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News

  • Rob at CH
    Article: Oct 20, 2019

    Last week Paul Carter stood down as Leader of Kent County Council, having been in post for 14 years. The Council elected Roger Gough as his successor. Roger Gough was previously the Cabinet Member for Children, Young People and Education.

    Rob Bird, the Liberal Democrat Leader of the Opposition at KCC, paid tribute to Paul Carter and proposed three priorities for the incoming Leader.

  • Folkestone Triennial 2017 exhit [house]
    Article: Oct 16, 2019
    By Creative Folkestone

    Creative Folkestone is pleased to announce that the fifth edition of Folkestone Triennial will be taking place from Saturday 5 September - Sunday 8 November 2020. Curated for the third time by Lewis Biggs, the Triennial in 2020 will take the title The Plot.

    The Plot invites visitors to consider urban myths and their relation to verifiable realities, the gap between the story and the actuality and presents around 20 newly commissioned artworks by internationally acclaimed artists.

  • Tim Prater
    Article: Oct 4, 2019

    Pleased to say that further to my motion to Folkestone and Hythe District Council last week on changing the governance system (which was passed, amended by the Conservatives but leaving, I think, the intention intact) there has been feedback from the Council Head of Paid Service Susan Priest outlining how she plans to move forward.

  • HG Wells
    Article: Oct 2, 2019
    In Book Festival Programme Launch

    The Folkestone Book Festival: The Shape of Things to Come brochure has landed!

    Inspired by the ideas of Sandgate resident, H G Wells, this year's Festival presents one-off events stretching into the wild Romney Marsh, Victorian Tin Tabernacle, 12th century church and seaside fish and chip shop!

    This year's line-up includes Booker Prize-winning author, Ben Okri who explores the role of fiction in these difficult times; actress Imogen Stubbs reads excepts of Jean Rhys' Wild Sargasso Sea; and The Guardian features writer, Nesrine Malik investigates the stories used to maintain the status quo.

  • Carer
    Article: Sep 29, 2019
    By Rob Bird

    Millions of people care for relatives, friends and neighbours, often at huge personal cost. They need more than our gratitude; they need our support.

    Carers UK have estimated that over 8 million people are currently caring for someone [1]. That is an increase of nearly 40% on the number of reported carers in 2011. It is likely that 3 in 5 of us will be caring for someone at some point in our lives.

  • D. P. I.
    Article: Sep 24, 2019

    It is important that all Councillors follow the rules regarding declaring their Pecuniary Interests for the councils they sit on.

    By doing so, it allows the public, councillors and officers to be clear if the decisions they are taking part in are likely to have more impact on them than others in their area. So for example, you would expect a Councillor to leave the room and not speak or vote on a planning appliation next to a property they own or live in for example, as the impact would be potentially disproprtionately felt by them which may impact their view.

  • Ian and Rob at Maidstone East
    Article: Sep 20, 2019

    In a letter to Tonbridge & Malling MP, Tom Tugendhat, Thameslink and Network Rail have advised that Thameslink trains will not start running from Maidstone East to Central London in December. No new date has been given for the introduction of these services.

    This devastating news comes less than a year after the former Conservative Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling, gave a written undertaking that Thameslink would be going ahead this December to Rob Bird, the Leader of the Liberal Democrats at Kent CC.

  • Article: Sep 12, 2019

    Kent County Council voted unanimously in support of the Liberal Democrat motion [see below] today. The motion was proposed by Ian Chittenden and seconded by Ida Lindfield, It was then accepted, without amendment, by the Cabinet Member on behalf of the Conservative Group.

    Now the KCC officers need a constructive negotiation with the bus operators. Then we will need agreement at February's budget meeting. So there is still some way to go but it's a good step forward.

  • Tanni Grey-Thompson
    Article: Sep 11, 2019

    At tomorrow's County Council meeting Liberal Democrat, Ian Chittenden, will ask Kent County Council to consider allowing disabled persons and their companions to use their bus passes at all times. Currently they cannot be used in Kent before 9:30am.

