Sunday, 29 September 2013


Cllr Clive Hart - TDC Leader.

Historically, council chairman often have their own individual styles and whilst carrying out their general duties they sometimes find different ways to focus on the things they feel really matter. The current TDC Chairman Cllr Kay Dark is no exception. Indeed, she is a good friend and colleague who not only controls fierce debate in the chamber, but also works tirelessly on her civic role for the council representing us across a very wide spectrum.

One matter in particular that Cllr Dark wishes to focus on during her term as chairman is our local businesses. I was therefore delighted when Kay asked me to join her on a programme of business visits here in Thanet. The chairman is the figurehead of TDC and these visits fall under her civic role, but the visits are also very much in line with my role as cabinet member for economic development and although the programme is in its early stages it is proving to be extremely useful in fully understanding the diverse nature of business across our island. I thought my former career as a craftsman in electricity supply had taken me to almost every kind of working environment in East Kent but there truly is always something new to see and experience first hand. 

With just a handful of visits under our belts, Kay and I have already witnessed local companies employing large numbers of local people, creating diverse products for clients all over the world. We've seen some incredibly complexed machinery and 'state of the art' technology being used by local people here in Thanet to keep our businesses ahead of some very fast changing worldwide sectors. We've seen product designers working to keep their companies out in front of fierce international competition and we've met local businessman and company directors who have expanded their businesses over many decades despite some incredibly difficult periods. These companies are winning major contracts, often against wealthier and more powerful international competitors and keeping local people here in Thanet employed.

Last week, the Chairman and I were also present when another vibrant local company opened their new facility at Manston that is now working extremely closely with a leading international aircraft manufacturer. Both the showroom building and the surrounding skies were full of helicopters and as they flew in and out of the event I was pleased to see they passed over new industrial units being built at Manston Business Park.

Our coastline is second to none, our villages are lovely, our towns each have their own distinctive character. Most importantly, against all the odds, Thanet is well and truly taking off - onwards and upwards!

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Motion to Full Council on 3rd October 2013

From Cllr Michelle Fenner:

'Thanet District Council commits to protecting tenants from the Bedroom Tax in the following ways:
Proactively engaging with tenants and offering advice and assistance
Preventing tenants from losing their homes through sensitive debt management and rent arrears procedures 
Identifying the need for and processing Discretionary Housing Payments quickly
Adjusting allocations and letting policies to assist tenants who wish to downsize

Thanet District Council also commits to protesting to Government to repeal the Bedroom Tax by:

Working with tenant organisations who call for the repeal of the Bedroom Tax
Communicating the hidden costs and impracticalities of the Bedroom Tax
Demonstrating to government the unfairness of the Bedroom Tax
Working with the Government to provide alternative strategies to address housing shortages'. 

Cllr. Michelle Fenner added:

‘The bedroom tax is causing enormous problems for families who through no fault of their own find themselves in difficult situations. A recent study on the impact of the Government's welfare reforms shows that nearly 2/3 of affected households have less than £10 a week to live on after rent, food and bills.

A vast number of councils across the country have already voiced their opposition to the bedroom tax and are calling on the Government to repeal it.

I welcome all the efforts put in by the Labour administration at TDC to mitigate its impact and I support the general ground swell of opinion against it nationally."

Tuesday, 24 September 2013


Thanet District Council are set to debate the possible relocation and downgrading of Margate's historic Crown Post Office at their Council meeting on 3rd October.
The motion ,which is being proposed by the Cabinet member for Community Development, Councillor Iris Johnston is to be seconded by Councillor Will Scobie who has been leading the campaign with Labour Colleagues in Margate over the last several weeks.
The motion asks all members to endorse a request to the Leader Councillor Clive Hart and is as follows.

