Recent news and updates
Article: Apr 6, 2021A 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.
Article: Mar 22, 2021By 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.
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 email@example.com
Article: Mar 3, 2021By 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:
Article: Feb 25, 2021By Tom MackaySevenoaks West Tom Mackay Get Involved About Sevenoaks West Division Tom's Views Sevenoaks West Survey Contact Tom Donate
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:
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 materialsI 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.
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.
Article: Feb 16, 2021By 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.
Article: Feb 11, 2021
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.