At this month’s meeting of Executive, Conservative councillor Nick Kilby suggested that the Council should pursue a property developer’s bid to buy Raven’s Ait, which would have seen the small Thames island transformed with a new-build for 20 luxury apartments and a large restaurant.
In the context of considerable security costs to safeguard the Council-owned asset from damage from squatters and thieves, Executive Members were considering proposed bids for sale or lease of the Council-owned land.
The Leader of the Council recalled: “Councillor Nick Kilby was insistent that we pursue a freehold offer from the highest bidder. He admitted that it was “barmy” offer, but suggested we could encourage the developers to cover the security costs we are now paying to protect the island.
“Cllr Kilby either wanted to play hard and fast with an honest but misguided offer from a property developer, demanding money off them when their bid had no Council or resident support – or he was serious about selling off the asset for a completely inappropriate large-scale luxury development.
“I don’t know whether Nick Kilby is in the pockets of big businesses, or wants to cheat them out of money – but either way he is being dishonest. Local people want the Council to do a sensible and serious deal for the island, and that was what was agreed tonight.”
The Liberal Democrat administration approved a lease-hold for Raven’s Ait to the local, family-owned business Hotel Antoinette. Their bid to open a low-rise venue with community access was accepted on the agreement that they reduce their lease to a 25-year deal and the local sea scouts have continued usage of the island’s facilities.