Papers published on Companies House website yesterday show that Sands Heritage Limited is now owned by a company called LN -Gaiety Holdings Limited (LN Gaiety).
LN Gaiety is the biggest events promoter and festival organiser in the UK. It is also the owner of many well-known concert venues across the country including the Brixton Academy where a year ago two people died, one person still remains in hospital, and hundreds were injured and traumatised in an horrific crowd crush. There is an ongoing Police investigation into this terrible event which may result in the criminal prosecution of LN Gaiety.
LN Gaiety is part of a company group which includes Ticketmaster the biggest live event ticket seller in the UK. Ticketmaster was fined £1.25million by the Information Commissioner in 2020 for major breaches of data protection law.
Ultimate control of Dreamland, its immediate parent company LN Gaiety, and Ticketmaster, rests with Live Nation Inc, a multi £billion US based company which describes itself as the “world’s leading live entertainment company” and which boasts that “Live Nation produces more concerts, sells more tickets, and connectsmore brands to music than anyone else in the world”.
Naturally, like most of the self-proclaimed biggest and best, the company is registered in a tax haven. In this case the American state of Delaware which is said to be one of the largest tax havens in the world.
So what does all of this mean for the residents of Margate and Thanet as whole?
Monopoly Power. Live Nation Inc is, because of its size and power, is believed by many to be a monopoly. Monopolies are thought by most economists to be a very bad thing. They destroy their competitors, unfairly influence the decisions of regulators and politicians, and charge artificially high prices for their products.
So serious is the claim that Live Nation Inc is a monopoly, that the US Justice Department is reported to be launching an investigation into “whether the company uses anti-competitive agreements with venues and artists” and if there are “any restrictions in the deals that the Live Nation offers , including whether the agreements restrict venue’s ability to work with other promoters or ticket services”
Local Business. Having a multinational, profit hungry, monopoly racking up in Margate is not good news. It could mean that local bars, restaurants, music venues and other hospitality and entertainment providers are driven out of business by Dreamland.
Don’t forget that Dreamland already operates its own seafront bar and restaurant and has planning permission to develop a 124 bedroom hotel on the seafront, so why wouldn’t Dreamland continue to expand it interests along the seafront and into the old town?
Winter Gardens The council is currently considering the future of the, now closed, Winter Gardens. With a standing capacity of 2,150 which could easily be expanded through refurbishment to 3,000 or more, it seems very likely to me that Dreamland, if it hasn’t already done so, will begin negotiations with the council to buy the Winter Gardens which will , unlike the Dreamland amusement park be able to put on events the whole year round.
Perhaps the closed down Lido, the Theatre Royal and Margate’s Old Town Hall, might also figure in Dreamlands expansion plans.
Housing Dreamland’s new owners will, I believe, use their powerful leverage to force the Council to grant planning permission for housing development on the large parcels of land it owns adjacent to the amusement park, and even on the amusement park itself which has already been relegated into second place to the business of live events.
This would be a very profitable option for Dreamland and one which, as we have already seen with their hotel plans, extension of their event calendar and opening times, the council will be forced to accept.
Jobs. If the new Dreamland owners decide, as I think they will, to expand their activities in Margate then new jobs will be created. But bear in mind that many, if not most, of these jobs will be seasonal or part time jobs on zero hours contracts and low pay. This is hardly likely to be a major boost to the local economy or the reduction in poverty and deprivation in Margate or Thanet.
Tax Dreamland has now become part of a company, which by being registered in the US stare of Delaware, can avoid, or some would say dodge, paying its fair share of taxes both in America and all of the non-US countries in which its subsidiaries operate, including the UK.
Dodging its fair share of tax means that the NHS, Education, Social Care and many other public services are starved of the cash they so desperately need.
To have Live Nation move into one of the most deprived areas of the country, when that company, through its tax dodging, is contributing to that deprivation is an insult to the people of Margate and Thanet as a whole.
Levelling Up & Town Deal. Margate has been awarded £29 million in Government Levelling up and Town Deal grants. £4million of that money has already been allocated for use by Dreamland.
Surely with its new multinational, multi £billion turnover, owner Dreamland no longer requires this large public investment? Prehaps this money should be reclaimed by the council and put to better uses than subising a mega wealthty mutinational, tax dodging, monopoly.
Bearing in mind the power and influence of Dreamland's new owner perhaps the company should also be excluded from having a seat on the council's new levelling up committee and denied having say on where the £28million public money goes
My view I’m very worried about having a powerful multinational, multi £billion, monopolistic, tax dodging corporation setting up shop in Margate.
I do not believe that it will revive the local economy, create or share new opportunities with small businesses and community groups, or provide well paid permanent jobs for local people.
In many ways it will do the opposite and contribute instead to the persistence of Thanet’s unacceptably high levels of deprivation and inequality.
I will be writing more about this.
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