Tory transport minister sells Sevenoaks commuters short with shoddy Southeastern service

Posted on: December 6th, 2016 by Alan Bullion 1 Comment


Angry commuters are right to react with fury at Tory transport minister Chris Grayling’s betrayal of Sevenoaks commuters.

By torpedoing the devolution of London rail services starting at Sevenoaks to TfL he has condemned us to:

– continuing increases in fares, which are already the highest in the UK

– no integrated ticketing with London journeys – which means we pay a penalty every time we use the tube

– the same old franchising system which gives us the worst service in Britain

– no staff at local stations like Dunton Green or Bat and Ball

– continuing high levels of fare evasion and lack of security

– no investment in additional rail capacity, while government insists on thousands more homes

“This is a recipe for worse travel conditions for working people, trying to get to jobs in London. At the very least we deserve an explanation why Sevenoaks has been left in this mess, while similar towns north of the Thames are already reaping the gains from the TfL approach. But if Grayling had any sense he would go back, look at the evidence, and change the decision,” said Lib Dem Cllr Tony Clayton.

“The only think he seems to have done today is give Southeastern Railway, which has shown itself unable to empty the train toilets or fix the lights at the stations, a hand in organising the signals. Does that fill anyone with confidence?

This looks like a political decision to spite new London Labour mayor Sadiq Khan. Local Conservative MPs must be very worried indeed. Some have already expressed their anger in public, one from Bromley even calling for Grayling to resign. What has Michael Fallon got to say?” said Lib Dem parliamentary spokesman Alan Bullion, who commutes to Cannon Street every day.

“I am indeed angry! Commuters in Sevenoaks, Dunton Green and local area have had to put up with some of the poorest service and highest fares per mile of track anywhere in the country. And we’ve all had to get used to feeling constantly ignored by Southeastern and the decision makers. The dissatisfaction with Southeastern is strong, and the benefits of moving to an integrated model with TfL are clear. This decision is another big smack in the face for us,” said Sevenoaks commuter and Riverhead resident Iain Porter.

“It goes against all the evidence and the desire of not just TFL but Sevenoaks commuters, the local authorities and our own MP. The benefits to our local community and economy of handing the Metro to TFL were clear but the Secretary of state has chosen to abandon sense and cook up a recipe for higher fares and now signals & track maintained by a company that can’t even keep a brand new ticket machine (that took them over 6 months to install) operational for more than two days at a time.

I think Mr Fallon has some serious questions to answer as to how much he cares for his constituency. I have no confidence in him at all,” said Dunton Green commuter Paul Malyon.

Stop Press: Lib Dem councillors in Maidstone have voted to support extra stopping trains at Swanley to London from 2018 in support of local commuters. More news on this shortly. 

 Your local Lib Dem candidates and councillors working on your behalf at Bat & Ball and Swanley stations.

Congratulations to new Richmond Park Lib Dem MP Sarah Olney!

Posted on: December 2nd, 2016 by Alan Bullion No Comments


Sevenoaks and Swanley Liberal Democrats congratulate our splendid candidate Sarah Olney on becoming the new MP for Richmond Park constituency.

Many local members went to Richmond Park to help get Sarah elected, while others made canvassing phone calls over recent weeks.

“This was very much a team effort by so many people who want to stand up for a decent politics in an open, tolerant and outward looking Britain,” said Cllr Tony Clayton, Chairman of Sevenoaks, Swanley, Gravesham and Dartford Lib Dems.

“This stunning result from London shows that where we work can we win, as demonstrated the Swanley White Oak seat which we missed by just one vote recently. We are now working hard towards the winning county elections being held across Sevenoaks and Swanley next May. This victory also sends a strong message to the Tory government that many people in this country do not want a ‘Hard Brexit’, which will cost them jobs and make their families poorer,” said Alan Bullion, parliamentary spokesman for Sevenoaks and Swanley.

Swanley Tories are turning the Olympic into the Titanic

Posted on: December 1st, 2016 by Alan Bullion No Comments

Dear Kent Messenger,

It is Swanley Tory financial mismanagement that is fast sinking jobs at the Olympic and turning it into the Titanic. It is the jobs of the senior Tory councillors that should go, not the restaurant workers who through no fault of their own are now at risk of losing their livelihoods.

To paraphrase the words of Swanley Town Council leader Vic Southern, local people have had enough of a bad Tory marriage and now urgently seek their own divorce.

Alan Bullion  alanbullion

Lib Dem Parliamentary Spokesman for Swanley and Sevenoaks

Sevenoaks District Council refuses to sponsor Syrian Refugee families

Posted on: November 28th, 2016 by Alan Bullion No Comments

Every district in Kent except Sevenoaks has pledged to offer at least one Syrian refugee family a home in their district.

