Our Town, Our voice matters

Folkestone Town Centre regeneration planning

Folkestone and District Council has announced the appointment of We Made That – a consultancy firm which has been commissioned to engage with stakeholders in the development of the plans for the revival of Folkestone Town Centre, at a cost of over £80k.

This is a significant moment for our town – with a coherent approach to CoVid19 recovery urgently needed to take our community forward with confidence.

Cllr David Wimble, Cabinet Member for the District Economy for Folkestone & Hythe District Council, said:

“Although we’re at an early stage the ambition of this Place Plan is very exciting.
Folkestone is brimming with potential and we will do our bit to make sure that we are proactively engaging and using our influence to create a town fit for an extraordinary community that surrounds it.”

AFRA and our member organisations have registered an interest in being involved – as have a number of other groups and individuals.
We’ve heard nothing back so far, so cannot really comment on the consultation approach – as there hasn’t really been any consultation yet.

Given that the contract runs for 6 months from 7 December 2020 to the end of May and will presumably finish with a report in early June it is surprising that so little has been heard in the public domain of this major initiative.

As of today, the Folkestone Town Council website had no information about this key programme .
The District website has no further information to offer.

Watch this space.

Homelessness: a consultation

AFRA is encouraging all Folkestone residents to contribute to the FHDC consultation on meeting the needs of homeless and vulnerable members of the community.

A draft of the Homelessness Prevention Strategy for the next five years (2020 to 2025) has been published and feedback is welcomed until 2 October 2020.

The new plan sets out the council’s three priority areas:

◼️ Ending rough sleeping

◼️ Early intervention, prevention and support

◼️ Ensuring a good supply of affordable and suitable accommodation.

Included among the innovative aims to meet the priorities is the adoption of what is known as a Housing First approach. This provides intensive support for those who have been homeless with the aim of creating a stable home and enabling people to rebuild their lives.

Exploring the possibility of setting up a Social Enterprise Scheme to provide training and employment opportunities is also put forward in the strategy. To do this the council suggests bringing together a working group to include those who have been homeless, business entrepreneurs, council representatives and those from educational establishments.

Within the strategy the council outlines its commitment to building 1,000 new homes for rent and shared ownership between 2025 and 2035. Community Led Housing schemes, in which local people take action to address their own community’s housing needs, are also proposed.

Councillor David Godfrey, F&HDC Cabinet member for Housing, said: “This review of our five year strategy comes at a time when COVID-19 has brought into sharp focus the needs of people sleeping rough and of households facing the threat of becoming homeless.

“Our plans look at how we can work with our partners in the voluntary and statutory sectors to intervene even earlier before a household becomes threatened with becoming homeless. We want to identify those in need of support as soon as possible to prevent evictions wherever possible.

“We hope people will take the time to read what we are proposing. Perhaps we may also interest those who would like to be part of our suggested working group and work with the council to prevent and resolve homelessness.”

The Homelessness Act 2002 requires every local authority to review and renew their Homelessness Strategy every five years. Our previous strategy was a joint East Kent Homelessness Prevention Strategy, adopted by Folkestone & Hythe, Canterbury, Dover & Thanet councils and agreed in 2014. 

Over the last few years there has been significant legislative change and welfare reform.  Each council is now focusing on their area’s particular needs and producing strategies which reflect those needs.

The strategy and more information can be found by clicking here.

Community Champions

The idea behind Community Champions was very easy to come up with.

We all know someone who regularly makes your day – just does something or says something habitually which brightens everything up.
They go above and beyond the call of duty or what you might expect: the postman, the grocer, the neighbour…
And in the recent months during the Coronavirus pandemic and the lockdown, these were great people.
They might say that they did nothing special, that they just did their job. But they did more than that.
They all in their different ways made a difference to other peoples lives – and for that, we thank them.

You’ll find their stories in the gallery below.
We hope to have more to share with you, as we pick up recommendations from members of their community and have the pleasure and privilege of saying very simply:

“Thank you for making a difference to everyday life. “

The Community Champions scheme is sponsored by The Woodshed Gallery, a Folkestone small business – and we are grateful to them for their generosity.
We are looking for other sponsors to pick up the baton so that we can carry on appreciating these great people in our community.

Each of our Champions receives a certificate and a voucher towards a meal at one of the L&B group of eating houses:
The Pullman, Lubens Pizza house, The Market Square, The Harbour Inn and their new venture at Tin and Tap.