Saturday, 25 August 2012

Son of KIG

25th July 2012
Maidstone Greens have vowed to be in the front line of the fight against the junction 8 development being dubbed as 'Son of KIG'. The plan for an industrial park covering a quarter of the site that was proposed for the Kent International Gateway is being discussed at Maidstone Borough Council’s Cabinet meeting tomorrow (25th July).

The 25 hectare site is in the Kent Downs AONB and was the subject of a two year campaign by local residents and other local organisations including the local Green Party and local Conservative Party to prevent it becoming a huge industrial park. The Conservatives are now proposing a similar but smaller development on the site.

Ciaran Oliver, Maidstone Green Party: “Bearsted residents feel betrayed by the Conservatives. After they marched and demonstrated alongside Bearsted residents, and other groups including the Green Party, it beggars belief that the Tories now suggest that the land should be developed.

” The scale of this disloyalty to Bearsted residents and to fellow campaigners is immense. There is a real sense of shock that the council can spend £2m fighting an industrial park development in 2009 only to propose a similar one three years later. Their support for the StopKIG campaign now seems like hollow electioneering.

” This industrial park must not be allowed to go ahead. Maidstone Greens will be in the front line of the fight to stop it.”

20mph anger - community action

4th April 2012
Residents on Upper Fant Road in Maidstone have put 20mph signs on their wheelie bins as a protest at the council's failure to address the speeding traffic on their road. These wheelie bins will be on show tomorrow (Thursday) when the bins are collected around 100 wheelie bins have the 20mph stickers.

Maidstone's Green MEP Keith Taylor will also be visiting to talk to residents about the campaign. He will be there between 3pm and 3.30pm around the junction of St Michaels Rd and Upper Fant Road.

Stuart Jeffery, Maidstone Green Party: "Residents have been campaigning to get their road made safer for more than quarter of a century yet the council continues to turn a blind eye to their concerns. While the council has slowed down the two feeder roads to Upper Fant Road, they have left the 2/3rds of a mile stretch as a drag strip for motorists and we agree with residents that urgent action is necessary to slow it down.

"We have been working with the residents on this latest campaign which sends a clear message to the council and to motorists that this road is residential and we want cars to drive along it more slowly. Our MEP is writing formally to the council after his visit to the area."

2012 Local Elections

8th April 2012
Maidstone Green Party are standing in 12 wards in this year’s local elections and have a great chance of winning their first seats.
Stuart Jeffery, Maidstone Green Party: “ This year’s local elections are proving to be the most exciting yet. With Labour not able to shake off their past and outright anger towards the Lib Dems and Conservatives, we are hoping for some great results and our first councillors. In Fant Ward we just need an additional 200 votes to win and in Headcorn Ward it is between the Greens and Conservatives. A Green breakthrough is highly likely this year.
” We are campaigning on core green issues, policies that will save money for people and provide much needed jobs. As fuel bills continue to rise, it is clear that homes need better insulation and people need cheaper alternatives to using their cars. If the council can spend £2m on crazy paving for the High Street, it can spend money on providing free insulation just as other councils have done, and it can improve public transport and cycle lanes.
”Maidstone’s economy is being hit hard by the public sector cuts. We are opposing these cuts which are based on flawed economics by the Coalition. Instead we want to see the green economy being built with jobs building well insulated affordable homes on brown field sites, more public transport and of course jobs for people insulating homes. We want people to earn at least a ‘living wage’ of £8.10 an hour.
”Finally we have to tackle both speeding traffic and congestion. We want 20mph limits on residential roads and we want people to have good alternatives to using their cars.” Candidates:
Bearsted: Ciaran Oliver
Boxley: Andrew Waldie
Bridge: Robin Kinrade
Coxheath: Denise Hay
East: Hannah Patton
Fant: Stuart Jeffery
Headcorn: Penny Kemp
Heath: Jim Shalice
High St: Wendy Lewis
Marden: Ian McDonald
North Downs: Sarah Goodwin
Shepway North: Steve Muggeridge

Unemployment highest for 15 years

14th March 2012
Unemployment in Maidstone has risen to its highest level since 1997[1] amid the 'flawed economics' of the Conservative / Lib Dem coalition, claim local Greens. The Greens have repeated calls for Maidstone Councillors to invest in green jobs such as insulation, public transport and housing rather that wasting money on the High Street paving.

Stuart Jeffery, Maidstone Green Party: "Public sector cuts were always going to hurt employment Maidstone. While the government have bought into the flawed economics of austerity, Maidstone Borough council are happily throwing scarce money on importing paving slabs for the High Street. So much more could have been done with the £2m that they have wasted.

"There are now over 2700 claiming job seeker's allowance in Maidstone, the highest it has been for 15 years. This is simply disgraceful. Austerity is hurting poorer and middle income people, yet the government continues to allow the rich to avoid paying their way. One in three jobs in Maidstone are in the public sector. While the Tories and Lib Dems are cutting the public sector they are not just hurting the workers but they are hurting the people who rely on the services.

"There is so much that needs to be done in the town. Congestion on the roads is rife and while public transport remains expensive and infrequent it won't reduce traffic; homes need insulation to reduce fuel bills and people need affordable housing. Perhaps the council and government should question their priorities.


Housing Chaos

3rd January 2012
Maidstone Greens have warned of ‘housing chaos’ in the borough as housing waiting lists will shoot up from their already record high level following the introduction of further housing benefits changes yesterday and the latest intention to end subletting.

Last year the social housing waiting list in Maidstone rose to 3,442(1) – a record level, 4.5 times higher than in 1997 and the research by the Chartered Institute of Housing (2) suggests that between 1,000 and 2,500 people across the borough will lose out through the housing benefit changes, potentially increasing the social housing waiting list by a further 50%.

While Maidstone Greens do not condone the practice of subletting, plans to make it a criminal offence(3) for the estimated 160,000 people who do this across the country will also potentially mean that a further 160,000 need to find accommodation, adding to the housing crisis.