    Being disabled should not stop someone from going to work or getting to a medical appointment or doing so many things which most of us take for granted. But it does.

  • Friends of Folkestone Museum Poster Sept 2019 (Friends of Folkestone Museum Poster Sept 2019)
    Article: Sep 11, 2019

    In connection with the Museum's exhibition 'Eurotunnel 25 years' which opens on Saturday 14 September, the Friends of Folkestone Museum are putting on a series of talks around the topic of the Channel Tunnel.

    The first of these will be on Saturday 21 September from 2pm to 3.45pm in the Folkestone Museum's Education Room. The talk will be by Chris Johnson who worked for many years for TML and Eurotunnel and will cover the tunnel's history, construction and operation.

  • Ian and Rob at Maidstone East
    Article: Sep 10, 2019

    Despite repeated requests, the Department for Transport continues to refuse to confirm that Thameslink services will be running from Bearsted, Maidstone and West Malling to Central London by the end of December.

    "Further delays to the introduction of this long-overdue service would be totally unacceptable", says Rob Bird, Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group at County Hall. "Local rail users, residents and businesses are fed up with the continued uncertainty."

  • Westenhanger Castle (photo by Ian Knox [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)]) (Ian Knox [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)])
    Article: Aug 28, 2019
    By Tim Prater in Email to Folkestone and Hythe District Council Head of Paid Service Susan Priest sent 27/8/19

    Dear Susan,

    I read, with some incredulity, the press release regarding the purchase of Westenhanger Castle last week (https://www.folkestone-hythe.gov.uk/news/westenhanger-castle-will-be-the-jewel-in-the-crown-of-the-otterpool-park-development).

    My initial reaction was that I failed to understand how such a decision could possibly be made without discussion and debate by Council to do so, and that, at the minimum, such a decision would have to be referred to Overview and Scrutiny to discuss the business case at the least.

  • Training session (Raysonho @ Open Grid Scheduler / Grid Engine [CC0] https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:IBMComputerTrainingWorkshop.JPG)
    Article: Aug 26, 2019

    FREE training for community and voluntary groups!

    This is the second in a series of training sessions funded by Folkestone and Hythe District Council.

    When: Thursday 12 September 2019, 10am-1pm

    Where: Heritage Room, Hawkinge Community Centre, Heron Forstal Avenue, Hawkinge CT18 7FP

    Who: This session is for people with new groups who are thinking about how their group will be run AND those with more established groups wanting to gain more insight into effective governance.

  • Letter to KM 220819 (Kent Messenger)
    Article: Aug 22, 2019

    Today the KM published an abridged version of Rob Bird's letter regarding the refusal of Conservative Ministers and MPs to come clean about the future of Maidstone's Thameslink Service. Here is the letter in full.

    Time for Transport Minister to come clean about Maidstone's Thameslink service

    The Thameslink service is expected to provide Bearsted, Maidstone East and West Malling with trains to Central London and Cambridge every ½ hour throughout the day. Crucially, Maidstone passengers were told they would get to Central London in less than an hour. Last October Chris Grayling, Secretary of State for Transport wrote to me confirming that this long overdue service would be running from Maidstone by December 2019.

  • Antony Hook at Eurotunnel
    Article: Aug 20, 2019

    Antony Hook Liberal Democrat MEP for South East England and European Affairs Spokesperson at Kent County Council visited the UK Eurotunnel site on 19th August to speak with senior staff about the on-going Brexit preparations.

    During the visit, Mr Hook was told how Eurotunnel have been forced to spend €15 million building new infrastructure to carry out extra customs checks.

  • Jenny Randerson
    Article: Aug 14, 2019

    Following the Government's announcement this morning of the Retail Price Index (RPI) figure for July, it is expected that rail fares will rise by another 2.8% in January.

    New 16-17 Saver Card will provide ½ price rail travel for 16 and 17 year-olds.

