Big News Margate, this morning is exercised over local museum closures, a very old story, the reasons for which, I feel have been given in some detail, if not here then elsewhere in the past.
"One particular omission that ought to be rectified is the abysmal decision by local conservatives for whatever reason to close the local museums particularly Margate's, I can only imagine of what pettiness or spite bought on that decision, perhaps Cllr. Bob Bayford leader of the council could redeem his apparent contempt for the Isle's citizens and do something positive."
It's all about money Tony or more importantly, the lack of it! The public sector debt may have passed you by but I'm sorry to say that thanks to the consequences of building-up around £160 billion of deficit, we in Thanet are now around £20 million short of funds and we have to make very hard decisions between what is 'nice to have' and what 'we need to have' to keep wheels of local government services rolling. Just as an example and I've given it here before, £11 million is the estimate for simply keeping all of our historic buildings repaired and we don't have enough for that hidden in some undisclosed piggy bank either!
I'm afraid that Tony Flaig and cynics like him are simply going to have to trust leader, Bob Bayford and my other cabinet colleagues to do everything possible to keep all of our essential services running smoothly and uninterrupted with a large slice of our grant budget now gone. We need to remember that as a community facing many different challenges, Thanet is and always has been highly subsidised by central government and while I for one would be delighted to see all our museums open and thriving, at this time, the money that this would involve (with each of a small number of visitors being subsidised by about £10 a head) would be better spent, I believe, on more visible and essential local services that the community as a whole would benefit from.
Finally, to put it all in perspective, Council Tax raises around £9.75 million annually of which we get to keep less than 20% as we have to pay for other county and centrally delivered services. The total council budget requirement adds up to around £44 million of which the local council has to raise around £21 million locally from fees, charges etc to plug the gap, which has just become much larger by almost £5 million a year. Cut the Government grant, as has happened and we have to choose where we can afford to spend what little we now have available with the greatest return for the local community and if its museums you want, rather than public toilets or street-cleaning or shorter waiting times at the Gateway, then do please let me know.