130 Vale Road, Tonbridge, Kent, TN9 1SP - tom.tugendhat.mp@parliament.uk - 01732 441563

community

 News

August 2018

Tougher Sentences for Child Cruelty Needed

 Some of you may have read my articles local newspapers, or seen my interview on  KMTV  about Tony Hudgell, a bright and happy 3-year old child from Kings Hill, with a deeply sad past.  For those of you who haven’t yet heard this disturbing story, at 41 days old Baby Tony was admitted to hospital with multiple injuries including fractures to all his limbs and dislocations to all his joints. His injuries had been caused by the very people who should be protecting him most in the world, his parents. And not only that, but they had waited anything up to 10 days before taking him to the doctors in an unresponsive state. Whilst in hospital Tony developed sepsis, toxic shock and multi organ failure. Then, if Tony hadn’t already suffered enough, last year, due to the injuries and infection he sustained, he had to have both of his legs amputated. And for all this, his parents only received a 10 year sentence. Though they will only have to serve 5. They deserved more, but received the maximum sentence allowed. You may also have recently heard of the abuse suffered by 19-day-old Bailey Smyth-Osborne at the hands of his parents. They received just an 8 year prison sentence. This cannot be right. Judges must be allowed to give longer sentences in cases like these. That is why I have been working with the incredible Hudgell family to ask Parliament to change the law and raise the threshold for maximum sentences in future cases. But we can’t do it without your help. Please sign the  petition  to call for tougher sentences for child cruelty. Crimes like this must be sufficiently punished.

Some of you may have read my articles local newspapers, or seen my interview on KMTV about Tony Hudgell, a bright and happy 3-year old child from Kings Hill, with a deeply sad past.

For those of you who haven’t yet heard this disturbing story, at 41 days old Baby Tony was admitted to hospital with multiple injuries including fractures to all his limbs and dislocations to all his joints. His injuries had been caused by the very people who should be protecting him most in the world, his parents. And not only that, but they had waited anything up to 10 days before taking him to the doctors in an unresponsive state. Whilst in hospital Tony developed sepsis, toxic shock and multi organ failure. Then, if Tony hadn’t already suffered enough, last year, due to the injuries and infection he sustained, he had to have both of his legs amputated. And for all this, his parents only received a 10 year sentence. Though they will only have to serve 5. They deserved more, but received the maximum sentence allowed. You may also have recently heard of the abuse suffered by 19-day-old Bailey Smyth-Osborne at the hands of his parents. They received just an 8 year prison sentence. This cannot be right. Judges must be allowed to give longer sentences in cases like these. That is why I have been working with the incredible Hudgell family to ask Parliament to change the law and raise the threshold for maximum sentences in future cases. But we can’t do it without your help. Please sign the petition to call for tougher sentences for child cruelty. Crimes like this must be sufficiently punished.

Saving West Malling Surgery

Letter to WMGP

 We all know that demographic changes have seen pressure rising on the NHS. For patients registered with West Malling Group Practice, this can mean difficulty in getting an appointment. This is unhelpful at a time when there is also the ongoing question mark surrounding its future on West Malling High Street.  The situation seems to be getting worse, so I’ve written to the Practice to ask them to look urgently at their procedures. It is clear something must change, and I want to work with them to ensure they deliver for all residents in West Malling, Kings Hill, Leybourne and other local villages.

We all know that demographic changes have seen pressure rising on the NHS. For patients registered with West Malling Group Practice, this can mean difficulty in getting an appointment. This is unhelpful at a time when there is also the ongoing question mark surrounding its future on West Malling High Street.

The situation seems to be getting worse, so I’ve written to the Practice to ask them to look urgently at their procedures. It is clear something must change, and I want to work with them to ensure they deliver for all residents in West Malling, Kings Hill, Leybourne and other local villages.

West Malling Surgery Will Stay Open!

 Following my previous post, I’ve some good news about West Malling Group Practice. Shortly after receiving my letter the Practice sent around an update in which they confirmed they have sold the site at Milverton, West Malling, and have agreed a deal to lease back the whole site so ‘face to face appointments for patients will remain at the West Malling site for many years to come.  This safeguards medical services in West Malling. I’m pleased that the Practice have listened to the strong views that I, and many residents, have made frequently, which is that a town like West Malling needs a GP Surgery providing key services for all residents. However my concerns about booking appointments remain, despite the increase in queue length, and I look forward to working with the Practice to improve on this.

Following my previous post, I’ve some good news about West Malling Group Practice. Shortly after receiving my letter the Practice sent around an update in which they confirmed they have sold the site at Milverton, West Malling, and have agreed a deal to lease back the whole site so ‘face to face appointments for patients will remain at the West Malling site for many years to come.

This safeguards medical services in West Malling. I’m pleased that the Practice have listened to the strong views that I, and many residents, have made frequently, which is that a town like West Malling needs a GP Surgery providing key services for all residents. However my concerns about booking appointments remain, despite the increase in queue length, and I look forward to working with the Practice to improve on this.

I’m very proud to have helped keep the West Malling surgery open. There’s more to do. Healthcare is vital to our whole community and our GPs deliver a fantastic service.

 

July 2018

Mobile Phone Signal in Kings Hill - KMTV Report

Poor mobile signal in Kings Hill has been a problem for far too long, and I cannot understand why companies won’t put up these much needed masts, they would benefit just as much financially as we would to have better signal.

It’s been months since they said that they were on the case, and yet nothing has been done, and I’m getting frustrated by the lack of progress being made. Phone operators need to start taking this seriously – peoples jobs and lives are being affected every day.

