SWALE COUNCILLORS POSTPONE VOTE ON STANDARD QUAY’S FUTURE
At a strange and at times shambolic meeting last night, Swale councillors decided it might be a good idea to take a look at Faversham’s historic former shipyard before turning it into a restaurant and car park.
Conceding that the application to turn the listed former shipwrights’ sheds into a waterfront eatery is ‘controversial’, they have arranged to visit the quay on Monday April 29th at 9.30am. Members of the public and media are welcome to attend but previous Standard Quay site visits have been poorly attended by councillors and, this being Swale Borough Council, it might be wise to confirm the date and time.
Planning officer Graham Thomas listed various arguments recently received by the council, the majority opposing the scheme. Yet oddly, he failed to mention criticism of his own highly controversial report backing the restaurant plan based on the extraordinary (i.e. demonstrably untrue) claim that no shipbuilding activities occured at Standard Quay prior to 2002.
Instead Mr Thomas read out an unsolicited email, allegedly from the ‘Head of Research and Strategy’ at tourism organisation VisitKent, which claimed “29 percent of Kent visitors are motivated by fine dining opportunities”. Cue laughter and groans from the public gallery.
Mr Thomas then revealed that Kent Highways did ‘not expect the proposed use to give rise to significant volumes of traffic’ and recommended limiting the number of parking spaces from 97 to 13. This would, he argued, address many of the concerns raised (apart from, you know, the concerns about the quay never being used by maritime industry again).
For reasons which remain unclear, given that he had already decided to postpone the vote, meeting chairman Coun Richard Barnicott then asked Brian Pain to speak for a maximum of three minutes, as per Swale council’s rules.
Mr Pain, whose company Standard Quay (Faversham) Ltd revived Standard Quay’s centuries-old shipbuilding tradition from 1993 to 2011, began to explain that part of his speech had related to the proposal for 97 parking spaces and was therefore no longer relevant but was rather rudely shouted down by Coun Barnicott.
Mr Pain began his timed speech but was interrupted halfway through by Barnicott shouting ‘thirty seconds!’. Afterwards, realising he’d cut Mr Pain short, the bumbling chairman then allowed him a further minute.
The whole vaguely farcical interlude concluded with loud applause for Mr Pain and a shout of ‘We want people with vision, not greedy people!’ from the public gallery.
Mr Pain and others at the meeting give their reactions in the clip above…
By the way, VisitKent’s Head of Research and Strategy is Ruth Wood email@example.com tel. 01227 812919