Thanet looks likely to suffer another blow to tourism services with a proposal to axe the Thanet Coast Project officer post and end the majority of the project’s activities.
The Isle of Thanet news understands that Thanet Coast Project officer Tony Child’s job is one of those at risk as part of the proposed restructure of the coastal development and tourism services run by Thanet council.
The restructure, which has at least seven staff facing redundancy, is due to be completed by the end of the month.
Some of the work by the project through volunteer coastal wardens will continue to be supported by the Lottery funded ‘Guardians of the Deep’ programme but this is in the last year of its 3 year span. The scheme is led by the Kent Wildlife Trust,
Thanet Coast Project runs numerous activities on the isle including beach cleans, scavenger hunts, seashore safaris as well as conservation work and research.
The cuts are part of a cash-cutting drive by the authority, Fears were raised last month that the service at Droit House would be closed by April 22 but Thanet council later revealed Droit House would remain open after the authority secured another year on the lease of the property. However a spokesman admitted the tourism service was being reviewed.
At a full council meeting last month council leader Bob Bayford said he could not comment on staff matters but added: “Tourism is an integral part of our ongoing success as a destination. We are currently in the process of reviewing how we will continue to deliver this in the future to ensure this remains a successful part of our local economy. This is in the wider context of the council facing serious financial pressures.”
Cuts are being planned across Thanet council departments -including tourism and operational services – as part of an ‘efficiencies’ programme.
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.
An appeal has been made by one of Thanet’s coastal wardens for people to contact their councillor to protest at the cut of Mr Child’s role.
In a social media post they say: “Our guiding star is the Thanet Coast officer Tony Child, who, in Thanet District council’s impending cuts is about to made redundant.
“I think this is very short sighted considering that most of the visitors to this area come here for “seaside” awareness and the dawning of understanding to what is going on in the sea has never been so acute yet TDC decides now is the time to stand back. No, now is the time to take action. If you agree then please contact your local TDC councillor or anyone that may be able to help.”
A petition against cuts to the tourism department, and appealing against the closure of the public toilets on Margate seafront due to structural issues, has been raised by council election candidates Rob Yates and Helen Whitehead. However the e-petition has been rejected by Thanet council, say the Labour duo.
In a statement the pair said: “We are disappointed that today the e-petition has been turned down by TDC as it is a matter of great public interest. We are grateful to the 100-plus people who have signed the paper petitions.
“Petitions can be found at Two Halves, Fez, and Cafe G and cover both the loss of tourism jobs and the toilet closure. These will be handed in at the next council meeting.”
Thanet council declined to comment.
Rumours that the Thanet coast officer post was also on a hit list ’were met with huge concerns when I first heard. It sounds as if true now. Appalling. Tony has been an amazing Officer over many years, He and many of our tourism and sports development officers bring in far more money than they ever cost the tax payer. Short sighted. As for refusing Helen and Robs on line petition …very strange.
I submitted an online petition on TDC’s website too (I had thought the other one was just a paper petition) Mine too was rejected today.
Dear Ms Bailey,
Your Online petition Retain Thanet’s Tourism Team has been rejected because it does (sic) comply with the Petition Scheme
Thank you for your epetition request. After consideration your request has been rejected by the Council’s Monitoring Officer as being “otherwise inappropriate” as per the Council’s petition scheme.
This is because under the Local Authorities (Standing Orders) (England) Regulations 2001 the function of appointment and dismissal of, and taking disciplinary action against, a member of staff of the authority must be discharged, on behalf of the authority, by the head of the authority’s paid service or by an officer nominated by her.
These Regulations are incorporated into the council’s constitution.
This function cannot be exercised by Council or Councillors except in very limited circumstances.
Consequently it would be both unlawful and unconstitutional for the Council to consider this particular petition.
Committee Services Manager
This is an utter disgrace! Tony Child has introduced generations of Thanet people to understanding and learning all about our chalk reef. The environmental protections and the SSSI status of the 20 plus miles around Thanets’ coast are world class and exceptional. Without a fully paid officer to manage the Coastal Wardens and educational projects, the continued protection and appreciation of our natural heritage and after all what most people who come to live here or visit for will be lost. Does everything at TDC have to be reduced to a volunteer litter pick by TDC. Shame on their lack of perception and imagination. This makes me very angry indeed.
How short sighted can Thanet Council be to make cuts to an office which inspires local Thanet Residents both young and old, to volunteer for conservation projects along it’s heritage coastline. While everyone else in the country is being motivated to do something about Climate Change and the effects on our seas and marine life, our Council decides to take the opposite view and take its resources away. How on earth did that decision get passed and what will happen to this important coastline?
I am amazed at the refusal of Ruth’s petition too. She and Rob and Helen are still ‘members of the public’ and taxpayers they have an appropriate interest. Councillors are not supposed to comment on staff matters but I insist we have a duty of care to all our employees .
I cannot believe this is happening many years ago we had the Thanet nature conservation umbrella group who worked together with many stakeholders spent many hours at the winter gardens founding the Thanet coast project with Tony. At the time people were laughed at by non environment people
Tony and many of the volunteers do great work.
TDC seems hell bent on ruining everything.
Did they not get a grant for £24,000 to clean up the high streets – some sticks, bags and train volunteers, now relying on volunteers to look after the coast. There’s only so many people who can volunteer. They need Tony to keep the enthusiasm going and getting more people to care.
I’ve got an idea, sack the people who make these stupid decisions and they can volunteer to do the their own job. TDC just do what they want and not care what the outcome is, like the port and airport.
They still managed to find £3,000,000 for their offices, I’m sure between us we can come up with a better way to spend that money.
I find it amazing that conservative councillors who represent the party that instigates these funding cuts can morally continue choose to retan their seats. Sadly the local electrate will vote for them.
It is a total disaster to get rid of the Thanet Coast Project’s officer, Tony Child. He has done an amazing job introducing people to the sea and the reefs that surround us protecting our beaches and cliffs. We need a thriving community to maintain Tourism here, which is our main ecnomic driver. I learned so much when I was a Coast Warden and I only gave it up when I became a volunteer looking after a local woodland. But you can’t run everything with volunteers.