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Richborough Closure: Thanet’s Politcians Don’t Give A Toss About Recycling


Thanet’s politicians, Labour, Green and Tory, don’t give a toss about re-cycling, fly-tipping and pollution in the district!


With the honorable exception of two Labour councillor’s from Margate, every last one of them stayed away from a well-attended, widely publicized, public meeting held in Sandwich last Wednesday (21 June) where it was agreed to organize a campaign against Kent County Council’s (KCC) proposal to close down the Richborough Household Waste Recycling Centre (RHWRC).


Ok so RHWRC is not in Thanet, but it’s very close and is used by thousands of Thanet residents every year, especially those who live in, or near to, Ramsgate, who rather than facing the regular congestion and hold ups experienced when travelling across Thanet to get to the Margate Household Waste Recycling Centre, prefer to use the closer and more convenient RHWRC instead.


There can be no doubt that the closure of RHWRC will add to the growing problem of traffic congestion and air pollution in Thanet. This is set to get much worse as the population of Ramsgate and is surrounds, grows over the next decade. Without nearby RHWRC they will have no option but to take their recycling to the Margate Household Waste Recycling Centre, further increasing congestion and pollution.


Government statistics show that Thanet already has one of the worst rates of recycling and fly-tipping in Kent. The closure of RHWRC will almost certainly lead to more fly-tipping and a reduction in recycling. Alongside the increased congestion and pollution caused by the RHWRC closure and the re-routing of Ramsgate users to the Margate Household Waste Recycling Centre, this will have a disastrous impact on our environment.


The people of Dover, Deal and Sandwich know this to be the

case and this is why they organized the public meeting to save RHWRC last Wednesday. So concerned are they that the leader of Dover District council, Kevin Mills addressed the meeting. As did the Mayor of Sandwich, Councillor Paul Carter and other Sandwich town councillors.


So concerned are the Sandwich and Dover politicians that both the town and district councils have issued strong public statements denouncing the closure proposals and Dover council leader Kevin Mills has announced that the district council will be holding a special Scrutiny meeting to examine the KCC proposals in greater detail.


But here in Thanet, despite calls for support from Dover and Sandwich and despite the fact that tens of thousands of Thanet residents use the RHWRC there has been a shameful lack of political engagement with this important matter.


Unlike Dover District and Sandwich Town councils who were

Thanet Council Leader "Raging" Rick Everitt

represented at last week’s public meeting by prominent political leaders, Thanet was not. Labour District Council Leader, Rick Everitt who represents a Ramsgate ward, was, unlike his Dover counterpart, absent from the meeting. So was Labour councillor Steve Albon, who is Thanet Council’s Cabinet portfolio holder for cleansing and the Chair of Ramsgate Town Council.



Unbelievably, even Ramsgate’s two Kent County Councillors, Tory Trevor Shonk and Labour Karen Constantine were unexplainably absent from the meeting too. I have been unable to find any public statements on this matter by the pair, even though they are members of the council which is proposing the closure of RHWRC and even though many of their constituents use RHWRC.


But to be fair to Thanet’s hardworking, public spirited, politicians I checked the District council’s diary of meetings for the 21nd June to see if there were any engagements which may have prevented them from attending the public meeting in Sandwich. No there were not.


Yet despite an empty civic diary 58 out of 59 Thanet District councillors, including every single councillor who was elected in Ramsgate or adjacent electoral wards, failed to attend the meeting. This shows beyond doubt that they don’t give a toss about re-cycling, fly-tipping and pollution.


Sadly, this reckless lack of community engagement by Thanet’s elected politicians doesn’t end with non-attendance at a public meeting organized by concerned residents.


Unlike Dover District and Sandwich Town councils who have both issued strong public statements denouncing the RHWRC closure proposals. Thanet District and Ramsgate Town councils have remained silent on this matter.


Whilst Dover District council leader Kevin Mills announced that councillors will be holding a special Scrutiny meeting to examine the KCC closure proposals in greater detail, Thanet councillors sit on their hands.

As an environmentalist, I was appalled to see that even though they knew about the meeting, and had advertised it on their Facebook page not a single one of the five-strong group of the Thanet (pale) Green Party councillors attended the meeting or even sent a message of support. This dereliction of duty was made all the worse because the majority of the Thanet’s (pale) Green councillors, both district and town, occupy Ramsgate or nearby seats where most of the Thanet RHWRC users live.


Even Labour’s prospective parliamentary candidate for South Thanet (which includes Sandwich), Polly Billington, who claims to be an environmentalist, has made no statement on the RHWRC closure proposals, whilst the sitting South Thanet MP, Tory Craig Mackinlay makes only uncommitted noises.


Like it or not, climate change and the environment are now centre stage of local, regional, national and international politics and if we are to ensure that our children and grand-children inherit a sustainable planet, then even the smallest environmental matters, such as a waste recycling centre at Richborough have an important role to play.


For the sake of the future we must therefore rid ourselves of politicians, such as those in Thanet - Labour, Green and Tory – who have shown that despite their self-proclaimed environmentalism reality the don’t give a toss about re-cycling fly-tipping and pollution in the district!


One final word, I am only too aware that many people cannot use KCC waste recycling centers and that many businesses are finding it hard to meet the growing costs of waste disposal and recycling. The campaign to support RHWRC will I hope lead to a bigger public debate about waste collection and disposal policy in Kent.


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