News 2015 - Hartley-Kent: The Website for Hartley

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News 2015

December 2015 News
Fire tackled
(Dartford Messenger 31.12.15, p3) Fire at Russell Square, Hartley, caused by electrical fault. No-one hurt.

Longfield Station sets record for passenger usage
(Office of Rail and Road) Passengers boarding at Longfield in 2014/15 reach 300,000 for the first time, up 6.7% on last year. Total was 301,214 with 53% of journeys being by season ticket holders. For historical statistics see History of Railways page.

More Members
(Dartford Messenger 24.12.15, p7) Sevenoaks and Swanley Labour party has doubled to over 400 since the general election, new branch opened in New Ash Green.

Drink-driver's 32 month ban
(Dartford Messenger 24.12.15, p18) Man from Bowes Wood stopped in Main Road Longfield, three times over the limit.

Thug used car as weapon and put children at risk
(Dartford Messenger 24.12.15, p5) Man from Porchester Close jailed for 2 years after driving into back of ex-girlfriend's car while her children were inside.

Around the world in song
(Dartford Messenger 24.12.15, p2) Picture feature on Christmas Around the World concert at New Ash Green Primary School

In Court
(Dartford Messenger 10.12.15, 24) Man from Bazes Shaw, New Ash Green fined £600 + £235 costs for not giving identity of driver.

Secure Scouts
(Dartford Messenger 10.12.15, p13) New Ash Green Scouts get £6,000 lottery grant to prevent vandalism at their hall.

Teenager using power of YouTube to help good cause
(Dartford Messenger 10.12.15, p8) Picture feature on 16 year old from Main Road, Longfield, who has raised £250 for American charity for those with neurofibromatosis.

Pupils dress up for world-class lesson
(Dartford Messenger, 3.12.15, p8) Picture feature on International Day at Steephill School, Fawkham.

Crime report
(West Kent Watch) Crimes reported in December include burglary 1 (Gorse Way)

November 2015 News
Cry me Arriva
(News Shopper 30.11.15) New Ash Green resident writes about the poor bus service in New Ash Green and Hartley since the recent timetable changes. Complaints of long waits, buses stopping in Longfield, no reason given for delays, and old buses being deployed on the route which break down. Bluewater route said to be particularly bad. Particularly bad for the elderly and those without cars.

Hospital Services in quiet £20m tender
(Dartford Messenger, 26.11.15, p30) Local Dartford Gravesham and Swanley Clinical Commissioning group put out services at Gravesend and Livingstone Hospitals to tender, which will include private firms. Group claims there will be no change to services.

Post Haste
(Dartford Messenger, 26.11.15, p22) DA post deliveries April - September were 93.7% on time for 1st class and 98.9% for 2nd class post.

Cortege traffic fears delay decision on crematorium
(Dartford Messenger, 26.11.15, p10) Concerns over traffic problems on B260 said to be the busiest B road in Kent, and an alternative proposal for the entrance to be in Gore Hill led council to decide on a site visit (see 19.11.15 below).

Dance school pair prove that they're the cat's whiskers
(Dartford Messenger 19.11.15, p23) Picture feature on 15 year old from Longfield who has won a starring role in the Orchard Theatre Pantomime alongside Shane Ritchie.

None of county's health trusts hits target for A&E Patients
(Dartford Messenger 19.11.15, p19) Dartford and Gravesham NHS trust had 7,926 attendences in A&E in September, 91.4% of which were seen within 4 hours. 2,230 of them were admitted, of which 98 had to wait more than 4 hours from that decision to actual admittance. None had to wait over 12 hours.

Jobs to be axed at tax offices across the country
(Dartford Messenger 19.11.15, p20) HMRC propose to close most offices in Kent, including one at Gravesend (in 2019/20). The nearest in future would be at Croydon.

New crematorium plan likely to be approved
(Dartford Messenger 19.11.15, p3) Private firm Dignity PLC plans to build new crematorium on site of former Mabledon Hospital in Green Street Road, Darenth.

