Archive for ‘Clive Gregory’

April 26, 2019

Medway Green Party welcomes Climate Emergency Motion #GreenMedway

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Clive Gregory campaigning in Hoo

Medway Green Party was very happy to hear that Labour’s Climate Emergency Motion received cross party, unanimous, support at Medway Council’s meeting yesterday evening but now the work really needs to start.  The Council currently has no plan to meet the carbon neutral goal but the Greens have not only been facing up to the situation but identifying solutions for some time.  Green Councillors are needed to provide ideas and hold the Council to account on this.

Part of our objection to mass housing development on the Hoo Peninsula (outlined in our responses to Medway Council’s Local Plan consultation) is that the Council is failing to take climate change into account in the plans it is making. Proper consideration of the impacts of climate change should rule out building there once and for all.  It’s now time for action rather than just words.  Below is a comment written last week by Peninsula candidate, Clive Gregory, on the climate emergency motion.

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Medway Green Party is hugely supportive of the motion to declare a climate emergency, expected to pass on the 25th April, with Conservative Leader, Alan Jarrett, confirming support on Radio Kent on 17th April.  Labour are to be congratulated for proposing a motion that has been campaigned for by local Green Parties throughout the country.

However, this is just the first step. Labour Leader, Vince Maple, and Conservative Leader, Alan Jarrett, seemed reluctant to suggest any concrete solutions when interviewed by Radio Kent. This is unsurprising as neither party manifesto mentions climate change and both parties have failed to take it into account in their support for development of the Hoo Peninsula.  In contrast I made it clear, in my Radio Kent interview, that a climate emergency meant every plan and policy being revised to mitigate climate change.  An example would be to realise the potential of the River Medway to supply our (heat) energy needs, just one of many essential ideas for renewable energy capture.

It strikes me that if the proposed climate change cross party working group is formed of nothing but Conservative and Labour Councillors, it will be extremely difficult to achieve the 2030 carbon neutral goal.  The old grey parties are out of ideas.  Input is desperately needed from people who really appreciate the emergency we’re facing.

Only the Green Party understands that addressing climate breakdown and pollution must be at the heart of policy development. If elected, Green Councillors would work with other parties to make this motion work.

Clive Gregory, Green Candidate for Peninsula

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July 14, 2018

Medway Greens in Strood supporting Demand Democracy Day

bdrLocal Green Party members were in Strood Town Centre on Saturday 30th June supporting “Demand Democracy Day”[1] arranged by the campaign group “Make Votes Matter”. Make Vote Matters had arranged the national day of action as part of their cross party campaign for a change in the voting system from the current First Past the Post system to Proportional Representation. Proportional Representation is any voting system in which the share of seats a party wins matches the share of votes it receives.

Marilyn Stone who organised the local event said:

“It was great to be able to chat to passers-by about the issues with our current voting system and why it needs to change. The most striking problem with the current system is that a political party can win power on a very small percentage of votes, leaving the vast majority of people without a voice”.

Medway Green Party had also brought along a petition for electoral reform in Council elections which they plan to grow during the campaign period before the May 2019 elections.

Clive Gregory, Green campaigner, said:

“Recent developments, particularly those affecting those living on the Hoo Peninsula, show that the Council is not and has no intention of listening to the vast majority of local opinion. It’s time all local people were represented and not just those who favour the dominating party”.

[1] https://www.makevotesmatter.org.uk/news/demand-democracy-day

July 14, 2018

Medway Greens call on Medway Council to “go back to the drawing board” with their Local Plan

Medway Green Party recently submitted a detailed response to Medway Council’s Local Plan consultation.  This was an article we sent to the press at the time…

Local Green campaigners have slammed the latest proposals in the Local Plan consultation describing the options as “serving the Council’s own laissez faire agenda”.

Bernard Hyde, Green Campaigner and local Architect says: “The rhetoric of the Medway Local Plan is worthy but the options presented are ill conceived and add to the problems we face instead of being part of the solution. We have to face up to the inevitable effects of climate change with all the many and varied impacts that it is going to have on all our lives. Our Council leaders, like Central Government, are avoiding the important issues, whether they be flooding, homelessness, failing harvests, lack of water or pollution, to serve their own laissez faire agenda”.

In particular, Medway Green Party has hit out at the proposal to build a new rural town on the Hoo Peninsula claiming that, not only is it unwelcome to local people, and damaging to the local environment, but that it stores up problems for the future because of the area’s clay soil.   Mr Hyde says:  “The developments will be built on clay which currently costs more to build on than chalk, will suffer more from the extremes of weather caused by climate change and may result in buildings that are uninsurable. Medway Council needs to go back to the drawing board on this”.

