Meopham North result

Dear All,

As promised, the result from the Meopham North council by-election count this morning:

Con 721 (64%)
LD 192 (17%)
Lab 155 (13.8%)
UKIP 59 (5.2%)

Considering we didn’t even have a candidate when the last full borough elections were held and only won 5% of the vote the last time we stood in a by-election, in 2012, this is very encouraging. I want to send a big thank you to all those who helped in the campaign, particularly Mary, Simon, Flora, James, Tristan, Tony, Sarah, Adrian, Robin and Alastair. This now gives us something to aim at in May 2019 though, admittedly, it is a big task.

Thanks again for all your support.

Best wishes,

John Death

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Exit from Brexit – an update from Bournemouth

LIB DEMS AUTUMN CONFERENCE 2017

Some key messages emerging from debates and conversations on Brexit

Conference passed the motion Opposing Brexit as amended by Amendment 1. This calls for an Exit from Brexit referendum “once the outcome of the UK-EU negotiations is known, for the public to choose between “the deal” or Britain remaining a full member of the EU.” It also commits the Lib Dems to continue to campaign for Britain to remain a full and active member of the EU.

Sadly my proposed amendment to Amendment 1 (along with 10 other proposed amendments) was not selected for debate nor was I called to speak. I did however speak on the key points at a side meeting on Brexit. These points were:-

– to propose a long-stop date of 29th March 2021, by which time the Exit from
Brexit referendum must be held, irrespective of the state of negotiations; and

– to question the uneasy, double-negative slogan Exit from Brexit and to
reemphasise Lib Dems are the Remain party by replacing it with something
like Think Again – Remain.

Vince Cable stamped his authority throughout as the new leader and was most impressive on both Brexit and wider policy issues. He likes to emphasise he doesn’t seek a second referendum, but “a first referendum on the facts”.

On economics, Vince said the post-Referendum devaluation would lead to a squeeze on public sector pay, make UK companies sitting-ducks for overseas takeovers, reduce investment in the UK, cause businesses to emigrate and drain EU talent from the UK. The UK economy is woven into that of Europe such that post-Brexit a vast array of new deals, stretching from airline regulations to blood standards, will need to be negotiated and approved by 27 nations. A soft Brexit will prove impossible. New deals will be unachievable without allowing free movement of people.

Personally, I agree strongly with the “woven in” concept. It applies not just to economics, but more profoundly to culture. It is inconceivable that we can unpick the myriad threads that bind together the UK and the rest of Europe in the areas of history, arts, sciences and education.

Another speaker with decades of experience of high-level work in Brussels stressed how colossal is the current influence of the UK across all EU programmes, and thus how massive will be the UK’s loss of power post-Brexit.

Re immigration, it was noted how much greater the intolerance is in regions of the UK where immigration is low compared with where levels are high. There was some limited support for the ideas put forward by Tony Blair to mitigate numbers.

Re campaigning generally, there was a strong and widespread belief that full respect must be shown to the views of Leavers; and the emphasis should be on pointing out how the emerging reality of leaving is so different from the promises given to the electorate before the Referendum, i.e. giving Leavers space to retreat with honour.

Various speakers, including Deputy Leader Jo Swinson, emphasised the importance of emotional content in campaigning. The appeal must be to the heart as much as the head. This is particularly the case where immigration is concerned. Statistics have little impact compared with humanised messages, e.g. demonstrating the benefits migrants bring to local communities, both immediately and in the longer term through building businesses etc; the horrors of border controls and the pleasures of free movement. The power of online creative videos with subliminal pro-Europe messaging – potentially going viral – was mentioned.

Led by Vince, there was general enthusiasm for widespread collaboration with Remainers in other parties and with all pro-European movements. Lord (Dick) Newby, Lib Dems leader in the Lords, believes we can only achieve a further Referendum by collaboration with Labour to bring down the Government when it becomes highly vulnerable in debates over the coming year.

