Hextable Parish Council
 
 

Sevenoaks District Council Information

Closure order extended on anti-social home
Dec. 04,2019

An Edenbridge property that was partially-closed in August this year following anti-social behaviour has had the closure order extended for a further three months by Maidstone Magistrates’ Court.  The order was made for a West Kent Housing property in Manor Road, following ongoing anti-social behaviour at the address.

The original partial closure order was granted in August 2019 for three months after Maidstone Magistrates’ Court heard there had been serious and persistent nuisance and disorder, caused by the occupier and her visitors to the property.

Sevenoaks District Council had received numerous complaints of noise and allegations of illegal behaviour at the rented property. The Court agreed the order was needed to protect the local community for three months. The partial closure meant that no members of the public except for the resident and their child were allowed at the property

On Wednesday 27 November 2019, a three month extension of the partial closure was granted by Maidstone Magistrates’ Court following a number of breaches by the occupier and to prevent any incidents of anti-social behaviour reoccurring.

The partial closure notice means that if any visitors are found at the property between now and 27 February 2020, they will be committing a criminal offence.

Community Safety Manager for Sevenoaks District Council, Kelly Webb says “Community safety is a top priority for the Council and, through partnership working with Kent Police and West Kent Housing, we have been able to extend the partial closure of the property, reducing the risk of anti-social behaviour at this address.”


Free Festive Parking
Nov. 28,2019

Shoppers can make the most of the District’s excellent town centres with FREE parking in Sevenoaks and Westerham in the lead up to Christmas.

On Thursday 28 November all Sevenoaks District Council car parks and on street parking in Westerham will be free from 5pm for the Christmas light switch on and late night shopping.

The Sevenoaks light ceremony takes place on Friday 29 November so all car parks in Sevenoaks town centre will be free from 6pm for the event.

Council car parks and on-street parking will also be free on Saturday 14 and 21 December in both Sevenoaks and Westerham town centres.

Bligh’s car park in Sevenoaks will be free on Sundays 15 and 22 December too.

Visitors can park for up to three hours in Bligh’s and longer in other car parks, helping to spread the Christmas cheer as widely as possible.

There will be no need to show a pay and display ticket, but car parks will continue to be patrolled, helping to ensure they operate as smoothly as possible in the lead up to Christmas.

For car park locations and facilities, visit www.sevenoaks.gov.uk/carparks


Get ready to go to the polls on 12 December
Nov. 10,2019

A general election has been called for 12 December 2019, which means Sevenoaks District Council is busy preparing for the third election this year.

For the General Election, Sevenoaks District Council will issue around 89,000 poll cards to its residents and open 68 polling stations.

Only people aged 18 and over who have registered to vote by 26 November will be able to have their say on 12 December.

Returning Officer and Chief Executive of Sevenoaks District Council, Dr Pav Ramewal, says: “Elections are always an incredibly busy and exciting time for us. Our teams work very hard to make sure the voting process is easy for our residents.”

Dr Ramewal adds: “We would encourage everyone to make sure they are registered to vote before 26 November so they don’t miss out on having their say about who should run the country.”

Anyone unable to make it to the polls can apply for a postal vote by 5pm on 26 November or a proxy vote by 5pm on 4 December.

To find out more visit www.sevenoaks.gov.uk/elections or call 01732 227000.


New leisure centre for Swanley
Nov. 10,2019

Residents can have their say on a planning application for a brand new leisure centre in Swanley until 22 November 2019.

The modern, energy efficient facility would take over from the current White Oak centre, which has served generations of Swanley residents for more than 50 years. Built in 1967, the centre is coming to the end of its life and is expensive to run, uses a lot of energy and would cost too much to repair.

After Sevenoaks District Council unveiled its plans for a new centre in March, it has made a number of important changes following residents’ comments and suggestions.

The proposal for the new centre now includes:

  • A 25 metre, six-lane swimming pool with a moveable floor making it suitable for beginners through to water polo clubs
  • Learner swimming pool
  • A viewing area for both swimming pools
  • A multi-purpose sports area big enough for two badminton courts
  • A state of the art, 100+ station modern fitness studio with a spin bike area
  • A Feel Good Suite for people who need help to exercise
  • Tag Active
  • Soft play area
  • Multi-purpose rooms and interconnected studios with moveable walls for classes and events
  • Café and viewing area
  • Car parking for around 140 vehicles and a coach drop-off point

The current White Oak Leisure Centre would remain open during the building works.

The planning application includes an outline proposal for two and three bedroom family homes on the current site. These homes are essential to the project as they will help to fund the new leisure centre.

Residents can view and comment on the planning application at www.sevenoaks.gov.uk/whiteoak

They can also email their comments to comments@sevenoaks.gov.uk quoting reference 19/02951/HYB together with their name and address or by writing to: Development Services, Sevenoaks District Council, Argyle Road, Sevenoaks, Kent  TN13 1HG.

“The prospect of a new state-of-the-art leisure centre for Swanley is very good news," says Cllr Lesley Dyball, the Council's Cabinet Member for People and Places.

“The centre would provide excellent activities that reflect current leisure trends. It would be environmentally friendly and economically viable, so we can continue to provide leisure in Swanley for generations to come.

“We’re really keen for residents to have their say on the new White Oak Leisure Centre proposals, which they can do as part of the planning application process."


West Kingsdown resident prosecuted for breaching Green Belt Enforcement Notice
Sept. 17,2019

A West Kingsdown man who built on the Green Belt without permission has been prosecuted after Sevenoaks District Council brought legal action.

Neil Hayes aged 54 pleaded guilty at Sevenoaks Magistrates’ Court on Friday 13 September 2019 to refusing to remove mobile homes, buildings and machinery from Hayes Farm, Fawkham Road, West Kingsdown.

Mr Hayes began to develop and live at the Hayes Farm site in April 2015 in connection with his business. He brought mobile homes, shipping containers, vehicles, a forklift truck, a JCB and septic tanks on to the protected site and installed an access track and hardstanding without planning permission.

Sevenoaks District Council served an Enforcement Notice in November 2015, which Mr Hayes appealed. This was rejected by the Planning Inspectorate. 

After Mr Hayes ignored the Enforcement Notice and continued to use the land unlawfully, he was brought to Sevenoaks Magistrates’ Court by Sevenoaks District Council.

Mr Hayes was ordered to stop living on the site and to remove all mobile homes and machinery and to demolish the outbuilding buildings.

He was given a fine of £1,400, £300 in costs and a £140 victim surcharge, totalling £1,840.

Cabinet Member for ‘Cleaner and Greener’, Cllr Margot McArthur, says: “The prosecution of Mr Hayes is a clear message that we will not tolerate illegal development, especially in our much cherished Green Belt.

“Not only was this an illegal development, it was an eyesore for local neighbours. We’ve promised our residents we will protect the environment and if necessary we will take all action necessary, including through the courts.”


Full steam ahead for Darent Valley Community Rail Partnership
Sept. 04,2019

On Sunday 1 September 2019, the Darent Valley Community Rail Partnership launched with a train full of entertainment and special guests.

The Partnership aims to promote the scenic line from Swanley to Sevenoaks and the many local attractions along the route. Sights include The Hop Shop and Mount Vineyard in Shoreham, Otford Palace, Lullingstone Roman Villa, The Stag Theatre, many country pubs and more. By encouraging both visitors and residents to take the train, it will help ease the congestion on local roads and is more environmentally friendly.

The launch event started at Swanley rail station where guests, including local Mayors and several District and Town Parish Councillors, were taken by train along the Darent Valley line stopping at Eynsford, Shoreham and Otford. There was entertainment on board, including a magician and live music. The guests left the train at Bat and Ball for refreshments. The grand finale was a vintage bus taking the guests to the final stop, Sevenoaks rail station.