Stuart Jeffery, Maidstone Green Party: “ The government is building towards housing chaos rather than building good quality affordable homes. In Maidstone we could see huge rises on top of the record levels of people on the waiting list for social housing with the increasingly draconian approach to housing benefit and social housing.

”The new research by the Chartered Institute of Housing shows that up to 2500 people across the borough will face housing benefit cuts pushing poorer people into increasing poverty and potentially adding them to the ridiculously high waiting list for social housing.

”Making subletting a criminal offence might stop some people making money out of social housing but it will also put even more families out of their homes. The government needs to stop this assault on people on benefits.

1. Social Housing Waiting List statistics:
2. CIH Map here:

Fuel poverty in Maidstone

24th November 2011
Maidstone Green Party have criticised Maidstone Councillors for failing to reduce fuel poverty and winter deaths across the Borough while wasting money on the High Street. They have pointed out that over 6,300 local households are in fuel poverty.

Maidstone Green Party have criticised Maidstone Councillors for failing to reduce fuel poverty and winter deaths across the Borough while wasting money on the High Street. They have pointed out that over 6,300 local households are in fuel poverty.

Stuart Jeffery, Maidstone Green Party: "It is simply unacceptable that millions of people across the UK are still struggling to keep their homes warm and protect their families from the cold. There were more than 25,000 excess winter deaths across England and Wales(1) last winter. Figures from 2008 show that over 6,300 households in the Borough of Maidstone(2), or one in ten, are stuck in fuel poverty and with the hikes in fuel prices I expect this figure to be much higher now.

"Sadly, Maidstone Councillors have ignored Green calls to divert the millions being used to pave the High Street into providing free insulation, insulation that would have saved people's lives and householders' money. Instead they have wasted £2m(3) 'improving' the High Street while disrupting trade and access to shops in the run up to Christmas.

Green MP, Caroline Lucas: "If the Government is serious about eradicating fuel poverty by 2016, it must radically improve housing standards, curb the power of the big energy companies to charge what they like, and put in place measures to help fuel-poor households. In the meantime, I urge people to contact the Home Heat Helpline on 0800 33 66 99 to get advice on staying warm this winter."

2. Fuel Poverty Sub Regional Statistics: 6317 households in fuel poverty (10.5% of all households in the borough)

Core Strategy submission

10th October 2011
In their submission to Maidstone Borough Council's consultation on the Core Strategy, Maidstone Greens have called for higher density housing to prevent urban sprawl while ensuring enough homes for the future; a move away from Maidstone's reliance on retail industry towards music, knowledge and energy sectors; and a reduction in traffic of 50% by 2026. This compares with the Council's suggestion of low density housing covering the KIG site, plus Allington and Shepway extensions, the Council's suggestion of an increase in traffic by 30% and their vision to increase the retail sector in the town. The Greens have called for a more European feel to the town.

Stuart Jeffery, Maidstone Green Party: "They really don't have a clue what Maidstone needs. Increasing urban sprawl across greenfield sites will help nobody except the rich developers. There is enough land in the town to meet the housing needs for the next 15 years, farm land must be maintained for farming.

"The town urgently needs to move away from its reliance on the retail sector. We need to embrace the music and entertainment industry, energy industries and the knowledge sector. Retail will continue to decline and Maidstone will only survive if it diversifies.

"And as for planning for a 30% increase in traffic, that is ludicrous. Not only will the price of fuel mean that this simply will not happen, there wouldn’t be the infrastructure to support it even if it did. The council should be planning to get people out of cars and into public transport or better still walking or cycling."

Maidstone Green Party's submission is available here:

20mph gets closer

3rd October 2011
Maidstone Green Party welcomes the news that the EU is backing 20mph limits in urban areas and that ministers are preparing to significantly expand the use of 20mph in the UK. Maidstone Greens have been campaigning for 20mph streets where people live, a campaign which has significant support among residents. Local Greens are not happy with the proposed rise in motorway speed limits which will increase CO2 emissions, accidents, noise and air pollution along an already problematic M20.

Stuart Jeffery, Maidstone Green Party: "This is great news for Maidstone residents. The council is dipping its toe into 20mph zones outside schools, which is a step in the right direction, but the weight of opinion must now quickly take them to making all of our streets safer. The vast majority of residents would feel and be safer with cars coming past their houses at 20mph instead of 30mph.

"There is now simply no excuse for Maidstone's residential roads to remain at 30mph. Councillors need to seize this opportunity to make life better for all.

"We must also campaign against the proposed rise in motorway speed limits. The M20 through Harrietsham is extremely noisy and residents do not need even faster traffic there. Fuel costs and CO2 emissions will increase significantly, as will accidents and air pollution. The M20 corridor already suffers with bad air quality - an 80mph limit would simply make this worse."

1. The European Parliament has today signalled the right direction for road safety, notably by strongly recommending an EU-wide speed limit of 30 km/h (20mph) in urban areas.

Maidstone Borough Council should pay a "Living Wage"

22nd September 2011
Maidstone Green Party is calling on Maidstone Borough Council to ensure that all its staff receive at least a 'Living Wage' of £7.20 per hour, as defined by the Living Wage Foundation. The call comes after the leader, Cllr Garland, revealed the extent of low pay at last night's Council meeting where he stated that at least 12 staff are paid below the level of the Living Wage. The Greens posed the question to Maidstone Borough Council following the raising of wages in Brighton by the new Green administration there and the advertising of a post by Maidstone Borough Council that attracts an hourly wage of £6.19.

Stuart Jeffery, Maidstone Green Party: "The Living Wage of £7.20 per hour has been shown to be the minimum level of income necessary to lead a full life with resonable surroundings and sufficient leisure, so we are shocked that Maidstone Borough Council is paying some staff far less than this.

"The Council should be ashamed of promoting a low wage economy and for advertising and paying less that the minimum needed to live on. I challenge any of the councillors to try to survive on just £11k a year while paying rent and the ever increasing fuel bills. The Council has a duty to its employees that it is clearly failing in.

