Sir Roger Gale, Conservative candidate for Herne Bay and Sandwich constituency, answers local issue questions

Candidate Sir Roger Gale

The Herne Bay and Sandwich seat (including parts of Thanet) has five hopefuls vying for votes when the country goes to the polls for the General Election on July 4.

In the 2019 General Election, before the boundary changes that have come into force this year, veteran Conservative Sir Roger Gale, who held the North Thanet seat since 1983, was  elected with 30,066 votes – equalling 62% of the poll. Labour’s Dr Coral Jones took 12,877 – 27%.

However, for this election there is a new constituency of Herne Bay and Sandwich – which includes Westbrook, Birchington, Garlinge, Thanet villages wards and Westgate.

We have asked the candidates to answer some questions on issues that matter to Thanet.

Here Sir Roger Gale, standing for Conservatives in Herne Bay/Sandwich, tells us his views on subjects ranging from housing development to the NHS:

Housing development- particularly on farmland – and the housing numbers dictated for the Local Plan are a concern for many residents. What is your view on this, can government reduce housing need figures due to them being based on 2014 ONS stats which do not seem to reflect the 2024 situation and need? Alongside this Thanet needs more social housing, how would you tackle this?

I have consistently opposed the use of farmland for housing. Thanet`s Council has the power, under the revised NPPF, to review the local plan and has chosen to date not to do so.  We should be using all available brownfield sites before even considering building on what little remains of our agricultural land. Of course we need homes for local people but that is not what is being built.

Minster Marshes – There is a campaign against the National Grid plans for a converter station as part of the Sea Link project. What are your views on this?

I have consistently opposed the building of the proposed National Grid  90` nigh Converter station on the marshes adjacent to an SSSI.  There are alternatives available and this is a proposed act of environmental vandalism.

Southern Water sewage releases in our sea – how would you tackle this?

I have been meeting with Southern Water about the release of screened but untreated sewage into the sea for months:  There is no quick fix to the reality that we have combined sewage and rainwater systems that were designed for small Victorian Towns and are no longer remotely fit for purpose.  We have also permitted development with little thought to supporting infrastructure.

The solution will involve a major programme of engineering works and highly disruptive excavation of roads to separate the systems. It will be hugely expensive, and it will cause considerable inconvenience, but it must be done.

Cost of living – Thanet families are struggling to make ends meet, businesses also struggle as a result and there are a large number of empty shops in our towns. How will you help the economy to recover and how will you help our families and businesses?

The single biggest contributor to increases in the cost of living is inflation and as a result of Government action that is now at a more acceptable level. As a result, interest rates should fall (probably in August) and that will benefit both households and businesses. There is no denying the cost-of-living rise which has been due in large part to the costs of maintaining people and businesses during the pandemic and to fuel costs arising from the conflicts in Ukraine and the Middle East but it is generally accepted that the economy has turned a corner.

Out of Town shopping and the rapid growth of mail-order have inevitably has a deleterious effect upon some traditional High Street businesses and we need to look more constructively still at the way in which High Streets can reinvent themselves and how empty properties can be re-purposed for domestic use.

NHS – Thanet has a severe shortage of dentists and there are not enough GPs, getting an appointment is problematic.

It is not possible to create new dental practices – which like GP surgeries are private businesses – overnight but the Health Departments `dental recovery programme’ is already having an impact. That programme must be seen through. It is also a nonsense that as a result of the restrictions imposed by, the General Dental Council there are believed to be some 200 Ukrainian dentists in the UK who are not permitted to practice as dental surgeons.

There is also desperate need for improved mental health services, both adult and child. What are your views on this?

The present Government is spending very considerable sums on mental health services for both adults and young people but is an absolute fact that since the pandemic and the resulting isolation the mental health situation, particularly amongst the young, has deteriorated significantly.

I am not satisfied that all of the services that are being provided are offering good value and results for the money that is being spent. Young people are waiting far to long for assessment and diagnosis before receiving appropriate treatment and that has to change. I know of no Opposition proposals designed to achieve this.

 

Youth services: There has been a loss of funding for some youth services (such as Pie Factory and The Pavilion in Thanet). What are your views on provision of youth services and how this should be done?

Throughout my work before and whilst being a Member of Parliament I have actively supported youth services and have engaged directly with many of the youth organisations in my constituency. It is important that our children and grandchildren have safe places they can go to where they can be with their friends and learn essential skills that will help them in later life.

