Voting Guidelines for May 6th

The County Council, PCC and Sheerness By-Election voting day is less than three weeks away on May 6th. KCC have released details of the voting procedure and it is available in this link:

And here are the main points:

But if this procedure worries you it’s not too late to get a postal vote – The deadline to submit a postal vote application form to Swale House is 5pm on Tuesday 20 April. You can get an application form at this link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/apply-for-a-postal-vote?src=schema

Please don’t forget to vote on Thursday 6th May.

Sittingbourne and Sheppey Labour announce our Candidate for the Sheerness Borough By-Election

We are pleased to introduce our candidate for the upcoming Sheerness Borough Council By-Election on May 6th .  Standing in the seat for Labour is Nicola Nelson.

Nicola  is contesting the by-election in Sheerness caused by the death of Councillor Mark Ellen. She lives in Sheerness and knows the local concerns of residents. Nicola has been an active campaigner for cleaner neighbourhoods and is disappointed that during the pandemic a few residents have again started to deposit rubbish in the streets and alleys around Sheerness. She believes Sheerness has been neglected for too long, “I am really pleased that the Coalition Council is putting money in to improving Sheerness for its residents, it is long overdue.”

Sittingbourne and Sheppey Labour announce our Candidates for the May 6th Elections

We are pleased to introduce our candidates for the upcoming Kent County Elections on May 6th .

Standing in Sheppey is Angela Harrison

Angela has lived on Sheppey all her life and has been a hard working Sheerness Councillor for over 30 years. She has previously represented the Western end of the Island on KCC. Angela takes a keen interest in Health and Wellbeing and when she was on the KCC Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee (Kent HOSC) she pushed for, and got, Sheppey to be one of only 2 drop in GP centres in Kent. The Kent HOSC looks at contracts which NHS Trusts have – Hospital Transport, Mental Health Services – and monitors how they operate. KCC members should use the experiences of their residents to highlight when things are not working properly. The HOSC is supposed to monitor services and make sure improvements are made. Angela says, “GP Practices and Hospitals have complaint procedures, but residents should know that their County Councillor also has a role to play in NHS services. If elected I will make sure that your voices are heard”.

Standing in Sittingbourne North is Steve Davey.

The Labour candidate for the Kent County Council seat of Sittingbourne North is Milton Regis resident of 30 years, Steve Davey. Steve was elected to the Borough Council in May 2019 to represent Milton Regis, along with Tony Winckless. They work together taking up local issues and keeping local people informed. As Borough Councillor, Steve has taken a deep interest in helping to tackle homelessness and seeing improvements to the town centre. He is Chair of the Council’s Sittingbourne Area Committee and has led councillors in dealing with local issues and in support of local causes. As your County Councillor he will fight to see that north Sittingbourne is not forgotten by a Tory dominated Kent County Council.

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Standing in Sittingbourne South is Lola Oyewusi.

Lola Oyewusi is the Labour and Co-operative party candidate for Sittingbourne South in the KCC elections on 6 May. She is a mother and a grandmother who is dedicated to serving the community. She is an ordained minister and founder of the Magdalene ministry Job board bringing employment and business opportunities to people who need it. She works with local stakeholders to tackle the issues of loneliness, isolation and food poverty, and has helped residents in Sittingbourne and Sheerness back into employment and volunteering. During the pandemic she has also been supplying food parcels to struggling families in Sittingbourne and Sheerness. Lola is a school governor and an active member of Unison, the biggest union in the UK fighting for workers rights. She is also the chair of the Multi-Faith group for a large housing association. Lola is a voice for the voiceless and has also been selected as the Labour candidate to stand for the post of Kent Police and Crime Commissioner.

IMPROVING SWALE

A report on progress by the Labour-led Coalition-run Swale Borough Council by its Leader, Roger Truelove.

In May 2019, Labour Councillors formed a coalition administration with four other groups. The other groups and their leaders are

                        Swale Independents                Mike Baldock

                        Independents                          Monique Bonney

                        Liberal Democrats                  Ben Martin     

Green Party                             Tim Valentine

The five-party coalition is as loyal and supportive of each other, as any one-party administration has ever been.

