Friday, 30 December 2011

New Year's Firework Display - Broadstairs

Statement from Cllr Clive Hart - Thanet District Council (TDC) Leader.
 
"Shortly after the Council offices had closed for Christmas it was brought to my attention that the organiser of the the proposed new year fireworks display for Broadstairs was having problems and over the Christmas period I worked with the local MP and the Local Area Police Commander in an effort to resolve matters.
 
However, I am informed that during further discussions held straight after the Christmas break, the organiser decided to cancel the event.
 
I wish to make it absolutely clear this was NOT a TDC event".

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Conservative parking claims

-by Cllr. Iris Johnston, Cabinet member for Community Services
    
Contrary to recent Tory claims the proposed consultation on parking was not a 'Conservative' inspired paper but part of the annual requirement to review Parking ( Parking Policy Transport Plan 2005 to 2011 Chapter 13).
The paper prepared by Mark Richardson and dated 13th December was for the Senior Officer Management Team led by Dr McGonigal. The next stage would be to inform the Leader and Cabinet of any changes and ask for their input. The report would come to Cabinet where all members have an opportunity to comment and ward councillors especially would have individual meetings in all our towns. The Public will be very much involved once Cabinet endorse the final document. This is likely to be in March and finalised in June.
When Labour last controlled Thanet Council (from 1995 to 2003) this was common practice and a series of public meetings on Parking were held around the Island so that everyone had an opportunity to be fully involved. I would want to reintroduce this.
I have absolutely NO evidence that Councillor Wells or any other member of the Conservative Party WROTE the report and one would not have expected them to do so. The dates and timing are important. Mr Richardson's discussion document  for Senior Management team is dated 13th December, Councilor Wells lost his Cabinet  position on the 9th. when I replaced him.
Although I find the document to be thorough, it was produced before the Mary Portus report and should take her points on Town Centres into consideration. 
 I also  now await the Senior Officer Team's considered  response before I ask for the paper to be taken to Cabinet.  
Iris Johnston 01843 299207

NOTE:

1. For the record I understand Mr Richardson shared his ideas with his then Cabinet member Councillor Wells and Cllr Bruce on the 23rd November. They made up a 'two man' working party and it would appear this is the only date the three met to discuss the  proposed document.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

New Thanet District Council Labour Cabinet - leading by example

Monday evening's extraordinary Thanet Council Cabinet was the first to take place since Labour gained control of Thanet District Council last week and immediately, there was a very different style and approach to matters.
 
The cabinet was made up of a group of three men and two women, an offer to include the two other political leaders in a fact finding mission was made, and on one particular item the whole cabinet team decided to visit the area concerned to gain in depth practical knowledge before making a decision.
 
Council Leader and Cabinet Chairman Cllr Clive Hart said:
 
"There are three very significant changes in the Labour teams approach to cabinet business.
 
Firstly, I'm delighted to be supported in our cabinet by two men and two women who each bring a wealth of experience and knowledge to the table. Just as importantly, every member of our cabinet is a 'hands-on' councillor with practical common sense and excellent interpersonal skills.
 
Secondly, whenever necessary, and as a team, we will go out into the community concerned to see and hear for ourselves exactly what the situation is 'on the ground'.
 
Lastly, whilst maintaining ultimate control over cabinet decisions, we will endeavor to include the leaders of the other two political groups in fact finding projects affecting the residents of Thanet.
 
Our approach will be as fair, open, transparent and inclusive as is practical and possible".
 
Note: At item 7 of Monday's Thanet Council Cabinet agenda, Proposed Development - Hartsdown and Tivoli Park. The cabinet team unanimously agreed to visit the site to see and hear pertinent matters regarding the proposal. The Leaders of the other two political groups were invited to join the site visit which will take place at 2pm on Thursday 22nd December.

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Labour administration takes charge in Thanet

At Thursday nights Council meeting Councillor Clive Hart was elected leader of Thanet District Council, and Councillor Alan Poole was appointed Deputy Leader. The Council meeting itself was nail biting, and there was a healthy debate over the future of the Council. Former leader Councillor Bob Bayford was the first to congratulate Councillor Hart, and hopefully this will set the tone for future exchanges between all members of the Council during these difficult times. At the meeting Councillor Hart also appointed the rest of his Cabinet who are Councillor’s Rick Everitt, Michelle Fenner, and Iris Johnston.
Councillor Hart said: "I will work to make Thanet Council a more listening council that carries out genuine consultation when necessary. I want the council to be as transparent as possible when making decisions and I will do everything possible to minimise the effects of government cuts to funding here in Thanet".
Clive Hart and Alan Poole, Leader and Deputy Leader of Thanet District Council


Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Heritage lottery fund and dreamland

Comment by Cllr Clive Hart - TDC Shadow Leader & Shadow Economic Development Portfolio Holder.
 
