News

Reaching the Beach in Folkestone This Summer – FREE!

Reaching the Beach in Folkestone This Summer – FREE!

A free summer holiday bus service takes to the road in Folkestone next month (from 20th July).

 The “Reach the Beach” service will bring visitors and residents from the town’s train stations into Folkestone town centre and down to the beach.

The new summer season hop on, hop off buses will run daily from Saturday 20 July until Sunday 1 September and will be free for passengers to use wherever they get on.

Buses will leave Folkestone West half-hourly beginning at 10am (breaks at lunch time and mid-afternoon), with the last bus returning from Folkestone Harbour at 7.45pm.

Stops during the 10-minute journey will include Cheriton Road outside Folkestone Central Station, Shellons Street (for town centre), F51 Skate Park, Old High Street and the Harbour Arm.

The hop on, hop off service is being provided by local bus company, Crosskeys, and supported with funding from the government’s Bus Service Improvement Plan allocation to Kent County Council.

Announcing the new service, Alan Johnson, Managing Director of Crosskeys said:

“We are very pleased to be providing this service in Folkestone during the summer.  It will have the benefit of bringing visitors and residents into the town centre, boosting our local businesses whilst helping ease congestion.

“The additional benefit of the service is the environmental one, by providing a seamless journey between train and bus. Also, being free this is a great opportunity to demonstrate the value of the bus and joined up public transport.”

Posted by Tim Prater in News
Grant Funding For Community Groups and Projects in Sandgate and West Folkestone

Grant Funding For Community Groups and Projects in Sandgate and West Folkestone

Community groups and projects across Folkestone, Hythe and Romney Marsh are set to benefit from a pot of £90,000 of council grant funding.

Folkestone & Hythe District Council’s member ward budget scheme gives each of its 30 councillors up to £3,000 of grant funding to award to initiatives in the district. Applications for 2024/25 are now being accepted.

The district ward councillors for Sandgate and West Folkestone are Tim Prater and Gary Fuller, and you can find their contact details by visiting the district council’s website or the Parish Council Councillor Contact page.

Community groups and organisations in the district or those with a connection to the area, can apply for funding. These include:

  • Town and parish councils with a community tax of less than £21,000 a year
  • Community interest companies
  • Charitable incorporated organisations
  • Registered charities
  • Schools
  • Community and voluntary groups with a governing document
  • Other organisations working for the benefit of the local community

There are a few requirements for applying to the scheme – details can be found on the application page.

Prior to the agreement of this year’s council budget, it was proposed that the scheme total be reduced by £15,000 as one of a set of measures to eliminate the council’s deficit.

Thankfully however, Folkestone & Hythe District Council’s Leader Jim Martin and Deputy Leader Tim Prater opted to reduce their special responsibility allowance and use that money to top up the ward grant budget.

Posted by Tim Prater in News
Sandgate Annual Parish Meeting 2024: Chair’s Overview

Sandgate Annual Parish Meeting 2024: Chair’s Overview

Chair’s Welcome and Yearly Overview given to the Sandgate Annual Parish Meeting on 20th May 2024 by Sandgate Parish Chair Tim Prater.

Firstly, welcome. Thank you for coming this evening to the Sandgate Annual Parish Meeting. It’s great to see local residents here, representatives here from a number of local organisations and also a pleasure to welcome Rory Love as County Councillor for Cheriton, Sandgate and Hythe East to our Annual Parish meeting.

There is an opportunity for questions later on our agenda. If anyone has any for Rory on County matters I’m sure he’ll be delighted to answer them or commit to finding you an answer. I’ll try to do the same for any District and Parish Council targeted questions.

Sandgate Parish Council is twenty years old next month. Following a referendum in May 2003, the Parish Council was reformed the following year. One person who didn’t need that reminder is Michael Fitch: a Councillor in 2004 and one now, after 20 years consecutive service. Gary and I are the next most long-standing Sandgate Parish councillors with a mere 13 years each. Thank you Michael: literally, no-one could have done more!

And as it would otherwise be a theme right the way through the update I’m about to give, I’d like to say Thank You to everyone who makes Sandgate what it is. From Parish Councillors who give their time for free, to the library volunteers, Sandgate Society members, Charity Trustees, Scout organisers, Church organisers, litter pickers, club members and more that make Sandgate what it is.

To that I’d like to add my thanks to Gaye Thomas as Parish Clerk, her new colleague Chani our Deputy Clerk and RFO, the library staff team and Michael Chalk, without who this library would cease to exist, and our contractors that keep our parks and open spaces great places to be.