KMTV recently produced a report on this issue, which you can watch here - http://www.kentonline.co.uk/…/residents-hit-out-at-shockin…/

Süddeutsche Zeitung Article

New changes to the Arriva bus route

Good news – many of our local bus routes are going to have an improved service starting from Sunday. I’m keen to get public transport working in our area, and, in addition to the welcome changes made by Nu-Venture to school routes, Arriva have delivered some changes too. Please click on the image above to see the changes.

 

 

 

 

Question to the Transport Minister re. M20 noise

On Monday Tracey Crouch and I held a meeting with Highways England’s senior managers to discuss our concerns about the Smart Motorway Scheme on the M20. While we didn’t get a great deal of movement on some of the existing issues, such as full lane resurfacing with quieter tarmac, we did hear about plans for an enhanced planting scheme which will make a difference at the end of the project.

I followed this up by asking the Transport Minister, Jesse Norman, about this in the House of Commons today. I’d like to see noise concerns taken more seriously and am encouraged that they understand how important this is.

M20 Operation Stack Update

Sir John Stanley Photo Presentation

 I published  this article  in the Süddeutsche Zeitung today, 6 July 2018.  The German you can read here:  http://www.sueddeutsche.de/politik/aussenansicht-der-kollaps-1.4041807

I published this article in the Süddeutsche Zeitung today, 6 July 2018.  The German you can read here: http://www.sueddeutsche.de/politik/aussenansicht-der-kollaps-1.4041807

 You might have seen the reports over the weekend that the Department for Transport are looking at the M26 as an alternative to Operation Stack if it is needed in the future. This is a proposal which I will strongly resist if it is taken any further.  The M26 is a crucial part of our strategic road network, and the lack of slip roads at Junction 5 of the M25 makes the westbound carriageway the longest in England without a junction. Closing this for days will cause chaos through all the villages along the A25, and communities such as Borough Green, Platt and Wrotham will be inaccessible.   I’ve already written to the Transport Secretary and met the Roads Minister to voice my opposition. I’ll be re-emphasising my points again. The M26 connects every community along it and the M20 with the rest of the country and cannot be closed for days on end to park lorries.

You might have seen the reports over the weekend that the Department for Transport are looking at the M26 as an alternative to Operation Stack if it is needed in the future. This is a proposal which I will strongly resist if it is taken any further.

The M26 is a crucial part of our strategic road network, and the lack of slip roads at Junction 5 of the M25 makes the westbound carriageway the longest in England without a junction. Closing this for days will cause chaos through all the villages along the A25, and communities such as Borough Green, Platt and Wrotham will be inaccessible.

 I’ve already written to the Transport Secretary and met the Roads Minister to voice my opposition. I’ll be re-emphasising my points again. The M26 connects every community along it and the M20 with the rest of the country and cannot be closed for days on end to park lorries.

 You may well recognise the man standing next to me in this photo. It is  Sir John Stanley , my predecessor. Sir John was back to present a painting of the House of Commons in 1986, to the Constitutional Club in Tonbridge. It was wonderful atmosphere, and very kind of Sir John to dedicate such an important picture to the members of the Club. 

You may well recognise the man standing next to me in this photo. It is Sir John Stanley, my predecessor. Sir John was back to present a painting of the House of Commons in 1986, to the Constitutional Club in Tonbridge. It was wonderful atmosphere, and very kind of Sir John to dedicate such an important picture to the members of the Club. 


June 2018

Defending the Rules

 At the beginning of the week I spoke at RUSI - Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies- about a revolution that is needed at the heart of government. Specifically, a revolution that gives the Foreign Office responsibility for strategic control of a bigger foreign policy budget that encompasses diplomacy, intelligence, defence, development aid, international trade and leaving the EU.  The success or failure of our foreign policy is now more important to the future health and prosperity of our nation than since the end of the Second World War. We need to focus on things like our rule of law, which Britain has spread throughout the world, and re-establish the centrality of the United Kingdom in foreign policy thinking post-Brexit.  If you would like to watch or read my speech in its entirety, please follow the link  here.

At the beginning of the week I spoke at RUSI - Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies- about a revolution that is needed at the heart of government. Specifically, a revolution that gives the Foreign Office responsibility for strategic control of a bigger foreign policy budget that encompasses diplomacy, intelligence, defence, development aid, international trade and leaving the EU.

The success or failure of our foreign policy is now more important to the future health and prosperity of our nation than since the end of the Second World War. We need to focus on things like our rule of law, which Britain has spread throughout the world, and re-establish the centrality of the United Kingdom in foreign policy thinking post-Brexit.

If you would like to watch or read my speech in its entirety, please follow the link here.

Leefest Premises License

 Leefest (now Neverworld), which takes place at the beginning of August each year at Wilderness Farm on Wilderness Lane in Markbeech, has produced some noise issues in recent years. The time has come again for Sevenoaks District Council to look at the license of the event, and the deadline for comments received is now today. This year they have chosen to submit a Premises License to regulate noise at the event between 2 August and 5 August.  You can comment by filling in the form here on the Council website -  https://pa.sevenoaks.gov.uk/online-licensing/licencingApplicationDetails.do?activeTab=documents&keyVal=P8TP4ETTIV300  - using the reference 18/01634.  I'm aware of the disruption this event can cause so would recommend commenting on the application should you have been affected in previous years. This years lineup shows that the festival is increasing in popularity, which is why I hope that the license can allow people to have a good time, but not at the expense of local residents.

