At the first meeting of the new Folkestone and Hythe District Council administration held on Wednesday 24th May, newly elected council leader, Jim Martin announced that while there are a number of obstacles to remove… Princes Parade is saved!
The main opposition parties at Folkestone District Council had vowed that if they could get enough votes in the May 4th elections one of their priorities would be to abandon the plans for development – 150 homes, a hotel, commercial premises and a leisure centre – on Princes Parade. To the delight of a packed public gallery Jim Martin (right) took the first step in making good that promise when he included in his first speech as Council Leader the following:
“The Greens and Liberal Democrats have agreed to work in coalition to form the Council’s administration … There is much for us to do, we have many repairs to make and a great deal of debris to clear up. There is a large cumulative deficit of £18.499m over the next four year period to fill in the accounts. There is a significant loss of £4.3 million pounds to find for Princes Parade and the Council is indebted because of the Otterpool Park project.
“We need to take immediate action on a number of fronts to ensure the Council can continue to function.
“I can however give you a clear indication of three things that are going to happen.
”In line with our emphasis on the democratic process, the coalition has agreed to move towards a committee system and away from the current leader and cabinet system, individual councillors will have more say and be more able to influence council policy. This will mean greater responsibility, and indeed a lot more work, but the democratic process will be enhanced and reinforced through greater participation. I’m very grateful to our Labour colleagues for all of their hard work on the committee system. In line with our greater cooperation, the committee system will allow the sharing of key responsibilities, including the leadership.
“Those of you who remember the meeting of the Council in June 2019 will recall that Councillor Prater’s motion to withdraw the planning permission for Princes Parade was successful, but this democratic 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.
We are determined to enhance and reinforce the democratic process within the council and the organisations that it owns or funds.
“There are a very complex set of obstacles to remove, and this will take some time but I can state this evening very clearly that Princes Parade is saved. (Cheering from the public gallery and applause from within the chamber too)
“Thank you chair and I am looking forward to many interesting debates and I hope that everyone within this chamber will feel able to contribute. My greatest hope is that all members will feel able to come and discuss matters with me, regardless of their political allegiance because it is only by working together we will be able to deliver the service that our community so desperately needs.”
An edited version showing Jim Martin’s address to the chamber is below: