News

  • Rob Bird
    Article: May 18, 2018

    Maidstone will face severe congestion under new plans to park lorries along one side of the M20, forcing other traffic onto the opposite carriageway, Kent Liberal Democrats have warned.

    The Government's latest scheme to cope with freight delays caused by post-Brexit border issues is to use the southbound carriageway of the M20 between junctions 8 & 9 to park lorries destined for Europe. Other traffic would be diverted onto the northbound carriageway in a contra-flow system.

  • Javelin
    Article: May 15, 2018

    The future of Maidstone's high speed rail link remains in doubt after train company bosses again refused to guarantee services.

    At Monday's Rail Summit meeting at County Hall, David Statham, managing director of train operator Southeastern, would not give an assurance that peak time high speed services from Maidstone West to London St Pancras will be maintained. Mr Statham was responding to a question from Rob Bird, leader of the Liberal Democrat Group at KCC, and councillor for Maidstone Central.

  • Charging POint
    Article: May 15, 2018

    Kent Liberal Democrats are calling for electric car charging points to be included in all future parking development to speed up the county's conversion to electric vehicles.

    At full council meeting on Thursday, May 17, Antony Hook, Liberal Democrats spokesperson for economic development, will propose that KCC adopts a raft of measures to make it easier for Kent residents and businesses to switch to electric vehicles.

  • Ian and Dave with Caption
    Article: May 12, 2018

    Following the successful National Productivity Investment Fund bid, Kent County Council has been awarded £9.4m of Government allocation. This combines with £1.5m in developer contributions and £500k investment from Maidstone Borough Council to deliver a congestion busting improvement on the A249 Bearsted Road. This involves the widening of the carriageway between Bearsted Road and New Cut Road roundabouts, the connection onto the M20 and other works necessary to join other connecting local roads.

  • Kurt Stephens sweeping up in Sandgate High Street after rubbish collection
    Article: May 9, 2018

    Full marks to Sandgate Parish Councillor Kurt Stephens for cleaning up in Sandgate today!

    Following the weekly rubbish collection a whole host of smelly rubbish had been strewn across Sandgate High Street this morning (Wednesday 9th May).

    Kurt got his brush and bucket out and cleaned up: the High Street looked and smelled a LOT better after he had!

  • Martello Tower 6 [Sandgate Escarpment] (Copyright Steve Popple and licensed for reuse under a Creative Commons Licence.)
    Article: May 9, 2018

    The Sandgate Escarpment referendum is taking place today (Wednesday 9th May) from 9am-9pm at Sandgate Library.

    The vote is on the proposal from Sandgate Parish Council to buy woodland on Sandgate Escarpment including Martello Towers 6 & 7. A proportion of that land has planning permission for 5 houses on it gained by the current owner. If the Council buy the land, the planning permission will NOT be used and the woodland will be retained and made more accessible to local residents and walkers.

  • Rob at CH
    Article: May 3, 2018

    Kent mums with difficulty breastfeeding may not be able to access specialist care when they need it under Conservative plans to redesign the county's breastfeeding support services.

    At Tuesday's meeting of the Health Reform and Public Health Cabinet Committee, Conservatives refused to give an assurance that new mothers with breastfeeding problems would be able to see a specialist Lactation Consultant within two days, under the new Infant Feeding Scheme.

    Access to Lactation Consultants, who are able to help with more complex infant feeding problems, is key for both mums and babies, and was one of the main concerns of mothers who campaigned against the Conservative's infant feeding service proposals.

    Up to one in ten babies is born with tongue-tie. This may require a small specialist procedure and/or more specialist breastfeeding advice for the mother. Crucially, unless this issue is dealt with quickly, the child will struggle to put on weight, which is vital in early days, and the mother will be suffer from increased stress and anxiety.

    KCC proposes just one Lactation Consultant clinic per week in eleven of Kent's twelve districts (with Dartford and Gravesham sharing a clinic) together with home visits and telephone advice.

