By Chris Cornell / Housing / / 0 Comments

The outcome of the Council elections next Thursday will determine the future of housing in this district.

The Conservatives have presided over 12 years of housing failure, leading to falling home-ownership, unaffordable private rents and a big increase in homelessness. Developers have often been allowed to avoid the legal requirement that 30% of new private homes must be affordable, meaning home-ownership for those under 45 has dropped sharply. The failure to build new council homes means that there are now approximately 2,500 families on the district’s housing needs register. That’s 2,500 families without a home. It has also caused a huge increase in the housing benefit bill, as low-income families cannot afford the cost of private rent. The current policy is damaging to residents who cannot afford a home and to the public finances.

No one visiting Canterbury of an evening can have failed to notice the significant numbers of people sleeping rough in doorways and down side streets. This is not acceptable and the new council must intervene.

Pursuing the same old policies will not address these problems and bold new ones are needed. A Labour-run Council would build, or acquire, 2,000 new council homes over the next 10 years. That is the only way that the housing needs of the less well-off will be met. It would also insist on private developers complying with their “affordable homes” commitments and support an all-year-round hostel for homeless people.

The Conservatives are ideologically opposed to social housing and remain committed to 1980s dogma about a “property-owning democracy” and “market forces.” These policies simply haven’t worked for many people and haven’t been much help to the 2,500 families in the district with nowhere to live.

The choice for voters on Thursday is pretty simple. Do we want everyone in the district to have a home or not?

Simon Warley, Labour Councillor for Westgate ward.

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By Chris Cornell / Justice / / 0 Comments

Social media has been raging recently with crime stories in Whitstable. Local Conservative councillors have responded by unfairly criticising serving officers and describing them as no better than cardboard policemen.

Instead of complaining, Labour candidate for Gorrell, Chris Cornell, has written to the Chief Constable Alan Pughsley asking him to assign a new Town Constable to Whitstable as part of the roll out of 90 new front line officers paid for by the recent increase in our council tax. Read his letter below.

Dear Chief Inspector

I, like many residents of Whitstable, welcomed the recent decision by the Police & Crime Panel on the 7th February to provide additional funding to local policing decisions in the context of substantial under investment in the last few years. Whitstable lost its High Street Police Station in September 2012 and, since this time, fear of crime or anti-social behaviour has notably increased, particularly online.

In the twelve months leading up to the closure of our police station, 1,947 crimes were committed in our area. Last year over the same period we recorded 2,910. That’s a staggering 49% increase and substantially above the rate of increase across the county during this period (11%).

Whilst we understand that crime across the whole county is increasing and resources remain tight, we believe a town of over 30,000 residents deserves a dedicated police resource, particularly when it has a higher per capita crime rate than nearby Herne Bay whose police station responds to 999 calls in our area.

As such I’m writing to formally request you consider our town for a new town centre Constable to increase the police presence and improve co-ordination of services across our town. With additional funding identified for 90 extra community police officers, a new town centre Constable for Whitstable is affordable and would go a long way to providing a ‘visible reassurance’ to visitors and residents of our town.

It is clear from Met Commissioner Dick’s recent comments that police numbers have a direct impact on the amount of crime, particularly violent crime. We believe a new town centre Constable could compliment the excellent work of local PCSOs and prove an additional resource to tackle shoplifting from repeat offenders, the rise in threatening or intimidating behaviour, particularly during school holidays, as well as anti-social behaviour on our beach at night. The number of licensed premises in our town is increasing whilst volunteer ‘‘street pastors’ are the only roaming presence in our town on busy nights out.

I would appreciate a response to my letter.

Yours truly,

Chris Cornell

 

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