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Your views for August 8: Canterbury

By Canterbury Times  |  Posted: August 08, 2013

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CANTERBURY City Council's David Ford says that the opening times and staff of our museums have to be cut as "running five museums with the current budget and staffing resource is challenging" (July 18), and after this week's vote it would seem as though the council body agrees.

I would like to remind the council that they in fact have six museums. There is also the poor old Westgate Museum which has been locked up, quietly forgotten and allowed to decay. The council has a duty of care to look after it and its contents just as much as it does the Beaney.

However, if the above statement has been accepted and it is felt that the staff needs to be cut, then perhaps the council should be looking at the numerous managerial positions of head of culture, assistant head of culture, and many, many more. – all of whom have got a piece of the pie when it comes to the running of our museums despite not actually being museum staff.

None of these provide the most essential part; the front-line service of working with the public. It is not surprising to find that there is no money.

Instead, it is planned to lose a third of the key part of the workforce, who are already low-paid. With this top-heavy management structure, that is disgraceful. If this situation is not going to be addressed as part of these new plans, then surely it is time for a separate enquiry into the set-up of this council empire when it comes to museums.

Bob Collins,

Canterbury

I CERTAINLY want Terrance Barker and everyone else to know that I am wailing and gnashing my teeth about the proposal to close Whitstable Museum during the winter (Your Views, July 25). It's a terrible idea! Telling the story of the town's heritage and people cannot be part-time.

Museums, like libraries, are a sign of a confident town – proud of its past and ready for what the future may bring. If councillors don't feel that confidence in this community and aren't prepared to fight for local treasures then they should go elsewhere to pretend to be national politicians – who don't any longer care about the local effects of what they do.

Councillors should not even think of throwing away community building blocks which have been paid for by all local people over many years.

Every possible way should be explored to increase visitor numbers and extend the learning opportunities provided by local museums.

Now that councillors have rejected a proposed increase to their own mileage allowances ("Councillors vote against rise in travel expenses", July 25) I hope that all our local museums can be kept open and developed as they should be. If more money is needed to do that I suggest that those still-generous mileage allowances are trimmed and our representatives encouraged to use public transport and bicycles more.

Richard Stainton,

Whitstable

Editor's note: It was Kent County councillors who voted to reject the proposed increase to mileage allowances. It is Canterbury City Council which runs the museums and is proposing the seasonal closure.

THE city council leadership repeatedly claims that the proposals in its Draft Local Plan are supported by the results of the Ipsos MORI survey of local opinion carried out in 2011.

This is nonsense. The council asserts that there is no alternative to building 780 new homes per year throughout the 20-year lifetime of the Local Plan. Yet, far from validating this position, the polling data demonstrates widespread hostility to increased levels of development.

The council makes much of its record in consulting residents – then conveniently ignores (or misinterprets) any views which don't accord with its predetermined plans.

The MORI poll was one of a number of studies commissioned by the council as evidence to inform the Local Plan (though it was the only one which actually sought the views of local people). According to the council: "All the studies....concluded that a supply of 780 new homes a year......is needed each year up to 2031."

But Ipsos MORI says:

"Most residents …prefer the same, or a slower, pace of home building."

"Majority support building in principle but most prefer same/slower pace."

"While a majority of residents back building in the district in principle, a smaller proportion, 26 per cent, having been exposed to some of the key issues and shown the current rate of building, back more building than in the past." (The key issues referred to here include the inevitability of building on large swathes of greenfield land, which a large majority of residents oppose).

In what way can 26 per cent support for CCC's proposed level of house-building be described as 'broadly reflective' of public opinion?

The fact that the council misuses the one piece of evidence for popular feelings it has means that it is in danger of breaching the NPPF's requirement for a wide engagement with the local community as a prelude to drafting of the plan.

How does the council respond to these concerns? A key premise of the Local Plan is that building more houses will drive economic growth. As MORI notes: 'It is also clear that residents need convincing about whether development will actually lead to "planning gain", including jobs and enabling local families to stay'.

In reality, the supposed correlation between house-building and growth is by no means proven, and there is plenty of evidence to suggest that they are independent variables.

There is overwhelming local support for preserving greenfield land. In reality, the Local Plan proposes that around two-thirds of new development will be on greenfield sites. The MORI data demonstrates incontrovertibly that a large majority of local people oppose development which involves significant encroachments on greenfield land.

As we have said before we are immensely worried about the damage the proposals could do to the city and we would urge people to make their voices heard in the consultation process and make the council aware that its ideas, as well as being unsafe in our view, are also its own and not those of the majority of the residents of the district.

Clive H Church (chairman, Alliance of Canterbury Residents Associations),

New House Lane, Thanington Without

ALTHOUGH vice-chairman of the Oaten Hill and District Society, Gillian Northcott Liles is correct to state that a Sexual Entertainment Venue (SEV) is inappropriate for Dover Street, can any location be an appropriate one for an establishment which objectifies and debases women? ("Lap dancing club gets go ahead, July 18.)

Occasionally lap/pole dancers speak to the press defending their profession claiming that they feel empowered and are absolutely not the victims of male exploitation. We should pity this unfortunate minority of deluded women. A woman who works her body in a sexual manner for financial reward not only dehumanises herself but disrespects and devalues her entire gender.

The clientele of the soon-to-open Bing are likely to be comprised by an unsavoury and eclectic mix of misogynists, sex-addicts and neo-neanderthals religiously hooked on a diet of online porn sites and regular trips to London's Soho.

Canterbury City Council's licensing committee should be ashamed of themselves.

Or are these CCC decision makers actually clandestine frequenters of SEVs who now won't have to travel so far afield to view their seedy entertainment of choice?

Clive Wilkins-Oppler,

Via e-mail

IT HAS come to my notice that several local councillors and members of parliament need training. I have observed these people and there are urgent points to address in their professional behaviour. Many seem to have forgotten they are public servants and they seem to have forgotten or misinterpreted the policies, procedures and laws governing the work they do.

I manage a dynamic team of corporate trainers and we would like to offer training as soon as possible. The training we plan to deliver would cover the following areas:

Interpersonal skills

Listening skills

Roles and responsibilities of a public servant

Negotiation skills

Consultation skills

Review of Human Rights Act

Review of laws governing country

Review of council strategy

Equality and diversity

Self-evaluation and monitoring

Time-keeping

How to answer questions and speak in public

Letter-writing and comprehension skills

How to run meetings and be an effective delegate

Political games we play and how dangerous these can be

The narcissistic self and other personality problems.

I would suggest half-day workshops for the above points and we could give certificates of attendance to members. I would start with the listening skills training as this is essential for them to be able to participate fully in the other workshops.

Dr Jane Fenn

MY POEM Symphony for George marks the birth of Prince George:

What music holds our rising joy

For George, our nation's baby boy?

A trumpet fanfare to proclaim

Prince George to bear the Windsor name;

Prince George – the gladness of the nation!

Prince George – our happy celebration!

Soft lullabies and simple rhymes,

The greatest story of our times,

From Brahms – the tender cradlesong

Our mothers sung us all night long;

Prince George – the gladness of the nation!

Prince George – our happy celebration!

Then folksongs of this countrywide

Expression of our loyal pride,

And hymns of thanks to God for such

A precious gift we love so much;

Prince George – the gladness of the nation!

Prince George – our happy celebration!

Now stately anthems all around

As trumpet fanfares boldly sound

With all the church bells ringing strong

As all the people join the throng;

Prince George – the gladness of the nation!

Prince George – our happy celebration!

Robert Duncan Martin

Upper Harbledown

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