight hub is not as large as they would have you believe. There maybe support for planes landing at Manston but that is based on the number of planes that used to use the airfield. Very few people want a freight hub of the size of East Midlands (78000 movements in 2015) with the associated night flights (currently 30% of flights land overnight). What Councillors also need to understand is the level of support for Riveroak is falling as the post above shows the longer they fail to provide any details of their plans. In 2014 when they were a contender for a partner in a CPO their financial worth was supplied to Thanet Council. Their net worth was $1.6M and a credit line of $400K, they have produced nothing to show they are worth anymore than that and their talk of investing £300M into Manston is just that, talk.

Stop press
The context for this letter from the Govt planners was a letter from whiny Gale asking why RO have yet to be given access to Manston Airport.

I will draw your attention to this paragraph
"Previous s53 authorisations have been the subject of judicial review. The Inspectorate will always ensure that decisions are underpinned by a robust and proportionate consideration.
In this case the Inspectorate has had to make several requests for further information to the Applicant in order to be able to process the application. I can assure you that the Inspectorate is dealing with this authorisation request as expediently as possible and a decision can be made as soon as all necessary information has been received.

It seems that professional expertise is either not as expert as Riveroak believe or more likely Riveroak are totally out of their depth.

Monday, 14 November 2016

Tony Freudmann

All the many amateur detectives putting in their Voluntary hours to try and dissect the many faceted business portfolio of Ann Gloag really ought to take a look at the Bona Fides of the man fronting Riveroaks bid for Manston. Next time he is in town ask him a few questions.

Besides being struck off as a Solicitor for 23 counts of "misappropriation" of client funds and having to resign as leader of Shropshire Council he has led a challenging life as an assett-stripper by leveraging going concerns, making people redundant and selling the assets. An extremely immoral but legal business practice. Here is his recent CV.

"Tony Freudmann, Director of RiverOak and their front man here in the UK for the Manston caper, has spent an awful lot of energy over the last twenty years acquiring; trying to acquire; and failing to develop old military airports. This glorious run of complete failure is topped and tailed by Manston. Here's a very brief summary:

1994 – Freudmann joins Wiggins, a property development company. He gives Wiggins the idea of buying up old military airports for development and is made responsible for airport acquisition. Wiggins' focus is on buying: “former military bases with ample availability of surrounding land which can be developed using the real estate experience of Wiggins.” Sound familiar?

1999 – Wiggins buys Manston Airport.

2000 – Freudmann and Wiggins go on a buying spree. Wiggins acquires Odense airport in Denmark in a joint venture (JV) with the local authority. As part of the deal Wiggins will get “exclusive development rights over 400 acres of land.” Potentially very lucrative, no? The JV is later ended by the local authority because the rent hadn’t been paid by Wiggins. A chunky financial settlement is agreed against Wiggins in 2005.

2000 – Wiggins acquires a 25 year lease for Smyrna Airport, Tennessee, USA. The plan is to develop the airport and have it as Wiggins’ corporate HQ. Wiggins said at the time that 14 more airports would be acquired in 2000. Yes, 14. In 2003 Wiggins surrenders the lease for Smyrna.

2001 – Wiggins takes a lease from the Czech MoD for Pilsen airport. A deal is made with BAE to redevelop the airport. Nothing much happens. When Wiggins (by then called Planestation) goes belly up in 2005, Pilsen is sold.

2001 – Wiggins acquires 80% of Lahr airport, Germany. During Wiggins’ ownership, redevelopment plans come to nothing. Lahr is sold to Babcock & Brown in 2005 when Planestation goes under.

2001 – Wiggins acquires Schwerin Parchim airport in Northern Germany alongside a nice EU grant to develop it. There are issues (again) with non-payment of rent. The agreement is terminated in 2005 and Wiggins settles for 3m Euro.

2001 – Wiggins takes a 43% stake in Cuneo-Levaldigi airport, Italy. Wiggins withdraws in 2004 having made heavy losses despite serious investment by the Italian Government.

