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 express his pleasure at seeing so many well supported events in the district including:
· Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Celebrations at which a flag designed by 11-year old Izzy Kirby was raised at Dover Castle;
· The return of Band of Royal Marines to Walmer which was attended by over 10,000 people; and
· The successful Skate Jam event.
He thanked the Council’s Community and Tourism teams working in partnership with others.
(b) To welcome the launch of the White Mills Aquapark, Sandwich and Walmer Adventure Golf sites.
(c) That the new Market Square would be opening on 20 August 2022.
(d) That the Kearnsey Café’s success was exceeding expectations.
(e) That the Mining Museum had seen 10,000 visitors since it had opened. A new Wave Garden and Hotel could also be coming to the site.
(f) That there was no news to update Members on in respect of the Regent Hotel. He noted that the cinema industry had been adversely impacts by the pandemic. However, encouragingly the owners had been working with the Council’s planning department on proposals for a scaled down mixed development scheme that would include a cinema.
(g) To welcome that the Tides Project was continuing to move forward.
(h) That the Inspire Families programme had funded a number of activities for families across the district.
(i) That he written to a number of agencies and attended meetings where he had expressed his frustrations with the roads in Dover not being kept clear. He did not want to see a summer of chaos.
(j) That he had received a letter from the family of Dame Vera Lynn following further meetings that he had with them following the news that the Council was not successful in the first round of Levelling Up Bids. However, after giving serious consideration to the matter the family had decided to work with other parties to identify a suitable site for a statue outside of the Dover area. He expressed his disappointment at this news but understood the family’s position on the matter and advised that they had thanked the Council for its interest in the project and the assistance that had been provided.
(k) The Council was in a position to submit its bid for the second round of Levelling Up bids. The bid had taken on board the comments of Dover Town Council and would address the need for regeneration in the Bench Street area through the creation of a new skills, training and education hub in conjunction with Dover College. The bid had been supported through a well attended open day and had the support of the MP for Dover and neighbouring MPs.
(l) That following the news that the Inland Border Facility at Whitfield would no longer be needed the land had been returned to the Department for Transport which was considering options for its future use. The DEFRA site for the Port Health Facility was still continuing but it was unlikely it would be needed until December 2023. The site would be handed over on 28 July 2022 and permission to occupy the offices was being awaited.
(m) That following meetings with National Highways, they have shortlisted three options - two related to dualling of sections of the A2 along with improvements to the two main roundabouts and the third option was a bypass. A feasibility exercise would be conducted prior to the options going to consultation later in the year.
(n) That work remained on track for the Dover Fast Track scheme with construction work underway on the two stretches of road from the Whitfield development to the Tesco roundabout and from the B&Q roundabout to Dover.
(o) That work was underway to bring the Phoenix Centre in Sandwich back into use for the community.
(p) That Councillor O C de R Richardson had met with some of the Trustees of the Roman Painted House and had committed to work with them to reopen it again. He welcomed the news that the Roman Painted House would open on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.
(q) That work was underway to relocate the Deal Foodbank to Park Lane, Deal with a community hub also located in the building.
(r) That the government had provided £400,000 in funding through the Household Support Grant.
The Leader of the Opposition Labour Group, Councillor K Mills, included the following matters in his report:
(a) To advise that the Pencester Multi-Cultural Day had been a great success.
(b) That with the decision not to go ahead with the Inland Border Facility he hoped that the site would not be wasted.
(c) To point out that the MP for Dover had been silent over the future jobs that would be now lost through not going ahead with the Inland Border Facility at Whitfield.
(d) That members needed to be updated on the future of the Bastion Point site.
(e) To urge the Leader of the Council to write to Kent County Council to insist that preparations be put in place to ensure that Dover’s traffic can be kept moving during the holidays due to the slow response the last time there was a problem.
(f) To welcome the funding being provided through the Household Support Grant.
(g) That the high levels of inflation (9.4%) would have a significant impact on the community and that a joined up approach to spending needed to be in place to maximise the benefit.
(h) That the people of the district had been waiting a long time for any progress in respect of the Regent Cinema.
(i) That he hoped that the Levelling Up bid would be successful. He was not surprised that the previous bid had been unsuccessful. He emphasised the need to raise local wages.
(j) To state that the Council needed to be directly involved with the food banks in the district as they were struggling to get donations at a time of rising need.
(k) To express his concern that rural communities will suffer through the cutting of bus services and that vulnerable people could become isolated. He emphasised the need for the public to be kept informed on this issue.
In response the Leader of the Council advised:
(a) That he hadn’t been aware of the Multi-Cultural Day or he would have attended. He stated that he had enjoyed attending a previous Multi-Cultural Day.
(b) That he would share the letters that he had written to agencies in support of efforts to keep Dover clear.
(c) That he was waiting to hear further over the future of the Port Health facility at Whitfield.
(d) That he also wanted to see something positive happen with the Regent Cinema site.
(e) To emphasise that the Council had assembled an excellent case for the second round of Levelling Up bids.
(f) That the Deputy Leader had met with the Food Banks and they had not advised him that they were struggling.
(g) That he looked to the district’s Kent County Councillors to take up the issue of bus services. He shared concerns that old people could become isolated through the withdrawal of bus services and pointed out that Staple had lost its bus service.