One of the best ways that we can ensure younger people have a voice is to allow them to become involved with local decision making which is why I gave my backing to my Conservative colleague, Cllr George Kup, when he, as Cabinet Member for Youth Engagement, instigated Thanet Council’s first Youth Council which empowers young people from across Thanet District to examine Council policy and contribute their views. For the same reason I have been involved in the work of the Kent Youth County Council and the National Youth Parliament.

Manston airport – the DCO is now confirmed and it appears there will be no further legal appeals. What is your view of the airport/cargo hub scheme and what involvement, if any, will you have with the scheme going forward?

Having championed the cause of Manston as an airport since before the closure I am naturally pleased that the legal processes are behind us. I intend to see the project through to, first, the opening of the freight facility and subsequently the reinstatement of passenger services from a new passenger terminal.

Asylum – what are your policies on asylum and small boat crossings?

Ultimately this is a geo-political problem that requires a pan-European and global solution and to pretend otherwise is baying at the moon.  In the short term the international community has to make a concerted effort to disrupt the business model that allows evil people to exploit the desperate and engage in the trafficking, often leading to death, of human beings.

I regard with disdain the dog-whistle populism of the far right who seek to exploit the issue for political gain while offering no solutions whatsoever.  The Labour Party, also offers no solutions while voting against those measures designed to exercise at least some control over illegal immigration.

General Election 2024: Candidates for East Thanet and Herne Bay and Sandwich constituencies confirmed

36 Comments

  1. “Why do you have so much trust in someone who has failed to run any airport successfully in their whole career, and only succeeded to lose a lot of other peoples money ?”

      • It’s not just the money.
        The CEO of Manston, an ex-solicitor, struck off for embezzling clients’ funds, has form when it comes to crashing aviation related businesses.

          • People should know the type of people associated with Manston and the type of people the Tories at all levels have been dealing with in the misguided attempt to open an airfield, not to mention public money wasted by a tory lead county council which is bankrupt financially to support a dead non starter. They are not only bankrupt financially but seemingly morally and in common sense, they have zero business acumen. Shame on them all including the RSP mob running this con and Gale for pushing it.

          • No, I won’t.
            The issue of Manston Airport is still with us.
            It’s a reasonable to question the understanding of a parliamentary candidate who supports a scheme lead by a struck off solicitor.

      • He has previously lost Kent taxpayers money !

        You tell me why his true intentions should be trusted, it will never see a profit as an airport in what’s left of his lifetime …..

    • History WILL repeat itself with Manston. They could not run a bath. Look at the track record of the airfield under multiple owners and fraud mans record as a strategic head of business. It’s dead already.

  2. Ah. Here we are. The Joe Biden of local politics.

    Completely in denial of the fact all those houses are to be built on farmland in Birchington as a direct result of his dogmatic championing of Manston being reserved for aviation.

    He was a complete irrelevance when his party were in power. Lord only knows how irrelevant he will be in opposition.

    • Thanetian Blind – TDC (Labour controlled) are not pushing hard to prevent building across Thanet ! I suspect any incoming Government will also be irrelevant.

    • I think you’ll find that when Chris Wells was UKIP’s Council Leader that his members voted counter to his wishes. Hence, the Local Plan was scuppered. Whether the population wanted the airport as an open space, mixed use, or relatively acceptable light aircraft, glider, air balloons, dirigible landing and take off-site, the controls to determine the future of Thanet was very abruptly scuppered.
      I am also sick of all this media led ageist crap.It is the quality of their decision making that concerns me, their ideology and in both cases vicious warmongering.
      The US is on its uppers and has very little to be proud of, just like the UK.

  3. Southern water should be prosecuted and fined until their pips squeak. Water companies should run for the sole purpose of providing clean water and processing sewage. Shareholder dividends should be paid after profitable service not before. Roger has known about this for years as have the water companies. They’re all hopeless and pardon the pun full of crap.

  4. Sir Roger is misleading residents about the council’s ability to “review” the local plan. This is a process that takes years because of the statutory process and will not result in any sites currently allocated for housing being removed, because there is no realistic mechanism to do this. He has been told this by council officers.

    • Surely Sir Roger Gale, if re-elected, would be raising this with the relevent House of Commons staff and committees pertaining to Acts of Parliament, secondary legislation and instruments? He may have done this already. Have you asked him?

      • Sir Roger and I have had numerous discussions about the local plan and he has had a detailed note from our chief executive about the limited effect of recent changes to the national planning policy framework. He knows it is not possible for us to “tear up”, “scrap” or “revoke” the local plan and he knows why we can’t make substantive progress on a new one (or a review) – because his government has yet to update the methodology based on the 2024 figures or supply detailed guidance on the new plan-making progress.