Thanet District Council supports the Communication Workers Union in their efforts to stop the privatisation and down grading of 70 Crown Post Offices, including our Margate office, and the further closure of 6 offices with a  total loss of over 800 jobs.
We welcome the wide support of many local people who wish to keep the Crown Post Office in it's existing historic building in Cecil Square. The nearest will be at Ashford and Faversham should this service be franchised out.
We request the Leader  writes a letter of concern to:
 Paula Venells, Post Office Chief Executive, 148 Old Street, London, EC1 9HQ.
We would further request the Leader to write to the Under Secretary of State with Parliamentary responsibility for Post Offices informing him of the detrimental impact on services to the public in a franchised facility and include the MP for North Thanet Sir Roger Gale in that correspondance.
Councillor Johnston said:
"I have been concerned from as far back as last March that our own Crown Post office is  not only likely to be moved from Cecil Square but downgraded to nothing more than a franchise in the  back of an existing store.
There is a great affecton for the office in its present positon but if it has to move it must be kept in a prominent position in the town. Even with the present large facility the queues are often down Hawley Street.  I cannot see how the service could be relocated in to a shared shop with less staff".
Councillor Will Scobie added:

"The loss of Crown Post Office special services along with  jobs and privacy for customers is a major concern and I hope everyone is signing the petitions  and sending on the Post cards we  are delivering throughout Margate central and other nearby wards".

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Sure Start Children’s Centres. The fight continues

By Cllr Jenny Matterface

On Thursday September 12 th I was privileged to spend the morning in Dover at one of the centres that is to close with Sharon Hodgson, MP, Shadow Children’s Minister, Clair Hawkins the prospective parliamentary candidate for Dover and Deal, local Labour councillors and county councillors along with parents, carers and other involved parties.

For me, apart from the pleasure of meeting Sharon and the other elected officials, the main focus was hearing the parents who care so much for their local centre and can say what it has done for them. I heard stories and experiences so similar to those I’ve heard from the users of the Callis Grange Sure Start Centre that it reinforces my determination to do what I can to keep Callis Grange Centre fully-funded and fully-opened. Any cut in hours or budget is merely the thin end of the wedge. Next year a bit more, the year after a bit more and so on.

I talked to one mother who said that the support she’d had from the centre had helped her cope with two disabled children, learning parenting skills to handle their tantrums and very specific problems. Another said the most difficult bit was that first step through the front door. I was told by a parent whose children had been in care that she was now able to manage and that if the centre and others like it were to close, she fears a massive burden will fall on the already over-worked Social services. Like the Callis Grange centre these parents would have to access other centres that aren’t so easy to reach. The cabinet member at County Hall responsible for children’s services told me ‘no-one will be more than a 15 minute drive from another centre’ apparently being unaware that not everyone has a car or even access to one.

Sharon Hodgson said that David Cameron prior to the 2010 election promised to support children’s centres but didn’t ‘ring-fence’ the funding so that KCC can divert funds to other areas or cut drastically.

If you haven’t yet completed the consultation form please do so and sign our online or paper petition.

or for our petition google  saveoursurestarts/kent and follow the link.

Wednesday, 11 September 2013


In 2012 VisitEngland bought out principles for developing Destination Management Plans and Thanet, under its new Labour administration, was the first authority in Kent to use these guidelines to deliver its district plan.
Thanet District Council engaged Blue Sail and Visit Kent to produce a plan as a work stream of the Thanet Regeneration Board and TDC Cabinet Member Cllr Iris Johnston has been overseeing the project at each and every step. The plan sets out the priorities for the next five years to help Thanet achieve its potential as a visitor destination.
At TDC tomorrow (Thursday 12th Sept) the Cabinet will be asked to approve the Thanet Destination Management Plan.
Among a wide range of objectives, the comprehensive draft Thanet Destination Management Plan before Cabinet tomorrow evening urges Thanet partners to ‘stimulate the environment to encourage investment in new quality visitor attractions, visitor experiences and places to stay’.


Kent County Council are today (Wednesday 11th Sept) proposing a hotel for the Rendezvous site on Margate seafront. The Rendezvous site was given to KCC by the former Conservative administration at TDC as Thanet's contribution to the Turner Contemporary project.
Generally speaking the hotel proposal from KCC is in line with the proposed Thanet Destination Management Plan, but it will be for KCC to obtain planning permission, access project funding and to create a hotel development that is acceptable to the people of Thanet and attractive to our future visitors.

