Inside Swale Spring 2011
Swale's residents' magazine Inside Swale, Spring 2011
Inside Swale X magazine Keeping you in touch with your council services In this issue Council Tax 2011/12 A bright future for Sittingbourne Consulting on our vision for Swale Sheerness Gateway â€“ making progress Difficulty in understanding this magazine? Need it in Braille, large print or on audio tape? For translations or interpretations contact us and we will do our best to help. Tel: 01795 417850 Email: email@example.com spring 2011 2 Inside Swale Chief Executive Welcome to Inside Swale, Swale Borough Council’s residents’ magazine. Through these pages we aim to keep you informed about how we are working to provide you with value-for-money services and how we are joining forces with other public-serving organisations to meet the community’s needs. In this issue you will see that an important step forward has been taken in the regeneration of Sittingbourne Town Centre, which is something that will benefit the whole of Swale. You will also see that we have increased our accountability by publishing details of senior officers’ pay and of all of our outgoing expenses over £500 and that we have continued to consult residents on a range of issues. This issue also sets out information in relation to the funding we receive from central government and the freezing of Council Tax for the next financial year. This is a very important time for the Council as it holds ‘whole council elections’ for the first time in May. There are details in this issue telling you how you can make sure you are registered to vote and how you can stand as a candidate. Abdool Kara Chief Executive Swale Borough Council www.swale.gov.uk Contents Elections ................................................ 3 The National Census ............................. 4 Latest news from Milton Creek ............ 5 Free family swim ................................... 6 Collecting your bins in the snow ........... 7 Housing news ................................. 8 & 9 Transparency on spend ........................ 10 Internal Audit ....................................... 11 Council Tax 2011-12 .................. 12 & 13 Swale’s Core Strategy ......................... 14 Sittingbourne Town Centre ................. 15 Sheerness Gateway ............................. 16 Voices of Leysdown ............................. 17 News from Medway Maritime ... 18 & 19 Keeping safe from fire ......................... 20 Street Wardens on the buses .............. 21 Your Councillors ......................... 22 & 23 Our corporate priorities are: Regenerating Swale A safer and stronger community A high-performing organisation Creating a cleaner and greener Swale Contact Swale Borough Council phone: 01795 417850 email: CSC@swale.gov.uk visit: www.swale.gov.uk or write to us at Swale House, East Street, Sittingbourne, Kent ME10 3HT Inside Swale is produced by Swale Borough Council’s Communications and Marketing Team Cover: Tunstall Village Hall polling station. http://twitter.com/SwaleCouncil News Inside Swale 3 You have the X factor Swale Borough Council has 47 borough councillors who represent the different wards in Swale. On Thursday 5 May, borough council elections are being held and this year all of the 47 seats are up for election. This is because following consultation, the Council decided to change its electoral system to ‘whole council elections’. An explanatory document is available to view on our website and at our district offices. This also means that all Parish and Town Councils are holding elections this year. This is your chance to vote for the person you want to represent you in your ward and, in certain areas, on your town and parish council. There is also a Referendum on the voting system being held on the same day and the Electoral Commission will be sending a booklet to every household about this. To vote you must be on the electoral register. Forms were sent to every household between August and October asking you to confirm your details or register. If you are not on the register you do have until Thursday 14 April to register to vote but we encourage you to register as soon as possible. There are three ways that you can vote – in person at a polling station (we will send you a poll card which tells you where your station is); or via a postal vote (you will need to apply for this) or proxy vote (where someone is authorised to vote on your behalf – again you will need to apply for this). There are set deadlines for these options and so you are encouraged to contact us as soon as possible. The Council’s website contains a range of information about the forthcoming elections, from detailing how you can make sure you are registered to vote to even standing as a candidate. For more information please phone our customer services team on 01795 417850 or email firstname.lastname@example.org http://tiny.cc/Swale-FB