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Refugee article in the Faversham Times

Date: 21 August 2017
Name: Dr J
Following the article in Faversham Times, “We're pulling out the stops to find homes for Syrian refugees” (August 10th) I'd like to ask why SBC needs to initiate this new effort to implement its own policy after nearly 2 years. The speech from Faversham and Villages Refugee Solidarity Group accompanying their 1500-signature petition asked for “all council means” to overcome the delay, and Cllr Henderson asked for “strongest possible leadership”. But on 9th August not one of five estate agents questioned in Faversham had been approached by the Council regarding available accommodation. Can you tell us please which estate agents are involved in the search for affordable accommodation in Swale ? And as rent top-up by SBC is expected to be part of the plan, why has the Council not budgeted for this? The amount per month might rise to several thousand by 2020, but SBC reserves exceed £10 million. Given that the Leader of SBC, Cllr Bowles, is on record as losing sleep over homelessness, and now as suffering “immense grief” about the Syrian crisis, can I ask him what new measures the Council is now taking to put the almost-unanimous motion of commitment into action ? With thanks, Valerie
 
Dear Dr J,
 
Thank you for your question.
 
Swale Borough Council are not, as you have stated, initiating new effort to implement a policy, as this work has been constant and ongoing since the Council originally agreed to help ten families from Syria, through the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Relocation Scheme (SVPRS) scheme over a five year period.  We have been and will continue to work hard at this, in this most difficult of times for our local housing market, to meet this target.  I have always said that this will not be easy as we already have many local families in temporary accommodation, who we are also assisting to try and secure a home they can afford.
 
It would not be appropriate for me to tell you which agents we are working with. Indeed when working with estate and lettings agents, and landlords, to secure accommodation we are often refused support when announcing that it is the Council seeking this accommodation on behalf of either local homeless families or Syrian nationals as part of the SVPRS scheme, therefore we do not always state that this is our purpose.
 
We have not yet received further offers of support from landlords following the press release issued by the Faversham and Villages Refugee Solidarity Group, but we are having to field calls from local residents who themselves, or their family members cannot access affordable housing within the borough and are formally complaining that we are not putting local residents needs first.  While we are experienced in dealing with such issues, this is taking time to manage, and we do need to be mindful of the vulnerability of the Syrian families we are supporting and any issues that such publicity can cause.
 
As you will be aware, Faversham is mostly, if not completely unaffordable for many households and whilst this is also the case for much of Sittingbourne and Sheppey, it is not in our view sensible to target the most expensive part of the borough to seek accommodation at high market rents that at some point in the future the household will have to maintain from earned income.
 
Rent top up by SBC is not expected to be part of the plan as, while discussed at the meeting, this was not agreed by Council and indeed, Kent County Council hold the Government funding for this project. As the financial resources to support our main statutory homelessness duty are increasing year on year and not fully covered by central government grant, the Council is putting in substantial funds to support the housing needs of many vulnerable families.
 
Kind regards
 
Cllr Andrew Bowles
 
Leader
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Swale Council as a Service Provider

Date: 18 August 2017
Name: Mr W
Is Swale Borough Council run as a business or as a public service provider?
 
Dear Mr W,
 
Thank you for your question.
 
I can confirm that Swale Borough Council is a statutory local authority. The way in which district councils are different to commercial businesses is they have traditionally mostly derived their income directly or indirectly from taxation rather than income for goods and services sold, and they generally allocate their resources in order to achieve outcomes for the public good rather than a financial return on investment. Reductions in Government funding means that local authorities are using powers they have to generate income from new activities to fill the funding gap.
 
Kind regards
 
Cllr Andrew Bowles
 
Leader
 
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Milton Road closures

Date: 25 July 2017
Name: Mrs C
Hello. I have just seen on the Kent Online website that Swale Borough Council will be closing Milton Road to all road users and pedestrians. I think this is very unfair on the pedestrians including me who work in Morrisons or the retail park that use that road to get to work. Doing this will add a lot more time onto our walk to work. For me I would have to get off the train at Sittingbourne and walk down St Michael's road then back up the Eurolink road to get to work. Please can you explain why it is shut off to pedestrians and if there will be anything in place for people like me to get to work. It's not fair that it has been left so late to inform us of this also.
 
Dear Mrs C,
 
Thank you for your question and comments about the Milton Road closure.
 
Officers here have spoken to Kent County Council as they have the legal responsibility as the highways authority.  They have now informed us that there will be pedestrian access during the works.
 
They are now working to update the information that has been published about the closure to make sure people are aware.
 
If you require any further advice or information regarding Sittingbourne Regeneration, please email Spirit of Sittingbourne
 
Kind regards
 
Cllr Andrew Bowles
Council Leader
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Domestic provisions for Hybrid Vehicles

Date: 12 July 2017
Name: Mr N
What facilities can home owners or renters have for charging electrical/hybrid cars in their home? More critical is the rules/facilities if you don't have a garage or driveway?
 
Dear Mr N
 

Thank you for your recent question.
 

Home owners or renters, with their landlord's permission, may install EV charging points at their home. Some funding may be available from central government - move information from the Government Grants for low emissions vehicles. Installation must be by an approved installer.
 

Unfortunately if you do not have a garage or driveway then domestic chargers are not possible as leads cannot be run across pavements.
 

In Swale we have free charging points at Swallows and Swale House. A parking ticket must be purchased in the normal way but we do not charge for electricity. Several supermarkets have charging points as do some hotels. We are hoping to condition charging points in new developments.
 

Kind regards
 

Cllr Andrew Bowles
Leader
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Noise in West Street, Faversham

Date: 12 July 2017
Name: Mr R
Why is there a street cleaning man in West Street as 20:30 making a lot of noise. I have to go to work very early in the morning and also children trying to sleep. Why is this happening at this time of day? Please stop this.
 
Dear Mr R
 
We are currently undertaking a deep cleanse of the High Streets in the Borough in order to remove chewing gum and offensive staining that has built up over a number of years. Due to the nature of the works required to carry out the cleansing it is necessary to carry these works out at the least busy times of the day to ensure the health and safety of our residents and visitors.
 
Our contractors have advised that Faversham High Street and surrounding areas will be completed by Tuesday evening 11/7/17, these are adhoc works and we will not be returning after this date.
 
Please accept my apologies for any inconvenience caused.
 
Kind regards
 
Cllr Andrew Bowles
Leader
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Speed Cameras

Date: 27 March 2017
Name: Mr V
I want to complain about the speed cameras on the A249 Sheppey Crossing. It is far too over the top, I reckon you are intending to generate revenue out of this. Surely a better solution ( and cheaper one ) was to put in a humidity station to operate temporary speed limit. The speed restriction is just ludicrous. I am furious about this. Especially as the traffic level on this road is enormous, exacerbated by the high proportion of HGV. Stupid planning!! What do you say about that then?
 
Dear Mr J
 

Thank you for your comments regarding the average speed cameras on the A249 Sheppey Crossing.  I have consulted Highways England who are the responsible authority.
 

As you may be aware Highways England are removing the temporary 50mph speed limit and reverting to the national speed limit, which will be enforced by the average speed cameras.
 

Highways England carried out an in depth safety study on the A249 Sheppey Crossing by an independent road safety specialist highlighting that one of the main hazards was the range of speeds; with individuals driving from 50mph to over 100mph which clearly is a risk that needs to be reduced.
 

I should emphasise that neither Highways England nor local Councils generate any revenue from speed cameras; the cameras are administered by the safety camera partnership and all revenue is returned to the chancellor. Average speed cameras actually cost Highways England money each year, to cover maintenance and pay for the administration, and the only benefit they will accrue is the improved road safety on the A249.
 

Kind regards

Cllr Andrew Bowles
 

Leader
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Cost Saving

Date: 20 March 2017
Name: Mr C
In these times of local authorities having to look too and make cuts why is that so many local authorities have not put their own assets to greater use to raise finance that could be used to supplement and or provide replacement funding to ensure the level of services can be maintained. I am happy to meet with you to discuss my ideas and thoughts on this matter.
 
Dear Mr C,
 
Thank you for your question sent to the Leader, which I am responding to in his absence.
 
In the 7 December budget report, which you can view via the following link, linkhttp://services.swale.gov.uk/meetings/documents/s6621/Item%205%20Cabinet%20Report%201718%20v4%20AK%20NV%20final.pdf ) we emphasize that the future of the Council is highly dependent upon generating new income streams. By 2019/20 we will no longer be receiving any Revenue Support Grant and so will have to finance ourselves from Council Tax, Business Rates, New Homes Bonus and Fees and Charges. You will see in the Appendix III Additional Income that the Council has identified £259,000 extra income.
 
The Leader and Cabinet are always interested in suggestions that can help the Council's finances and wonder whether you could perhaps provide me with some initial details so that I can consider whether it would be of benefit for my colleagues to meet with you to discuss further.
 
Kind regards
 
Cllr Gerry Lewin.  Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Planning Services
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Parking and Roads

Date: 07 March 2017
Name: Mr D
Hi. I live on Coronation Road. I would like to suggest that it's finally time that you should make this road a one way direction. I live of the edge of the street and there's dangerous occasions every day usually in the afternoon. Even today there was a car that accidentally hit an already parked car. Every day there is a dangerous situation for pedestrians. Please think about it.
 
Dear Mr D,
 
I refer to your recent enquiry regarding Coronation Road in which you suggested making Coronation Road a 'one-way' street.
 
Road safety issues such as this are usually dealt with by Kent County Council in their capacity as Highway Authority for Kent, rather than Swale Borough Council. I attended a Swale Joint Transportation Board meeting on the evening of Monday 06 March and I have, in my capacity as County Councillor, passed this to the KCC Highways Team's District Manager, Alan Blackburn, for consideration by his colleagues. I have asked that I be copied in to the reply that will be sent to you - which I trust you will receive in the near future. Could you please email Mr Blackburn your address and phone number as he will need this information to log your enquiry, his email address is alan.blackburn@kent.gov.uk
 
In the meantime, may I thank you for bringing this matter to my attention.
 
Kind regards
 
Cllr Andrew Bowles

Leader
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Parks and Open Spaces

Date: 27 February 2017
Name: Mr K
As a keen Metal Detectorist I was wondering if I can detect on any local parks with my kids to keep them busy and teach them a bit about local history. I'm an enthusiast so will be teaching them to fill the hole tidily and maybe pick some litter up as we go along .. I am thinking of areas like the Glenn in Minster or anywhere that's grass or mud that you could five us permission to go on and make a day or it. Thanks your for reading and we eagerly await your reply.
 
Dear Mr K,
 
Thank you for your recent question.
 
The Council does not have a specific policy concerning metal detecting and while there are many positive outcomes, from an interest in history, being outdoors and active, the Council's Open Spaces Byelaws prevent the removal or displacement of soil and turf.
 
I note and appreciate your personal commitment to filling in holes, however this is not the case with all and the Byelaw is to protect the public open spaces and prevent other members of the community from having accidents.
 
