• Cabinet Fallout
    Article: Oct 14, 2018
    By Tony Clayton

    The Tories are still arguing with each other, not the EU.

    Doctors and nurses from the 27 are leaving the NHS.

    West Kent businesses are following Government advice to move jobs to Europe to keep their customers.

    Work starts this week to turn the M20 and M26 into lorry parks.

    Nobody voted for this. Government and Opposition have failed.

  • Tony Clayton in Bayham Rd
    Article: Oct 7, 2018
    By Tony Clayton

    I'm writing this piece on the way back from France. Political headlines there are about how to reduce air pollution, make roads safer, improve education and health services and house the homeless. Just the same issues that people in Sevenoaks think are important.

    But our politicians are stuck in the slow motion car crash of Brexit. The Prime Minister's humiliation at Salzburg shows how unwilling government is to understand the damage it has done to our international influence. It's the biggest foreign policy disaster since Suez.

  • richard-morrismain-630x400
    Article: Oct 5, 2018
    By Richard Morris

    There were many excellent sessions, especially the Fringe and Training programmes. In the main Conference Hall I was particularly impressed by the speech given by Layla Moran MP, Spokesperson on Education. This showed complete command of the brief, deeply-held liberal democratic attitudes towards all aspects of education and a warm and confident presentational style. The Q&A session with Vince Cable was admirably conducted and elicited much wisdom from our Party leader across all areas of policy.

  • Tristan
    Article: Sep 26, 2018
    By Tristan Ward

    Mental health is as damaging to individuals and families as physical ill health. It accounts for around 23% of all British disease. It causes acute suffering and affects life, sometime resulting in suicide. It is as humane to treat mental health and make people whole as it is to treat, say, back pain, cancer or a broken leg. A decent society looks after people who are ill, and that includes people who are mentally ill.
    We all know looking after people costs money. Why should money be spent on mentally ill people rather than (say) defence or schools, physical heath, or any other worthy cause competing for the tax we pay? The answer is obvious - mental health costs Britain £70 billion a year says the Economic Co-operation and Development (2014 figures). In 2014 15.2 million working days were lost because of mental illness. Investment in treatment of mental illness should both reduce human suffering and produces a return in hard cash as well.
    But Liberal Democrats would go beyond the £1.25 billion promised for children and young people by Liberal Democrat Minister Norman Lamb in the coalition Government (resources not found by the current government). We demand better. Teachers must be trained to recognise mental health issues in pupils and provide immediate access to support. Children can helped to realise their potential and the stress on parents can be reduced.
    We would insist on comprehensive standards on waiting times and access for mental health patients, as accepted by the Tories in coalition (no resources again under the current government) and not even mentioned by Labour when they were last in office.
    In government Liberal Democrats secured £150million for treatment of eating disorders in young people, close to home. In the future maximum waiting times must be enforced. The scandal of the mentally ill being shunted round the country for treatment must end. We demand better than this.
    In the workplace employers that take action to improve the wellbeing of their employees can be rewarded by a reduction in business rates, providing a carrot for companies doing the right thing, starting with a trial in the West Midlands proposed by Norman Lamb.
    Liberal Democrats would ensure research into mental health and its prevention and cure would receive a fair share of research funding to reflect the fact that it is nearly one quarter of all disease.
    The Liberal Democrats exist to champion the freedom, dignity and well-being of individuals and their right to develop their talents to the full. Money for research and treatment of mental disease helps do exactly that. And it benefits the country and economy too.

  • pwalshe
    Article: Sep 26, 2018
    By Pam Walshe

    Antisocial behaviour - in law - is 'behaviour by a person which causes, or is likely to cause, harassment, alarm or distress to one or more persons not of the same household as the person'.

    Examples include:
    • Nuisance, rowdy or inconsiderate neighbours

    • Vandalism, graffiti and fly-posting

    • Street drinking

  • Final Say ballot
    Article: Sep 13, 2018
    By Tony Clayton

    Sevenoaks Liberal Democrats were on the streets on Saturday, with people of other parties and none, to find out what people think of the government’s Brexit plans.

