Tuesday, 11 September 2012
Labour ignore Overview and Scrutiny Questions over Royal Sands Development
The Labour Cabinet has pressed ahead with renegotiating the agreement with the Royal Sands developer, ignoring a request for further information from the Overview and Scrutiny Panel (OSP) which called the decision in.
Although no further information has been provided to OSP members, Cabinet minutes state that: ‘As all the concerns expressed by the Overview and Scrutiny Panel have now been addressed, Cabinet confirms its decision taken on 26 July 2012.’
The developer has requested several material changes to the existing agreement, including early transfer of the site’s freehold, despite not having fulfilled key elements of the existing agreement. At the extraordinary meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Panel held on 16 August, members asked for substantial additional information, including:
- Details of due diligence to be sought.
- Details of disposal clause in existing or future agreement.
- What attempt had been made to renegotiate overage levels for the council, including a possible ‘windfall’ element in the event that sales prices exceed those envisaged in 2006?
- What assurances does the council have that the developer will now complete the project under the new agreement, particularly after handing over the freehold?
- What are the milestones for the project implementation process?
- What consideration has been given to terminating the agreement and seeking a new development partner?
- Does the council have a moral, if not a legal, duty of public safety to conduct a flood risk assessment on the site?
Conservative Group Leader, Cllr Bob Bayford, commented: ‘The cross party OSP raised many important issues regarding any renegotiation of this agreement. These concerns have been summarily dismissed by the Labour Cabinet. We all wish to see the former Pleasurama site successfully developed but, given the importance of this project to Ramsgate, I am disappointed and concerned that the Cabinet have taken such a cavalier attitude to scrutiny of their decision.’