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.