Thursday, 30 May 2013

Cabinet approve Economic Strategy Action Plan consultation

Cabinet members for Thanet District Council last night (Wednesday 29 May) approved a draft action plan for consultation as part of its new Economic Growth and Regeneration Strategy for Thanet.

The draft action plan sets out how the council will deliver its regeneration priorities in partnership with other public sector organisations, the private and third sectors over the next ten years.

The council will carry out a targeted consultation with identified stakeholders within the business community, statutory organisations and key representatives from the voluntary and community sector to ensure that the plan reflects the views of the people and organisations that will help to deliver it.

The consultation will run from Friday 31 May until Friday 12 July.

Feedback from the consultation will be used to help shape the final version of the action plan which will be presented at a future meeting of the Cabinet for final approval.

The draft action plan has been developed following initial engagement with the business community and is split into five areas which reflect the priorities of the overall strategy. This includes:

  1. Business growth
  2. Investing in assets
  3. Green economy
  4. Heritage, culture and the visitor economy
  5. Skills for employment and growth

The plan identifies a broad range of actions including attracting investment into the area, promoting Thanet as a place to live, work and create business, developing a vision and strategic plan for each of the main Town Centres, ensuring Thanet has the right commercial sites and buildings to enable businesses to start, develop and grow, taking advantage of the growing green sector and identifying external funding opportunities.

Leader of the Council, Cllr Clive Hart, said: “Thanet’s economic growth and regeneration is a key priority for the council. We are committed to driving growth across the district by promoting investment, skills, employability, job creation and innovation to provide a sustainable and balanced economy.

“This draft action plan sets out what we believe are clear, realistic and deliverable activities to help work towards achieving this.

“We’re aware that we can’t deliver all of this activity alone and that developing networks and partnerships will be key to its success. This targeted consultation will provide key agencies across the public and private sector with a further opportunity to feed into this process and to ensure that by working together, we’re supporting the economic growth and regeneration of Thanet. “

The councils Economic Growth and Regeneration Strategy can be viewed online and the draft plan will be available to view from Friday 31 May.



Thursday, 23 May 2013

We're delighted to announce that Labour run Thanet District Council has won more Blue Flag beach awards than anywhere else in England.

We officially have more of the best beaches in the country than any other district! A fabulous achievement and a great reward for a lot of hard work.

Watch the news reported on ITV Meridian News.

And BBC South East.


Wednesday, 22 May 2013


When Labour took over the leadership of Thanet District Council in December 2011, we were advised of a commercially confidential arrangement that the previous Conservative regime had entered into in March that year with Transeuropa Ferries.

The company was struggling financially and Conservative-controlled TDC, together with the authorities at Ostend, had agreed to special payment terms in order to assist its survival.

In Thanet’s case this meant deferring the fees Transeuropa paid to berth at Ramsgate, initially for three months but subsequently for longer, and putting in place a payment plan that would have seen the outstanding debt recovered in full by 2014.

The purpose of this arrangement was to give every possible chance for the continuation of the ferry service at the port, and to protect both the jobs that depended on it and an important source of ongoing income for the council taxpayers of Thanet.

By the time Labour took over from the Conservatives, the ferry company already owed the council £1.7m, and the risk attached to this debt had become an additional consideration.

The council was in constant contact with the company and there were regular discussions internally about the potential financial implications of it going under.

If we had taken action to recover the money at that stage, for example by denying Transeuropa facilities at Ramsgate, this may well have tipped the firm into administration, leaving the existing debt unpaid and the port without its major customer.

It was also important that the council said nothing publicly that had potential to undermine commercial confidence in the company, as this may have had the same outcome.

Developments over the next year gave some cause for encouragement. In July 2012 the firm began making debt repayments. In November last year it reached agreement with an Italian investment company. And early in 2013 it added a third ship to the Ramsgate-Ostend service.

During this time the amount outstanding to the council increased to £3.3m, but the risk of the firm becoming insolvent appeared to be reducing.

It should be understood that if the council had adopted a hard line at any point then in all likelihood the ferry service would simply have ended earlier. The council would still not have had the £3.3m, as that level of debt would never have been incurred in the first place.

It is true that the council would have been able to make some savings at the port if the ferry company had failed earlier, but these are a fraction of the overall amount.
We take responsibility for the actions of the council since December 2011, but in our view, officers and elected members have done what they could to protect the best interests of the district in a very difficult situation.

The council will take whatever action is available to recover as much money as possible, but in the meantime we have to show in the 2012/13 accounts that we are able to cover the shortfall from existing resources and that is the purpose of the report to cabinet next week.

Cllr Clive Hart - Leader

Cllr Alan Poole - Deputy Leader & 
Cabinet Member for Operational Services

Cllr Rick Everitt - Cabinet Member for Finance

Saturday, 18 May 2013


At item 12 of Thursday's AGM the council was asked to appoint councillors to represent TDC on various outside organisations and bodies, these are very privileged positions.

