Attendees: Richard Wallace (Chair), David Noble (Vice Chair), Howard Holt, (Chair Host), Cllr Jim Martin, Mick Williamson, Jo File, Roland Tolputt, Vaughn Horsman, Cllr Mike Blakemore, Mark Hourahane, Linda Bauer, Deryn Cutting, Jenny Barraclough, Frank Bond, Pam & Dan Keeling, Robert Grieve, Ray Russell, Melissa Dizon, Rob Wilson, Roger Bell, Elizabeth Halstead, Patty Key, Eddie & Rita Lee, Neil Jones, Ann Berry, Penny Shepherd, Marina & Alan Solodchenko, Marie Helene Hunter, Roger Joyce, Guy & Atsuko Martin.

Apologies Margaret Noble, Dorothy Douse, Christopher Phillips, Jeanette Harris, Sheila Palmer, Jan McNeill, Tony Hill , Tony Quarrington

  • Howard Holt meeting facilitator opened the meeting and welcomed members and guests and asked everyone to introduce themselves.
  • Richard Wallace reiterated that he has been trying to ‘stand down’ from Chairing the group though not from the Committee.
  • Minutes of last meeting were circulated electronically, and members were informed regarding the baby memorial project put forward by Chris Twydell of East Kent Baby Memorial Gardens Group Charity at the previous meeting.
  • Nicky Tolson updated members regarding membership of over 300 which continues to grow.  90% of members are paid up to date.
  • David Noble informed the meeting that the 2024 Go Folkestone calendars have arrived.  They will be available for our October meeting and orders can be taken before then.   £8.00 for 2024 calendar.  He has struggled to obtain a sensible card reader in order to take noncash payments.   These devices do attract other costs and as our calendar is our main fund raiser a balance has to be realised.   We will continue to take cash and bank transfer payments until an appropriate solution can be obtained.

Cllr Jim Martin

Cllr Martin spoke at length about Otterpool Park and the Planning Policy.   He said that he was more surprised than anyone to find himself in the position of Council Leader after the last election. He singled out Ann Berry for her advice when he had been a new member.  He outlined that there were 30 seats in the council and the votes ended up with 11 Green, 10 Labour, 5 Conservative, 2 Lib Dem and 2 Independent.  Due to HQ instructions from Labour Party Leaders the anticipated coalition between labour and Lib Dems together with the greens did not happen or take place but instead administration in minority coalition between 11 greens and two Lib Dems supported on vote-by-vote basis by Labour. There is an AGM in May 2024 when things may become more formalised and change to a committee system.

The Council has a deficit of £4.5M.  There are 12 district councils in Kent 11 are running in deficit and Dartford only in credit due to land disposals. KCC need to cut £57M from their budget.  To put it in perspective the budget for road repairs is currently £51M.   F&HDC had a less than average deficit and hope to break even in 2 years. The council’s responsibility is to run a balanced budget.

Otteroool, proposed to build 8 1/2 thousand houses. Cllr Martin explained that there are various challenges to be overcome before work can commence.   It is proposed that there will be 2 health centres and 7 schools.  Outside organisations have expressed interest in involvement.

The land has been sprayed with phosphates for years against current standards and to the detriment of the water supply in Canterbury and Ashford.  Nutrient neutrality system will cost £20M.   Otterpool site is currently therefore a big problem as constant use of phosphates over last few years has created a grass desert.  Cllr Martin explained the complexities and expense of clearing not only this land and the runoff of water into streams but other local land in order to prepare to build the Otterpool Park.  These discussions have involved Government officers (Michael Gove and our local MP Damian Collins has been instrumental in ensuring that Government are aware of the problems and risks) Cost of creating a nutrient neutrality plant is in the region of £20M at todays costs and this work is likely to extend into the far future.

There is discussion to create a more significant railway station at Westenhanger so that the high-speed train stops at this station.  Once again costs come into the conversation, and it will be some time before decisions are made.

Otterpool will be a Garden Town and will take 30 years to build.  When building starts all phosphates will have been removed.

Funding for infrastructure and draining etc., all to be discussed.

