Monday, 25 February 2013


Nervous and full of trepidation I entered the Heads study. My mouth was dry. My pulse racing. What was going to happen? Would it hurt? Would I cry? Would I derive some perverse pleasure from the ritual humiliation to come? All these thoughts rushed through my mind as I pushed the door open to see my stern faced tormentors seated impassively in front of me. Ms McG well know for her strict uncompromising approach to corporate governance. Mr P a renowned no-nonsense legal hard liner, and Cllr H with a  formidable reputation for party discipline. "Shit" I thought "I'm really in for it now". Thank God I stuffed the Pleasurama Agreement down my keks to absorb the pain to come. I cast a sidelong glance at my friend Cllr K who raised his eyebrows and shook his head in a gesture of sullen hopelessness. "Bloody hell" I thought "I'm finished" and so, it appeared, I was.

Even before I was seated, the quick talking Mr P began barking out the rules I had broken. My head was spinning I couldn't keep up with him. That man talks so fast he was twisting my melon.  Then Cllr H took over. So secret and confidential were the papers I had leaked that he insisted his wife turn her back to him whilst he was reading them in bed. Bugger me I thought this is serious shit!

Then Ms McG raised her finger. The room instantly fell silent. In a hushed, slow and deliberative tone she said  "You have been a very a naughty Councillor and you must be punished severely  for breaching the Council's standards code". She paused for what seemed like an age. Just like Michel Roux Jnr during a Master Chef eliminator. My sphincter twitched uncontrollably. I serioulsy feared losing control of my bowels and bladder.  Beads of sweat trickled down the back of my neck.  My reactions reminiscent of a Friday night vinadloo at at the Cinnamon Spice.  If only I had drunk 8 pints of larger perhaps I  could have borne my chastisement like man.

My heart was pumping hard, I was trying to focus. How do I get out this mess? What can I do? Then it came to me! As quick as a flash! In a trembling, nervous voice I said "I know the identity of  the mysterious Painter of the Great Wall of  Ramsgate". In an instant the confident demeanour of the Gang of Three was replaced by decidedly Green complexions. Cllr H looked gutted like sad drunk propping up a sleazy bar in downtown King Street. Wise-cracking Mr P, was silent for once. The fire in his eyes replaced with Pooles of emptiness. Ms McG cast her eyes round the room desperately seeking divine inspiration like the prophet  Ezekiel  by the Rivers of Babylon.

"Councillor Driver" she said, "on this occasion the Council intends to take no further action"


It's been a funny old weekend. Very important people sexually abusing less important people. Other very important people failing to take complaints about said abuse seriously. Yet more very important people saying how sorry they are for the victims and how they really care, when quite clearly they don't give a damn and are simply arse watching.

Hopefully it will not take the intervention of God's representative on Earth to ensure that the abusers, the  cover-uppers and the do-nothings resign, rather than temporarily stand aside as is now the fashion.

Sunday, 24 February 2013


Last year the LGBT campaign group Stonewall caused a public outcry by naming Scotland's top cleric, Cardinal Keith O'Brien,  "Bigot of the Year".  The Cardinal was awarded this accolade for saying that same sex marriage was a "grotesque subversion" and "harmful to the physical, mental and spiritual well being of those involved"

Church leaders and senior politicians fell over each other in a hysterical scramble to  condemn Stonewall. Sponsors threatened to withdraw funding from the organisation  and there was even mention of legal action. But today, it has emerged that a number of  serving and ex-clergy men, have submitted complaints against the Cardinal for inappropriate sexual behaviour towards them.
I wonder out loud, how many of the politicians and clergy in Thanet and elsewhere who have recently condemned  same sex marriage, may be living a life based on double standards?

If research into sexuality is anything to go by, I  think it would be safe to speculate that quite few might be in this position.

