Friday, 24 September 2010




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

INTRODUCTION - Labour Group Leader - Cllr. Clive Hart.
Gifting publicly owned land to developers, sharing services, selective licensing for private sector housing, information deemed exempt and a long and nasty personally offensive rant from a leading Conservative Cabinet Member were all part of Thursday's TDC Cabinet meeting.
Labour Shadow Cabinet members were present and gave the following views.
Cllr. Clive Hart - Phone: 01843 298770

Cllr Clive Hart - Leader of the Opposition & Cliftonville West Ward Councillor.
I refer to the minutes of the Extraordinary Overview and Scrutiny Panel of 8th September and would draw attention to the end of the second to last paragraph on page 12:
Brian White [the Director of Regeneration] agreed with the Scrutiny Chairman when he suggested that it was not unusual to develop a housing site and still allocate part of the development site for open space purposes.
I entirely agree with the Scrutiny Chairman and Director of Planning Services. For ten years residents have called for part of the development site for open space purposes, for over seven years ward councillors have called for part of the development site for open space purposes, TDC's own asset management process of 2008 proposed part of the development site for open space purposes.
However, this administration, under the direction of Cllr Wells - the Cabinet Member responsible, chose to override that advice and allowed architects to produce a plan that built on every square meter of land with no landscaping or green space.
At planning last week I explained "The planning committee is constantly bombarded with swish applications for developments in other parts of Thanet that provide lovely public spaces and often stunning landscaping as part of those projects. But in the poorest part of our district, where residents have to live in the most densely populated and cramped conditions, architects have decided that absolutely no public space is needed whatsoever".
The next development being discussed last Wednesday was in Broadstairs, it included landscaping and tree planting around the perimeter and a large green open space at the centre, I rest my case.
I'll repeat what I said in summing up to the planning committee last week and at a councillors briefing earlier this week:
We support the Renewal Area and gladly welcome the newly created Task Force, but both are doomed to failure unless the kinds of attitudes towards the things that really matter are changed.
Our local residents deserve much, much more!
Cllr. Clive Hart - Phone: 01843 298770
Cllr Iris Johnston - Shadow Cabinet Member for Community Services (Housing).
I welcome the work that had gone in to the consultation and stated she had attended many of the Road Shows. However I have grave concerns that recent reports both to Scrutiny and this one to cabinet give the impression that there was a completely satisfactory outcome.Councillor Tom King and myself were very concerned at our Shared Housing Services meeting in August that there was a 39.4% response and out of that small turn out 63.18% were in favour of joint working. Even with a few more days of increased consultation the positive spin used in TDC press releases does not reflect the truth. The spin implies the 63.18% was out of 100% responses. The majority of tenants did not participate in the consultation and therefore the need for a ballot is even more imperative. The concerns of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee are reflected on page 26... 10.5. As the outcome of the tenant consultation has not been an overwhelming endorsement of the Council's plans the need for a formal ballot MUST go back to full Council.
I would ask Cabinet to honour that commitment.
Cllr. Iris Johnston - Phone: 01843 299207
Cllr Iris Johnston - Shadow Cabinet Member for Community Services (Housing).
As ward councilors much of our work is involved in dealing with HMO's and we would want this scheme extended throughout the whole of Margate Central ward. I would ask you to agree to this tonight. Tanya Wenham is to be congratulated on the time and effort put in to this report. Unfortunately the new Government's scuppering of Labour's previously comprehensive consultation processes could impact on our plans to consult on this.On the 7th August 2009 Mrs Wenham submitted a thorough response to the Labour Governments consultation on HMO's which gave us the tools from April 2010 to bring forward this paper. On the 21st June 2010 the new Government wrote to the Coastal Communities Alliance with a request to take part in an INFORMAL consultation on amendments to planning rules for HMO's. I have not seen any sign of a letter to TDC directly.However Mr Whites' recent presentation to members covered some of the implications for us. I had spoken to him and other officers and it is clear TDC were given little time to respond to the Communities and Local Government and just managed to respond to Milton Keynes questions to assist with a Judicial Review. Hopefully officers will shortly produce a paper for Cabinet on all of this and especially cover the possibility of compensation payable to landlords.Despite the new Government's knee jerk reactions we must work within the existing rules and I would want you to support this designation but ask you to please include all of Margate Central Ward.Ward councilors would also need to be fully informed of any public meetings being held as part of the consultation.
Cllr. Iris Johnston - Phone: 01843 299207
Also speaking:
Cllr Clive Hart - Deputy Leader of the Opposition & a RAMSGATE Councillor.
Licensing of privately rented accommodation is something we Cliftonville West ward councillors have lobbied for persistently over the past seven years. It has been a matter we have consistently raised through five years of Renewal Area meetings with council officers and PACT meetings with the Police (Police & Communities Together).
I also firmly believe this action should be extended to cover other parts of our ward and indeed to other similar parts of Thanet.
However, speaking on behalf of myself and my fellow ward councillors Linda Aldred and Doug Clark I'd like to welcome Selective Licensing for the Renewal Area section of Cliftonville West ward and thank the previous Labour government for making it all possible through section 80 of the Housing Act 2004 - just a shame action wasn't taken much sooner.
Cllr. Clive Hart - Phone: 01843 298770
Also speaking:
Cllr Alan Poole - Deputy Leader of the Opposition & a RAMSGATE Councillor.