    When we did this six months ago we found many people opposed to the ‘Hard Brexit’ then on offer, but no clear majority on the way forward.

  • The Vine - Sevenoaks
    Article: Sep 10, 2018
    By Tony Clayton and Merilyn Canet

    Sevenoaks & Swanley Liberal Democrats comment on Sevenoaks Local Plan, calling for:

    - review of the governments housing targets for Sevenoaks, as the international situation changes

    - recognition that any real increase in housing is only possible with better transport

    - objections to overdevelopment which would overwhelm some of our villages

    - more focus on community housing developments for the rising numbers of older people

    - more affordable homes for those who work in Sevenoaks, including social rented housing

    - real action rather than warm words on safer streets, air pollution, tackling speeding traffic and encouraging walking and cycling

    - action to cater for thousands of extra school students who will change Sevenoaks in the next ten years

    - recognition that improving the environment in Sevenoaks communities as attractive places to live, work and visit drives our economy. Our economy isn't limited by environmental standards; it depends on them.

    Constraints

    The main constraint on Sevenoaks District Council in its plan is the artificial government target for housing numbers. Changes in the economic and social pressures on different communities present real risks to the plan. The role of international workers in the London economy which Sevenoaks serves, and in local industry and services is high, and the impact of leaving the EU will be significant. It is therefore vital that the targets are reviewed early in the life of the plan.

    In-migration to Sevenoaks depends critically on transport links to London for employment for residents. The rail links on which many workers depend,are at full capacity, with no new investment planned beyond limited new services via Otford and Swanley on Thameslink, promised for 2018 but not yet delivered.

    Significant increases in housing must be conditional on new rail capacity delivered on the Darenth Valley line, improvements on the West Kent Mainline through Sevenoaks and from Swanley during the plan period.

    The other key constraint is the Green Belt and AONBs which gives the District its special character. We accept that some brownfeld areas may need to be used for new purposes. However, 'Exceptional Circumstances' Greenbelt sites should not have to deliver such a high proportion of the total number of homes, 6,800 out of 13,400 - over half.

    As a high proportion of additional residents are forecast to be retired people, there should be greater emphasis on attractive, higher density community / co-housing sites (like Rockdale in Sevenoaks), encouraging their development at the heart of existing communities. This would support the sustainability of our town and village centres, and help grow the already vital contribution of older and retired people to their communities. More efficient use of land, and of the housing stock, must be central to the plan, with roles for housing associations better defined.

    Where 'Exceptional Circumstances' sites are included in the plan there must be clear evidence that social and transport infrastructure will be developed to support them. More important, they must not be so large that the developments overwhelm the communities around them. The proposals at Pedham Place and in Westerham fail both these tests, and should not be included in their current form.

    The major developments at Edenbridge and Swanley are also challenging; to be accepted these need clear resolution of transport and social infrastructure needs. The total for developments in Halstead also run the risk of overwhelming the local community, and the access links.

    Major development proposed around the quarries in north Sevenoaks needs to be limited to avoid impinging on Seal and Kemsing, and to safeguard the function of the Green Belt separating settlements. Seal Parish Council make the point that neither the draft Local Plan nor Tarmac acknowledge that existing mineral conditions on the quarry site require restoration and public access for recreation, without the need for enabling development, This omission requires correction, to make absolutely sure that funding generated by new development contributes to new infrastructure, and is not diverted for restoration which the site owners are already required to carry out.

  • IMG_1219 cropped
    Article: Sep 6, 2018
    By Dr Merilyn Canet - Sevenoaks Town & District Councillor

    Britain is stuck in the dark ages on drugs policy, while other countries are taking a more enlightened approach. In Portugal, after resistance to decriminalisation, it's agreed across the political spectrum. In the United States, more states are moving towards regulating cannabis. The Liberal Government in Canada is legislating for a regulated market.