Archive for ‘Uncategorized’

September 23, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ENDS

NOTES:

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

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September 8, 2017

Medway Greens welcome Lodge Hill reprieve #SaveLodgeHill

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Kent Wildlife Trust – Lodge Hill in Autumn

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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August 31, 2017

A Hard Deadline: We Must Stop Building New Carbon Infrastructure by 2018

Source: A Hard Deadline: We Must Stop Building New Carbon Infrastructure by 2018

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.

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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 26, 2017

Tory cuts obsession threatens our future by Bernard Hyde, Green candidate for Chatham and Aylesford

sure start demoThe threatened closures of Sure Start Centres in Medway are part of a political strategy that has been threatening our social support systems since 2010 when the Tory-led Coalition Government came into power.   It was at that point that the Tories decided that it was “fair” to inflict the debts caused by the bailout of unscrupulous banks following the financial crisis on the rest of us, and in particular the poorest and most vulnerable in our society [1], by starting a programme of continuing cuts which have attacked our social security and public services.

The argument by the Coalition Government was that it was unfair to inflict this debt on future generations.  Putting aside that the current Government has actually grown the level of debt it inherited [2], this misses the fact that the size of public debt is only one aspect that will determine the potential of our children’s and grandchildren’s adult lives.  The condition of public infrastructure, hospitals, schools, housing, transport, social care, social support services and the natural environment our children and grandchildren will inherit will all have a huge impact on the quality of their lives. There is little advantage to having low public debt if you will not be able to be treated when you are sick, housed when you are homeless, or if the natural environment which supports your very existence has been destroyed beyond saving.

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.

Bernard Hyde
Green Party candidate for Chatham and Aylesford

NOTES:
[1] http://www.social-policy.org.uk/downloads/idow.pdf (p8)

[2] https://fullfact.org/economy/labour-and-conservative-records-national-debt/

 

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