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Claire Belsom Response

I am Faversham born and bred on my father’s side 5th generation and my mum’s 6+ generation. I was brought up on North Preston estate, living in Fostall Road and Goldfinch Close. I went to Davington school, at 11yrs old I went to the Lady Capel school which after a year became the Abbey School.

I am married with four lovely children, 3 of which went to Davington School and all of them attended the Queen Elizabeth or the Abbey School, I also have 1 beautiful grandson. I also work in town at one of the GP surgeries.

As a child I can remember being on a train with my mum and dad travelling back from London and looking up at my dad and he was smiling, when I asked him what he was smiling at he said “aren’t we lucky” and I said “why?” he replied “because we live in Faversham” and that stuck with me. We are incredibly lucky to live in this lovely town. I love the fact that I walk the same streets as passed generations. I know it’s not perfect but it is incredibly special and I can’t imagine living anywhere else. That is the main reason why I ran for the Faversham Town Council in 2015 and that is why I am doing so again. As an Independent because you don’t need party politics, you just need passion and a willingness to listen.

If an existing Councillor, what do you consider your best achievements in the last four years?

My best achievements are:

Leading on the fundraising for the Outdoor Gym on the top park Reedland Crescent with two of the great women of this town. The late Hilary Whelan and Brenda Chester who were leading members of the BCA.

Being elected as the Chairperson on the Community Services Committee for the Town Council. From that working closely with the Allotment Associations and Society to achieve the signing of the agreements.

Setting up the quarterly Surgeries.

Started work on creating the Youth Council.

Written numerous articles for the Town Council Newsletter from the Community Land Trust, to the Allotments, Youth Council and Litter picks.

My attendance throughout my 4 years as being a councillor has I think been good..

What are voters’ main priorities in your ward?

I think the same as across the town:  traffic, infrastructure, crime and anti-social behaviour.

Have current councillors have spent our money wisely since the last elections?

I believe so.

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?

The War Memorial Garden Group was not a council working group. As for 12 Market Place I believe that this is and will become a great asset to the town. Also regarding 12 Market Place I don’t believe there were any secret meetings.

Is Faversham’s local government transparent enough? If not, how would you improve openness and accountability? 

In the last 4years I think that the town council has become extremely transparent. 99% of documents can be found on its website. I think that the town council has become very engaging with the Faversham Future Forum, the LEF and the quarterly surgeries that I organised. Of course, there is always room for improvement but it has come a long way.

How would you develop opportunities for the town to draw on its heritage? 

The town council is working with the Museums together group and Christ Church University. It has also become custodian of the Doddington Library. The Heritage Harbour group have just started. Faversham is extremely lucky as I think it will become a destination place for scholars and people interested in our beautiful Market town.

How should our creek be regenerated to boost local tourism whilst preserving its character and maritime heritage?

First and foremost, we need the bridge along with operating sluice gates plus the moorings so that boats are attracted to Faversham we also need jobs and apprenticeships in the boat building industry. Many small boats have been built already in the Purifier Building and people get such enjoyment from being on the water. It was fantastic seeing the photos of the last launch of the Bridget that Alan Thorne and helpers had made.

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?

This is a huge ask, as someone who works in one of the local surgery’s I know that the medical facilities and mental health are under immense strain as is the social care system, this is a National problem. I think that the time has come for the town council to seriously think of doing a Neighbourhood Development Plan as we need more of a say in the decisions being made further up the ladder.

What is your view on the proposed solar power station threatening Graveney Marshes?

I am for green energy but not at the expense of the environment that it is meant to be helping and protecting. I wrote the summary for the town council submission as an interested party regarding this application. It is absolutely without a shadow of doubt in the wrong place. We should be using the roofs of every building in this country rather than the countryside. One of the most worrying things is the size of the battery. It will be the biggest of its type in the world. What affect will this have on the immediate surrounding area but also further afield.

What role do you think party politics should play in Local Government?

I am an Independent. At town level there is no need for it.

Are you a Freemason? Should members of such organisations standing for public office be required to declare their membership?

I am not a Freemason and yes. I believe that they should declare their membership.

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?

Of course, I am in favour of SBC’s contribution to Faversham Swimming Pools increased. It should match what is spent on Sittingbourne and Sheppey’s Pools

Where do you stand on proposed cuts to Faversham Library’s opening hours?

I am against the proposed cuts to the Library’s opening hours. We should be encouraging and promoting the use of our Library

What more should be done for young people in the town?

We need to start engaging with the young people of the town. If I am lucky enough to be re-elected under the umbrella of the Community Services Committee, I would like the town council to work with the local businesses and traders of the town to put on a careers weekend and I would like to see more businesses offering apprenticeships as not every young person wants to go to university. Also I think it would be great if we could get the Youth Council off the ground and have a Youth Club more in the centre of town like the one we had in South Road.

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?

I don’t think it matters what my view is. People will draw their own conclusions and will hopefully show it on May 2nd.

Are you happy with policing in the town? If not, how would you improve it and deal with crime and antisocial behaviour?

 No. I am not happy with the policing in this town but unfortunately due to national cuts there are not enough ‘bobbies on the beat’ that is why under the Community Services Committee I have asked for a meeting to be held in the Assembly Rooms at 7pm on 24/04/19 regarding Police Volunteering. I know that this is not ideal but we have to start somewhere.

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 have worked with the 20s plenty working group since in first started in 2016. We are all aware that if you keep traffic moving rather than having the stop starting of vehicles this is better for the environment. I am also a member of the Faversham Society Environment Committee that has been engaging with Christ Church University and has been measuring pollution around the town.

We are very lucky in this town as it is a 20minute town (approximately) I live in Preston Park and I can walk to North Preston in just over 20mins. We all need to make changes to our lives and how we use our cars. It’s amazing what you can see when you walk and it is so much more engaging.


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