News: March 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.

Click here for the latest news

Friday, 31 March 2006

The Save Dreamland Campaign today submitted over 350 objections to Thanet District Council’s proposed policy on Dreamland. Campaigners have been taking to the streets of Margate and Ramsgate as Thanet District Council’s current round of public consultation on the future of Dreamland comes to a close. The Save Dreamland Campaign has been asking people whether the Council was right to reject the recommendations of the government inspector who had told the Council that Margate's biggest visitor attraction should be protected. And the message from the people of Thanet is that Dreamland must be protected and the Inspector's recommendations should be accepted in full.

Campaign Coordinator Sarah Vickery explains why campaigners felt the need to take to the streets:

Above: Dave Collard presents 350 objections to Thanet District Council. Click on photo for a larger version.
“We are concerned that the Council has not been taking the public's views seriously. This is the third consultation to feature Dreamland's future and we got out there on the streets because we feared consultation fatigue had set in and we wanted to engage people in the process. The number of objections we have submitted to the council was limited by the amount of time we could spend on this exercise, certainly not by the volume of people supporting us. Of the people we spoke to, which basically represented a random selection of the Thanet public, we found almost unanimous support.”

Sarah continues: “I made it clear that we would be quite happy to tell the council that people support their policies. The crucial point was that the public made their views known, whatever they may have been. Many people we spoke to are very unhappy with TDC and feel they are not being listened to on this issue. If the present administration wants to stay in a job after next summer’s elections, it had better start listening soon.”

The Campaign issued its own formal objection on Wednesday. Click here to read Campaign Leader Nick Laister's letter in full. You can also see the press release by clicking here.

Thursday, 30 March 2006

A big wheel is currently under construction at Dreamland. The Wheel is being erected on the site of the former Mr G's amusement arcade, which was destroyed by fire in April 2003. The site of the arcade is to be used as a new entrance to Dreamland for the 2006 season.

The photograph to the right was taken yesterday, and shows the wheel rising above Dreamland. Click on the image for a larger version.

Click on the thumbnails below for more pictures of this major new landmark for Margate seafront under construction. Thanks to Dave Collard for the photographs.


Sunday, 26 March 2006

A letter on the subject of the Save Dreamland Campaign appeared in today's Kent on Sunday newspaper.

Saturday, 25 March 2006

On a sunny and - compared to previous outings - positively balmy day, the Save Dreamland surveyors headed over to Ramsgate today to gauge public opinion outside Margate.

Sarah reports: "Having spent the last two Saturdays on Margate High Street I thought we should venture a little farther afield today. It was really interesting to find similar levels of support in Ramsgate, where lots of people feel strongly that Dreamland should not be allowed to meet the same fate as their Pleasurama site. We gained support from 98 people, most from Ramsgate but some from as far away as Leeds. It was yet another very encouraging day. A big thank you to Vince Maple and Dave Dunmall for all their hard work and for making campaigning so much fun!

Above: For one day only - a little bit of Margate comes to Ramsgate's Queen Street. Entertaining unsuspecting shoppers were Dave Dunmall, Sarah Vickery and Vince Maple. Click on the photo for a larger version.

Friday, 24 March 2006

A letter in today's Gazette asks a pertinent question.

Mind the gap
I begin to wonder if the members of Thanet council have any real idea of how to run Thanet. Three years ago when fire destroyed Mr Godden's arcade, councillors including Iris Johnston said we can't leave a big hole in the middle of Margate seafront, it must be rebuilt as soon as possible, the buildings on either side were restored but why has Mr Godden's not been rebuilt? Did he own it and was he insured? I have heard rumours that this gap is for a new access road to whatever is to be built on the Dreamland site. What are the plans of this Margate Regeneration Company and who are they apart from the fact that Mr Godden owns 40 per cent of the company?
David Johnson, Staplehurst Gardens, Margate.

Wednesday, 22 March 2006

The Thanet Times on 21 March contained a number of small items that will be of interest to members of the Save Dreamland Campaign:

Jimmy's win
Former Dreamland boss Jimmy Godden has won a court case against Thanet council. Mr Godden will not have to pay more than £44,000 the council claimed he owed for "rechargeable works" and fencing at the Nayland Rock cafe. Another £364,000 of cash owed has been written off as "irrecoverable" in a 10-page council report containing details of scores of debtors.
Wheely good
Thrill seekers could soon be flocking back to Dreamland for the summer season with the return of a big wheel. Adverts for a wheel have been placed in trade magazines. Operator George Webb will run the park this year and hopes to have rides running for Easter.
Hot seat fight
Tories could be battling it out for the Thanet council leadership. Current leader Sandy Ezekiel is preparing for a challenge from Cllr Chris Wells for the top job. Deputy leader Bob Bayford could also make a move after resigning from his post as maritime chief last month.

Monday, 20 March 2006

The Save Dreamland Campaign has received a response from Thanet District Council on the current status of the industrial-style fencing, erected across the front of the Scenic Railway and elsewhere on site without planning permission. The Campaign was informed in February that the Council had written to the owners, giving them 28 days in which to submit a retrospective planning application. The response from the Council states:

"A reminder letter has been sent to Dreamland advising they have a final 14 days within which to submit a planning application. Failure to comply with this instruction will result in the matter being referred to the Planning Committee for the Members to decide to take whatever action they deem necessary."