"The Heritage Lottery Funding announcement is good news for Margate and for Thanet as a whole. The Dreamland site has stood empty for far too long and as someone born, bred and living in the area concerned, I know only too well how the closure of Dreamland has blighted the town since 2004. 
 
TDC certainly does need to get the compulsory purchase order for the site confirmed to allow the Dreamland Trust to complete their project and bring the venue back into use as a major seaside attraction".

Friday, 18 November 2011

Port and harbour neglect continues under the Conservatives

By Cllr Clive Hart - Labour Shadow Leader of the Council.
 
At the Thanet Council Cabinet meeting on Thursday 17th November, Conservative Cabinet member Cllr Martin Wise announced "A Ramsgate Port and Harbour draft master plan has been developed and presented to Scrutiny". 
Now I'm used to ambiguous language coming from our local Conservative party but this statement was quite simply 'a fudge too far'.

I have spoken with the Chairman of the Ramsgate Port and Harbour Scrutiny working party and he says he would dearly like to have sight of the document he has been promised for such a very long time now. He waits and waits but despite his constant requests it never comes.

For clarification - the actual facts are: at the earlier September Thanet Council Cabinet meeting 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'. 

It was also decided that a Cabinet Advisory Group would be needed for this 'further development' and on the 6th October I met with Conservative leader Cllr Bayford to agree the make-up of the group. We agreed the cabinet advisory group would consist of three Labour members and three Conservative members. On the 12th October I informed Cllr Bayford and the council that our Labour members would be Cllr Poole, Cllr Huxley and Cllr Fenner.

Yet another month has passed in this sorry saga and my members are all still eager and waiting. As with every other step taken on this elusive master plan project, procrastination and navel gazing appear to be the order of the day and to date no meetings have been planned.

Ramsgate Port and Harbour should be our islands 'jewel in the crown'. Instead we've had eight years of Conservative rule at Thanet Council and eight years of neglect.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Apology needed from Laura Sandys

Dear Laura Sandys
 
I understand you have released a statement, part of which says:
 
'some councillors in recent weeks have suggested vigilante actions are needed to bring crime down'
 
I do sincerely hope you are not referring to any Labour councillors, who most certainly WOULD NOT call for this type of action.
 
In a joint letter dated 14th October 2011, Cllr Linda Aldred, Cllr Doug Clark and I warned the Police Area Commander and the TDC Chief Executive that we had serious concerns that local people might take matters into their own hands. This was following a ward surgery where more than one resident suggested precisely this course of action to us. We quite rightly warned them firmly against any such action and subsequently informed the Police and TDC at the highest level. I think you'll agree this is absolutely contrary to the description you have used in your statement.
 
One of my fellow councillors is a highly qualified and experienced community development worker and the other is a JP of 28 years standing. I have spent my adult life working for community cohesion in Margate, Cliftonville and across Thanet. If you are referring to our efforts in Cliftonville West to avert residents taking matters into their own hands you should urgently retract this statement and apologise.
 
Regards
 
Cllr Clive Hart

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Laura Sandys: Are you serious about splitting Margate in half?

From Michelle Fenner and Alan Poole.

At the Boundary Review Commission meeting in Maidstone last week we were astonished to hear the MP for South Thanet speak enthusiastically about the strong links between Little Stour and Ashstone and Ramsgate and that it would be perfectly acceptable to exclude Salmestone from the new Margate and Ramsgate constituency, and not to include either Garlinge or Westbrook!

Can you imagine the new Margate Constituency without the QEQM? Without Margate train station? Without Margate Football Club? Without Margate Cricket Club? Without Hartsdown Technology College? Even without the Margate cemetery and Thanet crematorium?
No doubt Ms. Sandys was being very selective about what she calls ‘community links’.

What is shocking is that our current MP for South Thanet does not seem to want to represent the whole community of Margate and yet is prepared to get rid of significant areas of it in favour of Sandwich, Little Stour and Ashstone.

The Margate community is closely-knit and must not be split. We strongly urge residents to write to:
The Boundary Commission:
35 Great Smith Street, London SW1P 3BQTelephone: 020 7276 1102
Email address for representations: 
reviews@bcommengland.x.gsi.gov.uk

supporting the inclusion of the Margate Wards of Westbrook and Garlinge and keeping Salmestone in the proposed new constituency of Margate & Ramsgate as they form an integral part of Margate and Thanet.

