Love or loathe it, the Arch in Folkestone at the town end of the Leas has caused controversy from the moment it was born.
According to the latest valuation the arch is worth more than a lot of houses in the Folkestone & Hythe District, which is quite astonishing.
The memorial arch on the Leas, Folkestone according to the latest set of accounts of Step Short Folkestone Ltd (March 31st 2019) was valued at £434,170 pounds.
At the Overview and Scrutiny Committee (O & S) held on the 21st January 2019, Cllr Lesley Whybrow (Green) made it clear what the true value of the arch is, when she said:
“First of all I think it is a little bit misleading to talk about the value of the arch being that much money, because I’m not sure who would actually buy it as an arch, for that figure. So I think the true value is probably more scrap value” (14 minutes 2 seconds of video below)
Back in Feb 2019 we made it clear the arch had received close to £420,000 in funding mostly from the public purse.
£200,000 from the then Shepway District Council
£150,000 from Kent County Council
£17,550 from Folkestone Town Council
plus more from elsewhere.
At O & S there was much to say by opposition Cllrs, like will the Step Short App be transferred? Cllr Michelle Keutenius (Lab) asked how the annual maintenance costs had risen from £1,500, to £3,000 (when offered to Folkestone Town Council) , then to £6,000 under Folkestone & Hythe District Council. Cllr Laura Davison flagged the fact the Charity Commission website shows that the Step Short Charity has failed to provide information on its finances within 10 months of its financial year end.
Folkestone Town Council back in Feb 2019 were asked to take the arch on in. However, after considerable thought and investigation (plus a change in Cllrs due to May 2019 elections) the Town Council said NO.
Now the accounts of March 31st 2019 make it clear at page 4 that the arch was destined to be coming back under the Council’s control.
The currently directors and trustees of Step Short are:
Mr. Paul Emden
Mrs. Ann Berry (Chairman of Folkestone & Hythe District Council and Vice Chair of Step Short)
Mr. Geoffrey Robert Tolson
Mr. Eammon Rooney
Mr. Michael George
Mr. Damian Collins MP (Chairman of Step Short)
Now before we move on, our MP said to the Daily Telegraph on the 4th August 2013:
“Ten million men went through the town during the course of the war and it’s a site which has significance for everyone in the country.”
Also in a letter to The Times in 1920 the mayor of Folkestone, RE Wood, representing the Folkestone war memorial committee, made the claim that “more than 11 million British soldiers passed through Folkestone on their way to and from the battlefields”.
Now this of course is tosh, utter tosh as Private Eye said of the Step Short project and our MP:
As you may or may not know, Damian was a Modern History scholar at Oxford University. So he ought to be able to get his historical facts straight.
Moving on, at 16:58 on Wednesday 22 Jan 2020, Folkestone & Hythe District Council created a shortened link on bitly.com. This was probably for a press release to be published on Twitter, Facebook the following day (23rd Jan); which announced the Council was to take on the arch. It would seem somewhat preemptive to prepare a press release stating one is taking on the arch before a decision had been made by Cabinet, wouldn’t it? A case of predetermination?
At Folkestone & Hythe District Council Cabinet meeting held on the 22nd Jan 2020 at 17:00, they decided six minutes and seventeen seconds into the meeting to unanimously bring the arch back under the Council’s control.
Now as an aside the Cabinet is made up of seven members. However, the Council’s website says it is ten; It hasn’t been ten since May 2nd 2019. It makes you wonder that if the Council can’t get details like this right, what details have they and our MP got wrong about the arch?
The Shepwayvox Team
Dissent is NOT a Crime