by Richard Fleury
Helen recently had her picture taken in the railway station underpass following the announcement of £130,000 of improvements.
Southeastern’s owners can certainly afford them thanks to a generous contract extension, courtesy of Boris Johnson’s new Transport Secretary Grant Shapps.
One of the UK’s most pro table rail franchises, it was meant to be in the hands of a new operator by this Summer. But the bidding process was delayed, then scrapped completely last month.
The decision will be hugely lucrative for the two companies jointly running it, Go-Ahead and France’s state-owned rail operator Keolis. Continuing until April 2020 will net them hundreds of millions of pounds in additional revenue.
Meanwhile, Southeastern season ticket prices are set to rise again in January. Train companies are allowed to raise prices based on in ation increases. For commuters between Faversham and London Victoria, that means an expected £157 jump in the cost of their yearly ticket from £4,900 to £5,057.
Yet despite all that extra money sloshing about, Southeastern refused to even talk to the Faversham Society about maintaining our station properly until local MP and Conservative Deputy Chairwoman Helen Whately intervened. Then, perhaps suddenly remembering the Tory party’s generosity, they agreed to splash out on some new tiles and paint for the underpass inside the station.
Let’s hope they also set some money aside for cleaning and repainting the station’s outside underpass. Despite being renovated several years ago, the foul-smelling foot tunnel remains Faversham’s favourite public convenience. The town’s premier bladder-voiding venue, the underground urinal is number one with relief-seeking revellers bursting with beery byproducts.
By the end of the Hop Festival – Faversham’s annual celebration of street-drinking and al fresco urination – the popular pissoir boasts an authentically eye-watering medieval atmosphere guaranteed to peel the remaining paint off the sodden walls.
With Southeastern’s owners now on her phone’s speed-dial, perhaps our local MP could help improve the ambience of the town’s prime micturation destination?
Surely Helen can persuade the bene ciaries of the Tory party’s largesse to splash some of its newfound extra cash on regular clean-ups. With Southeastern so awash with money, she won’t need to spend a penny.
Charities everywhere are struggling to make ends meet and convince visitors and donors alike that they should part with their hard earned cash.
A local registered charity, the Leeds Castle Foundation, which looks after “the loveliest castle in the world”, its collections, interiors and the estate “for the bene t of the public”, is no exception. The charity receives no external funding and relies on donations, events, gifts, visitors buying tickets and merchandise, eating in the restaurant or staying overnight.
How kind therefore of the Leeds Castle Foundation Trustees to be so generous to our local MP, Helen Whately and her husband, Marcus. The charity recently put the pair up for the night at a cost of £295, expensive you might think but this included breakfast. The evening before the charity also treated them to dinner. The Castle View Restaurant has an “intimate look and feel” and “unrivalled views of the Castle lit at night.” No doubt the pair enjoyed the Head Chef’s “creativity and air” as they tucked into “the nest local and seasonal ingredients” (as any local MP should).
The bill (again picked up by the charity) came to £258. As starters are around £8 and main courses cost around £20, the Faversham Eye can only admire their appetites.
Sadly she doesn’t provide any details of the dinner on her website, so the voters of Faversham are unable to celebrate the full joy of what was obviously a wonderful experience.
A long term friend of Leeds Castle, she spoke out against the development of a local business park in 2017 as it would spoil the approach to what she described as “one of our greatest assets.”
Since we last went to press, Helen has enjoyed a veritable bonanza of free PR, courtesy of the Kent Messenger Group.
The beaming Whately fizzog graced the pages of Faversham News no less than three times in the 22 August edition alone, on the front page, followed by page three and again on page 11.
And in case Helen fans were left feeling Whately-deprived in between pictures, page seven leads on a story about the Faversham News fave leading a Westminster debate on the Cleve Hill solar power station scheme.
The parent company of your weekly Whately-tastic Faversham News, the KM Media Group, is owned by Iliffe Media Limited, a company belonging to one Britain’s richest aristocrats and local press barons, the Honourable Edward Iliffe – greatgrandson of his newspaper magnate Conservative MP namesake Sir Edward Iliffe.
Anyone would think a general election was imminent...
Does Head Girl Helen Whately really need to set up an online survey to get the picture of the plight or our local health services?
The horrendously high patient to GP ratio is common knowledge and has been for some time.
So, Helen if you need anymore examples of the system’s dysfunctionality just pop along to one of Faversham’s health centres, sign up, try to get an appointment and then watch the fun of the lame, sick and injured struggling to get attention from an overstretched, undervalued, underpaid yet dedicated staff struggling to cope with the overload. Then, take a trip to A & E at Ashford or Canterbury on a Saturday night after closing time.
I have to ask, does Helen actually use the NHS or does she go private like most of the privileged classes?
Dr Ivor Payne,
Health Correspondent for the Faversham Eye