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Congratulations to Walmer; an unusually inclusive town council, cleaning up historic problems. And congrats to its new Green Chairman!

Walmer, in May 2019, had a newly elected team of 15 councillors, many of whom stood as independents. It passed a decision that chairmanship of the council would automatically rotate and a new councillor would be elected as chair every two years; a decision reached after councillors had seen the problems that arise when a single powerful councillor holds sway for almost two decades.

The new 2019 Walmer council (3 of them Greens) all agreed variety was the spice of local accountable democracy, (with one  exception, the councilor who was the previous long-standing  Conservative chair).

Since 2019, the three chairs of Walmer council have been Cllr Sue Lechevallier, (now an independent cllr) 2019-2020,  Cllr James Murray (Ind) 2020 to May 2022, and Cllr Mike Eddy (Grn) who became chair of Walmer council in May 2022, supported by cllr Beard-Gould (Ind) as vice chair.

Cllr Mike Eddy

Walmer councillors declared a climate emergency unanimously on 3rd July 2019, with a private motion proposed by cllrs Eddy, Lonsdale and Symons, three Greens on the new council (item 5761). The council committed to becoming a carbon neutral organisation by 2025. Work to implement this commitment has been led by the team on Walmer Council’s Climate Emergency Working Group, chaired by Cllr John Lonsdale (Grn).

In addition to lowering the council’s carbon footprint, much work has been done in the community. In the 3 years since 2019 they have leveraged in KCC money to provide EV electric vehicle charging points for visitors and residents who don’t have off-street parking. They compiled and distributed a local advice sheet in 2019 for residents about planning processes and energy efficient homes.  By autumn 2021 they’d set up a service for a Walmer council employee to bring a thermal camera to residents’ homes and help them decide how to make their home more energy efficient.

With energy prices going sky-high in 2022, those who have benefitted from WalmerTC support on energy efficiency are counting their lucky stars!   WTC also leveraged in rail funding so that security cameras and strong cycle lock-ups could be installed at Walmer station. And with ever-increasing congestion on the suburban roads of Walmer and Deal, making cycling easier and safer makes very good sense.

Cllr John Lonsdale

A problem the incoming team of 2019 councillors were determined to tackle was the secretive lease signed in 2013 when Cllr Pat Heath (Conservative) was chair, which awarded a 25 year commercial lease to ex-cllr Mrs Johnson (Conservative), then vice-chair of Walmer Parish Council. (see reply to Freedom of Information request below). Cleaning up this historical problem (the 2013 decision contravened the Nolan principles of public service, the Code of conduct about  ‘cllrs not to make any decision in their own pecuniary (financial) interest’ and the legal advice provided to council) has involved the Walmer council moving to new publicly-owned council premises, resolving the on-going costs of ex-cllr Johnson’s lease and referring the matter to the police authorities (minuted item 6315 of meeting 2ndFeb 2022; a statement about cllr Heath is on the Walmer TC website).

Cllr Mike Eddy said, “We of Walmer Town council will continue to work together to enable residents to enjoy Walmer’s beautiful environment and facilities and we’ll work to improve them. We will continue to listen to and stand up for residents. We’ll keep trying to get DDC and KCC to take action to protect Walmer, particularly on the issues of road safety, planning and overdevelopment that are affecting our community. This council team are determined to respect the principles of clean, accountable governance”.

He continued, “We hear from our Green colleagues elected to Deal and Dover town councils that all too often, it is only recommendations from the majority groups (Labour) that get accepted at full council, while well-researched practical recommendations from our councillors are dropped into the long-grass. At a higher level, on Dover district council, we watch the six man Cabinet (Conservative) brush aside the work of councillors not of their party. This is why the mutual respect for diversity which allows councillors of different backgrounds to work constructively together here in Walmer, is something we think is well worth celebrating.”