Thanet District Council has unanimously approved the budget for the financial year 2022-23 at a Full Council meeting held last night (February 10).
But two proposed amendments to use the £549k New Homes Bonus funding to repair the seafront lifts at Viking Bay and Ramsgate’s East Cliff and to use the same pot to build two or three properties for those facing homelessness fell.
The money is allocated to pay off debt was Labour councillors put forward alternative uses.
Cllr Steve Albon proposed £230,000 – the figure previously quoted for repairs – should be allocated to getting the lifts back into use.
He said: “We need to look at how out disabled residents can access our beaches.”
The amendment was also supported by Green councillors but fell by 30 votes against and 19 in favour.
Thanet council leader Ash Ashbee revealed that £100,000 ‘donated’ to the authority by Southern Water following a wastewater release that closed isle beaches in June, would be used to develop plans for town councils in Ramsgate and Broadstairs to take on the lifts.
She said talks had taken place with Broadstairs town council, and the offer was there for Ramsgate town council, about taking on the lifts.
She added that there could be a way that the lifts “pay for themselves” with “a bit of imagination.”
The second amendment was put forward by Cllr Helen Whitehead proposing the funding was used for more in-house temporary accommodation.
She said: “We currently have 160 households in temporary accommodation. 82 of those households are placed out of area. Evictions are increasing month on month, and Margate tops the whole of the country for property price inflation over the last decade. “The lowest private rents for three bed properties in Margate would now cost over 80% of the income of our poorest residents.
“We are not approaching a crisis; we are already in one. It has been argued that using the New Homes Bonus to hold back and pay down debt is the fiscally responsible thing to do. But as a council, we do not routinely hold debts on over 20% interest; but what is being proposed within this budget will equate to that level, at least. Property values in Margate alone rose by 14.4% last year; they are predicted to rise again to that level again over the coming year.”
Urging councillors to put aside political motivations and vote in favour of the amendment, she added: “ The argument that this is about being fiscally responsible or prudent simply does not hold water. If we allocate all of the New Homes Bonus to acquiring in house temporary accommodation, delaying purchases by one year increases the costs of purchase by an estimated 15% according to predictions; which means that delaying the purchase of property now costs us an additional £82,350 to buy equivalent property in a year’s time.
“This is my last chance to make it clear what a difference you can potentially make tonight. Families safe and not forced away for every year from this point onwards. Education not disrupted; jobs not lost. £82,350 saved for the council, in one decision; ongoing costs saved thereafter, every year. This is fiscally and socially responsible, and I believe the only humane response to the situation we find ourselves in.”
Backing the proposal councillors Raushan Ara, Becky Wing and Tricia Austin all spoke of people in their wards who are homeless and in need of help.
Cllr Ash Ashbee said residents in the villages also faced homelessness but the funding was not enough and would be lost in admin costs.
Cabinet member for finance Cllr David Saunders said the council plan was to buy larger sites to create more than one home – citing the project at Foy House as an example.
He said if suitable properties were found Thanet council would “find the funds necessary.”
The amendment fell with 20 voting in favour but 29 voting against.
The budget and the Medium Term Financial Strategy 2022-26 includes resources for local services, a review of the council’s reserves and an increase in the Thanet council element of council tax for next year. It also highlights the savings made in order to protect key services.
Cllr Saunders said: “We have approved a budget that fulfils the council’s statutory duty to deliver a balanced budget.
“It is now well versed that we were forecasting a significant budget gap, but with a planned and cautious approach, combined with an efficient savings plan, we have been able to balance our budget.
“This has been supported in-part by additional Government funding. Much of this funding is temporary however, and we will continue to give careful consideration to its use, allocating these resources in the most appropriate and prudent way possible.
“Despite the additional funding we have received it has been necessary to find budget savings. One of our priorities throughout the budget setting process has been to protect jobs as much as possible, and a key component of our budget strategy has been to look for savings from vacant posts. I am pleased to present savings of £250,000 from this review.
“In addition to this, we have also found almost another £400,000 from further savings, efficiencies and income generation opportunities. In addition, the agreed increase in council tax, at £5 per Band D equivalent property, represents an increase of less than 10p a week for each household.
“We understand that this increase will come at a time when many residents and local businesses have been impacted significantly by the pandemic, however the budget approved (last night) will ensure that we are able to continue to deliver vital public services and support to our most vulnerable residents, from a solid financial footing.”
The budget includes a council tax rise of the Thanet council element equivalent to £4.99 per year on a Band D property. Thanet council receives just 12p in every £1 of Council Tax. The remainder goes to Kent County Council; Kent Police and Crime Commissioner; Kent Fire and Rescue Service and Town/Parish councils.
Once again the needs of disabled people are ignored. Shame on you all
Shame on the Tories & ex UKIP
The council is there to look after the needs of ALL Thanet residents. The beaches are perfectly accessible without the lifts.
Why were the lifts built then?
So the disabled and people needing housing are well and truly at the bottom of the list. Yet time after time this area votes Tory. Tells you everything you need to know about thanet and what thanet people think of disabled and poor people.
TDC is there to serve ALL council tax payers in Thanet, not just minorities and those who pay no council tax.