Leefest (now Neverworld), which takes place at the beginning of August each year at Wilderness Farm on Wilderness Lane in Markbeech, has produced some noise issues in recent years. The time has come again for Sevenoaks District Council to look at the license of the event, and the deadline for comments received is now today. This year they have chosen to submit a Premises License to regulate noise at the event between 2 August and 5 August.

You can comment by filling in the form here on the Council website - https://pa.sevenoaks.gov.uk/online-licensing/licencingApplicationDetails.do?activeTab=documents&keyVal=P8TP4ETTIV300 - using the reference 18/01634.

I'm aware of the disruption this event can cause so would recommend commenting on the application should you have been affected in previous years. This years lineup shows that the festival is increasing in popularity, which is why I hope that the license can allow people to have a good time, but not at the expense of local residents.

Unauthorised Development and Encampment Consultation

 I am aware that the travellers on the Frog Bridge Playing Area along Shipbourne Road have now been moved on, but am concerned to hear that they have settled again further down the road by The Chaser at Shipbourne. I trust that Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council and Kent Police will be taking the necessary steps to ensure that they are removed as quickly as possible.  You will not be surprised to hear that this issue is not just important locally, but to many other across the country too. In light of this, the Government are running a consultation on Unauthorised Traveller encampments until this Friday, 15 June. Taking into account these incidents, and others around Leybourne and West Malling recently, I hope that we can all share our experiences with the Government.  You can respond by sending an e-mail to UnauthorisedDevelopmentandEncampments@communities.gsi.gov.uk or by writing to Unauthorised Development and Encampments Consultation, Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, 3rd floor, North East, Fry Building, 2 Marsham Street, London, SW1P 4DF. You can also find more details on the consultation at the following link -  https://www.gov.uk/…/powers-for-dealing-with-unauthorised-d…

I am aware that the travellers on the Frog Bridge Playing Area along Shipbourne Road have now been moved on, but am concerned to hear that they have settled again further down the road by The Chaser at Shipbourne. I trust that Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council and Kent Police will be taking the necessary steps to ensure that they are removed as quickly as possible.

You will not be surprised to hear that this issue is not just important locally, but to many other across the country too. In light of this, the Government are running a consultation on Unauthorised Traveller encampments until this Friday, 15 June. Taking into account these incidents, and others around Leybourne and West Malling recently, I hope that we can all share our experiences with the Government.

You can respond by sending an e-mail to UnauthorisedDevelopmentandEncampments@communities.gsi.gov.uk or by writing to Unauthorised Development and Encampments Consultation, Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, 3rd floor, North East, Fry Building, 2 Marsham Street, London, SW1P 4DF. You can also find more details on the consultation at the following link - https://www.gov.uk/…/powers-for-dealing-with-unauthorised-d…

Solutions to Operation Stack  - Consultation

 Over the past few years I have attended numerous meetings in the hope of helping to find a solution to Operation Stack. Unfortunately, we have not yet produced the answer that we need.  Now, with the need for a new plan even more pressing than before, Highways England have launched a consultation to help find a new solution that will work for everyone.   Whether you feel that you will be directly affected or not, I would strongly encourage you to reply to the consultation. It is entirely possible that you’ve thought of a solution that Highways England hasn’t considered, and it is important that you make your voice heard. You can either complete the online survey at  https://highwaysengland.citizenspace.com/he/solutions-to-operation-stack/ . Please note that the consultation ends on 22 July and for more information visit the Highways England website.

Over the past few years I have attended numerous meetings in the hope of helping to find a solution to Operation Stack. Unfortunately, we have not yet produced the answer that we need.

Now, with the need for a new plan even more pressing than before, Highways England have launched a consultation to help find a new solution that will work for everyone. 

Whether you feel that you will be directly affected or not, I would strongly encourage you to reply to the consultation. It is entirely possible that you’ve thought of a solution that Highways England hasn’t considered, and it is important that you make your voice heard. You can either complete the online survey at https://highwaysengland.citizenspace.com/he/solutions-to-operation-stack/. Please note that the consultation ends on 22 July and for more information visit the Highways England website.

The Big Conversation - Rural Buses

 You may remember that at the end of last year, Kent County Council launched a consultation which put 78 bus services in Kent at risk of being cut, including many in our local area, but then ended it before it had even really begun.  Six months later, and Kent County Council have launched the ‘Big Conversation’ programme, on the future of rural bus services. Unlike the previous consultation, there have not been any buses earmarked for cancellation, and instead three ideas have been put forward by the Council to retain local connections; feeder services, bookable flexible bus services, and the use of taxi-bus style services instead of a bus. It all sounds very positive, but I am equally concerned that it will be another attempt to cut many of our much-needed services.  Over the few months KCC will be holding a number of public meetings throughout Kent to increase engagement, and where you can find out more about the ideas already suggested. To get more information and provide feedback through the online questionnaire, please visit  ww.kent.gov.uk/bigconversation .

You may remember that at the end of last year, Kent County Council launched a consultation which put 78 bus services in Kent at risk of being cut, including many in our local area, but then ended it before it had even really begun.

Six months later, and Kent County Council have launched the ‘Big Conversation’ programme, on the future of rural bus services. Unlike the previous consultation, there have not been any buses earmarked for cancellation, and instead three ideas have been put forward by the Council to retain local connections; feeder services, bookable flexible bus services, and the use of taxi-bus style services instead of a bus. It all sounds very positive, but I am equally concerned that it will be another attempt to cut many of our much-needed services.

Over the few months KCC will be holding a number of public meetings throughout Kent to increase engagement, and where you can find out more about the ideas already suggested. To get more information and provide feedback through the online questionnaire, please visit ww.kent.gov.uk/bigconversation.

