October 15, 2016

Green Strood South candidate seeks clarity from Labour on Lower Thames Crossing

It is great to see that the Labour candidate for Strood South appears to oppose plans for Lower Thames Crossing Option C, seemingly in contrast to the official Medway Labour line.  However as he has shown a reluctance to discuss the issue with me I do not know the extent of his opposition.  I hope it is not just a cynical attempt to get votes.

The Greens remain the only local political party firmly opposed to Option C, as we have been from the start.  We believe that this proposal will impact negatively on Strood and many other areas in Medway, bringing increased local traffic, noise and air pollution and damaging the local environment.

I believe we must end our obsession with road building and instead invest in public transport, ensuring it is run for the convenience of those who use it, rather than shareholders.  With little scope for substantially improving the transport infrastructure here in Medway in the near future, to address our traffic issues we need to start to move away from dependence on car use.  People will use public transport if it is affordable, reliable and goes to the places they want to go and at the times they want to travel.

Steve Dyke
Green Party Candidate for Strood South

October 12, 2016

Micro-energy generation – a better way to meet our energy needs? By Bernard Hyde

One of our members, Bernard Hyde, recently had a letter posted in the Medway Messenger on the decision to go ahead with Hinkley Point C.  Here he expands on the discussion:


In the past year, the photo voltaic panels on my modest 1930s end of terrace house have produced about the same amount of electricity as we used to buy from our energy provider, British Gas.

For practical reasons, we were only able to use about half of what we produced and the other half we sold to the National Grid.

With the money we were paid for the electricity we had generated and the money we saved using our own electricity, we enjoyed a tax free eight percent return on our initial investment.

So our house is a micro power station and, in its very small way, it is like the very large nuclear power station approved to be built at Hinkley Point; except it isn’t really.

There is no security fence around our micro power station, we don’t employ guards, there is no fire risk or possible radiation leaks. We don’t have to have regular health checks, we don’t have a highly paid CEO and no foreign governments are involved. Our power source is free and infinite, we don’t have to buy any toxic fuel, there is no dangerous waste product for our descendants to inherit and our equipment is recyclable.

The proposed nuclear power station at Hinkley Point hopes to generate about 7 percent of the entire UK’s energy demand, equivalent to 5.8 million homes. The cost of this Nuclear Power Station is now estimated at £30,000,000,000; that is thirty thousand million pounds. This is just over £5,000 for each of the 5.8 million homes mentioned earlier, or just enough money for a 3 kW photovoltaic system for each house.

So just as I, with my micro power station had to make an initial investment in my photovoltaic panels before any electricity could be generated, our government is borrowing money to make its investment. It has agreed to borrow the money from China and of course the money will have to be paid back with interest. The capital and interest will be paid back by us, the electricity consumers, and it won’t be cheap.

What then are the problems with micro renewable energy generation?

  • The first problem is conceptual. It is too obvious.
  • The second problem is that the technology is sophisticated and not easily understood. We are wedded by history to our Victorian understanding of technology in the way we generate our power and construct our buildings.
  • The third problem is that the power source is free. It is hard for someone to make a quick buck out of selling sunshine or wind or tide.
  • The fourth problem is that the light from the sun isn’t always there. On average throughout the year half of the time is day and half night. The technology to store electricity generated during the day with batteries has lagged behind the technology for converting the light into electricity with solar cells, and battery technology is only just beginning to catch up.
  • The fifth problem is that there is less daylight during the winter, when our energy requirements are greatest. However, winter is the time when winds are strongest and wind and solar make a good combination.
  • The sixth problem is that we are brought up to believe that small units are not efficient. Traditional power stations use a thermodynamic cycle that creates heat to convert into mechanical energy and then into electricity. This is about 35% efficient, whereas photovoltaics can be 100% efficient, especially where buildings are designed and orientated effectively.
  • The seventh problem is distribution efficiency from small units. The electricity from power stations is stepped up and down in voltages via transformers and distributed via transmission lines and cables with a consequent power loss of between 8 and 15% dissipated in heating the environment. Half of the renewable energy our micro power station produces is used directly on site.
  • The eighth problem is that administering a large number of micro power stations is expensive as one imagines meter readers visiting each house and someone writing cheques. However with smart meters, that use cell-phone technology to send readings automatically and internet banking, this doesn’t have to be a problem.
  • The ninth problem is that micro-generation relies on thousands of people to invest a modest amount of money in their own interest and that of their country. It is the complete opposite of the multi-national megalithic corporations who unfortunately have more influence with government decision making.
  • The tenth problem is that the photo-voltaic market has been flooded with cheap Chinese imports that perform less well than their more expensive European competitors. The answer of course is for the UK to make its own high quality equipment.

