Chairman's Report to the 2017 Annual Meeting

KFAS Chairman Report 2017

Main points:

1. The KFAS Executive Committee has met 6 times during the year.

2. Some of the main issues discussed have included:

The ongoing effect of central government cut backs to local authority funding and services.

The new Homes Bonus is driving Local Plans beyond what is sustainable in the long term.

There is a lack of investment in the public realm.

Uncertainty over Local government reorganisation in Kent. District Councils in East Kent, Mid Kent and West Kent are all looking at various forms of joint working or different models including merging into larger district councils (EK4). KCC are also considering a proposal to the Secretary of State for a Kent Unitary Authority. We can expect further progress on these options after the General Election in June 2017.

The ongoing need for a level playing field in planning and for the introduction of a Community Right of Appeal. (As distinct from a general third party right of Appeal.)

General acceptance that since 2011 Localism For Real has failed to materialise as central government led by The Treasury seeks to strengthen its hold in every area of decision making.

 

Continued uncertainty over the long term solution to Operation Stack in the light of two current JR’s and the unintended consequences of the Brexit Referendum.

3.  KFAS regarding itself as a networking organisation whose main role is to bring together civic societies to discus and exchange views of common concern. In maintaining this role we have during the year organised a number of well attended events including:

3.1. A very successful Presidents Lunch in Canterbury at which our President Laura Sandys encouraged civic societies to make their voices heard to politicians and policy makers both locally and nationally.

3.2. A conference on 28th Feb organised jointly with KALC attended by 100 representatives of Kent Civic Societies and Parish Councils to consider the implications of local government reorganisation and the devolution of services to town and parish councils. The Conference was addressed by Paul Carter Leader of KCC, Chris Wells Leader of Thanet District Council representing EK4 and Leaders of both Sevenoaks and Swale District Councils

3.3 On 20th May the Woolford lecture will be delivered by Tom Crew whose article “The Strange Death of Municipal England” caused a considerable stir when it was published a few months ago in The London Review of Books.  The lecture at Sessions House Christchurch University Canterbury will chart the rise and fall of local government in England and explore possible options for the future.

4. During the year many civic and amenity societies in Kent have been very active:

4.1. Canterbury has formed the Historic Cathedral Cities Alliance which has brought to gather 30 Historic Cathedral Cities to help achieve a balance between Heritage and Growth.

4.2. Ramsgate has been awarded Heritage Action Zone Status by Historic England. This is a five year programme in which HE is investing time and money.

4.3. Rochester has been campaigning to achieve its own Town Council.

4.4. Working with Dover District Council Deal has undertaken a review of its Conservation Areas.

4.5. The Weald of Kent Protection Society through its excellent network of village representatives continues to maintain a watchful eye on planning and development matters in the Wealden Villages.

4.6. Tunbridge Wells have campaigned on a number of issues including the redevelopment of the Cinema Site, the proposed Culture Hub and the Town Hall and for more investment in the public realm.

And there are many examples of the work that civic societies do in their local communities.

5. Looking ahead KFAS, along with other civic societies is facing a number of issues:

The need to recruit new pro active officers and committee members to the executive committee.

The need to adapt to changes in Local Government that are being forced on us by the so called austerities.  

How are we going to promote the values of civic societies to our local communities?

The need for KFAS to communicate better with its members via email, website and the now dormant KFAS quarterly bulletin. d)