Snap Election Chance for Liberals to Get Their Voice Heard

Within the last few hours, the Prime Minister has announced that she will ask the House of Commons to call a snap general election on June 8th. This is a chance to have our voices heard and to stand in unity to demand a fair, tolerant and open Britain. Since the announcement, over 1,000 people have joined the Liberal Democrats.

Please join with me to campaign, not only on a local front, but also on a national and international front, to push back the shortsightedness of extreme nationalism and to stand united as Liberal Democrats in demanding a free, tolerant and humane Britain where vulnerable people are properly supported and where the most vulnerable refugees are welcomed and encouraged to integrate into our society.

Click here to join the Liberal Democrats today.

Kind regards,

Gillian

Gillian Douglass, Chairperson

Liberal Democrats Tunbridge Wells

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Personal statement from Alan Bullion, KCC Candidate for Tunbridge Wells West

Alan Bullion is standing as your Kent County Council candidate for Tunbridge Wells West -

Brought up in Tonbridge, I’ve lived in Tunbridge Wells for the past 40 years.

I work for a publishing company in London, and have also been an Open University lecturer and local secondary school governor.

As your County Councillor I will focus on:

* Safer streets and 20mph zones, especially around schools

* Keeping the air where you live safe to breath

* Building up care at our local hospitals

* Delivering additional school places

* Keeping social care to support older people

* More capacity and fairer fares for rail and bus travellers

* Fixing streets and pavements more effectively

TACKLING THE SOCIAL CARE CRISIS IN KENT

Social care is in crisis as Conservative imposed “austerity” has cut 40% from council budgets across the country. Your Kent council tax is going up 4% - yet social care cuts will mean costs incurred by the most vulnerable people in our community are going to

double in some cases. I will fight hard to protect social care services threatened by a £78m Tory budget squeeze.

EUROPE - WHY STAYING OPEN AND TOLERANT IS VITAL

Kent is Britain’s gateway to Europe. Thousands of jobs depend on strong links. Many vital workers - especially in the care and food sectors - come from Europe. Some are already leaving due to uncertainty and intolerance.

We want the position of everyone who contributes to our community, and their families, to be guaranteed now so they can live their lives and plan the future.

And you must have a say on the eventual deal we get with Europe, a democratic check on the small band of government ministers pushing for Brexit at any cost.

Please contact me at alan.bullion@informa.com or 07840 854328

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Personal Statement from Allen Lear, KCC Candidate for Tunbridge Wells East

About me:

I was born and grew up in Nottingham and became a small business operator straight out of college when my family took over a public house. I have since run three Pubs and worked in the licensing trade for 10 years.

After leaving the alcohol industry I made a success of a Petrol station franchise. When it was sold, I moved to work on and support at woodland site which provided outdoor activities and film location settings. I now have a small, local childcare business.

Why I want to be your KCC Councillor:

My son will be 5 this year and as a proud parent, I want to see him well educated and with excellent services. I chose to stand for Kent County Council elections so that austerity could be fought in Kent.

We need more services and not the cuts another Tory or UKIP councillor will bring.  In particular I want to see glass recycling on our doorsteps. It is unthinkable that the Tories have so far failed to include it in their budgets.

I also want to fight for Pembury Hospital  funding which like all NHS services is under pressure on its finances. It has cancelled all minor surgery for the foreseeable future as it cannot afford these procedures.

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Personal Statement from Clare Bishop, KCC Candidate for Cranbrook

"I have two sons aged 14 and 12 who were both born in Barcelona, where we lived for 13 years whilst I set up and ran a destination wedding planning company. Whilst we loved the experience of living in Spain, I have always felt very British as well as European. I was worried by the politics in Catalonia where most Catalans want independence from Spain and I feared things might eventually lead to civil unrest. I wanted the boys to have an English secondary education and for us all to be around my family. I hadn't realised how much I missed my homeland but have loved everything about being back, even the weather... until Brexit. 

I joined the Lib Dems two days after the referendum and I am now the fundraising manager for Tunbridge Wells Lib Dems. Before now I have never been politically active in my life, other than voting in general elections. I will never vote Conservative or Labour again, who in my opinion have collectively destroyed everything I love about my country. I agree wholeheartedly with the Liberal Democrats' policies and hope that the surge towards fascism will be stopped by the Lib Dem fightback. My country and children's' futures depend on it in my heartfelt opinion."

