Cuts are being planned across Thanet council departments -including tourism and operational services – but suggestions are also being made to raise more cash to combat the need for ‘efficiencies.’
All department heads at the authority have been told to look at how savings can be made as the council attempts to balance its books and not deplete its reserves.
According to the budget for 2019-20 -which was agreed by a majority at full council on February 28 – proposals are to make £250,000 in organisational efficiencies.
Operational services include areas such as bin collections, parking, street cleaning, enforcement, playgrounds, cemeteries and public toilets. Tourism comes under the coastal development portfolio but is among the areas being examined.
That department deals with everything from promoting Thanet nationally as well as highlighting and organising events locally. It works with other organisations to help bring in some 4.2 million visitors with an annual £319 million spend to the Thanet economy each year, supporting 7,950 jobs.
The Isle of Thanet News understands some staff have received letters and are now in consultation over possible redundancies.
Margate Central ward councillor Iris Johnston says she has serious concerns after being told seasonal workers could be replaced by volunteers.
The former council leader and chair of British Destination, a national body overseeing tourism, said: “I voted against the budget in its entirety and have challenged areas such as the massive increases for coach parking.
“I have serious concerns about being told seasonal workers, so possibly beach cleaning, will be replaced with volunteers. If existing much valued staff are being made redundant and replaced by volunteers it is obvious the job is not redundant.
“It was also said that the work previously done by Your Leisure will be taken on by volunteers. You can’t have volunteer beach inspectors or tannoy announcers unless they are strictly vetted .
“Tourism has seen massive increases and is also about economic development, all the businesses this spreads to, meaning cuts will have knock on effects.
“The tourism staff do an amazing job and bring in business and recognition for Thanet.”
Council Cabinet member for coastal development, Ash Ashbee, said the work to find savings is ongoing across the whole of the authority and not just one department.
She stressed that no decisions have been made for specific cuts but added that there has to be “reductions across the whole of operational services.”
The business owner added: “Department heads are aware that they have to make reductions because of the overall budget targets. We are looking at everything, across the board so this is not specific to tourism.”
But Cllr Ashbee said raising revenue could help reduce cuts and events such as the Turner Prize could help with that. She said: “Rather than making cuts we could increase revenue and I think this is the best way to do it.
“We need to look at ways of maximising on the Turner Prize coming to Thanet, generating income, and that is the angle I am looking at. We get just a small proportion of the council tax, with county council taking the largest cut, and government funding is being cut to nothing so we need to stand on our own two feet.
“We need to generate revenue rather than making continuous cuts as if you keep cutting eventually there is nothing left to cut
“There are a lot of areas where we provide a good service and advice that we could look at making income from.”
The Westbrook ward councillor also raised the idea of a new app inviting isle visitors to make a £5 donation towards the upkeep of beaches and amenities if they enjoyed their stay.
She said: “We have to look at better ways of extracting money from visitors who come and enjoy our beautiful beaches and facilities. They may think they are free but residents pay lots of money towards keeping them clean so why not have voluntary donations with an app to say before you leave, if you enjoyed your stay make a contribution.
“Yes there will have to be a remodelling and savings but we all need to do work together, cross party and the whole of Thanet, to also think of ways to bring in more revenue.”
A Thanet council spokesperson said the authority could not comment on job cuts that may occur due to restructuring, saying: “We would not comment on internal staff matters as they are confidential.”
‘Better ways of extraction money from visitors’? Sounds mildly threatening to me and a sure way of driving visitors away from our beaches to other locations who don’t look at visitors as some form of ‘cash cow’.
Typical. Get money of of the people who actually keep you employed. Reduce your own spending.. there is absolutely no need for new council offices. Don’t put the burden on the public. Put the burden where it belongs with the council. Pay freeze. No new offices.thst must bring you nearly in touch with the deficit.
Life under the Tories grab-all-give-nothing-back, cut cut cuts, close close close. Sell off sell off sell off. Youth services closed. Amenities closed. Visitors ripped off. If they could run a bath they would want to do with no water.
I can save them £5 million overnight. Don’t spend £3m moving office and don’t waste £2m on a contribution to Thanet Parkway.
Agree 100%. TDC are penny wise & pound foolish.
Let’s just pull up the drawbridge and live in our own sh*t!
The Tories are absolutely destructive, locally and nationally.
TDC is a joke along with the transport minister. No one seems accountable for the money they spend. £3m on refurbishing council offices, how can that be justified?
In my opinion they must all be corrupt, as clearly they do not have the interest’s of Thanet residents in mind.
