Last year, Councillor Jenni Hawkins and I spoke about how great it would be for Hythe to have a beach clean station; this is a board, complete with litter pickers that encourages visitors to perform a short beach clean before heading home. Little did we know that our amazing local resident, India Pearson was revving up for an epic mission to raise funds to buy one…
On 19th June India set off on a mammoth 12 hour journey, stand up paddle boarding the entire length of The Royal Military Canal, all the way from Rye to Seabrook. Whilst on her epic journey, she collected all the rubbish she found along the way.
India said she found some rather crazy things; asides from the obvious cans, crisp packets and plastic bottles, she retrieved a tyre, 3 big oil containers and a toy boat! However, the most surprising thing India found was a full neoprene Fisherman’s wader suit, with attached wellington boots. Apparently this was still in good condition, so India contacted Lorna Doyle, a designer from Deal who rescues wetsuits and transforms the waste material into bags. Lorna was delighted to take in the waders; you can see some of her work here: www.lorna-doyle.com
On completing this journey, India collected £725 in sponsorship for the charity ‘2 minute foundation’, go check them out at https://beachclean.net. This huge donation to the charity means we now have our very own ‘2 Minute Beach Clean’ station. You can find it outside Hythe Sailing Club, so be ready to do a beach clean next time you’re there!
The 2 minute foundation says, “We believe that simple acts can add up to make a big difference, that doing something positive is infinitely better than doing nothing, and that it is positivity, people and passion that will change our world for the better.”
Their statement could be a personal summary of India… she’s a positive, passionate person for sure!! A true eco-warrior!
I thought we all owed India a thank you, not only for providing Hythe with this piece of equipment, but for helping to protect our environment, and for continuing to raise awareness of plastic pollution around our waterways. So, on behalf of everyone in our community, I presented India with a certificate from Hythe Town Council along with a Sustainable, Vegan, Organic Cotton Jumper, designed by local artist Ewan McCaughley from https://www.deliciouscalifornia.com .
It was so lovely to meet India in Person when we gave her the gift… and great to hear that if she receives some more donations, we may get a second, or even thi
rd beach clean board for other areas along our beach…
If you can spare a couple of pounds… PLEASE DONATE H
What happened to George Floyd in America is absolutely heart-breaking; it has shaken the world and made us unite against hatred.
Millions of people are marching together, online and on foot… and no matter how big or small each anti-racist message is, it counts, it’s a part of a movement that will finally eradicate racism.
There is no place for racism in Hythe or anywhere else in the world; there never has been and there never will be. Enough is enough!
Be proud of being anti-racist… Speak openly about it with your friends, family and neighbours. Educate yourself and then those around you, by listening, watching and reading factual things about black history.
We must acknowledge and accept that attitudes need to change, and we each play a very important role in making this happen.
I’m so proud of our neighbours who made it along to the very peaceful protest in Hythe on Sunday 14th June. This was organised by Aimee Margott, who is also the UK Engagement Coordinator at The Salvation Army.
Aimee is now working on creating a local network for Hythe & Folkestone which will help to further raise awareness, educate, connect people, and finally stamp out racism in our local communities… Watch this space, this girl’s on fire!
Dont stay silent… Be a part of making history.
Photocredit to Kent Anti-racism Network
June is PRIDE month, so to show our loving support of our LGBTQ+ communities, we are flying the rainbow flag for all to see.
I am pretty darn proud to be a part of it flying centre stage from our town hall, for the very first time.
There are so many positives to be taken from seeing this colourful glimmer of hope floating from our town hall… It’s been known to stand for peace, love, diversity and so many other beautiful and progressive things.
The rainbow has also become a symbol of solidarity with our NHS and key workers during the Covid-19 crisis, with thousands of children decorating their windows with rainbow pictures. So I’m sure all of our youngest residents will be super excited when they spot this one.
Whatever you choose to take from this… please take it with love <3
01.06.20 Naomi Slade – Mayor of Hythe
Wow! What an honour this is: to have been elected as the new Mayor of Hythe.
I was born and grew up here and am so proud to call it my home.
I know some people might like me to write a little more about myself, but I’m sure people will get to know me over time.
I feel the most important thing to say right now is echoing of the huge heartfelt thanks that our previous Mayor, Douglas Wade, has given to all those working tirelessly to support our communities locally and nationally, during the Covid-19 crisis. Where would we be without you?!
The people of Hythe really are amazing. I’ve heard that a crisis brings out the best and worst in people, but I’ve only seen the best!
On that note, just a reminder that it’s never too late to get involved in volunteering at one of our ‘Local Community Support Hubs’, ‘The Salvation Army’, ‘The NHS Volunteer Responders Scheme’ or ‘The Good Samaritans’… (to name just a few). Also food banks need donations now more than ever, and not just food, but nappies, sanitary items, toiletries and cleaning products.
