Dreamland loses £5m in opening season, operator blames council blunder
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Dreamland loses £5m in opening season, operator blames council blunder

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Heritage theme park Dreamland is in troubled waters, entering into a voluntary debt plan just six months after the historic attraction reopened to the public.

Sands Heritage, the body behind the attraction in Margate, UK, has recorded a net loss of £5m (US$7.6m, €6.9m) since Dreamland reopened on 19 June.

An insolvency firm has been appointed by Sands Heritage for payments to its suppliers after hundreds of outstanding bills were left unpaid. Assuming a payment plan is agreed during a meeting on 23 December, the park will continue to run with the debts paid over a five year plan up to 2021.

Sands Heritage won the right to operate the 95-year-old attraction from park owners Thanet Council in November 2014. Sands Heritage has said that the cash crisis the park currently finds itself in is the result of poor management from the council’s side, with the operator alleging the body broke key contractual agreements, leading to huge losses in revenue over the busy summer trading period.

One of the main failures, says Sand Heritage, was not being able to open the Scenic Railway on time, resulting in 50 per cent fewer visitors than had been anticipated over the summer season. In addition, Sands Heritage was forced to takeover incomplete building works from the council which resulted in the park closing for 17 days shortly after opening. Failure to open other rides, restore the menagerie cages and to complete important landscape work was also blamed.

As a result, the park threatened legal action against the council, which agreed to pay the sum of £1.05m (US$1.6m, €1.45m) in compensation costs but denied a breach of contract.

Part of the debt owed has already been paid to key creditors, with a further £913,000 (US$1.4m, €1.3m) left to form the basis of Sands Heritage’s repayment plan.

"We are working together with our creditors in respect of a Company Voluntary Administration (CVA) under the terms of which we expect creditors to be paid in full,” said Dreamland CEO, Eddie Kemsley.

“We are able to draw a line on a series of delays and late investments that have hindered our intentions to provide the best all-round experience for all of our visitors. We are grateful to all of our creditors for their understanding, support and patience and we look forward to adding to Thanet's tourism industry."

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Heritage theme park Dreamland is in troubled waters, entering into a voluntary debt plan just six months after the historic attraction reopened to the public.

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