To receive an oral report at the meeting from the Leader (and Cabinet) on the business of the Executive or on any topic or subject that it is felt should be brought to the attention of the Council.
In accordance with Council Procedure Rule 10 (Leader’s Time):
(a) The Leader (and Cabinet) shall have up to 15 minutes to make within this report any statements that they wish on any topic or subject that they feel should be drawn to the attention of the Council.
(b) The Leader (or their nominee) of the Opposition Group (Labour Group) shall be allowed up to 10 minutes to respond.
(c) The Leader of the Council shall be allowed up to 5 minutes to exercise a right of reply (or 25% of the time given to the Opposition Group Leader, whichever is the greatest).
The Leader of the Council, Councillor K E Morris, included the following matters in his report:
(a) BREXIT Impact
That the global media had taken up the issue of BREXIT and Dover had become a focus of interest for the impact of BREXIT on day one of leaving the European Union. He thanked the media team for their handling of enquiries and Councillor N J Collor for undertaking some of the media interviews. A roundtable event on BREXIT had been organised by the LGA and DDC.
That a letter had been sent to the Secretary of State for Transport, Chris Grayling MP, emphasising the importance of the short straits route.
That the Prime Minister and President Macron of France had agreed to support the economic development of the Dover-Calais area.
That the BREXIT Task Force papers were available on the Council’s website.
(b) Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP)
That the Kent and Medway LEP had responded to the government in respect of LEPs to advise that it did not want any change to the current arrangements.
(c) East Kent Spatial Development Company
That £700,000 had been awarded for Albert Road, Deal.
(d) Business Rates
That the Kent Leaders Group had agreed to apply to be part of the 2019/20 Business Rate Retention Pilot. This followed Kent being part of the 2018/19 pilot.
(e) Electoral Review of the Dover District
That the Local Government Boundary Commission for England (LGBCE) had published its final proposal for the new wards to be used from May 2019. A consultation on polling districts was currently underway.
(f) High Streets
The rise in online shopping was continuing to impact on high streets nationwide. The Council through its grant scheme was investing in Dover’s High Street and it was hoped to see the first new shop open soon as a result.
(g) St James
The development was now 90% let or in legal discussions to let and the feedback received was that business was brisk. There were plans for further improvements to the surrounding area in addition to those for Flying Horse Lane.
(h) Local Authority Borrowing Cap
It had been announced that this would be lifted but the Council was waiting to see the details.
The Council had purchased 15 former council houses and was in the process of purchasing an additional 11 former council houses. The Council’s work to tackle homelessness remained a priority.
(j) Cinema in Deal
The Council was working with the Astor Theatre to provide an interim cinema in Deal until the planning application for the Regent Cinema was submitted.
(k) Deal Pier
The works on the pier were progressing well and the café tenants were planning for the fit out.
(l) Dover District Lottery
The Council currently provided funding to the voluntary sector through the oversubscribed community grants scheme. The Cabinet had agreed to set up a lottery to provide an additional funding stream for the voluntary sector and similar lotteries were already operated in Thanet District Council, Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council and Tunbridge Wells Borough Council. It was expected that this would add an additional £40,000 in funding and would not affect the grants currently in place.
The lottery would contribute 60 pence in every £1 generated and would be launched in 2019.
(m) Armed Forces Bronze Award
The Council had been recognised for its support of the armed forces, including existing or prospective employees who are members of the community, with a bronze award. It was intended that the Council would apply for the silver award in 2019 and the gold award in 2020
(n) ‘There but not there’
To highlight the ‘there but not there’ figures in the silhouette of World War One soldiers in the Council Chamber. These were a wonderful act of remembrance in light of the approaching centenary of the end of the First World War.
The Leader of the Main Opposition Labour Group, Councillor M R Eddy, included the following matters in his report:
(a) To welcome the news of the second meeting of the BREXIT Task Force group and to emphasise that the Port of Dover was also a cruise terminal and that it was important to understand what impact BREXIT would have on the cruise business.
(b) The urgency for the work on the Lower Thames Crossing to begin.
(c) That the scheme for Albert Road, Deal was not what was needed as the road plans were insufficient.
(d) To agree on the need to contribute to the polling district review.
(e) To welcome the High Street grant scheme but emphasise the need to do more with s215 notices to improve buildings in the town centre.
(f) To question whether operating a local lottery was innovative given that similar schemes were already operated by 26 other local authorities.
(g) To recognise the service of current and ex-service personnel and emphasise the need to do more to support their return into civilian life.
(h) To point out that the small business relief in the budget would not commence until April 2019 and would run for three years.
In response, the Leader of the Council raised the following matters in his right to reply:
(a) That the Port of Dover represented the cruise terminal at the BREXIT meetings.
(b) That s215 notices were being pursued as vigorously as the scheme allowed.
(c) That it was estimated that 400 additional businesses in the district would qualify for business rate relief. Local Authorities would be fully compensated for any losses.
(d) That, subject to seeing further details, the Council was interested in participating in the Future High Streets Fund.