Monday, 22 October 2012

Gambling For The Future

Not much going on Council wise for a while and the only meeting worth commenting on is tomorrows Overview and Scrutiny meeting. I wont be able to attend this meeting so there wont be a report.

First issue to be tackled is the Draft Economic Strategy published by the Thanet Regeneration Board. Part of the problem with this report is that while it does have details, its not particularly new. Increasing Apprenticeships isn't a new idea and similarly increasing the skill levels of workers is something that exists in any case. Parts relating to high streets has already been heard about via the Town Team process. The Destination Management Plan is a new one but will it be anything more than a dressed-up Tourism strategy? Especially when you consider that the people making up the Destination Management group are likely to be the very same people who put this report together in the first place, it begs the question, what's new?

This report collates all these actions and puts them together as a package which is good in terms of seeing what is being done at present but certainly cant be described as setting a new direction for growth. I'm not dismissing this report out of hand because as I say it does pull together the various bits together but there is a real risk of it being a lot of talk and little new added in the action department.

Localisation of Council Tax Discounts Scheme up next with the consultation responses an annex to the OSP documents. This will be debated (according to the Forward Plan) by Cabinet next month and Council in December so this one has a way to run. Interesting to note in the consultation responses is the revelation that three of the respondents state their religion as Jedi! With more information to come out on the impact of this upon Council finances before Christmas I will hold fire for a little while.

Gambling afterwards where the Council policy comes round for OSP review and then onto the the Forward Plan. The draft Budget papers are due to appear next month at Cabinet.

We finish in private session with discussion of the Royal Sands Development Agreement. This relates to the call-in earlier this year where Overview wanted a report back on the various aspects brought up previously. Officially there will be no public information save for the minutes but I'm sure the details will come out at some point.

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Planning Stamina

A super-long Planning meeting was expected last night, and that it definitely turned out, a little short of four hours long.

Getting the Site Visits out of the way, 96 Park Avenue Broadstairs was approved with little trouble. This might sound a little strange given the concern at the last meeting but in fairness the site needed to be looked at to be sure of the impact on the neighbours. East Kent College went better as well, with the Committee happy with the changes proposed since the last meeting. Obviously the Highways issues will continue to be an issue but it looks like real progress was made. Deferred and delegated to Officers with approval.

Onto the main agenda, where the former Chapel Hill Petrol Station came up first. Debate went on for sometime here over negotiating the Traffic Regulation Order (in short double yellows). I know the site well having stood for TDC back in 2007 in that ward and lived there for a number of years, walking past that site regularly. I know all too well the concerns that residents of Nash Lane have.

The decision to defer and delegate subject to negotiations over the TRO was understandable, along with the reaction from a local resident heard through the Chamber door for minutes afterwards. I'm not posting this to embarrass the resident but as I know with other applications in the past, neighbourly relations get put under intense pressure through these applications. Its a sad but unavoidable aspect of this Committee.

Mark Avenue, the Rifle Range at King George VI Park and Ethelbert Square, Westgate applications were approved without much to report on.

Onto 3 Lymington Road, which Simon Moores has already mentioned was deferred to be brought back with conditions. All three Ward Councillors were present. Majority opinion of the Committee seemed to be that so long as suitable sound insulation could be installed, it was suitable. There seemed to be a question mark over whether an offer had already been made on insulation. To be honest, if it had already been offered and the Officer simply forgot, then negotiations in the next few weeks or so should sort that one out without problems.

To talk about this trend of micro-pubs, while its classified the same as any other pub, its not the same thing, something the Committee understands all too well having dealt with similar applications already this year with The Chapel. Its not the same clientele and should be distinguished from a normal pub.

Onto Maurice House where the proposal to build a dementia unit on the site was deferred to be brought back with conditions. The argument on this one was not about the need for it because the need for it be very much beyond question but rather about whether the Green Wedge should be cut back a bit for it. For me its a special case. Its not like this is housing or a commercial unit and when you look at the height of the proposed development, I'm not sure what visibly is going to cause a problem, most of which will be behind the fence. I have no doubt this will be agreed next time round and quite rightly too.

Last item was the Port Control at Ramsgate. Universal disapproval. TDC will have to go back to the drawing board there. The big issue was over the location of this equipment on a grade listed building along with its size which at 10m is large. A number of Members asked that other sites be considered. In terms of policy the question for Members was similar to the Maurice House application of benefit/need versus impact. As welcome as the equipment is, the Committee felt the visual impact was too much.

Next week is Overview and Scrutiny with some meat on Localisation of Council Tax Discounts. As this has Budget implications not to mention the impact it could have the for the vulnerable its a big issue.