Shepway District Council (SDC) Overview & Scrutiny Committee on Tuesday 12th Sept 2017 will scrutinise the proposal to be put to SDC Cabinet the next day, that SDC develop its own land in front of the Varne Life Boat Station on Coast Drive, Littlestone (pictured below)
Cllr Susie “Hardnut” Govett (pictured); who by the way was a former Director in Oportunitas Ltd, a company solely owned and controlled by SDC, has mentioned the development on social media and the Herald have run a short article. Cllr Govett has mentioned the land was previously given over to “self build plots which didn’t sell (as predicted) so Shepway considers becoming a holiday letting agent. What can possibly go wrong?” Now do remember the land is in Cllr Govett’s ward.
SDC are putting forward a proposal to build four holiday lets on the land below. They are putting this forward as their preferred option. Report C17-33, sets out the preferred option at Para 4.1
According to SDC “It would generate an on-going revenue stream to the Council from year two onwards which will help support the delivery of Council services in the medium to long term.” The four holiday lets will become let-able by 2019/20, SDC expect.
Now you may or may not know, but “former Chancellor George (I’ve got six jobs) Osborne’s big idea was to set councils free of Whitehall – minus multibillion pound grants – by handing them back business rate revenue raised locally, instead of redistributing it centrally. Since 2013, Councils have kept 50% which yeilds £26bn nationally. In his 2016 budget Osborne proclaimed that, compared with 2010 when 80% of council funding came through Whitehall, 100% of local government resources would come from councils themselves by 2020 – “raised locally, spent locally, invested locally”.
In 2015/16, councils received £9.9bn in Revenue Support Grant (RSG). By 2019/20, they will get £2.2bn.
So with little or no central grant funding by 19/20 SDC must find money from elsewhere. The four holiday lets that SDC wish to build will help contribute and may come online to earn money in 2019/20. Yes it is another “development” but one which will raise money for SDC’s coffers. If SDC do not raise as much money as they can, they will be left with only two resources to draw down money. Business rates and Council Tax.
Cllr Govett may not be around after the next elections in May 2019. The decision to be taken by Cabinet on Wednesday 13th September regarding the Varne development will affect what SDC earns after May 2019.
It is a legal requirement that SDC balance its books, as we are sure Cllr Govett is aware.
As a former Director of Oportunitas Ltd, Cllr Govett was involved in the purchase of 19 Castle Hill Avenue; which cost £1.2 million and was bought from an offshore company based in Jersey, plus many other properties. All the properties SDC have bought via Oportunitas Ltd have been to generate an on-going revenue stream for the Council which will help support the delivery of Council services in the medium to long term.”
Cllr Govett’s announcements on social media are at odds with her actions as a former Director of Oportunitas Ltd. Might she explain to us and the people of Shepway how she and her party (UKIP) might generate an on-going revenue stream for the Council which will help support the delivery of Council services in the medium to long term.” Or is she playing politics because the land is in her ward?
As we said local elections will take place in May 2019 and we’d love to know her and her party’s policies on how they will plug the funding gap after 2019/20, as there’ll be no more or very little central grant funding from Whitehall.
What is UKIP’s plan to balance the books and keep all rises in Business Rates and Council Tax to a minimum from 2019/20 onwards?
That same question goes out to the local Labour Party, Liberal Democrats and Green Party too.
We are NOT fans of Cllr Monk’s Conservative led administration of SDC, but at least they are addressing their obligations to plug the funding gap by building four holiday lets. What if anything are the other local parties offering the people of Shepway – silence and contradiction it would appear.
The Shepwayvox Team