Thanet councillors to discuss draft budget plans for 2024/25

Finances

Thanet council’s draft budget for 2024/2025 includes plans for more open spaces and street cleaning staff, increased spending on playground maintenance and parks and a £180k spend for harbour dredging.

The budget for the 2024/25 financial year is estimated at £23.601m for 2024/25, representing a £2.189m increase on net revenue spending compared to 2023/24.

The increased funds are boosted by additional retained business rates income (£1.667m);  increases in fees and charges (£0.350m) and council tax income (£0.590m).

Planned investments

Open Spaces – £65k to be allocated in 2024/25, with a further £57k proposed for 2025/26, for the recruitment of three full time equivalent (FTE) new staff positions over a two year period. The funding will also allow for additional transportation costs and supplies and services and be used for some additional graffiti cleaning A £35k capital investment will pay for an additional vehicle for the service.

Playground Maintenance £22.5k – Budget increase for playground maintenance of £30k overall, with £22.5k allocated through the general fund and a further £7.5k from the Housing Revenue Account for investment in parks.

Cleansing £68k – It is proposed to create six new street cleansing operative posts though the this £68k allocation and reallocation of £120k of budget savings, which have already been identified primarily through the implementation of a ‘four-on four-off’ rota.

Resident Engagement £11k –  Allocation to continue using the new online engagement platform ‘Your Voice Thanet’

Member Casework Delivery Officer £33k – One additional full time equivalent post for improved coordination of councillor casework and responding to ward queries.

Pay awards – A 5.75% pay award costing approximately £1.075m.

Port and Harbour Dredging £180k – The dredging budget has been reduced over several years to the point where the port and harbour cannot complete adequate dredging operations to maintain safe access to the port and harbour.

Port and Harbour Maintenance £50k – Maintenance contract with approved lock gate

operator for 6 monthly/ annual inspections and maintenance on lock gates and bascule bridge.

Income

Fees and charges for 2024/25 target a minimum 8% inflationary increase

Maritime Inflation based increases in charges should generate a further £164k.

Parking A broad inflation based increase to bring in an additional £150k.

Garden WasteThe council is considering applying an inflation based increase which may increase income budget by a further £15k

CrematoriumFees and charges – no changes proposed

Council Tax – a 3% increase proposal results in a £7.64 increase in band D

Capital projects

The Margate Town Deal, Ramsgate and Margate Levelling Up schemes and Ramsgate High Street Fund (total funds of £51m)

Housing Assistance Policy (including Disabled Facilities Grants) £3m per annum grant funded.

Vehicle & Equipment Replacement Programme – £10.960m over four years, including budget provision for electrification of refuse collection vehicles.

Property Enhancement Programme – £1.250m over 4 year programme to allow for capital enhancement to corporate property estate.

End User Computing Refresh of Devices & IT Infrastructure – £0.740m over four years

Ramsgate Port – Berth 1 Refurbishment – £300k

Royal Harbour Multi-Storey Car Park – £3m in 2025/26 for the purchase of this site (which the council currently leases),

Homelessness Accommodation (phase 2) – The total size of this capital project is £2.2m, of which £1.2m is profiled for 2024/25 (funded from borrowing).

Extra staffing

2 FTE planning posts at a cost of £124k, funded from planning income

1FTE new Private Sector Housing Projects Officer £50kpa

1 FTE new Public Health Agenda Officer within Regulatory Services, initially for a 3 year fixed term contract (£117k total)

2 posts (1 FTE) procurement £80k

The budget proposals will be discussed at a Thanet council Cabinet meeting on Thursday (October 19). If approved, there will be a consultation with residents and stakeholders over the proposals.

The draft budget will then be considered by the Overview & Scrutiny Panel on 16 January 2024 and if the Panel makes recommendations these will be discussed ay a Cabinet meeting on 25 January 2024 before going to Full Council for budget approval on 8 February and council tax approval on 22 February.

48 Comments

  1. Here we go again ,Thanet Council putting up the council tax ,to replace money they have spent and expect the people of Thanet to replace it .if Thanet council repaired play equipment etc little and often instead of waiting for it all to be replaced it would work out cheaper and be able to repair other things around Thanet

    • Evening;

      TDC receives roughly 12 pence in the pound of Council tax income. The rest goes to KCC, Town Councils/parish precepts and emergency services.