Sevenoaks, despite being one of the wealthiest towns in the South East, will not offer to sponsor a single family.

Their excuse? The district is too rural, they do not have suitable accommodation, and do not have access to specialist hospitals which might be needed!

Are these facilities available in their refugee camps?

Tory Sevenoaks District Councillors should be ashamed not to offer even one Syrian refugee family accommodation in this area.

Lib Dem Councillor Elizabeth Purves has challenged the District Council on this inexcusable decision to not provide help to those in need, and awaits their prompt response.



The Price of Brexit

Posted on: November 24th, 2016 by Alan Bullion No Comments

Dear Sir,

In response to the Sevenoaks Chronicle letter on Brexit from UKIP representative Roger Williams, I would like to straighten out some things he says about Lib Dem policies on Europe.

Liberal Democrats believe that the British people should have their say on the final Brexit deal in another referendum, after parliament has also had its scrutiny over the entire process.

In voting to leave the EU, there was no opportunity decide how future trading relationships should be, or how we should work with other countries over important issues like criminal justice, law and order, ease of travel, and so on.

Voting for a departure is not the same as voting for a destination. When the eventual deal is negotiated, in however many years’ time, the British people must have a chance to say if they would prefer the new arrangement, outside the European Union, or would prefer to remain inside the EU.

With every day that passes and the complexity and huge costs of leaving becoming more evident, the British public should again have a final say in this momentous process, including 16 and 17-year olds, who were excluded last time, but whose future it is.


Dr Alan Bullion

Lib Dem Parliamentary Spokesman for Sevenoaks and Swanley


Donations most welcome at Swanley Foodbank

Posted on: November 24th, 2016 by Alan Bullion No Comments


Swanley&District Foodbank

11 Lynden Way, Swanley Kent BR8 7DN

Telephone: 07798 872573 Email:

Regular donations are very important to Swanley Foodbank.

The following is an excerpt from their latest newsletter:

We are very grateful to Stanhill Farm, Birchwood Road, Wilmington, who donate boxes of fresh fruit and vegetables every week and the donations we collect weekly from the drop-off points at both Asda in Swanley and Waitrose in Sevenoaks. We also receive weekly donations from many local churches as well as individuals who bring them to the Foodbank premises.

In addition to the items which can be found on the ‘Foodbank List’ we also rely on generous financial donations which enable us to continue our work in the community. If you would like to set up a standing order or give a one-off donation, please contact the Foodbank on 07798 872573, or visit the Foodbank at Lynden Way, Swanley.

Foodbank List

Tinned Sponge Pudding

Fruit Juice (not chilled)

Tinned Vegetables

Dried Milk Powder

Chocolate Spread

Cooking Sauces (packet/Tin/Jar)

Large Packets of Biscuits

Tinned Fruit

Peanut Butter

Washing Powder/liquid/capsules

Men’s Deodorant


Tuesday 11:30am to 3:00pm

Friday 10:00am to 2:00pm

You can also find out more about us at

And our new Facebook page at


Your Liberal Britain – come and discuss our future

Posted on: November 23rd, 2016 by Alan Bullion No Comments


Sevenoaks, Dartford and Gravesham Discussion Groups 2016

In four rolling discussion groups we talked through issues and solutions.

All the groups agreed that the biggest social issue facing Britain today is inequality of income and opportunity.

This is reinforced by divisions in society which separate – physically and socially – rich from poor, those in good jobs from those without, people with different levels of education and people with differing attitudes to our ‘open’ world.

These divisions deprive many of real freedom, and ability to determine their own future.

Britain is still building deeply divided places through its housing policies, and is losing its ability to communicate across different communities, undermining social cohesion. All that contributes to breakdown of trust in politicians, and between different groups.

We identified key improvements we must make to people lives as building more inclusion in housing, in education through life and in communication across society. We have to use the identity politics which new technology brings to build bridges rather than walls.

In building Liberal Britain we need to revolutionise the way we do politics so that it is less confrontational and more inclusive, actively encouraging people to engage. Only in this way can we give all equality of opportunity in a fair, free and open society.

A Liberal Britain is a country where everyone feels they are of equal value, part of a free and fair community. This means – at least – a country where everyone has the opportunity to hold down a job, secure their own home, has access to good health care and can send their children to a good local school.

Tony Clayton

Chair, Sevenoaks Dartford and Gravesham Liberal Democrats


Get Involved to shape Sevenoaks, says Merilyn Canet – Lib Dem leader on District Council

Posted on: November 18th, 2016 by Alan Bullion No Comments

IMG_1219 Cllr Merilyn Canet at Bradbourne Lakes

Sevenoaks Town and District Councils are drawing up plans which will change our community for ever.