I am sorry this is not the response you were hoping for.
 
Kind regards
 
Cllr Andrew Bowles
Leader
 
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Sports and Physical Activities

Date: 24 February 2017
Name: Mr S
I am enquiring about whether a 3G football pitch could be installed at Kind George's Park Sittingbourne or elsewhere in Sittingbourne South?
 
Dear Mr S,
 

Thank you for your question.
 
There is currently a 3G astroturf pitch in each town including in Sittingbourne at the Community College and a further 3 sand filled astroturf pitches. The Swale Playing Pitch Strategy 2016-2026 states that there is a surplus of 3G pitches at the current time but projects that we may need further pitches depending on the housing growth over the next 10 years. As a result Swale Borough Council are not currently looking to build a facility at the moment. 
 

We will continue to assess the demand over the next few years, and should it be evidenced, we will look at the range of opportunities that are possible such as supporting funding bids by Sports Clubs or assessing applications from private developments.  King George's Park is not a suitable location as the loss of open space is protected under the Local Plan and there is unlikely to be sufficient parking to meet the demand. They are often best placed on school sites as the current 3G pitches are.

 

Kind regards
 

 
Cllr Andrew Bowles
 

Leader
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Homelessness in Sheerness

Date: 14 February 2017
Name: Mr S
Is there any truth in the rumours circulating around Sheerness that you are housing homeless people in holiday parks in Sheerness, Warden Bar and Leysdown for the two month or four month shutdown. I know of an 80 year old man who is sleeping on a sofa because he was made to vacate his "holiday" home for 2 months. So how can you justify making him homeless while accommodating homeless people in dwellings supposedly unfit for winter occupation thanking you.
 
Dear Mr S,
 

Thank you for your question.
 

I can confirm that we are not placing any homeless households in holiday parks where they are required to close for a period over winter, and such action would be a breach of Planning conditions.  The reason for these closures is not due to the unfitness of the accommodation, although many holiday homes do not meet winter heating standards, but that the parks are not permitted for permanent residential dwellings.
 

As the occupancy rules have been in place for several years, all residents of these parks have been urged to speak with our Housing Options Team if they find themselves homeless over the closed period, and I would urge the 80 year old to do this to discuss what help and support is available, at least to help him to prepare for the closure period for 2017/18.  The Housing Options Manager Roxanne Sheppard can be contacted on 01795 417588.
 

Kind regards
 

Cllr Andrew Bowles
 
Leader
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Licensing

Date: 09 February 2017
Name: Mr N
Hello can you help. I would like to open a pop up café in Sittingbourne Parks if that's allowed. If so can you let me know what sites and anything else I would need to know. Thank you.
 
Dear Mr N,
 
Thank you for your recent question.
 
The Council is currently looking at options for concession opportunities in our parks and open spaces. Once this is completed we will release the opportunities as normal via a tendering process. In the meantime I would encourage you to put your proposal in writing to the Open Spaces Team parks@swale.gov.uk , detailing what you will provide, the various licences you hold for food preparation, the type of unit you plan on using including size, power requirements and any procedures/risk assessments you have and insurances you hold and then we would be able to make a better judgement on where might be suitable for this type of operation.
 
I hope this is of assistance.
 
Kind regards
 
Cllr Andrew Bowles
Leader
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New Developments

Date: 26 January 2017
Name: Mr H
My wife and I recently signed up to the Swale self build register as we are both very keen to build a home for our family within the Borough - ideally the Sittingbourne area. There is a large amount of new homes planned for Swale over the next 10 years, with required numbers running into the thousands, just to meet the increase in demand within the South East. This growth, from the latest plan is mostly concentrated within Sittingbourne and the immediate area. However, according to the Local Plan, new build completions have only reached a level of over 800 new dwellings 5 times in the last 30 years. To meet this demand, new build completions must be increased over and above current levels. There are now a number of schemes, supported by Councils across the Country, including Graven Hill in Oxford, which will provide some 1900 services self build plots for sale. These schemes help with both: *Increase the number of new dwellings constructed, away from the main national builders and, *Provide serviced building plots to those who wish to construct their own home. I would therefore like to ask whether Swale would look to include self build within their plans to meet housing demand. There are a number of ideas that could be implemented, depending on the demand levels. These could be anything from stipulating a requirement on all new housing developments (perhaps over a certain unit size) to include a percentage of services plots for private sale for self build. Alternatively, if demand warranted it, perhaps Swale could work with existing land owners, to help provide self build plots for sale to individuals. I look forward to hearing your views.
 
Thank you for your Leader’s question regarding the provision of sites for self build.
 
 
This is something I believe this Council would be very supportive of and would wish to bring forward pro-active planning and other support policies for in the future.  However, the self build register and requirements came about as part of the Housing Act 2016, which came into force after the emerging Local Plan had been submitted for Examination in Public.
 
 
Due to the way in which the statutory processes work, it is too late for this plan to include any specific allocation or policy on self build at this stage.  Whilst the plan does make sufficient provision for overall housing needs up until 2031, most of the housing site allocations within it are being promoted by developers.  This does not preclude part of these sites being promoted or sold on for self builders, should they choose to do so.  Additionally, the Local Plan has flexible policies to enable other sites including small or single ‘windfall’ plots to come forward for development (provided they are in a suitable location in respect of the Local Plan’s other policies).  There is nothing to stop these being self build and many are.
 
We currently have only 11 people on our self build register (since it was set up at April 2016), including yourself, so expressed demand in Swale is low at the present time. I am aware that the Planning Committee recently approved a planning application for 11 self build plots at the former Silver Sand Garden centre near the Thanet Way and we recently sent a  link to  everyone on our register with the promoter of that site (although I am not clear whether you joined the register after that point).
 
 
We will continue to maintain our register; monitor demand;  and as far as possible link people with opportunities.  However, the register aside, I would also reiterate that if a suitably located plot can be found, our policies will enable permission to be granted housing regardless of who is actually building it.  I would also expect any future review of the Local Plan to include pro-active policies to identify potential self build sites and to promote self build generally.
 
 
Kind regards
 
 
Cllr Andrew Bowles
Leader
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Congestion and Traffic Isle of Sheppey

Date: 17 January 2017
Name: Mr R
Traffic on the Isle of Sheppey has increased greatly the last few years due to the large number of developments that were authorised with no planning in place to accommodate the additional traffic. Can it be explained why the roads ( particularly Lower Road ) was not improved at the time of the first developments and if any funds were obtained from the first developments, where has this money been spent?
 
Dear Mr R
 
Thank you for your question which I am responding to during the Leader's absence.
 
I have consulted with officers at Swale Borough Council and Kent Highways and they advise me the S106 from 12th September 1997 applied to the granting of outline approval to the whole of the Thistle Hill area. The highway mitigation was therefore agreed back then, and this consisted of the provision of the traffic signal junction at Barton Hill Drive.  Kent Highways colleagues indicate that a roundabout wasn't considered then, but probably the transport assessment showed that a signalised junction would be sufficient for the development proposed at the time, and moreover, the land required for a roundabout scheme was probably outside the ownership of the Thistle Hill developer.
 
The developer also had to pay £25,533 towards the provision of a bus service for the development, and £61,300 towards a traffic calming scheme in Harps Avenue.
 
As the Thistle Hill outline permission expired in about 2014, the last couple of applications for housing on this site have been made in full, rather than just reserved matters.  Kent Highways have therefore been able to reconsider the impact on the highway network for these, and have secured £500,000 from the 2 applications to progress the roundabout scheme that is now being promoted at Barton Hill Drive.
 
Kind regards
 
Cllr Gerry Lewin
Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Planning Services
 
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Parking and Roads

Date: 10 January 2017
Name: Mrs C
Why are cars allowed to park so inconsiderately along Highsted Road Sittingbourne. I live in Farm Crescent and frequently have to negotiate cars parked on both sides of the road, it is considerately worse during the daytime. Cars park on the double yellow lines outside the hospital making the junction difficult to use. Today I was expecting a removal lorry but the driver had to walk to my house to tell me he was stuck in Highsted Road. He has knocked on a door but the resident said it was not her car and that the road is a nightmare all the time. He returned to his lorry to consider what to do next when a female driver returned to one of the cars, she was completely bewildered when the driver told her she had caused his delay as she obviously didn't think about where or how she had parked! Why is this situation allowed to happen, there should be more parking restrictions or policed to ensure the road is passable. What if a fire engine or ambulance needed to get through? Will is take a serious accident or tragedy to happen before it is taken seriously?
 
Dear Mrs C,
 
Thank you for your question to the Leader, in his absence I am responding on his behalf.
I have reviewed your correspondence and I am sorry to hear of the parking problems you encounter at Highsted Road, Sittingbourne.
 
Highsted Road is restricted with double yellow lines and therefore vehicles observed parked in contravention are issued penalty charge notices accordingly.
 
As a result of your complaint, I have liaised with our enforcement agent who assures me the area is regularly patrolled by cycle and car; however, I must advise you that a majority of the vehicles known to park along Highsted Road display valid blue badges which permit parking on yellow lines (where loading restrictions do not apply) for up to three hours.
 
As such, the enforcement team are unable to take action until the expiry of the three hours has lapsed.
Please be assured, however, that the team have been made aware of your concerns and patrols will of course continue.
I trust this information updates you, however, please do not hesitate to contact me should you require any further assistance.
 
Kind regards

Cllr Gerry Lewin
Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Planning Services
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Regeneration

Date: 10 January 2017
Name: Mr B
There appears to be a lot of 'regeneration work' both ongoing and programmed for Sittingbourne and at the same time, the Isle of Sheppey with hundreds of new homes built and in the process of being built, there appears to be no plans other than more homes, an industrial warehouse for Aldi and a Burger King. What Sheppey residents would like to see is an improvement to the Town centre and facilities which can be used such as a cinema and a sports centre that isn't reliant on second hand facilities passed down from Swallows Leisure Centre in Sittingbourne. 1. Can you advise the total value (in GBP) of council tax collected from residents of the Isle of Sheppey for the year 2015 and also advise what percentage of this was spent within the Isle of Sheppey itself? For comparison reasons, can you provide this same information for the Sittingbourne area too? 2. What percentage of Government Grants and Business rates paid to Swale Borough Council was spent on improvements such as regeneration, roads, parks on the Islae of Sheppey? For comparison reasons, can you provide this same information for the Sittingbourne area too? 3. On a side note; the Swale Borough Council Summary of Accounts 2015/16 shows that there was a surplus in 2015/2016 and this created a cumulative surplus value of £5.4m. Knowing there is a running surplus, why have the council tax rates not been revised downwards to accommodate this? 4. Beside already planned outlets at the out of town industrial estate shopping experience that is Neats Court, what regeneration projects are being planned for the Isle of Sheppey?
 
Thank you for your question to the Leader, in his absence I am responding on his behalf.
 
The Council is a single legal entity and as such we budget and prepare accounts as an entity and we do not break down income and revenue by geographical area, with the exception that we clearly know from where our Council Tax income is derived.
 
