Thursday, 5 August 2010


Labour Shadow Team comments & questions for Thursday evenings TDC Cabinet meeting.

INTRODUCTION - Labour Group Leader - Cllr. Clive Hart.

From a Task Force for Margate to much needed improvements at Ramsgate Harbour, Thursday's meeting included arange of important issues. As always Labour Shadow Cabinet members were present to comment and ask questions. Concerned Labour front line councillors were also present to comment on local ward matters.

Cllr. Clive Hart - Phone: 01843 298770


Cllr Clive Hart - Labour Group Leader.
As I've made clear before on several occasions, I welcome this initiative, though I have to say I cannot see how it is in any way related to the Safer & Stronger Communities Fund. Though it had some organisaional control from our local authorities the SSCF project was basically a resident-led process and therefore 'bottom-up'. This task force is most certainly service-led and therefore 'top-down'.
From my time at KCC I know Sara Woodward to be an excellent and very committed officer but even more importantly for me she is someone with good local knowledge - a quality all too rare with so many leading our local initiatives.
All those involved in the project deserve our backing and support - they really are going to need it as the coalition government appears hell bent on dismantleing almost every other kind of support available to them.

Cllr. Clive Hart - Phone: 01843 298770

Cllr Elizabeth Green - Speaking as ward councillor.
LAND AT 2 - 48 HIGHFIELD CLOSE. Cllr Green explained she had written to the Director and Chief Executive asking for this asset to be withdrawn. She explained the land was well used. Cllr Green also raised concerns regarding what appeared to be a road entrance. She confirmed that housing was not what residents wanted and was worried that their views could be overlooked. Cllr Green also called for the involvement of Kent Wildlife with the area concerned.
Cllr. Elizabeth Green - Phone: 01843 591495
Cllr Linda Aldred - Speaking as ward councillor (Cliftonville West).
As ward councillors our issue is not about the development itself - which in priciple we agree is a good one. And I have no personal issue per se about gifting of land to Town and Country Housing.
What concerns us at this stage is that residents wishes have not been considered at all whilst working on and moving forward with this plan. As it says in your community involvement statement "It is important that the community is involved from the early stages".
We have supported the Dalby Square project for seven years in their request to retain the top area of green space for community use so the issue has been aired in various forums and we felt that our negotiations on behalf of the residents were leading to a compromise.
We fully realise the importance of developing the square but we think the Council needs to acknowledge that preserving areas of green space and promoting community cohesion is just as important as bricks and mortar when it comes to regeneration and therefore equal consideration should be given to both.

Cllr. Linda Aldred - Phone: 01843 602490

Cllr Doug Clark - Also speaking as ward councillor (Cliftonville West).

The recomendation is that Town and Country Housing be invited to submit a full planning application for development of the Warren Court Hotel but that has already happened and consultation does not end untill 27th August - is that not putting the cart before the horse?
The second part of this recomendation is that the land (the green at the south end) is gifted to Town and Country. Dose that mean that a very valuable asset id being given away and do we not realise one penny for the land?
5.6 CONSULTATION - The drop in consultation at St Paul's Community Centre on the 14th July - there is no mention in this report of the matters raised by the three elected members of Cliftonville West who were all present.
I spoke to the architect and asked him if he had been friefed by planning of the concerns of the residents about saving the green area at the south end of Dalby Square - his answer was that he had not - why?
The most important person that should have been consulted is the chair of the Dalby Square Project Group - Jenny Cranstone. I'm sure that you are all aware of her work in raising hundreds of thousands of pounds for the garden in Dalby Square - and what a truly wonderful job she and her committee have achieved.
The young people that play on the green are a mix of many different nationalities which is very good for intigration and anti-social behaviour is very rare.
Please do not take away the green from young people and the residents.
The council says it prides itself on its consultations with residents - so please listen to our residents before it is too late.

Cllr. Doug Clark - Phone: 01843 220174

Cllr Clive Hart - Also speaking as ward councillor (Cliftonville West).
At 1.2 in the report it says the council allocated the adjacent ‘council owned’ land for housing purposes.


'Members were informed that the Development Control Manager had raised concerns regarding the use of the Dalby Square site for public open space as it had been previously allocated for housing provision.
Both the Development Control Manager and the Principal Local Plan Officer had discussed the matter and had agreed there was flexibility within the Local Plan for Members to allocate the land for public open space.

