Harbour Arm business owners who have appealed to Thanet council to let them take on maintenance of the Stone Pier toilets have got to negotiate with the site’s landlord, says Thanet council.
Food and drink outlets on the arm say vandalism of the toilets – which has resulted in Thanet council shutting the facilities overnight from between 6.30pm-8pm – could be avoided if they are able to take over responsibility.
BeBeached bar and floor manager Billy Nicholas said traders had offered to clean and redecorate the toilets but the offer had been rebuffed by the authority.
He said: “A few members of the Harbour Arm have offered to do this ourselves but this has been denied. We could also use any form of CCTV along the arm to try and catch the people responsible as we all know who keeps doing this but with no proof there is nothing we are able to do.
“All of us working on the arm offered to take over the toilet maintenance and cleaning and were refused due to, and I quote. “the council maintain proper upkeep”. It’s nothing but the lazy council doing little as possible.”
Thanet council says although the toilets are retained by the authority any conversation about a handover of responsibility has to go through the leaseholder, Margate Harbour Arm Ltd – depite the toilets not being included within the lease.
A spokesman said: “The businesses on the Harbour Arm would need to raise this with their landlord, Margate Harbour Arm Limited. Thanet District Council is not their landlord. This is something Margate Harbour Arm Limited would need to raise with us.”
Margate Harbour Arm Ltd
Margate Harbour Arm Ltd, headed by director Graham Knight and secretary Dr Fiona Sheriff, pays £1 per year for the site lease, which runs from 2008 until February 2021.
The original lease up to 2018 was extended by an extra three years in 2014. The agreement for the extension was made back in 2011 by then-Cabinet member Roger Latchford as compensation for the loss of income from four parking spaces, required for hard landscaping and improving access to Turner Contemporary.
An application was lodged by Pineapple Property (Kent) Ltd in December 2007 to create a cafe, restaurant, artist studio, art gallery and retail units at the pier.
Margate Harbour Arm Ltd was formed in January 2008 as the vehicle to manage the site.
Renovation and refurbishment work on the site was completed in May 2008. It was funded with a £120,000 grant from the Margate Renewal Partnership and reportedly an investment from Mr Knight of £200,000.
The lease does not include the walkways and toilets, which are retained by Thanet council. The authority, which paid £100,000 to install safety railings on the walkway last Summer following the death of Margate man Kim Marchant and two serious accidents in previous years, also pays a proportion of the power and water costs for the facilities.
The Isle of Thanet News has contacted company secretary Dr Sherriff to ask if negotiations with Thanet council could be opened.