At the County Council Budget Debate on Thursday, 9th February the Liberal Democrat Group will be asking for an in depth investigation into the costs incurred by the Coroners service in Kent. Although KCC meets the costs of the Coroners Service, they have no control over them.
A report to councillors in December showed that Kent Coroners carry out an average of 48 post Mortems out of every 100 cases reported to them, compared to a national average of 38 per hundred. The highest number of post mortems are carried out in north east Kent where 55 in every 100 deaths are investigated by post mortem. There are also widely varying waiting times for inquests to take place from 15 weeks in north west Kent to 40 weeks in north east Kent.
Trudy Dean, Leader of the Lib Dem group said, "This is not just a question of inquiring into the costs of the service, but the effect on relatives. Long waiting times for post mortems delay the time when the body can be released for a funeral to take place. Waiting up to forty weeks for inquests further prolongs the distress which relatives go through dealing with the loss of their family member. Local councils cannot of course interfere or influence Coroners judicial decisions, but we can enquire more closely whether the service is being carried out in an effective way which meets the needs of families as well as seeing that justice is done."
Tomorrow Thursday, Liberal Democrats at County Hall will propose that an effective cut of £500,000 to supply Crisis Payments to people in desperate circumstances be struck out of KCC's budget.
In the open letter copied below to Paul Carter Conservative Leader of KCC, Trudy Dean Lib Dem Group Leader calls for his support for the move. " If we cannot help people through the most needy times of their lives, then what is Kent County Council for?
Tomorrow at the Budget Debate, the Liberal Democrat Group will be moving an amendment to reinstate the proposed Crisis Payments budget cut.
We shall do so because these payments are made to the most desperate people in Kent.
A. Applicants have to demonstrate they have visited the Job Centre, receive all benefits to which they are entitled and have no other source of income.
B. The need for the payment is immediate and urgent, such as a replacement cooker to prepare hot food for a family or travel ticket to a dying parent.
C. The plan to change these payments to loans is unrealistic and likely to add to the destitution of the people involved.
The section 151 officer has indicated that he is comfortable with the amendment to pay for the cut by increasing Minimum Revenue Provision (MRP) savings by the required amount.
I believe that there is cross party concern about this particular budget cut, and I urge you to find a way tomorrow to restore this particular budget to current spending levels.
- For further information on the Kent Support and Assistance Service click here.
- The original budget papers proposed a reduction £840k but, as there is currently a projected underspend of c£300k, we propose a £500k increase to restore the budget to current spending levels.
More than 4,000 people join the party in January
Liberal Democrat membership has surged past 82,000 - the highest level for two decades - as more and more people feel inspired by the party as the real opposition to the Conservatives.
More than 4,000 people have joined the party in January, turned off by Theresa May's plans to take Britain out of the Single Market and attracted by the Liberal Democrats' opposition to "the politics of fear, division and hatred".
Liberal Democrat Party President Sal Brinton said: “Reaching 82,000 members is the highest membership in over two decades. With more than 4,000 new members having joined us in January and more than 1,000 joining since Trump's Executive Order on Friday, people are responding to the politics of hatred by joining the Liberal Democrats.
“The Liberal Democrats are the real opposition to this Conservative Brexit Government and it is great to welcome so many new members.
“For those who oppose Theresa May’s plans to rip Britain out of the single market, away from our biggest trading partners, we are your voice. We will stand up for those who oppose the politics of fear, division and hatred.
“The Liberal Democrats are needed now more than ever. As the real voice of opposition to the Conservative Brexit Government we are the only party fighting to keep Britain open, tolerant and united.”
Also commenting, David Thornewell Constituency Chairman of the Tonbridge and Malling Liberal Democrats said: "Liberal Democrats have had a big surge of new members joining the party with concern about the "Hard Brexit" our own Government is following coupled with the divisions in the Labour Party. The latest Government tactic to have the vote on serving the notice to the EU and producing their White Paper the next day underlines the chaotic way this process is being handled. Coupled with this is treating those EU nationals who legally came here as bargaining chips and the suspicion the Government intend to water down employment rights, environmental protections, and ordinary people's basic rights. And on top of that turning its back on the trading arrangements, we have with our nearest neighbours".
Trudy Dean's response to Paul Carter's speech on fair funding at Kent County Council on 26th January
I'd like to congratulate Mr Carter on his opening speech with which there was very little content that I could disagree. I think Mr Latchford got it absolutely right, when he responded, that what we are talking about today is the response of a country that wants to see a civilised way of funding those who are most vulnerable in our country. And, on that theme, I would like to ask Mr Carter if he's prepared to write today to Mrs May, and I hope all the other Leaders here would support him, to disassociate ourselves with the announcement this morning from the so-called Leader of the so-called Free West World that he's prepared to consider a return to torture, and that he would leave Mrs May under no misapprehensions that this authority is entirely opposed to that, and would oppose any move on the part of the Great British Parliament to have anything to do with it and in any way facilitating it. I would welcome the support of all the other Leaders in this Chamber for such a move. ( All leaders subsequently agreed to sign this letter.)
