Councillor’s report: Week one!

May 12, 2013
Martin Whybrow, right, with Chris Capon

Martin Whybrow, right, with Chris Capon

In the interests of keeping everyone informed, our newly elected Kent County Councillor for Hythe, Martin Whybrow, sends the following dispatch, the first of what will be regular updates:

It has been a whirlwind first week, from the moment the result was announced. A flood of interviews followed while still taking it all in at the Leas Cliff Hall (BBC South-East, BBC Radio Kent, KMFM, both local papers, and others) and far from sure I made a lot of sense! I did manage to somehow come up with the words ‘Green beacon of sanity’, which was latched on to and went down well!

Then the top priority for the Friday afternoon and weekend was to thank the many marvelous people who contributed to this great breakthrough. What a team effort! I still can’t believe the hours that people put in, as reflected in the way we were able to reach all households with our final leaflet in just four days (the most miles covered leafleting must surely go to Adam and Jane!). I have to also mention the remarkable patience and support of my wife, Lesley.

The weekend tasks included the delightful job of going round and taking down the many Vote Green boards across the ward (for reuse, of course), knocking on doors and thanking the many supporters who had displayed these – it was one of the masterstrokes of the campaign, for which Ross Carter deserves loads of credit. While I still get spooked by the well-oiled polling day machine of the Conservatives, I think we had so much more verve, colour, ideas, volunteers and positive messages! I really appreciated the many, many congratulatory messages, there was quite rightly considerable pride that Hythe had gone Green when so much of the rest of the area was heading in another direction. I still have a sneaky look at the BBC election map from time to time to remind myself that the Green patch on the South Coast is real!

It was then straight into the thick of things with induction day at County Hall, Maidstone, on the Tuesday after the Bank Holiday weekend. It will be a steep learning curve but my first impression was of extremely friendly, helpful and efficient KCC officers, certainly compared with us bungling newcomers! County Hall is a somewhat bewildering place in itself and there will be the need to understand all of the mechanisms, rules and responsibilities but what a great opportunity and challenge!

My email inbox filled up faster than ever before, including with initial questions and issues from my new constituents. I had my first meeting with concerned residents on Wednesday evening to look at the impact of the flooding in Seabrook in March, which caused so much damage to the Fountain Public House and came close to doing the same to a number of houses. While KCC and the Environmental Agency are on the case, I’ll make sure that the residents are kept informed, that there is a clear explanation of how this occurred and that remedial action is taken.

My diary now has many meetings with other residents, associations and groups over the next few weeks and that impression of helpfulness from KCC officers has continued, with offers of help and plenty of early direction through the organisational structure to gain answers to early questions.

Friday evening saw a gathering of 80 or so people to say a huge thank you to our departing KCC councillor, Chris Capon MBE. I was honoured to be asked to say a few words and present him with a token of thanks from all of his many friends and colleagues. Chris was a great supporter of our campaign, a one-man canvassing machine and a highly effective one by virtue of being on first-name terms with virtually every Hythe resident! We were on the same table as KCC leader, Paul Carter, and his charming wife, Breda, so already hobnobbing with the County Hall set!

Saturday afternoon brought a Kent Green Party gathering in Maidstone to discuss and decide on a number of issues. Gladdened and heartened by the level of support being offered by the many highly knowledgeable, wonderful, hard-working people in this group, it gives me confidence that I can meet the challenges, live up to the expectations and bring about meaningful, positive change as the first ever Green Party Kent County Councillor.