Joining forces to tackle tipping

Contributed by editor on Jan 21, 2004 - 09:44 AM

<FONT face=Arial color=black size=4> JOINING FORCES TO TACKLE TIPPING

Shepway Council could soon be taking part in two major Kent-wide campaigns to help clean up the district and the county.

At its meeting on Tuesday (27 January) Cabinet will be asked to agree a contribution of £5,000 towards an anti fly tipping campaign and £2,000 towards a Clean Kent Campaign. Eleven other local councils in Kent are also being asked to contribute

The crackdown on fly tipping will include the appointment of two enforcement officers who will target known hot spots and secure evidence for prosecution. More mobile CCTV equipment would also be used to support evidence gathering.

The Clean Kent Campaign aims to raise awareness of the problems of litter and fly tipping and promote higher standards of cleanliness.

The report to Cabinet says the funding can be met out of current budgets.

Shepway council tax set to rise by £60

Contributed by editor on Jan 20, 2004 - 04:36 PM

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Council Tax rises in Shepway could remain in single figures - although this will depend on the charges set by other precepting authorities like Kent County Council, Kent Police Authority, Kent Fire and Rescue Services, town and parish councils precepts and drainage levies.

At its meeting on Tuesday (25 January) Shepway's Cabinet will be considering the councils proposed capital and revenue budgets for next year, which will help set council tax levels.

In line with the council's four-year financial plan, which was reported last month, increases for Shepway Council's element of the Council Tax are likely to be around £1.20 per week for an average band D property.

This will help finance a significant £20m capital programme and help the council meet the costs of improving services in its priority areas making Shepway cleaner, greener and safer; improving housing and regenerating the district.

Council Leader, Cllr Linda Cufley, said: "The £20m capital programme is one of the biggest in the last 10 years. With a major coast protection scheme, Folkestone town centre improvements, the redevelopment of sports centres at Hythe and Folkestone and a significant drive to end the use of bed and breakfast accommodation for homeless people, teams will be working flat out to deliver the improvements."

The final council tax levels will be set by a meeting of the full council on 25 February.

Huge shopping centre for Folkestone

Contributed by editor on Jan 20, 2004 - 01:27 PM

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Folkestone’s new Bride Hall shopping centre could be home to a major Asda store.

News that the supermarket giant plans to take space in the new development was announced on Tuesday (20 January) and heralds a significant milestone in town centre redevelopment plans.

An Asda superstore was originally included in proposals for a multi-million pound residential, leisure and hotel complex on Folkestone seafront.

The switch to the town centre site removes difficulties that the retail element would have created when the planning application needed to be determined and brings a huge boost to Folkestone’s shopping centre.

The Asda agreement was reached after successful negotiations between seafront developers, Trent Developments Ltd, town centre developers, Bride Hall and the council.

Council Leader, Cllr Linda Cufley, said the news was a great start to what looked like being a great year for Folkestone.

“The people of Folkestone have waited a long time for the redevelopment of this prime town centre site. News that Asda wants to come on board puts our town centre back in the spotlight and should also enable a new seafront redevelopment proposal to go ahead.�

Bride Hall will now submit a new planning application that will incorporate an Asda supermarket on the first floor. The ground floor of the shopping centre will cover 100,000 square feet and create a range of new shops including a 1,200 square feet unit for Asda’s fashion range and other non-food products.

Trent Developments will now submit revised proposals for the seafront

Alistair Shaw, Bride Hall Development’s Joint Managing Director, said: “Asda’s commitment will be a huge boost for the town centre. Their presence will attract other retailers offering the comparison shopping that we have always endeavoured to deliver for Folkestone. A vast effort is now underway to finalise the new design and submit our detailed application in March.�

Asda's Richard Frank said: " We're delighted that we are a step nearer to bringing our unique range, fantastic value and great customer service to Folkestone.

“This is a real win-win situation which will boost the town centre, create hundreds of new jobs and regenerate a key seafront site, while fitting in with the council's vision for the town.�

Council complaints prompts Watchdog to rewrite code of conduct

Contributed by editor on Jan 19, 2004 - 03:30 PM

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The code which regulates councillors' conduct is to be overhauled following a flood of complaints to the local government standards watchdog.

Shepway District Council came out badly in a highly critical 55-page report by The University of Birmingham’s Institute of Local Government Studies in October 2003, citing the excessive numbers of complaints reported by the council.