2001 – Wiggins agrees a deal to build and operate an international airport in Ajman, UAE. An $800m plan to redevelop the airport comes to nothing and is abandoned in 2003.

2001 – The Financial Reporting Review Panel criticises Wiggins for five years of over-positive reporting of its financial results. When the accounts are redrawn, it’s clear that Wiggins is operating at a significant loss. This is a long time before EUJet is even dreamed of. It's a popular myth that EUJet broke Planestation. EUJet didn't help, that's true, but Wiggins/Planestation was mired in debt well before EUJet came along. And Freudmann had a big part to play in the Planestation demise because he was out snapping up unsuccessful airports.

2003 – Trading in Wiggins shares is suspended to give the company a chance to sort itself out.

2004 – Wiggins takes a lease to operate the international side of Melbourne Airport, USA. It says that Melbourne will replace Smyrna airport in the Wiggins portfolio. The project is just starting when Planestation goes under in 2005.

2004 – Wiggins takes on Borgond Airport, Hungary, in a JV withthe local authority. Work had not begun when Planestation went under in 2005.

2004 – Wiggins becomes Planestation.

2004 (May) – Wiggins buys 30% of EUJet.

2004 – Turnaround expert brought in to rescue Planestation. He says:

"When I first came here we were spending money to no particular end. Last year we spent £11 million maintaining dormant airports. The previous year £13.5 million.”

He says that Planestation will no longer be "an acquirer of assets and a stealer of ideas".

Others say: "… Planestation has been one of the most woeful ventures ever to grace the London Stock Exchange. Over the past ten years the group, previously known as Wiggins, has raised more money, north of around £115 million than its actual market valuation. With this cash it built up an international chain of seven (hitherto largely dormant) airports and an assortment of property interests and assets in the UK. Apart from property disposals, it has generated little in the way of revenues, milked its investor base for all they were worth and produced gargantuan annual losses".

Take a bow for your part in this "woeful" adventure, Mr Freudmann.

2004 (Dec) – Planestation buys the rest of EUJet.

2005 (Feb) – Tony Freudmann is “let go” from Planestation and goes into the travel industry, following the lead of his parents and his brother.

2005 (July) – Planestation goes into administration. Infratil buys Manston airport from the administrator.

2005 to 2009 – Tony Freudmann bills Kent County Council for almost £176,000 in consultancy fees, including a £50,000 feasibility report into starting up flights from Manston to Virginia.

2006 – KCC invests £289,000 in Freudmann’s Manston to Virginia plan. Not a single plane takes off.

2011 – Local authority in Germany puts the running of Lahr Airport out to tender again following Babcock & Brown’s failure to develop it successfully.

2012 – Infratil puts Manston on the global market.

2012 – Tony Freudmann takes over Lahr Airport for Integeral Investments Ltd. Integeral was established in May 2008 by Sanjeev Joshi and Daryn Soards. Douglas Maggs is also involved.

2012 – Local Press at Lahr comment that the airport's workers are not being paid. Tony Freudmann says he has no comment to make as it is a “private matter”.

2012 – High Court hearing for Integeral to be placed into administration or wound up. Court hears evidence that Integeral was insolvent from late 2011, i.e. before Freudmann used Integeral to bid to run Lahr Airport. Integeral is then wound up. Oddly, Tony Freudmann doesn’t mention this in conversation with the Lahr Press when he is interviewed a couple of days later.

2013 – The local authority puts the running of Lahr back out to tender again. Tony Freudmann tries to get hold of it a third time, using his brand-new company, Annax Aviation. PWC (running the bidding process for the Lahr contract) does not think that any of the three bidders, including Annax, is suitable.

2013 – TF introduces Ann Gloag to the Prestwick and Manston sale opportunities.

2013 – Ann Gloag buys Manston for £1 plus the airport’s running costs until the deal closes.

