Mr Tim Willis, Deputy Chief Executive introduced the report and made the following comments:
· The proposed fees and charges for 2019/20 had been considered and approved by Cabinet on 15 November for recommendation to Council, subject to comments and views from the Finance Scrutiny Panel;
· There was a budget gap of £1.8million and the proposed fees and charges would contribute £189,000 towards closing the gap;
· Any revisions to reduce the proposed fees and charges would mean that new sources of revenue would have to be identified to raise the equivalent amount required to close the budget gap.
Members then asked questions and made comments as detailed below:
· Could Cabinet consider waiving the £50 fee for child cremation? Death in youth was tragic to affected families;
· Bulky Waste: 3 items and 10 sacks would cost £25.50 but 4 items and 15 sacks would cost £25.50. Why would there be such an fee structure as the public would simply choose the latter option;
· Under licensing there were no increases at all being proposed right across the board. One would hope that rate of inflation increases would be considered in the proposals, more so considering that the these charges were discretionary;
· Broadstairs Harbour: New charge for vessels over 10metres: If this was new how could there be an 87% increase to this fee?
· Adult cremation: The proposed increase if £50, last year it was increased by £100 (in money terms). If the fee was linked to the cost of providing a service. The 30% increase was excessive. Why wasn’t this fee linked to the cost for providing this service rather on market forces? Thanet District Council was the only one who charged this fee for children under the age of twelve in South East Kent. Other districts charge much less and yet they are much wealthier than Thanet;
· Could Cabinet consider setting up a cabinet advisory group for fees and charges for the future budget setting process?
· Could the fees and charges schedule a bit more annotation that would help with understanding the information in the schedule?
Responding to Member comments and questions said the following
· Bulky Waste: £25.50 would be the minimum charge for bulky waste. A more detailed answer would be provided after the meeting;
· Licensing: The amount charged would be for the services being given and these are determined on the advice from Heads of Service in discussion with Finance department. It was felt that there was no head room for increasing the licensing fees. The Panel could recommend o on this issue to Cabinet;
· Broadstairs Harbour charge: It was not a new charge. This was an error;
· Cremation Charges: The increases in the charges were on a year on year basis.
Councillor Campbell proposed, Councillor Stuart Piper seconded and the Panel agreed to forward the following recommendations to Cabinet:
1. To consider removing the fee for cremation services of children under the age of seven years;
2. To review the costs for cremation services for all age groups, having considered similar charges in other districts;
3. To review the licensing fee charges in order to determine whether it was appropriate that there was no increases in licensing fees across the board;
4. To consider whether it was appropriate to set up an all party cabinet advisory group to look at future fees and charges.