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Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Scandal of Margate’s “£1-a-year Seaside Pier”.

Margate’s historic Harbour Arm is being leased by its owners, Thanet District Council (TDC), to local businessman Mr Graham Knight, for £1 a year.

The lease was granted to Mr Knight, via his company Pineapple Properties (Kent) Limited, in 2008. In 2014 the lease was renewed until 2021. This time to another Knight owned company, The Margate Harbour Arm Company. It is understood that this lease was not subject to any form of competitive bidding.

When taking on the lease in 2008 Knight was awarded a grant from TDC, of £150,000 to refurbish the buildings on the pier It is believed that this grant was supplemented by further grants from the European Union and possibly Kent County Council to cover the costs of the improvement works. I can find no evidence of how much money Mr Knight personally invested in the improvement works to the Harbour Arm

There are now 2 bars, 2 restaurants, 2 cafes, 2 artist studios an art gallery and fisherman’s lock up operating from the pier. The pier is now an extremely popular social hub for visitors and locals. Mr Knight, as the leaseholder, receives the rents from all of the businesses on the pier. In addition there are 41 car parking spaces on the pier. Mr Knight receives the income from these parking spaces as well.

I have estimated that in exchange for paying £1 a year rental, Mr Knight receives an annual income of almost £150,000 from the pier based business and the car parking spaces (see below).


Income Amount
Car Parking Fees. There are 41 car parking spaces on the Harbour Arm. Assuming an occupancy rate of 25 spaces for an average of 4 hours per day 360 days per year at average payment of £7.00 £63,000
Rental income from 2 bars, 2 restaurants, 2 cafes, 1 art gallery, 2 artist studios, fishing lock up. Assuming an average monthly rental income of £700 per property = £6,300 per month £75,600
Total £138,600


This is a conservative estimate and its quite possible that Mr Knight receives much more. But even allowing for the insurance policies, the cleaning and maintenance works which Mr Knight is required to do as part of his lease, it’s very probable that in exchange for £1 a year rent, he makes at least £100,000 profit! Mr Knight is a very, very, lucky man to have this incredible gold-plated lease.

I have also discovered that last year TDC paid £14,900 for electricity supplied to the pier and that Knight and the Harbour Arm businesses appear not to have been charged for their electricity usage. I assume that this free electricity arrangement has been in place throughout the life of the 2 leases and I also believe that the water supply to the pier-based businesses is also paid for by TDC.

A single toilet block serves the entire pier, its businesses and visitors. It is cleaned, maintained and repaired by TDC with no contribution from Knight or the pier businesses. Following a tragic death 3 years ago and several serious accidents, railings are now in the process of being fitted along the length of the pier edge. The cost of these works is £100,000. However Mr Knight and the pier businesses have not been asked by TDC to contribute towards the cost of these essential safety works.

There must be an enquiry into why Mr Knight was granted such a generous lease and why this lease appears not to have been subject to competitive tendering when it was renewed in 2014. The Local Government Act 1972 requires Thanet Council to secure the best consideration for property disposals, which includes leasehold disposals, Clearly, in this case, the best consideration was not secured and literally £100s of thousands of income has been lost to TDC which is already seriously cash-strapped. The council tax-payers of Thanet have also been forced to pay out £10s of thousands every year covering the costs water and electricity supplies, toilets and urgent safety works, which should, in my opinion, have been paid for by Mr Knight and the pier-based businesses who all directly benefited this civic generosity.

It’s hard to believe that a council which is rumoured to be considering making £2million worth of budget cuts next year, which may include staff redundancies, is happy to waste massive sums of public money through its unbelievably stupid giveaway lease for the £1-A-Year Seaside Pier

20 comments:

  1. In the words of Victor Meldrew, "I don't believe it!"

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  2. This is outrageous. So many other businesses who lease property from TDC have not been given such preferential treatment. Surprise us - was Councillor Iris Johnston, friend of the Godden's and CEO Madeline Homer complicit in this give away deal?

