By Councillor Chris Cornell / Latest News / 0 Comments

The sudden u-turn by this government to not send kids back to school in January may have come as a relief to many, but it has also exposed the digital poverty at the heart of our local communities.

A survey for the Daily Mail shows that one third of families are struggling with home schooling because they simply do not have enough computers for their children. Four in ten parents surveyed said that they can’t afford the new kit needed to run modern online teaching platforms.

In Kent, Kent County Council has distributed 2,950 laptops and wifi dongles over the past ten months, an average of only 3.1 pieces of kit per school.

With this in mind, Gorrell Councillor Chris Cornell and his wife Charlotte set up Top Up To Teach to collect up, recondition and distribute old laptops people had lying around to those who needed them most.

In little over a month they have recruited a small team of twelve volunteers, raised in excess of £2,500 to have the laptops reconditioned and provided over 170 internet ready devices to individuals or schools in the area.

“I know first hand how hard it is to teach more than one child at home during lockdown” said Charlotte. “With lots of my friends only having on device and two or three children, it became clear that one child was always missing out. That didn’t seem fair and we knew we needed to do something”.

“Some of the cases are desperately sad” said Councillor Cornell, himself a governor at large state primary school in Swalecliffe. “We’ve had families of six learning trying to learn on one broken smart phone, children with no recourse to public funds who are simply too scared to ask for help and deaf students who can’t understand their teachers signing because the screen their screen is too small. These laptops are often the only way a child can stay stay engaged with their friends and the outside world at a time children’s mental health is hugely under strain”.

“The community response has been amazing” said Charlotte “but in 21st Century Britain our children should be provided for”.

Rather surprisingly, demand has however been largest from state primary schools who are on average between 15-20 laptops short and report that planned government support hasn’t materialised. Staff have also reported that they have a growing number of children meeting the criteria through patently unemployment who they just can’t put forward for help because the government support scheme has now closed.

In Canterbury District the charity has provided over 20 PC’s each to family support workers at Joy Lane in Seasalter, Blean and St Johns Primary School in Northgate. This work has only been possible through the technical support often provided for free or at cost by Poorly PC’s in Chestfield, SOS Technical in Faversham, GP PC‘s in Tankerton and the Blagden Apple Consultancy in Seasalter.

If you have any spare equipment or free cash you think you can donate please contact Top Up to Teach at www.topuptoteach.org

Detail of some of the families helped is available in this Kent Messenger Article.

 

By Councillor Dave Wilson / Transport / 0 Comments

At Canterbury council’s Regeneration Committee on 21st January, Labour Councillors voted against the proposed changes to parking charges. Although the proposals contained some useful ideas, Labour felt the proposals were inadequate to the challenge facing the District.

 

Speaking at the meeting Cllr Dave Wilson said:

 

The most important question here is how the Council addresses the tensions in the different objectives the Council has: revenue raising; changing travel behaviour to reduce pollution and climate change impacts; and supporting our High Streets.

These are incompatible aims. The report does nothing to discuss what our priorities are or should be, or how to balance them. These are bigger issues than can be dealt with in a report solely about parking charges and we need a proper overriding policy discussion.

Of the three objectives, revenue raising for the Council ought to be the lowest priority, because responsibility for the under-funding of local Government predominantly rests with central Government, which could resolve our budget problems in other ways if it chose to. But the other issues – climate change and the future of the High Street – are serious, immediate, and affect all our residents and businesses.

Much more consultation with the business communities is required to meet their concerns. If we don’t support the High Streets NOW then there may be nothing left to save in 2022/23. We didn’t listen to the pleas of hoteliers expressed at the Canterbury Forum a year ago on this issue.

Not one of the identified aims set out in the report relates to Climate Change. Coming on top of the Council’s failure to insist on non-diesel buses for Park and Ride and non-diesel vehicles for the Canterbury Environment Company, this demonstrates a complete failure of the Council to live up to the promises made in the climate emergency declared in July 2019. We need a 10 year strategy to wean the Council off parking income, discourage car usage, and protect the high streets in whatever forms they exist by then. Until we get that, policies like this are inadequate to the challenges we face.”