Sevenoaks District Council Cabinet Member for People and Places, and Mayor of Swanley, Cllr Lesley Dyball who was at the event, says: “Making the Swanley to Sevenoaks line a Community Rail Partnership is the start of an exciting journey. I hope it will act as a platform to promote the local economy, ensure residents get the most from their local railway line while reducing congestion on the roads going into the towns and village.”

Cllr Lesley Dyball adds: “We hope the communities will get behind the Partnership and use this scenic train route more often to visit the wonderful landmarks our District has to offer.”

Govia Thameslink Railway’s Partnerships and Corporate Social Responsibility Manager Katherine Cox adds: “We’re proud to be supporting the new Darent Valley Community Rail Partnership and hope local communities make the most of the opportunities to get more involved with their scenic railway line.”

The Darent Valley CRP is being supported by Sevenoaks District Council, Sevenoaks Town Council, Swanley Town Council, Eynsford Parish Council, Shoreham Parish Council, Otford Parish Council, the Association of Community Rail Partnerships, Govia Thameslink and Southeastern.


Sevenoaks Chairman raises flag for Merchant Navy Day
Sept. 02,2019

Cllr John Edwards-Winser, the Chairman of Sevenoaks District Council, raised the Red Ensign above the Council offices in honour of the British Merchant Navy. 

The flag raising took place on Friday 30 August at the Council’s offices in Sevenoaks in advance of Merchant Navy Day on 3 September.

The Chairman was joined by Lord Colgrain Deputy Lieutenant of Kent, Mayor of Sevenoaks Nicholas Busvine, Chairman of Edenbridge Town Council Cllr Alan Layland, the Westerham Sea Cadets and local veterans.

Cllr Edwards-Winser says: “It was an honour to commemorate the work of the Merchant Navy. Their work has often been unrecognised, especially during the Second World War so it was a privilege to lead the flag raising ceremony. They are essential to our prosperity and survival as an island nation.”


Edenbridge anti-social behaviour property served partial closure notice
Sept. 02,2019

A closure order has been made for a West Kent Housing property in Manor Road, Edenbridge following ongoing anti-social behaviour at the address.

The partial closure order, granted by Maidstone Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday 27 August came after the Court heard that there had been serious and persistent nuisance and disorder, caused by the occupier and her visitors to the property.  The Council had received numerous complaints of noise and allegations of illegal behaviour at the rented property. The Court agreed that the order was needed to protect the local community.

Although the Council and the Housing Association had taken some immediate steps under anti-social behaviour legislation to limit the problems, the Council applied for the closure order after these were repeatedly breached.

The partial closure notice means that for the next three months no members of the public except for the resident and their child are allowed at the property. If any visitors are found at the property between now and 27 November 2019, they may be committing a criminal offence.

Cabinet Member for People and Places, Cllr Lesley Dyball says: “The safety of our residents is a top priority for this Council and we will not tolerate anti-social behaviour. Neighbours and local residents will be relieved we have taken this action.”

Cllr Dyball adds: “This closure was down to the partnership of Sevenoaks District Council, West Kent Housing Association and Kent Police in the Community Safely Unit. We have all worked together to stop any more incidents of anti-social behaviour happening at this property.”


Bringing Back Bitchet
Sept. 02,2019

Kent Wildlife Trust and Sevenoaks District Council are working on an exciting project to restore Bitchet Common in Seal, thanks to funding from Enovert Community Fund and National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Residents and visitors to Bitchet Common are being invited to a drop-in information session on Saturday 31 August from 8.30am to 3pm to find out about the work being done. The sessions will give some background into the site’s rare and valuable heathland habitat and forthcoming works to restore Bitchet Common for wildlife and people.

On the day, visitors will be able to see display boards detailing the work, have the chance to talk to the staff involved and have a guided walk onto the project site. These will take place at 9am, 10:30am, 12:00pm and 1:30pm. There will also be an opportunity to learn more about the volunteering options available.

Cllr Margot McArthur, Cabinet Member for ‘Cleaner and Greener’ says “We are delighted to be part of the Bitchet Common renovation and we are excited to see the finished outcome. It is really important that the native species of plants and wildlife are able to thrive again.”

Cllr McArthur adds “This could not be done without the fantastic work of our volunteers, they make all the difference.”

The event will take place at Bitchet Common and parking is available at One Tree Hill Car Park, Carter's Hill, TN15 0SN.

To find out more information please visit www.sevenoaks.gov.uk/bitchet


West Kingsdown Man Prosecuted For Fly-Tipping
Sept. 02,2019

Tony Waters from West Kingsdown was prosecuted at Sevenoaks Magistrates’ Court on Friday 9 August (2019) for fly-tipping in Eynsford.

Forty-six year old Waters of 15 Celia Road, West Kingsdown TN15 6BD pleaded guilty to dumping commercial waste at the Eynsford Recycling Centre on 9 May 2018.

Waters was ordered to pay a £260 in costs and a £20 Victim Surcharge totalling £280. The judge took into account Waters was unemployed. However, he was handed a two-year conditional discharge and was told by the judge that the punishment will be more severe if he is caught fly-tipping in the next 24 months. Waters now has a criminal record.

Waters was originally due at court on 5 July 2019 but failed to turn up. He was subsequently arrested by Kent Police at his home on 31 July 2019 and bailed until the rearranged court hearing on 9 August.

Sevenoaks District Council’s Fly-Tipping Enforcement Team investigated the incident and brought the case to court.

Waters was caught unloading his van on a camera located in the Eynsford Recycling Centre despite signs warning people that Sevenoaks District Council had CCTV in the area and that fly tipping is an offence. 

The Council found Waters had regularly advertised his business on Facebook even though he did not have a Waste Carrier’s Licence from the Environment Agency.

Waters twice declined to be interviewed by the Council about the fly-tipping incident.

The commercial waste was traced back to a company based in Sidcup that hired Waters after seeing his advert on Facebook. However, the business failed to check he had a Waste Carrier’s Licence and was given a £300 fixed penalty notice from the Council.

Cllr Margot McArthur, the Council’s Cabinet Member for Cleaner and Greener, says: “Mr Waters may have thought he was above the law by illegally fly tipping and refusing to attend court. But we do not give up that easily and with the help of Kent Police, we made sure Mr Waters faced justice for his crime.

“This case shows that everyone has a duty of care when disposing of their waste. It’s advisable to check if the individual or business taking your rubbish has a valid Waste Carrier’s Licence, otherwise you could face a fine.”

Residents can check if someone has a Waste Carrier’s licence on the Environment Agency’s website https://environment.data.gov.uk/public-register/view/search-waste-carriers-brokers 

Sevenoaks District Council provides a waste collection service for large items. Residents should call 01732 227000 or visit www.sevenoaks.gov.uk/refuse for details.


Local PLan Set For Examination
Sept. 02,2019

Sevenoaks District Council's new Local Plan will be tested at a series of public examination hearings beginning next month.

The Local Plan comprises of proposals for new homes, business space and community improvements while continuing to protect the much-cherished Green Belt. Residents have played an important role in the development of the Plan by responding to three District-wide consultations in their thousands.

Karen Baker (DipTP MA DipMP MRTPI), a Government Planning Inspector, will chair the hearings that will check the Plan meets all the legal requirements and meets the future development needs of the District.

These hearings are open to the public who can come along and listen to any of the discussions. Residents who have previously registered an interest in speaking at these hearings may also be called upon by the Inspector to have their say.

The hearing sessions will take place as follows:

  • Week one - 24 to 27 September 2019 - The Stag Theatre, Sevenoaks
  • Week two - 1 to 3 October 2019 - The Stag Theatre, Sevenoaks
  • Week three - 5 to 7 November 2019 - The Stag Theatre, Sevenoaks
  • Week four - 12 to 15 November 2019 - Sevenoaks District Council Offices, Argyle Road.

Morning sessions begin at 10am and afternoon sessions begin at 2pm.

