Emergency planning report details catastrophic effect of no-deal Brexit on Kent

Emergency planning report details catastrophic effect of no-deal Brexit on Kent

  • Food supplies disrupted as safety testing becomes impossible
  • Schools, social care, transport and business will face severe disruption
  • County Council forced to spend over £20 million on reinforcing Kent's roads and hundreds of thousands of pounds to employ more staff to cope with chaos

The true impact of a catastrophic no deal Brexit has been laid bare in a report published on Wednesday detailing Kent County Council's emergency plans.

The high level report outlines the desperate measures the council will need to take to keep basic services such as social care, schools, highways and trading standards running if the UK leaves without a deal in March 2019.

KCC's plans include employing dozens of extra trading standards and communications staff at a cost to taxpayers of several hundred thousand pounds.

With Kent "routinely" having to accommodate 10,000 extra lorries as border checks are imposed under a no deal scenario, the report details fears that the resulting traffic problems will be so bad that carers will be unable to reach patients, teachers and pupils will be unable to travel to school and the council's own staff won't be able to get around the county. 

The Government's traffic management plan, Operation Brock, would see lorries shunted around the county, first parking just outside the Port of Dover, then on the M20. When that was full the next phase would involve opening the old Manston Airport site to park more lorries, followed by the M26 and finally sending lorries "outside the county". Where is not specified. 

The resulting congestion is expected to have a severe impact, and the report details contingency plans to help vital services maintain a semblance of normality despite gridlocked roads across the county. 

Social care services have been told to identify staff who live close to particularly vulnerable patients, who may be able to visit if their regular career cannot reach them. 

Schools have been asked to review travel plans for staff and pupils and put contingencies in place if people cannot get to school. They have also been told to plan for poor air quality caused by idling HGVs outside school buildings. 

According to the report, council staff have staff have been told to consider the following:

  • Prolonged disruption to passenger and freight networks impacting the strategic road and rail networks and the surrounding local road network
  • Disruption to the importation and exportation of goods, foodstuffs and other consumables, and medicines and other medical supplies due to changes in trading rules and regulations and from traffic congestion
  • Disruption to vulnerable individuals and communities affected by major traffic congestion resulting in an inability to attend schools, hospitals, etc
  • Disruption to staff travel leading to staff shortages in key services such as social care and an inability to provide local services and individual appointments
  • An increase in the numbers of migrants arriving in Kent, including unaccompanied asylum-seeking children, as a consequence of the change in UK-EU relations.
  • Another little discussed yet vital area likely to be severely affected is Kent Scientific Services, which tests food to ensure it is safe. This testing relies on chemicals imported from the EU, and on samples being able to move freely and quickly around the county. If this testing cannot be done, food supplies could be disrupted as it will become impossible to tell whether imports are fit for human consumption. In the event of no deal, transporting samples quickly around the country and buying the necessary chemicals may become impossible. As a result KCC is stockpiling vital chemicals and planning to spend money on new testing centres and staff.
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An Open Letter to Greg Clark

Dear Greg Clark MP,

Let’s be frank. Brexit is a complete mess. You and I both knew this a long time ago. The government's Brexit withdrawal only confirms that the Brexit fantasy is collapsing under its own contradictions.

Greg - in your heart of hearts do you genuinely believe that the PM’s agreement is in our best interests? Be honest - do you really think your government’s arrangement is better than our current EU deal?

In 2016 we both campaigned to Remain. We even managed to put a Lib Dem sticker on you! You were ardent in your beliefs that we were stronger in the EU. Two years later what has happened to that Greg Clark? I am surprised that you have had this extraordinary change of heart!

My question to you is: why put yourself through selling something you clearly did not and possibly still do not believe in, especially when your own constituents voted against Brexit? As business secretary, you are also no doubt very aware of the catastrophic consequences that a bad Brexit could have on business and commerce.

Complicit

My belief is that you should free yourself of this predicament by leaving the government and, instead, put all your energies in to campaigning to give all of us the final say. By staying in Mrs May’s government you are complicit - I use the word advisedly - in making Brexit your unwanted gift to your constituents.

Here are 5 reasons why you should support the People’s Vote:

1. The referendum was not free and fair. There were lies. Turkey is not joining the EU and in any case the UK would have a veto. Leave donor Arron Banks is being investigated by the National Crime Agency. He is innocent until proven guilty but, should illegal foreign money have played a part, then the legitimacy of the result must be questioned. Do we really want to go ahead and reward liars and possible cheats?

2. Voters were not well informed about the reality of Brexit. Of course, leaving the EU was on the ballot paper but what does leaving look like in reality? It wasn’t clear back in 2016. It was only last week, two and half years after the original vote, that the Brexit deal was, in part, revealed. By giving the people a vote we are allowing them to make an informed decision on the facts - not the fantasy mis-sold by Brexiteers.

3. The promises of 2016 have not been met. The backlash against the PM’s deal from Leavers and Remainers alike has only increased divisions. It satisfies neither side of the debate. If Brexit à la Theresa May is such a good deal for the UK, surely residents will endorse it again!

