Change the record: listen to our community voice

In May, local voters emphatically chose a change of administration at Folkestone and Hythe District Council.
Many of the political parties’ manifesto statements referred explicitly to the need for community voice to play a far more significant part in the leadership of Folkestone – demonstrating real change in approach and democratic commitment.

However, we also – all of us – expected and need a clear signal of practical actions: not just a series of photo opportunities, where elected representatives turn up to the opening of an envelope, as they say.
Good to be seen out and about. Even better to be seen making a difference.
So what do we need to happen, three months in?
Here are three suggestions for the new leadership:

And for everyone else – please click here for a listing of your elected representatives – it’s time to tell them what we think and to work together as a community to find a positive future for Folkestone….

1. A statement of intent

In preparing for office, months if not years before the election, all political candidates and groups will have considered strategic priorities for our community: economic; social; planning; regeneration; addressing disadvantage and so on.

It is time to publish a broad Statement of Council Intent….. “these are the issues and priorities we are working on, dealing with.”
We were promised a stronger community voice: now it’s time for the Council ‘to put our money where our mouth is…’

2. Revisit The Place Plan

The Council should revisit and revise the Place Plan, in the context of three significant new factors affecting Folkestone:

  • National economic outlook – reports emerging of a five year downturn
  • KCC budget and service cutbacks
  • The Seafront development

The plan should be updated, to priorities the show community assets and other key features and opportunities within our town which were unforgivably overlooked – it should be revised to reflect the new context and to become more appropriately A People Plan

3. Publish an interim local economic strategy

The Council should develop and publish short to medium term economic planning linked to the revised longer term strategy for our community, supporting the Town Centre and addressing inequalities across the town.
The outline should be prepared in discussion with community leaders. Soon.

3 thoughts on “Change the record: listen to our community voice

  • August 14, 2023 at 9:44 am

    The harbour development is not part of the place plan and part of private development. Whilst an important local issue it is a wasted bullet point of focus. As is KCC service cuts which are out of FHDC control.

    • August 15, 2023 at 9:32 am

      Thanks for your note; the point made in our “advice to FHDC” is simply that these are important factors to take into consideration in reviewing & refreshing The Place Plan.
      Many think this plan is a done and dusted document – it is not: senior Council officers confirm that it is a framework or work in progress which should be part of an iterative process involving ongoing community discussions. This needs to be more widely understood.
      Perhaps the other observation is that if FHDC officers and members do not use their position to negotiate and press the case for positive developments in Folkestone with their opposite number, then they are not doing the job properly. You can influence even if you do not have ultimate control, hopefully!

  • August 9, 2023 at 5:16 pm

    9th August: a response to our blog calling for action by our local Council….

    Dear Editor

    Yes, let’s get on with the LUF plan. Lots of it is admirable and needed.

    Making the approach to the town more welcoming and easier is good.
    Yes, fixing the roof on Folca is good, so they can experiment within it using the
    iterative process, whatever that means. We can only wait and see.

    However, getting some bits of the town physically fixed does not necessarily mean it will
    automatically regenerate the economy. Businesses operate where there is good transport. Not everyone has their own transport and when they do it is a fight and expensive to find parking.

    While our visitors come to see Folkestone, it is not the only place to go.
    We are surrounded by ancient, and not so ancient history and 19th century
    architecture, all of which is of interest to visitors.
    Likewise, those who live in some of these historic areas wish to come to Folkestone. What happens of course, is that everyone gets into their cars or on the buses and this clogs up
    the roads causing pollution and generally adding to the annoyance of modern travel.

    Now we hear that Stagecoach are opting out of their obligations to provide adequate
    public transport – causing more inconvenience and cost, especially for those who don’t have transport of their own and those in the outlying areas of the Marsh and Downs.
    Local activist Ray Duff is fighting hard against this decision and deserves your support.

    However, I have discovered that one area in the North is receiving a very large sum of LUF for the purchase of 50 electric buses in order to promote better travel in their patch. People with vision, who have looked at the future, realised what ticks the governments boxes and gone for it. We should ask our local Councillors and officers – why we can’t do the same?

    Progress and economy are built via the transport systems: even Iron Age man had his trackways which the Romans improved upon, and we are still using them.
    Nowadays, its what we put on them that’s a problem

    In our area, surely we could have a fleet of small electric buses travelling continuously between the neediest hamlets and inaccessible roads, crossing over at sections and interchangeable. A ticket would cover whatever a passenger needed. Daily, weekly etc. Posts along the routes indicating destinations and where they intersect to take you on to another route and another destination. Our tourists would appreciate this system just as much
    as those who cannot get a bus in to town and have to take their car. I have been stopped on many occasions by people clutching timetables trying to get to somewhere on the Marsh and almost giving up in despair.

    LUF 3 is now open for bids. There is no harm in trying.
    And if Stagecoach can’t or won’t provide what we need, get rid of them and go it alone.
    I am told there are L.A’s who run perfectly viable and efficient bus services of their own.
    How about it, Folkestone?

    Local activist (anonymous)


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