Friday, 29 May 2009

CHINA GATEWAY STALLED WHILST KCC AND TDC PLAY THE EKO LLP GAME?

Its that time of year for CGP to let its shareholders know how its doing or not doing and a Chairman's Report etc seems needed soon. One can expect further paper losses as land asset values have fallen and CGP can only make a profit when it develops and sells.
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Fellow CGP watchers will have noticed CGP becoming one of the AIM 'walking dead' with shares going as low as 3p, rallying oddly in April to 45p following IOTG announcing an offer of £3 million for KCC land at Manston Business Park and settling back to 28p.
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Its holdings at Dover would appear to be going nowhere at the moment; prospects at Westwood Park Wigan are looking dismal with West Midlands Development Agency and Wigan Borough Council rumoured to be considering other options. That leaves Manston Business Park and Thanet's China Gateway project as the main priority perhaps.
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CGP's problem in this recession is simply capital to proceed. Its running costs are minimal but it owes Israel Discount Bank £28 odd million that originally had to be paid back by Nov 2009 (6 months away). One can discount the recent MOU with UNIDO; CGP had an MOU with Chinamex and others in 2007 and collecting MOUs is perhaps the new version of stamp-collecting. However, if CGP is to proceed its only likely source of serious money is from China and China has lots of it and will beat both the USA and the UK out of recession and come thundering back onto the world stage.
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What has this got to do with KCC and TDC and EKO LLP (their little property company that is not under democratic control.)? The map above shows the land KCC owns at Manston Business Park; CGP's approved plans and existing development. TDC and KCC have been urged by me and others to release this land to CGP to enable it to proceed to develop an environmentally safer and less disturbing development to Acol. If this land had been made available last year as I urged TDC to do, sensible job creating development on Manston Business Park becomes a reality. This is what the TDC Councillors decided in October 2008 , after all.
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The problem is that KCC and TDC (EKO LLP) have been holding CGP to ransom, demanding £2.25 million for 5 acres for the envisaged Gateway building and a small ransom strip, whilst retaining the rest it owns. Just to make matters worse KCC paid over £6 million for 70 acres (which also includes strips and bits) in 2006 at the top of the market and even then it was reputed to be an excessive price.
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The IOTG reported on 17 April that CGP have made an offer to KCC worth £3 million to purchase 27 acres. This is good news. Chinese investment will come to Manston Business Park if the project is big enough; it could be with the extra land. That was 6 weeks ago and rumour has it that EKO LLP has not responded and that no face to face meeting with legal bods attached has yet taken place. How long will KCC and TDC stall on this. E & R reports at KCC, waffle, but still no decision? When will Councils and Councillors realise that business in a fast moving world cannot crawl along at the incompetent and slow pace that seems apparent here.
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If you are wondering why am so keen to see CGP use the whole site you will need to read back to last year's posts. Quite simply, this land is designated employment land; TDC has granted planning consent and yet CGP needs space. The present approved plans are unsatisfactory and pose a threat to Acol and the aquifer. CGP could redesign the whole project with more space and place X type warehouses and all HGV movement close to the entrance of Columbus Avenue, away from Acol and the aquifer.
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With the jobless level in Thanet now in excess of 4,000 it is time for EKO LLP to stop playing at being a property company and think about its priority of inward investment (albeit Chinese) and job creation. Environmentally, CGP could be 'persuaded' at the same as selling it the land, to move the HGV's away from Acol and the aquifer.
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This is a sad case of little men like Cllr Latchford and his KCC 'oppo' playing at property development and politics instead of realising where the priorities lie. It is not a question of hoping CGP's development will raise EKO's prices and thus making a tidy return; the land will remain a weed patch and no jobs will be created. We have a derelict Dreamland and a Manston Business Park empty and land-banked by our own Councils. This cannot be right, can it? If necessary take a loss on the land and get good and environmentally sound development underway as soon as possible. Just forget about Phases 2 & 3 on other farmland though.

24 comments:

Anonymous said...

One minute you're standing at Council against CGP; now you're singing their praises?

Confused Dot Com!! Please explain yourself Bertie!

Bertie Biggles said...

Quite simple, 00:49.
MBP was expanded in 1995 and designated as development land for employment purposes. Phase 1 was inevitable and campaigners accepted this. The original problem was simply a poor over crowded development with insufficient protection for the environment and the aquifer. TDC's conditions have tightened this up and careful monitoring will ensure maximum protection to the aquifer is provided. The point I made to TDC in October was quite simple:

"If your property company, Councillors, had released all its holdings, a better plan could have resulted."

