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 of the Main Opposition Group (or their nominee) 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(s), whichever is the greatest).
The Leader of the Council, Councillor T J Bartlett, included the following matters in his report:
(a) To thank the Strategic Director (Corporate Resources), the Head of Finance and Investment and the Finance team for the work they put into preparing the budget which meant that the Council could move forward to a future of investment and growth. The Council would invest in tourism, the economy and protecting the environment.
(b) To welcome the extension of the furlough scheme and assistance with business rates.
(c) That the Council had bid for £224,000 in grant funding for the installation of 49 electric vehicle charging points.
(d) The Council had also secured funding from the Public Sector Decarbonisation Fund for solar panels at Whitfield and the Dover Museum.
(e) That he would be meeting with the Minister to discuss the Inland Border Facility on 15 March and would discuss many issues including the road network.
(f) That he agreed with concerns expressed by residents over the state of litter on the roads. The A256 would be cleaned in the coming weeks and in mid-May the A256 would be cleaned with vegetation cut-back. There would be a further clean in preparation for the Open Golf. The A2/M20 were cleaned by Highways England and the installation of bulk bins in lay-bys. He also expressed support for the Great British Spring Clean between 28 May – 13 June 2021.
(g) That the Local Plan had received high levels of engagement and 19 Teams meetings had been held with positive feedback.
(h) To express sadness at the news that the Phoenix Centre won’t reopen and would be wound up. He expressed gratitude to Phil and Eleanor Scott for their work over the last 20 years at the Phoenix Centre. The Council as owner of the building would look at potential future uses for it.
(i) That £68,000 had been raised over the last 2 years through the Dover District Lotto which had been invested in the Community Grants programme.
(j) That Kearsney and Russell Gardens had been featured on Countryfile. The project was continuing and the toilets were no open 8am – 4pm daily and the café would reopen when allowed.
(k) That the Council had hosted a live Fair Trade Event which he had found insightful with lots of interesting questions. He thanked Councillor P M Brivio for her work and presentation of Fair Trade Towns and also thanked the community team.
The Leader of the Opposition Labour Group, Councillor K Mills, included the following matters in his report:
(a) To welcome the clean up of roads in the district by the Council. While he welcomed the bulk bins in lay-bys he emphasised that lay-bys were not safe parking bays for lorries.
(b) To welcome the engagement on the Local Plan but recognise that there was no perfect answer during lockdown.
(c) To welcome the community funding that the Dover District Lotto had generated.
(d) To raise concerns over the inadequate parking at Kearsney and the parking problems this was causing in River.
(e) To join the Leader in recognising the great work of the Phoenix Centre and urge the Council to find a future use for the site that would benefit the local community in Sandwich.
(f) To enquire if any further meetings had been held following the chaos at Christmas and whether any lessons had been learnt to prevent it happening again.
(g) To point out that the Co-Innovation Centre had been a success and had great social value that had been overlooked. The facility it provided would be needed in the future and that opportunities for employment could be generated by support for start up businesses.
(h) To enquire what progress had been made in respect of charging in rural car parks. He pointed out that the proposals had been supported by Wingham Parish Council.
(i) To thank the NHS for delivering covid vaccinations and to point out that it was the great success of the pandemic.
(j) To urge the Government to raise NHS wages.
(k) To point out that the new Kent County Council planters that had appeared without notice appeared cheap and had been placed without any public engagement.
In response the Leader of the Council advised:
(a) That the Council need to look for Government funding to do more work to clear litter on the roads.
(b) That he personally supported the closure of lay-bys to stop their use by lorries and that he would lobby for this.
(c) To agree that there was an issue with parking at Kearsney and that the issue was being looked at with the potential for a Park and Ride Scheme.
(d) That a wash up meeting had been held over the events of Christmas but that no minutes had been taken at the meeting. He would ensure that notices would be taken at the next meeting.
(e) That the Council would continue to look for other locations for a similar project to the Co-Innovation Centre.
(f) That work was on-going in respect of rural car parks and that he would provide an update on it.
(g) To also thank the NHS for their work.
(h) That the presentation he had seen on Parklets did not match what had been installed and he also felt that they did not look good. He urged Kent County Council to deal with the negative feedback that had been received in respect of them.