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I Can Only Promise to Do My Best

May 19, 2020 6:15 PM
By Tim Prater in Opening Remarks on Election as Chairman of Sandgate Parish Council

Sandgate Chain of OfficeI'm hugely honoured to have been elected as Chairman of Sandgate Parish Council. Thank you all for your support: I can only promise to do my best.

Since the formation of the Parish Council in 2004, there have been four Chairman - Joy MacMillan, Jonathan Greenwall, Geoffrey Boot and Robert Bliss.

Robert has been Chairman since 2011 and served longer than all other Chairmen combined. We've known each other since I stood in my first election in the area to Kent County Council in 2005 against him. He won. We've evened up that score since then, and become, possibly unexpectedly for both of us, good friends. I'm really honoured to be taking over from him as Chairman of Sandgate Parish Council.

I'm also delighted he has agreed to serve as Deputy Chairman in order to keep me in check. That's a role I know he's looking forward to immensely!

I've found a gift for Robert for his service as Chairman to this Council. I say "I found" so no blame can be associated with anyone else, but it spoke to me, so, Robert, we very much hope you enjoy using these crystal Gin Glasses, with pale blue stems, and engraved with the Sandgate logo. They seem fitting somehow, and I'll be delivering them to you in the next few days.

Clearly we are living in the oddest of times. Our challenge over the coming months is to look after local residents, and to help the village reopen and come back out of the Covid lockdown.

Its been really sad that we haven't been able to meet together as a village over the last few months, including for VE Day. We are doing our best to keep people in touch using our website, Facebook and other online means, and meeting here online, but its not the same, and we know that.

This Council is going to work to bring our village back together. We'll work to get back welcoming visitors and supporting our businesses, and soon - but not yet - encouraging people to the Library, and our beach, and village, parks and more.

  • We have kept Sandgate Park open, and that and the other areas we manage are being maintained and looking good.
  • We did ensure we had at least some tribute in the Village for VE Day, with flags, and signs, and a wreath, and we hope to do rather more for VJ Day in August.
  • We have almost completed the transfer of more land from the District Council to the control of Sandgate Parish Council, including Fremantle Road Park, and already have plans in place already to tidy up and enhance the park there.
  • The CCTV schemes to cover Sandgate High Street area, Sandgate Park and the Golden Valley shops are still going ahead, with funds secured. There is a delay in getting these in place as we need permission from Kent County Council to install cameras on light columns, and they suspended all test and permission works in March due to Covid. As soon as they grant that permission, cameras will start going up.

And life is returning to the village. It's been good to see more of our cafes reopening in the last few days to add to those offering takeaway and delivery - welcome back to The Boat House and Comemos to join Roka, The Hungry Seagull, Green Spice, Tilucks Thai 2, Orchard Lane, The Dog House and LOAF who've either not stopped throughout or been open a while now. We really appreciate your efforts.

  • We reopened the Granville Parade toilets yesterday to support those businesses and the people using them.
  • The beach management works are drawing to a close, with hopefully the last of the main works completed today, and tidying up works finishing over the next week.
  • Our summer planting will be in place within a month, including the stunning basket display on the Esplanade and throughout the village.

And on our agenda later, an agreement to progress with the Sandgate Society a new screening scheme that will enhance the look of the centre of the village.

Lots done. Much more to do, for us as a Council and with partners like the Sandgate Society and others. Thanks to all Councillors and our Clerks for the work they have done - and for the work that we are all going to do together.

One of the saddest things of the last couple of months is that we haven't had an opportunity to say goodbye to local residents and friends in the way that we would like. I'm thinking in particular of people like Jim Phillips, who with his wife Mary ran Melzone on Sandgate High Street for years, who passed away a few weeks ago. I'm also thinking of Val Knight who is hugely missed by hundreds of people across Sandgate - not just her many friends, but also all those whose lives she touched by getting involved in so many local activities, including with us as a Library volunteer.

I'd also like to remember those that have served on this Council - and those who shaped its work from outside - who are no longer with us.

Former Chairman Jonathan Greenwall, my good friend and former Councillor Kurt Stephens, and the doyenne of Sandgate, founder of the Sandgate Society and, in her own words, "Perpetual Infernal Nuisance" - Linda Rene Martin. I respect that character in a person.

And finally I've heard today that a former Parish Councillor is really unwell, but has returned from hospital today. We wish her all the best.

Every last one of them has helped shape this village, and I'd like us to have a few moments silence to think of them and our other friends at this time.

Thank you.