A Faversham Plan

Notes on a strategy for Faversham’s future. As is the Town of Kings, this is a work in progress. 

1. Objectives
Harder working, longer lasting & better looking policy outcomes.

2. Principles
Consistency as far as possible with the existing policy framework.

BUT challenging where views are inconsistent.

Participatory.

Listening.

Discussing.

Needs-based.

Anticipating change.

Acting to make change happen.

3. Participants
Residents.

Visitors.

Employers.

Organisations – education, business, healthcare, religious, sporting, cultural.

Town Council.

Borough Council.

County Council.

Member of Parliament – a national champion.

Independent experts: Academy of Urbanism, Design South East, English Heritage…

4. Process
Through continuous conversation:

– the Faversham Conversation.

Online and face-to-face.

Evidence-based.

Spatial: what goes where and how does it all connect together.

5. Scope
Spatial

Town-wide, not just the town centre.

Temporal
For the next decade, not just the next year.

6. Actions
1. Engage the participants.

2. Design the process – likely to include meetings, online comments, questionnairing, presentation/exhibition; then repeat…

3. Then begin.

7. Outcomes?
20mph.

More pedestrian crossings eg West Street, Dark Hill, South Street – St Ann’s. Other wards?

More walk to school.

More public life.

More sitting.

More conversation.

More serendipity.

Healthier.

Better for business.

More convivial.

More connected.

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The art of the possible – cooperation, not confrontation

In the last few days of the election campaign there is much talk of horse-trading, deal-making, dark rooms and red lines. And rightly so. With no obviously clear winner in sight, we should not expect the election process to end upon the declaration of the count. The process will have consequences in terms of how those elected seek to govern: how they engage with each other, with their electorate and with their wider communities. And, since Faversham Town Council has limited direct powers it also means working effectively with the Borough and County Councils.

This means negotiation.

So how should this process of negotiation take place? By seeking to obstruct or seeking to influence?
By influence.

And should this influence be offered by threat or by assistance?
By assistance. 

Should people seek to assist by shouting or speaking?
By speaking in conversation. 

And what kind of a conversation should take place? A confrontational conversation or a constructive conversation?
A constructive conversation.  Continue reading The art of the possible – cooperation, not confrontation

Assembling a cultural database

Sir Tipene O’Regan
Māori indigenous local and world views

Notes on the creation of a cultural database using digital technology. Lessons for Faversham.

“Culture needs to be cultivated.”

“We must remember to remember.”

“People who have no memory have no future.”

Cultural mapping – “Stories of death, lust, more lust & bravery”. Google Earth database of >4,000 names with historic references. Songs, stories too.

“We have to be the proprietors of our own cultural database.” This applies equally to any community as it does to the Māori culture that inspired the sentiment. “Something that is authentically ours with an authentic base”.

“Walk into the future with your eyes on the past.”

Could Faversham be the most engaging online council in the world?

For a town council without a “proper” website – nested instead within the excellent and informative faversham.org – it may sound like a foolish suggestion for Faversham Town Council to become a world-leader in the field of online citizen engagement. Yet the Council’s relative weakness in this area may be an unexpected asset because, with no existing infrastructure, there is no technology inertia. All that’s needed is the desire to act.

Elsewhere in the world – as I’m currently discovering in New Zealand – great strides are being taken to transform democracy from being (or at least being perceived to be) a remote, top down process to one that truly embraces the views of the electorate. Continue reading Could Faversham be the most engaging online council in the world?

The Faversham Conversation – 10 guiding principles

I’ve written previously about the importance of having what I’ve called a “Faversham Conversation“: a public discussion about Faversham’s future. Here are 10 suggested principles that could be followed to make sure this discussion happens effectively.  

1. On land and online
The Faversham Conversation should happen through face-to-face meetings as well as social media. Different people have different preferences. The Faversham Conversation must be inclusive.

2. Continuous
The Faversham Conversation should not start and stop with periods of inactivity in between but should instead be occurring all the time. After all, this is what is happening “on the street”: people are continuously discussing Faversham’s past, present and future. The Faversham Conversation should channel this non-stop flow of ideas and opinions.

A2 Abbey School Footbridge – a Faversham Conversation

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An interesting discussion has been sparked over the weekend, following the Faversham Times’ front-page article on the bridge over the A2 at the entrance to the Abbey School.

Apparently, the readers’ poll in the Times has “gone crazy” with responses, attracting more interest than the Queen’s visit to Canterbury.

You can find the article and poll here.

Two parallel discussions are currently taking place on Streetlife and on Facebook. Warning – the Facebook discussion does contain some abuse (which is a pity) but my quick analysis of it shows that, of the 59 respondents to date that express a preference, 69% want something done versus 31% who don’t. Of course this result needs to be taken with a pinch of salt because it’s a discussion not a poll and people weren’t given a list of options.

So, it will be interesting to see the results of the Canterbury Times poll, which hopefully will come out in the next few days.

Faversham resident & campaigner. Architect & Urban Planner.