Heathrow Third Runway

MPs have approved a new runway at Heathrow. I was one of the MPs to vote for it, but sadly I wasn’t called by the Speaker to participate in the debate.

I was planning on raising two important consequences of expansion that would impact us locally. First, an additional runway means more flights, so the flight paths that aircraft take has to change too. That’s why I’d like to see the Land Compensation Act 1973 amended so that residents who are now overflown, and will be in the future, can receive compensation for the motorway that may be constructed above them in the sky.

And the second point that I would have raised is that, as we have seen so often over the past few years, there is no recognition of the needs of communities in the aviation industry. I want to see the responsibilities of NATS and the CAA re-evaluated so they have to take into account local communities. The government's policy is, after all, to treat noise as importantly as growth. It’s about time the industry started taking noise seriously, as even in Kent, we could be impacted from the additional flights over us heading for the third runway at Heathrow.


May 2018

Nu School Bus for Kings Hill

 As you probably know, I am passionate about making our local bus service work for everyone for years they have been unreliable, and have had timetables which have not worked for everyone. Kings Hill and West Malling have been at the forefront of  many issues. That’s why I am delighted that Nu-Venture have stepped in with an alternative service which will make an incredible difference to students travelling to schools in the west of Maidstone.  From 18 June, two new services will run; the 56X direct from Kings Hill to Somerfield Hospital, leaving ASDA at 0740 and arriving at 0820 and the bus in the evening will return from the Somerfield Hospital at 1542. Meanwhile, for students at the schools on the Oakwood Park complex, the 588 will run via Mereworth, Wateringbury, Teston and Barming. This will leave Tesco in West Malling at 0731, Kings Hill ASDA at 0737, Kate Reed Wood at 0745 and the Wateringbury Hotel at 0754, arriving at the Tonbridge Road bus stop for 0820. In the evenings, the return journey will start in the school grounds at 1530 from Tuesday to Friday, and at 1450 on Mondays.  I’m grateful for Norman Kemp at Nu-Venture for introducing these much-needed buses. The usual passes can be used here and cash fares are available.

As you probably know, I am passionate about making our local bus service work for everyone for years they have been unreliable, and have had timetables which have not worked for everyone. Kings Hill and West Malling have been at the forefront of  many issues. That’s why I am delighted that Nu-Venture have stepped in with an alternative service which will make an incredible difference to students travelling to schools in the west of Maidstone.

From 18 June, two new services will run; the 56X direct from Kings Hill to Somerfield Hospital, leaving ASDA at 0740 and arriving at 0820 and the bus in the evening will return from the Somerfield Hospital at 1542. Meanwhile, for students at the schools on the Oakwood Park complex, the 588 will run via Mereworth, Wateringbury, Teston and Barming. This will leave Tesco in West Malling at 0731, Kings Hill ASDA at 0737, Kate Reed Wood at 0745 and the Wateringbury Hotel at 0754, arriving at the Tonbridge Road bus stop for 0820. In the evenings, the return journey will start in the school grounds at 1530 from Tuesday to Friday, and at 1450 on Mondays.

I’m grateful for Norman Kemp at Nu-Venture for introducing these much-needed buses. The usual passes can be used here and cash fares are available.

Question to the Health Secretary

The future of the GP Surgery in West Malling remains uncertain. That’s why I took the opportunity today to raise this with the Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt MP, in the House of Commons.

His response is clear. Premises, such as those in West Malling, need investment and this requires dedication for the long term by partners and the NHS in the GP Practice. I’m glad Jeremy agrees with me that West Malling is worthy of its own GP Surgery and I’ll continue working with the Practice to see if we can provide greater certainty on the long term future of the branch.

 

Southeastern Timetable Change

 On 20 May a brand new timetable will be introduced across the network. I would have liked to think times are changing for the better but sadly, I don’t think they are. Instead, the timetables show that many trains have been changed and journey times have increased.  On Wednesday 16 May I will be meeting with David Statham, Managing Director of Southeastern, who, at a recent meeting, said that there was still room for slight negotiations in the timetable. There is also another timetable change in December, and I will try my best to ensure that residents get the service they deserve. But to do this, I need to know from you exactly where there are problems and where it needs to change.  Please write to me and let me know how the changes affect you at tom.tugendhat.mp@parliament.uk and I will ensure they are raised directly with Southeastern when I meet with them.

On 20 May a brand new timetable will be introduced across the network. I would have liked to think times are changing for the better but sadly, I don’t think they are. Instead, the timetables show that many trains have been changed and journey times have increased.

On Wednesday 16 May I will be meeting with David Statham, Managing Director of Southeastern, who, at a recent meeting, said that there was still room for slight negotiations in the timetable. There is also another timetable change in December, and I will try my best to ensure that residents get the service they deserve. But to do this, I need to know from you exactly where there are problems and where it needs to change.

Please write to me and let me know how the changes affect you at tom.tugendhat.mp@parliament.uk and I will ensure they are raised directly with Southeastern when I meet with them.

 

Opening of the A21 Cycle Path

 I had a great day opening and trying out the new A21 Cycle Route from Pembury to Tonbridge. It's brilliant that we've got a new link to encourage more cycling and less carbon emissions in a local area, and best of all, it's a pretty easy cycle and barely takes any time at all to get from one end to the other!

I had a great day opening and trying out the new A21 Cycle Route from Pembury to Tonbridge. It's brilliant that we've got a new link to encourage more cycling and less carbon emissions in a local area, and best of all, it's a pretty easy cycle and barely takes any time at all to get from one end to the other!

