By Alister Brady / Latest News / 0 Comments

Children across the county are excited to return to school and a bit of normality. Throughout the pandemic school closures have seen our children losing out on valuable learning and socialising opportunities. Teachers valiantly conducted classes virtually, but I am sure they will agree, nothing compares to face-to-face teaching.


Pupils stayed at home to help us all get on top of the virus and now we must help them to catch up on what they have lost. Kent County Council needs to be proactive on this issue by looking for ways to assist our schools re-engage with young people in a fun and productive way.


I believe KCC needs to invest in an early years’ programme for 5- to 11-year-olds. A play service that can reenergise children, giving them the socialisation opportunities that they have unfortunately been lacking. For them there have been too many days spent isolating at home, away from their friends during our children’s most formative years. Focus must be placed on helping them catch up.


We need schools to be at the heart of our communities and KCC to offer a range of activities concentrating on education, social group, and leisure communities. Disappointingly, all of our primary schools received a real-term cut in funding last year, some losing up to £450 per pupil. There is no question that our schools should be properly funded, therefore, we must tackle the funding issues created by our current county council.


Our children deserve the best start, and without a comprehensive plan to limit the fallout from the pandemic I fear that our young people will become another statistic of how the pandemic has negatively impacted our society. We must act today.



By Pip Hazelton / Latest News / / 0 Comments
Dear Gazette
Back in December, following reports of a number of attacks here in the city, you published a letterfrom me about street safety. 
Following the tragic murder of Sarah Everard and the subsequent national outrage and conversations that this has sparked, I feel it worth restating a couple of the points that I made then.
Lockdown has meant near empty streets at night so would be attackers are sensing opportunities to strike unobserved.
Lighting too plays a part. Lack of investment in and maintenance of our street lighting, means there are pools of darkness around the city that many need to cross on their walk home. 
However, these are just the conditions that attackers exploit. The reasons why women are stalked, harassed, attacked and sadly on occasion murdered, are much more deep rooted in our society.
To that end I welcome the coming together of many female voices as well some stand up men, in calling for fundamental changes in how society views women. We need effective changes across the criminal justice system – police, crown prosecution service and courts – so that victims of harassment, attack and sexual violence feel it is worth speaking out to the police if they can see their reports are taken seriously and appropriate actions follow. It is shocking that the rate of rape convictions is at an all time low.
We also need to educate our children, boys as well as girls, to understand about respectful relationships. 
Time was when all education effort went into telling women and girls how to keep themselves safe at night – superficially nothing wrong with that except it has made women and girls feel responsible and ashamed if they are attacked as if they have done something wrong. This needs to change. Don’t blame victims! Hold the attackers to account.
All of us can do something: speak out if you hear women being talked about disparagingly or objectified; Interrupt if you witness someone being harassed ( attackers don’t want witnesses so they will usually stop if they realise they have been noticed) Call for help if you feel unsafe yourself in intervening but please do not ignore a situation that you feel instinctively is not going to end well for the woman.
I ended my previous letter by saying that if fear keeps us at home, it erodes our sense of neighbourliness and community and can start us all viewing another person out and about as a possible threat. 
I hope that when we do come out of lockdown, our city can hold some event – perhaps in the Dane John Gardens – to the memory of Sarah Everard and in the hope that her death may be the turning point so that finally we bring an end to violence against women and girls.
Together we can change this.
Pip Hazelton
Labour and Co-operative Party Candidate Westgate Ward
By Pip Hazelton / Latest News / / 0 Comments
Dear Sir
I read your article last week ( 4th March) about our bin service being ‘Back on Track’ with interest. Like so many residents, I have been frustrated  by the missed bin collections from a poor position before Christmas, to a truly awful one in the couple of months since. I understand and have some sympathy for the new in house Canenco company, firstly taking over from failed Serco, having staff off due to the coronavirus and then battling the snow. Personally
I am delighted that the Council has brought this service back under it’s direct control and I wish it well. I also welcomed council leader, Ben Fitter Harding’s apology for the missed collections but I do want to know what redress us council tax payers will have if his very public ‘pledge’ to provide an ‘excellent service for all residents’ fails to materialise over time? Words are easy and delivering on promises less so. I would like to see regular council committee scrutiny of the performance by this new service and that the ‘pledge’ comes backed up with a guarantee – perhaps three missed collections and residents have a choice of a steam clean of their bins, a replacement bin, discount on their garden waste fee…. Or a whole missed street could have a free community skip delivered to help clear bulky items and save on trips to the dump. 
I’m sure a range of practical gestures such as these, as well as fulsome apologies by our council would go a long way to making us residents believe they really do care, at the same time as ensuring managers tasked with delivering our service are kept on their toes.
Pip Hazelton 
Labour and Co-operative candidate for Westgate
Old Watling Street