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Recent News For Maidstone

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  • Superb new pond
    Article: Nov 23, 2014

    Local Lib Dem Councillors are working with Maidstone Council and contractor Clancy to ensure that no long-lasting damage results from the sewer collapse, blown manholes and subsequent sewage leak into the River Len Nature Reserve, Maidstone.

    Following an intervention by Lib Dem Councillor Tony Harwood (Chair of the River Len nature reserve management committee), a superb new pond has been excavated by Clancy (pictured top) to replace that lost when a new ring-main was installed. This complements another new pond Tony has recently hand-dug in the western part of the nature reserve (pictured bottom). Much of the re-instatement work on site was carried out using hand tools rather than machinery - to prevent further damage to the soft marshy ground.

  • Cllr. Tony Harwood and Tommy Long at Cuckoo Wood
    Article: Nov 23, 2014

    North Ward Liberal Democrats have reached an agreement with a local family wood-cutting business to deliver the next phase of coppice management at this much-loved Maidstone ancient woodland -which was initiated last winter.

    The return of woodland management to Cuckoo Wood has already brought benefits for the local landscape and wildlife, and is helping to keep Kentish coppicing skills alive.

  • Article: Nov 23, 2014

    As we move into winter the risk from severe weather events and other emergencies increases significantly.

    It is therefore vital that individuals, families and community groups do everything they can to become better prepared and more resilient to emergencies.

    The Kent Resilience Forum (a partnership made up of the emergency services, local authorities and utilities) has now produced an informative booklet entitled 'What Should I do in an Emergency' to help us all become more resilient.

    The booklet and lots of other valuable advice on keeping you and your community safe from flooding and other risks can be found on the Kent Prepared website www.kentprepared.org.uk.

  • Jasper Gerard and Sam Roach with local campaigners at Fant Farm
    Article: Nov 20, 2014

    As Liberal Democrats warned, Fant Farm faces its greatest threat yet. Developers are poised to re-submit an application to build 270 houses on the famous beauty spot, despite Conservative boasts to have "saved Fant Farm".

    By initially putting Fant Farm in the Local Plan and by voting down a Lib Dem proposal to protect open spaces, the Conservatives sent a green light to developers.

    Lib Dem campaigner Fran Smith led residents in a picket outside the public exhibition hosted by Gleeson Developments recently. Far from persuading Fant residents that the rolling farmland should be concreted over, hundreds emerged from the Fant Hall exhibition to sign Fran's petition.

    "There are brown-field sites in the Borough with potential to be developed before our green fields and farmland are sacrificed," says Fran.

    Lib Dem County Councillor Rob Bird agreed: "The developer hopes to jam 270 houses into a tight area producing an extra 1500 car movements in Gatland Lane. How are cars going to exit Gatland Lane, especially eastbound? Nor will landscape buffers be much benefit; quite simply, the 270 houses are in the wrong place."

    This was endorsed by parliamentary campaigner Jasper Gerard: "Sadly, the Conservatives who claimed to have 'Saved Fant Farm' have actually let in the bulldozers because of their call for sites."

    Labour supports Conservative plans to build 18,600 houses in the borough, putting Fant Farm at grave risk.

    Please sign our petition to Save Fant Farm.

  • Local Councillors Rob Bird, Cynthia Robertson and Dan Daley at Bridge Nursery
    Article: Nov 10, 2014

    The votes of the Conservative Members of Maidstone's Planning Committee saw permission granted for 140 houses on the green field Bridge Nursery at Allington last Thursday - all despite a 1,200 signature petition raised in the local areas opposing the scheme. None of the Planning Committee members from the other political parties voted in favour of the scheme.

    Local Lib Dem County Councillor Rob Bird addressed the meeting setting out his concerns regarding traffic generation and the likely impact upon the already congested A20 and M20 junction 5 from such a large new green field housing project. Cllr. Dan Daley also spoke passionately of the importance of the site to local people and the rare (and supposedly legally protected) wildlife, including birds, reptiles, invertebrates and wildflowers to be found there.

