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:
· She took the opportunity to remember those who had lost their lives during the Covid pandemic and offered thanks to everyone who had helped to get the Country through the worst of it.
· The new administration would be looking for ways to improve the efficiency of the Council’s core services, and would be looking at opportunities to encourage inward investment.
· The administration had reviewed the levelling up bids for Margate and Ramsgate. If successful, both bids would be a boost for the District.
· The Leader had an ongoing dialogue with the Chief Executive of Southern Water following the failings at the pumping station on 16 June.
Leader of the Labour Group, Councillor Everitt, made the following points:
· He hoped that both levelling up bids would be successful, but was concerned that the success of one bid may make the success of the other bid less likely.
· The Government had underfunded the Council for the last ten years, and the Council did not have enough money to offer the service that residents demanded. The search for efficiencies would not be sufficient to make up for this shortfall.
· Southern Water had a history of dishonesty and the service should be bought under public control.
· He hoped that the Leader would work with all the political groups within the Council, for the good of the people in Thanet.
The Leader replied to Councillor Everitt’s comments with the following points:
· She would continue to look for funding opportunities from the Government, however she wanted to look at ways that the Council could be less dependent on Government funding. Members were asked to come forward with suggestions if they had any ideas to generate income.
· The new administration would fully engage with all groups within the Council.
Councillor Reverend Piper, as leader of the Thanet Independents Party, made the following points:
· He wished to offer the new administration every success, particularly regarding the levelling up bids.
· The Leader had been quick to respond to the Southern Water incident.
· The Leader would need energy and cross party support to be successful.
The Leader replied to Councillor Reverend Piper’s comments with the following points:
· She acknowledged that there was work to do.
· The Council had offered to manage the compensation scheme for Southern Water, in order to make the scheme easier for businesses to make claims.
Councillor Garner as Leader of the Green Party made the following points:
· He welcomed Councillor Ashbee into the leadership role.
· He would join the Leader in remembering those who lost their lives to Covid. The pandemic had taken a toll on Thanet, and he wanted to thank everyone involved, particularly Council Officers who had continued to work throughout.
· There was a lot of public interest in the Ramsgate levelling up bid, community involvement and transparency must be maintained throughout the process.
· The full details of the two levelling up bids should be made available to the public.
· The latest Southern Water failing showed that the company prioritised paying dividends above paying to upgrading their systems.
· The Chief Executive of Southern Water should come before Members to explain what was being done to rectify the situation.
The Leader replied to Councillor Garner’s comments noting that:
· Community engagement was important across the District. The specific details of the bids could not be released until they had been approved, however they would be made publically available when it was possible.
· The Chief Executive of Southern Water would be invited to attend a Members briefing in August.
Members noted the report.