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Youth unemployment petition

Will Scobie, Luke Edwards and Linda Aldred
The Thanet Labour team were in Margate high street this morning asking people to sign the Labour petition on youth unemployment. The petition stated:



'Youth unemployment has hit almost one million and the Tory-led Government’s policies risk creating another lost generation like in the 1980s. Sign up to Labour’s campaign to call for the Government to repeat last year’s bonus tax and use the money raised to help create 100,000 more jobs for young people. Getting people off the dole and into work is the best way to get the deficit down – and stop Britain’s talent going to waste.'



Steve Alexandrou
In just one morning the team were able to get over 400 signatures, and it is clear that this is an issue that many people feel very strongly on. Young people are our future and we need to make sure that we give them the training, skills, and experience necessary for their lives ahead of them. The Tory-led Government is trying to save money in the short term, but in the long term this is only going to cost more through social problems and schemes to get people back to work.


The Labour team will be visiting Ramsgate next to get more signatures on Wednesday 16th November. They will be on Ramsgate high street at lunch time, so come along and talk to your local Labour team.
Jodi Hibbert, Louise Drelaud, Will Scobie, Jenny Matterface, Clive Hart, and James Watkins.

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Manston - proposed night-time flying policy

by Cllr. Clive Hart - Labour Group Leader
 
"The proposed night-time flying policy for Manston International Airport has now been published by Infratil.

Over the coming weeks and months members of the Labour group will scrutinise the proposed night-flying document carefully and thoroughly. Our District councillors will then make their individual views known at the appropriate points in the process, having taken account of all the information available".
 
Note: The proposed night-time flying policy may well become the subject of a planning application and therefore it would be inappropriate for any councillor to comment further at this time.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Tory led Government failing the South East

Labour’s Shadow Minister for Further Education, Skills and Regional Growth, Gordon Marsden MP spoke this week at the Kent on Sunday Business Week Live in Dover. He was scathing of the Tories record on support for business and growth in the South East:

The Tory-led Government’s much-touted Regional Growth Fund has helped precisely no businesses in the South East. Meanwhile latest figures show a 27% year on year increase in business failures in the South East. Unemployment in the region is soaring, which is a real worry because it’s one of the key regions where, if the Tory-led Government had been right in its argument, the private sector would have soaked up public sector job losses.
“Unfortunately, the Government has been wrong at almost every turn, and its decision to cut too far and too fast is hurting business and growth in the South East.”

Monday, 24 October 2011

Local employment problems come as no surprise

By Councillor Mary Dwyer


The job figures in last weeks edition of the Isle of Thanet Gazette come as no surprise at all to me. I myself have struggled to find full time employment and it took me nearly two and a half years to find my current part time work. I am currently registered disabled and this has further reduced my chances of getting full time work because I need time off work occasionally due to to health problems.

In Thanet we currently have 6000 unemployed which works out at 9.7% - way about the national average. Of these 6000 people 30.4% are aged between the age of 18 and 24. In addition to this we have a lower weekly pay that any of the neighbouring areas, high levels of social deprivation, and some of the biggest cuts to Local Council grants in the entire country.

There was also recently a survey of UK Further Education Colleges which said that between 5% and 15% of young people said that they are not attending a course as a direct result of the abolition of the EMA. Last academic year 85% of students at Thanet College were in receipt of EMA, and this shows the extent to which the Coalition Government's policies are hurting young people.

One of my colleagues Councillor Will Scobie is currently running a campaign calling on the Government to provide more training and jobs for young people. The Labour Party will have a stall in Margate on the 5th November from 10am till 2pm - please come down and show your support by signing our petition.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Arlington House application referred to Full Council

by Councillor Rick Everitt


Wednesday, October 19th, was a good day for democracy in Thanet.

It ended with the Tesco application for Arlington House and Square referred to full council for decision on grounds of “transparency and accountability”.

Members of the planning committee had been asked to consider whether the recently upgraded listing of the neighbouring scenic railway from Grade II to Grade II* would have changed their decision “to grant permission for redevelopment of the site, subject to a legal agreement and safeguarding conditions”, back in June.

But members had not granted permission. As the minutes showed, they had simply referred the matter to the secretary of state – as they were required to do by legislation – with a recommendation for approval.

Even that had only been decided on the casting vote of the independent chair, Cllr Jack Cohen.

The June minutes were completely silent on what happened if, as was the case, the secretary of state sent the application back to TDC for determination. It was my view that meant it could and should come back to members and not be finalised by officers under delegated powers.