2014 (Jan) – Tony Freudmann fronts a bid to buy the airport from Ann Gloag. At the same time he goes to TDC to ask about the possibility of putting 1,000 houses on the Northern Grass. Never doubt, airport lovers, that this is the main game here for Freudmann and for RiverOak. Take a look at that HUGE industrial estate in the RiverOak drawing (not really a plan) released for the non-statutory consultations. We bet you any money you like that the real "plan" is to develop that land, the Northern Grass, for a quick return and then to run the airport on a shoestring until it fails yet again.

2014 – Consortium including Tony Freudmann makes Ann Gloag an offer for Manston and is rejected.

2014 – Tony Freudmann pals up with RiverOak to try yet again to get hold of Manston.

Now, can you honestly read that catalogue of disasters and believe for one second that Tony Freudmann and RiverOak could ever run a successful airport at Manston? Seriously? In fact, does anyone really believe that Tony Freudmann wants the land this time around so that he can run an airport when he has spent twenty years trying to acquire former military airports because they have lots of development land attached to them"

 It isn't surprising that people have been taken in however where Riveroak comes into this mess is anyone's guess. Now wait it isn't that surprising seeing as they are a Real Estate Investment company just like Wiggins.

Saturday, 12 November 2016

SP05 Manston Airport site

Because we have a local plan in consultation stage the former brownfield site at Manston has caused some discussion in TDC's planning department. The current draft plan has had to be amended as no viable plan has come forward to enshrine the brownfield site for aviation use. The current draft plan has this to say about Manston.

This has changed for 2 reasons firstly No credible offer has come forward since the airport closed and secondly because TDC has spent £50K of ratepayers money to get an evidenced based report into the viability of a functioning airfield.
The rationality of the decision is laid out as follows:-

The policy has now become the following

Needless to say the many airport supporters are incensed with Chris Wells coming in for the normal hate speech which the admins of the various groups are failing to deal with, however the worst of the vitriol is aimed at the prospective new owners of the housing with xenophobia and racism top of the list.
So what started with a letter in the Gazette has been blown up out of all proportion with the final nail in the coffin of the former airport site.  See previous blogpost

Any screenshots that are publishable will be added to the blog

Friday, 11 November 2016

Put up or just shut up

Today the 11th of November 2016, Armistice Day, the Thanet Gazette has printed a letter from our esteemed leader, Chris Wells.
I reproduce it on here and I hope that what he writes is actually understood by the pro-Manston supporters. I'm not holding my breathe.
To Beau Webber you talk of Riveroak preparing to spend £300M to £400M however talk is cheap. When they last prepared a business plan with costings their credit line available was $1.6M and a letter from a midwest bank of $400K.
So Beau why are you still believing their lies? Have you never heard of gilding the lily or the word "The Mark". Just because you are desperate to succeed should not blind you to the fact that you are being taken in by a confidence trickster.
Ruth you are asked why you do not accept the Avia report? (paid for by TDC at a cost of £50K from public funds) It was requested because the Local plan (currently being written) has to have evidence to support Manston as a viable business. The Falcon report (£10K) said it would take £100M and 20 years to make it a viable going concern. The Avia report has said it will unlikely to ever be a going concern yet you and your fellow protesters will not accept it despite your having zero aviation experience.
So what did Riveroak (to remind you no other suitor has come forward) do about a report which says it will never be a success. Well to remind you again, they said:
So Avia deliver their report to TDC on October 4th 2016, 9 days later Riveroak make a statement but a whole month later Riveroak are continuing to develop their "plan" but no rebuttal as yet.
I will remind you airport supporters we have been here before in 2014 Riveroak were asked for a business plan and they failed, 2016 has come and gone nearly and Riveroak have failed yet again.
It isn't surprising though as they have zero experience with running an airport and Freudmann, their lead, only has experience in failure in running Manston.
On the 2nd November the anti Riveroak supporters said:
"It criticises Avia for not reporting on the RiverOak business plan. This’ll be the business plan that we have all been waiting for since early 2014, we presume – you know, the business plan that is soooooo confidential that it can’t be released until RiverOak swagger in to the Planning Inspectorate with its DCO application sometime in 2017. Hilarious. Here’s a tip, RiverOak – if you want any of us to take your business plan seriously, you had better show it to us. As a fantasy that exists only in your own hive mind, it’s having no impact in the real world whatsoever.
The lawyers’ letter criticises Avia for relying on anonymous interviews. It seems to have escaped RiverOak’s attention completely that RiverOak is relying entirely on anonymous investors to pony up the dosh for its Manston caper and has steadfastly refused to share so much as a name.
The letter criticises Avia for producing a report that is “without evidence”. Now that is a piece of comic genius. How many times have we asked RiverOak where their 10,000 cargo flights are going to come from in a completely flat air freight market? Or their 20,000 cargo flights? Or their 500,000 to 600,000 tonnes of freight? Or their cargo customers who won’t want a single night flight ever, no siree? We have never seen a jot of evidence to support these wild fantasies of a successful daytime cargo airport in Thanet that will knock spots off rival East Midlands Airport. Without evidence? That's RiverOak's favourite way of operating.
The letter criticises Avia for ignoring “six respected studies” that apparently support the RiverOak claim that there is loads and loads of air freight out there just swishing around looking for a UK airport to use. Bizarrely, the letter doesn’t go so far as to name any of these studies, not even one. Nope, not so much as a hint. We would say this was entirely “without evidence”, wouldn’t you?
Anyway, we can hardly wait to see this “detailed rebuttal” from RiverOak as and when the team can get around to writing it. Don't rush 'em - their crack team has only had four weeks so far in which to do this. Let’s hope that when it finally does reach daylight, this rebuttal is stuffed full of evidence; data; sources and names… unlike anything that RiverOak have produced to date."

