Thanet council’s cabinet member for finance, Cllr Rob Yates, has spoken of his anger at having to make more cuts to services amid falling funding from central government.
Speaking at a budget meeting last night (February 11) Cllr Yates said council tax is being increased by 2% – around £4.99 per year for a Band D property – but added that it was “not enough to fund local government.”
Thanet council receives 12p for every £1 of council tax paid by residents. The rest goes to Kent County Council, Kent’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Kent Fire and Rescue Service and town and parish authorities.
The £17million budget for 2021-22 is made up of Council Tax, income including fees and charges, retained Business Rates and Government funding (including Revenue Support Grant and New Homes Bonus).
This year’s budget includes the cutting of eight job roles at TDC as part of measures aimed at plugging a £840,000 deficit for the 2021-22 financial year. That shortfall had been predicted to be some £3million but a use of reserves has reduced this.
The government Revenue Support Grant has been shrinking year on year and was due to be zero from this April onwards. But a one-off payment of £100,000 has been made for 2021-22 due to the impact of the pandemic. Other grants related to covid have also been awarded to local government.
At last night’s meeting Cllr Yates outlined some of the work, and payments to residents and businesses, made during the pandemic including the support of vulnerable residents with food parcels and welfare checks, payment of £50m of grants to struggling businesses, supporting the NHS with covid test centres and vaccination centres, and continued delivery of front line services.
He added: “Given the large cuts to local government that the Conservative governments have imposed upon us over the last decade, we are having to increase council tax by 2%, which represents an average annual increase in Council Tax of £4.99 to a Band D household. “But this is not enough to fund local government and it makes me angry to say that we are once again having to make cuts within Thanet District Council. We as the Labour administration have worked hard to challenge the assumptions behind the cuts and reduce the impact on frontline services and redundancies.
“And we are proud to have found the money to allow at least a 1% pay award for our staff who have worked tirelessly over the last year, doing their jobs in exceptional circumstances.
“Local government has shone during the past year and we are once again being let down by the central government.”
Outlining growth that has been supported by TDC, Cllr Yates highlighted the community wealth building project aimed at encouraging large organisations in Thanet to spend their money locally where possible.
He added: “Within this we have signed up to a “Community Wealth Fund Alliance” that could bring £10 million pounds into 5 of our most ‘left behind’ wards if their initiative is successful.”
Cllr Yates says tourism remains ‘a priority’ with Thanet’s visitor economy – pre-covid- valued at £352 million, after welcoming 4.6 million visitors in 2019.
He also said income from the sale of the Dreamland estate will be used to pay off debt related to the compulsory purchase of the amusement park from its previous owners.
He added: “I believe that this council is achieving what we all set out to achieve in our four year plan, we are presenting a balanced budget that looks to support residents and businesses during this terrible pandemic and we will continue to work hand in hand with the residents of Thanet.”
However, Cllr Yates said the budget for 2022-2023 “is looking even more difficult” due to a lack of central government funding and more cut backs were likely.
.The budget received 45 votes in favour with abstentions from the three Green Party representatives in protest that “not enough” consideration had been given to climate emergency issues.
Cllr Mike Garner said: “Tackling climate emergency should be considered in everything we do and every pound we spend.”
Cllr Garner said planning enforcement should be boosted with funds to make sure developments followed environmental measures. He suggested this should be prioritised above schemes such as spending on Jet Ski berths.
Council tax rise
A rise in council tax of £4.99 – Band D – per year for Thanet District Council’s element of Council Tax equating to a weekly increase of around 10p.
There are expected to be shortfalls in the collection of council tax and business rates due to increased unemployment from an economic downturn (resulting in more Council Tax Support (CTS) claimants and non-payment by those not in receipt of CTS).
Business Rates income could similarly be hit by business failures from an economic downturn with a non payment estimate of £600k. There is also the potential cliff-edge of Business Rates relief for small businesses and those in retail, leisure and hospitality, which has applied for this year but will end in 2021-22, with those businesses expected to start paying rates again
Income from fees, including parking, are also expected to be hit as Covid restrictions continue. This includes Dreamland car park, part of the Dreamland estate sale to amusement park operator SHL, resulting in a forecast loss of £150k income for the year. The income from that sale will settle a debt to the previous amusement park owners accumalated due to the council’s compulsory purchase of the site served in 2011.
