Tower block fire safety inc Windsor House

I wrote this morning to the Chief Executive of Canterbury City Council re fire safety in our tower blocks.  This is my note and the initial reply.  Our thoughts and the thoughts of all here at the Labour Group and Party are with the residents of Grenfell, their families and friends.

Hi Colin,

In view of the tragic events unfolding at Grenfell tower in west London, please could we undertake a full review of the structure and fire safety of Windsor House?

I’m aware also that Windsor House’s heating system is currently being reviewed and of course that it has been recently re-clad on the outside, both of which have been mentioned as possible factors in the Grenfell tower fire.

Many thanks,

Bernadette Fisher
Councillor for Gorrell ward

Message sent on behalf of Velia Coffey

Dear councillors

You will no doubt have seen the horrific pictures of the fire at Grenfall Tower in London this morning.

As you know, East Kent Housing (EKH) manages our housing stock on our behalf and we have three towers blocks in the district – Elizabeth Court and Margaret Court in Herne Bay, and Windsor House in Whitstable.

I’d like to reassure you that, over and above EKH’s routine programme of work on fire risk assessments, they will today be reviewing fire safety at all three blocks, in particular looking at fire alarms/detection systems, refuse chutes and ventilation.

EKH will also be in touch with tenants today to reassure them and remind them of the safety procedures for each block as agreed with Kent Fire and Rescue and set out in the fire risk assessments. This advice may vary according to the individual block.

It is obviously too early to speculate on what happened at Grenfall Tower but of course we would look at any lessons that come out of this fire.

Kind regards

Velia

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Are unisex toilets the answer?

There’s been a bit of a twitter storm lately about the loss of women’s loos in favour of unisex ones. I’m not sure that unisex toilets are the answer to all our needs and have often found the companionship of the communal areas in ‘the ladies’ a bit of a retreat from the outside world. Having said that, I do want to encourage fathers to change their babies in comfort and it’s important that transgender people can feel comfortable in the toilet.

The storm has also hit sleepy Whitstable with an understandable complaint about the apparent message on the front of these loos on Faversham Rd.

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It looks as though ‘Gentlemen’ are getting preference with their own separate toilet. In reality it’s not like that inside.

In the pic on the right (below) is the smaller booth marked ‘Gentlemen’ and on the left is the one marked ‘Unisex toilets’.  The latter is bigger to accommodate the baby-changing facility.

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Much of the rest of the space in the block is taken up by an essential Radar controlled disabled toilet as you can see from the side-view here.

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All things considered, it’s a very effective use of limited space to cope with the various needs of users. I for one would rather men used the urinal when they can, making it less likely that there would be mess on the loo seat next door as reported on twitter. There’s no excuse for leaving the loos in a mess and it’s a shame that people abuse such an essential shared space.

We think these toilets have been like this for around ten years and the council hasn’t had any complaints in this time about the signage or the unusual configuration. A friend has suggested we should call the one on the right a ‘Urinal” but I think some people might find that offensive on a door which is effectively on the street.

I’m not a toilet designer but I’m pretty sure a lot of thought went into the design of this block. I also know how much people value public conveniences, however small. They’ve come up on the agenda at council as something people don’t want to lose and are even prepared in some cases to look after as a community asset.

I’ve no doubt that the debate about unisex loos, signage and toilet design will continue but I’m sure that our loos on the Faversham Rd were designed with only the essential needs of all the people and visitors to the town in mind.

 

Labour City Council Budget Response

Last night, Labour Group Leader at Canterbury City Council, Councillor Alan Baldock, gave our response to the budget and sought amendments.  He focused on the need for greater compassion towards the poor and the vulnerable in the face of radical cuts to funding from central government.  These cuts, to zero in 2019, mean we can no longer function in the way we have in the past and appear to face a Hobson’s choice between drastic cuts in services and the prospect of becoming part of a much larger district council, removing future councillors from our democratic base.  Proposals for an East Kent District are currently under discussion and will be debated by councillors on March 22nd.

Alan’s speech proposed four amendments to the budget (in bold below).  The first proposal for an audit of the impact of cuts and charge increases on the vulnerable was lost, in the face of the huge Conservative majority on the council.  We will continue to fight for measures to alleviate the effects of cuts on the most vulnerable in all our work as Labour Councillors and will argue on a broader stage that cuts in central government funding are cruel and unnecessary.  The other three proposed amendments re reducing fees for home collection of unwanted items, purple sacks and sports pitch hire fees have been referred to the Community Committee.

This is Alan’s speech in full –

‘We are all privileged to share our lives with those that have shaped society before us and others who rely on the public sector, our services, for help. The young, the vulnerable and the old deserve our respect and care when circumstances place them in need. Should we not ask what more we can do, recognizing the impossible position this government has placed local authorities in, rather than looking for others to lead?

One in five children in families across the Canterbury District lives in poverty, over 5500, a shocking statistic. Yet we all hope that children and young people have the chance to fulfil their hopes and aspirations. Their parents seek safe and secure places to live, food and warmth and the means to secure them. They hope for regular, secure work and money enough to pay the bills. They rightly expect the mutual support of a government, central and local, that looks after their heath, education and welfare in hard times. They are too often the working poor in a high cost district like Canterbury, Whitstable and Herne Bay. Working in minimum wage, often zero hour work, we know full well that many of our residents have no cash for the huge hikes in residents’ parking permits we are imposing, clearly against their will, yet we make no effort even to examine ways of ameliorating their impact through discounts for the poorest or the most vulnerable.

Tonight, there will be perhaps over fifty rough sleepers in our City and dozens of families struggling to keep a roof over their heads, despite their best efforts. Social housing provision is a mess in Canterbury. Councillors, we know that around half of those in need of an affordable home in our district are refused social housing, driving them into the private sector and almost inevitable debt. However, despite the high cost of housing and this Conservative Government’s benefit capping, this Conservative Council still chose to double the amount of Council Tax our poorest and most vulnerable families must pay. Are we wilfully driving the most vulnerable into the greater vulnerability of homelessness and destitution? I fear so.

Last year at this very meeting the Labour Group suggested a budget amendment to put money aside to kick-start council house building. At that stage, the intention was to acquire land, gain outline planning and get the external financing sorted with partners. Needless to say, the amendment was defeated with promises of a great Conservative fix, indeed I was told at the time our amendment may well not be bold enough!

What if you had voted differently? Would we not be here now reflecting on plans for the imminent construction of social or affordable-rent homes – instead of looking back on a wasted year where the need continued to grow and the solution looked even further away. Consider the impact of this year’s inaction and indecision on a family in a bedsit or one room flat. True we have a few private sector homes for social rent, but we could well have had tens of extra homes nearing completion in the coming months.

Surely it is obvious to all of you that your Conservative government’s cuts to Local Government are destroying the very democracy we are here to serve?? We are the whipping boy for a seven-year failed economic experiment. One that has seen the national debt double from 0.8 trillion in 2009 to a staggering 1.6 trillion today and there is no light at the end of the tunnel.

Or is this all a manifestation of the Tory belief that the state is always bad, so we must ridicule and starve it, make it lame and prepare to privatize it?. Fanciful maybe but that’s what Thatcher did to the utilities, so when will the same happen to Local Authorities?

I know that many of my fellow councillors do not think like this and were reluctant to accept cuts to Enhanced Care and Council Tax Benefits. Many too found the idea of refusing to investigate the impact of Parking Permit increases on carers, those with special needs, essential service providers and those on low incomes, very hard to swallow. I applaud your misgivings and compassion and thank you for your votes. I am therefore proposing that we audit any cuts or charge increases we consider making for their impact on the most vulnerable, either directly or indirectly, and ask our expert officers to make proposals to reduce their detrimental impact on those to whom we have the strongest of moral duties.