"One of the first acts of the new Green administration in Brighton was to announce an increase in wages of its lowest paid staff to meet the Living Wage. Maidstone Borough Council should follow Brighton's lead and immediately raise the pay for staff that currently earn less than £7.20 per hour. The Council should also introduce a local Living Wage Commission, which would look at the benefits, risks and opportunities of establishing a Living Wage in the town's public, private and third sectors."

1. Living Wage details here:
2. Maidstone Borough Council advertised a post at the Hazlitt in July 2011 "Salary £6.19 to £7.02 per hour"

Commentary on the riots

13th August 2011
Hannah Patton comments on last week's riots:

"Maidstone Green Party utterly condemns last week's arson, looting and violence. If any good might come of it then let's hope that it serves as a wake up call to government and the impact of its policies on society. Unfortunately the rhetoric from Tories, Lib Dems, Labour and even Helen Grant is to deal with the problems by escalating the violence towards the trouble makers. Simply responding to angry, disenfranchised people by turning water cannons and plastic bullets on them will not deal with the underlying problems in society. That is not to say that the minority committing this violence should go unpunished, but that the violence also needs to be understood and its causes need to be addressed.

"Sadly, while Helen Grant calls for more violence towards children by their parents in 'troubled' households, I suspect there is already too much violence in some of these families. Perhaps more compassion, understanding and support for these children might make a difference, but simply exposing them to more violence will not teach them to be non-violent. Not only doesn't she understand what young people need to grow into responsible adults, neither does her party. They are closing youth centres, stopping young people from modest backgrounds going to university, preventing some even staying on at school beyond 16 with the withdrawal of the Education Maintenance Allowance, presiding over rampant youth unemployment and they are now calling some young people 'feral'.

"It is any wonder that young people are becoming increasingly disenfranchised. Furthermore, widening inequalities in society will make it more violent and less cohesive, yet that is exactly what the Tory / Lib Dem coalition are doing. Meanwhile bankers and MPs are getting away with looting society 'legally' and the constant bombardment of the need to consume more, have the latest fashions and possibilities for quick wins in life, all contribute to disillusionment and anger in people.

Welcome for 20mph School Trial

27th July 2011
Maidstone Green Party has welcomed the endorsement by the Maidstone Joint Transportation Board last night of a plan to trial 20mph speed limits outside 6 schools in the Borough. Stuart Jeffery addressed the Board, which is made up of Borough and County Councillors, urging them to back the plan. Local Greens has been calling for 20mph streets in the Borough for a number of years and have presented petitions in the past. Along with Green MEP, Keith Taylor, they had actively backed the petition in Lenham which prompted the plan for this trial.

Stuart Jeffery, Maidstone Green Party: "This is a small but good step in the right direction, one that is very welcome after years of hard campaigning. 20mph areas have been shown to be very effective in reducing accidents and promoting cycling and walking. They have overwhelming public support - after all who wants cars travelling fast past schools or people's homes?

"I hope that once these schemes have been shown to be effective, that they will be expanded across the borough and that Kent County Council will consider bringing Maidstone into the 21st century by giving all Maidstone's residential streets 20mph limits, just as other county towns across the country now have. It is quite disgraceful that Maidstone is at least 5 years behind places such as Oxford, Norwich, Lancaster and Portsmouth."

Oaken Wood called in

27th July 2011
Maidstone Green Party has welcomed the 'call-in' of the Oaken Wood quarrying plan by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Eric Pickles MP, and have welcomed the additional scrutiny which will give all parties greater opportunity to be heard in the plan which would see the loss of 74 acres of ancient woodland. They have reiterated their call for Gallaghers to prioritise other options for aggregate such as increasing recycled aggregate, so that no jobs are lost.

Stuart Jeffery, Maidstone Green Party: "The call-in by Eric Pickles is very welcome as is the change to reiterate local views to the Planning Inspectorate. Kent County Council made a hasty decision when they backed the plan for the quarry and it is clear that the plan needs greater scrutiny than KCC were prepared to give.

"While we are keen to ensure that jobs are not lost, we should remember that these jobs would see the loss of 74 acres of ancient woodland when there is an acknowledged lack of demand for ragstone. We want Gallaghers to put these jobs to use increasing their production of recycled aggregate.

"We also note that Kent County Council's current draft mineral strategy suggests that there is no need for this additional ragstone. Let us hope that KCC don't decide to change their mind on this established fact."


McDonalds should remove the mosquito

19th July 2011
Maidstone Greens slam McDonalds for adding to a 'full scale assault on hope' for young people by their use of a mosquito outside their Maidstone branch and have called for its immediate removal. They claim that mosquito discriminates against young people and equivalent devices would not be allowed to move other groups on. The Greens also point to the increasing problems that young people are facing and say that the mosquito is adding to what amounts to an assault on hope which includes the rise in tuition fees, cuts to youth services, the scrapping of the Education Maintenance Allowance and high levels of unemployment.

Stuart Jeffery, Maidstone Green Party: "We have been shocked by McDonalds use of the mosquito in Maidstone. This is a device that discriminates against young people but if this was a device for keeping black people, women or the elderly away, McDonalds would rightly be prosecuted, so why should society tolerate discrimination against young people?

"Young people are having a tough enough time at present: 18-24 year olds now account for a quarter of all unemployed people, youth centres are being closed across the county, the government has scrapped the Education Maintenance Allowance and student fees have been trebled. Local and national government have got it in for the young, now it looks like McDonalds has joined them.

"This amounts to a full scale assault on hope for young people. Young people are the future of our society, we should be supporting them not destroying their chances of getting started in life and certainly not discriminating against them as McDonalds are doing."

Petition against job cuts at the Museum

7th July 2011
Maidstone Greens have welcomed a petition to reinstate Dr Ed Jarzembowski and his colleagues at Maidstone Museum and they have written to Helen Grant who is President of the Trustees of the museum to demand action. The petition comes after a long media fight to prevent the cuts at the museum imposed by the council. The petition on The Care 2 Petition Site and is available at

Maidstone Greens have welcomed a petition to reinstate Dr Ed Jarzembowski and his colleagues at Maidstone Museum and they have written to Helen Grant who is President of the Trustees of the museum to demand action. The petition comes after a long media fight to prevent the cuts at the museum imposed by the council. The petition on The Care 2 Petition Site and is available at

Stuart Jeffery, Maidstone Green Party: "We are pleased that this petition has started. History is essential to our education and our culture. Maidstone Borough Council and Maidstone's MP Helen Grant, should be ashamed of themselves for allowing these cuts to happen."
"We are calling on support from across Maidstone to sign the petition for Dr Ed and his colleagues to be reinstated and we have writted to Helen Grant asking her to intervene as the President of the Trustees of the museum."

