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New Gravesham Council Leader pledges working with community

PUBLISHED: 15:21 12 May 2011

John Burden

John Burden

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»Incoming Gravesham council leader John Burden has promised to engage with the community, inviting non-elected representatives to join five new committees after Labour retook control of Gravesham Borough Council from the Conservatives.

Councillor Burden, former leader of the council from 2003 to 2007, set out his plans for the borough and focused on forming closer ties with community.

He said: “One issue that came up on the doorstep was people felt the council wasn’t listening, that the council did nothing for them. Our first priority is to reverse this trend.”

New committees focusing on private and social housing, business, planning, performance and community and environment will be set up next week with cross-party membership, alongside leading figures in the community.

“These members from the public will be non-voting but will offer advice particular to their sphere of interests. The committee on housing will have representatives from residents associations, letting associations and housing associations so we work together on the most practical way to go 
forward.”

Voice

He plans to establish regular public meetings across the borough so residents can speak to councillors and officers, promises to keep weekly rubbish collection and to work with Kent County Council to improve road maintenance.

Free weekend parking will remain this year but come under review in 2012.

Councillor Burden also launched an attack on the Conservatives claiming they “left the finances far lower than was reported”.

He said the year’s maintenance funding for leisure centres was already spent, the council was tied to expensive contracts building the new Transport Quarter and a decision on a new chief executive should have been taken after the election.

Outgoing leader Mike Snelling dismissed the allegations as “total cobblers” and added: “Coming from a party which adopted a scorched earth policy once they knew they lost the council in 2007 this is very rich.”

He said the money for the leisure centres was spent replacing a broken plumbing system disabling the showers at Cascades, the Transport Sector funds all came from government grants, and the decision on the chief executive could not have been delayed, with Glyn Thompson retiring in July.

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