Turning to your specific questions:
 
1. The Council tax income derived from Sheppey was £1,587,552 (Sittingbourne area £3,291,360). We do not break expenditure down across geographical area eg our largest single contract is for waste collection and street cleansing and this is a single cost for the whole borough.
 
2. Government Revenue Support Grant and the Business rates which are retained locally (£5.9m out of 47.5m) cannot be broken down by geographical area, local authority funding and accounting does not operate in that way.
 
3. The figure of £5.4m is the General Fund carried forward 31 March 2016 figure and includes in the line above it in the table on page 8 of the Annual Financial Report for year ended 31 March 2016 £5.1m from the previous year. Local authorities are required to budget to balance their expenditure and income on an annual basis and the Council Tax has not been increased since 2010/11. The Council achieved a substantial surplus in 2015/16 primarily from higher income from fees & charges and savings on major contracts. These were not anticipated when the budget was set so the level of Council Tax could not be reduced. Council’s maintain a range of financial reserve funds.
 
4. The Council is working alongside a number of partners on projects to support regeneration on the Isle of Sheppey.  These include committing £70,000 and assisting with the development of a grant application to the Heritage Lottery Fund for the Dockyard Church (a £7.5 million project to restore the building and bring it into use as a small business centre); providing support and £15,000 to Queenborough Harbour Trust to secure £500,000 to expand mooring facilities; working with Sheppey College to deliver £200,000 investment in expanding construction skills provision and the submission of a £1.2 million grant application to support improvements to the junction between Barton Drive and the Lower Road.  As part of commitment to look at what else the Council can do, work has also just started on a Regeneration Framework for Sheerness and West Sheppey.  This will look at various potential strands of regeneration focused work and identify the best opportunities and how they can be bought forward as part of a cohesive plan. 

Kind regards,
 
Cllr Gerry Lewin
Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Planning Services
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Traffic Signals Sittingbourne

Date: 20 December 2016
Name: Mr W
Why are the timings of traffic lights at East Street/High Street/Bell Road/QK Lane continually readjusted? Today I exited East Street but has to wait for THREE changes of lights because green was only for FOUR SECONDS. Only two vehicles in Q.K Lane give black looks. Assuming East Street vehicles had "jumped" the Red. Truly and accident looking to happen!
 
Dear Mr W,
 
Thank you for your recent question.  As highways are the responsibility of Kent County Council I consulted them regarding this matter.  They investigated the matter and reported back as follows:
 
“An engineer attended this site Wednesday 14 December to review the reported fault. The engineer found East Street to be extending its green signal within its predefined minimum and maximum time, provided there was a demand to extend it. It is worth noting that whilst the shortest green time East Street can run is 4 seconds, its longest is only 12 seconds as the other arms of the junction have a considerably larger share of priority. I can only assume that the reason the continual minimum cycles were experienced on the particular day mentioned was due to slow moving vehicles pulling away at the start of the green signal, which creates gaps in the traffic and causes the detection to interpret this as no further demand.
 
I would like to assure Mr Wright that these lights are not “continually readjusted” and different green times experienced at these and every other set of signals are due to a combination of changing traffic demands throughout the day. Differing timesets are automatically implemented throughout the day to best suit the likely traffic demands.
The issue of vehicles appearing to pass through a red signal is an enforcement issue for the Police as KCC has no power in this regard.”
 
I hope the above response from Kent County Council answers your concerns, if you have any further queries, please do not hesitate to let me know.
 
Kind regards
 
Cllr Andrew Bowles
Leader
 
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Parking and Roads

Date: 13 December 2016
Name: Mr W
When parking at Xmas time is expensive and lacking in spaces it is good to know Sittingbourne has a Park & Ride scheme. Such a pity more thought and planning has not been given to it. Why only at Meadowfields? Visitors from the A249 have to follow signs taking them through Sittingbourne centre .. to Meadowfields .. only to get the bus all the way back to town. Then after shopping .. retracing their steps back past the town centre.. Is nowhere closer available to make life easier for all?
 
Dear Mr W,
 
Thank you for your question regarding the operation of the free Christmas Park & Ride scheme in Sittingbourne.
I am able to confirm that a number of sites were considered to the west of Sittingbourne town centre to support our customers from the A249.

Consideration was given to bus access and turning circle, the number of parking spaces available and good accessibility from the major road networks. Two sites, one to the west and one to the east was sought to help promote the scheme.
Regrettably each of the sites identified were on private property as with Meadowfield school and unfortunately the land owners were not in a position to support the scheme on this occasion.
 
The scheme this year has been introduced as a trial and we do anticipate that with the publicity from this year's free Christmas Park & Ride scheme, any future services will benefit from wider support improving our opportunity to secure sites to the west of the town centre. We will be reviewing the operation of the scheme in detail in the New Year and will of course include your comments as part of this review.
 
Kind regards
 
Cllr Andrew Bowles
Leader
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Homeless data

Date: 09 November 2016
Name: Mr L
Are you able to publish a list of figures showing the current levels of homelessness in this borough and setting out what plans and how they will be financially met for giving them assistance or houses at the present time?
 
Thank you for your recent question. I can confirm that we currently have 131 homeless Swale households in temporary accommodation. This number changes regularly as we continually work to both prevent homelessness and move homeless households to a more appropriate, sustainable home. We work with our Housing Association partners to both rehouse these families and to enable the building of more affordable homes, as well as working in partnership with other support agencies from the statutory and voluntary sector, to support households to secure a new home and where necessary try and help them to secure employment. The cost of such assistance varies between each household, whose circumstance differ widely. For example, we use Discretionary Housing Payments to help people with their rent, mediation between families and also between landlord and tenant, and rent deposits for new tenancies where needed. We will shortly be consulting on our new Borough wide homelessness strategy which will include a new delivery plan detailing how we will work to prevent homelessness wherever possible, and support those who find themselves in housing difficulty.
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Refugees

Date: 27 October 2016
Name: Dr J
You must be pleased and relieved, as we are, that the Home Office under Amber Rudd has evidently found a way to move forward rapidly with the legal requirement to resettle lone child refugees from the Calais camp. This week has been encouraging, and we look forward to many more arrivals. We hope that Swale is playing an appropriate part in the task of finding homes required under Dublin III and Dubs2 for the children from Calais: it is estimated that just five homes per local authority would accommodate them all, though areas of the country will vary in capacity. In recent weeks FVRSG has been mostly concerned with the Calais situation, but before Christmas the focus should have returned to our original concern: Refugee families around Syria and provision for the 20,000 Refugees promised a home by David Cameron early this year. Following up my letter of 13th September, may I ask you now whether the two refugees families for whom accommodation had been found in Swale did in fact arrive in Britain in September, or early October, or are you still waiting to complete their transfer?
 
Thank you for your recent question which I am answering in the Leader's absence. We are very supportive of Kent County Council's work to house unaccompanied asylum seeker children however these young people required foster care or supported lodgings, and Swale BC is therefore not in a position to directly assist. We are however very confident that KCC are doing all they can and successfully placing more of these children than any other Council in England. We have received the first family who are settling in and being supported by local people who have offered help to find their feet in the area. We are currently seeking a suitable property for the second family whom we hope to be welcoming soon. While we appreciate the concern and compassion that FVRSG are showing towards the Syrian Refugees, I would again reiterate my original plea; if you know of anyone who has a property within the borough that they would be willing to allow these families to settle in, please refer them to us. It is incredibly difficult to find affordable housing locally for any vulnerable households, and with over 130 Swale households currently in temporary accommodation this is a very pressing issue for us.
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How is council tax calculated

Date: 13 October 2016
Name: Mr S
Can you tell me how the council tax is calculated, is it a fixed amount for the house or does it depend on the number of people in the house. For example is it the same if I have 5 people living in the house or if I have 2 people in the house?
 
Thank you for your Ask the Leader question. Council Tax is broken down into two parts 50% for the property and 50% for the occupiers. If there are two or more adults living in the property 100% of the Council Tax is charged. If there is only one adult living in the property we can reduce the Council Tax by 25%, this is called a Single Person Discount. There are also other discounts that can be awarded for example for students, apprentices or if a person is in a care home. Further details can be found on the Council Tax pages of our website.
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Household recycling centres

Date: 12 October 2016
Name: Mrs H
Why can't I take large items to the tip in a private van? In London borough of Bromley you can access the tip with a commercial van, no wonder areas of Kent have such a problem with fly tipping.
 
Thank you for your recent question. As Household Waste Recycling Centres (HWRC) are the responsibility of Kent County Council (KCC), I forwarded your enquiry on to them about the restriction on vans being able to access local HWRCs and they have provided the response below. Each local authority develops their own approach to waste disposal. KCC is currently reviewing its approach here in Kent as part of its Waste Disposal Strategy. The current approach is based on the unsustainable extent and cost of trade waste abuse that was prevalent on HWRC sites. As it is nearly impossible to distinguish trade waste from household waste and in order to provide site staff with clear and unambiguous policies to administer, the decision was taken in October 2012 to ban vans and pick-ups from sites unless it is the household's only vehicle, in which case the vehicle would require vouchers to enable access to the sites. This approach is outlined on KCC's website (www.kent.gov.uk) and this is also where the voucher system is explained in more detail. Unfortunately the consultation on KCC's draft Waste Disposal Strategy 2017-35 ended on 2 October; however you can still access the document from the following link. This sets out KCC's current position, identifies the future pressures and presents the Ambition and Priorities for the household waste disposal service. I am sure that if you wish to email a response to the County Council (details on the website) their Waste Management Team would be happy to review your comments. http://consultations.kent.gov.uk/consult.ti/WasteStrategyKCC/consultationHome You may also wish to contact your County Councillor, for your area it is Adrian Crowther 01795 874418 adrian.crowther@kent.gov.uk Thank you again for taking the time to get in touch with me and I trust the above explains the approach taken to disposing of household waste in Kent.
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Contact number

Date: 23 August 2016
Name: Mr P
Is there a contact number for the Swale housing boundary fences that are in need of repair it's not exactly clear who to call on your website?
 
Thank you for your enquiry, however Swale Housing is now owned and managed by Amicus Horizon housing association. You can contact them regarding the fencing on 0800 121 6060 they should be able to deal with your query.
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Lower road from Sheppey Bridge

Date: 11 July 2016
Name: Mrs D
When will the lower road from Sheppey bridge to Barton Hill drive, thistle hill be sorted out. As there are many new developments and retail being installed this is now an absolute nightmare to approach during lunch period, Fridays and after 3.30pm daily. It is a lovely area to live but a nightmare to get on to minster! Please advise planning expectations and dates to rectify this growing issue. Thank you very much.
 

Thank you for your recent question. Addressing the serious congestion being experienced along the A2500 is a priority for both Swale Borough Council and Kent County Council and are working to put together a package to support improvements.

