Dramatic changes in the way the council operates have been introduced due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

All the major capital projects are being deferred, as will work on the council’s Local Plan and the Corporate Plan. The capital project deferrals include the plans for the new council office block, St George’s Street upgrade and the Wincheap Park & Ride extension.

The council’s Annual General Meeting will be deferred until 13th May 2021. This will mean that the Lord Mayor and Sheriff will remain in post until then.

A Covid Emergency Committee (CEC) has been set up which is politically balanced and takes over the powers of all the service committees and Full Council – with the exceptions of the Planning and Licensing Committees.

All meetings will be virtual meetings using GoogleMeet.

Colin Carmichael, the council’s Chief Executive will have increased powers to take delegated decisions (other than for Planning and Licensing).

If, in the opinion of any of the Group Leaders or Colin Carmichael, a specific decision should not be taken under delegated powers it, it will be referred to the CEC.

These changes will inevitably lead to a very considerable loss in democracy – with fewer decisions being taken by councillors and far less public participation. But extraordinary times require extraordinary measures. We will be doing all we can to ensure that the public’s views are heard during this crisis and that when the worst has passed these measures are all rapidly repealed.

Recycling centres may reopen with booking system

Kent County Council is working with Medway Council to develop a county-wide online booking system for recycling centres. Closure of the centres has seen a big increase in fly-tipping across Kent.

KCC’s main opposition leader, Liberal Democrat, Councillor Rob Bird, supports the proposal: “It would avoid an avalanche of people turning up at the same time.”

Homeless Rough Sleepers

Support for the most vulnerable in our community has been a priority for the council. One of the measures taken has been to put up some 50+ rough sleepers in the Canterbury Travelodge. Catching Lives is providing breakfast, lunch and supper for them. If you feel able to support Catching Lives financially with this, donations can be made through their website: www.catchinglives.org.

City Council website guidance for local businesses

The City Council has created a website page linking to the government’s guidance for businesses during the lockdown –
If you need business advice you can also call the Kent and Medway Growth Hub coronavirus business support hotline on 03333 602 300. Lines are open Monday – Friday 8.30am – 6.30pm.

Other support and guidance from the City Council

The City Council’s web site is easy to navigate and will help those looking for support and has a section letting you know about food businesses making home deliveries. https://www.canterbury.gov.uk/

Christmas comes early to Herne Bay

Wildwood Park, one of the area’s premier visitor attractions, is celebrating the birth of a reindeer. The new arrival, born in mid-April, is the child of reindeer mum and dad, Holly and Kenny. Congratulations to Wildwood and let’s hope it will soon be able to reopen, so the public can welcome the new arrival.

Like many charities and tourist sites, Wildwood is suffering due to the lack of income from visitors. If you would like to support the charity you can find out more at https://wildwoodtrust.org/support-wildwood/make-a-donation/

Posted by Michael Dixey

Michael has been a city councillor since 1987 and is the leader of the Lib Dem Group on the City Council. He was a major force in the campaign to stop the building of the disastrous multi-storey car park in Station Road West. He has been particularly critical of the council’s lack of financial management which has resulted in the quadrupling of the council’s borrowings to £172 million over the four years prior to the COVID-19 outbreak which will cause huge additional pressure on civic finances.

See all posts by Michael