Tuesday, 29 June 2010

The Funding of East Kent Opportunities

From a Thanet resident:

Kent County Council and Thanet District Council set up a business venture to speculate on land and create jobs.

They buy a plot of land next to one of Thanet's biggest economic embarrassments:Kent International Airport.

So KCC and TDC set up a company called East Kent Opportunities (EKO LLP) to buy land to create a business park and warehousing, financed by lots of public money. The idea is that other businesses will buy into the project and pay for the capital investment, and pay off the loans and infrastructure.

Hardly any businesses move there. It doesn't work. EKO is insolvent.

Banks won't lend to the failing "company".

TDC and KCC continue to throw money after the bad investment, building a new access road. [You may have seen it by the Ramsgate roundabouts, on the way toDover.] We need new roads to divert traffic away from Margate Seafront. Instead, we get a big road to a field and a handful of industrial sheds in open fields.

Money is being lent to this failing company - probably to avoid embarrassment. £95,000, then £500,000 ... over £6 million since 2008.

To cut its losses, EKO intends to apply to get planning permission to build 600 new houses. Although this may help recoup some money, it would be a total scandal.

The land was Grade 1 agricultural land. Permission was granted to build on the fields - on the grounds that it would create employment.

Residential planning permission would never have been given. So to change now, to Residential, would be planning by stealth - at best. TDC's own officers will be advising on their employer's application - a conflict of interest. Even at committee, the situation is very political.

I think that if the business is not viable in a competitive capitalist environment, it should be allowed to fail - as many businesses have through the "credit crunch".

If public money is available to prop up failing businesses, then it should be put for tender, in a transparent process ie other “failing businesses” should be able to bid for the public money.

The Manston Business Parkwas a bad idea and it came at the wrong time. It is big - but not too big to fail. We are all feeling the pain of financing invasions, occupations, and bailing out bankers. Do we really have to give money to un-viable local companies?

The fields should be returned to agriculture, and public money spent on better things.


  1. Well said!! Bur then like Ive said before that is Thanet all over and it has happened countless times - no doubt it will again .

  2. Isn't it time someone took a look at TDCs actions. They do seem to be racking up our debt at the expense of core services.

  3. I couldn`t agree more with the post. In this country why does it appear so difficult to put a stop to this kind of thing? Or is,as a previous commentator stated,just Thanet?

  4. I saw this come up in TDC planning meeting tonight! at the moment, i believe it was deferred to cabinet as its on a massive scale and would have such an impact. must keep an eye on this at all times eh!

  5. Hi Kandy,

    Yes, it's the same EKO that was at Planning Committee last night and was presented to the Committee as a 'not for profit organisation' with no mention of it being a KCC/TDC venture. Thankfully, Councillor Bill Hayton had the foresight to ask for this to be clarified and Harvey Patterson of TDC clarified that EKO is indeed controlled by KCC/TDC. So three years later we have as predicted the failed business park and a bid to build houses all at a very high cost to the public purse.