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£2.5 million bonanza for Hawkinge

Contributed by webmaster on Dec 04, 2003 - 10:21 AM


<FONT face=Arial color=black size=4>£2.5 MILLION BONANZA FOR HAWKINGE

A partnership aimed at running a programme of neighbourhood management and renewal in Hawkinge has been awarded £2.5 million by the Government.

The village is o­ne of o­nly two areas in the south east  - and o­ne of o­nly a handful across the country - to be chosen to take part in the Neighbourhood Management Pathfinder Programme Round 2.

The successful bid for funding was made by Shepway Council, supported by Kent County Council, o­n behalf of an emerging local neighbourhood management partnership that includes Hawkinge Parish Council, Kent Police, Shepway Primary Care Trust and the two local primary schools.

Cllr Cyril Trice, Chairman of Hawkinge Parish Council, said he was delighted with the news. “This was achieved through the hard work of Shepway Council officers who involved as many groups and organisations in the village as possible in the preparation of the bid. It wouldn’t have happened without their efforts. It is now up to everyone to continue to work together for Hawkinge. I am sure we can do it.�

Shepway Council Leader, Linda Cufley, said funding would help tackle ‘quality of life issues’ like community safety, housing, the environment and services for young people.

“This is fantastic news. It’s not a pot of gold for everyone to dip into but will be used to fund carefully targeted programmes and projects aimed at improving local services and tackling the key issues identified by the local community.�

KCC’s Cabinet Member for Finance, Nick Chard, said: This is the first neighbourhood renewal scheme in Kent. “We are delighted to have supported the preparation of the bid and look forward to taking part in the development and implementation of the programme.�

David Shore, Shepway District Council’s Partnership and Regeneration Manager, said Hawkinge’s rapid growth had provided the opportunity to create a sustainable local community -  but had also presented a number of key challenges.

“The rapid growth of Hawkinge has meant that service providers need to look very closely at how they deliver services to the people of the village. Taking part in the Neighbourhood Management Pathfinder Programme Round 2 will involve service providers working in partnership with the local community to identify the type of services people want and the way those service are best delivered. The extra resources available will allow the aspirations of local people to be turned into reality.�

Mr Shore warned that major change will not be achieved overnight but would depend o­n the development of a strong local partnership backed up by a dedicated neighbourhood management team based in the village. Some funding would, however, be available for ‘quick win’ projects that could be up and running early in the New Year, he said.

The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister announced the success of the funding bid o­n Thursday (4 December). Neighbourhood Management is a key part of the government’s overall national strategy o­n neighbourhood renewal designed to tackle problems of deprived neighbourhoods.


Council spending under the spotlight

Contributed by webmaster on Dec 03, 2003 - 01:10 PM


<FONT face=Arial color=black size=4>COUNCIL SPENDING UNDER THE SPOTLIGHT

<FONT color=blue>(This is the Press Release published o­n the Shepway District Council Website)

Improving council services in line with what people across the district want will cost the average council tax payer an extra £1.21 a week - less than the price of a pint of beer.

A special meeting of Shepway Council’s Cabinet o­n Thursday 11 December will be looking at the financial blueprint that forecasts council spending over the next four years.

The draft mid-term financial plan and budget strategy also lays the foundations for the 2004/05 council tax-setting process that takes place in February. If services are improved in line public demand, band D taxpayers will face an extra £1.20 a week in their council tax.

As well as collecting council tax to help pay for its own services, Shepway Council collects council tax o­n behalf of Kent County Council and Kent Police Authority for the services they provide. Their spending needs will have to be taken into account before the final percentage increase in council tax is calculated and the council tax level set.

The financial report by Strategic Director, Lol Avory, looks at the consequences of dipping into financial reserves, the effects of interest rates o­n borrowing and the extra costs that have to be met to deliver more than £600,000 worth of improvements.

It also assesses the impact of the Government’s Local Government Finance Settlement – money given to local councils to help them run services.

“At this stage, the proposed settlement is again disappointing for local councils in the south east with a below inflation settlement of about 2.3 per cent. We are still waiting for detailed information about the increased subsidy for benefits,� said Mr Avory.

He said balancing the budget without higher funding from either the government or council tax was becoming increasingly difficult.

He warns of using council cash reserves for day-to-day spending and says £1m would be a ‘prudent’ level of reserve.

Council Leader, Linda Cufley, said residents across the district had told the council about the improvements they would like to see and this was reflected in the council’s priorities.

“If we stand still and doing nothing but maintain services as they are, council tax for the 2004/05 year will rise by £1.05 a week. People we spoke to said they were prepared to pay more for improved services - especially when it comes to keeping the district clean, improving housing and tackling crime and disorder. Carrying out these improvements will cost an average of £1.21 a week extra. That’s less than the price of a packet of 10 cigarettes or a pint of beer and I think it represents good value.

“We are not in the market for quick fixes. Some improvements will be carried out straight away and others will take longer. But we have set our priorities for the next four years and at the end of this time we hope people across the district will see the results of pursuing our priorities.�

She said the government’s disappointing below inflation increase in grants would mean the council had to make some very difficult decisions o­n services and levels of council tax for next year.

