CROWN ENTERTAINMENT (CUERDEN LEISURE)
PRESENT PIER MANAGER - Christos Stylianou, was the pier manager for Cuerden Leisure Ltd, a company that we cannot seem to get hold of despite Eastbourne Herald reports that they are the owners. The Mirror reports the owners as Crown Entertainment Centres and we note that the two companies share the same postal address. Then it is Crown Entertainment who we should congratulate for at least getting the wooden boarding back in place under difficult circumstances.
FREE PRESS - 20:15
Thursday 22 October 2015
MEDIA COVERAGE REVIEW: WEDS 10 JUNE 2015 - EASTBOURNE HERALD
Eastbourne Pier has reacted with “shock and disbelief” at the council’s decision to run children’s rides from its decking during the summer season.
27 OCT 2015 FORMER PIER
MANAGER - It has been confirmed that the body found at the Eastbourne Royal Golf Club is that of missing
person Graeme Sanderson.
At this time we have no idea if the police are treating his death as suspicious.
Cuerden Leisure Limited
Unit 1 Hillridge Road
Martland Mill Industrial Estate
Martland Park, Wigan WN5 0LS
CROWN ENTERTAINMENT CONTACTS
Entertainment Centres Limited
18/11/2014 SIX PIERS LIMITED
BLUE BOARDS - Work in progress behind barriers to prevent the public injuring themselves. Steel construction is preferred for pier buildings because they are stronger against constant wind buffeting, lighter, and are more flexible against movement.
LISTED BUILDING CONSENT - EXPLANATION
Eastbourne pier has never been a big earner or top attraction in the pier stakes. That is because, apart from the penny arcade type amusements in the Blue Room (that is no more) there are none of the traditional funfair rides that one might expect such as at Brighton's Palace pier (potentially unlawfully) or at the Blackpool piers. If that was what they wanted, Cuerden and now Crown Entertainments should not have bought into this pier, but of course they could not foresee the fire that would remove the one source of income (and the only real attraction) that was keeping this pier's head above water.
As it stands, bereft of the arcade, the situation has changed. The problem being how to fund extensive repair works from a structure with a lesser income.
Any planning consent has to be as sympathetic to the original architecture and nature of use as one might deem reasonable. Even a temporary permission can turn into a permanent situation that would then mean England loses another part of it's heritage - hence, being placed on the At Risk register.
Changing the use of the Blue Room to helter skelter rides and dodgems is not in keeping with the surroundings, in that for over a hundred years the Blue Room has graced the sky line at Eastbourne. It is nonsense that the wind is a danger to walkers. The pier is exposed along its length. You might as well argue that all piers should be closed to prevent people being blown into the sea. This is just a ruse to keep unattractive boarding in situ for reasons one might only guess at.
On the other hand you cannot blame Crown Entertainment Centres (CEC) for testing the water, they are a business, not a charity and this pier poses something of a problem. Though CEC applied for fairground rides to make a mini Blackpool/Brighton type pier to generate profits to be able to reinstate the lost heritage, a laudable aspiration) they could then have disposed of the pier in that state to other concerns in the town with more political clout (or who at least think they have more clout) - and that could have seen such "temporary" attractions becoming semi-permanent - as is the present situation with Brighton's Palace pier. CEC are simply trying to realize as much as they can from an asset that at present is fast becoming a liability. We also know from the media reports that the Blackpool piers they owned until July 2015 were eventually sold for nearly double the asking price. CEC's strategy must therefore be to ramp up the ante wherever possible in this high stakes poker game.
As to permanence, while some councillors might have been persuaded to extend fairground usage on the basis that profits were insufficient to rebuild a Blue Room replacement, eventually that kind or bazaar bartering would not have washed with Historic England who have a duty to protect our heritage - but it is not that simple, because they have no powers to enforce. That kind of use could be dragged out for years by an unscrupulous owner. Brighton Marine Palace pier was granted consent for their fairground on a temporary basis - and that has now become permanent - a lesson learned - and surely not to be repeated. It would take a petition along the lines of the one for Southsea pier, to get Brighton & Hove City Council to enforce reinstatement of the original theatre.
The secret is to nip such applications in the bud, or they might eventually lead to a compulsory purchase order at the ratepayer's expense, where in the wrong hands, liberties would be sure to be taken. CEC could not be held accountable for such a disposal, unless there was some concrete proof of collusion to negate heritage duties, or where there was no realistic prospect that a new purchaser could restore the heritage. We are not for one second suggesting that that is the case here, we are simply pointing out possible scenarios that are valid planning considerations - or at least they should be.
It follows that if a business cannot support a rebuild of the former dance hall, amounting to an estimated £3 million for starters, that they would only add to the RISK of the AT RISK pier. This is sure to be the case where pier turnover at present would not repay bank interest on loans of that order. It is commercially unsound to consider offers from private bidders that do not have private cash (liquidity) or other substantial business assets to cover such restorations. This does not rule out cooperation between rival bidders, which in our opinion would be a good thing. It is obvious that there are other people out there with genuine concerns about restoring this valuable community asset. They are to be applauded and if possible, we should all pull together: WHO CARES WINS.
A charity has the obvious advantage in such cases, where charitable status allows such body to apply for grants to undertake major works that do not have to be repaid, because the works being done are for the common good. In this case restoring a national heritage asset. Private businesses run for profit are not eligible for charitable grants above £50,000 - effectively putting them out of the running - where there is a legal requirement to restore that lost part of the pier - and that then becomes a liability that no banking institution could support - save where an exceptional business plan is presented with realistic hopes of obtain planning consents. Other advantages for a charity include exemption from business rates.
THE NITTY-GRITTY - VICARIOUS LIABILITY
In the event that the pier is sold and the new owner fails to restore the Blue Room, the previous owners may be vicariously liable.
Vicarious liability comes into play where one person (or business) encourages another to engage in a practice which he or the business ought to have known would lead to enforcement, and/or compulsory purchase. In such a case the seller is also liable for the actions of a subsequent purchaser, vicariously. Vicarious liability is a form of strict, secondary liability that arises under the common law doctrine of agency – respondeat superior – the responsibility of the superior for the acts of their subordinate, or, in a broader sense, the responsibility of any third party that had the "right, ability or duty to control" the activities of a violator. It can be distinguished from contributory liability, another form of secondary liability, which is rooted in the tort theory of enterprise liability.
In English law, a corporation can only act through its employees and agents so it is necessary to decide in which circumstances the law of agency or vicarious liability will apply to hold the corporation liable in tort for the
fiduciary failings or frauds of its directors or senior officers.
In this case it is the duty of upkeep of a valuable heritage
asset: a failing.
Simply put, if the owners of Eastbourne pier are looking to sell this asset, they must ensure that the buyer(s) are fully versed with their duty to put back the Blue Room. Assurances should be obtained to that effect.
This may not apply concerning the sale or operation of Eastbourne pier.
Contributory liability or contributory infringement has been widely defined as a form of liability on the part of someone who is not directly infringing
(usually confined to intellectual property rights) but nevertheless is making contributions to the infringing acts of others. Material contributions to the act (or enabling thereof), as well as knowledge of the act itself, are key elements of contributory liability.
Enterprise liability may apply, but only where assurances are not obtained as to the duty to restore damaged heritage assets.
idea of enterprise liability was supported by the Court of
Appeal in DHN
Food Distributors Ltd v Tower Hamlets London Borough Council,
a case on piercing the corporate veil. Enterprise liability is a legal doctrine under which individual entities (for example, otherwise legally unrelated corporations or people) can be held jointly liable for some action on the basis of being part of a shared enterprise. Enterprise liability is a form of secondary liability.
FRAUD ACT 2006
Where any person causes loss to another by doing something, or in this case by failing to do something that he is bound by law to do, that is fraud as defined by the 2006 Act. Should CEC not take the appropriate steps to bring back the heritage asset, or reasonably ensure that any future owner has that intention, that would cause Eastbourne Borough Council loss - in having to expend public monies on enforcement, injunctions and/or in a worst case scenario; compulsory purchase orders. See sections 4(1) (a) (b) and (c) and 4(2) of the Fraud Act 2006.
The Grade II* listed status of Eastbourne pier effectively binds any new pier owner to do certain things. The "At Risk" status compels them to take steps to repair any structure that has brought about the At Risk registration. This applies as much as when Cuerden Leisure transferred the heritage asset to Crown Entertainment, as to any forward operator.
One reason that the twisted steel was removed so quickly from Eastbourne pier was because of the danger to the public, and imminent service of a Site Tidy or Repairs Notice. The replacement of timber boarding is another move to stave off enforcement, but the move to install fairground rides is heading for legal confrontation.
Any transfer of ownership can only take place with this in mind and so any new owner could never claim that they did not understand the consequences of their actions, nor can the existing owner(s) deny their duty to the historic built environment. They are thus estopped from doing anything other than seeking to restore the heritage asset. This is despite any lack of a formal document detailing the "duty," such as a 106 agreement, that in this case we understand does not exist - such agreement is implied.