Other key Lib Dem figures I met on Brexit matters include:-
Baroness (Julie) Smith of Newnham: Cambridge academic and spokesperson on Europe
Tom Brake MP: shadow Foreign Secretary
Sir Nick Harvey: former Coalition Minister and acting Lib Dems CEO. He is very keen for the party to develop three or four core policy messages
Lord (Tim) Clement-Jones: shadow roles on culture, music, copyright etc
Anthony Hook: young Lib Dem Councillor in Faversham – one to watch
Catherine Bearder: Lib Dems sole MEP – powerful pro-Europe speaker
Duncan Greenland: Major donor and former party Treasurer
Michael Young: recently appointed EM CEO – spoke very strongly about EM’s unambiguous Remain stance and the need for alliances with all pro-Europe organisations – much already achieved, now working on OB.
Paul Hienkens: former head of Lib Dems South East
Emma Cherniavsky: Lib Dems Director of Fundraising

Richard Morris
22nd September 2017

Posted in Brexit, Business, Economy, Europe, General Election, Sevenoaks, Tax, Welfare, Work | Leave a comment

Bournemouth Lib Dem conference report – Brexit and so much more besides!

2017 Autumn Conference in Bournemouth – Andrew Michaelides reports.

The strong presence of new members at conference is impressive, and I understand this was the best attended conference ever, with the highest number of first-time attendees as well. The reassuring voice of tradition was still there: it’s always a pleasure to hear from Tony (Lord) Greaves, who I think must have joined in the same year as William Gladstone.

This conference was relatively light on new policy; Paddy Ashdown said in a fringe meeting that we need to be a hotbed of new ideas as we used to be. That is down to us members. The party provides many opportunities for policy discussion and there is a huge range of experience and knowledge among our members. This showed up strongly in a debate about the flaws with Universal Credit, when a number of speakers showed how this new system is making life very difficult for many of those who need to claim the benefit.

Conference organisers were keen to avoid coming across as a single-issue party obsessed by Brexit, and there were plenty of other issues on the agenda. Many of the fringe meetings were about Brexit, how we should respond and what it means for our country. Our MEP, Catherine Bearder, seemed to be everywhere! Brexit provided the single piece of real controversy during the conference. The original agenda set by the Conference Committee, had no debate on Brexit.

However members requested a vote right at the start of the conference, at 9am on the Saturday morning, to replace the planned “consultative session” on Brexit with a debate.

The motion chosen for debate sought to overturn the current policy of a referendum on the outcome of the Brexit negotiations with a new policy that the party would reverse the triggering of Article 50 if elected. The debate on this motion was held on Sunday in a packed hall and there were impassioned speeches on both sides. Opponents of the ‘referendum on the deal’ thought that referenda were a bad in principle and that our policy would be stronger if we simply said we would reverse Brexit through Parliament on a democratic mandate.

I was persuaded by the supporters of the current policy who felt that a referendum on the Brexit deal, once it is clear, gives us the best chance of a different outcome. Among other things it allows the opportunity to work with anti-Brexit MPs in other parties. The vote, at the end of an excellent debate, was clearly for the current policy of a further referendum.

The 2018 Autumn Conference will be in Brighton. I urge members to attend at least one day of the conference while it is relatively close to us. The next one might be in Glasgow! Going to the conference gives a much broader view of what our party is about and there are fascinating fringe meetings and training on how to be a local activist. The problem is how to fit everything in!

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Posted in Brexit, Economy, Education, Europe, Fairness, General Election, Sevenoaks, Tax, Uncategorized, Welfare, Work | Leave a comment

British foods must be protected post-Brexit

Responding to reports that the EU will be setting out a positioning paper on how celebrated brands from Europe, such as Champagne, should continue to be protected after Brexit, Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable has demanded that the British government negotiates similar guarantees for prime British brands such as Cornish pasties and Cumberland sausages.

Vince Cable said:

“If European food products will be protected as part of Brexit negotiations, then it’s absolutely essential that British foods have the equivalent protections from cheap foreign imitations.

“The government isn’t doing enough to guarantee the integrity of British brands such as Melton Mowbray pork pies or Cornish Pasties, which command a premium and provide jobs in every region of the UK, making a very significant contribution to the British economy.

“We need to hear more from the government about what they are doing to stand up for the British food and drink industry during these Brexit negotiations if they do insist on taking Britain out of the single market and customs union.”