4. The country is allowed to change its mind - democracy should be an ongoing process. What looked like such a good idea in 2016 is now in doubt. People are, quite rightly, having second thoughts. I am sure you will that seen the recent opinion poll in Tunbridge Wells showing that the pro-Remain majority has actually increased since the referendum. Surely you were elected to represent the views of your constituents!?

5. Brexit will be your legacy to Tunbridge Wells. Despite our differences, my genuine belief is that you went into politics because you wanted to make a difference. I cannot understand why you are so determined to be an architect of a project which will make things worse for all of our residents? Please search your conscience and make the right decision.

Your constituents, whether Liberal Democrat, Conservative, Labour or of no political affiliation, deserve to decide whether your Brexit agreement is good enough.

Mr Clark, can we - your Remain constituency - count on you at this time of national crisis?

Councillor Ben Chapelard, Leader of the Liberal Democrat Opposition on Tunbridge Wells Borough Council and Liberal Democrat general election candidate for Tunbridge Wells

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This Autumn's Budget is a Bit of a Gamble

Economic Chief blasts UK budget as ‘a bit of a gamble’ as Theresa May pays for record tax cuts for the rich by increasing our debt.

The UK budget has come under fire. Economists claim increasing our national debt, while splashing cash on tax cuts for the rich, is a gamble with our future.

Paul Johnson, the director of the Institute of Fiscal Studies says, "If I were a prison governor, a local authority chief executive or a head teacher, I would struggle to find much to celebrate. I would be preparing for more difficult years ahead."

Even with a little extra cash important areas like our schools still face significant cuts.

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Tunbridge Wells Liberal Democrats Announce New PPC

Conservative MP for Tunbridge Wells, Greg Clark, will face Councillor Ben Chapelard at the next general election, members of the Liberal Democrats in Tunbridge Wells have decided.

Cllr Ben Chapelard has represented St James’ ward on Tunbridge Wells Borough Council (TWBC) since 2010 and is the Leader of the Liberal Democrat Opposition.

On being selected, Ben Chapelard said:

“I am delighted to have the opportunity to represent people in Tunbridge Wells. The Conservatives have taken this constituency for granted for too long. The people of Tunbridge Wells deserve better. It will be a privilege to put forward a positive new agenda for our community.”

“I’m looking forward to meeting more local residents across the constituency in the coming weeks and months to hear the concerns and address the issues local people are facing.”

Local party chair Gillian Douglass said:

“Tunbridge Wells Liberal Democrats warmly welcome Ben as our parliamentary candidate. He has worked hard for the constituency for a number of years and has been instrumental in campaigning on local issues which matter to residents.

His enthusiasm for the constituency is widely recognised beyond the party and we know he will have a significant impact both as a parliamentary candidate and as our future MP.”

Ben is Assistant Headteacher in a Kent secondary school. His subjects are French and Spanish.

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Liberal Democrats Win Two Seats at Borough Elections

With 23% of the votes, the Liberal Democrats held a seat in St. James' at the recent borough elections and won a seat in St. John's. Our former mayor, David Neve, took 51% of the votes in St. James' and Mark Ellis took 47% of the votes winning another seat in St. John's.

Disappointingly, Chris Hall lost by 8 votes in Broadwater, winning 39% of votes cast and Rachel Sadler came a close third in Park with 23% of votes cast.

The Liberal Democrats thank everyone who voted for our candidates together with all of our supporters who spread the word about the work we are doing in Tunbridge Wells. Finally, we want to thank our candidates themselves most of whom did a lot of the leg work themselves.

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Meet our 2018 Candidates

We are happy to announce the Tunbridge Wells Lib Dems are standing candidates in all 16 seats in the Borough election on 3rd May.

We asked our candidates to introduce themselves to you below:

 

Broadwater - Chris Hall

Culverden - Martin Brice

Paddock Wood East - Gillian Douglass

Park - Rachel Sadler

St James' - Dave Neve

St John's - Mark Ellis

Sherwood - Alan Bullion

Southborough North - Trevor Poile

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Lib Dems Stand Full Slate of Candidates

How would you summarise why you feel residents should vote for you?

The Liberal Democrats are the opposition on the Tunbridge Wells Borough Council. We punch well above our weight - and that of the other opposition parties. We are running candidates in all 16 of the borough seats on May 3rd. We pride ourselves on listening to our residents and getting things done on their behalf. Getting the old cinema site cleaned up, campaigning for doorstep glass recycling and saving CCTV monitoring from being switched off by the Conservatives are just three examples of what we Liberal Democrats have achieved in the last few years.

What would represent a successful result?

Our candidates are highly motivated people who want to do their bit for the communities in which they live.The Liberal Democrats plan to hold the seat that we have and gain several more on the borough council in order to better hold the Conservatives to account. We hope to have some very talented new Councillors as part our council group. Our candidates are highly motivated people who want to do their bit for the communities in which they live.

What is your number one priority for the town?