Clare Bishop, 44, mother of two

KCC Candidate for Cranbrook Division

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Failures in Benefit System and Social Care Caused by Tory Government

Social Care Crisis Caused by Tory Government Failure 

Commenting on reports that more than 900 adult social care workers a day quit their job in England last year, Norman Lamb, Liberal Democrat Shadow Health Secretary, said: "This is an appalling failure by the government."

The NHS and the care system is lurching from crisis to crisis. There is a massive risk that with the Prime Minister's obsessive focus on pursuing a hard Brexit it is tying up the government so that it is chronically mismanaging other sectors.
 
"Theresa May’s continued failure to guarantee the future of EU citizens in the UK is only going to create a bigger workforce crisis in the years to come."

Welfare and Benefit Cuts 

This week sees a raft of new measures brought in by George Osborne, former Chancellor and now MP for Cheshire with 6 jobs. How can 6 jobs George have any idea what it is like to live on the breadline and to depend on handouts from the state? 

The Employment and Support Allowance has been cut from £102.15 pw to £73.10 pw which is a jaw dropping 28.4% drop in income. This together with payment of Universal Credit only and not enough housing benefit to pay rent. Housing benefit isn't available to 18-21 year olds for the first time, meaning that as many as 9,000 young people face homelessness.

A total of £2 billion has been wiped off welfare benefits while the Minister of Works and Pension, Damian Green, says “the root cause of poverty is not financial” 

At the same time, women who are expecting their third child, are expected to fill in a form to prove that they were raped “or lose your child tax credits”.

JK Galbraith once said of conservative politicians, they are constantly “engaged in the age old pursuit of a superior moral justification for selfishness”. How true.

Long-Time Labour Supporter/Member Backs Marguerita

Ian Rosam, a former Labour member, is endorsing me as Candidate for Tunbridge Wells North because "Marguerita Morton is the best candidate in this election. As a former Labour party member for 28 years I have switched to the Lib Dems because The Lib Dems offer a policy that is wholeheartedly pro-Europe unlike any other UK political party. This internationalism is balanced with a strong presence in local government."

I would also appreciate your support on May 4th.

Yours sincerely,

Marguerita Morton

KCC Candidate for Tunbridge Wells North

 

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Tory Projects Over Budget

74% cost increase forecast for A21 improvements. The most recent National Audit Office report on the Government's Road Investment Strategy reveals that road building projects are facing an extra £500 million in costs. Included in this cost is a 74% budget increase forecast for the A21 Tonbridge to Pembury project. Liberal Democrat MP, John Pugh,  member of the Public Accounts Committee commented: “The government has built just 5% of the roads they have announced. The report is damning. It is the civil servant version of a justified character assassination. This whole scheme is late and over-budget.” Read the full report for more info.

Congestion and air pollution. Residents often talk to me about their concerns about rising levels of congestion in and around Tunbridge Wells. Many agree that the root cause of this problem is the sharp rise in population from 2005-2010. The heightened population has had many adverse consequences. Unless we solve the traffic problem the town will be unable to accommodate the rising housing needs and the increase in cars. According to Department for Transport guidance, a road such as St. John's greatly exceeds its maximum volume of cars. The Council has legal obligations with regard to air quality as well as health obligations, which are clearly not being met. See Agenda item 5 of the Town Forum minutes for more info on the discussion http://www.townforum.org.uk/minutes/agenda23032017.pdf and for more national info on maximum suggested volumes of cars and air quality see: https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/GID-PHG92/documents/draft-guideline

Vision for Royal Tunbridge Wells 2017-2033. A new Local Plan was discussed at last week's Town Forum. During the period 2017 - 2033 Tunbridge Wells will see an increase to its housing, which raises concerns over balancing growth with the historical and commercial aspects of the town, and preserving its green belt areas. The Tunbridge Wells Town Forum have written a paper detailing the challenges and opportunities. The future vision should contain objectives to “attract businesses, especially in the town's specialist fields of education, health, law and insurance, and more recently publishing/new media, entrepreneurs, tourism; and highly skilled residents to work locally or to commute to London.”  See Agenda Item 5 of the Town Forum minutes for more detail. http://www.townforum.org.uk/minutes/agenda23032017.pdf

