Archive for ‘By-election’

February 16, 2018

Candidate profile – Sonia Hyner #RochesterWest

Sonia HynerSonia Hyner has lived in Medway since 2002 and has been an active peace and climate change campaigner for some time.  She worked for Citizen Advice for 21 years, supporting members of the public to alleviate poverty and secure housing, before recently retraining to teach English to adults at Further Education College. Sonia also stood as the Green Candidate for the Rochester and Strood constituency in the 2017 General Election.

Sonia says: “One of the reasons I decided to enter politics was because of a lack of female voices in public life.  I felt that if I wanted women to have a voice, I needed to stand myself to contribute to that change.  The Conservatives currently dominate the Council and people feel that the Council doesn’t take their wishes and needs seriously. People deserve better!  Voting Green in Rochester West will help to provide more balance on Medway Council as well as encouraging and protecting values that currently have little or no voice such as….


Medway’s Environment and Sustainability:

A Green councillor would work to put environmental sustainability, health and wellbeing at the heart of council decisions and to protect our local countryside and green spaces from needless development. Globally many plants and animals have died out because their natural habitats have been destroyed. We must fight to protect our healthy green spaces, and clean up our toxic air, as well as for all development and transport to be truly sustainable. One of my key interests is in reducing litter and landfill and improving recycling locally.

Our NHS and Public Services:

Nationally our NHS is being sold off to private companies at an alarming rate. Our local services are at risk – this needs to stop! The recent Carillion disaster demonstrates a total failure in both Labour and Tory economic policy and their management of public services. I would do all I can to protect and improve our local public services.  People need to come before profit!

Homes that meet the needs of Medway:

We need to provide homes that local young people can actually afford.  The Medway Local Plan consultation estimates that 75% of new homes need to be affordable over the next 25 years to meet the needs of the local population, but the Council is only planning to enforce a requirement for 25% and is failing currently to achieve even that. There are alternatives such as Community Land Trusts which support local communities to build their own homes at prices they can afford and many would agree that we need the Council to start providing enough homes again. I would do all I can to ensure that all local people have a decent home.

If elected as councillor in Rochester West, I will make it my duty to strive towards making Medway the responsive, supportive and secure place I know it should be; respecting and listening to ALL voices in the community.”

January 24, 2018

Sonia Hyner to stand for Greens in Rochester West by-election #RochesterWest #GreenMedway

SonSonia Hyner 2017 intraArtsia Hyner has been selected as the Green Party’s candidate for the upcoming by-election in Rochester West.  An active peace and climate change campaigner for a number of years, Sonia worked for Citizen Advice for 21 years, supporting members of the public to alleviate poverty and secure housing. She recently retrained to teach English to adults at Further Education College. Sonia stood as Green PPC for Rochester and Strood in 2017 and knows the Rochester West area well, having been a campaigner on the doorsteps in recent years.    
Sonia says:
“I would understand that people may be a bit weary of elections having been through eight elections in the past three years in Rochester West, but this does provide an opportunity to produce a bit more balance on Medway Council. The Council is currently largely dominated by Conservatives, with Labour the only real opposition.  A Green voice on the Council would provide more opportunity to put environmental sustainability, health and wellbeing at the heart of Council decisions. Currently those who support Green values have no consistent voice on the Council at all. I would call on anyone who does to get out and vote Green on March 8th”.
Steve Dyke, Medway Green Party Coordinator says:
“I am delighted that Sonia has been selected as our candidate in the by-election.  She is a passionate believer in green politics who would work hard to represent the interests of all those in Rochester West, whatever their background, while bringing a much needed environmental perspective to the Council.”
April 5, 2017

Medway Greens call for fairer politics in light of election expenses scandal

Medway Greens are calling for fairer politics in light of the confirmation that the Conservative Party broke the rules which limit election spending.

The Rochester and Strood by-election in 2014 has been highlighted by the Electoral Commission as one of the occasions in which spending exceeded legal limits leading to a fine being imposed on the Conservative Party of £70,000.