Clive Gregory, Medway Green and Hoo Peninsula resident adds: “There is little evidence that Medway residents were calling for development on the Hoo Peninsula.  In fact largely the opposite is stated in the Council’s own report on the last consultation.  It seems that the latest proposal is in the interests of developers and their short term profit rather than in the interests of the existing or future local population”.

Medway Green Party is however not without suggestions of how things can be done differently, and Mr Hyde delivered a hard copy of the Green Party response to the Local Plan Consultation to the Council Offices on Monday, together with a file of background information and references. He said: “The Local Plan consultation document is not particularly accessible to the average citizen due to the length of the consultation document and the mountain of material that accompanies it. We expect the planners to read the documents we have supplied”.

 

May 4, 2018

One year to go to Medway Council elections

While many people in the country are milling over the results of the 2018 Council elections, in Medway we were asked by local reporter, Dean Kilpatrick, to provide some thoughts on Medway Council’s elections next May.

Please see full article from Medway Green Party below:

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Medway Council is not renowned for its recognition of democracy and there appears to be little exception to this in regard to the Local Plan consultation.  The latest proposal to build a “rural town” on the Hoo Peninsula arguably favours the interests of developers over local people who want to preserve our green spaces and certainly don’t want a new town at Hoo.

This together with the continued identification of the SSSI at Lodge Hill and now Deangate Ridge Golf Course and other valuable green spaces such as Capstone Valley in housing proposals is I predict likely to be the biggest issue on the agenda as we approach the 2019 local elections.

Both the Conservatives and Labour administrations fully support massive development and fail to recognise and indeed simply don’t understand the importance of our environment locally. We are privileged to live in an area of international importance and need to preserve it. Only the Greens are questioning both the need for so many houses and the decisions the Council is making about where to put them.

The proposals are also completely inadequate in fulfilling local need for affordable housing.  Medway is regularly being advertised as a commuter town with pitches for buyers for new, undoubtedly expensive, riverside apartments in the pipeline. Is this the pipeline development mentioned in the Local Plan which the Council has already approved?  The current requirement of local people should be addressed first; this is social housing. There also needs to be more proactive effort to reduce climate change by ensuring that any building allows for maximum energy production and efficiency.

As with many legislative bodies from the EU commission down to the humblest local council, transparency is an issue. Medway is a good example of a few individuals thinking they know best and to implement their plans they involve others reluctantly.  Local people no longer accept this style of governance – its day is ending. What people are calling for is to be included in planning and decisions.  Proportional representation would be the best way to begin this change.

Meanwhile, both Tories and Labour seem to believe that the only answer to overpriced housing is to build more houses ignoring the need for more socially rentable housing locally and ignoring the role that financial markets have had in the massive escalation in prices of market housing.  Most people are completely unaware that the economic system is at the core of the majority of disastrous policy decisions. Some like Kate Raworth in her book “Doughnut Economics” [1] or the Positive Money group [2] challenge the status quo, but the problems with our economic system are largely left out of debate.  Greens will endeavour to highlight alternative economic solutions both at a local and global level.

The risk of increasing congestion and rising pollution from all the additional cars on our roads is also likely to be a factor.  We will need to be thinking of more sustainable travel solutions.  We also need more electric car charging points.  There seems to be no anticipation by the Council of the emergence of electric vehicles.

Concern regarding single use plastics is becoming more prominent following the excellent Blue Planet programme.  While the Council has agreed to stop using SUPs on Council premises more can be done. It surprises me that while the charge on plastic bags has helped reduce use, that plastic bags haven’t been eliminated altogether. Why don’t shops supply paper bags for groceries as they do in America?  The Council also needs to do better at reducing landfill. That Medway Norse has taken over the contract for running household waste recycling centres is something that needs watching.  They don’t seem to have done very well with Deangate Ridge Golf Course!

Finally the fight to protect our local public services including health, education and social care is likely to feature, all of which are suffering through Government cuts to the Council budget.

Who can predict any result in these unpredictable times but we believe that in May 2019 there will be even more need for Green voices on the Council.

Clive Gregory

Green Campaigner and PPC for Rochester and Strood

[1] https://www.kateraworth.com/

[2] http://positivemoney.org/

 

April 13, 2018

No, Medway Council! We don’t want a new town at Hoo!

Why has Medway Council excluded Option 1 from the latest Local Plan proposals? This option, which in the previous consultation phase proposed making the best use of brownfield land to build good quality homes at higher densities near town centres was clearly the most sustainable, a reality backed by the Council’s Sustainability Appraisal – the one they almost forgot to do!