We simply wouldn’t be the same place without you – you make it special. Thank you everyone, from me, on behalf of Sandgate.

And on that point, another reason Sandgate is special is our annual Sea Festival. I’m delighted to say that will be happening again this year, on the weekend of Saturday 24th and Sunday 25th August. For almost 20 years now, the spectacular free Fireworks display from Universal Fireworks has been made possible through the generous sponsorship of the Roger de Haan Charitable Trust, and the same is true this year. Emma, on behalf of Sandgate, thanks to yourself, Roger, and the charity trustees.

In the last year, it became clear that we had cause for concern for our Seaside Award status. We had identified that the water testing point for our beach was actually in Seabrook, and that the Environment Agency do not classify Granville Parade as a bathing beach at all. The seaside award was won by Sandgate – 10 years running – on the basis of the facilities provided at Granville Parade, in conjunction with water quality testing that actually took place some distance away.

In an attempt to give ourselves some clarity on if we could reasonably trust sea water quality testing from a beach a mile from Granville Parade, we instituted a sequence of private sea water tests for Granville Parade during the winter, with 12 weekly tests. That taught us what we thought we knew, but with evidence.

The water quality at Granville Parade is excellent most of the time. When there has not been significant rain for some time, the sea is great to swim in. However, in the 48 hours after significant rain, and especially after the Granville Parade tanks have used their emergency overflow into the sea, it is not a great place to swim, in common with much of our coastline. And as one example just after a release at Range Road pumping station in November, our tests the following day found levels of pollution 40 times higher than an “acceptable” level. On that day, it was not a safe place to swim.

On that basis, we did not feel it right to apply for the Seaside Award for 2024.

  • We are going to work with the Environment Agency to classify Granville Parade as a bathing beach, and to have testing from there.
  • We will continue to lobby Southern Water for a better answer to sewage handling in our area than releasing it into the sea if it rains hard. That in 2024 that is still seen as an answer is a scandal.
  • And we’ll notify beach users on days following hard rain that our testing shows that it is less likely the water quality on those days will be excellent.

One of the most important and used facilities on Granville Parade are our free to use public toilets, which are maintained by The Boat House team led by David. Despite some trying days, when people seem unable to leave the toilets in a reasonable state, their team does a great job in keeping them together, but as with everything, a spring clean can make a big difference. We invested in such a spring clean this year, and its really freshened the toilets up – I’m not going to say as good as new, but really pretty close, and they are again a credit to the seafront. We’ve learned from that, and will be budgeting in a spring clean every year from now.

While talking about that block, we were delighted to secure a green grant from Folkestone & Hythe District Council towards the cost of solar panels on the roof of the Boat House. The panels would make a really large percentage contribution to the power used by kiosk and toilets, and should repay their cost from savings within 7 years. We’re just dealing with the agreements required to proceed now, and hope they will be in place this year.

In addition, we’ve secured a £20k national lottery towards improving Sandgate and Fremantle Parks. Although that sound like a huge amount of money, I’m afraid its not as much as we need. Simply doing works we’ll need to do on the soft play surfaces will cost all of that and more. In addition there are a number of pieces of equipment we’d like to replace or improve, and new facilities we would like to add.

We could easily spend £100,000 but we are now at least in a place to start. We’ve got a plan, have budgeted for the Parish to fund some works, and will continue to look for additional grant support to add to what we can do. We will make phased improvements at both parks as we can afford to do so, starting this year.

In other news, the Parish funded and installed CCTV across the village, Sandgate Park and Golden Valley shopping centre in 2021, and we’re investing to maintain that system through a rolling programme. Although we don’t get a huge number of requests for footage, the value of the system was been proved twice in the last 7 months when our cameras were helpful in big incidents and helped the Police target their investigations.

This library has become, to borrow a phrase from my predecessor and friend Robert Bliss, the jewel in the crown of this council and Sandgate. Over the past two years we’ve arranged its full refurbishment. We’ve made it more accessible from doors to toilets, its brighter, better lit, better laid out, and generally much more welcoming.

This continues to be the only library in Kent managed by a Parish Council (indeed the only one managed by anyone other than Kent County Council) and in doing so we’ve made this refurbishment happen. We’ve also extended the opening hours of the library significantly beyond our agreement with Kent County Council. Having now started opening on Wednesday’s we’re now open 6 days a week, including two full days to 5pm. Again, I can’t think of another library in Kent extending its hours significantly.

