The council’s recent budget is alarmingly short-sighted. It speaks to the total lack of financial competency of Cllr Wells and UKIP.
It seems to me that UKIP lacks the slightest understanding of the repercussions of their actions. I understand that they are struggling to balance the books. Since the Brexit vote things have gotten much more expensive. We all knew that was going to happen so why has UKIP of all groups not got a better plan? One might think they don’t know what they are doing at all.
Increasing parking charges
As well as making cuts that undermine local tourism, UKIP led TDC have also raised parking charges. The free Saturday parking at the Royal Harbour car park in Ramsgate will be axed and prices all over the isle face a steep rise.
It is well known that the availability of parking is directly related to the viability of shops and other businesses. That’s why Westwood Cross offers free parking. It is why anyone with a modicum of business sense reduces parking costs during times of economic hardship.
One might almost start to wonder if UKIP wants to drive more business from our towns to Westwood Cross. There is no other strategic reason to raise parking.
No regard to tourism
TDC already use the controversial “minimum income floor” rule to ration council tax relief hitting the self-employed hardest. A large part of our tourism industry is, I am led to understand, supported by independent traders. And now, it seems, Wells and his few remaining supporters plan to do further damage to local tourism in the time they have left.
By cutting funding to everything from flowers to events and venues, Thanet District Council have shown that they do not support the best interests of the area. That comes as no real surprise to me since the council remains (for now) under UKIP control.
Overall, this budget is short-sighted and offers only detriment to Thanet.
Fasted way to reverse a trend
In 2015 Thanet’s visitor economy grew 19%. With parking more expensive, events and attractions underfunded, and soul traders under greater pressure – will that trend continue? I very much doubt it. Of course, that was the last time our council was balanced between Labour and Conservative. A state of affairs that led to well-scrutinised budgets that, while far from perfect, were not as toxic as UKIP’s.
I could almost make a case that Wells’s one plan was to reverse the progress made prior to his temporary ascension to power. It certainly looks that way.
The only silver lining I can see is that, at least now, Thanet is unlikely to vote for another UKIP council in a hurry.