Venue: Council Chamber, Council Offices, Cecil Street, Margate, Kent. View directions
Contact: Gabriella Stewart
Apologies for Absence
Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Coleman-Cooke, Dexter, Hopkinson, Huxley, Leys, Pat Moore, Paul Moore, Rogers and Towning.
To receive any declarations of interest. Members are advised to consider the advice contained within the Declaration of Interest advice attached to this Agenda. If a Member declares an interest, they should complete the Declaration of Interest Form
There were no declarations of interest.
To approve the minutes of the meeting of Council held on 14 July 2022, copy attached.
It was proposed by the Chair, seconded by the Vice-Chair and agreed that the minutes of the Council Meeting held on 14 July 2022 be approved and signed by the Chair.
To receive any announcements from the Chairman, Leader, Members of the Cabinet or Chief Executive in accordance with Council Procedure Rule 2.2 (iv).
There were no announcements made at the meeting.
To receive petitions from the public in accordance with Council Procedure Rule 12.
No petitions were received in accordance with council procedure rule 12.
To receive questions received from the press or public in accordance with Council Procedure Rule 13.
QUESTION NO.1 FROM A MEMBER OF THE PUBLIC REGARDING SEWAGE OUTFLOWS
The questioner was not present at the meeting to ask the question, therefore the question will be responded to in writing.
QUESTION NO.2 FROM A MEMBER OF THE PUBLIC REGARDING THE CLIMATE CRISIS
Mr Roberts asked Councillor R. Bayford the following question:
‘Do the councillors believe that, in the context of their role, they are doing all they can to respond to the climate crisis?’
Councillor R. Bayford responded with the following points:
· On the 11th July 2019 Thanet District Council declared a Climate Emergency. Following this, an officer working group and a cross party councillor working group were formed. These groups initiated actions on the council’s first environmental action plan.
· All actions within this first environmental action plan had been completed. This included: adding increased energy efficiency measures in the local plan; all developments over 10 units will need to have installed an EV charging point; and targets are set for an improvement in the air quality in Thanet to meet all UK standards.
· The working party was changed to a cross party cabinet advisory group in December 2021. This was in order to produce the Net Zero Strategy and action plan.
· In October 2022 the new Net Zero Strategy was published. This is going through a period of public engagement.
· The new Net Zero Strategy has a full action plan, which involves all services of the Council. The strategy aims to reach net zero by 2030 in Thanet council’s estates and transport. It also seeks to address emissions and insulation in social housing and Thanet wide housing.
· The strategy was monitored every month by Councillor R. Bayford, Cabinet Member for Environmental Services and Special Projects, and was further monitored by the cabinet advisory group every two months.
· The Council had also addressed the ecological emergency in the past year, notably by planting wildflower meadows and trees.
To receive questions from Members of the Council in accordance with Council Procedure Rule 14.
QUESTION NO.1 FROM A MEMBER REGARDING THE MAINTENANCE OF MEMORIALS AND MONUMENTS
Councillor Crittenden asked Councillor Pugh the following question:
‘Why has this Council ceased to provide adequate maintenance and care of the memorials and monuments for which it is responsible, including Grade II listed structures, in accordance with the decision of Cabinet in October 2005? And what is proposed to rectify this situation?’
Councillor Pugh responded with the following points:
· The Council had limited resources in order to undertake maintenance work on its property assets. Consequently, maintenance programmes had been reduced with priority placed on the most significant buildings and assets with health and safety related works.
· The Council had been reviewing their assets so that a more sustainable position could be achieved across the portfolio.
· The property director had met with Councillor Crittenden in August 2022 to discuss the Destiny Statue cleaning works, and discussed possible transfer to Town Councils of statues and ancient monuments.
QUESTION NO.2 FROM A MEMBER REGARDING GRAFFITI IN RAMSGATE AND MARGATE CAR PARKS
Councillor Albon asked Councillor Pugh the following question:
‘The state of the multi storey car parks in Ramsgate and Margate are disgusting, can you please confirm that action will be taken to thoroughly clean and remove graffiti as soon as possible?’
Councillor Pugh responded with the following points:
· The car parks had been subjected to significant graffiti attacks over the summer months in 2022. These graffiti attacks had all been reported to the minor works team for removal or painting over. Additionally, officers from the Council's CCTV team had removed offensive graffiti within Mill Lane.