Your Leisure – The council’s leisure trust, Your Leisure, is facing a substantial shortfall in its income as a result of Covid, as are all leisure trusts. The council has paid its management fee for the year up front and has paid an additional £160k to the trust.
It has also been agreed to loan Your Leisure between £700k-£1.5m; provide additional funding of £230k plus VAT to the Winter Gardens to ensure that it can reopen and operate from October 2021 by being able to replace and relocate the boilers;
There will be reduced spending and bolstering council reserves will be delayed until 2022-23 to help meet the financial gap.
Council staff also face a ‘restrained’ cost of living pay award in 2021-22 “in order to protect services and minimise staffing reductions.” Up to eight job losses have been announced.
A 1% increase in pay will be built into the budget, along with the cost of paying the National Living Wage and increments.
Social rents have been set based on government rent guidance. Affordable Rents are linked to local market rents and to the Local Housing Allowance for the area. Rents are applied to individual properties at the lower of either 80% of the local market rent or the Local Housing Allowance.
Based on the proposed increase across the whole stock the average rent is £84.94, this is an average increase of £1.89p per property per week
Tenant service charge increases continue to be capped at £3 a week.
Planned capital projects include:
Jet-Ski Berths at Ramsgate Marina.
Ramsgate Port – Berth 1 Refurbishment
Thanet District LED Lighting – convert council owned street/open spaces lighting to LED (also replacing lamp columns where necessary).
Replacement Crematorium Chapel Roof to make the roof watertight and reduce the need for repairs.
Royal Harbour Multi-Storey Car Park Lift Replacement.
Government funding includes:
A further tranche of emergency Covid funding in 2021-22 of £1.016m.
A promise of further support for quarter one of 2021-22 for losses in sales, fees and charges due to Covid.
A Local Income Tax Guarantee scheme to assist with irrecoverable losses of Council Tax and Business Rates in 2020-21, value currently unknown.
A Local Council Tax Support grant to assist with additional costs of Council Tax Support, worth approximately £300k in 2021-22.
Revenue Support Grant of £100k rolled over for one more year to 2021-22.
A Lower Tier Services grant, probably one-off, worth £215k in 2021-22.
Consideration of using the Minor Works team to generate income from selling handyperson services.
A review of printing services income and expenditure including scope to in-source more printing.
Growth in income generated from fees and charges.
Investigation of more shared services including leadership teams.
Expand the CCTV service to sell to other external organisations.
Increase the use of direct debits to improve income collection across all chargeable services.
Additional job roles
An Education Enforcement Officer who is engaging with residents to try and reduce the amount of waste, fly tipping, litter and dog fouling.
A Climate Change Officer who is coordinating the authority’s response to the climate emergency in relation to Trees & Biodiversity, Waste and Recycling and Decarbonisation.
A Home Energy Officer who is helping residents with low incomes to get support for home energy heating and insulation.
Hiring in process for 5 full time Environmental Operatives who will focus on open spaces and street cleansing.
Proud to be giving everyone a payrise whilst 8 of their colleagues get the chop on budget grounds? Is this really a Labour Council?
Staff also get annual increments to their pay on top of the 1% and have been paid extra to work at home since last year so the total rise is above 1%.
With one breath TDC says that eight persons are being made redundant to plug the deficit – and yet with the next breath it has created a role for an Education Enforcement Officer, a Climate Change Officer, a Home Energy Officer and five Environmental Operatives – so it is all cancelled out.
In any event, in the current circumstances a 2% rise in Council Tax is not excessive. If people want public services they have to be paid for – regardless of whether the funding comes from Central Government or Local Government and regardless of whether they are Labour, Conservative or Green.
People working at home are using their own gas, electric, broadband, printing etc so it just about covers that. Staff have had very little in pay rises for the last 15 years, normally below 2%. Not one member of staff has been furloughed either
But they don’t have to travel to work, save the time they would have spent doing so, and i’ve had a conversation with a council officer that was clearly doing the washing up during the call. I’d guess that costs about even out and less time is dedicated to the overall working week.
Ditto that Thanetian Blind, but it has to be remembered that its this Tory government that is forcing Local Governments to make cuts! I must questions the judgement about spending money on Jet Ski Berths though! Just how many extra tourist does anyone think they will generate? Surely there must be something more worthy to spend this money on? Apart from that they are a bloody nuisance, and possibly dangerous! All the money given away by this Tory government mostly to their friends in businesses, during the Covid pandemic, will have to be repaid, so expect even more cuts in services!
