Carole has brought up a family and lived locally all her life. She was a senior union steward for 20 years at Faversham Tesco, where she made a major contribution to the positive relationships the store had with its customers. She is particularly concerned about the difficulties younger people face in getting decent housing and wants to see decent well paid jobs back in town. In her spare time she is an enthusiastic dog owner and walker.
“ People know I am approachable, determined and keep my promises”.
If an existing Councillor, what do you consider your best achievements in the last four years?
What are voters’ main priorities in your ward?
Two hot issues for voters are safety crossing roads – they want to see speed restrictions including a 20 mile an hour limit plus the introduction of more pedestrian crossings. And petty crime and anti-social behaviour which seem to be on the increase – graffiti, shop lifting, drug abuse for example.
Voters are also worried about a lack of infrastructure for an increasing population – new surgeries, schools, social care and roads to support new housing development. Finally people are also concerned about housing costs, the lack of affordable housing and the lack of jobs and training in Faversham.
Have current councillors have spent our money wisely since the last elections?
Not always. Councillors need to communicate better with voters about their plans and listen to feedback. For example we have had feedback from voters in St Ann’s about the inadequate consultation and involvement of local people over the memorial garden. It’s a real shame that how we remember local people who died fighting in the wars has become a controversial issue.
Labour is concerned about councillors having borrowing £28 million to bail out the developer building the Spirit of Sittingbourne complex and that the council hasn’t used some reserves to improve community facilities like play areas.
We also think the Town Council’s failure to put an adequate business plan in place for developing 12 Market Place as a tourist attraction means this building is providing minimal value to the town currently.
Many local people are disappointed about controversial decisions made by councillors behind closed doors e.g. the war memorial garden, buying the former shoe shop at 12 Market Place. What is your view? Should they have been made in secret?
It is important that decisions are made in public and councillors need to be involved in wider consultation, with more publicity telling people what they are planning. I think councillors need to be out talking to residents more, rather than sitting in too many meetings. I am out walking my dogs every day around the ward and use it as an opportunity to find out what people are thinking.
The Town Council has purchased 12 Market Place now and we need to make sure it is used effectively to help residents. I am particularly concerned that we get more training and job hunting support into town and spaces like 12 Market Place and the Library have a role to play.
Is Faversham’s local government transparent enough? If not, how would you improve openness and accountability?
I don’t like things done behind closed doors. We need to make sure more working groups and committees are well publicised and open to the public. At a Swale level too much is controlled by a small group of Tory councillors and I will support Labour’s plans for a more open and cooperative approach.
How would you develop opportunities for the town to draw on its heritage?
More controls over cars driving through the town centre, on both market and non- market days would make it easier to walk through the town and appreciate its heritage. Better signposting of walking routes to attractions would be good as well. As well as walking tours it would also be good to experiment with mini bus tours of key buildings for people who are less able to walk.
How should our creek be regenerated to boost local tourism whilst preserving its character and maritime heritage?
I support Labour’s policy for an opening bridge funded by KCC, Peel Ports and already promised contributions from other councils; creek side development in line with the neighbourhood plan and development which provides as much public access as possible. We also want to see regeneration which generates sustainable jobs. I would be keen to see support for new businesses that provide training so that the area retains its role as an area with employment in it.
How can local infrastructure (traffic, road network, shops, schools, medical facilities, social care, local law enforcement) cope with all the new residential developments without damaging the environment further?
I am concerned that our local infrastructure won’t cope with extra development. Currently we have little residential care for the elderly, limited youth facilities, not enough doctor’s appointments and school places – parents shouldn’t have to walk right across town to get to their children’s school. The government’s approach to housing development is bust – planning for infrastructure should come first, not afterwards.
Labour locally is committed to campaigning for more school places and at least one new school, our fair share of investment in surgeries, dentists, children’s centres and social care, guarantees that developers will make proper contributions to infrastructure and improved water treatment facilities. I support this approach.
What is your view on the proposed solar power station threatening Graveney Marshes?
We need solar power, but not on this scale. I am particularly concerned that we are upsetting local bird habitats to this extent. We need smaller scale developments. I am pleased that Faversham Labour is opposing the scheme and has submitted an official objection. Our local policy is to campaign for better insulated homes, more domestic solar panels and more small scale solar farms.
What role do you think party politics should play in Local Government?
Local government needs to work for the good of all of the people in the town, not just certain groups. I think it is important to preserve our heritage, but we need to be forward looking and planning for the future as well.
Parties still have a real role. I am really concerned that we look out for the forgotten areas of Faversham and feel that Labour is best placed to represent people who are fed up with local politics and don’t have a voice. We were set up as a party to campaign for proper representation for ordinary people.
After the election councillors will need to be able to work together to do the right thing for the town, I think my working experience where I dealt with people from all backgrounds will be a real asset for this.
Are you a Freemason? Should members of such organisations standing for public office be required to declare their membership?
No. Yes, councillors should always be open and transparent
Are you in favour of increasing Swale Borough Council’s contribution to Faversham Swimming Pools? Is the current level of council funding for the facility adequate in your view?
Yes. I am keen to see better funded swimming pools. I would also like to see some subsidy of swimming lessons for local children, being able to swim is a basic life skill.
Where do you stand on proposed cuts to Faversham Library’s opening hours?
I’ve stood outside the library campaigning against the proposed cut in hours over the last few months. Libraries help some of the less well off in society – the unemployed when they are looking for work, young people doing homework, older people who want information. We need to be active in protecting its opening hours.
What more should be done for young people in the town?
I support Labour plans to campaign for better support for the youth provision at West Faversham Community Centre, youth provision into other parts of the town, education and training providers to set up in the town and to get support services for young people at risk of drifting into petty crime and drug use re-established.
I think the police need to be more pro-active in tackling drug problems –doing more outreach work talking to young people, educating them about the risks of drugs.
I would also like to see more drop in support from an underused town centre building for young people who are trying to get in training and work. Decent work is the best way of turning young people away from poor behaviour and petty crime.
What is your view on Swale Councillor Andrew Bowles’ retweet describing Islamophobic extremist ‘Tommy Robinson’ as a ‘patriot’. Was Bowles’ half-day social media training course and 13-day suspension from the Conservative party an adequate response?
Two weeks seems quite a short time and half a day’s social media training is inadequate. My feeling is that he doesn’t accept that he has done is wrong, which is very worrying.
Are you happy with policing in the town? If not, how would you improve it and deal with crime and antisocial behaviour?
No. I would like to see more on bobbies on the beat, on bikes as well as on foot. I would also like to see the police more engaged with young people. We used to have a community officer who young people knew and could look to for help and who was recognised by older people. We need to get back to that.
As a current councillor, what have you done to address air pollution problems in Faversham? Or, as a candidate, how should air quality problems be solved?
I support Labour’s plan to campaign for a twenty mile an hour speed limit, improved public transport, encouraging journeys by foot and on bike. We also want to take account of air pollution risks when deciding on planning applications, oppose an expansion of East Kent Recycling at Oare which would increase lorry traffic and want controls on heavy lorries using town streets.
I also think we need to support an increase in charging points for electric cars and tackle other sources of pollution as well as cars. We all have to be prepared to make sacrifices to cut emissions.