Gorrell Ward Hustings 2015

The Whitstable Society will host a ward hustings for Gorrell Ward at 6.30 PM on Friday 24th April at St Johns Methodist Church in Argyle Rd.

The Candidates for the Gorrell Ward, 3 of whom will be elected to Canterbury City Council on the 7th May are as follows.

At the Hustings on Friday 24th April candidates will make a 3 minute opening statement, which will be reproduced on this page if received prior to the Hustings.

Candidate Party
Brian BAKER The Conservative Party
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Ashley CLARK
The Conservative Party
Ashley Clark says – Actions speak louder than words and I place before you my record as a Gorrell Councillor and as a Whitstable resident active in the community.
I have never been on the Council Executive because I don’t slavishly tow the party line. I fought the Council over the sale of Tankerton Road Car Park and was proved right. It’s still there. I fought the Executive over the sale of Kingsmead Field in Canterbury and it has been reprieved. I made three benches for the Field. Closer to home I secured the highest planning protection for Whitstable Beach under a new planning classification of Local Green Space despite the fact that initially both officers and leading councillors had opposed it. I have worked with the Beach Campaign to increase protection further and have publicly castigated the Council over its crass opposition to the village green application.
In respect of traffic I did something that councillors don’t normally do. I submitted a report to officers for a viable park and ride scheme for the town. It gained officer support, but resistance from key councillors, so I went public on it and it is now part of the local plan. I fought the proposed industrial development at the top of Millstrood with the Thanet Way Residents Association. We won and just to make sure I sent a 14 point letter to the Planning Inspectorate. The appeal was withdrawn. Sitting on a Scrutiny Committee I proposed free parking in Whitstable town centre before 10am to boost local trade and to free up wardens. In principle that has been approved.
In the local community I’ve been active too. Ten years ago Duncan Down was plagued by dog poo and motor bike gangs. I tracked the offenders and got them prosecuted. The Friends of Duncan Down have planted hundreds of trees, laid footpaths, installed benches and bridges, created two ponds and have won 9 Green Flag awards for excellence. More importantly and despite opposition I have successfully applied for three extra village greens securing the best protection available for Gorrell and Benacre Woods. The work continues.
In the town I worked with others to protect the railway embankment from Network Rail. I went to London with Phil Cartwright and James Flanagan and I drafted the peace agreement with Network Rail. Subsequently Phil and I spent a whole Sunday overseeing and limiting the tree felling and I worked with Network Rail to plant some 80 replacement trees on the embankment. I supported the Beach Pastors and wrote their safety guidance document and at St Alphege School secured a lottery grant for a potting shed, raised beds and pond which I helped install. As a governor I take Year 2 onto the Downs twice a year for nature study, map reading, pond dipping and tree climbing.
So there you are, and add to that hundreds of individual cases including helping the Labour Club out over a planning issue!! That is just some of what I have done. Time limits me from saying more.
People ask why I am a Conservative. Well I’m not a Tory and I never belonged to the Bullingdon Club and I went to good local state schools. My conservative principles go back 250 years to Edmund Burke who founded the essentials of conservative philosophy. He said that society was a partnership of those who were here, those who are here today and those who are here tomorrow. I apply that to what I do seeking to recognise and preserve the best of the past, seeking harmony for the present and legacy for future generations. I seek to nurture responsibility. If you share that vision you will put any party political prejudices aside and vote for an individual who is prepared to get his hands dirty and to go the extra mile for the town we love.