The Conservatives formed an opposition after very many years of exclusive control and they continue to find it difficult to find the right tone, alternating quite markedly between constructive opposition and a petty nit-picking opposition for its own sake.

The coalition had clear aims from the start and have started on their delivery, all with the intention of improving Swale.  Throughout our first 20 months we have managed without a Chief Officer and over the last nine months progress has naturally been slowed, as our resources and concentration has diverted to the Covid crisis.

However, we are determined to move forward with our ten priorities.

  1. We entered office with a public very concerned about the path being taken by the Conservatives on Local planning. The prospect of possibly four massive “garden communities” in our countryside was alarming to many. Pressed by Government to increase the housing allocations for Swale by over 9000, we have worked to review the plan in a much more sensitive way, without losing control of local planning as a punishment for not conforming to Government targets. This review should be completed in the first half of this year.
  2. We have finalised a policy for economic improvement that stresses the need to give more support to local businesses, works with others to improve skills and lobbies government to attract more investment into Swale. Part of the plan is to improve the economic and cultural viability of our town centres. We ended the Tory Council’s agreement with the Spirit of Sittingbourne which we saw as a potential future burden to Swale residents. We inherited the financially risky phase one plan and we have worked to bring improvements to that but in the current climate we have to hope that the leisure area soon becomes operational so that we can start to pay back on the Conservative borrowing.
  3. Our priority for housing has been to provide more affordable housing in the borough. We are squeezing more out of the planning system but crucially we have set up a Local Housing Company which in the years ahead will meet the gap in the market for affordable housing. We have also prioritised getting rough sleepers safely off the streets and finding more temporary accommodation for those suddenly made homeless.
  4. There is much to be proud of in Swale’s heritage and culture. We have already funded projects. We want to see more local people and visitors enjoying our sites of historical interest. The visitor economy is vital to the future of Swale’s local prosperity.
  5. When taking office, we felt too little attention had been paid to the impact of Council policies on people’s health and well-being. Active and fulfilling recreational pastimes are as important to people’s health as taking medicinal drugs. That is why we restored concessionary parking at our leisure centres, made grants to the Faversham pools and are taking steps to make our parks and open spaces better places to visit.
  6. Swale needs improvements to its public places and public facilities. The coalition set up a Projects Fund to make improvements to the public realm. There are more benches in our parks, there are new toilets where people visit andthere will be improvements in our town centres. Community assets have been improved and funding has been put into the agenda for environmental improvements.
  7. Another neglected area in the past has been the lack of engagement with those organisations in the community who work to help people in need. There are now much stronger links with the voluntary sector and the coalition council has close connections with the main foodbank providers. There is too much inequality in Swale and social inclusion will continue to be a high priority. As a Council, we raised all our employees to the real living wage as an example to all local employers.
  8. When we took office, we adopted a climate change and biodiversity agenda. This is a high-level target driven programme that takes initiatives on air quality, tree planting and electric vehicles, for example, but also monitors council decisions for their impact on carbon emissions.
  9. We cannot pursue these objectives unless we also maintain sound financial management. Even in the current circumstances, the Council budget is sound and will remain so. For example, we inherited a failing waste contract which has to be replaced in two years’ time. Improving the current contract will cost more but we will find the necessary savings to sustain a better service for local people.
  10. And finally, all coalition parties want to change to the way decisions are made and to engage much better with the local community. Area Committees are now up and running and over the next two years we will bring in changes to release some of the executive power away from the cabinet, to share policy development more fully with all our councillors. We have also seen an improvement in Council meetings, which used to be an ego trip for the Leader with little opportunity for most Councillors to speak as representatives. Most meetings now have two motions of interest. The last meeting saw agreement across parties to limit the nuisance caused by excessive firework parties and agreement on a Labour sponsored motion to press the government to keep the £20 uplift on Universal credit after it is due to run out in April.

With our excellent Coalition partners, we are making a real difference.  Being a Labour Councillor enables the 11 of us to make a real contribution to our local area, But, 9 of us are men and none of us exactly young. Do consider putting yourself forward as Labour candidates when the election next comes round in 2023. In some ways, there has never been a greater need for good dedicated people.

Roger Truelove

Labour Leader and Council Leader on Swale Borough Council

Happy New Year

Happy New Year to all of you from Sittingbourne and Sheppey Labour!