Petition available at Letter to Helen Grant MP:

Dear Helen,

I am emailing you in your capacity of both MP for Maidstone and President of the Trustees of Maidstone Museum. As you are aware Dr Ed Jarzembowski and four of his colleagues have been or are being made redundant from the museum and we are asking for your help to overturn this decision.

While there has been public outcry at the loss of Dr Ed, the damage that his redundancy and those of his colleagues will do to the museum will be significant. I am sure that you will agree that history is vital to our education and culture so for Maidstone to lose staff from the museum is not in the public interest.

While I am sure you will consider the public sector cuts necessary in general and will disagree with me when I suggest that they are politically motivated and based on poor economics, I hope that you will be able to intervene and prevent these job losses.

Yours sincerely


Stuart Jeffery Maidstone Green Party

Maidstone Greens support June 30th protests and strikes

30th June 2011
Stuart Jeffery, Chair of Kent Green Party spoke at the protest outside County Hall in Maidstone and Maidstone Greens were out in force at the protest rallies outside County Hall and the earlier one by Oakwood Park schools. The Greens have condemned the coalition for their ideological attack on the public sector and Labour's opposition to the strikes. They have stated that while the disruption was regretable, it was necessary.

Stuart Jeffery, Chair of Kent Green Party and Coordinator for Maidstone: "We were proud to stand alongside workers protesting at the immoral and unjust cuts to their pensions, jobs and livelihoods. Cameron, Clegg, Osbourne and Cable should be ashamed at their actions that are simply being taken to protect their rich friends at the expense of ordinary workers. Even Labour have deserted the workers with their shameful condemnation of the strikes this morning.

"The government claims that the country is broke, but they are letting super rich individuals and large corporations get away with tax evasion estimated to be around £100bn. Why should workers face pension cuts and job losses, and why should ordinary people face cuts to services just so the rich can feather their beds? Stealing from the poor to give to the rich is obscene.

"The government seems wedded to an ideology that is not based on fact. The country has proportionally less debt now that it had through half of the last century. The public sector is affordable, their pensions are affordable and while we regret the disruption the action is causing, these are worth fighting for.

"Teachers are being asked to work longer, pay 50% more for their pensions and get less when they retire, yet the government's respose is to ask parents to volunteer and to let negotiations fail. Action was clearly necessary."

Protect Maidstone against Cable and the Lib Dems

7th June 2011
Maidstone Greens have vowed to fight alongside public sector workers and their unions following Vince Cable's announcement that he would impose stronger anti-strike laws if the public sector strikes became widespread and started to "impose serious damage to our economic and social fabric"[1]. Maidstone has the second highest proportion of public sector jobs in the South East with 27.9% (almost 20,000) jobs being in the public sector[2] and is likely to be hit hardest by the cuts in Kent. The Greens say that the announcement by the Lib Dems leaves no support for the workers by the parties on Maidstone Borough Council.

Stuart Jeffery, Maidstone Green Party: "This announcement by the Lib Dems is disgraceful but hardly unexpected. Vince Cable is planning on leaving more than a quarter of workers in Maidstone at the mercy of Lib Dem and Tory cuts. Maidstone has the second highest proportion of public sector jobs in the South East and will be hardest hit in Kent by the cuts.

"The public sector is the backbone of the town and is essential to the economy of Maidstone. Not only will the cuts destroy the lives and families of those made redundant, they will destroy the economic viability of the town. If Cable is concerned that protecting jobs and the economy by strike action if necessary is too high a price to pay, then perhaps he should stop being part of a government desperate to wreck the public sector.

"Unlike the Lib Dems, Maidstone Greens will fight alongside public sector workers against the unnecessary and immoral cuts. We don't won't the public sector broken."


McNulty Review will hurt Maidstone

20th May 2011
Maidstone Greens have slammed the McNulty review as potentially disastrous for Maidstone's commuters, suggesting that Maidstone does not need fare increases and less station staff, but more investment, more regular and faster trains and a direct line to the City.

Stuart Jeffery, Maidstone Green Party: "Roy McNulty thinks that slashing subsidies, privatising more of the infrastructure and increasing fares will help reduce ticket prices. Maidstone already suffers from a slow and expensive service that has seen appalling cuts in recent years. McNuulty's plans will make our service worse.

"Getting rid of station staff may seem a neat way of saving money, but the reality is very different. We will be faced with more confusion and less information. Remember what happened in the snow last year when even at current staffing levels, information was hard to find. We need more staff, with more information to improve the service.

"Increasing fares for our commuters will be a real slap in the face and is completely contrary to the aim of reducing prices. It is like going to war for the sake of peace. Fares from Maidstone are already ridiculous, they need to be reduced not increased. The way to reduce prices and ensure financial viability is to get more passengers by getting people out of cars and on to trains. We can only do this by making trains more appealing, more reliable and travelling to the place where people need to go.

"Privatisation has brought nothing but increasing costs to this country, however we should expect nothing less of Lib Dems and Conservatives who are wedded to the principle of putting markets before people."

Election results 2011

9th May 2011
Maidstone Greens have called the results of last week's local elections in Maidstone a slap in the face for the Lib Dems, and they have welcomed their own significant advance. Maidstone Greens increased the number of votes in Fant Ward by 66% from the last comparable election in 2009 to have a very respectable result in the only four-way marginal in Kent. The Greens now need just 8% or 202 votes more to win the ward.

Stuart Jeffery, Maidstone Greens: "To come so close in Fant Ward was disappointing but our vote has increased dramatically and we were just 8% away from winning, so there is much to be pleased about.

