News

  • Ian Chittenden
    Article: Oct 25, 2018

    Highways England officials have been accused of ignoring the people of Kent after refusing to face councillors to account for the traffic chaos caused by multiple roadworks on the M20 and M26.

    Highways England chiefs were invited to come to the Maidstone Joint Transportation Board (JTB) to explain to councillors how they are managing the various works on the M20 and how they will operate the controversial Operation Brock post Brexit.

  • Dan H and S
    Article: Oct 25, 2018

    Parents buying Young Person's Travel Passes still have no choice but to pay upfront, or in two large payments following further delays to a direct debit system proposed back in February.

    Liberal Democrat Cllr Dan Daley has called for clarification over when the scheme to allow parents to pay the £290 cost in monthly instalments would be introduced, but Mike Whiting, the Conservative Cabinet Member, has given no firm timescale.

  • Gary Fuller
    Article: Oct 25, 2018
    By Gary Fuller in Folkestone Herald - Talking Points

    Poverty is about how a society allocates what resources it has. We are born into a society to which we contribute as we can, with the expectation that what we do will benefit said society. In return we expect the society we are a member of to support us and our families when we need it. This is a simple contract.

  • Rob at CH
    Article: Oct 23, 2018
    • Kent County Council's Autumn Statement shows Conservative Austerity is set to continue
    • Council Tax set to rise by another 5%, twice the rate of inflation
    • Kent's Conservative Administration mulling a further £51.5 million of cuts that will hit the most vulnerable

    The most vulnerable in society will suffer under a £51m raft of cuts proposed by the Tories if more money cannot be secured from Central Government, the Liberal Democrats have warned.

    Community wardens, children's centres and services for pupils with special educational needs could all be in the firing line in a new round of austerity measures.

    The Conservatives are also planning to charge for more council services, further disadvantaging the poorest in society, despite Tory councillors hiking council tax by almost 5%, twice the rate of inflation and the maximum allowed without a referendum.

    The council tax increase is well above average pay increases, and will add £56 to the annual bill for Band D properties.

    Under pressure from the Liberal Democrat opposition during the council's Autumn Statement debate, the Tories accepted a budget amendment tabled by Opposition Leader Rob Bird, calling on the Government to maintain Kent's Revenue Support Grant and protect the people of Kent from further unacceptable cuts.

  • Water leaking from road (The Undercliffe)
    Article: Oct 23, 2018

    Kent Trading Standards have received reports of criminals phoning residents claiming there is an issue with the drains outside their property and they say the drainage company will fix it for free.

    When the criminal arrives they claim the road behind them had the blockage which was connected to their property. They say they can fix it for £1,500 to be paid in cash and they claim Kent County Council (KCC) wants the work completed.

  • Margaret Rees at People's Vote March October 2018
    Article: Oct 23, 2018
    By Margaret Rees

    So why did I march? I hate crowds and noise, but I felt that it would be one of the most important marches in history. It promised to be big and it was - some 670,000 people marched peacefully with some amazing banners. One of my friends and her banner made it to the Guardian - a picture of a man shooting himself in the foot, a foot with a Union Flag sock.

  • Ian and Rob at Maidstone East Station
    Article: Oct 19, 2018

    The Government has promised that Thameslink trains will be running from Maidstone via West Malling to Central London from December 2019, following sustained pressure from Maidstone Liberal Democrats.

    Today Rob Bird, County Councillor for Maidstone Central and Lib Dem Leader at Kent County Council, got official reassurance from the Department for Transport that the long-overdue services would finally start running at the end of next year.

  • Gary Fuller
    Article: Oct 18, 2018
    By Gary Fuller in Folkestone Herald - Talking Points

    I passed my driving test in 2015, having steadfastly refused to learn for many years, despite commuting to Canterbury for ten years from 2002. There were several reasons I chose to learn, even though it would increase my carbon footprint at the worst possible time and might cost more some months than getting the bus.

  • Jenny Randerson
    Article: Oct 14, 2018

    As Government announces 'Green Great Britain Week', Lib Dems say policies don't go far enough
    Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson for Transport, Baroness Randerson, unveils suite of policies in report entitled 'Cleaning up the air we breathe'

    Kent Liberal Democrats are calling for a ban on the sale of all new diesel cars and vans by 2025 as part of a range of measures designed to reduce air pollution and safeguard public health.

  • Contraflow
    Article: Oct 2, 2018

    Kent Liberal Democrats have called for a ban on HGVs using the outside lane of the M20 during Operation Brock, the controversial traffic management system planned to mitigate some of the traffic chaos caused by Brexit.

    If the UK leaves the customs union, the introduction of customs checks at the Port of Dover will massively increase the amount of time it takes for lorries to move through the port, causing a serious bottleneck and huge tailbacks on both sides of the Channel.

    The Government's solution, dubbed 'Operation Block', will use the southbound carriageway of the M20 between junctions 8 and 9 to park lorries destined for Europe. Other traffic would be diverted onto the northbound carriageway in a contra-flow system.

    Kent Liberal Democrats argue the plan will cause a severe bottleneck, gridlocking Ashford and Maidstone town centres and the surrounding roads. The narrow lanes in the contra-flow may also pose a danger to motorists, particularly if large lorries are allowed to overtake.

    In response, Opposition Leader Rob Bird has written to Jim O'Sullivan, Chief Executive of Highways England, calling for a ban on HGVs using the outside lane when Operation Brock is in place.

    A similar ban has been in force on the M11 since March 2017.

    The party is also calling for a ban on HGV overtaking on the stretches of the M20 affected by ongoing roadworks. Highways England is carrying out work between junctions 3 and 5 as part of the installation of 'smart motorway' technology.

    Drivers also have to contend with work between junctions 8 and 9, being done in preparation for Operation Brock.

    As part of the work, the open lanes have been narrowed, leaving little room for the thousands of lorries that use the M20 every day. Despite the 50mph limit in force, motorists have already reported dangerous overtaking manoeuvres by HGVs, as well as left hand drive vehicles straddling both narrow lanes.

    Cllr Rob Bird, Leader of the Liberal Democrat opposition on Kent County Council, wrote: "As we have seen several times recently, accidents involving HGVs in this stretch of the M20 often result in the temporary closure of the motorway with a devastating impact on traffic congestion in the surrounding area. Yet, with 50mph limits in place, HGV drivers have little to gain from attempting to overtake each other.

    "Will Highways England impose a ban on HGVs blocking the outside lane of the M20 between junctions 8 and 9 during the current works and whenever the motorway is operating as a two-lane contraflow under Operation Brock?"

    Cllr Bird said: "Kent drivers will suffer enough in the event we leave the customs union, with the county potentially facing permanent gridlock. Frustration is one thing, but drivers should not be put at risk by HGVs performing dangerous overtaking manoeuvres.

    It is only right that Highways England does what it can to ensure drivers' safety during Operation Brock, and while this road work is being completed. There is a precedent for banning HGVs from the outside lane during roadworks, and this move will help avoid delays and perhaps even a serious accident."

  • Rubbish Bin
    Article: Sep 20, 2018
    By Gary Fuller in Folkestone Herald - Talking Points

    Anyone who takes a walk around our streets will tell you that low level anti-social behaviour, such as littering, graffiti and dog fouling is rife. Our hard-working Police and Councils do seek to tackle such things, but they simply lack the resources to employ the people needed to make a meaningful difference. Couple that with their tendency to focus resources on areas that generate revenue for the town, and some areas are left looking ill-used at best.

  • 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.

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