INCOMING - Issue 13


Dear Faversham Eye,


With the publication soon of the local plan for housing I wonder if you are aware of the likely controversy it may cause.


I have studied the Swale minutes that explain how they have arrived at the developer of choice for homes to be built in Faversham.


Quite frankly, this is a disaster as it falls down badly at the outset by relying on the narrow concept of ‘calling for sites’ when the opposite would produce a better result for home owners.


By that I mean Swale BC should have identified land of least value for other purposes and demanded the government permit compulsory purchase at non-inflated prices for house building. Houses could then be sold at the basic cost of bricks and mortar build plus the cheaper cost of land. Landowners and developers who have speculated with land banks who want to push up house prices are then stopped from this immoral practice.


At a stroke house prices could come down not up as will happen under the present Swale BC way of doing things. Not only that but best land needed for other purposes will not be wrongly sacrificed.


To be honest this point of view is not new and hopefully government now under huge pressure will act soon. As it stands Swale BC could easily be accused of lining the pockets of the developers at the expense of home owners, particularly those struggling to buy their first home. How bizarre is that for a public body intending to do their best for the community they serve!


It will look awful on those involved and people may not take long to work out who is to blame!

Christopher Taylor


Hello Faversham Eye,


We have started a campaign to collect signatures for an open letter we have written to Helen Whately, MP for Faversham and Mid Kent. The letter implores her to support her constituents and young people across the UK in cancelling the 2021 GCSE and A Level examinations following the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.


This past year has really highlighted the educational disparities within this country. Due to decades of austerity, many students could not afford the correct technology, textbooks or other equipment in order to obtain a sufficient remote learning experience. Also, personal and family circumstances have made this harder for many students.


Also, the impact on student and staff’s mental health is undeniable. The pressure on the school communities has been immense. The huge responsibility faced by teachers to aid their exam year students through their exams this year when they have missed 5 months of face-to-face teaching is unfair. Exams are extraordinarily stressful without a global pandemic.

Most importantly, the government has pledged a level playing field for exam students this year. This is simply not possible whilst English students are expected to compete with Scottish and Welsh students, whose exams are cancelled, for university places and vice versa. Why should we be disadvantaged or treated differently because of where we live?


The current government proposals are not enough. Exams being pushed back 3 weeks does not make up for the 5 months missed. More generous grading doesn’t address the fact that English and Welsh or Scottish students will have to compete with the whole of last year’s cohort who have deferred their university place. Also, advanced notice of topics to revise fails to address the months of content that have been missed.


Due to the above reasons, we have come together to ensure our voices are heard and we are treated fairly. This starts with our MPs, whose jobs are to represent us in parliament and get these issues talked about.


We currently have 206 signatures in 24 hours from students, parents and teachers, and this number is growing. The campaign is run from Instagram, @cancel_exams_faversham_midkent. I (Abi Rainbow-Williams, Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School) set up this campaign with Daniel Hampton (Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School) following the success of the campaign in Canterbury, where MP Rosie Duffield publicly backed the cause. We hope that MP Helen Whately will do the same.


We are aware that some people would scoff at the campaign, but in a normal year we would look forward to taking our A Level exams. Both Daniel and I are looking to apply to top-grade universities. The virus has meant that many have fallen behind and would have life-changing consequences if students were to sit them.


Thank you for taking the time to read this and I look forward to hearing from you.


Kind regards,

Abi Rainbow-Williams


Faversham Eye,


Thank you for the December 2020 edition of the Faversham Eye. My first time reading this newspaper. I found it interesting with the focus given to housebuilders and their profits. I am sad to see this being the only real focus. Affordable housing in the area that I live has been provided to many who I have personally met. I also have met those who are first time buyers. I myself am one. I am 33 next May and had to wait to buy my own home. I have seen efforts from David Wilson to try and provide first time buyer packages on the site.


If there are no new homes being generated there is never anyone moving from what we could class these days as a starter home. We also need to have the new houses and developments in Faversham as this is the only way that you get affordable home stock being allocated to Swale Borough Council and their “Suppliers”


They would not otherwise have the properties that they do. I am a resident on the newly and much contested David Wilson Perry Court site. Due to the facebook group that was the idea of myself and partner in lockdown have the new unfortunate name of Mr Perry Court from some.


I can assure you that I have been on the side of common sense related to the opportunities to express concerns at the development alongside; subsidiaries like Aldi Faversham, Care Home and also the Premier Inn Hotel.


