Labour Councillors led the debate last Thursday at the Regeneration and Property Committee for a new Nature Reserve on the land bordering the Stour behind the Wincheap Industrial Estate, extending from the A2 to the railway.
The proposed new Nature Reserve, designed to protect the flood plain from future development, was debated at the recent Canterbury Forum council meeting on 10th January. At this meeting Many members of the public contributed there expertise and thoughts about the proposed Nature Reserve that evening and the proposition was unanimously endorsed by the Cities Councillors who saw and supported the immense value of a protected wildlife corridor along the river bank.
However at Thursdays Regeneration and Property Committee the debate was focused on the Councils recommendation to establish a Nature Reserve on just part of the area. The rest of the designated flood plane site being covered in tarmac to accommodate an extension to the Wincheap Park and Ride.
The five Labour and LibDem Councillors all voted to supported the motion that the whole area to be designated a Nature Reserve, regrettably it was defeated when the seven Conservative Councillors all voting against it. A Council recommendation for the partial designation of the site, one that would accommodate the Park and Ride extension was passed by the Committee and will no doubt be established.
Following the political choice made by the Conservative Group to devalue the riverside green corridor we can only share the disappoint of residents of Canterbury especially. They have again seen local Conservative policies place the car user above the environment, let’s not forget the recent decision on the St Dunstans’ Multi Story Car Park that has staggered people across the district. There policies consistently fail to look hard and imaginatively for solution, dismissing ideas such as multi-story parking at Wincheap, building up not out.
We will always challenge those decisions that do not align with our Labour values and our Local Council Manifesto.
Labour councillors on Canterbury City Council (CCC) have today called on the Conservative administration to carry out an urgent review of East Kent Housing, the arm’s length management company overseeing council housing in the district.
Canterbury’s official opposition group has been angered by a serious dereliction of duty and the discovery that over 500 properties have been found without gas safety certificates. EKH has been jointly owned by the four district councils since 2011, it acts as a management agent for property owned by the council.
Cllr Alan Baldock, Labour’s leader at CCC said: “ For the last four years we have been banging on about the need for greater scrutiny and accountability at East Kent Housing. The current administration has reduced the number of councillors on their board and consistently marginalised the voice of tenants and elected representatives. In the wake of Grenfell this revelation should worry us all.”.
Cllr Chris Cornell, who sites on the Council’s Community Committee said “The very least local residents should be able to expect of East Kent Homes is that their property is safe. We appreciate the swift action taken to remedy the immediate danger but the culture and management of an organisation who acted with such abandon now has to be questioned. East Kent Housing need to prove to us that they can be trusted again, they need to open themselves to rigorous independent scrutiny at once.”
Whilst recent articles have called for the removal of Colin Carmichael, Chief Executive Officer of Canterbury City Council, in wake of the scandal, local Labour councillors are calling for pragmatism. As Councillor Baldock says, “whilst we welcome the immediate dismissal of Mr Anderson, formerly property director at EKH, we need to understand if there are other systemic failures and fix them immediately. We believe there is a growing call to examine how we could bring East Kent Housing in house and improve its accountability”.
Labour is calling on Canterbury City Council to look objectively at how we can proceed, but if not satisfied will be working with Labour councillors across the four districts to bring a vote of no confidence in EKH.Local people deserve better than East Kent Housing.
Hundreds of people marched against racism in Canterbury on Wednesday 12th June and in solidarity with the victim of a vicious attack on an exchange student of Lebanese descent visiting Canterbury last week. The attack on Thursday 6th put the 17-year-old German exchange student is in a serious condition in hospital after he was attacked by a group of teenagers, leaving him with severe head injuries that required emergency surgery.
The march was organised by Canterbury Labour Chair Ben Hickman but well attended by all political parties wishing to send their good wishes to the young victim and his family who, whilst living in Germany are not EU citizens, and as such had to seek an emergency visa to visit him after the attack. In the immediate aftermath of the attack Rosie Duffield had approached the home secretary, Sajid Javid, and urged him to expedite matters so the boy’s parents could visit as soon as possible. Mr Javid intervened personally on Saturday to arrange an emergency visa.
The clear message of themarch was to “say it loud, say it clear, don’t give in to racist fear”, and a massive community repudiation of racism and violence.
Everyone present sent their collective thanks to thank the emergency services fora speedy response, and especially to the Kent Air Ambulance Service who airlifted the victim speedily to a London hospital. The Crowdfunding appeal set up to support the victim’s mother and family in travelling to visit is still running.The family have said they want some of this fund to go to the Air Ambulance Service as they are so thankful for it. If you want to contribute please go to:https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/paulm-johnson
Here are some photos of the march together with recordings of speeches given.