News

  • Gary Fuller
    Article: Sep 16, 2018
    By Gary Fuller in Folkestone Herald - Talking Points

    At the core of Liberalism is the belief that individuals should be as free as possible insofar as they don't cause significant harm to other people, and that Governments should only intervene to protect individual freedom and prevent significant harm to others. This raises various questions where vaccinations are concerned.

  • Brighton Pier (By hozinja (Brighton Pier at dusk, UK Uploaded by BaldBoris) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons)
    Article: Sep 7, 2018

    Why have the Liberal Democrats, and their Liberal and SDP predecessors, always supported the European project and membership of the EU?

    The historical origins of the Liberal commitment to Europe originate in the nineteenth century. The next Liberal Democrat History Group meeting will feature a discussion on the issues with Anthony Howe (Professor of Modern History, University of East Anglia; author of Free Trade and Liberal England, 1846-1946 and editor of the collected letters of the leading British radical Richard Cobden) and Eugenio Biagini (Professor of Modern and Contemporary History, University of Cambridge; author of works on Gladstonian liberalism, the Italian Risorgimento, and Ireland). Chair: Baroness Julie Smith (Director of the European Centre and Senior Lecturer in International Relations, University of Cambridge).

  • Rail petitioners
    Article: Sep 3, 2018

    Maidstone County Councillor, Rob Bird, demands answers from Secretary of State

    Maidstone's high speed rail links with London have been dealt a further blow following last week's announcement that Crossrail services will be delayed until Autumn 2019.

    Earlier this year Secretary of State Chris Grayling suggested Maidstone's peak time high-speed trains could be replaced by conventional services to Abbey Wood, the proposed south-east terminus of Crossrail, where commuters could connect with the new Elizabeth Line services.

    Yet commuters say this is unacceptable, and Maidstone Liberal Democrats have called for the retention of the county town's direct high speed links. Keeping these services is vital as new commuter services into London continue to face delays.

    The Department for Transport has already announced the long-awaited introduction of the Thameslink services from Maidstone will be further delayed to December next year. Elsewhere in Kent, there have been serious timetabling issues with Thameslink, reinforcing passengers' concerns that even this later date may not be achieved.

  • Slot machine (By Esp1982 [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], from Wikimedia Commons)
    Article: Aug 30, 2018
    By Gary Fuller in Folkestone Herald - Talking Points

    In a 2017 study, the gambling commission found that 12% of 11-16 year olds gambled in the past week. This represented a drop of 25% on 2016 when the same survey found 16% had gambled. Of those young people, 24% first gambled using fruit machines, 21% using National Lottery scratchcards and 11% placed private bets with friends. The main source of gambling activity in young people is therefore unlikely to be online gaming, and gambling activity seems to be dropping overall.

  • Roadworks sign
    Article: Aug 29, 2018

    To allow various telecoms cabling and ducting works to be safely carried out, Kent County Council has made an Order to temporarily prohibit parking on part of A259 Sandgate Esplanade, Sandgate, near Folkestone.

    Waiting and loading will be prohibited at all times on both sides of Sandgate Esplanade between the junctions with Castle Bay and Brewers Hill, to the extent indicated by No Waiting signs and cones placed on site.

  • Antony Hook in Kent County Councl Chamber
    Article: Aug 27, 2018

    Funding should be provided for every Kent community to pursue 20mph limits on appropriate roads to make the county's streets safer, say Kent Liberal Democrats.


    Cllr Antony Hook, Liberal Democrat spokesperson for Business and Economic Development, has written to Peter Oakford, Kent County Council Cabinet Member for Finance, to ask that funding for extra 20mph schemes is made available in next year's budget.

    He has also called on Kent's Environment and Transport Committee to discuss the subject as soon as possible.

    In the last year, 10 small schemes funded by KCC have been announced, with the locations selected on grounds of deprivation and public health indicators.

    But Kent Liberal Democrats argue that a county-wide approach which made funding available to community groups who wanted 20mph schemes would give people the power to make their roads safer.

  • Storm Clouds
    Article: Aug 23, 2018
    By Gary Fuller in Folkestone Herald - Talking Points

    It's no secret that Trump is not the best friend to those seeking to tackle climate change, and that Brexit has eclipsed any other political issue to affect the UK bar perhaps the ongoing NHS crisis. Climate Change however has never been treated as seriously as it should have been.

    Friends of the Earth believes that to tackle climate change 80% of fossil fuels need to stay in the ground and that Europe needs to stop using fossil fuels by 2030. This and other measures, such as reducing red meat and dairy consumption, would lead to a reduction in emissions of 80% by 2030.

