Press Releases

(Jeremy Corbyn standing up for renters at PMQs)

Renters in Dartford are currently powerless to ensure landlords fix problems like mould, damp and vermin. It means they’re living in accommodation that bad landlords aren’t keeping up to standard, with no laws to protect them.

That’s why on 19 January, Dartford Labour will be supporting Labour MPs in parliament who will vote for a new law to give power to renters, so they can take action if their homes aren’t up to scratch. Data from the English Housing Survey 2017 found that almost a third (29 per cent) of homes rented from private landlords fail to meet the national Decent Homes Standard; meaning they either contain safety hazards or do not have acceptable kitchen and bathroom facilities or adequate heating.  Labour’s new law would place a legal requirement on landlords to ensure properties they let are fit for human habitation.

Labour previously sought to introduce this change in 2015. On that occasion, the Conservatives, including Dartford MP Gareth Johnson, talked the bill out – showing the Tories are more interested in protecting bad landlords than supporting renters.

Leader of the Labour Group of Councillor on Dartford Council, Jonathon Hawkes said;

As a Councillor, I’ve spoken to too many people who live in substandard rented accommodation. I’ve seen people live in properties that suffer from cold or damp or have mould on the walls. It’s unacceptable in 2018 and currently, renters are powerless to ensure their landlords fix the problems.  That needs to change. Renters need protection and that’s why Labour is proposing a change in the law to ensure everyone has a legal right to live a safe and decent home.

I’m calling on Dartford MP Gareth Johnson to do the right thing and back our bill on 19 January to give renters in Dartford the protections they need and deserve.

Dartford Labour Support Campaign To Change The Law To Ensure All Homes in Dartford Are Fit For Human Habitation

(Jeremy Corbyn standing up for renters at PMQs) Renters in Dartford are currently powerless to ensure landlords fix problems like mould, damp and vermin. It means they’re living in accommodation...

Dartford Labour Party this morning joined protests up and down the country against the Tories Great Train Robbery, as commuters went back to work facing an 3.6% hike in fares, the highest rise in five years​.

Speaking to commuters outside Dartford station this morning, the message was clear – passengers are fed up with paying outrageous increases in fares, while services continue to be unreliable and promised investment has been cancelled. People in Dartford want to see a railway run for the many, not the few.

The price of a annual season ticket from Dartford to London including travel on the London Underground now costs over £3000.

Leader of the Labour Group on Dartford Council, Councillor Jonathon Hawkes said;

“The great Tory train robbery is making it more and more expensive for people in Dartford to get to work. Under the Tories, we have the most expensive fares in Europe –since the Tories came to power, fares have gone up 32% - twice as fast as wages. The government is failing to stand up for ordinary passengers in Dartford.

People want a railway that operates in the interests of the many, not the few. That’s why Labour will bring our railways back into public ownership which will lead to more reliable services, capped fares and more investment.”

The photo at the top of this page shows Councillors Jonathon Hawkes and Mark Maddison, together with Labour activists Claire Pearce and Joshua Grills outside Dartford station this morning.

Dartford Labour Join Protests Againt Conservative Great Train Robbery

Dartford Labour Party this morning joined protests up and down the country against the Tories Great Train Robbery, as commuters went back to work facing an 3.6% hike in fares,...

Kent Labour Groups Oppose Changes To Domestic Abuse Refuge Funding

Two years after the government made coercive or controlling behaviour a criminal offence, over 50 members of the Labour Party in Kent have signed an open letter calling on the government to reverse their planned housing benefit cap for domestic violence refuges.

Currently, Housing Benefit makes up around 50% of the revenue refuges rely on. The letter notes that “If Housing Benefit entitlement is removed for those in refuges, it will mean vulnerable women fleeing abusive partners will not be able to pay for their accommodation using housing benefit – the last guaranteed source of income available to refuges.”

In October 2017, a document was published by the Department of Work and Pensions and Department for Communities and Local Government, ‘Funding Supporting Housing’. Proposals contained in this document state that instead of being able to use housing benefit to fund refuges, a ‘ring-fenced’ grant to councils for short-term supported housing would be given. However, the majority of women (77.6% in 2015) in refuges come from outside the authority, having left their original home in order to escape the perpetrator.

If these reforms proceed, Labour is concerned that this will result in a postcode lottery of domestic abuse support services, with further refuge closures who provide such an invaluable service, and more women and children being turned away from the lifesaving support they offer when escaping domestic abuse and violence.