· The incidents had been reported to Kent Police for further investigation.
· Resources had been redirected to high priority areas over the summer months in 2022. The Council’s cleansing team had returned to normal services, and would visit the car parks three times a week to complete general litter picking.
· Deep cleans were scheduled twice a year, the next deep clean was scheduled in October 2022.
· The Council was doing the best they could regarding the car parks. However, the responsibility also laid with those individuals that carried out the graffiti attacks.
Councillor Albon followed up his question by asking if the Council was going to continue with the lease of the Royal Harbour car park, and when would the lifts be operational?
Councillor Pugh responded that an update would be provided to Councillor Albon after consulting with the relevant officers.
QUESTION NO.3 FROM A MEMBER REGARDING LOCAL HOUSING ALLOWANCE LEVELS
Councillor Whitehead asked Councillor J. Bayford the following question:
‘In light of our current housing crisis, what interventions are planned to force central recognition of the fact that our LHA rates are currently utterly insufficient for the property demands of our area?’
Councillor J. Bayford responded with the following points:
· The Council worked closely with local landlords and letting agents, with the aim of ensuring that the private rented sector would continually make valuable contributions to meeting housing needs and supporting households that needed assistance to access suitable and affordable private sector tenancies.
· As the cabinet member for housing, Councillor J. Bayford had written to the Minister for Housing at the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, raising concerns about the local housing pressures. It was noted in the letter that the upward pressure on private sector rents had meant that over 80% of the properties available in the private rented sector had rents above the local housing allowance rate, and in particular the 30% percentile rent.
· The Council had on-going commitments to the direct provision of new affordable homes. Since April 2021, this work had seen the number of new affordable homes delivered increase to 126 in 2021/22, with a further increase to 314 homes projected to be completed during 2022/23.
· The Council would need to continue to seek increases in the Local Housing Allowances for Thanet.
Councillor Whitehead followed up her question by asking if there had been a response to the letter written by Councillor J. Bayford.
Councillor J. Bayford responded that there had been no response by the relevant minister.
QUESTION NO.4 FROM A MEMBER REGARDING PUBLIC EV CHARGERS
Councillor Bailey asked Councillor R. Bayford the following question:
‘There are two public charging points in Ramsgate, two in Margate, rapid chargers in Margate and Birchington - but nothing in Broadstairs.
I have been asked by residents about the lack of provision in Broadstairs and when the Council’s Net Zero Strategy and Action Plan is being launched surely this should be a priority. Buying an electric car is a big commitment and one of the considerations in making that decision is the availability of charging points.
Visitors to Broadstairs also rely on the availability of charging points.
Could you please tell me where we stand currently and when we can expect to see public EV chargers in Broadstairs?’
Councillor R. Bayford responded with the following points:
· EV charging points had been installed across the district as and when government funding had been available.
· The chargers in the multi storey car parks were out of contract. The Council was working with Kent County Council on a new scheme across the district. As part of the new contract, there would be charging points installed in Albion Street car park.
· There was an expectation that as electric cars become more popular, the number of charging points would increase across the country.
· Since 2018, the Council had been requesting EV points as part of new developments.
· There was government funding available for parish and town councils to install EV charging points in their own car parks, or publicly available spaces.
· Two of the actions within the Net Zero Strategy are as followed:
· Complete installation of the currently funded electric charging points across the district.
· Create a future plan for EV charging points on TDC owned land as part of the Parking Strategy Review.
QUESTION NO.5 FROM A MEMBER REGARDING ELECTRIC VEHICLE CHARGING POINTS
Councillor Wing asked Councillor R. Bayford the following question:
‘The recent HeyCar Report concerning Electric Vehicle sales indicates a rapid growth in both Battery Electric Vehicles (BEV) and Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEV), which in 2021 represented 18.5% of all new vehicle SALES registrations. This upward trend and clear growing demand continued into 2022 with March seeing the highest volume of registrations ever recorded in a single month. The Electric Vehicle market is simply 'booming' and will continue to accelerate, out striping diesel vehicle sales by the end of 2022. Department for Transport data published in January 2022 puts Thanet in the bottom 20% to 40% of Local Authorities in terms of Electric Vehicle charging provision. How many Electric Charging points have Thanet District Council provided for public use, where are they and do we have any plans to increase provision, given the rapidly growing demand?’
