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Poll says yes to a town council for Whitstable

Times readers vote 3 to 1 in favour

WHITSTABLE Times online readers have backed the possibility of the seaside town getting its own town council. A poll on our website was prompted after the Whitstable Green Party launched a petition calling for the change. People of Whitstable living in the Gorrell, Seasalter and Tankerton wards are being invited to support the campaign, and if it gets over 10 per cent of the voters, it will trigger an official consultation on creating a town council. Michelle Freeman, Green Party candidate for the district council elections in the Gorrell ward, said:

“Whitstable’s long standing problems, such as traffic and parking, can only be fairly resolved through local discussion and agreement. Canterbury City Council does not have sufficient time or resources to provide the passion and focus needed to address Whitstable’s specific needs. We need a representative, local body with a democratic mandate to stand up for the interests of the town. This is not a political party campaign. Everyone who supports the idea of a town council is invited to sign the petition. People will then have a chance to vote for who should be on the council to represent Whitstable.”

The party has invited other local organisations, including the Chamber of Commerce and the Whitstable Society to support the campaign for a new town council.

Petition

It has also written to local councillors to seek their backing. Supporters of the campaign will invite Whitstable residents to sign a paper petition and there will also be an electronic version on CCC’s ePetitions website. Since the news of the new campaign, scores of people have taken to the Whitstable Times Facebook page to give their opinions on a town council for Whitstable. Simon Tillotson said:

“I am very worried that the way things are going, the High Street will look like any other High Street up and down the country with chain shops and lacking independent food shops. So if having a separate town council can stop that development, I would be all in favour.”

Nicola Fenton said:

“I remember the days of Whitstable Urban District Council. Don’t see anything wrong with a council being more Whitstable-centric, other than where are we going to put them? Maybe it’s a way of saving the library if they worked from there — all other offices have been sold off.”

Jan Gale was all for the campaign. She said:

“Yes, as Canterbury City Council don’t seem to do anything for Whitstable except take the council tax.”

Sandra Rafferty also said she was “surprised” that Whitstable hasn’t got a town council already, whilst Andrew Franklin wasn’t a fan of the idea. He said:

“Good Grief No!”

Time for change? We asked you if you thought Whitstable should get its own town council. You said: 77% Yes, 23% No

For or against creating a forum for local discussion?

eIN FAVOUR – Stuart Jeffery, the Green Party parliamentary candidate for Canterbury and Whitstable, said:

“Whitstable has a distinct identity from Canterbury. It has a different economy and different needs, yet talking to people in the town they don’t feel this is properly acknowledged by the current democratic structures. Even the name of the district council, Canterbury City Council, suggests an exclusiveness that fails to recognise either Whitstable or Herne Bay. A town council for Whitstable would help to strengthen local democracy and accountability for local people. Having a town council with a democratic mandate, one that must be consulted when changes are proposed by CCC, would help to restore some of the imbalance that is felt in Whitstable. While town councils have fewer direct powers than district councils, they do have a greater legitimacy for representing local people. The closer power is to communities, the better it can serve them. This enhanced legitimacy would ensure that a Whitstable voice is heard more clearly on issues that matter to local people.”

fAGAINST – Resident Susan Hubbard said:

“Town councils, as they exist at present, have very limited powers and I’m not sure everyone understands that. A town council for Whitstable would not be a substitute for Canterbury City Council or Kent County Council. It would not be able to solve Whitstable’s traffic or parking problems, for example, which would remain the responsibility of the existing local authorities. Town councils have very limited areas of remit, such as allotments, bus shelters and village halls. We would have to ask ourselves whether we are prepared to pay an extra council tax charge for that.”

Herne Bay Times, April 15th 2015

 

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