42 people attended including a number of town councillors – one member of the press was also present.
After everyone was invited to give their views and share information – a process which took 90 minutes, it was clear that the meeting had been fully and well informed and that there was unanimity amongst those present that Faversham needed to press hard for promises to be kept and for action to result to “swing the bridge”. The consensus was that whether the new bridge swung or lifted it was essential that it permitted access for boats to the basin for economic regeneration and leisure as well as to ensure that scouring of the creek could be resumed in order to maintain its shape. A new bridge must have wider footpaths to allow safe pedestrian passage and KCC must recognise that without an improved bridge the town would be effectively split in two with substantial negative social and economic impacts. It was recognised that Peel Ports, as well as KCC, have responsibility for the bridge, but that it was KCC who had made the promise to build a new opening bridge. Consequently, it is towards and through KCC that we must focus our action.
Four possible lines of action were identified and discussed:
1. Formal legal objection to KCC/Peel Ports for loss of navigation rights to the Creek Basin. There might be two strands to the objection: leisure and potential commercial craft as well as loss of economic regeneration for the Creek Trust due to the isolation of the Purifier Building from floating boats. Faversham Creek Trust to lead
2. Explore whether the promise of a swing bridge in return for £125,000 amounts in law to breach of contract. Bridge Steering Group members to provide the evidence on how the KCC commitment to build the opening bridge was made.
3. Explore the possibility of a complaint of maladministration to the Local Government Ombudsman. Possible Freedom of Information request
4. It was seen as important to get a large attendance at the St Mary of Charity meeting on 29th November to impress on the leader of KCC, Paul Carter, the strength of feeling and determination in the town. Particular effort should be made to engage those living on the Brents side of the Creek.
Helen Whateley has also commented 9th October