Andrew Kennedy

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

Dear Melanie

Members of Kent County Council have two discretionary grants available for use in the local community.

1. Members' Community Grant: this is an annual sum of £10,000 (total) which I am awarding in small grants of £500- £1,000 to local organisations that do good work in the community, and need a small cash boost for a specific project or goal. As this is public money, there have to be some rules in place to avoid misuse, so organisations applying must have a proper constitution and a bank account with two signatories etc (ie, the money cannot go to individuals for personal/private gain). However, as long as you can demonstrate your group is genuine and the money will be used for the benefit of the wider community, it is almost certain to be approved. (See below for some recent examples of grants I have approved.)

2. Covid Recover Fund: this is a one-off fund of £6,000 which I can award to any group or organisation which needs a financial boost to help them recover from the consequences of Covid and the lockdown. For example, I have made awards of £1,000 to a local community group whose workload doubled as a consequence of lonliness during Covid, and a similar sum offered to Kent Wildlife Trust to repair damage to the Picnic Site and Viewpoint following increased use during lockdown. 

This money has to be allocated by 31 December or it falls back into the general KCC pot, so if you run a community group or project please apply as soon as possible. Please email me at in the first instance and I will send you the forms. 
Below: some recent grant presentations to local good causes.
Clockwise from top left

1. £1,000 to
Larkfield Community Group who offer a friendship and befriending service to local residents. Thank you to Jackie and Delisa for telling me about their excellent work in the community. 

2. £711 to
Burham Parish Council for the purchase of litter picking equipment which will be shared between our four local Parishes (Ditton, Aylesford, Burham and Wouldham) so they can organise Community Litter Picks.

3. £100 to
Blue Bell Hill and Walderslade Community to cover the costs of a Older Residents' Afternoon Tea and get-together organised by Carol Park (if you see her out and about in her ice cream van - buy one and say thank you!)

4. £500 to
Ditton Minors FC for their appeal to purchase and install new defibrilators. Well done to Mark Thompson and his team for hitting their £3,000 target!

Please get in touch if your organisation could benefit from a small community grant.

As we stumble on with this poor service from our contractor, Urbaser, I am going to try to answer some of the regular questions I am asked by residents. 

1. Why can't the Council do something? 
The contract with Urbaser was signed by the West Kent Waste Partnership, which includes Tonbridge & Malling and Tunbridge Wells. Therefore T&M cannot negotiate or seek any changes alone, changes must be agreed by both councils. There could be severe financial penalties if TMBC acted alone, possibly running into millions. Therefore negotiations are long, difficult and protracted. Until both councils reach agreement on what action must be taken, we are going to have to manage the process as best we can. 

2. Can we get a refund for the suspension of the Garden Waste Service?
I have pushed for this, but in reality the service costs £40 a year (or £3.33 a month). If we end up with three month suspension the refund would therefore be less than £10, but the cost of administering this would be more than the amount refunded. TMBC are instead extending the service free of charge when things get "back to normal" and are considering alternative arrangements such as skips in strategic locations for residents to take their garden waste while the problems continue.

3. Can't Urbaser alternate between recycling one week and garden waste the next?
Again, this seems like a sensible solution, but upon investigation it is not possible. Only 30% of residents pay for the Garden Waste collection and there are only six crews allocated to this across T&M and TW (they do TW one week and T&M the next). Because of staffing shortages, these six crews have been removed from garden waste and reallocated to household waste and recycling. Taking them off household waste and recycling would mean six "rounds" a day would not be covered, so approximately 3,000 houses a day would not have their bin emptied. 

4. Isn't the HGV driver shortage just an excuse for poor service?
In hindsight I don't think Urbaser addressed the issue fast enough and had they paid a higher wage rate, perhaps they would not have had so many drivers leave. However they are now offering the highest pay rate in Kent and new drivers are being recruited. In truth driving a bin lorry up and down narrow lanes in rural Kent isn't an attractive or easy job, and with so many driver vacancies elsewhere, retaining staff is difficult. So, yes - I do think it could have been handled better, but the shortage is genuine and is now affecting many sectors of the economy (hence no petrol at Cobham Services on the M25, no milkshakes or Happy Meals at McDonalds and so many empty shelves in surpermarkets). 

Sorry I cannot bring you better news, but I will continue pushing for the full restoration of services at the earliest opportunity.  
I have met recently with Kent Wildlife Trust to discuss the issue of visitors to the Viewpoint and Picnic Site parking on the grass verges along Common Road and destroying the verges as well as blocking residents' driveways. I have offered to finance from my Community Grant the installation of natural wooden bollards the length of Common Road to stop this, and also finance the replanting of wildflowers along the entire length of the road to restore its natural beauty. Unfortunately Kent Highways are insisting on the installation of white plastic bollards with fluorescent yellow stripes on them for safety reasons. Personally I think white plastic bollards would be dreadful in the AONB and also ineffective as they would be knocked over by selfish drivers. I have written to the KCC Cabinet Member for Highways asking for this to be reviewed and have sent him examples of many other wooden bollards, including three sets on the short stretch of road from Allington to Aylesford. I await his reply.

Residents of Common Road will soon receive a letter from me seeking their views on possible parking enforcement options., especially for when KWT introduce parking charges and visitors may seek to avoid paying by using Common Road instead. Watch our for my consultation letter by the end of next week. 
I share residents' frustration and irritation that the long awaited resurfacing of Bull Lane was postponed yet again, at less than 24 hours notice. I have asked the Cabinet Member for Highways for a full explanation and reassurance that this will be completed before the winter sets in and the situation deteriorates further. It is not acceptable. 
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