 

This is currently focused upon the Junction between Barton Hill Drive and the Lower Road, and KCC have been working on a design and initial cost for the new junction, moving from traffic light controls to a roundabout. Design work has been undertaken and the latest cost estimate of the junction stands at £1.804m.

 

Contributions of £540,000 are being secured from two housing developments already in the planning process, with the balance of £1.263m being sought from Government funds via the current round of Local Growth Funding (LGF3). As it stands, the scheme scores well against the criteria set and the final deadline for submission to Government is Thursday 28th July, with the outcome scheduled to be announced in the 2016 Autumn Statement.

 

Assuming the bid is successful then we would anticipate that KCC will implement the scheme in the next 2-3 years. Whilst this is frustratingly slow, the escalating cost of the scheme is such that significant external funding has to be secured, as well as developer contributions, and the local Growth Fund currently provides the best opportunity to do this.

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Affordable housing and solar panels.

Date: 04 July 2016
Name: Ms S
I attended the Council meeting last night, as part of the Refugee Support Group. Homelessness in Swale was mentioned early at the meeting. So is Swale demanding that a certain proportion of all new housing should be what I think is called 'affordable'? And the installation of solar panels.
 

Thank you for your question.  There are policies on both topics in the emerging Local Plan which can be found at SBC/PS/101 Bearing Fruits 2031: The Swale Borough Local Plan 2031 Proposed Main Modifications June 2016 (consultation document).

 

Policy DM8 Affordable Housing of the Local Plan (Bearing Fruits 2031: The Swale Borough Local Plan Main Modifications June 2016) states that the Council will seek the following affordable housing on sites capable of taking 10 or more dwellings:

 

Sheppey  - no affordable housing requirement ( due to viability issues);

Sittingbourne, including urban extensions and Iwade  10% affordable;

Policy MU 1 (North West Sittingbourne) 10% affordable, if  zero CIL charge    ;

Faversham town and urban extensions 35% affordable;

All rural areas 40% affordable.

 

Generally, we would be seeking the affordable element to be comprised of 90% social rented and 10% shared ownership.  We can only negotiate with developers subject to viability (and also availability of social housing provider investment).  So no  - we cannot ‘demand’ it in all cases.

 

However, this position is subject to change as the Government is seeking to introduce a proportion of starter homes for owner occupancy (20% has been suggested) on all sites of 10 or more dwellings, at a reduced price  as part of the provisions of the Housing and Planning Act 2016.  The operational details of how this is to work have yet to be published through statutory regulations which are expected to support the new Act.  This may mean our policy will need to change to comply with overriding national policy, so we are in a period of uncertainty as to how and when this will be implemented.

 

On the topic of solar panels, I am not clear what the question is.  However, Policy DM20 Renewable and Low Carbon Energy of the local plan deals with this matter and it will be on a case by case basis depending on individual site circumstances.  There are also two Planning Guidance Notes which deal respectively with domestic scale installations (eg roof panels on houses); and large scale solar farm proposals.    The key issues to be taken into account in considering such proposals are environmental ones  eg residential amenity; heritage impact; agricultural land quality;  landscape impact; biodiversity issues; and restoration in the case of temporary instalments.  The guidance notes on the solar energy can be found at;

http://archive.swale.gov.uk/assets/Planning-General/Planning-Policy/Evidence-Base/VERSION-3-SWALE-SOLAR-SMALL-MEDIUM-PDF-July-2014.pdf

 

http://archive.swale.gov.uk/assets/Planning-General/Planning-Policy/Evidence-Base/VERSION-3-SWALE-LARGE-SCALE-SOLAR-PV-PDF-July-2014.pdf

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Demolition of Paper Mill site

Date: 30 June 2016
Name: Mr G
I use public park and leisure facilities in an area of Camden which is now under threat of pollution caused by large scale demolition as a result of planning applications by Essential Land. I have seen on Google Earth that a large area of Sittingbourne looks like a waste land. Can you confirm that Essential Land were responsible for the demolition of the Paper Mills site.
 

Thank you for your enquiry. I am able to confirm that the site you specifically mention, the former Sittingbourne Paper Mill, was subject to a joint planning application from Essential Land and Morrison's in 2012. A demolition was also submitted for the site, by Essential Land only.

 

Although Swale Borough Council does not have hold details of the contracting arrangements, the site was cleared as result of planning permission being granted in 2012. A new Morrison's store was opened on the site in 2013. Your reference to a large area of land that has been subject to demolition, I suspect, is for a site further East, known locally as the former Sittingbourne Industrial Park.

 

This was cleared some years ago by Tesco's, after it acquired the land for a retail led development, which has not progressed. The site has since been allocated for housing development in the Council's emerging Local Plan and the Council will work with prospective developers to bring forward a high quality scheme.

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Refuse centre

Date: 16 June 2016
Name: Mr V
I was told at your recycling centre in Sittingbourne, not to come back today with any garden rubbish, stones and soil as I had 5 bags and that was the "limit" at this site per day, per household, why!. Also there used to be bins to put old plastic bags in, they have been removed, why? I live on Tonge corner and we are now getting more and more fly tipping may the council and or contractor should have a look at what can/cannot/ how much can be recycled at this site.
 
Thank you for your question.

For clarity, the site you have mentioned comes under the jurisdiction of Kent County Council (KCC), not Swale Borough Council, but I trust the following information answers your query.

You initially asked about why you were told not to go back to the site with any more bags of stones and soil. The County Council had to review its operational policies surrounding HWRC access and usage due to the unsustainable extent and cost of trade waste abuse at their sites. They are entitled to adopt a reasonable policy to prevent the abuse of the free domestic waste disposal facilities provided at the council tax payers' expense.

One of the policies introduced (October 2012 and amended in November 2014) was a limit on the amount of soil and/or hardcore (stones) that could be brought to the sites. This type of waste is classified as construction waste and not household waste and therefore should not be brought to the HWRCs. However, the County Council recognised that some members of the public carry out DIY work and therefore small amounts of waste from minor DIY types of work may be brought to the sites (90kg (190lbs) per day per vehicle - which equates to approximately 5 bags). For larger projects members of the public are advised to hire a skip from any local skip hire company.

Your second query was about why the bins into which you would have placed your old plastic bags had been removed. The contractor has been asked to reinstate these bins where possible and depending on availability.

I trust the above answers your queries, however should you have any more concerns regarding this matter, I would encourage you to contact KCC directly. You can do so by emailing them on the following address WasteSupport@kent.gov.uk or alternatively, you can call them using the following number 03000 410 247.
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Refugee petition

Date: 12 June 2016
Name: Dr J
Thank you again for your welcome to three of us from FVRSG on 24 May, when we presented our petition to Swale Borough Council. Following from our informative discussion, can you tell us please whether the relevant Officers have now been able to meet representatives from Ashford, in order to benefit from Ashford's experience of housing Syrian refugees? We were disappointed that Swale had not so far received any of these refugees, particularly since the next opportunity is in September. Have you now identified any suitable accommodation for two refugee families, to meet your existing pledge of two families per year? Has your search for appropriate landlords, which had failed up to 24 May, now been intensified or adapted? We are hoping to hear good news of progress prior to the Council Meeting which we shall attend on 29 June, so that our call for Swale to increase its offer of resettlement places can be an appeal for Swale to build on a progressing situation. It would be discouraging for the people who signed the petition if even the target they deemed wholly inadequate was not being met.
 

Following on from our recent discussions I am sorry to say we have still not found suitable accommodation for the two Syrian families we have pledged to house this year. We have however intensified our search for accommodation, and are currently compiling an email alert to go out to 600 landlords. We will also be requesting help on every Housing Benefit payment that goes out to landlords.

Zoe Kent, whom you met with me on 12 June, has been in discussions with Anne Forbes to find out how Ashford Borough Council has managed to engage with landlords. Zoe has learnt that the landlords who have provided accommodation all contacted Ashford in response to a proactive media campaign by the Council. We therefore intend to run a similar media campaign of our own, and are currently in contact with Ashford's media team to obtain their advice on what worked best for them in advance of launching this.

However, the discussions with Ashford have also confirmed our understanding that Ashford's letting market is very different to Swale's, particularly in view of the number of landlords who have bought multiple buy-to-let properties in recent years. We would therefore hope that the media campaign will also reach local residents who may know of suitable accommodation.

I would like to thank you and the Faversham and Villages Refugee Solidarity Group for your interest in our search for properties, and would once again urge you to contact us immediately if you know of anyone with a suitable property in the Swale area.

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Regeneration in Sheppey

Date: 02 June 2016
Name: Mrs G
There is a lot if regeneration that seems to be going on in Sittingbourne at the moment and I really would like to see the money I pay each month in council tax go onto improving our local amenities, such as Sittingbourne has a great swimming pool and gym, our one is falling apart. Again I don't live in Sittingbourne but mine and other local residents money appear to be invested there than in our immediate local area. We need better local facilities like this more than we need a B&M or Sports direct. Will we ever be getting a better pool/ gym that doesn't have water leaking in the changing rooms or sand in the pool where it us wearing away?
 

Thank you for your question.

Swale Borough Council is currently undertaking a review of sport and leisure facilities across the Borough. The existing Leisure Centre contract ends in September 2019 and we are assessing how we will deliver this service in the future.

 

The review is looking at the condition of existing facilities, how we manage and maintain them, examples of other facilities that could be offered and where these facilities are best located. The results of this review will then inform any future major investments including those facilities at Sheerness.

In the meantime Swale Borough Council and the operators have a clear maintenance regime in place and are continuing to invest in capital projects within the centres. The next investment at Sheerness will be in the gym, catering and soft play areas. Remedial work has been undertaken on the leaks and the pool filtration systems.

 

Should residents have existing issues with the facilities, these should be reported to the operator in the first instance who will look to rectify in partnership with Swale Borough Council.

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Inconsiderate parking and obstruction

Date: 18 May 2016
Name: Mrs C
I live in Murston and have to walk down Tonge Road to go under the railway bridge to take my children to school. Cars are always parked on the pavements between Oak road and All Saints Road. I have struggled past with a single buggy and have seen mums and young children having to walk in the road so they can get past the cars. Something needs to be done as some cars drive over the 30mph speed limit on the road which makes it even more dangerous to walk in the road. Can we have someone tell the residents to stop parking on the pavements as it is surely a health and safety issues caused by inconsiderate people.
 

Inconsiderate parking and obstruction can cause difficulties for pedestrians. Although footway parking is considered to be highway obstruction, I regret that the Councils Civil Parking Enforcement officers can only enforce under current legislation where there are yellow lines marked on the highway adjacent to where the vehicle is parked.

 

Where there are no yellow line restrictions placed on the highway and the vehicle is causing an obstruction of the footway, Kent Police have retained powers under highway obstruction laws. Where significant problems are seen you may consider reporting this to Kent police using the 101 non-emergency number.

