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Liberal Democrats on Kent County Council

  • Ian and Rob at Maidstone East Station
    Article: Oct 19, 2018

    The Government has promised that Thameslink trains will be running from Maidstone via West Malling to Central London from December 2019, following sustained pressure from Maidstone Liberal Democrats.

    Today Rob Bird, County Councillor for Maidstone Central and Lib Dem Leader at Kent County Council, got official reassurance from the Department for Transport that the long-overdue services would finally start running at the end of next year.

  • Jenny Randerson
    Article: Oct 14, 2018

    As Government announces 'Green Great Britain Week', Lib Dems say policies don't go far enough
    Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson for Transport, Baroness Randerson, unveils suite of policies in report entitled 'Cleaning up the air we breathe'

    Kent Liberal Democrats are calling for a ban on the sale of all new diesel cars and vans by 2025 as part of a range of measures designed to reduce air pollution and safeguard public health.

  • Contraflow
    Article: Oct 2, 2018

    Kent Liberal Democrats have called for a ban on HGVs using the outside lane of the M20 during Operation Brock, the controversial traffic management system planned to mitigate some of the traffic chaos caused by Brexit.

    If the UK leaves the customs union, the introduction of customs checks at the Port of Dover will massively increase the amount of time it takes for lorries to move through the port, causing a serious bottleneck and huge tailbacks on both sides of the Channel.

    The Government's solution, dubbed 'Operation Block', will use the southbound carriageway of the M20 between junctions 8 and 9 to park lorries destined for Europe. Other traffic would be diverted onto the northbound carriageway in a contra-flow system.

    Kent Liberal Democrats argue the plan will cause a severe bottleneck, gridlocking Ashford and Maidstone town centres and the surrounding roads. The narrow lanes in the contra-flow may also pose a danger to motorists, particularly if large lorries are allowed to overtake.

    In response, Opposition Leader Rob Bird has written to Jim O'Sullivan, Chief Executive of Highways England, calling for a ban on HGVs using the outside lane when Operation Brock is in place.

    A similar ban has been in force on the M11 since March 2017.

    The party is also calling for a ban on HGV overtaking on the stretches of the M20 affected by ongoing roadworks. Highways England is carrying out work between junctions 3 and 5 as part of the installation of 'smart motorway' technology.

    Drivers also have to contend with work between junctions 8 and 9, being done in preparation for Operation Brock.

    As part of the work, the open lanes have been narrowed, leaving little room for the thousands of lorries that use the M20 every day. Despite the 50mph limit in force, motorists have already reported dangerous overtaking manoeuvres by HGVs, as well as left hand drive vehicles straddling both narrow lanes.

    Cllr Rob Bird, Leader of the Liberal Democrat opposition on Kent County Council, wrote: "As we have seen several times recently, accidents involving HGVs in this stretch of the M20 often result in the temporary closure of the motorway with a devastating impact on traffic congestion in the surrounding area. Yet, with 50mph limits in place, HGV drivers have little to gain from attempting to overtake each other.

    "Will Highways England impose a ban on HGVs blocking the outside lane of the M20 between junctions 8 and 9 during the current works and whenever the motorway is operating as a two-lane contraflow under Operation Brock?"

    Cllr Bird said: "Kent drivers will suffer enough in the event we leave the customs union, with the county potentially facing permanent gridlock. Frustration is one thing, but drivers should not be put at risk by HGVs performing dangerous overtaking manoeuvres.

    It is only right that Highways England does what it can to ensure drivers' safety during Operation Brock, and while this road work is being completed. There is a precedent for banning HGVs from the outside lane during roadworks, and this move will help avoid delays and perhaps even a serious accident."

  • Rail petitioners
    Article: Sep 3, 2018

    Maidstone County Councillor, Rob Bird, demands answers from Secretary of State

    Maidstone's high speed rail links with London have been dealt a further blow following last week's announcement that Crossrail services will be delayed until Autumn 2019.

    Earlier this year Secretary of State Chris Grayling suggested Maidstone's peak time high-speed trains could be replaced by conventional services to Abbey Wood, the proposed south-east terminus of Crossrail, where commuters could connect with the new Elizabeth Line services.