www.swale.gov.uk News 4 Inside Swale The National Census is on its way! “Make a difference. The information you provide will help tomorrow to take shape.” Every ten years the Office for National Statistics (ONS) carries out a Census to find out more about the people who live in England and Wales, and about the make-up of neighbourhoods. The next census takes place on Sunday 27 March 2011, and during March the ONS will be sending out questionnaires to every household in the country to complete either online or by hand. The census asks everyone about work, health, national identity, citizenship, ethnic background, education, second homes, language, religion, marital status and so on. These statistics are then used to build a picture of today’s society and predict changes over the next ten years. Like all local authorities in England and Wales, Swale Borough orough Council relies on census population statistics to get the government ment funding we need for public services. How much we get is directlyy related to how many people and what kind of people the censuss identifies as living in our area. All personal information is strictly confidential and cannot be made public for 100 years. You can do it online. You can do it by post. But you must do it. So please get your questionnaire back as soon as possible. www.swale.gov.uk http://twitter.com/SwaleCouncil News Inside Swale 5 David P Manning Honorary Alderman David P Manning sadly passed away on Tuesday 4 January 2011. David was a Member of Swale Borough Council from 1986 to 1990 and again from 1992 to 2007, when the title of Honorary Alderman was bestowed upon him. He was a Liberal Democrat member for Grove Ward. In more recent years he held the post of Chairman of Iwade Parish Council. Mayor of Swale Councillor Steve Worrall and Mayoress Therese Davies said: “On behalf of the Members and Officers of the Borough Council, we offer our heartfelt sympathies on the sad death of David. His tireless hard work for the community will be sadly missed.” Recognition of Excellence Awards Swale Borough Council encourages recognition of excellent achievements for work carried out throughout the year by it’s staff and partners. Residents will have the opportunity to nominate staff or partners for a Swale Star Award, which would be presented to the winners in June. Further details of the nomination process will be on the our website from Monday 4 April. Root to success for Country Park On Sunday 20 February, 78 people turned out and nearly 350 trees were planted at the free tree planting event at Milton Creek Country Park. This event is part of a series of activities that will continue as we move ever closer to the summer and the opening of the park. Tree planters were also able to sign up to join the Friends of Milton Creek, which is a growing group of local people who will help look after the Park as it develops. To join the group please email email@example.com for more information. http://tiny.cc/Swale-FB www.swale.gov.uk News 6 Inside Swale Free Swim Voucher For a free family swim (family of 4 with maximum of 2 adults) at the following times: ! n o o s g n i Com Faversham Swimming Pool 01795 532426 12–2pm Saturday & 1–3pm Sunday Swallows Leisure Centre 01795 420420 www.swallowsleisure.com 2–4pm Saturday & 10am–12noon Sunday Sheerness Leisure Complex 01795 668652 www.sheppeyleisure.com 10am–1pm Saturday & 3–5pm Sunday Valid from 3 May 2011 to 17 July 2011 In March 2009, Swale Borough Council was delighted to announce that it was working closely with the Eastern and Coastal Kent Primary Care Trust (PCT), which gave the Council £40,000 to specifically target individuals who need to be more active and who require swimming lessons. The two-year Swim Swale programme will soon be coming to an end. However, as part of the funding supplied by Eastern and Coastal Kent PCT, every child at school will soon receive an additional free family swim voucher that can be used at one of the three superb pools in Swale. Swale Borough Council used this money carefully to offer specific subsidised swimming programmes across the whole of Swale. These vouchers must be used between Tuesday 3 May 2011 and Sunday 17 July 2011. These have encouraged people to take part in swimming activities who may not have done so before, and have ensured that the Council could provide an initiative that has helped many to learn, many to be more active, and many to be healthier across the whole of Swale. www.swale.gov.uk We will be contacting all schools in the borough very shortly to organise the distribution of vouchers. Enjoy your free swim! If you have not received your voucher by 3 May please contact James Thatcher at Swale Borough Council on 01795 417109. http://twitter.com/SwaleCouncil Creating a cleaner and greener Swale Inside Swale 7 Collecting your bins in the snow Swale experienced heavy snowfall on Monday 20 December 2010. This followed closely on