Councillor Hayton informed Members that he did have concerns about reallocation of housing land as Thanet could be left with a shortage in future years.

Moved by Councillor Alan Poole and seconded by Councillor Hayton that:

“(A) Cabinet be recommended to reclassify the Dalby Square site from housing land to public open space;

(B) Cabinet be recommended to instruct officers to enter into a formal partnership agrrement with the Dalby Square Project required by funding sources, dependent upon their receiving funding; and

(C) officers be instructed to obtain written confirmation of the flexibility within the Local Plan to allow the change in allocation”.


And also please see the following minute CR/13 from the TDC CABINET of 29th MAY 2003 - PARKS, OPEN SPACES AND PUBLIC CONVENIENCES WORKING PARTY (below - italics)

'Decision made: That,

1) The minutes of the Parks, Open Spaces And Public Conveniences Working Party meetings held on 29th November 2002 and 18th March 2003 be received and noted

2) The recommendations contained within Minute Numbers POS/15, POS/16, POS/21 and POS/22 be approved'.

There was also an Planning Application commenced by the residents F/ TH/ 03/ 1421 that specifically refers to the site including the former buildings at 17 – 23 Dalby Square.
And there is also in existence a partnership agreement dated 13th August 2003 signed by the Dalby Square residents group chairman and TDC that includes the green space to the south of Dalby Square.
Most importantly plans agreed with residents through the asset disposal process in 2008 clearly show a reduced, but still substantial, green space of over 700 sq mtrs (37mx19m).

AT 2.1 in tonights report:

I strongly agree with first bullet point – the existing Warren Court site certainly does need redeveloping.
However, I strongly disagree with second bullet point – the green space does not need to be built on.

5.4.2 states that a private developer would be highly unlikely to undertake a scheme of this magnitude.

Well we don’t need a site of this magnitude – half the development on just the Warren Court site alone would do very nicely. Indeed, several years ago developers proposed just that, but this authority blocked the application, even at appeal.

5.6.1 points to the drop in consultation on 14th July but conveniently ignores the fact that at that consultation all 3 ward councillors and representatives of the residents group who have done so much to improve the square all FIRMLY OBJECTED to building on the green space.

Three weeks ago the council met in this very chamber to confirm the Corporate Refresh programme that under the banner of Beautiful Thanet expressed a KEY COMMITMENT to improving quality use of open spaces. Under the Healthy Communities banner it also said a KEY PROJECT was to develop a targeted programme for improving play facilities. Lastly, under the banner Modern Council it refered to involving residents in accordance with our duty to involve.

The report for this agenda has several serious omissions:

1) Absolutely no mention whatsoever is made in the report regarding the current use of the green space for public recreation that has been the case for the last fifteen years. TDC laid the whole area to lawn in the mid 90's and has maintained it as a green open space for local residents ever since.

2) Absolutely no mention whatsoever is made in the report of the Dalby Square Project Group and their sterling work to regenerate the square that includes the south green that is proposed to be 'gifted' away against their wishes. Over the last decade the group have raised around £400,000 to create beautiful formal gardens for adults and visitors and a playground at the north end for very young children. The group are clear that the south green is part of their project and that it provides a large grassed area where slightly older children can play ball and let off steam whilst being watched by parents from windows in hundreds of flats surrounding the square. The group now feel cheated by TDC with whom they have signed joint agreements and received planning permission to improve the green space.

3) For over seven years, as ward councillors Linda Aldred, Doug Clark and I have met with TDC housing and regeneration officers on numerous occasions (that must average at least 4 times each year). On every such occasion we have made it absolutely clear that the green space at the south end of the square is an important local amenity in a densely populated area where health and wellbeing are nowhere near the levels they should be.

4) At paragraph 5.6.1 in the report it states that a drop-in consultation was held on 14th July attended by local residents and council officers. Firstly, that drop-in consultation was advertised as an application for the Warren Court site and not the south green in Dalby Square. And as I've said, this paragraph in the report completely fails to say that all three ward councillors were present at the drop-in and much more importantly it fails to say that the Dalby Square Project Group and all three ward councillors raised serious objections to the proposed development at that drop-in consultation.

