Archive for ‘By-election’

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”.

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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.

Yours,

Steve Dyke

Green Party candidate in Strood South by-election

Notes:

[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:

http://www.medway.gov.uk/binsrubbishandrecycling/atozofrecyclinginmedway.aspx#R

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.
NOTES:

[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 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.”

February 21, 2016

Make politics fairer say Medway Greens

Medway Greens have called for fairer and better policed politics.
This is in light of the revelations by Channel 4 News that The
Conservative Party may have broken electoral spending rules in the
Rochester and Strood by-election in 2014.

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

“The claims of illegal spending put further light on how unequal the
battle is. It seems the £100,000 limit on expenses, intended to
produce a level playing field, may not have been enough for the
Tories, who have allegedly 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.

“Added to the effect of financial imbalance, the communication of
ideas and solutions which differ from those of the powerful is made
much harder by our first past the post electoral system.  As well as
meaning that millions of voters are unrepresented, this broken
electoral system squeezes out grassroots political movements
orchestrated by ordinary people in favour of the money men.  Electoral
reform isn’t just about an attempt to get some form of true democracy,
it’s also about reducing corruption and making things more difficult
for those that can spend huge sums swaying elections to their
advantage; an advantage that consequently works for the richest and
most powerful members of our society”.

Mary Smith, Medway Green Party Treasurer and Election Agent adds:

“I have been watching the re-run of ‘The Pallisers’ and the
similarities are frightening.  It seems the only thing that has
changed in 150 odd years is that over-spending is now illegal; but
no-one seems to be policing it.  Channel 4’s news item was well put
together and seemed to make a good case.  However, as it takes some
considerable time to make an investigation of this depth, I would very
strongly suggest that the one year limit, within which legal action
can be taken, is not nearly long enough.

“As often happens, the person or persons prepared to spend the most
money gets the result.  Ironically, in this case 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”.

February 14, 2015

Small but Significant Victory for Locals in Battle to Save Lodge Hill

rsz_cg_rspb01

Clive Gregory with RSPB at Northward Hill Nature Reserve

Medway Green Party has welcomed the good news that the proposed development at Lodge Hill has been called in by the government. This means that it cannot now go ahead without a public enquiry.

Please see below some comments on this decision by Clive Gregory, our candidate for Rochester and Strood:

Good news.  The proposed development at Lodge Hill has been called in and now cannot proceed without a public enquiry.

The by-election in Rochester and Strood last year gave me, and the Green Party, a platform to fully inform the people of Medway and further afield about the importance of Lodge Hill.  We additionally sought the advice of the RSPB to increase our knowledge of the site and saw, first hand, that in isolation it is of vital importance but, when taken in the context of all the SSSIs on both sides of the Thames estuary right out to the north sea and including the Medway estuary, it is of national and international importance.

In the recent by-election, where Lodge Hill was one of two main local issues, over 81% of votes went to the three candidates who had vehemently opposed this development, including myself, the UKIP candidate and the Conservative candidate. This represents a total rejection of the project by local people.

So, for now, let’s celebrate this important decision from, Brandon Lewis, the Minister, and appreciate that he’s made the right decision.

However, although this certainly is a victory, we need to be aware that the Minister may simply be ensuring that this matter does not create controversy prior to the General Election in May. It is important that we continue to apply pressure on both Medway Council and the government to now confine this vile project to the scrap-heap.

In addition to joining others in highlighting the vital importance of the site environmentally, we have spoken out about the likely failure of this project to address Medway’s urgent housing needs. Most of the properties proposed in this plan are likely to be too expensive for local people. Along with the Green Party’s national policy, we call on Medway Council to look at both bringing empty properties back into use, and building truly affordable rentable housing for the benefit of those in desperate need.

A project on this scale is not only wrong for the proposed area but will likely expand the population of Medway by creating homes for people being priced out of London. We think a project of this type may well make Medway’s housing problems worse.

