Putting the record straight over Hawkinge Partnership closure

Contributed by editor on Sep 14, 2009 - 11:02 AM

Dear Editor,

With reference to the article “Villagers outraged as partnership vanishes” in the Folkestone Herald, I feel compelled to write and put the record straight

It is simply not true to say that the Partnership was mysteriously closed down by Shepway District Council.

As Cllr Tearle himself states the decision to wind down the Partnership and begin to relocate staff to other duties was taken by the Partnership Board (on which I served as Shepway District Council’s nominated representative) early in 2009.

It had always been known that funding for the Partnership would be for a limited period of time and that since 2007 its needs would be looked at on a year by year basis.

The Partnerships sustainability group, a sub committee of the Board made up of mainly local residents recognised that the Partnership had achieved its main objective of drawing together the community ahead of time and felt that maintaining the staff and office in Hawkinge was not in the taxpayers best interests.

The Parish Council on which Cllr Tearle sits fully concurred with the decision of the group and I quote from its own report to the Partnership as far back as November 2008 “The Parish Council does not necessarily see a future use for the Community Office once the overall project comes to an end given other community facilities available”.

I would concede that the final closure of the office was somewhat abrupt and perhaps residents could have been better informed by all concerned however the premises are needed to serve as a children’s centre.

The Parish Council has worked very closely with the Partnership over the past few years and having commendably achieved quality status is taking forward many of the initiatives started by the Partnership as evidenced by its recently published Parish Plan which was developed with the help of dedicated local residents.

Probably the most visible of these initiatives is the Hawkinge Community Fun Day which held its 6th very successful event on Saturday 12th September.

The organisers are another group of dedicated local residents and I am delighted that at its meeting last week the Parish Council voted to continue to sponsor this event in future years. I was also pleased to note that at the same meeting the Parish Council voted in principle to develop its own offices within the Community Centre to provide a permanent point of information to residents.

As for “outraged” residents, using Cllr Tearle’ s own words, the main complaints I have received are over the loss of photocopying facilities, however Cllr Tearle who is employed by the Hawkinge Community Centre knows that there are already limited copying services there.

As a Trustee/Director of the Centre I can reveal that plans are well advanced to provide a more sophisticated photocopier at the Centre for both public and Parish Council use in the near future. At present the Centre also hosts an IT Café and the Trustee/Directors aided by Cllr Tearle’s own efforts have long opened its doors to the youth of Hawkinge.

In accordance with the Partnerships objectives Hawkinge is fast cementing its community spirit with more and more residents getting involved; it has a resurgent Community Centre, a thriving cricket club , an excellent youth football programme (soon to have its own pavilion), a strong allotments society and many other groups providing activities for all ages.

Constructive criticism is always useful but misleading articles only serve to alienate and are counterproductive. There is still much to do so come on Cllr Tearle we have and can continue to work together to contribute in a small way to all the good work going on in an around Hawkinge.

Cllr David Godfrey

© Hawkinge Gazette and Channel Coast News 2009