An Open Letter to European citizens in the UK

Posted on: January 16th, 2017 by Alan Bullion No Comments

EU Sevenoaks

Please click on the attachment above for an open letter to European citizens working and living in our communities across the UK.

We think it is wrong to use people contributing to our community, in hospitals, schools, hotels and restaurants, farms and food processing, local businesses and the City as a ‘bargaining chip’ in negotiations over Brexit. We therefore hope that the Prime Minister will make this clear at the earliest opportunity.

Yours,

Cllr Tony Clayton, Chair of Lib Dems for Sevenoaks, Swanley, Dartford and Gravesham.

 

Apologies on the scale of Tory mismanagement of Swanley finances – it’s even worse than we thought!

Posted on: January 15th, 2017 by Alan Bullion No Comments

SWANLEY TOWN COUNCIL FINANCES – APOLOGIES

In the October Town Council by-election, Swanley Liberal Democrats told voters that £500,000 had disappeared from the Town Council reserves.

We would like to apologise for understating the crisis – it has since become clear that the actual decline in reserves has been over £800,000.

We have since learned that the Town Council reserve balances over the last two years have gone down much further than anyone thought ….

January 2015       £956,450

March 2015          £522,420

October 2015       £421,014

March 2016         £149,970

…. without an indication of where the cash has gone, or what Swanley residents have got for the money.

We are still waiting for an apology from the ruling Conservative Group for losing most of Swanley’s reserves, or any explanation.

Swanley’s apology for an opposition, its Momentum councillors have signally failed to hold anyone to account for all this, said Robert Woodbridge, Swanley Lib Dem spokesman – pictured here.

You will have a chance to make your voice heard loud and clear on Tory misrule in the next council by-election for White Oak ward on Thursday March 2nd.

http://www.gravesendreporter.co.uk/news/conservative_councillors_accused_of_selling_swanley_down_the_river_as_reserves_drop_by_800_000_1_4852198

 

 

 

May should respect the majority who want to stay in the Single Market

Posted on: January 13th, 2017 by Alan Bullion No Comments

Commentary by Tim Miller

But vote out the UK did, and the question ever since has been what form the break will take.  Economists have, in the main, been hoping for a ‘soft Brexit’, where access to the Single Market would be retained and the UK would suffer less of a financial shock.

However, recent reports from the government have indicated that a ‘hard Brexit’ is more likely – leaving the Single Market with the aim of controlling immigration and regulations.

This is likely to have disastrous implications for the UK economy as a whole. Around 45% of British exports currently go to Europe, and without access to the Single Market it is unclear how this can continue.  This goes hand in hand with movement of labour.  Many small businesses are either run by or rely on immigrant labour – as well as the NHS –  and it has been shown by numerous studies that immigration, particularly from the EU, is a net contributor to tax.

This desire for leaving the Single Market is not driven by economics or strategy, it is driven by Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May’s wishes to reduce immigration and to increase the ability of the government to monitor its citizens – work she began while at the Home Office, albeit ineffectually.

The problem that the government could have, however, is that controls on immigration are not what the referendum was about.  The message that is endlessly repeated is that the government must abide by the wishes of the people, despite the referendum being an advisory poll.  But the wishes of the people when it comes to the Single Market, or immigration are not known.  The referendum only asked whether the UK should leave the EU.

The closeness of the result amplifies this.  1,269,501 more people voted to leave than remain – a margin of just under 4%.  We can assume that all of the 48.1% who voted to remain wish to stay in the Single Market.  If anything more than 3.65% of leave voters wished to stay in the Single Market, then the result of the referendum is reversed – and there is plenty of evidence that significant numbers of leave voters support membership of the Single Market, including those who led the leave campaign.

The Conservative party is claiming it has a mandate for leaving the Single Market and stopping immigration, when it has no such thing.  Indeed, the Conservative manifesto from the 2015 general election – from which the government derives its current power – specifically stated:

We are clear about what we want from Europe. We say: yes to the Single Market.

If there is a mandate, it is to leave the EU while retaining membership of the Single Market.  Unfortunately, there seem to be few who have the ability and inclination to stand up to this point – particularly with the Labour party being an ineffective opposition.

Only the Lib Dems are standing up for the 48% who voted for Remain and all those who want to stay in the Single Market.

About Tim Miller

Single Market Justice

Time to let the people of Swanley and Hextable have their say

Posted on: January 9th, 2017 by Alan Bullion No Comments

You would think that a petition signed by well over 2,000 residents in Swanley and Hextable calling on the Conservative council in Sevenoaks to think again on a mega-development scheme that would see several thousand houses built on Grade 2 farmland and tower blocks in the town centre would get a public hearing.

But Tory council leader Peter Fleming, who arrogantly always seems to know better than local people what they want, has so far firmly rejected their petition.

The Lib Dems conducted their own extensive local residents survey. The vast majority overwhelmingly rejected the ‘garden village’ scheme for Swanley, rightly arguing that it would lead to more traffic on already busy roads, while there is a distinct lack of vital local facilities such as schools and surgeries.

It looks as though consultants U+1 are at last listening to local people and have contacted all those petitioners with an individual letter in response. But when will Cllr Fleming and his Tory cabinet finally do the same? Residents can be assured that your Lib Dem reps are both listening and fighting on your behalf.

Meanwhile, we now learn that the Woodlands site on White Oak has been sold off for a retirement home development, approved by local Tory and Labour councillors. And the chandeliers that once graced that building have also been flogged off, as the council reserves dwindle even further. Talk about selling off the Swanley family silver for a song!

