Archive for ‘Sonia Hyner’

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 5, 2017

Where do local parties stand on Local Plan? #SaveLodgeHill

A recent edition of Medway Messenger (Thursday 25th May) helpfully included an article (“We must prevent Medway turning grey” by Michelle Guinness) on the Local Plan public consultation and encouraged readers to respond to it.  However the only political views included about the Plan were from Conservative politicians.

The consultation has now finished, but as the changes to come from building nearly 30,000 extra homes in Medway will impact on everyone locally, it would certainly help local voters to know where all of the parties stand on this. Particularly since Cllr Howard Doe thinks the way forward is being imposed by Central Government, who will insist on having their way anyway “usually to the behest of developers”.

In fact, although the Tory Government’s growth agenda certainly favours private developers, closer examination of the evidence suggests that the numbers are nevertheless challengeable. A different approach by both Government and Council could both shift development away from the Medway Towns and ensure that a lot more of the homes are affordable to local people which would in turn lessen the impact.

The ‘elephant in the room’ in the Medway Messenger’s report was of course the lack of any mention of the Council’s insistence on development at Lodge Hill, near Hoo, a Site of Special Scientific Interest which hosts the country’s largest number of breeding nightingales, an endangered species. This was high on the agenda in both the Rochester and Strood by election in 2014 and the last General Election and has yet to be resolved.

Whilst the Green Party has been consistent in opposing development there, I would urge all other Rochester and Strood candidates to communicate their positions during this election on both this issue and the Local Plan in general so voters can be clear what they are voting for.

Sonia Hyner
Green candidate for Rochester and Strood

Medway Green Party’s response to the latest stage of the local plan consultation can be found on our website.

 

 

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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

Medway Green candidates pledge support for #WASPI

Green candidates were among General Election candidates at a recent Medway WASPI meeting pledging their support.

Below is also a letter (sent to the Medway Messenger but unfortunately not published) from our Membership Liaison Officer, Marilyn Stone, who is also a “waspi” which provides further details and explains what is at stake.

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Sonia Hyner, Green candidate for Rochester and Strood with WASPI pledge, Marilyn on her left

Many thanks “Medway WASPI” (Women Against State Pension Inequality) for organising a meeting with the prospective Medway parliamentary candidates.  I was born in 1953 and am now inspired to be more “waspi”.  Thanks also to the Green and Labour candidates who signed a pledge giving their support.   It was noted that Kelly Tolhurst, Conservative candidate, claimed to have not been invited, though the organisers there insisted the email invitation had gone out to all candidates.

WASPI highlights how unfairly women born in the 1950s were treated regarding changes to their State Pension. I urge all who are or who know women in this age group to listen to WASPI’s concerns (waspi.co.uk) and become involved.

WASPI agree that men and women’s retirement ages needed to be equalised. However, WASPI do not agree with the speed and scale of changes. DWP incompetence has led to some women having as little as one year’s notice of up to six years increase to their state pension age!  Recommendations of 10 to 15 years as being fair notice to allow women to plan and adjust have been ignored.

Women are suffering real financial hardships, finding themselves needing to seek employment at 60. Having been a union member I was aware of the changes but the time scale has not enabled me to do anything about the financial loss of approximately £26000 that I personally experienced.

I will be writing to Kelly Tolhurst to ask if she will pledge her support.

Marilyn Stone

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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May 20, 2017

Greens put the environment at the heart of their General Election campaign

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Last week saw the launch of the Greens’ “Environment Manifesto” which includes plans for a new Environmental Protection Act [1].   This would seek to protect the natural world following the EU referendum decision by creating a new UK environmental regulator and court and enshrining in UK law all the existing EU environmental legislation.

It would also establish “a right for every person in the UK to have access to a healthy and safe natural green space, promoting good mental health, physical exercise and building community”.

Medway’s own natural environment is threatened by the scale of development proposed in the Council’s local plan, which has at its centre the proposed building of nearly 30,000 homes. [2] Every development option proposed in the Council’s consultation document is likely to impact on countryside and wildlife.  In particular all options suggest development eventually taking place at Lodge Hill, near Hoo, an area which includes a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

Sonia Hyner, Green Party candidate for the Rochester and Strood constituency which includes Lodge Hill, says:

“An Environmental Protection Act is vital to protect our environment and wildlife following Brexit.  It would give statutory protection to SSSIs like Lodge Hill which supports the largest number of breeding nightingales (an endangered species) in the UK and areas of green belt land.  While we recognise the need for additional housing in Medway, we are disputing the requirement for as many new homes as are currently being proposed.  We are also concerned that they will not be the right kind of homes, sustainable in design and affordable to local people. We must not risk destroying our local natural environment needlessly. We must fight to protect it for ourselves, our children and future generations as well as for our wildlife, 60 per cent of which are in long term decline.