We all have our parts to play, some can find time to volunteer, others can afford to donate and for some it’s their time to be supported. The people of Hythe have already done so much, please think twice before passing judgment on others, this crisis has affected everyone differently, and we need to remember we are all in this together.
The current crisis means that I am not able to get out and about to meet people personally, but this will happen in time. Until then, I hope to do more on-line with the Mayor’s blog and Facebook etc.
I really hope everyone is as happy and safe as they can be
Sending love and well wishes to all
I’m coming to the end of my term as Mayor of Hythe now. I can’t complain it has been uneventful.
On Thursday, Hythe Town Council will hold its Annual Statutory Meeting by video conferencing, to which the public are invited (details on this website). I shan’t be standing as Mayor for the coming year but shall offer my full support to the new incumbent.
I should like to thank all the people of Hythe for their support over this past year and all our friends from the Cinque Ports, our Twinned Towns, and from Ashford, Canterbury, & Maidstone, and further afield who have helped and supported Hythe and Hythe Town Council so loyally and generously.
In particular, I must thank our HTC staff; the Mayoress, Alison Martin; the Mayor’s chaplain, Captain Callum McKenna; the Deputy Lieutenant, Dennis Bradley; the Speaker of the Cinque Ports (as was), John Rodham; and the Lord Warden, Admiral Lord Boyce.
It has been a great honour for me to represent Hythe on numerous occasions over the past year. The highlights were undoubtedly opening the Venetian Fete which was such a huge success in 2019, and the Remembrance Day events both in Hythe, and in Berck-sur-Mer where we were made so welcome.
I must also thank all the Councillors at Hythe Town Council who have supported me in chairing its meetings, committees, and working groups, offering excellent advice and enabling sound and constructive decisions to be made.
I am particularly proud that I was in the chair when Hythe Town Council passed a motion declaring a Climate and Ecological Emergency with a programme arising from that to reduce the Council’s carbon emissions to zero by 2025, as well as programmes to reduce plastic waste in Hythe, plant trees, and reach out to the community to encourage a wide range of initiatives encouraging sustainable lifestyles. This was followed by similar declarations at both Folkestone and Hythe District Council and the Confederation of Cinque Ports.
For Hythe this is a matter of survival. If we do not act urgently, locally, nationally, and internationally, there will be no Hythe one hundred years from now – it will be under the sea. Young people living in Hythe now will see the town gradually abandoned. There is still time to act but not much, and I would again urge everyone in Hythe to do all that you can to work towards a zero carbon future where Nature is protected from habitat loss, pollution, and the breakdown of our climate. We owe it to the coming generations.
One last word – thank you again to our NHS staff, carers, Age UK & Hythe Community Support Hub staff and volunteers, cleaners, police, transport & retail workers, and all those who are keeping us safe in Hythe during this Covid-19 crisis whilst risking your own welfare. Thank you so much.
When this is over we can’t afford to return to life as it was, and the planet couldn’t afford that either. We need to build something better, fairer, and more sustainable.
One thing I have learnt this year as Mayor of Hythe is that Hythe always rises to a crisis.
Look back in History and you’ll see that this is true. This town’s response to any challenge has always been resolute and generous, working with our closest friends in the Cinque Ports and reaching out to help those further afield.
This has proved true again these last few weeks. The people of Hythe have shown courage, discipline, and solidarity in facing up to the Covid-19 pandemic.
At the outset of the pandemic, several Councillors approached me articulating the need for a prompt, rational and coordinated response from Hythe Town Council to the crisis.
Cllr Whybrow then took the lead in putting together this response, meeting with our GPs, Age UK, the Salvation Army, Folkestone and Hythe District Council, Kent County Council, the Rotary Club and representatives of local businesses to set up the Hythe Community Support Hub to ensure that the right services would be provided to everyone in our community who needs them during these difficult times. Every resident over 70 and in high risk groups would be contacted directly. Leaflets informing residents of the Hub’s contact details and services would be delivered to every resident. Volunteers would be recruited, checked, and trained.
To date, all of these objectives have been met. I believe everyone over 70 has now been contacted. My own mother received a call last week from a volunteer enquiring as to her needs and welfare and offering support. She was greatly impressed by this and told me how proud she feels of Hythe.
Over 270 volunteers have already been checked and trained and are now helping residents with meals, shopping, medicines, and emotional support. Many more volunteers have put themselves forward. The Salvation Army has stepped up its food bank provision dramatically.
