Sunday, 17 January 2010

Have Your Say: Core Strategy Preferred Options Consultation - Closes Jan 18th

Last chance to comment on the 200+ pages that passes as consultation on Thanet's Core Strategy document.

If you too, like me, feel overwhelmed and a little phased at the trouble it takes to print off a whole document of this size. Perhaps you might like to edit your own version of what other residents have put together. Obviously, your own words and views are better. But to give you an idea:

In a complex environment that has to take into account county, governmental and global issues. Yet locally, it could be quite simple – if only we persist in utilising the enthusiasm and energy of people who choose to live in Thanet.

As the Thanet Local Development Framework states, we too are keen to live and work in a Thanet that we are proud of – one that is vibrant, interesting, and fun to be in. Such a Thanet would embrace diverse groups of people, be forward thinking and have, at its core, the concept of sustainability. It would therefore have a “green” outlook, making the most of its natural environment, safeguarding its natural assets including making better use of, and developing, the people who live here. Our Thanet would have, at the forefront of its policies and actions, the needs of permanent residents and workers. Anything that works well for these groups will attract tourists, often family and friends, and so be an attractor of more people who would contribute to “Our Vibrant Thanet”, thus improving the life experience of all.

We believe that the typical consultation exercise, including this one, inherently has too many barriers. It becomes rhetoric when the people who live and work in Thanet are asked to read through a document of approximately 250 pages, on a screen – if they have a computer – or print it out themselves using a whole printer cartridge. Essentially, it’s an invitation to become cynical, feel excluded from decision-making, and become mistrustful of the Council. We would like consultation to happen in a way that engages people and allows them to input positively into the vision for Thanet.

We feel irritated that major decisions are often presented as almost a fait accompli eg developing Manston Airport for commercial flights. Then, “consultation” seems empty. We recognise that, at this stage, it might be difficult to overturn such major decisions. And, if “Our Vibrant Thanet” is to come about, with an engaged population, then any future changes must come from a well-informed community.

To understand the situation we experience in Thanet, consider the metaphor of the sea. Iconic developments, such as Dreamland and the Turner Centre, are the big ships sailing on the sea’s surface. They are very visible. When movement happens in such iconic developments, it’s easy for them to become the sole focus of a Council’s attention. Meanwhile, life on the ocean bed, and the coral reef, can become damaged by the big ships. The ocean bed and the coral reef are far less visible, and therefore less attention is paid to them. So too, we experience a lack of day-to-day action on key things that make a difference to the lives of local people eg rubbish collections, support for small businesses through the interpretation of the grey areas given over to Council discretion. We are keen to hear what will be done to ensure this focus on the big ships will change very soon – so that protection and enhancement of the sea bed and the coral reef, ie our experiences as enthusiastic and skilled residents and workers, becomes as important.

We believe that, in order to get these day-to-day changes, a review needs to happen of the systems within TDC. To date, when the Council isn't attending to the iconic developments, the focus seems to be on “deprivation”. It is this that is used to measure everything else. For as long as deprivation is the focus and the measure, then “deprivation” will continue. For example, we did a search for “bed & breakfast” on TDC’s website and the Lewisham Council website. (The London Borough of Lewisham is one which has been successfully regenerated.)

TDC’s website lists – 9 entries including

1. Accommodating homeless people

2. Help with rent

3. Homelessness

4. Housing benefits

5. NO mention of tourist / visitor accommodation

Lewisham Council’s website lists 17 entries including

1. Guest house and accommodation for overseas visitors and students

2. Tourism and travel

3. Where to stay in Lewisham

4. ONE mention of using empty homes to rehouse homelessness families

So it becomes in the interests of those with jobs in “the deprivation industry” to have deprivation continue. Thanet would lose a great deal of funding if deprivation were to vanish soon. We are therefore concerned that a substantial proportion of people in Thanet are missing out on day-to-day connected and positive initiatives that focus on the wealth of Thanet and not its deprivation. Unless systems are changed to include more positive actions to accommodate the vision of “Our Vibrant Thanet”, we are concerned that we will simply find ourselves where we are now … no matter how many years down the line.

To view a copy of the full Core Strategy document and complete our response form:

· Visit
(Simply register your details once for access to this, and all future planning policy consultations)

A summary of the Core Strategy is also available - view the Core Strategy Summary

1 comment:

  1. Great article. I fully agree with your views and concerns about the council.