With KCC/TDC land at MBP, CGP would have been in a position to have most HGV movements and the huge X type warehouses close to the entrance by the airfield and away from Acol and the most sensitive part of the aquifer. This should still be our aim, and I believe CGP would consider this as it is in their interest to do so.
The problem we have is KCC and TDC playing the property speculator game which they should not be involved in. We have a developer waiting to start; probably Chinese money in the pipeline; 4000 unemployed and getting Manston Business Park developed properly should now be an over-riding priority by KCC & TDC.

The battle for Phases 2 & 3 lies a long way in the future and perhaps may never be fought? Until then, we wait and monitor.

Jenny Matterface said...

Like Bertie I was involved in the anti-camapign but said at three public meetings that we weren't against the scheme as such just the particular details as presented to planning plus the apparent unseemly haste. There had been no attempt to give due consideration to the close proximity to the aquifer or the impact on the residents of Acol and the other villages.

I could go on but everything to do with the campaign had been well-documented on this and other blogs.

Anonymous said...

However clever you are bertie you will never gain respect for your view by insulting people.

ascu75 aka Don said...

Bertie I agree completely MBP was proposed and agreed years ago so long ago my brother who worked in Industial roofing has now retired and he worked on the first Cummins buiding. The TDC and KCC development company should not exist unless they are going to actually DEVELOPE the land they have if that is the case why are they sitting on the land and not doing it ?

Bertie Biggles said...

15:31, who exactly am I insulting here? Please feel free to elaborate.

Don, you have understood the point I am trying to make, exactly. Thanks for that. This matter effects real people and jobs. TDC and KCC seem to miss this point as they 'play' property speculator games.

Anonymous said...

Of course you have to have business's to move in to make it worthwhile developing. If you havn't noticed we have a fiscal depression

Bertie Biggles said...

07.05, CGP wouldn't be making a £3million offer if they didn't expect to be able to start development. Starting in October with completion in 2010 would match the end of this recession?

Anonymous said...

Calling Cllr.Latchford OBE and his KCC "oppo" "little men" is hardly flattery. I am the councillor must have very great qualities to have earned his distinction and I think it might be you who is the smaller man. Considering that your only claim to fame seems to be a capacity to present facts presenting a one-sided and therefore probably distorted view on whatever you post.

Bertie Biggles said...

13.06, I have no claim to fame whatsoever and am just a retired observer and commentator.
Let's be brutally frank about Cllr Latchford. In the past year it seems that the only good thing he has done is to try and drag his Leader no less than 4 times, before succeeeding, out of The Edinburgh Woollen Mill.
His Cabinet responsibility for Ramsgate Harbour led to a silted harbour and a new sandy beach in The Millionaires Playground. I wont even go into the farce about Euroferries coming and his inarticulate posturing in front of BBC's Glenn Campbell. As far as a director of EKO LLP is concerned what on earth is he upt? 13 months ago he and Roger Gough were trying to promote the use of designated employment land at Westwood for 'housing and retail' and we have even seen the proposed scheme. Who is EKO LLP accountable to? Is it TDC?; most Councillors haven't a clue about it. Is it KCC?; Cllrs equally in the dark. It certainly is not us the electorate! Most council tax payers want its Council to stick to the basics of keeping the town clean and traditional past-times like making sure toilets and flower beds are open or planted etc, not taking on roles as property speculators on our behalf.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad someone has got round to mentioning public toilets at last as the one in the Albion car park in Broadstairs is now boarded up. This is the largest car park closest to the sea yet to save a few quid, the council has closed it. What a great welcome to our out of town visitors.

Anonymous said...

Pay attention Bertie. If you are going to make judgements about people make sure that you have your facts right. Even a cursory glance at the local rags in past months shows that Latchford has fronted up the success of the Windfarm projects at Ramsgate, including the dredging that will come for free as a result, worked with Bologne and Ostend to secure investments from Interreg money that will help development at Ramsgate and strengthen ties with TransEuropa, and been the key player in bringing a proper plan for Ramsgate Museum. Not bad for a few months work and I'm sure there is lots more going on that we don't know about. If I can read then why don't you? I met the man once at an IOTA do and it seems that he has more spunk and personality than most of the rest of the councillors put together. So I think you need to put your natural prejuidice aside and give credit where it is due.