I fully support this proposal to designate the Cliftonville West and Margate Central Wards a selective licensing area for privately rented accommodation.

I do however have several concerns.

One concern is that by introducing the licensing of accommodation in the Cliftonville West and Margate Central Wards we will move the problem landlords to other areas of Thanet.

As parts of Ramsgate suffer from very similar problems to the Cliftonville West and Margate Central Wards I would like TDC to extend the scheme to cover parts of Ramsgate as soon as possible. A Thanet-wide scheme would be even better.

Another concern I have is that when this Coalition Government cuts housing benefit, and it is looking to save £1.8bn, affecting possibly a million families, many of these families will be forced to look for cheaper accommodation and end up in Thanet……….this would only serve to aggravate what is already a major problem for Thanet.

I also have concerns that the £525 cost of a license for each property will simply be passed on to the tenant.

Because of my concerns I would ask that an impact assessment is carried out by officers.

Cllr. Alan Poole - Phone: 01843 602594
Cllr Iris Johnston - Shadow Cabinet Member & Margate Central Ward Councillor.
Councillor Watkins covered many of the concerns we have in Margate Central at a previous Cabinet meeting and unfortunately we just cannot wait for the improvements desperately needed in Margate. Many of the issues in Annex two have been discussed and debated for the last six years and the public and ourselves just want to see some real action NOW.We couldn't wait until March 2011 to clean down shop fronts and are doing this ourselves with volunteers.We are still waiting for St Andrew's Passage to be washed down and members of the public complain mostly about the outside of TDC itself. The 20k on 'Getting the message across' would be better spent on an immediate clean up. Obvious improvements and a rubbish and weed free town will get the message across better than any posters! The Fort Road Hotel which we have asked to be boarded up on numerous occasions was the scene of a serious accident this week and as Councillors we are getting more than a little fed up of asking for help that rarelycomes.
(Cabinet Chairman and Council Leader, Cllr Bob Bayford then openly allowed Cllr Wise to respond with a totally unnecessary, long nasty personal rant against Cllr Johnston - despite having addressed council members earlier in the week and asking them to please treat each other with respect).
Cllr. Iris Johnston - Phone: 01843 299207
Also speaking:
Cllr Richard Nicholson - Shadow Cabinet Member for Regeneration.
Whilst I can only agree with the proposals to “tidy up” the areas leading to the Turner Contemporary it appears to be so much window dressing.
Much of the work is what residents of Margate expect to be done anyway to tidy up their town, except this should be done as a matter of course and not just for the opening next Spring.
I read a letter this week which talked about people coming to the Turner Contemporary and being given “council blinkers” well the blinkers are the hoardings to be erected to cover the failures of the last 7 years.
Also I am sure the residents of the other parts of Thanet would want, and expect, the same for their areas.
Of course it is right to show Margate in it’s best light, especially when the “hoards” come to visit the Turner gallery but due to lack of planning and action this rush at the 11th hour seems a bit tawdry.
Perhaps you were advised by those responsible for the Commonwealth games in India?
Cllr. Richard Nicholson - Phone: 01843 580057
Cllr Iris Johnston - Shadow Cabinet Member & Margate Central Councillor.
I would like to raise concerns on page 51 2.3.I have spoken to officers about the 65k savings on Margate Pedestrian Connections which should is to be redistributed. Officers feel the wording of the report is not clear. However I feel very strongly that any monies dedicated to Margate should stay there. We have plenty of pedestrian connections not least at Addiscombe Gardens, St Andrews Passage and other Rights of Way that could benefit. The 40k contribution to the new community hall at Pierremont is apparently being recommended through some financial realignment. This seems very strange to me.All of the 65k must be spent in Margate and be seen to be spent according to the rules.
Cllr. Iris Johnston - Phone: 01843 299207
Also speaking:
Cllr Clive Hart - Leader of the Opposition & Cliftonville West Ward Councillor.
Just questions on this one please:
2.1 - could we please have explanations and some further detail of the overspends on:
Building Safer Communities
Dalby Square
Emergency works to Victoria Parade
2.4 - can we please be assured that contract standing orders were followed for the upgrade of Metering Upgrade works at Ramsgate Harbour?
Page 57 Can I also please ask - what does the £812,190 refer to regarding the Marks & Spencer building?
(Officers will supply Cllr Hart with detailed answers later).
Cllr. Clive Hart - Phone: 01843 298770
Cllr Clive Hart - Leader of the Opposition.
Thanet's residents need to know exactly what a tangled web the three Conservative authorities are getting us all into and as soon as possible. I thought we had agreement that only the parts of reports that absolutely had to be exempt would be treated as such - most of this report is perfectly reasonable to debate.
(Chairman overruled suggestion).
Published by Thanet Labour Group Press Office - 44 Northdown Road, Margate, CT9 2RW.

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