Agenda item

Questions from the Public

To receive answers in respect of questions from the public to Members of the Executive asked in accordance with Rule 11 (as amended by Rule 28 for remote meetings) of the Council Procedure Rules.


(a)  Questions will be asked in the order in which notice of them was received, except that the Chairman may group together similar questions.

(b)  The period for questions by the public shall be limited so that no further questions shall be put after the elapse of 15 minutes from the commencement of the first question.

(c)   A maximum of three minutes is allowed for the each question to be read.

(d)  Afterwards, any other Member at the Chairman's discretion may speak for up to two minutes on a question or reply.


Questions from the Public


The questions from the public that were received within the notice period are set out in the agenda.


(1)   In accordance with Council Procedure Rule 11 (as amended by Council Procedure Rule 28.9), a question from Keith Sansum was put to the Portfolio Holder for Environment and Corporate Property, Councillor O C de R Richardson:


            “What DDC proposes to do to rectify the shortage of toilets in Dover?”


In response Councillor O C de R Richardson stated that he would like to thank Mr Sansum for his question and that in summary Dover District Council did not envisage more public lavatories within Dover in the near future.


He advised that since becoming a district councillor the provision of public lavatories within the District was an issue that was close to his heart. In the Autumn of last year he had undertaken a tour of all 17 public lavatories in the District with his wife in response to a request from the then Leader and had written a paper on how they could be improved. He recognised how important public lavatories were for people across the district, especially the elderly and disabled.


Public lavatories were not a statutory responsibility of the Council and elsewhere in the country many had been passed to Town and Parish Councils or closed completely. Indeed, the BBC had said that in 37 areas, major councils no longer ran any public conveniences. Within Dover Town there were presently three public lavatories, two run by the District and one run by Dover Town Council. There had been a fourth run by Dover Town Council but it had decided to close it. The two run by Dover District Council (Stembrook Carpark & Connaught Park) were open from dawn to dusk, 365 days a year and cleaned three times a day. The one run by Dover Town Council had opening hours that were not regular. The two District lavatories cost over £20,000 per year to operate and despite extremely tight finances at Dover District Council the Connaught Park lavatories had recently been repainted externally by the Council’s in-house Asset Maintenance Team, who received much positive feedback from those using Connaught Park.


Dover Harbour Board were responsible for the lavatory on the seafront, but they had demolished it and made no replacement provision.


He stated that he would endeavour to ensure that the lavatories in the hands of the District Council continued to be free, well maintained and accessible by all.


(2)   In accordance with Council Procedure Rule 11 (as amended by Council Procedure Rule 28.9), a question from Sarah Gleave was put to the Leader of the Council, Councillor T J Bartlett:


“Across Kent, this year, there is immense concern about the disempowerment of Kent District and Borough Councils / LPAs by Conservative central govt through Johnson / Jenrick’s English Planning Reform White Paper, and standard housing proposals which double Kent housing targets. We hear ‘Dover faces the greatest increase of all, a scarcely credible 125% hike on its current target potentially 1279 homes per year’. Alas, Dover’s MP is not one of the 11 Kent MPs protesting that ‘new Local Plans will be left in tatters… empowering developers to determine which sites are prioritized for construction and sidelining… democratic planning process’. Have all 19 Conservative cllrs and all opposition cllrs, protested about Johnson / Jenrick’s Planning White Paper, (possibly with reference to the LGA report ‘Delivery of Council housing: developing a stimulus package post-pandemic’ - for high quality, genuinely affordable homes in communities) and if not, why not?”


In response the Leader of the Council thanked Ms Gleave for raising this issue as it provided him with an opportunity to assure both the questioner and local communities that the Council shared her concerns regarding the government’s planning proposals. The Cabinet had considered and agreed a detailed response to the consultation at the meeting on October 5th and given the level of opposition being voiced by many stakeholders it was hoped that the government would reconsider and amend its plans.