    Local Lib Dems had long campaigned to see this wildlife-rich green field site removed from Maidstone Council's list of Local Plan housing allocations, but the Conservative leadership at Maidstone Council refused and instead confirmed their support for housing at Bridge Nursery

    Lib Dem planning spokesman Cllr. Tony Harwood, who spoke and voted against the application, told the committee "Bridge Nursery with its WWII pill box and abundant wildlife is one of the most defining areas of countryside in the whole of Maidstone, with its location on the route of the Maidstone to London railway line making it a key landmark on arrival to and departure from the County Town."

    Local Allington Ward Lib Dem Councillor Cynthia Robertson sought to achieve some damage limitation when she successfully argued that Maidstone Council must work with neighbouring Tonbridge and Malling Council to safeguard the last relic fragments of countryside that adjoin the application site by designating them as a Local Nature Reserve. However, there remained a real concern amongst Lib Dem Councillors present at the meeting that the extent of habitat that will be lost and the inevitable disturbance and predation of small animals by domestic cats would devastate the special flora and fauna of the area.

  • Jasper at school
    Article: Oct 23, 2014

    Nurseries, childminders and other early years providers in Kent are set for a £1,134, 861 cash injection to help three and four-year-olds from disadvantaged families.

    Children from low-income families have often fallen behind better off classmates before they even start school.​

    But from April 2015 the Early Years Pupil Premium - which has been backed by groups like Barnados, 4Children and the Child Poverty Action Group - will mean extra money to make sure every child gets a fair start.

  • Jasper at train station
    Article: Oct 22, 2014

    Following a campaign by Jasper Gerard to win a fair deal for Maidstone commuters, local Lib Dems have produced a value for money table showing those who travel to London from the County town receive the worst deal in the entire South East commuter belt.

    Maidstone commuters pay the highest annual season ticket for one of the very slowest commutes into the capital. They pay £4080 a year - without tube fares -for a journey that takes an hour and ten minutes.

  • Junction 8
    Article: Oct 21, 2014

    A planning application for a huge industrial estate at a green field site in the picturesque Len valley, close to Leeds Castle and M20 J8, at Hollingbourne was refused by Maidstone Council's planning committee on Thursday night.

    Only the Tories voted in favour. Having viewed all the evidence both for and against on this re-submitted application everyone else at planning committee including all of the Liberal Democrat members of the committee voted to refuse the application, with Lib Dem planning spokesman Tony Harwood proposing the motion for refusal, which was seconded by South Ward Councillor Ian Chittenden.

  • Tony Harwood
    Article: Oct 20, 2014

    The following is a letter published in last week's Kent Messenger by Maidstone Lib Dem Planning Spokesman, Cllr. Tony Harwood:

    Contrary to the assertion of your anonymous correspondent (Letters 10th October 2014) local Liberal Democrats do not believe that countryside protection and quality jobs are mutually exclusive. Indeed, we are convinced that the opposite is true.

  • Article: Oct 18, 2014

    The basic state pensions will rise by at least £2.85 a week thanks to the Liberal Democrats triple lock. It means 262,306 pensioners in Kent will benefit from an increase in their pension.

    This rise will bring the level of the state pension to at least £115.95 and will benefit millions of pensioners across the UK. This is £18.30 more, each week, than in 2010 when the Liberal Democrats entered coalition. This means pensioners on the full basic state pension are £950 a year better off than they were under Labour.

  • Article: Oct 17, 2014

    "It's a rip off," says Jasper Gerard after shock study

    A study of commuter fares by local Liberal Democrats shows that Maidstone commuters pay more for their train journey to work than any comparable commuter town in the South East.

    Maidstone commuters have to pay over £4,000 a year for the privilege of trundling up to London on trains slower than in the age of steam. And this is £1,000 a year MORE than commuters pay from Tonbridge, which is on a much faster line with regular services to the City and West End - and fares from West Kent are themselves 20% more expensive than from other Home Counties commuter belts.

  • Article: Oct 16, 2014

    A record fall in unemployment shows Britain is the "job creation capital" of the developed world, Danny Alexander said.

