Whitstable has changed and developed over the years but it is still a town packed with character and we in the Whitstable Society believe that it should continue to be protected and enhanced.
There are difficult choices to be made between development and conservation, technology and tradition. Groups like ours, that keep a watchful eye on change and progress, have managed to help town planners and councillors balance some of these conflicting pressures. But we need your help for the future to make sure that we and our children can still enjoy the amenities and charming aspects of the town from Seasalter to Swalecliffe and out into the countryside.
The Whitstable Society was set up in 1960 with various aims in mind. We look at all amenity related areas of life in Whitstable, from current issues concerning leisure, public space, transport, townscape, access and the environment, to the history and geography of the area.
Our overall objective is to improve the amenity and utility value of the town and district for local people, preserving the character and features of our inheritance and improving the area to meet the needs of the future.
We have regular meetings with guest speakers to educate about and entertain on a variety of topics; as well as discussion evenings at which everyone can talk over issues and help the Society’s committees formulate policy recommendations. A monthly newsletter updates members on all our work and related news.
You have probably heard or read about our dealings with the Council. Our views are sought on several issues and we present our ideas to both councillors and officers: working very closely with them and the town’s new representative body WAMP (the Area Members’ Panel) and the Town Coordinator. We want to make sure Whitstable is not a poor relation in the district and is given the time and attention it deserves.
Much regular work is carried out covering planning issues, transport, rights of way and the appearance of the town. In recent years, we lobbied successfully for more balance in town development and the diversion of an airport flight path, and we are proud of our court action in an earlier period that prevented the sea wall from being built unnecessarily high and wide. The Society fosters new organisations to carry–on work relating to specific areas, such as the Favourite Trust and the Improvement Trust, and the Society is duty bound to work with other groups to the common good.
So it is not just about talking and meeting. Our work affects people’s lives and we are not afraid to get our hands dirty – we are involved in anything such as tree planting to regenerating open spaces and keeping St Mary’s Hall open. We also have an active social committee and take part in fund raising events.
Life changes fast these days and we intend to remain vigilant so it doesn’t leave us behind. We will act whenever ‘one-size-fits-all’ policies are proposed that threaten the town’s character. There are some difficult challenges ahead, like resolving traffic problems for drivers and pedestrians, and rebalancing initiatives so local people are more important than visitors. Above all, we seek to work for the people of Whitstable as a whole and seek guidance from members on controversial issues.
We are open to all and welcome people of all ages to join us: whether as active voices on our committees, participants in our meetings or just avid readers of our newsletters. For a modest annual fee you will be helping to look after our town and you will be warmly welcomed to join in our activities in any area you may choose.