"Across Maidstone, the Lib Dems have clearly suffered at the hands of the national party - getting in to bed with the Tories was a poor idea and Maidstone residents are rightly angry about it. Maidstone is clearly angry about the coalition and this is a slap in the face for them.

"We will be back to fight next year and look forward to getting our first seat on the council."

Fant by-election in 2009, Greens got 317 votes which increased to 526 in 2011.
Fant results: Green 526 (21.4%); Lab 542 (22.1%); Lib Dem 661 (26.9%); Con 727 (29.6%)

Promises waiting to be broken

I6th April 2011
Maidstone Greens have slammed the local Lib Dems' election statement as promises waiting to be broken. Last week Maidstone Lib Dems issue six promises which have now come under heavy attack by local Greens. The Greens have described the Lib Dems as having lost all credibility and having a local manifesto that will destroy the local economy.

Stuart Jeffery, Fant Ward candidate for Maidstone Greens: "No one believes a word the Lib Dems say now. They had many years running Maidstone Borough Council, so how they can suggest such wide ranging promises, ones that should have been delivered 10 years ago, is beyond me. We have also now seen how they act in national government, breaking promise after elction promise. They have lost all credibility.

"Not only do their pledges sound hollow, but they are framed by a commitment to cut services and jobs that are provided by the council. We think this is immoral and will undermine any effort to revive Maidstone's floundering economy, making their economic pledge meaningless. You can't boost an economy by making people redundant, this is surely basic economics.

"The Lib Dems may talk about protecting the environment, but they have opposed wind turbines across Kent and in Maidstone, they have failed time and time again to reduce congestion in the town, and they have supported road and airport expansion up and down the country. How can they claim any green credentials?

"On the other hand Green Councillors in Huddersfield have insulated tens of thousands of homes and put solar panels on hundreds of council houses, Greens in Oxford, Lancaster and Norwich have delivered 20mph speed limits in resential streets and Greens on the London Assembly ensured millions were invested in public transport and cycling across London. Green Councillors really deliver.

"The only promise that I can see the Lib Dems sticking to is making people redundant, and with their position in the polls plummeting it is clear that people have seem them for what they really are. The Green Party is ready to step up to the mark and has the policies, principle and drive to deliver what people need."

Maidstone Lib Dem statement 28/3/11 Maidstone Lib Dem statement 28/3/11

Greens announce council candidates

4th April 2011

Maidstone Greens will be standing fourteen candidates in next month's local election. The Greens are hoping to capitalise on the decline of the Liberal Democrats and their alignment with the Conservative in national government. Badging themselves as the real opposition to the Conservatives they have high hopes of gaining their first seats on the Council.

Stuart Jeffery, Fant Ward candidate for Maidstone Greens: "Now that the Lib Dems have shown their true blue colours, there is only one party of opposition in Maidstone, the Green Party. The public anger at the ConDem cuts is palpable and unlike the 'big three' we stand resolutely opposed to the cuts especially while the super rich are allowed to avoid tax payments of up to £100bn each year. These cuts are just starting to hit local services, local services that are there to support the poorer and more vulnerable members of society.

"On Maidstone Borough Council we will be calling for the £4m due to be spent on re-paving the High St to be put into public transport infrastructure, to set up a local energy company and to help insulate people's homes. Fuel prices are soaring and hitting people hard, yet local councillors are still refusing to invest in energy production or energy efficiency. Green Councillors in Norfolk have persuded the council to set up an energy company that will provide income for the council and energy for its residents - a scheme that is urgently required in Maidstone.

"As well as investment that starts to meet the needs of people, we need to ramp up the campaign to make our streets safer with 20mph as the default limit on residential streets. We need to support local businesses with planning that favours them and we need to see the introduction of a local rewards card. We need to ensure that most new homes are affordable or for the social housing market, but that our green spaces are protected.

"Our aims are not just radical and affordable, but are exactly what Maidstone needs."

Bearsted: Sarah Goodwin
Bearsted: Ciaran Oliver
Boxley: Penny Kemp
Coxheath: Robin Kinrade
Downswood: Andrew Waldie
East: Caroline Burns
East: Hannah Patton
Fant: Stuart Jeffery
High St: Wendy Lewis
Loose: Denise Hay
Marden: Jim Shalice
North: Derek Eagle
Shepway North: Steve Muggeridge
Staplehurst: Ian McDonald

TUC March for the Alternative

28th March 2011
Maidstone Greens were proud to march at Saturday's TUC "March for the Alternative" alongside 400,000 others. Maidstone Green Party Chair, Ian McDonald, and at least seven other members of Maidstone Green Party, joined the TUC's demonstration in London.

Ian McDonald, Chair of Maidstone Green Party: "There were possibly 400,000 participants, with Green Party members from Maidstone and across the UK, marching alongside trade unionists, public sector workers and hundreds of thousands of other people. We were all demanding that the Conservative-Lib Dem coalition abandon their crippling attacks on ordinary people's jobs and incomes, and demanding that the bankers and super rich pay in full for the financial crisis they created.

"The march was overwhelmingly peaceful with people of all ages and from all walks of life. Their common theme: we did not create this crisis, don't make us pay for it!"

Ian McDonald is Chair of Maidstone Green Party and a senior trade unionist

Concerns over UCA

24th February 2011

Maidstone Greens have written to the University of Creative Arts asking for clarification following concerns that the Maidstone campus is likely to lose a third of its courses to other sites. Students have raised concerns that there are plans to relocate 4 of the 12 courses. Local Greens have not received assurances that the Maidstone campus will not be wound down and have repeated called for the university to clearly state that it will continue its long history with the town.

Stuart Jeffery, Maidstone Green Party: "After concerns were raise with us about courses being relocated to other sites, I wrote to the university expressing our deep concern that the campus might be closing. The UCA has so far failed to respond to these concerns.

"The UCA, and Art College before it, have been an integral part of Maidstone for many years and we were horrified that changes that would see a third of the courses disappear from Maidstone were even being discussed.