Vehicle Emissions. Already 55 new low emission doubledecker buses have been added to the Stagecoach fleet in Kent and another 30 minibuses by the end of 2016.   The introduction of new vehicles to the Kent bus fleet by other Kent bus operators is expected in 2017 and this will help improve air quality.  KCC have promised to work with district colleagues to improve air quality where ultra low emission hotspots are proposed.  I will lobby for such a scheme to be introduced in the A26 corridor where air pollution is at its highest.

County Council Elections. My name is Marguerita Morton and I am standing for Kent County Council in Tunbridge Wells North. Please let me know if you would like to help with my campaign. I can be reached on marguerita309@gmail.com or 07715695169.

Yours sincerely,

Marguerita

Marguerita Morton
KCC Candidate for Tunbridge Wells North
https://www.facebook.com/groups/611798125682940/

 

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Lib Dems host Lord Newby at annual dinner

The Liberal Democrats of Tunbridge Wells held their annual dinner on Friday, March 3rd at the Warren in Tunbridge Wells. Dick Newby, the leader of the Liberal Democrats in the House of Lords, gave an inspiring speech to the local organisation. He noted that the Liberal Democrats are now the only party at the centre of English politics and have made huge gains in both members and supporters. They also gained more donations on a national level than Labour in the last quarter.
Lord Newby has been at the forefront of the efforts by the Lords to curb the extreme exit from the European Union which is being pursued by the Conservative government. The Lords proposed amendments to the bill allowing article 50 to be triggered* which would have given European nationals living in Britain the right to remain. The Liberal Democrats are strongly opposed to human beings being used as bargaining chips in the negotiations, both in the U.K. and Europe.
* European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill 2016-7
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Tunbridge Wells Update by Marguerita Morton

Arriva Bus Company Reduces Services

Arriva have undertaken a review of their early morning service from Tunbridge Wells to Tonbridge and have decided to reduce the schedule between 5 am and 9 am from from 16 to 12 buses. 

In reality, what happens is that there is not enough room on the buses for all the school children going to Tonbridge as well as the commuters? It means that they cannot get to work or school on time. Sometimes there is a wait of 40 minutes before another bus arrives.  One of  my residents in Southborough told me that it was impossible to get on the bus in the morning because he is refused and therefore, is forced to drive to Tonbridge Station to get his train even though he lives less than 2 miles from it.  When we are trying to encourage people off the roads and onto alternative forms of transport, this step is retrograde and will only increase congestion.

20 mph Speedwatch

A new programme is being instituted to reduce speeds on residential streets in St. Johns. Residents are encouraged to come forward to monitor the 20 mph zone. They are being supplied with training and equipment. This is part of a scheme to enforce the speed limits on the newly designated roads with 20 mph speed limits but is intended as part of a scheme to monitor 30 and 40 mph zones as well. Email 20splentytw@gmail.com to participate.

Civic Building and Theatre

A new building or planning application will be put forward in the autumn to show the design of the new civic building and theatre.  There is concern over whether the theatre will be successful enough to be self sufficient as promised by the Leader of the Council, David Jukes.  The council are proposing a theatre that will be "better" than the Marlowe in Canterbury.  It is unclear whether there will be a theatre trust or a management company in charge.

In terms of design of the buildings, it has been suggested that the design should be reduced in mass because of the shadow the current design casts onto Calverley Grounds - plus it may be something of an eyesore for residents on the other side of the Grounds.

Access and exit from the new theatre is proposed to go through Hoopers Car Park. Permission has not been agreed yet but if, access is denied, then an alternative route will have to be found. Another concern is how quickly unloading will be undertaken by the articulated lorries when big touring companies visit as there could be several of these lorries at a time and whether there is enough space for them.

Parking

Parking is still a bone of contention for the new civic centre in Tunbridge Wells.  There are 90 planned new spaces in the existing Crescent Road multi storey car park plus a further 250 new spaces in the civic building.  It is still unclear whether more spaces will be provided for theatre patrons near to the theatre.  The current line of thought is that theatre goers can use the Torrington multi storey car park or Crescent Road multi storey car park which will be relatively empty in the evenings.

