News: May 2006
In January 2003 the owner of Dreamland, Jimmy Godden, announced the closure of Dreamland. The park is to be redeveloped as "leisure boxes, some retail and a supermarket". Joyland Books will provide updates on the campaign to save Dreamland and its internationally-important Scenic Railway ride.
Tuesday, 30 May 2006
Sunday, 28 May 2006
Dreamland's official website for the 2006 season has opened. It includes a list of rides, with photos, opening times, prices and contact details. www.dreamlandfunpark.com
Tuesday's Thanet Times included an article on the opening of Dreamland. Friday's Gazette also featured a similar article.
Finally, the mystery photograph below from our new Photo Gallery resulted in a number of responses. Thanks to Iain Aitch, Martin Porter, Mark Blakemore and Kevin James for identifying the ride as the Alice in Wonderland Ride. I also received an email from Mick Tomlinson, which provided some interesting information:
"A few memories these pictures brought back! The pictures of the swans, etc, were the remains of the Alice in Wonderland Ride that was built in the 1960s. I actually helped replace the ride on the site pictured, which was the site of the old dodgem building. It was operated by showman Tommy Nightingale. The ride was moved from its site where the Water Chute was eventually built, to make way for the first Orbiter Ride, brought in by Henry Smith who had other ride concessions in the park."
Sunday, 21 May 2006
The Save Dreamland Campaign was featured in this weekend's edition of the Thanet Adscene. Rules which will determine the future of Dreamland are to be changed after a vote at a Thanet council meeting last week.
Saturday, 20 May 2006
The Save Dreamland Campaign was featured on the front cover of this week'sThanet Extra, with campaigners welcoming a change of rules for the park's future in the Local Plan.
There was also a small piece in yesterdays Gazette on the attempts of councillor John Kirby to introduce an amendment to the Local Plan (negotiated by the Save Dreamland Campaign earlier that day) at last Thursday's "stormy" council meeting.
Tuesday, 16 May 2006
In other news, today's Thanet Times also included an item on the Campaign's last-minute deal with Council chiefs to protect the fun park.
Monday, 15 May 2006
Thanet District Council has issued a press release on the new guidelines for the Dreamland site, which were negotiated by the Save Dreamland Campaign last week.
Campaign Leader, Nick Laister, was in Margate again today doing a series of interviews on the implications of the Thanet District Council decision. He could be heard on The John Warnett Breakfast Show on BBC Radio Kent as well as a studio interview on KMFM. Nick also spent some time on Margate beach participating in a Channel 4 television documentary on the Scenic Railway. The programme is part of a new series called 'Seaside Secrets', which will devote an entire episode to the listed roller coaster, and will be screened this summer.
Friday, 12 May 2006
Meeting with Toby Hunter and Chris Levett:
Toby expressed disappointment with the current state of the park and informed us that he had been hoping for rather more than has been delivered. He confirmed that the Big Wheel is leaving Margate for two weeks in the middle of June, and his expectation is that it will return.
The issue of the fencing was raised, and Hunter advised that its role was to separate off an “events area” where the Margate Town Centre Regeneration Company Ltd (MTCRC) are hoping to install a corporate entertainment facility, such as paintball, quadbikes or a hovercraft. He stressed that the fencing also served a security purpose, as the site had experienced significant problems with vandalism. However, he added: “I entirely accept that the industrial fencing is at odds with the concept of a family day out.”
Hunter informed us that MTCRC currently have no hard and fast plans for the site. They are keen to establish a “brand” for Margate before proceeding with any such plans. Levett produced some plans described as a “sacrificial scheme” to encourage the exchange of ideas.
MTCRC does not expect planning permission for development to be sought before late 2007.
Meeting with Sandy Ezekiel (Leader), Richard Samuel (Chief Executive) and John Bunnett (Corporate Director) at Thanet District Council:
Ezekiel reported that he had visited Southend over Easter weekend, although he had not gone into Adventure Island. He expressed some disappointment with the town, and stated that it was not how he saw Margate developing in the future. An official trip to the amusement park is currently planned for the weekend of 3/4 June.
There was much discussion over Policy T11, with SDC representatives arguing its inconsistencies. There was general disagreement between SDC and TDC about the likely effectiveness of the policy currently proposed by the Council, with Ezekiel believing that the Council's preferred policy allows for flexibility at the site. The Campaign strongly believed that the Inspector was right, and that the land values created by this policy would mean the loss of Dreamland. The SDC criticised the Council for lack of certainty and pressed the Council to reveal its own vision for the site in the absence of any clarity in the policy. Ezekiel said that the Council had ideas for the site but could not talk about them at this stage.
The issue of the viability test was raised, and concerns were expressed over its current vagueness. Would it take into account inflated land values? Could a travelling fair be used as a test of viability, as opposed to an amusement park? The Campaign asked the Council to table an amendment at the Full Council meeting allowing for the viability assessment to be clarified, to ensure that the inflated land values are taken into account, although it was made clear that this would not remove the SDC's objections. The officers present agreed to look further at this issue.
