Here you can find updates on the latest campaigns from Canterbury District Green Party.
On Sunday 6th February, Canterbury District Green Party begins a month of testing water quality at Whitstable and Tankerton beaches. The testing is being carried out to check the effect of Southern Water's continuing spillage of sewage into the sea.
In December and January, Southern Water poured raw sewage into the sea off Whitstable and Tankerton for over 150 hours. In tests carried out by the Green Party in the autumn, they found e.coli in these waters.
The Green Party's new programme of citizen water testing will use tests that can detect likely levels (not just presence) of e.coli and other coliform bacteria which are present in human faeces. There is currently no testing of water quality during the winter months, even though many people continue to swim in the sea, and to smell the pollution.
Testing will be carried out by a team of volunteers who live in Whitstable and Tankerton, including Green Party councillor Clare Turnbull.
Councillor Turnbull said: 'Southern Water has set a target to eliminate their pollution of our sea by 2040. This is far too late. We need urgent action to reduce the amount of sewage they spill. And, in the meantime, local people need reassurance that is it safe to be in the water off our beaches. If Southern Water will not test the effect this is having on our coast, we will.'
We are most concerned to learn that Canterbury City Council plans to build twelve additional beach huts at the eastern end of Tankerton slopes — on the last remaining bit of grass with an unobstructed view facing the sea. These slopes are a precious piece of public open space, of great value to both local people and visitors alike. This part of the slopes is the narrowest, so new beach huts here would have the most negative impact on those living in the houses opposite.
There are plenty of beach huts in the area already, without adding new ones which would only serve the privileged few who can afford the eye-watering cost.
For the elderly, infirm and disabled, who may not be able to get down to the beach, but still want to enjoy the views and get the fresh air, the grass and unimpeded views of the sea and sea shore are invaluable.
We urge the City Council to keep these grassy slopes, which are appreciated just as they are by the vast majority of us, rather than privatising our public open space.
Canterbury District Green Party
Statement from CCC: "Having listened to concerns raised by local residents, we have taken the decision to withdraw the planning application for 12 new beach huts at Marine Crescent in Tankerton.
"We had proposed to build them close to the existing huts, but the comments in response to the application have been very clear.
"And given we also received objections to an earlier plan for 20 huts at Marine Parade, it is obvious that residents have little appetite for new huts in this area of the district."
Canterbury District Green Party joins growing calls for council chiefs to put an immediate halt on the imminent felling of mature trees in the city centre.
“In a climate emergency, felling trees is a very odd thing to do and is deeply concerning. There is no justification for destroying these urban trees which provide huge environmental benefit” says local Green Party member Anna Peckham. Anger is growing at the realisation that these trees, currently festively festooned, will soon be razed to the ground as part of the council’s Tory-led scheme for the regeneration of St George’s Street.
Canterbury District Green Party fully supports the petition started by a concerned resident and urges people to sign it. While Greens favour new tree planting, this should not be at the expense of existing trees. The council claim that planting several smaller trees mitigates the felling of mature trees but this argument is not supported by the evidence, in fact the opposite is true. Mature trees absorb significantly more CO2 and pollution while providing shade, habitat and many more benefits including to health and wellbeing.
Newly elected Green councillor Clare Turnbull said “I am shocked that the council is even considering removing mature trees in the midst of a climate emergency. These trees need protection but unfortunately, the council recently rejected a proposal for the appointment of a tree officer. As a Green Party councillor, I will be actively fighting for trees and green spaces across the district and petitioning the council to establish a dedicated tree and hedgerow officer.”
In their response to the consultation, Canterbury District Green Party questioned the logic of keeping just one tree in situ at the pedestrianised Rose Lane end of the street as a “focal point” while removing the tree at the heavily polluted Canterbury Lane end where it provides a much-needed focal point. Anna Peckham states “This beautiful well-established silver maple enhances the non-pedestrianised end of the street and is visible even from New Dover Road. It is situated next to ugly bollards in a traffic-filled pollution hotspot so why remove it? Felling this tree and others will cause significant environmental damage – it is senseless vandalism”.
While other cities are introducing measures to mitigate climate change and biodiversity loss, Canterbury is doing the opposite, depriving its population of the many benefits of mature urban trees.
To what extent do you agree or disagree with these proposals to improve the layout and appearance of St George’s Street?
Tend to disagree
Changes are needed to improve St George’s Street, but those proposed are unimaginative. The street looks regimented and not in keeping with a heritage city. The artist’s impression shows dull uniformity compounded by the near total removal of all mature trees. White lighting strips around ugly seating blocks and spotlights at the base of trees, gives a clinical appearance to the area.
The diagrams are misleading. The replacement trees appear almost full height (reaching the top of shopfronts), whereas semi-mature specimens will be considerably smaller. The loss of mature trees at the Canterbury Road end is puzzling. If the mature tree is being spared at the Rose Lane end to “provide a focal point”, why not retain them at the more heavily polluted Canterbury Lane end where a green focal point is desperately needed? Mature trees are irreplaceable in terms of pollution amelioration, carbon storage, shade and habitat.
In the diagrams, the street runs without break across Canterbury Lane towards the underpass. If this were planned as a car-free or shared space giving priority to pedestrians, it would be welcomed. Unfortunately, this is not the case. The Canterbury Lane area is congested, with cars parked on yellow lines, often with engines running – a problem made worse by food delivery drivers waiting to collect orders from nearby fast-food outlets. The diagram shows a bench sited by Superdrug, one of the “carefully-placed seats” for people to “soak up the experience”. Anyone sitting here would be soaking up dangerous levels of air pollution posing a serious health risk. Removing mature trees here compounds the problem at the most polluted end of the street exposing unsightly bollards and traffic.