There are protected foods in every region of the UK:

North West – Cumberland sausage, Lancashire cheese, Lakeland Herdwick
South East – Whitstable oysters, East Kent goldings, Kentish ale, English wine
South West – Dorset Blue cheese, West Country farmhouse Cheddar, West Country lamb and beef, Gloucestershire Old Spots pork, Exmoor Jersey Blue, Cornish clotted cream, Cornish pasty, Cornish sardines, Plymouth gin
East Midlands – Melton Mowbray pork pie, Stilton, Buxton Blue cheese, Dovedale cheese
West Midlands – Gloucester cheese, Staffordshire cheese, Gloucestershire cider, Herefordshire cider, Worcestershire cider
Yorkshire and the Humber – Yorkshire Wensleydale, Swaledale cheese, Yorkshire forced rhubarb, Traditional Grimsby smoked fish
East of England – Newmarket sausage
North East – Newcastle Brown Ale
Scotland – Scotch whisky, Scotch beef and lamb, Shetland lamb, Orkney beef and lamb, Arbroath smokies, Shetland wool, Scottish salmon
Wales – Welsh beef and lamb, West Wales coracle caught salmon, Anglesey sea salt
Northern Ireland – Irish whiskey, Armagh bramley apples

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Cable: British foods must be protected

Responding to reports that the EU will be setting out a positioning paper on how celebrated brands from Europe, such as Champagne, should continue to be protected after Brexit, Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable has demanded that the British government negotiates similar guarantees for prime British brands such as Cornish pasties and Cumberland sausages.

Vince Cable said:

“If European food products will be protected as part of Brexit negotiations, then it’s absolutely essential that British foods have the equivalent protections from cheap foreign imitations.

“The government isn’t doing enough to guarantee the integrity of British brands such as Melton Mowbray pork pies or Cornish Pasties, which command a premium and provide jobs in every region of the UK, making a very significant contribution to the British economy.

“We need to hear more from the government about what they are doing to stand up for the British food and drink industry during these Brexit negotiations if they do insist on taking Britain out of the single market and customs union.”

Notes:
There are protected foods in every region of the UK:

North West – Cumberland sausage, Lancashire cheese, Lakeland Herdwick
South East – Whitstable oysters, East Kent goldings, Kentish ale, English wine
South West – Dorset Blue cheese, West Country farmhouse Cheddar, West Country lamb and beef, Gloucestershire Old Spots pork, Exmoor Jersey Blue, Cornish clotted cream, Cornish pasty, Cornish sardines, Plymouth gin
East Midlands – Melton Mowbray pork pie, Stilton, Buxton Blue cheese, Dovedale cheese
West Midlands – Gloucester cheese, Staffordshire cheese, Gloucestershire cider, Herefordshire cider, Worcestershire cider
Yorkshire and the Humber – Yorkshire Wensleydale, Swaledale cheese, Yorkshire forced rhubarb, Traditional Grimsby smoked fish
East of England – Newmarket sausage
North East – Newcastle Brown Ale
Scotland – Scotch whisky, Scotch beef and lamb, Shetland lamb, Orkney beef and lamb, Arbroath smokies, Shetland wool, Scottish salmon
Wales – Welsh beef and lamb, West Wales coracle caught salmon, Anglesey sea salt
Northern Ireland – Irish whiskey, Armagh bramley apples

Posted in Brexit, Economy, Europe | Leave a comment

Sevenoaks rail services can only get better

Dear Editor

A year ago rail travellers in Sevenoaks complained that the services on South Eastern offered the worst value for money in Britain. This came from Which? surveys across the country.

Now comes news that things are getting better. Our rail services are only third worst – as measured by a study sponsored by the Sunday Times. It looked at the price per mile paid by rail travellers on busy commuter lines in July / August, and the proportion of services cancelled or late. Not a perfect measure of value for money, but a reasonable start.

Here are the results:
Ipswich to Liverpool Street 71p per mile, 33.1% delayed or cancelled
Tunbridge Wells to Cannon Street 64p per mile, 29% delayed or cancelled
London Bridge to Sevenoaks 61p per mile, 36.1% delayed or cancelled

On our local services things have been getting better – with trains on time up significantly after the disasters of 2016. We have complimented South Eastern on their progress.

But there’s still a long way to go!