"It is clear that the government have fundamentally undermined the confidence of universities and students over the past 6 months with the dramatic rises in student fees and if this is the cause of concern at the UCA, then they need to say so. The UCA need to keep students, staff and local people engaged with their plans and we are calling again for them to make their plans transparent.

Letter to UCA:

Professor Dianne Taylor Gearing
Pro Vice-Chancellor
University for the Creative Arts at Maidstone
Oakwood Park
Maidstone, Kent
ME16 8AG

7th February 2011

Dear Pro-Vice Chancellor,

I am concerned that the Maidstone campus is likely to lose a number of courses and for them to be relocated to another campus. I understand that Illustration, Animation, Photographic Arts, and Film & Video Arts are likely to be moved to another site reducing the number of your courses from twelve down to eight. While in the usual run of life moving courses from time to time would be natural, I am concerned that this might be the start of a closure of the Maidstone campus.

Clearly such a closure would be disastrous to Maidstone and its long and successful relationship with the UCA. I am therefore keen to learn whether my concerns are founded. I hope that you will be able to confirm that the Maidstone campus is safe from closure and will enjoy a long and successful future.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Helen Grant backs forest sale

6th February 2011
Maidstone Greens have branded Maidstone's MP as utterly irresponsible after Helen Grant voted on Wednesday to back the government's forestry sell off which will include Bedgebury Forest near Cranbrook. Part of Bedgebury Forest is in her constituency.

Stuart Jeffery who stood against Helen Grant in last year's parliamentary election, said: "I am appalled that Helen Grant can think it reasonable to sell off one of the country's greatest assets, our forests. This is an utterly irresponsible act of environmental vandalism.

"At present, the price of maintaining our forests amounts to 30p annually for each one of us. This represents tremendous value for money. The planned sell off amounts to 374,000 hectares of publicly owned land, much of which could be turned into privately owned leisure centres if the Government gets it way. There is no guarantee that the forest will be accessible to the public, no guarantee that it will be properly managed and no guarantee that it will even keep its trees.

"Selling what is rightfully owned by the public is a massive backward step and once gone will never be regained without huge cost to the taxpayer. This is ideological and not in the public interest. Our forests not only provide enjoyment for millions of people, but are essential to maintain biodiversity in an age of increasingly intensive farming. This government has called itself the 'greenest ever' but this claim is fast becoming the subject of derision."

Maidstone Maternity Service changes are unethical

16th January 2011
Maidstone Greens have criticised the Health Secretary's decision to allow the downgrading of maternity services at Maidstone Hospital and have backed calls for a judicial review. In a letter to the Kent Messenger, new mother and Maidstone Green, Ellen Crozier, called the decision flawed and un-ethical.

Ellen Crozier, Maidstone Green Party: "The Health Secretary’s recent decision to allow the closure of the maternity unit at Maidstone General Hospital cannot be justified financially, politically or ethically.

"The decision has clearly not been made to reduce the Trust’s overall spending. Rather it has been made to help finance the expensive PFI build at Pembury to serve the people of Tunbridge Wells."

The decision is also in opposition to the government’s own ideological commitments to patient choice and GP voice. 97% of local GPs oppose the closure of the unit.

"Most importantly from a personal perspective as a new mother, the decision is ethically wrong. It is unforgivable that the Trust is willing to put mothers through this at such a vulnerable time."

Read the full letter here:

Maidstone Borough Council welcomes Green Party petition on housing

16th December 2010
Maidstone Borough Council has backed the Green Party's 400 plus signature petition to reassess where houses will be built across the borough. The current Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment was considered not to give enough regard to green spaces or to existing infrastructure and with the end of central housing targets, local Greens were pushing for a revised plan.

Stuart Jeffery, Maidstone Green Party: "This is good news for Maidstone. The existing housing plan was fundementally flawed and we are pleased that the council recognised this.

"The world is changing quickly and with it the needs of the people in Maidstone. It is essential that we protect farm land and other green spaces from development whenever possible and that we use existing infrastructure wisely. The news that the council will be producing a new assessment is welcome indeed. We do not underestimate the challenge to provide housing either, and the new plan must make sure that the needs of people on moderate and low incomes are met."

The petition was debated at last night's council meeting and received cross party support. The petition was started after residents in Fant Ward became concerned about the plans for 380 houses on Fant Farm.

Ian McDonald, who presented the petition at the council on behalf of Maidstone Green Party: "The housing assessment produced last year was clearly contraversial and we had serious concerns about the principles that underpinned it.

"As regional spacial strategies were scrapped in July this year and with them the housing targets, the council has the ideal opportunity to review the housing assessment and also the balance between social and affordable housing, and more expensive homes. We want to see more of the former as the need is growing quickly for people on lower incomes."

The petition reads: "We, the undersigned, call on Maidstone Borough Council to commission a new Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment that protects green spaces and ensures that any new areas identified for housing are served properly by existing schools, roads and other infrastructure"

Free membership of the Green Party

12th December 2010
Maidstone Greens have welcomed their Party's offer of free membership to under 30's and to full time students. The offer, open until 1st Jan, demonstrates the Green Party's commitment to younger people in the wake of the government's hike in student fees.

Green Party leader Caroline Lucas MP said today: "I want students and young people to know there is a political party that still cares about their future, and that will keep fighting for a fairer future and will not give up on doing the right thing.

"We have to keep fighting, because we can't leave the future of our country and our planet to people who want to run things primarily in the interests of big business and the wealthiest people.

"Politics is important and it's time to reclaim it. I want to extend the warmest possible welcome to all new members, but not least to students and young people who are having such a difficult time at the hands of the other political parties."

Stuart Jeffery, Maidstone Green Party: "The government has lost the plot when it comes to younger people and should be ashamed of itself. The Green Party is the only mainstream party still committeed to free education and the only party that understands the needs of the future. We are please that a hand is being extended to younger people to help stop the madness."

Join free here:

Tuition fees - unjust and immoral

10 December 2010
Maidstone Greens have condemned Helen Grant and Hugh Robertsons's support for tuition fees as immoral and unjust. Last night both Maidstone MPs voted in favour of increasing the level of student debt that young people will start their life with by a further £20,000. Local Greens have also condemned the Liberal Democrats who supported the bill.