Liberal Democrat
Colin spent part of his education at the Simon Langton School before moving back to London, though subsequently returned to the Canterbury area and has lived here for the past 30 years. He has had a long and varied career in commerce, security and transport, all at middle management level. Both before and after retirement, he has also been involved in youth work.
“I strongly believe there should be a town council in Whitstable where we can focus on important local issues,” said Colin. “I have real concerns about the future of the library and the local history museum, as well as the future viability of the harbour.”
Liberal Democrat Gorrell Candidate Profiles
(link to other website)

Jonathan DEARTH
Liberal Democrat
Jonathan has lived in Whitstable for 14 years. He is married and his daughter attends Whitstable Junior School. He runs a recruitment consultancy supporting some of the country’s major charities including Action for Children, Amnesty International and Leonard Cheshire Disability. Before moving to Whitstable he was a local councillor for 8 years in Islington, North London.
“I want to provide a proper alternative to the Tories, said Jonathan. “We need a fairer way to look after the most vulnerable and a commitment to the local services such as the library that makes all our lives better. The Liberal Democrats are the best placed to do this in Whitstable.”
Liberal Democrat Gorrell Candidate Profiles
(link to other website)

Bernadette FISHER
Labour Party
Hi I’m Bernadette Fisher
I’m guessing that if you’re reading this you want to know if I can do the job of District Councillor for Gorrell and if I’ll do it in the way you want. So that’s what I’ll try to show here.
I started out as a trade union researcher in a small union after my Masters in European politics. After that I joined one of the unions that made up Unite and became a negotiator in 1991. That was what I did in various arenas until 2012 when an opportunity was presented to me to leave and come to a very familiar part of the Kent coast to follow my dream of being a yoga teacher.
There are three main things about my trade union role I want to highlight. One is the habit of accountability, before, during and after negotiations or consultations. I’ve always known that there is no legitimacy in the trade union rep – or any representative role for that matter – if our actions are not firmly grounded in what the people who put us there want. So, the big task is to listen, communicate, person to person, with local individuals or groups, using direct contact and all the available media. That was my modus operandi as a union officer and is now in the campaigning I have done in the town and the doorstep canvassing for this election.
So you can take it as read that if I were elected, accountability would be my watch-word as it would be for the Labour team. We would be the ones who told it like it was, and that people would come to rely on for that.
The second one is the practice of being in an apparently less powerful position and still fighting or campaigning on. I know it sometimes takes years before your message finally gets across. This was the case for me on things like carers’ rights, work-life balance and the living wage with the employers I dealt with. The key for me has always been being certain that those you serve are with you. If you are, you can just keep arguing, communicating and persuading and in the end you will achieve change for the good.
I know from reading and hearing public submissions to the council’s governance review that the historically dominant party in the district has a reputation for ignoring and excluding the electorate, and even their colleagues, from decision-making. But I also know from experience that I cannot be daunted or bullied by the opposition, because so long as we reflect the views of those we represent, the people of Gorrell ward, they are wrong and we are right.
The third point is about pursuing issues and causes for individuals, their families and the groups they form. As a union officer this was my daily bread at local, national, company and even European level. The subject matter as a Councillor is different but the methodology and the acceptance of just how much hard work it takes are very familiar. It’s also the most basic way to be a genuine representative. I may not always be able to achieve the initial goal you set out but, by communicating honestly throughout and working collaboratively, I would expect to show myself to be worthy of your trust.
All this means that my life experience has made me a natural campaigner, undaunted by limited power or resources – a real issue for the district council. My instinct is to push at the boundaries of the role making a rumpus outside my pay-grade, being a local spokesperson in any appropriate arena.
I’ve campaigned on the ground in what I’ve done before this election as part of the Labour and anti-cuts groups – writing, leafleting, speaking and even singing for the things that matter here – the library, the job-centre, the NHS, legal aid, the sure-start centres, the sell-off of the Oval and the Whitstable living wage campaign.
I’ve also knocked on doors for Labour as part of this campaign and it’s something I really enjoy. I can’t think of a better way to test ideas and find-out what people think in the town. Much of what I’ll be saying this evening is based on the conversations I’ve had on the doorstep.
Conclusions –
To sum up – a diverse team of Labour councillors, working together and supporting each other, side-by-side with the electorate and the groups that form to lobby to improve or preserve the things we love about the town, would be very powerful indeed.
You are here because you care deeply about this town whether or not you are touched by disillusionment with the political ‘establishment’. And you will hold us to account after the election, demanding that we bring about genuine change for the better. Bring it on!
Your Labour council will be the voice of the heart of this town caring for those in need and fostering the Whitstable community spirit. That’s what Labour stands for and why I am standing for office.
Local Labour Manifesto (link to other website)

