By Naomi Smith / Latest News / 0 Comments

Two issues stand out when talking to people in West Whitstable about the failings of Kent County Council. Bus fares and climate change. One is local, the other global but they are linked and need “big-picture” thinking to sort out.

Climate change and our environment

Net Zero 2030

We need to get to net-zero carbon emissions by 2030 and not leave it until 2050 as the Tories are aiming for. Labour know that the climate emergency is the single biggest issue facing everyone. For too long prevarication and the needs of big polluting businesses has been put ahead of all our futures.

In our manifesto we commit to making all KCC buildings net zero by 2030 and mandate environmental impact assessments on all decisions. We will renew planning rules so that new homes meet the highest environmental standards.

Green Infrastructure

On the edge of Whitstable West we are about to get the biggest solar panel array in Europe on Graveney Marshes. This has been controversial but we do need renewable energy. However, how will it benefit our local economy? The panels will be made in China and shipped here using huge amounts of carbon. Once installed they are low-maintenance giving few employment opportunities. KCC should be at the forefront of economic development campaigning for those well-paid, highly-skilled manufacturing jobs here. The green infrastructure should be built in Britain.

Carbon Capture

Building on a Labour green infrastructure economic programme the party will explore potential sites for carbon capture in Kent and ensure the county is at the forefront of the carbon-capture industry.

Buying power

KCC has huge buying power across the county with schools, transport and social care the big spending budgets. As a county councillor I will promote buying our services and good from sustainable and, wherever possible, local companies. Across the UK Labour councils use the cooperative model of procurement to deliver services that keep the money locally so that the spending enriches all our lives. An example here would be to use local fruit farms to supply schools and care homes rather than a large Serco-style company that only looks at the bottom line.

Waste

The introduction of household waste charges has seen a huge rise in fly tipping. Labour would scrap the charge and work with district councils, boroughs and Kent police to allocate resources to enforce and prosecute all fly-tippers.

 

Roads and Buses

Kent’s roads are the worst in England, not for nothing has it been dubbed “the pothole capital of England” with more than 52,000 reported in the last three years.

Our county’s roads are also the most dangerous in Britain, with 3,844 people killed or seriously injured between 2015 and 2019.

 

A Labour-led KCC would end the Conservative policy of “managed decline” of our highways. We will start with the basics: fixing potholes and broken pavements properly and ensuring drains are not blocked. Our approach to highway maintenance will be underpinned by prevention rather than reaction.

Many residents in Whitstable West are blighted with rat runs, congested roads and poor parking particularly at bank holidays and sunny weekends. I will work with communities that want 20-mph zones implemented. There are many un-adopted roads in our area with surfaces that only a 4×4 can easily navigate. Where residents want help in getting their road adopted and surfaced I will help navigate the system to get solutions

 

Public transport

Public transport is ridiculously expensive: a single 5-mile trip from Borstal Hill to Canterbury costs £5.20 single or £7.30 return. This makes our buses among the most expensive in England. A young person’s annual bus pass is £360 – up 24 per cent over two years

A Labour council would change this and bring in a better, cheaper public transport system, safer cycling and pedestrian routes together with better road management and ways to ensure safer driving.

It is crazy that it’s cheaper to drive to Canterbury and pay to park than take the bus. This needs to change, a Labour KCC will lobby for a Transport for London model. The equivalent of a  £1.50 journey in the capital costs us in Whitstable £9.00.

Personally I will campaign within the council for free bus passes for all young people in education up to age 18. Labour will campaign for cheaper fares, clean electric buses on the Triangle route and introduce more hopper services that link to the Triangle route.

Parking

To ease congestion in our town I will actively look at a park-and-ride solution. Working with our Labour Canterbury City councillors in the town I am sure that we can sort this problem out.

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Pip Hazelton / Latest News / 0 Comments
Dear Gazette
 
I attended a fascinating Zoom meeting organised by Canterbury City Council this week about their Pollinator Plan. Council officials, bee experts and others with considerable knowledge in the subject of bio-diversity, described the pressing need to create bee friendly corridors around Kent to help our many endangered pollinator species. Without these pollinators our crops and hedgerows, gardens and parks will struggle. I learnt that not all bees are the same and that different crops need different bees to make them grow.
 
 The Council has set up a working group to consult on and inform this plan and it was clear from the presentations that an existing Bee corridor that stretches along our North Kent coast, is vital for the survival of many species of bee. There also appeared to be widespread recognition of and support for the need to create a second corridor from Ashford, through Canterbury along the River Stour and on to the sea at Sandwich. If the habitat gets broken up, built on, sprayed with too much insecticide etc then the bees won’t be able to travel far enough afield to do their vital work. The council staff involved are knowledgable and seem committed to working with landowners, environmental experts and others to create their Pollinator Plan. Why then did the same City Council dig up flower beds in the Westgate Gardens intending to turf them over? Talk about the right hand not knowing what the left is doing! Apart from the environmental vandalism, what on earth were they thinking? – Surely they must know how attractive and welcoming those flower beds are are, close beside the river and the Westgate Tower. They must be among the most photographed spots of our beautiful city and apart from the pleasure they give, the sharing of those images is free publicity world wide for Canterbury as a holiday and visitor destination. 
 
To their credit, the council has realised their mistake and responded to the widespread outcry, by promising to restore the flowerbeds.  Well done to the community groups and individuals who have brought about this change of heart. 
 
Yours
Pip Hazelton
Labour and Co-operative Candidate Westgate