  • Article: Aug 16, 2018
    By Gary Fuller in Folkestone Herald - Talking Points

    Around 70% of people locally voted to leave the European Union in what was in fact the second referendum on Europe. Many will have voted based on the belief that the nation state should be sovereign in deciding all policy, from taxes to immigration. Some may have voted based on more specific issues, like globalisation. I voted remain.

  • wp-content/uploads/HouseBuilding.jpg
    Article: Aug 9, 2018
    By Gary Fuller in Folkestone Herald - Talking Points

    The simple answer to this question is no. We live in a society where more and more of our money is going towards keeping a roof over our heads, where more and more people are relying on food banks. Social housing offers us both much more reasonable rents and a potential foot on the housing ladder for those unlikely to have the option via other means.

  • Gary Fuller
    Article: Aug 8, 2018

    Local Lib Dem, Gary Fuller has reacted with horror upon finding out that where you reside in Folkestone and Hythe can have a massive effect on how long you live. Men living in Cheriton ward live 6.2 years longer than men in Harbour ward, while women in North Downs West ward live 5.8 years longer than women living in Harbour Ward. Commenting, Gary said:

  • Gary Fuller
    Article: Aug 2, 2018
    By Gary Fuller in Folkestone Herald - Talking Points

    We are currently in the throes of what has been termed the "Fourth Industrial Revolution". Automation, online services, AI and the internet of things may well signal a fundamental shift in how our economy and jobs market works. The traditional high street could well disappear, to be replaced by service sector and more bespoke offerings.

  • Marijuana plant (By United States Fish and Wildlife Service [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons)
    Article: Jul 26, 2018
    By Gary Fuller in Folkestone Herald - Talking Points

    The war on drugs has failed. Dealers and criminal gangs make millions from misery, while we compound it by filling prisons with people who need medical help. We make cannabis a gateway drug to far worse. Enterprising dealers create stronger strains. Meanwhile we accept the side effects of alcohol, nicotine and even caffeine, based on custom and practice.

  • Kurt Stephens
    Article: Jul 19, 2018

    There is no easy way to say this: our friend, member and former Councillor Kurt Stephens was killed in a motorcycle accident this afternoon in France.

    Kurt was on his way with a number of other members of his Motorcycle Club to a weekend in Belgium. We understand he died in a multi-vehicle accident just after they had left Eurotunnel and onto the motorway in France.

  • Operation Stack / lorries
    Article: Jul 19, 2018
    By Gary Fuller in Folkestone Herald - Talking Points

    We've seen it reported that the Government has put aside sums of money to prepare for a no deal Brexit. Some of that money is to be spent on stockpiling food. That's how serious Brexit could be for Britain. So serious we need to stockpile food.

    Folkestone and Hythe will be at the rough end of any fallout from Brexit. We have some of the most deprived wards in the country, coupled with being reliant on some of the most important road and rails routes to and from the continent.

  • Water leaking from road (The Undercliffe)
    Article: Jul 18, 2018

    As many local people have noticed, there is water running from the road at The Undercliffe, Sandgate. The water running down to and into Sandgate High Street, and also beginning to run into the neighbouring Chichester Hall. The water has been running off and on for months, but has recently restarted: it's doing considerable damage to the surface of the road which is also now breaking up.

  • Rob at CH
    Article: Jul 13, 2018

    Vast swathes of the Kent countryside would be turned into lorry parks under a no deal Brexit, according to a plan presented to Kent County Council.

    At a full council meeting on Thursday, a paper was put before councillors by Conservative Leader Paul Carter, which suggested concreting over large areas of the countryside in an effort to avoid gridlock if customs checks were imposed at ports.

    Checking every lorry passing through Dover would slow freight traffic to a crawl and lead to permanent Operation Stack, necessitating acres of extra lorry parking.

    Other impacts of a disastrous no deal Brexit were discussed, including shortages of skilled workers and the introduction of tariffs that could see Kent firms going bust.

    The Liberal Democrats, the official opposition on Kent County Council, tabled an amendment calling for the council to tell the government that a no deal Brexit must be avoided at all costs.

    The party also called for a People's Vote, so the public can decide whether to accept a proposed Brexit deal. The Conservative leadership blocked any debate and instructed councillors to vote against the Lib Dem proposals.

    Liberal Democrat Leader Rob Bird told the council: "A bad Brexit deal for Britain will be a disastrous deal for Kent. No-one wants our roads turned into lorry parks. That is what will happen if customs checks start up, which is a real risk.

    "The government talks about using technology to fix it, but that does not exist yet and who knows if it ever will.

    "Today the opposition at Kent County Council fought for the people of Kent's interests to be put first. It is appalling that Conservatives prioritised papering over their party divisions. Kent deserves better than this."

    Speaking at the meeting, Economic Development Spokesman Antony Hook told the council: "No deal Brexit means loss of tariff-free access to the EU for Kent firms.