Councillor R. Bayford responded with the following point:
· Some charging points had been installed. However, this was only 4 chargers. These chargers were not currently working, but would be fixed under the new contract.
Councillor Wing followed up her question by asking when the parking review would start, would this engage with residents, ward councillors and other stakeholders badly affected.
Councillor R. Bayford responded that parking was not under his portfolio. The public and councillors views would be taken on board. In a recent review of the action plan, it was noted to move the EV charging point’s provision further up the agenda.
QUESTION NO.6 FROM A MEMBER REGARDING PARKS AND OPEN SPACES
Councillor Huxley gave her apologies, and was unable to attend the meeting to ask the question; therefore the question would be responded to in writing.
QUESTION NO.7 FROM A MEMBER REGARDING ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTIONS AND HOUSING DEVELOPMENT
Councillor Smith asked the Leader the following question:
‘To quote RSPB England, “This Government has... launched an attack on nature”
The UK governments recent 'mini-budget’ included plans for ‘investment zones’ where planning permission would be easier to get. Plans have also been announced for a ‘sunset clause’ on environmental protections introduced when the UK was in the EU, alongside suggestions that the planned Environmental Land Management Scheme, which would have paid farmers to improve nature on their land, is to be scrapped, and rumours that payment-by acre will no longer be linked to any environmental measures.
The experience with the Shottendane Road development this year demonstrated that our powers to protect the district's landscape, environment and quality of life are already weak. What assurances can you give us that the Council remains committed to sustainable environmental policy in Thanet, in the face of central government's agenda to promote economic growth at all costs by enabling unlimited housing development?’
The Leader responded with the following points:
· The Council remained committed to a sustainable environment policy in Thanet, in line with legislation, government guidance and TDC’s own local plan.
· The scope of the work in reviewing the local plan included environmental issues, climate change and the adoption of any revised policies. This would be a matter for the full Council to consider.
· Investment zones did not promote economic growth at all costs. Instead they specifically targeted identified geographic locations which had been proposed by local councils.
· There was limited detail about how investment zones would work. But it was clear that they would aim to reduce the tax burdens in investment zones to help promote economic growth.
· Thanet’s zone proposal would focus on economic growth with the aim of creating jobs which the local community needed.
Councillor Smith followed up her question by asking to what extent the Council could resist the rolling back of environmental legislation.
The Leader responded that there was misconception around the investment zones. The government had not stipulated details regarding the whole matter. TDC could only follow the guidelines and the specific laws. Therefore, the Leader was unable to confirm whether or not there was anything that the Council could do other than remain within the law.
QUESTION NO.8 FROM A MEMBER REGARDING LOCAL TREES
Councillor Austin asked Councillor R. Bayford the following question:
‘We all know trees are important - for carbon capture, cooling in heat waves, biodiversity and our wellbeing. Thanet has the lowest tree cover in Kent – yet mature trees are regularly felled, both for development and other reasons, and replacing them is a real challenge.
Please could you tell me:
How members & residents can find out when local trees (particularly those with Protection Orders) are under threat of felling?
How long it typically takes to place a Protection Order on a tree, and what protection this confers in practice?
Whether we’re considering making more TDC land available to community groups wanting to plant and maintain trees?
How and when we plan to replace our Horticulture & Biodiversity Officer? A consultant undertaking desk-based assessments from Devon seems inadequate for the task at hand.’
Councillor R. Bayford responded with the following points:
· All applications for works to protected trees, or notices for works to trees in Conservation areas, were published on the Council’s website. Site notices were also posted at the sites where the works are proposed.
· The Council was not required to be informed of work to unprotected trees within the district.
· Time taken to serve a tree preservation order (TPO) was dependent on multiple factors, this included carrying out assessments of the tree group and legal checks on ownership.
· The Council had employed a Planning Assistant for trees.
· New TPO’s were provisionally placed for 6 months, and the Council were required to confirm a TPO within this time to make the order permanent.
· The Council would have a clearer picture of where trees could be planted on TDC land by spring 2023 in preparation for the autumn 2023 / spring 2024 planting season.
· TDC had drafted a Community Tree Planting Protocol.
· It was anticipated that a new officer role within the Open Spaces team would be created and filled in 2023, replacing the previous Horticultural and Biodiversity Officer. This role would span tree advice for planning and tree surveys ad health and safety in the Council’s open spaces.