In the midst of this generous and impressive effort, I must just mention Cleo and Hayley at Age UK who are at the heart of the whole operation, and the Mayor’s Chaplain, Captain Callum McKenna at the Salvation Army who embodies the Sally Army’s wonderful tradition of service to others.
Hythe’s initiative has now been copied by other towns across the region and was the first or one of the first hubs formed nationally. Our local businesses have all contributed greatly – the Stade Court Hotel offering its services from the outset, as well as the Imperial, Waitrose and Sainsbury’s, etc.
Following expressions of concern from a number of residents, I’ve also spoken to the Hythe Business and Tourism Association about the position of our High Street businesses and their chances of surviving the lockdown. HBTA has been supporting all its members to access help and financial support and it seems that we can be hopeful that all our traders will be able to remain in business following the lockdown so that Hythe will not become a ghost town.
One other very heart-warming piece of news is that our wonderful Hythe Twinning Association, despite being unable to meet, has now raised £300 for the Hythe Community Support Hub, £300 for the Salvation Army Food Bank, £200 for the Pilgrims Hospices, and £200 for Talbot House that serves those in need in our twinned town of Poperinge, in Belgium. That kind of generosity in the hour of need will not be forgotten. It shows who your real friends are.
I could mention numerous other associations, businesses and individuals in Hythe making similar contributions – babysitting for the children of nurses, gleaning food for the Food Bank, providing lessons online for students, protecting the victims of domestic abuse…
As for the Hythe Community Support Hub, it has reportedly taken some of the strain off our GPs at this time of exceptional demand, allowing them to concentrate on purely medical matters. That has undoubtedly saved lives in addition to the lives surely saved by the other services the Hub and its volunteers provide free of charge.
And finally, let me pay tribute to our doctors, nurses, carers, paramedics, porters, cleaners, cooks, and all of those working in our NHS. We know they are putting their lives on the line for us. Indeed, several doctors and nurses in our region have already lost their lives through their total dedication to the service of others. We applaud them all every Thursday evening in Hythe – people standing at their front doors, leaning out of windows, celebrating the best of Humanity.
I didn’t expect it to be this way when I was elected as Mayor of Hythe last May. I had far rather this crisis had never arisen. But one thing is for sure – this has shown our Cinque Port of Hythe as it really is – brave, compassionate, generous and resolute.
Well, I never that I should be writing this under these circumstances.
The situation we now face in Hythe is extremely serious. Fortunately, Hythe is coming together as never before and preparing for the crisis that’s unfolding here, and I’ll set out the details of this below.
I think we all understand now that we have to work together as a community to minimise the spread of Covid-19 in Hythe. This is a matter of life and death for those of us in the high risk categories and each one of us needs to play his or her part.
As a carer for my 94-year-old mother, I am now self-isolating, which means I will not be attending any more Mayoral functions or Council meetings until further notice. I simply cannot risk getting infected and passing the infection on.
And I hope we all understand that even if you are not at high risk yourself, getting infected does mean that you are likely to spread the illness because the symptoms do not immediately appear so you can very easily pass it on to others unknowingly.
So, please, stay safe and keep others safe. Wash your hands frequently. Avoid close contact with others outside the home whenever possible. Avoid shaking hands. Always Cough or sneeze into a tissue and then dispose of the tissue safely. Self-isolate if you have a temperature or a new, persistent cough. Call 111 if you need medical advice.
In addition to this, let’s all do what we can to help those in our community who are suffering, at risk, or in difficulties due to the current situation. In particular, this means helping the elderly, those in poor health or with chronic illnesses, and those who may have lost their income due to the current situation.
In this connection, Hythe Town Council has agreed with a wide range of other local organisations to set up a Community Hub for Hythe, based at Age UK in Stade Street, to coordinate support for those in need.
The services provided will include outreach, home help, meals, food bank, advice, advocacy, befriending, and signposting to a wide range of services.
Please refer to the links on the front page of our website for details of what Hythe Town Council is doing and how you can help
I imagine we must all be looking on in horror at the events unfolding now in Australia. We think of the people who have lost their lives in the fires, of their families and friends, of the ruined forests and millions of animals lost.
My theme throughout this blog has been the urgency of the Climate and Ecological Emergency that Hythe Town Council has declared. What could possibly bring home that message more clearly than the catastrophe occurring now in Australia?
We all remember the disastrous fires in the Amazon a few months ago. Before that we had the terrible hurricanes destroying lives in the Caribbean and the Philippines.
Climate Breakdown means that extreme weather events will become ever more frequent and more severe as the planet’s atmosphere heats up.