Clive Gregory, former Green parliamentary candidate in the Rochester and Strood by-election says:

“The confirmation of illegal spending puts further light on how unequal the battle is. It seems that the £100,000 limit on expenses, intended to produce a level playing field, wasn’t enough for the Tories, who have put themselves above the law and any sense of fair play. We are never going to take the corruption out of politics unless we remove the power of big money. The current way we do politics, including our unfair voting system, squeezes out grassroots political movements orchestrated by ordinary people in favour of the money men”.

Mary Smith, is Medway Green Party’s Treasurer and Election Agent and therefore responsible for declaring election expenses. Mary adds:

“There is zero possibility of Medway Green Party exceeding the limit as our available funds are very small in comparison to the limit. However declaration of expenses is rightly required by law of all individuals or parties competing in an election and we do of course comply.  It rather adds insult to injury that while we carefully record the smallest of amounts, the richest of the political parties has seemingly been covertly spending hundreds or thousands of pounds on hotel bills in order to bring in party staff and activists.  It must also be dispiriting for voters.  This isn’t how democracy should work.

“As often happens, the person or persons who are prepared and able to spend the most money get the result.  Ironically, in the Rochester and Strood by-election they didn’t. However we will never know how much impact the money spent on the by-election had in raising the profile of the previously little known Conservative candidate and her subsequent General Election success”.

October 31, 2016

Reflections on Strood South by-election by Steve Dyke

This article was published in Friday’s Party People column in the Medway Messenger


I write this just after the Strood South by-election and would like to thank all those who voted for me as Green Party candidate.  Unfortunately on this occasion we were unable to upset the established order and the seat was won back by the Conservatives.

One shock of the by-election was the low turnout.  Just 16.74% of those who could have voted actually did, and of those only 38.4% chose the winning candidate, Josie Iles.  She was elected by just 6.4% of voters.  Hardly an endorsement of local democracy.

All political parties must now attempt to understand what this low turnout means.  While people in Strood South have faced six elections plus a referendum in the last 30 months, have they seen any improvements in their daily lives? Are they tired of politicians promising things rather than taking practical action?

I fear the election of another Conservative to an already Tory-dominated Council will not help to bring about change hoped for or needed in Medway.  However all Councillors are individuals and everybody recognises for example how hard the late and highly respected Rainham Central Councillor, Mike O’Brien, worked for his constituents.

Many challenges lie ahead in these uncertain times.  Further cuts in spending threaten the most vulnerable in our community, there are rising levels of homelessness and poverty, essential public services are in crisis and our environment continues to be under pressure from unsustainable development.

The Green Party will always work for the common good, seeking to hold the Council to account and highlighting the need for action wherever needed.  We congratulate Josie on her win in Strood South and wish her every success, but hope she recognises her role as councillor is to improve things for all her constituents, particularly those in need, not just follow the party line.

Steve Dyke

Green candidate in Strood South by-election


October 27, 2016

Green Rainham Central candidate has lesson for Education Authorities

george-at-st-margarets-school-orchard-street-2As someone who has spoken at schools on British adventure, including those in Rainham where I grew up, I know that children respond well to alternative forms of teaching.

The headmaster at St Margaret’s School in Orchard Street Rainham once said to me, ‘Mr Meegan, the children refuse to go to break because they so love stories of British adventure!’ Stories like that have inspired many children to go on to greater things over the years – Winston Churchill was so inspired by a British adventurer who came to speak at his school that it was mentioned in his book ‘My Early Life’.

It would be difficult to envisage this happening in today’s British educational system which is so rigid and inflexible. It ties everyone in knots.  It constrains our teachers and learners with inflexible lesson criteria and endless tests.  And the result of this inspiration-free model is likely to be a future where we are all impoverished.

We need to campaign for the adoption of a better system, supported by the Green Party, which regards children and young people’s own interests and enthusiasms as the natural starting-point for productive learning, the roots from which a broad curriculum can grow.

This would allow teachers and learners to work together in developing curriculum content which suits their needs and interests within the context of a broad framework that encourages the development of a full range of life skills.

We need to reject the shift to market driven models of education that see its role only in terms of standardised rote learning, and preparation for work.

George Meegan

Green Party candidate for Rainham Central

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 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



(page 19)





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 –

For information on where your rubbish ends up see:

A-Z recycling in Medway:

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

Details of community litter picking up sessions are provided at:

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 –

[2] Medway Council claim that “The only household waste sent to landfill is bulkier items”



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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.”