The Labour group did not feel in any way obliged to support the nomination of councillors who, over the past year, had seriously damaged the reputation of the council.

Therefore, following proper procedure, the Labour group nominated alternative councillors, as is our right.

Strangely, it is apparently legally in order for the Conservative Leader to appoint one of his councillors who has a drink-driving conviction to the council's own licensing committee and it is also clearly his prerogative to completely ignore calls for another of his councillors to apologise for making a nasty hate phone call. 

However, it is certainly not the duty of our Labour group to blindly support the nomination of any councillors in such circumstances.

It beggars belief that the Conservative group thought it was somehow the duty of all councillors to support their nominations, whatever behaviour those nominated may have exhibited during the past year. They clearly appear to believe these privileged positions are theirs of right, no matter what they do. 

So why then did the Conservative group, bar two, leave the Council Chamber on Thursday evening, half-way through the meeting?

The answer in short is: they threw a tantrum! In protest at two of their members having to cede their places on outside bodies to Labour members who had expressed an interest in them. 

The result of their walking out was that they were not present to debate the very important issue of community safety and action plan in partnership with the Police. 

It certainly is their duty to attend meetings to discuss and make decisions. Do the Conservatives not consider community safety to be a key issue?

Instead, prior to their departure, there was an unpleasant lecture from one of the offending councillors about their drink driving offence who shouted that 'it could happen to anyone of you'. 

This was offensive! Not only to the Labour councillors it was directed at, but also to the general public: drink and drive can kill! And it must not be trivialised.
Do the Conservative councillors not consider that the residents they represent would expect them to, at least, be present in the meeting when matters relating to anti-social behaviour, domestic violence, alcohol abuse, to name just a few, are being debated?

The truth of the matter is that they behaved like impetuous children.


Tuesday, 14 May 2013


David Cameron is not being straight with elderly people and their families about the Government's plans for social care, Labour said today. A new analysis shows the proposals in the Queens Speech which come into force in 2016:
1. Won't stop people from having to sell their homes to pay for care
Under the deferred payment scheme, councils loan people money to cover their care costs, which has to be paid back by selling the family home after the elderly person has died. The Government's new scheme means families will face losing even more of their homes than they do now, because they will be charged interest on the loan, unlike the current system.
2. Won't cap the costs elderly people actually pay for their residential care
The £72,000 'cap' on care costs being introduced the Government will be based on the standard rate local councils pay for residential care in their area, which is on average £480 a week. 125,000 pensioners who fully fund their care face weekly bills that are on average £50 - £140 more, and far higher in some areas. This extra amount will still have to be paid by elderly people and won't count towards the 'cap'. In addition, most elderly people in care homes will die long before they ever reach the 'cap'.
3. Won't mean pensioners get their care for free if they have income or assets worth up to £123,000 - and pensioners on average incomes will miss out on any extra help
Elderly people will still only get free care if they have income or assets under the lower means-tested limit, which isn't being increased and will be £17,500 in 2017. Pensioners with income or assets between £17,500 and £123,000, the new increased upper means-tested limit, will get a sliding scale of support from councils as they do now. But due to the way this sliding scale works, pensioners on average incomes with modest second pensions wont get any council support, even with the new increased upper means-tested limit.
Liz Kendall MP, Labour's Shadow Minister for Care and Older People, said:
"The Government's new scheme is incredibly complex, and David Cameron should be straight with people about what it really means in practice.
"Instead, Ministers are telling people they wont have to sell their homes to pay for their care, and that their costs will be capped at £72,000. This simply isn't the case.

"And they have failed to spell out that the way they are changing the means-test won't help pensioners on average incomes who have worked hard and saved all their lives.
"The growing care crisis is one of the biggest challenges we face as a country. Older people and their families deserve to be told the facts so they can properly plan for the future, and not have the Government attempt to pull the wool over their eyes."


Friday, 10 May 2013


Celebrations marking the completion of Thanet District Council’s multi-million pound coastal flood defence scheme have been held in Margate with the expert team responsible for its development.

The landmark scheme, funded by the Environment Agency, was designed to dramatically reduce the risk of flooding in Margate Old Town and was completed almost £1million under budget.

Work on the scheme, which has been under construction since 2010, has involved major renovations to the Stone Pier, the North and South Sea Walls, the installation of seven new floodgates and the construction of a 200 metre-wide stepped structure.

As well as providing vital protection from the risk of flooding, the new steps have been designed with integrated seating and lighting to provide an attractive new area to enjoy Margate’s stunning sea views.  They also provide access for the first time from the Old Town area of Margate directly onto the beach.

The savings achieved on the scheme have allowed the Environment Agency to fund additional work including the refurbishment of the Marine Pool on Margate Sands.