(3)   In accordance with Council Procedure Rule 11 (as amended by Council Procedure Rule 28.9), a question from Alison Kuznets was put to the Leader of the Council, Councillor T J Bartlett:


“There have been two recent instances of initiatives being implemented without genuine public consultation among local residents who are affected personally. One is the new fast-track bus road due to join the Dover Rd in Guston, (which is expected to run across the site proposed for a clearance lorry park), the other is the bus & cycle lane on the Maison Dieu Road, Dover. In the future will DDC introduce a local Dover climate forum, so that residents, groups and parish councils, have a means of commenting on climate-change mitigation and adaptation measures before they are decided on?”


In response the Leader of the Council stated that the Council was committed to engagement with the wider community and that any proposal which had an impact on the community was expected to be subject to some form of public consultation.


In regard to the FastTrack bus route, the proposal was featured in the current Local Plan and had been developed over several years leading to the allocation of a grant from Home England in 2018 to support its delivery. As the detailed design work progressed a further engagement exercise had been undertaken earlier this year to which over 250 people responded despite this taking place during the pandemic. The proposals were now the subject of a planning application which provided a further opportunity for public comment.


In regard to the bus and cycle lane in Maison Dieu Road, the Leader was unable to comment on the consultation process as this was a scheme developed by Kent County Council as the highway authority not Dover District Council.


In respect of the request for the establishment of a Dover Climate Forum, the Council had already established a Climate Change Working Group within the Council which was meeting regularly to drive forward the Council’s response to the climate emergency. This group had cross-party representation and included a delegate from the Green Party. He stated that he hoped that this group, by engaging with interested groups across the District, could offer a means of commenting on proposals and ensuring that consideration was being given to climate change mitigation and adaptation measures.


(4)   In accordance with Council Procedure Rule 11 (as amended by Council Procedure Rule 28.9), a question from John Ward was put to the Leader of the Council, Councillor T J Bartlett:


“My name is John Ward and I am a supporter of the Dover Horse Trough Group. We were pleased to learn from our Chairman, Cllr Graham Wanstall, that you have supported the Project after our formation last January. As this is now 9 months ago, we ask, what steps do you intend to take to progress this project further? As you are aware the intention of the group is to have the trough returned to its rightful place in Folkestone Road, at the Elms Vale Junction.”


In response the Leader of the Council stated that he was aware of the proposal of the Dover Horse Trough Group that the horse trough currently located in Market Square could be returned to its original location in Folkestone Road, at the Elms Vale Junction as part of the Market Square redevelopment project. The detailed designs for the new scheme were still being finalised. The decision as to whether the horse trough could be moved to the suggested location would of course be a matter for Kent County Council as the highway authority. He advised that he would bring this matter to the attention of the design team and ask that it be given detailed consideration.


(5)   In accordance with Council Procedure Rule 11 (as amended by Council Procedure Rule 28.9), a question from Graham Wanstall was put to the Leader of the Council, Councillor T J Bartlett:


“I understand to date, Dover District Council have no plans to mark the life of Dame Vera Lynn. This is surprising and sad. As Vera Lynn was so closely associated with the White Cliffs of Dover, to commemorate her long life, I propose that the section of public footpath from Athol Terrace at the Eastern Docks to the Top of the cliff to the National Trust site which forms part of the Saxon Shore Way be named “Vera Lynn Way” so her name will always be connected with the White Cliffs in a most appropriate way by those walking from the Town to the white cliffs of Dover? Therefore, I ask will you support this simple proposal for the name to be adopted and the relevant signage put in place for the spring of 2021?”


In response the Leader of the Council stated that the Council had not yet developed any plans to mark the life of Dame Vera Lynn although she did already feature on the portrait bench on Dover seafront, recognising her links with the town and the White Cliffs of Dover.


The idea of naming a section of pathway in her memory was an interesting one, but before committing to any proposal the Leader of the Council advised that he would want to engage with Dame Vera Lynn’s family to discuss ideas with them and hear their views as to how they might wish to see her association with Dover commemorated.



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