I do not like to start my column in such a negative way, however I was incredibly angry – as were many of you - to learn last week (without any advanced warning) that a new pricing structure for mid-week off-peak tickets was already in place for people buying advanced tickets from Sevenoaks.
Whilst I appreciate that people travelling into London during the rush hour, and returning before 4pm will see a significant price cut, and those purchasing buying day travelcards are not affected, nor will those travelling at any time during the weekends - residents who were used to travelling on the fast trains to London from Sevenoaks station on the 9.18 and 9.27 fully off peak, are now having to purchase a one-day travelcard to obtain an off-peak fare – even if they do not wish to use the underground or bus.
This means an increase in price from £15.20 to £19.80 and is unacceptable. I have raised this with both SouthEastern and the Department for Transport and am seeking an urgent solution. I will keep you all updated.
Since my election I have worked hard to improve the transport infrastructure locally, however such a sharp increase in fares simply acts as a deterrent to using the rail network – and punishes those who much travel for work or to see friends and family.
In more positive news, I was delighted to see last week that many of our excellent local projects were awarded funding by the Sevenoaks District Council Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) Spending Board.
This included Kent Wildlife Trust for their Sevenoaks Wildlife Reserve redevelopment project, Swanley Town Council for improvements for the Swanley Park toilets, West Kingsdown Village Hall Management Committee for improvements to the car park and Crockenhill Parish Council for improved play facilities at Harvestfield Park.
However, one winner I particularly want to reflect on is the excellent team from Sevenoaks Football Club who were awarded £787,500 toward their new Club House and Community building at Greatness Park.
Along with a similar sum from the Football Foundation, money raised by the club itself, and funding from the Stadium Improvement Fund and Town Council, the Club now have the £1,975,000 of funding required – and I could not be more thrilled for them.
As many of you will know already, the absolute driving force behind the club is Chairman Paul Lansdale. I remember meeting with him at the ground back in 2020, when I first heard about his plans, and it is testimony to his hard work that this vision is now coming to fruition.
The Football Club is not just about the first team. With over 1,000 junior players, more than 200 volunteers and in excess of 100 sponsors, its role in the community is vast.
Whilst without the volunteers and sponsors the fundraising would not have been possible, it is also right to say that without Paul, the club would not be in the position it is today. His achievement has been 11 years in the making and my huge congratulations and thanks to him – as well as all those who were successful in securing funding.