Monday, 28 October 2013

Update on Callis Grange Sure Start Petition

From: Cllr Jenny Matterface

When it was announced that KCC planned to reduce the opening hours of Callis Grange Sure Start Centre from 40 hours to 18 there was a feeling of shock all round. The Isle of Thanet Gazette took up the story following my call and ran a feature demonstrating how well Sure Start has proved its worth in Broadstairs by, among other content, featuring a young mother who was adamant that ’Sure Start has turned my life around’. She had found employment and using the experience gained has since moved on to a better-paid job with more social hours. ‘I couldn’t have done it without the help and support I got from the centre’. Another mother said ‘I’m  a different person now and a better mother.’

A Kent-wide online petition followed the July announcement, attracting responses from all over the county giving clear evidence of the value we put on this vital resource. The consultation period started and over 5000 responses were received at County Hall from all areas where services were under threat from either closure or reduced hours. I was gratified to be told that there was an excellent response from users and supporters of the Callis Grange centre.

Here in Beacon Road Ward we decided that a paper-based petition would enable us to meet face-to-face users of the centre by door-knocking and we gathered 300 signatures in three short sessions in the streets in the immediate area.

With the help of County Councillor Will Scobie we were able to arrange a meeting with Cllr. Jenny Whittle, cabinet member responsible, at County Hall on October 11th where she gave us an hour allowing Will, Frances Rehal, from Faversham who set up the first Sure Start in Kent, and me plenty of time to put our case for keeping the centre fully-open.
Cllr. Whittle told us she’d been impressed by the enthusiasm that users of the centre have shown. I feel this was reflected in the very good, first OFSTED report carried out on the centre in July, around the time the centre was under threat of reduced hours.

A decision will be made soon about the centre’s future and I hope we have done enough to persuade the powers-that-be of the vital service offered to local residents. The short-term benefits of the Sure Start system are evident in the parents who have gained qualifications, employment, entered further and higher education following their involvement with Callis Grange Sure Start Centre. The long-term benefits may not be known for years when the children currently attending themselves become parents.

Research has shown that for every £1 spent on early in a child’s education, family support and intervention saves £7 in later years in relation to reduced crime, better school outcomes, fewer teenage pregnancies and more employment. This is why these centres need our support.

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Ed Miliband speech to an FSB event

It is great to be here with you today as part of our dialogue with small business with Toby Perkins, our shadow minister for small business.

I want to thank the FSB for putting together this event.
And for all the incredible work you do for British business all the year round.
I also want to thank all the business people here today for giving up your valuable time to be here with us to discuss the future of small businesses in Britain.
Let me say something about my party:
It hasn’t traditionally been so, but I am deeply committed to us being a party that stands up for small businesses in this country.
You create huge amounts of wealth, and you will create the majority of the new jobs in the future.
The future of the British economy depends on small business.
You invent the products that we sell at home and across the world.
You provide the jobs that our country so desperately needs.
You nurture the skills of our young people.
And you create the wealth without which our country cannot thrive in the years ahead.
When you succeed, Britain succeeds.
But so many small businesses are facing the same cost of living crisis that affects families in our economy.
We are determined to do something about it.
Let me suggest some ways we can make a difference.
First, taking action on business rates.
I know that for so many small businesses, business rates are a cost that just seem to grow and grow, and are now often greater than your rent.
We are determined to do something about this ever escalating bill.
This Government plans to cut taxes further for large firms in 2015.
In tough times, we would use those precious resources instead to cut business rates after the next election and freeze them in 2016.
Our tax cut and freeze will mean an average saving of nearly £450 for 1.5 million business properties– shops, workshops, start-up businesses.
Second, we are determined to get a grip on the energy costs that are such a problem for so many small businesses.
Annual energy bills for small businesses have gone up by an average of £10,000 since 2010.
We would freeze prices until 2017 if we win the election.
And reform a broken energy market.
With proper competition and a new, effective regulator after that.
To keep prices as low as possible for the years ahead.
There is no solution to the cost of living crisis which tiptoes around taking on the energy companies and reforming a broken market.
You have seen the debate that this proposal has started.
Yesterday in weakness and panic, the government made up a new policy on energy.
Today, Nick Clegg has revealed their true intentions.
To shift the burden from ordinary bill payers, like you, to ordinary taxpayers, like you. Governments have always looked at this balance but this Government wants you to pick up the tab for its failure to stand up to the energy companies.
That won’t offer the real help that business and families need.
They propose a panicked wheeze paid for by taxpayers.
We offer a real freeze paid for by the big energy companies.
Third, we want to get you the finance you need to survive, grow and prosper.
It is why we will establish a network of new regional banks: banks that can lend in your region and in your region alone.
So that they have a legal duty to support the small and medium-sized businesses in their own part of the country.
That means that under Labour we will have banks that work for you, rather than you working for the banks.
These are just three changes that will make a real difference.
We will cut business rates, freeze energy bills and sort out our banking system.
And that is just a start.
I want a dialogue about what more needs to be done.
Let me end where I began: with Labour, and why we can stand up for you.
Because of our belief in enterprise.
But also because it is time to deploy one of our great traditions in the service of small business, standing up for those who need someone on their side.
Helping you, to help our country.
We want to develop a comprehensive offer coming from One Nation Labour for small businesses.
My ambition, our ambition, is to make our party, the Labour Party, the champion of small business at the next election.

