Monday, 29 October 2012

A 'Living Wage' in Maidstone

29th October 2012
As KMPG reveal that 1 in 5 workers are paid less that is needed for a basic standard of living (1), including 90% of bar staff and 85% of waiters and waitresses, Maidstone Green Party has called on all businesses, including clubs and restaurants, in Maidstone to pay a 'Living Wage'.

Maidstone is widely considered to have the busiest night economy in Kent. The living wage is considered to be £7.20 per hour outside London(2). Living Wage week runs from the 4th November to 10th (3).

Stuart Jeffery comments: "Paying people less that the minimum needed to live on is morally wrong and it about time that it damaged the reputations of those companies that pay workers too little.

"The benefits trap is clearly visible when you start from the perspective of the Living Wage. People cannot be expected to work for an income that does not provide a basic standard of living. As a minimum, people need to have a basic quality of life when working.

"We are calling on all companies in Maidstone to sign up to being a Living Wage Employer. Just as other employment schemes have raised the bar on worker's rights, the simple concept of paying people enough to live on has to be tackled.



Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Stop the planning sprawl

2nd October 2012
Maidstone Greens have heavily criticised the council in their submission to the strategic sites consultation. Maidstone Borough Council have proposed building 3000 houses, mostly large executive homes, on farm land in the borough. The Greens have called for high density affordable homes and social housing to be developed within the existing footprint of the town to meet current housing pressures and to preserve much needed arable land.

The Greens have stated that the need for housing is predominantly for younger people and young families who need to be close to good transport links, schools and employment.

Stuart Jeffery, Maidstone Green Party: "It is simply absurd to build large executive homes on much needed farm land. Building houses to suit the rich at the expense of land needed for jobs and food has to be wrong.

"The council needs to focus on providing homes for young people and young families. They also need to ensure that new homes don't end up increasing traffic flows significantly and the best way to do this is to develop them close to existing infrastructure while improving public transport, walking and cycling.

"Building high density homes can be problematic if it is done badly. Making sure that they are built as communities with close, accessible green areas around them is essential.

"The council also need to focus on bringing empty properties back into use. There are over 500 long term empty homes in the borough which could contribute significantly to reduce the demand for homes."



Monday, 1 October 2012

Maidstone Council's Manifesto for More Cars

1st October 2012
Maidstone Green Party have responded to the Council's consultation on transport and labelling it the "Maidstone Council's Manifesto for More Cars". They have pointed to the proposed allocations in the draft strategy which would put 75% of the investment, some £29m, into road widening and just 3%, or £1m, into encouraging people to walk or cycle. The Green's submission is available here.

Stuart Jeffery, Maidstone Green Party: "The consultation paper clearly sets out just how fixated the council is on increasing the traffic in the town. Spending 75% of the money widening roads and increasing traffic flows will simply mean more cars, more pollution and ultimately more jams.

"The strategy should be focused on reducing car use through viable alternatives, making the roads safer with schemes like a blanket 20mph limit in residential areas and making walking and cycling a priority. Spending just 3% on cycling and walking won't achieve this.

"Cutting off the residents in St Andrew's Road to ease the traffic of the unnecessary housing sprawl that they have planned for Hermitage Lane is a prime example of the poorly thought through plans.

"This really is Maidstone Council's Manifesto for More Cars and it must not be allowed to become their strategy."