I trust that the council has made provision for legal expenses as the council is renowned for petty conflicts resulting in legal fees stacking up hundreds of thousands of pounds in bills.
It would be great to see provision made for clearing out any self-serving incompetent senior staff that appear to have assisted in Thanet’s decline.
Although it’s a very good thing to open the lift in Ramsgate, Cliftonville also has a lovely lift which would undoubtedly be a god send to many many wheel chair users as well as able-bodied residents and the millions of visitors to Cliftonville.
TDC have left Cliftonville to be run down a place that once was the Hight of activity, It appears that if you live near the Council Offices and or Margate Sands residents prosper by the hundreds of thousands of pounds central government give TDC. Can anyone highlight what TDC has done for Cliftonvill in the past 10 or so years apart from letting it become rundown
I agree totally. Thanet has FOUR non-working seafront lifts, not 2.
A council wasting tax payers money.
The Council should be sued for disability discrimination in Broadstairs. There is no safe way for an elderly person to push a wheelchair to the beaches.
Funny how I manage to do just that then AJ.
I have a bicycle. I’ve had it for many, many years. Every time I use it, I check the brakes and tyres. Now and again I also check the chain and cables, and about once a year I take it in for a full service. Of course, I could just ignore all this – and then complain that my bike is beyond repair and that I can’t afford a new one.
THIS is exactly what TDC have done with the lifts, the theatres, the toilets, and just about everything else that they never touch. So, I have NO sympathy with their claims of not being able to afford to repair anything. It is THEIR problem for never servicing or maintaining them in the first place.
Thanet DC, remains dysfunctional !
There are 14 million disabled people in the UK. They would bring us their tourism pounds if we looked welcoming! As it is, they find closed lifts and rubbish beach access and shops and cafes full of steps. And dusabled toilets the disabled can’t use
You are trying to claim that 22% of the population need a lift to get to the beach in Broadstairs and Ramsgate?
You are aware you can drive a car to the very edge of both beaches, in the case of Ramsgate, right to the base of the lift right?
Not everyone has cars. Right?
There are also bus stops at tne harbour and in Wellington Crescent.
Not everyone drives. Not everyone has a wheelchair accessible vehicle. Why not maintain a very some device for giving disabled people some access to the beach? In Broadstairs the slopes at Louisa Bay and Dumpton are too steep for wheelies and are closed to cars. The lift creates access to all Broadstairs bays.
I don’t want thousands of pounds of tax payer money spent on a lift when there is perfectly good access by other routes.
Have you tried pushing a wheelchair to Viking Bay Beach?
It wouldn’t just benefit the disabled of course. A young mother with a pram and a couple of toddlers wouldn’t exactly find it easy either.
Funnily enough, my mum managed with me and my brother, and I know mange with my mum in a wheelchair. Just needs a little effort Peter.
But would your mum manage on her own in a wheelchair? She probably would with a lift.
And why didn’t your mum use the lift?
How do you get on pushing your wheelchair on the actual beach? I reckon you should appeal for boardwalks.
There ARE boardwalks on Viking Bay.
The board walk ends in a flight of steps or a big pile of sand! It badly needs extending
Well said “Use the Slope”.
Yes AJ, from the car park by the pier, easy and convenient.
No there isn’t! Try it for yourself. You can borrow my wheelchair
So the town only gets 12 percent of the council tax? Not great, is it. So raising Council Tax won’t help the town much. That said, looking at the figures, the rise looks to be far too low anyway. It needs to be raised more for top tier properties and second homes, if that’s possible. While it’s true the Council has been badly (even corruptly) run for years, it appears Council hands are also tied by our truly lousy, wasteful national government.
And Southern Water’s £100k contribution looks pretty feeble considering their profits and the damage they are doing to the beaches and thus to tourist trade, businesses and jobs in the area. Never mind the damage to the environment.
The refusal to improve disabled access, including the lifts, shows contempt for the elderly and less able bodied. This contempt is an ongoing trend that comes from the top. Broken lifts also signal a lack of care and pride in the area, and a disregard for its potential great beauty. The area is filled with once spectacular Victorian and Georgian architecture going to rot, which is not only depressing but damaging to the area as a tourist destination and thus jobs. This cycle of decline desperately need to be broken.
And Southern Water’s £100k contribution looks pretty feeble considering their profits and the damage they are doing to the beaches and thus to tourist trade and jobs in the area. Never mind the damage to the environment.
And apologies for the repeated paragraph. Not sure how that happened. I’m not in the habit of wasting words, ironically.
Disabled people pay taxes too I do wonder what has happened to some of you that you should dislike us so, able bodies are the cause of problems for many disabled people parking on pavements parking over dropped kerbs using ramps that are for use by disabled people dropped kerbs in general in fact anything put in place for disabled people is taken over or abused by some of the most selfish people in society and it does not surprise me one little bit. TDC are right up there too at one election the polling station was in a pub with no disability access so now I let everyone pay for me to vote by post what is going on here is a form of social cleansing from both TDC and the people who think that because some one is a little different to their idea of “normal” if some of you consider yourselves normal God help the rest of us