M20 Letter to Highways England

 At the recent workshops held by Highways England, we heard about the plans for the M20 Smart Motorway scheme and the lack of mitigation being planned. There remain no noise barriers in rural locations, no immediate planting scheme, and no resurfacing of all the lanes on the carriageway.  Following these sessions I, along with neighbouring MP  Tracey Crouch , have gone back to  Highways England  following our disappointing response to ask for them to look again at the mitigation planned. We’ve also raised this with the Government, to whom Highways England is ultimately accountable, because the evidence is very clear that people’s lives will be significantly affected as things stand.  This is a battle which I will continue to pursue and I hope Highways England can be more responsive than they have been so far.

At the recent workshops held by Highways England, we heard about the plans for the M20 Smart Motorway scheme and the lack of mitigation being planned. There remain no noise barriers in rural locations, no immediate planting scheme, and no resurfacing of all the lanes on the carriageway.

Following these sessions I, along with neighbouring MP Tracey Crouch, have gone back to Highways England following our disappointing response to ask for them to look again at the mitigation planned. We’ve also raised this with the Government, to whom Highways England is ultimately accountable, because the evidence is very clear that people’s lives will be significantly affected as things stand.

This is a battle which I will continue to pursue and I hope Highways England can be more responsive than they have been so far.

 

April 2018

Resurfacing the M20

Since Highways England began works on the Smart Motorway between Junctions 3 and 5 of the M20, a number of trees have been cut down to allow for the construction of the project. If you live in Addington, Ryarsh, Leybourne Chase or any other community near the motorway I’m sure you’ll have heard an increase in noise recently.

That’s why I’ve called, along with Tracey Crouch, for Highways England to resurface the whole road with the quietest possible road surface. Currently they only plan to do two of the four lanes.

Here’s our letter to the Chief Executive asking for a rethink. It seems sensible to do all the lanes while the works are taking place, particularly as the existing surface is nearing the end of its useful life and the other lanes are being completed. Let’s hope Highways England bosses see sense.

DCLG Consultation

 Many residents, particularly in rural areas, are concerned about unauthorised encampments and will be pleased to hear that the Government is now consulting on the issue. This gives us a good opportunity to make our views heard. It is important we do so, to make sure our experiences are properly taken into account.  You can respond until 15 June 2018 by sending an e-mail to UnauthorisedDevelopmentandEncampments@communities.gsi.gov.uk or by writing to Unauthorised Development and Encampments Consultation, Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, 3rd floor, North East, Fry Building, 2 Marsham Street, London, SW1P 4DF. You can also find more details on the consultation at the following link -  https://www.gov.uk/…/powers-for-dealing-with-unauthorised-d…

Many residents, particularly in rural areas, are concerned about unauthorised encampments and will be pleased to hear that the Government is now consulting on the issue. This gives us a good opportunity to make our views heard. It is important we do so, to make sure our experiences are properly taken into account.

You can respond until 15 June 2018 by sending an e-mail to UnauthorisedDevelopmentandEncampments@communities.gsi.gov.uk or by writing to Unauthorised Development and Encampments Consultation, Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, 3rd floor, North East, Fry Building, 2 Marsham Street, London, SW1P 4DF. You can also find more details on the consultation at the following link - https://www.gov.uk/…/powers-for-dealing-with-unauthorised-d…

New Kings Hill Road Opening

 It’s crucial to keep Kings Hill moving as much as possible. That’s why it’s important that access has been completed between Kings Hill Avenue and Beacon Avenue. This will have a positive impact on traffic flow across the area, particularly near the Sports Park.  I’m pleased that the road has been opened earlier than planned, and was delighted to cut the ribbon to mark this. From today, all cars can use the road. This will help mitigate the impact of Tower View being closed soon to install the much needed pedestrian crossing linking the new development with the schools and shops in Liberty Square.  I know many of you remain concerned about Tower View being shut, and have asked why this couldn’t be delayed until July when the impact would be lesser. This is ultimately a decision Liberty have made, but I’m glad they have agreed to open the new road early.

It’s crucial to keep Kings Hill moving as much as possible. That’s why it’s important that access has been completed between Kings Hill Avenue and Beacon Avenue. This will have a positive impact on traffic flow across the area, particularly near the Sports Park.

I’m pleased that the road has been opened earlier than planned, and was delighted to cut the ribbon to mark this. From today, all cars can use the road. This will help mitigate the impact of Tower View being closed soon to install the much needed pedestrian crossing linking the new development with the schools and shops in Liberty Square.

I know many of you remain concerned about Tower View being shut, and have asked why this couldn’t be delayed until July when the impact would be lesser. This is ultimately a decision Liberty have made, but I’m glad they have agreed to open the new road early.

Kent County Council - Tonbridge High Street

 A few months ago Kent County Council (KCC) launched a survey to get feedback on the regeneration of Tonbridge High Street. Though I haven’t seen the results, I’m sure many comments will touch on the wider pavements for pedestrians, but also the traffic jams caused when buses stop outside Café Nero. Many of us wonder why the stop is there and not in the loading bay or removed altogether.  I’ve written to KCC many, many times now to ask why this isn’t the case. Usually, I am told that the pavements would need to be higher, and it would not be possible or would cost too much. After the consultation they’ve changed their tune. The latest answer I’ve got said “it may well be that the layby is converted for bus use. This is by no means straight forward as often there are several buses arriving at a time and so the available space is limited”.  Although not yet a definite plan, it seems KCC finally acknowledge that something needs to be done to ensure traffic flows more smoothly. I will continue to raise this with them to ensure that they will look again at how the High Street works for everyone – including cars.

