Dear Paul Carter, we need to know the costs of Brexit to the people of Kent now!

BREXIT SPEECH AT COUNTY HALL IN MAIDSTONE – IS IT WORTH IT?

The message on our bus is stark. We have delivered a letter to Paul Carter, the Tory leader of Kent County Council, demanding assessments of the impact of Brexit on Kent. Given Kent’s wealth of business activity, cross-channel freight, hospitals, public services and farming, the damage could be even greater than to Britain as a whole.

The United Kingdom today is a leader in Europe, the largest economic power in the world. But we are intending to pay £40 billion to give this up! And if we want ‘frictionless trade’ elsewhere, conditions will apply to get deals with Africa, Australia, South America, Asia, or North America – not only with the EU.

How will Government fix Dover port congestion, the Irish border issue, up-front VAT for exporters and importers, manufacturing moving to countries in the customs union to retain customers who don’t want increased bureaucracy? It’s time to recognise we will face job losses in Kent.

All Government projections show that Brexit will make us poorer. It will also increase inequality through reduced capacity/political will for public spending.

Is it worth it?

Some say it is – to regain our sovereignty. But they forget the UK has always been international We moved from Union with Scotland then Ireland, to Empire to Commonwealth to leading EU player – never just an island nation. Leaving the EU is against our nature. It isolates us from friends and neighbours.

UK has a great history in welcoming immigrants. Nowadays we recognise the vital importance of EU citizens in NHS, social care, agriculture, construction, education and hospitality industries.

We also recognise the enormous benefits of Europe-wide collaboration in science, medicine (Euratom), culture and education.

Young people want to Remain, but their futures are marred by Brexit decided by the old. Within a few years, Remain will be the majority vote.

Who will decide if it’s worth it?

Our MPs have a democratic duty to scrutinise Government proposals in the best interests of country, not party. We also insist on the democratic right of the electorate to change its mind as new facts become clear.

27 EU countries, plus many regional parliaments, some requiring referenda, will vote on the final deal. The British public must also have its final say.

Richard Morris
26th February 2018

action@sevenoakslibdems.org.uk

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Does there need to be a specific law in the UK that makes cyber-bullying illegal?

Question from the Sevenoaks Chronicle/Kent Live

This is the first response published on February 22 in a series of articles where local political parties were asked to contribute their views on a topical Talking Point of the day:

“There is no specific law in the UK that makes cyberbullying illegal, does this need to be addressed?”

Answer from Cllr. Tony Clayton:

Bullying behaviour that’s illegal in person, on the phone or in writing, should be illegal if done online. Digital isn’t different. It’s the same for bullying, threats or intimidation, whether it’s personal or if it’s based on somebody’s race, gender, sexuality, nationality or religion.

Today the law is a mess. We need reform so that criminal liability for comments made on social media, or on the phone or to people physically present, is the same. Laws on liability for threatening words and behaviour under the Public Order Act, the Malicious Communications Act and the Communications Act should be aligned. We need a single rule to apply to all.

We strongly support free speech so we won’t censor legitimate debate. But the increasing amount of cyber-bullying does mean we need clear rules.

Use of social media to incite others to bully a victim is too easy. It can wreck people’s personal and working relationships. The same principle of equal treatment online should apply to incitement offences.

“Revenge porn” – posting intimate photos online – is particularly vicious, and must be tackled. It should be a criminal offence for an individual to disclose sexual images of another identifiable person when they know that the person shown did not consent to it.

Systems to take down material quickly when offences like these happen are getting more effective. Germany now fines big internet firms which don’t act quickly to remove such postings.

We should also invest more in education for young people to protect against bullying, to manage their private information, to stay safe on line and to report crimes. Many schools have done great work and we want to build on the best.

And we need to spread similar standards for safe cyberspace across Europe, the US, and the world. The internet doesn’t recognise national borders!

If you’ve been affected by cyber-bullying, find out more at:

https://www.bullying.co.uk/cyberbullying/

– recommended link from the Citizens Advice website for people looking for help.

Councillor Tony Clayton, Sevenoaks Liberal Democrats

Contact: action@sevenoakslibdems.org.uk

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Lib Dems to fund NHS spending through dedicated health tax

The Liberal Democrats will protect the National Health Service budget in the next Parliament.

Spending will rise by at least the rate of inflation over the next Parliament under plans included in the party’s election manifesto.

We will also pool health and social care budgets. This would help make care more tailored towards individual patients and reduce inefficiencies.

This comes after a previous Liberal Democrat commitment to establish a mental health research fund worth £50 million per year by 2020.

Liberal Democrat Health spokesman Norman Lamb said:

“The NHS was a Liberal idea and we are proud to be committed to protecting funding over the next Parliament.

“In this parliament the Government has had to make difficult decisions to cut the deficit and build a stronger economy. We have protected the NHS and Liberal Democrats will continue to protect the NHS budget from cuts in the next parliament.