The problems of renewable energy are ones of perception and commitment that can be solved with education and resolve.

The problems of nuclear power are inherent in the process itself and have no foreseeable solution, in the United Kingdom we have daylight but we don’t have uranium.

These problems are compounded further by the need for foreign involvement and the loss of national security.

Hinkley Point may be an untried French design for a nuclear power plant but that doesn’t make it cutting edge; it is still yesterday’s technology. What we need is fast moving, and fast improving new technology – for tomorrow’s generations to benefit from and enjoy, not to be burdened with and threatened by, and that is renewable energy.

Bernard Hyde, Medway Green Party

October 10, 2016

Medway Greens select candidate for Rainham Central by-election

Professor George Meegan has been selected as the Green Party’s candidate for the upcoming by-election in Rainham Central.

george-meeganProfessor Meegan is passionate about both protecting our cultural and environmental heritage and creating a better future for children and young people.  He is a top international prize winner in the field of education who stood as an independent parliamentary candidate for Gillingham and Rainham in the 2010 General Election in order to promote alternative forms of education, but has since joined the Green Party.

Professor Meegan says:
“I am running for the Green Party for one reason: I recently became a grandfather and I want my granddaughter to experience the wonderful world that I have experienced. However I see a degraded and polluted planet. We are facing the biggest threat to humanity in the form of climate change. We are being subjected to polluted air daily and our rich cultural heritage and green spaces are at risk of being compromised. As well as the threat of their lives being devastated by environmental catastrophe, our young people are being denied the opportunities in life that we had before them. We need to do all we can to reverse this trend in order to protect the futures of our children and our grandchildren.  The Green Party is not like the other main parties.  The Green Party believes that decisions should be made as locally as possible by those it most affects, and that is why I am honoured to run for the Green Party”.

Rainham is George’s current and childhood home, although he has travelled extensively during his life and career. He was educated at Meredale, Wakeley Road, and Orchard Street Schools. He joined the Merchant Navy at 16, but later in his career (until recently) he worked as Associate Professor of Maritime Sciences at Kobe University in Japan and has delivered lectures across the world.  A programme of education that he designed has been incorporated into the Japanese school curriculum. He has now returned to live in Rainham, but frequently travels abroad to voluntarily further his work in education within indigenous populations.

He says: “I believe in working to ensure that each individual child receives the right kind of education to allow that child to be the best that they can be. This means that we need to move away from standardised curriculums and endless testing and focus on developing the interests and aspirations inherent in each child.  Yes, children are the future and the high stakes testing is wounding some kids.  I have been told that children here in the Medway Towns have developed Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome due to the pressure they are being put under. Not every child thrives in a one size fits all environment. The potential of any child is huge, but not always in academics. I am passionate about working to ensure that the education system serves all our kids well”.

His other passion is walking. In his younger years he received extensive media coverage for completing the longest journey on foot in history, of 19019 miles across the American continents, and has received many accolades and awards for his long walks, including eight entries in the Guinness Book of Records.

George says “I have never been afraid of a challenge. If elected, I will strive to deliver a better future for both residents in Rainham Central and for the Medway Towns as a whole”.

October 9, 2016

Strood South candidate, Steve Dyke, on local housing priorities

Please see below a letter that Green Strood South candidate, Steve Dyke, wrote to the Medway Messenger.  A shortened version of this was printed in the paper on Friday.


Dear Editor,

With one eye on the Strood South by-election, Roy Freshwater again used his Party People column (29th September, Medway Messenger) to raise the need for the Council to focus on the housing crisis in the Medway Towns, but seems to be misled in thinking that EU and international migration is a major factor. According to the supporting evidence provided by Medway Council as part of the recent Local Plan consultation, domestic migration from neighbouring towns has had far more impact than international immigration here in recent years. [1]

In her recent letter to your paper (16th September), MP Kelly Tolhurst gave a panicky message suggesting that the Tories are building a case for concreting over our green spaces, while, as part of her Strood South by-election campaign, Conservative Josie Iles has recently championed the new Redrow development at Temple Waterfront in the ward [2]. This is despite the likelihood, in keeping with other recent new housing developments, that the majority of the homes built there will be too expensive to meet the needs of local people.