A few months ago Kent County Council (KCC) launched a survey to get feedback on the regeneration of Tonbridge High Street. Though I haven’t seen the results, I’m sure many comments will touch on the wider pavements for pedestrians, but also the traffic jams caused when buses stop outside Café Nero. Many of us wonder why the stop is there and not in the loading bay or removed altogether.

I’ve written to KCC many, many times now to ask why this isn’t the case. Usually, I am told that the pavements would need to be higher, and it would not be possible or would cost too much. After the consultation they’ve changed their tune. The latest answer I’ve got said “it may well be that the layby is converted for bus use. This is by no means straight forward as often there are several buses arriving at a time and so the available space is limited”.

Although not yet a definite plan, it seems KCC finally acknowledge that something needs to be done to ensure traffic flows more smoothly. I will continue to raise this with them to ensure that they will look again at how the High Street works for everyone – including cars.

 

March 2018

Poisoning of the Skripals

Following the suspected poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter, I asked the Secretary of State an urgent question on the Government’s policy towards Russia. To see the Secretary of States response, please watch https://goo.gl/GJ9tSU..

M20 Variable Speed Consultation

 The building of the new M20 Smart Motorway is now underway, and Highways England have recently issued a consultation to ask people’s views on the proposed regulations to introduce variable mandatory speed limits between Junctions 3 and 5.  These new speed limits will hope to manage traffic speeds and reduce congestion, but if you are concerned about these new changes, I would encourage you to complete the consultation here:  https://highwaysengland.citizenspace.com/…/m20-junction-3-…/ .  The consultation closes on Friday 29 March.

The building of the new M20 Smart Motorway is now underway, and Highways England have recently issued a consultation to ask people’s views on the proposed regulations to introduce variable mandatory speed limits between Junctions 3 and 5.

These new speed limits will hope to manage traffic speeds and reduce congestion, but if you are concerned about these new changes, I would encourage you to complete the consultation here: https://highwaysengland.citizenspace.com/…/m20-junction-3-…/.

The consultation closes on Friday 29 March.

English Tourism Week at Hever Castle

 This week is English Tourism Week, and to mark the occasion I was invited to  Hever Castle & Gardens . But it wasn’t just for a nice look around, and I was asked to step into the shoes of a Visitor Experience Assistant. My assignment was to greet a group of young school children and escort them to their guided tour. It was a joy to see the excitement on their faces as we approached the Castle. We have so many amazing tourist spots in Tonbridge and Malling, and even more in Kent as a whole. Many of them reveal fascinating parts of our history, and provide great fun for the whole family. As Tourism Week draws to a close and summer approaches, I would encourage you to go and discover some of the wonderful sights that we have, and enjoy being a tourist in Kent for the day.

This week is English Tourism Week, and to mark the occasion I was invited to Hever Castle & Gardens. But it wasn’t just for a nice look around, and I was asked to step into the shoes of a Visitor Experience Assistant. My assignment was to greet a group of young school children and escort them to their guided tour. It was a joy to see the excitement on their faces as we approached the Castle. We have so many amazing tourist spots in Tonbridge and Malling, and even more in Kent as a whole. Many of them reveal fascinating parts of our history, and provide great fun for the whole family. As Tourism Week draws to a close and summer approaches, I would encourage you to go and discover some of the wonderful sights that we have, and enjoy being a tourist in Kent for the day.


February 2018

Roughetts Road Sandpit Letter

I know so many people are concerned about the proposal for a sand quarry on Roughetts Road in Ryarsh. I’ve spent some time writing to Kent County Council to highlight some of the important issues with this. I thought it would be helpful to publish, in full, my letter to the Minerals and Waste Planning Policy team and my response to the consultation.

Please share this with anyone who you feel might be interested and encourage them to respond to the consultation too before 29 March. You can either write to the address at the top of my letter or e-mail mwlp@kent.gov.uk.

If you need any advice on what to say, then do have a look at my letter or send me an e-mail to tom.tugendhat.mp@parliament.uk where I can respond in much more detail.

Pembury Hospital to Tonbridge Bus Route Change

 Thanks to everyone who has got in touch about the supposed cut in evening bus services by Arriva between Pembury Hospital and Tonbridge.    I have established that the service is not going to be cut, and we will have at least a half hourly service until 7.47pm on a Monday-Friday, 7.57pm on a Saturday and 5.50pm on a Sunday.    This is excellent news and I’m delighted that we have been able to step in and confirm the future of this vital service. I couldn’t understand why the buses would stop before outpatient services finish at 5pm!  

Thanks to everyone who has got in touch about the supposed cut in evening bus services by Arriva between Pembury Hospital and Tonbridge. 
 
I have established that the service is not going to be cut, and we will have at least a half hourly service until 7.47pm on a Monday-Friday, 7.57pm on a Saturday and 5.50pm on a Sunday. 
 
This is excellent news and I’m delighted that we have been able to step in and confirm the future of this vital service. I couldn’t understand why the buses would stop before outpatient services finish at 5pm!
 

 

January 2018

Roughetts Road Sandpit

If you live near Roughetts Road in Ryarsh then you may have been surprised to receive a letter from Kent County Council dated 19 December 2017 about Kent County Council’s consultation on Minerals Site Plans, as one of the sites being consulted on is called ‘Site M8, West Malling Sandpit’ which is to the west of Roughetts Road, and south of the M20.

The proposal being consulted on is for 3.1million tonnes of soft sand extraction and 500,000 tonnes of silica sand extraction over a 24 year period, along with a 5 year restoration at the end to return it to agricultural land.

