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Ramsgate Town Council - Opinion

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30 April 2018

It is a funny old world and in my work as Town Clerk I do hear some strange tales. Recently I heard that Ramsgate Town Council (RTC) was cutting back (pardon the pun) on its floral/horticultural activities in the Town and from another source; that the Council was expecting its own Citizens to carry out maintenance work on the roads and gardens in Town.

Of course, none of this is true, but there are none as deaf, as will not hear; but because a few individuals have picked up on a part of a policy statement and ignored the rest, it can sometimes receive some spurious traction.

So, what is the truth?

Well it is true that Thanet District Council (TDC) has cut all its grant funding to Ramsgate, at least. They also cut a national grant to RTC, which is a little more serious, but even so RTC will be even more active than last year. Citizens will see our vehicles and our staff carrying out more work in more locations throughout the Town and not just in the Town Centre.

Ramsgate has always spent far more on floral improvements, Events sponsorship and Decorative lights than it ever received in grant funding from TDC, so while the loss of funding is not a positive result; RTC can cope and do more. We have asked Ramsgate residents to dig a little deeper this year, but in return we intend to do more, much more, which is not always the case elsewhere.

TDC has suffered serious cuts in its grant funding from Central Government and this is now beginning to show in a substantial way. RTC understands this problem and has offered to take over several, mainly smaller sites and to improve them as a first step. We have also offered to discuss with TDC, devolving the responsibility of larger sites to RTC in a sensible, staged manner; rather than respond to individual statements from TDC officials and cabinet members that say that the Town Council should take over this facility or that service, without discussing it with RTC first.

A wholesale ‘dumping‘ of unwanted services or moribund ‘assets’; as has occurred elsewhere in some parts of the UK; won’t improve Ramsgate’s or Thanet’s economy in terms of attractiveness to visitors or investors and therefore we say that instead that a careful, clear headed and calm series of negotiations is the way forward.
RTC is the only body operating within the Town, that can raise the necessary substantial funding and professional expertise to deliver high quality services over a long period. RTC also knows that Voluntary and Community groups have something to offer and is prepared to assist these groups where appropriate, as part of an overall plan for the future.

We have put this to TDC several times and we are waiting patiently for their considered response.

In terms of Ramsgate’s economy, the local Coastal Community Team (CCT) has agreed in principle to support a funding bid in the next and probably last round of the Coastal Community Fund. The CCT has already drafted and published its update to the Ramsgate Economic Plan and it is freely available to anyone who wants to incorporate parts of it or use it within their own proposals.

So, to recap; RTC will be more active in Ramsgate on all the issues that its residents highlighted in its comprehensive Commonplace Survey and therefore invites TDC to respond by agreeing to meet for a series of constructive negotiations.

Written by:
Richard Styles,
Town Clerk