If approved, the Local Plan will become the foundation upon which all future planning applications in the District will be determined for the next two decades.

Cabinet Member for Development & Conservation, Cllr Julia Thornton, says: “After years of work, evidence gathering and input from our residents via three public consultations, we believe we have submitted a sound Local Plan for examination.

“Our Plan is strongly evidence based and strikes a realistic balance between meeting new housing targets imposed on us by national government whilst still overwhelmingly protecting our precious Green Belt, which makes the Sevenoaks District such a special place to live and work.

“We look forward to the hearings that start next month as they are an important part of the examination process, which, we hope, will ultimately lead to our Local Plan being approved and adopted during the first half of 2020.”

To find out more about the Local Plan Examination, visit www.sevenoaks.gov.uk/localplanexamination


Swanley Landlord Fined £15,000
Sept. 02,2019

Mr Mustafa Kemal Mustafa, a rogue landlord who ran an illegal hostel in the former Convent of Mercy in Swanley, has been handed a £15,000 fine after a hearing at Woolwich Crown Court on Friday 2 August 2019.

Forty-four year old Mr Mustafa from 21 Briar Lane, West Wickham, Bromley BR4 9RA was found guilty of breaching a planning enforcement notice issued by Sevenoaks District Council in 2016.

Following the weeklong Crown Court trial and a unanimous guilty verdict from the jury, the Judge imposed a fine of £5,000 plus £10,000 in costs awarded to the Council.

The planning enforcement notice, issued on 14 December 2016, ordered Mr Mustafa to cease using the former Convent of Mercy in Swanley as a hostel as it did not have planning permission.

Mr Mustafa ignored the notice and continued to house people in the former Convent until the Council obtained a closure order from Sevenoaks Magistrates’ on 11 May 2018 following repeated anti-social behaviour.

This latest action by Sevenoaks District Council was supported by Kent Fire & Rescue Service, Kent Police and other agencies.

Cllr Lesley Dyball, the Council’s Cabinet Member for Community Safety, says: "There is no doubt, people living in the former Convent of Mercy were at risk. This was an unsafe, unfit property operating without permission and neighbours had endured unacceptable anti-social behaviour for far too long. Despite the Council and our partners taking action on a range of issues, Mr Mustafa failed to deal with the problems.”

"The safety of our residents is a top priority and the substantial fine demonstrates the seriousness of this case."


Residents asked to check their fridge this summer
July 23,2019

Summer holiday season is in full swing but residents are being urged to think about the amount of food they throw away before they set off on their summer break.

A campaign by Hubbub UK has found that over the summer holidays Britons bin £1/2 billion worth of edible food, £12 million of that is in the first week of the summer break alone.

Sevenoaks District residents are being urged to check what is in their fridge and to see if it can be frozen before they jet off. Another tip to avoid wastage is to batch cook meals with leftover ingredients and freeze them before leaving or offering the uneaten food to a neighbour. By doing even one of these easy tips, residents can save money and help reduce food waste.

Cllr Margot McArthur, the Council’s Cabinet Member for Cleaner and Greener, says: “As the environment is a top priority for the Council, we’re proud to support Hubbub UK’s campaign to cut food waste. We can all do our bit to reduce our food waste by simply checking our fridges before we go away.” 

As a further incentive, Hubbub UK have teamed up with Samsung and are offering a competition prize of a brand new fridge. For more details including how to enter, follow @HubbubUK on Instagram.

If you would like to find out more about reducing food waste visit www.hubbub.org.uk

To find out what foods are freezer friendly visit www.hubbub.org.uk/12-freezer-friendly-foods

To see what else is happening during the Travellers’ Check campaign follow #TravellersCheck across all social media channels.


Launch of new noise app
July 23,2019

Sevenoaks District Council has launched a new app making it quick and easy for residents to report noise related complaints.

The ‘Noise App’ is easy to use and is free for residents. The app takes recordings of the noise together with the time and location of the disturbance, and instantly reports it to the Council, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Residents can make as many reports as is necessary.

Those making the complaints can enter details of the nature of the disturbance and the impact on them.

The Council will review the reports as part of any investigation. Data collected via the noise app can be used as evidence if the Council takes further action.

Prior to the introduction of the noise app, the Council sent paper diary sheets to residents who made noise complaints. Not only was this time-consuming for residents, it slowed down the process of making a complaint and gathering the all-important evidence.

This app also saves the Council time as staff no longer need to review and analyse written responses.

However, paper diaries will still be available for residents without smartphones or other suitable devices.

The Council’s Cabinet Member for Cleaner and Greener, Cllr Margot McArthur, says: “Noise disturbance, especially when persistent, can really impact on physical and mental health. This new service makes reporting noise nuisance quicker and easier. It means we can start to deal with the problem straightaway and this will be welcomed by people suffering from noise disruption.”

The Noise App is available on iPhone and Android by searching for ‘The Noise App’.


Driving down the 'ruff' treatment of assistance dogs
July 23,2019

To help people with assistance dogs have the ‘pawfect’ taxi journey, Sevenoaks District Council is making sure everyone is aware of the law around carrying canine companions.

It’s against the law for any taxi driver to refuse or charge extra for an assistance dog, such as a guide dog or a hearing dog.

A taxi driver can only refuse to carry an assistance dog if they have a medical condition that’s aggravated by exposure to dogs and they have an exemption from the Council. If this is the case, the driver would have to display a special badge showing they are exempt from carrying assistance dogs.

The Council’s Cabinet member for Cleaner and Greener, Cllr Margot McArthur, says: “Assistance dogs allow those who require them to have freedom, so being refused or charged extra for a taxi journey can really impact their confidence and ability to go about their everyday lives. Although reported cases are rare in this District, it’s something we take seriously as we care deeply about our residents’ wellbeing.”

Guide Dogs Engagement Officer, Siobhan Meade, adds: “Often, refusals happen because drivers do not understand that their actions can impact the independence of people like me who are blind or visually impaired. Most drivers are helpful and kind, but to those who would consider refusing to take someone because they have a guide dog I ask them to imagine they couldn’t see.”

Residents who have been refused a taxi ride or charged extra because of an assistance dog, should contact the Council right away so it can look into the complaint.

To help with the investigation, the Council is asking for as much information as possible. This could include the name and telephone number of the taxi company, when the booking was made, the beginning and the end of the journey, the taxi plate number (fixed to the back of taxi), a description of the driver and a summary of the conversation.

Please email the details to licensing@sevenoaks.gov.uk or call 01732 227004.


Conservation is key for Sevenoaks District
July 23,2019

Sevenoaks District Council is helping to fulfil a promise to protect the environment by extending five conservation areas.

On Thursday 11 July, the Council’s Cabinet agreed to improve and broaden conservation areas in Brasted, Leigh, Seal, Shoreham and Swanley Village, with Shoreham having two existing conservation areas merged into one.

Residents living in the conservation areas had an opportunity to comment on the Council’s proposals during a six week public consultation that was held in October 2018. The majority of feedback from residents and resident groups was extremely positive, with most people recognising the changes as being necessary to maintain the special character of the areas.

An overview of the changes are as follows:

  • Brasted – There will be an addition to the conservation areas on the High Street and Rectory Lane.
  • Leigh – Conservation areas will now include 1 to 22 Garden Cottages, part of Powder Mill Lane, north of The Crandells and south of The Green.
  • Seal – The conservation area has been extended to include the village allotments and Jubilee Rise.
  • Shoreham – Shoreham High Street and Church Street will be merged into one conservation area, which includes the field at north end of the High Street known as Crown Field.
  • Swanley Village – There will be an addition to the conservation areas on Beechenlea Lane and Swanley Village Road.
  • For both Shoreham and Swanley Village, in order to protect front gardens in the conservation areas, right for permitted development in these areas has also been removed. Home owners wishing to make changes to their properties must now make planning applications so that each case can be looked at on its own merits.