Maidstone Greens have condemned Helen Grant and Hugh Robertsons's support for tuition fees as immoral and unjust. Last night both Maidstone MPs voted in favour of increasing the level of student debt that young people will start their life with by a further £20,000. Local Greens have also condemned the Liberal Democrats who supported the bill.

Stuart Jeffery, Maidstone Green Party: "If government wanted to keep university education for the rich it could not have done a better job. Rather than opening up universities on the basis of ability they have put a huge barrier in place for people from moderate backgrounds who don't want to start life with a huge millstone.

"We think the Tories and their Lib Dem supporters should be ashamed of themselves for this immoral and unjust act. The Lib Dems are especially culpable for misleading the electorate at the last general election. Young people have been badly let down by politicians. As we are now the only mainstream party fighting for the abolition of tuition fees, I urge those who believe in free education to join the Green Party and not let coalition ideology punish the poorest in society.

Hansard 9th Dec 2010 Green Party on tuition fees

Keith Taylor to ask Chief Constable to reconsider 20mph zones

30th October 2010
Following a meeting with Cllr Sams in Lenham, Keith Taylor, Green Party MEP for Kent, is writing to Kent's Cheif Constable Ian Learmonth to urge Kent Police to support 20mph areas without other traffic calming measures. This type of 20mph zone, without other traffic calming measures, is in use in other areas in Keith Taylor's constituency, such as Portsmouth and Oxford, yet Kent Police are blocking proposals for 20mph areas around schools without expensive traffic calming measures.

Councillor Tom Sams has been working with Maidstone Greens and the 20's Plenty Campaign to press for 20mph zones around schools and his wife Janetta Sams presented a 1000 signature petition collected in Lenham to the Maidstone Joint Transportation Board calling for reduced speed limits.

Keith Taylor MEP, who is the Green responsible for road safety issues on the European Parlament's Transport Committee said: "Both Oxford and Portsmouth have shown that 20mph residential streets reduce the speed of traffic without the need for other traffic calming measures. The government's advice on 20mph zone is also very clear, however there is still resistance from both Kent County Council and Kent Police to implement these sensible changes.

"I can't think of anything more reasonable than reducing the speed limits around schools, yet there seems to be little enthusiasm to do this despite the overwhelming support of local people. The facts are clear, a pedestrian hit by a car travelling at 20mph is likely to suffer slight injuries, but at 30mph they are likely to be severely hurt. At 40mph or above they are likely to be killed.

"I met with Councillor Sams and his wife Janetta who have been working with campaigners in Maidstone and the case for change is very strong. I will be writing to Ian Learmonth asking for Kent Police to consider this again"

For further statements please contact Keith's interim press office for Kent, Alex Phillips: 07908 260 528 or email:

Maidstone's Green MEP calls for fresh look at housing

30th October 2010
Keith Tayor Green Party MEP for Maidstone and the South East has joined with Maidstone Greens in calling for a rethink about where housing should be built in Maidstone. In a letter to the Leader of Maidstone Borough Council, Keith called for a revision to the 'Strategic Housing Land Area Assessment' which identifies where houses can be built. The letter was accompanied by a 400 signature petition.

Local Greens are concerned that not enough consideration had been given to protecting green spaces and that some areas identified for housing do not have the infrastructure to support the expanded population. With the demise of the South East Plan and the soaring social housing waiting list, local Greens feel that there is good reason to rethink local plans.

Keith Taylor the Green Party's spokesman on Planning and Regeneration said: "I share the concerns of many locals who are rightly concerned about some of the areas that had been identified for large development such as Fant Farm. Before greenfield areas such as this are developed the council should look to brownfield sites first. Virgin sites like Fant Farm would need major investment to provide the infrastructure a new housing estate would need.

"People in Maidstone understand the need for sensible housing and that more housing is needed. With social housing waiting lists at an all time high in Maidstone, with four times more people on the list than 13 years ago, housing plans across Maidstone needs to be very carefully thought through."

Stuart Jeffery, Maidstone Green Party: "Local people have voiced real concerns about the long term housing plan produced by the council. We have collected over 400 signatures on a petition asking the council to rethink its plans and now with the demise of the South East Plan, there is no better time for them to do this."

For further statements please contact Keith's interim press office for Kent, Alex Phillips: 07908 260 528 or email:

1. The 405 signature petition states: "We, the undersigned, call on Maidstone Borough Council to commission a new Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment that protects green spaces and ensures that any new areas identified for housing are served properly by existing schools, roads and other infrastructure."
2. Social housing waiting list in Maidstone in 1997 was 769 and in 2009 was 2863 (

East Farleigh wind power

9th October 2010
Maidstone Greens are supporting the plan to site a wind turbine at East Farleigh. In a letter to Maidstone Borough Council they state that the model of community ownership being proposed for the turbine and the need for more wind power out weighs any concern about noise and visual impact.

Stuart Jeffery, Maidstone Green Party: "We welcome this application, this type of locally owned renewable power generation is exactly what we should be doing across the country.

"The country is facing an energy crisis and while the government continues to back damaging and unsustainable fossil fuel sources, it is great to see ideas such as the Castle Farm turbine being proposed. Dist Gen and Castle Farm should be congratulated for their forward thinking."


Green MEP raises concerns over Oaken Wood

6th October 2010
Keith Taylor MEP calls for public health assessment of proposed quarry development in letter to Kent County Council

The Green Euro-MP for Maidstone and the South East is supporting local campaigners in their efforts to halt plans to turn 74 acres of ancient woodland into a quarry.

Keith Taylor MEP calls for public health assessment of proposed quarry development in letter to Kent County Council

The Green Euro-MP for Maidstone and the South East is supporting local campaigners in their efforts to halt plans to turn 74 acres of ancient woodland into a quarry.

A major planning application proposed by Gallagher Aggregates Limited (1) calls for an extension of Hermitage Quarry in Maidstone across ancient woodland and a local wildlife site. Angry local residents have launched a campaign to protect the land from destruction (

In a letter to Kent County Council, Keith Taylor MEP highlights his concerns that once bulldozed, the precious woodland would be lost forever.