The letter was signed Councillor Jonathan Hawkes, Leader of the Labour Group in Dartford alongside Labour leaders in Canturbury, Thanet and Medway.  Elected Labour representatives from North Thanet, South Thanet, Maidstone & Weald, Faversham & Swale, Rochester & Strood, Gillingham & Rainham, Chatham & Aylesford, Dover & Deal have also made a stand.

Jonathan said: 'The proposal to remove Housing Benefit entitlement for those in domestic violence refuges is unacceptable and needs to be halted.  The Tory government are showing a lack of understanding of the importance of domestic violence services – these cuts will have a huge effect on the safety of women and children across Kent. Access to refuges has meant the difference between life and death for women escaping violence at home. That’s why Labour across Kent has united to sign this letter - it’s vital that the Tory government start listening and reverse these cuts.'

Councillor Daisy Page who also signed the letter said:

'As a Councillor, having worked with women and children escaping domestic violence and abuse, seeing how much refuges and our local refuge is relied upon I know the devastation this will cause. It’s time Government listened to the people on the ground and abandoned its plans to remove refuges from support term housing welfare. This Government should be working to find a long-term and sustainable funding solution for refuges across the country, an invaluable service for so many, instead of removing funding.'

The letter asks that the government “reconsiders and abandons its plans to remove refuges and other forms of short-term supported housing from the welfare system.”

You can sign the petition here: https://www.change.org/p/gov-don-t-remove-refuges-from-the-welfare-system


The full text of the letter is available below:

We, the Women’s officers and Cllrs of the Constituency Labour Parties of Kent, are writing to draw attention to our very significant concerns about the Government’s plans to remove refuges and other forms of short-term supported housing from the welfare system. We feel this proposal will further endanger the safety and lives of women and children seeking to escape domestic abuse. 

Currently, Housing Benefit makes up around 50% of the revenue refuges rely on. If Housing Benefit entitlement is removed for those in refuges, it will mean vulnerable women fleeing abusive partners will not be able to pay for their accommodation using housing benefit - the last guaranteed source of income available to refuges.

In October 2017, a document was published by the Department of Work and Pensions and Department for Communities and Local Government, ‘Funding Supporting Housing’. Proposals contained in this document state that instead of being able to use housing benefit to fund refuges, a ‘ring-fenced’ grant to councils for short-term supported housing would be given.

However, the majority of women (77.6% in 2015) in refuges come from outside the authority, having left their original home in order to escape the perpetrator. If these reforms proceed, we are concerned that this will result in a postcode lottery of domestic abuse support services, with further refuge closures who provide such an invaluable service, and more women and children being turned away from the lifesaving support they offer when escaping domestic abuse and violence.

It takes incredible courage for a person to leave an abusive relationship. Two women continue to be killed by a partner or ex-partner every week in the UK. Research by Women’s Aid found 94 women with 90 children were turned away from refuge services in just one day in 2016, meaning there is an absolute demand for this service.

We ask that the Government reconsiders and abandons its plans to remove refuges and other forms of short-term supported housing from the welfare system. This Government should be working to find a long-term and sustainable funding solution for refuges across the country, who provide an invaluable service for so many women and children in need.