Cabinet Member for Development & Conservation, Cllr Julia Thornton says: “We are passionate about preserving the character of our beautiful District and these five updated and extended conservation areas will mean they will remain great places to live, work and visit.”

Cllr Thornton adds: “The overwhelmingly positive response to our public consultation shows that residents are just as keen as we are to preserve our historic villages as best we can.”

For full details of the changes to the conservation areas visit www.sevenoaks.gov.uk/conservation


Two fly-tippers brought to justice
July 15,2019

Two criminals from Greater London were prosecuted at Sevenoaks Magistrates’ Court on Friday (5 July 2019) for fly-tipping in Westerham and Dunton Green.

Twenty-nine year old Bradley McDaniels of 45 Acer Road Biggin Hill (TN16 3SP) pleaded guilty to dumping garden waste at The Avenue in Westerham on 11 February 2019.

McDaniels was ordered to pay a £750 fine, a £75 Victim Surcharge and £744 in costs totalling £1,569.

Adrian-Constantin Catinca aged 28 of 4 Rutland Way, Orpington (BR5 4DZ) pleaded guilty to his vehicle being used to fly-tip a sofa on a country lane next to London Road, Dunton Green on 27 December 2018.

Catinca was fined £600 together with a Victim Surcharge of £60 and costs of £744, in total £1,404.

Both McDaniels and Catinca now have a criminal record as a result of their actions. The Magistrates warned both defendants to be careful in relation to their future conduct as they have now lost their good character and the penalty will be much harsher should they be summoned again.

Sevenoaks District Council’s Fly-Tipping Enforcement Team investigated both incidents and brought the cases to court.

These prosecutions follow hot on the heels of another successful court case on 7 June 2019 when a Tunbridge Well man admitted to dumping waste in Dunton Green received fines totalling £1,745.

Cllr Margot McArthur, the Council’s Cleaner and Greener Cabinet Member, says: “As the only local authority in Kent with a dedicated fly-tipping investigation team, we are serious about protecting our much cherished environment. With three successful prosecutions under our belt in less than month, criminals thinking about dumping waste in the District should beware - we will take action if we have sufficient evidence.”

Residents can report fly-tipping on public land and on the highway by calling Sevenoaks District Council on 01732 227000..

The Council also provides a bulky waste collection service for large items. Residents should call 01732 227000 or visit www.sevenoaks.gov.uk/refuse for details.


Sevenoaks man prosecuted for fly tipping in Riverhead
June 13,2019

A Sevenoaks resident has pleaded guilty to fly-tipping in Riverhead following an investigation by Sevenoaks District Council. 

Twenty-nine year old Brendan Dewberry of Whitley Woodworks, Whitley Farm Sevenoaks was fined £1,745, including court costs, at Sevenoaks Magistrates’ Court on Friday 7 June 2019. 

Dewbery pleaded guilty to fly-tipping a number of plastic bags full of waste from his van in a communal area at River Court, Riverhead. 

Sevenoaks District Council’s Environmental Enforcement Team investigated the incident and found information in the waste tracing it back to an address in Tunbridge Wells. The Council then established Dewberry had collected the waste.

The Council’s Cleaner and Greener Cabinet Member, Margot McArthur, says: “Once again we have prosecuted a criminal who showed disregard for the environment we cherish. 

“We are the only local authority in Kent to have a dedicated fly-tipping investigation team and we will continue to take a zero tolerance approach and bring fly-tippers to justice.”

“Anyone thinking about fly-tipping in the Sevenoaks District should beware - whenever we have sufficient evidence, we will take action, if necessary through the courts.”

Residents can report fly-tipping on public land and on the highway by calling Sevenoaks District Council on 01732 227000.

The Council also provides a bulky waste collection service for large items. Residents should call 01732 227000 or visit www.sevenoaks.gov.uk/refuse for details.


John's Ready to Tackle the Role of Chairman

 

May 29,2019

 

Cllr John Edwards-Winser, Sevenoaks District Council's new rugby mad Chairman, can’t wait to kick off his year in office.

John, a life-long Otford resident, was born and raised in the village. After attending Otford Primary School, he secured a place at the Judd School in Tonbridge where fell in love with rugby.

After representing Judd, he went on to play rugby at a high level for the Old Juddians and then the Civil Service.

John says: “I’ve enjoyed rugby since a young age and while I haven’t played for many years, I still enjoy watching the game. I still follow Tonbridge Juddians’ scores and I try to catch as many games on TV as I can. I’m really keen to promote rugby and the benefits of sport in general during my year as Chairman. Hopefully I’ll convert a few people into taking up my favourite sport.”

Outside of rugby, John is a keen beekeeper and is known for his locally produced honey.

After leaving school, John worked in a nearby government research establishment until his retirement in 2004 after which he travelled much of the world.

John was elected to Otford Parish Council in 2007 and four year later, he was elected to Sevenoaks District Council representing Otford and Shoreham and has been a District Councillor ever since.

John married Frances in 1968 and together they had three children and now have four grandchildren.

He is also passionate about preserving local history. John is a Trustee of Otford Palace and played a key role in the transfer of the historic remains from the Council to the Archbishop’s Palace Conservation Trust.

Throughout his year as Chairman, John will be supporting the Kent-based charity Demelza. John says: “I have a family connection with this charity and I’ve seen first-hand how they make such a difference to the lives of desperately ill children and their families. During my year as Chairman, I hope to raise money and the profile of this important organisation.”

John welcomes invitations to attend community events. To invite John, visit www.sevenoaks.gov.uk/chairman, e-mail chairman@sevenoaks.gov.uk or call 01732 227247.

Follow John on Twitter at @sdc_chairman.

John was elected as the Sevenoaks District Council Chairman on 21 May 2019 at the Annual Council meeting. Cllr Diana Esler was elected to the post of Vice Chairman at the same meeting


Calling all young basketball hopefuls!
April 09,2019

A new, after school basketball club will bounce into action from 29 April at Dunton Green Recreation Ground, (near the Pavilion), London Road, Dunton Green, TN13 2UR

The District’s premier level local basketball club, the Sevenoaks Suns, are inviting 11 to 14 year olds to attend its term-time, after school basketball camp. The camp, which is open to both girls and boys, will be held at Ball Court Recreation Ground from 5 pm to 6 pm on a Monday nights, starting 29 April. There’s no need to book in advance and the sessions are just £2 a time.

Founded in 2005, the Sevenoaks Suns are run by volunteers who offer coaching to players ranging from five years old through to men and women. Their goal is to help young people develop into mature, confident and self-reliant individuals.

In the club's 13 years, they've built a tradition of excellence across all age groups. The girls programme have won 20 junior national league titles and the women's team have won back-to-back Woman’s British Basketball League Playoff Championships in 2017 and 2018. To date, 43 Sevenoaks Suns female players have represented England, 15 have represented Great Britain and 17 have received scholarships to continue their basketball careers and education in the United States.

Dimitris Kor, Development Coach from the Sevenoaks Suns, says “This is a great opportunity for local young people to participate in a fun and active sport. Basketball is great for team building and self-confidence; we’re really excited to meet the young people who join us”.

For information, email communities@sevenoaks.gov.uk or call 01732 227000.


Sevenoaks District Council retains its Platinum Investors in People

 

March 24,2019

 

It’s an exciting time for Sevenoaks District Council as they have just been awarded a Platinum Investors in People award for the second time. In 2016 they were the first public sector organisation to be awarded the prestigious Platinum badge and recently, it was confirmed they have retained the honour until 2022. Sevenoaks is the first public sector employer to retain Investors In People Platinum status.

Investors In People is an organisation that lead the drive for better leadership and better workplaces. They are an independent, not-for-profit company that assess thousands of organisations every three years to lead, support and manage people well, for sustainable results.