In the last few months the lintels on the window wall and all windows have been replaced, courtesy of our landlords Folkestone & Hythe District Council and a really generous donation arranged through them by their supplier Wrekin. Folkestone and Hythe are also working hard to rectify a fault with a leak from above that can impact the children’s library. We hope they are getting close to doing so now, and when we’re sure its worked the children’s library will have its carpet replaced, and a new mural painted along the main wall to complete it.

Library activities now include 2 Book Clubs, 3 Baby Rhyme times, Scrabble, Talktime and Knit and Knatter. Our computers, wifi and meeting area is well used, and we’ve just added the beautiful blinds over our new windows to give a little more privacy as required.

As many of you will know, there has been a long standing wish by Sandgate Parish Council and many local residents for a lower speed limit through the centre of Sandgate. Hundreds of people signed a recent petition calling for a 20mph zone though the centre of Sandgate, despite the Kent County Council Petition engine being broken almost beyond use. Due to that issue, I contacted the Chair of the local Joint Transportation Board Dylan Jeffrey asking, begging, that the Board consider the petition, despite it not having met the threshold to do so by right.

I’m delighted to say that today, Dylan agreed to do so. As he said:

“The aggregate number of signatures on the petitions submitted was 631, and although I am mindful that these have not been fully checked and it does not quite meet the petition debate threshold, I am aware of the context of how the petition arose and the tragedy and fatality of young William Brown that happened in Sandgate.

“Therefore, following a discussion I have had with the current Vice Chairman of Folkestone and Hythe JTB, I would like the matter to be placed on the JTB Agenda for 8 July 2024 and an invite to Tim Prater, in his capacity as the petitioner and Chairman of Sandgate Parish Council, to present the matter to the JTB. The petition question was as follows (in red):

We the undersigned petition the council to Support Sandgate Parish Council in implementing line one of its KCC Highways Improvement Plan – a 20mph zone across the area including on the A259 and better enforcement of the speed limit.

Thank you Dylan. I will do my best to represent Sandgate well at that meeting, and seek the support of the majority of JTB members that KCC should actively assist in taking a scheme forward.

We know there is a scheme that could work: we have one drawn up and ready to go. It was drawn up by a local resident with huge experience of drawing up and implementing such schemes. With KCC blessing for a scheme, and funding for it, we can get there.

So: much done last year. Much more to do in this year. More things will turn up and change – they always do. It was only 16 months ago we learned Saga were planning on leaving Enbrook Park for example, and we faced new owners for the site. 16 months later, still no news on any new owner, or their intentions for it. However the Parish remain committed to working alongside any new owner to see every tree preserved, all green open space retained and ongoing free public access. We’ll see when that conversation starts, but meantime remain grateful to Saga for their ongoing commitment to maintaining Enbrook Park, and supporting Sandgate.

And finally, when I was at the protest on Princes Parade on Saturday against dumping sewage in our sea, it struck me that the previous protest I’d attended there was against the development of Princes Parade. As I say, things do change. And sometimes for the better. We’re now able to look out across the area again. The campaign against Princes Parade development was won. Its over. Its saved. The hoarding has gone. There is nothing a community working together can’t do. There is nothing Sandgate working together can’t do.

Again: thank you for coming.

Tim Prater, Sandgate Annual Parish Meeting, 20 May 2024

Posted by Tim Prater in News
Sandgate Parish Council Annual Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) Report 2023-24

Sandgate Parish Council Annual Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) Report 2023-24

Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) is the way of collecting contributions from developments towards the provision of infrastructure required to support growth within the District. It is a tariff applied per square metre of new development and varies by scale, use and geography.

https://www.folkestone-hythe.gov.uk/downloads/file/1133/community-infrastructure-levy-cil-guidance-for-town-and-parish-councils

The District Council is the Charging Authority for CIL. It is responsible for setting CIL rates, collecting the charge and allocating expenditure for CIL. Town and Parish Councils are recipients of CIL funds under the CIL Regulations and are responsible for spending and reporting on CIL.

Under the CIL Regulations, Regulation 59 require the Charging Authority (Folkestone and Hythe District Council) to pass on a meaningful proportion of CIL to Town and Parish Councils in which the development takes place. According to the CIL Regulations, for areas where there is no neighbourhood plan in place this sum will equate to some 15% of CIL receipts from development within their administrative area up to a maximum of £100 per Council tax dwelling per annum. This rises to 25% where a neighbourhood plan is in place.

Sandgate Parish Council is required to report its receipt and expenditure of CIL annually. The Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) report to 31 March 2024 is as below.

sandgate23-24

Posted by Tim Prater in Finance, News, Resources

Could YOU use a HUG2?

