What I find most appealing about Herne Bay is how involved the community are with grass root activities to increase the appeal within the area. Herne Bay has over 55,000 residents and is a major asset to the City of Canterbury offering a unique visitor experience. Attractions such as the Pier, Coastal walks and a thriving High Street create a vibrant and enjoyable experience through a range of independent shops and community led projects.
One of the largest events in Kent every year is the Herne Bay airshow which attracts over 500,000 visitors to the Bay and brings in an estimated £6 million in revenue to small business owners. We have a large Arts community and have received requests to host concerts on the Pier from Chart Topping Musicians. So what is the issue you ask?
While our residents are digging deep in their pockets to self fund these fantastic initiatives our Councillors are more worried about Carparks and Dog poo. While we have received international acclaim from art critics due to grass roots campaigns our Councillors fail to recognise and support the initiatives being led from the ground. The Herne Bay festival was a fantastic way to build a brand within the area, we have many local artists, musicians and businesses that could have benefitted from this event through planning and application. Our council however decided to outsource this to an events Agency in London to the sum of £40,000. This event company brought down people from London to hand out flyers highlighting the Community works that were on display.
Would this money have been better spent supporting our Community Groups? Could we have invested this cash in the community?
It creates the question of the Councils intent to the area, they are squeezing the local area and forcing people to travel to Canterbury via tactics such as shutting the Job Centre.
On a Crisp February morning there was a feeling of anticipation in the air, Quite rare for a Friday morning but there was a feeling of hope. I noticed the amount of School Children heading towards the clock tower with a sense of grim determination; a sentiment I also shared. But what drew us to the historic clock tower in Whitefriars? A brave young Swedish activist called Great Thunberg. This young woman has done more for environmental awareness than anyone in my lifetime. Hundreds of young activists were standing around patiently waiting for their first opportunity to have a voice and share a message we should all support.
I stood there looking on them with a sense of pride and contentment in the next generation that we are creating a society for. This is a generation that will not be cowed, that will stand up respectfully and demand their voices are heard. Future leaders and community pillars asking their council to take note of their concerns for the future.
But are they being listened to? Within the Canterbury district I fear not. At last nights annual budget meeting Counciilor Simon Cook (Head of Canterbury City Council) laid out his plans for a Canterbury to be proud of. I was disappointed that there was not one mention of climate change, Councillor Alan Baldock questioned the need for a carpark which would excacerbate the already toxic levels of pollution and pointed out that cyclepaths would be more suitable. Cllr Cooks response? There is no money in cycle paths. Is our society so founded in Capitalism that we would willingly hedge our childrens futures against a pound in our pocket?
I was happy to see that the Environment Agency called a halt to a rushed plan for a Park and Ride in Wincheap that would encroach on beautiful marshland in Thannington that is a wonderful habitat to wildlife and a draw for tourism. It seems that our children are ahead of us in concern for this planet, placards such as ‘there is no PLANet B’, ‘Its OUR future’ & ‘Respect your Mother’ really hit home.
I will leave you to read the wisdom of a 16 year old from Sweden.
‘Adults keep saying: “We owe it to the young people to give them hope.” But I don’t want your hope. I don’t want you to be hopeful. I want you to panic. I want you to feel the fear I feel every day. And then I want you to act. I want you to act as you would in a crisis. I want you to act as if our house is on fire. Because it is.’