The new corporate plan for Thanet was approved at tonight’s extraordinary council meeting and this deals with the key themes that provided the basis for the Conservative Group manifesto at the local election. I’ll return to this in a moment but suffice to say that the Labour Group attempted to introduce an amendment, which was subsequently outvoted, which would have had cross-party working groups dealing with each item subsequent to adoption; in principal stopping the delivery process until they were happy with it.
Fair enough, you might think, that’s what one expects from politics but there was one item that came-up for discussion and that was the Nayland Rock Hotel. - see earlier story with Mick Tomlinson's comments -
Apparently, central government has been quietly working on the plan to turn the hotel into a closed-detention centre for immigrants for over eight months, without any consultation in Thanet. It’s a salient topic because the new corporate plan states: “The council will review its allocation policy to give appropriate priority to local residents and discourage the inward migration of vulnerable people to Thanet”.
There’s more but fundamentally, the council has, like the people of Thanet, had enough of the disproportionate “inward migration” which has created so many problems of crime, anti-social behaviour and deprivation for the island.
Council Leader, Sandy Ezekiel invited the Labour Group to join the Conservative Group in challenging the Nayland Rock proposal; a firm “Over my dead body” response to the Home Office to any idea of placing a detention centre on the opposite side of the bay from the Turner Centre.
To my surprise, the opposition declined to criticise the plan, quite the opposite in fact. The Nayland Rock is apparently a legacy of John Major’s government and not this government’s fault; ipso facto, that’s alright then and “Let them come” or that’s how it appeared to me.
Now I believe that we have been more than generous in our provision for the “needy” in Thanet and the new policy is one that takes a more pragmatic and direct approach to the challenge. The people of Thanet have had enough and it’s time we took sensible steps to take our island back if we are to have any chance of economic regeneration over the next five years.
The remainder of the corporate plan elaborates on those themes that most concern local people. Keeping Thanet “beautiful” and clean, safer neighbourhoods, economic prosperity, decent quality housing, healthy and cohesive communities and of course, creating a modern, efficient and responsive council, keeping its cost base down as far as possible so that council taxes stay low.
Sitting around in working parties sounds like good democratic practise but when there is a plan, focused on quite specific outcomes to improve people’s lives, then we need to get on an deliver and not waste time squabbling over the minor details. From a personal perspective, we have to start dealing with a number of very urgent challenges today, rather than tomorrow and tonight’s meeting marked the starting point of a strategy that I'm happy to sign-up to and which I expect to deliver real and measurable benefits over the next five years. (Photo Airads)