By Councillor Mel Dawkins / Latest News / 0 Comments

Over the last few months,  it has become apparent that there are many more people skating in places that residents do not feel happy about, such as outside the Marlowe in Canterbury and multi-storey car parks.   The lockdown has made it clear that young people have had very few places to go to exercise, and enjoy pastimes outdoors away from an ever-growing online world.  

However, we can’t start criminalising young people for wanting to do an activity that is healthy and community led . More and more young people are on their digital devices, surely encouraging outdoor activity is a good thing!  

 Although these are not desirable and appropriate spaces for them to skate, it does highlight that there is a need for more free, well-designed, safe and inspiring places for skaters and young people to go and experience this outdoor pursuit. We can’t just keep moving them on and displacing them without a viable alternative.  

 The skatepark in Thanington,  Canterbury , is very old now and not looked after, it is slippery, small and unwelcoming and therefore would be amazing and constructive to have some more outdoor free spaces in Canterbury for skateboarders to go. These could be attached to already existing play areas and at not much cost or new even better places found. 

 Skating has shown to be a great way to engage and bring together young people, adults; from experts to beginners and it has been seen that the admiration, respect and etiquette for all skaters, is part of a wider culture and way of life.  

I believe it is important we take on skateboarding as part of our community and it is recognised for the respected sport it is.  

The Far Academy wishes to open an Olympic standard Skate Park in Canterbury which is an amazing opportunity for us as a district. Not only to help train young people to compete nationally, internationally and to put Canterbury district on the map as an Olympic standard, but to also give something wonderful back to the community. 

Support our young people to build confidence and self-esteem , to reach their potential and to be part of a thriving and exciting forward-thinking community. Canterbury City Council needs to embrace our skaters and skating community.     

On the 25th February, Councillor Mel Dawkins is proposing a motion asking 

  1. For a provision of a skate-park facilities to be embedded in this councils Open Space’s strategy, to be considered going forward and in the local plan.  
  2. For the council to actively seek suitable areas for skate-park facilities next to existing play parks and or adjacent play areas and new locations.  
  3. To commit to working closing with already existing providers such as the Far Academy to promote this established healthy , well-managed sport and culture.  
By Councillor Dave Wilson / Jobs / 0 Comments

If our communities and businesses are to recover quickly once the Covid pandemic recedes and life resumes, 14 months of lockdown damage needs to be repaired as quickly as we can. 

Labour believes that our City Council has a key role to play in enabling this through community groups and local businesses, and we are proposing to spend almost half a million pounds of money to do that.

The Conservatives’ Council budget proposals for 2021/22 do nothing to provide such much needed support. So Labour Councillors have created an opportunity to provide funds to rebuild our communities and High Streets.

We recognise that it will take more than good wishes to help our District recover from Covid. We want to take positive steps to support our businesses in the district’s high streets through serious measures to encourage the return of visitors, and to support our community groups in making improvements for our residents. So our budget proposals provide residents and businesses with a platform and confidence to make 2022 a year of growth.

There are three specific elements to Labour’s proposals:

  • £50,000 extra for parking discounts and incentives, bringing the total to £100,000
  • £100,000 extra in RISE grants
  • £100,000 new funding to aid the recovery of high street retail and catering businesses

In addition, £204,000 more is earmarked for further support if possible.

Labour believes all these steps are not merely beneficial but are essential if our high streets and communities are going to be helped to recover from this year of lockdowns and crisis.

How do we propose to do this? By preparing to use additional parking income and applying it where it can do most good.

Where is the money coming from? The Conservative budget assumes that parking income will fall by 10% (just over £1 million) compared to2019/20. Although that is in line with the catastrophic 9.9% collapse in GDP that the Government has overseen in 2020, Labour believe it is unnecessarily pessimistic.

Economic forecasts are now consistent in predicting a strong economic bounce back, with growth of 4.2% in 2021.  As a major regional hub for retail and leisure, and with two vibrant seaside towns, our District is well placed to benefit from the predicted summer surge in UK-based tourism and pent up consumer demand which supports that analysis. An extra 4.2% in parking income would result in £454,000 additional income above that contained in the Conservatives’ budget.

Labour Councillors believe that money needs to spent early on in the recovery if it is to have the maximum effect.

We have shown how we would use that. But this pandemic has been unpredictable, as has the Government’s response to it, so we remain cautious, and we have proposed two prudent measures to ensure that the budget is balanced: to not spend anything until we know that the rise in parking income is real; and to not commit almost half the extra money until it has come into the Council. In short: there is nothing profligate about this proposal. The risk of an income shortfall is clearly managed, the spending is dependent on economic recovery, and the benefits are clear.