    "Tariffs are more than 30% on agricultural products and 19% on beverages, and that would put Kent firms out of business.

    "A no-deal Brexit would also mean UK products will no longer be licenced or accredited for sale in the EU, which would crush Kent's pharmaceutical and chemical firms.

    "We have to tell the government that Kent cannot have a no deal Brexit."

    Explaining why a People's Vote is important, Cllr Hook said: "If it's a good deal, people will endorse it and that will strengthen it, but If it's a bad deal they will be angry if not allowed to reject it.

    "People may ask where is the £350m per week for the NHS? Why haven't our wages improved? Why did the threat of Turkey joining turn out to be false?

    "They may consider that we have, in fact, a better economy and a safer place in the world as part of a strong, united Europe. When we all find out what the exit deal actually is, we owe people the chance of a fully informed say for the first time."

  • Thamelink Train
    Article: Jul 13, 2018

    Liberal Democrat county councillors have called on the KCC Cabinet Member to seek reassurance from the Department for Transport that the timetabling problems of Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) will not result in any further delay in bringing the Thameslink service to Maidstone.

    Thameslink services should already be running from Maidstone to Central London. Disappointingly, the County Town has already been shunted to the back of the line with services delayed to December 2019. Any further delay would be totally unacceptable to the poorly served Maidstone rail users.

  • Rubbish Bin
    Article: Jul 12, 2018
    By Gary Fuller in Folkestone Herald - Talking Points

    Littering isn't just dropping the odd sweet wrapper. It covers everything from dog poo to fly-tipping. Littering is not looking after your environment. Locally there are two issues. We don't do enough to encourage and support responsible disposal of waste and what enforcement action takes place seems to be focussed on parking.

  • MOD consultation map on Shorncliffe Garrison site development
    Article: Jul 12, 2018

    Taylor Wimpey began acquiring the Ministry of Defence Shorncliffe Garrison site in 2015. Outline planning permission for a residential development of up to 1,200 homes with a nature conservation area, improved recreation facilities and a new primary school on this site was granted by Shepway District Council, now Folkestone and Hythe District Council, in December 2015. Full planning permission for the initial phases of development at St Martin's Plain and The Stadium was also granted at the same time, and those phases now have a significant number of occupied homes.

  • Walking in boots
    Article: Jul 6, 2018

    The Kent County Council draft Rights of Way Improvement Plan details how they will develop the public rights of way network in Kent over the next 10 years.

    They want to hear your views to ensure that the draft plan will meet the needs and expectations of Kent residents.

    The consultation runs from 20 June - 12 September 2018.

  • Gary Fuller
    Article: Jul 5, 2018
    By Gary Fuller in Folkestone Herald - Talking Points

    There are three issues preventing young people from engaging in politics and elections. These are opportunity, trust and access. Young people are denied the opportunity to vote between the ages of sixteen and eighteen, for example. The vote should be extended to this group so they can vote at the same age at which they can contribute to society.

  • Tim Prater at Canada Day 2018
    Article: Jul 2, 2018

    Tim Prater was delighted to represent Sandgate Parish Council on Friday 29th June at Shorncliffe Cemetery at the annual Canada Day ceremony.

    As Deputy Chair of Sandgate Parish Council, Tim joined the main parade and laid a wreath on behalf of the Parish at the main memorial.

    The Canada Day Service was first held in 1919 and commemorates the 296 Canadian soldiers who died during WWI and are buried in the Shorncliffe Military Cemetery. It is marked each year by a service and the attendance of local school children laying their own floral tributes on the graves of soldiers.

  • Lynne Featherstone
    Article: Jun 29, 2018

    Responding to the news that the Supreme Court has ruled that mixed-sex couples should be able to enter into civil partnerships, Liberal Democrat Equalities Spokesperson Baroness Meral Hussein-Ece said:

    "The Liberal Democrats are delighted by the Supreme Court's decision to rule against the Government and ensure that mixed-sex couples will be able to form civil partnerships.

  • Gary Fuller
    Article: Jun 29, 2018
    By Gary Fuller in Folkestone Herald - Talking Points

    It is patently obvious that the voting age for all UK elections and referenda should be reduced to sixteen. Young people not only have the right to influence decision makers, but they are also the group that suffers the most significant long-term effects of the political decisions that are made in our country.

  • Southeastern Train
    Article: Jun 29, 2018
    By Gary Fuller in Folkestone Herald - Talking Points

    The biggest improvement we can make to the local rail network is to put customers in control. The recent timetable changes have shown us just how out of touch the rail companies are with the needs of their customers. There's various ways we can do this.

    Firstly we need to create a rail ombudsman with real power to act on behalf of customers. The ombudsman will need the power to offer compensation to customers, as well as the power to fine and sanction rail companies that fail to offer excellent service.

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