To ensure that the borough is a great place to live for every one of the approximately 130,000 residents. There can be no more reductions in services as they have been cut to the bone. We want Tunbridge Wells to be a pioneer in 21st-century living. We need a strategic plan for the centre of Tunbridge Wells. The Conservative’s piecemeal approach has not worked and is not working. We need to tackle congestion, illegal levels of air pollution and the lack of safe roads, pavements and bicycle lanes.

And where would you get the money to finance your ambitions [eg. Reductions, savings]

More partnership working will achieve savings and income can be generated from property the council own. With council taxes increasing, we would seek to use the current budget differently in order to both ensure good public services and to make sure that the town and borough are great places for all our residents. For example, we would save the Conservatives’ £1.3m face lift of Mount Pleasant to deal with the root cause of the problem: Congestion. A rethink on the Civic Development would also give TWBC more room to address the concerns of residents.

What is the party’s position on the Civic Complex?

We oppose the £93m Civic Development. It has not been thought through and therefore fails to address the needs of the town. It is the wrong priority. It is a massive debt for a project which is the wrong place. The money could be better spent. The town does need investment but it needs to be the right kind - and not at the expense of public services and charity and community support groups’ funding. We think that the current plans are not fit for purpose and also question the proposed site because of traffic congestion and the impact that it will have on Calverley Park and Mount Pleasant Road.

What would you like to be seen done to enhance Tunbridge Wells centre?

We need a comprehensive plan for public buildings and to ensure that planning permission is granted to developments which enhance the town and are fit for purpose. We need to ensure that developers contribute to local services and provide affordable housing. We would like to see social housing as part of the mix. We would also like to work with businesses and developers to ensure the development of small and medium sized businesses and adequate office space in Tunbridge Wells. 

And what can be done about traffic in the town?

Contrary to what the Conservatives say, the answer is not building £18m of new car parks at Crescent road and in Calverley Grounds. Let’s talk specifics. Tunbridge Wells Liberal Democrats believe we have to encourage different modes of transport. We continue to campaign for increased cycle lanes, park & ride scheme and a pedestrian and bike friendly town centre. It is not rocket science - it just needs the political will to do it!

Finally, should a candidate live in the ward they represent?

All our councillors live in the wards they represent. Ideally, the candidate should have strong ties to the ward they represent. It means they have a vested interest to do the very best by their ward rather than just seek election to public office. Every resident will have the opportunity to vote Liberal Democrat in these elections.

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Rachel Sadler to Stand for the Lib Dems in Park

Rachel Sadler has lived in Tunbridge Wells for about 17 years. Rachel is passionate about politics- both local and national, and is standing for Park ward in May 2018. She is an experienced candidate and, most recently, increased the Lib Dem’s vote share in last year's general election. 
Rachel lives in Park, so understands the issues which need to be addressed. Her primary concern is the civic development. At least £77M of debt will be amassed in order to provide Tunbridge Wells with a new theatre and council offices. Rachel's particularly worried about the effects on local services. Cuts have already been made because of reductions to councils' funding.
This new development will only worsen the situation. 
It was revealed recently at a council meeting that the Citizens Advice Bureau in Tunbridge Wells is at risk as a result of this expensive project. Many rely on this important service, so it'd be a significant and concerning loss.
Rachel believes in equal opportunity for all. She is also a member of TW Women 100- an all-female community group in Tunbridge Wells, who are organising events for International Women’s Day on March 8.
If you are interested in helping Rachel with her Tunbridge Wells Borough Council election campaign, email her on rachelsadlertw@gmail.com or call 07832147557.
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Chris Hall to Run in Broadwater for Lib Dems

Chris Hall has lived in Tunbridge Wells for the past 18 years and has been resident in the ward since 2016.  He has two teenage children who go to school in the town and lives with his partner Carol.  He is a senior manager at AXA PPP Healthcare and has a wide ranging background in sales and business development.  Since becoming a Trustee at the Number One Community Trust he has taken on fundraising responsibilities for the community hall and residents. 

Chris was motivated to stand for election to bring about change to the way local government is done. He wants a council that listens and responds to the needs of local people which is one of the reasons he is calling for a referendum on the £93m proposal to build new council offices in Calverley Park. 

If you can help Chris with his campaign please contact him at broadwaterlibdems@gmail.com or 07847440433.  

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Alan Bullion to Run in Sherwood for the Lib Dems

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Alan Bullion has lived in the Sherwood ward where he is standing for the past 30 years. He works in London for Informa and commutes from High Brooms station, where he successfully campaigned for a second ticket machine. He is a former school governor and pupil of Tunbridge Wells Grammar School for Boys, and is still chair of its Alumni society. Alan has long been active over local issues in the Oak Road area of Sherwood, such as defending the recreation and sports facilities against development. Alan also is a great believer in life-long learning, having done degrees with the Open University and Southampton as a mature student.

Please contact him at alan.bullion@informa.com or 07766968820 if you can help in any way with Liberal Democrat campaigns.

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