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 advise his attendance at the Dover Winter Light Up on Saturday 4th December 2021. The event was well attended, and it was a great example of collaborative working. He welcomed that the Christmas light events at Deal and Aylesham had also been well attended.
(b) To welcome the news that the Lonely Planet guide had rated Kent’s Heritage Coast, which included Dover, amongst its best places to visit.
(c) To highlight the funding that had been distributed as part of the Winter Community Grants to local groups.
(d) To highlight the money raised through the DDC Lotto for local good causes.
(e) To praise the good work going on at Maison Dieu and the chance for the public to see the conservation work being undertaken.
(f) That the Sandwich Guildhall Forecourt works were scheduled to take place in the autumn.
(g) That the electric bus fleet for the Dover Fastrack scheme had been confirmed.
(h) That consideration was being given to how to proceed with the works for Tides that had been postponed due to the pandemic.
(i) That Port Health would be moving to a new facility.
(j) To thank all Members who attended the briefing for the Local Plan that had been organised. He also thanked the Head of Planning, Regeneration and Development for her work during her time with the Council and wished her a happy retirement.
(k) To announce that the Household Support Grant funding to help vulnerable households during winter had been received from Kent County Council. The support could be accessed through a number of local organisations including Dover and Deal Food Banks, Age Concern, the Citizens Advice Bureau and others.
(l) That talks over the future of the former Regent Cinema were on-going. In addition, it was hoped that there would be a meeting with the Roman Painted House, Dover soon and there was on-going work to bring the Phoenix Centre back into use. He advised that Kent County Council were also talking to the Roundhouse Theatre group.
(m) To advise that the Council’s website contained details to assist residents and organisations in planning events to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee in June 2022.
The Leader of the Opposition Labour Group, Councillor K Mills, included the following matters in his report:
(a) To highlight the effective cross-party working involved with the grants. He also pointed to the problem of the number of good causes exceeding the available funding.
(b) To welcome the news of the electric fleet for the Dover Fastrack scheme.
(c) The importance of securing the future of a Tides suitable for all of the residents in Deal.
(d) To express hope that there would be a future for the Regent Cinema, though noting that nothing promised had happened so far.
(e) To express concerns over the funding pressure on primary care and the impact this could have on GP services taking over the provision of blood tests that were previously performed at Deal Hospital.
(f) To question the causes of the frequent use of the Dover TAP traffic management scheme given that the Port of Dover was rarely closed and highlight the impact on the residents of Aycliffe who suffered from noise and pollution as a result. There was a need for TAP to be pushed further back from Aycliffe and efforts made to stop lorries trying to avoid TAP from entering the town with the resulting traffic chaos it caused. He questioned why this matter wasn’t a priority for the Council.
(g) To emphasise the need for a district-based group over an east Kent group for dealing with food and heating poverty issues.
(h) To stress the need for the Holiday Activities and Food (HAF) Programme to be run again at half-term.
(i) To thank officers for their hard work in getting the Council’s housing service out of the special measures it was put in following the dissolution of East Kent Housing. He welcomed the press release on this and also thanked the Overview and Scrutiny Committee for its work in monitoring the work that officers undertook to get the housing service out of special measures.
(j) To ask for an update on the Council’s bid for Levelling Up funding as he had heard that the Council had been unsuccessful. If the Council had been unsuccessful, he felt that people needed to be told. He also raised how the Council would engage with the public in respect of future funding bids.
(k) To welcome the news of the Household Support Grant in the face of the rising cost of living, the coming increase in National Insurance and council tax rises.
(l) To ask the Leader of the Council to join him in calling for the Government to delay or suspend the proposed rise in National Insurance in light of the rising cost of living.
In response the Leader of the Council advised:
(a) To agree that the problems related to Dover TAP needed to be addressed. He advised that he was meeting with the local Member of the Parliament the next day and that he would be raising it as a high priority.
(b) To advise that he would find out if the HAF programme was running at half-term.
(c) To advise that the Council had not been successful in its Levelling Up Fund bid and that it would be receiving written feedback in respect of the bid. Once the Council knew the reasons for why its bid had not succeeded it would look at issuing a press release. He advised that the Council would bid for the second round of Levelling Up funding.
(d) To welcome the work by officers in getting the housing service out of special measures.
(e) To state that the issue of food poverty was an important concern to him and that there was a need to tackle this issue.