Looking back at the year Sittingbourne gained a renewed sense of optimism
It’s quite funny really, but 2014 commenced with much discussion on the town centre regeneration and here we are one whole year later and without doubt it is once again the main topic of discussion. Of course back then even Regeneration Director, Pete Raine had doubts suggesting that the ‘Jury’s Out’ of whether it would ever happen and I know many people still concur with this line of thought.
We also had the rather odd situation where the most affluent ward in Swale, Woodstock was granted Assisted Area Status in a bid to help out the Kent Science Park. And still in Woodstock the controversy surrounding Councillors Alan and Jean Willicombe who moved to Lincolnshire and still to this retain their seats on the Council and pay cheques.
We caught up with Chris Staff owner of the then recently opened fashion store ‘Empire’ who has since expanded his empire with another store in Sheerness and very shortly plans to open a new store in Maidstone.
MarchWe visited the opening of the ‘‘Old Forge’ Wartime House in Sittingbourne, which was a fantastic experience if you have never been.
I particularly like the idea of walking through the back door of a custom shop into another world, just like Mr Benn.
There was also fun to be had at one of the first Community Action Day’s at the Forum and we had a cooking lesson from TV chef presenter Richard Fox.
AprilDefinitely one of the highlights of the year was the St George’s Day Spectacular which was hugely successful and extremely positive for Sittingbourne.
Dr Who visited the Forum to the delight of fans with a host of characters and props created by Nikki Baker.
It was announced that the town centre regeneration would be complete by June 2017 and Milton Regis Court Hall gained charitable status.
MayThere was the chance to win a 4.5kg giant Toblerone bar from A.E Barrow & Sons.
Various community group sowed seeds to mark the centenary of the First World War
We visited the Classic Car Show in Rodmersham and found many tasty treats at the first of our food fairs of the year.
Sittingbourne was in full carnival mood, where the whole high street came alive for the day and indulged in the fun including a ‘Rock the Carnival’ concert.
We also heard from brothers Karl and Luke Barnes who planned to walk over 100 miles to help their mum.
And we unearthed secretive plans for a new private £20 million motorway junction for the exclusive use of Kent Science Park employees. Ultimately the bid for the funds was unsuccessful.
Iwade Rock transformed into the premier music festival in Swale, basking in sun shine the 2,000 strong crowd made it one of the most memorable events of the year.
Dennis Baker told us about his Uncle Len, one of Sittingbourne’s great warime heroes.
There was creative fun at this years ‘Art in the Park’ including dancing with paint.
More regeneration woes as we discover the Council’s plans to sell of its car parks.
AugustTypically a quite month, we Forum put on another Community Day where we found all-female vocal group Sounds Familiar
More controversy for the regeneration plans as the Spirit of Sittingbourne drop plans for ‘The Venue’ billed as a flexible performance space, to host music, arts, entertainment, events and exhibitions.
Art is brought to the streets of Sittingbourne with the ‘Chalk it Up’ festival, the brainchild of local artist and manager of Marvellous Murals Dean Tweedy.
And completing the Northern Relief Road is no longer considered necessary to support planned development up to 2031.
OctoberHomebase re-opens with new multi-format store incorporating mini versions of Argos, Habitat and Costa Coffee.
Local artists Sioux and Colin open the Polka Dot Art Centre to the public
NovemberSittingbourne falls silent for Remembrance Sunday
An exploration of women's roles in WW1 proves surprisingly entertaining at The Avenue Theatre’s production of ‘Love and Courage’
Freaky Friday Halloween Fun at the Forum with a range of activities which included Mummy Making Workshops.
Record numbers flock to Sittingbourne Christmas Lights Switch-On
DecemberWe stocked up at the Tunstall Village Food Festival to create our own hamper for Christmas
And the year ends the same way it started with heated debate on the regeneration plans, where we discover just how many more sets of traffics lights are proposed and ludicrous train station drop off point and the suggestion by the Spirit of Sittingbourne that all our parking worries can be solved with a ‘Walk to Work Week’