Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Thanet faces a huge task

By Will Scobie

I have just come back from a talk with the Chief Executive designate Sue McGonigal in the Council Chambers over the state of Thanet. During the talk several very worrying facts were brought up.

Thanet compared to the rest of Kent has: 
  • Lowest percentage of people working. 
  • The biggest percentage of retired people (by 2026 it is expected that proportion of retired people will rise from 33% to 44 %!). 
  • The lowest life expectancy ( recent report by the NHS in Thanet said that life expectancy is 5 years less for women, and 10 years less for men). 
  • The lowest available jobs. 
  • Highest level of jobseekers. 
  • The most amount of special needs children.
  • High levels of part time and low income workers. 
  •  6.9% of 16-18 years olds are out of school or unemployed compared to 4.1% elsewhere in Kent. 
  • Is bottom of the deprivation tables in the South East.

All of these different factors come together to form a deadly cocktail which will be exacerbated by huge cuts from Central Government. Transitional grants will help, but at the end of the day the question needs to be asked; why did Thanet have this money in the first place? The answer is because we have a huge amount of needy people and very few jobs. If the Central Government takes away the money then for many that leaves nothing. These are problems that I feel we all need to work together to deal with. The electorate have spoken to us and they have decided that they want all 3 groups to talk to one another. Now it is time for us to listen...


  1. Robert Williams11 May 2011 at 15:08

    Whilst agreeing with Cllr. Scobie's list of Thanet's problems, I am surprised he seems to have only just become aware of these for many of us have known of them for years. They are not something new to Thanet in recent times.

    Our problems go back a long way starting first with the decline of the traditional British holiday, further aggravated by the loss of major East Kent industries like mining and fishing and, most recently, with the announcement of the impending closure of Pfizer.

    On the issue of our high proportion of pensioners, that is nothing new for we have
    long been a destination for retirement by the sea. Whilst this increases demand on certain services, it is also a plus for the local economy as many of our pensioners have reasonable retirement incomes.

    Other problems date back to the dole at the seaside era, when our hotels and guest houses sought alternative guests to replace lost holiday trade, the practice of inner London boroughs placing homeless youngsters in facilities in Thanet and, more recently, the influx of asylum seekers and immigrants. All these have increased the burden on our education, medical and social services.

    Whilst the cuts currently being applied do not help, the problems existed long before the present, or even the previous government and council administrations with, seemingly to us local residents, little sign of progress.

    Yes, it is time for our councillors to work together, and closely with the KCC and our MPs, to tackle these issues for the longer term benefit of the isle and it's people. No more political posturing, please, but good sensible teamwork pooling the best of the talents available.

  2. Let us hope all members of the three parties currently in the council do decide that working together is the first step but I have doubts bearing in mind the inevitable rivalry for positions of power currently, I'm sure,going on behind closed doors.

    Mind you, loved the Thanet Times's headline 'Hung out to dry' in reference to the Tories.

  3. Could not agree more Robert. We all need to work together for the best interests of Thanet, and that means Labour and the Tories talking to one another as well not just both wooing the independents.

    I know that these problems are not new, but I have never had them put to me like they were yesterday. We are bottom of every social indicator league table. The cuts are only going to exacerbate the local problems and so we need a proactive Council making well thought through policy.