But on a lighter note perhaps – We have several minor amendments to put before you this evening, nothing too earth shattering. However, we believe that these very small changes will help hard-pressed residents in a practical way.

First up – Currently there is a charge for the collection of each unwanted household item, settee, washing machine fridge etc. – the cost is prohibitive and does regrettably encourage illegal collection by unlicensed operators offering the deal of a lifetime to unsuspecting residents. The subsequent fly-tipping and clear up is expensive and the environmental damage huge. As such let’s link this proposal to the well-intentioned clamp-down on fly tipping and waste management review. A mutual responsibility will be implied and a reasonable compromise available at a reduced cost
Charge a flat rate of £10 for up to three items collected from your home by our contractor – it’s one journey, one visit, one on line fee – one simple well understood process that clears all the waste items in one go.

On a similar theme and linked to the work on cleaner neighbourhoods let’s put in this budget a nominal value, perhaps £1500 for the resale through local shops of the Purple waste sacks, we have pushed this idea around before – its time to revisit and get it working – overflowing bins are fly tipping in disguise – we need to make the solution easier to achieve.

This is a simple measure that could also raise a small amount of money and potentially save on clear ups too. Currently sacks are proposed at £2-30 per role I have no doubt that there is a margin for the resale by a shopkeeper doing their bit for a cleaner community.

On reading the discretional charges for the hire of sports pitches, it struck us that we seem to have got somewhat out of kilter – it is I am sure uncontentious that we should be doing whatever we can to encourage young people to partake in sport regularly as such this is a small incremental step.

We propose the consolidation of the pitch hire fees for young people’s activities at £20 including VAT covering the 9×9, Mini Football and Junior Football and Junior Cricket. Also, a 10% reduction in the charges for self-help hire of pitches and the hire of tennis courts for junior players.

Perhaps a small gesture in a hard world that may be a thank you to the dedicated families that make young people’s sport happen and provide indirectly a few pounds towards their club’s wider activities.

These are our amendments, we hope you will accept them in good faith as pragmatic and achievable.’

Increases to parking permit charges

Controversial increases to parking permit charges were last night put to Canterbury City Council’s Regeneration and Property Committee.  I put four amendments to the proposals and the committee agreed that they be investigated and the outcomes put to the Policy and Resources committee which will make the final decision.

Here they are – 1). Provide a discount for carers, those with special needs and other essential service providers. 2). Provide a discount for low income residents who have no choice but to park in off-street car parks. 3). Introduce an emissions-related scale of payments (with a diesel supplement). 4). Introduce different payment options including the option of paying monthly.

This is my speech justifying them.

“Members of the public have rightly highlighted the enormous increases in off-street permit charges proposed and I want to focus on these using examples in particular from Whitstable.

Since I’ve been a councillor, parking inc residents’ parking has constantly been in my inbox. Residents with special needs, not all categorised as disabled, those who are simply growing older or caring for someone who is, have difficulty parking near their houses in the town centre. That’s either because there are too many cars in the streets for the space outside each house or cos there are parking restrictions in their roads. These restrictions are there with good reason, often to enable emergency vehicles or SERCO to get through and have been subject to consultation.

If they are lucky, they may be allowed to use a Residents’ exclusive off-street car park, slowly work their way to the top of the list and get ready to pay ‘only’ £350 or four times what they are paying today by 2019. Otherwise and if they have no alternative parking and live nearby, they can apply for a Residents’ off-street permit for our general car parks ie the permits which will now increase to £700+.

We are often asked to impose greater restrictions and where possible allocate (still relatively inexpensive) on-street residents’ parking spaces because life is made impossible for residents during the warmer weather or if they are near (enough) to the station or the beach. The impetus for greater restrictions is getting stronger despite an apparent preference for open parking throughout the town. The huge difference in pricing between on-street residents’ parking and prices for our off-street car parks (the only place for those who cannot park on-street) in these proposals, when we know there are not enough spaces on-street, will create a new tranche of inequality and high costs for many ordinary residents.

I can understand the desire to increase income from parking in light of the budget constraints that we are under. However, I think these proposals and the massive increases proposed are a step too far.

I don’t think it’s good enough to say that people choose to live (or indeed set up a small business) in the town centre so should just put up with it. This Council actively encouraged people to live in the town centre in Canterbury with the building of the Tannery and the building of dwellings above Whitefriars to bring the town to life. Similarly we want small businesses including retail to thrive in our town centres, or don’t we?

Many people who will face these increases have been living in the town for decades and certainly since before Whitstable became so trendy. Someone with an income close to the living wage should be able to live in our town yet a £700 and above fee for residents’ off-street parking is 5.34% of the annualised minimum wage (£13,104) or 4.55% of the living wage (£15,379). Do we really want to drive lower earners (and small businesses) and those on benefits or the state pension out of our town centres by imposing these crazy increases?

If we are to make significant increases, is there not the need now to create a category of ‘essential off-street parking permit’ users at a lower cost for those with no (or minimal) on-street parking outside their homes, especially for those on low incomes?

Without a proper examination of how to make these charges affordable to a variety of groups including – essential users, lower earners, carers and essential service providers, they will only exacerbate the flight of lower-income, permanent residents from our town centres.

The other concern I have is the absence of any green agenda in these proposed increases. Many councils are able to band car emissions and parking permit charges, so why can’t we? I understand that a number of similar proposals were debated in 2008 but did not come to fruition. This is a new council with a very different perspective on green issues. Isn’t it time we looked again at charging more to cars that guzzle gas than to lower emissions vehicles (which tend to be smaller and cheaper), perhaps now with a diesel supplement?

As a DFL, I remember paying an emissions-related payment when I lived near Kings Cross to park on my street (there were no car parks). Looking at it now, the fee for a 1ltr petrol vehicle is £77 (there’s now a £96 diesel supplement) and for the biggest car is £449.

Other comparisons are used in the report on page 82 of the agenda to justify the increases but I’m not sure they’re correct. For example, I looked-up Thanet and couldn’t find proposals for the future on their lovely website but current charges are in-fact £60 for a residents’ permit (which here means to use specific bays in a car park (ie generally not pay and display)) and £350 for a business permit in Margate, Birchington, Broadstairs and Ramsgate.

I’d therefore ask councillors to think again and in a more holistic way about the impact of these proposals to deal, in particular, with low earners (and small business owners) who have to park in an off-street car park, carers (and other essential service providers) and others with special needs and to bring in an emissions related scale of charges. I hope very much that you’ll support the amendments I intend to propose to this end.”

Another painful cut for the vulnerable in Whitstable

Canterbury City Council’s decision to cut its £38,000 subsidy to Kent Karrier Buses will once again mean the brunt of cuts is faced by the most vulnerable.

The Kent County Council leaflet says Kent Karrier is for you if –
‘You have a mobility impairment or other medical condition, are over 85 or live more than 500m from a bus stop or train station.’ Buses are fully accessible, allowing passengers to stay in their wheelchairs, and their experienced drivers will give passengers ‘all the help they need’.

CCC’s funding cut will mean Kent will ‘probably’ reduce the number of buses in our district from 3 to 2.

The scheme has 153 members – 32 in Canterbury and Thanington, 55 in Herne Bay area and 30 in the Whitstable area. In a satisfaction survey, 76% said the service was their lifeline. 20% said that without it, they would have no other means of transport. 50% use the service at least once a week. The ‘majority of people who use the service are disabled’.

The costs of the service per passenger appear high for the lowest occupancy journeys. But isn’t that true of any bus service? If cost is a justification for the cut, then why have more marketing or widening access not been examined? Whatever Kent decides, the cut will inevitably mean fewer journeys on Kent Karrier.

The alternatives available are patchy. In Whitstable it’s the volunteer car scheme. It’s a great scheme but their cars are unlikely to be fully wheelchair accessible or drivers able and trained to provide disabled passengers with full physical assistance.

Some, but not all, the alternative providers may be eligible for grant funding from CCC or the big lottery. So, they are either potentially funded by the district anyway or the lottery.

We are an elected council yet there has been no consultation with users on cutting the service and no assessment of its effect on older or disabled people. This is on grounds that that’s for KCC to do even though it’s the district cutting the funding!

Given that the majority of members of the scheme are people with disabilities, it stands to reason that they would be worse hit than others. Once again, like recent cuts to Enhanced Care and Council Tax Benefit, it’s the poorest and the most vulnerable who pay.

So what does this decision mean?

A cut to a service that three quarters of users see as their ‘lifeline’.
Taking away one out of our three fully accessible buses with experienced, paid and trained drivers who give disabled, very old and isolated people ‘all the help that they need’.
Increased isolation and loneliness for our most vulnerable residents.
Cutting a vital public service when we do not have an equivalent or good enough replacement (which CCC would be likely to have to fund anyway)
without consulting service users.
without assessing the impact of the cut on those the council has a special duty to protect; the very old, the isolated and the disabled.

With isolation, lack of social care support and NHS cuts posing ever greater risks to our older and more vulnerable residents, this is truly a false economy. Yes, it comes from cuts in central government funding but surely we can do better than this?

We lost the vote on this one despite Councillors from all parties voting against the cut. Doesn’t that suggest that the ruling group has got things wrong?

Oyster festival 2017

Oyster festival 2017 – Council re-tendering for a single year contract

I spoke last night on this at the Community Committee as a Ward councillor to say we should not go with the council officer recommended option which was to extend the existing contract by another year.

Feedback from Gorrell (central Whitstable) constituents is that the festival is too big, too lawless, too drunken, too polluting and too noisy. It has outgrown the town. Clearly its growth was deliberate on the organisers’ part and I can understand why they wanted this, but not here.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the festival atmosphere of Whitstable but I asked Councillors to support the re-tendering option as the only way to ensure that the festival next year fits the town and is properly prepared for. The option is to re-tender for a single year contract for 2017, scaled back and with conditions in the contract to address our infrastructure concerns.

Local businesses agree with this view. They see the festival now as making a lot of money for one or two big businesses and bringing more pain than gain for them and their customers. They told me, ‘Revenue is not always the best way to evaluate an event, adverse impact on the town and image of Whitstable should be paramount.’

Local feedback generally is that we need to take stock, scale down and be certain of sufficient infrastructure support before embarking on another festival. The upside is that Whitstable people care a lot about the town and want to be involved so let’s use that enthusiasm and knowledge. Our own WAMP (Whitstable Area Member Panel) is the obvious vehicle for this, working with local representatives and officers.

At the WAMP review on Sept 14th we heard from a local environmental group about environmental policies developed elsewhere to avoid the kind of disaster that befell the beach. They justifiably used the term ‘environmentally negligent’ to describe what happened and the scale of our obligation to do better next year. We even have the strap line, ‘don’t trash our beaches’.

Other policies which can be adapted from elsewhere that we need to develop and make conditions of the contract are on – policing (yes please – there was none this year the first weekend and no Councillor had been told this in advance); alcohol, including glass bottles; transport to encourage use of public transport and park and ride plus a ban on alcohol on trains-in; music and noise which effectively measures and limits levels especially late at night; and harbour standards. The latter is clearly required given the chronic over crowding, over-proliferation of alcohol on sale as part of the harbour ‘food’ fair and the bizarre assumption in the debrief we’d received that the harbour master and board can somehow make an industrial area safe for unlimited numbers of out of control adults and children to walk on.