The attempt to deal with the scenic railway issue in isolation threatened to create the farcical scenario of Tory members attending the committee as substitutes deciding whether their absent colleagues would have reached a different decision without ever themselves hearing the application in full.

Labour members, who had all voted against the recommendation in the first place, were being invited to reconsider their decision on the basis of the upgraded listing, when they had already been in a minority and a change in their vote could only reaffirm the position the committee had already taken.

No wonder that officers gathered in an extended huddle when I moved that given the confusion the entire application should be referred to full council for decision instead.

Eventually, the proposition was deemed acceptable for debate and was passed 8-6, with all Labour members in support.

The application has proven controversial from the beginning, after Labour deputy leader Cllr Alan Poole was not allowed by the chair to move a restriction on night-time deliveries on the basis that Tesco had said they couldn’t operate like that.

Concerns have been raised about traffic and parking issues, and the effect on the traditional Margate shopping area, as well as the impact on residents of the existing development and on Dreamland. It’s a big decision and one the council has to get right.

Everyone wants to see this site regenerated and recognises that the money to do it has to come from somewhere. Now, hopefully, the issues will be fully aired and debated by the whole council and residents affected may have a little more confidence in the democratic process in Thanet.

That’s an outcome we should all celebrate.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Tory leadership pays lip service to fight to ban live animal exports from Ramsgate Port

The Labour Group won an important vote at Full Council on 13th October. The motion, presented by Cllr. Ian Driver, calls on TDC to encourage residents to sign the e-petition placed on its front page, regarding the limit to 8 hours as a maximum time for the transport of live animals.


In spite of Cllr. Bob Bayford’s previous comments that the British Government should take a firmer stance on this issue, regardless of the outcome of the review being undertaken by the European Commission, he was prepared to water down the Labour motion by merely informing residents that the e-petition has been placed on TDC’s website.
Cllr. Ian Driver expressed his dismay that the Tory Leader of the Council appeared scared to take a firm stance on this emotive issue.
Cllr. Michelle Fenner had read a message from Peter Skinner Labour MEP for South East Region to the protesters who had assembled outside the TDC buildings in which he reiterated his support for the campaign to win a total ban of live exports:


“I want to be totally clear: I condemn those involved in this barbaric business. Long distance transport causes unnecessary suffering: exhaustion, dehydration, stress and even death. Like you I want to see a complete ban on live exports from Ramsgate or anywhere else.


I will be working with campaigners from Ramsgate and right across Europe to secure that ban. We must work together at the local, national and international level to put an end to the cross border trade in animals.


Cllr. Michelle Fenner has since sent a question to Laura Sandys MP (Conservative) to ask her if she will lobby the British Government to enable TDC to produce a new by-law to stop the trade in live animal export from Ramsgate Port or to impose a rest break for the animals and use of port facilities by the transport company.


Cllr Michelle Fenner: ”TDC’s Leadership are paying lip-service to this issue. Fine words are no longer sufficient, action is needed by the Leadership of TDC and the local MP to ban these barbaric practices.”

Monday, 17 October 2011

Conservative's poor practice and spoiling tactics continue


 The first meeting of the new Thanet District Council (TDC) Local Development Framework (LDF) Cabinet Advisory Group was held on Thursday 6th October. The LDF covers a wide range of detailed planning policy and issues guiding development and investment for Thanet's long-term vision.

The first meeting was called to iron out organisational matters for the group who will be working on the long-term vision for TDC. 

Regarding poor practice, Cllr Alan Poole immediately raised concerns that two cabinet members (Tories - Cllr Bayford and Cllr Moores) had been put on the advisory group and were therefore 'advising themselves'.

Cllr Clive Hart also raised the issue of a possible 'conflict of interest' concerning Cllr Bayford's membership as the group were discussing Kent county and East Kent Opportunities matters and Cllr Bayford is a Kent county councillor and a director of EKO. The legal officer had to dig very deep to squeeze Cllr Bayford out of this, but he did finally advise all was legal. Cllr Hart strongly disagreed with the legal officers advice that Cllr Bayford could carry on, on the basis that under the councillors code of conduct, councillors are supposed to consider how the 'man or woman in the street' would see any conflict, and he believed they would be appalled regarding Cllr Bayfords confusing roles.

Cllr Bayford then performed his usual 'you're being political' routine on Labour members so Cllr Hart reminded the group that the meeting had been made political even before members had sat down in their seats as Cllr Bayford, the Conservative council leader, had already decided there would be three Conservative's and only 2 Labour members on the advisory group (most other advisory groups are balanced due to the current 'hung' situation of the council at TDC).

