A public gathering will be held outside the Granville Theatre in Ramsgate on Tuesday (March 15) as a show of support for a community takeover bid by the Kent Film Foundation.
People are invited to join the show of support from 4.30pm.
In October Thanet council invited expressions of interest from eligible community groups to become the new owners of Ramsgate’s Granville Theatre.
The council owns the freehold of the Granville but the site has been closed since the COVID-19 pandemic began in March 2020.
The property is an Asset of Community Value, which means any disposal of the building must be carried out in accordance with rules set out in the Localism Act 2011.
But the submission from Kent Film Foundation was rejected as not meeting the relevant criteria and the site is now being advertised on the open market – although Thanet council says the foundation has time to resubmit a proposal.
The foundation had hoped to create a new centre with workshop space, cinema, theatre, a bee-friendly roof terrace, the town’s first organic restaurant – and a new name.
Plans included workshop space to continue with youth film clubs and to create a new youth theatre and youth orchestra in partnership with Pie Factory music.
There would also have been two cinema screens and new theatre space.
The plans for construction of the building were for a “Green Build” design, with a bee-friendly roof terrace opened up to the public and a small cinema kiosk/café.
However, Thanet council says the film foundation can still submit their bid through the Community Right to Bid process.
Cllr Ash Ashbee, Leader and Cllr Reece Pugh, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Economic Development in a joint statement said: ”Firstly, we would like to thank the Kent Film Foundation for their submission as part of the council’s Community Asset Transfer process for the Granville Theatre building in Ramsgate. Following a thorough evaluation, despite the projected plans for the site, the bid was found not to meet the council’s required criteria as part of the Community Asset Transfer process.
“The council has a duty to all its residents to ensure that any community group looking to take on a public building can fully demonstrate that it can do so. This includes a full business case with confirmation of funds as well as the financial and skills capability to ensure that the project will succeed and have a long term future to benefit all of the wider community.
“These processes exist both to protect those looking to take on a building for the future with the associated maintenance and running costs. As a council we have a governance duty to ensure we achieve best value, both financial and social, for a public asset that would otherwise be sold.
“We recognise that the Granville Theatre is a location that holds fond memories for many local people. It is really encouraging to see the huge amount of positive local support for the project and for an asset that we all want to secure a positive future for.
“Although the submission for a Community Asset Transfer was unsuccessful, the Kent Film Foundation does still have the option to submit their interest in the building via our Community Right to Bid process, until Wednesday 20 April 2022.”
Eastcliff’s Labour ward councillors Steve Albon, Helen Crittenden and Corinna Huxley say they have attended a number of meetings this week to try to secure a positive future for Ramsgate’s Granville Theatre that reflects the wishes of the local and wider community.
These included a public meeting at the Churchill Tavern on Monday, organised by Ramsgate Labour county councillor Karen Constantine, a private meeting on Tuesday with bidders Kent Film Foundation to gather information and offer advice, and a meeting on Friday with council officers and cabinet member Cllr Reece Pugh.
The ward councillors asked Cabinet to review the process followed and provide a further opportunity for Kent Film Foundation to elaborate their case and for any decision to be made in an open and transparent way so that the public can understand the issues and hear both sides of the story.
Cllr Huxley said: “We made very clear to the cabinet member the extent of public concern about the future of the Granville Theatre.
“We hoped this would lead to a constructive dialogue and further consideration of the Kent Film Foundation proposal as a community asset transfer before any final decision was taken, so it is very disappointing that hours later the council appears to be saying that it will proceed to offer the building on the open market.
“Any decision on the disposal of the Granville Theatre needs to be taken by Cabinet at a meeting open to the public. We still hope that will be the case.”
Community Right to Bid
Further offers for the site can be made under the Community Right to Bid, until the end of the moratorium period on Wednesday 20 April. The premises are being advertised on the open market and any offers received will be assessed at the end of the moratorium period.
Interested parties can find out more about the Community Right To Bid process on the council website: www.thanet.gov.uk/community-right-to-challenge-and-bid
A petition set up by artist Karen Vost urging Thanet council to reconsider is gaining traction with more than 4,550 signatures.
What is/was “the relevant criteria” that KFF’s plans lacked?
A little bird told me that KFF didn’t complete a few questions because they were not aware they related to their plan, these were worth about 60 points of the 100 available.
Rather than phone KFF and ask them why they hadn’t completed, what TDC considered, was required information they just marked them down! This was the only bid for the Granville as a Community Asset. Of course TDC need to ensure they don’t transfer this asset to a cowboy operation but this is bonkers. A phone call would have identified that KFF had misunderstood the form and allowed them to add the details TDC required, boom, sorted.
But no! Far too easy! Was this just lazyness or was it more sinister? Is it a coincidence that, another little bird said, TDC had applied to have the Granville removed as a Community Asset in July, before KFF’s submission was examined? Maybe the Independant Monitoring Officer should look into it. Something stinks and it’s not the sea this time!