Lily Madigan Women's Officer, Rochester and Strood CLP

Pauline Farrance Women's Officer, North Thanet CLP

Jennifer Hamilton Women's and Equalities Officer, Faversham and Swale CLP

Lia Mandaracas Women's Officer, Gillingham and Rainham CLP

Jennifer Hamilton Women and Equalities Officer, Faversham and Mid Kent CLP

Cllr Claire Pearce Stone Parish Council, Women’s Officer, Dartford CLP

Cllr Vince Maple, Leader of the Labour Group on Medway Council

Cllr Alan Baldock, Leader of the Labour Group on Canterbury City Council

Cllr Jonathan Hawkes, Leader of the Labour Group on Dartford Borough Council

Cllr Josh Jones, Dartford Borough Council

Cllr Daisy Page, Dartford Borough Council

Cllr Tom Maddison, Dartford Borough Council

Cllr Mark Maddison, Dartford Borough Council

Cllr Patrick Kelly, Dartford Borough Council

Cllr Mandy Garford, Stone Parish Council

Cllr Emma Morley, Stone Parish Council

Cllr Pam Brivio, Dover District Council

Cllr Lenny Rolles, Gravesham Borough Council

Cllr Shane Mochrie-Cox, Gravesham Borough Council

Cllr Karen Constantine, Thanet District Council, Kent County Council

Cllr Jenny Matterface, Thanet District Council

Cllr Iris Johnson, Thanet District Council

Cllr Michell Fenner, Thanet District Council

Cllr. Peter Campbell, Thanet District Council

Cllr Ian Venables, Thanet District Council

Cllr Derek Boyle, Paddock Wood Town Council

Cllr Naushabah Khan, Medway Council

Cllr Andy Stamp, Medway Council

Cllr Tristan Osborne, Medway Council

Kent Labour Unites Around Opposition to Domestic Abuse Refuge Funding

Kent Labour Groups Oppose Changes To Domestic Abuse Refuge Funding Two years after the government made coercive or controlling behaviour a criminal offence, over 50 members of the Labour Party...

This morning the Prime Minster promised to set her vision for the country. This afternoon, what we actually got were a series of inadequate and watered down proposals, lacking substance.

On our housing crisis, the announcement of a £2bn ‘pot’ of funding for new council homes actually amounts to only 5,000 new council homes a year. That’s about 15 per council. For Dartford, where there are 1,000 people on the waiting list and young spending record levels of their income on housing in private sector, these proposals fall woefully short. Labour will introduce controls on escalating rents, provide longer tenancies and build a million genuinely affordable homes
On the NHS we heard warm words but no action. Healthcare services in Dartford are facing a £16 million pound shortfall this year alone and this forecast to grow. Labour will ensure our services receive a fair funding settlement.

On the growing pressure on household budgets the Tories once again come up short. Labour will give the country a pay rise by raising the minimum wage to £10 and scrap the public sector pay cap. Theresa May right praised our public servants, but it is Labour that values them and it is Labour that will act to protect the services they provide.

On education, the Prime Minister says that she has listened and will freeze fees, but it was the Tories the trebled them to £9000, pricing out many young people from University. On Sure Start and the growing funding crisis in our schools we heard nothing. Labour will scrap tuition fees; reverse the damaging cuts to our schools and Sure Start (which have seen a third closed under the Tories).

The overwhelming view of Dartford residents will be that this disastrous speech was a metaphor for this government – tired, dysfunctional and broken. It’s time Theresa May and the Conservative government made way. Labour are ready and waiting to provide the leadership this country needs. It’s time for Theresa May to make way for a Government that will act in the interest of the many and not the few.

Cllr Jonathon Hawkes - Leader, Dartford Labour Group 
Cllr Josh Jones - Deputy Leader, Dartford Labour Group

Dartford Labour response to Theresa May's Conference Speech

This morning the Prime Minster promised to set her vision for the country. This afternoon, what we actually got were a series of inadequate and watered down proposals, lacking substance....

Today we joined in with Labour's National Campaign Day, bringing hope to our country. 

We campaigned in Dartford Town Centre in the morning, handing out hundreds of leaflets and talking to people about the issues that matter to them and how we're working for residents, all year round. 

In the afternoon, we knocked on doors in Swanscombe - where Labour's vote increased in the recent Kent County Council elections. 

Our stall in Dartford Town Centre this morning.

Our team for Swanscombe in the afternoon.

If you wish to join our campaigns, please sign up as a Volunteer by clicking on this link

Campaign Day 30th September

Today we joined in with Labour's National Campaign Day, bringing hope to our country.  We campaigned in Dartford Town Centre in the morning, handing out hundreds of leaflets and talking...

Our Vice Chair (Membership) Mandy Garford wrote on inclusive education for the Fabian Society:

Education is the passport to opportunity. It is only right that all children are given equal opportunities to reach their full potential, educated in a world-class system to become the next leaders, entrepreneurs, teachers, strategists, economists, doctors, lawyers or scientists.

First, this means addressing the inequality that has a huge impact on life chances. A child hasn’t earned their wealth – or indeed their poverty. It is appalling that in the 21st century the UK has one of the highest income inequality gaps in the EU. The wealthiest 10 per cent take 28 per cent of all income, and half of that is taken by the top 1 per cent. We need to make sure that getting access to the best education does not depend on your family’s wealth. Labour led the way by introducing Sure Start Centres to ensure that very young children, whatever their background, had an equal start in life. When Labour is back in power, we will face the challenge of building on this achievement so that a good and sound education is something that can be within the reach of all children.