The Home Upgrade Grant (HUG2) funds energy efficiency upgrades for Folkestone homes that are not connected to the gas network, Folkestone & Hythe District has a high number of eligible homes / households.

Eligible households can apply for home improvements including free insulation, low carbon heating and clean heating systems. This will help to tackle fuel poverty and progress towards the Government’s 2050 Net Zero commitment.

Eligibility:

  • The home isn’t heated by mains gas (it could have a mains gas supply)
  • Has a combined income is less than £36,000 (the current figure is being reviewed and could be increased) or receives means-tested benefits such as Universal Credit or is in a target area as identified by the government.
  • The home is hard to heat, based on a home Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). 

Sociab  Social Enterprise Kent (SEK) have been commissioned to raise awareness of the current funding and engage those eligible to undertake the assessment and start the processes.  SEK are working with Folkestone and Hythe District Council and EoN who are managing the scheme, and local installers will help customers through the application process.

The installer will identify which improvements are best for eligible homes and arrange any necessary surveys and installations. Details are below.

Is-your-home-heating-electric-oil-LPG-or-solid-fuel

Posted by Tim Prater in News

Emergency Road Closure – Lachlan Way and Castle Road, Sandgate: 6th-24th May 2024

It has been necessary to close Lachlan Way and Castle Road, Sandgate from 6th May 2024 for up to 19 days.

Castle Road is closed outside 4 Castle Road, near the entrance to Castle Road Car Park.

The alternative route is via Sandgate High Street, Sandgate Hill and Lister Way (as Lachlan Way is also closed).

In reverse The Riviera, Radnor Cliff, Radnor Cliff Crescent, Sandgate Hill and Sandgate High Street.

This is to enable sewer repairs to be carried out by Southern Water.

Below are the Traffic Notices in confirmation of this.

Public-Notice-Castle-Road

Public-Notice-Lachlan-Way

Posted by Tim Prater in News
Formal Consultation of Proposed New Double Yellow Lines: Encombe and Sunnyside Road

Formal Consultation of Proposed New Double Yellow Lines: Encombe and Sunnyside Road

In the District of Folkestone & Hythe
THE KENT COUNTY COUNCIL (VARIOUS ROADS, FOLKESTONE & HYTHE) (WAITING RESTRICTIONS AND STREET PARKING PLACES) (CONSOLIDATION) ORDER 2021 (AMENDMENT No.24) ORDER 2024
Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984

Notice is given that KENT COUNTY COUNCIL under sections 1(1), 2 (1) to (3), 3 (2), 4 (1) and (2), 32 (1), 35 (1), 44, 45, 46, 49 and 53 of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 (hereinafter called “the Act”) and all other enabling powers, after consultation with the Chief Officer of Police in accordance with Paragraph 20 of Schedule 9 to the Act, hereby proposes to make the following order:-

The effect of the proposed named Order will be to place double yellow lines (DYL) waiting restrictions on the following length of road:-

Roads in Sandgate in the District of Folkestone & Hythe

ENCOMBE – DYL – (1) On the west side from its junction with Sandgate Esplanade to a point in line with the western boundary of number 1 Mariner’s Gate, Encombe. (2) On the east side from its junction with Sandgate Esplanade to a point in line with the eastern property building line of 3 Encombe. (3) On the south side from a point in line and opposite and 11 metres east of western boundary of 16 Encombe for a distance of 20 metres in a westerly then southerly direction. from a point in line and opposite. (4) On the south side from a point opposite and in line and 8 metres east of the boundary of 17/18 Encombe for a distance of 25 metres in an easterly then northeasterly direction.

SUNNYSIDE ROAD – DYL – On the east side extend the existing DYLs from the boundary Saffrons to the northern boundary of Coombe Cottage.

A full statement of the Council’s reasons for making the proposed Order, a plan indicating the location and the effect and a copy of any other Orders which will be amended by the proposed Order may be examined at Kroner House, Eurogate Business Park, Ashford, Kent TN24 8XU by appointment booked through tro@kent.gov.uk or viewed online from 19 April 2024 at www.kent.gov.uk/highwaysconsultations

Representations supporting or objecting to the proposed Order (your objection must explain the impact on traffic in the locality to be valid) can be made via our website using the above link or alternatively you can write to The Senior Parking & Traffic Regulation Officer, Kroner House, Traffic Management Team, Highways & Transportation, Eurogate Business Park, Ashford, Kent TN24 8XU by 12 noon Monday 13 May 2024.