According to the North Kent Strategic Housing and Economic Needs Assessment [1] (used by the Council to predict housing need in the Medway Towns), from around 2011 there had been a stark rise in inward domestic migration from neighbouring towns and South East London. Before this, the net direction had been outward. Could it be that this is a direct response to the building of costly new developments such as that planned for Temple Waterfront?

We will never meet the housing needs of Medway people if we allow our valuable land to go to building executive homes that the majority of the local population cannot afford. We are also at risk of destroying our rich local natural environment in an effort to chase a goal that is forever moving – fuelled by political decisions which have led to a decline in decent social homes and encouraged financial housing bubbles. Shortages are not simply a result of population figures outweighing the numbers of homes available, but other factors, like income inequality, play a part and must be taken into full consideration when planning future allocations.

It is shocking that in the latest housing report by the Office of National Statistics, Medway featured as having the biggest shortfall in social housing in the country! [3]. A clear objective therefore must be a focus on putting this right. The way forward must be based on a clear understanding of the relationship between social, economic and environmental factors, but I fear that many of our current and prospective councillors have the wrong priorities.


Steve Dyke

Green Party candidate in Strood South by-election


[1] http://www.medway.gov.uk/pdf/North%20Kent%20SHENA%20Baseline%20report.pdf

(page 19)

[2] https://rochesterandstroodconservatives.org.uk/blog/temple-wharf/

[3] http://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/housing/articles/housingsummarymeasuresanalysis/2015-08-05#social-housing-shortfall



October 8, 2016

Green Party by-election candidate calls on Medway Council to reduce landfill

Steve Dyke, Green candidate in the Strood South by-election is calling on Medway Council to increase its efforts at encouraging recycling and move towards eradicating the use of black bags; reducing the waste that goes to landfill and incineration.

Mr Dyke says: “If elected as the first Green Party representative on Medway Council, I would seek to work with Councillors from other parties to introduce or support measures and policies that move the council in a “greener direction”.

“One of the projects that Medway Green Party is currently working on is our ‘Less Litter to Landfill’ campaign. We have been investigating the impact of litter in Medway, especially in relation to plastics, wildlife and reducing our dependence on landfill sites.

“Medway Green Party acknowledges that Medway Council work closely with EU directives and have successfully managed a decrease in the use of landfill over recent years. They are proactive with community litter picking sessions and have raised awareness of fines attached to litter dropping and fly tipping but we feel a lot more can be done”.

Sonia Hyner, Green Party Officer and lead of the ‘Less Litter to Landfill’ subgroup says: “There is a need for greater transparency and better systems to build confidence to support people with recycling and reducing waste.

“For instance, although Medway Council have a voucher scheme aimed at helping new parents build up a supply of renewable nappies (they can be used with flushable liners, dispensing with the need to send the end soiled product to landfill; they also save money)  it is unclear how accessible this information is to new parents, outside of the Council website.

“More worryingly, there is lack of transparency about where waste such as disposable nappies and cat litter goes. The Local Authority is encouraging people to use black bags to dispose of it, but it is deemed as unacceptable waste by the incineration company which receives the Council’s black bag waste [1].  And yet the Council claims that the 18% of waste that continues to go to landfill only consists of bulky household items [2], so what happens to disposable nappies and cat litter? Are these toxic waste products, still going to landfill?”

For Green candidate, Steve Dyke, much can be achieved by the local community working together to seek solutions. He says: “The new ‘post-EU Referendum age’ should give local people the opportunity to take greater control over local decision-making. It is a chance for us to explore our own creative solutions to eradicating landfill sites for the benefit of our environment. We urge Medway Council to join us in seeking not only to maintain EU standards on recycling and waste but to exceed them.

“Medway Green Party hopes to build on the good work of Medway Council in both highlighting existing recycling initiatives in Medway and proposing new ones, therefore assisting it to become a flag ship authority on the environment”.

