Earlier this month, Conservative council candidate Christian Mills suggested that Wincheap has something of an image problem. Now Lib Dem Nick Eden-Green, who has represented the area for nearly two decades, offers his thoughts.
What a curious article from Christian Mills. If this is his first shot at promoting himself as a Conservative saviour for Wincheap can I point out a few home truths?
Wincheap is far more than just the stretch of the A28 bearing that name. It is a strong and varied community, well represented by active community groups.
It certainly has a lot of very committed residents who are proud of where they live and care passionately about the area.
We have been clearing up litter and tackling graffiti for years. We last did a community litter-pick only a short while ago.
Mr Mills has been conspicuous by his absence at any of these events. Nor do we choose to play party politics with a social problem.
These are not Lib Dem litter-picks but community ones. Sometimes organised by local councillors, sometimes by local community groups. I suspect, and hope, there are residents present from all political groups and none.
I have never asked and wouldn’t dream of doing so. Indeed, the last one included our local PCSO and the police would never join in any politically motivated community project.
Certainly graffiti is a scourge. If Mr Mills had been at the Canterbury Area Member Panel earlier this month, and if he wants to bring in party politics, he would have heard me say that the Conservative-controlled council has it in its powers to demand that where there is graffiti on public property the council can insist the owners clean it up.
If they do not do so then the council can fine them, clean it and charge them the cost of so doing.
This is all pointed out in the latest edition of the council’s own magazine, which is the mouthpiece of the party in power.
However, they simply do not use their powers and tackle the problem. I have asked for the number of times they have invoked these powers to be made public and this has been endorsed by the members panel. Let’s see what they have been doing because to me it looks like nothing.
Equally, if Mr Mills had come to any earlier meetings of the member panel, or the joint transport board he would have heard me ask, over the last several years, why the graffiti in the Wincheap subway has not been cleaned.
Kent County Council, again Conservative controlled and which owns the subway, says it has no money to clean it and refuses to do so.
This was clearly stated at a meeting over a year ago. Incredible.
But even more incredible is that the city council has the powers to fine them, clean it themselves, and then send in the bill.
Why have they never done so? Presumably because one Conservative-controlled body hasn’t got the guts or the gumption to fine another. The relationship is much too cosy for that.
So, if Mr Mills wants to fix what he sees as Wincheap’s “image problem” perhaps he should tell his Conservative chums to get on with the job! They have the power to do so.
Cllr Nick Eden-Green is the Lib Dem councillor for Wincheap and a former Lord Mayor of Canterbury