By Richard Fleury
It gives us immense pleasure to – finally – bring some good news about the creek bridge. Credit where due: Kent County Council's Paul Carter made a promise to our community to try to solve this decades-spanning problem and he shows every sign of delivering on it.
In a few weeks, the old structure will be hoisted off by crane for inspection: the first physical step in what we hope will be a great success story. There is much work to be done before then. This complex project will require inter-party collaboration between Conservative-controlled KCC, the coalition at Swale and Faversham's Lib Dem dominated Town Council.
But it's a promising start that would never have happened without the tenacity of the town's people. Without the determined efforts of hundreds of campaigners over many years, the creek would have had no future.
More good news: We're also very pleased to report that Faversham Pools has finally received the funding needed to replace its ailing heating system with efficient new modern boilers thanks to grants from organisations including Swale Borough Council.
Recently a new reader asked, quite reasonably, if the Faversham Eye is linked to any political party – a straightforward question with a straightforward answer: No. As we've made clear from the outset we're completely independent. That's what real journalism is; not salaried hacks obediently hawking whatever partisan propaganda their offshore billionaire boss is pushing this week.
But independence doesn't mean sitting on the fence. In our first issue we very much took a view on our councillors borrowing millions to buy a shoe shop without the courtesy to ask if we minded paying the mortgage for the next 50 years. In the second, we didn't disguise our distaste for the dubious machinations behind a crass vanity project. Not because those involved all belonged to a particular political party but because they put self-interest before the interests of the town. Not everyone will grasp this – especially those who those who think the fourth estate is somewhere off the Ashford Road – or appreciate their favoured councillors being held to account. Some might even prefer the Eye to be neutral...or neutered, perhaps. They might as well criticise a racehorse for not being a unicorn.
On the subject of editorial independence, if rumours reaching Eye HQ are to be believed, a small group of disgruntled former Conservative councillors are plotting to 'balance things up' by launching their own newspaper. Should it ever materialise, we hope their foray into the local media arena will prove as entertaining as we anticipate.
Reports that this new venture has the working title of the Faversham Journal are probably just the usual pub scuttlebutt. If they're stuck for an appropriate name, we're more than happy to offer a few ideas. How about the Blue Rinse, Tories Stories, the Kay Today, the Cosgrove Chronicle or the (What’s the Story?) Morning Tory? If readers have any suggestions of their own, please drop us a line. A special prize for the best one.
Not all Faversham's problems are political, of course. Its former burghers may now have finally burghered off leaving the rest of us with the bill, but their unedifying antics are trivial compared with the existential threat to Faversham posed by plans to build the world's biggest battery on Graveney's beautiful marshes.
We make no apologies for returning to the topic of the Cleve Hill solar plant in this issue. This wrong-headed venture is pushing the wrong technology at the wrong scale in the wrong place. It's way too big, way too close and way too sketchy for our liking. We live here and don't mind admitting we're not exactly impartial about the possibility of being gassed in our homes by an avoidable industrial disaster.
In this issue, we examine the developers' safety claims and question whether this ill-conceived industrial monstrosity will even be insurable.
The Faversham Society, GREAT and many others have put up a brave fight to protect the town and marshes, bringing serious expertise and effort to bear. More power to them. Without people prepared to make a stand, be it opposing an energy company's get-rich-quick scheme, fighting for a new swing bridge, or even just saving a tree from the chop, Faversham wouldn't be the special place it is.
Enjoy the issue.
Pic by Alex Law