The body responsible for investigating council members' conduct is sketching out proposals to revise the code of conduct for councillors, less than three years after it was first introduced under the Local Government Act 2000.

The Standards Board for England was set up in April 2001 to enforce the new code, and received the green light from the local government minister, Nick Raynsford, to recommend revisions to the code when it saw fit.

Its decision to explore changes to the original code over the coming months follows concern over the deluge of trivial complaints reported against councillors, and the length of time it takes to process them.

Over the past two-and-a-half years, the watchdog has received 5,188 complaints concerning councillors, almost two-thirds (62%) of which were thrown out before reaching the investigation stage.

The remaining 1,971 were all investigated, at an estimated cost of between £2,500 and £3,000 per case, and resulted in 84 councillors being disqualified and a further 19 suspended.

The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister is now working on legislation to authorise councils to carry out their investigations into complaints, in a bid to help relieve "the logjam" of complaints reaching the Standards Board.

The ODPM also confirmed it is drafting a code of conduct for council staff, which will also be overseen by the Standards Board.

Former District Councillor Colin Tearle said: "The reason for this revision, which is not before time, has been the way in which council officers and members of the public, have attempted to settle scores through the Standards Board of England.

"I also welcome the news of the introduction of a code to cover local council staff" said Mr Tearle.

Shepway sees bright future for prefab housing

Contributed by editor on Jan 19, 2004 - 12:51 PM

Fifteen councillors from Gravesham Borough Council visited Kettle Drive at Hawkinge on Wednesday (14 January) to look at specially-built prefabricated homes before deciding whether or not to introduce them in the borough.

Another body found below cliffs

Contributed by editor on Jan 19, 2004 - 12:42 PM

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The body of a woman has been discovered at the bottom of cliffs at Fan Bay near Dover.

Dover Coastguard were called to help recover the body 8.30 on Monday morning.

The woman, who has not yet been identified, is believed to have been in her late 30s or early 40s.

Port of Dover Police said they were still investigating but were not treating the incident as suspicious.

Found anything unusual recently?

Contributed by editor on Jan 19, 2004 - 12:35 PM

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For people who have found something unusual in their garden or attic, or while beachcombing or metal detecting, an event coming up at the Museum of Canterbury on Saturday 24 January will be right up their street.

Experts will be at the museum between 11am and 2.30pm for another free finds identification session. Whatever it is, however old it is, they will be on hand to identify it free of charge.

The event is part of the special Treasure exhibition, which puts on show a fascinating range of items found by the public and acquired for the museum. Already lined up for this weekend is a collection of Victorian tin soldiers found by a detectorist near Herne Bay, and a gold mourning ring.

Visitors will also be offered help with caring for their finds, and can hear how the recent Treasure Act works and how finders can benefit from its reward system.

Leading the experts will be Dr Andrew Richardson, who will have help from specialists in the local detectorist societies. Only identification is offered, not valuations. A range of popular books that help identify finds will also be on sale.

The free finds identification session is at the Museum of Canterbury in Stour Street and takes place this Saturday (24 January) from 11am to 2.30pm. Two further sessions are planned for February 28 and March 20.

Slashed throat passenger - "not suspicious".

Contributed by editor on Jan 18, 2004 - 02:16 PM

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Police are no longer treating the case of a man found with a slashed throat on a ferry as suspicious.

The man is in a stable condition in hospital on Saturday (17 January).

He was discovered by a passenger on the deck of a P&O ferry heading to Dover on Thursday evening.

The man had taken a return trip from Dover to Calais.

Body washed ashore

Contributed by editor on Jan 18, 2004 - 05:21 AM

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The body of a man washed ashore at St Margaret's Bay near Dover is not being treated as suspicious

Police were called just after 2 o'clock on Saturday afternoon (17 January) when a member of the public reported discovering the body.

A police spokesman said the identity of the man could not yet be confirmed.

East Kent villagers armed with speed gun

Contributed by editor on Jan 17, 2004 - 09:30 AM

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Residents of a village in Kent have become crimefighters by learning how to use a speed gun, police have said.

Five locals in Wingham can use the mini GATSO radar which not only monitors the speed of traffic, but also its volume.

When a vehicle exceeds the speed limit as it passes the radar, a light flashes and an alarm sounds, alerting the volunteers who take down details.