Instead it seems they have taken people’s understandable concerns regarding lack of infrastructure on the Hoo peninsula to dump the majority of development there, under the guise that this would respond to these concerns.  No!  I doubt that anyone was calling for a new town at Hoo. We were saying we didn’t want major development there!  No wonder residents (especially of the Hoo area) think that the Council’s attempts at consultation are nothing more than a paper exercise where no notice is taken of anyone’s response ever!

One relief is that development of the SSSI at Lodge Hill is no longer in all four options as previously, but this needs to taken off the table completely; alongside the recent added insult to injury of closing Deangate Ridge Golf Course against the wishes of almost everyone!

Furthermore, instead of recognising that the numbers are much too high, the Council show signs of, in all but one option, caving into demands by the Tory Government to build even more houses!

As a Hoo peninsula resident, I will be doing all I can to fight these disastrous plans.

Clive Gregory
Green Party Campaigner &
PPC for Rochester and Strood

September 23, 2017

Medway Council could be forced to increase its housing targets even further

According to KentOnLine (1), Kent Councils could be forced by the Government to accept thousands more new homes each year to make up affordable housing shortages.  This could mean Medway Council being pushed to find land for 1680 new builds a year in comparison to the Council’s current target of between 730 and 1410.

Steve Dyke, Medway Green Party coordinator, says:
“Our already stressed infrastructure in Medway will be stretched to breaking point by these proposed new targets for house building. The area already faces huge pressures from developers to build on its countryside and it now looks like our Council will have even less scope for rejecting any development, even if it is unsustainable or destructive to the local environment.

People need access to green space and clean air for their own mental and physical health and wellbeing. Our local MPs and Medway Council should stand up for all their constituents against the Government’s plans.”

Mary Smith, Medway Green Party officer says:
“If it was likely to vastly improve the proportion of truly affordable homes, it might not be too bad but we should question the whole premise that the South-East needs this many new homes.

“If the Government was really serious about providing affordable housing they would enable Councils to build social housing instead of sacrificing our green spaces to an additional expansion of overpriced private housing we don’t need. Our housing market is broken and no longer fit for purpose”.

Medway Green Party spokesperson, Clive Gregory adds:
“The Government’s targets for housing seem to have more to do with the Tory national policy of using house building as a means of kick starting the economy – a tactic that works briefly and then needs repeating – again… and again.

“We need to recognise this Government tactic and call it out for what it is.  Sadly we have a government that thinks future prosperity for the country is based on arms sales and house building and this has to be rejected by all decent people regardless of their political bias”.

ENDS

NOTES:

(1)    http://www.kentonline.co.uk/kent/news/kent-councils-could-be-forced-132203/

September 8, 2017

Medway Greens welcome Lodge Hill reprieve #SaveLodgeHill

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Kent Wildlife Trust – Lodge Hill in Autumn

Good news was received on Wednesday that the planning application for up to 5000 houses on the Lodge Hill site at Chattenden has been withdrawn.  Here is our response (by Clive Gregory)

It’s great news that the Ministry of Defence has withdrawn its latest proposal to build thousands of homes at Lodge Hill, Chattenden, although Medway Greens remain wary of what the future plans may be for the site instead.

With the predictable howls of outrage from the Tory Leader of Medway Council – and from the Labour group – it is easy to forget the recognised environmental significance of Lodge Hill. The majority of our Councillors appear to have total disregard and lack of understanding of the value of this SSSI designated environment for wildlife and ecosystems, local people, and the heritage of the entire country.

Despite claims, the proposed development would have done little to reduce Medway’s housing waiting list as, like all the others, this was to be a private development where a small two bedroom flat tends to sell at the lofty sum of £250,000 plus.  The Council appears to be chasing a shifting goal post whereby new homes are likely to be filled by those outside Medway who can afford them, increasing the pressure rather than reducing it.

We need to establish how we can really respond to local housing need while also protecting our equally important green spaces.

The MoD decision is a relief for the time being but we can never become complacent – some will keep trying to destroy our natural environment and we must match them every step of the way.

 

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June 16, 2017

Thank you voters – General Election Count 2017

We would like to thank everybody in Medway who voted with their hearts last week for a Green future in the General Election.  We had anticipated a lower vote this time due to tactical voting by people trying to overcome the limitations of the ‘first past the post’ electoral system.  While out canvassing, many people told us that although they would prefer to vote Green and intend do so in local elections, they would be voting Labour this time in an attempt to defeat the Tories. Unfortunately this didn’t actually change much locally.

