News from British and Canadian Conservatives

Friday, July 29, 2005

YC Summer Barbecue

Folkestone & Hythe Young Conservatives will be holding our annual summer barbecue on the evening of September 3rd. If you'd like to come along, you can email me on Further details will be available soon.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Save Our Grammars!

Thank you to the Professional Association of Teachers for this week recognising the importance of Grammar Schools!

As the Government forces Northern Ireland, despite the views of parents, to adopt the Comprehensive experiment which has already failed in the rest of Britain, this teachin union has recognised the importance of an education system which allows teacher to stretch children of all abilities without leaving some class members behind.

Time and time again, government figure show that grammar schools have the best value added scores, and Northern Ireland has the best exam results in the country. The decision to abolish Ulster's Grammars has nothing to do with improving the quality of education - it's all about equality; even if that means levelling down rather than levelling up.

It's time for Kent to rise up and defend our education system, before it's too late.

The BBC News story in full:

No to Electoral Reform

Electoral Reform

Key: FPPTP = First Past the Post; AMS = Additional Member System; SYV = Single Transferable Vote; JAV+ = Jenkins Alternate Vote Plus; PLS = Party List System; CC = Cellular Constituencies. For explanations of these systems, please read the electoral reform FAQ. For more information about electoral reform in general, visit the Electoral Reform Society or Make My Vote Count.

AMS -5

STV 10
JAV+ -2
CC -21

Take the test at Who Should You Vote For

New Bobby for Cheriton & Morehall

The new Community Warden for Cheriton and Morehall, David Harmes is nearing the completion of his training and will be on the steets of our local area very soon. Folkestone Town Councillors from the wards will be meeting him at the earliest opportunity, and plan to invite him to the next Community Forum, to be held in September, so that local people can meet him too.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Community Services Committee

The first meeting of the new Community Services Committee will be held on Tuesday 2nd August at the Council's Offices in George Lane. Some of the key items on the agenda will include the creation of a quarterly newsletter, officially adopting the community forums and surgeries which some ward councillors have held and setting guidelines for the use of the new notice boards in Cheriton, Folkestone Town Centre and Wood Avenue.

Folkestone Sea Front

Last night, Shepway's Development Control Committee voted to grant permission to Trent Developments to build a mix residential and leisure development on Folkestone's sea front. I have grave misgivings about the overall design of the structure - the 14 storey tower block looks to me like a high rise Shanty Town - but welcome the proposed leisure facilities. A 6 screen multiplex cinema, ten-pin bowling and purpose-built nightclub to replace the current, rather inappropriate building would be a welcome addition to the town.

How the scheme will affect Roger De Haan's plans for the harbour, Tontine Street and the rest of the town generally remains to be seen. We can only hope that his grand plans will not be scuppered by the green light to this development.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Roger's Masterplan

Tonight Folkestone Town Councillors were offered the opportunity to see the current state of the Masterplan for Folkestone Seafront being drawn up by Foster Partners on behalf of Roger De Haan, the owner of Folkestone Harbour.

The general aim of creating a more joined up town is most welcome. The ambitious scheme would see the removal of the disused harbour branch line, allowing the widening of Tram Road to allow two-way tarffic, and general improvements to the awful one-way system in the east of the town. Wider pavements and the planting of an avenue of trees would also improve the general appearance of the area.

The creation of a permanently water-filled marina, with development along the western rim of the inner harbour would help to link the sea front to the town centre, helping to return Tontine Street to being a bustling, vibrant street instead of the run-down ghost town which currently exists. The plans also allow for a university, the restoration of a ferry link to Boulogne courtesy of Speed Ferries, and the extension of the coastal park in front of a lower-rise residential development than that offered by other proposed schemes.

What the plans do seem to lack is leisure facilities. It should be remembered that the site has always had leisure use, and purely residential development would be to the detriment of the town. The loss of the funfair (a sign of changing times), night club and amusement arcades would leave even less for the young people of Folkestone to do - at the same time as 1000 university students arrive in town.

The argument that the laws of supply and demand will deal with this simply doesn't wash - if there's no land to build on, the facilities won't be built, regardless of demand. And suggestions that nightclubs and cinemas be built at the edge of town, surrounded by Folkestone's leafy suburbs, is quite outrageous. The police have previously objected to out of town nightclubs, due to problems in policing the routes taken by late night revellers en route from town centre pubs, and Ashford's out of town M20 nightclub has just gone broke! Meanwhile, Folkestone's late night bus has been withdrawn, due to safety concerns.

Hythe By-Elections

Last night's by-elections in Hythe saw two Conservative gains from the Liberal Democrats on the local council. Congratulations to Karen and Nick. The full results were as follows:

Hythe South
Nick Meurice, Conservative 415 (Elected)
Hythe Preservation Society 306
Lib Dem 194

Conservative gain from Liberal Democrat with 54% of the vote against 21%.

Hythe East
Karen Belcourt, Conservative 799, 75% (Elected)
Lib Dem 262, 24%.

Conservative gain from Liberal Democrat.
Swing 29.5%, Lib Dem to Conservative.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Morehall Strawberry Tea

Morehall Conservatives' Strawberry Tea today benefitted from fantastic weather, with glorious sunshine throughout the afternoon. Approximately 30 people including the Town Mayor, former Mayoress and 3 other current or former councillors.

The successful event once again boosted local coffers, acting as a springboard for the next planned event - a Mexican Evening in October.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Coolinge House

Folkestone Town Council today objected to the latest proposals to develop the gardens of the 18th century Coolinge House. The proposals, incorporating 14 houses, entirely ignore the significance of this, one of Folkestones oldes buildings and would destroy its integrity. The proposals are overly intense, and in failing to respect Cooling House cut it off from the surrounding and equally historic Coolinge Farmhouse and Coolinge Riding School, which have formed a continuous frontage on Coolinge Lane for almost 300 years.

Moreover, the proposals for the site do not deal adequately with the traffic flows at the difficult junction beween Coolinge Lane and Paddock Close. It is questionable whether many of the protected trees on the site would be sustainable with such an intense developent, which is not in keeping with the neighbouring properties.

That the developer should seek to tie the repairs required to prevent the Grade II Listed Coolinge House from falling down to being given permission to develop the site was particularly outrageous, and is verging on blackmail.

I will continue to monitor the situation closely, and will seek an enforcement notice against the owners if they do not maintain the building in an acceptable condition.