Archive for ‘Uncategorized’

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.

****

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

Advertisements
Tags:
October 28, 2017

Medway Green Party response to Rochester Town Council proposal

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

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

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

Steve Dyke, Medway Green Party Co-ordinator

 

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/

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.

 

Tags:
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.

***

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

Tags:
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.

 

 

Tags:
June 3, 2017

Medway Greens call on other party candidates to commit to voting reform #MakeVotesMatter

make votes matterMedway Green General Election candidates have signed the “Make Votes Matter” pledge to do all they can to bring in proportional representation if elected and are calling for candidates of other parties to do the same.

The Make Votes Matter campaign is encouraging all General Election candidates to pledge to support the campaign to make everyone’s vote count equally. The Medway Greens are also claiming that a vote for them will help to stop this issue being sidelined.

In the 2015 General Election the government were elected with only 24% of possible votes. The Green Party attracted over 1.1 million votes and yet only one MP in parliament; the Conservatives achieved just over 11 million votes and have 320 times the number of MPs.

Clive Gregory, Green Party candidate for Gillingham and Rainham says:

“Millions of people are denied representation at Westminster because of our out of date voting system and, faced with this reality, the number of people who don’t vote often outnumbers those who do.  This is really bad for democracy.  We need to move towards a fairer voting system in order to have a true say in our future. This is something the Greens will continue to fight for whatever the outcome on polling day. We also support votes for 16 and 17 year olds as we think they should have a voice in their future too.  We are calling on the other parties’ candidates in the Medway Towns to support the Make Votes Matter campaign and pledge to campaign for electoral reform”.

Sonia Hyner, Green Party candidate for Rochester and Strood adds:

“Over the weeks leading up to this election we were pleased to have encouraged some who hadn’t intended to vote to do so.  Every vote is important, as it increases the national vote of whichever is the preferred party and prevents the issues people care about (such as the push for electoral reform) being sidelined.  From a Green point of view it is also particularly important to keep up the pressure on other parties to ensure that our environment is protected, particularly as we risk the loss of vital EU protections. However it would be much fairer with proportional representation as everyone’s vote would count the same.”

Details of how voters can approach candidates to ask them to pledge their support for voting reform can be found on the Make Votes Matter website –  https://www.makevotesmatter.org.uk/

May 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.

20170518_204422 (2)

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