Nationally, while we welcome the big shift towards progressive politics, we are left with a minority Tory government who will go to any lengths to retain power, including an irresponsible deal with the DUP, a party with controversial views on climate change, abortion and gay rights. Yet more people voted for progressive parties! Also of note is that while the DUP received fewer votes than the Green Party, they now have ten MPs while we still have only one!

Our current electoral system is inherently undemocratic by failing to reflect the true opinions of voters.  The Green Party will continue to fight for a fairer voting system in which everyone’s vote counts.

Locally, we are undeterred and looking forward to continuing our various campaigns in the coming months and years to allow more of you to see what Green politics is about.

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Clive, Sonia and Bernard, our candidates after votes had been declared

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June 3, 2017

Medway Greens call on other party candidates to commit to voting reform #MakeVotesMatter

make votes matterMedway Green General Election candidates have signed the “Make Votes Matter” pledge to do all they can to bring in proportional representation if elected and are calling for candidates of other parties to do the same.

The Make Votes Matter campaign is encouraging all General Election candidates to pledge to support the campaign to make everyone’s vote count equally. The Medway Greens are also claiming that a vote for them will help to stop this issue being sidelined.

In the 2015 General Election the government were elected with only 24% of possible votes. The Green Party attracted over 1.1 million votes and yet only one MP in parliament; the Conservatives achieved just over 11 million votes and have 320 times the number of MPs.

Clive Gregory, Green Party candidate for Gillingham and Rainham says:

“Millions of people are denied representation at Westminster because of our out of date voting system and, faced with this reality, the number of people who don’t vote often outnumbers those who do.  This is really bad for democracy.  We need to move towards a fairer voting system in order to have a true say in our future. This is something the Greens will continue to fight for whatever the outcome on polling day. We also support votes for 16 and 17 year olds as we think they should have a voice in their future too.  We are calling on the other parties’ candidates in the Medway Towns to support the Make Votes Matter campaign and pledge to campaign for electoral reform”.

Sonia Hyner, Green Party candidate for Rochester and Strood adds:

“Over the weeks leading up to this election we were pleased to have encouraged some who hadn’t intended to vote to do so.  Every vote is important, as it increases the national vote of whichever is the preferred party and prevents the issues people care about (such as the push for electoral reform) being sidelined.  From a Green point of view it is also particularly important to keep up the pressure on other parties to ensure that our environment is protected, particularly as we risk the loss of vital EU protections. However it would be much fairer with proportional representation as everyone’s vote would count the same.”

Details of how voters can approach candidates to ask them to pledge their support for voting reform can be found on the Make Votes Matter website –  https://www.makevotesmatter.org.uk/

May 28, 2017

Green party candidates slam unfair treatment of older people

adult-social-careGreen Party candidates, Sonia Hyner and Clive Gregory, have been highly critical of measures proposed by the Tory Party to pay for social care which they claim are a tax on illness.

The Tory Manifesto says that older people requiring care in their own homes would have to meet the costs out of the equity tied up in their homes but would be allowed to keep the first £100,000. This is a change from current arrangements in which the cut-off was lower at £23,250 but did not include the value of people’s homes.  Under the new proposal home owners would be able to continue living in their homes until the end of their lives at which point the social care payments and premiums owed to equity insurance companies would become payable.  As a result of public reaction, the Conservative party changed this policy on Monday, four days after it was included in their manifesto, to include a cap on how much individuals would pay in social care, but have not stated the level of the cap.

Sonia Hyner, Green Party candidate for Rochester and Strood, says:
“The Tories are really hitting vulnerable older people this time round.  These unfair proposals mean that those who are fortunate enough to live to a ripe old age without needing social care don’t have to pay anything into the system and get to pass on their homes to their children or grandchildren. However this is denied to others who need social care as the result of disabilities which could be the result of a stroke or having developed dementia. It is basically a tax on illness.  The panic induced change on Monday to include a cap on the amount paid offers no guarantee that people’s homes will be safe from this unfair policy.

“A much fairer way of contributing to the costs of social care would be one which spreads the risk such as an increase in inheritance tax or progressive taxation.  The NHS contains the principles of sharing costs across the population so that no one has to fear financial penalties from being ill and the same principles should be applied to social care.  The Green Party would ensure that social care for the over 65s is provided free at the point of delivery just like the NHS”.

Clive Gregory, Green Party candidate for Gillingham and Rainham, adds:
“This proposal is yet another in a long line of asset grabs by the financial and global corporate sectors facilitated by Tory and Tory led governments and the Blair led Labour government.  Whether it is selling off our public services, PFIs, bailing out the banks or arranging private financial “help” which will take away the modest assets we have worked for all our lives; they all end up with us having to work harder for less.  The only beneficiaries of these proposals would be the banks and equity firms”.

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