I appreciate that finding about this so close to Christmas has caused considerable concern. Fortunately, the consultation lasts until 29 March 2018 so we have time to submit our responses. These can be e-mailed to mwlp@kent.gov.uk or sent to KCC Minerals and Waste Planning Policy, First Floor, Invicta House, Kent County Council, Maidstone, Kent, ME14 1XX.

Ryarsh Parish Council are holding a public meeting at 8pm on Monday 29 January to discuss this. If you’re interested in the proposal, it might be worth attending. This proposal would have a major effect on Ryarsh and surrounding villages for decades to come so it is important we make our views heard.

 

Lidl and Home Bargains coming to Edenbridge?

 2018 looks like it's bringing good news to Edenbridge. Over Christmas we heard about plans to bring Lidl and Home Bargains to the site opposite Kewell’s on the junction of Station Road and Fircroft Way.  This is a welcome proposal and would provide many jobs as well as making good use of the site and bringing much needed investment into this part of the town.  There is currently a public consultation out and you can make your views clear by e-mailing ramac@devcomms.co.uk by Monday (8 January). You can see the full document and proposals here - http://www.edenbridgetowncouncil.gov.uk/…/RAMAC-Edenbridge-…

2018 looks like it's bringing good news to Edenbridge. Over Christmas we heard about plans to bring Lidl and Home Bargains to the site opposite Kewell’s on the junction of Station Road and Fircroft Way.

This is a welcome proposal and would provide many jobs as well as making good use of the site and bringing much needed investment into this part of the town.

There is currently a public consultation out and you can make your views clear by e-mailing ramac@devcomms.co.uk by Monday (8 January). You can see the full document and proposals here -http://www.edenbridgetowncouncil.gov.uk/…/RAMAC-Edenbridge-…

 

East Peckham and West Malling Surgery

  I’ve been working to keep open the surgery in East Peckham. Sadly, after two years of struggle, and with the active support and determination of the Parish Council, we have not succeeded. The £250,000 we need to improve the existing surgery - or build a new one - is just too much. I’m disappointed that the Woodlands Health Centre in Paddock Wood hasn’t been willing to invest what is needed despite the Parish Council offering to pay nearly half. And I am now concerned for the patients who rely on it.   For many it won’t have a great effect, the main surgery is just a few miles away, but for those with mobility difficulties and who don’t drive, the bus connections are poor. And though the pharmacy is excellent that’s no replacement. That’s why I’m calling for a dedicated link between East Peckham and the surgery. Without it the cost in taxis will be enormous or, worse, people will delay going to see their GP risking complications.  In West Malling there is a similar issue. By scaling back the services on the High Street more people will need to go to Kings Hill and Leybourne. Those surgeries are being improved, which is great, but those who find it harder to travel need the West Malling High Street as a hub for the whole area. I emphasised this point to the practice when I met them and encouraged them to keep the West Malling service viable.   The achievements of our improved NHS mean people are living longer and healthier lives, that adds to pressures and demands more investment in areas like GP’s surgeries. I’m going to keep fighting to ensure everyone has easy access to their GP, no matter where they live.

 I’ve been working to keep open the surgery in East Peckham. Sadly, after two years of struggle, and with the active support and determination of the Parish Council, we have not succeeded. The £250,000 we need to improve the existing surgery - or build a new one - is just too much. I’m disappointed that the Woodlands Health Centre in Paddock Wood hasn’t been willing to invest what is needed despite the Parish Council offering to pay nearly half. And I am now concerned for the patients who rely on it. 

For many it won’t have a great effect, the main surgery is just a few miles away, but for those with mobility difficulties and who don’t drive, the bus connections are poor. And though the pharmacy is excellent that’s no replacement. That’s why I’m calling for a dedicated link between East Peckham and the surgery. Without it the cost in taxis will be enormous or, worse, people will delay going to see their GP risking complications.

In West Malling there is a similar issue. By scaling back the services on the High Street more people will need to go to Kings Hill and Leybourne. Those surgeries are being improved, which is great, but those who find it harder to travel need the West Malling High Street as a hub for the whole area. I emphasised this point to the practice when I met them and encouraged them to keep the West Malling service viable. 

The achievements of our improved NHS mean people are living longer and healthier lives, that adds to pressures and demands more investment in areas like GP’s surgeries. I’m going to keep fighting to ensure everyone has easy access to their GP, no matter where they live.

Thameslink Meeting

 Following GTR’s decision to postpone the introduction of its Thameslink service on the Maidstone East line for a year until December 2019, which would have provided an excellent service from West Malling and Borough Green to the City of London, I met with their management team to discuss their reasons.  It was a useful, if not wholly positive meeting. In short GTR are keen to phase in the introduction of their Thameslink services rather than introduce them all at once. Because they need to preserve existing services on their network, they say this is why we are in the situation where our service has been delayed.  I’ve left GTR in no uncertain terms that they need to do all they can to bring the service forward, if possible. They are contractually obliged to implement this service so it will happen. I hope that, should the introduction of the first round of services go well, our date can be moved forward as December 2019 is far too long a wait for a service which was promised years ago.

Following GTR’s decision to postpone the introduction of its Thameslink service on the Maidstone East line for a year until December 2019, which would have provided an excellent service from West Malling and Borough Green to the City of London, I met with their management team to discuss their reasons.

It was a useful, if not wholly positive meeting. In short GTR are keen to phase in the introduction of their Thameslink services rather than introduce them all at once. Because they need to preserve existing services on their network, they say this is why we are in the situation where our service has been delayed.