In 4 of the past 5 years the Council has significantly underspent its budget. If we want to stimulate the recovery locally, it would be economic insanity to underspend in this year of all years.

In summary: we know this is a difficult year, with a high degree of uncertainty made worse by inadequate central Government compensation for the costs this Council has incurred and the losses it has suffered. But we must ensure that in the immediate recovery period we invest to secure the future of our businesses and our communities. That’s what Labour’s  proposal delivers.

 

By Councillor Mel Dawkins / Homes for EveryoneHousing / 0 Comments

Community-led housing is about local people playing a leading and lasting role in solving housing problems, creating genuinely affordable homes and strong communities in ways that are difficult to achieve through mainstream housing. This style of housing was key to Canterbury CLP’s 2016 Homes for Everyone Campaign and in our 2018 City Council Manifesto.

We have a significant and growing housing crisis in the UK. Providing more homes is a major Government priority; and community-led housing is firmly on the national agenda as a small, but important contributor. In many rural areas, and increasingly in urban ones too, communities are taking the lead in providing genuinely affordable homes for local people, creating community assets and helping to support local economies. 

Community led housing comes in many different forms. There are no standard models, but it can include:

  • Community Land Trusts provide affordable homes for local people in need by acquiring land and holding it as a community asset in perpetuity
  • Housing Co-operatives involve groups of people who provide and collectively manage affordable homes for themselves as tenants or shared owners
  • Co-housing schemes involve like-minded people who come together to provide self-contained, private homes for themselves, but manage their scheme together and share activities, often in a communal space
  • Tenant Management Organisations provide social housing tenants with collective responsibility for managing and maintaining their homes through an agreement with a council or housing association
  • Self-help housing projects involve small, community-based organisations bringing empty properties back into use, often without mainstream funding, with a strong emphasis on construction training and support
  • Community self-build involves local people in housing need building homes for themselves with external support and managing the process collectively.

Most community-led housing developments have the following features:

  • Usually smaller scale – most are under 25 homes and some are much smaller
  • Typically set up and run by local people in their communities, often with external support from housing associations, local authorities or other organisations
  • Most provide affordable homes for rent, shared ownership or sale on sites that are often difficult for mainstream housing providers to develop
  • Most meet long term, local housing needs, by retaining a legal and/or financial interest in the homes and ensuring they are always available to local people who need them
  • Most community-led housing is not for profit and involves considerable voluntary enthusiasm and effort
  • They can involve new build, regeneration or the use of existing buildings.

Canterbury City Council has been awarded funding via the Government’s Community Housing Fund to support communities to deliver new homes. They are doing this by providing training, information and support and helping Community Led Housing groups to access funding.

Basic steps for success:

  • Form a community group
  • Secure a site – find a suitable site, including investigating any potential problems and how much it will cost.
  • Planning – Affordable Housing is subject to the same planning application process as any other housing scheme, aspects considered in the district/local housing need, housing mix, proposed tenure, section 106 agreement clause.
  • Design and finance the scheme – tap into local expertise and access available grants and loans to finance your scheme.
  • Build and manage the completed development – consider the longer term investment to manage and maintain the scheme to remain affordable.

Canterbury City Council are working in partnership with our neighbouring authorities Dover, Thanet and Folkestone and Hythe, and there are a number of FREE training courses available.

https://www.dover.gov.uk/Housing/Community-Housing/Community-Housing-and-Self-build-Training-Courses.aspx

https://www.dover.gov.uk/Housing/Community-Housing/Community-Housing-Grants.aspx

FINANCIAL SUPPORT TO GET GOING:

Once you have decided this is something you want to do please apply for a grant. The money is allocated as follows:

The CCC grant funding available will be in two stages.

Stage 1 is up to £3,000 per group and can be used for things like, posters, meetings, hall hire, advice, networking, applying to be a legal entity and generally any expenses incurred setting up the group.

Stage 2 is up to £10,000 per group, it can be used for things like site searches, planning permission, legal advice etc. The funding cannot be used to fund capital expenses (ie: physical things that retain value like land, bricks etc). Capital funding is available through loans, mortgages or grant funding from the Government etc, these options are usually something most groups research in the early stages of setting up.

For further information, if you are wishing to start a project or to discuss your ideas, strongly recommend that you contact:

Emma Bartlett, Regeneration Officer (Housing) on 01227 862112 or [email protected]