Howard's Way - 7 September 2006

Contributed by editor on Sep 07, 2006 - 12:05 AM

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

August 2006


Last weekend’s tragic loss of 14 servicemen in the Nimrod crash in Afghanistan is an occasion for real soul-searching. Our first thoughts go to the families of those who perished who will feel the loss most keenly.

But the tragedy has also turned the spotlight on our operations in Afghanistan. Why are we there? Are we right to be there? And do our brave servicemen and women have the equipment they need?

These questions are entirely legitimate. Not all the answers provided by the Government are satisfactory. But I support our military presence in Afghanistan. It is the country from which, prior to the invasion by Allied Forces after 9/11, Al Qaeda were allowed to prepare their murderous atrocities with impunity. Those atrocities included 9/11 itself.

Even after the fall of the Taliban Government Al Qaeda have been able to operate from some parts of the country and may well have been involved in the 7/7 bombings and the conspiracy to bomb several planes in mid-Atlantic which was thwarted a few short weeks ago.

So it really is vital that the writ of the Kabal government should extend to those areas and that the power of the Taliban should be defeated and destroyed.

To achieve this objective a real international effort is needed. We must certainly play our full part in it but others need to do more. The operation in Afghanistan is a NATO operation and the other members of NATO must make a greater contribution. There is a need for a major diplomatic exercise to bring this about.

But it is also absolutely vital that our brave soldiers and airmen get the equipment they need to do the difficult job we are asking them to do.

The inquiry into what happened to the Nimrod last weekend must be full and thorough. Any lessons that can be learned must be taken fully to heart. Any failure to do so would be an insult to the memory of those who have given their lives on our behalf.

Latest floating hotel to hit town

Contributed by editor on Sep 06, 2006 - 09:38 PM


Dover Cruise Terminal welcomed a ship which is to become one of its biggest customers. 

The MSC Lirica, which docked on Tuesday (5 September), is the first of Italian-owned MSC Cruises's ships to stop at the port. Ten more visits are planned for 2007. 

Lirica was built in 2003 for the privately-owned MSC Italian Cruises. The 58,600 gross ton vessel  has a crew of 700 and can accommodate 1,560-passengers.

Earlier this year, the port of Dover announced a £200m expansion plan for Western Docks. 

The 30-year development includes a new terminal which will be able to handle more luxury ships.

Shepway to re-think on Sports Centres' funding

Contributed by editor on Sep 06, 2006 - 06:14 PM


Shepway Council are to look for new ways to ensure the proposed sports centres in Folkestone and Hythe are built.

They say the project needs technical and financial advice of a different nature and will be appointing a specialist in the next few weeks.

Reports that at a meeting this week, PMP, the council's consultants o­n the project, had allegedly been sacked prompted the council's press office to issue the following statement.

"The council's consultants PMP, have completed the latest phase of work.

"The Private Finance Initiative (PFI) sports project has now reached a watershed. Issues surrounding affordability have been well documented and publicised and we are now considering an alternative way to supplement the existing £9.8m PFI credits to ensure that two new sports facilities are built in Folkestone and Hythe.

"As the project cannot be delivered through PFI alone, the council is seeking advice to take the project through the next phase.

"The council needs technical and financial advice of a different nature and will appoint a specialist in the next few weeks. We are also getting free advice from other local councils which are hoping to deliver sports projects in a similar way to us and from a local authority advisory service known as the 4ps."

Carey's support for Selsted School challenged

Contributed by editor on Sep 06, 2006 - 12:04 AM


Kent County Councillor for Elham Susan Carey will be wearing the local member hat when the report of the public consultation on the proposal to close Selsted School is discussed at the School Organisation Advisory Board (SOAB) meeting in Maidstone on Thursday, 7 September.

But Cllr Carey has confused supporters of the school, and a comment o­n the Gazette Chatterbox  "WOT, did I read right! Susan Carey in favour of keeping Selsted School open. Bit like Saul on the way to Damascus" challenged her over the alleged change of view.

However when we asked Cllr Carey about the report on the public consultation of Selsted School where she is stated to be supporting the case against closure, she denied an about turn.

She wrote saying: "I'm not changing my position!   I still support the primary strategy and the need to reduce surplus places.  I've done my best to explain the strategy and the reasons why some schools are being consulted on for closure.

"You can't make a good case against if you don't understand the reasons for.

"There's no doubt that Selsted is a school that needs to be considered for closure - falling rolls, teaching in less than four classes, empty places at nearby schools etc.- I said I would wear a local member hat at the SOAB meeting and speak o­n behalf of the parents so that their view was heard."

In the public consultation report, the views of the local member are stated as follows : " Miss Susan Carey, Local Member for Elham Valley, supports the Primary Strategy and the need to replace surplus places. As local member, she is supporting the case against closure as made by the parents and children currently at Selsted."

