By Pip Hazelton / Latest News / / 0 Comments
Dear Gazette
 
I read last week’s article ‘ with interest.
 
Despite some recent welcome additions to the council’s housing portfolio, our City Council is basically only keeping pace with those sold under right to buy. Our council house waiting list has not gone down and stands at around 2,500. 
 
This situation is not inevitable. Our country has in the past faced the pressing need to provide homes fit for heroes. The end of the second world war saw two significant investments in this county: firstly in the form of the National Health Service and secondly a massive house building programme. 
 
Both initiated by a Labour government and both are achievements of which we can all be justly proud. But while we rightly hear much about the precariousness of our beloved NHS, less is heard about the state of our council housing. 
 
The Council should be building quality, carbon neutral, energy efficient houses to provide homes, create stable communities and provide income for the council for decades to come.
 
Choosing to spend millions on the Station West car park instead of building homes for local people was poor decision making, to put it mildly and the car showrooms at Westgate would have been a good spot to build two bedroom council flats of which there is a shortage. Instead we get more student accommodation which we don’t need. The high cost of private renting across the District, contrasts with low wages. At one point last year there was only one two bedroom flat available for rent which someone on the minimum wage could afford. I challenge this Council to do more and to invest in homes for local people, rather than tolerating thousands on their waiting list making the dream of a secure council house rarer than hen’s teeth.
 
Yours
Pip Hazelton 
Labour and Co-operative candidate for Westgate
Old Watling Street
Canterbury
 
 
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.
Yours
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.
 
Yours
Pip Hazelton 
Labour and Co-operative candidate for Westgate
Old Watling Street
Canterbury