Thursday, 17 November 2011


Cllr Clive Hart - Labour Leader of the Opposition at TDC.
"Varied matters such as Thanet's local development framework, air quality across our island, the council's risk management, corporate plan, budget monitoring and scrutiny arrangements were all discussed at Thursday evenings TDC Cabinet meeting. As always, Labour members were present to comment on proceedings and to ask searching questions of Cabinet members". 
Cllr Clive Hart - 01843 298770.
Cllr Alan Poole - Shadow Spokesperson for 'Place' portfolio.
I have two concerns that I would like to raise:

1) The purpose of a Cabinet Advisory Group is presumably to advise Cabinet – why then are there two cabinet members, including the Leader, in the Cabinet Advisory Group……….are they advising themselves or doesn’t the Leader trust the members come up with the right decisions. In my experience the Leader normally ignores any recommendations he doesn’t like anyway……… the whole process just a waste of time and energy?
2) Decisions by Consensus……….at the first meeting of the CAG the Leader unilaterally decided that there would be no votes………there is already a built-in majority - three Tories, two Labour and an Independent, so much for being politically balanced - it seems to me that the Leader is predetermining the outcome.
Cllr Alan Poole - 01843 602594.
Cllr Clive Hart - Shadow Leader & Shadow Spokesperson for 'Prosperity' portfolio .
Speaking on the same issue:
Firstly, at paragraph 1.2 in the report before us it says that at the first meeting of the LDFAG on 6th October ‘it was decided that it would be
appropriate to refer the matter of Terms of Reference back to Cabinet for consideration and agreement’.
I’m sorry but it wasn’t quite like that. We actually started to discuss terms of reference at that meeting and when you Cllr Bayford were unable to get your own way over your demand for ‘decisions to be made by consensus’ you simply overruled the Chairman and very abruptly called the meeting to a close.
More importantly, the very wording of paragraph 1.2 in this report very clearly outlines the dangers of decisions that are ‘apparently’ made by consensus. Anyone reading paragraph 1.2 would assume the group all agreed that cabinet should write the terms of reference and that clearly was not the case!
I therefore repeat my request, made at that first meeting, for LDFAG members to have proper voting rights as part of the terms of reference.
As for membership of the group, I still find it very difficult to understand how the leader of the council, who is also a Kent County Councillor and a Director of EKO can be a member. With regards to councillors standards we are told over and over again that it is ‘how things look to the man or woman in the street’ that should dictate matters and I believe most people would be absolutely appalled to learn that members are allowed to influence long term financial issues affecting two organisations that they are so closely involved with.
Cllr Clive Hart - 01843 298770.
IMPORTANT NOTE - The LDFAG Chairman Cllr Jack Cohen (Independent councillor) also spoke on this item and asked for the wording of paragraph 1.2 in the report (which included the wording - it was decided that it would be appropriate to refer the matter of Terms of Reference back to Cabinet for consideration and agreement) to be corrected. Cllr Cohen confirmed that it was Cllr Bayford who had actually overruled the Chairman, closed the first meeting prematurely and walked out. 
Cllr Michelle Fenner - Shadow Spokesperson for 'Shared Services' portfolio.
Looking at the map of the urban area on page 20 of Annexe 2, I cannot picture Westwood Cross, nor the airport.
Is this idea of having an urban area taken into account future major sources of pollution such as flights?

It is stated (in para 1.2, page 10, bottom of the page) that it will reduce the financial burden on the Council as less reporting will be required if additional exceedence areas are identified in the future. Isn’t there a risk therefore that more air pollution will go unreported because the areas involved are already included in the urban area?
Isn’t there a risk of spreading the load over a wider area, thus not addressing the real issues, but putting the priority on reducing the costs of reporting.

I was surprised to read (on page 34) that “the LTP3 will not be formally assessed by the Department of Transport and that there are fewer mandatory targets to report against. There is also no requirement to renew every 5 years”.
I hope this is not going to lead to local authorities reducing the management of air quality but I was pleased to read the 5 main themes adopted by KCC (page 35).

Considering these 5 themes I’d like to make a few suggestions regarding the action plan:

Air quality management throughout this document is linked to geographical locations but what about the time element, what about certain periods of time such as week-ends in the summer with an influx of day trippers?
Should we not consider setting up, albeit temporary, Park and Ride facilities just outside the urban area to bring the visitors into the town centres? It is a well known fact that successful tourism implies good parking facilities, toilets and bins. Why not try this option which would have many advantages?

Another point is to do with HGVs driving in residential areas. In my own ward, we have a small industrial estate in Cecilia Road which causes numerous traffic problems and a lot of air pollution with HGVs having to execute very complex manoeuvres to get in and out of the site, and to negotiate very narrow streets because the businesses are not located outside urban areas on designated industrial land. Why not give businesses incentives to re-locate?

As for the bus services, the action plan mentions the improvements in terms of reliability and punctuality. What about the fares? Should we not look at ways of reducing bus fares, so that residents are more likely to use the bus rather than their cars?