“We are clear that a crucial part of building a fairer society, where there is opportunity for everyone, is ensuring that once the deficit is eliminated public services are protected.“

“Labour have said that this is irresponsible, and in Wales they have cut the NHS budget by 8%. They are wrong and will be judged on this record.“

The Liberal Democrats will:

· Guarantee the NHS budget will rise by at least the rate of inflation every year. We will commission a Fundamental Review of NHS and social care finances in 2015, before the next Spending Review, in order to assess the pressures on NHS and social care budgets and the scope for efficiencies. This will allow us to set multi-year budgets that will be sufficient to maintain and improve the current standard of NHS services, including keeping waiting times down.

· We will always ensure access is based on need and not on ability to pay and that that NHS remains free at the point of delivery.

· Secure local agreement on and pooling of budgets between the NHS and social care.

· Reform the NHS payment system to encourage better integration of hospital and community care services and better preventative care for people with long term conditions. This would include more use of personal budgets for people who want them and better access to technology and services to help people get care closer to home.

· Implement the Dilnot Report proposals for a cap on the cost of social care.

Why it is necessary

The NHS was the idea of a Liberal politician – William Beveridge. That ideal, of healthcare free at the point of delivery is as important today as it was when it was conceived, over 65 years go. We are absolutely committed to the NHS: a service provided free at the point of delivery providing better care.

To protect our NHS, we will guarantee that the NHS budget will not be cut. It will go up by at least the rate of inflation every year.

But in order to protect our NHS it will need to work differently in future. There are long term pressures on the budgets of health services all over the world – an ageing population, the rise of long term conditions like diabetes, and the development of new technologies and higher expectations mean that there is continued pressure on the system. In order to meet these challenges, services will have to work differently: to be more joined up. To provide care closer to home.

Contact: action@sevenoakslibdems.org.uk

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Save £560 a year from Sevenoaks to London

If you’re a regular commuter and just about to renew your annual season ticket to avoid the New Year above inflation price hikes, you can legitimately save £560 a year by buying two season tickets – one from Sevenoaks to New Cross, and another from New Cross to London terminals. Southeastern has confirmed to Lib Dem Cllr Tony Clayton of Sevenoaks Rail Travellers Association that this is entirely legal, for now.

Happy New Year!

For further details see:

http://www.kentlive.news/news/revealed-train-fare-loophole-can-916291.

https://srta.org.uk/wp/posts/2843

contact us at: action@sevenoakslibdems.org.uk

Posted in Bat and Ball, Public Transport, Sevenoaks, Tax, Uncategorized, Welfare, Work | Leave a comment

Not so Happy 2018 from Southeastern Trains

The 2018 fares have just been announced. An annual Standard Class season ticket from Sevenoaks to Charing Cross or Cannon Street, currently £3,380, will increase to an eye-watering £3,500.

As usual, Sevenoaks commuters are being gouged. Similar length commuter journeys on other operators are significantly cheaper – Watford Junction to London is 11% cheaper and Redhill to London is 18% cheaper.

The Government allows each of the train companies to increase their regulated prices by up to the RPI measure of inflation.

Needless to say, Southeastern are taking the maximum permissible increase in regulated fares – as well as increasing some unregulated fares twice already this year. In the final year of the current franchise there’s little prospect of that money being ‘invested’ into services that the company may lose at the end of next year – it is likely to go straight into corporate profits.

action@sevenoakslibdems.org.uk

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Keeping Sevenoaks Green and Safe for all – Eastern Ward update

KEEPING SEVENOAKS GREEN

THE VINE

Your Lib Dem councillors back local residents campaigning against a commuter car park on the Vine. This land, next to Vine Cricket ground, was given to Sevenoaks as part of its War Memorial. It must remain an open space for all, and not become a sea of cars.

Elizabeth Purves was the only councillor at the Sevenoaks District Council Planning meeting who spoke and voted against the plan. All Lib Dem Town councillors voted against the idea.

KNOLE FIELD

Elizabeth has worked with local residents to remove the 50 acre green belt field east of Seal Hollow Road out of the District Council’s list of sites for housing. We will fight to protect our open spaces and the Green Belt.

KEEPING SEVENOAKS SAFE FROM SPEEDING TRAFFIC

Traffic on the A25, Seal Hollow Road, St Johns Hill, Hillingdon Avenue, Quakers Hall Lane, Bayham and Serpentine Roads are damaging for many who live here. Speeding traffic endangers children going to school. Pavement parking and roads without pavements (like Hartslands, Bethel, Prospect Roads) can lead to accidents. We want 20mph limits especially near schools and where there are no pavements.

NEED A ZEBRA – OR TWO!

It’s a long way down Dartford Road from the crossing at The Drive to the next one at Hollybush. This busy road badly needs a pedestrian crossing to reduce risks to commuters walking to the
station, and students walking to school. As school traffic rises and more young people walk to the new schools the danger rises. We want a pedestrian crossing by the shops near Vine Court
Road.

The number of young people walking along Seal Road, and crossing the A25 to get to school is increasing too. A crossing between Millpond Wood and Greatness Park is urgently needed, so
that local students can get to school safely. People come first, not traffic.