I’ve left GTR in no uncertain terms that they need to do all they can to bring the service forward, if possible. They are contractually obliged to implement this service so it will happen. I hope that, should the introduction of the first round of services go well, our date can be moved forward as December 2019 is far too long a wait for a service which was promised years ago.

Opening Hever School

 There's nothing like opening new schools to realise the importance of community. It was a huge privilege to open the new classrooms at Hever Primary School this morning and see again what staff, parents, governors and most of all children are doing to build a community and grow the roots that make confident, capable young people. 

There's nothing like opening new schools to realise the importance of community. It was a huge privilege to open the new classrooms at Hever Primary School this morning and see again what staff, parents, governors and most of all children are doing to build a community and grow the roots that make confident, capable young people. 

 

December 2017

Opening Bishop Chavasse Primary School

 I was delighted to attend the Dedication ceremony for Bishop Chavasse Primary School with the Bishop of Rochester, Rev James Langstaff and the Headteacher, Mrs Weeks.   Based on land next to the new Somerhill Green development, Bishop Chavasse Church of England Primary School opened its doors in September to its first two classes of reception children. The opening of this traditionally run primary school marks the return of Church of England education to Tonbridge.   This is already a fantastic school adding to the range serving the needs of our community here, in Tonbridge. I’m proud to have played a small part in making today a reality. I’m pleased that we can celebrate all the hard work that has gone into this school today and I wish everyone involved best wishes for the future

I was delighted to attend the Dedication ceremony for Bishop Chavasse Primary School with the Bishop of Rochester, Rev James Langstaff and the Headteacher, Mrs Weeks. 

Based on land next to the new Somerhill Green development, Bishop Chavasse Church of England Primary School opened its doors in September to its first two classes of reception children. The opening of this traditionally run primary school marks the return of Church of England education to Tonbridge. 

This is already a fantastic school adding to the range serving the needs of our community here, in Tonbridge. I’m proud to have played a small part in making today a reality. I’m pleased that we can celebrate all the hard work that has gone into this school today and I wish everyone involved best wishes for the future

Christmas Card Competition Winners

 I’ve had a fantastic day surprising the winners of my Christmas card competition. I received hundreds of incredible designs so it was such a tough decision to choose a winner. But I am delighted to announce that the winning design was submitted by Charlotte from Longmead Community Primary School. Well done Charlotte! Massive congratulations also need to be given to Sky from St George’s Primary School, Amelia from Wateringbury Primary School, and Charlie from Cage Green Primary School who were all highly commended winners. Your designs were brilliant! I look forward to welcoming them all to Parliament sometime in the New Year.

I’ve had a fantastic day surprising the winners of my Christmas card competition. I received hundreds of incredible designs so it was such a tough decision to choose a winner. But I am delighted to announce that the winning design was submitted by Charlotte from Longmead Community Primary School. Well done Charlotte! Massive congratulations also need to be given to Sky from St George’s Primary School, Amelia from Wateringbury Primary School, and Charlie from Cage Green Primary School who were all highly commended winners. Your designs were brilliant! I look forward to welcoming them all to Parliament sometime in the New Year.

 

Environment Agency Report Launch

 The new Leigh Flood Storage Area is being improved as part of the Environment Agency's Action Plan for the next 5 years along the River Medway and its tributaries. This is good news for many of our towns and villages. I was pleased to be there when the plan was officially launched on Friday, and it was great to speak about the enormous benefits it will bring us, and those who are too often affected by local flooding. You can read the whole plan to find out more  here .  

The new Leigh Flood Storage Area is being improved as part of the Environment Agency's Action Plan for the next 5 years along the River Medway and its tributaries. This is good news for many of our towns and villages. I was pleased to be there when the plan was officially launched on Friday, and it was great to speak about the enormous benefits it will bring us, and those who are too often affected by local flooding. You can read the whole plan to find out more here.  

 

November 2017

Tandridge Council Plans

 Lots of people in Edenbridge were worried with Tandridge District Council’s plans to build thousands of homes on the county boundary between Kent and Surrey. Yesterday, they have said these plans have been dropped. I’m pleased that one of the reasons cited is the poor road infrastructure which is a concern to everyone living in Edenbridge and surrounding local villages.  Thank you to everyone who got involved in the consultation, whatever your views. This demonstrates that councils must to listen to our voice and address the real infrastructure concerns.

Lots of people in Edenbridge were worried with Tandridge District Council’s plans to build thousands of homes on the county boundary between Kent and Surrey. Yesterday, they have said these plans have been dropped. I’m pleased that one of the reasons cited is the poor road infrastructure which is a concern to everyone living in Edenbridge and surrounding local villages.

Thank you to everyone who got involved in the consultation, whatever your views. This demonstrates that councils must to listen to our voice and address the real infrastructure concerns.

Penshurst Rural Crime Meeting

 As soon as my flight landed from Ireland, I was back to Penshurst where I was pleased to join Cllr Sue Coleman, Matthew Scott - our excellent Police and Crime Commissioner, and representatives from Kent Police at a public meeting organised by Sue about rural policing tonight. We discussed on lots of issues including the role of PCSOs, issues with rural crime and preventing crime too.  It was excellent to see so many residents attend to hear how our police force is working so effectively to keep our community safe.

As soon as my flight landed from Ireland, I was back to Penshurst where I was pleased to join Cllr Sue Coleman, Matthew Scott - our excellent Police and Crime Commissioner, and representatives from Kent Police at a public meeting organised by Sue about rural policing tonight. We discussed on lots of issues including the role of PCSOs, issues with rural crime and preventing crime too.

It was excellent to see so many residents attend to hear how our police force is working so effectively to keep our community safe.