Howard's Way 13 April 2006

Contributed by editor on Apr 13, 2006 - 12:06 AM


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

April 2006<IMG height=195 hspace=10 src="images/michaelhoward3.jpg" width=130 align=right vspace=10 border=0>

Once again the past week has shed light on the kind of society we have become.

The comments of a district judge suggesting that it was political correctness gone mad to prosecute a 10 year old boy for using allegedly racist remarks in the school playground have led to bitter controversy. The general secretary of one of the teaching unions accused the judge of ‘trivialising racist taunts and abuse.’ She said the judge’s remarks feed the pernicious agenda of extremists.

But many people may think that it was the bringing of the prosecution in the first place that is more likely to achieve that. Of course racist abuse is unacceptable but surely we have not yet reached the point when common sense plays no part in decisions to prosecute. On this occasion I am wholeheartedly on the side of the judge.

Another decision of the courts was less welcome. Last Thursday the Court of Appeal decided that any asylum seeker granted sanctuary elsewhere in the European Union had a right to move to Britain and claim free council housing.

I wish I could take the appeal judges to some of my regular advice centres. They would be able to hear for themselves the heart rending tales of some of my constituents who have been waiting for years for decent housing. In my opinion they should come first.

Meanwhile we were told at the weekend that the East Kent Hospitals NHS Trust is going to lose 160 beds because they are getting £20 million less from the Government than they had expected. Few people would argue that we have too many hospital beds in our area. So I view this latest development with great concern.

How can we have got into this mess given the large amount of taxpayers’ money which has been poured into the NHS in recent years? To my mind it reinforces the view I have long held that without real reform the extra money would not deliver the improvements in health care we all want to see.

I was very sad to hear of the proposal to close the Folkestone branch of Marks and Spencer and have written to the Chief Executive of the company to try to persuade him to change his mind. I shall certainly do all I can to bring this about.

Council in a flutter over £10,000 bird bill

Contributed by editor on Apr 12, 2006 - 10:37 PM



Dover councillors are appealing to residents not to feed flocks of pigeons in the town.

An inspection of the Town Hall at the 340 year old Maison Dieu House found a layer of droppings six centimetres deep on the roof. 

As well as causing £10,000 worth of damage to the leaking roof of the historic building, they are also damaging the nearby war memorial.

The town council has already spent £2,000 putting up nets to keep the birds off the building, which it moved into in 2004. 

Mayor Cllr. Ken Tranter said that they had to educate people who bring sacks of food but admitted he was not against the odd bun and crisps.

He confirmed the birds will not be culled but said that they  have got to do something to cut down the numbers.

Well deserved appointment to the Lords

Contributed by editor on Apr 12, 2006 - 05:15 PM


Dear Ed,

Re: Peerage for Sir Sandy

Congratulations to Sandy o­n his well earned and well deserved appointment to the House of Lords. 

He really has done a tremendous job for Kent.  He took over as leader of Kent County Council after a disatrous period (1993 - 97) of a Lib/Lab pact that had left the County Council o­n the brink of bankruptcy.  From that low point KCC has become o­ne of o­nly thirteen councils with the top 4 star rating and o­ne of o­nly four rated 'improving strongly' - of these four, KCC has the lowest band D tax.

As Leader of the Local Government Association, Sandy continues to put the case for fairer funding of local government and lobbies effectively for changes in some the Government's wackier proposals such as re-organising councils into vast Euro-Regions. 

Sandy's peerage is a great personal accolade but it is also an honour for all of us in Kent and goes some way to restoring the prestige of the honour's system.

Susan Carey
County Councillor

Something familiar

Contributed by editor on Apr 12, 2006 - 12:18 PM


Dear Ed,

Re: Don't tell the police - tell it to the fairies

I'm afraid this story has something of a repeat about it.  A  reporter for the Daily Telegraph had her handbag snatched whilst in view of a CCTV camera in a cafe.  A year o­n and the police have still not collected the tape for viewing.

And yet, o­n the same spot a couple of months after the handbag snatch, she was seen in her car encroaching o­n the bus lane too early for a left hand turn; within a couple of weeks she had been fined a given points!

Have we gone mad?  Do we get the police force we deserve?



Something missing?

Contributed by editor on Apr 12, 2006 - 12:14 PM


Dear Ed,

Re: Neighbouhood Watch bulletin

The list of the latest criminal activities in the area is always well recieved.

Unfortunately, I feel there is something missing from the list; could we add a list of traffic offences committed in the area?

The speed limit must have been broken hundreds of times, parking laws flouted, red traffic lights ignored and driving without due care and attention - well who would make a guess at that?



Peerage for Sir Sandy

Contributed by editor on Apr 12, 2006 - 12:07 AM


Sir Sandy Bruce-Lockhart

Sir Sandy Bruce-Lockhart, former Leader of Kent County Council, is to become a working peer.