    Additional Lactation Consultant support will be 'spot purchased'. However, no-one can guarantee that Kent's mums will be able to see Lactation Consultants when they need to.

    In recent years fewer than one in five mums has been provided with infant feeding support in Kent. UK rates of breastfeeding are amongst the lowest in the world, and at 71 per cent Kent's rate is below the national average of 73.8 per cent.

    Two boroughs, Swale and Gravesham, have breastfeeding rates well the national average at 64 per cent and 63 per cent respectively.

    There are significant and well known health benefits breastfeeding brings to both baby and mother.

    For the baby, breastfeeding brings early resistance to infection, fewer cases of Infant Sudden Death, childhood leukaemia, obesity, and cardio vascular problems, and possibly better speed of learning.

    For mums the immediate benefit is a faster return to pre-pregnancy weight, and internal organs shrinking to normal size together with reduced long term incidence of breast and ovarian cancer.

    Leader of the Opposition at County Hall, Rob Bird said: "The Liberal Democrats strongly support the provision of a universal service across Kent, but we remain concerned about fast access to Lactation Consultants when new mothers need it most.

  • Alan Sole and Viv Kenny with WW1 print (The Shorncliffe Trust)
    Article: Apr 30, 2018
    By The Shorncliffe Trust - community@shorncliffe-trust.org.uk in Press Release

    International artist Patsy Frankson has donated two limited edition prints entitled 'The Great War' to the Shorncliffe Trust to help them raise funds and raise awareness for their Heritage and Education Charity retelling the story of three centuries of Military History at Shorncliffe, near Folkestone, acknowledged as the birthplace of the modern British Army under Sir John Moore. The framed prints carry a value of over £350 and are from a limited print run of 250 in the series.

  • Trudy with Millicent Fawcett
    Article: Apr 27, 2018
    By Trudy Dean

    Yesterday, Rob and I visited the House of Lords to speak with Baroness Jolly who is the Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Health. We asked her to pursue the failure of every one of Kent's NHS Trusts to use any of their Apprenticeship Levy to fund a single Nursing Apprenticeship in Kent.

    Employers with a pay bill of over £3 million have been liable since April 2017 to pay a Government levy which will fund Apprenticeships nationwide. Half of the money paid can be claimed back by the employer to fund their own Apprenticeship schemes. But despite crying out for nurses, none of Kent's NHS Trusts has claimed this free money back to do so. The money is lost to the employer if not claimed back within two years.

  • Thumbs up to web casting
    Article: Apr 26, 2018

    More than eight years after Folkestone and Hythe Lib Dems Lynne Beaumont and Tim Prater called on the then Shepway District Council to webcast meetings, they've finally gone ahead and done it!

    The Council announced on Tuesday that they would be web casting their first meeting, the controversial planning meeting to discuss plans to alter the Folkestone seafront development. All future meetings will now be available to stream on their website at https://folkestone-hythe.public-i.tv/core/portal/home.

  • Antony Hook
    Article: Apr 25, 2018

    Liberal Democrats have called on the county's MPs to put Kent and the country's interests first, and support remaining in the customs union.

    As a Commons vote looks increasingly likely, MPs are being urged to put party politics aside and vote to protect more than 45,000 Kent jobs directly related to European trade.

    Any disruption to free-flowing trade with the continent could have catastrophic consequences for the county. Many sectors including agriculture, manufacturing, fishing and transport rely on the customs union to be able to trade freely and easily with European customers and suppliers.

    And as the UK's gateway to Europe, Kent will bear the brunt of delays and disruption caused by border checks. About 11,000 lorries pass through Dover every day and there are fears the county could face almost permanent Operation Stack if customs checks are imposed, gridlocking Kent's roads and causing untold damage to livelihoods and the economy.

    Councillor Antony Hook, Liberal Democrat spokesperson for Economic Development, said: "As the catastrophic implications of Brexit become clear, our MPs owe it to the people of Kent to defend their interests in the face of the government's disastrous and short-sighted policies.