    In the year to August unemployment dropped 538,000 - the largest annual fall on record.

    The drop took the unemployment rate to 6%, its lowest level since late 2008, according to the Office for National Statistics.

  • Article: Oct 15, 2014

    Having taken NINE MONTHS to produce a report on the Christmas floods, Maidstone Conservatives refused to debate their own conclusions on live radio.

    It was left to Jasper Gerard, standing here at the general election for the Liberal Democrats, to assess the findings on BBC Radio Kent.

    "The report completely fails to address big questions, such as whether flooding will be worse if the Conservatives pursue plans to allow up to 19,600 houses to be built in our borough," says Jasper "This potentially includes a large number in Yalding.

  • Catherine Bearder MEP at the European Parliament
    Article: Oct 1, 2014

    How would you like a day in Brussels, hosted for lunch by your MEP Catherine Bearder?

    As well as chatting to Catherine over lunch she will welcome you to the European Parliament and give you a guided tour. There will also be the opportunity to watch a debate.

    Demand has been keen so if you would be interested please contact Sue Grigg urgently on 07706 052495 or by email.

  • Vince Cable and Jasper Gerard
    Article: Sep 25, 2014

    The Business Secretary spoke to a packed meeting of local entrepreneurs at a dinner in Maidstone hosted by Jasper Gerard, Lib Dem parliamentary candidate for the area.

    Jasper is establishing a regular non-party political forum for businesses to talk to top figures in government. Many prominent local business figures were present.

  • Jasper Gerard meets local apprentices
    Article: Sep 23, 2014

    Jasper Gerard called today's positive labour market figures in Maidstone "no accident" and said Liberal Democrats in Government were delivering the recovery fairly.

    Official figures show the number of people claiming Job Seeker's Allowance in Maidstone fell by more than 5% in the past month.

    Nationally the unemployment rate fell to 6.2% - its lowest since the end of 2008.

  • Lib Dem Office at 23 Union Street
    Article: Sep 21, 2014

    The Local Lib Dems have moved into bigger offices, still at their existing address at 23 Union Street.

    Jasper Gerard, the Lib Dem parliamentary candidate, will now have more room to see constituents. Currently he is helping about 200 a month with their problems.

    Jasper is the only parliamentary candidate in this constituency who has a fully-staffed office where members of the public are free to drop in.

  • Maidstone Town Hall
    Article: Sep 19, 2014

    Lib Dem Success - Lower Council Tax Bills:

    An attempt by Maidstone Conservatives to slash the frequency of local elections from three out of every four years down to just once every four years has been defeated by Maidstone Lib Dems, supported by other like minded councillors.

    Local Lib Dems successfully argued that in councils with annual elections politicians are 'kept on their toes'. They tend to have lower average council tax increases and unpopular policy changes are not 'buried' at the beginning of four year terms.

    North Ward Lib Dem Councillor Tony Harwood in an impassioned speech told gathered councillors at Maidstone Town Hall: "Annual council elections are a vital check and balance on financial and political recklessness, and that most unappealing habit of politicians of relying on the public having short memories."

    Lib Dem Success - Greater Influence for Local Communities:

  • Jasper Gerard and Vince Cable MP
    Article: Sep 19, 2014

    Vince Cable, Business Secretary, will be in Maidstone next week to address a business forum organised by Jasper Gerard, Lib Dem parliamentary candidate.

    The forum will be at the Maidstone Hilton on the 23rd September.

    Many of the most prominent business figures in Maidstone and the Weald will be there.

  • Jasper Gerard with executive head Lorna Priddle and pupils
    Article: Sep 4, 2014

    As infants go back to school where they will enjoy free school dinners, £77,000 has been provided to upgrade Maidstone school kitchens.

    The money has been provided by Liberal Democrat ministers to help local schools ensure that every child has at least one proper meal a day.

    "I will be visiting schools to ensure the free school meal programme has a successful start," says Jasper Gerard, Lib Dem parliamentary campaigner. "School meals not only ensure children are not going hungry, they also boost attainment of all our children."