The last few days have been unrelenting, with back to back briefings on my new regeneration portfolio. Meetings about Dover and the coalfields; climate change and the new integrated transport strategy. I’ve attended the Strategic Equalities Group and met with the Chief Executive of Locate in Kent.
But today, having met with the Deputy Leader and member colleagues, I drove over to Chatham Maritime, for a board meeting of the East Kent Spatial Development Company. I met with District Council colleagues from Dover, Thanet and Canterbury, as well as Kent County Council and SEEDA, to discuss the provision of infrastructure – water, foul and electricity – to enable strategic development to occur in East Kent. It was an excellent meeting; I learned a lot and found my colleagues knowledgeable and friendly.
After a quick sandwich, I dashed over to Sittingbourne, where my Finance Cabinet colleague Nick Chard and I spent an afternoon with Swale Borough Council, learning about their regeneration plans. A briefing at the council offices, then we drove over to meet SEEDA staff, and to see at first hand the plans for Queenborough and Rushenden. New housing, businesses, jobs and leisure opportunities, and all with the support of the local community, who have largely dictated much of the vision themselves, thanks to a “bottom up” consultation exercise, widely seen as best practice.
Over the next few months I’ll be visiting colleagues in the public and private sector across Kent, to get a first hand view of the scale of the county’s regeneration prospects. It’s a truly exciting time for Kent.