Tonight’s New Year’s Eve party at the Westgate Pavilion has been cancelled after the building was shut down with a repossession notice by the landlord on December 23.
Tenant Lee Williams, who also runs the award-winning Madhouse Scare Maze, was served with ‘forfeiture of lease’ notice by bailiffs under instruction of Hilliers Law Solicitors for landlord Westgate Pavilion Local Project, just before the start of the Christmas holidays.
An application for relief of forfeiture -meaning the doors could be reopened – has been lodged at Canterbury court by Mr Williams but no hearing can take place until after the new year bank holiday.
Mr Williams said the closure has meant the refund of some 150 tickets and costs are “in excess of £3,000.”
It is the second time the business has been closed down. In October the first night of the Margate Mad House scare maze event was cancelled when a prohibition notice was served on the property by the fire service.
The Pavilion was given the green light to reopen following an inspection two days later.
At the time Westgate Pavilion Local Project chairman Nicholas Martine said concerns had been raised following a surveyor’s report of the building.
Mr Williams has run his business at the pavilion for the past eight years. The site is also used by community and theatre groups.
Mr Martine said bailiffs were sent in due to concerns over the condition of the building and because the company had received no rent payments since June – when it bought the site as an asset of community value from Thanet District Council. Mr Williams said his solicitor had advised making no payments until it was clear who the new landlord of the property was, following the sale.
Mr Martine said: “Bailiffs from London cut off the lock, went in and seized the premises under forfeiture of the lease.
“Ultimately the bailiffs said they would be cutting the power off, the police arrived after a group of 30-40 people turned up outside and everyone was gone by about 11.30pm.”
During that time Mr Williams attended the property and was later joined by the group of some 30 supporters.
He said: “At about 7pm I was told there was a caravan on the drive. I turned up to see the windows where boarded and door wide open. I walked in to see four large guys, two dogs and the new landlord. I immediately called the police with my concerns.
“Once they turned up they instantly sided with the landlord based on the paperwork stuck to the window. I had posted on our Facebook page with a live stream to what I walked into and we had over 30 people turn up to support us.
“I completed the paperwork to apply for relief of forfeiture and handed it in to Canterbury courts on Thursday but was told we wouldn’t get a court hearing until the new year. Once I get this I am confident I will get back into the building to plan events as we have done for the last eight years and plan to do so for the foreseeable future.”
Clearance of property
The repossession notice gives Mr Williams 14 days, from December 23, to clear the property of his belongings. Mr Williams is now appealing for help from anyone with legal experience. He can be contacted via the Westgate Pavilion facebook page.
Kent Police confirm officers attended the scene but say it is a “civil matter” with no offences committed.