After 3 years of writing about Shepway District Council and its policies and plans we thought it might be useful to say what we mean when we say “the Council“. That’s because with friends of ours working in the Council and with reports that Shepwayvox is often seen in passing on the mobile phones and computer screens of Council employees when we say “the Council” we know that such a body is made up of more than those who lead and direct it’s policies.
When we say “the Council” we know there are many SDC officers who have nothing to do with making decisions to concrete over Princes Parade or making deals with the Reuben Brothers to build 12,000 homes at Otterpool Park. We know there are many officers who have no say or part in the decisions to approve planning applications which can ruin and blight the lives of individuals and communities.
Like any workplace, the majority of people are working hard to enable them to pay the rent/mortgage, to feed their families and to survive each month. They are not super well paid for this daily grind. We know there are a number of officers who actually have two or even three jobs to make ends meet and that they who live locally in private rented homes where the landlords are increasing the rents almost bi-annually are struggling too. We know there are many Council officers who want their own children to be able to afford to rent or buy locally but who know that such an option is becoming more and more unlikely.
Working for Shepway District Council can be stressful, alienating and very pressurised as managers and Cabinet members seek all staff to put in place the Conservative policy of austerity and shrinking the state. Part of this is inevitable top-down bullshit of any workplace. We know enough Council officers in enough departments to know that decisions get passed down from managers that just seem stupid, ill thought through or arbitrary. That’s not to say there’s not excellent managers in the different Council departments and services but to recognise that often for many officers they are simply doing the job they are told to do.
So when we write SDC or “the Council” in regards to ongoing development across Shepway, we are not referring to a monolithic machine. We know there are many officers who do not agree with what is happening and think it is ridiculous and wrong to pursue such social and environmental destruction of our district. They like us don’t think it’s wrong to demand that a development scheme enhances the quality of our lives. They like us don’t think it’s wrong to oppose development. In this way it turns out that our negativity is really only a mask for our positive wish for all of us to live our lives free from those who pretend to act in our interests but are only ever about giving even more of what we’ve got away to those who already have too much!
The local politics local campaigners do is always much more in depth and dynamic than the Tweedledum and Tweedledee politics of Conservative and UKIP arguments. We have probably zero faith in any of these political parties, if we ever did in the first place. For Conservatives, local campaigns are viewed as a pain in the ass that just won’t bow down to some supposed ‘mandate’ they have in ward elections. If it wasn’t for us, SOS Kent, Slurry.org.uk, Save Princes Parade and many other local campaigners, SDC would happily continue to ignore and hide the scandals, outrages and arrogance that campaigners post online week by week.
For UKIP, we have no idea what they want under their current leadership (pictured) as it has been in the most part a useless opposition to Princes Parade and Otterpool Park and local luxury property developments at Fisherman’s Beach. Seeing as one of the most rapidly understood realities by Shepway residents in the last few years has been how local Council’s love-ins with private housing market has been a disaster for age-old communities, you would think the UKIP Leadership would be banging on about this a bit more aggressively. But strangely, no!
So when we write or say ‘the Council’, we are saying it’s up to Council officers as well to be part of this local opposition in whatever way they can. We reserve our contempt for those Cabinet Members and executive officers (pictured) who are the main engine of moving ahead “at pace”. You know, the kind of representative who seem all nice and caring in public (on the TV, Radio or in the newspapers) but when they come to the community they treat them with a contempt they themselves are mostly unable to see.
The Shepwayvox Team