Longfield gin thief avoids prison
(News Shopper, 10 November 2015) Suspended sentence for 45 year old man from Sheerness, for stealing bottle of gin from Longfield supermarket.

In court
(Dartford Messenger 5.11.15, p23) Culcroft woman fined £220 + £100 costs for not having TV licence.

Pilot mole scanning service
(Dartford Messenger, 5.11.15, p26) Hodgson Pharmacy in Longfield is now able to take images of moles under the skin, which is then sent to a dermatology specialist lab for analysis, taking about 2 weeks.

Serial shoplifter who targeted Longfield chemist slapped with 4 month suspended prison sentence
(News Shopper, 3 November 2015) 38 year old woman from Strood given 84 days suspended sentence for stealing from a number of shops including £412 of goods from a Pharmacy in Longfield (see also Dartford Messenger 12.11.15 p14)

Crime Report
(West Kent Watch) Significant increase in numbers of incidents. Crimes reported in Hartley in November include Burglaries 4 (Merton Avenue 2, Carmelite Way, Brambledown), burglary other than dwelling 3 (Brambledown, Chapelwood Road, Grange Way), theft of car 2 (Ash Road, Brambledown), criminal damage 1 (Quakers Close)

October News
School team pulls together for children's charity
(Dartford Messenger 22.10.15, p10) Picture feature on Steephill School staff and governor team at Bewl Water Dragon Boat Festival.

Flock greets new minister
(Dartford Messenger, p9) New minister, Samantha Aspinall becomes first female minister of Gravesend URC group, which includes Hartley (picture).

Loving husband dies in Mercedes crash horror
(Dartford Messenger, 22.10.15, p3) 58 year old driver killed and 60 year old passenger seriously injured after car crashed into wall in Main Road, Longfield, opposite Hartley Road.

Minister finds time for tea
(Dartford Messenger 22.10.15, p9) New Ash Green MP Michael Fallon opens new £180,000 at NAG primary school (picture).

Charlton supporter receives ban for throwing seat at Palace fans during League Cup match
(News Shopper, 16 October 2015) 22 year old man from New Ash Green given 3 year football banning order and fined for throwing seat in match.

Firefighters battle house and undergrowth blazes in Swanley and New Ash Green
(News Shopper, 12 October 2015) Small fire covering 25 m2 put out at Longfield Hill on 11th.

School creations are care-crows
(Dartford Messenger 8.10.15, p3) Picture feature on Harvest scarecrows at Steephill School, Fawkham

October Crime Report
(West Kent Watch) Crimes recorded in October were 1 Burglary (Carmelite Way) and 3 burglary other than dwelling (Fairby Lane, Hartley Bottom Road, and Quakers Close)

September News
Longfield farmer plagued by fly tipping for 20 years hits out at Kent County Council
(Kent Messenger, 4.9.15) Hartley Farmer highlights problem of fly tipping which has included asbestos forcing a closure of the road. He said it had got worse in the last 20 years, but felt that council makes things worse by making it too hard for people to dispose of their rubbish.

Hartley skipper hails latest Kent Cricket League title success as best yet
(News Shopper, 4.9.15) Hartley Country Club win Kent Cricket League Premier Division title for 5th time in 8 years (picture).

Crime Report
(
West Kent Watch) Crimes reported in September include Criminal Damage 4 (Larksfield 2, Ash Road, Gorse Way), Theft from Motor Vehicle 1 (Downs Valley), Burglaries 0.

August 2015 News
Villagers in Hartley and New Ash Green label Arriva bus timetable changes as 'ridiculous' with fears they will become prisoners
(Kent Messenger, 3.8.15) Local residents complain about cuts to bus service 433. Online petition has 334 signatures and local MP has written too about lack of consultation. Arriva say they are too poorly used and want to run services elsewhere. Picture of people waiting for bus in Wellfield. (from my own observation, my impression is that the 433 is the most used of the local buses).

Borough fails to meet national salary average
(Dartford Messenger 13.8.15, p20) Average salary for 2014/15 in Dartford borough is £28,885 while in Sevenoaks it is £46,930. UK average is £26,000 - down £500 from last year.

