Funding of Humbug Shop Building 16 Marine Drive and 42 High Street, Margate

Margate Conservation Area Advisory Group made this Freedom of Information request to Thanet District Council

This request has been closed to new correspondence. Contact us if you think it should be reopened.

Waiting for an internal review by Thanet District Council of their handling of this request.

Margate Conservation Area Advisory Group

Dear Thanet District Council,

We are writing to request information under the Freedom of Information Act about your funding of the following organisation or project. Specifically, we would like to know:

Re: Humbug Shop Building 16 Marine Drive and 42 High Street, Margate

1. Has any money from public funds been given to any owners / developers of this building since 2005 and, if so:

2. What is the total amount of the money given?

3. What were the conditions under which the money was given and have the recipients of the money complied with those conditions?

4. How has that compliance been verified by the Council Officers of MRP?

5. What action has been taken, or is to be taken, if the recipients have not complied with the conditions of the funding?

6. Can an amendment to the original contract be authorised because the grant now relates to a different property ie only 16 Marine Drive and not 42 High Street now excluded?

7. Is this a new contract that would have to go back for new planning approval and, does the grant have to be re-applied, by MRP, on different terms because it's such a fundamental change of use?

Our preferred format to receive this information is by electronic means. If one part of this request can be answered sooner than others, please send that information first followed by any subsequent data. If you need any clarification of this request please feel free to email me. If FOI requests of a similar nature have already been asked could you please include your responses to those requests.

Many public authorities release their contracts with private vendors in line with the Freedom of Information Act. The exemption for commercial interest under the Act (section 43) is a qualified exemption, which means information can only be withheld if it is in the public’s interest. The public have an interest in knowing the terms of contracts and grants awarded by public authorities, whether or not public money changes hands immediately.

If you are relying on section 41 (the exemption for legal breach of confidence) then we would like to know the following:
• When these confidentiality agreements were agreed
• All correspondence and email in which these confidentiality agreements were discussed.
• The precise wording of the confidentiality agreements

We ask these questions because guidance issued by both the Lord Chancellor (draft guidance on FOI implementation) and the Office of Government Commerce (Model terms and conditions for goods and services) specifically state that public authorities should not enter into these types of agreements. They go directly against the spirit of the laws of disclosure. We would also point to the Information Commissioner’s guidance on accepting blanket commercial confidentiality agreements: ‘Unless confidentiality clauses are necessary or reasonable, there is a real risk that, in the event of a complaint, the Commissioner would order disclosure in any case.’

Finally, within the law of confidence there is also a public interest test. Therefore, the information should be disclosed in full. If any parts are redacted they must be for information that can be proven to be a legal breach of confidence in court, and only then where secrecy can be shown to be in the public interest. These are difficult positions to argue when public money is at stake or where a public authority is offering a private company a monopoly to charge its stakeholders.

We would be grateful if you could confirm, in writing, that you have received this request, and we look forward to hearing from you within the 20-working day statutory time period.

Yours faithfully,

Margate Conservation Area Advisory Group

Kerrie Nichol, Thanet District Council

Ref No:18663 / 1385758

Dear Sir/Madam

Thank you for your communication of 23/06/2010 12:16:23 requesting information about any monies given to 12 - 15 Cliff Terrace, Margate

Your request is being dealt with under the terms of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and will be answered within twenty working days.

If you have any queries about this request do not hesitate to contact me. Please remember to quote the reference number above in any future communications.

Yours sincerely,

Kerrie Nichol
Information Request Assessor

show quoted sections

Margate Conservation Area Advisory Group

Dear Kerrie Nichol,

The information requested is now overdue.

Yours sincerely,

Margate Conservation Area Advisory Group

Kerrie Nichol, Thanet District Council

I am away from the office until Monday 26th July and will respond to your email on my return.

If the matter is urgent please contact Michael Gilbertson 01843 577177 or via email on [email address]

If your are emailing a Freedom of Information request, please forward this to [email address]

show quoted sections

Dear Kerrie Nichol,

The information requested is now overdue.