the heels of a previous bout of bad weather. To deal with this situation is never easy and requires strong partnership working with our contractors Verdant, who run the actual collection activity, and Kent Highways who assess the practicalities of moving around the borough. Refuse collectors help clear the high street while waiting for the roads thaw. The Council provides waste collections to around 60,000 properties a week, negotiating 2,500 roads for access, using up to ten freighters a day. “We will work with our partners to improve our services” The main issue we face in adverse weather is the unpredictability of how different the weather can be across the borough, making it difficult to give residents a truly clear picture of the estimated length of disruption. Some side roads thaw quicker than others too. So our clear, consistent message to residents in December was ‘Put your bin out on the correct day and we will get to it as soon as we can’. This worked really well. We posted updates on our website at www.swale. gov.uk/snow and released the information to local and regional media to pass on to residents and updated our facebook site and twitter feed. We appreciate that from time to time as our refuse collection freighters go around the borough they can cause temporary obstruction, but Verdant employees work as quickly and safely (for themselves and the public) as possible to minimise any issues that arise on the highway, so please bear with us. We welcome your feedback about how you feel we perform at all times and know that we can improve further. With your feedback we will be even better prepared the next time the snow descends upon our corner of Kent. http://tiny.cc/Swale-FB www.swale.gov.uk 8 Inside Swale A high-performing organisation Kent Landlord Accreditation Scheme Become an Accredited landlord today! Swale Borough Council will be running one-day training courses at UK Paper Leisure, Avenue of Remembrance, Sittingbourne on 01 April and 10 June 2011 at a cost £79.90 per person. To book your place please register at www.londonlandlords.org.uk (if you contact Sharon Russell at Swale Borough Council before booking she will provide you with a promotional code that will entitle you to a discount of £10). There are many benefits to becoming accredited under the UK Landlord Accreditation Partnership. Mayor Cllr. Steve Worrall presents Zoe Ralph with a certificate as Swale’s 100th Accredited Landlord For further information regarding the training events or the Kent Landlord Accreditation Scheme please contact Sharon Russell via email to firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 01795 417021. Staying Put schemes Staying Put aims to help elderly or disabled people to remain living independently in their homes by improving or adapting their property to meet their ongoing needs. The service also offers practical help with jobs such as grab rails, changing light bulbs or Staying Put Handyman fixing a any other small job that hand rail for a resident would help prevent a fall or accident. In addition it can provide help with the costs of small jobs around the home. For more information on the services provided by Staying Put please call 01795 417131 or email email@example.com Seeking advice at Living in Safety 2011. www.swale.gov.uk http://twitter.com/SwaleCouncil A high-performing organisation on Inside Swale 9 Would you like to get involved in helping to improve the Housing service? We would like your views and ideas on what you need and expect from the Housing Services Team at Swale Borough Council. We would like our customers to get more involved in having their say about how we run our services and make valuable contributions to how we can improve. Getting involved need not take up a lot of your time. Don’t worry if you don’t feel confident about voicing your opinions in public – there are many ways to get involved. If you would like to find out more please contact the Housing Strategy Team by email: firstname.lastname@example.org, or phone us on 01795 417348. BLOW THE WHISTLE ON HOUSING CHEATS As advertised in previous issues of Inside Swale, we are working hard to track down housing cheats to ensure that homes are given to those who are the next in line. Your help in reporting housing fraud is important because you can see what’s going on in your neighbourhood. You might know that somebody has a home the landlord doesn’t know about or has given false information in their housing application. You might suspect someone of housing fraud having seen them collect rent from your neighbours. You might be suspicious because the tenants of a property keep changing. If you suspect someone is a housing cheat, let us know. If you have any information please contact the Housing Options Team on 01795 417511 or email us at email@example.com http://tiny.cc/Swale-FB www.swale.gov.uk 10 Inside Swale A high-performing organisation Transparency