To move on to the question of the budget, Chairman, as you know I've been around a long time and fair funding is the Holy Grail of Local Authorities. It's a Holy Grail in the sense that it's been sought for very long and never achieved. Both the Conservative Governments and the Labour Governments have said in opposition that it is something that they want to see, will work very hard to achieve but in Government have done nothing about it at all for many, many years.
I am confident that Mr Shipton's contribution to that debate at Government will be a good one; they could scarcely have a better advisor. ( Mr Shipton is a KCC Finance officer assisting with the development of the new formula.) However, I'm sceptical about what might be achieved. Members in this Chamber are already reflecting what always happens because with any fair funding reallocation there are winners and there are losers. And Chairman, we have to be big enough to acknowledge that there will be losers who cannot be defended and I haven't heard very much of that in this Chamber today.
I would like to completely re-echo what Mr Cowan said. Last November the Government made this astonishing announcement that the lion's share of the Local Growth Fund was to go to those regions due to have Elected Mayors. I'm sure that Kent County Council's Cabinet Members were no doubt very interested to hear from Andrew Percy, responsible for the Northern Powerhouse, that their reasoning behind that was, quote: "where there are devolution deals in place we know there is a degree of accountability." So, there isn't any degree of accountability in this Chamber, Chairman. Only if we have somebody who wears a red fur-lined cloak and a gold chain. What has that got to do with deprivation, or with a past delivery record or value for money or more importantly than all of those, to need?
How are we to work a system of local services to deal with the most needy within our society when we base our taxation on a system which is not related to the ability to pay and is not related to service demands that we have? I return once again to the fact that there is no other way of funding social services other than through National Insurance; it is a national burden which the nation should bear. Similarly, there is no way in which we can address local authority demand through business rates which are not related to those services and do not reflect the needs of the society that we have here.
The unfairness needs to be replaced by openness and transparency, we need to understand how the formula works, which we have never been able to do so far, that is the final test.
Trudy Dean is Leader of the Liberal Democrats at Kent County Council and County Councillor for East Malling, Larkfield and West Malling.
There will be no suspension of the green-lidded bin service this year.
A bin hanger with Christmas collection arrangements is being delivered to all households in the first two weeks of December. The hanger also has lots of useful advice on recycling over the festive season. If you have a black bin the hanger will be left on the handle. If you have sack collections the hanger will be put through your letter box. The Christmas collection arrangements were also included in the recycling leaflet delivered to you in October.
w/c 19 December 2016
Your refuse & recycling collections will take place on your normal collection day.
w/c 26 December 2016
Your refuse & recycling collections will take place one day later than normal, with Friday collections taking placing on Saturday 31 December.
w/c 2 January 2017
Your refuse & recycling collections will take place one day later than normal, with Friday collections taking placing on Saturday 7 January.
w/c 9 January 2017
Your refuse & recycling collections will take place on your normal collection day.
We're delighted to announce that Baroness Alison Suttie, will join Tonbridge and Malling Liberal Democrats as our guest speaker at our annual constituency dinner on 10th March 2016. Tickets are just £25 and everyone is welcome to attend.
Baroness Alison Suttie was appointed a life peer in the House of Lords in September 2013. A party whip, she is a member of the Liberal Democrat foreign affairs team. She is also a trustee on the board of IPPR. Campaigner for public awareness of tuberculosis in the UK and internationally and also a campaigner on homelessness issues.
From 2002 to 2004, Baroness Suttie was the Press Secretary and Policy Advisor to the Irish politician and President of the European Parliament, Pat Cox MEP (ELDR Group), and worked in the Central-Eastern European countries in the run up to the 2004 enlargement of the European Union.
From 2006 to 2010, Baroness Suttie was Head of the Liberal Democrat Leader's Office where she worked in the House of Commons for Menzies Campbell, Vince Cable and Nick Clegg.
As the Liberal Democrat Campaign Manager, she planned and executed the party's 2010 General Election Campaign.
After the 2010 election produced a hung parliament, Baroness Suttie was the Liberal Democrat negotiating team's coordinator in the coalition negotiations with both the Conservative and Labour parties which eventually led to the formation of the Conservative-Liberal Democrat Coalition Government.
Baroness Alison Suttie was Deputy Chief of Staff and Special Adviser (Political Relations) to Nick Clegg, in the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister from May 2010 to October 2011. Baroness Alison Suttie was initially special adviser to then-Scotland secretary Danny Alexander, but moved to serve Nick Clegg when then Chief Secretary to the Treasury David Laws resigned over his parliamentary expenses claims.
The event will take place on Friday 10th March 2017 at the Hadlow Mannor Hotel, the dinner will start at 7:00 pm for a 7.30 pm start
Please book your ticket by calling and then sending your cheque, with a note of the names of those who will be attending, to Hugh Stirk 01732 884316, Shode House, Trycewell Lane, Ightham, Sevenoaks, Kent, TN15 9HN.
Come and join us for what promises to be a fascinating evening.