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  3. this makes me sick the old harbour arm is being used as a cash machine i think its disgusting railing have been put up.no disrespect to people trying to earn a living on the harbour arm,mr knight should be spending some of the easy money on the harbour arm meaning the cafes and restaurants could do with a make over and maybe the art instalment of multi coulerd lights could be fixed,or better still donate some money to the rnli

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  4. So where is the problem, As Mr Driver states "There are now 2 bars, 2 restaurants, 2 cafes, 2 artist studios an art gallery and fisherman’s lock up operating from the pier. The pier is now an extremely popular social hub for visitors and locals". Had TDC still had the running of it, none of the above would be there,Just another seaside derelict harbour arm.
    So what price success. I would say thank you Mr Knight for you business acumen in making this a popular part of Margates seaside.

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    1. The only business acumen that I can see is succeeding in using public money, TDC and EU, paying a quid a year to TDC and reaping the rewards from the rents paid by the businesses and car parking. It looks very much like state benefits, not means tested, for someone who had friends on the inside. It's like legalised fraud and certainly unjust to all the people who have made the Harbour Arm a successful tourist destination and paid rents to Mr Knight. Parasitic success!

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  5. I think some of the businesses on the Harbour Arm might be surprised to find they don't pay for their electricity!!

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  6. This bloke is full of shit needs to get a life instead of lieing about things he don't know anything about

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  7. I would've bidded on this lease. It seems a few laws have been circumvented here.

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  8. You must be a good friend of his, Mike if you see this as ok then you must work for TDC. Do all the other people in THANET get the same sort of rental deals like Mr Knight? Are there electric bills pick up by the council? Im guessing not.

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  9. The Scandal here is Mr Driver the Green party representative has still not given his reasons as to why he supports tens of thousands of homes to be built on Thanets water aquifer, the source of fresh water to the isles residents. he chases after these so called scandals in the hope of his SCANDAL will go away.why did he support these developers after being anti the developers???????

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    1. Mr Driver is not anyone's Party political representative. Keep up Mike J and BTW you won't get your Cargo Hub Airport. Wetherspoons Pavilion employs more people than that would, and destroy tourism in Ramsgate with noise and aviation fuel pollution.

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  10. Why is anyone surprised ? TDC have ALWAYS been suspect in their financial dealings.Locally called " the back-hander council "

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  11. Disgusting?? So what has Mr knight got on the council? Or is it a freemason thing...all.rather dodgy thanks for keeping us locals informed Ian

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  12. Maybe Mr Knight would like to spend some of his hard earned money on the proper upkeep of some of his private rental property, one block in Ramsgate in particular is an eyesore and not fit for rental. Residents living there in damp conditions, (mushrooms growing in some of the flats) ceilings leaking, no proper fire escape, to name but a few of the issues.

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    1. Report it to TDC.

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    2. Are you referring to Mr Knight?

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  13. And that is why Thanet Council is the most corrupt council in Britain.

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  14. As an 0AP claiming no benefits and having to pay Council Tax to the tune of £2042pa I find it galling to read of the total negilent management of council assets resulting in substantial loss of income to the Council which results in wealthy businessmen making substantial profit on the backs of TDC taxpayers, many of whom like myself can I'll afford to do so. Mr Wells, this sort of loss to council funds needs to be plugged NOW.

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  15. Ian, Thanet Strife reported on electricity bills at Harbour in Aug 2009 as TDC were paying and this was raised with Auditor. Still no change? This whole deal happened under Ezekiel's regime and we know he was corrupt. Graham Knight had fingers in many pies including shareholder at Sands! Did he also own York Mansions on the seafront and never pay a £75,000 grant? From my vantage point in a foreign country I am disappointed that TDC continues to be as inept and corrupt as ever.

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  16. maybe he could spend some money on updating the toilets as they are a disgrace for such a popular spot

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