on spend The Communities Secretary has urged councils to publish online details of spending over £500 to increase openness and accountability. Swale Borough Council has therefore teamed up with an external private company to enable complex financial information to be more accessible to the public for scrutiny and comparison. There is now a page on the Council’s website that takes users to reports that list the individual payments the Council has made to suppliers over £500 from December 2010 onwards. Publication of these lists forms part of Swale Borough Council’s commitment to be open, accountable and transparent at all times with its residents. All data is provided freely. http://www.swale.gov.uk/transparency-on-spend/ On Swale Borough Council’s website you will now also find documents relating to senior staff salaries and an organisational chart of the Council. More information may be found by searching online for Local Government Transparency Programme. This is consistent with the Information Commissioner’s guidance that senior public servants should expect a degree of scrutiny of their remuneration arrangements. www.swale.gov.uk http://twitter.com/SwaleCouncil A high-performing organisation Inside Swale 11 Councils work together to save money Swale, Ashford, Maidstone, and Tunbridge Wells councils are saving money and improving their internal audit services by working together. A single combined team is now operating across all four councils saving management and administration costs. “Internal audit is not confined to the review of just financial processes but has the freedom to review any council activity” The new partnership has been in place since 01 April 2010 and will save Swale Borough Council in the region of £120,000 over the next five years, as well as providing a more efficient and effective service. This is great news for the Council as we have to save substantial amounts over the next three years. Working with other councils can save money; it makes sense for the councils and in this case for our audit team. The councils can draw on expertise from across four councils and our auditors can gain experience of different work at each council.” Head of the Partnership, Brian Parsons, said: “We are cutting down on administration and sharing work to avoid duplication. Using standard IT and developing common procedures, we will make further efficiencies in the future.” Free workshop for new Guest House and B&B businesses New and would-be guest houses and B&B providers in Swale are invited to a free workshop on Wednesday 23 March to help them build their businesses ahead of increased visitor numbers during the 2012 London Olympic and Paralympic games. Those attending will learn about starting up and running a B&B or guest house, quality standards and how to join the National Accommodation Quality Assurance Scheme. There will also be chances to talk to Quality in Tourism, Swale Borough Council and the county’s tourism champions at Visit Kent. The free workshop will be held at The Ferry House Inn, Harty Ferry Road, Sheppey, from 10am to 3.30pm. For more information, or to book a place, call Georga Mannering on 01622 696935, email firstname.lastname@example.org http://tiny.cc/Swale-FB www.swale.gov.uk 12 Inside Swale A high-performing organisation Council Tax freeze announced Swale Borough Council has announced that it is freezing the level of Council Tax it sets for the 2011/12 financial year. This means that Swale Borough Council’s portion of Council Tax remains the same as the 2010/11 financial year. As well as our own Council Tax, Swale Borough Council collects on behalf of the other public-serving authorities. Of the collected Council Tax, Kent County Council is allocated 73%, Swale Borough Council 11%, Kent Police Authority 10%, Kent and Medway Fire and Rescue Authority 5% and the Parish Precepts 1%. Where your council tax goes Parish Precepts - 1% Kent and Medway Fire and Rescue Authority - 5% Kent Police - 10% Swale Borough Council - 11% Kent County Council - 73% “Despite the background of these tough times we will continue our improvement journey” Swale Borough Council value for money £4 million of expenditure reductions and increased income have been achieved for 2011/12 www.swale.gov.uk Expenditure Reductions £1,500,000 to match reduced specific grant £1,270,000 Financial savings £760,000 Management efficiencies £230,000 Increased income £140,000 Partnership working £140,000 Improved procurement http://twitter.com/SwaleCouncil Inside Swale 13 In preparing for 2011/12 the Council has taken a root and branch review of how we run ourselves as an organisation. This involves every effort being made to release further efficiencies – for example, through working arrangements with other authorities – see audit item on page 11. Together, this means that front line services and grants to community and voluntary sector groups have been