Yours sincerely,

Margate Conservation Area Advisory Group

show quoted sections

Doug Brown, Thanet District Council

Ref No: 18663 / 1385758

Dear Margate Conservation Area Advisory Group

Thank you for your communication received on 23/06/2010 12:16:23 where you requested information about the funding of the Humbug Shop building at 16 Marine Drive and 42 High Street Margate.

In response to the queries you have raised I can confirm as follows:

1. Has any money from public funds been given to any owners/developers of this building since 2005

An ERDF grant under the Objective 2 Delivering the Creative Quarter programme was paid to Meltree Properties in December 2007 for a scheme to develop artist studio space at 42 High Street and 16 Marine Drive.

2. What is the total amount of the money given?

£68,750

3. What were the conditions under which the money was given and have the recipients of the money complied with those conditions?

The grant was awarded to support a scheme to convert and refurbish the properties into artist studios providing approx 330 sq m (12 studios, communal area and retail space). The grant was conditional upon match funding, creation of 8 jobs and refurbishment of the space to artists studios by September 2008.

4. How has that compliance been verified by the Council Officers of MRP?

Work on the original scheme commenced and the grant monies were paid over to Meltree Properties in advance of works to ensure that the expenditure targets for the programme were met in 2007 (subject to the conditions in the grant agreement).The original scheme did not proceed due to the withdrawal of project finance from the owners bank in early 2008. Since this time, officers have been working with the owners to bring forward an appropriate scheme that delivers the original scheme objective of creating new workspace for artists. A new scheme is in the advanced stages of planning. The plan is to convert the ground floor and basement of 16 Marine Drive into a workspace and retail unit for a new creative enterprise. The scheme will deliver 2 fte jobs. It is proposed to deliver training workshops in print making and other creative skills. We are awaiting confirmation from the owners on the project costs and specific outputs. Work is due to commence by the end of July. Evidence of match funding has been provided and verified by GOSE auditors. An audit has been carried out of GOSE of the programme as part of the end of scheme arrangements.

5. What action has been taken, or is to be taken, if the recipients have not complied with the conditions of the funding?

See 4 above. Upon receiving satisfactory confirmation of the project costs and planned expenditure, it is proposed to issue a letter of variation to the original contract.

6. Can an amendment to the original contract be authorised because the grant now relates to a different property ie only 16 Marine Drive and not 42 High Street now excluded?

The owners are still seeking to bring forward a scheme for 42 High Street for a creative use. The original scheme would have delivered approximately 164 sq m of studio space space. Based on current the plans under discussion, the proposed scheme will deliver approximately 150 sq m of refurbished space, (ground floor and basement) which, although only relates to 16 Marine Drive, is less than a 10% reduction in studio space and can be treated as a variation to the original scheme. The original grant agreement will be amended by letter to reflect the new scheme.

7. Is this a new contract that would have to go back for new planning approval and, does the grant have to be re-applied, by MRP, on different terms because it's such a fundamental change of use?

It is not considered that planning permission is required for the proposed use. The new scheme is not considered a fundamental change to that originally proposed as it will deliver creative workspace and jobs. The revised scheme will be the subject of discussions with planning officers to confirm that this is the case prior to commencement of works.

I hope this addresses the concerns you have raised, If you are dissatisfied with the handling of your request, you have the right to ask for an internal review. Internal review requests should be submitted within two months of the date of receipt of the response to your original letter and should be addressed to: Information Request Assessor, Thanet District Council, P O Box 9 Cecil Street, Margate Kent CT9 1XZ, or send an email to [email address].

Please remember to quote the reference number above in any future communications.

If you are not content with the outcome of the internal review, you have the right to apply directly to the Information Commissioner for a decision. The Information Commissioner can be contacted at: Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 5AF

Yours sincerely,

Doug Brown
Major Developments Manager

show quoted sections

Margate Conservation Area Advisory Group left an annotation ()

The company in question is not Meltree Properties, it it Melltree Properties and is registered as company number: 05972107
http://wck2.companieshouse.gov.uk/77a939...

Margate Conservation Area Advisory Group

Dear Doug Brown,

Please can you clarify the details of the recipients of the funding. The company Meltree Properties you detail was dissolved in 2005.

Yours sincerely,

Margate Conservation Area Advisory Group

Margate Conservation Area Advisory Group

Dear Thanet District Council,

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of Thanet District Council's handling of my FOI request 'Funding of Humbug Shop Building 16 Marine Drive and 42 High Street, Margate'.