The East Kent Engineering Partnership (which includes expert officers from Thanet District Council and Canterbury City Council) were responsible for the design of the project, which was funded by an Environment agency grant. The contractor J Breheny Civil Engineering Ltd undertook construction of the scheme. All of those involved in the project were thanked for their efforts and achievements.

Council Leader, Cllr Clive Hart, said: “I’m delighted with the new defence works in Margate. Thanks to the expertise and efficiency of those developing this scheme we’ve completed the work to an incredible standard and well under budget.

“This year is the 60th anniversary of the 1953 floods, and provides a poignant reminder of the need for this scheme in the area.

“We are now confident that our original seaside town will be protected from the risk of flooding for the next 50 years and also now have a fantastic new public area which can be enjoyed for many years to come.

“I’d like to thank our local residents and businesses who have remained patient and understanding during construction.”


Our alternative Queen’s Speech

Britain faces big challenges. But this week, with his 'no answers' Queen's Speech, David Cameron has shown he's unable to bring about the change we need.

The Prime Minister promised change but things have got worse not better:

* Worse on jobs: with one million young people unemployed and more people out of work than when David Cameron became Prime Minister.
* Worse on growth and living standards: with the economy flatlining for two and a half years, and families paying the price with real wages down £1,700 since the election.
* Worse with the banks: with lending to businesses still falling.
* Worse with housing: with new housing starts falling and more families being left in the private rented sector with rising rents and too little security.
* Worse with family bills: with energy bills having risen by £300, while the profits of the energy companies have soared.

If Labour were in Government we would be acting to implement a One Nation programme with new ideas to begin turning Britain’s economy around.

One Nation Labour’s plans include:

* A Jobs Bill to put in place a Compulsory Jobs Guarantee.
* A Finance Bill that would kick-start our economy and help make work pay with a 10p rate of tax.
* A Consumers Bill to tackle rip-off energy bills and train fares.
* A Banking Bill that backs British business with a real British Investment Bank and new regional banks.

Thursday, 9 May 2013


 Stephen Twigg

Stephen Twigg
Stephen Twigg MP, Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary, has announced that Labour will call a vote in the House of Commons on controversial changes to the number of children that nursery workers can look after.  
Stephen Twigg has accused the Government of “creating chaos and confusion” on plans to change the ratios of childcare staff to toddlers, amid warnings from professionals and parent groups that the reforms will threaten the quality and safety of care.  
Labour will table an amendment to the Children and Families Bill at Report Stage, which is due to commence in the coming weeks.  
Stephen Twigg MP, Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary, who is chairing the party’s Childcare Commission said:  
“David Cameron and Nick Clegg are creating chaos and confusion on childcare.  
“Nobody supports the plans to weaken childcare standards. Expert academics have told the Government that these changes would risk child safety and will not reduce costs to parents.  
“And it’s not just the experts of course. As any parent will tell you, young children are demanding and they need lots of attention, so while a childminder can have the very best qualifications, they still only have one pair of hands. 
“Labour have been campaigning on this issue for months, warning that the changes would risk the quality of care and even child safety.  
“David Cameron is presiding over a crisis in childcare. Tax credits have been cut by £1560 and there are 401 fewer Sure Start centres than in 2010. The Government is doing nothing to help helping hard working families with the cost of childcare.” 
Labour’s Childcare Commission has rejected plans to change ratios as happened in France, and is instead looking to countries in Scandinavia, which have a higher quality childcare that is more affordable to parents.  
Stephen Twigg visited Sweden last year to see how the country provides better childcare and has higher female employment rates, including through co-operative nursery models.


Wednesday, 1 May 2013


Jack Dromey MP, Labour's Shadow Housing Minister, responding to Shelter’s “Growing up renting” report on families in the private rented sector that finds that the volatile rental market is damaging childhoods, said: 

“Living a life of insecurity harms family life and blights the childhood of young people uprooted time and again from their schools and friends. Families must be able to plan where they send their kids to school and how they manage their household budgets.“That’s why Labour has outlined its proposals to reform the private rented sector so it works for Britain’s families. With longer term tenancies and predictable rents, the private rented sector can offer the affordable and stable homes that families need.“The nine million renters in this country deserve a fair deal. Labour’s One Nation housing policy offers stability for families, certainty for landlords and strengthened communities.”



Jamie Reed MP, Labour’s Shadow Health Minister, responding to the Pulse poll showing a drop in support by GPs for the Conservatives, said: 
“This is a damning indictment of David Cameron’s NHS betrayal. GPs repeatedly warned the Prime Minister over his chaotic NHS re-organisation and decision to force GP commissioners to put every contract out to tender, but he ploughed on regardless. Doctors are now abandoning him in droves – showing a complete lack of faith in the Tories’ handling of the NHS. On Cameron’s watch, we are seeing hundreds of thousands more people waiting longer in A&E, 4,500 nurses cut and a £3billion re-organisation he ruled out. It’s becoming ever clearer that the NHS is not safe in his hands.”