largely untouched, despite the significant losses of grants and other means. Council Tax 2011/12 House Band Kent County Council £ Swale Borough Council £ Kent Police Authority £ Kent and Medway Fire and Rescue Authority £ A B C D E F G H 698.52 814.94 931.36 1,047.78 1,280.62 1,513.46 1,746.30 2,095.56 106.62 124.39 142.16 159.93 195.47 231.01 266.55 319.86 92.45 107.86 123.27 138.68 169.50 200.32 231.13 277.36 45.30 52.85 60.40 67.95 83.05 98.15 113.25 135.90 Funding basics The local government formula grant settlement announced on 13 December has been referred to as the worst funding settlement for local government since 1945 – so what does it mean for the funding the Council receives? Formula Grant This consists of two elements and the Council can spend this grant on anything we choose. For the financial year 2011/12 we will receive 14% less of the formula grant and then in 2012/13 a further 13% less. Specific Grants These grants are awarded to us in relation to specific activities we undertake. The government has cut this back significantly in order to balance the books. One new grant that will be very important to us will be the New Homes Bonus – a way of rewarding councils for supporting the building of new homes. Fees and Charges In December the Council’s Cabinet members agreed a report reviewing all the different fees and charges for services the Council provides, such as parking or pest control. http://tiny.cc/Swale-FB Total Council Tax (excluding parish precepts) £ 942.89 1100.04 1257.19 1414.34 1728.64 2042.94 2357.23 2828.68 “We will work together with our partners and the public to find innovative new ways of delivering high-quality services” www.swale.gov.uk 14 Inside Swale Regenerating Swale The Council’s Core Strategy is the most important planning document for Swale. When complete it will set out a vision of the borough up to 2031 and a series of development proposals and policies to achieve it. It will allocate land for new jobs and homes, identify the infrastructure needed to support it and the type of environment that should be safeguarded for future generations. The Council consulted widely in January and February on the Issues and Options. The Options we are looking at, at this stage, are the four possible strategies for the way forward for the Borough as a whole. Residents were consulted at local engagement forums and a ‘Question Time’ style event allowed key stakeholders to debate the issues behind the options. The event was chaired by Abdool Kara, Swale Borough Council’s Chief Executive and panellists included Dr Hilary Newport from the Campaign to Protect Rural England, Phillip Seabrook of the Swale Youth Forum and Roger House of the Kent and Medway Federation of Small Businesses. Public consultation closed on 14 March. The Council will now consider the representations received and report on the way ahead in the autumn. More details can be found on the Council’s website at http://www.swale.gov.uk/pyo/ www.swale.gov.uk http://twitter.com/SwaleCouncil Regenerating Swale Inside Swale 15 A bright future for Sittingbourne Town Centre Swale Borough Council recently announced the private sector partner with whom it will work to develop Sittingbourne Town Centre. The Council will now negotiate a Development Agreement with the Spirit of Sittingbourne consortium, which consists of property consultants Essential Land, property developers Cathedral Group, and financial fund managers Altyon. The selection process has been a rigorous one, carried out by the Council and its professional advisers over the last six months. The interview panel were unanimous that Spirit of Sittingbourne’s approach to the town centre was the one most likely to achieve long-term regeneration in the way that the Council wants. Planning applications surrounding the town centre – such as the one from Tesco for land north of the railway – will continue to be processed in the usual way. We will keep you updated as further progress is made. http://tiny.cc/Swale-FB “Regenerating Swale is the Council’s number one priority” www.swale.gov.uk 16 Inside Swale Regenerating Swale Sheerness Gateway - making progress The new Gateway, which will open in the Summer of 2011, will build its services around its customers’ needs and will provide easily accessible customer service facilities all under one roof. The Gateway will be situated in the old Woolworths’ building on Sheerness High Street. Swale Borough Council is contributing 25% and our Gateway partner, Kent County Council, is contributing 75% of the capital cost of this project. The Gateway is key to the ambitious plans to regenerate Sheerness town centre. Building works are currently being undertaken to make the building fit for purpose and more energy efficient. The walls and the roof will soon be fully insulated and the windows will be replaced with more efficient double glazed units. Kent County Council will soon be