Rather than continually focusing on the negative the developments have should we not be working to explore the possibilities that can come?


More development in the town alongside; surrounding areas local services can apply to have more money sent in their direction? Perry Court has enabled me to undertake what I thought would be an impossible dream of buying my own home. I moved to Faversham from Northfleet where the Ebbsfleet Development was way and beyond the affordability options for myself.


I feel that it is unhelpful reading articles in the Faversham Eye that rather than welcoming newcomers like myself to the town and local businesses i.e. Pubs, Independent retailers such as the Hobby Shop, Jewellers and Bakers. I am being slated and unwelcomed as I purchased a home that was not wanted, is not on an affordable scheme and is a new build.


At this point I would add that when the data has been shown to me I am willing to say that a number of the private or mortgaged homes outside schemes on this site are from those who were already based in Faversham.


I have been heavily critical of the extra houses that Barrett David Wilson has stated and applied for planning to construct on the land not already approved at Perry Court. This could be seen as if I am throwing stones in a glass house. However; I argue this differently. I see that there is enough already on this site and this is an unnecessary amount extra alongside; potentially turning a great community into something wholly different.


Faversham for years has been a sleepy medieval town and I understand this and the heritage. I feel though there needs to be a sharing of the responsibility for the country building new housing stock as there was in the 1960’s.


Personally I bought my current home as there was the opportunity to have many things that otherwise I could not afford. There were other properties that I liked but could not afford the asking price and the required work to them. We are not talking wholesale changes more bringing into the modern expectations and living space for example.


I am not someone who as your article points too has thousands in the bank and is rich moving from as I have seen others claim from London. I am a hardworking civil servant at the junior grades. My partner is a middle leader in an academy in Medway.


I would be interested to hear alongside yourselves what is happening related to the affordable housing crisis as well. I can assure you that those who are on the development here are grateful in the majority.


I do feel there is a need when there is a mix of affordable homes and also private dwellings for the two to work in harmony often this is not the case more due to personal standards which could be one reason why affordable housing is at a crisis point. I have personally asked Golding homes on this site to be more involved. For example there are two houses of theirs now that are sporting Sky Dishes to their houses; these are not required and a breach of TP1 documents alongside an 18 foot washing line pole now being visible.


I do feel there is a need for more accountability to be held of the companies that are the “Fixers” related to affordable housing. These include Goulding Homes, Keep Moat, Golding Places etc. They need to with the assistance of Swale Borough Council sharpen their pencils and find better ways to deliver more affordable homes.


I would be very interested to undertake and write for you related to this area alongside; give the view of how I have felt since moving to Faversham as I chose to purchase a new build. If Covid-19 has taught us one thing it has to be that unity and community spirit are what are required to keep us all moving forward.


I do look forward to discussing with you more,

Regards,

James Charlton



Dear Editor,


I wish to highlight an unfavourable state of affairs affecting local public access.


The Kent Wildlife Trust will shortly be installing a fee-paying carpark at Oare Marshes. With camera technology to catch non payers.


Recently the local press published a piece about KCC/Faversham giving £10,000 (I think) towards repairing the artesian well nr the sea wall at the Harty ferry site. (for which KWT was grateful). The Trust has recently been given £1miilion plus from The Lottery (i.e. us) to rewild the Blean and introduce European bison.


The Trust has recently been awarded £1million pounds Lottery funds (ie. us) to conserve the Seasalter/Graveny marshes (both on the web).


So why, with an increased income of >£2M does it not reciprocate and allow free access to our local coastline?


John Badmin



Dear Faversham Eye,


While I am pleased to acknowledge your generally high quality of journalism, I regret to bring to your attention the most unfortunate lapse in your “Creek News” item in issue 12. In this article you refer to the “poodle-like fealty” of our local MP Helen Whately to her “political masters”.


Such gratuitous smears have no place in any publication that aspires to the basic qualities of truth and decency, let alone this one. On careful reflection, I therefore trust you will both withdraw and apologise for this most derogatory and inappropriate comparison. The poodle is in fact one of the most intelligent dog breeds, and as its Wikipedia page explicitly points out, when used as a working dog it tends to show a significant degree of independence in its behaviour.


Furthermore, the breed’s origins are European rather than British, its name being an anglicisation of the German Pudel, and which sits uneasily with Ms. Whately’s sudden conversion to the Brexit cause after the 2016 referendum. Please pay closer attention to the facts in future!