I’ve written about this to the local papers as I thought their readers would want to know that their views prevailed and the committee went for the one year re-tender option. If, as officers fear, no provider comes forward in the time available, we will be content with that and provide support to community activities instead. So, let’s have an Oyster festival in 2017 but one that suits the town, the beach, the harbour and all the creatures who are lucky enough to live here.

Bernadette Fisher
Canterbury City Councillor for Gorrell Ward.

Xenophobia

To say we live in interesting times is truly an understatement in the aftermath of the Brexit vote.  How the dust will settle for either of the main parties or for any of us, is increasingly hard to predict, with each day bringing news of new controversy and old certainties seemingly falling apart.  One side of the current feeling in the country which is particularly disturbing is the rise in abuse and even hate crime against those who are perceived to look or sound different.

City Councillors have been written to as part of an Amnesty International campaign asking us to show leadership locally in condemning xenophobia and hate crime.  I have set out the response of Labour Councillors in a letter to the local papers –

‘I, and my fellow Canterbury City Councillors, have received letters from a growing number of constituents about the reported rise in racism, xenophobia and hate crimes at a national level. At the same time, constituents who have a foreign accent or look different from the perceived norm are voicing their fears of abuse in public places, a fear they may not have felt before in the tolerant community in which we live.

As elected Councillors, we will do all we can to foster inclusivity. As a district we have been enriched by immigration down the centuries and that enrichment continues in the life of our schools, our colleges, our workplaces and everywhere that we meet as families, friends and simply as human beings.

The Labour group of Councillors Alan Baldock, Jean Butcher and Bernadette Fisher will be proposing a motion to our next Council meeting on July 21st as follows –

“We are proud to live in a diverse and tolerant society. Racism, xenophobia and hate crimes have no place in our country. Canterbury City Council condemns racism, xenophobia and hate crimes unequivocally. We will not allow hate to become acceptable.

We will work to ensure that local service providers, charitable organizations, businesses and community groups have the resources needed to combat and prevent racism and xenophobia.

We reassure all people living in our district that they are valued members of our community.”

Bernadette Fisher
Councillor for Gorrell Ward, Whitstable.’

Let’s build homes for affordable rent says Labour Leader

In his budget response on Thursday February 18th, Opposition leader of Canterbury City Council, Labour’s Cllr Alan Baldock, called for increased borrowing to enable the Council to build homes for affordable rent over the next three years.

Here is Alan’s speech in full –

‘We face financial hell today in this Council; the frustration we share at the cuts forced on our residents is caused by central government. Austerity is a political choice not a necessity.

The economy’s so-called recovery – unsurprisingly for a Tory government – delivers to the few not the many.

Inequality, knowingly created by their policies, is as stark here in Canterbury as it is across the nation. Just look in your Wards – go a little bit deeper and see the misery. But still the Westminster Government sticks to austerity and even more austerity.

You may look for an answer – recently the Treasury did a Google search and didn’t find much. Then it checked – out a mail order business and a coffee shop – same. Even their own Chancellor’s family business came up a bit light.

So, the burden of this failure falls, as ever under this bully-boy Government, on those least able to afford it.

The fall-out unashamedly is landed on this and other local authorities, forcing us to implement cruel and unsustainable cuts.

Even the Tory leader of the Local Government Association Gary Porter agrees with me.

He said recently, “Leaving councils to pick up the bill for new national policies while being handed further spending reductions cannot be an option” and he was even made a Peer in the honours list!

Tonight the Tory Government has given us little chance to do what we should be doing for the communities we represent but the fact we can do so little must rest on our consciences.

Our budget amendment focuses on a very real need, the need for affordable rented housing – we used to call them Council Houses – where families lived in secure, affordable, decent homes.

Many other Councils such as Oxford, Birmingham and Flintshire have built affordable rented homes. We could, like them, use imaginative ways to build affordable rental homes, either in partnership or alone. Importantly, this is an issue that is within our gift as a District Council.

