Local residents and councillors welcomed today’s news that Whitstable is to receive a new town constable following a six month campaign organised by Whitstable Labour Party. The campaign started in March 2019 with Councillor Chris Cornell writing to the Chief Inspector in Kent requesting the allocation of additional officers promised in the the uplift of council tax. In April an online petition was launched which now has in excess of 1400 signatures after being taken door to door during the May council election campaign.
In early September 2019 the three councillors met with Divisional Commander Nigel Brookes and Rosie Duffield MP to present the petition and again press the case for for extra officers (pictured above).
Today Kent Police have announced 56 additional town constables for Kent including 4 for Canterbury, 1 for Herne Bay and 1 for Whitstable.
Responding to the news, Councillor Val Kenny said “whilst a new town constable is welcome, they are only one person . We look forward to having a uniformed presence with whom local residents and ourselves can speak to directly and someone who can further co-ordinate and build on the work of our excellent PCSO’s, however we will continue to push for more police resources wherever we can”.
Whilst it is not clear when the new officers will start, PC Brookes did give assurances in September that recruitment had started. Labour councillors will be seeking clarification on their deployment this week.
Reflecting back on the campaign, Councillor Chris Cornell said “it is fantastic news that Kent Police have listened to the concerns of local residents and the rising tide of crime in our area. A true example that people powered campaigns work.
Since we were elected we have been inundated with people concerned about this issue. Since 2010 we’ve seen over £51m cut from government police funding for Kent – these two things are obviously linked.
Next week we we have planned walk-arounds with Kent Police in response to specific cases on Westmeads Rec, Cornwallis Circle and by West Beach Tennis Courts, we hope to be able to press them for further information then”.
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.