Last Friday I was pleased to be invited to Martello Primary school in Folkestone to meet the students and discuss what they had learned during their democracy week. As part of this the pupils had also conducted their own elections for the positions of Head Girl and Head Boy for the coming year. I was delighted to be asked to announce the winners of the elections, but the most important part of democracy is taking part by voting and questioning the candidates. I wish them all every success for the new school year.
Earlier in the day I had chaired a meeting of the Folkestone and Hythe accelerated delivery board at the Civic Centre. We had updates on a range of important projects for the future of the district, including the Otterpool Park development, the Folkestone seafront scheme, and new studies to monitor traffic flow through the town centre. The meeting also discussed the future potential use for the Debenhams store site in Folkestone, and the application process for town centre businesses to be supported through the Council’s £3m high streets improvement fund. More information can be found about this through the folkestone.works website. It is great to see so many projects in the pipeline to support job creation and economic development in our area.
The programme for the Folkestone Book festival in November has been published and includes many well-known speakers. Entitled ‘The Shape of Things to Come’, named after H.G Well’s futuristic science fiction novel, the festival runs from 15th to 24th November. You can see the current list at the creativefolkestone.org.uk website.
I am delighted to have been asked to speak again this year, this time along with Peter Pomeranstev who has recently published an excellent book on disinformation and fake news called ‘This is Not Propaganda: Adventures in the War Against Reality.’ Peter has also been an advisor to the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee which I chair and has gained some excellent insights from around the world on this subject. I do hope you’ll be able to join us at 8pm on 22nd November when we will be discussing this.
I was very sorry to hear that the Thomas Cook travel business ceased trading on Monday this week. The company has been an iconic name in the tourist industry for very many years. I hope that everything can be done to try and restructure the business to save as many jobs as possible. The government has confirmed that it will help to bring back all Thomas Cook customers around the world who have lost their return journeys home to the UK as a result of the closure of the business. If this has directly affected anyone you know, they can find out more information about this at thomascook.caa.co.uk.