    "Remaining in the customs union would go some way towards protecting jobs and businesses, but we will continue to campaign for a people's vote on the final deal once we know the facts."

    Last year Kent Liberal Democrats tabled a motion calling for Kent County Council to write to ministers asking them to "take all necessary steps to ensure to continued free flow of freight between Kent and continental Europe, at least as seamlessly as present."

    It asked Parliament to consider all legal possibilities for Kent and the UK outside the EU, including retaining membership of the single market and customs union. The Channel Islands, which are not EU members yet retain access to the customs union, offer a potential model.

    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. At the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee last month, Chancellor Phillip Hammond sent his clearest warning yet that Dover could 'grind to a halt', if customs checks were imposed.

    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.

  • Dungeness Power Station
    Article: Apr 25, 2018

    Folkestone and Hythe Lib Dem Gary Fuller has reacted with fury at news reports that Folkestone and Hythe District Council may be again considering its unpopular plan to store nuclear waste under the Romney Marsh.

    Recent news reports have suggested that Cllr David Godfrey, cabinet member for special projects, "would feel comfortable" with the idea of a Geological Disposal Facility (GDF) the size of 22 wembley stadiums being situated under the Marsh. Reports also suggest that Folkestone and Hythe District Council has asked for more information from the Government about its plans for such a facility.

  • Alistair Carmichael
    Article: Apr 11, 2018

    It's a long way from Orkney & Shetland so Canterbury & Coastal Liberal Democrats are delighted that Rt Hon Alistair Carmichael, MP for Orkney and Shetland and Chief Whip will be our guest speaker at this years Annual Dinner, and welcome Lib Dem members from across Kent to join us.

    The Dinner is on Wednesday 9th May 6.30pm for 7.00pm at Canterbury Baptist Church, St George's Place, Canterbury CT1 1UT. Tickets cost £30 if booked by April 27th, £35 thereafter, for a drinks reception and dinner, including wine and soft drinks, followed by tea or coffee and homemade cakes.

  • Martello Tower 6 [Sandgate Escarpment] (Copyright Steve Popple and licensed for reuse under a Creative Commons Licence.)
    Article: Mar 28, 2018

    Sandgate Parish Council has decided to consult residents on an exciting opportunity to purchase woodland on the escarpment, including two Martello Towers, to protect it from planned development.

    Martello Towers 6 and 7 sit in woodland above Sandgate Village and are subject to planning consent to develop part of that woodland for housing and to convert the two Martello Towers into a dwelling house and a holiday home. The Parish Council objected to that application and has now agreed terms with the owner with a view to conserving the towers for community use. The Council would also not implement the permission to build five homes as it wishes to protect this important site for its heritage and environmental benefits.

  • Tom McNeice at with Walter Tull Memorial Plaque
    Article: Mar 26, 2018

    Recent articles remembering Walter Tull prompted me to have a look back almost 10 years...

    MINUTES of the Meeting of the Town Council held at the Civic Centre, Castle Hill Avenue, Folkestone on Thursday, 27 November 2008 at 7 p.m.

    http://www.folkestonetc.kentparishes.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/27_November_2008_M.pdf

  • Trudy Dean
    Article: Mar 19, 2018

    Just a quarter of Kent roads were gritted during the recent snow emergency, forcing many schools to close unnecessarily and disrupting bus services.

    Following a question from Liberal Democrat spokesperson for Education, Trudy Dean, at a meeting this week, Mike Whiting, Conservative Cabinet Member for Highways, told councillors, that only roads in the 'Primary Route' Network, which is mainly A and B roads, were salted or gritted during the snow emergency earlier this month.

  • Trudy
    Article: Mar 19, 2018

    The Cabinet Member for Highways, Mike Whiting, has agreed to review Kent County Council's response to insurance claims, to see whether KCC should be paying out more regularly when drivers' vehicles are damaged by potholes.

    Cllr Trudy Dean requested the council look again at the issue of compensation following a report on KentOnline that revealed just one in ten requests for compensation was paid by the council.

  • 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.

  • 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.

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