Assessed against the very best practice of private and public sector employers and the results of an independent survey of all our staff made it harder than ever to achieve Platinum status.

Leader of Sevenoaks Council Cllr Peter Fleming says: “We are thrilled to have retained Platinum status. This achievement is not just about being a great place to work, but it shows our staff have the strong focus and determination to continue to deliver the high-quality, value for money services that our residents deserve. The report highlights the creativity and innovation of the council with our focus on delivering continuous improvement and improving customer service across the organisation.”

Dr Pav Ramewal, Chief Executive of Sevenoaks District Council adds: “Retaining Platinum is incredibly important to us and keeps us in a small group of elite organisations. It helps us to stand out as an employer and continues to drive us forward to make this an even better place to work.”

Finally, Sam Kitney from Investors in People said “Clearly Sevenoaks District Council is a great place to work. Their genuine passion, team work and drive for continuous improvement is commendable.”

Find out more about Investors in People here www.investorsinpeople.com


Free Dog Microchips Available to Sevenoaks District Residents
March 24,2019

Sevenoaks District Council and Dogs Trust are teaming up to offer free dog microchipping, free poo bags, general dog health and wellbeing advice, and an opportunity for residents to talk about any dog related issues in their neighbourhood.

In 2016, it became a legal requirement for all dogs in England, Scotland and Wales to be microchipped by the time they are eight weeks old. The chip contains the owner’s contact details so that if a dog goes missing or is stolen, it can be returned to its owner quickly and safely. Owners risk a fine up to £500 if their dog is not microchipped.

The event is taking place on Friday 29 March 2019 at ASDA Swanley, London Road, from 10am to 1pm, look out for the Sevenoaks District Council gazebo in the ASDA car park. There’s no need to book but dogs must be on a safe collar/harness and lead.

Sevenoaks District Council’s Cabinet Member for Direct & Trading Services, Cllr Matthew Dickins, says, “Microchipping is such an important part of being a responsible dog owner, helping to reunite pets should they go missing. In fact the Council recently returned a Lurcher found over 250 miles from home, thanks to its microchip. Like having a collar and tag with contact details, microchips are a legal requirement but, unlike a collar and tag, microchips can’t fall off or be removed. So we’re pleased to be working with Dogs Trust in Swanley to offer free microchipping and impartial advice for our residents’ dogs and their owners.”

For more information about this event, please email information@sevenoaks.gov.uk or call 01732 227000.


Community grants continuing to support local groups.
March 09,2019

Sevenoaks District Council will again be supporting local charity and voluntary groups by allocating £153,340 to help them continue their valuable work across the District.

The grants will support organisations which provide services to Sevenoaks District residents, particularly those in greatest need.

Funding totalling £54,800 will be made to 25 local groups who support volunteers, run community transport, help older people and people with mental health problems, assist families and provide support for sport and the arts across the District.

Amongst the organisations that will benefit from the grants are West Kent Mind, Age UK Sevenoaks & Tonbridge and Domestic Abuse Volunteer Support Services.

Also supported this year is new charity, Friends for Families, who work with Children's Services in Sevenoaks District to provide support to families in financial hardship. The funding will provide beds, cots, school shoes, clothing & other basic needs.

A further £98,540 will be given to Citizens’ Advice across the District at Edenbridge and Westerham and North and West Kent (Sevenoaks and Swanley).

The Council’s Cabinet Member for Economic & Community Development, Cllr Roddy Hogarth says: “The work of the voluntary sector across the Sevenoaks District is highly valued. The Council’s grants programme supports the dedication and commitment of the many volunteers who help the most vulnerable people in the District.”

Cllr Hogarth adds “We have identified in our consultations for the Community Plan 2019-2022 that caring communities are a top priority for residents. These grants make sure that the excellent work of community organisations can continue.” 


Budget continues to protect services and invest in local communities.

 

March 09,2019

 

Sevenoaks District Council has set a budget for the coming year that will continue to protect its services and invest in local communities, despite no longer receiving any direct funding from the Government.

The Council has agreed an annual budget of £15.3 million. Residents who live in a Band D property, the average in the District, will now pay £215.01 per year in Council Tax for the Sevenoaks District Council element of their bill, an increase equal to less than two pence a day.

Sevenoaks District Council’s share of residents’ overall Council Tax bill will be 11.5p for every pound in Council Tax paid.

Cllr Peter Fleming, Leader of Sevenoaks District Council, says: “For a little over £4 a week, our resident will continue to receive some 80 District Council services, including weekly rubbish and recycling collections, which are now unique in Kent, leisure, health, open spaces, economic development, planning and food hygiene inspections.

“We have taken a long-term financial view, focused on efficiency and reducing bureaucracy, made savings and crucially generated income from investing within the District. All this means we can continue to protect the services that matter to residents and even invest in new ones.”

“Beyond the services we provide, we are investing in communities across the District. We are weeks away from the new long-stay car park in Sevenoaks opening, delivering much needed parking to support our local economy, and plans are being brought forward in Swanley for a new leisure centre and business hub, as we look to build out the aspirations of our communities. This is only possible due to sound financial management, remembering every penny spent has been earnt and we are intrusted by the community to spend it wisely”

“We became the first council to become financially self-sufficient from direct government support in 2016, before it was cut all together in 2017. Our prudent financial approach has put us in a strong position to continue to invest both in services and the District as a whole. The balanced ten year budget we agreed is the solid foundation that makes me believe the Sevenoaks District won’t just survive but will thrive in the future.”

For every pound of Council Tax collected, Kent County Council’s share is 69.5p, the Kent Police & Crime Commissioner’s share is 10p, the average town or parish council’s share is 5p and the Kent Fire & Rescue Service’s share is 4p. Sevenoaks District Council collects the Council Tax on behalf of all these authorities.

The budget and Council Tax was set on Tuesday 26 February 2019 at the Full Council Meeting.


Sevenoaks District Council celebrates the community.

 

February 21,2019

 

Celebrity guests Len Goodman and Peter Sissons were among the VIPs presenting trophies at the Making It Happen, Community and Voluntary Awards 2019.

St Nicholas’ Church, Sevenoaks, played host to this year’s awards which celebrated the District’s unsung heroes, volunteers and community groups.

The biggest award of the night was given by Strictly star Len Goodman. Len presented the Lifetime Achievement award to Graham Coldman, who has been selflessly serving Edenbridge and the surrounding community for over 20 years. Graham works with a number of charities in the area including DAVSS, Citizen’s Advice Edenbridge & Westerham, Edenbridge Community Centre Partnership & The Holcot Centre. Thanks to Graham, the charities he works with have made a real difference to the lives of thousands of adults, young people and children, including the most vulnerable in Edenbridge and in West Kent.

Broadcaster and Journalist, Peter Sissons, presented the award for Individual Community Champion to Susan Gidman from Sevenoaks Weald. Susan has been described as ‘The heart of village life in Weald’ Her list of accomplishments includes being president of Woman of Weald, being involved in the village design statement and a local history book called ‘The Changing Face of Weald’ plus being involved in all village events.

This year, the event honoured a Dementia Friendly Initiative and the award given to the Sevenoaks Area Dementia Friendly Community Forum (SADFC) by Deputy Leader of the Council, Cllr Michelle Lowe. SADFC is made up of organisations, businesses and individuals operating and living in the Sevenoaks District, collaboratively working to improve the lives of people living with dementia. Projects include Run, Walk or Push against Dementia which in May 2018 raised £7000 and is being repeated this year on 12 May in Knole Park.

Other awards included Best Business in the Community which was jointly given to Wagamama Sevenoaks & Weald Community Shop and Charity of the Year which was presented to The Hygiene Bank, set up by Lizzie Hall. The Mayor of Sevenoaks, Cllr Roddy Hogarth, presented the Community Safety award to The Swanley Police Cadets and Chairman of Sevenoaks Council, Cllr Pat Bosley gave the Community Arts/Sports Group of the Year to Sevenoaks Powerchair Football Club. Paul Landsdale, who is Chairman of Sevenoaks Football Club, won Outstanding Volunteer of the Year award.

