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Recent news and updates

  • 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.

  • Richard Streatfeild's introductory video still
    Article: Feb 16, 2021
    By Richard Streatfeild

    In this video I speak about my top priority - education:

    • Kent currently spends less than the national average on schools. I want Kent to spend more per-child.
    • Kent's needs to improve training and provision for children with special needs
    • The best education shouild be available to every pupil

    I want to be a strong voice for a better Sevenoaks. Please help by completing my survey and telling me what your priorities for Sevenoaks are.

  • Alastair Macpherson
    Page: Feb 15, 2021

    Many members will be sorry to learn of the passing of Alastair Macpherson. Here is an appreciation by one of his oldest friends in the local party. If you wish to add any thoughts of your own, please email them using this link. We will add them to this page if you tell us you are happy for them to appear.

  • Sevenoaks High Street Business Letter 1 (Sevenoaks Lib Dems)
    Article: Feb 11, 2021
    Our survey said you are concerned about the centre of Sevenoaks. Today every business in the town received a letter telling them what ideas we have and asking for their view about what they need.

  • Graham Colley at Westminster
    Article: Feb 7, 2021

    Commenting on the decision to increase council tax by 7.4% to pay for the Policing in Kent, Graham Colley, PCC candidate for the Liberal Democrats said:

    "I could achieve cheap political points by immediately criticising my opponent at the next election for the increase. No one wants to pay more than they did! However, at the same time, for the people of Kent to have a caring and safe community and the maxim "you get what you pay for", must also be considered.

  • Richard ()
    Article: Jan 23, 2021

    As of Friday 22 January, the government issued new lockdown guidance banning political leafleting by volunteers. Commercial leafleting is allowed, political leafleting is not. The new government guidance will affect the ability of your Sevenoaks Liberal Democrat councillors to provide you with useful information and is a brazen suppression of political debate and important community work.

  • /wp-content/uploads/2011/08/key_campaign_20ispleantyinsoutheast-300x133.jpg
    Article: Jan 19, 2021

    Can you help create safer streets for all our young people to get to school?

    Liberal Democrat councillors backed the 2019 campaign for 20 mph zones round St Johns and Sevenoaks primary schools from the start. We helped with the petition, printed the posters, sent details out in our newsletters, and supported the petition at Council meetings. Now its in place, residents really appreciate safer, quieter, streets too.

    Now we need to make the same protection available to other schools - Lady Boswells and St Thomas' primary schools, plus the secondary schools at Trinity, Weald of Kent, Knole Academy and Sevenoaks School. That's why Richard Streatfeild is backing the plan by local campaigners to include roads from Bradbourne Lakes to Hillingdon Avenue, and the High Street and London Road, in new zones.

    This will tackle the areas where 184 accidents have happened over the last ten years, and over 200 people have been injured. It will also make our Town Centre more attractive and safer to walk around, if traffic moves at a safer pace and shoppers can cross the roads safely.

    This petition has around 1000 signatures already, on paper and online. You can sign today at

    https://www.change.org/p/michael-payne-kent-county-council-make-our-streets-safer-and-more-active-all-central-sevenoaks-20mph-zone

    If you'd like to help Richard promote safer streets please contact him at

    richard@sevenoakslibdems.org.uk

  • Matt Craven
    Article: Jan 1, 2021
    2020 has been difficult for many, but the challenges we faced showed the strength of our local community. From giving up time to help the most vulnerable, to efforts to plant trees that will benefit Sevenoaks for generations to come, we can be proud of what our community has done this year.
    COVID-19 underlined equalities in our society that many knew were there . It shouldn't have taken Marcus Rashford and a pandemic to remind the government how important it is that schoolchildren have enough to eat.