The world famous Kinsey Institute, for example,  discovered that about 25% of the population have had same sex sexual encounters and an even greater number have  fantasies about same-sex sexual encounters. Kinsey goes on to say that  "many women and men are probably “bisexual” to some degree, or would be, if society didn’t place such strict restrictions on people to behave in certain ways".
"Do as say. Not as I do" comes to mind.


They're at it again! Not that they ever stopped! Powerful men sexually abusing weaker men and women  further down the food chain.

I thought  politics, and the church were all about making  the world a better place to live in. I was wrong! It seems to be all about abuse of authority, bullying, and making the lives of some people hell. I recall a tale of Southwark Council in the early 1990s when a former Leader said to me on the day I was elected, "now its time to become a real politician". "How do I do that?" I innocently enquired. Well said the former Council Leader "you must **** a constituent and then you must **** a Council officer". Several senior Councillors laughed in merriment at this sound advice and then proceeded to  recount how many  constituents and Council officers they had ****** over the years


Saturday, 23 February 2013


Thanet politics are getting very dirty of late.

The Mayor of  Ramsgate  David Green seems determined to blame me for  the vandalism to  the Great Wall of Ramsgate. He then goes on to accuse me, without a shred of evidence, of calling for an occupation of the Pleasurama site and suggests that I am not fit for office and should resign from the Council.

Strange that this self-appointed guardian of public morality has not asked  Councillors who are police cautioned homophobes, convicted animal abusers or convicted drunk drivers to stand down from public office.

The word hypocrisy comes to mind.
But I think another explanation for  David Green's self-righteous moral outrage could possibly be an effort  to divert attention away from the Pleasurama scandal which has been festering on Ramsgate's seafront for 14 years and for which both the Labour and Conservative parties do not appear able to get to grips with.

Last but not least the Kent County Council elections are coming up and its always handy to be able throw mud at you real or imagined opponents.  Especially when your chances of winning are not good.

I am sure that what we have seen over the past couple of weeks will get dirtier and dirtier and certain politicians will be revealed in their true colours.

For my part I will stand aside and enjoy the spectacle of obese, older men grappling in  a cesspit of flith which they created.


Thursday, 21 February 2013

Sheep Exporters Fleece Council Making Me EuroSceptic

A criminal company convicted of smugggling live sheep out of Dover in a closed truck listed  as transporting boxed meat, is trying to screw £1.4million out of Thanet Council for lost trade. The Council rightly banned these criminal animal abusers from Ramsgate  Port and its a shame they had to let them back. But there is abosultely no way they have lost £1.4 million in the 5 weeks they were banned from the port. this is pure fantasy.

Whats going on Ramsgate is a national scandal! I am proud to count as freinds  many of the brave and determined campaigners against this  barbaric trade. You are credit to Ramsgate!

This vile and barbaric trade must be stoped and I am rapidly coming to the conculsion that the only way this medieval cruetly can be stopped is leaving  the EU. Its EU rules that allow this brutality to  happen. Lets get out now!!!

In the meantime I will continue to join the protests at the Port of Ramsgate whenever I can and any other direct actions to stop these convicted criminals plying  their vile trade in Ramsgate

Live exports campaign meeting Tuesday 26th Feb, 7pm the Oak Hotel, Ramsgate


Gagging Orders

Yesterday I published on this blogsite one page of a 4 year old confidential Thanet Council report about the Ramsgate Pleasurama Development. The page I published contained no sensitive information.  I also tweeted that I was going to make the confidential report publically available. I expected a response, but perhaps not as rapidly and as strong as I got.

Frist I received this e-mail from the Council Chief Executive  Sue McGonigal

Dear Cllr Driver,

 I have asked that a meeting be arranged to discuss the issuing of papers to you, as a result of your recent breach in respect of the publication of pink papers. I will not be in a position to provide you with any of the requested documents until after this meeting. Should you require any clarification of my ability to refuse these documents to you in your role as Chairman of OSP, please contact Harvey who will be able to help.

