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Recent news and updates

  • Lorries in central Sevenoaks
    Petition: Apr 28, 2021
    We ask Kent County Council to listen to the voices of residents, shoppers, and local businesses to reduce the impact of heavy goods vehicles on Sevenoaks Town Centre. We ask KCC to work with the District and Town Councils to remove unnecessary HGV access from the High Street and from London Road north of M&S, and to ban vehicles over 7.5 mts from the Upper High Street
  • Richard For Sevenoaks Leaflet Page 1 (Sevenoaks Lib Dems)
    Article: Apr 29, 2021

    Over the last few months I enjoyed talking and listening to many of the residents and business owners who love Sevenoaks.

    What you always tell me is that Sevenoaks should be a great market town and that it has amazing potential, and I agree with you.

    What I see now is unrealised potential. There are too many empty shops, too many proposed developments that look like soulless suburbs, and too many HGV's
    thundering through small streets that weren't designed for them.

    But these challenges are not insurmountable.

    The people of Sevenoaks have amazing ideas of how we can breathe new life into our high street and bounce back from the pandemic.

    Sadly no one at Kent County Council seems to be listening to these people. That has to change.

    Together we can make the high street better for the shopper, the resident, the pub, sports club and the theatre goers of Sevenoaks.

    Our high street can be vibrant, safe, clean and smart. It can be the hub at the heart of Sevenoaks. If you elect me this May, I will work towards this vision.

    Richard Streatfeild

  • The Vine - Sevenoaks
    Article: Apr 26, 2021
    By Tony Clayton
    Over seventy local people, and inspirational speakers including Rob Hopkins of Transition Towns, gathered on 21st April and thought the unthinkable. What if Sevenoaks District (not just the Council) made it to Zero Carbon well before the Government target?

    Over seventy local people, and inspirational speakers including Rob Hopkins of Transition Towns, gathered on 21st April and thought the unthinkable. What if Sevenoaks District (not just the Council) made it to Zero Carbon well before the Government target?

    Rob challenged us to come up with "What If?' questions - and ideas to change the way we live. How can we win for the environment, win for quality of life, win for our local economy and win for jobs?

    What if:

    • all our gardens were wildlife sanctuaries
    • all our streets were lined with trees
    • we didn't need rubbish collections
    • we had weekly car free days, and no HGVs
    • parents felt it was safe to let children cycle to school
    • council decisions were taken on lowest environmental impact
    • Sevenoaks was a genuinely zero plastic town
    • we had real action plans to insulate the housing stock

    ...... and many more

    We talked through how important it is to link up individual actions that we can make, on energy saving, recycling, active travel and the rest with the bigger picture of decarbonising transport, the way we heat homes and offices, and how we work. So much has to change, and changes will be much easier if we start now, together, rather than put them off

    People from Sevenoaks and surrounding villages have many of the skills and connections, to speed up progress. We have people working on community energy, on walking and cycling schemes, on green finance and on big technology changes. But most of them are working somewhere else!

    Can we bring all these together, to make a difference in the place where we live?

    Could we make Sevenoaks famous for the actions we are taking to create a genuinely sustainable future? Do we want to be green leaders? Of course we do. After all, they named Sevenoaks after the trees!

    Watch Sevenoaks' entire Net-Zero discussion here

    To join in, first contribute your ideas at http://allourideas.org/7oaksnetzero , then tell us how you would like to contribute to the change we all need. Contact us at info@sevenoakslibdems.org.uk

  • Sandra Robinson (Sandra Robinson)
    Page: Apr 17, 2021

    Sandra Robinson - Your Local Choice in the Brasted, Chevening & Sundridge by-election, 6 May 2021.

    I have lived in Chipstead for over 20 years. I love our area, but we have pressing issues that have been allowed to fester to breaking point.

    Tired of waiting for others to solve these issues, I am standing to represent our Ward on the Sevenoaks District Council (SDC).

  • Net Zero poster ()
    Article: Apr 6, 2021
    A strong theme that has evolved from our High Street 'Thinkin' , is the environment.

    From air quality to becoming a zero waste town, it's clear that there is huge energy to tackle the climate emergency properly - with ideas and action, not just targets.

    While we're getting on with the action to make our Town Centre a model for the country, we're holding another event, opening a district-wide conversation to hear YOUR ideas for what more we could do to ensure we:

    'Make Sevenoaks a Net Zero Carbon district by 2030'. Please register to join the next community zoom meeting to share or listen to ideas.