Labour Party

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Sir John Major comments deeply embarrassing for Cameron - Jon Ashworth

Jon Ashworth MP, Labour’s Shadow Cabinet Office minister, responding to Sir John Major’s comments, said:

“It’s deeply embarrassing for David Cameron that a man famous for not wanting to criticise his successors would come out and say what everyone else is thinking: this Prime Minister is completely out of touch. David Cameron stands up only for a privileged few and has no answers to the cost of living crisis he’s created.

“John Major has become the latest voice to recognise that people are sick and tired of being left out of pocket because of David Cameron’s failure to stand up to the energy companies. That’s why we desperately need a Labour government which will freeze energy bills to save money for 27 million households and 2.4 million businesses and reset the market to deliver fairer prices in the future.”

Labour Party

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Rachel Reeves response to tripling of Trussell Trust foodback use

Rachel Reeves MP, Labour’s Shadow DWP Secretary, responding to the tripling of Trussell Trust foodbank useage, said:

"This tripling of food bank usage over just one year is shocking and shaming. The Trussell Trust themselves point to David Cameron’s cruel and unfair bedroom tax as a major driver of this startling increase, as well as the wider cost of living crisis we are seeing with food prices and energy bills rising faster than wages month after month.
"This should be a wake-up call to the Tory-led government who are totally out of touch with the hardship their policies are creating. They should reverse the bedroom tax now, as Labour has promised to, using money raised by closing tax loopholes, take action on rising gas and electricity bills – and start standing up for ordinary families instead of putting a privileged few first."
1. Over 350,000 people received three days’ emergency food from Trussell Trust foodbanks between April and September 2013, triple the numbers helped in the same period last year.

Labour Party

Monday, 14 October 2013



"I am pleased that Ann Gloag is approaching the purchase of Manston with such a positive attitude and that she clearly see's a strong future for the airport. I sincerely hope this means that jobs at the airport are secure and that the settlement can be completed as soon as possible in the interests of all concerned. I look forward to forging a good working relationship with the new owners".

Cllr Clive Hart - Leader of Thanet District Council.

Research another nail in the coffin of Cameron’s crumbling case for the Bedroom Tax - Rachel Reeves

Rachel Reeves MP, Labour’s Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, responding to research from the University of York on the impact of the Bedroom Tax, said:
“This research is another nail in the coffin of David Cameron’s crumbling case for the Bedroom Tax.
“Labour has repeatedly warned it could end up costing more than it saves.
“Instead of dismissing independent research and sticking their heads in the sand it is time for this out-of-touch Government to wake up to the problems they are causing and reverse this cruel and counterproductive measure.
“If they don’t, the next Labour government will, by using money raised by closing tax loopholes to cover any costs.”

Labour Party

Friday, 11 October 2013

Statement on Royal Charter - Harriet Harman

Harriet Harman MP, Labour’s Shadow Culture Media and Sport Secretary, said:
“The Royal Charter agreed by Parliament has been finalised by all three parties and establishes a proper complaints system which does not affect the freedom of the press.
“The Charter meets the principles set out by Lord Justice Leveson which were unanimously supported in Parliament.
“I hope that the press will engage with this new system of independent self-regulation. We must have no press boycott.
“We need a press which is robust and free which holds those in power to account but which does not wreak havoc on the lives of innocent people.”
Labour Party

Thursday, 10 October 2013

World Mental Health Day

Labour’s vision for integrated, whole-person care will deliver an NHS with mental health at its heart - Berger

Luciana Berger MP, Shadow Minister for Public Health, commenting on World Mental Health Day, said:

"Mental health is an issue that continues to be swept under the carpet. We need to talk about it much more openly if we are to challenge the archaic attitudes that are still far too commonplace.

"One in four of us will experience a mental health problem in our lifetime, but we’ve seen in the last fortnight that we have a long way to go in changing how mental illness is portrayed - from products sold in our supermarkets to coverage in our national press.

