Do you have any questions for our councillors? Our new regular column ‘Ask a Councillor’ aims to help you get answers on the issues you care about, from road safety to housing, from youth facilities to council transparency.
In addition to the responses below, we also asked Mayor Alison Reynolds a question about the lack of youth facilities in the town and are currently in discussion with her about how the council plan to address this issue (thanks to everyone who gave us details of youth clubs/ activities from the past few decades following our request on Facebook). We’ll come back to this in a later issue. We will also come back to coun Denise Knights response to our question about the new LED street lights and coun Carole Jackson's response on road safety.
We had no response from coun Antony Hook on our question about how the town’s infrastructure is going to support our rapidly expanding town. Maybe he’s just too busy eating mussels in Brussels. We also had no response from coun Trevor Martin on the Shep’s Pong.
It is in the public interest that any person making policy decisions or working in a job of responsibility, such as councillors and council offi cers, should declare all their interests, including membership of the Freemasons. How can you ensure that this information is in the public domain?
Dear Faversham Eye,
I thank the correspondent for this important question.
Under the code of conduct for of cers at Swale, of cers are required to declare as an interest their membership of any organisation which is not open to people who are not members and which includes as conditions of membership both a commitment of allegiance to the organisation and a commitment to secrecy about the organisation’s rules, membership or conduct.
However, for councillors the requirement to disclose such an interest is less unambiguous, and indeed different councils have adopted different rules. There are arguments on both sides of the debate about whether involvement with Freemasonry should be a matter for compulsory declaration as an interest, and my expectation is that this is something the new coalition administration at Swale will want to consider carefully in the fullness of time.
The correspondent may be interested to know that the Committee on Standards in Public Life published a report in January considering the effect of the 2011 abolition of the former centralised standards regime for local government, which made a number of recommendations to government for legislative change.
One of the few recommendations it made to the Local Government Association, which are likely to be actioned more quickly than new legislation, was for a single model code of conduct for councillors, which would possibly include a single list of disclosable non-pecuniary interests. Swale will be keeping a close eye on this work with a view to becoming an early adopter of whatever best practice is established.
Councillors’ interests are published on the swale.gov website.
Cllr Ben J. Martin
Historically, Faversham swimming pools have been underfunded compared to other Swale leisure centres. At £100,000 a year, they receive far less than Swale spends on its other swimming pools in Sittingbourne and Sheppey which get around £500,000 a year each. When are we going to get our fair share of the money?
Thank you for your question. Although I have been nominated by Faversham Town Council to become a member of the Swimming Pool Trust Management Committee I am not currently a member of the committee and can only reply as a Swale Borough Councillor and Deputy Cabinet Member and as a Town Councillor.
I think the swimming pools are one of the town’s major assets and I am keen for them to be well run and wellresourced alongside other local leisure facilities. As part of this, I want to ensure that they are fairly funded by Swale Borough Council (SBC).
In relation to your question, I think it is important to understand that Faversham pools are managed and funded very differently to the leisure centres in Sheppey and Sittingbourne due to the ownership of the sites, the size of the buildings and the facilities on offer.
The land at Faversham Pool is mainly owned by the independent Swimming Pool Trust. SBC owns the land that the indoor pool sits on and leases it to the Trust. This lease sets out the responsibilities for each party and SBC is only responsible for repairing the structure of the building. There is no commissioned service (and thus management agreement) for the Faversham pools. SBC supports the independent trust by way of a grant which totalled £100,000 for the year 2019-20 and previously £80,000 a year. This grant shows SBC’s continued support for leisure facilities in Faversham and in addition SBC funds capital costs, repairs and maintenance on the structure.
The arrangements for managing the Sittingbourne and Sheppey leisure centres are very different. SBC owns the land and buildings 100%. The leisure centres provide dry-side facilities as well as swimming pools and are larger in size. The contract to operate these facilities was fully tendered back in 2004 for a 15 year management contract. There are a number of variable gures in this contract including utilities which make it very dif cult to make a direct comparison. However broadly speaking the £500,000 a year gure you mention for the two centres is not an accurate picture as approximately £200,000 of that has been repaying capital borrowing for previous investments in the facilities. The remaining money goes on these two larger facilities that proportionately service a higher number of residents. Moving forward, the 5.5 contract extension for Sittingbourne and Sheppey due to start on 1st October 2019 reduces the level of subsidy further.
I hope this outline is helpful and gives some context on why the arrangements for funding leisure facilities across Swale are more equable than they might at rst appear. Obviously the new coalition that is running SBC have inherited these arrangements and I hope I can contribute to ensuring that they are fair to Faversham residents over the next four years. Yours sincerely
Borough and Town Councillor St Ann’s Ward
Swale Borough Deputy Cabinet Member
There is a big contrast between the sweet smell of malt/ hops brewing compared to the disgusting sewer-like stench that oozes from Shepherd Neame’s water recovery plant. This has been an ongoing problem since it opened in 2015, despite numerous assurances from Shepherd Neame that they are working on the problem. Can anything be done to force Shepherd Neame to resolve this once and for all?!
An officer from Swale Borough Council (SBC) visited Shepherd Neame last week to discuss the problem of the smell which has been subject of a complaint reported in the press. The company has done a considerable amount of work to try to improve the situation. They are keen to work with SBC to improve this situation. There have been complaints over the years but SBC have not received any complaints since 2017.
We are in an unusual situation in that we do not have a complaint to ask for more precise information. If anybody experiences a problem, I would ask that they report the issue to Swale Borough Council via our website www. swale.gov.uk or by phone 01795 417850. It would help the Environmental Protection Team to investigate the problem if we know dates and times of when the smell occurs and in which streets it is a problem. This will help the team relate the problem to specific processes that are being carried out at the time or prevailing weather conditions.
If there is a recurring problem, it would be very helpful to keep a diary of when the smell is a problem, where it was noted, and how long it lasts.
Swale Borough Councillor
Cabinet Member of the Environment
One of the oldest (1475) and most historic buildings in Faversham, TS Hazard or The Town Warehouse is owned by Swale Borough Council. But it is prone to regular flooding and badly needs restoration and maintenance work. What action plan will be put in place to ensure that it is preserved for generations to come? How do you propose to ensure the building for the future?
As a Town Councillor but also as a resident of Faversham whose family has lived here for generations and through those generations has links to brickmaking, brewing, barges and the gunpowder industry the heritage of our town is very important to me.
The TS Hazard is a wonderful ancient building. I can remember as a young child looking round it with my father during one of the Faversham Society’s Open House days, with him explaining the structure and history of it. It is one of the town’s gems and is not used to its full potential.
Firstly, I would like to see and am pressing for TS Hazard and Town Quay to come back to the control of the Faversham Town Council. Of course, funding would need to be secured for its restoration and wouldn’t it be wonderful if by restoring it, there could be apprenticeships available for young people of our town. With our maritime history and the name that it bears I support the concept that is held by the Faversham Society of it becoming a museum / attraction for the Cinque Ports (somewhere to house the Graveney Boat?) but all ideas would need to be thoroughly explored.
I know that the Sea Cadets have used it for a good number of years but is it t for purpose for them? With the Heritage Harbour recently formed it would be wonderful if a purpose-built building could be built for the Sea Cadets somewhere in the basin area of the Creek. With the creek bridge being able to move again and sluice gates in place, this would be an excellent place for them.
At this moment in time it is still owned by Swale Borough Council but with the new coalition at the Borough Council I feel that this could very well be achieved.
Independent Faversham Town Councillor
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