Celebrating success
(Dartford Messenger 20.8.15, p26) Longfield Academy get 61% A-C pass rate in A levels. Pictures of pupils.

Road Closure
(Dartford Messenger, 20.8.15, p 42) Ash Road to be closed by Tates Orcherd for up to 3 days for sewer connection works.

Our water is good for teeth, bad for kettles
(Dartford Messenger 27.8.15, p21) Figures published show local water has high levels of calcium carbonate, due to being pumped out from the chalk.

Regulated fare increase of 1% is smallest for years
(Dartford Messenger 27.8.15, p37) Southeastern commuters face 1% rise in season tickets in 2016, following a 2.2% increase in 2015.

July 2015 News Roundup
(25 July) Patients' Association find increased hospital waiting times (Patients' Association Report)The charity found that average waiting times for hip replacement, knee replacement, hernia operations, adenoid operations, gallstone operations, tonsillectomy, and cataract operations increased sharply in 2014 to over 90 days. However Darent Valley Hospital had some of the best waiting times for Hernia (49 days) and Hip Replacement (77 days).

(22 July) Fire crews battle large field fire in Longfield (News Shopper) Fire crews put out large field fire in Hartley Bottom Road.

(2 July) Families enjoy fun in the sun (Dartford Messenger, p17) Picture feature on Hartley Primary School Fete.

(2 July) Man dies after being struck by train (Dartford Messenger, p5) 57 year old man from Dartford struck by Dover Priory to Victoria train on 25 June.

Crime Report (
West Kent Watch) Crimes recorded in July are - theft from motor vehicle (Stack Lane), theft of garden ornaments (Springcroft).

June 2015 News Round Up
(27 June) Car crashes into Longfield Barclays Branch (News Shopper). Car knocks over bollard and crashed into bank. No serious injuries.

(25 June) Excitement bubbles up (Dartford Messenger, p20). Picture feature on 80th birthday celebrations for Steephill School, Fawkham.

(11 June) OAP's hole in one worth a watch (Dartford Messenger, p8) Prize for 70 year old Longfield woman who got a hole in one at Rochester and Cobham Golf Club.

(4 June) School to mark 80 year milestone with a party (Dartford Messenger, p13). HIstory of Steephill School, Fawkham, founded by Miss Eileen Bignold in 1935 when she was asked to teach two of her neighbour's children. School is now a non-profit making charitable trust with 120 pupils.

(4 June) Viewers share joy of DIY SOS family (Dartford Messenger p2). TV Big Build programme shows transformation of house in Hartley Bottom Road, Longfield to help family of 13 year old with epilepsy and spastic quadriplegia. Family to throw party at New Ash Green sports pavilion for the many who helped them.

Crime Report (
West Kent Watch) Only crime recorded in June was burglary in Manor Drive.

May 2015 News Roundup
(28 May) Bouncing along to the music (Dartford Messenger, p13) Picture feature of NAG festival.

(28 May) Some libraries are 'just not viable' (Dartford Messenger, p14) KCC councillor Hartley and New Ash Green, David Brazier, said the library service had been in decline and needed to change if it was to survive, and he wants it to survive.

(27 May) An owl lot of fun in Swanley
(News Shopper) Picture feature on display by Hartley Owls at Swanley.

(22 May) Overturned furniture and spilled coffee in hilarious reactions to Kent earthquake (News Shopper) People from Longfield report feeling tremors at 3am following 4.3 scale quake at Sandwich.

(7 May) Fete proves a perfect day out (Dartford Messenger, p24) Picture feature on RC Fete in Stack Lane.

(7 May) In court Woman from Bazes Shaw fined for not having a TV licence.