The proper authority, in this case Eastbourne Borough Council (EBC), can thus seek injunctions and other court orders, forcing the owners of the pier to restore the Blue Room. If that were to become necessary the costs would be considerable, probably leading to a compulsory purchase situation by way of seizing a tangible asset or assets and/or freezing company bank accounts until such restoration is enacted - a potential total loss for CEC shareholders, or forced liquidation (insolvency) of a company presently trading equitably. This is though unlikely with £8 million in the bank from the recent sale of three other piers.
If that were to happen, EBC could turn over what is a loss maker to an organisation that is specifically set up to reinstate the pier without the commercially insane financial risks. There is no such thing as "risk-free" of course, but what one can do is to minimize the risks that they become commercially acceptable.
An alternative to a charity, would be a company with really deep pockets that might afford the several millions for repairs without seeking grant aid. There are many corporations with such financial clout, and such a project could be a tax write off.
We are sure the reader will understand that this puts CEC in a difficult position and potentially at risk as to substantial costs, should they be unable to put the dance hall back on the pier, or transfer the pier to another person or organisation that has that as their objectives. They are caught between a rock and a hard place. It is possible that the disposal of the Blackpool and Llandudno piers was to finance the reinstatement of the Blue Room by way of consolidating assets, in which case the recent refusal of planning permission for fairground rides comes sharply into focus.
With creative investment and suitable management it is possible for CEC to turn this potential loss maker into a commercial success, if they utilize the Blue Room and other pier assets to the full. If they were to do so, this would obviate the need for charities to lend a shoulder. There are of course many heritage assets on the south coast of England that could do with a leg-up. Another pier at risk is the South Parade pier at Southsea that failed to sell at auction in December 2012 and was still in the hands of an owner that is taking no restorative action. Then in February 2015 Portsmouth City Council issued a legal Repairs Notice specifying how the pier must be safeguarded for the future, the result of a petition on 38 Degrees that attracted 7,128 signatures. If that notice is not complied with this could lead to lead to a compulsory purchase situation as happened with Hastings pier.
Any failure on the part of an owner, to restore damaged buildings may give rise to a claim in principle the moment that the failure to act causes tangible loss to a district.
In the case of a seaside town that depends on tourism for income, every season lost where it can be shown by visitor statistics, trading figures, or witness testimony that it is the missing attraction that has caused such loss, may give rise to a claim against loss of revenue, be it taxable income from traders or loss of or wasted business rates, or other secondary claims.
The business rates on the pier stand @ £100,000 yielding £49,300 for Eastbourne Borough Council. Even though they collect such duty for the government, this is a loss, if for any reason that income reduces.
It must be therefore that plans to reinstate the Blue Room should be put in place in principle by the end of 2015, or early 2016. There is a moral and legal obligation to do so.
BACK TO BUSINESS
So much for the legals, but we should aim to steer clear of that and be positive.
What Historic England (HE) are looking for is a solid business plan that will get the Blue Room reinstated on a sustainable basis as soon as possible.
HE have a duty to be reasonable in this regard, giving them and any developer a degree of flexibility in approach. But once again the council and HE will not want liberty takers wasting time with proposals that don't hold water - or worse - will not see this heritage asset come back to life in a sensible timeframe. For that would constitute negligence and breach of a deemed contract. Whoops, more legals.
Cleaner Oceans are not yet sure if an unsolicited offer will be well received, but at least an offer has been made, not pointing out any of the above to Bilfinger GVA, because as professional agents they would know this and be advising CEC as to the law.
The offer by Cleaner Oceans Club is of course subject to a successful application for funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund and other sources. It was made to alert CEC to the existence of an organization that could solve their duty to restore Eastbourne pier to its former glory.
Cleaner Oceans would take on the pier and the heritage liability (duty) giving CEC an indemnification to that effect. Cleaner Oceans believe that such indemnity would be required from any prospective purchaser, to protect CEC from forward claims in the event of default. Cleaner Oceans are more than willing to work with CEC in a joint venture, if that was deemed to be an appropriate way forward and to the benefit of CEC at any point in the future.
LOSS OF REVENUE & LOST OPPORTUNITY
The problem here is that Eastbourne needs the pier restored as soon as possible. Again, if possible, the town would benefit by an operator with a creative flair for turning around loss making concerns - and as you can see from the above this also involves a high degree of legal expertise in the mix.
Normally, the pier would not be losing money, but the moment that they had the fire, that brought into play a new financial burden for CEC to overcome. We are sure the reader will feel some sympathy for their plight - we do.
