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”.
Can you park outside your house? For many people living in the centre of town this is a dream; but why can’t we make it a reality?
The last month has shown us that a one way system across Whitstable might just work, but also that any change to traffic needs to consider the impact it has on local businesses, road safety and be done in conjunction with a rethink of how people who depend on public transport get into town.
Last weekend, Labour MP Rosie Duffield, was out with local candidates in the centre of Whitstable, hearing how the almost 300% rise in off street parking permits over the last five years is hitting people hard. She described the “the council is ‘cashing in’ on growing waiting lists for these places rather than considering new ways to stop the high street and local streets being gridlocked”. We all understand that tourism brings money into our town but this council isn’t squaring up to the traffic it brings.
Labour is committed to a new Park and Ride for the Whitstable but more importantly also believes we need an independent strategic plan to be commissioned to explore the problem of parking. A plan in which the council can work alongside concerned residents associations, businesses and local residents to identify the options and then consult widely across the town as to which has the greatest support. A consultation which involves face to face stakeholder events, local surveys and town hall style meetings to engage with all the local community rather than just those groups who are most organised.
All options should be on the table, like in Bristol’s recent’s consultation on Citizen Space.
George Caffrey, Labour candidate for Gorrell, notes that “previous attempts to impose solutions haven’t worked, nothing should be off the table. We need radical ideas we can all get behind”. If you agree, vote Labour on May 2
Visitors often ask me why there are so many places to drink in the centre of Whitstable. People who live here complain that their lives are blighted by noisy, drunken behaviour, especially in the summer, so what can we do?
One way to control the growth of licensed premises is to bring in a special saturation policy. We have them in St Margaret’s Street and Orange Street in Canterbury but nowhere else and none have been added in the district since 2008. They require public consultation to be brought in, which is a good thing, and change the dynamic so that anyone wanting to open another licensed venue would have to show it did not add to the cumulative impact of other such premises in the street or area. Otherwise the application will normally be refused.
In the current situation it is very difficult for the Licensing Committee at the Council to refuse applications, even when there are loads of other drinking places nearby and neighbours are upset that their lives have been blighted by them.
Labour would bring in a special saturation along the high street and in particular along our beach to prevent new bars opening in areas which are badly lit and already attract people who drink on the beach away from police, such as the proposed development at the Kent & London by the Oyster Stores.
The response to our local petition for a new Police Constable in town shows that fear of crime is increasing, particularly at night. With no local police station, people are worried and we need some fresh thinking.