The company details of the recipient of the grant money are we believe to be incorrect. Meltree Properties was dissolved in 2005. Please confirm the correct recipient of the grant monies.

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address:
http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/fu...

Yours faithfully,

Margate Conservation Area Advisory Group

Margate Conservation Area Advisory Group

Dear Thanet District Council,

I'm writing in reference to our request for an internal review dated 5th August 2010. We have not received an acknowledgement or response. The information is now overdue.

Yours faithfully,

Margate Conservation Area Advisory Group

Harvey Patterson, Thanet District Council

Ref No:18663 / 1385758

Dear Margate Conservation Area Advisory Group

Thank you for your communication received on 5 August 2010 where you requested a review of a previous decision of the Council regarding disclosure of information about grant assistance given to the owners of 16 Marine Drive and 42 High Street Margate. In particular you requested clarification of the identity of the grant recipient as you considered that the grant receipient disclosed by the Council, namely Meltree Properties, had been dissolved in 2005.

Thanet District Council has now conducted a review and I can advise you that the grant recipient wasin fact :

Melltree Properties Limited, 3 Radnor Walk, London, SW3 4BP - Company Registration Number 05972107

If you are not content with the outcome of the internal review, you have the right to apply directly to the Information Commissioner for a decision. The Information Commissioner can be contacted at: Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 5AF

Yours sincerely,

Harvey Patterson
Head of Legal & Democratic Services

show quoted sections

roy crompton left an annotation ()

Hi,

I suggest you ask TDC when the money was paid out,
as MELTREE PROPERTIES LTD CHANGED ITS NAME FROM MELLTREE PROPERTY MANAGEMENT LIMITED ON THE 28/11/2006

and i may be in error but I understand that you were referring to agreements/ dates in 2005 which according the information provided by Companies house (set out below) was well before MELTREE PROPERTIES LTD LEGALLY CAME INTO EXISTENCE.

Be interesting to find out how you get on with this one

Regards

roycrompton@hotmail.com

Name & Registered Office:
MELLTREE PROPERTIES LIMITED
13 RADNOR WALK
LONDON
SW3 4BP
Company No. 05972107

Status: Active
Date of Incorporation: 19/10/2006

Country of Origin: United Kingdom
Company Type: Private Limited Company
Nature of Business (SIC(03)):
7011 - Development & sell real estate
Accounting Reference Date: 31/10
Last Accounts Made Up To: 31/10/2009 (TOTAL EXEMPTION FULL)
Next Accounts Due: 31/07/2011
Last Return Made Up To: 21/10/2009
Next Return Due: 16/11/2010
Last Members List: 21/10/2009
Previous Names:
Date of change Previous Name
28/11/2006 MELLTREE PROPERTY MANAGEMENT LIMITED
UK Establishment Details
There are no UK Establishments associated with this company.
Oversea Company Info
There are no Oversea Details associated with this company.

Margate Conservation Area Advisory Group

Dear Harvey Patterson,

Thank you for your reply and clarification.

Who were the shareholders and directors of Melltree Properties at the time of the grant application and issue what were their roles in relation to the Authority?

Yours sincerely,

Margate Conservation Area Advisory Group

Margate Conservation Area Advisory Group

Dear Thanet District Council,

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of Thanet District Council's handling of my FOI request 'Funding of Humbug Shop Building 16 Marine Drive and 42 High Street, Margate'.

On 22 December 2010 I wrote:

Dear Harvey Patterson,

Thank you for your reply and clarification.

Who were the shareholders and directors of Melltree Properties at
the time of the grant application and issue what were their roles
in relation to the Authority?

Yours sincerely,

Margate Conservation Area Advisory Group

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address:
http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/fu...

Yours faithfully,

Margate Conservation Area Advisory Group

rebecca left an annotation ()

councillor Judith Russell was a shareholder I have that information..and last year TDC wrote the debt off...seems something not right with officers then or now...who supplied the information and who was granted the fund money I would ask? It may have been written off but the public do not write inside information and shareholders as legal. How can a councillor take money and thanet suffer several times over to me is a police matter and needs further investigation.