      Councils receive no direct funding from central government to maintain open spaces, and in a situation where we have lost over 60% of our central funding in a decade, Council priorities have had to be on statutory services, such as waste collection and housing.

      Which is why we’re particularly pleased that this year we’ve worked to introduce a specific budget for playgrounds, and extra open spaces operatives.

      All the best,

      Helen.

        • Chris; for clarity, Councillors are also people of Thanet.

          And there has been no increase in Councillor allowances for over a decade, ensuring that being a Councillor for the most part remains the privilege of those who are wealthy, retired, or of independent income; because individuals who face the challenges and deprivation that we need to address in Thanet often don’t make it to the Council chamber as if you have to sacrifice work income in order to do it, you won’t.

          TDC Councillors even after the increase are the second worst remunerated in Kent; we were the worst previously. And the 10% increase is equivalent to a less than 1% increase each year.

          I want a Council that actually represents Thanet. Pretending that allowances don’t exclude those who face the most challenges is damaging to democracy and to Thanet, because we need people in the Chamber who genuinely know what residents are facing.

          • Dont quite agree with your comment “being a Councillor for the most part remains the privilege of those who are wealthy, retired, or of independent income ” There are many people in Thanet who give their time FREE of charge to help the local community in far better ways than councillors. So why do councillors have the right to expect payment, reasonable travel expenses, yes, but an income ?

          • I can’t reply to Paul Link’s comment directly for some reason, so I will have to do it here.

            Being a Councillor isn’t volunteering; because you have to, and should (barring significant life changes) commit to four years of service, of training, and of learning how to support a population, both as a whole and individually.

            Volunteers can leave at any time, can choose if or when to give their time, and don’t have to sign contracts committing to four years of commitments that you have to attend, and four years of being publicly visible and available at any time of day, and often under great scrutiny and fielding unpleasant comments in the media.

            Councillors who do their jobs well carry a huge amount of responsibility, and make decisions that carry huge financial and social weight; they do so on behalf of the community, and so need to be committed and trained to fulfil their duties.

            Under the current system we effectively require and often demand the same level of work and commitment from Councillors that we do from employed public servants; and choice in service is a valid point, but those who we need as elected members, with real life experience of deprivation and challenge, are exactly those who are least likely to be in a position to commit time or lose income to do it.

            Councillors aren’t volunteers, because they are elected by residents to perform a particular role; and allowances are there to permit them to do so. It isn’t an income; it’s to support in doing the role, and many Councillors choose to use their allowance to support public projects or causes that mean a lot to them, if they are in a position to do so.

            We need representative Councils, across the UK; and currently the majority of Councillors are male, over sixty, and retired.

            To truly have a representative democracy, you need to look at what limits engagement from underrepresented groups; and time commitment, ability to sacrifice earning hours, and flexibility are significant barriers for many younger people or those with more challenging financial backgrounds.

            I’m a single parent who has attended hundreds of meetings in my role since first being elected; I was also a long term volunteer in our Winter Shelter.

            Both are worthwhile; they’re simply different roles, with different requirements, and in one there are very clear expectations of when I have to work, how long for, and the level of commitment I have to maintain for that period.

          • Ok Helen would you please confirm out of the 56 thanet cllrs how many live in and represent the areas they stand for, would be nice to know. Thank you

      • How much extra would it cost residents per head if the proposed Margate Council became a reality? Assuming this has been costed in advance.

    • Say what you like about TDC but at least get your facts right.
      They don’t set council tax and only receive c12p of every £1 you spend.
      The rest goes to KCC, Fire, Police and Town/Parish Councils.

  2. have they taken into account all the extra houses flat etc being or built surely they are receiving a huge extra income from these or will do once they are occupied

  3. I assume they are not expecting a ferry service to start from the size of the dredging budget, they must be hard pushed to do the marina and harbour entrance dredging for that, let alone any in the port.

  4. We feel your pain dear residents. But we can do what we like . What’s another 5% amongst friends. Look at what we provide on our plesent island.

  5. The fact they would rather give staff an extra £1m and increase their own allowances by 10% instead of keeping our coastal toilets open for longer during the winter season tells you everything there is to know about Labour.

    You are there to serve the residents. Not yourselves.

    • Dear Thanetian Blind;

      I’m not really sure what your point is here.

      There’s a cost of living crisis, so we shouldn’t support staff during the cost of living crisis?

