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Andrew Kennedy

Tel: 07792 924820   Email: amskennedy1966@gmail.com
Proudly representing the communities of
Aylesford, Blue Bell Hill, Burham, Ditton, Eccles, Kits Coty, Peters Village, Walderslade and Wouldham. 

Dear <<First Name>>

A very warm welcome to my July newsletter and thank for subscribing. As promised, I will respect the privacy of your data and will only use this to send you my monthly update highlighting the work I am doing locally. 
The appalling service residents receive from Urbaser remains the dominant item in my inbox, and understandably so. I was not a councillor when the new waste contract was awarded, but I remember at the time many colleagues expressing concern that the tender price was far too low and Urbaser would struggle to deliver the service. Sadly those concerns turned out to be true, However, hindsight is a wonderful thing, and I genuinley believe the Council awarded the contract in good faith and with the best intentions, and that was to save taxpayers' money. 

I never set out to be a "rebel" but the reality is I started flagging up concerns about the service in early 202o, long before Covid. We are now 18 months down the line and situation continues to deteriorate; missed collections, missed recycling, reports of rude staff, damage to gardens, plants and property due to careless driving, bins and boxes thrown up driveways, roads and pavements blocked with bins not replaced properly, no recycling in flats, no bulky waste service, litter bins and dog poo bins overflowing and a 74% increase in fly-tipping - the worst in Kent.

It increasingly became clear to me and many colleagues that drastic action needed to be taken, and that included electing a new Council Leader who could restore public confidence and seek the earliest possible termination of the contract with Urbaser. We are meeting next Wednesday (7th July) to elect a new leader, whose first task must be to address the refuse contract. We have two strong candidates (Matt Boughton from Tonbridge and David Lettington from Snodland) and I wish whichever is elected every success. 

Finally, despite my recent criticisms, I would like to pay tribute to the outgoing leader Nicolas Heslop. Nicolas has given almost 30 years service to TMBC and its residents and has steered the council through some very difficult times. I am saddened that his leadership has ended this way, but it was the right decision for him to step aside and allow a new leader to take TMBC forward.
The ongoing issue of flooding (or ponding, as Kent Highways call it) on the A20 by Quarry Wood has been with us for 20 plus years. In fact, the 'pond' has been there so long now a flock of plastic ducks recently took up residence!

I met with highway engineers this morning to get a better understanding of this and many other issues affecting our community. In a nutshell, when it rains, rainwater is taken via drains on the road into below ground soakaways (example above right) and is slowly re-absorbed into the surrounding land. The issue on London Road is the soakaways simply cannot cope with the volume of water when there is a persistent downpour or storm. This causes a backlog of water on the road and all the associated inconvenience for pedestrians, drivers and nearby residents.

KCC are now in discussion with Crown Estates who own the adjacent land and are seeking to install a 100sq meter cubic capacity rainwater storage tank, which I am assured is more than sufficient for even the worst weather. The hope is to install this as part of the works to build the new Quarry Wood roundabout. 

Talking of which, the work on the roundabout (which I appreciate is causing local concern) has now been postponed while KCC examine the 500 responses to the public consultation and seek to re-evaluate the traffic data to ensure their predications are accurate. They now hope for this work to commence in spring 2022, once post-Covid traffic flows can be examined and evaluated. 
  • HGV AND ROAD SAFETY ISSUES IN BULL LANE, ECCLES: I am working with Tracey Crouch MP, Parish Councillor Aaron Ludlow and local residents to try and address the recent increase in Southern Water tankers travelling along Bull Lane, including dangerous driving, speeding and road safety. I have spoken to Kent Police about dangerous driving and speeding concerns and also TMBCs planning enforcement team about early morning and late night HGV movements which are disturbing sleep patterns and causing disturbance.
     
  • WOULDHAM HIGH STREET TRAFFIC: I am grateful to 14 residents of Wouldham and members of the Parish Council who have helped me compile a dossier of evidence of the appalling traffic and congestion in Wouldham High Street since the opening of Peters Bridge. This is going to be a very difficult issue to resolve, and I am conscious that many others before me have tried and failed. However I am going to do my best, as it is clear the present situation is totally intolerable for all concerned.  The leader of KCC (Roger Gough)  and the Cabinet Member for Highways (David Brazier) have agreed to meet me this week to re-open discussions about what can be done. I cannot promise, but I will do my best.
     
  • HGV PARKING ON BLUE BELL HILL:  At my request, Kent Highways are examining temporary measures that might physically prevent HGVs parking in the slip road, leading from Blue Bell Hill village to the A229. There might be some hope of alleviating the issues ahead of a more permanent solution when the A229 upgraded as part of the Lower Thames Crossing work.
Last year I launched my Design a Christmas Card competition for local children and I am delighted to do so again for Christmas 2021.

There are three age groups:

Under 5
6 - 10
11+


If your child (or grandchild) would like to enter, they are welcome to send me a drawing based on the theme "the village where I live". It can be in paint, crayon, pencil, collage or any other medium, and produced on A4 paper (portrait or landscape). 

The best way to submit an entry is by email (scan the drawing or take a picture on your phone) and email it to me at amskennedy1966@gmail.com

The competition will remain open until the end of August when three winners (one from each age group) will be chosen. Each winner will receive a £20 gift card and also 50 glossy Christmas cards with their design on the front (with matching envelopes).

I really look forward to receiving the entries.
Each County Councillor has access to a £6,000 Covid Recovery Grant to help local businesses and communities recover from the pandemic. I am keen to use this grant to support as many local businesses as possible, and my aim is to use this money to host a Small Business and Community Fayre in the autum.

Plans are still in early stages, but I hope to invite each local business (including sole traders) along for a free stall to help promote their business. I will also invite all our community and voluntary groups to participate, too (so they van promote what they do in the community and attract new supporters). The grant will be used to hire the marquee and cover the costs of public liability insurance and advertising. There will be no charge for our local businesses/community groups to participate and no charge for residents to attend. 

I'd welcome your feedback if you think this is a good idea or what alse I might be able to do to help our local small businesses and community groups.  Please email me at amskennedy1966@gmail.com
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