This week schools, colleges, parents, carers, children and young adults unite to say a big NO to bullying.
Of course itís important to tackle bullying all year round! But this week is a special chance to draw everyoneís attention to bullying. So we can take individual and collective efforts to make sure children have safe places where they can thrive.
The Anti-Bullying Allianceís website is http://www.anti-bullyingalliance.org.uk/anti-bullying-week/ and you can find, activities, check sheets and ways to support our community and strengthen it against bullying.
This year Anti-Bullying Week is particularly focused on ‘Power For Good’. Helping children understand how powerful they are and encouraging us all to use our ëPower For Goodí.
As we all know bullying can have a long term impact on mental health which is just one of the reasons we need to take this stand together. For too long Mental Health has been a Cinderella service, ignored, under-funded and taboo.
It is changing, but not fast enough. The Liberal Democrats will be taking every opportunity to fight for better mental health services in our country and to promote educated conversation which can be really helpful for people with poor mental health.y and to promote educated conversation which can be really helpful for people with poor mental health.
Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council has published its next stage consultation (called 'The Way Forward') of its Local Plan 2011-2031 on Friday 30th September 2016.It proposes two very large new developments of about 1,000 houses each shown in ORANGE on the map below.
One lies on the edge of Kings Hill
spreading into the southern fields of Broadwater Farm,
heading toward both East & West Malling
and the second covers the eastern end of East Malling Research Station
from Kiln Barn Lane
to Hermitage Lane
and beyond to near the 20/20 roundabout.
In West Malling
, the Manor Farm field between Churchfields
and Offham Road
is proposed for up to 80 houses.
, Kent County Council has placed Martin Square Library
on the map for disposal. It does not say what the plans for the Library might be if the site was built on. Although not part of the Local Plan, we are expecting the Planning Application for Aylesford Newsprint Larkfield site soon. We expect a few hundred houses to be proposed there. We understand the rest of the site would still provide more jobs than the highly mechanised paper mills did. Any houses on this brownfield site would mean fewer were needed elsewhere, like on Broadwater Farm.
Your Local Liberal Democrat Team including Kent County Councillor Trudy Dean
, East Malling Borough Councillor Roger Roud
, Liberal Democrat Tonbridge & Malling
Chairman David Thornewell
, former Borough Councillors Liz Simpson & Christine Woodger, East Malling Borough Councillor candidate Michelle Tatton and West Malling Borough Councillor candidate Richard Selkirk
have campaigned for an extension of the Metropolitan Green for many years.
Tonbridge & Malling Borough Council are consulting on extending the Green Belt but only to West Malling by pass, shown in pink on the map below.
We think this is not enough to protect the open countryside between Kings Hill, West Malling, East Malling and Larkfield and keep these villages separate.
"map data copyright Google 2016"
Trudy Dean, Member for Malling Central and Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group at Kent County Council asked Matthew Balfour, Cabinet Member for Environment and Transport, the following question:
"Would the Cabinet Member for Environment and Transport please say what the Government's current policy is with regard to assessing submissions from Local Authorities and individuals to Planning Applications on the basis of the impact of traffic generation?
Could he in his reply include the cumulative effect of multiple applications feeding onto the same road network, and say what effect this policy has on the County Council's ability to obtain adequate contributions towards particularly road improvements, and the County Council's ability to influence the preparation of Local Plans."
The Government policy which applies to how highway authorities advise on local plans and assess planning applications is contained within the 2012 National Planning Policy Framework. As highway authority KCC is a statutory consultee in the planning process, but not the final decision maker.
KCC is consulted when local planning authorities are developing local plans and will advise on transport strategies needed to accommodate growth and where necessary improvements should be secured.
Where our views are sought on planning applications, the Framework states that developments must be assessed in terms of their 'residual cumulative impacts'. This means we must take into account the traffic generation from the established land use of the site and its' highway impact in determining the net impact of the planning application.
We take account of the cumulative effect of developments which have been granted planning permissions when assessing projected traffic flows on the highway network, but in accordance with the Framework, applicants can only be reasonably required to put in place measures that mitigate the net impact of their proposal on the network.
The overall Government policy in this area is a presumption in favour of development to contribute to housing targets and facilitate growth. Development can only be prevented or refused on transport grounds where its' impact is considered to be 'severe'. The use of the word severe is not defined, but it effectively prevents highways authorities from recommending objections to proposals that could result in some worsening of an existing congestion problem.
KCC has spent £6,877.6 on just 200 copies of an 'Annual Strategic Statement' and an executive summary, 84 each of which were to go to County Members, the rest to 'key partners' and MPs. The cost, which equates to over £34 each, includes £3,430 for graphic design alone. The information was obtained by Lib Dem County Councillor Rob Bird.
Rob said, "this is an extraordinary waste of money. The report was produced for County Members to consider at the very same meeting where KCC is telling people that spending this year is currently forecast at £10million over budget. Next year's budget will be the most difficult ever experienced because of loss of government funding.
"It looks awfully like the Conservative Manifesto for next year's County Elections. But it shouldn't be produced at the taxpayers' expense."