Last Thursday we met with residents and concerns were also raised as to why the developers drop-in consultation took place on one evening and the following evening TDC declared the square a Conservation Area?

Questions were also asked as to how the land can be 'gifted' to a developer by cabinet after a planning application has been received but before a decision has been made and therefore actually during the application process?

Chairman – in a recent press release on the new garden development rules you said “It is a step that will transform our ability to prevent unwanted development and gives us more power to protect our valuable green spaces”.

Well how about protecting this valuable community green space in Dalby Square?
Cllr. Clive Hart - Phone: 01843 298770

Cllr Richard Nicholson - Shadow Cabinet Member for Regeneration & Economic Development.

Once again monies for Thanet are being nearly all targeted in Margate. This is despite the fact many other income streams have and are available for Margate. Whilst there is need all around Thanet the decline in Ramsgate gathers pace and here is another instance of ignoring the town.

The report does state in 2.3 how the target is to be focused in Margate and north down road with emphasis to also the approaches to the Turner Contemporary.

However in item 4 we find a Margate “Task Force” with substantial resources target to this area.
2.3 does say “some resources” will also be available in Ramsgate, well how much? The lack of any figure does not fill me with any confidence.

I request that Cabinet set a 50% of the remaining monies, potential a total of £18K, is allocated to smarten up the declining Ramsgate.

This can only be fair and remember you are the cabinet for Thanet district, something many think is no longer the case.

Cllr. Richard Nicholson - Phone: 01843 580057

Cllr David Green - speaking as a ward councillor (Eastcliff).

Cllr Green highlighted the six months during which the council appeared unable to spend the money as a failure. He also explained that some businesses in his ward were under the impression that all the funding was going to Margate.

Cllr. David Green - Phone: 01843 591495


Cllr John Watkins - speaking as ward councillor (Margate Central).
This report states that much more needs to be done to create an environment that supports the world class ambitions of the Turner Contemporary and changes some of the prevailing negative perceptions of Margate.
Many of these negative perceptions are held by our own Thanet residents and also people from around Kent who regularly visit our town and beaches during the year.
What front line staff like taxi drivers, local people and visitors see on a daily basis, is the run down public realm defects like the tatty redundant seafront signs, the scruffy shelters, dirty doorways to empty premises and the dog mess on stained pavements, together with the squalid alleyways like Andrews back passage to the High Street.
But most of all, it is those two ugly sisters that scar our seafront,
The Arcadian and the Fort Road hotel that have been allowed to remain eyesores in full view of everyone for a decade now.
There has been talk of section 215 orders or CPOs regarding those two negative perceptions since TDC first employed an empty properties officer in 2002, and they regularly win the Civic Society’s annual town shame award.
The countdown report lists the priorities for the next 12 months, but it is now less than that to the op0ening of the Turner - more like eight to nine months. So time is moving on.
It is unfortunate that Cllr. Wise the deputy leader, is not here tonight, because I was going to ask if he would re-establish the Margate Environmental group, consisting of the Portfolio holder, an EAP officer, a town warden and a ward Cllr. A team that used to tour the Margate seafront and Old town area at regular intervals.
I would be a willing volunteer again and I am sure that I can say the same for Cllr. Johnston. This group could start right away, even before the Project Plan is presented to Cabinet in September.
Quick wins could be achieved by regular monitoring of the street cleaning and maintenance, and arranging for effective enforcement to combat the constant fly tipping that occurs around the seafront eyesore buildings and alleyways. Perhaps we could make a start by getting the forest of weeds removed from around the TDC’s own Media Centre building in Fort Road.
We really don’t need a new paint job for our light house,
The money would be much better spent in the coming months on a dedicated hit squad that could get to grips with things like the weeds around the town flagstaff, the aroma of urine in the seafront telephone boxes and the chewing gum stains on the pavements.
So Chairman, I support the Project Director’s recommendation to commit the £100,000 Seaside fund money, towards the Programme to make Margate fit to face the World’s media next spring.
And thank you for the opportunity to ride my favourite hobby horse as a Margate ward councillor once again.
Mr. Derek Harding the report’s author, has heard it all before.
And the TDC chief executive, who has also toured our ward with us, can probably even tell you the colloquial name for Andrew’s back passage.
Cllr. Richard Nicholson - Phone: 01843 580057

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

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