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Folkestone Greens show what cooperative leadership means!

Shepway Greens celebrating

”It is one thing to take power, another to do so with respect for other opposition parties. Our colleagues in Folkestone and Hythe have shown the way forward, increasing democracy and reducing control-freakery,” said Christine Oliver, Dover and Deal’s Green prospective parliamentary candidate.

Folkestone & Hythe District Council (FHDC) has become the first in Kent to be controlled by the Green Party. Shepway Green Party won eleven seats in the local elections on 4 May, Labour ten and the LibDems two. The Conservatives, who have run the council for 16 years, were reduced to five.

Cllr Jim Martin, voted in as Leader of the council at the annual meeting of the council on 24 May, said: “People across Folkestone & Hythe district will get the change they demanded from a new council ready to listen, involve and act in their best interests, with Greens, Labour and LibDems closely aligned on key issues, such as cancelling the unwanted Princes Parade development.”

Dover and Deal’s Green prospective parliamentary candidate, Christine Oliver

Dover and Deal Green Party sends huge congratulations to Shepway Green Party.

To loud cheers from the public gallery, the meeting heard an announcement from Cllr Martin that Princes Parade is saved – answering years of calls from campaigners opposed to the seafront development at Hythe. Greens, Labour and LibDems had all promised to cancel the scheme.

Cllr Martin told the annual meeting: “Those of you who remember the meeting of the council in June 2019 will recall that [LibDem]Councillor [Tim] Prater’s motion to withdraw the planning permission for Princes Parade was successful, but this decision was never included on the agenda for ratification by the cabinet. This flagrant breach of the democratic process has led to the waste of millions of pounds of local people’s money. The new council is determined to enhance and reinforce the democratic processes within the council and the organisations that it owns or funds.”

Green Party councillors will occupy seven of the nine places on the council’s decision-making cabinet, with the other two going to the LibDems, but it was also announced that FHDC will replace the leader and cabinet system with a committee system as part of the new council’s emphasis on the democratic process. The change, in a year’s time, will give councillors’ more say and more ability to influence council policy. Until then, Labour will chair the council and its four existing committees.

Said Cllr Martin: “I am looking forward now to getting on with the work and starting to deliver the things we promised voters.”

Shepway Green Party

The party’s manifesto set out priorities including doing as much as possible to provide green jobs and support for high streets and other local businesses, to work in partnership with community groups to support vulnerable people and those hit by the cost-of-living crisis and publishing an action plan to help homeless people all year round.

The manifesto also included doing everything possible to provide affordable homes that are cheaper to heat and to insulate all council housing to reduce energy bills and to secure more biodiversity on council land and net carbon zero council buildings. The party also said it wants to improve recycling rates, reduce waste and encourage reuse, as well as seeking active travel schemes that make walking, cycling and wheelchair or rollator use safer and more enjoyable.

Shepway Green Party now has a record number of councillors - 12 at Hythe Town Council, eleven at Folkestone & Hythe District Council and, following its substantial victory in March’s Kent County Council by-election, one county councillor.