Anonymous said...

How much for a pee??? These toilets were constantly vandalised, probably by thanet residents, so It was interests of the general ratepayer to shut them. I am informed that the council do not employ a squad to go around vandalising toilets. If the residents stopped damaging them, they would have remained open

Bertie Biggles said...

18.14, good to see the new TDC 'press office' at work and thanks for your comments.

You fail to mention Margate Museum that TDC might have other plans for or the strange position of EKO LLP and the stranger business about Eurokent. As for the Windfarms, not much choice really for the operators, but how many Thanet jobs are likely to materialise as Thanet's sea-views become industrialised? My understanding is that the crews mainttaining Herne Bay windmills are all from across the Channel and staying in Whitstable.

17.16, all Councils have to deal with vandalism to toilets as do shopkeepers to their shop windows. Do shopkeepers close down because some-one kicks their window in? We are meant to be attracting visitors and after a journey the prime need for most visitors is a pee. If we want visitors to drink latte in Sandy's cafe culture or swill lager in Frank's establishments, we really should provide locations for people to re-cycle what they have paid for.

Anonymous said...

I had used those loos fairly regularly and don't recall seeing much vandalism. Other towns have public toilets open and kept spick and span why can't as we after all, we are supposed to be welcoming tourists? Surely in a so-called tourist area it's not beyond the wit of the local council to employ staff with a brief to keep an eye on loos.

Anonymous said...

dear 16.14. Thank you for your vaunted praise of Cllr Latchford.

I haven't laughed quite so much for ages.

I take it that the wonderful man himself will be able to walk across to the windfarm when it is completed.

Anonymous said...

As Rigsby once said in Rising Damp "good night Vienna"!!!!!!

Bertie Biggles said...

09:29, an interesting allusion to Vienna? Isn't that the UNIDO base? If you are able to expand on something, please feel free to do so.

Anonymous said...

Most people without prejuidices reckon Latchford to be a fine man. Can't think of a single labour councillor who gets even a tenth of the respect. The truth hurts?

Bertie Biggles said...

It depends 22.56 on what you mean by 'prejudice'? You clearly have plenty of it.
I personally respect Cllr Hart for being an excellent TDC Ward Councillor, whilst busying myself helping Cllrs Wells and Jarvis to be elected to KCC.
Cllr Latchford lost my respect with his continued support for his Leader who had transgressed Standards on 3 counts on 2 seperate ocassions, whilst being found himself to have transgressed Standards. Need one say more?

Anonymous said...

Bertie continued vilification of latchford by you is unjust, if I was that Councillor I would be taking Legal advice, he is a good man, works extremely hard from my knowledge he is dedicated to working for Thanet. what is even worse you sitting in your ivory tower slandering everyone, yet I doubt you have ever met him. Bertie get a life if you have an issue rather than go to press in your hate filled blog, have the courage to meet the guy

Bertie Biggles said...

07:57, you will note that I am happy to post your comment. Good to see TDC's Cabinet taking the offensive and being offensive. But, hey, that's all part of the cut and thrust of politics isn't it?

Let's be clear about something; what is libellous in respect of Cllr Latchford? Was he not found guilty by our own Standards on an item in respect of The Edinburgh Woolen Mill? Does he not support his Leader?(for which he has lost my respect; an opinion I am entitled to hold). Is he not TDC's Director of EKO LLP? On his watch, did Ramsgate Harbour not get silted up?

I find it fascinating that we, the public can access more information about CGP than we can about a Limited Liability Partnership(EKO LLP)run by our own elected representatives.

Will have to follow the Audit trail to see how much tax-payers money EKO LLP has 'lost' on paper with land prices dropping.

Anonymous said...

As EKO LLP has land on the New Haine Road that currently houses some new buildings does anyone know if the fine new offices actually have any tenants? The land is jointly owned by the TDC/KCC consortium and I understand that mysterious organisation wants to build houses not more office/factory buildings. Do we need more houses or do we need employment opportunities for the area? Could it be that houses prove more profitable in theory than offices? CGP tried to get their land at Dover re-classified for housing, I think unsuccessfully. Perhaps someone can enlighten me on that one? Lots of questions but it is impossible to find out what the organisation that has Cllr. Latchford on its board is actually doing.

Anonymous said...

Bertie

Look to the twelve disciples old friend - and of course Vienna?