My thoughts on Manston

Originally posted on social media.

It’s time for some fresh thinking. Stencil Park (SHP) offers a genuine opportunity to generate long term prosperity & economic growth in Thanet. It could give Ramsgate a real boost & in particular could provide decent work & careers for our younger residents. Much needed in the present malaise.

Ramsgate Labour Party branch passed a motion to enter a dialogue with SHP. We democratically decided that dialogue and discussion is the best way forward. For too long our future has been played out by politicians and business folk who do not really care for our area.

I was elected as Newington District councillor on 21/1/16. Manston as an airport did not come up often in the doorstep. Many people had extremely fond memories of Manston’s aviation history & ‘wished’ it could have been more & provided more work & opportunity. Most accepted that it’s days as a financially viable airport were over. Most want to see a better future for the area.

SHP, offers the potential for TDC to negotiate & influence a change in our economic prospects.

I worked within coal field regeneration in the Midlands. I am aware of what’s possible over time.

Using  CSR – corporate social responsibility as a frame work – we can enter into a dialogue & influence this development. This doesn’t mean it’s success is guaranteed. Planning permission for SHP still remains a huge hurdle. Should current soft market for any new ventures fail –  A likely event in my mind.  Nor does it mean that everything SHP do will be what we want. Nor will we agree on everything.

What do we wish to see in any plan for SHP?

How can we best ensure SHP listen to & include our ideas in their plan & ensure that the plan is robust & transparent.

I suggest that Ramsgate Councillors now meet with SHP as a group to pursue this public agenda. On behalf of the people we represent. That local residents squint themselves with the proposals by attending the forthcoming local consultations.

Some ideas.

Training & development opportunities.

Could SHP set up a skills unit, where people (including apprentices who can actually be any age) can do a mix of college and on-site based learning and skills development? Part of this could be to challenge the ‘two-track’ training, (boys into trades and girls into caring.) thus opening up more routes to skilled trades for both women & men.

There would be many advantages to this approach, it would be new, imaginative and create a dialogue locally. There is a clear evidence base about how these balanced gender outcomes can be achieved.

Can SHP further incentivise local students by paying an additional training rate based on attendance, punctuality, and competency (assessed by baseline and progress made) ?

Can we widen the scope of apprenticeships to include a full range, from administration through to gardening and interior design? Linking with existing employers and other organisations who are working with our disenfranchised young people – such as Charlton Athletic & Porchlight. The effective of working at scale could magnify the impact. A lot of our young people need help & assistance on different fronts, such as housing & work.

The people heritages trail. Places and spaces.

One of the issues for  Ramsgate is the spread of wards & the socio – economic & geographically variations between them. We know that not everyone uses or visit the coast – which is a key amenity. In additional what is evident from discussions around the local plan is that Ramsgate lacks good signage, ( roadside & pedestrian) for use by both tourists, visitors and locals alike.

Signage is important to develop a sense of social cohesion, to foster a sense of community value about our natural and built assets. In addition we could  seek to foster a sense of place, belonging and connectedness between people and encourage greater mobility between places and spaces for all.

Could we agree an ambition to create a ‘green’ people’s heritage trail, building on existing landmarks, both natural, architectural, seaborne, current and historical linking with current voluntary groups, such as the costumed walks, Peoples plaques. To create a walking history trail including recent history & ‘peoples’ history. This signs could then be linked to & by ‘proper’ road signs.  Highlighting the existing richness of our culture. The plan would fully use social media and a more traditional approaches. We could highlight Ramsgate’s rich aviation history, militaryperspective, multi cultural reality, special nature of our chalk coastline, areas of SSIs, Harbor, Tunnels, etc. This could be in part fully accessible.

This could be part of a bigger community engagement strategy.

Skill shop and co-op.

Can we discuss with SHP about a skill shop for local residents, where people can go to develop skills, or get assistance in a variety of trades aligned to development, building, gardening and landscaping etc. This would help to develop collateral and skills in the local population and create an effective bridge between one new community and the existing communities.

A co-op would allow SHP bulk buying power to benefit local people. Paint, plants, plaster & other hardware etc.

I think it should go without saying that the largest proportion of employees employed during the build out should be from the local travel to work area. With appropriate wage rates paid.

I think it goes with saying that we would this site to be as green as possible. Points for electric cars, Photo voltaic panels, reuse of brown water etc. We could go further & look for some ‘green’ self build. Or a truly green area with carbon neutral build, with passive houses. The same underpinning principles would need to be applied in the manufacturing section.

I am aware that section 106 would mean the needs of the residents would be assessed with plans in place to meet these. Medical services, schools, play areas etc

There is much to consider, the needs of small business, impact on the community, housing that is affordable, an ageing community,  I’m interested to know what others think & to open up a constructive debate.