A message from your County Councillor – November 2015

A Message from your County Councillor – November 2015

November is always a time for Remembrance. This year, for myself personally, it has included three special events.  Firstly, I had the difficult but enjoyable task of taking part in the judging of the young peoples (under 25’s) Art and History Competition. An impressive variety of imaginative interpretations including paintings, drawings, sculpture, ceramics and photography. These exhibits were on show in the Alexander Centre during the weekend of the 7th and 8th November and I hope some of you took the opportunity to see the high standards for yourselves. The following day I attended the Act of Remembrance and service at Selling Church and laid a wreath on behalf of the Mayor and Borough of Swale. On Armistice Day itself I joined the 3rd annual trip of Swale senior school students to Belgium organized by Swale Borough Council.  We took part in the Parade through Ypres from the Cathedral to the Menin Gate. This year our Mayor felt the walk from the coach park followed by the Parade would be too much for her so for the first, and possible only time, I had the honour to carry the Civic Wreath and lay it under the Menin Gate.  We then moved on to Tyne Cot Cemetery where 12,000 allied troops are buried and many, many more whose bodies were not found or identified are remember on the memorial walls. One grave we found was that of Sargeant Frederick Raymond Wood killed on the 29th October, 1917 aged 28.  He was the son of George and Gertrude Wood of New House, Sheldwich.  I wonder if any reader can throw further light on the address or branch of the Wood family?  It is especially poignant that I am drafting these notes on the day after the horrendous happenings in Paris.  Our thoughts and prayers are with all those affected.

My ‘rant’ of last month may have done some good.  I received an Agenda for the November meeting of Selling Parish Council.  Despite it being the same night as Swale Borough Council’s Cabinet meeting I managed to arrive at Selling just after the start. I admit to still feeling frustrated that I am not allowed to contribute and assist as I am elsewhere but at least I can listen to debate and follow issues up later.  Perhaps more Selling residents may like to attend to assess the performance of their electoral representatives and if I am in attendance I will be more than happy to chat to anyone who wishes after the meeting.

We are now moving into the vital period of ‘in public’ sessions to be held by the Inspector into Swale’s Local Plan.  As most readers know this plan will seek to determine the scale and location of housing and employment sites in Swale till 2031.  Without such a Plan the Borough will continue to lack a defense against unwelcome housing proposal in the wrong locations. Having a Local Plan in force also helps when bidding for Public Funds for roads and other infrastructure.  

Our Officers will continue to defend our target of 540 houses per annum. We realise that the ‘objectively assessed need’ suggests a figure circa 770 houses per annum.  House builders and developers will argue for figures way in excess or either.  They will also argue that the majority of any increase should be allocated in the Faversham area as this is the area of greatest demand and therefore also of highest house prices.  

May I wish you all a Peaceful Christmas and a Happy and Prosperous New Year.

Andrew Bowles