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A message from your County Councillor - January 2018

As I sit down to pen this in the first week of February, it is nice to be back driving and attending meetings following my knee surgery. Thank you for your many kind messages.

I would also like to thank you for your many responses to the items in my last report, this despite the fact that some Parish Newsletters have only been published this week. With regard to the Cleve Hill Solar Park almost all responses have been in opposition wherever the respondent may live. I have sought clarification and can confirm that, although any final decision will be made in Westminster, Swale Borough Council will be invited to comment as a consultee via its Planning Committee. I shall ensure your voices are heard. Can I though stress that no application has yet been submitted.

Slightly less responses to date on the suggestion of an A2 / M2 link road funded by the construction of more housing. Of the correspondence I have received I calculate a slight majority in favour, at least in principle. However, this is another proposal that has no planning application submitted as yet.

The third major item in my Inbox over the past month is on the subject of Bus Services. I hope you will remember that I reported these proposals in my November Newsletter to you all and stressed my annoyance at the abysmal way this was handled by Kent County Council. Residents on some routes where only one service per day or one service per week was to be subject to consultation on possible closure were unnecessarily worried that their whole service would disappear. Thankfully, the savings that had been identified have now been almost totally removed from the current draft budget. The consultation has been abandoned and instead we will be having a “conversation” with communities and Parishes. I asked the Leader of KCC Paul Carter this week what this actually means and when these “conversations” will take place but apparently these decisions are yet to be made! I have written to the newly appointed Cabinet Member Mike Whiting seeking further details as a matter of urgency. I know several of you have copied Mr Whiting in on your letters of concern.

It was the 19 th of January before I got the OK from my surgeon to drive short distances and attend a few meetings, preferably short ones. This was just in time for one of the annual high spots of my diary the Public Participation meeting where YOU, my residents, decide where my Kent County Council members grant will be spent this year. There was a good turnout of residents at Teynham Village Hall on Saturday 20 th January, a wide spread of applications from both small local groups and larger groups which operate across the Swale East Division. Amongst local groups which were successful were the Friends of Milton School, Boughton Community Projects Group, Newnham Parish Council, Faversham Cricket Club, Tunstall Parish Council and Eastling Parish Council. All who attended will know that once again Swale Voluntary Services provided an excellent hot and cold buffet.

Another interesting meeting attended was the Rural Crime Training Seminar put on by Swale Borough Council in Faversham, with speakers from the Kent Police Rural Team and the National Farmers Union plus presentations on modern slavery particularly in rural areas and the country eye crime reporting app. It was good to see a number of my Swale East Parish Councils represented, Dunkirk, Graveney, Selling, Newnham, Oare, Bredgar and Rodmersham, sorry if I missed anyone.

I attended and spoke at a Planning Appeal by the resident of the site known as The Retreat which although within Ospringe Parish is actually abutting Faversham Road through Syndale Valley. The Appeal hearing was held at the Swale Borough Council Offices in Sittingbourne. I attended in order to support the concerns of adjacent Parish Councils and local residents. It was good to also have representatives of Newnham and Dunkirk Parish Councils at the Appeal hearing. We now await the Inspectors judgement on this together with another appeal heard the day before by the same Inspector on another close by site. Two more Appeals for similar Gypsy and Traveller sites in Syndale Valleys still wait to be heard.

As I write this the country is celebrating 100 years of women gaining the right to vote. It is difficult for one of my generation to believe this could ever have not been the case. Although women make up approximately 50% of those registered to vote they do not provide anywhere near 50% of local Councillors. I mention this at this time partly due to the centenary but also because now is the time that Political Parties will be choosing their candidates for the May 2019 Swale Borough Elections. As an Association Chairman I do not care as to the gender, race, religion or even sexual orientation of candidates. I just want the best possible people to represent our local communities and tax payers. So please, consider putting your name forward NOW. If you require further details (particularly if you broadly support Conservative principles) you should know where to contact me, but I will repeat my contact details at the end of this report.

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