Agenda item

Questions from Members

Up to 60 minutes is allowed for this part of the meeting unless extended by the Chairman of the Council or on a motion moved, duly seconded and approved by the Council.  Members may ask one supplementary question in addition to their original question.


Members may ask one supplementary question in addition to their original question.


The questions received are set out in the order received in the agenda papers.


In accordance with Rule 12(1) of the Council Procedure Rules, Members of the Cabinet responded to the following questions:


(1)  Councillor N J Collor asked the Portfolio Holder for Transport, Licensing and Regulatory Services, Councillor M Bates:


The A2 was heavily congested for many hours making it extremely difficult for our residents living to the east of the road to gain access to retail facilities in the town.


Dover TAP was also in place on the A20 continually for nearly 33 hours.  Of the 63 times that Dover TAP has been put in place since March on 17 of these occasions the Trigger Point to consider bringing in the next stage has been reached.


Although DDC is not a highway authority, we have a duty to our residents so will the Leader of the Council advise what steps this Council is taking to keep the pressure up on finding a solution once and for all as well as what steps were taken after the TAP Trigger Points were reached as well as advising the next steps after TAP is full?”


Reply by the Portfolio Holder for Transport, Licensing and Regulatory Services:


As you are aware Councillor Collor, TAP A20 is there to help protect the town from gridlocking and it is good to hear that it’s been deployed so many times and ensuring free movement around Dover.


The A2 has no such scheme but residents can use alternative routes to access the town such as Whitfield Hill, Melbourne Avenue and Castle Hill therefore avoiding this route entirely.


DDC continues to work with the highway’s agencies and government dept to find a suitable solution to the impacts of having one of the busiest roro ports in Europe.


The Keep Dover Clear plans are progressing well, and work is continuing with regards CCTV to monitor traffic flows, improvements to Duke of York’s and Whitfield roundabouts, HGV restrictions for Castle hill and improvements to signage on and around these routes.


DDC continues to lobby DfT for improvements to the strategic road network on every occasion.


With regards to the trigger points, once the queue has reached the Roundhill tunnels the on-duty gold commander will need to decide whether M20 Brock should be deployed. This is a huge undertaking and places enormous pressure on National Highways and Kent Police.


DDC does not calculate the trigger point it National Highways. Again, the emails would have to be reviewed to confirm this, but I am not aware of Brock being deployed for this alone. We again are entering into the Brock plans and Kent Police make this decision based on the flow rates, etc.”


(2)  Councillor N J Collor asked the Portfolio Holder for Transport, Licensing and Regulatory Services, Councillor M Bates:

“Will the Portfolio Holder for Transport, Licensing and Regulatory Services kindly advise the income, after VAT has been deducted, separately, for Stembrook Car Park and Bench Street Car Park for 2019, 2020 and 2021?”


Reply by the Portfolio Holder for Transport, Licensing and Regulatory Services:


Bench St

2019/20: minus VAT =£20,775.01

2020/21: minus VAT =£21,746.47         

2021/22 (to date): minus VAT =£29,895.72  



2019/20: minus VAT =£36,623.79

2020/21: minus VAT =£41,462.18

2021/22 (to date): minus VAT =£54,002.81


(3)  Councillor D Friend asked the Portfolio Holder for Social Housing and Port Health, Councillor D P Murphy:


“Could the Portfolio Holder for Social Housing, update the Council on the latest position in respect of the Special Measures status regarding Compliance Certification of the utility appliances in its housing stock”


Reply by the Portfolio Holder For Social Housing and Port Health:


“In October 2020, when Dover District Council took the housing service under direct control, the service was in a worse state than even the most pessimistic expectations. The information systems were incomplete, inaccurate and could not be trusted. In addition, a large backlog of work had built up. Of particular concern were the various compliance safety checks, designed to ensure that people are safe in their own homes. Compliance was the reason that the service was taken into special measures.


An immense piece of work was undertaken by the Assets & Building Control team, to create a route map back to business as usual. The first stage was to investigate the information in forensic detail to understand the gaps. Some properties had no certificates at all, some were out of date and some had outstanding remedial actions. The second stage was to put in place the on-going inspection regimes, engaging contractors to carry out inspections and put right any deficiencies found. All of this was against a background of Covid when vulnerable people were shielding - so gaining access to inspect appliances was difficult. Despite all the challenges the team worked extremely hard to make progress and this resulted in the Regulator for Social Housing removing the special measures in December 2021.”


(4)  Councillor E A Biggs asked the Leader of the Council, Councillor T J Bartlett:


“Why when funds of 35k were allocated by cabinet for an allegedly joint approach to progressing the Cable Car project with English Heritage, now that the project is no longer going ahead the final bill for DDC is in fact £135K.”


Reply by the Leader of the Council:


“As you have said, in December 2020, an additional £35,000 was agreed, to supplement the previously allocated and budgeted resources, to progress the Cable Car project working with English Heritage as a delivery partner - under a jointly signed memorandum of understanding and within a programme of monthly meetings.


Other previously allocated and agreed project funds, as partly documented in June 2020, included vital specialist work undertaken by SCJ Alliance at a cost of £83,000; taken from the then Cable Car and Land Bridge related Dover Waterfront Project Budget. Other related feasibility and viability costs, related to the final total you have mentioned, are detailed within the December 2021 cabinet report.