Crunch time for Selsted School

Contributed by editor on Sep 04, 2006 - 10:16 AM


The Kent School Organisation Advisory Board (SOAB) meets this Thursday 7 September to consider the future of Selsted Church of England Primary School.

The proposed closure has been almost universally opposed. Residents, parents, governors and pupils as well as Swingfield Parish Council, Shepway District Council, MP Michael Howard and KCC 's Lead Member for Education and Local Member for Elham Valley, Cllr Susan Carey are all supporting the case against closure.

The report of the consultation held over this summer has been released in advance of the meeting, and shows the massive opposition to the proposals.

Of 1747 responses received and listed in the report, 2 were in favour of the proposal and 1745 were against. 

The report will be considered and the SOAB committee will make their recommendation on the future of the school.

The meeting is on Thursday 7 September from 10.00am in the Council Chamber, Sessions House, County Hall, Maidstone. It is open to the public and can be viewed live on the KCC website.

Read the consultation report

Tit Bits - 4 September 2006

Contributed by editor on Sep 04, 2006 - 12:05 AM

Luckily there is more than one way to skin a cat.....

As soon as I heard about the report instigated by the Hawkinge Partnership about the problems at the Hawkinge Community centre I banged off an email to them to get myself a copy. That was last Monday and still it has not arrived. Email is fast, very fast, so what is the problem? Surely they are not that busy. If I didn't know better I would have said they didn't want me to see it. Luckily there is more than one way to skin a cat and I managed to acquire a copy elsewhere. 

The schools go back this week and we can look forward to the usual traffic chaos outside the Churchill. The school's efforts to solve the problems continue, including the possibility of at last starting a walking bus. But is it really their problem to solve? Why not take a step back and look at the root cause. How many parents really do need to drive their children to school? 

Are people seriously interested in putting themselves up for the parish council, as the Chatterbox suggests? The Parish Council is presently as popular as a traffic warden in Canterbury Road, so maybe this is a good time for those interested, to get together and formulate a strategy for the village, ready for when they could take over. Who knows, all the old guard on the council could retain their seats in a Parish election, but if they don't then at least you would be ready.

Would you like to contribute to my page of tit bits?


Men invented everything

Contributed by editor on Sep 03, 2006 - 09:10 PM


If you don't believe me  - click here


Great cash prize at Dance Challenge

Contributed by editor on Sep 03, 2006 - 04:01 PM


The 2006 Kent Dance Challenge is a fantastic opportunity for Dance School students to expand upon their performing experience and the school to win a great cash prize. 

Kent Dance Challenge 2006 is open to all schools in Kent and will enable dance students to experience the spirit of dance in an encouraging and enthusiastic atmosphere.

The event is staged by Frances Metcalfe, proprietor of Media Modelling and Casting Agency, and the Principal of Franze Academy of Modelling and Commercial Dance.

Dancers at the recent Pure Dance summer workshop

The Franze Academy dancers meet in Hawkinge Village Hall and were part of the England Dance Team that went to Hollywood in 2005 and returned to Kent with the award of excellence in Jazz. The selection was made after the judging panel had seen thirty States and nine other countries perform. "it was a life changing experience for our dancers and chaperones," said Frances.

Performers taking part in the Kent Dance Challenge may also enter a Modelling Competition in association with Media Modelling and Casting Agency and award winning photographer Ian Turner who has been commissioned by the Royal family and has worked for Hello and Vogue Magazine.

The competition will be held on Saturday 7 October 2006 at Mote Hall, Maidstone, Kent

More details:


Internet Explorer 7 gives a lot more

Contributed by editor on Sep 03, 2006 - 11:47 AM


If you have are using Internet Explorer browser, have you seen the latest Internet Explorer 7.

Internet Explorer 7 provides improved navigation through tabbed browsing, web search right from the toolbar, advanced printing, easy discovery, reading and subscription to RSS feeds, and much more.

Click here to get your free version of Internet Explorer 7


What a way to run a village!

Contributed by editor on Sep 01, 2006 - 06:04 PM


Dear Ed,

Having attended the special parish council meeting regarding the Community Centre o­n Wednesday, I must say I came away fairly depressed. 

The Chairman, David Callaghan did at least try to sound positive about its future, but there was a pervading atmosphere of negativity over the whole proceedings. 

Much was made about the Centre being 'far too large', but having thought about it, I can't help feeling that, as Hawkinge has grown enormously in the past few years and is set to grow even more, we do need a large, vibrant and well run Community Centre, preferably with a kitchen you can cook in and a bar area. 

I strongly feel that, whatever the inefficiencies of the present management, there would not have been such severe revenue problems for the Centre had it not been constantly undercut by the Village Hall. 

I was always under the impression that the new Community Centre was to take the place of the outdated and run-down Village Hall - which is certainly too small!  Instead of which we now have a Community Centre in severe difficulties, with a very patronising and hostile Parish Council deigning to help out whilst barely concealing its glee over the mess. 

What a way to run the Village!

Jean James