Regarding continued Tory 'spoiling tactics' at TDC, these reached new heights when the LDF group got to deciding terms of reference and other organisational matters for the newly formed group. In the end Cllr Bayford was so angry at the perfectly reasonable request for advisory group members to maintain voting rights for their recommendations, that he ended the meeting prematurely and simply 'informed' the assembled group that he and his Cabinet would write its own terms of reference for them!

Following the meeting Labour Group Leader Cllr Clive Hart said "I felt it was a terrible shame that Cllr Bayford brought the LDF Advisory Committee to a sharp and premature close with the insistence that he and his cabinet will now write our terms of reference for us. Worse still is his insistence that we should not even be be allowed to vote on our recommendations.

I sincerely hope Cllr Bayford will see sense and maintain voting rights in this process. At the meeting there were several references made to the fact that the group 'ONLY' recommends matters to cabinet and I feel the further changes proposed by Cllr Bayford would water down the hard work of the committee still further".

Friday, 14 October 2011

The shrinking Isle


The number of people registered to vote in Thanet is shrinking, with up to a sixth of voters having vanished from the electoral register in some places over the last four years.

The council’s Labour group is calling for an investigation after it emerged that more than 1,400 voters have disappeared in two of the wards its members represent – Margate Central and Cliftonville West.

Research carried out by Dane Valley ward councillor Will Scobie showed that Thanet was the only one of four East Kent districts to suffer an overall fall, with the number registered across the isle down 4.2 per cent.

By contrast, Shepway increased its electorate by nearly 10 per cent over the same period, while Canterbury was up 3.6 per cent and Dover 1.2 per cent.

The number on register in three-member Cliftonville West ward has plunged 16.2 per cent from 5,288 to 4,429 between 2007 and 2011, while two-member Margate Central has dropped 16.7 per cent from 3,516 to 2,942.

Five other Labour-held wards saw falls of more than 5 per cent over the period, with a 7.7 per cent decline in Ramsgate’s Eastcliff ward.

Shadow cabinet member Cllr Rick Everitt said: “These numbers matter, not only because people are losing their right to vote, but because the national political map is currently being redrawn on the basis of them.

“We recognise that some wards have a high turnover of residents, but people move in as well as out and with a rolling register they can join during the year so that’s no excuse.

“Neighbouring Conservative-run councils have managed to increase their electoral roll, so we have to ask why the Thanet Tories have let this drift to such an extent on their watch.

“Registration is supposed to be compulsory and the council has a statutory duty to keep the register up to date, but in some wards we find that house after house is missing from the roll, while in other cases details are out of date or just wrong.” 

Labour suspicion was fuelled when members tried to raise the issue at the council’s electoral matters working party and was told that the group could only discuss polling districts and polling stations.

Cllr Everitt added: “With the government planning to introduce personal, instead of household, registration in 2014, we believe things are likely to get worse. Thanet needs to get a grip on the situation now.”

Monday, 10 October 2011

Dyslexia and its effects on achievement in Thanet

Cllr. John Edwards (Dane Valley, Labour) invited Cllr. Michelle Fenner (Sir Moses Montefiore, Labour) whose professional work is in dyslexia and Cllr. Alan Poole (Deputy Leader of Labour Group) to a meeting at the Houses of Parliament with Kelvyn Hopkins MP and Vice-Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Dyslexia and Specific Learning Difficulties on 7th September.
James Watkins, Alan Poole, Michelle Fenner, Kelvyn Hopkins and John Edwards


The meeting concentrated on the great need for Thanet schools to be able to provide the necessary support for dyslexic students, in an area of high indices of socio-economic deprivation and higher than average level of unemployment particularly amongst young people.


Kelvin Hopkins agreed to raise with the Government the concerns of the Thanet Labour Party that the Conservative led Government were not implementing plans drawn up by the last Labour Government to help improve the education of dyslexic children across Thanet and the rest of the country through the provision and funding of support and addressing the shortage of trained specialist teachers.


Cllr. Fenner: “ I meet many dyslexic people through my professional work and through my Council work and I am keen to do anything I can to improve their chances in life. It was a positive first meeting, opening the channels of communication and paving the way to a greater understanding of what is happening on the ground.”

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Time to end Ramsgate live animal exports

“Ban live exports” was the strong message from South East Euro MP Peter Skinner and local campaigners after a meeting with national animal welfare charity Compassion in World Farming. 
  
