Agenda item

Leaders Report

To receive a report from the Leader of the Council in accordance with Council Procedure Rule 2.4.



The Leader, Councillor Rick Everitt, presented his report to Council, covering the following key points:


·  The success of the Margate Town Deal bid and all the hard work that went into it. He also acknowledged the work still to be done creating business cases for the projects that are to be taken forward.

·  Thanet will be bidding for up to 20 million pounds for Ramsgate, from the Government’s Levelling-up fund. Engagement with the community will be crucial to designing a bid which commands widespread public support.

·  In light of the importance of these two projects, changes will be made to Cabinet portfolio responsibilities; with the Leader working on regeneration, particularly for Ramsgate, and Cllr Duckworth continuing to be a part of the Margate Town Deal Board.

·  Cllr Duckworth will therefore be able to focus on the climate emergency issue and keep producing positive outcomes such as the new grass cutting regime for pollinators.

·  Explanation was given to the residents of Broadstairs that the Council had to prioritise areas for funding where it can make the biggest impact.

·  Thanks was expressed to the volunteers who helped clear up the polystyrene washed ashore at Ramsgate on Saturday 13 March 2021.

·  The first online Q&A session was held with Broadstairs residents recently, themed around beach management. Covering new PSPOs, the early opening of toilets, additional bins, an additional lifeguard at Joss Bay & visitor parking, the meeting was well attended, well received and a great success.

·  TDC have pressed local MPs for funding to support Thanet with the additional stress of being a coastal district in these challenging times.


Leader of the Conservative group, Councillor Ashbee, responded to the report making the following comments:


·  In relation to the funding acquired for Ramsgate and Margate, the hard work begins with the delivery of tangible improvements.

·  The Leader’s new role in this regeneration will enable him to keep Members and residents updated on progress. Clarification was requested on how this will be communicated.

·  Thanks was given to the finance team for their hard work administering funding during the pandemic.

·  The Leader was asked what had been put in place in preparation for the end of lockdown, though it was acknowledged that this question had been covered earlier in the meeting.

·  The outer areas of Thanet, combined with Broadstairs, makes up 38% of the overall population. Although it was understood that funding ought to go to the areas that it will have the greatest impact for, greater consideration of how these areas could be more included in the overall Thanet picture would be welcomed.

·  The success of the first video conference with residents was applauded for the excellent use of technology for communication. Moving forward a fine balance would be needed to ensure the democratic process was not distorted or restricted by these developments.


Councillor Everitt replied as follows:


·  Updating people on investment plans will happen by involving them in the processes, ensuring that the projects are inclusive and reaching the outskirts of Thanet. Change as a result of these projects will take time to materialise but TDC will work hard to keep people informed.

·  Birchington and Westgate were included in the area that could have been included in the Margate Town bid. The Conservative MP for those areas was on the board so any feelings of neglect in this decision could be directed to him.

·  In relation to the pandemic, yes the government had disbursed a lot of funds, but this council was still worse off than it was prior. The Council was grateful for what had been received and it is the job of the Council to make the best use of it.

·  Thanks was expressed to all staff across the Council, especially those on front line services during this time.


Leader of the Thanet Independents, Councillor Piper, commented on the report that:


·  Posting it online would have given the public more time to digest the information.

·  The Council should thank the government wholeheartedly for the money  it had received.

·  People from Ramsgate may be pleased that the Leader and officers from TDC will be supervising the Town Council in its approach to spending the funding.

·  The development of Westwood Cross could be blamed for the demise of the high streets.

·  Corporate performance graphs showed TDC’s performance in refuse collection to be consistent during the pandemic, despite there having been more cars blocking the streets.

·  With the purchase of a new fleet of diesel refuse lorries, it seemed that the electric dream was too much of a financial nightmare.


The Leader responded by saying:


·  The issue of not posting this report on the website was due to heightened sensitivities around using Council resources for political speeches during a pre-election period.

·  Although the Leader doesn’t share Councillor Piper’s concerns regarding Ramsgate Town Council, RTC are not the controlling body when it comes to this money, TDC is, but the Council will work closely with them in the process.

·  Westwood Cross was the right solution for Thanet, but we must do all we can to support our high streets.

·  New visibility and transparency on corporate performance coming to the website will be a welcome change for residents.

·  Electric vehicles would be great if possible, however they were twice the cost, required a substantially better charging set-up than TDC currently had and there were questions regarding the reliability of this relatively new technology. Bigger authorities would have to take the risk of innovating that TDC is unable to, but  the Council hopes that technology will move on so that the replacements for these vehicles can be electric.


Councillor Garner, Leader of the Green Party, responded to the report:


·  He welcomed the funding for Margate and commented that as it  was short of the original amount bid for, the council will have difficult decisions to make about which projects it is best spent on.

·  The bid for Ramsgate was also commented on as positive, but concerns were raised that the Council should hold open and respectful dialogue with stakeholders and residents during the process.

·  The Leader was right to note the reduction in the general fund revenue budget. The change in the way funding is delivered will disadvantage smaller authorities.

·  Agreeing that funding needs to be delivered to the areas with larger pockets of deprivation, he asked that areas of concern in Broadstairs and the villages were not forgotten.

·  Thanks was expressed to the volunteers who helped clear the polystyrene - a key question remained as to how sure TDC was that the remaining pontoons would not come loose, and whether the Council had conversations with Dover District Council regarding this?

·  A question was put as to whether now might be a good time to ban polystyrene take-away containers across the district?

·  Feedback from the online meeting was positive and Cllr Garner hoped that this communication with residents will continue.


The Leader replied to these comments as follows:


·  It had been assumed that we couldn’t ban polystyrene as a Council, but the Council will now look at how that can be achieved.

·  The Council shared Cllr Garner’s concern on the pollution and TDC officers had spoken to Dover about it.

·  Funding for local governments did appear to be biased. There was a consultation happening with regard to the New Homes Bonus and TDC will be submitting a response in respect of that. It seemed that some Councils were doing well out of the existing system and others will do better for a revised one.


Members noted the report.

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