We’ve been relatively lucky here in Hythe so far. We’ve had none of the terrible floods that have hit other parts of England. We are, however, very short of water here in the summers now; our streams and rivers run very low or run dry with disastrous effects on freshwater wildlife. We are also experiencing more frequent and more severe heatwaves with temperatures mounting into the mid-30s in mid-summer and sometimes staying there for days or even weeks, leading to the death or discomfort of some amongst us who are frail or unwell.
Our wildlife here in Hythe is also disappearing. I can personally remember when birds, bats, moths and butterflies were far more abundant here in Hythe. I used to see wasps, hover flies and hedgehogs frequently in my garden – but not any more.
Those who know the seas and rivers around here can attest to similar declines. Hythe used to be famous for its enormous shoals of herring. I’m told that sometimes the sea around here used to “boil” with mackerel. Big cod and codling used to be caught off Hythe. Our streams were full of trout, lampreys, and all manner of fish and eels.
Most serious of all, perhaps, is the issue of sea level rise.
Satellite pictures show the rapid decline of sea ice and land ice in the Arctic over the last 20 years. As the polar ice melts so sea levels rise. Most of Hythe is on a coastal flood plane. 800 years ago the sea came right up to Dental Street. You can still see the boulder outside Centuries at the bottom of Church Hill to which boats used to be moored.
At current rates of global warming, the sea will return to where it was, and higher, within 100 years. Our sea wall will not be able to hold back increasingly severe storm surges. The whole area around Stade Street and St Leonard’s Road will be lost. We won’t be able to defend Hythe, Palmarsh, West Hythe or Seabrook. The entire area will have to be evacuated and abandoned. Imagine the consequences of that on our society.
And this won’t just happen suddenly 100 years from now. If we don’t all act now and fight to cut carbon emissions then we’ll soon see a marked difference, 20, 40, 60 years from now.
At Hythe Town Council we are working to reduce our carbon footprint to zero by 2025. But, of course, that won’t solve the problem on its own. It’s only if we all act together, en masse, that we’ll bring about change in policies and practice. There’s still time to act. But not much.
Our young people here in Hythe know this. I attended a performance of the Lion King at Brockhill College recently with Councillor Graham and the message from the students there could not have been clearer. All the children, teachers and parents who were there that night will remember exactly what the young people were telling us:
Take responsibility. Act now. Before it’s too late…………………………………………………..
There have been two major events in the life of Hythe Town Council recently.
The first was our Remembrance Sunday ceremony at the Hythe Memorial
and subsequent Parade in the High Street which were attended by large numbers of people again this year, with children and young people very well represented by the Cubs, Scouts, Guides, Cadets and others.
The large attendance shows how much this event means to our community and our determination that we will never forget our heroes who gave their lives for us.
Our friends from Berck Sur Mer also attended our ceremony in Hythe and laid a wreath, and the next day I went with Hythe Twinning Association to pay our respects at Etaples and at Berck Sur Mer’s cemetery. The trip was beautifully organised and provided us all with an opportunity to reflect on the horrors of war but also the extraordinary fruits of sacrifice.
The second major event was a Special Meeting of the Standing Joint Committee of the Confederation of Cinque Ports in Winchelsea on November 20th. This was an historic event in that the Confederation unanimously approved a resolution I put forward declaring a Climate and Ecological Emergency across all the Cinque Ports, calling on all members to take urgent action to reduce their carbon emissions to zero and report back regularly on progress.
The Cinque Ports have worked together as friends for a thousand years and it is my hope that we’ll enjoy a thousand more. However, unless we act now on the threats facing us, Hythe will be under water up to and including the High Street within the lives of many living now, and Romney Marsh will be nothing but a memory. This is the greatest danger ever faced by the Confederation and we all agreed to confront it directly together and do whatever we can to save our towns by setting an example for everyone and encouraging all people of good will to follow our lead.
Meanwhile, Hythe Town Council is pressing ahead with its raft of programmes to reduce waste plastics in Hythe, plant trees, and protect Wildlife. We are now developing a Business Plan to advance a vision of an Historic Vibrant Hythe which will engage all sectors of the community in plans to enhance and celebrate our natural environment, cultural and artistic life, local businesses and everything that makes Hythe an exciting, positive and beautiful place to live.
Our Council was also greatly honoured by the presence of His Excellency the Ambassador of Nepal on October 31st. His Excellency addressed the Council and witnessed the debate and approval of a motion establishing a “Sisterly Relationship” between Hythe and Manthali in Nepal, with a view to fostering cultural, commercial, tourist and friendly ties between us. After the meeting there was a small reception at the Everest Restaurant in the High Street – an opportunity to reflect on the considerable contributions made to the lives of everyone in Hythe but our greatly loved and respected Nepali community.