"Labour’s vision for integrated, whole-person care will deliver an NHS with mental health at its heart, not relegated to the fringes."

Friday, 4 October 2013


Cllr.Michelle Fenner

Cabinet Member on Thanet District Council

Last night at Full Council I put forward a motion against the bedroom tax, called such euphemisms as ‘power to reduce housing benefits’, ‘under occupancy penalty’ or ‘spare room subsidy’.

As a Labour Councillor I was proud that my party is firmly committed to repealing this bedroom tax in 2015.

This motion was agreed on by a majority of Councillors.

This tax is nasty, squalid, unfair and impractical.

It is nasty because it targets the weakest, poorest and most vulnerable here in Thanet and nationwide.

It is squalid because it was ill-thought-out and is proving to be full of contradictions and doesn’t address the real issues about under-occupation.

It is unfair because no local authority has a stock of properties that people being told to “down-size” can move into

And it is impractical because the only choice most people have is to give up a secure council or housing association home and move into a private rented, potentially insecure one where the rent would be much higher – and the consequent cost to the public purse much greater.

In the last couple of weeks we have seen the first batch of appeals against this tax in the Courts – and I am pleased to point out that in the first hearings the Judge upheld four out of the five of them, showing that even the Judiciary don’t think much of this badly-written change to benefit legislation.

This tax is one that bypasses elected local councils, who have no power to fix the amounts deducted nor to decide which properties are affected.
We firmly believe that local authorities should be the bodies that deal with under-occupation – not the bureaucrats in Whitehall and Tory MPswho know little and care less about social housing.

Under-occupation is best dealt with by the “carrot” and not the “stick”. Building more smaller-sized council properties that can be offered to our tenants is the long term solution – not forcing some of our poorest residents to use money that should be used for food or heating on paying for a shortfall in their housing benefit.

On average the tenants affected by this legislation will pay £750 a year because they cannot move to anywhere and therefore they have to pay it. This is why it is a tax, and this is why it is an unfair tax.

This motion is a reasonable declaration of where we stand and what is practical for T.D.C. to do.

In voting in favour of this motion the Councillors joined the voices of concern from the Local Government Association, the National Housing Federation, the Chartered Institute of Housing and virtually every other respected national organisation in the field of housing and local government.   
This motion was not only about trying to mitigate some of the impact of this tax but also, as a progressive Council that takes its social responsibility seriously sending a strong message to the government against this damaging piece of legislation.

Thursday, 3 October 2013


Cllr Clive Hart - TDC Leader


The Centre for Social Justice was established in 2004 to seek effective solutions to poverty that blights parts of Britain.

Those of us representing the most challenging wards here in Thanet walk a ‘tight-rope’ each and every day regarding the problems and issues facing us. On the one hand we do everything we possibly can to promote our area, on the other, we have to face the problems head on and fight for the necessary funding and resources.

I was therefore only too pleased to take part in the recently published Centre for Social Justice report on Seaside Towns. I also commend Cllrs Iris Johnston and Will Scobie for their contributions.

Whilst mentioning Cllr Scobie, can I just quickly take this opportunity to congratulate him on his selection as the Labour Party Parliamentary Candidate for South Thanet.


We continue to work on the aptly named SUCCESS Programme with Hastings and Tendring councils. Indeed, I spoke to our officer who was in Hastings earlier today on the matter. The programme aims to speed things along and encourage growth in the creative and cultural industries in the South East coastal area.

The SUCCESS programme will provide financial support for small and medium creative businesses across Thanet. It will be targeted at creative businesses looking to locate or expand in Thanet, aiming to encourage the growth of this sector and enabling jobs to be created.

Together, we are also fighting the case for coastal areas through the LEP Growth Plan. Housing, worklessness and offshore renewable energy are a core themes we all share.


We continue to work closely with KCC on housing issues here in Thanet. I know there have been some concerns regarding recent demolition of a building on a KCC part of the Live Margate programme raised this evening, but I was delighted to attend the TDC ‘handing over of keys’ for two beautiful 4 bedroom properties in Cliftonville last week.

Our part of the project turned an ugly and problematic 20-30 bed HMO into two family homes and Cllr David Green and all the officers involved should be very proud indeed.

Further funding accessed through the Homes and Communities Agency will create 30 homes in Ramsgate and 15 more properties above local shops will be regenerated.  


We continue to work closely with our neighbouring authorities across East Kent and I’m pleased to say a particularly close working relationship between Thanet and Dover is developing due to our joint Assisted Area Status, economic and geographic connections. The Dover leader and I have put any political differences well aside to work for the benefit of residents across our districts and we also continue to support the Grow For It East Kent campaign.


