Thursday, 27 September 2012

By-election candidates

28th Sept 2012
Maidstone Green Party are standing two candidates in next month's local by-elections. Jill Shepherd is standing for the Borough Council seat in Allington and Stuart Jeffery is standing for the County Council seat for Maidstone Central.

Jill Shepherd works for the Open University and also runs a company helping children learn Chinese. Jill has a family and lives in Bearsted.

Stuart Jeffery works as a manager in the NHS and is a registered nurse. He is Chair of Kent Greens and lives close to Maidstone's town centre.

They are campaigning on a range of issues including:

  • We want a new democracy, one where councillors are on the side of residents and are not told how to vote by their party. We will be independent Greens with no party whip.
  • We want 20mph streets where people live which will improve road safety, reduce pollution and improve communities.
  • We will fight the ideologically driven austerity cuts and campaign for much needed jobs
  • We want local schools for local people, not selective schools that turn children into commuters.
  • Cheaper and more frequent buses, a proper network of cycle lanes and pavements that are not obstacle courses.
  • These are essential for people who are not using cars - we will campaign tirelessly for them.
  • Councils up and down the country are offering people free insulation. People in Maidstone are facing rapidly rising fuel bills and yet the offer of free insulation is not available. We want to change this unfair situation that helps no-one.

Thursday, 20 September 2012

3p per day to protect people against the worst of the council tax benefit cuts

21st September 2012
Maidstone Greens have expressed real concern that Maidstone Borough Council are not doing everything in their power to protect people on council tax benefit against the Coalition's cuts to Council Tax Benefit. The Lib Dem / Conservative government are reducing their council tax benefit payment to local councils by 10% next year, a cut that will fall on the under 65s.

Maidstone Borough Council is consulting on whether to reduce benefits by between 13% and 24.5%, however Maidstone Greens have shown that by increasing council tax by 3.5%, rather than the 2.5% they are planning, the council can go further to help mitigate the effects of the cuts.

At Wednesday's Council meeting, the Greens questioned whether the council was really doing all it can to protect vulnerable people.

Stuart Jeffery, Maidstone Green Party: "It is clear that the council can go further that it is planning to. It is right for those who can afford to pay council tax to help those who can’t, which is why we are calling on the council to think again about it's proposals.

"While no-one wants to pay more tax, an extra 3p per day per household would provide £150k to help households in real need. People that can afford to pay their council tax are likely to be able to find 3p. We are calling on Maidstone Borough Council to raise council tax by 3.5% next year to help protect vulnerable people in the borough.

"With 13% of children in families claiming benefits and those benefits facing huge cuts, poverty is set to increase drastically. It is essential that the council does all it can to help."

  • This question was put to the Council meeting of Maidstone Borough Council: "Noting the 10% reduction in central government grant for Council Tax Benefit, to what extent could the shortfall in funding be reduced if council tax was raised in 13/14"