Further awards went to the Riverside Youth Group of Eynsford who picked up Youth Group of the Year and the Older Person of the Year award went to Hartley resident Veronica McGannon. The Equalities Champion award was presented to Sevenoaks based disabled charity, Band without Boundaries.

A special recognition award for Carer of the Year was given by Chief Inspector Nick Finnis of Kent Police to eight year old Chloe Young for looking after her epileptic brother Jake.

The night was compared by Leader of the Council, Cllr Peter Fleming who says: “The Making it Happen Community Awards ceremony is a wonderful evening recognising the achievements and hard work of amazing groups and individuals in our communities. Everyone has been nominated by people who see the value of what is being achieved by these individuals and groups across the District, this year the calibre of those nominated was incredibly high and the judges had the unenviable task of finding a winner in each category, so I would like to share my massive congratulations to all those nominated.”


New Ash Green’s unruly dog owner brought to justice.
February 21,2019

A resident of New Ash Green has been fined by Sevenoaks District Council after being convicted of four offences, breaching a Community Protection Notice.

Ms. Louise Burton-Taylor, 54, of Idleigh Court Farm was convicted on Friday 15 February 2019 at Sevenoaks Magistrates’ Court. Sevenoaks District Council successfully proved on four occasions, three dogs belonging to Ms Burton-Taylor strayed into New Ash Green during the night and attacked domestic cats within the area.

There have been sporadic complaints of dogs from Idleigh Court Stables since 2015. In July 2017, enough evidence was provided to service a Community Protection Notice on Ms. Burton-Taylor meaning she must not allow the dogs to stray during the night. Initially, this notice appeared effective but in May and June 2018 a series of further incidents occurred. Officers conducted a number of visits to Ms. Burton-Taylor at her property but she failed to engage with the Animal Control Officer.

The success of this prosecution was down to the accounts of local residents. A number of people from New Ash Green provided witness statements detailing attacks they had observed. In addition, CCTV evidence was provided by residents showing the dogs out straying.

Ms Burton Taylor has been fined £730 which includes £350 District Council costs and £30 victim surcharge. The three dogs have been subject to a forfeiture order by the Court, meaning the dogs will now be rehoused by the District’s charity partners.

Sevenoaks District Council Portfolio Holder for Direct Services, Cllr Matthew Dickins, said: “We all know dog ownership brings with it responsibilities. Sadly Ms. Burton-Taylor failed in exercising those responsibilities, leading to her successful prosecution. The message is clear: Ms. Burton-Taylor’s actions were unacceptable and Sevenoaks District Council will not tolerate behaviour which puts at risk the wellbeing of either animals or our community.”


Keeping young people safe online
Feb 07,2019

As part of Internet Safety Day on Tuesday 5 February, the Sevenoaks District Community Safety Partnership is visiting local schools to offer advice on staying safe online.
The partnership is delivering three different projects targeted at pupils of different ages.
A session written by Childnet International is being delivered to the District’s three secondary schools. It covers the sensitive issue of sharing sexually explicit messages or photos amongst 11 to 16 year olds.
The sessions includes a play in which students will be asked to step into the shoes of characters and to think about the consequences of creating and sending indecent images. The students can decide their own ending, taking into account what they have learnt.
A competition to design a screensaver for vulnerable people to safe online will also run at primary schools.
The final initiative is to ask schoolchildren to take part in the Digital Sunset Challenge that was launched last year. Matthew Scott, the Police and Crime Commissioner, will speak with pupils St Pauls Primary School Swanley, encouraging them to ditch their devices before bedtime.
The scheme invites children and their families to put their smartphones away early in the evening during the Challenge week. They make a note of the time they stopped using their devices, when they went to bed and how they felt the next day.
Our Cabinet Member for Economic and Community Development, Cllr Roddy Hogarth, says: “It is vital that young people understand the importance of online safety. These workshops are an enlightening and engaging way to put a very serious message across.”

“The Digital Sunset Challenge is a great initiative that helps parents, as well as children, think about how much they use their smart devices and what affect this may be having on them.”


Sevenoaks’ visitor numbers rise by 8.5% in 2017
Jan 14,2019

Visits to Sevenoaks increased by 8.5% with the district welcoming 4.3 million visitors in 2017, according to research released this week.

 

Independent research commissioned by Visit Kent showed that the number of day trips to the Sevenoaks District leapt by 9% in 2017, meanwhile the total number of nights stayed in the District increased by 3.8%.

 

The value of Sevenoaks District visitor economy grew by 5.4% in 2017 and is now worth over £243 million.

 

The total number of jobs supported by tourism rose by 5.1% to 5,287, with the industry accounting for 10% of total employment in Sevenoaks.

 

A further boost to tourism in 2018 was the £8.5 million investment by Sevenoaks District Council to build a Premier Inn Hotel close to the Sevenoaks station. The hotel opened in August last year and is expected to bring millions of pounds of new investment into the local economy.

 

The tourism picture was rosy across the county in 2017, despite the challenges presented by ongoing Brexit negotiations and wet weather during the summer. Kent welcomed 65 million visitors in 2017, and the visitor economy’s value leapt by 7% to £3.8 billion.

 

Sevenoaks District Council Cabinet Member for Economic & Community Development, Cllr Roddy Hogarth, says: “This is very good news. Sevenoaks District is a wonderful place to visit and we are delighted that more and more people are coming to see what we have to offer and supporting the local economy”

He also added “Now we have a brand new hotel in Sevenoaks, visitors can spend even more time here supporting local pubs, restaurants and shops.”


Sevenoaks scoops top international award

 

Dec 04,2018

 

Sevenoaks District Council beat off competition from across the globe to take the ‘Excellence in Leadership and Management’ prize at this year’s Investors in People Awards.

The Awards celebrate best practice amongst Investors in People accredited businesses. The winners were announced at a ceremony in London hosted by TV comedian Russell Kane on Wednesday, 28 November 2018.

The Excellence in Leadership and Management Award celebrated organisations that demonstrate how meaningful leadership can make a good company great. Investors in People praised the Council for its culture of openness and promoting innovation and its unique in-house management training and coaching schemes. The schemes are available to all staff, helping the Council to develop and support its own staff into management roles.

On winning this category, Cllr Peter Fleming, Leader of the Council, says: “To be crowned winner in the Excellence in Leadership and Management category is such a fantastic achievement. I am extremely proud of my staff.”

“To offer excellent services and the very best value to our residents, it’s essential our managers set out a clear vision for the Council while inspiring and motivating others to achieve their best. However, this award also recognises how our staff come together to support each other and the pride they take in the quality of the services they deliver, day in and day out.”

Paul Devoy, Head of Investors in People, adds: “This year’s Investors in People Awards were an inspirational celebration of best practice across our international community. It was fantastic to see so many worthy organisations nominated for our performance in their approach to people management. I commend Sevenoaks District Council for their dedication to improving the quality of work for their employees.


Local Plan balances protection of the Green Belt with sites for community infrastructure and homes
Nov 21,2018

Sevenoaks District Councillors will soon consider a new Local Plan that will protect almost all of the District’s Green Belt, with just four greenfield sites proposed for much needed community infrastructure and new homes.

The Government has told the Council it must plan for its housing needs up to 2035. While the Council will prioritise brownfield land and build at higher densities, with 93% of the District in the Green Belt, and the remaining 7% close to being fully developed, it was required to consider greenfield sites put forward by landowners.

Of the 400 greenfield sites put forward, the Council rejected 388 and, over the summer, asked for residents’ views on the remaining 12 sites in the first draft of the Local Plan.