We have all heard about the United Kingdom’s housing crisis but it’s not that simple – it’s not just a single crisis.

It’s a housing crisis for OUR district, a crisis in OUR City, and it’s a crisis in far too many of the homes across OUR Communities.

It’s a crisis for the families who have lost all hope of ever being free of the uncertainly that THEIR own housing crisis brings.

It’s those families that are at the heart and soul of our budget amendment.

We have land and we have opportunity in this budget, we need political will to achieve a very modest start to a project to provide more affordable property for rent.

Our amendment is to adjust the HRA Capital Financing Requirement for the next three years, starting with an increase of £1million pounds this year to facilitate the acquisition of land to supplement the existing council surplus, the commissioning of feasibility and design work and obtaining planning permissions with some modest small-scale building.

In subsequent years 2017/18 and 2018/19, a further £2 million pounds in each year would be allocated to deliver on that project. Such funding would not breach the cap set on the HRA Capital Finance Requirement, indeed some headway would still remain.

The simple ambition of this three-year project must be to build significantly more homes than are sold under the right to buy scheme during that period. We all know this will otherwise get worse and worse.

You can make a difference tonight by supporting the Labour Party motion, creating for the first time in a generation truly affordable homes to rent and starting the momentum of change.

I offer to you this motion to amend the budget for Canterbury City Council.

To adjust the HRA Capital Financing Requirement for the next three years to facilitate the provision of affordable homes for rent through building. In 2016/17 an allocation of £1M and in 2017/18 and 2018/19 £2M each year.’

Our amendment fell but Labour Councillors will work through the Council’s Housing Development Working Group to encourage building of desperately needed affordable homes for rent.image

Enhanced care – some hope of progress

Following withdrawal of funding by the County Council KCC, proposals were published to the 122 residents of Enhanced Care centres to take away their carers and turn the sites – including Lang Court – into basic Sheltered Housing. Needless to say, residents, their families and friends were up in arms as they did not want to go into Residential Care and could not manage in Sheltered Housing. In particular, they did not want to lose 24-hour care staff, having a manager on-site during the day, social activities and communal laundry facilities.

Working with Labour Councillor from Northgate Canterbury, Jean Butcher, and the anti-cuts group, your Whitstable Labour branch has questioned the whole basis of the change. We do not believe it will save money and we do know it will cause hardship. Through our Whitstable and Canterbury Area Members’ Panels (WAMP and CAMP) and at the Community Committee, we have helped residents’ families to present their case to keep the enhanced care facilities and to get to the bottom of how they can be funded in the future. At the time of writing, we await further clarification of KCC’s position for the future and the matter will come before the Community Committee again on March 16th.

We know that KCC sees Extra-care, the concept behind King Edward court in Herne Bay, as the best way to bridge the gap between sheltered housing and residential care for those willing and able to retain their independence as much as possible.  We are also aware of changing public funding for care through Supported Living and Personal Independence Payments.  Labour Councillors believe that the City Council should seek to find a way to underwrite the key provisions of Enhanced Care while working with these providers to pool care in the existing centres.  We hope that, by allowing sufficient time and thinking imaginatively, the City Council can make sure that this highly prized system of care can continue despite funding cuts by KCC.

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Whitstable meeting re parking and transport

CCC proposals

Meeting info

Public meetings on transport next week

Next week Canterbury City Council will be holding two public meetings in Canterbury and Whitstable on the proposed transport plans currently being consulted on. Simon Cook, Leader of the Council, will be presenting the proposals and it is an opportunity for local people to come along and hear more about them and have their say.

The meetings will take place on –
Thursday 21 January, 7pm – The Guildhall, Canterbury, CT1 2JQ and
Friday 22 January, 7pm – Umbrella Centre, Oxford Street, Whitstable CT5 1DD
You can read more about the proposals in the first link at the top of this page.

Information on the evenings is in the second link above.