Anyone wishing to make comments or suggestions is welcome to contact Sonia Hyner, ‘Less Litter to Landfill’ subgroup lead, email – recycling@medwaygreenparty.org

For information on where your rubbish ends up see: http://www.medway.gov.uk/binsrubbishandrecycling/wasteservicestandards/whereyourrubbishendsup.aspx

A-Z recycling in Medway:


Information on the Council’s reuseable nappy scheme can be found here: www.medway.gov.uk/binsrubbishand recycling/reduceyourrubbish/reuseablenappies.aspx

Details of community litter picking up sessions are provided at: www.medway.gov.uk/.crimenuisanceandsafety/communityclean-up.aspx

Litter dropping and fly-tipping – any suspicious behaviour can be reported by telephoning the Environment Agency on 08708 506 506.

[1] “Animal or human remains or waste” is deemed unacceptable to SELCHP the “Energy Recovery Facility” where Medway Council sends non-recyclable waste – http://www.selchp.co.uk/your-waste/unaccepted-waste/

[2] Medway Council claim that “The only household waste sent to landfill is bulkier items” http://www.medway.gov.uk/binsrubbishandrecycling/wasteservicestandards/whereyourrubbishendsup.aspx



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September 29, 2016

Fairer Politics for Young People – by Steve Dyke

Please see below a piece our Strood South by-election candidate, Steve Dyke, wrote for Medway Messenger’s Party People column earlier this month.
I recently had the opportunity to attend the political question time hosted by the Medway Youth Parliament for 16 and 17 year olds as part of their National Citizen Scheme.  It was great to see young people engaged in politics.
It reminded me that in July Green MP Caroline Lucas introduced a bill in parliament proposing a fairer electoral system, including a reduction in the voting age to 16 for all UK elections and referendums.  Unfortunately the bill was voted down – despite cross-party support, Labour MPs were whipped to abstain from the vote and Tory MPs voted against it.Would the votes of 16 and 17 year olds have changed the result of the EU Referendum?  It may have.  According to Lord Ashcroft Polls, there was a majority to leave only in those age groups over 45.  The younger the voters, the more likely the vote to remain – among those aged 18-24, nearly three quarters wanted to stay in the EU.

We now need to work to ensure that what eventually results from “Brexit” benefits everyone and disadvantages no-one, particularly young people who were denied the opportunity to determine their own futures on this occasion.

What world will we leave our children and their descendants?  I look round and see the legacy successive UK governments have been creating for young people:  student debt, zero hour contracts, unaffordable homes, child poverty, environmental destruction, unsustainable growth, intolerance and much more.

Most importantly there is climate change – if we fail to act now on this we risk the very survival of humankind.

It should not be like this.  Instead our young people deserve to inherit a fair economy within a caring society capable of supporting everyone’s needs – and on a planet protected from the threat of climate catastrophe.

September 21, 2016

Medway Greens announce Strood South by-election candidate

P1000214 (2)Steve Dyke has been selected as the Green Party’s candidate for the upcoming by-election in Strood South.

Steve moved to Strood in 1966 at the age of five and has lived in the area most of his life since.  Educated at Elaine Avenue School and then Rochester Math, he currently commutes to London for his job in insurance.

Steve says: “I have seen much change in the area, some of it positive, some negative.  I feel that this side of the River Medway often gets taken for granted by the Council.  It seems to me that Strood and surrounding areas are often regarded as places to be crammed with more and more housing without the need to make improvements to infrastructure and facilities or to build sustainable communities.

“There is pressure from all sides to build in and around Medway, such as the Council’s plan for 30,000 houses and the proposed Lower Thames Crossing, which will impact directly on Strood South.  The recently announced Thames Estuary 2050 Growth Commission chaired by Lord Heseltine adds further uncertainty by including the Medway area within the scope of its vision for what it calls ‘high-quality growth’.

“Our schools, medical facilities and public services are suffering from being subjected for many years to a failing political programme imposed by central government. While some areas of Medway have benefitted from investment, others have been left behind.

“Now, more than ever, Green voices on Medway Council are needed to protect and improve what we have, both for ourselves and future generations, to create a better local environment resilient to climate change and to build healthier communities.

“If elected I will work with local residents and Councillors from other political parties to introduce or support measures and policies that move the Council in a greener direction.  This means that a Green vote would be a vote for taking local democracy seriously. It would be a vote for reducing pollution levels and providing sustainable and affordable housing and transport, for local clean energy production, for protecting our public services, and for valuing and seeking to protect our green spaces and wildlife.

“As a lone voice on the Council, this may be a gradual process but voting Green on October 20th would be a step in the right direction.  Local government in Medway has got stale.  ‘Politics as usual’ is clearly not working in the interest of most people locally and nationally. The Green Party is not afraid to do things differently in its pursuit of building a society that works for the Common Good.”

