Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Thanet District Council asks us how to spend our money or do they?

 Various messages coming from the council about money are difficult for the average resident, who has to pay for what the council spends, to interpret.

With a Labour council in power, the Conservatives won’t be much use apart from saying that Labour have lost their grip on the purse strings.
 Anyway the council seems to have linked together the business of asking for a council tax rise with a consultation asking us locals what we want the council to spend our money on.

If you go to the council’s website homepage this starts with a link called “Cuts to the Council’s budget for 2013-14” this takes you to a page telling you the council are going to charge us more money, at http://www.thanet.gov.uk/news/latest_press_releases/council_tax_announcement.aspx with a link on it taking you to a page telling you what the council spends our money on, at http://www.thanet.gov.uk/council__democracy/consultation/budget_consultation_2012-13.aspx this page says:
 “Budget consultation 2013-14
Your views wanted!
*Consultation now open until Friday 7 December 2012*”
Here is the table form this page:

Cost per Band D per year
Cost per week

Clean Streets (including waste & recycling)
Parks & Public Spaces
Community Safety (including wardens and reducing anti-social behaviour)
Promoting Thanet as a tourist destination
Sports Development
Culture & Events
Museums, Theatres & Galleries
Leisure Centres
Beaches (including inspections and water safety)
Planning Services
Public Conveniences
Environmental Health
Housing Regeneration
Economic Development & Regeneration
Services provided by East Kent Services (revenues and benefits, customer services and ICT)
Members services and democratic processes (including electoral registration and elections)
Support functions (including accountancy, legal services and business services)
 There are two grey areas that seem to mop up loads of money in this table I have marked them in red for clarity.
 Anyway there is a link to the consultation at the bottom of the page taking you to this page http://www.thanet.gov.uk/files/budget_consultation_2013_14.htm with a table rather similar to the one above

1.Please tell us which of the following services you value the most by rating each of them as either high, medium or low value.
Street cleansing
Waste and recycling
Parks and public spaces (including provision of facilities e.g. public conveniences)
Community Safety services (including wardens and reducing anti-social behaviour)
Promoting Thanet as a tourist destination
Beaches (including beach inspections and water safety)
Sports and Leisure facilities
Museums, Theatres and Galleries
Locally run events and the provision of grants to support events
Environmental Health (including dog warden, pest control, food safety)
Private Housing (regenerating housing estates, homelessness support)
Economic development and regeneration (including business advice and the creation of jobs)
Benefits Service and Advice
Landlord services (support to council tenants)
2.You have space to provide a response of up to 1,000 characters.

 Is it me or are the council now asking us not what to cut but what to spend more on. I will carry on wiht this if blogger lets me publish the tables.
Hot Diggery Dog not only have both tables published but you can even dot your preferences enabling you to play a pointless game.  

You may have noticed that the choices in the second table don’t seem to relate to the grey (marked in red) areas in the first table.
So if say you had a preference here for the council to spend more money on lawyers and bureaucrats, it is going to very difficult for you to express this. 

While if say you want them to spend less on street cleaning and public toilets it is dead easy.
The next page asks if you want to reduce the number of councillors, however it strangely doesn't ask if you want to reduce the number of council officers earning over £1,000 per week.
The next page is much easier it asks

4.Where possible, please tell us which of the following Thanet District Council services YOU have used in the last 12 months. Please tick all that apply.
Electoral roll or local elections
Benefit services and advice
Business advice
Commercial property advice
Council-owned car parks
Council-run sports activities/events
Council website
Environmental Health services
Housing services
Planning services
Public toilets
Telephone switchboard
At this point I should point out that ticking the boxes won’t effect anything on the council’s website and pressing the F5 button on your computer will clear them all so you can do it again.

there are then some pages asking how satisfied you are with council services, followed by a page with equality and diversity questions on it, strangely although it asks me what sex, age, religion I am and has a complex area to do with my ethnic group, it doesn't ask me if I am homosexual, bisexual or transgender.  

The pictures in the post were taken with the camera in my mobile phone during my lunch break today, which I think I am finally beginning to master and should expand if you click on them.

Going out at lunchtime when I only get an hour to eat my lunch, take any pictures, do any shopping and so on requires an eat on the go approach.

