• 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.

  • Rob Bird
    Article: Mar 8, 2018

    Kent Liberal Democrats are demanding assurance from the Conservative administration on Kent County Council that the county will not face gridlock should Brexit go ahead in March 2019.

    At the County Council meeting next Thursday, opposition leader Rob Bird will ask Mike Whiting, Cabinet Member for Environment and Transport, if he will echo the promises made by Chris Grayling, Secretary of State for Transport, earlier this month that the Government will ensure free-flowing trade post Brexit *.

    Rob Bird will also ask for confirmation from KCC that they are satisfied that Highways England can maintain a free-flowing M20 from next March whenever there is congestion at the Port of Dover. As yet the Department for Transport have given no details of their proposed alternative to Operation Stack.

    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 £250 million. 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.

    Rob Bird said: "It is the people and businesses of Kent who will bear the brunt of failure to ensure a free-flowing border should Brexit go ahead. We know the consequences all too well - 30 mile queues blocking the M20, gridlocked roads and millions of pounds worth of lost business and policing costs.

  • Southeastern Train
    Article: Mar 1, 2018
    By David Statham, Managing Director, Southeastern Trains

    The forecast is for heavy snowfall on Friday afternoon and overnight into Saturday, and our staff will continue to work around the clock to run as many trains as possible.

    We will continue to run a revised timetable on Friday 2 March and on Saturday 3 March to provide a more reliable service for our passengers. This will mean reduced services on certain lines, the closure of some stations and changes to the times of those trains that are running.

  • Snow in Faversham, Kent 28 Feb 2018 (Antony Hook)
    Article: Mar 1, 2018
    By Antony Hook

    Liberal Democrats at Kent County Council hope that everyone has been able to stay safe during the snowy weather this week.

    It has been lovely to see children enjoy that snow, although the conditions are also disruptive to public services and local businesses.

    Here is the latest information from Kent Highways on roads across the county. Please take care.

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