Councillor Austin followed her question by asking whether there was anything the Council could do in order to amplify the information which goes out to members and the community regarding TPO’s being threatened with felling.
Councillor R. Bayford responded that this was something that the Council could look at. These decisions were published on the website and notices were put up at sites.
QUESTION NO.9 FROM A MEMBER REGARDING THE COST OF LIVING CRISIS
Councillor Farrance asked the Leader the following question:
‘According to the Index of Multiple Deprivation (2019) for England, Thanet continues to rank as the most deprived local authority in Kent.
In particular, Margate Central ranks 67th out of 32,844 local areas, closely followed by Cliftonville West at 117th, and Newington at 284th. Clearly, these figures illustrate that we have extremely high levels of Children in Poverty, Homelessness, Unemployment and benefits claimants and Rough Sleepers.
This 'cost of living crisis’ (or cost of capitalism crisis) will hit thousands of our residents and their wellbeing, and put them in a very dangerous position. Many people are very fearful about how they will be able to find the money to stay warm and find enough to eat. Therefore, could the Council outline their plans to support the thousands of residents suffering deprivation, particularly our children, and elderly and disabled, through the coming winter months?’
The Leader responded with the following points:
· The Council had administered over £8.7M of support to approximately 58,000 households in the district in forms of the Council Tax energy rebate payments.
· The Council had also provided target support through its own discretionary energy rebate scheme. This had allocated £371,000 and benefitted almost 10,000 households in the district.
· The Local Council Tax Support Schemes in Thanet was recognised as one of the most generous schemes in the country. This scheme had provided up to 90% relief for working age residents.
· The Council had provided, and was continuing to provide support in the form of Discretionary Housing Payments.
· Through the Household Support fund, the Council had provided over £460,000. This included direct financial support to pensioners with energy bills, with approximately 1,500 Well and Warm packs, which included money and energy saving essentials such as microwave ovens. The third tranche of the Household Support Fund was due to be rolled out over the autumn and winter period of 2022/2023.
· The housing options team had continued to financially assist households which were threatened with homelessness and various ways including:
1. Assistance to pay off rent arrears to sustain their tenancy;
2. Support with going through budget plans and personal housing plans;
3. Helping with the rent in advance and deposit towards new accommodation.
· The RISE team (Rough Sleeper Intervention, Support and Empowerment) had secured funding up until March 2025, and provided food vouchers, phones, move-in packs, initial gas and electric top-ups, donated items, furniture as well as giving help with food parcels and signposting to food banks. This had been designed to help someone from rough sleeping into a sustainable home.
· Within the private sector, the Council was providing support for people experiencing fuel poverty to access funding for energy efficiency improvements.
Councillor Farrance followed up her question by asking if there were any plans to support food banks more, including offering warm spaces to people in the winter months.
The Leader responded that the Council and the community team were very supportive of the food banks. Tenancy was coming to an ... view the full minutes text for item 7i
Notice of Motion
To receive any Notices of Motion from Members of Council in accordance with the Council Procedure Rule 3.
It was proposed by Councillor Smith and seconded by Councillor Austin that:
“According to the outgoing CEO of Southern Water, “Thanet is the most water-stressed area in the UK”.
Southern Water has discharged sewage on Thanet’s coastline repeatedly for more than a decade and continues to do so. In recent years public pressure and court action have brought this situation to the fore, but TDC does not yet have a systematic approach to addressing how this impacts the supply and treatment of water.
Our current planning systems assume that existing water supply and treatment infrastructure will meet any needs arising from new developments. Adopting this motion will ensure TDC is provided with specific data that will help officers and members to determine whether we have suitable infrastructure to manage mains water supply, sewage discharges and weather-related run-offs from planned developments.
Loopholes in national planning rules mean we face steep rises in new housing development. Yet as it stands the link between development and sewage overload is not made visible when it comes to planning. To date we have not been able to respond as robustly was we might wish to sewage discharges and mains water supply problems. Adopting this motion will change this by allowing planning decisions to be much better informed.
Southern Water’s outgoing CEO was very public in apologising for the 6,971 illegal spills and accepting Court findings that his company dumped an estimated 21 billion litres, or 7,400 Olympic-sized swimming pools of untreated sewage into the environment by deliberate actions, negligence and undermining of investigations.