Michelle FREEMAN
Green Party
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Labour Party
My name is Peter Halfpenny and I’m putting myself forward as one of the three Labour candidates for the new Gorrell Ward in the CCC elections on 7 May.
Having been born and bred in Ilford, E. London, I moved to Herne Bay in 1972 – so I was arguably an early DFL before the expression was invented! In 1977 I graduated at UKC in Political Economy and spent most of my working life in the civil service in the field of export credit insurance.
I moved to Whitstable in 1995 where I lived until 2007; my wife and I we then spent seven years in France but re-relocated back to Whitstable permanently last year.
Politics has always been one of my major interests and passions and I’ve been a member of the Labour party since I was 16. I’m happy to position myself on the centre-left of the political spectrum, but I believe that politics should be about people and therefore abstract ideology is rather less important than outcome; I would describe my approach as pragmatic rather than dogmatic.
Getting back down to earth, I won a by-election for Labour in the old Gorrell ward in 1997 and represented the seat on CCC until I moved to France in 2007. Between 2003 and 2005 I served on the Executive as joint portfolio-holder for Housing and Community Development.
However, I also left my mark in improving pedestrian facilities, having been involved in campaigning at various times for all the crossings of Borstal Hill and Canterbury Road. I fought particularly hard against Tory/Lib Dem opposition to ensure that the crossing at Joy Lane/Tollgate was a pelican crossing, and that a pedestrian crossing was built at all at the top of Borstal Hill.
I’m also proud of my contribution to improving Bellevue Road – the main access to the Community College. For years this road was unmade and unadopted – no pavements, no lighting, potholes in the road; totally unsafe for school pupils. Tory Kent CCs could only suggest that the road was formally adopted – but that would have meant householders forking out £4k or £5k apiece to pay for the work. I adopted a different approach and managed to tap a fund – ‘Safe Routes to School’ – which enabled the creation of a shared cycle route and walkway, a proper road surface and street lighting.
While I’m far from being a member of the ‘awkward squad’, when I think something’s wrong or officers need to be challenged I’m not afraid make myself a pain in the neck – or indeed if really necessary in other parts of the anatomy! A good example was in 2001 when officers used their delegated powers to spend £17,000 in fighting the Whitstable Society’s application to register the beach as a village green (plus ca change!). Thanks to my intervention, the whole question of officers’ delegated powers was reviewed and much lower limits agreed.
Along with the bigger picture, we shouldn’t forget the important role played by councillors in representing ordinary people trying to cope with their everyday lives. For instance, for me, to help a family in over-crowded accommodation to be able to move into a decent, good quality home at an affordable rent would be just as rewarding as to facilitate a new pedestrian crossing.
As for the present and future, the major enduring problem in Whitstable in my view continues to be traffic congestion in the town centre and this is something I would really set about trying to tackle if elected.
So I’m asking you to elect me on 7 May. Together with my even more brilliant colleagues Rita O’Brien and Bernadette Fisher, we’ll provide a formidable team to stand up for you and Gorrell in the council chamber in Canterbury!
Local Labour Manifesto
(link to other website)

Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition
see Ian Page’s Statement on behalf of all 3 TUSC candidates