I went to Rooks to get a bacon roll but the queue was too log to I opted for a ham salad baguette £1.99 from their deli counter, passing a greatly increased number of mostly empty cafés and restaurants I did ponder how this works.     


  1. So where does the capital cost and running dosts of Dreamland come into this? £600k plus already spent on purchasing rides and no doubt tidy sum spend on the CPO, maybe thats a chunch of one of your "red" items.
    To me it looks like a gamble that we cannot finance at this point in time, Maybe the site owner should be allowed to come up with the goods.

  2. Are there many TDC officers earning over 1,000 GBP`s a week?

    1. TEC statement of accounts for 2011-2012 shows 29.

  3. Services provided by East Kent Services (revenues and benefits, customer services and ICT) - this is the so called shared service or Donna Reed's vanity project. Shared service is supposed to save money so how come it's the 2nd highest cost in the table ?? Bet it hasn't delivered on the promised savings.

  4. Council Officer - not on £1k a week!October 31, 2012 1:29 pm

    Ok, just to jump in - as a council person (but not TDC) - EK Services is Donna Reed's domain. It is the arms length company set up by several (but difficult to know exactly which for any given service) councils a couple of years back. To answer 8:46. It has made savings, substaintial savings at that. It had to quantify those before anything was allowed to become a shared service. And as our belts tighten, it is having to do that again (jusst like the rest of us). As such, they have to find savings regardless of whether you like them or not!

    As for the support services cost. This is all those 'back office' functions the council has to make it run - finance, CX, comms, etc (different for each council I might add). And to be fair, its pretty pointless having a choice over these. If you want less money spent on cleaning, then the amount of support costs to that service reduce in line with the savings made. In the same vein, if you pile the money into culture (please do!) then those costs will increase. The only way those costs go down substaintially is if you create more shared services - 8:46 may keel over though - or you cut everything else.

    And before the nay sayers arrive with the 'dont need bloody accountants' etc etc. of course we do, the same as any business does. The right question might be do we need employed or contracted X, but no-one has asked that, have they...

    1. So Council Officer do TDC use contracted staff that are paid via their own limited service company to allow them to take their pay as 20% taxed dividends rather that paying the full tax and NI? If so its not allowed unless the person is actually takinga business risk.

    2. Who actually quantifies the savings, I know when they set up the customer service centre in the library at margate they didn't take into account saturday openning and an extra £75K a year ad infinitum had to be found in the budget.....whoops thats the £ million pound saving over the next 12 years gone west.
      New windows oops another million we weren't expecting to spend.
      local councils unfortunately are generally run for the benefit of the senior managers who work there

  5. Fair points to discuss Council Officer - but where are the FOI of salaries and expenses etc then we can discuss one dept versus another, savings etc with the real and specific costs?

    Depts don't always need a straight line reduction as you mention: accountants etc can be shared, or contracted out as you say.

    750 officials and £60M seems a lot for one of Britain's worst councils to continue to underperform?

    Similarly EK Shared Services don't seem to have reduced costs (for repairing council houses?) and the supervision by councillors is blurred. It's not a company but a tax-quango/dept.

    But FOI would detail all that?

  6. 4.24pm, especially when you look at the services paid for each monthly in the council spend data, on TDC's website. If it was your own business and you contracted out services, you would expect to see a reduction in your biggest expense. People. An interesting comparison would be Thanet population, TDC services and TDC staff over the last 30 years.

  7. Bit of a worry when Council Officer (not TDC but doesn't say where) states "set up by several (but difficult to know exactly which for any given service) councils". If it's not known which councils are involved how can we possibly know what the savings are ??? Sounds very strange.

  8. where does the port and harbour come in all this ?


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Comments, since I started writing this blog in 2007 the way the internet works has changed a lot, comments and dialogue here were once viable in an open and anonymous sense. Now if you comment here I will only allow the comment if it seems to make sense and be related to what the post is about. I link the majority of my posts to the main local Facebook groups and to my Facebook account, “Michael Child” I guess the main Ramsgate Facebook group is We Love Ramsgate. For the most part the comments and dialogue related to the posts here goes on there. As for the rest of it, well this blog handles images better than Facebook, which is why I don’t post directly to my Facebook account, although if I take a lot of photos I am so lazy that I paste them directly from my camera card to my bookshop website and put a link on this blog.