Tag Archives: kingston upon thames

Who was King Athelstan? And why does Ed Davey admire him?

Have you even heard of him?

Ask any child in the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames (there is a clue in the name) and they will tell you that he was the first of the seven Saxon kings who were crowned in Kingston. In fact, one of the primary schools is named after him.

We even have a Coronation stone where he is thought to have been ceremonially placed, although it has now been moved to a spot outside the Guildhall.

In a recent edition of the BBC History Magazine Ed Davey picked King Athelstan as his historical hero. Unfortunately the article is behind a paywall, but you can read the first half here. So why did he choose him?

Athelstan’s coronation took place in 925 and was highly significant because for the first time he united the kingdoms of Mercia and Wessex. He was the first to be known as the King of the English. He later added northern Britain to his kingdom.

Kingston upon Thames was already a significant market town. It stood at the boundary of the two kingdoms with a very important river bridge between them – the first bridge upstream from London Bridge.

The Coronation is thought to have taken place in a church which was later replaced by the large Norman church of All Saints. Athelstan could be said to have invented the Coronation ceremony itself, using a ceremonial crown for the first time, a sarsen stone as his throne, and including text that still forms the basis of modern Coronation services.

All Saints Kingston has its own fascinating history, but it proudly proclaims itself as “Where England Began“.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 8 Comments

There is a solution to fly-tipping

Tim Farron has been speaking out about fly-tipping; specifically the fact that only 1 in 500 incidents last year led to prosecution. He claims that it has been “effectively legalised”.

He says:

The fact that fly-tipping is going unpunished is simply appalling. If people aren’t being fined, it’s no wonder that they think they can dump their rubbish on the streets without consequence.

Brits do the right thing with their waste, but a badly behaved minority is spoiling our environment.

The lack of action on this issue from the Government sends out the message that they do not take it seriously enough. They have effectively legalised littering through their inaction.

The Lib Dems take more action against fly-tippers by increasing the cost of the fine and using the profits to crackdown on fly-tippers.

With local elections around the corner, communities must vote to clean up the mess that the current government has created.

Fly-tipping is a good issue for campaigners in the current local elections, because it is visible and no one (apart from the culprits) likes it.

I’m sorry, though, that he didn’t mention some of the innovative solutions that are being used where Lib Dems are in control. It’s not simply a matter of increasing fines – it has to be about identifying and chasing the perpetrators. We learnt about one approach in a recent post from Cllr John Sweeney in Kingston upon Thames, who has a portfolio that includes waste and recycling. “Beyond potholes … addressing fly-tipping is an issue LibDems can campaign on in cities everywhere“.

John explains here:

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 3 Comments

Beyond potholes … addressing fly-tipping is an issue LibDems can campaign on in cities everywhere

Canvassing in the Hounslow by-election recently, I couldn’t help but notice old refrigerators, household waste, and builders’ rubble accumulated on the street corners and estates of Heston West. Residents were fed up and felt that they were being taken for granted. Statistically, Hounslow has the 2nd highest number of fly-tipping incidents in London. Even more depressing is that the Labour-run Council only bothered to issue 53 Fixed Penalty Notice fines for fly-tipping in 12 months. (Fly-tipping data for all UK Local Authorities is available here).

Fly-tipping is a real blight on the sense of pride everyone wants for the place they live. Council-run housing estates are especially popular locations for fly-tipping. Even worse, the daily exposure to stained mattresses, soiled nappies, and other waste constantly drags on the mental health and general well-being of the people living on them.

For Liberal Democrats getting serious about fixing urban fly-tipping is an opportunity to show city-dwellers what a community-minded approach can achieve. Our Heston West candidate has already adopted action on this blight as one of the major themes of his campaign. There is a lot Local Authorities can do about this problem, but only a few are doing enough. For challengers in Local Elections, this is an opportunity to demonstrate the difference a LibDem approach can make.

Two years ago in “leafy” Kingston there was a noticeable increase in fly-tipping during the pandemic. Statistically, Kingston is one of London’s least fly-tipped boroughs, but that is no consolation for people living with a problem in their area. Certain streets and locations of the borough received significant dumps of household waste/furniture and black bags. Housing estates and flats above shops especially had problems. Council Departments in Housing, Highways, and Parks were not working together, and issues were being handled poorly, frustrating residents and Councillors. And just Like Hounslow at that time very few Fixed Penalty Notices were being issued.

With the support of the LibDem Group, I initiated a fly-tipping task force. The task force brought together councillors, officers, and the vast amount of data gathered by the Council to identify ‘hot spots’. We then systematically set about fixing the worst areas through site visits and engaging with residents and local businesses. Each area had a slightly different problem and some issues were more difficult to resolve than others.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 11 Comments

Putting a bomb under it, and other polling day stories

There was a bit of drama in Kingston upon Thames on Thursday morning. Construction workers uncovered a 250Kg unexploded WW2 bomb near the town centre.

A large exclusion zone was set up, and 1500 people were evacuated from their homes.

The area included the town centre campus for Kingston University, two schools – and two polling stations, which had to be relocated.

Posted in News | Also tagged | 2 Comments

‘Best local election campaign’

Campaigners in Kingston upon Thames are rightly proud of receiving the ALDC award for the Best Local Election Campaign in 2018, especially given the high quality campaigns in many other areas including our neighbours in Richmond.

We’d love to share our story with you and maybe offer some hope and inspiration.

In May this year we increased the number of Lib Dem councillors on Kingston Council from 18 to 39, out of a total of 48. Of those,

  • 26 were new Councillors, all of whom stood for the first time
  • the majority (22) were female, with at least one woman standing in every ward, two with newborns!
  • the age range is 22 to 74 years old, with every decade represented
  • 23% are BAME (matching the Borough as a whole) and include the first Councillor of Korean heritage
  • between them they speak 10 different languages
  • we have strong LGBTQ and disability representation.

We are fortunate to have gained a significant number of new members after the general election in 2015, and again after the referendum in 2016. However, we did not sit on our laurels and we actively looked for local community activists who support Liberal Democrat principles as potential candidates.

Posted in Campaign Corner | Also tagged | 15 Comments
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