But equality of opportunity in education also means focusing on a group of children perhaps most at risk of losing out: those with special educational needs and disabilities. Special needs children often need more support than a typical child in the classroom, sometimes requiring extra time or adaptations to help them access what every other child can. In the current climate of funding cuts, they are losing out as teaching and support staff are cut. Pastoral and mental health support services are being scaled back or lost completely. And schools are struggling to cope: Across England, the number of permanent exclusions in state-funded primary, secondary and special schools increased from 5,795 in 2014/15 to 6,685 in 2015/2016.

Teaching staff should be praised for the tireless work they do with our children. As a former teacher myself, I know the hours that teachers work to best meet the needs of the children in their class or school. But we have a multifaceted problem here, and we have to do more to support them to provide the equal opportunities that every single child deserves. The lack of funding in schools has a direct impact on staffing and support, but we also need to offer better training to equip teaching staff to deal with potentially challenging situations. When I was a teacher in a mainstream school, I welcomed opportunities to learn more about the plethora of conditions that the classroom held: without that training we are not equipping teachers to be effective facilitators of learning and we are failing the children that come through the doors.

Labour is committed to creating a world-class education system and an inclusive environment for children in mainstream school settings. However, we must not forget that there is, and always will be, a smaller group of children who will thrive better in a more exclusive setting. It is vital that we do not get stuck in the thinking that having all children in mainstream education is inclusive. In my role as chair of my local branch of the National Autistic Society, I deal with children on the autistic spectrum, who can have a huge amount of anxiety in a whole class setting of 30 children. This anxiety can render them non-verbal or cause them to behave in a way that would be considered unacceptable. Some may well be able to work perfectly well with extra help and support, but for others, a mainstream classroom does not offer equal opportunity. In fact it makes education even harder to access. Parents cry as they watch their child deteriorating in an inappropriate school setting, helpless in a school system which leaves them without a voice or a choice. I have known parents having to resort to solicitors to get their child adequate help. In this way we may be keeping the more vulnerable silent and once again failing a proportion of society, some of whom are already disadvantaged by poverty.

Labour needs to make the argument that not only is funding vital for providing a world-class education but that to be a truly inclusive, we must consider different settings for different children while providing a fully comprehensive education for all. The Conservatives choose to select on academic grounds. Wouldn’t it be the right thing for Labour to allow the people – the teachers, the parents and the children – to select which schools are appropriate for their needs? If a group of people are not being heard, we speak out for them – that’s what Labour does. Let’s go one step further and let’s give people back their voice.

Inclusive Education

Our Vice Chair (Membership) Mandy Garford wrote on inclusive education for the Fabian Society: Education is the passport to opportunity. It is only right that all children are given equal...

Labour Councillors in Dartford have said it is unacceptable that the Dartford Crossing is still not being included in assessments of air pollution in Dartford, six months after the government promised to correct the oversight.

The news comes as a report before Dartford Councils Policy Overview Committee reveals that Dartford has the second highest rate of hospital admissions for asthma and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease.

Labour’s Shadow Chair on the Committee Councillor Daisy Page (Centre) expressed her concerns

“The data in this report shows that air pollution levels in Dartford remain unacceptably high, The link between poor air quality and health issues is well established and data shows that there is a correlation between proximity to the Dartford Crossing and hospital admissions for asthma and chronic heart disease. We need to see urgent action to tackle the issue of air pollution in Dartford.

It is unacceptable that 6 months after it was first revealed that the Dartford Crossing was not included in assessments of air quality pollution because it classed it as a rural road, the government have still not corrected this error. Labour will be proposing that the Policy Overview Committee writes to Ministers as a matter of urgency to ensure that the Crossing is included in the Government's Air Quality Plan. This is especially important in light of the health risks that the data the Policy Overview Committee have been given show. The Government delayed naming the location of the Lower Thames Crossing – we now need to make sure they push forward with construction as quickly as we’ve heard nothing on progress since the announcement was made”

Labour’s Leader on Dartford Council Cllr Jonathon Hawkes said the response from the government and the Council wasn’t good enough

Air pollution is one of the most important issues facing Dartford in the next decade. However, the response of bothConservative Council and the Government has beencomplacent and inadequate. The Government Air Quality Action Plan claims that air pollution in Dartford will fall to ‘acceptable’ levels by 2020 but offer no evidence to support how or why that will happen. I think the health of our residents is too important take that claim at face value, the council appears to be using this claim as a basis not take any real action to help reduce air pollution levels. 