In the debate Councillors George Caffery and Chris Cornell both spoke passionately against the decision to remove the amount of free parking available to the disabled. Watch the video below to hear their argument

By Councillor Chris Cornell / Transport / / 0 Comments

Canterbury City Council discuss changes to parking bays and yellow lines in their Annual On Street Parking Review. Anyone can recommend a change to on street parking online and historically these ideas were discussed once a year in a meeting open to the public (the Whitstable Forum). Local councillors then, having heard from all the affected parties, made recommendations to the Joint Transport Board which decides on these matters. The attendance at these public meetings was always good.

When the current administration decided to cancel the Whitstable Forum last year, local councillors were asked to submit their own  opinions on the recommendations. We have listened hard to representations from across the ward and are choosing to make our recommendations public to improve transparency. You deserve to know what we think and why we have come to the conclusions we have.

You will find detail of all the proposals listed here.

Our recommendations are:

 

 

 

6805

Proposed disabled bay – 1a Harbour Street

Support

Disabled parking is limited in the high street. There is no dedicated disabled bay at this end of Harbour Street.

6810

Proposed disabled bay – 29-30 Harbour Street, Whitstable

Oppose

The 1 hours free parking in this location is essential to independent local businesses. Loading on this street is already problematic and the current parking bay prevents unnecessary blocking of the bus stop opposite. Disabled parking is available in Albert Street car parking opposite.

6840

Proposed disabled bay – 51-59  High Street

Oppose

The need for additional disabled bays raised in 2019 has recently been mitigated by the reopening of 4 bays in Gladstone Road. Local shopkeepers have highlighted reducing the length of this bay would prevent loading to their businesses, particularly when the loading bay outside Iceland is often entirely filled by large wheel based vehicles for some length of time.

6850

Proposed conversion of loading bay to disabled bay – 79-83 High Street

Oppose

As with 6840

6910

Conversion of lading bay to taxi rank, Oxford Street

Modify

Removing the loading bay from this location would cause significant congestion when setting up for the regular weekend markets at the Umbrella Centre and the pop up space at the Whitstable Museum. Whilst we understand why licensed premises in Oxford Street want improved taxi provision, and think this location is preferable to people using the bus stop outside St Alphege School, we not think there will be much call for it during the day. We would recommend it remain a loading bay but become a taxi rank after 6pm.

6935

Proposed disabled parking bay, Nelson Road

Support

There is little disabled parking infrastructure near Oxford Street. The removal of existing no waiting outside 1a provides additional residential parking lost in the installation of the electric charging bay further down the street.

6950

Removal of yellow lines, Norfolk Street, Suffolk Street and Glebe Way

Support

The residential density in this area is particularly high and a massive problem. Reducing the yellow lines in this area creates an additional give parking space without limiting acces to the streets essential for refuse collection.

26705

Proposed Double Yellow Lines, Albert Street, Whitstable

Modify

Residential parking in this area is particularly difficult with many residents refusing to move their cars in the summer season. Whilst we appreciate the need for improved refuse access to Warwick Road, we believe the vans can load from Victoria Road or via Regents Street it necessary. We would recommend yellow lines are added in front of the Nursery only, improving access at the corner of Stream Walk and Albert Street and allowing for the nursery to best utilise its off road spaces. We would not support the remaining yellow lines.

26710

Proposed Double Yellow Lines, Acton Road and Albert Street

Support

New restrictions will make it safer for people exiting Stream Walk and improve access for refuse vehicles.

264840

Proposed repositioning of a disabled bay, Belton Close

Support

Parking in Belton Close is difficult but relocation of the disabled bay to be nearer the house of those people using it is advantageous

26855

Proposed double yellow lines, Old Bridge Road

Oppose

Whilst we thoroughly support the ambitions of the scheme to improve cycling in our town, there is no confirmation that removing this stretch of parking would see a cycle lane immediately installed or where this would go to. We would support this application when funding has been allocated and permission granted for final stretch of the Crab and Winkle from Teynham Road.

26870

Proposed Double Yellow Lines, Belmont Road

Oppose

Whilst there is limited sight lines for vehicles exiting Old Millfield Works, removing any waiting along this stretch of Belmont Road would likely just create more difficulty for local residents. The restrictions would affect residents using the Cricket Club and Football Club and encourage people to park off road in Windsor House where we have already had complaints.

26875

Proposed Double Yellow Lines, Glebe Way

Oppose

Whilst we understand that new lines here would benefit residents of Foreland Cottages, they have good off-road parking. Installing new lines here would substantially reduce capacity in an area where it is needed most.