He said: "There is neither enough policy guidance nor impact details at this stage of the application, and I believe any approval decision would be highly premature."

Keith continued: "To properly safeguard the wellbeing of the area's residents, I also think a full public health impact assessment of the project should be included with any future planning application.

"These quarry extension plans have caused significant anxiety amongst local people. Residents have already endured 20 years of quarrying on that site and do not want to see the area's natural habitats further endangered just so materials for yet more road building can be produced.

"The parish council, the Woodland Trust and CPRE have also raised serious objections to the proposed development. The environmental consequences are clear and even the economic case for quarrying ragstone and aggregate seems poor given the current climate."


Notes to Editors

1) TM/10/TEMP/0025 -

For more information on the work of Keith Taylor MEP, please contact Melissa Freeman on 0207 407 9935 / 07950 382149 or

Oaken Wood objection

1st September 2010
Maidstone and Kent Greens have submitted a joint letter of objection with Keith Taylor, the new Green MEP for Kent, to Gallagher's proposed destruction of Oaken Wood. The letter shows that the plan to extract up to one million tonnes of aggregate from the ancient woodland fails on economics, environmental, and ecological grounds.

Stuart Jeffery, Maidstone Green Party: "Planning to destroy 74 acres of ancient woodland so that Kent can have aggregate to build roads, especially when funding for road building have been severely curtailed is simply madness. Now with the end of the housing targets and ragstone no longer being a viable building material due to its poor insulation, there is little need to extend the quarry.

"Gallagher's attempts to overturn Oaken Wood's ancient woodland status are particularly galling. Challenging a the professional opinion of a number of independent agencies so that they can get around planning rules is simply wrong."

"The company seem to have scant regard or understanding for established woodland or what lives in it. Replacing the woodland after quarrying will drastically change its nature and distrupt the ecology of the site. We cannot allow this to happen, especially as it will just be in the name of profit.

Notes: Letter of objection

Further increase in unemployment in Maidstone expected

6th September 2010
Maidstone is set for a huge hike in unemployment say Maidstone Greens. 1500 job cuts including 1000 civilian jobs to be cut by Kent Police will hit Maidstone hardest as the Police HQ is based there. Greens are equally concerned at the loss of jobs in the Maidstone sorting office announced last week. The sorting office is to move to Medway with the loss of around 100 jobs and less access to the sorting office by the elderly and those without cars.

Stuart Jeffery, Maidstone Green Party:"Our thoughts go out to those affected by these ridiculous cuts. The closure of the sorting office in Maidstone will not just affect the 100 or so families whose income will be slashed, but it will affect thousands of older people and people without cars who will not be able to travel to Strood to pick up parcels and letters.

"The cuts by Kent Police will add to this misery with the majority of cuts being felt here in Maidstone. Maidstone will see soring unemployment and a devastated economy over the next few years, all based on the destructive and unnecessary cuts being pushed by the Lib Dem / Tory coalition.

"Maidstone Greens will oppose these unnecessary cuts and have written to the Police Federation, Unison and the Communication Workers Union expressing our concern and support. We have also written to the Royal Mail, Chief Constable and local MPs urging them to reconsider."

2. 400 jobs to go across four sorting offices:

Greens welcome KIG decision

5th Aug 2010
Maidstone Greens have welcomed the decision to stop the Kent International Gateway development. They have hailed the success as triumph of local campaigning over the interests of big business. The have called for AXA to fund environmentally beneficial projects rather than ones that destroy the environment.

Stuart Jeffery, Maidstone Green Party: "This is a very welcome decision. Big business cannot be allowed to run roughshod over the will of local people or destroy such a beautiful and useful rural area.

"Let us hope that this matter has been put to rest now and that AXA turn their attention to funding projects which will reduce the impact on the environment rather than destroying it. There is a real need for funding of renewable energy, energy reduction and to help local economies, AXA should really think about investing in projects which will help us now and in the future."

Hands off Oaken Wood!

12th June 2010
Greens in the Maidstone and Tonbridge and Malling areas are backing the campaign to save Oaken Woods from quarrying by Gallaghers. Expressing deep concerns about the wisdom and need for quarrying in Kent, they have stated that Gallaghers need to put the needs of environment before profit and that ancient woodland must be protected. They have further stated that there no need for further road building in Kent and that there are good alternatives for building materials. Maidstone Greens have expressed their concerns to the company.

Stuart Jeffery of Maidstone Green Party: "Gallagher mainly supplies aggregate for road building and stone for house building. While we recognise the need for more social and affordable housing in Maidstone, there is no need for further expansion of our road network, especially when it involves destroying 74 acres of ancient woodland.

"Kentish ragstone may be an attractive building material to use but it is not a practical one. At a time when we should be reducing our carbon footprint, we should be building houses using materials with very high insulation values. We need to be investing in zero carbon alternatives with high insulation values is we are to have a new housing stock for the future.[1]

"Destroying ancient woodland for the sake of building roads is simply shortsighted and greedy. Any promised replacement woodland will not be adequate for the loss of diversity that the area currently has."

1. e.g.

Cannot St service still ConDemned

3rd June 2010
Greens have slammed the government's decision not to reinstate the Cannon St service from Maidstone and branded Conservative and LibDem coallition as failing the people of Maidstone. They have criticised Helen Grant for her rhetoric in the pre-election period and her failure to secure a return of the service.

Stuart Jeffery of Maidstone Green Party: "We are deeply disappointed at the failure of the new ConDem government to back public transport in Maidstone. Despite the rhetoric of both the Lib Dems and Conservatives in the pre-election period, it seems that they had little intention of improving public transport and the promise were simply false.

"Maidstone is the county town of Kent and needs better train links, not to have them continually down graded. The people of Maidstone have been misled by both Conservatives and Lib Dems; Maidstone deserves better.

"Pre-election comments by Helen Grant are especially galling. Despite her declared support for the local rail campaign group, it seems that this was simply an idle promise."