        Until we can develop a new plan, the old one applies – as the 2006 one did until this one took shape. The process involves statutory consultation and examination, which is after all sensible, but it takes years. We can’t not have a plan in the meantime. Neither can we amend it outside the statutory process.

        Cllr Whitehead, former Cllr Ashbee and I all wrote to the Secretary of State seeking additional protection for our best and most versatile agricultural land. I asked the SoS to call in planning applications on agricultural sites allocated in the plan. Sir Roger knows all this. It’s for him to explain what he has done to support that, but as has been reported previously it was his Conservative colleagues who moved extra housing allocations to Birchington and Westgate in 2018 to pursue their shared ambition of protecting Manston.

        Tory leaders Reece Pugh, Ash Ashbee and Bob Bayford all voted for that in 2018 and again for the plan as a whole in 2020. It’s no good blaming other people.

        • Rick. Why is that Labour are going to “recategorise” parts of the current green belt to be named “grey belt” and then build all over it ?

          Surely it’s smoke and mirrors and you’ll be building over the current green belt regardless of the spin.

    • Has to start somewhere at sometime though Ricky, the local plan is not fit for purpose or sustainable. Many knew this, how did TDC not?

      • It’s not about what TDC “knew”. I wasn’t on the council in 2018 when the plan was finalised but once it had been found to be “sound” by the planning inspectors who examined it for the government, there was no choice but to approve it. Had it not been deemed “sound” or we had sought to amend it in 2020, the Secretary of State would almost certainly have imposed it. The council had already been pressured to proceed after the shenanigans over Manston and would not have been allowed the time to make more changes and then go back through the statutory consultation and examination route again. The housing numbers were in all practical respects imposed by government through their standard method, based on 2014 data which thanks to the government remains in place for now.

        As soon as we have the new projections – now due from government in 2025 – we will crack on. It’s not just housing but employment land we have to consider. If we do so now we already know it would mean allocating land for circa 4,500 more homes, but that could come down. We’re doing what preparatory work we can in the meantime.

  5. There isn’t enough brownfield land for the housing that’s needed. People wish this away by pretending there is, but if it were true in Thanet then it would have been allocated in 2018. The airport could have been used but other priorities prevailed.

    There is no green belt in Thanet or for many miles, so the policy is a non-issue here. The problem we have is that we are a geographically small district with a significant area of flood plain that can’t easily be used. It would be better if we returned to the idea of sub-regional planning and looked at East Kent’s needs in the round.

  6. I don’t like, or trust Starmer, he never gives a ‘yes or no’ answer to a simple question. But theres a barrister for you.

    • Name a politician that does, you don’t trust starmer for that reason but I suppose your a tory denier, the scandalous behaviours of the Tories over 10 years, the in house dealing PPE scandals crashing the economy, telling people to stay home while partying. You will sink in that ship with the funding Tories.

  7. Gale more than anyone should be familiar with RSPs public statements actually are. RSP have stated that they would only introduce passenger services IF the freight operation proves to be successful. Given the wider industry views as opposed to the one put forward by Sally Dixon, RSPs paid consultant that is one big ‘if’.

  8. What a load of crap all this. Thanet is not big enough for all the homes needed in the Local Plan. Why was it even passed in the first place. It is deadlock on many roads as is without even more vehicles. How will Manston operate when the roads around there are also deadlock? Why have all roads been centred through Westwood Cross in their design? Where are the new wider roads to cope with the increased traffic?
    Gale cannot answer these questions. He just pushes them aside like he does when asked why he voted to move homes onto agricultural land in Westgate and Birchington along with the other Noddy’s he pulls the strings of. He is a hypocrite and liar just like most of the Tories. They are only there to help themselves achieve riches and for their pals ripping the country purse off.
    Gale announced his retirement a decade ago but has forgotten no doubt just like Biden with his speech the other day.
    The trouble now is there is nobody suitable to run this country, similarly nobody suitable to run the USA. Both of these countries causing war and bloodshed in other countries to keep the arms industry going here and across the Atlantic.

  9. Very well said. Kill Manston for real genuine sustainable environmentally safe growth, then build on it sympathetically. The local plan is poor, and does not look after the immediate or long term future of Thanet. GET THE TORIES OUT.

    • Steve – to be replaced by what? I notice Labour Party are keeping certain individuals out of election highlights eg Mr Lammy. I wonder why? Gaffs jump to my mind and fear of what some of them will say.

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