Archive for ‘Democracy’

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:

***

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/

 

Advertisements
March 3, 2018

Vote Green on International Women’s Day – March 8th #RochesterWest

220px-Annie_Kenney_and_Christabel_PankhurstThe Rochester West by-election is on the same day as International Women’s Day (1). 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. So as the only female candidate in the by-election, I feel honoured to stand on this day which begins a year-long campaign to further gender equality.

International Women’s Day was started by the Suffragettes in the early 1900s; the first International Women’s Day was in 1911 (2). Thanks to the suffrage movement’s determination to effect change, women have had the vote for 100 years and my view is that this has helped the country to enjoy relative peace since 1945.

However, we have to remember that the right to a political voice is often fought for, it is not given! Men and women’s voices still need to be heard on issues such as the blight of litter and landfill on our communities, the fundamental right to have a home and to continue to have accessible health services.

Medway Green Party considers that social rights are inextricably linked with the environment, but rights have to be fought for peacefully. This fight, which for me has been inspired by the determination of the Suffragettes, is one I aim to continue on behalf of the people of Rochester West, if elected on International Women’s Day on 8th March.

Sonia Hyner – Green Party Candidate Rochester West

Sonia was inspired to write this letter by reading “Hearts and Minds – The Untold Story of How Women Won The Vote” by Jane Robinson – Penguin books 2018. http://www.jane-robinson.com/

*************************************************************************************

NOTES

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

[2] https://www.internationalwomensday.com/Theme

Some additional information on the Suffrage Movement:

Women’s Full Political Enfranchisement – 1792 to 2018

The right to a political voice is often fought for, it is not given!

This is seen in Mary Wollstonecraft’s book of 1792:

A Vindication of the Rights of Women

A Bill to enfranchise women was presented to the House of Commons in the years: 1872,

’75,  ‘ 76, ’ 78, ‘ 79, ’84, ’86, ’87, ’97, ’92, ’96, ’97, ’98, ’99 and in 1901, ’04, ’05 and so on. All of these Bills were lost.

In 1897, the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies (NUWSS) or Suffragists was formed under the leadership of Millicent Garrett Fawcett who espoused change through political reform.

The Suffragettes under Emmeline Pankhurst founded The Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) 1905. Empty political rhetoric resulted in them smashing the windows of the gentry and tying themselves to railings. Emily Wilding Davidson fatally threw herself under the King’s Horse at Epsom.

By 1907, women organised a large-scale outdoor women’s suffrage meeting through the NUWSS, called the Mud March. Fifty-four suffragettes were arrested.

In prison, under the Cat and Mouse Act, suffragettes were forced fed, released to get well and re-arrested and force fed again.

The Representation of the People Bill received Royal Assent on the 6th February 1918, allowing qualified women of 30 or over to vote. The Representation of the People (Equal Franchise) Act was passed in 1928, extending the franchise to women aged 21.

 

Tags:
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.”
Tags:
October 28, 2017

Medway Green Party response to Rochester Town Council proposal

We have been surprised at the degree of opposition to the proposed Rochester Town Council as this is something that could in theory give local people a greater say in how things are run where they live. Medway Green Party will always support local democracy and decisions being made closest to those they affect.

However there are several aspects for consideration with this idea and Medway Council’s consultation is reportedly rather vague. Things for people to consider are what a Town Council would be able to achieve in practice, whether its existence would, in reality, improve the decision-making power of local residents and what any financial costs might be.

Thus we hope that the current consultation is being regarded as one that simply allows residents to consider the idea of a Town Council in principle.  Rochester residents have a right to know what this would mean to them in practice.  Similar to the EU referendum, the people affected must be given another opportunity to consider this more thoroughly once full details of the workings are available.

Steve Dyke, Medway Green Party Co-ordinator

 

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.

photo (5)

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

Tags:
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 25, 2017

Don’t vote for a return to cruelty! By Clive Gregory

P1050398I was extremely concerned to learn that the Tories will be attempting to bring back fox hunting if they get back into power.  Particularly stomach churning was our wanabee PM happily remarking that she is in favour of this incredibly cruel pursuit.

The difference of opinion between those that want the ban on fox hunting to be lifted and those that insist it must be retained suggests that there are two distinct groups of human.  Most people cannot imagine the deliberate killing, as a means of deriving pleasure, of any living creature, human or animal. Indeed eighty-four per cent of the public are against fox hunting and want the ban retained [1].

However, some people when, for example, driving their cars will deliberately speed up if say, a pigeon is seen in the middle of the road, targeting it with the purpose of running it over – killing it and then driving off elated and laughing.  Others will stop three lanes of traffic so a family of geese can cross safely.

Fox hunting seems to me to split humans into these two groups and my opposition stems partly from the obvious fact that those who take part derive pleasure from the killing of a living animal. The fact that the fox is literally disemboweled and torn limb from limb simply makes this ‘celebration’ of the kill the more sickening.

Fox hunting is an abomination dressed up as tradition, enjoyed only by a monied few. It is worrying that Theresa May, who often promises to represent the interests of every person in this country if re-elected, remains a shockingly staunch advocate [2].

The Green Party, in contrast, has a long history of standing up for the protection of animals.  Our Animal Manifesto [3] pledges to strengthen and extend the Hunting Act and we will fight tooth and nail to ensure this barbaric practice remains illegal.

Clive Gregory
Green Party parliamentary candidate for Gillingham and Rainham

May 25, 2017

Meet Bernard Hyde, Green Party candidate for Chatham and Aylesford

Chartered Architect

Email: bernard.hyde@greenparty.org.uk

Bernard HydeThe Green Party stands for ‘the common good’. Three simple words that have a real and particular meaning for creating a sustainable future in which people and the environment that support them matter most. I am honoured to stand for the Green Party in the forthcoming general election for the Chatham and Aylesford Constituency.