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Tunbridge Wells Campaigner Defines Goals for Kent County Council

I am Marguerita Morton and I'll be standing for Kent County Council in Tunbridge Wells North on May 4th.  I am passionate about improving the lives of all residents of Tunbridge Wells because I understand how life can be a struggle against poverty, discrimination and injustices. I came to Tunbridge Wells as an 11 year old for a better education and prospects. It was my parents who taught me the value of education, hard work, and the importance of a loving family.

Having lived in Tunbridge Wells for 37 years, I previously worked in Canada and in the US.  Since 1988 I worked in public and private law as a legal consultant involving planning appeals, judicial reviews from the lower courts and tribunals such as immigration, personal injury, transport , bankruptcy, and the Court of Protection.

My daughter attended Claremont CEP School and Tunbridge Wells Girls Grammar School. Whilst a parent at Claremont, I campaigned to keep class sizes below 30.

I have been active as a member of the Liberal Democrats since 2003 when I was first elected as a Town Councillor for Southborough and re-elected in 2007. I have:

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Tory MP should represent his residents

Cllr Ben Chapelard speaks out at Tunbridge Wells MP Greg Clark's spectacular Hard Brexit U-turn.

 

"Last Wednesday Tunbridge Wells MP, Greg Clark, voted again to trigger article 50, giving the Prime Minister authority to start the process of the UK leaving the European Union. Amazingly, this is despite his own constituents, including himself, having voted to Remain by a clear majority!

 

During the first reading of the bill the previous week, 105 MPs voted against triggering article 50 precisely because their constituencies, like Tunbridge Wells, voted to stay in the EU. So why did Mr Clark, unlike the 105, go against the very wishes of the people he claims to represent?

 

The difference is that Mr Clark is a member of Mrs May’s government and his first loyalty is to her. No amount of spin or lofty words from Mr Clark will detract from the fact that he has abandoned his Remainer principles and forged ahead with a hard Brexit, all in the pursuit of his own ministerial career. This leaves us residents voiceless as the local MP puts his own party above his constituents.

 

Members of Parliament should represent the people who elected them. Whilst I accept that MPs cannot consult on every decision, the referendum was a clear poll of local opinion. We voted to Remain! Mr Clark should respect the opinion of his constituents. For us Liberal Democrats, loyalty to our residents comes above party allegiance. Sadly, Mr Clark is a Westminster man in Tunbridge Wells and not a Tunbridge Wells man in Westminster.

 

Meanwhile Mr Clark had done handsomely well out of Brexit. Having obediently wielded cuts to local government funding, including to our own Borough Council, his loyalty to the party was rewarded by the incoming Theresa May. The new Prime Minister duly promoted him to one of her top Cabinet jobs, Business Secretary. In contrast, many local people, whose livelihoods depend on being part of the Single Market, are now facing an uncertain future as employers begin moving jobs to the Continent.

 

The government's subsequent desperation to keep major employers in the UK has been embarrassing. Look no further than the grubby sweetheart deal Mr Clark put together to prevent Nissan moving away. The decision to leave the EU has already started to undermine job security and we are still years away from leaving.

 

Let’s be clear: the Liberal Democrats respect the result of the referendum. We are leaving the EU. Whether we like it or not, we have all got to get used to it. But what does Brexit look like in reality? No voter knew last June. That is why the Liberal Democrats want the British people to have the final say to avoid a stitch up by Westminster politicians which satisfies neither Leavers nor Remainers. On Wednesday Mr Clark also voted against this Lib Dem amendment to to give, you the final say on the terms of Brexit.

 

Mr Clark, like many of his colleagues on the Conservative and Labour benches, hides behind the narrow referendum outcome as if it provided a mandate for the most extreme exit from the EU. It did not. Mr Clark likes to call himself "a democrat". So why not give the British people the right to vote on the final deal? What are you afraid of, Mr Clark?"

 

These views were published in the Times of Tunbridge Wells in a column under the title "MPs should represent residents who elected them" in the 15th February 2017 edition. You can join the Liberal Democrats here.

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