A council could be set to splash £3 million of taxpayers’ cash on a “disgusting” town centre multi-storey car park scrawled in graffiti.
Thanet District Council could stump up the eye-watering sum to acquire Ramsgate’s Royal Harbour Car Park as it looks to balance its books in the future.
The authority currently leases the foreboding concrete building off Leopold Street, which has 394 spaces charged at £1.60 an hour.
But it could soon snap up the four-storey site after earmarking the hefty sum from capital funding, official papers say.
When quizzed, a council spokesperson denied bosses were fully committed to the move, instead claiming the cash would “fund the purchase in the future should the council decide to do so”.
News of the council’s plans surfaced in 2024 – 2025 budget, which was approved by full council at a meeting in its chambers on Thursday (February 8).
Meanwhile, residents say the site has fallen into disrepair attracting vandalism and anti-social behaviour (ASB).
Councillor for the central harbour ward, Rebecca Wing (Green), told KentOnline: “The parts of the car park that are okay and there are other parts which are totally disgusting - the stairwells and the underpath mostly.
“You hold your nose as you walk through.
“That’s part of the problem with anti-social behaviour in the town.”
“There is a real issue with anti-social behaviour and some of that has impacted the multi-storey car park. End of story.”
Cllr Wing hopes more investment to stop such behaviour at the site may be implemented, should the council buy it.
She said: “There could be some investment put in an electric gate to try and counter some of that anti-social behaviour.
“I don't think the anti-social behaviour is specifically targeted at the car park. But, It's just a big open space for kids to do stuff in.
“It’s in the right place but it's pretty hideous looking for a heritage town.”
Ramsgate’s central harbour ward - where the building is situated - had 109 crimes reported in the same month, official figures show.
A total of 17 were recorded as ASB and 35 as a mix of violence and sexual offences.
Cllr Wing added: “Nothing's really improved.
“I mean, you'll look at the figures and see that what's even more worrying is that the vast majority of crime is serious sexual assault and violence.
“But yes, there is anti-social behaviour.
“There is an issue with parts of the car park being pretty shocking and the fact that if you're disabled, there is no access.”
The lifts at Royal Harbour are currently broken and boarded up.
There is graffiti on almost every wall in the stairwell, as well as discarded litter and cigarette butts on the steps.
Signs warning vandals of CCTV have been spray-painted black.
Google reviews spanning several years show the state of the car park is an ongoing problem.
Five months ago, Bjorn Verbrugghe commented: “You can park there - but that's about it. “The rest of the parking lot is poorly maintained and looks a bit run down.
“The meter was completely smeared. The elevator did not work and the stairwell smelled of urine.”
A year ago, Jennifer Manning wrote: “Absolutely disgusting. No lifts and the stairs are filthy with litter.
“The stairwells stank of urine.
“Not a pleasant experience which reflects badly on the town.”
Gareth Gerrard visited the car park six years ago and said: “It definitely needs to be taken better care of; grim, dirty and used as an open toilet.
“It could (and should) be a great resource, since it is good for shops, marina and beach, but is in a shocking state of neglect.”
Others also praised the car park’s central location, with reviewer Rosanna Richardson writing: “It’s central to the Royal Harbour. The perfect place to park.”
A Thanet District Council spokesman told KentOnline the £3million is included in the 2025 – 2026 capital programme to “fund the purchase in the future should the council decide to do so”.
They added: “The council takes all reports of anti-social behaviour seriously and recognises the harm that it causes.
“All cases are investigated with the help of our partners. In the case of the Royal Harbour Car Park, tackling anti-social behaviour is being handled by Kent Police.
"The shutter at the car park has been out of action and engineers attended the site on Wednesday 7 February to assess the requirements for repair.
“We are also working to appoint a contractor to repair the lifts so that we can confirm a timeframe to have them back up and running.
"All of our car parks are cleaned daily and receive a deep clean on a twice-yearly basis. This includes the removal of chewing gum and graffiti."
In 2018, shocking footage showed teenagers starting a fire in the stairwell of the multi-storey.
It appeared to show five boys using an accelerant to set fire to a pile of litter and causing a ‘mini explosion’.