“The threatened development at Lodge Hill was high on the agenda in previous elections and the issue has yet to be resolved. Whilst we have been consistent in our opposition to development there, we would urge other Rochester and Strood candidates to communicate their positions during this election on both this issue and the future of environmental protections in general so voters can be clear what they are voting for.

“Many plants and animals have died out because their natural habitat has been destroyed as a result of poor choices and distorted priorities.   We must not let this happen here in Medway. The Green Party is the only political party to put the environment at the heart of all of its policies.”

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[1]  https://www.greenparty.org.uk/news/2017/05/11/caroline-lucas-announces-green-party’s-environment-promises/

 

[2] http://www.medway.gov.uk/planningandbuilding/planningpolicy/localplan-futuremedway.aspx

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May 12, 2017

Meet Sonia Hyner – Green Party candidate for Rochester and Strood

Sonia’s email: c/o medwaygreenparty@googlemail.com

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My career background is in social care and support. I worked for Citizens Advice for 21 years, seven of those in Medway, actively supporting members of the public to alleviate poverty and secure housing.  I then retrained to teach English to adults at Further Education College.

I have been politically active for a number of years and took part in the London march in 2003, against the war in Iraq. I have attended many anti-discrimination protests on racism and homophobia and was part of the march that took place in the by-election in 2014 when the people of Rochester united to prevent Britain First from entering our towns.

As an active peace and climate change campaigner, in recent years my beliefs have been further enhanced by embracing Green politics.

As we re-evaluate our relationship with the EU and the rest of the world I believe the Green Party has a vital role in effecting the change we need including the promotion of a Green economy that looks at sustainability in terms of local economies producing goods for their own communities, thus becoming more resilient as well as reducing our Carbon footprint.

Our health and public services are very much in the spotlight, particularly as the Kent and Medway Sustainability Transformation Plan is shortly to go to consultation.  We must ensure that our health and social care services are not threatened by the plans.  We also need to work harder to match local skills to jobs.  We are suffering from a lack of trained GPs locally, and other healthcare workers.  In the meantime we need to value the vital contribution of healthcare workers from abroad who are propping up our services.  Ultimately I am an advocate of taking back control of our public services, such as the NHS and railways, by placing them fully into public hands.

In order to increase our skill levels, young people need to be given the opportunity to train without being burdened with long term debt and we would support the abolition of tuition fees alongside other ways of supporting young people such as allowing 16 and 17 year olds to vote so that they can decide their own futures.

Lack of truly affordable housing is also of great concern. The Medway Green Party have recently sent an extensive response to the consultation on Medway Council’s Local Plan which will map out Medway’s future until 2035 and we are keen to highlight our approach.  We need to ensure that valuable natural land isn’t given over to private developments that no one can afford locally. National politics contributes to the lack of housing as the Tories sell off Council homes and refuse any funding which would allow the Council’s to build any more. We also have an issue with rising homelessness locally a result of national policies which have cut access to housing and social support.

For a truly secure future, we also need to think very carefully about the government’s promotion of fracking and nuclear power plants and warheads and I embrace the Green Party’s work in peacefully campaigning to highlight the dangers.

I value political organisation that encourages partnership working with other like-minded political and interest groups, embraces diversity and encourages participation from minorities.

The Green Party wishes to effect change for the common good.  I am looking forward to telling the people of Rochester and Strood about our brand of Green politics and how things could be better for them.

May 12, 2017

Medway Green Party selects its General Election candidates

Three candidate imageMembers of Medway Green Party have chosen three local people as their parliamentary candidates to stand in the Medway constituencies in the upcoming General Election on June 8th.

Teacher Sonia Hyner has been selected to stand in Rochester and Strood. Sonia’s career background is in social care and support. She worked for Citizens Advice for 21 years, seven of those in Medway, actively supporting members of the public to help alleviate poverty and secure housing, before retraining to teach English to adults at Further Education College.

Sonia has been politically active for a number of years and took part in the London march in 2003 against the war in Iraq. She has attended many anti-discrimination protests against racism and homophobia and was part of the protest that took place during the by-election in 2014 when the people of Rochester united to prevent Britain First from marching.  Sonia is keen to promote a Green economy and protection of our public services.

Sonia says: “As an active peace and climate change campaigner for many years, my beliefs have been further enhanced by embracing Green politics, particularly in terms of the promotion of a Green economy that looks at sustainability in terms of local economies producing goods for their own communities, thus becoming more resilient as well as reducing our Carbon footprint. I am also concerned that our public services are protected, our young people are supported, and that our housing crisis is averted in a way that will still protect our natural environment.

“As a regular on the doorsteps of Rochester residents as part of our ongoing campaign for the Council Elections in 2019, I am looking forward to this opportunity for explaining our brand of Green politics to the people of Rochester and Strood and how things could be better for them”.