After years of falling live exports numbers are on the rise again. Last year the number of animals exported from Great Britain had dropped to 4000 sheep and no calves.  But this year over 10,000 sheep, calves, pigs and goats calves had been exported already. 
  
In response a campaign has been launched to fight the exports. Peter Skinner MEP recently hosted a meeting with James West of Compassion in World Farming and Reg Bell, a Kent based animal welfare campaigner, to discuss the next steps in getting this cruel trade banned. 
  
Mr Skinner wants to see European action to ban live exports and a total maximum journey time of 8 hours for animals travelling for slaughter or fattening. 
  
Local Campaigner Reg Bell was particularly keen to raise the issue of the poor standard and unsuitability of the vessels used to transport animals. 

James West, Peter Skinner and Reg Bell

  
Peter Skinner MEP: 
“I condemn those involved in this barbaric business. Long distance transport causes unnecessary suffering: exhaustion, dehydration, stress and even death. It's unnecessary and the people of Ramsgate don’t want it. 
  
“We should trade in meat, not live animals. I want a full ban on live exports from Ramsgate and a maximum journey time of eight hours for animals in the UK. I will continue to work with determined local campaigners like Reg and Compassion in World Farming to make this a reality.” 
  
James West, CiWF (Compassion in World Farming): 
“This was a very constructive meeting with Peter Skinner MEP. He has a very good understanding of the issues surrounding live exports and is clearly dedicated to protecting the welfare of animals during transport. This is a cruel trade that causes unnecessary suffering and we’re delighted Peter is committed to ending it. We hope to be able to work with him on these issues in the future.” 
  
Reg Bell (Broadstairs) local shop owner and campaigner: 
“I am really pleased with how the meeting went, Peter was very keen to listen and take in what we were saying.  He understands the issues with the vessel and delighted that he has promised to assist our campaign to ensure animals transported are protected from the weather.” 

Michelle Fenner, Labour Councillor on Thanet District Council:
"Following my motion unanimously agreed at Full Council in July 2011, I will be asking TDC to lobby the local MPs to press the UK Government and the European Union to implement a maximum journey of 8 hours for the transport of live farm animals to slaughter or for fattening. The British Government should take specific steps itself to stop the cruel practices of this trade."

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Spoiling tactics continue to hinder cross party working at Thanet District Council

ITEM 8 TDC CABINET AGENDA 22nd SEPTEMBER
 
RECOMMENDATIONS TO CABINET

 
With regard to night-flying at Manston, Thanet District Council's (TDC) own Airport Working Party considered the Kent International Airport policy proposal and the peer review report from Bureau Veritus and made the following recommendations.
 
1 (a) The Council adopts a policy of not allowing scheduled, pre-planned or otherwise timetabled flights between the hours of 23:00 and 07:00
(b)  That a period of 1 hour at either end of the flying day be allowed for late/early arriving flights only.
(c)  That a penalty be applied to any flights arriving during the 1 hour periods
(d)  No take-offs will be allowed between 23:00 and 07:00 hours
(e)  A schedule of exceptions to the above will be prepared to include ‘mercy flights’, and flights, medical emergencies, coastguard movements etc.
2.    In respect of aspirations to be carried into a successor to the current Section.106 agreement;
(a)   Consideration be given to requesting the Airport owners whoever they may be at any given time to contribute to the cost of a TDC Airport Officer and that requirement is included in a new section 106 Agreement;
(b)   A new Section 106 Agreement is negotiated within 12 months.
3.    A further Term of Reference be added to the Airport Working Party; purpose that investigation is undertaken to the relationship between a possible Parkway Station and the Airport and the current need for it.
4.    Quarterly or half yearly reports are received by Thanet District Council on the performance of the Manston International Airport as measured against the section 106 Agreement.
5.    Thanet District Council be recommended to ask the Manston International Airport operator to review the Kent International Airport Consultative Committee (KIACC).

These recommendations were further considered and accepted in full by the TDC Overview and Scrutiny Panel at its meeting on 30th August.
 
However, following two pages of legal jargon, Thursday's agenda report finally recommended that Cabinet declines to agree to any of the recommendations of the Overview and Scrutiny Panel and further declines to refer any of them to full council. 

Comment from Cllr Clive Hart - Shadow Member for Economic Development and Regeneration at TDC:
 
"Reading the one-sided report to Cabinet it's hard to see how any future consultation on this issue could ever be seen as being open and transparent.  Once again it appears that every conceivable legal loophole is being used to squash the hard work of a cross party committee who were simply doing their job and doing it very well indeed".