choosing the contractor to carry out the majority of the works to transform the building into the Gateway. There are many Gateways in Kent and the evidence from other towns is that they increase the number of people visiting town centres. The services on offer will include a Library, Adult Education, Registry Office, Adult Social Services, Skills Plus and Swale Borough Council’s Sheerness District Office. Talks with other possible service providers are occurring and we will continue to keep you updated on the range of services that will be available. You can find out, first hand, about customers’ experiences by viewing Youtube, see http://www.youtube.com/user/SwaleCouncil?feature=mhsn And, you can view our website to keep up to date with the buildings progress: http://www.swale.gov.uk/sheerness-gateway/. A listing of questions and answers about the Gateway is being developed and will shortly be available on the council website. In the meantime, if you have any questions please contact Modupe Dosunmu, Sheerness Gateway Project Officer, by telephone 01795 417518, on her mobile 07827 957613 or by email email@example.com www.swale.gov.uk http://twitter.com/SwaleCouncil Regenerating Swale Inside Swale 17 Voices of Leysdown Sixteen Pupils from the Isle of Sheppey Academy took part in a five-week programme of workshops with professional documentary photographer Ed Thompson. Students from the Isle of Sheppey Academy taking photographs in the Coffee Pot, Leysdown Students from the Abbey School enjoyed an introduction to Ed’s work and went on two field trips to Leysdown Village centre. The students took portraits of locals and the edited photographs, which will provide a social document of Leysdown and the people who live and work there. The workshops are part of ‘Voices of Leysdown’, a project workshop programme spanning generations that uses storytelling, writing, image, sound recording and interviewing to work with the community in Leysdown to explore their perceptions and recollections of the village. The students work will also be featured on a new website www.voicesofleysdown.co.uk due to be launched in the summer of 2011. Students from the Isle of Sheppey Academy taking portraits in Leysdown Voices of Leysdown is part of Leysdown RoseTinted, which aims to transform Leysdown by reinvigorating it through art, by working with people who live, work and visit there. There will be more events over the next few months. Voices of Leysdown is supported by Swale Borough Council, Swale Council for Voluntary Services and Kent County Council. Rushenden Retrofit works partner announced Swale Borough Council has announced it has agreed to award the works contract for Phase One of the Rushenden Retrofit programme to Kent-based contractor Apollo Property Services. The programme is a partnership between Swale Borough Council, AmicusHorizon, Scottish and Southern Energy and The Homes and Communities Agency. It focuses on regeneration work in Queenborough and Rushenden and applies a green approach, aiming to achieve carbon savings and lower fuel bills for households. The Council is directly responsible for Phase One of the programme which will deliver initial retrofit measures to a minimum of 65 private sector homes. Work will start in March. http://tiny.cc/Swale-FB www.swale.gov.uk 18 Inside Swale News from Medway Maritime Hospital A new look online The next time you log onto Medway NHS Foundation Trust’s website you might notice some changes. As a result of feedback the Trust received about the website from patients, visitors and staff, it’s been completely re-vamped and condensed; making it much more user friendly and ensures that all the information you need is easily accessible. Take a look for yourself at:www.medway.nhs.uk Bringing the WOW! factor at Medway We want everyone to receive outstanding care and to help support this we are asking patients and visitors to tell us when they have had an excellent experience at Medway Maritime Hospital. To enable this, we have launched a new staff awards initiative called ‘The WOW! Awards’. We believe it’s important to identify and reward those individual members of staff or teams who deliver excellent patient experience because this can help to raise our standards further across the entire organisation. The WOW! Awards is a not-for-profit team that helps organisations benefit from outstanding customer service by making it easier for our patients to tell us when our staff are doing a great job. This gives staff the recognition they deserve and inspires them and other colleagues to deliver a fantastic service all the time. “We are aiming even higher to improve the experience patients have when www.swale.gov.uk they come to hospital – whether as a patient or visitor and we’d like you to tell us when you’ve had an excellent experience” said Jacqueline McKenna, Director of Nursing. “Excellent patient experience has always been extremely