SCHOOLS

We also need new school places at Trinity and Weald of Kent Grammar – and more at Knole Academy. The planned 3500 students come from a wide area, bringing more car and bus traffic
morning and afternoon. Growing congestion at Bat and Ball traffic lights and the Seal Hollow Road / Seal Road traffic lights is holding up school buses, and clogging roads.

We back local residents asking for proper plans for school transport. So far their concerns have been dismissed by Kent County Council.

Big developments need traffic plans; not “hoping it will be all right”.

action@sevenoakslibdems.org.uk

Posted in Bat and Ball, Bradbourne, Children, Cycling, Housing, Public Transport, Sevenoaks, Sevenoaks District Council, Sevenoaks Town Council | Leave a comment

Further Thameslink upgrade delay puts Sevenoaks passengers to back of queue

After years of disruption to Kent commuters and £6.5 billion of taxpayers’ money, rail industry bosses have concluded that the refurbished Thameslink line between Blackfriars and St Pancras will only be able to handle 75% of the planned services in 2018 and 2019.

Their answer: postpone the planned Maidstone East service and stop trains from Sevenoaks via Bat & Ball at Blackfriars.

Thameslink announced that the start of the new Maidstone East to Cambridge service will be delayed from December 2018 until December 2019 at the earliest, and that Sevenoaks via Bat & Ball peak-hour trains will terminate at Blackfriars from May 2018 until May 2019 at the earliest.

Thameslink say that 2018 will nevertheless see “the full implementation of a new Southern timetable” and “70% of the programme’s overall benefits”.

However for west Kent and Maidstone 2018 and 2019 will see no implementation of new services and 0% of the overall benefits.

The basic reason seems to be that, having taken £6.5 billion of taxpayers’ money for the project including its “sophisticated” signalling, the rail industry now do not think that the “Thameslink Core” between Blackfriars and St Pancras can handle the planned 24 trains an hour in each direction.

Instead the lines will be limited to 18 trains an hour, with the hope that with operational experience more capacity could be achieved by the end of 2019.

However if the rail industry cannot deliver more than 18 trains an hour after a decade to prepare what confidence can there be that they will manage 24 trains an hour after a further year?

The possibility of a delay to the new Maidstone East service was not even mentioned in the extensive consultations on the new Thameslink timetable in autumn 2016 and summer 2017.

Instead the decision seems to have been taken in secret and without consultation with passengers by the so-called “Thameslink Industry Readiness Board” – which represents the same rail industry that have failed to deliver “readiness” on time.

It’s not clear whether even the inadequate peak hour service from Maidstone East to Blackfriars will be maintained after December 2018 – that would require an amendment to the new and separate Southeastern franchise specification for which the new Franchisee could be expected to charge an arm and a leg.

The implementation of the capacity reduction shows a bias against Kent – four new direct Sussex routes are being implemented from May 2018 between Cambridge and Brighton, Horsham and Peterborough, Littlehampton and Bedford and East Grinstead and Bedford.

And for Kent the only new service being implemented is the Rainham via Dartford to Luton service.

It’s only the new Maidstone East service that is being delayed and it is only the Sevenoaks via Bat & Ball service that is being reduced.

Once again it seems that west Kent is at the back of the queue when it comes to improvement in rail services.

action@sevenoakslibdems.org.uk

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Fallon apart at the seams

Liberal Democrat chief whip Alistair Carmichael has responded to the sudden resignation of Sir Michael Fallon as Defence Secretary.

Alistair Carmichael said:

“Theresa May’s cabinet is falling apart like a cheap piece of flat-pack furniture.

“As we face the biggest negotiations in the modern history of this country her ministers can’t even agree to sit around the same table. Her cabinet is more divided than the 27 EU nations it is meant to be negotiating with.

“Theresa May lacks the authority to lead this country and her government is in meltdown. She has to change or leave. There are no other options.”

Local Sevenoaks and Swanley parliamentary spokesman Alan Bullion said: “The sleazy Tory rats are slinking away from the sinking Titanic at the very moment when our country is at the greatest peril from hitting the Hard Brexit iceberg. Fallon should step down straightaway as an MP as well.”

action@sevenoakslibdems.org.uk

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Sevenoaks Council should respect its War Memorial

Last week our Conservative District councillors voted as one to allow parking on the Vine for much of the next two years. Is there any doubt that if somebody else had come up with such an outrageous plan they would have been told where to go?

Among many objections raised by local people to parking on the Vine was the condition on which this land was given to the Town Council between the World Wars. It was to be ‘forever hereafter’ used only as a memorial to those who fell defending our country, and as a public park associated with the memorial, for the use of Sevenoaks residents.

As our Town Councillors gather with local dignitaries at the memorial on Remembrance Sunday next week they might reflect on whether a commuter car park is a fitting use for our tribute to Sevenoaks’ fallen.

Cllr Tony Clayton, Sevenoaks Town Council

action@sevenoakslibdems.org.uk

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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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