After it considered the 8,500 resident comments from this consultation, and further expert reports and feasibility studies on the sites, the Council has now published an update to the Local Plan and is proposing just four strategic greenfield sites for new homes. These are:
• Tarmac Quarry, Sevenoaks (Sevenoaks Northern Masterplan)
• Land east of London Road in Dunton Green
• Land south of Four Elms Road, Edenbridge
• Pedham Place near Swanley and Farningham as a broad location for growth, subject to further work

Cllr Robert Piper, the Council’s Cabinet Member for Planning says: “To ensure we can continue to protect the Green Belt, it is vital that we submit a robust and consistent Local Plan to the Government Planning Inspector, who will make the final decision.

“Government told us we need to plan for up to 14,000 new homes up to 2035. However, Sevenoaks District is overwhelmingly in the Green Belt, restricting where new homes can be built.

“We have carried our extensive consultations and listened carefully to our residents and followed a rigorous, consistent process. Based on all of the evidence, we are proposing to deliver 70% of the new homes sought by Government as we are determined to do all we can to protect the much loved and treasured Green Belt.

“If the Planning Inspector approves our Local Plan, developers and the Council will work closely with residents to make sure they get the right community and infrastructure improvements they need.”

The latest version of the Local Plan will be debated by the Council’s Planning Advisory Committee on 22 November and Cabinet on 6 December. If approved by Cabinet, there will be a final consultation, known as a ‘Regulation 19 Publication’, starting mid-December.

The final decision to approve the Local Plan will be taken by the Planning Inspector at a public examination in 2019. If residents wish to speak at the examination, which is at the Planning Inspector’s discretion, they will need to register their interest during the consultation period.

After this consultation closes, the Council will submit residents’ comments and the draft Local Plan to the Planning Inspector for consideration.

Residents can view the latest version of the Local Plan, and find out how to take part in the final consultation, at www.sevenoaks.gov.uk/localplansubmission


Health and care award win for Sevenoaks District Councillor
Nov 08,2018

Sevenoaks District Councillor, Michelle Lowe, has been recognised for her outstanding work in health and housing after clinching a prestigious national honour at the 2018 Councillor Achievement Awards on Tuesday 6 November.

The Council’s Portfolio Holder for Health and Housing collected the Health and Care Award at a ceremony at Guildhall in London, hosted by the LGiU (Local Government Information Unit) and CCLA (Churches, Charities and Local Authorities).

Cllr Lowe was praised for her work in raising awareness that housing is the greatest factor influencing people’s health and instilling the theme of ‘Wellbeing Starts at Home’ into the Council’s new Housing Strategy.

She was applauded for her role in the West Kent Health Deal, helping to re-focus efforts on prevention in order to reduce demand on social care, as well as championing the West Kent rapid hospital discharge scheme, which has assessed 288 patients since November 2016 and now gets people home faster than ever before.

Cllr Lowe has also been instrumental in helping the Council become the most dementia-friendly organisation in Kent and pioneering the ‘Super HEROES’ service, who has assisted over 1,800 clients helping to reduce their debt and rent arrears and supporting them to re-enter training, work and volunteering. This has helped the Council keep levels of homelessness exceptionally low.

The development of the Super HEROES service has meant the Council can provide health advice and support, and help residents plan for their future by addressing both the medical and non-medical issues that hold them back.

It is the second consecutive year a Sevenoaks District Councillor has succeeded at the awards, after Leader, Cllr Peter Fleming took the Leader of the Year category at the ceremony last year.

Speaking at the ceremony in Guildhall, London, Dr Jonathan Carr-West, Chief Executive of LGiU, says: “It’s fantastic to hear stories of local councillors working selflessly for the community, bringing real benefits to residents. Cllr Michelle Lowe has demonstrated huge talent and dedication. The outstanding quality of the nominations we received this year stands as a testament to the exceptional job many councillors are doing for their community.”

After being presented the award by LGiU Chairman, Michael Payne, Cllr Michelle Lowe adds: “I am truly honoured to take home this award and prove what a difference Districts can make to people’s lives.

“I thank everyone at the Council for their support to help turn my vision into a reality and working as a team to achieve amazing things. It might be my name on the award, but it is our residents who are the real winners.”

Cllr Lowe was first elected as a District Councillor in 2007 to represent Otford and Shoreham. In 2013, she became Deputy Leader of the Council and a Cabinet Member for Housing and Community Safety before her portfolio changed to Housing and Health in 2015.


Council invests in Bradbourne Lakes improvement plan
October 18,2018

Sevenoaks District Council's Cabinet has given the go ahead to invest £60,000 to take forward the restoration and improvement of Bradbourne Lakes.

This follows hot on the heels of the Council commissioning leading landscape and leisure experts, Land Use Consultants (LUC), to engage with the community in developing a creative vision from which to work.

This £60k funding boost earmarked for inclusion in next year’s budget would see LUC progress this by commissioning the necessary reports from tree, wildlife and water experts, producing detailed designs for delivering that vision and planning the project delivery before approaching a host of potential funding partners.

Cllr Matthew Dickins, the Council’s Cabinet Member for Direct and Trading Services, says: “The Bradbourne Lakes are a jewel in the Sevenoaks crown and have long been a favourite destination for visitors from both far and wide – but there is lots we’d like to do to polish this gem and really make it sparkle.

“The public consultation earlier this summer, led by renowned experts Land Use Consultants and kindly supported by the Bradbourne Residents’ Association, resulted in the compilation of a creative vision which clearly sets out the community’s ambition for the Bradbourne Lakes.

“I am extremely grateful to all those who took part in this vital work and we’re now determined to see that vision delivered.”

The five ornamental lakes date back to 1740, once forming part of the Bradbourne Estate before they were handed to Sevenoaks Urban Council in 1935. Over the years, the Council and community have worked together to maintain the much-loved park, including investing in new fencing, gates and benches. The Council is now seeking to undertake the most major overhaul of the Lakes since they were built to secure their future for generations to come.

The Council’s Cabinet agreed to the funding at its meeting on Thursday 11 November 2018.


Parking Charges Frozen Again 
October 09,2018

Sevenoaks District Council is again proposing to freeze all its parking charges in its town centre car parks for the fourth-year running.

Most commuter car park charges are also frozen with the exception of the new Bradbourne car park serving Sevenoaks station, where a moderate increase is proposed to the daily and season ticket fees.

Bradbourne car park reopened in April 2017 after an eight million-pound investment. The car park provides mostly covered parking, comprehensive CCTV coverage, regular patrols, the coveted ‘Park Mark’ status, flexible payment options and a host of environmentally friendly features.

The proposed charges, the first change in three years at this car park, will help to ensure Bradbourne car park remains commercially and competitively priced while remaining better value than the other commuter car parks close to Sevenoaks rail station.

The Council will continue to offer free parking in its Westerham car parks for the first three hours and there will be no increases in any town centre car parks or on-street in Sevenoaks, Swanley, Westerham or Knockholt.

Despite increases in operational costs, such as business rates, insurance and general maintenance, the Council continues to reinvest in its car parks. Over the past few years, the Council has made improvements including the installation of new safety barriers, increasing capacity, resurfacing, renewing drainage and upgrading lighting.

Cllr Matthew Dickins, the Council’s Cabinet Member for parking, says: “I am proud that Sevenoaks District Council is once again setting itself apart from other local authorities by proposing to continue freezing parking charges in its town centres.

“We’ve worked hard over the past few years, investing over £10m in our car parks, increasing capacity and improving the facilities to meet demand. At the same time, we’ve been freezing charges, simplifying tariffs and ensuring there is something for everyone.

“This careful approach to the management of parking is reaping dividends, with the District boasting one of the most vibrant local economies in the country.”

The proposed changes are being considered by the Direct and Trading Advisory Committee on 9 October and will be finalised by Cabinet on 11 October. If approved, the new parking charges would take effect in April 2019.


