In May 2019 we fought Borough and District Council seats in Dartford, Gravesham and Sevenoaks (including Edenbridge), and a range of Town and Parish elections.
We won a total of 13 Town and District Council seats. Also a number of members and supporters were elected without a political label to parish councils across the area.
In Sevenoaks Town we relieved the Conservatives of their long standing majority on the Council, which is now balanced with 8 members from each party. Our aim is to run the Council drawing on the skills of all its members to do the best for the Town. We have set our priorites for the new council as follows:
Declare a Climate Emergency
Along with central Government and Kent County Council, we believe it is appropriate and important to recognise the serious implications of our Climate Emergency. As a council, we have an important role to play in influencing the behaviours and responses of our citizens and managing our resources. The need to reduce or eliminate harmful emissions and reduce consumption should underpin all that we do.
Getting Sevenoaks to Zero Carbon
Within the limits of our powers and ability to influence, this Council must do all it can to eliminate carbon from the economy. Principal methods will be through promoting active travel, reducing reliance upon cars, improving air quality, and reducing consumption of energy and goods.
Safer Streets, Active Travel
Wide 20mph zones across the town to encourage walking and cycling, reduce the need to drive and reduce pollution;
Ban HGV through traffic from the Upper High Street, making it safer for pedestrians and cyclists and improving air quality;
Make Sevenoaks town centre attractive to walk in and slower to drive through by the implementation of a one way system around the High Street and London Road;
Deliver more formal crossing points, particularly around schools, parks and shops;
Create a network of safe, formal cycle routes joining homes, schools, shops, stations and workplaces, linking to neighbouring villages.
Make Sevenoaks Greener
Encourage and facilitate planting of trees in public spaces, including verges where possible, and supported by community groups;
Build re-wilding into Open Spaces management plan with the re-introduction of wildflowers where appropriate;
Link our open spaces together with 'green routes' to tie them into the fabric of the town and encourage residents through them, including walking and cycling routes;
Changing Attitudes to Transport
Introduce live running information for buses and trains;
Encourage and support electric fleets in public, commercial and private transport;
Encourage and support private residents towards greener transport such as electric cars, e-bikes, cycling, scooters. This will require better cycling provision, safe pedestrian routes, readily available electric charging points, as well as active campaigns such as Green Travel exhibitions, Electric Car shows, Car Free Days.
Energy Efficient Homes
Develop planning policy to encourage the highest possible levels of insulation and other energy efficiency measures in all planning applications;
Use planning policy to make it easy to retrofit energy efficient measures such as external insulation, PV panels etc, within the constraints of conservation needs.
Energy Efficient Businesses
Show leadership in Council actions in investing in solar power and energy-saving measures, ensuring suppliers use 'green' energy and reducing consumption of materials;
Encourage local businesses to collaborate on low carbon initiatives and reduced consumption of materials, packaging, transportation.
Changing How We Live
Initiatives to change travel behaviour - Car Free Days, Walk to Work Days, Green Living Shows, Water Fountains
Leading or facilitating community initiatives for sustainable living such as:
Zero Waste Shop
Community Cycle Workshops
Promotion of alternatives to disposables, e.g. nappies
The Council should use it's position to deliver or cause the delivery of new homes in the town which are suited to first time buyers, key workers and lower income households.
Framing the NDP so that genuinely affordable rented social housing is secured as a significant part of developments;
Promoting development of affordable rented housing on public land using the approach originally proposed for the Bradbourne Vale Road and Cramptons Road sites)
Youth Provision in Northern Sevenoaks
Acknowledging the feedback from the current contract holders for youth work locally, investigate ways to improve access to youth services for young people particularly in the less affluent areas of Northern Sevenoaks.
Provision of facility for a youth club to be run by KCC/ WKC (such as in former pre-school demountable or Red Cross building);
Provision of transport to connect more remote areas of town to House in the Basement - a "Bus to the Basement".
Improving the High Street
Supporting traders, protecting pedestrians and improving air quality by making Sevenoaks Town Centre an attractive, easy to use destination. This could be either by:
pedestrianizing the High Street, routing traffic along London Road; or
Implementing a one-way system and widening pavements.
Also continuing to lobby for ways to bring the market to the High Street. A pedestrianized High Street would make an excellent location for regular markets, farmers markets and other events.
SDC and KCC are shortly to embark upon a parking review. STC should exert influence to:
Reduce pavement parking and double parking, to make walking safer and easier, and ensure emergency access;
Review the extent of yellow line parking restrictions designed to prevent commuters from parking on side streets, as the distance commuters are prepared to walk to reach Sevenoaks Station appears to have increased considerably;
Encourage Network Rail to increase capacity in their car park, perhaps through the development of a multi-storey facility in their main car park.
The Council should continue it's excellent work to bring together the town community around areas of interest. Additional ideas include:
Annual Clubs Festival, for local clubs and associations to recruit members and to celebrate our town's many talents;
Community messaging through posters at bus stops etc promoting community ownership and belonging, e.g. 'keep our town clean', 'drive slowly in our town', 'do you need the car today?'
Support neighbourhood community activities, such as 'Playing Out' days / Street Parties through awareness-raising, supporting road closure applications, etc.
Encourage positive local engagement in the community through Community Working Parties, planters, tree planting.
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