Full Council meeting:
Cllr Richard Nicholson, the leader of the Labour group, tabled an amendment that the Planning Inspector’s recommendations in relation to Policy T11 be accepted. The Labour Group voted in favour of this amendment, the Conservative group voted against.
In supporting the unmodified Policy Cllr John Kirby (Conservative) stated: “I have some sympathy with their [Save Dreamland Campaign’s] concerns.” Cllr Kirby then asked for supplementary guidance on what evidence the council will expect in support of a viability test. Eventually the guidance was agreed as: “in relation to the Dreamland site, elaborating on the viability test and the evidence the council will expect in support of such a test”, this guidance being subject to public consultation and being presented to Full Council at the earliest opportunity.
After much discussion, argument, and some lively heckling, the Conservative Group voted in favour of the unmodified Plan (with additional viability guidance), with the Labour group voting against. Labour councillor Dennis Hart said: “I have no confidence that this Local Plan will deliver a vibrant community in Margate.”
Tuesday, 9 May 2006
Following yesterday's news that council officers are advising councillors to reject the results of the public consultation on the future of Dreamland, the Save Dreamland Campaign has issued a letter today to all councillors. Click here to view the letter in full (PDF format) and here to discuss this news in our Forum.
Also on the subject of the consultation, results of the recent survey by Kent Regional Newspapers (who publish the Isle of Thanet Gazette, Times and Adscene) have been submitted to Thanet District Council for them to consider as part of the Local Plan consultation process. The document contains over 150 views on the Dreamland site, the vast majority – once again – in favour of retaining it as an amusement park.
Campaign Coordinator Sarah Vickery comments: “Having got out onto the streets of Thanet to canvas views, the strength of feeling this document shows doesn’t surprise me at all; it largely reflects the views we heard (although no one called me deluded to my face!). There are obviously very many people in Thanet who feel that the Council are failing them in many ways, not least by ignoring their views. I empathise.”
Here’s a cross section of views, all reproduced exactly as submitted to the Council:
Monday, 8 May 2006
In January this year, Thanet District Council decided to allow the Dreamland site to be either partially or completely redeveloped (in direct conflict with the independent government inspector’s report of 2005 that stated unequivocally that Dreamland must remain an amusement park).
The Council's new policy on Dreamland was included in the 'Proposed Modifications' document, which went out for public consultation for six weeks ending on 31 March. The council’s Proposed Modifications prompted 452 responses. Incredibly, 442 of those responses were concerning Dreamland, and the vast majority of those were objections! Crucially, one of these objections was from English Heritage, who (like the Save Dreamland Campaign) asked for the Inspector's recommendations to be accepted in full.
However, today we have received the bad news. The Strategic Planning Manager at Thanet District Council has issued guidance to councillors advising that they REJECT all the objections and plough ahead with their plans to allow Dreamland to be redeveloped.
Campaign Leader, Nick Laister, made the following statement this evening:
"We are extremely disappointed that, yet again, the Council is being asked by its officers to ignore the results of a public consultation exercise. Not only did an independent government inspector say that the Council is wrong, the people of Thanet have also overwhelmingly said exactly the same thing, and in unprecedented numbers.
"In his report, the officer describes the approach of the Inspector and all the hundreds of objectors as 'short-sighted'. The report, which is not currently available on the Council's website, is full of numerous incorrect and misleading statements, and he fails to grasp the key issue of land values (i.e. that it is the Council's own policy that has resulted in the value of the site increasing and pricing amusement park operators out of the market)."
This matter is due to discussed at a Full Council Meeting THIS THURSDAY, 11 May, 7pm at the Council Chamber, Cecil Square, Margate. The Council will take a vote on whether to accept their officer's recommendations, or whether the policy should be changed. The meeting is open to the public.
Several long-standing Campaign members will be there, including Nick Laister, Sarah Vickery, Susan Marsh and Dave Collard. However, please note that the Local Plan is a fair way down the Agenda for the meeting and we have been advised by the Council that there may be a bit of a wait before Dreamland is discussed, although obviously they cannot give us an exact, or even approximate, time.
Friday, 5 May 2006
A number of Dreamland-related items appear in today's Isle of Thanet Gazette.
Wednesday, 3 May 2006
Council Leader, Sandy Ezekiel, took part in a 'podcast' interview on Thanet Life. Dreamland was discussed at some length. In summary, Ezekiel's main points were:
Tuesday, 2 May 2006
A small article on the loss of the listed Dreamland sign appears in today's Thanet Times.
Monday, 1 May 2006
Friday's Thanet Gazette included two items of Dreamland interest, one on the removal of the iconic Dreamland sign and the other on the need for planning permission for the new Big Wheel.