Council drops Swanley centre appeal

 

October 01,2018

 

Sevenoaks District Council has reluctantly decided not to contest an appeal against its refusal of a planning application to redevelop Swanley Centre after the Government changed national planning policy.

The planning application was lodged with Sevenoaks District Council in 2017 by landowners U+I. Their proposal was to demolish the existing centre and replace it with seven tower blocks ranging from three to 11 stories high providing 303 new homes and 4,318 square metres of commercial and retail space.

Within their submission, the landowners accepted the towers could block natural sunlight to some nearby homes. In addition, the Council’s Development Control Committee had concerns about car parking arrangements, the height, scale and bulk of the proposals, believing they were out-of-keeping with the area, and that no affordable housing was proposed and refused the application at its meeting on 16 November 2017. The following April, the landowners appealed to the Government’s Planning Inspector against the Council’s decision.

However, in July 2018, the Government changed national planning policy putting a greater emphasis on the delivery of homes, making the best use of land, increasing densities and a flexible approach to planning policies that would otherwise hinder the efficient use of a site, such as the impact of the loss of daylight.

The Council sought external legal advice and it was told it would no longer be wise to contest the appeal and if it did so, it could have acted unreasonably. If this was the case, the Council could be liable for significant costs that would be payable to the landowner.

Cllr Gary Williamson, the Council’s Chairman of the Development Control Committee, says: “The Committee refused this application as we had serious concerns about the impact on neighbours and the wider town. But landowners can appeal to the Bristol-based Planning Inspectorate and thanks in part to recent changes to national planning policy, it became clear it would no longer be right to contest the appeal.

“It is genuinely frustrating and we feel strongly we had made the right local decision. But the final say would have been taken out of our hands hundreds of miles away from Swanley and if our decision was overturned, local tax payers could have been landed with a substantial bill.”

Sevenoaks District Council is now talking with the Planning Inspector and the landowner about what should happen next.


Council takes public health work to world stage
October 01,2018

Sevenoaks District Council is set to showcase its public health work to the world with an appearance at the World Health Organisation International Healthy Cities Conference in Belfast from 1-4 October.

The Council’s Cabinet for Housing and Health, Cllr Michelle Lowe, will be giving a speech on the Council’s ‘Wellbeing Starts At Home’ approach to Public Health as almost 100 cities and 20 national networks come together.

Over 500 delegates will be in attendance at the conference. Cllr Lowe will be speaking in auditorium of Belfast’s Waterfront during Parallel A setting out how the council's innovative work to bring housing and health together.

Cllr Michelle Lowe, says: “It’s so exciting to be able to tell our public health story on such an important world stage.

“The basis of our strategy is simple: if your home is over-crowded, under-occupied and not well maintained, isolated, unaffordable, cold or damp, your health will suffer. Our housing strategy aims to tackle these ills so all our residents live in suitable accommodation.

“We are also taking a health in all policies approach to the rest of our tools: Planning, Licensing, Leisure, Environmental Health, Community Safety and Economic Development to create an environment that is conducive to wellbeing the moment people step out of their front door.

“The Healthy Cities conference is a great opportunity for different areas to learn best practice from each other so we can improve the wellbeing of residents from across the globe. I am particularly looking forward to learning more about how we can better support older people to live independently and more about innovative supported housing for people living with dementia, improving mental health and tackling obesity. I will bring these ideas back to make an even bigger difference to the wellbeing of our residents here in Sevenoaks.”


Rogue Traders and Bogus Callers
August 12, 2018

Bogus Callers & Rogue Traders

Sevenoaks District Community Safety Partnership’s CSU based at the Council Offices and are working together with Police, KCC Trading Services, KCC Community Wardens, Housing Associations and Nat West Bank to educate and protect all residents from bogus callers and rogue traders.  We will be looking at further education within the community, schools and local groups.  We will be identifying traits of traders who are online as well as visiting homes within the District.

We have an action plan and have received funding from the Police and Crime Commissioner and match funded by Sevenoaks District Council to help deliver these actions to help residents against all types of fraud.  For more information please e-mail us community.safety@sevenoaks.gov.uk or call 01732 227000.  Below is advice from Kent Police and Action Fraud.

Bogus Callers

Most people who call at your home will be genuine. But sometimes people can try to trick their way into your home to steal your valuables and money. They are known as 'distraction burglars' or 'bogus callers'.

Are you expecting anyone?

Be cautious; people from water, gas and electric companies rarely visit without appointments. If there's a real emergency, police and fire-fighters are likely to be there.  On rare occasions, people may pose as members of the emergency services or armed forces to gain access to someone's home. If you're unsure, follow the tips below.

Rogue Traders

A rogue trader is someone who comes to your house without invitation (cold calling), offering services or goods and overcharging for them. 

This includes overcharging for unnecessary work, damaging property deliberately to get money, leaving work unfinished and intimidating someone to get money.

Sign up to Kent Trading Standard's email alert system at www.kent.gov.uk to receive rogue trader and fraud updates direct to your inbox.

Remember traders must give you written notice of your right to 14 days cancellation when agreeing to do work at your home, including work gained from a cold call

If in doubt, don’t agree to services or goods from doorstep callers. Go to www.kentpolice.uk for their top tips.

Online Fraud

Cyber crime is any criminal act dealing with computers and networks (called hacking). Additionally, cyber crime also includes traditional crimes conducted through the Internet.  Some fraudsters rely on the internet to commit their crimes. Learn about some different types of internet frauds that and how to protect yourself and get safe online.  Online frauds can include:

To find out more on all the fraud/scam types or to report a fraud go to Action Fraud www.actionfraud.police.uk


Kent Police: How to Report Crime
August 08, 2018

Information on the various ways you can report crime to Kent Police and follow them on social media can be found here 


Planning Inspector protects Vine Waste for future generations
July 31, 2018

The Government Planning Inspectorate has ruled out any form of development on the Vine Waste in Sevenoaks, giving the land greater protection in the future.

Sevenoaks District Council had considered using the Sevenoaks Town Council owned site for temporary parking during the decking of the Buckhurst 2 Car Park. It was one of a number of sites under consideration as it is used extensively throughout the summer for parking in connection with cricket and other events at the Vine.

However, after local residents had expressed concerns about the possible use of the Vine Waste as a temporary car park during building works, Sevenoaks District Council found alternative parking for its Buckhurst 2 customers at the end of last year. This included the Morewood temporary car park by Sevenoaks Magistrates’ Court and running a subsidised bus service into town.

As the site is a public common, the Planning Inspector had to consider if the Vine Waste could be used for temporary parking.

The Planning Inspector, in their judgement, said that whilst the Vine Waste was used for parking in connection with events, Sevenoaks District Council had already found alternative parking for Buckhurst 2 customers so it was no longer required and the works would not improve commons for the wider community.


The Council's clean, green parking machine
July 29, 2018

Sevenoaks District Council is helping the District to go green after it bought its first electric vehicle.?

Sevenoaks District Council is helping the District to go green after it bought its first electric vehicle.

The Council has invested in a BMW i3 for its Parking Wardens. It’s the authority’s first ever electric car and boasts zero emissions as well as being cheaper to run.

Cllr Matthew Dickins, the Council’s Cabinet Member for Direct and Trading Services, says: “Sevenoaks District Council is going electric for a cleaner greener future. It’s much better for the environment than its diesel predecessor and benefits from lower running costs, costing less than a fiver for a ‘full tank’.

“This is joining our electric bicycles which help improve not just air quality but congestion and health too, easing our staff from four wheels to two. It’s a healthier way to travel and a popular choice for Council officers attending meetings around the town.”

As part of the Council’s green thinking, it has also been plugging away on a rollout of electric charging points, which are already available in the recently decked Bradbourne Car Park. The new Buckhurst 2 Car Park will have them too when it reopens early in 2019.

Parking Warden Bob Purssord and Cllr Matthew Dickins