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Pier Trust still has some explaining to do…

One local business owner has some strong opinions and a lot to say
about the handling of the “mini golf on the Pier” shambles. Read it
carefully, then act.


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Dear Pier Trust Members and
Herne Bay Residents,

My family and I have lived
and worked in Herne Bay since 1953. We have been members of the Pier Trust for
quite some time and we are all avid supporters of Herne Bay and the Pier
Trust’s aims to reclaim, regenerate and rebuild the Pier for the benefit of the
whole of the Community.

It has come to my attention
that recent plans for the development of the Pier, proposed by David Cain, are
in direct contradiction to the original functions of the Trust and, therefore,
arguably harmful to the town as a whole. I have been over the “Memorandum
of Association” put forward by the Trust on their website. In this
document, the “Objects” of the Trust are outlined as:

3.1 The preservation,
renovation, reconstruction and enhancement of Herne Bay and the surrounding
areas…

3.2 The promotion and use of
the Pier for recreational purposes and as a community and heritage building for
the general use and benefit of all inhabitants of, and visitors to, the town of
Herne Bay and surrounding areas.

I next examined the
“Powers” of the Trust and the first piece of information available
was that these powers, “may only be exercised in promoting the objects as
quoted above.” The plans put forward by Cain’s Amusements date back to
April 2012, and multiple members of the trust, myself included, have only
recently learned of this mini golf proposal. The fact that Trust members have
not been made aware of these plans, directly contradicts the
“objects” of the Trust and the way it is supposed to be run. If Trust
members are not made aware of future plans for the Pier, how can it claim to be
run for “the benefit of all inhabitants”? This breach of the Trust’s
constitution is morally unbecoming of the organization and detrimental to the
Trust’s success.

One of the main areas that I
don’t believe is working is the relationship between the Pier Trust and
Canterbury City Council. This relationship is dictated in The Pier Trust’s
“Memorandum of Understanding” with Canterbury City Council, a
document also available on the website. This document also features many broken
promises, made between the Council and the Trust. It reads:

“The Trust will be
treated by the City Council as the principle trustee within the town in
relation to Pier matters. The City Council will actively consult with the Pier
Trust on all aspects of the future of the Pier, including the Pier Pavilion
building, the Pier head, the maintenance of the Pier structure and any
proposals for the future use or development of the Pier.

The Trust and City Council
will respect each other’s views and will work together in the interests of the
Pier and the town generally.”

This agreement put forward in
2008 has been compromised. It’s a very frustrating read. I cannot see how the
Trust and the Council can “respect each other’s views” if those
views, and in this case, plans, are not revealed to Trust members. Dawn Hudd of
Canterbury City Council has consulted directly on and has carried out a site
visit to advise on the mini golf planning application. The date on those plans
are April 2012. This suggests the council were in full knowledge of these plans
but failed to share the information with the trust or its members while the
“Memorandum of Understanding” was still in force.

I personally, have been in
email contact with Dawn Hudd of CCC since May 2012 as I was one of 2
concessions granted on the Pier last summer and wanted to keep abreast of any
plans for the Pier for the following year. Even though I asked directly by
email, on 2nd October and 21st November 2012, if there were any plans, I was
not told anything other than that a report would be going to Executive on Dec
13th. There has been no mention of this planning proposal to me or of the
councils desire to “off load” the Pier to a mini golf operator or any
other long term sole operator.

We all attended the HBPT AGM
on 27th Nov 2012, which I’m sure you will all agree did not go as intended, no
plans for the mini golf were mentioned there either. The trust put forward a
short term plan for a Beach Hut Village which would be in place until the long
term Marina Plan was developed and was ready to go ahead.

The first time the mini golf
planning application was mentioned to members in an official capacity was in
the Christmas newsletter, emailed to members on 20/12/12. In this newsletter
under the title “The Adventure Golf on the Platform” the Trust talks
of a “crowd pulling” attraction that the trust is happy to
collaborate with. This statement was made without consulting with any Trust
Members and certainly not with the only trust member who currently runs a mini
golf and has in fact held a fund raising day on the mini golf for the benefit
of the trust. Was this statement made by the co-chair, who also happens to be a
councillor, who also happens to be on the Executive Committee that decided to
keep the running of the Pier away from the Trust and in the councils control on
13th Dec 2012? This was 7 days after the planning application went in and was
based on a report, criticizing the ability of the trust to run the Pier and
recommending the council reclaim control, written by… Dawn Hudd.

I am not aware that the views
of the Pier’s close neighbours were sought. Our business has received no
correspondence on the matter and even if the rules make no obligations for our
views to be solicited, common courtesy dictates that they should have been
sought or that we should, at the very least, have been informed.

I also can find only one
notification in the local papers 13-12-2012.

Many of the declared goals of
the Trust would no longer be possible were this planning application to be
granted, such as :-

1. To create a community
space to host a wide variety of events which could be enjoyed by the whole
community and in which they can participate.

2. To rebuild a Pier that
would ensure that Herne Bay would return to its former prominence as a
desirable seaside destination in its own right.

I want to know why these
plans seem to have gone so far without official consultation with any Pier
Trust members? Why there have been no official or public consultation meetings
with the people of Herne Bay, either by the council or the Trust. Also
mentioned in the newsletter is Mr. John Gilbey’s comment that the CCC “did
not want to stand in the way of any sustainable ideas and only wanted what was
right for the Pier”. This comment seems unfounded as the Council had
already met with David Cain and pre plans for the mini golf have already got
underway with no consultation or approval from the Trust. If this project goes
ahead the rebuilding of the pier prospect will be dead in the water. No
investor would consider a project that would be hindered by a 10 year single
leaseholder.

This is another issue in
contention, the leasing of the Pier and the length thereof. I believe the Trust
agreed the Council should not market the Pier as a long term commercial
opportunity. The lease options that were suggested between the 2 parties were
leases of only 1-2 years. I reiterate, any lease of such a length currently
being proposed, would stop any rebuild prospects from proceeding in any way.

The Council is dismissing the
Pier Trust and the Pier itself as a liability that they seek to get rid of at
the first and easiest opportunity with no thought or consideration for what the
people of Herne Bay want or what is best for the town’s future, from attracting
new residents, to tourism, to attracting new businesses which would all go to
vitally boost our local economy.

Many trustees, who freely
give up their own time, have left, due to frustration and disillusion with
regard to the Council’s interference, lack of support and manipulation of the
Trust. I have personally experienced the council telling me the lack of
progress was wholly the fault of the Trust. This obviously has a negative and
demotivating impact on the Trustee’s who try to follow the ethos of the Trust’s
constitution, for the good of the town as a whole and not just what the council
wants. These enthusiasts “giving up” impacts on the efficiency of the
Trust and its ability to achieve its goals.

This is not merely my opinion
as it appears to be shared by virtually all of the local people and businesses
that we have canvassed.

Whether you agree with my
opinion or not, I urge Pier Members, Herne Bay residents and anyone who cares
about the future of the Pier and Herne Bay alike to please register your
opinion by writing or emailing the Pier Trust at: piertrust.office@talktalk.net
also Mr Steve Musk, Development Control, Canterbury City Council, Military
Road, Canterbury, CT1 1YW or by emailing
development.management@canterbury.gov.uk

Please quote Planning
Application Number CA//12/02132.

Any objections to the
planning application must be in by 14th January 2013.

Please feel free to contact
me by email to: shaneypashley@sasamusements.co.uk

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