A lot has been happening recently in Hythe – the Venetian Fete, Hythe Life Food Festival, the Mayor’s Boot Fair, and Brockhill’s Prize-Giving to mention but a few. And I’m very glad to be able to write that all of them passed off with amazing success.
The Venetian Fete was a triumph of good organisation and good weather this year. The Committee, Volunteers and Participants really did Hythe proud. Imagine coming to Hythe for this, having lunch in town at one of our restaurants – then taking a trip on the RHDR railway – back for tea and a stroll along the beach – then a spectacular show on the canal with fireworks and a picnic… You would go home deeply impressed at what a marvellous place Hythe is. You would tell all your friends…
Certainly, my guests from the Cinque Ports and from Poperinge in Belgium received the best possible impression of Hythe as a beautiful, friendly, vibrant and well-organised place – and ultimately this really matters because our reputation is what brings the best teachers, doctors, artists, visitors and businesses to Hythe, from which we all benefit.
After that, hard to follow as it was, Hythe Life Food Festival, rated in the Top Ten for the whole country, brought great food from all around the World to the Green for 3 days, along with music, crafts and yet more sunshine. Large numbers of people attended from near and far, looking from the Green out to West Hythe and Lympne, and up to St Leonard’s and Saltwood… absolutely beautiful and charming, and all with a happy, relaxed atmosphere.
As regards the Mayor’s Boot Fair, also on the Green, I’d just like to say thank you to everyone who came, the stallholders and the volunteers. It went extremely well with both sellers & buyers very satisfied – and we raised £800 for the Hythe Green Preservation Society which is improving the wooded margins of the Green and planting wildflowers in collaboration with the Bumblebee Conservation Trust.
Finally, the Prize-Giving evening at Brockhill School was by far the best event of its kind I’ve ever attended. We were summoned by real trumpets played by the students; Emily Wrigley gave a performance of Handel’s Eternal Source of Light Divine that was just stunningly good – a really clear, big, pure voice, well-trained and very accurate and expressive. This was followed by Dance, Choral Music and Drama – all excellent – and video presentations on school trips and the School Farm, showing the many sides to the school.
I have concluded from my own observations this year that Brockhill is now an excellent school with high quality teaching and a very positive learning ethos. I discovered, however, that this secret is now well and truly out – parents are very keen to get their children into Brockhill which is achieving the best academic results of any non-selective school in the region. What struck me, in particular, was how calm and confident the Head Teacher, Mrs Schwartz, seemed on such a big day. She clearly knew that everything was in place and completely trusted her staff and pupils. And she was right – the whole complex event involving lights, sound, performances, video, speeches, & hospitality ran like Swiss clockwork. Amazing but true.
Anyway, I could go on about the wonders of Hythe but this is a blog and not a saga so I’ll hold off now till the next thrilling installment.
Hythe Town Council’s decision to reduce our carbon footprint to zero by 2025 is giving rise to some detailed planning now.
The sub-committee mapping out how we can achieve this is putting forward proposals to establish a baseline, our current carbon footprint, by feeding in various data sets to an online calculator. Then, as soon as we know where we are, we’ll be able to make a number of quick and significant reductions to our harmful impacts by switching to environmentally friendly energy suppliers and investing in energy-saving devices, etc.
One thing I hadn’t appreciated until recently was that this process is likely to end up saving us money rather than the reverse.
It seems our new electricity should be cheaper than the old and investment in insulation, energy-efficient equipment, and solar panels etc should bring a good return to the Council in the medium term – far better than the interest received by keeping money in the bank.
The more you think about this the more opportunities it throws up – contracts can also be weighted to account for local, social, and environmental benefits. We can reach out to form a Business Plan for HTC and for the whole of Hythe – working together, seeking feedback and ideas on how to make our town more beautiful, less polluted, and more sustainable.
I can also now share all these ideas with all the other Cinque Port Mayors and we can begin mapping out progress right across Kent – not just on reducing our carbon footprint but on other key areas such as reducing plastics, increasing tree-planting, and saving habitats and species.
As you may have surmised, I’m now becoming a bit of a wonk on this…
There are other things in Hythe and the Universe – the Mayor’s Boot Fair where we raised £700 for the Hythe Green Preservation Society – the Community Orchard – the excellent results our young people achieved in their exams – and, tomorrow, the amazing Venetian Fete – but I’m focused now like a laser – this is the big issue we’re facing and we’re making progress.