I feel that there are brown envelopes flying about here somewhere
more gimmicks to get people on thier side – organic restaurant , all that usually means is twice the price for something you cannot prove where it came from , these arts people wont be happy until they have brainwashed everyone that this is what this area is all about = no thanks !
Never mind brainwashing. A little basic education wouldn’t go amiss.
For example, English spelling, punctuation and grammar.
So, real world, seeing as there were no other bids for a community asset transfer would you prefer it went to a developer to build flats we can’t afford to buy? Give me an organic cafe (that I can’t afford to visit) on top of a cracking arts venue for ourselves and our kids to enjoy, any day.
phyllis if you were as important and educated as you clearly think you are , you would be running the country , not scratching around on here and trying too impress people with your wealth of knowledge on any subject that arises ,
Nice one Phyllis!
‘To impress’ not ‘too impress’.
Don’t forget to come to the Granville Theatre on Tuesday at 4.30pm to show your support. Design a banner if you can please.
So let me get this right. KFF filled in the form for the grand ville to be sign over to them, but thought some of the questions on the form didnt need Answering !.
Why would you think that ?
Surely its obvious that if you dont fill the application form in properly it puts you at a disadvantage.
TDC might think if you cant even fill the application in correctly you arent fit a d proper organisation to hand over the granville to.
Why didnt KFF go to a professional person for advice about certain questions ?
Why did KFF just bury their heads in the sand and ignore the questions ?
TDC arent great but if the application form is filled in correctly it doesnt put KFF in a good position. I know I would be thinking ‘ only one application and that’s not even filled in correctly bloody hell !’.
It’s not TDC who need to make sure the application was correct after all TDC can either hand it to KFF or sell it, they have to chooses.
KFF should have got their application form check, made sure they had crossed the T’s and dotted the i’s.
Of course if your birdy is wrong I have just wasted 5 minutes !!
Hi Mr.Chance, Little birds tweet as they do. I have considerable expereince with local government and private sector contractor and service assessments. I’m not sure what Pirate Jenny was thinking but it is common for, even very large, blue chip, firms to be complacent or misunderstand questions in tender submission documents.
In the case of KFF this seems really important as they were the only bid and had previous history with TDC (the Ice House). Also, given the local interest in this, I would expect Officers to have had clear direction from TDC Cabinet. This wouldn’t be to corrupt the process but to assist the bidder. In my time I often saw fit to call and speak to contractors about their submissions because it was obvious there was a problem. The point was to assure myself where the problem was, with the bidder’s organisation and competence or with their ability to describe this in the documentation.
My role included helping contractors to understand what the question required, not give them the answer. This was usually more important for smaller contractors who had limited resources and experience with the process.
Of course, KFF may not have the capacity to deliver their plan but, even here, the community benefit would be to help them identify what they needs and point them to sources of help and/or funding where possible.
In this whole affair the silence from TDC makes one fear the worst, political corruption. I watched the TDC Cabinet meeting (YouTube link from TDC website) from July 2021 where this was raised. Here CEO Homer refuses Cllr Austin’s request for Eastcliffe Cllr involvement in the KFF submission review and no one batted an eyelid. This sums up TDC’s problem, Officer Bureaucratic Despotism. Untill the Cllr’s, as a whole, address this we will remain at the mercy of Senior Officers.
It really makes you wonder if TDC Planning has already been lobbied by property developers wanting to buy this site.
As we know from historical sales of community assets they sell well below market price with all sorts of caveats that still involve future funding by Thanet Council Tax Payers. I am thinking specifically of the 20 year scandal of the Pleasurama site now Royal Sands which will continue to cost Thanet people unknown maintenance and repair costs for the future.
We must maintain the Granville as a Community Asset. It could function similarly to the Astor in Deal. If any future costs are incurred they will be to the benefit of the community, not a few wealthy people.
To clarify, the maintenance and repair of the cliff behind the flats which comprises a friable chalk cliff with a great many minor passages and tunnels and is prone to subsidence. A money pit!
Is the sold Westcliff Hall being land banked?
First rules of business check the paperwork than check again than again. Or make sure your solicitor checks the paperwork.
If you cant fill the paperwork correctly it makes you look unsuitable for business. It means you fail at the first hurdle. That’s is poor from any organisation.
If the paperwork is wrong I would question KFF suitability to be able to run the granville.
People are now going to protest against TDC when in fact it sounds like the complaints should be against KFF for not getting professional guidance on filling the application in correctly. Hence missing they chance of ownership.
Of course I could be completely wrong and KFF did get professional help and did fill the form in correctly.
Will we ever know the truth ?
Some very valid points by Mr. Chance. Is this the usual case of “artists” with zero business sense/common sense? We see this all the time with businesses in Margate Old Town who can’t even keep regular opening hours – and then quickly go under.
I see mote disinformation from RSP accompanies this and all other articles with their latest unicorn advert. Arranging clearance?
Yeh How’s that going Tony?
Will the RSP propaganda ever stop?