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Qualifying refugee families

Date: 12 April 2016
Name: Ms C and Mr J
Question: I am writing to ask why Swale BC has only offered to receive 10 qualifying refugee families over 5 years, as its contribution to alleviating the appalling crisis unfolding in Calais and Dunkirk, virtually on our doorstep. I consider the Council's current stance is wholly inadequate, and at variance with the generous response to the crisis that is being shown by the residents of our Borough, which I have seen with my own eyes both as a member of Faversham and Villages Refugee Solidarity Group and from my personal visit to the Calais camp. Question 2: I have just attended a meeting of the Faversham and Villages a Refugee Solidarity Group. I would like to know why, when there is such obvious humanitarian crisis and need, are we, as Swale, only offering to receive 10 qualifying refugee families over the next 5 years? I feel disappointed and ashamed to be part of a borough that cannot provide sanctuary and support to more families and people who are fleeing their homes to save their lives.
 

Thank you for your recent questions.

I am aware of the depth and sincerity of feeling on both sides of this argument. We in Swale have been very clear that we want to do what we can to help the government in its pledge to resettle 20,000 of the most vulnerable people, and 10 families for a district of our size is roughly proportionate to this commitment. We think it is right that the families invited to build new lives for themselves in the UK should be those who are genuinely the most vulnerable, and this is why we support the government's decision to accept people directly from camps in the region rather than people who have had the means and the wherewithal to make it as far as the Channel coast.

The Council does not hold its own housing stock, and there is in fact a significant shortage in Swale of accommodation in the private rented sector which would be both suitable and affordable for a Syrian refugee family. It is important to recognise that these families are likely to have particular needs which, during the period in which they are integrating into UK life, will represent a considerable demand on public services, and this needs to be managed carefully if the level of services offered to existing residents is not to be compromised. I believe two families per year is manageable and represents a fair balance between these two competing priorities.

 

Our aim will be to ensure that we can offer the hospitality which the majority of our taxpayers would want us to offer, without adversely affecting the local public services on which existing residents depend.

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Resident engagment with Ask the Leader

Date: 11 April 2016
Name: Mrs H
Councillor Bowles Here in Plymouth we are looking at ways to improve communications with our citizens, and I would be grateful if you could let me know your thoughts on the effectiveness of your 'Ask The Leader' initiative? Many thanks for your time.
 
Thank you for your interest in our 'Ask the Leader' facility on the Swale Borough Council website. We set this up in 2008 as I recognised a need for residents to have an easy way to contact me with questions and comments, also it aligns with our transparency and openness to our residents. As you will have found the online form is very quick and easy to fill in, in the majority of cases I am able to provide a response within 10 working days. The person asking the question decides if they would like their question and answer published on the website for other residents to read.

We get questions on quite a range of subjects, some asking my political views, others asking for updates on projects the Council are working on and some ask for assistance with personal matters.

Over the last 6 months we have had received and responded to 25 questions and the relevant pages on the website have been viewed 263 times. Although this is not a large number, I still consider it a valuable tool for residents to contact me.

Feedback from people who use the facility has always been positive and if you are thinking of setting up something similar at Plymouth then I would recommend it. If you have questions about how the system operates, please contact my Personal Assistant Janet Dart by email janetdart@swale.gov.uk and she will be happy to help.
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Syrian migrants

Date: 02 March 2016
Name: Mr T
I am doing a GCSE Citizenship course on Syrian Migrant Discrimination. How do you feel about helping these people? Do you help these people at the moment? If you don't give them shelter at the moment do you plan to in the future? If you do help them how do you do so and what is your outcome?
 
Thank you for your question. It is good to see that important issues like this are being discussed in a thoughtful way in our schools.

Like most people in the UK, I have watched the humanitarian crisis in Syria unfold with deep sadness. It is important to remember that 4 or 5 years ago most of the people who we are discussing were living lives that were in many ways very similar to those we ourselves live in this country. I am pleased that we in Swale are able to play our part in alleviating the suffering of these families as best we can. The UK government is committed to resettling 20,000 of the most needy Syrian refugees directly from the camps into this country over the next five years, and Swale will be helping to achieve this by offering hospitality to two families per year for a total of ten families.

Because of the trauma they have experienced, it is very important that these people are resettled in a thoughtful way, with the involvement of different agencies, including central government, the county and district councils and other local services such as the NHS, being carefully coordinated. We need to do this in a way that ensures that the additional demands placed on these services by the new arrivals does not compromise the services on which existing residents depend, and I am confident that taking two families per year will enable us to achieve that.
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obstruction to the pavement on Addington Road

Date: 24 November 2015
Name: Mr C
I have reported the use of Addington Road in Sittingbourne for the commercial cleaning of taxis belonging to 'The White Cab Co' to the local council, Southern Water, Kent Highways and at there suggestion Kent Police. This issue causes obstruction to the pavement by electrical cables and Hoover pipes and the obstruction of residents parking bays using cones and wheelie bins to reserve spaces. The utilities are provided by a residential premises in William Street, surely not for free. Could you explain how this situation remains unresolved as clearly it cannot be correct for this commercial operation to be run on the public highway to the detriment of other users...
 
Thank you for your question regarding the commercial cleaning of taxis on Addington Road, Sittingbourne.

I have made enquiries with various teams within Swale Borough Council and the Police. Planning Enforcement have investigated this thoroughly and I understand they have been in contact with you already to advise that they would not be taking further action. I can advise that any commercial discharges into a sewer or surface water system may need consent from the Environment Agency or Southern Water. They are contactable on 0800 807060, and 0845 272 0845 respectively.

Taxi Licensing have also advised that they will be unable to take action.

With regards to pavement parking the Police have advised that if a vehicle was obstructing the pavement forcing people to walk in the road then that is an obstruction which the police could deal with. However, if there is no obstruction then it is unlikely they would take any action. The reason for this is pavement parking occurs all over the borough and it would be unfair to enforce in just one location. If the vehicle is blocking the pavement then please report this to the police by calling 101.

I hope this is of assistance.
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Park Road drivers

Date: 23 November 2015
Name: Mr C
Is Swale Borough Council prepared to work with Kent Police and Kent Highways to address the frequent incidences of people driving the wrong way along one way streets in the Park Road area? There have been many near misses and one building hit to date. It is only a matter of time before someone is hurt.
 
Swale Borough Council works in partnership to tackle community based problems with Kent Police on a regular basis. I have checked with Kent Police about this problem in the Park Road area and they are aware of the situation and are currently reviewing appropriate times to take enforcement action. All issues should be reported to Kent Police on 101.
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Planning Committee meeting cancelation

Date: 20 November 2015
Name: Mrs S
Why was the meeting to discuss the Perry Court development cancelled at such short notice [ref [15/504264/out] this is very important as it could potentially ruin Faversham which is not acceptable.
 
The Extraordinary Planning Committee scheduled for 19 November 2015 to consider the Perry Court application was postponed because a further representation has been received regarding air quality.
 
This raises technical and legal issues which will require consideration by the applicants and further investigation before Swale Borough Council officers are able to advise Planning Committee. A new date will be announced in due course.

Actions taken to warn attendees include:

• Information on website homepage
• Local press - news in brief article in Faversham News
• Local councillors informed
• Applicants informed
• People registered to speak informed
• Objectors who provided email addresses informed
• Planning portal updated with information about postponement
• Local parish clerks informed
• Notice in Faversham area office
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Bus pass

Date: 09 November 2015
Name: Mr C
Why do I have to wait until I'm nearly 65 years old before I get a bus pass from Swale Council, but in most parts of England, all of Wales, Scotland and NI they are issued at 60.
 
Thank you for your recent question.

Receiving a senior citizen's bus pass at state pension age (which currently varies depending on your date of birth) is national government policy and it is not a matter Swale Borough Council has any responsibility for. The entitlement is at state pension age in England but 60 in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

You need to apply through Kent County Council. Further information can be found via this link on their website http://www.kent.gov.uk/roads-and-travel/travelling-around-kent/bus-travel/bus-passes/senior-citizens-bus-pass or at any library or gateway.

I hope this answers your query.
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Consultation

Date: 29 October 2015
Name: Mrs S
I understand that there is a consultation on whether residents in Kent would be prepared to pay extra on their council tax in order that money could be saved on the huge reduction of £80MILLION in funds to be spent on services. How do people know where to get this info, when does the consultation close and how are you reaching residents to give them the opportunity to take part in this please? Not everyone has a computer so bear that in mind and also the consultation into the street lighting. There are no more hard copies available in the libraries, so again ,how will people be given the opportunity to have their say! Thank you
 
Thank you for your question. Hard copies of the Kent County Council Budget Consultation leaflet are available in Libraries and Gateways or on request (including alternative formats) via email: alternativeformats@kent.gov.uk or telephone 03000 421553 (Text Relay: 18001 03000 421553) - this number goes to an answering machine and is monitored during office hours.

For those who also wish to complete the budget modelling tool but don't have a computer, there are computers available to use for free in most Libraries and Gateways. If you go to the KCC website and search for Budget Consultation, it will take you to the relevant page.

Those who are unable to use the tool online can phone the Alternative Formats answering machine and leave a message asking someone to call them back and fill in the form for them over the telephone.

The consultation closes on 24 November 2015.

I hope this answers your question.
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Car parks on St. Michael's road

Date: 19 June 2015
Name: Mr S
Hi, I recently found out that the two car parks on St. Michael's road one way system were transferred to the developers free of charge, I would like to know if the council has given away other public assets in this way and also why the council finds it acceptable to help the rich become wealthier and not use these public assets to give the poor the same opportunities as these developers?
 
The land transfers to which you refer are all part of a development agreement with the Spirit of Sittingbourne and the Council is not actually providing the car parks to the developer for free. The Development Agreement itself does include for the transfer of a number of areas of land to the developer but in return the Council will receive a new Civic Building, Gateway and Library that will provide much better facilities for the residents of Sittingbourne. The Civic building will be provided free of charge by the developer and the whole project will bring significant economic growth and new jobs into Sittingbourne so that it will become a much better place to live and work.

I trust that this answers the question to your satisfaction and please do not hesitate to come back to me if you would like any further information.
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Registering a private road

Date: 15 May 2015
Name: Mr S
Can a road still be registered a private road if it has a registered business at an address on the road? I live in Oak Close (ME9 7BF) which was classified as a private road, but am unsure as to the affect this change will have. I can't find the answer on the website. Many thanks.
 
Thank you for your question.
 
As Kent County Council are the Highway Authority, they would decide on the classification of roads. You can contact them via their Customer Service telephone number 03000 418181 and ask for the Highways Definition Team.
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New houses in Kemsley

Date: 14 May 2015
Name: Mrs B
The new Mill Houses built in Kemsley, have they been funded by the Government to meet the Amicus Horizons quota for shared ownerships?
 
