Archive for ‘Medway Council’

April 26, 2019

Medway Green Party welcomes Climate Emergency Motion #GreenMedway

Clive-Campaigning-Hoo-centre3a

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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April 25, 2019

Medway Green Party Manifesto Offerings

Greens start to gather for candidate briefing

Green group starts to gather for candidate briefing

(In 300 words as provided to Medway Messenger)
If elected we would continue to challenge the proposals in the Local Plan consultation for mass house building on the Hoo Peninsula, much of which is targeted at London migration, unaffordable locally and would do little or nothing to address homelessness, while destroying valuable agricultural land, threatening important wildlife habitats, and increasing air pollution.

Rather than develop agricultural land on the Hoo Peninsula, vital to self-sufficiency as the effects of climate breakdown are felt, we would push for development to be directed to the creation of a thriving, vibrant, new urban complex in the centre of Chatham.

We would hold Medway Council to account and insist that it reaches a carbon neutral target by 2030, using joined up actions that are part of the solution rather than part of the problem.   We would provide guidance on how to reach this target including insulation of housing, investment in proper cycling infrastructure and low carbon, affordable public transport, alongside charging infrastructure for electric cars. We would look at ways to implement clean air policies in all of our town centres.

We would promote renewable energy by offering incentives to businesses developing these technologies, look at harnessing the power of the River Medway and work with property developers to encourage them to include renewable energy systems in all new developments. We would encourage producers of zero-carbon factory built houses to locate in Medway, creating local green jobs and providing homes that both protect the environment and reduce utility costs, alleviating fuel poverty.

We would seek alternatives to market housing, through encouraging community-led cooperatives and pushing the Council to invest in social housing.

We would work with Councillors from any party, work to ensure the Council listens to the people it is meant to represent and campaign for Proportional Representation nationally and locally.

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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/

 

February 22, 2018

Council has wrong housing priorities says by-election candidate #RochesterWest

We know from the Local Plan consultation that three quarters of new housing development in Medway must be ‘affordable’ in order to meet the existing and future needs of the current local population.However, Medway Council’s recent review of contributions to be paid by housing developers (1) is to be based on their assumption that ‘the development of new housing increases the number of people living in an area and with that the demand for local services, such as schools and transport.’

Of course if houses that can only be afforded by people from outside Medway are built, then new people will be attracted to the area together with their need for additional infrastructure to support them.

These new people will contribute massively to the Council’s finances through rates, but it will still leave a correspondingly large number of Medway people without a home.

We do not intended to justify the failure of developers to contribute to the community, but to ensure that the appropriate type of housing is developed to meet local needs.

The Tory led Council is notorious for putting its finances before people.

On 8 March 2018 there will be an opportunity to put people before profit by voting for the Green Party in the Rochester West council election.

Sonia Hyner
Green candidate for Rochester West

 

(1) http://www.medway.gov.uk/planningandbuilding/applyforplanningpermission/developercontributions.aspx?utm_source=Twitter&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=SocialSignIn

 

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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.”

December 4, 2017

Chatham residents battle to save trees

CrestwayLocal residents have mounted a campaign to protect a parcel of land behind Crestway, Chatham which has been sold to a private developer.  The land which provides habitats for wildlife is under threat as the new owner has opted to clear the site, cutting down a number of trees.

Medway Green Party has been contacted by a Crestway resident who said:

“This land has been untouched for at least 50 years and is made up of a number of trees and bushes and is home to numerous animals. Among those supported by these habitats are bats, which have been here for a number of years, slow worms, hedgehogs, foxes, squirrels and birds to name but a few.

“The landowner is aware of this but has chosen to clear the site.  It is devastating to the whole community. It will affect the community centre which is adjacent to the land, where a well established playgroup has had nature walks alongside this land looking at the wildlife and foliage”.

Marilyn Stone, spokesperson for Medway Green Party commented:

“We would strongly urge Medway Council to introduce a Tree Preservation Order (at least in the short term) so that this matter can be fully investigated.  Bats in particular are a protected species and no one should have the right to threaten their habitats.

“It is also of concern that land which has been such an asset to the local community and has been used to introduce young children to nature for so many years is now under threat”.