      And we shouldn’t acknowledge that Councillors are, overwhelmingly, male, over sixty and retired, and actively support those Councillors who are on lower incomes to fulfil their roles to try and create a Council that is actually representative of Thanet?

      Portraying 10% as a yearly increase, rather than the reality of it being the first increase in 11 years (therefore effectively a 0.9% increase) might help to provoke outrage, but it’s not accurate, or useful.

      • Ok Helen would you please confirm out of the 56 thanet cllrs how many live in and represent the areas they stand for, would be nice to know. Thank you

        • Afternoon Chris;

          Councillors don’t have to disclose where they live, but those that do not only have it listed on their election papers when you’re voting for them but also on their Councillor profiles on the Council website.

          The majority of the Councillors I know live in their ward, or town; I live roughly a road out from my ward.

          All the best,

          Helen.

          • So when you say Thanet cllrs are Thanet people for Thanet, you are incorrect.
            Your more than happy to tell me and others on here we are wrong, it’s good that you join in the conversation and it’s not personal thank you

          • Of the 56 how many live in Thanet, you never answered and we know it’s not 56. Never asked for addresses just a total amount. And labour want to bring in a MP from out of the area to run.really makes no sense

        • No, Chris; you asked how many people live in the areas we represent.

          We represent wards, within Thanet, and have to either live or work in Thanet or we cannot stand.

          I don’t personally know of any Councillor who doesn’t live in Thanet.

      • My point is this.

        Less than 6 months after taking office, one of your priorities is to give yourselves a 10% allowance increase rather than actually spending taxpayers’ money on improving the district (things like toilets being open over the winter) It’s very self-serving and surely you can see how this is going to be perceived by residents ?.

        Don’t recall seeing it in the local Labour manifesto prior to the elections as one of the things you were going to do after taking power. I wonder why.

        • Dear Thanetian Blind;

          As you have an article about our budget directly above your comments, you can be very clear on what our priorities are, and what we’ve delivered already.

          More staff for Open Spaces and Waste and Street Cleansing, refurbishment of public toilets (having taken the Margate Harbour Arm back into public hands last time we were in power, we now have new toilets there, and will shortly be bringing plans for all our public toilets to Cabinet), increased in house temporary housing to keep people in area, our first Council owned rough sleeping and homelessness accommodation, and a 500% increase in the production and acquisition of social housing.

          Just a few of the things that have happened in the last five months.

          Deciding to ignore all of that to insist that the area with the lowest allowances in all of Kent shouldn’t apply a 0.9% per annum increase to Councillor allowances to improve representation is an interesting choice.

          • Well why wasn’t it in your manifesto for the local elections ? It must have been planned before you took power. The public reaction to it is such that it wasn’t a minor decision.

            If Labour are so sure of your position on this then why didn’t you level up with the electorate and tell them it was something you were planning to do (among all the other things you mentioned ?)

            Again, I think we all know the answer to that. Try and slide it in without first gaining cross-party consensus at the end of a packed (and controversial) agenda and hope people either won’t notice or won’t remember by the time you are seeking re-election in four years time.

            We all know how the system works.

  6. There is an item of 1.25million for “ property enhancement” can it be assumed that this relates to the failings recently identified by the councils commercial property department?
    There is also borrowing of 1.2 million for the homeless services. Are there any figures for the councils current overall borrowing , projected going forward and cost of this borrowing / expected repayment?
    Purchase of the carpark is long overdue , but are there figures to support the move?
    Many of the new posts are stated as being FTE ( which i’m assuming means “full time equivalent”) is there a preference for posts created to be full time jobs for 1 person and so cut out some of the inefficiences that occur when you have job sharing?
    Could figures be provided for the money used over the last 5 years ( longer would be good) in respect of internal and external disputes , compensation , NDA’s, external auditors / consultants etc. And the costs of the port ramsgate berth circus and the cost of the road transport for Bretts.
    Which whilst not related to the current council are part of the overall dire financial position TDC finds itself in and should in the spirit of open disclosure be mentioned at least as often as the constant reminders in respect of cuts from central government under the tories.
    Without accepting the internal financial failures TDC are pretty much certain to continue in the same vein.

    I also note that there are no specific sums for the Winter Gardens or Theatre Royal, which given their importance within the area seems a little odd.

    • All financial info is on the TDC website. They’re a local government authority so legally have to publish their full accounts every year.
      Look it up and you’ll find the answers to your questions.