To contest Gillingham & Rainham, the Green Party has selected local businessman Clive Gregory. Clive is a freelance musician and sound engineer who runs a PA/sound services and hire business. Alongside this, he is a part-time carer for his parents.

Clive stood for the Greens in Rochester and Strood in the 2014 by-election and 2015 General Election and strongly campaigned against the proposed Lodge Hill development.  He is concerned about the expansion of development locally and keen to promote a new kind of politics that challenges elitism.

Clive says: “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.  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.  I am concerned that the obsession with private profit aided and abetted by politicians is ruining our public services”.

In Chatham and Aylesford, the Green candidate is Bernard Hyde, a self-employed chartered architect and town planner specialising in energy efficient buildings, both locally and overseas. He wants to create a sustainable future in which people and the environment that supports them matter most.

Bernard says: “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?”

Steve Dyke, Medway Green Party co-ordinator says: “We are delighted to have three great candidates with strong local connections in Sonia, Clive and Bernard to represent us in the forthcoming General Election.  The Medway Greens look forward to supporting them in explaining how our brand of Green politics could make things better for the people of the Medway Towns.”

 

 

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April 5, 2017

Medway Greens saddened by Gibraltar Farm decision

An adapted version of this was published in the Medway Messenger last week.

**Steve Dyke: “We already have excessive demand for housing in Medway and the goalposts keep shifting”.  

**Sonia Hyner: “Capstone Valley is the only green area now in this part of Medway. The rest of it has been built on”.

**Steve Dyke: “There are better alternatives to building on Greenfield, such as higher density development on Brownfield sites in urban locations and close to travel hubs (to cut down on car use)”. 

Like many in Medway, the Green Party was saddened by the Government Planning Inspector’s decision which gave the go ahead for development at Gibraltar Farm.  The plan to build 450 homes on the site had been rejected by Medway Council but they were overruled by the Inspector.

Sonia Hyner, a Medway Green Party Officer who lives in Lordswood comments:

“I was truly horrified to hear about the proposal for 450 new houses to be built at Gibraltar Farm and hope that it can be further challenged. I have known this area for the past 50 years and, in this time, it has shifted from a patchwork of farms to being largely built up. Most of the building has been in relation to new housing and there have been some benefits such as new linking roads and new shopping areas. However, Capstone Valley is the only green area now in this part of Medway. The rest of it has been built on”.

Medway Council stipulates a low standard of green space provision compared to adjacent local authorities of 3.25ha per 1000 population. This compares to standards of 6.14ha per 1,000 people in Tonbridge and Malling, 10.1ha in Gravesham and 7.39ha in Swale. [1] Medway also has a higher population compared to adjacent areas [2].  However, in Medway Council’s Local Plan consultation, much of the land proposed for potential development is Greenfield.  Additionally the Medway Towns are under additional pressure because of migration from London boroughs, due to the high property prices there, which in 2014 totalled 33% of all migration into our area. [3] According to local Estate Agents this trend has continued. [4]

Steve Dyke, Medway Green Party Co-ordinator comments:

“We already have excessive demand for housing in Medway and the goalposts keep shifting.  There is a risk that landowners will be tempted by the high premiums offered by developers. This is not helped by the decision regarding Gibraltar Farm which could open the floodgates for similar planning applications. The only real way to protect Medway’s green spaces is to draw a hard line around them and not allow development in them under any circumstances.

“There are better alternatives to building on Greenfield, such as higher density development on Brownfield sites in urban locations and close to travel hubs (to cut down on car use).  This is suggested by the Council within one of the four options they have proposed in the Local Plan consultation.  This may end up as the preferred option of Medway Green Party which is currently drafting its full response to the consultation.  This is not least because all the other options on offer explicitly mention development at Lodge Hill, an SSSI and of national importance to wildlife.”

Medway Green Party is encouraging those with concerns over developments such as Gibraltar Farm to visit the Local Plan consultation on the Council website and share their views.

The deadline for responses is 18th April.

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[1] Issues and Options consultation (p65) http://www.medway.gov.uk/PDF/Final%20Issues%20and%20Options%20Public%20Consultation%20Copy.pdf [p66]

[2] Strategic Market Housing Assessment – “Based on the 2011 population level, Medway makes up the largest proportion of the population in the wider HMA, at 34%” – Housing Market Area (HMA) has been identified as consisting of Medway, Gravesham, Swale, Maidstone and Tonbridge and Malling)  http://www.medway.gov.uk/pdf/Medway%20SHMA%20Final%20Report.pdf (p42)

[4] http://www.medway.gov.uk/pdf/Medway%20SHMA%20Final%20Report.pdf (p38)

[5] http://www.medway.gov.uk/pdf/Medway%20SHMA%20Final%20Report.pdf (p53)