Only there own interest’s, like Paul Carter of KCC fame!
The streets are a mess, parking issues not addressed, pot holes every where, no investment in Harbour or Aviation.
Thanet is going down hill rapidly.
This is totally unbelievable! To accumulate you must speculate. These people will turn thanet into a desert. Making people redundant and asking for volunteers to do the job. I hope a national newspaper gets hold of this one and it goes nationwide
That should encourage people to come here.Do not refurbish the buildings and get ride of people running the show who do not have a clue!!!
Start at the top where savings and reforms really are needed, then leave the rest to get on with their jobs the way they should be done.
More sheer lunacy from TDC !
It is happy to publicise the fact that it is spending £3m on its offices – then announces staff redundancies to save less than 10% of that sum (but won’t say who or what is affected).
Clearly the lunatics are running the asylum – you could not possibly make this stuff up !
We will not have all this to worry about if Riveroak are awarded a foothold in Thanet by being able to use Manston, We won’t have to worry about visitors and tourists as there wont be any. Who holidays under 24/7 flights? Hotels and B&B’s will shut. Jobs will be lost and houses will be for sale as people will move out.
How brazen to say cuts are need oh and by the way WE are spending 3 million on OUR OFFICES, sod the roads and street cleaning, grass cutting or sod anything that the people of thanet need OUR OFFICES are more important, don’t you just love the Tories
Much of this stems from central government cutting the money that all local authorities get from Westminster. The Tory government has been imposing “austerity” for years. First, the excuse was the 2008 economic crisis and the need to bail out the Banks. Then they said we shouldn’t worry as austerity would soon end and Brexit would let us earn gazillions of extra pounds in all the new trade we would be getting. But, with Brexit only weeks away, we find that they are STILL cutting the money that should come to Thanet and their feeble followers on the Council just shrug and make up excuses.
Efficiency cuts is an oxymoron, and in the case of this Tory Council, the emphasis is on moron! How can cutting staff, and public services be efficient! Still, tourists could be taken out to see the proposed Parkway Railway station, as a “White Elephant” attraction, as no one will use it!
Here is a suggestion which the council will totally ignore and not pursue cos it is outside of the box. It would mean everyone would be a winner.
1/ make parking free and unlimited throughout Thanet
2/ charge £1 at the Westwood shopping complexes, collected by Tdc staff thus not involving the privately owned Westwood companies. ( Take a look at Ashford outlet)
3/ thus income from Westwood will compensate and go way beyond that of the present system.
4/ customers local or otherwise will not complain, at such a small payment
5/ small & big businesses will love it
Please Heed to my Suggestion. No excuses thank you
Due to the incredible work from all of Thanet – from the people to our amazing beaches and heritage and cultural locations we welcomed a record 4.2 million visitors, worth a whopping £319 million to the local economy, in 2017.
Independent research commissioned by Visit Kent showed that the number of day trips to the Thanet district leapt by 9.9% in 2017, meanwhile the total number of nights stayed in the district increased by 4.9%.
The total number of jobs supported by tourism rose by 8.7% to 7,950, with the industry accounting for an impressive 19% of total employment across Thanet.
This is amazing and the way to get more out of the tourist economy is to convert more day trips to overnight stays. To keep with the award winning strategies of Active Ramsgate to get that higher spend and to push on with the food/restaurant, heritage and cultural offer. And to encourage visitors to anyone of our towns and villages to extend their stay and visit them all and to visit Thanet.
Because this is not just about tourism that is about Making Thanet A Great Place to Live, Work and Visit.
This Cabinet or rather it seems the Tories have focussed on cutting back on all the things that will make Thanet a Great Place to Live, Work and Visit.
Whilst promoting everything to make Thanet a No-So-Great Place to Live, Work and Visit. Cutting services, promoting a cargo airport, cutting tourism spend, cutting NHS services and cutting bus services.
Meanwhile they want to spend £3 million on their offices, £2 million on Thanet Parkway and £40,000 on a feasibility study for a maritime village that is bound to conclude that it is not feasible with cargo planes flying over it at low altitudes day and night.
Actually why even spend £40,000 on a report. So far every report that is commissioned whether it is from Visit Kent (because yes we do pay for them), or from AviaSolutions about the viability of the cargo airport or from Historic England about the Ramsgate HAZ (because we also make a contribution for these too) etc etc is not used to make an informed decision anyway.
Will we be a tourist area that doesn’t bother to have a tourist information centre?
This is the grim reality of austerity. Local
councils have lost 60p out of every pounds worth of funding. The scale of the cuts, from central Government to local
Councils is devastating communities.