By Charlie Mower / Jobs / / 0 Comments

Over the last eight years, our communities have been destroyed by austerity. We have seen the closure of libraries, of youth centres and of other community spaces. Indeed, it has also led to the reduction of our independent businesses as a result of high business rates and consumers with less money to spend in their pockets. This is why a Labour local authority would prioritise communities and support Community Interest Companies (CICs) across the district.

Community Interest Companies are social enterprises which uses their profits for a public good. A perfect example of this is the Umbrella Cafe in Whitstable, a community cafe that works with Canterbury College to support young people in gaining the skills necessary for employment. It also provides a space for the Special Needs Advisory and Activities Project to give support to parents. Lily’s Bistro, on Palace Street in Canterbury, is also a similar example. The family-owned Bistro offers work experience to homeless people, people with mental health issues and people with disabilities. That notwithstanding, it also uses ingredients which are thrown out by supermarkets because of their sell by dates, but that are still within their best before dates. These two CICs’ act in the interest of the wider community –  something which should so obviously be supported by the local authority.

The social benefit of organisations like this are revitalising our communities in the face of the harshest cuts to local amenities. This is why a Labour council will bring about the necessary measures to support these important local businesses. As it becomes more and more common for independent businesses to shut their doors only to replaced by big businesses, like supermarkets and betting shops, it is clear that this has opened the necessity for businesses which are greater tied to the local communities they are situated in; businesses that recognise the needs in communities and work towards bringing about some social good. A Canterbury City Council led by the Labour Party will be consistent in its support for these important local businesses.

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By Charlie Mower / EnvironmentTransport / / 0 Comments

As air pollution continues to pose a huge public risk to the health of people up and down the country, we must now pose radical solutions to reduce it. As councils like Islington, Hackney and Walthamstow have announced a ‘School Streets’ initiative to cut air pollution in areas where schools reside, it is now time for Canterbury City Council to take up the same mantle and act.

The ‘School Streets’ allows local headteachers and residents to come together and petition their council to prevent vehicles from entering certain streets during school hours or around school pick up/drop offs. By restricting access, school streets prevent the risks of road traffic accidents and health conditions linked to air pollution, which includes lung diseases and a reduction of life expectancy. Children under the age of 14 are one of the most susceptible demographics to these associated health problems, therefore, it is a necessary move to tackle a growing public health problem.

 

Whilst the initiative would be open to all, the council already has a number of ‘Air Quality Management Areas’ where air pollution exceeds the target determined by the City Council. AQMA’s in Wincheap Road and Sturry Road are both a stone’s throw from Wincheap primary and Parkside Community School respectively. If there was the introduction of a similar initiative to those launched in Islington, Hackney and Walthamstow, there could be a huge reduction in air pollution levels, mitigating the associated health risks.

 

Just last year, Canterbury City Council launched their air quality action plan, which put in place fines for drivers who leave their engines running, as well as the supposed intention to endorse a car free day, for drivers to leave their cars at home for one day. Though these measured should not be criticised, it is evident they don’t go far enough. Where is the action around schools? Where is the action around hospitals, given pregnant women are also another demographic particularly susceptible to the associated risks? Where is the action around areas where there is a higher density of older people?

 

If we are to think seriously about tackling this immediate issue, we cannot just deliver miniscule reforms. We need a wide-ranging strategy that looks at the areas and the people most at risk. Implementing a School Streets initiative would begin that process.

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By Lynette Aitken / Environment / / 0 Comments

As your candidate for Chestfield, I want you to know that I care about people in the local community and I care about the environment. That is why I am actively involved in projects that help make our environment a better place to live in, both locally and globally.

Reducing single-use plastics.

I was instrumental in setting up ‘Plastic Free Whitstable’ which aims to reduce the amount of throw-away plastic that ends up on our streets, on our beaches and in the sea, where it gets into the food chain, poisoning the fish we eat.

We started out as a small group of Labour Party members, then invited other members of the community, including the Green Party, to join us in our mission to reduce single-use plastics in our town. As the first town in Kent to be awarded ‘Plastic Free Community’ status from Surfers Against Sewage, we now have 16 businesses that have fulfilled the requirement to replace at least three single-use plastics (such as straws, cups, condiment sachets, packaging etc.) and there are many more in the pipeline working towards achieving this. We have also been awareness-raising alongside community organisations and schools to get our message across and have enlisted the support and commitment of Canterbury City Council, which has nominated Councillor Bernadette Fisher to be on our Steering Group. Working together with the council, we aim to support the whole district in achieving Plastic Free community status.

Repair Café – Avoiding waste and saving money!

I am also part of a small voluntary group that runs Repair Café. This is an opportunity for people to bring along things they may otherwise have thrown away, to get them repaired by a team of volunteers with expert skills such as sewing, darning, carpentry, electrical repairs, bicycle repairs, soldering, upholstery, jewellery repairs etc. We meet approximately once a month in either the Horsebridge Arts Centre, the Umbrella Centre or, once in the summer, in Stream Walk Community Garden. We invite people to come along and enjoy a friendly chat and a free cuppa and a biscuit while they either learn to do the repair themselves or have it done by an expert. This saves them money whilst reducing waste going into landfill sites and reduces co2 going into the atmosphere.

I wholeheartedly support our manifesto commitment to on-street recycling and other environmental improvements that will safeguard the health and well-being of local residents.

Pictured: Labour activists Lynette Aitken, Jean Fraser, Julia Seath and Councillor Bernadette Fisher as part of the Plastic Free Whitstable Team

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