Agenda item

Leader's Time

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 that both Dover District Council and Kent Country Council had been successful with their Levelling Up Fund bids worth a total of £63 million. The two projects would boost town centre jobs, skills, and education, and keep traffic flowing in Dover. He thanked Members for their support of the project and particularly thanked the three local MP's - Natalie Elphicke, Craig Mackinlay and Sir Roger Gale.


Dover District Council had been awarded £18.1 million for the Dover Beacon project which would transform Bench Street in the heart of the town centre and provide for (a) an educational campus in the fast growing creative and digital industries and which would expand access and the curriculum for local students; (b) a business centre, providing flexible, affordable facilities for start-ups and small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) to attract and retain local skilled workers and provide new employment opportunities; and the creation of the Riverside parklet, an accessible green space linking to the River Dour and St James's.


Kent Country Council had been awarded £45 million for the Dover Access improvements project which would improve the flow of traffic from the UK to the Europe. This would include additional border control points and a new exit route which would reduce congestion on local roads.


He thanked the Head of Place, Growth, Investment and Creative Services and his team for their work in respect of the Council’s bid.


(b)  To update Members on two events that had been held in December 2022 – the Lantern Parade and Father Christmas’s visit to Market Square, Dover.


He advised that he had led the Lantern Parade with the Mayor of Dover and that it had been wonderful to see people enjoying themselves on such a cold evening. He thanked all the local schools that had taken part and the groups, including Dover District Council, that had made the event possible - Future Foundry, Destination Dover, Dover Town Team, Port of Dover and Dover Town Council.


The Council’s Events and Community team had held a Christmas event funded by the UK Prosperity Fund which allowed many families to meet Father Christmas and his two reindeer. There was a stage in the Market Square which provided music and entertainment. He thanked everyone involved for making a marvellous festive experience and advised that there were plans to hold the event again as well as other special events in Deal and Sandwich in 2023.


(c)   That the Council had been given by the Federation of Small Businesses the award for 'Best Programme of Business Support in the South East' due to the number of grants that the Council awarded to businesses. The funding enabled the Council to support 66 small businesses, bring 22 empty properties back in use, renovate 31 shop fronts and assist 13 businesses with sustainable and carbon-free measures.


(d)  To advise that on 19 January 2023, the Chairman and he had planted a tree outside the Council Chamber to mark the Queen's Green Canopy in her memory. There had been 70 trees planted in and around the District.


(e)  To advise that he had handed a cheque for £25,000 to the first jackpot winner in the DDC Lotto. The Lotto was first launched in 2019 and had provided £160,707 for local good causes.


(f)    The Council had received nearly £200,000 from Round 3 of the Household Support Fund to help households in the district. This had been awarded to:


·         £42,000 each to the Dover Foodbank and the Deal Foodbank, which included rural provision;

·         £20,000 each to Sandwich Age Concern and Deal Centre Age Concern;

·         £20,000 to the Dover Riverside Centre;

·         £13,862 to the Dover Outreach Centre;

·         £30,000 to the CAB Dover District; and

·         £10,000 to United Families .


(g)  To announce that the Fuel and Food Poverty Action Group had been formed involving the groups awarded funding from the Household Support Fund. The Council was working with the groups to provide help and advice on benefits and energy efficiency.


(h)  To thank Noel Beamish and his team at the Outreach Centre for the work they were doing with Ukrainian Families. From April 2023, a new Community Development Officer role would work with partners to ensure that they were fully supported.


(i)    To advise that the Inspire to Change project using funding from the Police Crime Commissioner would launch in March 2023. The project would support young people that had offended, were at risk of offending or had been released from the Youth Justice System.


(j)    To advise that Councillor D P Murphy and he had visited the new affordable housing project at Kimberley Close where a site of redundant garages had been transformed into 16 studio flats for interim accommodation for homeless local people. There were also sites at Walter Hammond Close, Dover for interim accommodation and for 26 affordable homes at Napchester Road, Whitfield.


(k)   To welcome the continued work to upgrade the public toilets in the District. The latest to be upgraded were at Kings Street, Deal and work was currently on-going at Stembrook. He thanked officers undertaking this needed work.


(l)    To encourage Members to take the opportunity to see the new Community Roots bus that had been given to the Council by Kent County Council through the £173,000 ‘Helping Hands Scheme’ grant. The bus would enable officers to go out to local communities and support the community teams engagement work. The vehicle had three computer workstations with online access to council systems, solar panels and heating/air conditioning onboard with a fully functional kitchen, disability access and could support an awning with outside furniture if needed.


(m) That he had met with the Catering and Events Manager at Kearsney Abbey and Russell Gardens to hear her plans for the park. He advised that the Council had much to look forward too.


The Leader of the Opposition Labour Group, Councillor K Mills, included the following matters in his report:   


(a)  To welcome the Levelling-Up Fund award which he had supported as he felt it had been a well developed bid in contrast to the previous one.


(b)  To ask if anything could be done to uncover the Dover ‘Banksy’ as this was an asset that the town should take pride in.


(c)   To ask for a presentation from KCC on their Levelling Up bid so that Members could understand their intentions in respect of local roads and traffic flows.


(d)  To express support for funding for community support but to question the impact of Kent County Council closing local children’s centres. The alternatives provided were too far away for those in need and poorly served by public transport routes. He also emphasised the importance of the Walmer adult learning centre which was under threat.


(e)  He welcomed the Community Roots bus and the improvements being made to public toilets.


(f)    To urge that more be done to raise awareness of Voter ID requirements for the next district elections. This needed to be clearly messaged to voters in the district and there were only 100 days now until the elections.


(g)  That some schools had 80% of students in receipt of free school meals and many had more than 50%.


(h)  To mark Holocaust Memorial Day and emphasise the importance of remembering or it risked being repeated.



In response the Leader of the Council advised:


(a)  That he would ask officers to look into the Banksy issue.


(b)  To agree that the proposed changes to local community services by Kent County Council were a shame.


(c)   That he would ask Kent County Council to present to the Council on their Levelling Up Fund bid.


(d)  That Voter ID information was available but agreed that it needed to be promoted.


(e)  That while school meals were a Kent County Council matter it was something that the Council needed to be mindful of.

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