A HAND delivered letter from Max Thomas, dated April 30, dropped on the doormat of Water Park residents this week. In his letter Max mentioned Cllr Esmond Jenkins and the forthcoming local elections.

The first thing that I found surprising in the letter was the third paragraph, where Max said: "ln 2007 WILD Ltd, a totally separate company from the Watermark Group, but in which I was a shareholder, entered into an arms-length transaction to purchase Keynes Country Park from the Cotswold Water Park Society for the sum of £265,000, a lease was entered into, at an initial rent off £70,000 a year, which would be reviewed annually in accordance with inflation. A far cry from Cllr Esmond Jenkins' implications of £1 a year. We have since served notice to terminate our lease."

It is quite interesting to note that there is no such company as "WILD Ltd" registered at Companies House but there is a company called Watermark Investments Leisure Developments Ltd, that in 2007, like the rest of the Watermark Groups, had Max Thomas and Howard Michael Thomas as Directors. This Company is a group of companies that not only shares Directors with Watermark's other two groups but also shares a registered address at Summer Lake, South Cerney.

Watermark Investments Leisure Developments Ltd consists of Watermark Country Park Ltd, Wmactive Limited Ltd, Wmfisheries (Wild) Ltd, Wmski (Wild) Ltd.

There are at least two other groups of companies sharing an address at Summer Lake with "Watermark Investments Leisure Developments Ltd", they are "Watermark Leisure and Property Group Limited" and "The Watermark Leisure Group Limited".

So when Max says that WILD Ltd was a "a totally separate company from the Watermark Group" he was being truthful in that this group of companies is legally separate from his other groups of Watermark companies but it is still one of the three Watermark Group companies, with the same registered address as the others and some shared Directors, including himself.

What about the disconnected between the £1 and the £70,000 per annum rent?

Watermark Investments Leisure Developments Ltd may very well have paid the one off fee of £265,000 in 2007 and it could have also paid £70,000 twice to the Cotswold Water Park Society in 2008 and 2009 but let us remember that this was when the Chief Executive was the now convicted fraudster Dennis Grant. Shortly after Dennis Grant was arrested, in March 2010, Watermark terminated the lease with the Cotswold Waterpark Society. This termination was made public in November 2010 in this newspaper. Dennis Grant was jailed in July 2012.

So what then of the rental payment? It matters little what Watermark paid to whom. The owners of Keynes Country Park are Gloucestershire County Council, ie the residents of Gloucestershire and the council have only ever received £1 per annum.

Mr Thomas also goes on to say; "Cllr Esmond Jenkins appears to have wasted huge sums of public money and thousands of manhours on an apparent 'witch-hunt', against the Cotswold District Council, the Gloucestershire County Council and ourselves. lt appears that the sole objective is to gain support for the local Liberal Democratic Party. The cost of his tirade is unfortunately and ultimately paid for by you and me, as tax payersl"

Max has omitted here, the cost to the taxpayer of the Standards for England enquiry which was brought about partly by his written request for Cotswold District Council to "rein in" Cllr Esmond Jenkins.

It is obvious to most that if it takes so much effort to uncover secret agreements between a private company and a charity over land deals, which no one seemingly knows anything about, then as well as effort, it will take time and money. I believe that it must have cost Cllr Jenkins a considerable sum so far to expose as much as he has done. It would be far easier if all those involved just made public what has been going on.

As for Max's statement that "we would like the record put straight" then let's hear the whole story Max!

The agreement between Max Thomas and conman Dennis Grant was so convoluted that many of us in the Water Park are still not sure whether a single penny in actual rent was ever paid by Watermark. We do know that a "grant" of £150,000 (aptly named in the circumstances) ended up in a phoney bank account opened by Dennis Grant but none of that money ever found its way to the Society for the benefit of local people and the wider environment.

The disastrous Watermark deal brought the Society to its knees financially and the only beneficiary from the whole affair is Watermark, which has ended up with a rent free tourist attraction that is still pulling in the fee-paying summer crowds.

If Max Thomas really cares about the communities of the Water Park, shouldn't he be dipping into his own deep pockets and making a contribution from the KCP profits rather than constantly attacking those who criticise his business methods? He can also stop sending me letters.


Somerford Keynes