People of Gravesham call new council to action
PUBLISHED: 15:50 12 May 2011
»The newly-elected council must revitalise the town centre but fight controversial plans for the Heritage Quarter, say residents and business owners.
Labour leader Ed Miliband arrived in Gravesham on Friday — his third visit in two weeks — to celebrate with local councillors just hours after Labour seized control of the council from the Conservatives emphatically with a swing of 16 seats in their favour.
Following this victory workers and shoppers in the town revealed fighting the Edinburgh House £120million regeneration of the riverfront was a priority. Campaigners claim the current plan does not compliment the riverside heritage.
Better play facilities, keeping weekly rubbish collection, reducing business rates, cutting council tax and providing more housing were all priority issues.
Both incoming leader John Burden and outgoing leader Mike Snelling supported the Edinburgh House project, rejected by Gravesham Borough Council planning committee in September last year.
Ruth Ennis, 33, of Seymour Road, Gravesend, said Mr Snelling’s vocal support may have led to his defeat, while John Jones, 61, is a Labour Party member and called on Councillor Burden to oppose the plans, currently under appeal.
He said: “People don’t want the current development but a lot forget it was Mr Burden who agreed to the original plan. He needs to negotiate something more suitable.”
Savvas Christotoulou, owner of Leonardos Sandwich Bar, in Windmill Street, welcomed Mr Miliband to his restaurant on his first visit and hoped this new council would support him. He said: “Over the past five years my business rates only went up a couple of hundred pounds but last year it went up £800. They need to cut business rates.”
Przemyslaw Krawczak, 38, of Oak Road, Gravesend, called for better cycle access and more facilities for kids. “As a father I expect more playgrounds,” he said.
Councillor Burden conceded he had voted for the Edinburgh House plans but said the council would now fight the appeal, while Councillor Snelling disagreed his support had led to the Tory defeat.
see pages 4 and 5
See pages four and five for a round up of the local elections and cllr Burdens plans for the future.