Central to this is a major investment project at Bat & Ball:

– for a new Community Centre and Town Council Office, replacing the Centre built by hard working volunteers in the 1970s

– to reopen Bat and Ball station building as a Café with Community meeting rooms after 30 years lying empty

All this is likely to cost about £4 million – mostly your money as Council Taxpayers. So we need to be sure it reflects what local people want, and will use.

On top of this there are ideas being looked at to make the whole area a better place to live – more housing, green space, access to the Wildlife Centre from Bat and Ball, and making it easier to walk to school.

The Town Council is paying consultants to start a consultation exercise and come up with ideas.

We want to be sure they are YOUR ideas – not imposed from outside.

Please get in touch with us at


Robert Woodbridge – “I will continue to defend Swanley Rec”

Posted on: November 16th, 2016 by Alan Bullion No Comments

Sir William Hart Dyke, who lived at Lullingstone Castle, Eynsford, last century donated St Mary’s Recreation Ground, in Swanley, to the town for recreational purposes in 1900.

And 110 years later, members of the town council’s policy and resources committee unanimously voted against proposals from developer Jersey No. 5, which owns Swanley Centre, to extend retail facilities on to the land.

Sir William’s grandson Guy Hart Dyke said: “In 1984, a man called Frank Parker told us developers were after it and I said that my grandfather gave the land to Swanley for recreational purposes. He organised a referendum in Swanley and they voted overwhelmingly to save it from development. So it’s a real victory that we have saved it again.

“I’m delighted. It’s very important that we don’t use up all the green spaces. The developers are always at it, you have to watch them like hawks!”

The nine-acre site, off St Mary’s Road, Swanley, includes two football pitches, six floodlit, all-weather tennis/netball courts, a large play area and a roller blading and BMX park, which benefited from a £60,000 redevelopment. It is also used by residents and pupils at the nearby Swanley Technology College.

Sir Guy’s son, Tom Hart Dyke, who lives at the castle, off Lullingstone Lane, Eynsford, set up the popular World Garden in the castle grounds and is a ‘self-confessed’ plant nut.

Mr Hart Dyke, who wrote the Green Man column for the Times, said: “It’s just so good that it’s been saved, because that land was designated as recreational land for the town and it should stay that way. I know that the people in Swanley will be pleased. It should retain the purpose it was originally intended for.”

Councillor Robert Woodbridge, a former leader of the town’s Labour party, and now a Lib Dem member and candidate, led the fight to save the land. He said: “It was and remains a great victory for the people of the town. It was a difficult situation, but by speaking very plainly at the council and arguing the case and finding out all the information and the history, we saved it once again.”

Robert will continue to defend the Rec against any Tory land grabs and depredations. That is his firm pledge to the people of Swanley.

Tribute to Norna Munson

Posted on: November 16th, 2016 by Alan Bullion No Comments

Norna Munson has sadly passed away. She was Chair of Sevenoaks District Council in 1998-9 just after David Coates.

Norna was a councillor for Kemsing, a former chair of Sevenoaks Liberal Democrats, and well known to many people in the communities of Kemsing and Sevenoaks which she served.

She contributed much to the Liberal Democrats, and to the many local organisations with which she was involved.

Norna was also a primary school teacher, much loved by her pupils, from whom she had a veritable fund of anecdotes.

She is much missed by all her former Council colleagues, by her husband Derek, and her family.

Cllr Merilyn Canet, Lib Dem group leader on Sevenoaks District council said:

“Norna was a much loved local member who represented her home village of Kemsing at Sevenoaks District Council.

As District Chairman she represented us with distinction. Her wonderful talent for telling stories and jokes appropriate for every occasion stopped any event or situation from becoming pompous. Norna was a kind and thoughtful person to all that came into contact with her, and funny too. Norna and Derek were generous with their time and their home, a great partnership. Their garden parties were such happy occasions when the sun always shone and the pool invited in the swimmers, Norna told stories while preparing salads and Derek barbequed sausages to perfection.

She was a true Liberal who wanted the best for all and who valued the contribution that each person brought with them.

Norna had a way of making each individual feel special and brought out the best in us too.

A lovely woman to know and to work and campaign alongside.

Deepest sympathies to Derek and their family.

Rest in Peace Norna , it was a privilege to know you.”

Cllr. Merilyn Canet

Alan Bullion, parliamentary spokesman for Sevenoaks and Swanley said:

“Like Merilyn I have very fond memories of a kind and constantly cheerful person who was always was supportive and hospitable to everyone. And we shared a similar sense of humour which is very important in political life. My sincere thoughts to Derek and Norna’s family and many friends and colleagues and former pupils.”