CLIFTONVILLE UPPER & LOWER PROMENADE

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The speech I made to full council budget meeting this evening:

"Chairman

I’d like to talk about priorities – past and present – in relation to Cliftonville West ward.

Firstly, I’d like to thank the Leader for responding to my recent emails and in fact going to see for herself and with residents, some of the issues we’ve raised as ward councillors regarding the upper and lower promenades in Cliftonville West.

Totally understandably this council, under the successive administrations of different political parties, has rightly prioritized the challenging social and housing issues in our ward. As a former Leader that's exactly what I did.

Indeed, Cllr Aldred, Cllr Clark and I have fully supported a whole range of initiatives in our ward both as members of the opposition group and the leading group over the past twelve years. Whether in opposition or as part of the ruling administration, we have always been closely involved and consistently offered information and advice to support and often improve these schemes.

Scheme’s like Thanet’s first Neighbourhood Dispersal Area, our Housing Renewal Area status, the Cliftonville Development Plan Document, the Task Force, the landlords Selective Licensing Scheme, the No Use Empty campaign, the roll out of Conservation Areas and a whole raft of Housing Interventions against the very worst offending properties through the Live Margate project.

All these initiatives have helped to stem the awful neglect that our area had suffered for several decades before Cliftonville West was first created through boundary changes back in 2003.

However, time is moving on and now that the main schemes are starting to have a real impact we also need to look at wider issues facing Cliftonville West.

We’d like to suggest some new priorities to run in tandem with all those already in place.

The recent closure of the lower promenade at the Lido has effectively cut off residents and visitors walking from Margate from our beaches. We know this issue is the site owner’s problem but we at TDC must also act swiftly in one way or another to restore that right of way.

The former Lido Pool is a TDC property and something desperately needs to be done about its current state.

We sincerely hope the new owners of the Lido buildings complex follow through on plans they have for the site and the council should give every assistance possible.

As the former Leader I was informed that we had prospective leisure facility developers in place for the former crazy golf area. Nothing has happened since and at the very least, the site needs tidying up.

Again, as the former Leader I set up discussions with residents groups who were keen to refurbish the shelter at Newgate Gap. It all sounded very positive but we need something to happen and soon.

Long before I even became a councillor and working with Cliftonville Residents Association, we accessed NOF funding of £130,000 to rebuild the Oval Bandstand for this council. Almost fifteen years on, that bandstand, gifted to this council, standing in a prominent cliff top position and totally open to the elements, is in desperate need of some tender maintenance.

As the former Leader I also arranged discussions with Margate Community Organizers who kindly arranged for volunteers to repaint the lift at Walpole Bay and the small area surrounding the lift also needs some attention.

Focusing this council’s main efforts on social and housing issues in Cliftonville West has been absolutely the right thing to do and has had our backing as ward councillors from day one.

However, we now need to broaden our focus to invest time, effort and money in restoring the public assets on our seafront that complement the beautiful natural assets like our beaches and cliff-top walks".

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Clive Hart