As instructed I contacted the Council’s solicitor Mr Patterson. Mr Patterson informed me that Officers are legally required to protect the interests of Thanet Council. If officers believe that an elected  Councillor is likely to disclose information which might damage the interest of Thanet Council they can

·        Refuse to let a councillor have copies of confidential information, even though that Councillor might have a constitutional right to see this information and even though a councillor has been elected by the people to see this information.

·        Take an High Court Injunction out and seek costs against a Councillor who publishes or allows to be published information deemed to be confidential

·        Remove me, as Chairman of the Council’s Overview and Scrutiny Panel, from the Pleasurama Due Diligence Process because Council officer might believe that I may leak information which might damage the interests of the Council.

I have been summoned to the Headteachers study on Monday morning to talk about this  matter.

Like most people I cannot afford to be involved in a High Court hearing and I don’t have the time to defend myself, so it looks as though I  have no choice  but to retreat with my tail between my legs. But  I will take the precaution of  stick ng a copy of the Pleasurama Development agreement down my keks to ease the pain

But serioulsy I would like to make the following points.

·        A major public campaign backed by 100s of Ramsgate residents  are very very concerned about Pleausurama. I believe that it is therefore in the public interest to make all documents related to this development public. After all this is public land at stake

·        The page of the document I published is almost 4 years old. Had I published the entire document the information it contained was so old and outdated that it could no longer be described as sensitive.

 I find it very strange that during a week when the NHS has been taken to task by the Government, for gagging whistle blowers, Thanet Council is trying gag its own elected Councillors for trying to circulate information which is in the public interest.

It’s also very strange that when a former Leader of Thanet Council is on trial for misconduct in public office, Thanet Council wants to try to silence a Councillor who wishes to make the Council more transparent and accountable.

Is it any wonder most people in Thanet have an extremely low opinion of Thanet  Council and its councillors.


Wednesday, 20 February 2013



Today I will be passing on to members of the public Thanet Council's secret report on the Ramsgate Pleasurama Development. There is considerable public interest in this issue and I think that it is right and proper for people to know what has been decided behind closed doors about this scandalous project. I await the usual  outcry from people who fear being scrutinised. I will eventually publish the entire document on this blogsite when I learn how to do it

Monday, 18 February 2013

The Great Wall of Ramsgate

I understand that some of the art work on the Great Wall has been defaced and vandalised. I have not seen the damage yet, but will be going to see for myself tomorrow. I am very saddened by this incident. A lot of hard work and imagination went into the paintings and this has now been been deliberatetly ruined.

I am on record as supporting graffiti on the the Great Wall as a means of expressing anger and concern about the what lies behind the wall. However, I have always made it clear that I do not support graffiti which damages any of the paintings. Here is a extract from an  e-mail I sent to Gerry O'Donnell about this 2 weeks ago

 "I have no problem with people adding graffiti to the Great Wall providing that they do not damage existing contributions."

I very much hope that this act of vandalism was not an effort to undermine the  Friends of Ramsgate Seafront who are working tirelessy to improve our seafront and tackle eyesores such as Pleasurama site and the boarded  up Pavillion. If anyone feels that my comments have in any way encourage this act of vandalism then please accept my full and unreserved apology

Friday, 15 February 2013


 Dear Councillor Poole
I am writing to you about your e-mail to a Ramsgate resident concerning the Pleasurama meeting held on Wednesday 6 February at the Belgian Café Ramsgate. Your e-mail says

“I would like to put the record straight.........I arrived after the start of the Belgium Bar meeting with Cllr Driver in full flow expounding his usual misinformation and half-truths. This is why I intervened with my 'rubbish' comment. I was referring to what Cllr Driver was saying. I was not referring to the residents and apologise if this was the impression given”.

Your recollection of events is wrong. I did not speak at the meeting until AFTER you had spoken. My opening remarks when I did speak were in response to your outrageous statement that people at the meeting were “talking rubbish”.