Comment from Cllr Alan Poole - Shadow Member for Environment at TDC:
 
“The Overview & Scrutiny Report, by a cross-party group of councillors, is an essential part of the democratic process and by totally rubbishing this report the Council’s Administration has shown that they will go to any lengths to force through a night flying policy – this appears to be a blatant predetermination of the outcome of the public consultation and planning process.
The Cabinet Report also conveniently overlooks the fact that the Council’s Administration has completely failed to enforce many parts of the current section 106 Agreement.
Night Flights are a significant intensification of use and hence a material planning concern that will need to be taken into account when determining any future planning applications. An Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is also an essential part of the planning process.”

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Thanet District Council Overview and Scrutiny Committee - 30/08/2011

By Cllr David Green - Labour Vice Chair.
 
 
On Tuesday I proposed, and Peter Campbell seconded, that a report, from the Council’s Airport Working Party, on the monitoring of activities at Manston Airport including Night Flights policy be adopted by the Thanet District Council (TDC) Overview and Scrutiny Committee, and forwarded to Cabinet. The committee voted 8 to 7 with all Labour Councillors and Cllr King in favour.
 
“1 (a) The Council adopts a policy of not allowing scheduled, pre-planned or otherwise timetabled flights between the hours of 23:00 and 07:00
(b)  That a period of 1 hour at either end of the flying day be allowed for late/early arriving flights only.
(c)  That a penalty be applied to any flights arriving during the 1 hour periods
(d)  No take-offs will be allowed between 23:00 and 07:00 hours
(e)  A schedule of exceptions to the above will be prepared to include ‘mercy flights’, and flights, medical emergencies, coastguard movements etc.
 
2.    In respect of aspirations to be carried into a successor to the current Section.106 agreement;
(a)   Consideration be given to requesting the Airport owners whoever they may be at any given time to contribute to the cost of a TDC Airport Officer and that requirement is included in a new section 106 Agreement;
(b)   A new Section 106 Agreement is negotiated within 12 months.
 
3.    A further Term of Reference be added to the Airport Working Party; purpose that investigation is undertaken to the relationship between a possible Parkway Station and the Airport and the current need for it.
4.    Quarterly or half yearly reports are received by Thanet District Council on the performance of the Manston International Airport as measured against the section 106 Agreement.
5.    Thanet District Council be recommended to ask the Manston International Airport operator to review the Kent International Airport Consultative Committee (KIACC).”
 
The local Labour Party has been pressing for the issue to be addressed, as it should be, through the Planning system for years now. We argued through the Council’s airport working party and Scrutiny system that clarity over the current policy of no night flights was essential.
 
Thanet District Council, as the local Planning Authority has a clear duty to produce a Local Development Framework, against which local businesses, developers and residents can plan their future in terms of land use and environmental impact.
 
It is clear, that the Council has failed in this duty with regard to the future development of Kent International Airport. The environmental agreement that controls the conditions of use of the airport (section 106) was devised in 2000 and was anticipated as being updated every 3 years. In the intervening years it has served the community well, allowing development of the airport, but protecting residents from the worst environmental impacts. However, the aircraft industry and environmental standards have moved on. A new agreement is required, and the airport owners need a clear guide to what is acceptable.
 
The airport owners have produced a master plan of how they would like the airport to develop. It is aspirational as one would expect, and optimistic with regard to predicted traffic and jobs created. In the absence of planning guidance from the Council, the danger is that the master plan will become mistaken for Council policy.
 
Through inaction, the Council has allowed a myth to develop that all that is required is some minor adjustment to the conditions of the old s106 agreement that will allow the relaxations of environmental control that the master plan requires. As far as night time flying is concerned it is clear from reports commissioned by the airport and separately by the Council, that the environmental impact would be severe. This reinforces the legal opinion obtained on at least two occasions that night time flying represents sufficient intensification of use as to require fresh planning approval.
 
We believe a clear, balanced policy that protects the vulnerable public is required, but will allow future development of the airport allowing competition with other similar airports.

Friday, 19 August 2011

Response to Manston Airport press release of 16th August 2011

The statement that the Labour Group at Thanet District Council is suggesting 'more onerous restrictions' at Manston Airport is absolutely and totally wrong!
Thanet Council Labour Group Leader Councillor Clive Hart said "The Labour Group simply stands by the current 106 agreement that has served Thanet well for the past decade. The 106 agreement also forms the basis of recommendations from a recent cross-party TDC Airport Working Party. We are certainly not calling for any 'more onerous restrictions' than already exist".
The Labour Group wish to make it absolutely clear that we are restating the current position of the council and in no way predetermining any decisions that may or may not have to be made in the future.