Dartford Conservatives have clearly failed to influence the Government in taking our air pollution crisis seriously. The government are still not including the Crossing in the model for the Air Quality Plan. If the Cabinet Member Cllr Keith Kelly cannot or will not raise with the government, Labour will. 

Labour believes that local councils should be empowered and supported to bring forward their own initiatives to tackle air pollution in their local communities and a Labour Council in Dartford in 2019 will treat this a priority.  Monitoring of air quality is important but we need to take much bolder steps. Sadly, the Conservative Council's responses to the UK Action Plan ducked the chance to present ideas to government that would enable this authority to constructively influence how air quality is improved in the Borough”

Air Quality Statement

Labour Councillors in Dartford have said it is unacceptable that the Dartford Crossing is still not being included in assessments of air pollution in Dartford, six months after the government promised to correct the...

Dartford Labour Party are calling on the town’s MP Gareth Johnson to back a fair wage for nurses and NHS staff in Dartford by voting the scrap the cap on public sector pay.

A Labour motion to scrap the public sector pay cap of 1%, which has been in place since 2010, will be debated in parliament on Wednesday September 13th.

Labour’s leader on Dartford Council, Jonathon Hawkes said that Gareth Johnson should show he understands the concerns of people who work in the NHS and other vital public services in Dartford by voting to scrap the pay cap.

“After seven years of austerity, continuing the public sector pay cap is unfair and unjustified. 

Gareth Johnson has a choice. On Wednesday, he can stand with nurses and NHS staff at Darent Valley Hospital and vote to scrap the cap, or he can toe the government line. A government line that has resulted in a 14% pay cut for nursing staff since 2010 and has seen nurses being forced to use food banks in order to survive.

That can’t be how the government should treat people who work tirelessly to care for our community. That’s why Labour would scrap the cap immediately and I believe there are many Conservatives who now agree with us. I hope they vote with their conscience on Wednesday. If parliament stands together and votes to scrap the cap, nurses and other public sector staff in Dartford can finally receive the pay rise they need and deserve.”

Darford Labour’s health spokesperson and former parliamentary candidate Dr Bachchu Kailash Kaini said the pay cap should be lifted as it was having an impact of local health services.

Under the Conservatives, more people are leaving nursing than joining. There is a shortage of 40,000 nurses in the UK and our own local CCG here in Dartford is experiencing challenges recruiting registered nurses. Registered nurse numbers are down for the first time since 2008 and the situation is going to be made worse as nursing applications are also down 23% in 2017 – since the government scraped bursaries for student nurses and replaced them with loans. Nurses deserve fair pay. That’s why we are demanding the government scrap the cap on pay and I urge Gareth Johnson to support Labour in the debate on Wednesday.

The Labour party has pledged to lift the 1 per cent pay cap, to reinstate bursaries for student nurses and to put £6bn a year into the NHS.

Scrap The Cap

Dartford Labour Party are calling on the town’s MP Gareth Johnson to back a fair wage for nurses and NHS staff in Dartford by voting the scrap the cap on...

Yesterday, Emma Morley was elected as Dartford Labour's Newest Councillor.

Winning with an impressive 70% of the vote, Emma will represent St Johns Ward on Stone Parish Council. 

The election was called because Dave Baker, the previous parish councillor for St Johns, sadly passed away in May. Dave was a lovely man and a fantastic advocate for local people. He will be greatly missed. 

The turnout for the election was 15% and the full result is available at http://www.dartfordlabourparty.org.uk/recent_election_results

On her victory, Emma said:

"I'm over the moon to be elected as one of your Parish councillors for St John's ward, Stone.


Thank you to everyone who took the time to vote for me, and those that helped with my campaign.


I have huge boots to fill following the lovely Dave Baker and I hope I can do him proud.


I can't wait to get started!"

Emma Morley wins St Johns By Election!

Yesterday, Emma Morley was elected as Dartford Labour's Newest Councillor. Winning with an impressive 70% of the vote, Emma will represent St Johns Ward on Stone Parish Council.  The election...

Welcome to the Leader's Blog. Our Leader on Dartford Borough Council Jonathon Hawkes will post on here and hopefully you will have a better insight into the work that Labour Councillors do on a day to day basis, standing up for their residents and working towards a better Dartford for everyone.

Introduction

Welcome to the Leader's Blog. Our Leader on Dartford Borough Council Jonathon Hawkes will post on here and hopefully you will have a better insight into the work that Labour...

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