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Be The Change

May 22, 2019 9:00 PM
Originally published by Folkestone and Hythe Liberal Democrats

Tim PraterAt the Folkestone and Hythe District Council Annual General Meeting of 22nd May, Lib Dem Group Leader Tim Prater was proposed as Leader of the Council by Connor McConville and Lesley Wybrow, respectively the Leaders of the Labour and Green Parties. He was proposed against David Monk, whose Conservative Group lost majority control of the Council in the local elections on 2nd May.

The new make-up of Folkestone and Hythe District Council is 13 Conservative, 6 Green, 2 Lib Dem, 6 Labour, 2 UKIP and 1 Independent. Labour, the Lib Dems and Green Parties have 14 Councillors between them to the Conservatives 13.

In accepting the nomination, Tim said (*) :

*****

I'm proud to have been nominated by Connor and Lesley from the Labour and Green Parties. It's not easy working across parties and to put your differences aside for the common good. But it needs to happen. This is what the future looks like.

And if this is future looks like, David Monk's time leading this council is the past. Whether his administration ends tonight, or next month, or next year, we're seeing the end.

I don't know which Party won on 2nd May. But I know who lost.

Yes David, they think Theresa May is hopeless. But they want you gone too. You lost. Give it up. It's time to move on.

And so: moving on.

Taking leadership of this council will need a few things. It takes some experience.

I've got that. A small local electoral fact for you - in the last 20 years, this Council has had four leaders: Rory Love, Linda Cufley, Robert Bliss and David Monk.

In 2007, I was elected to this Council winning my seat from Linda Cufley.

In 2009 I was elected to Kent County Council, taking my seat from Robert Bliss.

Three weeks ago, I was elected for Sandgate and West Folkestone, beating Rory Love.

Three down. One to go.

I've been on Councils with budgets ranging from £2 billion to £50,000. I've been a charity trustee, school Governor, run my own business, sat on and led Party and Council committees, been there, done that. We're all learning, every day. I'll continue to do so. We all will, we all must. But there is more than enough experience here to deliver for Folkestone and Hythe.

And aside from experience, leadership needs a plan.

We have a plan. And you should hear it, because we think you will like it too.

We'd protect our environment and heritage. As a start, we'd cancel the development of Princes Parade, but instead build a new swimming pool and leisure centre at Martello Lakes on the other side of Hythe where it can be easily accessed from both Hythe and the Marsh.

We'd open up our Council. We'd break apart the cabinet control of the Council so all Councillors are involved in decisions. The bright light of scrutiny on this council's decisions should not be uncomfortable - it should be the norm. We should welcome and encourage questioning. We would give every Shepway voter their Vox.

We'd devolve real power over local services to the Town and Parish Councils across Folkestone, Hythe, Romney Marsh and the North Downs who could, and should, have a much bigger say in shaping the services in their area.

And we'd fix the planning system so that planning decisions are made wherever possible by the Councillors from that area - not miles away.

We will fight to make sure there is a big increase in the number of social houses built, as well as affordable housing that is actually affordable.

And we will work to support the most vulnerable in our society, not criminalise them and drag them into debt.

And we've got a way to deliver that plan.

Our commitment to giving Councillors more power means the end of the Cabinet system. This Council can return to a Committee system that empowers all Councillors. We'd do just that.

If I'm elected leader today, I'll appoint a seven or eight person cabinet that will be in place for no more than a year whilst we all work to rewrite our constitution.

We'll listen to all Councillors who want to be involved, to make a difference.

A cabinet of cross-party talents, moving this council to one of the future: devolved, responsive to our communities, listening - everything David Monks administration is not.

Every vote for change tonight will be heard. Everyone voting for change tonight will have a part to play in delivering that change.

Hold me to it. A Committee system by this time next year latest.

More power for all Councillors in this room.

Forget what you've been promised before tonight. There is a better deal on the table for residents across the district.

You heard the people on 2nd May. You know what they said.

David Monk may be able to prop up his administration a little longer. Another few months. Maybe a year. But it's coming to an end. And those that keep him in power, those that don't hear the people, will be judged with him.

So there is a different way. Don't vote for him tonight.

Vote for decisions by Councillors, not Cabinet. For our environment, our heritage, the most vulnerable. More say for Town and Parish Councils. More power for the people that voted for you. Isn't that what your voters would want? Isn't that what you want?

It won't always be comfortable. We'll debate, discuss, argue a bit, learn in public, make some mistakes, apologise, get the big things right and work harder than you've ever known because EVERY Councillor will be part of it.

So go on. Be the change. Vote for change. Vote for me. Lets change our area. Together.

(*) Check against delivery.