Back to Brockhill Park Performing Arts College this evening for the InStep 2019 Gala Evening. Brockhill College doesn’t just teach and inspire its own students; dancers from 5 secondary schools, 12 primary schools, and various pre-schools and nurseries also learn to dance there under the artistic direction of Jackie Mortimer and her remarkable InStep Dance Company. This amounts to a very substantial Community Arts programme. When you consider the tens of thousands of hours that must have gone into the organisation, staging, choreography and teaching of an evening like this it becomes truly mind-boggling. The standard is always very high and the Peter Catmull Theatre has been packed out each time I’ve attended. I notice that the Arts Council of England is supporting the company and that numerous enlightened individuals from Hythe and further afield are also sponsoring it and acting as patrons.
Dance is surely the most essential artistic activity in any culture and what the young people gain from this joyful discipline and dedication must be literally beyond words.
This evening, I was particularly engaged by the wide range of cultural reference in the dance of the 11 different companies who performed. There was a sense of global vision and limitless interplay of influences, ranging from yogic asanas to African American Break Dance to Classical Ballet and Experimental Jazz. The choreography, in particular of the lisanmaayas Company piece, Into Existence, was mesmeric, moving seamlessly from stillness and intensity to sparkling dynamism.
Fall from Form by The Mayakaras was also intricately and inventively conceived, and the complete assurance of Company 1’s Practically Perfect Poppins made Broadway Musical numbers look easy despite the immense complexity of the ensemble choreography.
Once again, the Mayoress and I were thrilled by the energy and excitement of the dance at Brockhill. I would urge anyone reading this to attend one of these performances and to consider sponsoring InStep.
(Instep dance Company is Dance Company in residence at Brockhill Park Performing Arts College and has played a major role in the development of community dance work in the Hythe area for over thirty two years. Past members are currently dancing with the Ballet Boyz , Verve Dance Company, Lila Dance and National Youth Dance Company.© Tony Nandi 2019)
Briefly, I should also mention the progress that Hythe Town Council is now making towards building a sustainable future for all our young people in Hythe and for future generations. The Climate Emergency working group is now starting work on reducing HTC’s carbon footprint to zero by 2025. This will involve examining all direct and indirect sources of carbon emissions such as heating, lighting and fuel and putting in place measures to change the ways we do things. In addition, Cllr Hawkins Plastics working group is engaging businesses, schools and other organisations in Hythe to plan for an end to all throwaway plastics in Hythe, and Cllr Martin has decided to double HTC’s carbon offsetting target for this year by applying for another 500 saplings to be planted in Hythe by organisations other than HTC.
On Monday, the work to set up the Hythe Wildlife Trust will begin and as soon as it’s incorporated fundraising will get underway with a view to commissioning expert studies of our ecosystems in Hythe and what we can do to protect and strengthen them. I know I keep banging on about the Climate and Ecological Crisis facing us but that really is my duty as Mayor as I see it. I stand to be corrected by our local historians but I doubt that previous mayors remained silent for fear of boring everyone when we were faced with the threat of the Spanish Armada, Napoleon, or Mr Hitler.
The current crisis is many orders of magnitude greater than any of those we faced before, or, indeed, than any crisis ever previously faced by Humankind – so I promise to go on and on and on about it till we’ve finally overcome this challenge just as we did all those in the past.
I have it from three separate sources now that I’m, apparently, planning to sell the Hythe Mayor’s chain and give the money to the Hythe & Romney Marsh Food Bank.
This is completely untrue – but what a beautiful rumour!
Thank you so much to whoever made this up and to anyone who has heard it, believed it, and repeated it. It’s a Fairy Tale version of reality but it expresses a profound truth. If I was faced with a straight choice between strutting around in a gold chain or feeding our hungry children – of course, I would choose the latter.
I’m so happy that, apparently, this is how many people perceive me and the new Hythe Town Council – radical, compassionate, and on the side of the marginalised in our society. I was speaking with the Mayor’s Chaplain, Lt. Callum McKenna from the Salvation Army the other day and he told me that demand for the Hythe and Romney Marsh Food Bank has increased – wait for it – 20-fold over the last year.
Many young families are struggling to feed their children in the school holidays because there are no free school meals.
Callum and the Sally Army and the Food Bank volunteers have started a scheme to feed whole families over this period. It ought to be a time of fun and freedom for children in the Summer Holidays and not one of hunger. Not in Hythe. Not in 2019 in one of the richest countries in the world…
So, yes, if the chain belonged to me, and if I could sell it to feed hungry children in Hythe, of course I would be visiting the Mayoress tomorrow to get the best possible price I could for it.
But this is the real world and things don’t work quite like that.
One quick question for you: have you seen a wasp this year?
No-one I’ve asked that question has answered, ‘Yes’.
I’ve seen more hoverflies this year than last and more butterflies (but no Peacocks or Red Admirals on the buddleia), and I’ve heard one cuckoo at Newchurch. But I haven’t seen a single wasp or heard a single owl calling.
Hythe Town Council recognised and declared a Climate AND Ecological Crisis last week. Most of the attention has thus far been directed at the Climate aspect of this, leading to reducing our Carbon Footprint to zero by 2025 by making sure our energy is from renewable sources and by planting trees, etc. But we mustn’t forget the Ecological side.
Scientists believe we’ve lost at least half our insect population in the last few decades and the numbers of birds, bats, and reptiles etc have all crashed.
Climate Breakdown would be catastrophic, especially for Hythe – but a Mass Extinction of species would surely take our species, Homo Sapiens, down with it.
Fortunately, we’ve woken up to this now in Hythe and I sense a huge desire and energy to act before it’s too late.
I’ve delayed blogging again until now because I was looking forward to this evening’s Hythe Town Council meeting and, particularly, the debate and decisions on motions relating to the Climate & Ecological Emergency, Reducing Plastic Waste in Hythe, establishing a Hythe Wildlife Trust, and acquiring free saplings from the Woodland Trust to be planted in Hythe this Winter.
And now I’m delighted to be able to report that all these motions were passed in the context of very helpful and positive debate, and that there will also be a Facilitation Day for Councillors with a view to bringing about even more efficient & productive working and better communication in future.
Tonight, then, set out the framework for what I hope we can all achieve together here in Hythe whilst I’m Mayor, and thereafter.
Firstly, there is the very serious recognition of the crisis that we all now face with the prospect of Climate Breakdown and the Mass Extinction of species.
Then there are practical steps to address the crisis locally, such as reducing the Council’s carbon footprint to zero by 2025, planting trees, protecting & enhancing bio diversity & abundance in Hythe in partnership & consultation with all those who want to contribute.
What could possibly be better or more important than that?
I believe Hythe can be a leader on these issues, setting an example to the whole of Kent and further afield. We’ve got the talent here and the resolve – and now we’ve also got an agreed plan.
One group that is already making a big difference in Hythe are the Hythe and District Conservation Volunteers. In the last few months, they’ve been working in the ancient quarry at Eaton Lands, improving paths and steps, clearing invasive species, building bug hotels, and removing large quantities of rubbish.
The results are absolutely stunning, revealing a magical space full of ferns, birdsong, and dappled light.
The wildflower meadow, adjacent, is also wonderful now and well worth a visit, full of butterflies and buzzing with insect life.
Well, I’m still shaking after events at FHDC yesterday when the motion was passed by one vote to order the Executive to withdraw its application for planning permission at Princes Parade.
I was there with my District hat on & spoke in the debate.
– ’nuff said…
In other news, I’ve been meeting with leaders of Hythe’s business community in recent days and am enormously impressed by their community spirit & vision for Hythe. (Let’s remember that it’s these men & women who keep our High Street alive in cooperation with Hythe Town Council.)
There are signs now of progress on the Hythe Against Crime CCTV initiative for our High Street. Shopkeepers cannot afford to be broken into & have damage to their shops without compensation so I hope this will assist our traders & our police.
Christmas Lights is another big concern for both HTC & our business community and I hope that by working together & with the help of HTC & the Venetian Fete organisers, etc, we can put on a wonderful display for all our residents & visitors this year.
There are also exciting ideas about reducing plastic (which Cllr Hawkins is leading) and increasing bike use.
Changing topic – we also discussed child poverty at FHDC yesterday, and I’m very concerned about this issue in our area. I know Hythe is often described as being rich and prosperous etc, but the fact is that many members of our community are still marginalised here due to poverty, domestic violence, child abuse & neglect, elder abuse, drug & alcohol problems, mental illness, racism, homophobia, and so on.
My message to all our citizens suffering for these reasons is please seek help.
We have excellent services in Hythe to help you – Age UK – GPs – Churches – The Salvation Army – Women’s Aid – Alcoholics Anonymous – Citizens Advice Bureau – Social Services – Police – Teachers – Councillors and Counsellors – we are a kind and compassionate community here in Hythe.
If you’re in trouble, you are also more than welcome to come and see me, personally, here at Oaklands. I’m here to help.
It was Hythe Civic Society’s day on Saturday, with a display in the undercroft on Planning & Conservation in Hythe, showing some of the things that Hythe has lost over the last 100 years or so due to bombing, road widening, and the relentless rush of progress. It was also apparent that many of our most important ancient buildings in Hythe may be far less protected than they should be – which is something I’ll now take up with my FHDC hat on.
Then we were treated to a free guided tour of the Mediaeval buildings in our High Street by Paul Mills (pictured). Paul’s focus was mostly on the Hall Houses from the 13th to 15th centuries that are dotted along our High Street which were all horizontally divided in subsequent centuries. Paul also ventured some comments on the likely positioning of our long-lost harbour over the Mediaeval & later periods, as it shifted & eventually disappeared. (On this subject, cf Hythe Civic Society’s publication, “The Last Days of Hythe Harbour.”)