Adopting this motion will test Southern Water’s newfound honesty and openness by inviting the company and regulators into an active partnership with TDC. We have seen some signs that Southern Water has improved, but it is vital that they collaborate by providing accurate and timely data that will support more effective strategic planning by the Council.
This motion asks the Environment Agency to issue a position statement. They have done this on water quality issues in West Sussex which directly affected planning decision-making as infrastructure plans were found to be inadequate.
Overall, this motion will allow councillors to ask questions of those with direct and indirect responsibility for water supply and treatment, so that constructive ways can be found for joint action, providing a sound future basis for development and progress.
This Council resolves to:
1. Act upon TDC’s duty to protect its coastline from immediate and cumulative impacts from pollution, in line with its local planning policy and the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).
2. Acknowledge that water quality has deteriorated and continues to do so due to the cumulative impact of multiple sewage discharge events (‘sewage overload’).
3. Seek to better understand the cumulative impact of wastewater discharge, including untreated sewage, on the District’s coastline, wildlife and the health of its residents.
4. Take a lead on addressing this issue, working constructively with other agencies.
5. Write to the Environment Agency requesting a position statement that sets out ... view the full minutes text for item 8a
To receive a report from the Leader of the Council in accordance with Council Procedure Rule 2.4.
The Leader, Councillor Ashbee, presented her report to Council, covering the following key points:
· A new owner had been selected for the Granville Theatre in Ramsgate. The Council had initiated the legal process to progress the sale to completion. The prospective buyer was Westwood One Ltd, and was selected through a robust evaluation process. The proposal would see the theatre refurbished to provide a high quality production, dance and cinema space.
· The management of the Margate Winter Gardens had been returned to the Council on Friday 12 August. The venue was unavailable for bookings while an appraisal took place.
· Temporary security screening had been installed and fencing was put in place to preserve the building. Further security measures included daily patrols, internal inspections and CCTV.
· Members had agreed at the Cabinet meeting on the 22 September 2022 that the first phase of studies would go ahead. This included: a costed structural survey, a complete set of site drawings and engaging a team of consultants to conduct a review of the Margate night time economy to understand the Winter Gardens’ role further.
· The Margate Creative Land Trust had recruited an Interim Director.
· The Development Consent Order (DCO) for the Manston Airport site had been approved. The Council would address the DCO decision through the update of the local plan.
· Residents, community groups, local stakeholders and businesses had been invited to comments on the New Net Zero Strategy which has been formed by the Council.
· In September 2022 Thanet held a series of eco days as part of the national Great Big Green week. These events took place at Dane Park, Ellington Park and Pierremont Park. Events included activities for children, plastic free picnics and craft sessions.
· Ellington Park in Ramsgate had been awarded a Green Flag Award.
· The Rotary Clubs in Thanet led a project which installed twelve new recycling stations across the main bathing beaching in Thanet in summer 2022. The recycling stations have been emptied and it was noted that three tonnes of recycling was kept away from landfill or the sea.
· Margate main sands had a multi-agency litter pick on Saturday 20 August. In one hour, 34 bags of rubbish and 10 bags of recycling had been collected.
· The Open Spaces team undertook biodiversity work at Ramsgate cemetery. This included the installation of bird boxes, wildflowers and a woodland walk.
· There had been ocean-themed murals in Margate. These murals were part of the Rise Up Residency, and were created by 17 local and international artists in order to raise awareness of ocean conservation.
· The Council had been awarded £3.8M of funding by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, through the Rough Sleeping Initiative.
· On Monday 10 October 2022 a judge would pass a sentence regarding the 28 guilty verdicts for 4 defendants who had been involved in managing rented flats in Athelstan Road, Margate.
· The Council had been considering changes to the Council Tax Support scheme. These changes were are followed:
1. New applications to be ... view the full minutes text for item 9.
Councillor Rev. Piper, the Chairman of the Overview and Scrutiny Panel presented the report asking members to commend the report.
Members noted the report.
The Leader had informed Democratic Services that she wished to replaced Councillor Kup with Councillor Wright as a member on the Governance and Audit Committee.
Councillor Everitt had no new nomination changes.
Councillor Garner had no new nomination changes.
Councillor Rev. Piper had no new nomination changes.