We’re also building close working relationships with the Thanet Clinical Commissioning Group. We recently welcomed them to the TDC offices where they are now located and in addition to the established full Health and Wellbeing Board meetings we have also planned a series of joint internal discussion sessions. The last full meeting of the board also included a Children’s Summit involving leading local children’s agencies.

On that last point – my best wishes go to all those who will be campaigning outside County Hall for our local Children’s Centre’s across Kent and especially here in Thanet to remain open.


I’d also like to congratulate you yourself Chairman on your wish to focus on our local businesses during your term of office. I was delighted when you asked me to join you on a programme of business visits here in Thanet. As the figurehead of TDC and these visits fall under your civic role, but they are also very much in line with my role as cabinet member for economic development and although the programme is in its early stages it is proving to be extremely useful in fully understanding the diverse nature of business across our island. 

With just a handful of visits under our belts, we have already witnessed local companies employing large numbers of local people, creating diverse products for clients all over the world. We've seen some incredibly complexed machinery and 'state of the art' technology being used by local people here in Thanet to keep our businesses ahead of some very fast changing worldwide sectors. We've seen product designers working to keep their companies out in front of fierce international competition and we've met local businessman and company directors who have expanded their businesses over many decades despite some incredibly difficult periods. These companies are winning major contracts, often against wealthier and more powerful international competitors and keeping local people here in Thanet employed.


What a scorcher of a summer it's been. The island came alive with summer events.

Among other events, in our main towns we had carnivals, a Lark in the Park, a Soul Weekend, a Water Gala, a Vintage Fair, a Summer Squall, Broadstairs Folk Week, Ramsgate Week and Margate Masters.

In villages and parks, in gardens and community centres, and on different bandstands and stages across Thanet where numerous summer fairs, fetes and parties were also staged by local resident, voluntary and community groups.

It's a huge privilege and an honour to be the District Leader and often this summer I've been delighted to accept thanks on behalf of the council and its staff for help and assistance with many local events.

I know TDC may not be directly involved with every single event but I simply have to mention three of my TDC Cabinet Members - Cllrs Iris Johnston, Alan Poole and Rick Everitt who worked so hard to find funding to support local groups, drive events forward and tidy up our district afterwards.


Last week I attended the KIACC public meeting where the usual frank discussion took place. Some interesting, if often-conflicting views of local residents were voiced.

Earlier in the summer I was delighted to attend the arrival of the A380 Airbus which was quite incredible to witness.

We continue to support the airport through our environmental services with staffing the airports designated port of entry requirements.

And a little surprisingly, through the Thanet Regeneration Board, I was interested to learn at our last meeting that the MP for South Thanet also has serious reservations regarding the KCC proposed Parkway Station – as the minutes will confirm.

On a personal note I also told the public KIACC meeting last week how my wife and I spent a wonderful weekend in Amsterdam recently, flying from Manston. The journey was effortless and for a change we returned home from a holiday totally relaxed and stress free due to the virtual lack of travelling time. Indeed, coming home we left Amsterdam at 8.30pm and arrived home at 8.15pm – now that’s what I call service!

Whilst on the airport:


Following the news that the airport working party has been ‘stood down’ the Labour group felt we needed to find some new way to monitor activities at Manston Airport.

I therefore announce my intention to form a Cabinet Advisory Group to cover such matters.

The CAG will consider and assess the environmental impacts arising from the development of Kent International Airport in terms of noise, air quality and traffic management and the impact on protected habitats and how any adverse impacts can be mitigated.

It will consider and recommend to Cabinet how the Council should respond to any current or future airport operators night time flying proposals.

The CAG will keep under review the Section 106 Agreement regulating Kent International Airport and recommend to Cabinet any amendments to the Agreement considered necessary or desirable as a result of the future development and expansion of the airport.

I’d like to thank Cllr Michelle Fenner for her sterling work on this matter and I will shortly contact the Leader of the Opposition for his nomination.


I am making the following changes within Cabinet portfolios

As from today:

Enforcement Services (environment and parking - not planning) will move to the Operational Services portfolio.

Property Services will move to the Finance portfolio.

Environmental Health, Licensing and Land Charges will move to the Community Services portfolio.

In this regard, I’d like to thank my Cabinet colleagues for the smooth transition they’ve been working towards, behind the scenes.


I’d like to thank all the council’s staff who are working so hard in increasingly difficult circumstances in relation to resources.

Lastly, I would usually be annoyed when a councillor doesn’t get to a full council meeting but in light of recent news I’d like to send our very best wishes to Cllr Kim Gibson and I sincerely hope she is having a truly wonderful time!