By Jodie Nesling and Kathy Bailes
The transfer of Thanet council-owned properties to isle community groups has been delayed due to staff shortages at the authority.
In a document seen by The Isle of Thanet News, the council revealed there was a shortage of surveyors to work on the process.
In response to our query a Thanet council spokesman said: “We are currently advertising two new surveyor posts to provide further resilience to our existing assets disposal programme.”
It is understood that conveyancing work on at least some agreed asset transfers is being carried out by sub-contractors.
The council owns 560 assets in the form of land and buildings (excluding housing) throughout the district. Decisions have previously been made to either sell properties and land on the open market or to transfer them to community groups or town and parish councils.
Buildings on the approved asset disposal list include Margate Museum, Dickens House, Tudor House and Margate Town Hall, all of which were agreed for disposal in October, 2018. The council agreed to take steps for other organisations to take over and run these sites saying the action was necessary as it does not have the funds to repair and maintain the premises.
Margate Museums Trust confirmed it was to put in a bid to take over both Margate Museum and the Tudor House. The Old Town Hall has been closed for several years due to health and safety concerns. Thanet council says it is unable to let the public know how far into the process the authority currently is because: “We are in a commercial negotiation period and therefore cannot provide updates on individual properties.”
A decision to sell or transfer closed toilets in Thanet was approved in January. This is the first part of an ongoing review of the isle’s public toilets.
Loos in Beresford Gap, Birchington, Marina Road, Ramsgate, Minnis Bay, Birchington, St Johns Cemetery, Margate and Albion Street, Broadstairs were due to be sold at market Also up for bids is the Grade II listed urinal in Park Road, Margate.
Broadstairs and St Peters Town Council expressed an interest in buying the closed loos at Albion Street. The bandstand, clock tower, kiosk and shelter in the area of Victoria Gardens, Broadstairs have already been approved for transfer to the town council, which was also expected to agree a similar arrangement for Victoria Gardens.
Albion Gardens, including the Madeira Waterfall, in Ramsgate, is proposed for transfer to Ramsgate Town Council or another qualifying community organisation.
However Ramsgate Town Council says there” has been no consultation or negotiations” and the authority has simply been sent Thanet council’s asset disposal policy document.
Newgate Gap Shelter and The Oval, in Cliftonville, are due for community asset transfer as are pavilions in Garlinge, Hartsdown and Northdown. The Newgate shelter first has to have the remains of the roof removed before the transfer can take place. The council also announced the possible transfer or sale of land at Hartsdown and the earmarked sale to the owners of the Nayland Rock Hotel of land fronting Royal Crescent .
Westgate Town Council is expected to take on Lymington playing fields and the shelter opposite St Mildred’s Road.
Land at Rossetti Gardens, the Memorial Field and Dog Acre are being taken on by Birchington Parish Council.
The Pavilion in the Memorial Park is being demolished due to constant vandalism which left the building in a dangerous condition.
Birchington Parish Council is hoping to create a new multipurpose building on the site and aims to carry out a consultation to see what other facilities could be provided.
BPC councillor Phil Fellows said: “It’s at the ideas stage so far and hinges on what sponsorship and grants we can raise.
“Ideally we’d like a multipurpose building that would be the changing rooms so we can bring football and cricket back to Birchington. It could also house a youth club and/or the boxing club and gym. We will be consulting our residents and hope they will get onboard and help us achieve this goal. We hope with the future house building in the village that a contribution from developers for projects like this will be forthcoming.”
Because everyone TDC officers and leaders have made this town go into debt yet we still throw money at them with our taxes.
TDC you are criminals
Regardless of whether Thanet Council are responsible for the dire local finances, we have to ask ourselves how on earth we got to this situation locally and nationally. Where councils are so short of money they are looking to sell off land, buildings, community assets of all kinds. Just to try to stay afloat. Yet we know that “once it’s gone, it’s gone!” Once we have sold off some land, or an historical landmark, we can’t sell it again. What do we do then?
We should not forget that most of the money that local Councils need to run local services DO NOT come from the local Community Charge. Local “rates” (though we think that they are really high) come nowhere near to the cost of our services. Most money must come from central government in Whitehall. Whoever is in control in London decides how much money comes down to Thanet and every other Council.
I have the greatest of sympathy for Thanet District Council struggling to make ends meet when the Tory government just keeps reducing and reducing year after year.
The councillors must dread each annual announcement of just how little they will get this year yet, at the same time, being told that they must just get on with it , with the implication that somehow THEY are to blame if the area deteriorates yet again. My criticism of the recent TDC councillors is that they do not oppose this system and they do, indeed, just get on with it, and hope that we won’t complain too much. In fact, if the councillors are Tories or (like UKIP or Brexit or Tory independents) that way inclined, they won’t fight their corner at all because, secretly, they AGREE with the notion of running down public services so that private businesses can take over. If you vote for any of this crew, you can hardly complain when they do exactly what it says on the Tory tin by running our local services down and down. You get what you vote for.