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Night time flying

 Thanet District Council meeting - Thursday 14th July 2011.
 
(MOTION - INTRODUCTION - LEGAL ADVICE - OUTRAGE)
 
1) THE MOTION:
 
The following written motion to council was submitted by Cllr Clive Hart and seconded by Cllr Alan Poole (Thanet Labour Leader & Deputy Leader at TDC).
 
'The Council adopts a policy of not allowing scheduled, pre-planned or otherwise timetabled flights between the hours of 23:00 and 07:00.  That a period of 1 hour at either end of the flying day be allowed for late/early arriving flights only.  That a penalty be applied to any flights arriving during the 1 hour periods.  No take-offs will be allowed between 23:00 and 07:00 hours and a schedule of exceptions to the above be prepared to include ‘mercy flights’, and flights for medical emergencies, coastguard movements etc'.

2) THE INTRODUCTION:

Introducing the motion at Thursday evenings meeting, Labour Leader of the Opposition Cllr Clive Hart said,
"Firstly, and I want to make this absolutely clear, we are not against the airport. We in the Labour Group most sincerely want to see a thriving airport creating good jobs for the people of Thanet.
However, we hear constantly of Thanet being termed as a ‘dumping ground’ in relation to social and economic issues and sadly, statistics show overwhelmingly that poor health standards here in Thanet are far worse than the average for the South East and even the whole country.
On a personal note, I have witnessed at first hand the effect that sleep deprivation can have on an individual. One of our wonderful grandsons has decided that for him, daytime starts anywhere between 3am and 5am and the cumulative effect of this over several months has had a devastating effect on his equally wonderful mother’s health and wellbeing.
Hopefully, that situation is a temporary one. The prospects for many Thanet residents if we are not clear as to what is and what is not reasonable could be permanent misery.
At this evening’s meeting we have heard what happens when there is a lack of ongoing monitoring in relation to grants and again in relation to a lease negotiated in good faith many years ago by this council.
The current section 106 agreement was put in place over a decade ago and has served Thanet very well indeed, but sadly the last two Conservative administrations at TDC have failed to review the agreement every three years as was originally planned, and it is clear from recent reports sponsored by the airport that they now see the 106 as an outdated agreement and will soon be pressing to extend their operations at night.
Chairman, America and Europe are currently experiencing very tough times due to the actions of a few bankers who saw loopholes in regulations and exploited them at all our cost.
We in Thanet suffer disproportionately from almost every social and economic ill. We do not need to add poorly regulated night time flying across our island as a further environmental problem.
The Labour Group therefore believes the council needs to give a clear steer as to what is and what is not environmentally acceptable here in Thanet. We support the airport but not at any environmental cost to the people of Thanet.
Chairman, I move the motion printed at item 8a in the agenda and option 2.2 to debate the motion".
 
3) THE LEAGAL ADVICE:
 
However, the TDC Legal Monitoring Officer advised the Chairman that the motion could not be allowed for complex legal reasons and pointed to a letter of advice from Bevan Brittan LLP (dated 14th July - the very day of the meeting) that had been left on councillors seats just minutes before the start of the meeting.
 
4) THE OUTRAGE
 
An intense debate on the extremely late legal advice followed in which Labour councillors explained that the motion had been handed in person by Cllr Hart to the Legal Monitoring Officer more than five weeks before the meeting on the 7th June and that the Monitoring Officer had read it and accepted it as a valid motion. A month later the motion had also been accepted onto and clearly printed in the council agenda as item 8a.
 
During the debate it also became clear that on the evening before Thursday's council meeting (13th July) Cllr Bayford, the Conservative Council Leader, had raised objections to the motion and that as a direct consequence further legal advice had been requested on the very day of the council meeting.
 
After the meeting Cllr Clive Hart said "TDC had my written motion to council for more than five weeks and the only thing I was aware of during the whole of that period was that it had been accepted onto and printed in the council agenda. The motion was submitted to support the councils own TDC Airport Working Party recommendations that had been 'left off' of the agenda of an Overview & Scrutiny Committee meeting in error and the actual wording of the motion simply confirmed the basis of the existing 106 agreement that the Conservative administration had failed to review for the past eight years".
 
Note:
 
The night flying motion to council was also directly in line with the 2011 Thanet Labour Manifesto that proved so successful with the public that it helped Thanet Labour to increase its number to twenty six councillors at TDC, just one short of the Conservatives.
With three Independent councillors, May's elections left TDC with no party in overall control.