Yours sincerely

Tony Clayton

Chair Sevenoaks Rail Travellers Association

Posted in Public Transport | Leave a comment

Your vital feedback on the Northern Sevenoaks Masterplan

Response to Northern Sevenoaks Masterplan based on a Community Survey by Sevenoaks Liberal Democrats

Over the last few months we have spoken to hundreds of people face to face, and received well over 100 written responses to the Community Surveys distributed across every ward in Sevenoaks. We are therefore in a strong position to set out a response to the Masterplan, based on direct feedback from local people, and what matters most to them.

The interest these conversations and surveys have generated shows that the Masterplan has engaged people across Sevenoaks. Most – but not all – of the responses have been positive with support for most of the improvements in local facilities. However there are clear indications that local residents prioritise issues which the Masterplan does not address over some that it does. Also, our survey was the first many people had heard about it – even as late as April 2017.

Key issues

Two thirds of people in Sevenoaks responding to the survey recognise the need for investment in the northern part of the town. That support extends across Sevenoaks, although it is strongest in the areas near and to the north of the A25. There is equal strength of opposition – around 70% – across most of the town to building on green fields north of the A25 round the Wildlife Reserve.

When asked what improvements residents want to see the most commonly supported changes are safer streets and less traffic in residential areas. These issues are twice as important as better sports facilities, more homes, better shops and more jobs. They represent a real concern over current traffic and street safety in Sevenoaks which needs to be addressed before development takes place, not after.

Traffic

Most concern is focussed on the A25 itself, which runs the full length of the Masterplan area and dominates the lives of people within it. The problems range from:

– congestion, pollution and traffic noise at Riverhead Square
– pollution, noise and danger to people trying to cross the A25 from Shoreham Lane right through to Knole Academy
– traffic noise, speed, pollution, danger to school students walking to Knole Academy, and parking shortage caused by poor road design in the stretch of Bradbourne Vale Road past the Town Council offices,
– a major bottleneck at the A25 / Otford Road junction at Bat & Ball which blocks peak traffic in all directions, creates pollution and acts as a barrier to pedestrians and cyclists
– noise, pollution and road safety problems in the stretch along Seal Road, especially the lack of a safe link for children getting to Greatness Park at Mill Lane / Millpond Close
– a growing congestion problem at the Seal Road / Seal Hollow Road junction which will grind to a halt as the Trinity and Grammar schools fill up.

Some of these issues are mentioned in the Masterplan – but not all. However, unless they are all tackled it is difficult to see how local residents’ support for development will be sustained.

People who live in Greatness especially feel imprisoned by the congestion that blocks their way out of Sevenoaks – at Bat & Ball and Riverhead in the rush hour. A few years ago they could drive out of Sevenoaks easily to get to work, now they can’t. Also bus access to the secondary schools is already compromised by the inability of bus operators to cut through the traffic jams.

Our District and County Councils have in the past approved development without proper assessment of traffic congestion, hoping that it will ‘turn out all right’. This is no longer acceptable. A proper traffic plan, which looks at risks not just accident histories, and which improves quality of life in the area, is essential to sustain public confidence.

Housing

Now that the developments outside the Town Council boundary have been withdrawn from the Masterplan, the overall scale of new housing proposed approaches the range that many people think might be acceptable. Something like 1000 new homes might command majority support as long as all or most of it is on brownfield sites. In addition there is clear support for affordable family housing, prioritised strongly over executive homes, and with greater scope to enable people who work in Sevenoaks to live here.

Infrastructure and Environment

New homes will need to be accompanied by not only by a traffic plan, but also a new school and new medical facilities. Access to new school places has to be by safe routes or better bus services. Nobody who replied to our survey wants to see more school children brought by more private cars. People say that the congestion is already too great.

There is strong support (65% +) for measures to tackle air pollution especially from residents along the A25, and in Greatness, Bat & Ball and St Johns, but also in the Town Centre and in Eastern Ward. Alternatives to the car – including public transport, and more support for walking – have majority support.

Half of people responding support the new community centre – with a smaller number of vocal opponents. Plans for the Wildlife Reserve drew some negative comments based on concerns over the impact of more intensive use on conservation value.

Although we didn’t ask about this in our survey, several people wrote in their responses about the need to develop medical and care services at the Sevenoaks Hospital site. The scope to build on this major asset in the Town – especially the minor injuries unit and the recuperation / respite capacity which take the load off acute hospitals and serve the local community – should be developed as part of plans for the wider area. They will need to be accomodated in a wider traffic and access plan, like everything else.