  • Market House Sevenoaks
    Article: Mar 22, 2021
    By Tony Clayton

    The virtual 'ThinkIn' on March 17, on the future of Sevenoaks town centre, drew over 60 people to share ideas. Retailers, caterers, business owners, town residents and nearby villagers joined local and national experts sharing good ideas to make Sevenoaks 'the best market town for the future'.

    • New independent shop, Knobbly Knees in London Road, has shown how Sevenoaks people welcome quality, specialist, retail offers. Owner Amy said town centre pavements need to be better for window shopping, and traffic congestion caused by delivery vehicles must be tackled
    • Roger Lee, who co-wrote Sevenoaks in a Time of Change in 2020, emphasised the importance of social space in our town, to encourage locals to sit, stay and meet, and to draw visitors in
    • Otto's co-founder Jack outlined his aim to be leader in zero waste catering. This could be a USP for Sevenoaks businesses shown by the example - and fame - of towns in other countries
    • Parents called for safer town centre streets, family friendly, where children are protected from speeding traffic and where it is easy to cross from one shop to another
    • People now working from home said they already spend more money in Sevenoaks, and outlined the big opportunity for shops, hospitality and service providers to meet their family and business needs
    • The importance of education to Sevenoaks economy was stressed, with 5,000 plus secondary students in the town every day, with money to spend and able to make a contribution
    • A member of Sevenoaks Business Board called for a vision for how the town will respond to radical change, as more traditional retailing goes online and more people will work locally - either from home or from satellite offices outside London
    • A resident of South Park asked for action on air quality, which makes Sevenoaks High Street less attractive to shop and meet in.
  • Your Town Centre Needs YOU ()
    Article: Mar 9, 2021

    National high streets expert Will Brett will be joining a live virtual "Think In" event on the evening of 17th March, organised by Sevenoaks Liberal Democrats.

    Brett co-authored the recent report Taking Back The High Street: Putting communities in charge of their own town centres with Vidhya Alakeson for the National Lottery Community Fund and Power to Change (available free online), and is a longstanding expert on the creation of thriving local places. Brett was formerly Director of Communications at the influential thinktank the New Economics Foundation.

    He will share his understanding of the opportunities Sevenoaks could take advantage of, and some examples from around the country that we could learn from, at the start of an event designed to hear ideas from local people. Following an event format pioneered by the national news brand Tortoise, Brett will share his ideas before further opening contributions from Victoria Granville Baxter, organiser of the Sevenoaks 2020 photography project with Roger Lee, and members of Sevenoaks business community.

    The event is being organised by Sevenoaks Liberal Democrats, and will be chaired by local member Jon Alexander, who is himself an expert in civic participation and last year delivered the Opening Provocation at the Athens Democracy Forum.

    Richard Streatfeild, who is Liberal Democrat candidate for Sevenoaks Town in the next Kent County Council elections, said "This event is an experiment for us, and something that is only possible in the time of Zoom. While it is being run by the Liberal Democrats, it is not a "political" event - we want to hear from everybody, whether you're intending to vote for me or not! All of us love this town and want to make it better, and that's what this sort of event is all about."

    The workshop will be hosted on Zoom. To register, please email action@sevenoakslibdems.org.uk

  • Liberal Democrat Group on Kent County Council 2017 (Kent Liberal Democrats)
    Article: Mar 3, 2021
    By Rob Bird, Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group at Kent County Council

    Covid-19 has highlighted the value of caring for each other. Now we need to care for those most affected by the pandemic and help them recover - NHS staff, care workers, those that care for family members, children with disrupted schooling, people with mental health challenges and many more. At the same time, we will aspire to a better quality of life for all, with clean air and green space that everyone can appreciate.

    Kent County Council needs to help lead this recovery and help make Kent a better place to live for all generations.

    The Liberal Democrats are committed to caring for our community, our environment and for you.

    These are Kent Liberal Democrats' six key priorities for the coming years:

  • Tom at the proposed entrance to Covers Farm Quarry (Tom Mackay)
    Article: Feb 25, 2021
    By Tom Mackay

    There is a drainage problem at the old sand quarry at Covers Pit, Westerham. Clay has somehow covered the normal sand drainage routes and so water is increasingly gathering in the pit.

    The application proposal is to dump 800,000 cubic metres of glass, concrete, bricks and other London detritus into the pit. Indications are that this dumping will last for 6+ years involving over 84,000 truckloads being 150-200 HGV movements a day (average 18 an hour but at peak times could be much more). Covers Pit is right next to the M25 but instead of getting access to the M25 the proposals involve huge increase in HGV traffic through towns and villages such as Westerham, Brasted, Sundridge and Biggin Hill.