Canterbury District Green Party cannot support felling ALL mature trees. Given that the tree bases have been made good with flexible material so they no longer pose trip hazards, we advocate at the very least, keeping the mature trees at the Canterbury Lane end.
To what extent do you agree or disagree with the proposal to permanently remove the market from St George’s Street?
A vibrant city like Canterbury benefits from a variety of shopping opportunities and traditional markets are part of this mix creating an atmosphere of hustle and bustle and attracting people to the area. Permanently removing the market would take away a much-valued traditional shopping experience. The fruit and vegetable stalls offer fresh, often local produce such as Kent strawberries, cherries and asparagus. The city should support fresh and local produce being sold in the local market this way. Bizarrely, the proposed plan suggests removing such market traders in favour of “different kinds of street traders”.
Livelihoods are at stake if the market is removed. Stall-holders have been trading in the city for years and are greatly appreciated by their customers, as evidenced by the successful petition collected before the first lockdown. Throughout the pandemic, these traders offered a good alternative to indoor shopping to the people of Canterbury.
There are surely other ways of creating the flexible space desired. Some or all of the market could be sited within Whitefriars or Rose Lane with some stalls still located in St George’s Street on certain days. There is precedent for this, with the Christmas market regularly operating in Whitefriars. The market needs to be visible not tucked away somewhere out of sight. It gives a good service and adds to the atmosphere, shopping experience and vibrancy of the city.
Canterbury District Green Party does not support the permanent removal of the market. We see no reason why it cannot be temporarily relocated within Whitefriars or Rose Lane during the construction period to protect livelihoods and continue to provide a service for local people.
Do you have any suggestions on how the space in St George’s Street could be used following the improvements?
St George’s Street is a linear thoroughfare and the proposed changes accentuate this – it needs a less uniform design to stop it looking bland and boring. Additional greenery (retaining mature trees at either end of the street), planters and more attractively grouped seating areas. Retaining some of the market in St George’s Street would benefit the area. Encouraging more local produce stalls on certain days would also be a positive move. A farmers market would work well - in addition to not instead of existing stall-holders.
This is an opportunity to provide multi-compartment bins so that some basic recycling can be achieved as is the case in other cities. If the area was made to look more attractive and sustainable, it would encourage people into the city to special events such as live music performances, literary events etc.
Do you have any other comments on these proposals?
The Climate Change Impact Assessment states that the changes would result in a neutral impact on climate change in the Canterbury district. However, this does not take into account the carbon storage capabilities of mature trees which far outweigh those of newly planted ones. Canterbury District Green Party, therefore questions this claim.
Contrary to the description given, removing the mature trees will not create “a softer, greener and leafy feel”. It will make the area less green for a long time to come, with the trees taking decades to reach maturity (if they are ever allowed to). The area will look particularly bare in the winter due to the harsh lighting scheme, lack of foliage and tree height variation. We welcome any additional tree planting but the removal of fully mature trees, especially those at the most polluted end of the street, cannot be supported. We believe that, unless modified, the proposed changes will result in poorer air quality, less sustainable shopping options and a poorer visitor experience.
For pedestrians approaching St George’s Street from the underpass, the view into St George’s Street will change for the worse. The concrete precinct will no longer be softened by mature trees and their large green leafy canopies, but will be fully exposed, creating a harsher, more urban-looking street scene.
It is worth noting that there is research evidence showing that shopping areas with MATURE trees within them actually do better in terms of retail sales than areas without mature trees. We hope that decision-makers are fully aware of this research. Compelling evidence therefore, not only of an environmental but also an economic benefit for keeping mature trees within the scheme.
In response to your invitation to comment on the extension of the PSPO I would like to bring your attention representations we have received from residents in the area surrounding Long Rock in Swalecliffe, and to request the extension of the PSPO to cover the Long Rock area.
Local people are extremely concerned about dogs, which are often not kept on leads, worrying and chasing birds and disturbing nesting and other habitat in the Long Rock area. Part of this is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and of great importance. Some professional dog walkers come onto the area with a great number of dogs at one time, which is especially distressing for the birds.
We would request that the most sensitive area of Long Rock (the part of the SSSI itself to the north and west of the Brook) is added to schedule 2 (Dog exclusion), and that the remainder of the Long Rock area is included in Schedule 1 (Dog on lead).
We would like to see the crossing remain open with improved safety measures.
While we understand the sensitivity of the reasons for proposing the closure we disagree with the proposal. The crossing is part of a well-established public right of way (CW80) which is a vital walking route to and from the beach and town, used by lots of people.
We are concerned that many residents have said they would use their cars more often instead of walking if this crossing was closed, and that this will contribute to unhealthy air quality in our town. Canterbury City Council's routine air quality monitoring indicates that levels of nitrogen dioxide in Whitstable are already dangerously high. As the council does not monitor levels of particulate matter, we carried out our own monitoring in 2019 and found that the level of PM₂.₅, the smallest and most toxic form of particulate pollution, is also dangerously high. The annualised rate exceeded the World Health Organisation’s guidance for health of 10 micrograms per cubic metre. PM₂.₅ pollution aggravates children’s breathing problems, allergies and asthma, and has also been associated with lung cancer. A primary source of PM₂.₅ pollution is emissions from cars and other vehicles.
People who still choose to walk would have to take a much longer route, probably via the Canterbury Road, which is a busy main road, where as well as the noise and pollution, there have been several accidents in recent years.
At a time of global concern about climate change, air pollution, public health and obesity, where people are being encouraged out of their cars for short journeys, and walking and cycling encouraged, we believe that closure of this well used crossing would be the wrong decision.
“Thank you to all those who voted for me on 6th May. We were only 89 votes from winning and I am disappointed not to be representing you at Canterbury […]