Howard's Way 19 January 2006

Contributed by editor on Jan 19, 2006 - 12:08 AM

HOWARD'S WAY.... a weekly column from Michael Howard MP

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January 2006

On Friday I chaired a meeting at the Civic Centre in Folkestone to discuss the future of sports provision in the district. As is well-known the Council has obtained Government approval for new sports centres at Folkestone and Hythe but question marks have been raised about the viability of the new centre in Folkestone if the existing Sports Centre were to remain open.

The meeting was attended by representatives of all partners on the Council, the Sports Centre Trust, the Town Clerk of Hythe and others. Its purpose was to see if agreement could be reached on the best way forward.

After thorough discussions agreement in principle was reached. I am very grateful to all concerned not least the trustees of the Sports Centre who have rendered such dedicated service in maintaining the Centre for the benefit of local people for so many years.

The plan which was agreed involves a partnership between the District Council and the Sports Centre Trust. Many of the existing facilities of the Sports Centre will be made available to the new centre in which its trustees will have a substantial interest and continuing role. Many of the details remain to be worked out but I hope there will now be a clear way forward which will provide the best possible sports facilities for the other people of the District.

On Friday evening I attended a public meeting at St Peter’s Church in Greatstone to discuss another controversial issue – where to site a new play area for the youngsters of that area. Although practically everyone present agreed that such a facility was necessary there was much disagreement about the site.

The site which commanded greatest support is designated as a site of Special Scientific Interest though no-one seems to know why. It looks like a very ordinary piece of scrub land. I am writing to English Nature to see if there is any prospect of the designation being reconsidered.

On Saturday afternoon I spent a fascinating couple of hours in the company of Michael George and other members of the Shorncliffe Redoubt Preservation Society. The Society is doing a great job in awakening interest in some forgotten aspects of our military heritage. The Redoubt played a key part in Sir John Moore’s retraining of the British army in the Napoleonic wars and there are also training trenches used by the brave men on their way to France in the First World War. I shall do all I can to help preserve them for posterity.