Thank you for your recent question. I am able to confirm that the 14 homes at Kemsley are shared ownership homes developed by our partner, Optivo ( formerly AmicusHorizon ) and funded by the Government's Homes and Communities agency through the National Affordable Housing programme. I hope that this information is helpful however I am sure that Optivo would be happy to answer any further queries you may have regarding these homes. You can contact them by email on contactus@amicushorizon.org.uk
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WWII plaque

Date: 15 December 2014
Name: Mr J
I was informed by a member of the public that a plaque with the names of people that were killed in WWII who worked for Kemsley Paper Mill was in the Kemsley Arms public house, Sittingbourne. Would it be possible to retrieve this plaque so that the names can be added to the Holy Trinity church memorial in Kemsley? I think it only fitting that those people are remembered for the sacrifice they gave from our town. I thank you in advance.
 
Thank you for your recent question regarding the plaque held in the Kemsley Arms public house.

I can advise you the Planning Authority is liaising with the site's architect and developer to establish the current development position and to determine whether it is possible to safeguard and retrieve the plaque; the Council will revert when these discussions have concluded.

I am in agreement with you that these people should be remembered for their sacrifice and if I can be of further assistance please do not hesitate to contact me.
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Obese adults in Swale

Date: 25 September 2014
Name: Mrs B
Swale has the highest rate of obese adult in Kent. What local initiative is aimed at reducing it?
 
Thank you for your important question. Swale BC works in partnership with Kent County Council Public Health Team, and the Clinical Commissioning Groups through local Health and Wellbeing Boards to support and influence such important work as tackling obesity. Within the Swale Borough, KCC commissions universal access to the Food Champion Programme teaching people the basics to make a difference in their workplace/ community; Health Walks; the Fresh Start weight management programme run by pharmacies for adults who want to lose weight; SWMS specialist weight management service run in Sheppey, Faversham and Sittingbourne; the National Child Measurement Programme; the Healthy Schools programme including a significant healthy weight component; Change4Life Clubs for all families with children aged 7-11 who want to eat well, move more and live longer; the Ready Steady Go programme physical activity, nutrition and behaviour change for children aged from seven to 11-years-old who are above the 91st centile and for families to encourage long-term lifestyle changes.

There is also a Community Chef who teaches people how to cook healthy meals and HLC, and we support Swale Clinical Commissioning Group to deliver the Beats and Breathes programme that tackles many health issues including obesity.
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Street lighting

Date: 17 July 2014
Name: Mr F
Do you think turning off street lighting at night in residential areas increases the risk of fly tipping in these areas?
 
Thank you for your question. We have no evidence to suggest that there is a correspondence between the two factors. We have previously completed pilot studies in some areas of Swale where we have undertaken various environmental improvements, including the repair of broken street lights. According to residents in this area, the lighting seemed to have little impact on the fly tipping. Residents felt that the introduction of a CCTV camera was a better deterrent.
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Street lighting

Date: 15 July 2014
Name: Mrs C
Please will you put the street light back on in Donemowe Drive as the cul de sac is totally dark unless the residents leave their outside lights on. We pay our council tax to provide police services that have been cut and street lighting that has been cut. We no longer feel safe and as such you are failing in your position. You have a duty of care to the residents of swale and because of these cost cutting measures we no longer feel safe.
 
Thank you for your recent question. Street Lighting is the responsibility of Kent County Council, therefore you would need to contact them direct with your question. They can be contacted either by telephone 03000 41 81 81 or via their website using this link: http://www.kent.gov.uk/roads-and-travel/report-a-problem

You might also like to look at the KCC Street Lighting Scheme, details of which can be found by clicking on the link below and typing your road name in the search box:

http://webapps.kent.gov.uk/KCC.MyNearestGIS.Web.Sites.Public/?lyrs=38,39&xmin=486352&xmax=695648&ymin=91716&ymax=191284&bg=_osColour
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Speed limit between the old A2 and Oare Creek

Date: 27 June 2014
Name: Mr J
Please could you reconsider the speed limit that is currently in force on the link road between the old A2 and Oare creek. I use this road as a pedestrian walker as do many others and in particular mums with prams and children. It has become an extreme hazard as the HGV trucks are travelling on that stretch of road at 70mph which is the equivalent of walking down the hard shoulder of a motorway. I implore you to investigate and reconsider the speed limit and propose it is no more than 50mph.
 

Thank you for your question. The determination of speed limits is a matter for the Highway Authority (Kent County Council). I have ensured that your query has been formally logged with KCC - your reference number is 12403386, and you will receive a response from them within 20 working days. In the meantime you can use the reference number to track progress with your enquiry via the following link on the KCC website: http://www.kent.gov.uk/roads-and-travel/report-a-problem

 

You can also use this link to report other highway issues such as potholes, broken street lights or missing traffic signs.

 

Having lived in the Faversham area my whole life, I am obviously well acquainted with this road and the problems to which you refer. Indeed I use this road on a reasonably regular basis. In addition to being the Leader of Swale Borough Council I am, as you may be aware, also the County Councillor for the Swale East Division and I will make a point of taking a personal interest in the progress of your request.

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Junction of the A2 and A251

Date: 24 June 2014
Name: Miss B
Several weeks ago there were notice boards up at the junction of the A2 and A251 asking for public input into the long term future of the junction. Should it be left alone, traffic lights or a roundabout. The week before last one of the Faversham papers reported that a majority of people preferred the Smart traffic lights and that the council had chosen this as a much cheaper alternative to a roundabout. The Canterbury times is now reporting that the council has opted for a roundabout. Can you please explain why the wishes of the residents and users of this junction have been ignored? If this report is true the council has taken a more expensive, intrusive and much less effective option. I use the junction every day and live close by, the traffic self regulates which is all it will do with a very expensive roundabout so more cost with no change!
 
The results of the recent consultation were summarised in a report to the Swale Joint Transportation Board (JTB) meeting on 9 June 2014, which is an advisory committee comprised of County, Borough and Parish Councillors. The responses indicated 44% preferring
traffic lights, 43% for a roundabout and 13% wishing to maintain the status quo. The highway officer's report concluded that Option A (traffic lights) should be progressed. You can read the full report, here (Item 10):
http://services.swale.gov.uk/meetings/CeListDocuments.aspx?MID=1465&RD=Notice%20of%20Meeting&DF=09%2f06%2f2014&A=1&R=0

The members of the Board considered the report and debated it at great length. The minutes of the discussion may be seen here:
http://services.swale.gov.uk/meetings/CeListDocuments.aspx?MID=1465&RD=Minutes&DF=09%2f06%2f2014&A=1&R=0
 
As you can see, the Board recommended “That Option B (roundabout) be progressed as the preferred option for the A2/A251 junction, Faversham”. The JTB is an advisory body, and the final decision on how to proceed now lies with Kent County Council's Cabinet Member for Transport and Environment, Mr David Brazier.

As a member of the Joint Transport Board, I personally supported and voted in favour of the option of traffic lights. Should Mr Brazier ask me for my opinion that is still the view I will put forward. This is particularly because as Sheldwich, Selling, Throwley and other villages along the A251 fall within my County Division, I am aware of the concerns of my residents as to exiting from the A251 should the roundabout option go ahead.
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Air quality in Ospringe

Date: 29 April 2014
Name: Mr C, Faversham
About three years ago, the level of pollution at Ospringe was reported higher than the target set by the government. Three years have passed and the traffic has only increased. As you certainly know, the A2 crossing Faversham and Ospringe is a bottleneck not designed to support 21st century life and industries. An additional development of 375 dwellings and workshops is currently under discussion (SW/14/0257). The A2 is already under great pressure, used by heavy industries such as Marks & Spencer distribution centre, Fowler and Welsh and Shepherd Neame. Any additional cars will add to the congestion on the A2 or to small villages around. Traffic on Water lane, off the A2, is also a big concern and is adding to the congestion on the A2. Joining the A2, water Lane is a danger to its local residents and school pupils. It is not uncommon to see cars driving on the pavements at school time. Taking my children to the bus stop on the A2 at 7:30 in the morning is an unnerving experience. Many heavy vehicles are driving over the pavements at a speed well above the speed limit. An accident in Water Lane or the A2 is waiting to happen. The pollution is one of my great concerns. It is a silent killer that may not be on your priority list in these days of financial difficulties, but our quality of life and the future of our children is greatly affected. Yesterday, I was stuck behind queuing traffic. The van on front of me was emitting so much smoke that the entire A2 was obscured. If only I could share my photos of this van, you may be more appreciative. My questions are quite simple: what are the short term and long term solutions of the problem? There was of course a proposed link to the M2, arguably a costly development taking over valuable farmland. However, it was one option discussed and local residents are desperate to address our options as soon as possible.
 

Thank you for your inquiry on 29 April regarding air quality in Ospringe.

 

Monitoring of air pollutants from traffic was undertaken in Ospringe Street for several years and once sufficient evidence had been confirmed to comply with the legislation in exercise of the powers conferred on Swale Borough Council by the Environment Act 1995 following Air Quality Management Area Order was made 19th May 2011and came into effect on the 1st May 2011.

 

The area shown on the attached map in red was designated as an Air Quality Management Area (the designated area). The designated area incorporates all of Ospringe Street, Ospringe which is a section of the A2 London Road, trunk road near Faversham between the grid reference 600106,160936, and the grid reference 600466, 160839. The map may be viewed at the Council Offices or on the Councils website. View the AQMA map of the Ospringe Street area (JPG - 270kb)

 

This area was designated in relation to a likely breach of the nitrogen dioxide (annual mean) objective as specified in the Air Quality Regulations (England) (Wales) 2000 and the Air Quality (England) Amendment Regulations 2002.

 

This AQMA Order remains in force until it is varied or revoked by a subsequent order.

 

This means that the Council has a statutory duty to work with the community to ascertain the cause of the excess pollution and using this information to notify the residents and create a steering group comprising representatives from the community and other interested parties tasked with production of an action plan to work towards the reduction of air pollutants from the various sources identified in the locality.

 

To this end the Ospringe Community Steering group was set up and has met regularly to create and review the attached draft action plan which is a working document which when it is ready will be advertised in a public consultation and once the most appropriate, economic and effective actions are agreed by all parties can be put forward to be approved by the Cabinet for submission to Defra.

 

Finalising the action plan table to narrow suggestions down to ten which are realistically achievable is key to the timescales for submission and implementation of the document has started for example comments are made by Highways and ourselves regarding any planning applications that are submitted to ensure that we obtain reports known as air quality impact assessments prior to approval. These documents are carefully studied and commented on and much can be achieved by way of mitigation measures such as upgraded vehicle fleets where there is no alternative route for the vehicles.

 

My colleague in KCC Highways has provided us with some traffic count information from a recent application for planning consent showing in the morning peak 858 eastbound and 884 westbound and in the afternoon peak, 905 eastbound and 827 westbound, so there is a slight tidal flow. Overall these flows would equate to about 20,000 total 2 way, per day. The problem with the legislation and guidance which we must use is that the trigger for significance is based on the increased traffic relative to the existing traffic and as the A2 is already a busy road more often than not the additional traffic generated from a proposal does not trigger as significant according the criteria in our statutory guidance. That being said many of the companies requesting planning consent have been willing to provide mitigation measures suggested via planning comments. The possibility of a junction to the M2 was on the action plan as a suggestion but would be a very expensive option and would need to be funded and supported by the steering group and the community.

