Friday, 18 September 2009

SHADOW UPDATE 17/09/09

Labour Shadow Team comments on Thursday evenings TDC Cabinet meeting.


Introduction

TDC Labour Group Leader Cllr. Clive Hart said "several items discussed on Thursday evening will kick-start start public consultations that will prove extremely interesting over the next few months. Labour councillors believe in open and comprehensive engagement with residents and we will be monitoring all consultations very closely indeed".

Cllr. Clive Hart - Phone: 01843 298770

Item 4 Budget Monitoring Report

Shadow Cabinet Member Cllr. Peter Campbell raised concern that the council was to repay £58.6K of ERDF grant which was due to recipients failing to meet their grant conditions.

Cllr. Peter Campbell - Phone: 01843 585738

Shadow Cabinet Member Cllr. Iris Johnston also raised the following issues from the report:
9.1 Concerns that there was £32k underspend on the HRA account through savings on supervision at a time she was raising concerns with officers on the performance of one particular contractor. She emphasised the need for even more monitoring not less.
9.2 Cllr. Johnston welcomed the Cabinet member’s agreed reduction of Council tenant’s rent increases be limited to 3.1% in line with the Labour Government’s recommendations. She had highlighted this need at Full Council as a necessity last Spring. (The Labour Government had insisted all councils must keep any increases to a minimum and Cllr. Johnston ensured TDC passed on this information to tenants at the earliest opportunity thus cutting the increase by almost half.)
9.3. Cllr. Johnston asked if officers had started the consultation process which ends on 27th October which changes original systems of redistributing revenue. A council officer admitted that TDC had a better than most arrangements at present and that work was commencing.
Page 18 Cllr Johnston asked if the 76k referred to in the report for Margate Connections and apparently earmarked for even more works outside the cafe G was remainder money from the original European funding for the Turner Way or TDC’s own money. She expressed concern that so much had been spent on the project which had had significant problems. Cllr. Ezekiel was unable to answer and asked his officer to advise.
Cllr Johnston also referred to the failed expensive purchase of the old Marks and Spencer site and the TDC land beside the Hairdressers which is now derelict She questioned if the 812.190K listed was SEEDa money which the officer confirmed was the case.( None of the promises made by the Conservatives on a major retail development with 86 flats and offices has been met and the 4.9 million expenditure appears as Labour suspected to have been a very foolish venture for TDC).
Cllr. Iris Johnston - Phone: 01843 299207
Item 7 Corporate Performance Pack
Margate renewal: Cllr. Johnston expressed grave concern that herself and Cllr. John Watkins who constantly are the first to raise issues in their Margate central Ward are not represented at Margate Renewal Partnership meetings. She referred to a specific meeting last week with the Chamber of Commerce.
Councillor Ezekiel was dismissive of her role as an elected representative and said as he was the Vice Chair of the Margate Renewal Partnership he saw no need for her involvement.
Cllr. Johnston, who has been a councillor since 1995 said when Labour Controlled TDC they always involved ward councillors and that she wanted a presentation on how monies were being spent in the ward.
( Councillor Johnston has specifically asked for Scrutiny to look at all grants handed out by the Margate Renewal Partnership but Conservative Chairman Bob Bayford has yet to confirm when this is likely to happen An Overview and Scrutiny meeting for 1st September was cancelled through lack of business)
Transport Links. Cllr. Johnston asked that any plans to develop transport links must include requests made in petitions with thousands of signatures on improved bus services which should include Sunday and other services. She referred to the latest petition due to be presented on 15th October and her disappointment that the Joint Transportation meeting due this month had been cancelled citing ‘lack of business’
Page 55. Cllr. Johnston raised issues on the absence of officers at a recent Margate Central PACT meeting. She said it was essential suitably qualified officers were in attendance.
P57. Cllr. Johnston said the 32% reduction in available man hours was evident in the poor state of some parts of Thanet. Lack of watering of gardens and street cleaning as well as the shelter at Primark proved the failures She had no answer to her request as to when the Schmit cleaner was to be repaired to clean the streets..
Page 61 Cllr. Johnston suggested the Council’s promise of ‘delivering a quality service as landlord to council tenants ‘ was not met in the production of a leaflet to Council tenants in East Kent which Thanet representatives had objected to at draft stage. Mr Brendan Ryan Housing officer dismissed her concerns by saying that it would nbe impossible to produce a leaflet and incorporate the tenants reprentative views. Councillor Johnston had no response to her question ‘Was the leaflet already printed when tenants said last week met with Mr Ryan and discussed their concerns?’
Cllr. Iris Johnston - Phone: 01843 299207

Item 8 Preferred Options for Local Development Framework Core Strategy

Speaking for the Labour Group Cllr. Clive Hart said "I have to say we do have some concerns with this document - mainly around the change of use of land at Eurokent Westwood where it is suggested employment land is given over to housing. The previous Labour administration at TDC had to fight long and hard to get this land designated for employment and following a group meeting on Tuesday that remains our position.

However, we firmly believe in engaging with local people to hear their views so we welcome a formal public consultation providing it is genuinely open and comprehensive. Employment must remain a firm priority for the council!

Now - speaking as a local councillor in Margate & Cliftonville - I also have concerns about suggestions to shorten Margate High Street as a shopping centre and the proposal to encourage businesses away from the top end is very questionable indeed - the natural free-market that exists at present is producing exactly the opposite effect with the lower half where the retail core is proposed in this document, is suffering badly".

Cllr. Clive Hart - Phone: 01843 298770

Cllr. Peter Campbell then asked about safeguarding and increasing the proportion of housing stock in Thanet as opposed to flats and a council officer assured him that the proposed core strategy would help in this regard. Indeed if the proposed policy was adopted there would be a clear emphasis on houses instead of flats on future developments sites. Cllr. Campbell also asked that all Planning Members be fully briefed on any changes to policy if and when they were adopted.

Cllr. Peter Campbell - Phone: 01843 585738

Item 13 Potential Asset Disposals 2010 - 2011

Cllr. Clive Hart raised concerns about land in Cliftonville that was on the schedule of TDC assets for potential disposal - the front strip of land at Palm Bay Recreation Ground that lies adjacent to Palm Bay School in Palm Bay Avenue.

Cllr. Hart told Cabinet "I'm informed by residents that details of a covenant should be in the Council's records, as years ago, when it was decided that the recreation site could not be developed, there had to be special permission sought to use a piece of the land for the school playing field. Indeed, I seem to recollect there was strong local opposition to Palm Bay school, especially from residents living in the close vicinity at the time".

In response Cllr. Ezekiel explained that he had indeed Chaired a residents 'Action Group' meeting at the time the school was being planned where objections were raised.

Cllr. Clive Hart - Phone: 01843 298770

Cllr. Johnston raised the issues of covenants on land at Hartsdown Park.
Councillor Ezekiel confirmed he had chaired meetings in the past on possible building on open space in Palm Bay and the officer said the legal department were looking in to covenants. Councillor Johnston said the old lavatory block in Westbrook had been part of a planning discussion with the owners of the Sea Bathing at the original Planning stage. She had had a commitment for their reopening using planning gain funds. KCC had also promised to repair the retaining wall since at least 2001 but had not done so despite her many requests.
Cllr. Iris Johnston - Phone: 01843 299207

A process of engagement and public consultation should now take place on potential asset disposal sites.

Published by Thanet Labour Group Press Office - 44 Northdown Road, Margate, CT9 2RW.

1 comment:

  1. here ends the Labour Party Political Broadcast........... yipeee

    ReplyDelete

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