Paul Carter, who took over as Council Leader last October after Sir Sandy had served
8 years in the post said that he knew he spoke for many hundreds of the county's residents when he expressed his delight at the news.

"Sandy is an inspiration not just to those of us at County Hall who know him and work with him but to everyone who comes into contact with him. Whatever the issue, it receives his unstinting time, vision and commitment."

Sir Sandy, aged 63, farmed in Zimbabwe before settling in Kent nearly 40 years ago. He farms fruit at Headcorn and Egerton. He is married to Tess and the couple have three children.

Sir Sandy said: "I am deeply grateful to so many people in Kent who supported me throughout my time leading the county council and I am delighted now to have a new and national opportunity. I will serve to the very best of my ability, whatever way the House of Lords develops, and work to promote the interests of Kent and the values that so many of us share."

He was elected a County Councillor in 1989 and became Leader of the Conservative Group in 1993. He was Leader of the council from 1997 until October 2005.

Don't tell the police - tell it to the fairies

Contributed by editor on Apr 11, 2006 - 09:44 PM


Dear Ed ,

Re: Watch those gnomes

I feel that I must tell you my story of gnomes and garden ornaments.

On Friday 4th February 2005 my wife and I returned home from an evening out to find that a heavy garden ornament and its plinth had been stolen from our front garden in Mill Lane.

I was what I thought lucky to have my CCTV turned on, and yes it had the pictures of two people in the process of lifting and removal of that ornament through the gate and down the lane.

The CCTV even gave the names of those two people as they addressed each other; one was Michael and the other was Nathen.

The Police Officer who collected the CCTV film from us said that the film was clear and that the police would have no problem in catching the thieves. That was over a year ago and we have not been told a thing about the incident.

My moral to this story is that if you have gnomes or ornaments stolen from your garden don't tell the police tell it to the fairies.

Tony Hutt

Battle of Britain easy access history trail launched

Contributed by editor on Apr 11, 2006 - 06:50 PM


The Memorial at Capel-le-Ferne

Easy access trails including one for Dover and another encompassing the history of the Battle of Britain have been launched by Kent County Council to help people discover the stories behind seven of Kent's historic fortified towns and sites.

The trails were developed by KCC's Heritage Conservation and Access Development teams with the help of local access groups. 

Full-colour pocket guides have been produced with maps showing gradients, disabled facilities, and places of interest for the Battle of Britain, Canterbury, Dover Castle, Hythe, Rochester, Sandwich and Tonbridge. They can be obtained from tourist information offices and at the sites. 

The Battle of Britain trail takes in Capel-le-Ferne, Hawkinge, and Brenzett in Shepway. Click here for a detailed list of trails.

Watch those gnomes

Contributed by editor on Apr 11, 2006 - 04:49 PM


Residents should keep a close eye o­n their garden ornaments following a recent crime report from Neighbourhood Watch.

It has been reported that a number of garden ornaments were stolen from a garden in Pay Street, Hawkinge between 3rd and 7th April.

Shepway sports centre for Hawkinge?

Contributed by editor on Apr 11, 2006 - 12:52 PM



Dear Ed,

For nearly six years the issue of building two new sports centres has rumbled on. 

How much longer?

The Folkestone Sports Centre Trust has always been a `reluctant bride` with the problems of reaching an agreement seemingly insurmountable.

However matters are now coming to a head with a Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) deadline of the 30 May to get an agreement moving ever closer. At this point the Private Finance Initiative Grant of £10m.would be lost. 

The problem is now further complicated by an application which has now been submitted to have the land at South Road, Hythe (the second site) designated as a village green under the commons registration act.

It now turns out that a referendum will be needed in Hythe to progress matters further. Had the matters been resolved in Folkestone earlier, none of this would have happened.

It seems to many like me that such is the intransigence of the many factions involved that it will be impossible to put everything in place by the DCMS deadline.

Is this yet another opportunity being lost by Shepway because of factional in-fighting by major vested interests?

Is it now time to think outside the envelope?

Everyone has been trying to build two new small sports centres, but should we not have been trying to build a new state of the art single sports centre with Olympic facilities?

Where could it be situated? 

Two sites come to mind, both with far better highways access than any of the current proposals.

1.  Princess Parade, Hythe (site owned by Shepway District Council).

2.  Employment Land, Spitfire Way, Hawkinge.

My favourite would be Hawkinge because it would go a long way to solving the lack of infrastructure so bemoaned by the parishes of  Swingfield, Acrise, Paddlesworth and Hawkinge and also providing much needed employment.

All the facilities could be built there, including a ski-slope, perhaps using the natural topography, without the loss of any current facilities and amenities.

Furthermore it would be serviced by a new road and away from any potential problems caused by its proximity to residential development.

So come on Shepway, think outside the box, and act decisively before another opportunity for the area is lost forever.

Colin Tearle
Chairman Swingfield Parish Council