 

There is a Highways Air Quality Management Strategy for Ospringe that contains a number of initiatives to keep traffic flowing which reduces emissions, and measures to absorb pollution. However, the A2 is a main route and it is not felt realistic to divert traffic from it to minor roads which are less suitable. Also this is the only realistic access route for HGVs to the many industrial sites in Swale since there is not another junction from the M2 until the A249. They have also been working with traffic signs and some national Satellite Navigation manufacturing companies to try to ensure that any through traffic avoids the A2 and uses the M2.

 

KCC Highways do not consider that a link road to another junction on the M2 to the west of Faversham is realistic in the foreseeable future. The quantity of development that would be required to justify this would overwhelm other amenities in Faversham. The Council and the KCC are also funding projects to encourage children to walk to school or car share and not travel in separate cars. These are just some of the ways the Councils are already trying to reduce pollution. We also continue to monitor the pollution from traffic and other sources in Swale using a variety of equipment. This needs to be done until the levels are reduced to below the objective for health.

 

If you would be interested in receiving any more detailed information or becoming a member of the Ospringe Steering group we would welcome this and please contact pollution@swale.gov.uk.

 

You mentioned the passive effect of sitting in traffic jams for example and there is research in the UK by the universities taking place on this topic.

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Graveney and Goodnestone conservation area

Date: 18 March 2014
Name: Mrs M
Mr. Bowles or the appropriate person, May the Graveney with Goodnestone Parish Plan Committee use the information regarding Graveney & Goodnestone found on http://www.swale.gov.uk/conservation-areas - labelled Goodnestone Appriasal for our Parish Plan document?
 
The Graveney with Goodnestone Parish Plan Committee are welcome to use or reproduce any of the information contained in the Conservation Area Character Appraisals which appear on the website. My only word of caution is that the Ordnance Survey maps should not be reproduced without the appropriate consents.
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Sittingbourne regeneration

Date: 07 February 2014
Name: Miss B of Sittingbourne
Please can you provide an update on the regeneration of Sittingbourne Town centre. It is very difficult to find information on your website, in fact I cant find any updates. The Spirit of Sittingbourne website has even less information. A lot of people are passionate about the town and we have been promised big changes but it doesn't seem like anything has been done or is progressing. I would appreciate an update and links to the relevant webpages. It would also be a good idea to update on Facebook and Twitter. Many thanks
 
Thank you for your recent question about progress with the regeneration of Sittingbourne town centre. We are sorry that there is very little information available on the web site at the present time but would point out that this is due to a number of complicated commercial negotiations that are being undertaken by the developer. We are pleased with progress that is being made and hope to be able to publish further details some time over the next few months and will ensure that an update is made available on the Council's web and social media sites.
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Mail deliveries

Date: 14 January 2014
Name: Mr S
Being a resident on Minster Park I should like to know why the Royal Mail blames the council for not being able to deliver mail personally to the dwellings on minster park There is a park 100 metres away that has mail delivered directly so why is there a law for one and another for others. The mail is delivered on the park to a mail room and is then delivered personally by volunteers which I have been informed is illegal. When questioned over the situation the post office goes around in circles and finally places the blame on the council apparently this park does not fall into the same category as the park 100 metres away. But we both pay the same council tax so how is this possible?
 
Thank you for your question concerning the delivery of mail to Minster Park. This site is treated as a holiday park under the Planning conditions for the site. As holiday accommodation rather than residential accommodation the addresses should not be used as permanent accommodation. For this reason mail should not be delivered to the site as post should be sent to the residents permanent address. Without the name of the site where you have stated Royal Mail will deliver post I am unable to comment however I would presume the site has 12 month residency and is not counted as holiday accommodation.

I do appreciate you are paying Council Tax for this accommodation however this is only for the 10 month period that the site has permission to open.

If you send me the name of the site that has post delivered by Royal Mail we will investigate the matter further.
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Cllrs Jean and Alan Willicombe

Date: 15 November 2013
Name: Mr F
Why are you letting the Willicombes continue with there duties when they no longer live in the borough! Its absolutely disgraceful and I urge you to terminate there employment, with immediate effect! You may feel you can gloss this matter over..but you have reached new heights in immorality.
 
Thank you for your question. Swale Borough Council have no powers to make Cllrs Jean and Alan Willicombe stand down. Unlike local authority officers, councillors are not employed but are
volunteers elected by their constituents so therefore cannot have their employment terminated. They are legally entitled to continue to serve unless they are absent from duties for a period of six months.

The Willicombes plan to continue working for the residents and they will be attending Council meetings without claiming travel expenses. They will continue to be contactable by telephone and email. If they were to stand down a double bi-election would need to take place which would take some time and would cost at least £5,000.

Although this is not an ideal situation the Conservative Group will seek to ensure the residents of Woodstock Ward are not disadvantaged by their Ward Members living out of the County.
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Councillors Jean and Alan Willicombe

Date: 07 November 2013
Name: Mr B
Why are the Willicombe two being allowed to stay as my councillors? Make them stand down now please. I want a councillor that is living in the area not retired as they have said in Lincolnshire. Outrageous!
 
Thank you for your question. Swale Borough Council have no powers to make Cllrs Jean and Alan Willicombe stand down. They have been elected by the constituents of Woodstock Ward and are legally entitled to continue to serve unless they are absent from duties for a period of six months.

The Willicombes plan to continue to working for the residents and they will be attending Council meetings without claiming travel expenses. They will continue to be contactable by telephone and email. If they were to stand down a double bi-election would need to take place which would take some time and would cost at least £5,000.

Although this is not an ideal situation the Conservative Group will seek to ensure the residents of Woodstock Ward are not disadvantaged by their Ward Members living out of the County.
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Housing Benefit

Date: 21 October 2013
Name: None given
A friend of mine has become a victim of the recent unjust housing benefit rules. She lives in a house, classified by the council, as a two bedroomed property. She is now liable to pay £12.95 per week out of the £71.00 pittance she receives towards her rent, plus a portion of the council tax. I say that the property is 'classified' as two bedroomed because, according to section 326 of the 1985 housing act, to qualify as a bedroom large enough for one person the room must have a floor area of 70 square feet; her second room is just 65 square feet! Why was this property classified as a two bedroom if it does not qualify under the Housing Act; secondly, what is the point of having an act of parliament if local councils ignore it?
 
Thank you for your email.
 
I would like to explain that from 1 April 2013 the Housing Benefit Regulations have changed for people who live in housing association properties.

The authority has to calculate how many bedrooms a claimant's household is entitled to and if they are living in a property that has more bedrooms than their entitlement then the maximum rent upon which their Housing Benefit is based is reduced by 14% if they have one extra bedroom or 25% if they have two or more extra bedrooms.

The Department for Work and Pensions has stated that it is up to the landlord to accurately describe the property and it would appear that your friend's landlord has stated that the property has two bedrooms. The landlord would therefore have charged rent to your friend based on the fact that the property had two bedrooms. If you believe that the property does not have two bedrooms then you should contact the landlord and ask them to reclassify it.

Furthermore if your friend disagrees with a decision the authority has made to restrict her maximum rent by 14% she can appeal. The appeal would then be heard by an independent tribunal.

I am also aware that you have been in contact with the authority's Housing Options department and quoted a decision that was made by a first tier tribunal in Fife however this decision is not binding on the authority as it is not case law. I would like to point out that there have been numerous other decisions made by first tier tribunals where the appellant has lost. The Department for Work and Pensions has also stated that they will be challenging this particular decision.
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Faversham High Street

Date: 02 October 2013
Name: Mr B
Could you please explain why there seems to be no restrictions in driving through faversham high street. I have been told that there are conflicting signs but both entrances clearly state no vehicle's except loading. This is being totally ignored by traffic wardens who aren't bothered and don't seem to know the rules, I was even told by a young lady in the Alexander Centre that it has never been pedestrianised! It is being used as a rat run and someone is going to get hurt very soon.
 
Thank you for your online question.

I am able to confirm that certain areas in Faversham such as shopping streets are designated as "pedestrian zones". Depending on the extent of the vehicle entry restrictions, such areas may be paved without the usual separation between footway and carriageway and do not necessarily have yellow lines or kerb markings to indicate waiting and / or loading restrictions. Instead both moving traffic and parking restrictions are detailed on the pedestrian zone entry signs and supported by a Traffic Regulation Order for both moving traffic offences and parking contraventions.

I can confirm that Court Street (from the junction with Crescent Road down towards Market Place) and Market Place are pedestrianised zones and consequently the existing Traffic Regulation Order stipulates there is no permitted parking at any time. A review of the signage placed at this location is underway which may improve the Councils ability to enforce the current restrictions.
With regard to moving traffic offences, the Civil Enforcement Officers have no delegated powers to deal with this type of offence as this remains the responsibility of Kent Police.

I appreciate your concerns and can assure you that the Council are working closely with Faversham Town Council to improve the local area for both visitors and local businesses.
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Yellow line parking restrictions

Date: 28 May 2013
Name: Mr M from Sittingbourne
What are the reasons for the single yellow line parking restrictions in the streets surrounding Grove Park County Primary School? They seem deliberately placed to unfairly disadvantage parents of young children at the school and generate revenue. Who should I present any petition or reasoned alternative to?
 

Thank you for your recent online correspondence received on 28 May 2013.

 

I am able to confirm that single yellow line restrictions are enforced in the residential areas of Sittingbourne to prevent visitor / commuter parking which historically has placed a significant burden on the availability of on-street parking and displaces local residents particularly during peak periods of parking demand.

 

Parking obstruction is an issue outside many primary schools in Swale, particularly at collection times. ‘School Keep Clear’ (yellow zig-zag) restrictions are placed for children to cross safely and to ensure visibility in both directions from each side of the road.

 

Should you wish to request a review of the existing restrictions, please feel free to contact the Parking Operations Engineer who can survey the area in order to ascertain any prevalent parking issues; the direct email address is parkingoperations@maidstone.gov.uk.

 

You may also like to contact your Ward Councillors, Cllr Duncan Dewar-Whalley at duncandewar-whalley@swale.gov.uk or Cllr Gareth Randall at Gareth.randall@virgin.net.

 

I hope this information clarifies and resolves your concerns, however, should you require any further assistance please do not hesitate to contact me.

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About Council communication

Date: 08 March 2013
Name: Mrs C of Bredgar
I am concerned about the state of the economy and what my local council are doing to play their part in communicating with local employers. Specifically, I would like to know how the Council communicates with local employers. Can you tell me on what issues does it communicate? Can you tell me if the Council attends or participates in forums with local employers? If so, which ones? And how often? Secondly, can you tell me if the Council sets aside any funding for communicating with local employers? If so, how much has been agreed for 2013/2014? Thank you.
 
The Council seeks to communicate with local businesses so that it can understand the issues they face, help find solutions to local problems, encourage employers to be involved in events and support local issues and to consult on a range of matters.
 