    Kent's rail users have expressed dismay and frustration at the prospect of another 2.8% increase in rail fares in January. Rail campaigners have long argued that rail fair increases should be linked to the Consumer Price Index (CPI) which is the Government's official measure of inflation. CPI is consistently lower than inflation. The latest figure for CPI was down at 2.1%

  • Article: Aug 5, 2019

    The Lower Leas Park is one of the gems of Folkestone - stretching from Radnor Cliff in Sandgate to the Leas Lift in Folkestone, the park is multi-award winning, well loved by locals and visitors alike and a great place to spend time.

    However, like all great attractions, its important that the park lives in harmony with its neighbours, and some of the success of the park has had a negative impact of neighbours over recent years.

  • Rob at Dover with Susan & Tom
    Article: Aug 1, 2019

    According to a recent report a disorderly Brexit has been given the highest possible risk rating by Kent County Council. It is the biggest single risk currently being addressed by the Council. Disruption is expected to last for at least 6 months and probably more following a no deal Brexit, with 'significant long-term detrimental impact for Kent residents'.

  • Thamelink Train
    Article: Jul 29, 2019

    The Thameslink service from Bearsted, Maidstone East and West Malling to Central London is long overdue. New Secretary of State for Transport, Grant Shapps, should ensure the service becomes operational in December, as promised by his predecessor, Chris Grayling, last October.

    The Thameslink service had first been proposed when the Maidstone East to London Cannon Street service was withdrawn in December 2009. Thameslink is due to provide a fast service every ½ hour into Central London and on to Cambridge. This is absolutely vital for the residents and businesses based in Kent's County Town.

  • Sandgate Esplanade road and pavement flooding (Claire Hudson (www.twitter.com/clairehudson73))
    Article: Jul 26, 2019
    By Tim Prater, Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group on Folkestone and Hythe District Council

    Folkestone and Hythe District Council passed a motion declaring a Climate Emergency on Wednesday night. The motion was moved by the Green Party, with support from the Lib Dems and Labour. As ever. to win the debate, we'd need to persuade a member of the administration or two to back us, but we started full of hope...

  • Article: Jul 25, 2019

    I've seen, and had reported, a few examples recently of bin emptying where the bin bags are left by waste bins for subsequent collection, which are then attacked and ripped open (by seagulls, mainly). Thanks for the reports (you know who you are!).

    I've chased this with the Contracts Manager at F&H Council, who has today said:

  • Jo Swinson Leader
    Article: Jul 22, 2019

    Rob Bird welcomes the election of Jo Swinson as the new Leader of the Liberal Democrats

    Jo Swinson will bring a new dynamic to the party and to the country. She is fed up with the broken politics of Westminster and the failure of the two party system to reach out to all people across the country. Too many people feel that they have been ignored or taken for granted by the Conservative and Labour parties, preoccupied by their own self-interest and political infighting. Only the Liberal Democrats have the values, the ideas and the common strength of purpose to stand up to those who are doing so much to damage our country.

  • Jo Swinson
    Article: Jul 22, 2019
    By Jo Swinson, Leader of the Liberal Democrats in Message to Members and Supporters on Election

    I love this party.

    I was just 17 when I became a Liberal Democrat. Honestly, if you'd have told me that I'd one day get the chance to write this post as the party's new leader I wouldn't have believed you.

    The first thing I want to do is say a huge thank you to everyone who took part in this election. But special thanks must go to my good friend Ed Davey.

  • Article: Jul 13, 2019

    At the County Council meeting on 11th July the Liberal Democrats were due to propose a motion calling for Kent County Council to remove peak time restrictions for disabled persons bus passes. The motion was withdrawn by the County Council Chairman following a last minute objection by KCC's senior financial officer.

  • Tim Prater
    Article: Jul 11, 2019

    Liberal Democrat analysis of new Home Office figures, published this week, has revealed that the Conservative Government cut funding to Kent Police by 6% in real terms between 2015-16 and 2019-20.

    According to Liberal Democrat analysis, total government funding to all 43 forces (in 2019-20 prices) fell from £8.48 billion in 2015-16 to £7.99 billion in 2019-20. 32 of the 43 forces across the country experienced cuts of 6% or more.

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