On Sunday – yes, I doggedly represent Hythe every day of the week – it was Folkestone’s Civic Service and the extraordinary ritual of the Blessing of the Fisheries, complete with incense, holy water, processions, a Bishop, and a Brass Band. The people of Folkestone were extremely welcoming – and I must mention that Terry, our excellent Town Sergeant, got me there and back safely and made sure I was appropriately robed and chained for all the pomp and ceremony.
And, finally, this evening, Hythe Town Council held an Extraordinary Meeting at the Town Hall to approve the audited accounts, and amongst other items, to consider our response to the proposed development at Otterpool Park.
There was a very well-informed & lively debate, and the Working Group’s response was eventually adopted by a majority vote, objecting to the development as it is proposed on several grounds, including Water Supply, Waste & Waste Water, Affordable Housing, Ecology and Loss of Agricultural Land, Transport, Energy Sustainability, Pollution, and Health Provision. (Please see the full text of Hythe Town Council’s Response under the News Tab on this website.)
I sincerely hope the District Council will now consider all the matters raised and radically re-think its proposals.
Really delighted to have been invited to Brockhill Park Performing Arts College’s Arts Showcase 2019 this evening. I know what a high standard the students at Brockhill Park are capable of, having attended the farewell performance of Year 13 BTEC, “Look What We’ve Done!” in May with Cllr Hawkins. We were both very much moved and exhilarated by the show.
This time, it’s the 2019 Arts Showcase of Dance, Drama and Music. The Mayoress, Alison Martin, & I have been looking forward to it immensely.
And wow !
The Lighting, Sound, Production, Choreography, & Direction were again all of the highest standard – brilliant performances of ensemble dance, especially the inspired Legends and Myths by Year 12 BTEC. The Choral singing was very accurate with good variation of dynamics and there was an irresistible comedy musical skit, “Mama, I’m a Big Girl Now” with Jasmin English, Casey Galt and Annalise Burr, with male teachers outrageous in drag as the Mamas…
Casey Galt also performed very convincingly with Jasmin English in a piece of Physical Theatre which was nuanced and subtly conceived and Casey then sang with smouldering confidence in “Idontwannabeyouanymore.”
The other solo musical performances were all strong and well communicated to the audience by Sullivan Rawlins, Annalise Burr, and Jonny Brookes but it was Kyra Atherton’s extraordinary tour de force in her rendition of Jealous – Labrinth that left the audience genuinely stunned and, moreover, most of us in tears… Wow!
There’s a wealth of talent at Brockhill Park Performing Arts College. The teaching is excellent in all departments and the students respond with enormous joy, energy & dedication. How great to have this jewel here in Hythe.
Terrifying pictures in the Press today from the Arctic – sea ice seems to be mostly gone now and the ice caps are melting much faster than expected. Melt pools are forming. The methane locked up in the permafrost is being released. Polar bears, who need the sea ice to hunt seals, are heading inland and starving.
If this goes on, we’re going to lose most of Hythe and the whole of Romney Marsh within a few decades. The first sign will be that property will become uninsurable.
We’ve got ten years, apparently, to turn this around. Otherwise, we reach the point of no return and we get runaway climate breakdown.
We really haven’t got the right to inflict that on our grandchildren.
Today was a bin day – meeting at Fishermen’s Beach with Elaine from the Romney Marsh Litter Pickers and Simon Burchell, FHDC’s Contract Management Officer for Waste Management, to discuss dog, er, waste.
People are walking their dogs on the beach, putting the, er, resulting substance in black bags & then dumping it in the winch casings. (There’s also a litter problem in the same area.)Simon was very helpful – we’ve agreed the best place for a bin (visible both from the car park and from the beach path), and the fishermen were also, unsurprisingly, very supportive.
Then off to the High Street to inspect the bins outside the Tanning Vault and at the bottom of Market Hill which the seagulls are in the habit of raiding, spreading rubbish in all directions. It seems we may need “seagull flaps.” The bins are also a few years old and need a lick of paint. More work for Simon, coming his way.
Anyway, here’s to Elaine & the litter pickers, giving their time & energy to keep Hythe & our district clean and beautiful – imagine what would happen to your Council Tax if it wasn’t for them.
And as for the people dropping litter and dog, er, matter on the beach…please stop it.
Great! Margaret at Oaklands says we’re ready to start the Mayor’s blog – so here goes:
“Captain’s Log, Stardate 4385.3…”
Mayor of Hythe