BTW you do know Freudmann earnt £170K as a consultant to KCC in 2005 and KCC lost £100K when Planestation folded. A great track record.
So to the last group "Why Not Manston" I make no apology in posting the words of the TDC Leader (a man that you vilify at every opportunity)

"If you are dissatisfied with the rigor of the Avia report, then I trust you will apply the same standards to Riveroak's failure to supply any business plan that can be evidenced. After three years work, the charge of scandalous complacency sits with you (and all pro-Manston supporters My words not Chris's) as much as anyone else"
He further says:
"I say to you all and through you to Riveroak - Show me the Business case and the money"

Time and time again Riveroak has only one consistency and that is failure, failure to produce a viable business plan, failure to produce evidence of enough money, failure to do anything to further their case except words and more words. It is past time to produce a plan or sod off back to the US of A. And while you are at it take Freudmann with you.

So I will say the words that Chris felt he couldn't bring himself to say.

Riveroak put up or shut up

Thursday, 10 November 2016

Ramsgate Royal Harbour and Port

The last 4 weeks have been tumultuous with Bretts asking Kent County Council for a Certificate of Lawfulness to create an aggregate washing plant on the port apron. This led to the creation of an action group to protest about the noise and pollution. This comes hard on the heels of O'Regan proposing a concrete block making plant which was withdrawn after, again, much protest. So why are we getting polluting industry for the port. To find out why we have to look back to the loss of the car ferry, Transeuropa, in 2012 owing £3.4M in berthing fees.
The Labour Cabinet commissioned a report to see if employment could be revived on the Port and here is a copy of the brief.

You will note there is no mention of any aggregate washing nor concrete block making however when the plan was expanded and promoted in 2014, at the Yacht club there was a great deal of promotion of industry at the port. What would be useful is to know how much influence the two planning officer White and Brown had in this plan's development.

To go with the pedestrianisation of Harbour Street we had some artist's drawings which at the time caused a great deal of angst, however with the regeneration of the Royal Pavilion maybe this idea needs some thought again

Oh and what happened to the Brett's proposal. Well it seems that after Natural England intervened Brett's decided they didn't want to suffer an Environmental Assessment and they withdrew.