(1 May) Post box worth £200 stolen from outside Hartley pub (News Shopper) Victorian post box stolen from Black Lion. Uncertain if post inside but believed to be little used. Additional information from www.hartley-kent post box is first mentioned in 1899 Kent Directory. which means it was installed between 1882 and 1899. (see also Dartford Messenger, 7.5.15, p13)

May Crime Report (
West Kent Watch) Crimes recorded in Hartley this month: Burglary (Gorse Way), Car Theft (Church Road), Criminal Damage (Church Road), attempted theft of horse (Church Road)

Dartford Crossing Top Ten
(10 May) A freedom of information request reveals that there are 2,161 account holders for the Dart Charge from the DA3 postcode area (Longfield, Hartley, New Ash Green). For comparison there are 6,788 households but there is likely to be many cases of more than one account per household.

The top ten postcode districts are:
1. DA (Dartford) - 44,311
2. ME (Medway) - 40,431
3. RM (Romford) - 39,176
4. CM (Chelmsford) - 36,503
5. SS (Southend) - 32,534
6. TN (Tonbridge) - 31,837
7. CT (Canterbury) - 17,138
8. BR (Bromley) - 14,472
9. IP (Ipswich) - 13,604
10. CO (Colchester) - 13,031

Local Elections 2015
(8 May) Conservatives retain Hartley district council seats The result was announced about 5.45pm.

Gaywood (Cons) 2,380
Abraham (Cons) 2,272
Kelly (Cons) 1,921
Sewell (UKIP) 1,250

Rejected ballots 121 (110 blank/uncertain, 11 too many crosses)
Turnout 75%

With multimember seats percentages are hard to work out but if we average the Conservative vote to 2,191 then they got 63.7% and UKIP 36.3%. On this basis Conservatives are down 6.1% on the 2011 poll, UKIP up 36.3% and Labour (who didn't stand this time) down 30.2%.

The average number of votes per elector was 2.23, which suggests a lot of people know how to vote when their preferred candidate is not part of a slate of 3 (that is, if supporters of Mr Sewell voted for him and then 2 conservatives, that is one vote for him but two against, so in those circumstances it would be more effective to use just 1 vote). It may be that some were also only voting for the two Conservatives who actually lived in Hartley.

Overall Sevenoaks remains a virtual one party state with 49 Conservatives, 2 Libdems, 1 Labour, 1 UKIP, 1 Independent.

"Hartley First" announce their manifesto The group have circulated a leaflet, which presumably is the one they would have sent if it were a contested election.

* Look for funding for Chantry Avenue and Longfield Hill play areas
* Open new burial ground when the existing one is full
* Ensure Hartley continues to have a library
* Oppose "unsuitable" development
* Continue to provide youth facilities

They also promise "to strive to maintain ... expenditure at below inflation or less" (from 2011-2014 the parish precept (amount of money collected by the parish council in tax) has risen by 17% compared with 9% for the cost of living in general).

Candidates Announced Only 4 candidates declared for the 3 seats of Hartley and Hodsoll Street ward on Sevenoaks Council. Even the conservatives appear to have had difficulty in finding their slate of 3 because one of their candidates does not live in Hartley. The candidates are: Larry Abraham (Con), James Gaywood (Con), John Kelly (Con), Vince Sewell (UKIP).

No election for Hartley Parish Council Only 12 candidates for Hartley Council's 13 seats (they will be able to fill the vacancy by co-option after the election). All but 2 are existing councillors (one of the two is a former councillor) and all are from the middle of the village. The candidates are: Larry Abraham, Christopher Alford, Sheila Bennett, Roger Burchell, Jane Burns, Penny Cole, David Graeme, Ann Oxtoby, Brian Ramsay, Vince Sewell, Andrew Tremain, Dorothy Vesey. All are from the ruling 'party' Hartley First.

General Election - Dartford Constituency
(8 May) Conservative Hold The result for Dartford was announced at 6.03am. Mr Johnson increased his majority from 10,628 to 12,345.

Conservative 25,670 (49.0%) +0.2%
Labour 13,325 (25.4%) -2.1%
UKIP 10,434 (19.9%) +16.2%
Libdem 1,454 (2.8%) -11.9%
Green 1,324 (2.5%) +2.5%
Engdem 211 (0.4%) -3.9%
Others n/a (n/a) -0.9%

There were 199 rejected ballots.
Turnout was 70.0% (+4.3%)

(7 May) fivethirtyeight.com's prediction for Dartford Academics for five thirty eight predict the following result - Cons 44.8%, Lab 26.3%, UKIP 17.9%. This would represent a 1.4% swing to Labour.