Click on the photograph above for a larger version. (Photograph: Paul Freeman)

Click on the photograph on the right to see the effect the fences are having on the setting of the listed Scenic Railway station.


Saturday, 18 March 2006

Campaigners were back on the streets of Margate today surveying public opinion (click on photograph to the right for larger version). Sarah reports:

"The High Street was very quiet today, so we didn't talk to quite so many people. However, we now have another 73 people backing us as a result of today's efforts. One lady marched up to me and said: 'You're the only people I would ever stop to talk to on the High Street! Where do I sign up?'. It was another chilly but very encouraging day, and we found support from people ranging from TDC employees to an ex-Mayoress. A very, very big thank you to Paul Freeman, Rhyannon Richardson and Alan Cooksey for braving bitterly cold winds with such good humour."

Friday, 17 March 2006

Lots of Dreamland-related news in today's Isle of Thanet Gazette, reporting that the Cpouncil has written off nearly £400,000 of irrecoverable debts, including £35,000 owed by Jimmy Godden and the return of a giant wheel to Dreamland.

The Gazette also reports that Tory council leader Sandy Ezekiel is expected to face a leadership challenge from Chris Wells at next month's annual council meeting. The article states:

"Training consultant Cllr Wells, who also sits on Broadstairs town council and Kent County Council, neither confirmed or denied the rumours. He added: 'I'm waiting to see what happens next week.' Labour hecklers have addressed Cllr Wells as 'the next leader'  at meetings."

Thursday, 16 March 2006

An advert has appeared in today's issue of fairground trade newspaper World's Fair, stating:

"Ground to let at Dreamland, Margate, for major rides & juveniles. From Easter to September. Catering already let. Contact George Webb on 07768 353283 or 07748 956731."

Wednesday, 15 March 2006

The front page of this coming Friday's Extra contains news of Dreamland's 2006 season.

And Week One of the Save Dreamland Campaign's Margate Town Centre survey is reported on Page 24.

Monday, 13 March 2006

See Dreamland in its 1950s heyday with the release today of the classic 12-minute documentary film 'O Dreamland', on DVD for the first time. Click here to buy the DVD - which is part of the 'Free Cinema' package - from Click here to see a free, viewable low resolution version of the film on the Channel 4 website (with thanks to Paul Freeman for that link!).

Saturday, 11 March 2006

The Save Dreamland Campaign took to the streets of Margate today to find out whether the people of the town agree with Thanet District Council's decision to reject the government Inspector's recommendations on the future of Dreamland. And the result was a resounding "no, we don't agree"!

Sarah Vickery, who organised the survey, has just arrived back into the warmth of the Shell Grotto and sent this brief report:

"I am really heartened by the response we received today, which more than makes for being frozen to the marrow. We had one person - the very first person Vince approached this morning - who said, no I think Dreamland should be closed. We thought we might be in for a tough day - but then everyone else we spoke to was very much in support of us!"

Above: Vince Maple asks for the public's views (click on image for a larger version)

Sarah was supported by campaigner Vince Maple. Respondents were shown the revised policy for Dreamland and asked whether the Council was correct to add the extra clause allowing Dreamland to be redeveloped if it can be shown that an amusement park is not viable. Copies of the Inspector's recommendations were also made available. Most respondents seemed quick to realise that the additional clause would mean the end for the park, and there was very little trust that the developers would make a serious attempt at running the park if this policy is pushed through.
Sarah continues:

"Lots of people wanted to talk about their memories of Dreamland and their disappoint at the current state of the park. We spoke to a few ex-Dreamland workers and a lady whose father had been one of the first people to ride the Scenic Railway (he lived in Belgrave Road where residents were given free passes on the first day of opening to make up for all the noise during the rollercoaster's construction!). The majority of people we spoke to were Thanet residents, but we also found a smattering of Londoners and some visitors from as far afield as Birmingham, Middlesex, Sussex and Surrey."

By the end of Saturday, the results were 1 in favour of the policy allowing redevelopment and 100 against the policy! A very strong result for the Campaign, but not an unexpected one, given the results of the recent Council and Gazette consultations. The Campaign will be back on the streets next Saturday. With thanks to Dave Collard for the photographs.

Above: Sarah Vickery outside Margate's WHSmith (click on image for a larger version)

Finally, the Save Dreamland Campaign survey was the lead item on KMFM News this morning.

Friday, 10 March 2006

Waterbridge boss Toby Hunter's comments in the Isle of Thanet Gazette (see news report dated 24 February below) have resulted in a number of letters in today's newspaper.

Thursday, 9 March 2006

Save Dreamland Campaigners will be taking to the streets for the next two Saturdays. A number of members, armed with clipboards, will be in Margate High Street on Saturday 11th and 18th March asking the people of Margate whether they would like Dreamland to remain an amusement park, or whether the Council is correct to change its Local Plan to allow other forms of development onto the site. Campaigners will have a copy of the Inspector's Report on hand so that people can view the independent recommendations and make their own decision as to whether Thanet District Council is taking the right approach. The Campaign will publish the results of the survey as soon as it is available.

Friday, 3 March 2006

Today’s Isle of Thanet Gazette featured Thanet District Council’s rejection of five applications to demolish buildings on the Dreamland site. TDC’s conservation architect Nick Dermott is quoted: “The extent of the proposed demolitions is somewhat concerning since there are, as yet, no firm proposals.” The report goes on to say that TDC has written to the theme park owners after a steel fence was put up in the park without planning permission.