Trevor has lived in Faversham for 25 years and plays an active part in several local groups. He is Chair of the Faversham Footpaths Group and the Swale branch of a national charity providing advice to people with difficulties with benefits, housing and debt. He represented Abbey on the Town council 2011-15. Trevor works for a defence research company and has extensive administrative and organisational experience.
If an existing Councillor, what do you consider your best achievements in the last four years? N/A
What are voters’ main priorities in your ward? We have been talking to electors in Abbey ward for the last 18 months, knocking on hundreds of doors. We have also held regular market stalls in the town centre to engage with the public. The main concerns people have raised with us are: – The lack of infrastructure to support the new housing developments – The need for more social and affordable housing – Traffic congestion and the speed of traffic in the town – The Cleeve Hill solar development
Have current councillors have spent our money wisely since the last elections? Not in all cases. Swale Tories have borrowed £28 million to bail out the development of Sittingbourne town centre. While there is nothing wrong with councils buying buildings for public use the town council failed to put a proper business plan in place for the ground floor of 12 Market Place as a tourist attraction.
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? All council decisions should be made in an open and transparent way. Council meetings and committee meetings are open to the public.
Is Faversham’s local government transparent enough? If not, how would you improve openness and accountability? We should always strive to improve public engagement with local government. Councillors need to be available to electors. People may be put off by the formality of council meetings so perhaps we should consider holding public question time style meetings which could be more open and informal.
How would you develop opportunities for the town to draw on its heritage? The relatively unspoilt town centre could be improved by reducing traffic passing through it. The towns network of alleyways and footpaths would benefit from better signage and publicity. We would support the development of the Heritage Hub and links between the various museums
How should our creek be regenerated to boost local tourism whilst preserving its character and maritime heritage? Labour supports the campaign for a working opening Creek bridge and the dredging of the basin to bring it into use. This has been delayed by the failure of the KCC to engage early with Peel Ports. When completed we will campaign to ensure new development complies with the Creek Neighbourhood Plan, meets local community needs and increases public access to the Creek.
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? Unfortunately, much of this is determined by national government policies and laws. Cuts to the funding of local authorities by the government means that they have to rely on ‘planning gain’ from developers to fund infrastructure. Even here the rules are set by the national government and the developments that are currently underway have already had their contributions set.
If elected we would campaign to make any future developments meet local needs for genuinely affordable housing, be sustainably built and make it easier to walk and cycle to the town centre. We would also press for developers to be held to targets on affordable housing.
What is your view on the proposed solar power station threatening Graveney Marshes? Labour is totally opposed to this; it is a product the Tory government’s withdrawal of solar power subsidies which has resulted in this type of scheme coming forward. We have registered with the Planning Inspectorate, who will make the decision, and have written a formal objection as part of this process. We intend to be represented and take part in any future public enquiry.
What role do you think party politics should play in Local Government? You will not be surprised to hear that I think party politics does have a part to play. It enables like minded people to come together to develop plans and ideas. Many local decisions are heavily influenced by regulations created by party based national politics. Cross party cooperation can bring benefits in some areas and we should all try to work for the benefit of the town.
Are you a Freemason? Should members of such organisations standing for public office be required to declare their membership? I am not a Freemason. Openness and transparency are always a good thing and should be encouraged. I am not sure declaration of membership of legal organisations can be made compulsory, where would the line be drawn?
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? Faversham Pools is a massive asset to the town. It is owned and managed by a charitable trust unlike the pools in Sittingbourne and Sheerness. It has received grants from Swale but of course it is never enough.
Where do you stand on proposed cuts to Faversham Library’s opening hours?
The Library is another essential asset in the town. Labour strongly opposed these cuts and members, including myself, supported the non-party campaign against them. This included collecting signatures on a petition outside the Library and on market stalls.
What more should be done for young people in the town? The closure of the youth club in South Road by the KCC in 2013 was a tragedy. The provision at West Faversham CC does great work but we need more youth clubs. Young people need access to better funded support services including sport but also other ways of spending time together and being involved in the community. The play park areas across the town need to be improved, something Labour has campaigned for in the face of Tory opposition since 2014.
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 was horrified but, if I am honest, not surprised by Cllr Bowles’s retweet. The action taken by the Conservative party was wholly inadequate and its short length was entirely driven by political expediency.
Are you happy with policing in the town? If not, how would you improve it and deal with crime and antisocial behaviour? No, but this is another product of Tory austerity with massive cuts in budgets and police numbers. We need more visible policing in the town but real change will only come with a change of government. Locally we can try to reduce the impact of these problems by improving the provision of youth services, working with the police on establishing local priorities, better and more visible neighbourhood policing and encouraging things like neighbourhood watch schemes.
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? Labour is supporting the 20s Plenty campaign and weight restrictions and better signage to control heavy lorries passing through the town. We would evaluate air pollution when deciding planning applications. Accelerate progress towards determining, monitoring and dealing with hotspots of damaging air pollution. Encourage more cycling and walking to reduce car use.