important to us. Over the last two years, we have been doing lots of work to protect further the privacy and dignity of our patients and to improve our facilities, environments and care, but we realise there is more that we could and should do to improve. Throughout this year we will be working on a number of patient experience activities to do just that.” How to nominate Patients and visitors can pick up a nomination form from around the hospital or alternatively, you can nominate easily via our website. Nominations are reviewed on a monthly basis by WOW! and hand signed certificates are issued to winners. http://twitter.com/SwaleCouncil Don’t let hay fever get you down After another long, hard winter, spring is finally here but for many, unfortunately, the new season brings the misery of hay fever. Although most cases of hay fever can be treated by going to the pharmacy or, if symptoms are severe, a GP, some of the more extreme cases are referred by GPs to Medway Maritime Hospital’s allergy clinic – which is the only one of its kind in Kent. “Hay fever occurs because the person’s immune system is extremely sensitive to pollen, most commonly, grass pollen” says Julie Millest, Allergy Nurse Specialist at Medway NHS Foundation Trust. “When a hay fever sufferer inhales pollen, their body overacts, leading to symptoms such as itchy eyes, a runny nose, sneezing and wheezing. For some people these symptoms can be so severe that they affect everyday life like sleeping, sitting exams or enjoying outdoor summer activities with family. And for those who are allergic to tree pollen, symptoms can start as early as February or March with June and July being the peak period for those allergic to grass pollen. “Fortunately for most, hay fever can be controlled and if symptoms are mild to moderate, there are some things that sufferers can do to help themselves” says Julie. “Start hay fever medication prior to the pollen season and take it continuously throughout the summer; avoid being outside in the early morning and evening when the pollen count is http://tiny.cc/Swale-FB highest; wear sunglasses to prevent eye irritation; keep windows closed late afternoon when the pollen count rises; and drive with your car windows closed. All these tips can help prevent or minimise symptoms. “Antihistamines and nasal sprays are effective to relieve symptoms for the majority of people, but where reactions are extreme a GP may refer the patient to the allergy clinic to be considered for a treatment called ‘immunotherapy’. Traditionally done by subcutaneous injections (an injection given in the fatty layer of tissue under the skin), grass pollen immunotherapy is now available as a sublingual (under the tongue) tablet. With both the injection and tablet treatments taking three years to complete, this long-term treatment helps reduce the body’s reaction to pollen. It contains a small amount of the pollen the person is allergic to, helping the body to overcome the allergy by gradually allowing the immune system to react to it more normally.“ Hay fever is a common condition that affects around 20% of people in the UK, and it is more likely if there is a family history of allergies, particularly asthma or eczema. www.swale.gov.uk 20 Inside Swale A safer and stronger community Help keep your community safe from fire Kent Fire and Rescue Service (KFRS) is appealing to Swale residents to look out for vulnerable and elderly friends, neighbours and relatives and to be aware of the danger signs that can lead to fire. It only takes two to three breaths of toxic smoke from a fire to fall unconscious and, sadly, residents who are elderly, disabled or on medication are more likely to be killed or injured. Factors such as living alone, physical or mental health issues, as well as lifestyle choices, like drinking alcohol and smoking, make people more vulnerable. If you know someone who needs help to keep safe you can put them in touch with KFRS. A community safety officer can visit, if needed, and offer free fire prevention advice including information on safety devices for the visually and hearing impaired. For further information contact KFRS on 0800 923 7000 or visit www.kent.fire-uk.org Partnership bike marking a ‘wheel success’! Swale’s Community Safety Partnership hailed January’s bike marking Swale’ days a great success after helping nearly 100 families security mark their bikes and valuables. b Local Neighbourhood teams joined forces with Community Safety Unit Neig volunteers voluntee to help bike owners in Teynham and Sittingbourne mark their cycles cycl with their house number and postcode using special UV marker pens. They were also issued general crime prevention m advice and encouraged to register their valuables on the police recommended National Property Database www.immobilise.com PC Mike Kingwell, of the Faversham Neighbourhood Policing team, said: “By marking your bike with your postcode and house number it makes it easier to trace, which makes it far less attractive to thieves.” NO Use Empty Campaign Help us tackle Empty Properties in your area! Empty properties are a nuisance to look at but also encourage antisocial behaviour in your neighbourhood. To report an empty property please contact Brian George on 01795 417232 or Sharon Russell on 01795 417021. www.swale.gov.uk http://twitter.com/SwaleCouncil A safer and stronger community Inside Swale 21 Street Wardens on the buses Thanks to Chalkwell, Swale Borough Council street wardens have been able to get about the borough in a quicker, easier and greener way. Chalkwell kindly gave bus passes to the Council’s six street wardens so that they could travel around Swale and go about their daily work without always having to use the wardens’ van. This will help the Council to reduce its carbon footprint. It also enabled the wardens to be an even more visible presence, chatting to interested passengers about their concerns regarding littering and flytipping and they can also educate people about the consequences of such actions. This helped the wardens to go about their important work of education and enforcement and addressing antisocial behaviour creating a safer and stronger environment. It costs the Council money to clear up after flytippers. You can report incidents of flytipping to us on 01795 417850. http://tiny.cc/Swale-FB “This is another example of the Council working together with local businesses.” www.swale.gov.uk Your Councillors 22 Inside Swale Remember to register to vote for the 5 May elections. Ward Abbey See page 3. Borden Boughton & Courtenay Have you ever wondered how decisions are made? Chalkwell You can come along to most of the council’s meetings to listen to the debates and see the decisionmaking process in action. You can also give your views at the Planning Committee, Licensing Committee and Swale Joint Transportation Board meetings, or ask a question at Council meetings. But please contact Democratic Services first to register, as certain rules apply in the public participation scheme. You may also wish to submit a petition or e-petition to the Council in accordance with the Council’s petition scheme. For meeting details visit: www2.swale.gov.uk/dso or phone 01795 417330 Davington Priory East Downs Grove Hartlip, Newington & Upchurch Iwade & Lower Halstow Kemsley Leysdown & Warden Milton Regis Minster Cliffs Murston Queenborough & Halfway Roman Sheerness East To find out which ward you are in and who is your Swale Borough Councillor visit: www2.swale.gov.uk/dso/search.asp Sheerness West Key Conservative Labour Liberal Democrats Independent St. Anns Sheppey Central St. Michaels Teynham & Lynsted Watling West Downs Woodstock www.swale.gov.uk Councillor Bryan Mulhern Anita Walker Nicholas Hampshire George Bobbin Andrew Bowles Roger Truelove Ghlin Whelan Mike Henderson Colin Prescott Duncan Dewar-Whalley Gareth Randall Gerry Lewin John Wright Ben Stokes Sue Gent Brenda Simpson Patricia Sandle Elvina Lowe Adam Tolhurst Andy Booth Adrian Crowther Kenneth Pugh Dave Banks Ed Gent Jackie Constable Mick Constable Richard Darby Lloyd Bowen Mike Haywood Chris Foulds David Sargent Angela Harrison Stephen Worrall Lesley Ingham John Morris Paul Sturdgess Mark Baldock Mike Cosgrove Derek Conway Nick Williams Richard Barnicott Trevor Fentiman Ted Wilcox David Simmons Monique Bonney Alan Willicombe Jean Willicombe http://twitter.com/SwaleCouncil Inside Swale 23 Phone 01795 538498 01795 531192 01795 477560 (eve) or 07739 108756 01227 751388 01227 752840 or 07778 629879 01795 425445 01795 475629 01795 534368 or 07900 265337 01795 590054 07889 808871 01795 474802 01634 366113 01795 842852 01795 476979 01795 553900 01795 599603 01795 510400 01795 471792 01795 475888 01795 880444 01795 874418 01795 871388 01795 422552 07835 289190 01795 665238 01795 665238 01795 664330 01795 522357 07960 173264 01795 667536 01795 664914 01795 665029 01795 665589 01795 881123 or 07719 255064 01795 881102 07999 821859 or 01795 872617 01795 530192 or 07891 815022 01795 591790 01795 424865 or 07789 072677 01795 479835 01795 536177 01795 531512 or 07898 865131 01795 533004 01795 532100 07973 443527 01795 439680 01795 439680 http://tiny.cc/Swale-FB Email firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com chris@LBFdesignservices.co.uk firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com www.swale.gov.uk t s r i F l op Loca Sch rd entive Ca In oplocal h .gov.uk/s le a w s . w ww ...have you got yours yet? Great local offers for you! Look out for â€˜Shop Local Firstâ€™ window stickers in your shops! For more information visit www.swale.gov.uk/shoplocal or contact Jill Read on 01795 417592 email: firstname.lastname@example.org or Martin Goodhew on 01795 585621 email: email@example.com Acknowledgement: Shop Local First is a scheme originally created by Thanet District Council.