Economics

The economic impact of the Masterplan and funds available for developing parkland around the quarry, a new visitor centre for the Wildlife Reserve, a school and medical centre, the new Community Centre as well as paths and cycle routes, will be positive. However this needs review after withdrawal of significant parts of it. If a major part of the proposed housing is genuinely affordable this will be especially true.

It is vital to recognise that the value created in designating land for over 1000 new homes at market prices could be up to £200 million. Given that the quarry site already has a planning conditions for restoration to recreation or wildlife use, much of this extra value needs to go towards local facilities, not just the limited figures implied by CIL calculations. Otherwise funding may flow out of the area in windfall profits rather than into it.

Sevenoaks Town Cllr. Tony Clayton
June 2017

action@sevenoakslibdems.org.uk

Posted in Bat and Ball, Bradbourne, Business, Economy, Education, Greatness, Health Services, Housing, Public Transport, Sevenoaks District Council, Sevenoaks Town Council, Tax, Welfare, Work | Leave a comment

Sevenoaks Lib Dems welcome Vince Cable as leader

On Wednesday Lib Dem leader Sir Vince Cable MP spoke to a packed meeting in Eastbourne.

His upbeat speech covered crucial policies to be debated at the Lib Dem Autumn Conference in Bournemouth – Housing. Health. Social Justice and Tackling Inequalities.

And of course achieving an #ExitfromBrexit

Vince Convinced us it can be done!

And a new social media strategy will shortly be launched. Watch this space…

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Lib Dems call for sustainable rail future for Sevenoaks commuters

Sevenoaks rail passengers face yet another eye-watering rise in fares come the New Year, well above the rate of inflation, making it one of the most expensive commutes in the country mile for mile, as shown below. The justification given is that it is being invested in improvements.

Local Tory MP Sir Michael Fallon has weakly responded by calling on Network Rail to consider further solutions to rising rail demand, such as extending train carriages, increasing carriage size, and striking a better balance of seating and standing room for passengers on-board.

However, Sevenoaks Lib Dems say we already have 12 car trains, the carriages are built at 20 meters to fit the track, and we also don’t think it’s safe to stand on trains hurtling along at 70 mph!

On the line to London we want new signalling to raise trains per hour on the Tonbridge – Orpington line from 18 to 20 or 22 (Thameslink will be 24).

We want options to use Darent Valley line more intensively – as it has the only spare capacity.

We also need more London terminal capacity – it is full to bursting. The best bet to get this is working with TfL – but that means sacking minister Chris Grayling, which some of his local Tory colleagues have likewise called for! He advocates rail devolution for the North, while stifling it in the South of England. Inconsistent or what?

Posted in Public Transport, Sevenoaks, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Many thanks from Richard Streatfeild

Richard Streatfeild would like to thank all those who voted for him and everyone who helped in his by-election campaign.

The result on a turnout of 37% was as follows:

CONSERVATIVE 438
LIB DEM 253
LABOUR 54

Posted in Sevenoaks District Council | Leave a comment

Vote TODAY for Richard STREATFEILD – Bough Beech, Chiddingstone, Fordcombe and Penshurst NB: Polls close at 10pm

Richard Streatfeild

FinalRichardvotetoday

Record of action

* Investment in a new community hall
* Opposing major expansion at Gatwick
* Funding for village sports facilities
* Community broadband initiative
* Starting work on affordable homes

Ready to deliver more

* Safer streets round our schools
* Tackling traffic through our villages
* Local solution for affordable homes
* Protect our countryside and farms
* Checks on aircraft and other noise

Many Thanks to everyone who has been in touch during the District
Council election campaign. Your feedback to our survey, and on the
doorstep has given me plenty to work on.

I aim to work as your District Councillor the same way as I have as a
local parish councillor. Working together to get the best for everyone
in our community is what makes our villages great places to live.

Yours sincerely,

Richard

VOTE STREATFEILD X Polling stations are open from 7am to 10pm

Printed by Newgraphic, 127A High St Edenbridge, TN8 5AX. Published and promoted by James Morgan, on behalf of Richard Streatfeild, all at One Oak, Little Browns Lane, Edenbridge TN8 6LJ.

Posted in Public Transport, Sevenoaks, Sevenoaks District Council | Leave a comment