Best Regards,

Martin Thomas



Dear Faversham Eye,


The bus service from Faversham to Sittingbourne was withdrawn in early January. This means that there is no bus service from Ospringe. It used to be quite full but owing to the lockdown there were fewer passengers so the citizens of Faversham are punished for compliance with lockdown rules by the withdrawal of service. This means that those who do not have a car have been abandoned. The post office has been closed. The police station closed. The bank is closed. It is difficult to see the doctor. Dentist? Services have fallen apart.


Paul Moorbath



In response to the Solar Insanity: an update on Cleve Hill article in Issue 12


As a science promoter by trade, I was disappointed at the way solar power was presented in the article by Katherine Hutchinson. Solar panels have no moving parts, create no sound or light pollution, relatively lost cost, and virtually maintenance free for 30 years or more. Yet the article puts across a negative view mentioning potential fires (although incredibly rare, no figures or reasons given. Its actually due to dust blocking battery air vents, new vents have been designed) and emitted poisonous gases. It gives the impression that this is why the largest solar farms are out in deserts. I have visited many across New Mexico, Nevada, Texas and California.


The real reasons are sunnier climate, low horizon, cheaper land, and fewer required planning permits: no connection with exploding batteries. Katherine promotes wind power instead, but never mentions the bird kills, severe ecological damage on sea-beds, need regular specialised maintenance, can also catch fire due to jammed reaction wheels and even collapse. I often look out from Herne Bay and count the turbines not operating at all, it seems to be constantly around 15%. The article is an unfair judgement between two green forms of energy.


There is nothing wrong with operating both systems. (Salt marshes may be a carbon sink, but a solar farm would reduce CO2 even more per acre, numbers must be used for comparison rather than excitable words).


Members of Swale Borough Council and reporters please should just stick to cold and balanced facts to make a better decision, especially if they don't know a great deal about a subject and try to sway people toward a false impression.


Peter Bassett FRAS


KATHERINE HUTCHINSON RESPONDS


Dear Mr Bassett,


I am writing to you in response to the letter you wrote regarding my article Solar Insanity: an update on Cleve Hill as I feel that some of the issues you raised need to be addressed. It is unfortunate that you felt I misrepresented solar power. As I stated in the article I am an avid supporter of renewable energy and progress towards a green economy, including solar power. There are, however, a number of factors which make Graveney marshes an inappropriate site for this particular development, the widespread local opposition has not come out of nowhere.


The point about issues of fire safety stems from claims made by the developers that arrangements with Kent Fire and Rescue Service had been made to ensure the plans were safe. In response to this KFRS released a statement claiming that they had ‘at no stage agreed to or signed off any plans relating to the project’. This obviously led to concerns that the developers had been cutting corners and had not been transparent with the public as, despite what you claim, there are serious fire hazards relating to the lithium-ion batteries which will be used at Cleve Hill.


Graveney marshes is an area of great biodiversity and the area surrounding the proposed site includes a Site of Special Scientific Interest, a Special Protection Area, a Ramsar site (a wetland of international importance), and a Marine Conservation Zone, all hosting valuable habitats which are of significance to both national and international bird migration patterns. The solar panels would fragment these habitats, segregating animal populations and leading to ecological instability, something which may be less of an issue in the sites you mention in New Mexico, Nevada, Texas, and California.


My mention of wind power was not intended to act as a general promotion of it over solar power. I simply thought it was worth noting that the recent government plans to have every UK household powered by wind energy by 2030 call into question the necessity of such a vast and ecologically destructive development. There are numerous opportunities to develop solar power across the UK through smaller and less damaging farms, including integrating panels into things like building projects. You may have observed the windfarms as being ineffective but clearly the country’s leading renewable scientists and engineers disagree.

The essence of my argument was that progress towards a wholly renewable energy sector must be rapid in response to the existential threat posed by the climate crisis. It must also be comprised of different forms: solar, wind, hydro, tidal, geothermal, biomass, the list goes on. However, the undemocratic and corporate approach being taken to achieve this by companies like Hive Energy and Wirsol Energy will inevitably lead to hugely destructive consequences for local communities and habitats.


My aim was not in any way to sway people towards a false impression as you suggest, but rather to represent the very real concerns of the local community which are in fact rooted in ‘cold and balanced facts’.


Katherine Hutchinson