To receive a report from the Leader of the Council on the business of the cabinet and on matters that the leader considers should be drawn to the council’s attention. The leader shall have 10 minutes to make his announcements.
The opposition group will have an opportunity to reply to the leader’s remarks. The opposition group leader shall have 5 minutes to respond after which the Leader of the Council will have a right of reply. Any right of reply will be for a maximum duration of 5 minutes.
The Leader gave the following announcements:
“Good evening to you all.
We continue to help all of our businesses that are eligible to receive the Government business support grant by getting that grant to them quickly. In the six weeks up to 15 February our officers distributed a further £2.125m to around 950 businesses. If you have had your own business you will know how critical cash flow is, and how helpful these timely payments will have been. There are other councils around the country that have not even paid out the 2020 grants, so once again I thank our officers for their assiduity in setting up these grants.
I along with our MP, Damian Collins, and Dr Priest have had meetings with both the Home Secretary and separately the Archbishop of Canterbury about the unsuitability of using Napier Barracks as a holding centre for asylum seekers. As you may imagine the Archbishop is of the same opinion as us that it is not suitable. I do not know what the eventual outcome of these meetings will be.
You will have probably seen from our recent press release that the new business centre at Mountfield Road, a joint venture between us and the East Kent Spatial Development Company, assisted with funding from NDA, has had the first concrete poured and should be operational from January next year which will be a welcome boost for encouraging small businesses.
Across the district the NHS-led vaccination centres have done a wonderful job although they might slow down a little over the next couple of weeks due to appointment difficulties and an uncertain supply of vaccine.
Which brings me nicely on to the Road Map for Recovery. It would seem, barring a spate of bad data, that all restrictions on public meetings will be lifted by June so I have asked Dr Priest to arrange a physical Council Meeting for the latter part of June”.
The Leader of the Opposition, Councillor McConville, stated that he echoed the praise for staff who are working with local business to ensure they can reopen when allowed to. Also to those staff working tirelessly behind the scenes with duties to do with the upcoming census and May local elections. He agreed that Napier Barracks are indeed unsuitable and looked forward to the outcome of the inspection. He indicated that he hoped Leader would support asking the Overview and Scrutiny Committee to do whatever they could within their powers to provide accountability and offer answers to the questions of both the council and the community. He stated that vaccination is the route to normality, and he was pleased to see that some early teething problems at Folca have been ironed out. He stated that he was looking forward to be able to sit in a restaurant again, and have a haircut, but also missed being in the chamber and hoped to be back in it soon.
The Leader stated that he agreed with the points raised.
Proposed by Councillor Monk,
Seconded by Councillor Mrs Hollingsbee; and
That the announcements of the Leader be noted.