The UKIP Group has raised the following matter,:
“We wish to present our
view of some of the strategies for the regeneration of High Street
Shops and shopping centres and ask the
Council to adopt these”.
Debates on opposition business shall be limited to 15 minutes. If the time limit is reached or the debate concludes earlier, the leader of the group raising the item shall have a right of reply.
The Council shall:
a) Note the issue raised and take no further action;
b) Refer the issue to the cabinet or relevant overview and scrutiny committee, as the case may be for their observations before deciding whether to make a decision on the issue;
c) Agree to examine the matter as part of a future scrutiny programme;
d) Adopt the issue raised by opposition business provided that the decision so made is within the policy framework and budget.
The UKIP group had brought the following Opposition Business:
“We wish to present our view of some of the strategies for the regeneration of High Street Shops and shopping centres and ask the Council to adopt these”
Councillor Laws, on behalf of the opposition, advised that at the last Full Council it was announced £3 million had been set aside for regeneration of local high streets across the district. He noted that the number of shops closing each day across the country is in the order of 14, and that everybody was aware of the troubles on the high streets. He made reference to the Government Fund of £675 million to be spread across a number of applicants and that it is hoped that if local council’s put money aside, it would be matched.
He referred to work, by John Timpson and Mr Grimley, which sets out recommendations for regeneration. These include:
· Half an hour free parking and Smart Meter bays;
· After a business premises is empty for a month, they get a letter from the council giving advice on how to re-let, and advising that they will pay a tax if the property remains vacant after a year. Short term leases to students and community groups were also a considered option;
· Most shops close at 5.30, and longer opening hours would encourage people to the area;
· Removal of business rates from shops, and a flat rate tax be applied on all sales (on-line and retail), to create a level playing field; and
· There was also a town centre group, including landlords, business owners and both district and county councils, to find a way forward and introduce these things.
He stated that he hoped the council could take up some of these things, and take on board that other towns in the district, beyond Folkestone, were also suffering.
The Leader responded on behalf of the administration, stating that he did not disagree, but felt that he had reported at the previous meeting what the Council is doing, including setting up a Regeneration Board, to look at high streets across the district, headed by the MP, and with KCC, British Rail and high level landlords on board. He confirmed that this Board was up and running. With regard to the free half hour parking, the Leader reminded councillors that there had been a discussion on this previously and two hours free parking was allowed. Business Rates are set by central government and there is limited control over this. He flagged that while Debenhams is considered to be a vulnerable store at the moment, the council is already engaged in discussions with the store owner and the owner of Bouverie place. The Council would consider all of the suggestions made, and a bid is being prepared. He confirmed the reason for establishing a High Streets Reserve was to provide for match funding, should that be needed.
Councillor Laws then summed up his motion, and stated that the council should be lobbying central Government with regard to business rates. He added that he was pleased about the creation of the Regeneration Board, and felt that all councils should do this.
Proposed by Councillor Laws,
Seconded by Councillor Meyers;
That the issue be referred to the Cabinet or relevant Overview and Scrutiny Committee, as the case may be for their observations before deciding whether to make a decision on the issue (option (b)).
The motion was LOST.
The proposer of the motion acknowledged it had been lost.
Proposed by Councillor Monk,
Seconded by Councillor Pascoe; and
That the motion issue raised be noted, and no further action taken (option (a)).
(Voting figures: 25 for, 3 against, 0 abstentions).