Opinion: Rowan Dickman – Protecting our Thanet

Salmestone meeting Photo Craig Su

Rowan Dickman is the vice chairman of the Salmestone Ward Residents Association:    

When I drive past the QEQM Hospital in the morning, I can see good , hard working staff making their way into work. Staff who will often be underpaid and undervalued. Staff who will not only have hopes and aspirations for their lives, but also hopes and aspirations for the Hospital. Staff who are dedicated and want to make a difference to people’s lives.

When I drive to work, often on a grid locked road, I am one of many good hard-working people trying to make something of their lives and contributing to the community.

When I walk down to the town, I will pass two schools and often see the children making their way to school. The future of Thanet,  again  with hopes and aspirations for their lives. The very people that we should nurture and protect.

As I walk through the town, I will often see the homeless and the vulnerable, struggling to get through every day. People, (if we are a caring and sensitive community) who need support and a stable network to help them navigate through an often complex and difficult life.

Recently, in Thanet District Council’s draft housing strategy, it has been recognised that Thanet is an area of high deprivation, perhaps the highest in Kent. You could be forgiven therefore, for assuming that Thanet District Council would be looking at areas to support the community of Thanet.

However, what we are confronted with is a hospital fighting to save its resources and give a service that the community deserves as the Kent and Medway NHS look to make changes to areas such as acute stroke services and A&E.

We are losing natural habitat, green spaces and community assets to the inexorable pursuit of building as many houses as possible, many of which are wholly inappropriate for the people of Thanet.

Worryingly, much of this decision making has not been transparent. Infringements on planning procedures, the efficacy and credibility of decision-making processes have been questionable, and consultation with the community has been negligible.

For better or for worse, this is my Thanet. I want my grandchildren and their children, to grow, thrive and develop into good, sound people who contribute to the community. I want them to be able to play and enjoy green spaces and live in an environment that promotes their health and wellbeing.

Most importantly, should they ever be in a situation of vulnerability or hardship, I would hope that they live in a society that helps, supports and gives them another chance. We are only as good as a society, as the support that we give our vulnerable and needy.

We are about to lose a community asset that was purpose built as a community centre. I feel strongly that this must not happen. Apart from losing a valuable community asset that would be of benefit to the community, there is an important principal at stake here.

Once again TDC have made a decision that has not been transparent, and they have not consulted with the community. If we do not stop this process, TDC may start to truly believe that they know what is best for the community and I am sure you will agree, there is an inherent danger in this belief.

Along with other community groups, Salmestone Ward Residents Association have shown an interest in the Tivoli road centre for at least a year. We will fight to preserve this asset; however we are only a small voice.

We are holding our public meeting at Salmestone School on Wednesday, February 26 at 7pm. Wherever you live on Thanet please come and lend your support and voice. As ever we will be inviting Kent and district councillors. We will also be inviting our local MPs.

Even though this is happening on the Salmestone Ward, it could be a problem coming to you. It is time for the community to have a decision in its own future.


    • So what’s to be done Barry? If you are supportive of this plan to use this empty building as a community centre please tell the people of Thanet what we need to do to achieve this? Can the ward councilors, also Labour councilors help? I heard that some form of consultation has now been posed by TDC with a close date of 24th Feb, just 2 days before the residents’ association meeting on 26th Feb. This level of disingenuity can not be allowed to continue.

  1. The Salmestone councillors are very involved in pushing for this to be a community asset. Happy to discuss at the SWRA meeting

    • That’s good to hear Candy. Can you shed any light on TDC’s intention to demolish? Especially in light of any comments on this intention being required by 24th Feb – 2 days before SWRA meeting?

  2. I support candy in this matter; for your information angie l was involved in telling Thanet District Council that they actually owned the property rather than kcc. We need to convince tdc not to destroy the building

  3. I understand the feeling of sandstone residents.Is a residents association supposed to non political you may get support from your local councillors just to remind residents that Thanet District Council is labour controlled.You need to ask them about this.

    • Salmestone Ward Residents Association is non political.
      Salmestone Ward Residents Association is over two and half years old .It dose not matter who runs the Council It’s the non elected Excecatve that is the problem.

      • Exactly right John. Councillors have wanted to help establish a healthier local food hub. It is the officers who say no.

  4. Regardless of political persuasion, all we ask for is a transparent council, that works with the community and empowers our councillors who are, after all our elected representatives.
    As a final footnote our two ward councillors have been very supportive and we could not ask for more.
    We must give them our complete support

  5. Our councillors are our elected representatives, regardless of their political views.
    We must enable them to put our views forward. Both of our ward councillors have worked tirelessly for the ward and have my full support. However they won’t achieve it unless the community provides the momentum.
    Together we may make a change

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