By Alister Brady / Latest News / 0 Comments

As we ease out of lockdown it is heartening to see that the district recorded zero covid fatalities in the previous three weeks (No covid deaths in three weeks as lockdown eases, Gazette, 1st April 2021, p12). It is also encouraging that we can start to see a few more people outside and reconnect with loved ones. We all want to move back to normality as soon as is safe, but residents are telling me of their concerns about possible setbacks.

So, it was good to hear that through technology we can start to safely open up our high street. The Locale app sounds like a great way to help to begin the regeneration of the local economy whilst alleviating residents’ health concerns (App to help ease fears as lockdown is eased, Gazette, 1st April 2021, p26)

Kent County Council and Canterbury City Council have a massive part to play. They must come together to find ways to help local businesses and create jobs that also address health and environmental concerns.

If the eminent business forecaster Professor Richard Scase is right, and retail parks become a thing of the past (Retail parks could be gone in a decade, Gazette, 1st April 2021, p14), then the high street must grasp the opportunity to attract more visitors. This can only be done if KCC and CCC learn to adapt to a post-covid shopping experience. More attractions need to open up, and it’s great to hear that after two decades a new hotel will open in the location of the old Slatters hotel (Hotel to finally open more than 20 years after Slatters closed, Gazette, 1st April 2021, p5) – the restaurant sounds like a great space to relax. However, with more people visiting, our councils must anticipate what is needed to help our city flourish. A more affordable bus service, interconnected cycle routes that allow commuting, secure bike lockers, places to change out of bike gear with bike service stations, and more electric car charging points are all needed. All of this is necessary to combat predicted congestion and to improve air quality, it is this type of joined-up thinking that both KCC and CCC need to engage in.

Let’s boost the local economy but take note of the rightful concerns our local residents share.

Alister Brady

Labour and Co-operative Candidate for Canterbury City North

Canterbury

By Mel Dawkins / Latest News / 0 Comments

Local buses provide a lifeline for communities missed off the map of the commercial providers – ensuring people have an affordable way to travel to school, work, the shops, local amenities and vital services. The services we rely on have been tested to their limits through this crisis, with reduced passenger numbers and increased health and safety burdens. 

Councils can support communities to set up their own people’s bus service in areas underserved by the big for-profit providers and review planning and procurement strategies to ensure community transport gets a fair treatment. 

On the doorstep I here two consistent messages:

  1. Free Bus Travel

Why are parents and carers having to pay for the child’s school bus pass.? Currently a bus pass for a school child is £360 per a year plus a £10 administration fee. For some families this is just too much out of their budget, especially if there is more than one child in the family.  

Our children’s education is what we pay for in our council tax and income tax . Getting our children to school is paramount to their education , why are we having to pay on top of this.  

2. Public transport

We want to support local residents needs and not the profit of bus operators in rural and residential areas. 

The bus service in Kent needs a complete overhaul. Although it serves a function, bus services do not offer an all-in affordable, accessible, practical and useful alternative to incentivise people to use the bus.  

Currently,  it is set up to suit the profits of the bus companies and shareholders and not the needs of our residents.  

So many people I talk to say that they would like to use the bus but when they add it up, it works out more convenient and cheaper to drive.  

How can we ask people to choose travelling by public transport,  if it is not the better option?  

Bus services should be easy, cheap, accessible and get you to where you need to go quickly and efficiently. People should be able to hop on and off easily.  

We need to take control of the power, so that we can get the services we want by consulting with communities to find out what routes and services are beneficial to them.  

Labour want to improve both of these things. We would

  • lobby for a transport for London model of public transport management in Kent. This will ensure the system meets the needs of residents rather than private shareholders.  
  • seek to introduce means tested bus pass prescriptions for those under 65 deemed socially isolated, or that can demonstrate a need. 
  • review the timing restrictions on the over 65s bus pass.  
  • Make children’s travel free. Student bus passes will be free under a Labour administration; costs and inaccessibility of transport should not be a barrier to education.  

 

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.