The meeting was filmed by the BBC and TV choice. It is clear from their  footage that your comments about “talking rubbish” were directed at the people attending the meeting. The footage also shows that I spoke AFTER you. There were over 80 people at the meeting. Many of them have posted on Facebook and contacted me privately to confirm that I spoke AFTER you.
I can only assume that you have told a deliberate lie in order to avoid blame for your arrogant abuse of Ramsgate residents who have genuine and deep-seated concerns about the Pleasurama development.

I am also rather mystified about your claim that I am peddling half-truths and misinformation about the Pleasurama development. When the BBC challenged you about this claim you ended up agreeing with what I had said!

The transcript of this interview has been widely published including todays Thanet Gazette.

Finally, I am extremely concerned that you appear totally determined to push through the Pleasurama development come what may. You have attacked ridiculed and insulted people who oppose the project. You have accused people of spreading half-truths and misinformation which when challenged about, you are unable to substantiate. Now you tell lies to extract yourself a difficult situation.Frankly I do not think you are a fit and proper person to oversee the Pleasurama development as you seem incapable of viewing it objectively.Perhaps you should consider you position.  Ian Driver (Councillor)

Tuesday, 12 February 2013


Personally I support grafiti & think there should more of it! Since writing began 20-30,000 years ago people have been drawing and writing on walls. It's human nature. You can't  stop it. Grafiti can be incredibly funny and it can also be highly political, helping to bring down tyrants. It can also be very artistic too. Think Banksy!. So I fully support the anti-Pleasurama grafiti which has appeared on the Great wall of Ramsgate. It's in the right place at the right time and there should be more of it to expose the scandal behind the wall.

I would recommend anyone with an interest in grafiti - for or against to read this wickipedia article

However I accept that a lot of people disagree with my view. Here is an e-mail exchange which illustrates this point. Please note Clive Hart has assured me that he did not speak to anyone about this issue.

From: cllr-Ian Driver
Sent: 11 February 2013 09:26
To: Gerry O'Donnell
Cc: Subject: RE: Great Wall of Ramsgate
Dear Gerry
I re-opened my blog on Sunday after an 18 month lay off. There are no postings about Pleasurama on it.
However, I have no problem with people adding graffiti to the Great Wall providing that they do not damage existing contributions.
People have been painting slogans on walls and banners since writing began and I believe that graffiti is form of expression which should be encouraged. Especially when the wall covers up an offensive eyesore (the Pleasurama bombsite) which is angering many local people.
I have seen pictures of the recent graffiti on the Great Wall and I happen to think it is pretty cool . if I get the time I will add something myself
I will post this exchange on my blogsite in due course.

From: Gerry O'Donnell [Sent: 08 February 2013 10:20
To: cllr-Ian Driver
Subject: Great Wall of Ramsgate
I am given to understand via Clive Hart that you have encouraged people via your Blog to make their views known (graffiti) on the remaining blank section of the Wall.
Can you confirm or deny this as I have no wish to respond with false facts.
So far we’ve had no graffiti, defacement or otherwise on the art on the wall in nearly three years. That’s why we must discourage Graffiti to ensure that continues.
Gerry O’Donnell


On arriving home from work tonight a brown envelope was waiting for me. No! No! it wasn't a bung from a seafront developer looking for new opportunities in Ramsgate. It was something much more interesting.

It was a letter from Thanet Council informing me that a Mr Terence Painter has submitted a Standards Complaint against me for comments I made about him at a meeting of Thanet Council on 6 December 2012. My comments related to events reported in a recent BBC Newsroom South East programme, broadcast in January 2013 which  made allegations about Mr Painter's Estate Agency handling of the sale of a flat at the Pleasurama Development. My  comments were made with qualified privilege (whatever that is) in the Council Chamber so its pretty tricky to sue me for slander so I am told, especially if I believe I was telling the truth, which  I do.

The letter went on to warn me not tell anyone that I had received the letter (uh?). Well anyone who knows me knows that's a red rag to a bull. I hate secrecy in public affairs. I can't be doing with it. So Thanet Council stick your secret letter up you jacksy. I will not be co-operating with your investigation and I will publish all correspondence related to it.