Labour Party
I am a retired public servant and worked all my career in and around the NHS. I am originally from a South Yorkshire mining village, but spent most of my working life in London. I have lived in Whitstable for almost 14 years.
Since coming to Whitstable I have been involved in several campaigns to defend key features of the town, including the opposition to the Council’s ridiculous plans to develop the South Quay of the Harbour in 2008. I am also involved in the campaigns for the Living Wage and to keep our local Job Centre open.
The NHS is one of my priorities, and I am committed to defending the NHS from cuts and privatisation. I am a founder member of the East Kent branch of Keep Our NHS Public.
Whitstable has very active and imaginative campaigning groups, whether defending local public services, shops, or the environment. I want to ensure that these voices are heard within the Council, and that this energy and commitment is put to use in developing services in the town for the benefit of all of us.
Local Labour Manifesto
(link to other website)

Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition
The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) was formed in 2010 to oppose the policies of austerity cuts in jobs and services carried out by all the main parties. Cuts that are decimating our local council services.
I and my fellow TUSC candidates in Gorrell ward are committed to using our positions to give the Whitstable community a real say and real representation on the issues that matter in the ward. We have experience of working in community organisations and in campaigns to defend local services. We aim to ensure the voices of people in the ward are listened to and acted upon.We will meet regularly with groups and individuals who are involved in local projects or organisations in the ward. Councillors should be active and available, not just turning up at council meetings. We understand the need to communicate with people in the ward who may well know more about their local issues than us! Our local services are valuable and we will work alongside the community to win resources to improve them where needed and defend them when under threat.
TUSC councillors, if elected, will use our positions to open the doors of the council chamber and to break down the barriers of officialdom that exclude people from the decision making process.
TUSC candidates in Gorrell ward have a wide range of experience in the community and the public sector. I was a councillor for many years, standing on an anti cuts platform, successfully defending local services by working closely with the community. Delia Hazrati is a radiographer and has campaigned to defend the NHS as well as children and young peoples’ services. Mary Sullivan worked as a social worker for many years and continues to campaign for improved mental health services and supporting vulnerable people in the area.

We recognise that to force positive changes, stop cuts and defend local organisations and projects in the ward, we will need to work together with our constituents to hold the council to account and force them to listen and act.

If elected that’s what we will do!
Ian Page

Green Party
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Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition
see Ian Page’s Statement on behalf of all 3 TUSC candidates

The Conservative Party
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Liberal Democrat
Guy is a financial journalist who lives with his wife and family in Whitstable. He was the Liberal Democrat General Election candidate for Canterbury in 2010 where he achieved a strong second place.
“Whitstable is a wonderful place to live” says Guy, “but local people need stronger voices to speak up for the town. I support proposals for a Whitstable Town Council to be established which can work in partnership with the City and County Councils.”
Liberal Democrat Gorrell Candidate Profiles (link to other website)

Green Party
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Statement by John Wratten (Independent Cllr.)
As usual I will be very brief. In my 16 years as a Harbour Ward councillor I have responded to many calls from residents and have really enjoyed being able to sort out most of the queries brought to me. Not all, of course, but then no-one is perfect.
I have been a member of most committees at various times ( except Planning) and enjoyed two years on the Executive so I have a broad knowledge of the workings of the Council and I welcome the return to the committee system. I particularly enjoyed being part of the Best Value review which recommended setting up the Harbour Board with ring fenced accounts and I have been an ever present member of the Board since it was formed. It has been a fantastic success and must be protected from political interests.
My leaflets for this election contain no promises about what I will do if elected because all the political parties which do make promises forget to say that they could only keep them IF THEIR PARTY TAKES OVERALL CONTROL. As an INDEPENDENT, my support will be for proposals which are achievable and to the benefit of Whitstable not simply to feed the popularity of any single Political Party.
Going forward I think we must tackle the issue of parking and general congestion through the High Street. We must keep the Harbour as a working harbour without any residential encroachment. We must also address the matter of affordable housing both in the private and public sectors so that our own families can remain in the town.
Politically we need to explore the idea of a town council or ensure that we beef up the powers of the Whitstable Area Members Panel which will be reduced in numbers after the election.
www.johnwratten.info (link to other website)