But if you live in the White Oak ward you can have your say on Conservative misrule and mayhem on Thursday March 2nd in the next Swanley Town Council by-election by voting for your local Liberal Democrat candidate.

In the meantime, you should also attend the public meeting at Sevenoaks District Council offices in Argyle Road, Sevenoaks, at 7pm on Wednesday 25th January. Your Lib Dem reps will be there.

 

 

NHS A&E crisis endangers Swanley and Sevenoaks emergency patients

Posted on: January 9th, 2017 by Alan Bullion No Comments

Former Leader of Swanley Town Council, and Lib Dem campaigner, Robert Woodbridge saw at first hand last weekend how the ambulance and A&E services in Kent are stretched to breaking point, as many others are finding across the country, potentially putting lives at risk.

On Thursday a member of his family had a suspected stroke. What followed was a mixture of individual staff heroism and organisational chaos.

Robert said:

“After the first symptoms I called an ambulance and a Volvo car arrived with blue lights flashing.

The paramedic was excellent. After assessing my wife he called for the ambulance. None were available, so after waiting half an hour he broke the rules and took her in his car! Good job he did.

I followed and was amazed to see when I got to Darent Valley A&E that there were several ambulance crew members standing around doing nothing – when they are needed on the road.

I asked what was going on and was told that, because of shortages of staff and beds, the hospital was ordered by government to leave patients in the care of the ambulance service.

This is because they did not have sufficient A&E staff to cope or process the patients! So they left them in the ambulances, which of course ties down them and their crews at the hospital.

As a result, they cannot get back on the road to help other people in need.”

Swanley and Sevenoaks Liberal Democrats say this this is utter madness.  Kent’s cuts to social care are clogging up our hospitals as people can’t leave to go home.

That wastes valuable beds, and then as the queues build up this paralyses the ambulance service too.

The photos below show ambulances waiting outside Darent Valley A&E over the weekend.

The Tory Government, the NHS, and Kent County Council need to get their act together and invest in care where it’s needed most.

Expecting individual bits of the system to sort out all the problems isn’t working. And we need action now.

Lib Dem leader Tim Farron is calling for 1 pence to be added to income tax to make sure our NHS is fit for purpose for all needs, and we are talking to all other parties, patients and carers to build support for this urgent policy solution.

Lib Dems secure vital repairs to Woodlands site fencing

Posted on: January 4th, 2017 by Alan Bullion No Comments

Robert Woodbridge and the Swanley Lib Dem team have been successful in getting the fence repaired around the Woodlands site on White Oak. Vital work has already started before it deteriorates further.

However, some might ask why their Swanley District and Town Councillors did not report the fallen fencing and get it repaired?

Perhaps they should all make a New Year Resolution to walk around their town wards more often as the public would no doubt appreciate their presence.

Comment on the Future of Sevenoaks – Respond to our Community Survey

Posted on: December 20th, 2016 by Alan Bullion No Comments

PFSnks greenbelt Nov16

As well as the District Council Development Plan, the Town Council is launching a ‘North Sevenoaks Masterplan.’

They suggest building more than 2,250 extra homes in the green belt north of the A25, by the Wildlife Centre and the quarries.

Your views on priorities for the future of Sevenoaks matter. Please join this debate now – not when it’s too late.

Please download, fill in and return our latest survey leaflet attached on the link above by post or e-mail. We want to know your views on potential new housing developments across Sevenoaks.

Thank You, Cllr Tony Clayton, Chairman, Sevenoaks Lib Dems.

Joyce Hulton – Scott resigns, triggers Swanley White Oak by-election

Posted on: December 19th, 2016 by Alan Bullion No Comments

Yet another Tory has resigned from Swanley Town Council. Joyce Hulton – Scott has stood down in White Oak ward, triggering another council by-election early in the New Year. She had a poor attendance record at council meetings.

There will be no shortage of key issues to campaign on given the continuing meltdown and maladministration among the ‘ruling’ Conservative group, which continue to adversely affect the daily lives of local people, as well as the sell-off of the Woodlands site, the so-called ‘garden village’ proposals next to Archer Way, and driving the council reserves almost down to rock bottom.

More news soon on the by-election which will be held on Thursday, March 2nd.

We need a Cross Thames Transit Now

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

WE NEED A CROSS THAMES TRANSIT NOW

“As long-suffering residents who are experiencing dangerous levels of traffic pollution affecting air quality in Dartford, Gravesend and Swanley we call for faster and greener public transport across the Thames. The proposed Lower Thames Crossing is merely a short term solution which will continue to encourage unlimited pollution from road traffic and would reduce Dartford crossing traffic by just 16 % overall.  Instead we urgently need a more effective public transport system to improve the health and well-being of all in North Kent.”

We call upon our elected authorities and national government to work together to bring forward coherent proposals for a long term solution.

James Willis

Transport campaigner and Lib Dem Cllr Heath Ward Maidstone

Contact: jameswillis322@btinternet.com

 

Tory transport minister and Kent council leader sell Sevenoaks commuters short with shoddy Southeastern service

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

cropped-sevenoaks-station-building-nigel-chadwick

Angry Sevenoaks commuters are right to react with fury at Tory transport minister Chris Grayling’s betrayal, who is being supported by Kent County Council’s Conservative leader Paul Carter. 

By torpedoing the devolution of London rail services starting at Sevenoaks to TfL, Grayling 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, Bat and Ball or Shoreham, with safety implications

– continuing high levels of fare evasion and lack of security

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

“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.