Thursday, 5 September 2013

New figures show Government's NewBuy scheme delivered less than 5% of the mortgages Cameron promised - Benn

Hilary Benn, Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, commenting on official statistics published today revealing the Government’s NewBuy scheme has delivered less than 5% of the 100,000 mortgages promised by David Cameron, said:

“David Cameron promised to help 100,000 families with the NewBuy scheme. Yet two years after announcing it less than 5% of that number have actually been helped on to the housing ladder.
“It shows how out of touch David Cameron is that while he claims to have turned things around, home ownership remains out of reach for many young families.”


Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Coverage from BBC and ITV evening news (3rd September 2013)

"Council takes over Dreamland" ITV Meridian News

For years, the abandoned site of one the region's biggest theme parks has been in decay but now its future looks a little more certain. The keys to Dreamland in Margate have been handed to the local council and a trust hoping to bring the attraction back to life.

But there are still obstacles along the way, not least of all another court hearing. We speak to Cllr Iris Johnston from Thanet Council, Jan Leandro from Dreamland Trust and Toby Hunter from DreamlandLive.

BBC South East

The latest on Dreamland

An update from Iris Johnston, Cabinet Member for Community Services

"I'm very pleased to hear the ownership of the Dreamland site has transferred to Thanet District Council. We still have an appeal hearing to get through, but hopefully we can say that Dreamland has returned to the people of Margate and we can get the site moving again.

"I was at the site last night until 10pm and I've been back again this morning with officers, looking at what needs to be done and what the priorities are.

"I'm delighted the news was covered on BBC Radio Kent this morning and the news cameras from ITV Meridian news are interviewing me at 11am. This is just the kind of positive publicity Thanet needs and it's a deserved reward for the hardworking team that have battled for so long to get us here."

This article is written by Councillor Iris Johnston, on behalf of the Labour Group.

Dreamland Site transfers to Thanet District Council

Ownership of the iconic Dreamland site in Margate has transferred to Thanet District Council today (Tuesday 3rd September).

In partnership with The Dreamland Trust, the council will now progress with plans to create a world class visitor attraction for Margate – an amusement park of thrilling historic rides.

Surveyors will be the first on-site to assess the condition of the land, which has stood empty for more than five years. Further work will also be undertaken to protect the three important heritage assets on the site, the Grade ll* listed Scenic Railway, the Grade ll* listed cinema building and the Grade ll Menagerie Cages.

During this time, The Dreamland Trust and renowned HemingwayDesign team, will continue to lead on developing a brand and will progress with the creative design of the park.

Although this is a key milestone for the project, the compulsory purchase of the site is still subject to legal challenge by the former site owners, which is due to be heard at the Appeals Court on Wednesday 25 and Thursday 26 September.

Leader of Thanet District Council, Cllr. Clive Hart, said: “The transfer of Dreamland to the council is another significant step towards creating a world class visitor attraction on this site. With overwhelming public support and the vital funds in place, we have been resolute in our commitment to deliver this landmark project and believe that the compulsory purchase of the land was the only viable option to save and restore the site.

“The continued legal challenge is nothing short of frustrating. The council has carried out significant urgent repairs to the important heritage assets and has been saddened to see the site stand vacant and unused for such a long period of time.

“With support from the Secretary of State, and the High Court, we are hopeful that the right outcome will be determined at the appeal, and will continue to do all we can to unlock the regeneration of this part of Margate.”

The Dreamland Trust Chairman, Nick Laister, said: "The transfer of the site to our partner Thanet District Council is one of the biggest milestones in our efforts to return Dreamland to its rightful place as Margate's biggest visitor attraction and to the people and community of Margate.

"The Dreamland Trust and TDC have worked very hard to secure this transfer in the best interests of Thanet, as having a large, derelict wasteland in the middle of the seafront has been so detrimental to the image of Margate. The transformation of the town has already started following the opening of Turner Contemporary in 2011, and the reopening of Dreamland as the world's first amusement park of thrilling historic rides in 2015 will be the another big step forward for the resort.

"We hope to be able to cross the final hurdle at the Court of Appeal later this month. We have the right team in place to deliver this project and, with the necessary funding now available to us, we are confident that the people and businesses of Thanet will not have to wait too long now to see visible progress on site."

This is a Thanet District Council Press Release, available to read at