    While a solution to the drainage at Covers Pit is required it is vital that any solution should take local circumstances into account, to reflect the character, needs and impact of or on the local communities and area. The great fear is that, because of Covid, the Planning Authority takes a decision based on inadequate analysis, lack of proper independent consideration of alternatives and poor understanding of the true impact on the implementation of the proposals on the local communities. Decisions ought to be delayed until those deciding on the issues have the opportunity to do a site visit and speak to representatives of local groups so they fully understand the impact on the local communities.

    Points arising include:

    Traffic generation

    The roads most affected appear to be Westerham Hill up through Biggin Hill, A25 through Westerham, Brasted and Sundridge and Croydon Road. Post Covid these routes will likely again be choc-a-bloc particularly during hours when people are travelling to and from work and school. We are told that the peak times for the arrival of these 84,000 lorries will be during morning rush hours. The cost of people being stuck in their cars for wasted hours over 6+ years is incredibly high and ought to be calculated before decisions of this magnitude are taken. Pupils and workers need to get to school and their places of work safely and on time.

    Particular concern is with the extra delays at the traffic lights at Sundridge, the probable build-up of traffic at Beggars Lane roundabout and the extra delays at Croydon Road with new traffic lights.

    Highway safety and Road Access

    It is reported that access to the dumping site will be a new road heading west from the roundabout on Beggars Lane. The entrance to this road is narrow and thought to be one way only at least in part. It appears trucks may have to wait to gain access and this means clogging up the approach roads to Beggars Lane roundabout creating dangers for other motorists.

    Noise and disturbance resulting from use

    84,000 lorries over 6+ years will inevitably cause extra noise pollution and pollutants from diesel HGV engines. The access road to the dumping pit passes close to Churchill C of E Primary School - how many extra children will suffer asthma and other respiratory problems over the 6+ years?

    Pollution levels where the M25 runs close to the A25 are already high. Local doctors will have records showing the link between the arrival of the M25 and the increase in in the number of chest conditions.

    Hazardous materials

    I see reference to the existing water in the pit containing arsenic, nickel, lead and other dangers. Added to this will be demolition waste which unless closely monitored and controlled over the 6+ years will contain additional contaminates. There is a drinking water borehole close by which could easily be contaminated.

    Alternatives

    Could the lorries get access direct to the M25 say at Clacket Lane? There is reference to the pit being a problem for the M25 so at least there ought to be consultations with the M25 authority with a view to avoiding 84,000 lorries over 6+ years holding up traffic on country roads.

    Have engineered solutions been fully researched. It was a sand pit which has been allowed to fill with clay. Sand is terrific for drainage but clay is not. Is there a way of drilling through to the sand and draining the water in that way?

    The applicant is reputedly a large landowner adjacent to the pit. Can earth be moved from other parts of his property to fill the pit? This would remove the need for the 84,000 trucks on nearby roads.

    There was a proposal to build 600 new homes on or near Covers Pit. Permission was refused. The new request for the landfill proposes a road leading west from Beggars Lane roundabout to Covers Pit. If built presumably it would ease the passage for a new attempt to gain planning permission for the 600 houses. Are the two planning applications connected in any way? Is there a long-term planning chess game being orchestrated?

    The applicants have access to expensive lawyers and consultants who advise on a solution that just happens to generate income for the applicant. Hard to track fees generated from allowing the dumping of 800,000 cubic metres but it is likely to be very significant and gives a huge incentive to choose this solution to the drainage problem.

    It is understood planning permission to dig out the pit was subject to a restoration commitment. It would be interesting to see the commitment and be told why there has been a long delay in enforcement.

    Not far from Covers Pit there is another proposed development to dump more London waste - at Chevening to block the sight of the M25 from the house. For the Chevening development I see reference to 200 HGV trips a day and development over 5 years. This traffic would have a major impact on ordinary people's lives due to pollution, noise and danger to life.

    Coupled together the developments at Covers Pit and Westerham are examples of the rich and powerful seeking personal benefits that are far outweighed by adverse impact on local communities.

    So for reasons which must now be obvious I consider the adverse impact of the proposed solution to the drainage problem at Covers Pit demonstrably outweighs the benefits and an alternative must be found to avoid the need for 84,000 truckloads of waste along country roads over 6+ years. I oppose the planning application.