Dungeness – there are currently two power stations neither of which are active.  Currently being de commissioned.  BNF Dungeness had previously put in for Dungeness 3 but site is too tight due to the two nuclear power stations already on site and the SSSI on the other side.     It is possible that there will be some small modular reactor units which will continue to give work to 500 people who currently live on the Marsh.    Marsh people are nuclear tolerant because of the work that the sites provide, including nearly all of the high-income jobs in the area. 10 modular reactors are planned around the country and Cllr Martin, despite some hesitation was influenced by the certainty that these would go somewhere if not Dungeness. Infrastructure is all in place but not currently doing anything so it would bring all of the infrastructure back into play. Cllr Martin came down on the side of jobs. EDF are now working with the Canadian company who have experience with small reactors.

Howard Holt thanked Cllr Martin for picking out big issues.

Cllr Martin and Mike Blakemore are very supportive of local voluntary groups and charities because they are involved at grass roots and understand the needs and problems and actively get involved.

  • David Noble asked if it was still legal to spread potash. Cllr Martin not in this area but it’s had a cumulative impact over years.
  • Mick Williamson queries why tidal or wave power hasn’t been used as we have an unlimited source in our area.  Tidal power use is unlikely.  Wave power is more likely.  Hydrogen from Dungeness could supply Dover ferries.
  • Melissa Dizon, guest and potential new member, gave an overview of her activities within the Filipino community.
  • Richard Wallace.
    • October 20th is the deadline for the winter magazine.
    • Harbour Plan: Go Folkestone not quite satisfied with the sewage safeguarding situation nor the parking.  Alongside NFS and all other groups want more respect to the surviving railway station. There is a review underway. The architects are very hard working, and they are reviewing the latest plans.
  • Mark Hourahane – Grace Hill Library – moving as much of the Heritage Collection into the Youth Hub.  NFS have asked for it to be assessed as a community asset. It was at risk of closure.   Exhibition in the Urban Room Friday to Monday 10:00 until 4:00
    • Cllr Martin – Damian Collins had a meeting with Michael Gove who indicated that there is some spare levelling up fund.   Application for Grace Hill Library – Damian Collins is working hard to support the project no one wants to lose Grace Hill.
    • Richard Wallace agreed that NFS and Go Folkestone are on the same page. GF are open to reuse or change of use of parts of the building, around the core library provision e.g., social care, patch offices, youth facilities.
    • Roger Joyce Draft heritage Strategy needs to be brought up to date.
    • Cllr Martin said ward councillors have about £3000 to spend two or three of them would contribute.
  • Vaughn Horsman – Levelling Up Place Plan – from railway station towards town centre. A proposed roundabout at Cheriton Road/ Manor Rd prompted discussion.  The cost would have been £3/4M due to services, so will not happen. Beautification around railway station will happen. Consultation now pushed back to Oct/Nov.  What happens to the bus station might take a little longer.  Fund does have an end date and work must start this year.
    • Active Travel Plan – Cheriton Cycling Scheme will happen in its reduced version.
    • Vaughn is involved with the Cycle to School Scheme 25 – 29 Sept.  Big Bike Revival at Folkestone Sports Centre, 10 – 1.00. 23/24 Sept.   Go Folkestone have posted details on website and Facebook sites.
  • Foundation Stone has been engraved and more money has been promised.   Richard Wallace said that we prefer to have money in the kitty.   De Haan have expressed firm interest, as of this week. GF will not be needing grant so long as all the promises come through.
  • Leas Viewpoint – Richard Wallace, Frank Bond and Roger Bell have already done a lot of work on this project and it’s hoped that a few of them will be in a position to sketch out lines on the balcony in the near future. artists are being looked for in order to transfer the images from the school artwork onto the balcony. There will be a QR code, and a brochure will feature the points on the balcony.  Frank Bond mentioned protective coating that has been put onto the mural at the fishing museum which has been effective.
  •  Penny Shepherd spoke about the electrical recycling and the collection in central Folkestone of small electrical goods which can be taken to Sittingbourne to be taken apart and bits reused. Richard Wallace asked for volunteers. Feeling of meeting was fairly positive.
  • Walking with Ghosts – Roger Joyce said that a few groups are getting together.  He spoke about 2022 Armistice Day audio visual p0rojectoin onto the Harbour Walls.  The Imperial War Museum will fund a similar event for November 2023.  Ann Berry said Mole Café will be set up again as part of Walking with Ghosts, with GF members Eddie and Rita helping.

Litter Pick – Friday 29th September at 2.00pm

Next Meeting Wednesday 11th October, Wards Hotel

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