Shame on all of them. Just remember some of us have lost our jobs, othes will not see any pay rises for years. We do not have the luxury of voting ourselves a pay rise. Suck it up we TDC we are all making sacrifices.
The Councillors have voted a payrise for the Council Workers, not for themselves.
And those workers if above minimum wage should thank their lucky stars they are still in a job. My point poorly made, if you are in the private sector thise companies are trying to survive and it is doubtful those workers will receive rises.. the same ones who will have to fund the public sector workers. The knock on effect on those who will be required to cough up more is unfair.
There shouldn’t be any jetski berths in any Thanet towns! jetski owners must all have vehicles to transport their equipment- they should be banned from launching from town beaches. They are a danger to the public and so are kite-surfers.
Is there any clarity of the debts liable to the former Dreamland owners that will be paid for with the proceeds of its sale. The wording used is rather vague as to whether the debt is money already borrowed or as has been suggested before/elsewhere associated with a flawed cpo process? That the carpark had to be thrown in to try and balance the books in turn losing 150k of income , suggests the sum is not inconsiderable.
Cllr Garners comments are pointless given the council has entered into a 3 year agreement using a building with next to no insulation in it., no doubt meaning TDC are paying more to heat the place, making a mockery of any climate change pretensions.
As for the housing aspect, TDC are using a legionella control system designed for the likes of hotels in at least some properties, which is costing about 50 per year per property in ongoing costs. Absolutely no need and likley another case of just accepting a contractors report without question, if its the same across the whole estate thats 175k a year for no good reason.
Yes – the financial dealings surrounding Dreamland remain shrouded in secrecy – clearly somebody has something to hide.
Could it be the case that the Dreamland site was sold to Arrowgrass for less than TDC paid out for the CPO ? That would certainly be a good reason to refuse to divulge the details and expose financial incompetence.
Jet skis at Ramsgate Marina? Has the Council taken leave of its senses?
On one side of the harbour is the main bathing beach, on the other the Pegwell Bay SSSI.
Jet ski enthusiasts are notorious for playing fast and loose with any form of regulation. For several years the Main Bech and the SSSI have been plagued by the things, bringing danger to bathers and disruption to wild life.
And you think it’s a good idea to put these aquatic Lambrettas right in the middle of it all?
It’s got to be the worst possible location.
There’s already a launch site at the Winterstoke end of the Main Beach – completely uncontrolled. Will this be closed, or will paddlers, swimmers, kiddies in rubber rings, sunbathers and so on be subjected to a barrage of noise from both ends of the Main Beach and a real danger of serious injury or death in the water?
For goodness’ sake, rescind this crazy idea.
I totally concur with you on this. The labour group are sending out mixed messages on climate change, passing a climate emergency motion and yet allowing power sporting actives that have no place on our beaches, polluting the environment needlessly.
Who ever in the council who came up with the idea of making jetski berths at Ramsgate marina needs sacking not given a pay rise. Total waste of money and resources at a time where the money should be allocated to essential services that have been neglected.
So TDC will be liable for any deaths or injuries caused to bathers on Ramsgate’s main beach. You have been warned so make sure you remember these machines are dangerous in the wrong hands and there seems no national regulations on them surprisingly.
TDC can implement it’s own regulations but without any enforcement it will still be liable for incidents and accidents occuring.
The most sensible thing it could do is ban these machines in our waters. The Thanet coast is a SSSI for rare species and too much wildlife is being disturbed each year by unregulated watercraft.
One can only surmise that the councillors who came up with this idea don’t visit Ramsgate Main Sands in summer.
Absurd comment, they’ll be no more liable than they are for any crime committed by a tenant in council housing for example. Is it not conceivable that there are those responsible jet ski users who would use the berths provided, pay the fees and use the harbour facilities, bars and restaurants? We have to put up with endless dog fouling and the idiots that bag up their waste and then chuck it in a tree or wedge it somewhere rather than carry it home or to a bin, are there calls for all dogs to be banned? Dogs cause far more deaths and injuries than jet skis if you wish to go on a crusade to save people try starting there. For the record i have no interest in jet ski’s but eventually when situation allows i’ll probably get a dog.
Jet skis based in the Harbour? How’s that going to work? How will 50mph jet skis share the same space with windfarm work boats, fishing boats, sailing yachts and so on? Do you *really* think these petrol heads will obey the speed limits? They never have taken any notice of the regulations in the past.