What the town needs is an attraction that keeps the pier profile intact, but that houses a real crowd puller within that will not upset the neighbours. That is not a penny arcade, and Cleaner Oceans do not approve of gambling in any event. If you want fairground rides, go to a fairground. Brighton pier is your local destination and Hastings beach for penny arcades. A fair comes to Eastbourne about once a year, opposite Fort Fun. Fort Fun is a place for children to take fun rides, the pier is not.
If you read the comments posted on the Herald website (reproduced below for convenience), it should be clear to any town planner and/or conservationist, that the general public do not understand the intricacies of the planning game or the law applying to listed buildings and those that are trustees of our heritage. They are in effect innocent to the dark side of local politics - and/or the commercial realities. The "comment" (blog) service is though useful in allowing everyone to have a say. We would though warn of the Herald's website that uses gallons of energy where a few drops would do the job, and as such is an environmental nightmare - perhaps they need an eco webmaster. Surf responsibly dudes!
PETER SEDGWICK - Bought two piers from Crown Entertainment Centres for around £8 million pounds. One reason for this was that he proposed to his wife on one of these piers and as a joke said that one day he'd buy it for her. Nice one Peter.
EASTBOURNE HERALD COMMENTS - MEDIA REVIEW
MEDIA REVIEW: BBC NEWS 9 JULY 2015 - CENTRAL & SOUTH PIERS SOLD FOR £8 MILLION
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FORMER MANAGER, DAVID BOWMAN - JAN 2006 to JUNE 2011
According to his Facebook page(s) David Bowman is an experienced multi-site manager, He was appointed as operations executive for Cuerden Leisure, covering the southern region of the UK. At that time the company provided Family Entertainment facilities to 17 Pontin's and Haven holiday parks in East Anglia, Wales and the North West. This also included 6 seaside Pier sites including Eastbourne and Llandudno, which generates a regional turnover of £7.5 Million annually. Llandudno sounds like a great pier.
All of these sites had at least one AGC (adult gaming centre) with the Pontin's sites. The post
involved the line management of a large team of staff through 3 Area managers, 2 Pier General Managers and 3 Area Technical Managers. The focus
was on high levels of customer service and maximizing the fun aspect of the experience.
also provided support during the takeover of 6 Piers Ltd,
a company that owned most of the key piers in the UK, and organised
the sales of Eastbourne and Southsea Piers - presumably to
He was the operations manager for the Noble Organisation between March 2003 and July 2004, where he transferred to the Seaside Division of the company which consisted of the company's major flagship sites such as Coral Island Blackpool, Brighton Pier, Margate and Redcar on promotion to this role.
David was tasked with focussing on setting up new arcade facility on Greenfield sites, as well as managing a range of other ad-hoc projects such as the set up of a coffee shop, tanning booths, donuts, fast food, mini supermarkets and hair salons. His specialty was in trouble shooting new business acquisitions and moving into existing units to analyze problems and produce solutions. Primarily, he was tasked with identifying and resolving business issues and rapidly arresting the decline of the business, successfully generating an annual turnover in excess of £30 Million. It sounds like Crown Entertainment could do with a dynamo like David on their team right now.
SMOKIN - Louisa Foley was one of the bathers soaking up the last of the August sunshine when the pier was ablaze. Those gathered watched the RNLI and Fire Brigade do their thing to try and bring the pyre under control. Nobody could have done that, but they did manage to stop the fire spreading to the other pier buildings. The pier is pretty un-saleable now, imagine if the whole lot had gone up in smoke. They could not give it away. Let us hope that their insurance is paid up.
SIZE MATTERS - Blackpool central pier is huge by comparison to other piers around the country, and it is not the biggest. The profits though are not massive suggesting that visitor numbers are not what they could be.
EASTBOURNE PIER 2015 - Is a monument at risk and a potential liability for any new owner. Terry is seen here on a site visit to check the condition of the underlying structure. What he found was not encouraging. There is a lot of work to do to bring this important coastal attraction back into a condition to be proud of - and to remove it from Historic England's "At Risk" register.
Cleaner Oceans Club's business plan included developing a marine/natural history display that will make this location a place to visit on the south coast of England. At the moment Cleaner Oceans have a deal with a company that leads the world in subtle attractions and displays, but we are not at liberty to disclose the details of such proposals lest imitators poach the creative lead. Crown Entertainment Centres were not interested in exploring such proposals. They have had enough and simply want to bow out.
LINKS & REFERENCE