“We also understand that there are possible safety issues to excavating the land as removal of trees could affect the stability of the site as well as potentially exposing asbestos and other contaminants.  It is imperative that the Council acts in the interests of the whole community”.

A petition is being organised by residents in preparation for a meeting with Medway Council Officers, including the Council’s Tree Officer, which is due to take place on Thursday 7th December.  The two Labour Councillors are also providing active support to residents.

November 26, 2017

Number of street homeless in Medway underestimated

Please see below a  recent response by Medway Green Party to an article which highlighted the numbers of homelessness in Medway but greatly underestimated the number of rough sleepers.

Since writing we have been informed that, thanks to the brilliant work of local homelessness charities such as One Big Family and Medway Help for Homeless (working with AMAT, Pathways and CRS)  many street homeless people have been found somewhere to live but the numbers are still too high, currently around 50 people in Medway.  In addition there are many people who have had to resort to “sofa-surfing” due to the lack of available accommodation.

We also understand that when the count was done by Medway Council they had been directly informed of the names of over 50 people who were sleeping rough and knew where they were sleeping, yet those people were not counted.  They only counted the people who they could see in shop doorways.

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A KentOnLine article which points to the “shocking” numbers of homeless people in Medway (highlighted by the charity Shelter), is likely to have greatly underestimated the true number of people in this dreadful predicament, particularly in regard to those forced to sleep rough.  When Medway Green Party was last updated by a local charity worker, those sleeping rough in Medway was in the hundreds and not 14 as stated in the article. It is all too easy for Medway Council to gloss over their responsibility when the numbers appear small. We believe the Council’s own figure (presumably the one supplied to Shelter) is based only on those people who one of the Council’s officials has counted sleeping in shop doorways and misses the majority of rough sleepers who prefer less public places.

As night time temperatures approach zero, we urge our Council to make adequate provision for the true number of people currently sleeping rough.  Nobody wants to witness a repeat of the tragedies we experienced in Medway last Christmas.

The homeless problem could be greatly helped if there were adequate social housing and affordable homes locally but the Council continues to do little proactively about this need. Proposed developments permitted in Medway, such as that at Rochester Riverside, continue to be woefully inadequate in this regard. The constant focus on high-end housing comes at the expense of those who really need a roof over their heads.

Sonia Hyner
Green Candidate for Rochester West Ward

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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

 

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

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

April 24, 2017

Party People – achieving truly sustainable development in Medway’s Local Plan

Please see below a piece written by Steve Dyke for Medway Messenger’s Party People column and published on 13th April.

Since writing this, the deadline for responding to the Local Plan consultation has been extended once again to 30th May so there is still time to get your response in!

Details of the consultation can be found here.

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With the deadline for responding to Medway Council’s latest consultation on its Local Plan approaching, my hope is that the Council will review all responses received and be prepared to adapt the Plan accordingly.

To achieve truly sustainable development in Medway requires boldness in planning in order to reduce our ecological footprint to a ‘one planet’ level.  This should be seen as an opportunity rather than a hindrance.  Imagine Medway with a proper cycle network, reliable, accessible and cheap public transport and low energy homes affordable for local people.  Developing the technological expertise locally to build off-site constructed energy efficient homes and renewable energy technologies could reinvigorate our local economy.  This is what is truly meant by “meeting the twin challenges of global competition and a low carbon future”.

We must also ensure that we protect valuable existing green spaces from development.  The most sustainable development option would be to focus on brownfield sites in urban locations close to travel hubs, suggested by the Council within one of the four options in their consultation document. However, they could go much further, such as making better use of existing space through utilising empty premises or building above car parks and in the air space above existing buildings.

Of particular concern is that the Council still wish to press ahead with major development at the Lodge Hill SSSI.  This is despite a policy approach stated in their consultation promising that “a high level of protection from damaging impacts of development will be given to Sites of Special Scientific Interest”.

Medway Green Party would love to see Medway become an inspiration for other areas on how sustainable development can be achieved.  My fear is that we will end up with piecemeal, destructive, unsustainable growth.  I hope the Council will prove me wrong.