The Council communicates through a range of methods, from letters to specific company visits which we seek to programme in as time allows. However there is inevitably an increasing emphasis upon the use of e-mail and on-line methods. Email ‘e-bulletins’ go out at least once per month, providing information on a wide range of topics, in brief. These may be related directly to the Councils own activity or cover points of potential interest to local businesses regarding funding opportunities or promoting apprenticeships for instance. We are working to grow and develop our e-mail database from the current circa 500 or so contacts we have, that have agreed to receive communications through the Council.
 
The Council does also organise workshops for local business, the latest having been in January at which we gave a funding opportunity update and a received a presentation from the Manufacturing Advisory Service.
 
The Council’s principle over-arching fora for communicating with the business community is the Swale Economy and Regeneration Partnership (SERP), which meets quarterly. Chaired by Jonathan Neame this brings together private sector representatives (including the Federation of Small Business, Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce and the Swale Business Awards Panel) with the public sector. Other business groups with which the Council engages include:
  • the Swale Business Awards Panel, made up of local business representatives
  • the Kent Invicta Chamber North Kent Economic Development Group, which brings together private and public sector interests from across the Thames Gateway Kent area.
  • Stakeholder groups involved in the three principle town centres; Sheerness Town Team, Sittingbourne Retailers Association and Faversham Enterprise Partnership
  • the Kemsley Fields Business Park Association, made up of employers located on the site

The frequency with which these groups meet varies and depends upon what they are working on at any given time. This is, of course, not an exhaustive list, as business does engage with the Council through a whole host of groups, many of which are not specifically established to look at business issues.

The increasing use of internet and email means that costs for engaging with business can be kept relatively low and for 2013/14, within the dedicated economic development function it is anticipated that around £8,000 will be used to undertake communications targeted at local employers. This estimate is based not only on general communications but also work specific to individual projects and priorities.

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Section 106 Funding Negotiations

Date: 25 April 2012
Name: None Given
As you know at the recent Sittingbourne LEF I asked for section 106 funding for the restoration and development of Murston Old Church. I was told by Pete Raine that the church was outside of the designated area for section 106 funds. However the minutes of the LEF have now been published and it would appear that the section 106 funding negotiations have been closed. I initially raised the issue of section 106 funding for the church at a previous LEF at Borden grammar school and my request was noted in the minutes. I feel aggrieved that despite declaring a request for funding I was not invited to participate in the negotiations. This is an injustice that needs to be rectified. Could you please have the section 106 negotiations re-opened so that Murston Old Church may apply for much needed funding.
 

Thank you for your question.

S106 funding can only be legally asked for by the planning authority from a developer in order to mitigate the actual or perceived impact of the development itself.

Since neither the Mill Site development nor the Tesco development have a direct impact on the Arts, it was deemed inappropriate to ask for funding for the restoration and development of Murston Church for this purpose. There was perceived to be local impact on heritage by the Mill Site development, and this has been addressed through a S106 contribution towards a heritage centre to be located alongside Milton Creek.

It was for these reasons that Murston Church was described at the LEF as being outside the scope of the town centre S106 negotiations. Since this ruled out the possibility of funding it through S106, and, as far as my officers are aware, a formal funding application for Murston Church has not been submitted, your project was not considered in the negotiations, and hence you were not invited to be part of the discussions. Those negotiations are, as previously stated, now finalised.

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Sittingbourne High Street

Date: 05 April 2012
Name: Mr M of Sittingbourne
The regeneration of Sittingbourne to provide new facilities is a much-appreciated, albeit overdue, boost to the town as a whole. But the High Street is dying across the country, and in Sittingbourne it is no different. Is the decision to go with the big-money developments, which essentially moves the High Street and most of the existing business with it, a sign of Swale Borough Council giving up on the High Street and the individually-owned stores that once made it so great?
 
Thank you for your enquiry dated 2 April, regarding the proposed regeneration plans for Sittingbourne.
 
I fully appreciate your concerns over the gradual decline in the High Street. I agree the current economic climate has had a less than favourable impact on many town centres across the country. On a positive note the current regeneration proposals for Sittingbourne do seek to address some of the issues and encourage future investment.
 
Regarding your thoughts on seeking to attract individually-owned stores, practically we cannot force traders to locate their business here, this remains a business decision for them to make. However I can assure you that we continue to promote Sittingbourne as an attractive location to all retail developers, whilst seeking to identify ways to best support our existing independent stores. The eastern end of the town (East Street) currently accommodates a range of small independent shops which offer highly regarded services to the local community.
 
Until now, Sittingbourne has not been able to offer suitable environs to attract the larger stores. The reality is that the existing High Street units are not suited to modern retail needs. What the regeneration proposals do is enable us to create the right conditions to attract the larger stores to town.
 
Through delivery of the regeneration proposals, development of the Forum Centre and other sites around the town will allow for larger floor plates and greater retail offer and choice. This in turn will attract other investment, bringing more shops and facilities to Sittingbourne. The proposals concentrate on the town centre and station area. We recognise that enhanced leisure and community uses and improved connections across the town are also important to the vitality of the town.
 
Regeneration of the town centre is a long term project and current development plans are based on a great deal of research and consultation. We have a real opportunity now to deliver a significant regeneration project and achieve the step change Sittingbourne deserves.
 
Once again, thank you for your enquiry. If you would like further detail, please do not hesitate to let me know.
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Composting Bins

Date: 12 February 2012
Name: Mrs B of Queenborough
I realise in the grand scheme of things this question is probably mundane but I'm wondering if the council would consider a scheme where it sells composting bins at a reduced rate to encourage home recycling? I know that such a scheme has been a success in other areas as it has decreased the volume of waste that the council cannot recycle. The carbon footprint of each household could be reduced immeasurably besides the fact that in the long term it would be cheaper for the council. Why pay £38 or so a year for the council to remove garden/kitchen waste when we could pay a similar amount for a composting bin, help the environment and end up with a product that would save us money in the long run?
 
Swale Borough Council did in conjunction with Kent County Council offer subsidised home composting bins which proved very successful with over 2,000 compost bins sold to local residents. However this scheme was subsidised and made affordable by WRAP (Waste Resource Action Programme). Unfortunately WRAP withdrew their support and the scheme was terminated. While Swale Borough Council supports the concept of home composting we are unable at this time to offer subsidised composting bins. However we can recommend www.recyclenow.com where you will find options for purchasing bins as well as good advice.
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Sittingbourne Town Centre Regeneration

Date: 16 December 2011
Name: Mr H of Sittingbourne
At a time when there are so many planning proposals linked to Sittingbourne town centre regeneration I am surprised that the SBC website is so sadly lacking in providing information on progress. Does the officer for regeneration have plans to rectify this unsatisfactory situation?
 
The planning applications relating to sites within the Town Centre are available for inspection through the Council's web site with a link to UK Planning who provide the service on behalf of the Council for holding current planning applications.
 
Unfortunately, it is not currently possible to provide a separate link to the town centre applications. Actions are in place to develop the Council's in-house planning applications system to enable such links in the future in tandem with the Council's programme for reviewing the current content of its web pages.  However, this is likely to take at least another 6 to 12 months before this is in place.
 
Additionally, the Council's web site provides access to the planning policy context for the Town Centre and specifically provides a link to the Town Centre Master Plan. These pages provide the policy background upon which the town centre planning applications should be determined. Similarly, actions are in place to improve accessibility to the site.  It is also intended to produce a web page which will contain basic information about the town centre regeneration in the new year.
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Residents Parking Scheme

Date: 24 November 2011
Name: Mr W of Faversham
Is it correct that in my street of Athelstan road, I have to pay for a permit which costs £40 to park if I'm lucky outside my own house? Whilst other houses have knocked down the Victorian walls tarmacked their drives, which in turn puts my children in danger when they reverse out as they cannot see my children walking on the path, or not park on their drive at all but have a free guaranteed space outside their house and to add insult park their cars outside everyone else's house.... I wouldn't complain but when there is no parking because of these drives and the over generous yellow lines to get a fine of £35 to park on the only space available (double yellows).
 
Part of Athelstan Road, from Forbes Road up to numbers 55 and 48 is covered by the residents parking scheme. This scheme prevents commuter parking during the restricted hours of 8.30am to 5.30pm Monday to Saturday but allows residents exemption from the restrictions through the purchase of residents parking permits at £40/year. The double yellow lines are provided to prevent parking which would otherwise cause problems of safety or access for emergency vehicles and have been kept to a minimum to maintain safety at junctions in the area.
 
I appreciate that it is not always possible to find a parking space immediately outside your house but unfortunately it is not possible to guarantee a parking space when the car ownership in the area exceeds the amount of road space available. However, there are usually sufficient parking spaces available within the general area.
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Cryalls Lane Nature Reserve

Date: 30 October 2011
Name: Mr B of Sittingbourne
Are you aware that following a meeting in Borden hall this weekend that works are to be for over two years in the nature reserve in Cryalls lane. 15000 lorries will travel in Wises lane for almost 3 years. Jacobs are consultants for KCC. The cost in huge?? In this time of cuts. Please ask the KCC why at this time must it be done. I was told that it is not urgent that's why it will take nearly 3 years. It could be done in 12 weeks, so who is making the money? It will not be KCC but Jacobs will. Please stop the expense NOW.
 

Dear Mr B,

Can I assure you that I share your valid concerns regarding Kent County Council's plans for this site.  I know that your Ward Councillor Nicholas Hampshire is also very concerned. 

I have asked our officers what other options Kent County Council have considered and why this is their preferred option. It will require a formal planning application to the County Council's Planning Committee. As this will be a County application to a County Planning Committee your best approach is via your County Councillor Mr Keith Ferrin.  However both Councillor Hampshire and I will be happy to assist where appropriate.

This former landfill site is a much valued nature reserve and, whilst it does not hold any environmental designations, it is recognised as an important local asset engaging local residents as much for its informal leisure value as well as the opportunity it presents to encourage biodiversity and an appreciation of species.

The Council is committed to protecting and enhancing its green spaces and has in very recent times been responsible for the delivery of the Milton Creek Country Park on a former landfill site, so has a good understanding of both the technical challenges as well as the need to deliver a project that meets residents' aspirations. 

Our understanding of the proposed works at Borden suggest that there is a need to undertake essential works which directly relate to the site's former position as a landfill site and the need to manage emissions more effectively.  The public meeting was in part to communicate the works that need to be undertaken and to start a dialogue between Kent County Council and local residents.

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Weeds

Date: 26 October 2011
Name: Mr S of Sittingbourne
When will somebody be going along Gadby Road and Chatsworth Drive with a spray to eradicate the weeds that have grown up against the garden walls please.
 
Thank you for your question. Swale Borough Council are not responsible for weed spraying as this function is carried out by Kent Highways. Can I suggest you contact Lyn Leigh at Jacobs on 01622-666111 who will be able to help you with your enquiry.
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