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Politicians need to come up with come up with local solutions!

March 23, 2017 10:00 AM

Canterbury Jan 2017Cllr Nick Eden-Green puts his vision across for our area:

Locally the city council must put its own house in order before going for massive reorganisation. For example over the last few weeks I have been trying to get SERCO to replace the paper waste insert in my bin which they damaged. After 3 emails to SERCO and the council, someone came to my door with an open crate to use temporarily as the bin inserts are out of stock. Great. Putting paper in an open crate in the March winds is a guarantee that my paper waste will litter the streets. That means, you guessed it, more work for SERCO. Then they will eventually come back a second time with the correct insert and take the crate away. Who pays for all this? We do as taxpayers. Get it right first time and stop moaning about lack of money.

OK, that's just a little thing but what about the big money the council has to save? Is this really the right time to spend £1.3m on new barriers and automatic number plate recognition schemes for our car parks? Or £600,000 on chopping downs trees in the High Street and planting news ones as part of an upgrade of a small section of the street? Abandoning these schemes would save £2m. Was the £1m spent on Tower House or the £100,000 on the Westgate Towers traffic scheme really money well spent?

So can the councillors who hold the purse strings, supposedly economically competent Conservatives, think before they spend?

Then there are the national issues that affect us locally. We have a lot of skills shortages because we have failed to invest adequately in training doctors, nurses, plumbers, bricklayers, care workers....you name it. Given that it takes5-10 years to train a doctor you can't just increase the numbers by putting an advert in the Gazette or even the British Medical Journal. We need skilled staff from other countries to help run our hospital. This was the point rightly made by the hospital Trust at the CHEK meeting.The Trust subsists on expensive agency staff who are not paid to pass on their skills to more junior colleagues. This results in a lack of training, lack of sustainability and the negative spiral of fewer skilled staff.

So, Julian Brazier and his Westminster colleagues, must make it crystal clear that from doctors to fruit pickers, our local services rely on workers from the continent. We must reassure them that they are needed and, provided they pay their taxes and obey our laws, they are genuinely welcome as part of our society.

If the NHS has long term skilled staff and is integrated with social services to provide post hospital care, it can remain the best, most efficient and cheapest system in the western world.

Finally, back to the development debate. How right Peter Styles was to stress the importance of our historic city and its setting. Important not just as a great place to live, but economically our greatest asset bringing the tourists, shoppers and students which make it successful.

The local plan to build 10,000 houses in southern Canterbury was not simply government policy. It was a conscious decision taken by local Conservative councillors to prop up the council finances with the new homes bonus (now being withdrawn). If we had presented the inspector with different evidence showing a building rate closer to the South East average rather than double it, we would have had a saner plan. Remember, the inspector judges the evidence so different evidence equals different judgement equals different plan. At the local plan hearings both Conservative and Labour councillors were conspicuous by their absence. Nor do they appear to have objected to the further dumbing down of the amended plan where whole policies on space standards and eco homes have been removed. You should ask where they were.

For Corinthian to threaten that delays to their plans will have 'catastrophic consequences' is a bit rich when the catastrophic consequences will be those suffering lung disease or death as their future residents use the ring road or St Dunstans to try to reach Canterbury West station.

Solution? Urgent, clear plans on how the traffic generated by all the southern Canterbury developments is to be handled. Not the nonsensical banning of right turns at the New and Old Dover Road traffic lights making hospital and residential access nigh on impossible and journey distances longer. Urgently revisit a major garden city expansion at Ebbsfleet to take the pressure off other Kent towns.

You see, there are solutions. Even ones that save money and certainly ones to improve our lives.