Simon Jones

Corporate Director Growth, Environment & Transport

Deposit-Documents-Amendment-24-Folkestone

Encombe-Road-and-Sunnyside-Road-site-plan

Posted by Tim Prater in News
Seaside Award 2024 and Sandgate Parish Council

Seaside Award 2024 and Sandgate Parish Council

An open letter from Sandgate Parish Council to:

  • Keep Britain Tidy
  • The Environment Agency
  • Southern Water
  • Folkestone & Hythe District Council and
  • Neighbouring coastal Town and Parish Councils

Sandgate has been proud to receive the Seaside Award for the last ten years. In 2023, just 128 beaches in England won the Award, with only 24 in the South-East region. Keep Britain Tidy’s Seaside Award is the nationwide standard for the best beaches across the UK and it celebrates the quality and diversity of England’s coastline. The flag is a symbol of quality which ensures visitors are guaranteed to find a clean, safe, attractive, and well-managed coastal stretch.

Sandgate Parish Council has reluctantly decided not to apply for the award this year due to our concerns about the quality of the bathing water after heavy rain and stormy conditions.

The information on water quality for the Seaside Award comes from Environment Agency (EA) data and the sampling point for Sandgate is at Seabrook Point – a mile west from where people in Sandgate tend to swim, which is by Granville Parade. The EA test point at Seabrook Point is 50 metres to the west of a sewage outfall pipe. The prevailing current in this area runs west to east and testing therefore fails to pick up pollutants which are dissipated in an easterly direction towards Sandgate and Folkestone. Testing at this point has shown an excellent rating for the last 4 years for the prescribed Sandgate Beach area.

There is a Southern Water sewage outfall pipe located at the western end of Granville Parade (some 100-150 metres out to sea, depending on the tide), as well as the Enbrook Stream storm overflow and the Enbrook Stream outfall pipes on the beach. The popularity of Granville Parade as a swimming location has increased with the introduction of a sea sauna at the Rowing Club. The popularity of sea swimming has also increased considerably over recent years.  

Because of concerns about the accuracy and reliability of the data published by the EA and Southern Water, the Parish Council decided in September 2023 to use an established independent testing laboratory to provide sea water testing kits to test the water at Granville Parade. Sea water testing was undertaken on twelve occasions between October 2023 and January 2024.

From the results of these tests, and data from Surfers Against Sewage, the Parish Council concludes that generally the quality of the sea water under normal weather conditions is good and, sometimes, excellent. However, the testing did show very high levels of contaminates on one occasion after heavy rain.

Based on this information, the Parish Council took the view that it would be inappropriate for us to apply for the Seaside Award. We have decided that we should reach out to other coastal parishes and district councils to explore best practice during the period that water companies have to ensure their infrastructure is fit for purpose (2050).

We have the following three recommendations arising from our sea water testing:

  1. The Environment Agency’s sampling point for Sandgate should be at Granville Parade as this is where most people swim;
  2. Southern Water should update their wastewater handling so it no longer requires discharge of sewage to sea at Granville Parade (and elsewhere). In the interim, the sewage outfall pipe at Granville Parade should be extended further out to sea by Southern Water to help keep sewage spillage away from the bathing area and beach. (For example, the outlet pipe from the Hythe sewage treatment works extends 4km out to sea); and
  3. As a Parish Council, we should issue advice to sea users on best practice so that they may enjoy the sea in a safe manner. Information should be provided by the Parish Council and others to advise people to be cautious about the quality of the beach and the sea water for up to 48 hours after heavy rain and stormy conditions, with a link given to check the water quality (e.g. Surfers Against Sewage www.sas.org.uk).

A more detailed report with the results of the seawater testing is available on Sandgate Parish Council’s website (https://sandgatepc.org.uk/2024/03/12/sandgate-beach-sea-water-bathing-quality-testing-report-2024/)

Signed by

Tim Prater, Chair of Sandgate Parish Council and Susan Claris, Chair of the Environment Committee, Sandgate Parish Council

***

Seaside Award Water Quality Criteria: https://www.keepbritaintidy.org/the-seaside-awards

  • The beach must fully comply with the water quality sampling and frequency requirements
  • The beach must fully comply with the standards and requirements for water quality analysis
  • No industrial, waste-water or sewage-related discharges should affect the beach area
  • At designated bathing waters from 2016 the water quality should be graded as ‘sufficient’ as set out in the Bathing Water Directive. (In 2015, bathing beaches should of mandatory standard.)
Posted by Tim Prater in Environment, News