Monday, 11 February 2013


The tranquil seaside town of Ramsgate is begining to stir. Mysterious graffiti is appearing. People are turning out in large numbers to public meetings on cold, dark evenings. Facebook groups, blogs and twitters are alive with speculation.  People are queuing on the High Street to sign petitions. I’ve heard whispers of marches, demonstrations and even occupations!

So what’s it all about? What’s turning normally peace loving Ramsgateonians into modern day Che Guevara’s fighting for People Power?  

Well it’s a long story, but in 2002 Thanet Council’s ruling Labour Group appointed a company called SFP Venture Partners Ltd to transform a derelict beachside wasteland into  a prestigious £22million seafront regeneration project.

SFP promised the Council that, by 2014, they would build a luxury hotel, business units and exclusive seafront  apartments. They claimed that the development would kick start Ramsgate’s ramshackle economy and create jobs by the bucketful. At the time, the Thanet Gazette was full of stories of first division footballers rushing to Ramsgate to handover large down payments for off plan penthouses, to a lucky local estate agent.

Well a decade later all the euphoria has evaporated. Instead of a bright beachside future all we have is a squalid eyesore of a building site with padlocked gates that haven’t been open for years,   forlorn rusting foundations, surrounded by a Berlin Wall covered in angry anti-development graffiti. There are no signs that work on this dreamland will ever begin again.

Not surprising really. Companies House records show the developer (now renamed SFP Ventures UK Ltd) to be struggling on the verge of insolvency. It’s net value is minus £3,500. Anyone you care to ask doesn’t think SFP will ever secure enough investment to plough ahead. But this isn’t a sad, hard luck story of over-stretched speculators during a recession. Far from it!

This is a story of alleged dodgy dealings, secretive Swiss Banks, impenetrable offshore companies, collapsing cliffs and biblical floods.  Even if you had taken lots of mind altering substances, you couldn’t possibly have made this stuff up!

So let me try to shed a little light on this incredibly complex, twisting and turning plot.  First who are the developers? Well they were originally called SFP Venture Partners Ltd, an offshore company registered in the British Virgin Islands (BVI). It was owned by a parent Company SFP Services Inc. which was also registered in the BVI. Both Companies banked with Swiss Bank SPB. Around  2006 SFP Venture Partners transformed itself into SPF Ventures UK Ltd which unlike the other SFPs is registered at Companies House.

So who owns these companies? Well SFP Ventures UK Ltd is owned by Mr Shaun Patrick Keegan who also owns a host of what appear to be dormant property related companies, and who is also a Director of Peterborough United Football Club – well I guess someone has to be!

But what about the other offshore SFP brothers and sisters? As a recent BBC Panorama investigation revealed  it’s virtually impossible to find out who actually owns offshore companies. But that does not stop people speculating. Some people "in the know" have suggested to me in whispered conversations in quite Thanet bars that these companies might well have links to prominent local business people, ex-council officers and Lord forbid maybe even the odd ex or serving local politician. The same people alleged to me that inside information and political influence may have been used to drive through the Pleasurama deal with a view to making a killing and splitting the profit.

The only fault with this plan was of course the banking collapse and world recession which put paid to the alleged conspirators ambitions of turning a quick buck at public expense. Now not wanting to be thrown into the debtors prison for losing a slander case, I must say that I am simply repeating the speculation of  others.  I don’t have one shred evidence to support this rather outlandish and improbable explanation.

But hold on!  There is some circumstantial evidence which suggests that this conspiracy theory might not be too far fetched. First, the  Government spending watchdog, the Audit Commission, was far from  with Thanet Council’s management of  the Pleasurama Project in its early days. This is what they had to say

The Audit Commission carried out an investigation in 2001/02 into issues relating to the Council’s handling of the disposal of the Pleasurama site in Ramsgate. During the course of the investigation, we identified a number of weaknesses in the Council’s arrangements which could have had serious repercussions”.

I’m trying to find out from the Audit Commission exactly what these issues were and what  the “serious repercussions” might have been. Clearly something major was amiss, but what? 

Second, it is claimed in Pleasurama advertising literature that SFP had lots of previous experience in managing similar multi £million developments in the UK and abroad. This claim has been repeated by SFP spokesman and Thanet  Estate Agent, Terence Painter on several occasions.

I have spent hours researching this claim and can tell you that as far I can see SFP Ventures UK Ltd  do not appear to have developed any significant building projects   in the UK or anywhere else. I have publicly challenged Mr Painter on more than one occasion to produce the evidence on SFP Ventures UK Ltd track record as a developer. He has not done so yet!

Third, a serving Thanet councillor and recent Leader of the Council is facing charges in the Crown Court related to alleged fraudulent property dealings. This councillor led Thanet Council's Cabinet when it made some key decisions about the Pleasurama Project, including a decision in 2009 to keep SFP as the developer, despite senior Council officials strongly recommending that the SFP be sacked for non-compliance with the development agreement.

So there you have it folks! A company linked to secretive offshores outfits, which appears to have no previous experience, is appointed to manage  a £22million prestige project in circumstances which led to an Audit Commission investigation. When Council officials later expressed their concerns about the performance of this company and proposed that they be sacked, this was overruled by a Cabinet led by a councillor now facing very serious charges of misconduct relating to property deals.

All this smells rather fishy to me. I can perfectly understand why people are highly suspicious and developing conspiracy theories which might or might not be true.

But wait there’s more!

Over a year ago SFP approached the Council to ask for its development agreement to be re-negotiated. They said they were having difficulty raising investment to move the project forward and it would be enormously helpful if the Council would sell them the freehold of the site for the knockdown price of £3.3.million BEFORE the building work is completed.

All very strange. Why would they need the freehold up front when they  already have a 199 year  leasehold and the promise of the freehold on completion of the project. Being a simple minded Councillor I can only see one reason for wanting a cheap freehold before you begin work.

In my opinion, the Council rather foolishly agreed to this proposal on the proviso that SFP provides verifiable evidence that it has sufficient investment to complete the flats and the hotel. Well 12 months down the road and SFP has still not provided any evidence to show it has the finance to complete the work it promised to do a decade ago.

I am a simple and straightforward man (something to do with coming from Yorkshire I fear) and as far as I am concerned conspiracy or no conspiracy, recession or no recession, 10 years is plenty long enough to have completed Pleasurama. Especially if SFP is the successful development company it claims to be.

With this mind it’s time for Thanet Council to seek expert legal advice on how it can terminate its agreement with SFP and take back this valuable plot of public land. And pleased and excited that hundreds of Ramsgate residents are now getting together to force the ruling Labour Group to sack SFP for a wasted decade of inaction.

(this is only part 1. I will write another post on the flood risk and  the cliff face issues)


Sunday, 10 February 2013

No to Homophobic Death Threats

I have just heard the shocking news  that my colleague Thanet Councillor, John Worrow,  has received a homophobic death threat in the post. I understand that he has reported this threat to the Police. This latest incident follows a nasty homophobic telephone message left on John’s phone last year, in which Thanet Councillor Ken Gregory said “I hope you get AIDs”. Gregory was cautioned by the Police.

Like John or loathe him. Thanet Councillors cannot stand by and allow an elected representative to face unprecedented  abuse and threats.

I call on the Leader of Thanet Council, Clive Hart, the Leader of the Opposition Bob Bayford and the leaders of the Independent groups to prepare a joint statement signed by all their Councillors which condemns homophobic threats and abuse.

As one of the first Council’s in England and the only  Council in Kent to have voted to support equal marriage, we can no longer stay silent in the face of  bigotry and threats of violence or death. Enough is enough.

 Councillor Ian Driver



After a break of almost 18 months I have decided to re-join the blogging world. So prepare your selves for more challenging, thought provoking and downright offensive commentary about Thanet, Kent and the world