(27 January 2005)

Gareth and Floryda Smith

I included an item recently telling how Gareth and Floryda Smith and their family were among those missing following the Tsunami at Christmas. Whilst many, many people have suffered loss and heartache as a result of the tragedy, the local papers reported that all the family, Gareth, Floryda and their sons Zerubbabel and Joshua all survived, after they had visited Floryda’s parents in western Sumatra.
I won’t dwell on the tragedy, as it has been more than covered by the world’s media. Suffice to say “Welcome home”.

St Philip Howard.

To more local news, now. St Philip Howard Catholic school has for a number of years, been causing concern for the staff and governors with regard to it’s condition. The news came out recently that, as a direct consequence of it’s generally poor state of repair, the school will close in summer 2006.
Currently, the school only has a roll of 173 pupils and, despite efforts to try and either rebuild or relocate, the governors have told parents that there is “no realistic possibility of such developments.” The owner of the school, the Catholic Archdiocese of Southwark, would not oppose the decision to close.
This now leaves parents with the headache of finding an alternative school. Both St Mary’s Catholic school in Whitstable and Kings Road primary schools are fully subscribed. A further example of there being lots of housing but a woefully inadequate infrastructure around here.
STOP PRESS (I’ve always wanted to use that somewhere):
This week, the Herne Bay Gazette highlighted a campaign to save the school from closure, backed by the paper. The School Restoration Campaign was formed to fight the closure, bouyed by the supporting letters that have been sent to the school. A steering committee has set up in the breakfast room and is manned daily in the morning and afternoon for discussion and advice. There are plans to have a protest march on Saturday 5 February, from the school up to the council offices in William Street.
I wish then luck, although the herd-nosed pragmatist in me feels it may all be in vain.

Whitstable Oyster Fishery – the other side of the argument.

Barry Green has spoken with remarkable frankness to the Whitstable Times about his fears for the Oyster Fishery and his reputation within the town. He told the paper that the fishery is close to liquidation, that the oyster restaurant is apparently a “grey legal area” and that some parts of the community had demonised him and his company.
I sometimes find it hard to sympathise with a company that has such a bad public relations record. I’m sure Mr Green and his firm are not be the ogres they are accussed of being but until this interview, all people could go on was what they had been told.
Mr Green had asked for a Parliamentary Bill to be passed, allowing the restaurant to continue. His not unreasonable argument was that if a farmer can sell ice cream made from the milk produced by his cows, why could he not serve oysters his company produced in an associated restaurant?
I don’t pretend to know even a fraction of what is going on here but he does have a point: his company has helped keep the town alive. However, I still maintain that the company needs a far better PR presence if it is ever going to win any hearts. My but we’re a cynical bunch down our way.

More parochial stuff – rubbish clearance.

The council’s new refuse collection rules come into force from now on. The wheelie bins will be collected just once a fortnight, rather than weekly. Those properties deemed unsuitable for wheelie bins will be provided with purple sacks. Black sacks will no longer be accepted.
The council is determined to build on it’s successful recycling scheme. It argues that when people recycle properly, then weekly collections will not be necessary.
I have to agree with the council on this point. There’s more in my recycling bag than ever goes into my refuse. I’ve only got one question;
“Which bastard stole my wheelie bin on Monday?”