Archive for ‘Medway Green Party’

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/

 

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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/

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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.

 

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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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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/

September 8, 2017

Medway Greens welcome Lodge Hill reprieve #SaveLodgeHill

lh_autumn_01_banner-kent-wildlife-trust

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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August 31, 2017

Medway Greens respond to Council’s Homelessness Prevention Strategy

This is our recent response (designed to comply with Medway Messenger’s 250 word limit for their letter’s page).  A excerpt from this letter was printed in last week’s Medway Messenger.

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Medway Council’s new Homelessness Prevention Strategy is to be welcomed as a first step towards improving the situation for the homeless locally.  However it is disappointing that the Council is not being more proactive in delivering social housing solutions, which could start with more work towards bringing empty homes back into use. This would also be a green response to housing need by reducing pressure to develop new land.

We appreciate that central funding has been cut, but our Council almost seems ready to give up trying in this area. An information leaflet for owners of properties which have been empty long-term (the only direct action to result from the consultation) seems woefully inadequate in comparison to face to face engagement.  The reinstatement of the council post of Empty Properties Officer could be considered, a role perhaps combined with that of the “Rough Sleeping Coordinator” mentioned in the document, linking work with those who have potential properties with those who desperately need them.

It is unfortunate that the Repair and Leasing scheme is no longer available. In Ireland this enables Local Authorities to spend up to £40,000 on repair work up front in return for an empty property being made available to social housing (with repayment of the loan out of rental income) [1].

Our Councillors and MPs should put pressure on the Government to reinstate this scheme and ensure it is adequately funded.  A scheme like this would also provide additional employment for local builders and could support apprenticeships.

[1] http://www.housing.gov.ie/housing/rebuilding-ireland/coveney-announces-eu32m-rollout-repair-and-leasing-scheme

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

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