    Yet commuters say this is unacceptable, and Maidstone Liberal Democrats have called for the retention of the county town's direct high speed links. Keeping these services is vital as new commuter services into London continue to face delays.

    The Department for Transport has already announced the long-awaited introduction of the Thameslink services from Maidstone will be further delayed to December next year. Elsewhere in Kent, there have been serious timetabling issues with Thameslink, reinforcing passengers' concerns that even this later date may not be achieved.

  • Antony Hook in Kent County Councl Chamber
    Article: Aug 27, 2018

    Funding should be provided for every Kent community to pursue 20mph limits on appropriate roads to make the county's streets safer, say Kent Liberal Democrats.


    Cllr Antony Hook, Liberal Democrat spokesperson for Business and Economic Development, has written to Peter Oakford, Kent County Council Cabinet Member for Finance, to ask that funding for extra 20mph schemes is made available in next year's budget.

    He has also called on Kent's Environment and Transport Committee to discuss the subject as soon as possible.

    In the last year, 10 small schemes funded by KCC have been announced, with the locations selected on grounds of deprivation and public health indicators.

    But Kent Liberal Democrats argue that a county-wide approach which made funding available to community groups who wanted 20mph schemes would give people the power to make their roads safer.

  • Rob at CH
    Article: Jul 13, 2018

    Vast swathes of the Kent countryside would be turned into lorry parks under a no deal Brexit, according to a plan presented to Kent County Council.

    At a full council meeting on Thursday, a paper was put before councillors by Conservative Leader Paul Carter, which suggested concreting over large areas of the countryside in an effort to avoid gridlock if customs checks were imposed at ports.

    Checking every lorry passing through Dover would slow freight traffic to a crawl and lead to permanent Operation Stack, necessitating acres of extra lorry parking.

    Other impacts of a disastrous no deal Brexit were discussed, including shortages of skilled workers and the introduction of tariffs that could see Kent firms going bust.

    The Liberal Democrats, the official opposition on Kent County Council, tabled an amendment calling for the council to tell the government that a no deal Brexit must be avoided at all costs.

    The party also called for a People's Vote, so the public can decide whether to accept a proposed Brexit deal. The Conservative leadership blocked any debate and instructed councillors to vote against the Lib Dem proposals.

    Liberal Democrat Leader Rob Bird told the council: "A bad Brexit deal for Britain will be a disastrous deal for Kent. No-one wants our roads turned into lorry parks. That is what will happen if customs checks start up, which is a real risk.

    "The government talks about using technology to fix it, but that does not exist yet and who knows if it ever will.

    "Today the opposition at Kent County Council fought for the people of Kent's interests to be put first. It is appalling that Conservatives prioritised papering over their party divisions. Kent deserves better than this."

    Speaking at the meeting, Economic Development Spokesman Antony Hook told the council: "No deal Brexit means loss of tariff-free access to the EU for Kent firms.

    "Tariffs are more than 30% on agricultural products and 19% on beverages, and that would put Kent firms out of business.

    "A no-deal Brexit would also mean UK products will no longer be licenced or accredited for sale in the EU, which would crush Kent's pharmaceutical and chemical firms.

    "We have to tell the government that Kent cannot have a no deal Brexit."

    Explaining why a People's Vote is important, Cllr Hook said: "If it's a good deal, people will endorse it and that will strengthen it, but If it's a bad deal they will be angry if not allowed to reject it.

    "People may ask where is the £350m per week for the NHS? Why haven't our wages improved? Why did the threat of Turkey joining turn out to be false?

    "They may consider that we have, in fact, a better economy and a safer place in the world as part of a strong, united Europe. When we all find out what the exit deal actually is, we owe people the chance of a fully informed say for the first time."

  • Thamelink Train
    Article: Jul 13, 2018

    Liberal Democrat county councillors have called on the KCC Cabinet Member to seek reassurance from the Department for Transport that the timetabling problems of Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) will not result in any further delay in bringing the Thameslink service to Maidstone.

    Thameslink services should already be running from Maidstone to Central London. Disappointingly, the County Town has already been shunted to the back of the line with services delayed to December 2019. Any further delay would be totally unacceptable to the poorly served Maidstone rail users.

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