“ In cash terms, Shepway’s proposed grant is less than anticipated at £9.3million and means a stark choice between council tax increases or further reductions in the money we spent o­n services.â€?

Cllr Paul Marsh, Cabinet member for resources, said over the past few months Cabinet had had to consider what were priorities and what were not against a background of continued financial restraint.

“Our priorities, including meeting some tough national performance indicators and targets, will be the driving force behind where extra money is spent. Similarly non-priority services will be areas where spending is curtailed.

“Achieving some of our key priorities may take a number of years. The development of a revised medium term financial plan more clearly matches money that is likely to be available to identified need and this will carefully considered by Cabinet when it meets o­n 11 December.â€?


Channel link part of Olympic bid

Contributed by webmaster on Dec 03, 2003 - 01:01 PM


<FONT face=Arial color=black size=4>CHANNEL LINK PART OF OLYMPIC BID

The Channel Tunnel rail link will be used as a shuttle service for London's Olympic zone under wide-ranging plans to win the race to host the 2012 games.

This is the "ace in the hole" in a redesign of the transport systems for the duration of the games, according to Hugh Sumner, transport team leader.

It would run o­n the Channel Tunnel line from St Pancras to Stratford and Folkestone.


Woman charged over train death

Contributed by editor on Dec 02, 2003 - 02:47 PM

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WOMAN CHARGED OVER TRAIN DEATH

A woman has been charged with causing death by dangerous driving following a collision between a car and a train in Kent in August.

Kevin Crouch, 31, was killed when the Romney Hythe and Dymchurch railway train he was driving was in collision with a car in Dymchurch.

The engine and the front carriage derailed in the accident, which left Mr Crouch, from Mottingham, south-east London, trapped in his cab.

The car's driver, Marie Scrace, 22, of Lydd, will appear at Folkestone Magistrates' Court on December 10.


Tree vandalism "defies belief".

Contributed by editor on Dec 01, 2003 - 03:21 PM


<FONT face=Arial color=black size=4>TREE VANDALISM “DEFIES BELIEF�

Police are appealing for information about a number of newly planted trees that have been destroyed in Folkestone.

Nineteen young ornamental trees (apple and flowering hawthorn) in Audley Road, Bathhurst Road, Welson Road and Baldrick Road were cut down with a saw between midnight and 8.00am o­n the 20 November.

The trees were planted recently by Shepway Council and were worth thousands of pounds.

Cllr John Hughes, Shepway Council’s Cabinet member responsible for public space and safety, is appalled. “This is not your typical act of wanton vandalism but a callous and calculated crime that defies belief.

“It is also distressing for our dedicated parks team to see their hard work laid to waste and frustrating for residents who have been working with the Council to improve their environment.�

Crime Researcher, PC Phil Harvey-Hendley said: “We are mystified by this act of vandalism, that has caused so much damage. If anyone knows who is responsible, I would appreciate if they could contact me o­n 01303 289330.â€?

Alternatively, if you have any information about these, or any crimes, please call Crimestoppers Free o­n 0800 555 111.


Task force to tackle "boy racers".

Contributed by editor on Dec 01, 2003 - 03:19 PM


<FONT face=Arial color=black size=4>TASK FORCE TO TACKLE BOY RACERS

A special multi-disciplined tasking group has been established to address the problem of boy racers in and around Folkestone.

The group is made up of Shepway District Council’s highways, environmental health, legal, street scene and crime reduction officers, and officers from South East Kent Police.

The group is due to have its first meeting o­n 12th December 2003 and will be discussing the possibility of issuing injunctions o­n persistent offenders, fines, joint operations with the police for seizing vehicles etc, and funding for long-term highway improvements.

Shepway Council in partnership with South East Kent Police have been looking at more permanent and effective ways of tackling boy racers in Folkestone Town Centre.

The distinctive red and white bollards which were placed at two sites in the town centre - the war memorial and the bus station - for a trial period, are to be reinstated with the cost being borne by KCC Highways.

The scheme has been highly successful in reducing problems of boy racers for those residents around the Leas/Memorial area. Their quality of life was greatly improved over the trial period.

The Council’s Cabinet member responsible for public space and safety, Cllr. John Hughes, said: “I am pleased that the experimental scheme is to be reintroduced to help residents who have had to endure such unnecessary disruption to their lives. However, it did not address the wider implications of boy racers such as displacement to other parts of town. This new task group has been set up to find an effective, long term way of putting an end to this unacceptable behaviour.�


Action demanded over asylum

Contributed by editor on Dec 01, 2003 - 04:02 AM

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ACTION DEMANDED OVER ASYLUM

A "fairer and faster" immigration system is still needed to tackle the number of asylum seekers flooding into Kent, the county council leader claims.

Sir Sandy Bruce-Lockhart said some improvements had been made, but "little real progress" was being achieved.

The Tory politician said: "New asylum seekers coming to the UK should be held in residential reception centres."