August 17, 2016

Standing up for unsung heroes – carers (interview with Caroline Lucas by David Wilkins)

This interview was conducted by new Medway Green Party member, David Wilkins. His article was printed in the Brighton and Hove Independent on 4th December 2015.

Caring for the carers

Justice for the long-term disabled and carers is a cause Brighton Pavilion MP Caroline Lucas is keen to champion.  On Carers Rights Day 2015, Ms Lucas explained why she was determined to make a difference.

“We do an injustice to carers because we don’t give them the support and the credit for the incredibly hard work that they do” she said. “Essentially  we’ve got a whole army of people who are unsung heroes, working behind the scenes looking after elderly parents, colleagues, friends or children.  I want to make sure they are better supported.”

Many carers believe they should be entitled to basic treatment such as respite care, a view Ms Lucas supports. This led her to support a defeated bill in parliament, arguing for free hospital parking for carers.

She said: “It was a small thing, but it was an indication and recognition of the amount of work carers have to do.”

When Ms Lucas was first elected as MP 2010, she met  Liz Dwiar and her twin sister Pauline.  Miss Dwiar had given up her job to become full time carer for her mother who’d suffered a debilitating stroke.

“What impressed me about Liz was that she worked immensely hard but had so much joy in doing it”, Ms Lucas said.  “To see someone give up the job the they love doing and give up the life that they loved because of their responsibility, and indeed, the love for her mother was genuinely moving”.

Ms Lucas remains deeply worried about the planned cuts to the welfare system, and said: “The benefit system and welfare system doesn’t help carers.  They only need to be earning a small amount of money from elsewhere and the carers allowance gets reduced.  We need to take George Osborne seriously when he says we’re all in this together.  If he’s serious about that, then he ought to be making sure that we don’t have a series of cuts that seem to be targeting the most vulnerable the hardest.”

“The amount of work carers do without being thanked is enormous and society should be saying a very big thank you not only with words, but hopefully follow that up with some policies to better support them as well.”

August 17, 2016

Medway Council urged to do more to help refugees #refugeeswelcome

Please see below a recent press release. An article based on this was published in the Kent Today here.


Medway Greens have reinstated their call for Medway Council to do more to help refugees in light of a House of Lords report published today [1].

A committee of House of Lords peers has spent months investigating the conditions thousands of lone children are living in across Europe, including children in camps in Northern France who are trying to be reunited with family in Britain.

The report criticises the British Government and other governments for “fundamentally” failing to fulfill their obligations under EU and international law to receive and protect children “in a manner that recognises their specific vulnerability”. [2]

Evidence also suggests a lack of “burden-sharing” between UK local authorities, with one council caring for 412 unaccompanied children, while many others had none. [2]

Last week the Conservative group on Medway Council opposed a motion calling on the Council to offer support to young refugees.

The motion submitted by Labour Councillor Johnson called on the Council to “undertake to engage in constructive dialogue with community groups, voluntary agencies, statutory bodies, educational institutions and other interested parties to develop support networks and opportunities for integration”.

Steve Dyke, Medway Green Party Officer says:
“Medway Greens have long called for Medway Council to do its bit in supporting refugees and today’s report further highlights the need for an adequate response. It is shameful that the Tory contingent of Medway Council appears unwilling to even explore options.

While it is understandable that council funds are limited, it is the Tory Government that has caused funding difficulties with its austerity driven agenda. It is up to our Tory-led Council and Tory MPs to be at the forefront of ensuring that the Government meets its obligations by seeking additional funding”.
Welcoming the House of Lords report, Jean Lambert, who is the Green Party migration spokesperson, said:

“The UK is not yet acting fully on its responsibilities for children, such as those at Calais. It knows what needs to be done, it just needs to do it. There are lone children in France who have a legal right to come to Britain, the Home Office knows this yet these vulnerable youngsters are still in the camps facing horrific living conditions and the danger of exploitation, violence and forced labour. The UK government cannot allow this to continue, and it must make sure local councils have resources to welcome these children and other refugees who need our help.”

August 8, 2016

A town of two halves. Talking to people on the local high street.

An interesting report tweeted to us by a writer on the Liberal Democrat blog. I think we can all agree that no one should feel left behind in the Medway Towns. We all need to work towards addressing the issues that are making people’s lives so difficult.