(6 May) Final YouGov nowcast The Dartford predictions for the nowcast poll conducted by YouGov show a slight fall for the Conservatives with their range down a couple of points to 36-48%, Labour are unchanged with a 24-35% range while UKIP have improved to 13-22%. The LibDems and Greens are very close for 4th place. Overall the nowcast predicts a dead heat between Conservative and Labour with 276 seats each.

(6 May) The Poster Campaign Probably the fewest ever number of election posters this year. In Hartley I have counted 6 Conservative, 5 UKIP, 1 Labour and 1 Green.

(4 May) Bookies bet on Conservative win Current constituency odds for Dartford are Conservative 1/20, UKIP 12/1, Labour 14/1. Sevenoaks is even more one sided in the bookies' eyes with Conservative being 100/1 on to win there.

(4 May) Party Leaflets Although we have 6 candidates, I have only received communications from three.

For the Conservatives, Mr Johnson claims unemployment in Dartford is now back to the level it was under the last government in 2007. Details from the Office of National Statistics for Dartford Constituency show that while unemployment has fallen since 2010, so has gross weekly pay (by 2.7%). Unemployment has risen in the first quarter of 2015 from 823 to 910.

He claims Darent Valley has a bigger A&E department, but is this anything to do with the downgrading of the A&E at Sidcup in spite of his party's promises in 2010? For the future, apart from the usual claims that the sky will fall in if the Conservatives don't win, the leaflets are full of vague aspirations, but little on specifics.

Looking back to Mr Johnson's leaflets in 2010, one of his key pledges was for more police on the streets. However House of Commons Library research has found that the number of Kent Police Offices is likely to have fallen by 13% in the period 2010-15. There was also a pledge to fight to abolish Dartford Crossing tolls, but they have actually risen, although the booths have gone.

The leaflet from Mr Thomson, the Labour candidate, features a lady from Hartley who remembers that people couldn't afford healthcare before the NHS was founded. He promises to reverse privatisation in the NHS (but Labour in the past has encouraged this as well as the Conservatives) and makes specific promises of more health workers and a guarantee to get a GP appointment within 48 hours. He promises to help ordinary people with help on rents, fuel bills and banning zero hours contracts. He wants Southeastern railway to be taken into the public sector, but doesn't claim it is party policy (and it was Labour who created the Southeastern franchise in 2006, replacing a successful public sector company).

The Libdem candidate Mr Beard, seems to claim that any successes of the government are entirely down to the Libdems! He claims Labour will borrow too much again and the Conservatives "only care about themselves". He promises £400 cut in income tax and £8bn more for the NHS (without saying when).

(29 April) Yougov Nowcast As an alternative to standard opinion polling, pollsters YouGov have produced an alternative called Nowcast "that combines the respondents we have in each seat with modelled observations from similar types of people across the country". For Dartford they currently have the Conservatives currently in the lead with a range of 38-51%, Labour have 24-35% and UKIP 12-21%. (See Dartford nowcast page.

Candidates Announced The following are the candidates for Dartford: Simon Beard (Lib Dem), Andy Blatchford (Green), Gareth Johnson (Con), Elizabeth Jones (UKIP), Simon Thomson (Lab), Steve Uncles (Eng Dem). Sadly no Fancy Dress Party candidate this year!

County Poll suggests UKIP support well up in Kent (Kent Messenger, 10.4.15). Poll of 1,000 in Kent with change from 2010 in brackets): Con 39% (-12%), UKIP 24% (+20%), Lab 22% (+1%), Green 8% (+7%), Libdem 6% (-15%). Percentages based on those who said they were likely to vote, 22% of likely voters were undecided. Dartford should remain Conservative on these findings.