My final point concerns the consultees for the action plan: I can see the Federation of Small Businesses in the list, but what about large businesses, such as Tesco’s as they are answerable for a big increase in air pollution, because of the increase in traffic they generate and the increase in HGV movements?
Cllr Michelle Fenner - 07766 452 552.
Cllr Michelle Fenner - Shadow Spokesperson for 'Shared Services' portfolio.
This is a point I made at the meeting of Governance and Audit:
Looking at the wheel on page 77, the 2nd bubble in the top right says: “avoid the impact of failure”.I think it should say “to minimise” the impact. This is about the whole essence of risk management because things do go wrong. To think that we can get rid of the impact of failure shows a level of certainty that goes against the principle of risk management.To think that it is possible through a risk management strategy to avoid the impact of failure may prevent the Council from being sufficiently prepared in the face of unforeseen events.
I understand that a project management toolkit has been established, will this be made public, can the elected members have a copy of it?
I also noticed that TDC intends to maintain a register of risks linked to the council’s business, corporate and operational objectives, and risks linked to working in partnership. Will the elected members have access to this register of risks?
Cllr Michelle Fenner - 07766 452 552.
Cllr Alan Poole - Shadow Spokesperson for 'Place' portfolio.
Would the Leader update me on the new rules applying to the feed-in tariff for new solar panel installations as I’m under the impression that the Government has recently changed the rules and we may already have missed the boat on this one?

Some discussion took place and it was accepted that the government had indeed recently changed the rules. However, the Cabinet Member explained that he still wanted to continue with the project to install solar panels on the roofs of Margate Crematorium and the Cecil Street offices.
Cllr Alan Poole - 01843 602594.
Cllr Clive Hart - Shadow Leader & Shadow Spokesperson for 'Prosperity' portfolio .
At paragraph 3.1 in the report before us it says ‘A draft master plan has been developed and presented in outline to the Scrutiny working party’.
This is just playing with words.
I have spoken with the Chairman of the Scrutiny working party today and he said he would dearly like to have sight of the document he has been promised for such a very long time.
For clarification, at the September Cabinet the Commercial Services Manager explained that the initial draft Master plan for Ramsgate Port and Harbour was considered to need additional work and that the plan itself had not been circulated to the members as it was considered to need further development.

Furthermore, on the 6th October I met with you Cllr Bayford to agree the make-up of a cabinet advisory group to do this work and we agreed it

should consist of 3 Labour members and 3 Conservative members.
Subsequently, on the 12th October I informed you Cllr Bayford and Democratic Services that our Labour members would be Cllr Poole, Cllr Huxley and Cllr Fenner.
Yet another month has passed and my members are still eager and waiting, but still ABSOLUTELY NOTHING!
Cllr Clive Hart - 01843 298770.
Cllr Alan Poole - Shadow Spokesperson for 'Place' portfolio.
I am very concerned to learn that the major works anticipated on public conveniences in the draft capital programme has been down scaled – the budget has been cut by 40% (from £100k to £60k). I believe that this is a very important area of our services; already the public perception is that most of our public conveniences need attention and this is not going to help much.
Which public conveniences have been removed from the list?

Cllr Alan Poole - 01843 602594.
Cllr Rick Everitt - Shadow Spokesperson for 'Performance' portfolio.
I would like to support the recommendation from the overview and scrutiny committee that more resources be allocated to their work.
Clearly any such decision has to be made in the context of the overall financial position of the council and also by the council as a whole - not just because council agrees the final budget but because part of the role is scrutiny is to challenge cabinet.
Overview and scrutiny is an opportunity for non-executive members to engage with some of the biggest issues affecting Thanet and while at times that may be inconvenient for cabinet it’s clearly not the case that executive members have a monopoly of wisdom.
As the report to scrutiny made clear there is a mismatch between the work the panel wishes to do and the resources available to it. In staffing terms the figure I have been given for Thanet is 0.4-0.5 FTE, which compares with the reported average for a district council of 1.3FTE.
When you look at the sub-committees and work groups established by the panel it is clear that they are covering topics of significant importance to residents. Yet the officer resource level suggests their work is marginal.
If the panel’s recommendations are coming forward when not fully developed, as was argued in relation to the airport working party and is again tonight in relation to resources, then I would expect officers to have the time to advise and support the panel in overcoming that before they are presented.
Personally, I find the scrutiny structure within this authority disappointing, with too few members involved and two many of the sub-committees consisting of the same people sitting in different places around the table.
This doesn’t allow the council to utilise the knowledge and insights of a wide enough pool of members. And if it is the case that remaining members don’t wish to participate in scrutiny I don’t know why most of them are here.
Like all authorities we are under pressure to make better use of the resources that remain available to us. Giving scrutiny greater priority, including increased officer support and member participation, is one way to do this.
Cllr Rick Everitt - 01843 590461
Further items regarding Margate Cemetery were discussed in closed session.
Published by Thanet Labour Group Press Office - 44 Northdown Road, Margate, Kent CT9 2RW.


  1. It's all a bit pointless, when these very one-sided prepared speeches are shown. Because the Labour Group are working off a script and I'm sorry to say, lack the skills to engage in anything one might recognise as intelligent debate, readers have a very one sided and dare I say twisted impression of events, without any of the answers.

  2. Simon I should point out that I am happy to publish material from the Conservative group here, I genuinely think that it would be a good idea, give a more balanced view of local politics and let local people know what you are trying to achieve on our behalf.

    I know that the council will eventually publish minutes of the meeting, but this can take as long as a month, goes on part of the council’s website that has no feeds, so there is no notification, that anyone is likely to find, when they are published.

    So what about a short summery of the main council and cabinet meetings from the Conservative group?


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