I have enjoyed living and working in Medway for nearly seventeen years. I am a grandfather, keen gardener and self-employed chartered architect and town planner specialising in energy efficient buildings, both locally and overseas. The maxim of my architectural practice is ‘work with nature and nature will work for you’.

Many plants and animals have died out because their natural habitat has been destroyed. Frequently these habitats have been destroyed by human activity.  We must stop this happening.  Unlike other species we are able to determine our future and choose to make intelligent use of our natural resources.

The choices we make have to be for everyone and everything, because everyone and everything matter, they are all integral and all have an essential contribution to make to the well-being and future of our planet which is also our one and only habitat.

In Government policy making, everyone should count equally and everyone should have equal opportunity to make their unique contribution to society. Policies need to look to a future spanning decades and centuries, not related to short-term gain but a future shared and enjoyed by everyone.

The physical resources of the world in which we live are finite and we have already used up substantial quantities of them. We inherit the planet from our parents, but we also borrow it from our children. It is our duty to act in an intelligent, mature and compassionate way towards those around us and those who come after us.

Although our resources are finite, our potential to create innovative solutions to a myriad of problems is infinite. Every single person has a role to play and has potential to contribute to a better future. Educational opportunities must therefore be equal for all, healthcare must be equal for all, housing must be available to all. How else can everyone contribute unless they have reached their potential in mind, body and well-being.

Our country has a rich tradition of inventiveness and creativity. In the past this has been the product of a minority of educated and privileged people. How much further and faster might we progress to a sustainable future if we harness the efforts, energies skills and gifts of everyone.

There are already new ideas and developments emerging in every field that could help shape a truly sustainable future for everyone. These need to become our common place, common sense, common knowledge that will be our building blocks to a sustainable future.

Chatham has a proud tradition of skill, knowledge and dedication to the greater good. It is now a seat of learning in every respect from toddlers to retired adults with the potential to achieve great things, not just for the Chatham & Aylesford constituency, but for Medway and surrounding areas as a whole, nationally and globally.

The Green Party has responded to the consultation for the Medway Local Plan with a vision for the future of this area. If elected, I would work to ensure that this vision becomes a reality.

May 17, 2017

Meet Clive Gregory – Green candidate for Gillingham and Rainham

Previously Green PPC for Rochester and Strood in 2014 by-election and 2015 GE

Email: clivegregory@medwaygreenparty.com

CliveGregoryMain1I have lived on the Hoo peninsular for 25 years and am a freelance musician (bass) and sound engineer. I own a locally based PA/sound services and hire business – Clive Sound.  I also have a company that publishes music tuition books. Alongside this I am a part-time carer for my parents, a responsibility I share with my sister.

My career has allowed me to meet and work with people from all walks of life, from those that regard themselves to be at the top of the hierarchy to those that struggle daily to survive and everything in between.  I’m politically opposed to hierarchy and elitism and believe that everybody deserves equal respect and opportunity.  The individual, as a creative force, bound together with all other individuals to create a fair and just society should be the focus of those elected to represent us.

We live in a world where politicians are to some extent controlled and manipulated by powerful forces that are not elected, nor have any respect for democracy and the rights of the majority of the population.  Big banks and mega corporations, many of whom have budgets greater than some countries, control much of the real power of the world.  They ruthlessly use weapons such as debt, deceit, control of the media and very probably influence where military intervention and de-stabilisation occur.  It is no surprise to note that these same controlling forces do not care for our world and the environment in which we live.

There needs to be a quantum shift in the way we vote and run our politics and financial systems.

This requires a voting system that delivers a parliament that represents the political makeup of voting intentions – proportional representation and a chance for real democracy.

An end to revolving door politics where government ministers and MPs can use their political careers to gain access to excessively highly paid jobs with businesses that have benefited from policies created by those same politicians.  Yes an end to political corruption.

A renewal of the nation’s commitment to the NHS: private companies already control too much of the NHS services but the rundown of the NHS is a deliberate act by politicians controlled and influences by big business.

A complete overhaul of the financial system and an end to commercial banks creating 97% of all money that comes into the economy, so allowing them to control our money supply and rendering parliament powerless in controlling the direction of the nation.

A living wage, not just a minimum wage that needs to be topped up by the taxpayer in the form of benefits subsidising companies and allowing these same companies to keep employees in a permanent state of fear and uncertainty through zero hours contracts and low pay.

The world needs to stop burning fossil fuels and instead embrace renewable energy technologies and our government, rather than taxing renewable initiatives, should be putting massive investment and belief in the UK’s ability to lead the way in these technologies and techniques.  The current administration seem to want the exact opposite, allowing other nations to lead the way whilst taxing and punishing those businesses that want to use renewable energy.

Fracking should be opposed and indeed banned as an approach.  It is not only highly destructive but it’s actually not economically viable – although unscrupulous companies realise that they can exploit governments lack of expertise and make high profits in the short term leaving the nation to pick up the pieces of, quite literally, a fractured land.

Social housing needs to be expanded massively – not high profit buildings that will probably never be lived in.  This social housing also needs to embrace new technologies that allow people to create all the energy they need through renewable energy techniques and high insulation standards.  If profit is the sole motivation for house building then nothing will be achieved.

Housing and other infrastructure expansion should be carefully controlled to ensure that development is non destructive.  We’ve already destroyed too much of our natural land area.  Locally this is represented by a need for housing but where our natural resource – including the Hoo peninsula – needs to be protected.  It is not acceptable for local politicians to even consider construction on a SSSI.  The local council should also be rejecting government plans to build more houses than the area can support.  Medway is already one of the most densely populated areas in Kent and is close to its maximum capacity, so the target of 30,000 new homes should be revised.