• Ian Chittenden
    Article: Mar 16, 2018

    'It is unacceptable that a "double-whammy" has been dealt to rail passengers in mid-Kent' were words used by the KCC Leader in response to a question from Liberal Democrat Environment & Transport spokesperson, Ian Chittenden,

    At yesterday's County Council meeting Ian Chittenden asked what steps the KCC Leader, Paul Carter, is taking to ensure that the Secretary of State puts Kent's County Town back on the rail map.

  • Rob Bird
    Article: Mar 16, 2018

    Kent Liberal Democrats have accused the Government of creating a smugglers' charter after the transport secretary suggested throwing open Britain's borders.

    Speaking on the BBC Question Time programme last night, Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling stated that "We will maintain a free-flowing border at Dover, we will not impose checks at the port, it is utterly unrealistic to do so. We don't check lorries now, we're not going to be checking lorries in the future."

    This is an astonishing admission by one of the chief architects of Brexit. During the referendum campaign, the over-riding mantra of the leavers was 'taking back control'.

    Leader of the Opposition at KCC, Rob Bird, said: "Mr Grayling is proposing an open border at Dover, allowing anyone and anything to come into the UK. Far from taking back control, the Tories appear to be creating a smugglers charter with the country left undefended against shoddy imports and contraband.

    "The only viable way of maintaining a frictionless border at Dover, and in Ireland, is for Britain to be in a Customs Union with the EU.

    "It's time for Mr Grayling to stop making totally unrealistic promises about a post Brexit utopia and to come up with credible and viable solutions."

  • Antony Hook
    Article: Mar 15, 2018

    Improvements to the dangerous Brenley Corner Roundabout* could be delayed for more than five years, despite the junction being among the worst accident blackspots in the UK.

    At a county council meeting earlier today, Liberal Democrat spokesperson for Economic Development, Antony Hook, asked Mike Whiting, Cabinet Member for Planning, Highways, Transport & Waste, when much-needed improvements to the roundabout were due to be made.

  • Rob Bird
    Article: Mar 15, 2018

    The Conservatives' promise to guarantee free-flowing trade and avoid almost permanent Operation Stack has been thrown into doubt after it was revealed that Highways England is 'still testing' traffic solutions with just 12 months to go.

    Today Rob Bird, leader of the Liberal Democrat opposition on KCC, demanded assurance from the Conservative administration that the county will not face gridlock should Brexit go ahead in March 2019.

    But Mike Whiting, Cabinet Member for Planning, Highways, Transport & Waste, replied Highways England has so far proposed no solution, and is "still testing" measures to mitigate the worst of the chaos.

    Rob Bird said: "Like so many post-Brexit promises, the guarantee of free-flowing trade and a county free of congestion is crumbling under the cold, hard reality of our situation.

    "I fear the worst - with just 12 months to go, it's shocking that both the Government and Kent County Council are not better prepared should Brexit go ahead. Knowing Highways England is still in the testing phase is hardly reassuring, and there was no mention of the much-vaunted 'technological solutions' to keep trade flowing freely.

    "Like everyone else in the county, I don't want to see a return to the summer of 2015 when lorries lined the M20, costing the Kent economy an eye-watering £1.45 million a day. But this is the reality we face if Conservatives at every level of government continue to bury their heads in the sand."

    About 11,000 lorries pass through Dover every day and there is a real risk the county could face almost permanent Operation Stack if customs checks are imposed at the port.

    In July 2015, Operation Stack gridlocked Kent for several weeks, with queues of lorries stretching more than 30 miles down the M20.

    The cost of the disruption to the UK economy has been estimated by the Freight Transport Association at more than £250m. Kent Police also faced a hefty bill of more than £700,000 for managing the closures.

    To put the risk into perspective, a lorry from within the EU typically takes two minutes to clear customs at Dover, while a lorry from outside the EU takes 20 minutes, according to evidence presented to the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee.

  • Pensive Old Woman
    Article: Mar 12, 2018
    By Rob Bird

    Retirement can be challenging, especially if people are facing a reduction in financial circumstances, are living in a home unsuitable for an older person or have become isolated. We need to recognise that older people can and are making positive contributions to society, given the right environments.

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