Paul's Prediction (Dartford Messenger 2.4.15) Paper's political editor forecasts Conservatives will win 15 seats in Kent with UKIP tipped to win in Rochester and South Thanet. He says the conservatives should be "untroubled" in Dartford.

April 2015 News Roundup
(23 April) Progress in fight over neglected village centre Campaigners have the 1,000 signatures required to force Sevenoaks Council to discuss the problems in the neglected shopping centre.

(23 April) In court (Dartford Messenger, p17) Two people from Caling Croft and Penenden, New Ash Green, fined for having no TV licence.

(23 April) Knitters enjoy a fundraising natter (Dartford Messenger, p18) Picture feature on Ash WI who raised £80 for NAG Youth Centre Trust.

(16 April) Slower response is down to a rise in demand, say police (Dartford Messenger, p14) Freedom of information request finds response time for high priority incidents between 11pm and 6am has risen from 8½ minutes in 2011 to 12½ minutes in 2014.

(2 April) Drunk Driver given 20 month ban (Dartford Messenger 2.4.15, p8) Man from Oliver's Mill, New Ash Green found to be 2½ times over the limit when stopped by police at Greenhithe in February.

March 2015 News Roundup
In court (Dartford Messenger 26.3.15, p17) Man from Olivers Mill fined for speeding. Man from Main Road, Longfield fined for not giving identity of driver.

All roads lead to Rome in property pair's marathon (Dartford Messenger, p8) Owners of Esquire Developments in Longfield (pictured) running for Ellenor Lions hospice.

Prolific burglar, 21, who stole car in New Ash Green is jailed (News Shopper 12.3.15) Rochester man jailed for 4 years for 10 offences including theft of Citroen and handbag at Coltstead on 1 August last year.

Lights out for roads chief (Dartford Messenger 5.3.15, p9) Hartley and New Ash Green councillor David Brazier resigns as Kent County Council cabinet member for Environment and Transport. He told the paper he had enjoyed doing the job.

Tree causes rail delays (Dartford Messenger 5.3.15, p7) Delays on 3rd March after 5.05 am train struck tree at Farningham Road.

(all Feb) Crime News (
West Kent Watch). A mini-wave of garden crime this month with no fewer than 5 thefts of garden equipment and plants. Reported crimes in March included - house burglaries at Chantry Avenue, Cherry Trees and Larksfield; attempted burglaries of houses at Gorse Way and Woodland Avenue; thefts at Ash Road (4), Church Road and Stack Lane; theft from motor vehicle at Stack Lane; and criminal damage at Gorsewood Road.

February 2015 News Roundup
(26 Feb) Charity jobseeker adds KM newsdesk to her growing list (Dartford Messenger, p8) Picture feature on 27 year old woman from Ash Road, Ash, who is doing 100 different jobs to raise money for the Meditation Trust.

(12 Feb) Fire crews tackle blaze in Longfield Chimney (News Shopper) Chimney fire at Manor Road on 11th.

(9 Feb) Frying pan causes house fire in New Ash Green (News Shopper) Bazes Shaw man treated for smoke inhalation. Fortunately altered by smoke alarm.

(3 Feb) 17-year-old reportedly pelted with stones and hit with sticks by teenage mob in New Ash Green (News Shopper 3.2.15) Police make three arrests following attack in Centre Road, New Ash Green. Victim helped by 2 women who drove him home.

(all Feb) Crime News (
West Kent Watch). Reported crimes in February included - house burglary at Chantry Avenue; burglary of outbuildings at Manor Drive, Ash Road and Church Road; theft from motor vehicle at Wellfield, Castle Hill and Gorse Way; and criminal damage at Castle Hill.

January 2015 News Roundup
(1 Jan) Rail fares to rise Annual season ticket from Longfield to London to rise on 2 January from £2,972 to £3,044. Annual season ticket from Longfield to London All Zones goes up from £3,612 to £3,700.

(All January) Crime news (
West Kent Watch) In January the following crimes were recorded in Hartley - criminal damage at Wellfield, Culcroft, Woodland Avenue and Gresham Avenue; theft at Culcroft, and theft from motor vehicle at Wellfield.

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