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Liberal Democrats on Kent County Council

County Councillor Rob Bird for Maidstone Central

Rob Bird

Rob Bird and Dan Daley are jointly county councillors for Maidstone Central Division which covers Allington, Bridge, Fant, Heath and High Street wards.

Rob has lived with his family in the Maidstone area for over 30 years. Until he retired 5 years ago, his professional background was in financial management and operational planning. This has provided him with the experience and expertise to be the Lib Dem Group's spokesman on financial affairs and to keep a watchful eye on how the County Council spends its money.

Rob writes: "Many residents are concerned they are about current financial wastage at Kent County Council, the substantial cuts to front line services and proposed further cuts in the future. With KCC looking at alternative means to providing essential public services it is crucial that councillors scrutinise the new arrangements to ensure that standards are maintained or improved."

Having previously been a volunteer adviser, Rob is now a trustee Maidstone Citizens Advice. He also acts as a mentor with Kent Foundation helping young people to set up and manage their own business.

If you have any issues please do not hesitate to contact Rob.

Tel: 07887 897427 e-mail rob.bird@kent.gov.uk

News and Updates from Rob Bird

  • 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.

  • Rob Bird
    Article: Jun 7, 2018
    By Rob Bird, Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group at KCC

    The Government's latest proposal for a backstop 'Temporary Customs Arrangement' post Brexit does nothing to help maintain the continued frictionless movement of freight through Kent and the Channel Ports after Brexit.

    The proposal is focussed almost entirely on the desire to avoid a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. This is understandably a red line in the Brexit negotiations; even so, the proposal may be rejected by EU negotiators in Brussels.

  • Rob Bird
    Article: May 18, 2018

    Maidstone will face severe congestion under new plans to park lorries along one side of the M20, forcing other traffic onto the opposite carriageway, Kent Liberal Democrats have warned.

    The Government's latest scheme to cope with freight delays caused by post-Brexit border issues is to use the southbound carriageway of the M20 between junctions 8 & 9 to park lorries destined for Europe. Other traffic would be diverted onto the northbound carriageway in a contra-flow system.

  • Javelin
    Article: May 15, 2018

    The future of Maidstone's high speed rail link remains in doubt after train company bosses again refused to guarantee services.

    At Monday's Rail Summit meeting at County Hall, David Statham, managing director of train operator Southeastern, would not give an assurance that peak time high speed services from Maidstone West to London St Pancras will be maintained. Mr Statham was responding to a question from Rob Bird, leader of the Liberal Democrat Group at KCC, and councillor for Maidstone Central.

  • Charging POint
    Article: May 15, 2018

    Kent Liberal Democrats are calling for electric car charging points to be included in all future parking development to speed up the county's conversion to electric vehicles.

    At full council meeting on Thursday, May 17, Antony Hook, Liberal Democrats spokesperson for economic development, will propose that KCC adopts a raft of measures to make it easier for Kent residents and businesses to switch to electric vehicles.

  • Rob at CH
    Article: May 3, 2018

    Kent mums with difficulty breastfeeding may not be able to access specialist care when they need it under Conservative plans to redesign the county's breastfeeding support services.

    At Tuesday's meeting of the Health Reform and Public Health Cabinet Committee, Conservatives refused to give an assurance that new mothers with breastfeeding problems would be able to see a specialist Lactation Consultant within two days, under the new Infant Feeding Scheme.

    Access to Lactation Consultants, who are able to help with more complex infant feeding problems, is key for both mums and babies, and was one of the main concerns of mothers who campaigned against the Conservative's infant feeding service proposals.

    Up to one in ten babies is born with tongue-tie. This may require a small specialist procedure and/or more specialist breastfeeding advice for the mother. Crucially, unless this issue is dealt with quickly, the child will struggle to put on weight, which is vital in early days, and the mother will be suffer from increased stress and anxiety.

    KCC proposes just one Lactation Consultant clinic per week in eleven of Kent's twelve districts (with Dartford and Gravesham sharing a clinic) together with home visits and telephone advice.

    Additional Lactation Consultant support will be 'spot purchased'. However, no-one can guarantee that Kent's mums will be able to see Lactation Consultants when they need to.

    In recent years fewer than one in five mums has been provided with infant feeding support in Kent. UK rates of breastfeeding are amongst the lowest in the world, and at 71 per cent Kent's rate is below the national average of 73.8 per cent.

    Two boroughs, Swale and Gravesham, have breastfeeding rates well the national average at 64 per cent and 63 per cent respectively.

    There are significant and well known health benefits breastfeeding brings to both baby and mother.

    For the baby, breastfeeding brings early resistance to infection, fewer cases of Infant Sudden Death, childhood leukaemia, obesity, and cardio vascular problems, and possibly better speed of learning.

    For mums the immediate benefit is a faster return to pre-pregnancy weight, and internal organs shrinking to normal size together with reduced long term incidence of breast and ovarian cancer.

    Leader of the Opposition at County Hall, Rob Bird said: "The Liberal Democrats strongly support the provision of a universal service across Kent, but we remain concerned about fast access to Lactation Consultants when new mothers need it most.

  • Dan at Surgery
    Article: Mar 26, 2018

    The news that both GP practices in Allington are to be closed at the end of May, due to the retirement of both the doctors, has been greeted with dismay by your councillors.

    County Councillors, Dan Daley and Rob Bird are pressing the West Kent Clinical Commissioning Group (WKCCG), which is responsible for this provision, to tell us soon what their plans are to maintain this primary care close to residents in Allington. We are heavily critical of the Commissioners for not having dealt with the situation sooner and better.

  • Ian Chittenden
    Article: Mar 16, 2018

    'It is unacceptable that a "double-whammy" has been dealt to rail passengers in mid-Kent' were words used by the KCC Leader in response to a question from Liberal Democrat Environment & Transport spokesperson, Ian Chittenden,

    At yesterday's County Council meeting Ian Chittenden asked what steps the KCC Leader, Paul Carter, is taking to ensure that the Secretary of State puts Kent's County Town back on the rail map.

  • Rob Bird
    Article: Mar 16, 2018

    Kent Liberal Democrats have accused the Government of creating a smugglers' charter after the transport secretary suggested throwing open Britain's borders.

    Speaking on the BBC Question Time programme last night, Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling stated that "We will maintain a free-flowing border at Dover, we will not impose checks at the port, it is utterly unrealistic to do so. We don't check lorries now, we're not going to be checking lorries in the future."

    This is an astonishing admission by one of the chief architects of Brexit. During the referendum campaign, the over-riding mantra of the leavers was 'taking back control'.

    Leader of the Opposition at KCC, Rob Bird, said: "Mr Grayling is proposing an open border at Dover, allowing anyone and anything to come into the UK. Far from taking back control, the Tories appear to be creating a smugglers charter with the country left undefended against shoddy imports and contraband.

    "The only viable way of maintaining a frictionless border at Dover, and in Ireland, is for Britain to be in a Customs Union with the EU.

    "It's time for Mr Grayling to stop making totally unrealistic promises about a post Brexit utopia and to come up with credible and viable solutions."