This crucial feasibility work and consultation – importantly - demonstrated that the cable car between Dover Town Centre and Dover Castle would be both technically feasible and, potentially, commercially viable. Generating substantial employment opportunities and economic growth. However, it also highlighted – as reported -  that the cable car would only be viable if it were jointly delivered by the Council and English Heritage.


Unfortunately in May 2021 English Heritage’s Senior Management Team decided that they could no longer support further development of the project, due to the anticipated un-acceptable impact upon the heritage of Dover Castle.  For this reason, in the absence of partnership, progress upon the Cable Car Project came to a close before any further costs were incurred.


With total Cable Car Project delivery costs estimated at around £32 million, it is felt that total expenditure of £135,000 is a reasonable sum to provide due diligence, fully appraise proposals and mitigate risk.


The information and advice gained will be retained for use should the situation change with English Heritage.


All remaining funds earmarked for the Cable Car project, as part of the related Dover Waterfront Project Budget, will be included in next year’s budget as funding for projects associated with the wider regeneration of Dover.”



(5)  Councillor P M Brivio asked the Portfolio Holder for Social Housing and Port Health, Councillor D P Murphy:


“Can you please advise what the take up of the shared ownership scheme at Harold Street has been and how this fits in with ambition of filling the obvious housing gap left by the lack of affordable housing in the district.”


Reply by the Portfolio Holder for Social Housing and Port Health:


“Horizons’, the shared ownership component of the development of the former William Muge and Snelgrove site, comprises 29 No. one -bed and two-bed flats in a four-storey block. This section of the development was partially funded by a Homes England grant and consequently the shared ownership arrangements are in accordance with the Homes England criteria. All 29 units have been sold with the final unit completion in the past few weeks. The vast majority of the units have been sold to local people and the development thus contributes to filling the housing gap, whilst also demonstrating to developers that quality and space do not have to be compromised.”


(6)  Councillor H M Williams asked the Portfolio Holder for Community and Corporate Property, Councillor O C de R Richardson:


“Can the Portfolio Holder for Community and Corporate Property explain the lack of a meaningful response to several letters dating between 23.7.21 and 15.11.21 to yourself and officers from the Dover & District Sunday Football League. The subject of the letters is the unacceptable state of Dover football pitches at Elms Vale and the Danes, and the changing rooms there.


The League pay a fee to DDC for the use of these pitches and changing rooms. As amateur sport was restarting after the summer lockdown, the League suggested a plan to bring the pitches up to a playable and decent standard.


In late July they contacted you and you replied saying you would talk to the department.  The League have since heard nothing. The pitches continue to be neglected, and after inspecting them again, pronounced them unsafe to play on, and the changing rooms not fit for purpose.”


Reply by the Portfolio Holder for Community and Corporate Property:


“This question is lacking some facts as letters were not received and neither were direct reports made to the supervisor who has been in regular contact with this complainant.


Works to improve the pitches is taking place and is part of our regular maintenance plan.


Improvement works have been carried out over the past few years and some pitches are under more pressure than others, The Danes especially as this is used almost daily by the local schools, the public and the football clubs.


No match officials or clubs have cancelled games due to unsafe pitches and DDC continues to ensure pitches are available to avoid matches being cancelled wherever possible. All DDC pitches are inspected every week prior to the weekend fixtures.


We are working with the FA to secure more funding for improvements to our facilities across the district.


The pavilion building at Elms Vale is regularly subjected to much vandalism, due to its isolated location. The severity of the vandalism increased significantly during the lockdowns. There is significant damage to the roof, which in turn has led to water ingress causing damage to the electrical systems. There will be significant costs to repair the roof and restore the electrical systems. Similarly, there is likely to be significant costs to reduce the carbon footprint of the building – in particular the shower facilities. Work to establish the full extent, nature and indicative cost of the work needed will be undertaken over the coming months.” 


(7)  Councillor K Mills asked the Leader of the Council, Councillor T J Bartlett:


“As a District we were allocated £171.000 Household Support Grant, to organisations with a track record of delivery to support households who would otherwise struggle to buy food, pay essential energy bills or meet other essential living costs this winter. With the predicted fuel cost increases of at least 50% expected to last up to two years what sustainable support is this council going to provide to those most in need, who will have to continue to decide to heat or eat.”


Reply by the Leader of the Council:


“The Council have set up a ‘Food and Fuel Working Group’ in partnership with Citizens Advice Bureau, Dover District Food Bank, Deal District Food Bank, Deal Age UK, Dover Age Concern, Sandwich Age Concern and United Families.  This working group is supported by the Head of Community & Digital Services and Chaired by the Community Development Team Leader. 


The Food and Fuel Action Group meets monthly and have also set up a WhatsApp group for day-to-day issues and ideas. 


The aim of the group is to work in collaboration and to assist in dealing with this challenging subject. The group provides support, food parcels, household goods and appliances.”



(8)  Councillor P M Brivio asked the Portfolio Holder for Community and Corporate Property, Councillor O C de R Richardson:


“What are the future plans for the Gateway premises in Castle Street, Dover which remain closed.”


Reply by the Portfolio Holder for Community and Corporate Property:


“The long-term future of the Gateway depends to a large extent on the plans of KCC. The partnership arrangements pertaining to the building expire in 2024. The medium-term plans are much clearer. Subject to final agreement being reached between DDC and KCC, the Gateway will become the temporary home of Dover library, enabling KCC to provide library services to the town during the construction phase of the redevelopment of the Discovery Centre.”





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