Grants for events and Margate Winter Gardens axed by Thanet council as part of £2.8 million savings bid

Margate Winter Gardens Photo Mike Nichols

A £2.8 million funding gap in Thanet council’s budget has resulted in “painful decisions” including the axing of £350,000 for Your Leisure and the Margate Winter Gardens and £64,000 for event grants. Floral grants have also suffered a £15,000 cut.

The cuts are part of the 2018/19 budget for Thanet council which was agreed by members of all parties except Labour and 2 Independents – who were absent for the vote – last night (February 8).

Margate Central councillor Iris Johnston slammed the cuts, saying her ward was “getting a kicking,” with the omission of funding for work at properties in Church Fields and Meeting Court and the grant stripping from the Winter Gardens.

She said: “The removal of £64,000 from the events budget, £15,000 from the flowers budget and £350,000 from the Winter Gardens – all these are contained in one small ward. Tourism is worth something like £4million and this (Margate Central) is a ward that depends on tourism.”

Ramsgate councillor Peter Campbell also voted against the budget proposals saying Thanet council had “kept for themselves” money that parish and town councils relied on – including £300,000 for Ramsgate.

Council tax

The proposals, which were passed by an overwhelming majority, included the 2.99% rise in Thanet council’s share of council tax – equating to a rise of £6.57 a year for a Band D property. The rise is estimated to be around a tenth of the overall council tax hike for Thanet with higher charges also being made for the county council, police and fire services share of the precept.

‘Painful decisions’

Thanet council leader Chris Wells

Council leader Chris Wells said tough decisions had to be made in the face of falling funding from central government.

He said: “In 2012 we had a £22 million revenue budget and £11 million came from central government. For 2019 there will be a £16.5 million revenue budget and we will have to raise it all ocally. Something has to give. Being in that position we have to make painful decisions. We had already got to the stage where there had been a number of staff redundancies and we still had a gap to close.”

Referring to serious financial situations at other UK councils, including Northamptonshire and Haringey, Cllr Wells added: “Everybody in local government is struggling.”

Cuts to funding

Revenue Support Grant (RSG) from central government has fallen to £809,000 for 2018-19 compared to £1.446m for 2017-18.

The grant has been slashed repeatedly in the last few years.

For 2013/14 the grant was £6.636m. in 2014/15 it fell to £5.131m and for 2015-16 this was reduced to £3.630m.

In 2016-17 the grant was £2.645m but this is expected to go down to just £98,000 in 2019-20 and it is predicted there will be no central government grant from 2020-21.

Raising cash

Free parking at the multi-storey ends in April

The loss of funding means local authorities have to look at other ways of raising funds through fees and charges, asset sales and even schemes like the new Thanet lottery.

A hike in some fees and charges, such as parking costs and the removal of free Saturday parking at Royal Harbour car park (Leopold Street), was passed by councillors in December and is expected to bring in an additional £390,000 for the authority.

Further income is expected from business rates. The council is currently part of the Kent wide pool for business rates. The pool consists of twelve Kent local authorities comprising Kent County Council, Kent Fire and Rescue and ten borough and district councils.

By pooling, any levy payments that would have been made to Central Government in relation to business rate growth can be saved and distributed to the members of the pool. All Kent authorities jointly signed up to apply to the Government to be a pilot for 100% business rates retention during the next financial year.

Some £78,000 has also been saved through “organisational efficiencies.”

‘Strict control’

The budget report to councillors said: “A significant amount of work has gone into balancing the council’s budget for 2018-19. The council’s previous MTFS (medium term financial strategy) forecast that a further £1.9m in savings would be required (over 2017-18) but there have been additional in-year growth pressures.

“It is vital that all fees and charges, savings and efficiencies proposals are monitored and acted on during 2018-19 along with strict control over spending. Cabinet will receive regular budget monitoring reports throughout the course of the year.”


  1. Well I have spoken to some of my show producer friends and we have already been told that we wouldnt be getting our discount rates for hosting a charity event and it is looking like many of the family shows wont be happening in the future. Very sad another nail in the coffin of Thanet. If we stopped wasting money on over paid council officers perhaps we can get Thanet back on track.

  2. So the ‘flower budget’ has ‘suffered’. Boo-hoo. How shall we all manage to survive without all those cheap flowers?

  3. When Thanet District Council shuns big business that want to invest in the Isle, close the Economic Development Unit (Set up to promote the Isle to big business).crave to build house that will not secure any inward investment in to the Isle, then what do you expect. Not only do the large companies bring in jobs and investment in to the Isle, they often sponsor such things that are being cut in this budget. so more of a self inflicted injury that all those councillors who want housing on the like of Manston Airport, Ramsgate harbour and everywhere else they want to destroy.

  4. Manston Airport no longer exists and the land cannot be returned to agriculture, so a mixed- use development is the best plan for it.

  5. Making more people redundant is not helping anyone. If more people in Thanet were working more council taxes could be collected and more services paid for.

  6. If mixed development of Manston takes place allowing creation of many more (energy efficient) businesses to be put in place rather than a single cargo operator this would generate MORE JOBS and MORE COUNCIL (BUSINESS) TAX and help save our environment. I agree with the previous post a CUT in TDC and KCC senior management SALARIES is also a great place to start.

  7. TDC is falling into a ‘bean-counting’ trap. It just looks at cost and not value. When times are tough the LAST thing you do is cut your economic development unit. TDC sends out nothing but negative vibes to inward investors. Time for a serious change and to ditch the politics for the good of the area.

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