Council officers advise Parliament on key issues

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Officers from Canterbury City Council spent time sharing their expertise at the Houses of Parliament last week.

On Tuesday (26 June), Chief Executive Colin Carmichael gave a presentation to the House of Lords Regenerating Seaside Towns and Communities Committee.

Then on Wednesday (27 June), Licensing Officer Anton Walden, accompanied by Student Community Support Officer Sarah Osborn, gave evidence to the Women and Equalities Select Committee at the House of Commons.

The council is leading the way nationally in wholeheartedly backing Kent Union (the Students’ Union for the University of Kent) and their Zero Tolerance Training and Accreditation Scheme.

The Zero Tolerance Project is working with pubs, clubs, bars and restaurants from across the district to ensure they and their staff tackle and reduce sexual harassment within the night-time economy.

This includes sexual gestures, sexual innuendo, groping, pinching or smacking someone’s body without consent, exposing sexual organs or making derogatory comments. In some places across the country, this has become normal behaviour for people on a night out.

Supporting the work started by Kent Union, Zero Tolerance is a fundamental part of the council’s licensing policy, alongside other initiatives like training taxi drivers on safeguarding issues.

Chairman of the council’s Licensing Committee, Cllr Ashley Clark, said: “The district is an incredibly safe place to enjoy a night out, but we are not complacent. We know the owners of and staff at licensed premises want to ensure their customers feel comfortable and secure, and we want those who have enjoyed themselves to get home safely. We’re working with a wide range of organisations to make that happen.

“We’re proud to be backing the innovative work of Kent Union and putting the weight of the council behind their scheme.”

The President of Kent Union, Ruth Wilkinson, said: “It’s been brilliant working with Canterbury City Council on this project. What started as an idea from an elected student officer to change licensing policy two years ago is now a fully-fledged training and accreditation scheme.

“We’re so pleased to have been funded by the Kent Police Crime Commissioner to help us deliver the training to business for free. More information is available on our website.”

Meanwhile, at the House of Lords on Tuesday, Colin Carmichael was talking the committee through the different approaches taken to regenerating Herne Bay and Whitstable.

In Herne Bay, improvements have largely been council-led, ranging in recent years from an upgrade of Herons Leisure Centre, a new seafront play area and enhanced sea defences, through to the new Bay Sports Arena, clearance of the pier to allow new facilities and the refurbishment of the clocktower, achieved following a council bid for Lottery cash.

And most recently, the council purchased the Tivoli site on Central Parade and has plans for a regeneration scheme to create a new gateway to the seafront through Beach Street.

But these council projects have resulted in private developers coming forward to invest in the town and help transform important locations, such as the former Bun Penny site.

In Whitstable, regeneration has mainly come from the private sector, with the council working on key schemes like the harbour, Horsebridge and Whitstable Castle, the latter being another good example of the council successfully bidding for Lottery funding.

Colin Carmichael said: “They may be only be a few miles apart from each other, but Herne Bay and Whitstable are very different towns and the way they have been regenerated over the years is in line with this. It made for a fascinating case study for the Lords committee and I was pleased to have the opportunity to talk about our towns at such a significant meeting.”

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