“Hiring in process for 5 full time Environmental Operatives who will focus on open spaces and street cleansing”
The Council Tax went up last year to pay for 10 new environmental operatives who were focusing on the same areas. Only problem is that they were never actually employed – something that slipped out in January of this year. So that £300k was used for something else and now we have to stump up more Council Tax for another 5 who may or may not actually be employed.
I cannot comprehend why the Councillors voting these budgets in aren’t actively querying things like this. The officers play the tune and the Cabinet merrily dance along.
Rant away folks but it makes no difference. The council are oblivious and have little regard for anyone outside their ‘comfy hub’ who dares question their actions or ask for justification. It has been so for the 40 years I have lived in Thanet regardless of political leadership.
I want to swim quietly at Ramsgate, since I live a few minutes’ walk from the Main Sands. beach: I don’t want to be killed or seriously injured while doing so. I daresay I’m not alone in this.
Nor do I want to have to go (by bus) to another Thanet beach where jetskis aren’t allowed- if indeed there is such a beach.
What does the council expect local swimmers to do if they let jetskiers rule our local waves? For that’s what will happen. Lethal machines will cause ordinary locals who just want a swim to avoid our beach and go somewhere safer (if they can).
I shouldn’t think coachloads of summer visitors will be too keen on sharing the water with jetskis either. Same goes for kite-surfers- dangerous equipment and thoughtless users.
Why is it that the labour group has chosen not to divulge the sale price of Dreamland. Is it acceptable that this remains shrouded in secrecy?
Could either Cllr Everett or Cllr Yates explain why in a democracy it is acceptable to withhold such information about the disposal of public assets from the public. Operating in this way does not inspire trust or confidence. Many of us thought better of a labour group who previously complained bitterly about the Tories acting in a cavalier and unaccountable way,only now for the labour group to act similarly.
Still concocting some absurd story to explain why the sale will be of no benefit to the district and why the sale was rushed through for what is likely to be a fire sale of extras to get to the figure required to settle other matters. Plus of course making sure the blame can be laid at the feet of others.
Politicians none can lay straight in bed, you have to check if they tell you its daylight , local politicians are just bot quite as good at it as those im westminster. But they all believe that they are superior and we little people should just be thankful that they are looking after us.
Where on earth has the absurd plan for jet ski berths at Ramsgate Marina come from? Has TDC taken leave of its senses for good?
Left is a beach, the main sands. Swimmers. Tourists. Children.
Right is a beach, western undercliff. Swimmers. Tourists. Children.
Where will these noisy dangerous annoying machines go? Straight ahead to Dunkirk? And why was nobody at all consulted? Many people no longer go to Herne Bay due to the incessant whinging noise all. day. long.
Could the Ramsgate Harbour and Ramsgate Port be any more poorly run?
Some may want to remember that TDCs ability to budget is based on fines, council tax, property leases and so on, but this is a very small percentage of what it needs to run services, Westminster provides a large percentage of what is required and for close to 15 years now has been cutting what they give local districts year on year, and still the Tories which after promising a glorious future following brexit are losing Britain’s companies to Europe as its better business for them, creating unemployment giving less to local areas, specially the ones not regarded as the Etonian set and handling a pandemic only second worst to Trumps handling of it. So eat is TDC to do, instead of criticising offer suggestions, solutions and criticise your tory MPs and government
Sorry should have added, we are returning to 1970s gloom
Can anyone tell us what the benefits are of a District Council compared to just being in the County Council because I can’t see any.
Irrespective of the flavour of central government or Thanet MP choice, the reality is TDC doesn’t seem to deliver. Whoever is in charge, and whoever has political leadership.
Happy to be proved otherwise.
Many people offer positive solutions, innovative thinking, regeneration energy. Our Council prefers to flog our assets and aim to land a giant cargo plane over the harbour every 12 mins at 500 feet or pay for pontoons nobody needs for a processing plant nobody wants.
Jet ski births at Ramsgate are a terrible idea.
Jet Ski births at Ramsgate Harbor, a reflection of what TDC think of Ramsgate sands not only do they ignore the area they are now going to actively destroy the quiet family beaches, nature reserve. Then claim it’s not their fault! I loathe what TDC stand for. Duplicity at its finest.
They should be stopping the incursion of jetskiers and kite-surfers on local beaches, not encouraging it.