      • I’ve tried, but it’s not brocken down into separate items, ie- road transport costs for the bretts plant whilst no jetty in place. Or costs for improving the commercial property , or income lost because of said failings in that department. Or if those figures are there i can’t see them, if you’ve a link that points the right way i’d be grateful.

  7. TDC would be better off concentrating on housing,street cleaning and refuse collection. Estates need outsourcing to a commercial agency.Normally I advocate DLO for service provision because Serco etc are so poor value for money.
    Only those who have never done the job would expect councillors to do it for nothing.For a start there are a lot of expenses in carrying out the functions of councillor.
    TDC hanging on to parks and gardens is poor policy There are Town Councils work with them and start a process of devolution.Doing more of the same is pointless.

    • I don’t expect Councillors to do it for nothing.

      However, if local Labour really couldn’t foresee the bad reaction that this was going to cause right in the middle of a cost of living crisis then I despair for them.

      The optics of it are awful. Shame on all Councillors who voted for it.

      • Honestly, if as a Councillor or public representative you find yourself making decisions based on optics, you’re on a very slippery slope.

        • I think the opposite is true Helen.

          If you make decisions with no regard at all on how that decision will be perceived by the public you are on a very slippery slope. A slope which leads you to be perceived as completely out of touch with the needs, wishes and thoughts of your residents.

          • …which is exactly why you take the time to explain your decisions in detail, as a) residents have the right to be well informed and b) it stops people trying to pretend that a 10% increase is a yearly increase and doesn’t reflect over a decade of allowance freezes.

            Genuine engagement requires more than soundbites; ensuring that we have representative Councillors is worth my time explaining how and why we are doing it.

    • They’ve employed new Street Cleaning staff and bought a load of new council houses. Helen’s comment is that it’s a 500% y-o-y increase already this year.
      Councils are capable of doing multiple things at once.

  8. No not TDC,my god no! Elsewhere and over many years Pinkie Old girl.
    TDC was ill starred from the start.It was set up because rural interests were afraid that the Redcliffe-Maud recommendations would mean that the rural interest would be subsumed by urban interests. Bearing in mind only 27% of Kent’s population live in rural areas,this is a point that could have been worked around,but instead they cobbled up an organisation that has tried to meld 3 incompatible towns under one unit, and the result was fake sheiks,Cyril Hoser’s interesting printing business, Sandy Ezekiel, and latterly, a CEO, so bad that the entire senior management team had to be fired or paid off.Oh! I nearly forget the infamous no ferry, ferry business.
    Helen Whitehead and Rick Everitt, will no doubt try their best,but unless TDC embraces reform and stops ignoring local interests, it will continue to fail.
    TDC’s only legacy is Westwood Cross and what a legacy that is.

  9. Councilors haven’t had rise for ten years, should read haven’t deserved a rise for ten years. Before they get it perhaps they should say why they deserve more.

  10. It’s easy to see why thanet / tdc is in such a mess, this article is about the councils overall budget , but ( despite there being an article solely about councillors expenses) thisthread has been pretty much devoted to the councillors increase despite it being only around 0.1% of the overall budget.
    Even stranger when you consider that the councillors increas is the first in over a decade and laggs inflation by a significant margin, had cost controls been similar across the entire TDC budget there would be no shortage of cash.
    The deputy leader might perhaps be better engaged in ensuring the councils own staff perform as they should ( the commercial property department being the latest glaring example) , have an enquiry into how the situation came about and as to why the failings were not spotted earlier , ( who had oversight of the commercial property department over the last 7 years) rather than being so concerned about the socio economic mix of councillors.
    There really do seem to be some odd priorities.

  11. I am pleased to see we are spending more money on the maintenance of local playgrounds.

    What about the proposed skatepark in clifftonville? Is a local organisation with specialist expertise taking the lead on this?
    We are in danger of inflation eating away at the pot of money available for this. How far have plans progressed?

    • You’d hope the group that applied and won the funding bid would be the specialist lead, they atteacted more money from Tracy Emmin ( iirc), but the group also claimed to have a web site , which at the time did’nt exist. It rather looks like another vision based on good intentions and enthusiasm has encountered real world realities. The scheme ( and others) may well have additional costs/ hurdles placed in their way as a result of the recent Buildings Safety Act.
      Short of an injection of significant extra funding , it really is unlikely that all the various projects will be going forward as originally envisaged.
      Whilst on the subject of Cliftonville has there been any movement innrespect of the Newgate Gap Shelter?

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