Tim's Council Diary: Back To It

19 Aug 2023
Red Arrows in flight with "Red One" commentary in foreground

As I got back from my hols, Jim Martin went on his, and I was asked to cover a couple of media appreances for the Council promoting and explaining the detail around this Sunday's Folkestone Air Display. I was happy to do so - great to catch-up Kay at the Mill Bay Academy FM studio on Wednesday, then talk to KMFM on Zoom on Thursday. For all those still looking for them, the details are here...

To deal with a question from David Wimble at July's Folkestone and Hyhe full Council meeting:

"I would like to inquire about the rumours circulating regarding the potential scrapping of the Folkestone Airshow next year. Is it true that the current administration is considering this action based on concerns about the event's compatibility with their green credentials, given the carbon footprint associated with thousands of people attending and whether the economic benefits to the local community justify its continuation?"

Rumours are started in many different ways: you could even do so just by writing one yourself in a local freesheet's letters page. That doesn't make them true. There has been absolutely no such conversation about future years Air Display, whether for economic or enviromental reasons (I wish we'd had the time!). None. Rumour: not true.

That said, none of us can read the future. Like many of us, our Council has very difficult spending decisions to make over the coming months. For Folkestone and Hythe, this is due to the financial position left to us by the government and especially the previous administration. We've got a projected £18m deficit over the next 4 years, due to the budgets and plans voted for slavishly by, er, David Wimble and the Conservatives. We've GOT to get that down. We will however do our absolute best to protect the services and events that local people value most whilst keeping their Council Tax down.

It's also true to say that if didn’t book the Red Arrows for Folkestone someone else would. There is a huge waiting list as they are a world-class team. Us not having them saves no carbon globally. Also in a cost of living crisis more people are holidaying at home. They can’t afford to get away and by bringing them some world quality entertainment right here where they live, we’re both cheering up their summer and bringing a boost to local businesses who will hopefully enjoy a great busy weekend. So, whne it comes to those budget decsions, we'll keep in mind how popular an event it is, but we won't lie to you: its going to be hard.

But for now: See you Sunday. the weather looks great!

On Thursday I had my monthly catch-up with Andrew Hatcher who leads the Welfare and Benefits team at the disitrct Council. We have a regualr check of how we are doing in terms of Council Tax collection, dealing with welfare enquiries and processing them quickly and efficiently, and how we are doing supporting a myriad of different schemes of getting financial support to local residents depending on their needs and circumstances.

Andrew also outlined a new leaflet the team had put together explaining the help they can offer in the most accessible way possible: I think its really helpful. There are also addtional schemes that appear regularly the team can point people to, such as the current Kent County Council scheme offering a £100 food voucher to eligible households.

Andrew and his team do a superb job (as evidenced by the THREE national awards they won last year: Benefits and / or Welfare Reform Team Of The YearExcellence In Education and / or Staff DevelopmentExcellence In Partnership Working (in Community Involvement and Debt Resolution) and it's always good to see his laser focus on getting the next possible support and money to local residents. This is one of the most frontline of services. In difficult times for many of us, although Council budgets are really tight, we know the budgets of our residents are even tighter.

The support our welfare team can offer makes people's lives just that little easier, and that has to be the overwhelming priority where we can over coming months.

Larry Ngan and Lib Dem Campaigners on The Leas, Folkestone

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Larry Ngan, Daniel and Fry with "Build More Houses" t-shirt on The Leas, Folkestone

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