Unison warns of ‘up to 15-20’ jobs at risk in Thanet council restructure

Thanet council

Trade union Unison says it understands between 15 and 20 staff are affected by Thanet council’s  ‘restructure’ of tourism, coastal and operational services – but adds that it is hoping for a U-turn.

The authority concluded a consultation period with staff whose jobs were put at risk last month. The outcome of that process is expected to be made public this month.

Cuts have been examined across Thanet council departments as part of an  ‘efficiencies’ programme.

According to the budget for 2019-20 -which was agreed by a majority at full council on February 28 – proposals were to make £250,000 in savings.

‘Economic effect’

Unison regional organiser Mark Hammond confirmed the union is representing affected members and awaiting news of a final decision.

He added: “They have concluded the process. We do not know the final decision  but believe the number of redundancies is potentially 15 to 20. We know there is potential for the redundancies but are of the view that the council cannot afford to make them. We hope a decision will be for no redundancies.

“These are services to the town and wider area of Thanet and (the cut proposals) will take money out of the economy. Thanet is not a thriving place for employment and the council is one of the biggest employers so the economic effect will spiral down.”

Tourism in Thanet

Photo Thanet Coast Project

Local tourism is the biggest boost to Thanet’s economy with some 4.2 million visitors and an annual £319 million spend  each year, supporting 7,950 jobs.

Those figures are expected to grow significantly this year with the Turner Prize 2019 being hosted at Turner Contemporary in September.

Prior to that the gallery will implement a programme of local  art, creativity and innovation, encouraging people to visit throughout the year.

Visitors are supported by the isle’s tourism team and activities for both holidaymakers and residents are run by staff and the Thanet Coast Project team.

But among the posts at risk was that of Thanet Coast Project officer Tony Child.

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 three 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.

Fears were also raised in March that the visitor service at Droit House would be closed  but Thanet council later revealed it would remain open after the authority secured another year on the lease of the property. However, staff jobs are still at risk.

Public campaigns

CHAIN REACTION: The toilet protest at Thanet council offices Photo John Horton

News of the cuts provoked a public outcry with petitions raised to save services at Droit House, another demanding a U Turn on the coast project cuts and a third demanding action after Thanet council said public toilets in Marine Drive would have to remain shut this Summer due to structural issues. The authority says it “is looking” at bringing in Portaloos and has 27 public facilities now open across the isle.

A demonstration demanding action over the toilet closure was held outside the council offices on April 25.

Resident Sam Bessant launched an 11th hour petition in a bid to persuade Thanet council to retain Mr Child’s post.

The petition stated: “The Thanet Coast Project has over 100 trained volunteers that need coordinating and without this key role, it is likely to be the end of the project.

“This volunteer resource provided over 2200 hours of work on the Thanet coast last year.”

Thanet council previously told The Isle of Thanet News: “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.”

7 Comments

  1. What a disaster to cut jobs in tourism. It’s shortsighted to say the least. The staff affected came up with several excellent ideas about how their jobs could generate much needed income for the council, and robust plans that would promote tourism whilst maintaining vital employment. Whilst it’s true that central government are fiercely cutting funding to councils like ours, it should also be noted that costly schemes such as the £1.5m tender for work on the port to change berths 4 and 5 to be used by Brett, will cost the Thanet tax payer dearly. We need to stop this from happening. That money could be put to better use and the tax payer shouldn’t be subsiding Brett’s nor should our environment be put at risk.

    • There is the question of original Brett planning consent being flawed by absence of cumulative impact, precautionary principle impact study. Hence the question now whether further planning consent can be assumed. Especially at a time TDC has been forced into review of its contaminated land strategy.

      As you know TDC is under a duty to report environmental hazards to health to the joint NHS planning process. Since you and other cllrs failed to do this I have reported the facts to Secretary of State for Health.

      You wrote “Nor should our environment be put at risk” It is a risk already for goodness sake Councillor Constantine

      There are international rights to safe water, to which UK is signatory. You would be unable to state that Thanet’s rights to safe water supply are met at law. This includes QEQM Hospital.

      The Local Plan Inspector, I understand, has called on TDC and on Southern Water for a report on water quality. Presumably Southern Water must report what they have already said in response to FOI. And as far as firefighting foam toxic residue at Manston aquifer is concerned that is not at all re-assuring.

    • Well said Karen. Some time ago I attended meetings with TDC to discuss how they could raise money and make Thanet more attractive to tourists.Many ideas were put forward but we had no feedback as promised. As is always the case TDC get it wrong
      and throw precious money down the drain.

  2. Thanet is a tourist destination. It makes no sense to make tourist staff redundant. This is a very poor decision.how does this make our tourist service efficient.This must be overturned.

  3. The council views Margate as a tourist destination but they don’t view Ramsgate in the same way. That’s why they are so receptive to the concept of an aviation freight hub at Manston, which would destroy Ramsgate as a destination for day-trippers. It could be argued that the council should not employ anybody in respect of tourism; that this function should be fulfilled by an independent tourism board, funded directly by businesses and amenities which benefit from tourism.

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