Unlike other party candidates, I’ll never change my mind on this issue, or go with the flow – this is our world we’re campaigning to protect, not a political system.  We’ll always oppose this development and we will continue the fight until it is finally scrapped”

Clive also wrote the following letter recently to the Medway Messenger, in response to one published by Derek Munton, Chairman of Rochester and Strood Constituency Labour Party.

Lodge Hill – Labour just don’t get it!

In a recent edition of Medway Messenger, Derek Munton, Chairman of Rochester and Strood Constituency Labour Party was reported to claim that “walking away” from the proposed development at Lodge Hill would be “irresponsible” a position that I will strongly refute.

Yes, Medway needs housing. However, this grandiose scheme will do little to address our real housing needs. Most of the properties will be in excess of £250k, most will be significantly more. Sure, they’ve promised some, so called affordable housing, but even these do not address the most urgent housing needs. The most important housing needs are for those people who are in temporary accommodation or sub-standard housing. These people are in need of low rent property and there’s very little of that planned for Lodge Hill.

The Green Party would take the bold steps needed to get to the heart of the housing crisis with key policies that focus on bringing empty homes back into use, a better deal for private tenants, ending the Right to Buy, and action on rent levels plus a pledge to build 500,000 new rentable social homes in the UK over five years.

In contrast, Labour is saying they will build 200,000 more homes a year but do not specify how many would be affordable, just ‘more homes’[1]. It is likely that under Labour we will get more of these out of town estates in areas that destroy wildlife habitats; estates of houses that those in real need cannot afford.

Last week I visited the RSPB site at Northward Hill to learn more about the environmental importance of Lodge Hill and the Hoo peninsula. The most striking impression was that what we’re dealing with here is an area made up of, not just the Hoo peninsula, but interconnected with the Thames coast line of Essex, the North Kent marshes and more. DEFRA’s map of the Thames estuary area displays vividly the importance of the entire region with SSSI sites at regular intervals. Even before we take into account the specifics of why Lodge Hill was designated an SSSI, a study of the map shows that, to link these SSSIs together, Lodge Hill is essential – take it away and build on it and the entire eco-system is disrupted and quite probably destroyed.

This environment is vital, not just for the animals and plants and especially the world’s birds – millions of them that migrate along this route – but for us too. Why can’t our local councillors understand how special this site is – it is not for them, or any of us, to have any right to destroy it – we must nurture it.

The Green Party’s housing plans mean that we would have greater control than if we just let big private builders like Land Securities (the developer responsible for the Lodge Hill proposal) build where they want.  We will be announcing planning reforms that ensure councils can put new homes in the right place, without taking up prime agricultural land or wildlife havens or parks.  This is not as difficult as it sounds; according to the UK National Ecosystem Assessment, only a tiny fraction (just over 2%) of the UK has been built on.  The issue is not whether houses should be built to address our housing needs, this is absolutely necessary, but what kind of houses should be built and where they should be built. This leads me to my next point – who would buy the houses at Lodge Hill?

Geoff Juby, the LibDem candidate in the recent by-election, and a councillor, seems to think that this development will help his children buy their first home. But will it? I very much doubt it. The problem for Medway currently is that thousands of people are being priced out of London. They look for somewhere they can live more cheaply but still have good access to London. Well, guess what, here we are in Medway in just such a position. Typically, many of these people will have more money to spend than those currently working and living in Medway. As a result they’re more likely to be able to afford these high price units and can always pay a little more and so outbid the locals.

I predict this: should this evil be perpetrated on the Hoo peninsula, less than 50% of properties will go to those currently registered as living in Medway and virtually no one regarded as being on the 20,000 housing waiting list will benefit. Instead, we’ll expand the population of Medway with people piling out of London to exploit cheaper housing. This may even exacerbate our housing problems in the long run.

Thus, don’t be taken in by the arguments of Labour or other councillors. For all the reasons stated here and more, Medway Green Party continues to call on Medway Council and the Government to make the truly responsible decision and abandon this scheme.

Notes: