Wednesday, 29 October 2014

29 Oct 2014 Hannah Patton selected as Green Party Candidate for Maidstone and the Weald

Maidstone Green Party has announced its parliamentary candidate for Maidstone and The Weald as Hannah Patton. The announcement comes after a tough selection process and ballot of all local members.

Hannah is 28, works locally as a youth worker and is a former Member of the Youth Parliament for Maidstone.

Hannah Patton, Green Party Parliamentary Candidate for Maidstone and the Weald: "I have been passionate about politics from a very young age, and have been actively involved since I became part of Maidstone Youth Forum 14 years ago.

"Young people have a lot to offer but the younger voter is under represented in parliamentary discussions. I would like young people to have the same opportunities to engage with politics that I have had.

"The future is starting to look bleak for young people, climate change is beginning to shape our weather while government has been hell bent on trying to force pupils through a one-size fits all education system than leaves them disillusioned and ill prepared for the future.

"But education can make a difference. Focussing education on skills for the future is essential. We need to teach young people to think for themselves and to engage with their communities. We must have more focus on citizenship education including sex and relationships, health, politics, alcohol and drug information, as well as money management.

"Our reliance on non-renewable energy must come to an end. The only energy sources that will last into the future are renewable sources and we must switch to these as soon as we can.

"I will be campaigning hard against ‘fracking’ which is likely to come to mid Kent very soon. Fracking is hugely polluting and completely unnecessary.

"And of course, I would really love to represent Maidstone again in Parliament!”

Monday, 20 October 2014

21 Oct 2014 Anger at Fant Farm housing plan

Local Greens have reacted with anger at plans to build on Fant Farm despite huge local opposition stretching back for many years. The Greens fought hard to get Fant Farm removed from the housing plan but the entire housing plan was rejected by Maidstone Borough Council and it has become open season for developers.

Ian McDonald, Prospective Green Party candidate for Fant Ward: "I was horrified to learn of the plans by Gleason Developments to press ahead with a scheme for 270 homes on Fant Farm, a beautiful green-field sit. This is in spite of highly publicised widespread local opposition to plans for new housing on this beauty spot and indeed on other Maidstone green sites, while so many more suitable "brown" sites exist.

"In Maidstone there is a real need for new homes especially social and affordable housing, however is is very doubtful that the Fant Farm development will be anything other than executive homes for the rich.  There is more profit to be made from unhindered new housing developments on green fields than by making former commercial or built sites suitable for homes.

"This is especially sad given our previous campaign to get Fant Farm removed from the local housing plan. While we were partially successful, the Council has thrown the entire plan out, possibly with good intentions, but meaning there is now no plan at all! It seems to be open season for developers.

"The developers' plans include a "country park" on part of the site, but it would be smaller than the present area, and nothing like the present farmland and vistas. In any case the present infrastructure, schools, health centres, bus services and congested streets in Fant cannot support an increase in residential demand on the scale envisaged.

"We believe our Council should get their act together to ensure they do everything they can to stop this unwanted development from going ahead."

ends

Leaflet from Gleeson is here:
http://maidstone.greenparty.org.uk/FF1.jpg
http://maidstone.greenparty.org.uk/FF2.jpg
http://maidstone.greenparty.org.uk/FF3.jpg

Monday, 28 July 2014

28 July 2014: Fracking in Kent will meet with stiff opposition from the Greens

Kent Greens have reacted with dismay at today's news that more fracking licences are to be granted. Stuart Jeffery, Chair of Kent Green Party has called for energy security to be met by renewables and has vowed to step up opposition to any fracking in Kent. The Green Party is the only party opposed to fracking.

Stuart Jeffery, Chair of Kent Green Party: "The Government is charging headlong into environmental disaster. The evidence from fracking sites across the globe demonstrates just how bad this technology is and to claim that it will be different in the UK is frankly ridiculous.

"The government has acknowledged that fracking won't reduce our fuel bills and if we want energy security then we need to be tapping into the huge amount of renewable potential that this country has.

"This summer, global temperatures are breaking records once again. Climate change is the greatest threat to mankind so we need to keep fossil fuels in the ground where they belong rather than increasing extraction.

"We will be watching closely where the licences are to be granted and stepping up our opposition to any fracking here in Kent."

ends

Notes: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-28513036

Sunday, 6 July 2014

7th July 2014: KCC support removal of Maidstone's only cycle lane across the River Medway as supermaket plan is passed

Maidstone Greens have slammed the decision by the Planning Inspector to allow a new supermarket on St Peters Street in Maidstone and have strongly criticised KCC for supporting the removal of the only cycle lane across the river. The Planning Inspector has upheld the appeal for the supermarket which will see a 54% increase in traffic in the area as well as significant loss of pavements used by school children and the loss of the cycle lane.

In allowing the supermarket to go ahead, the Planning Inspector stated that KCC gave "no highways or transportation objection to the application" to the supermarket plan on St Peters Street.

Stuart Jeffery: "I was shocked to learn that KCC did not object to turning the only cycle path across the River Medway in Maidstone into yet another lane for cars to use. Cyclist have a tough time in Maidstone already but we will soon be unable to cycle from one side of the town to the other without using an extremely busy and dangerous road.

"I also cannot understand how KCC did not object to plan which will increase traffic by 54% in a known area of congestion, that would see the removal of the only cycle lane across the river and that would see the pavement which is used by thousands of children to access to the local schools cut in half."

"Either KCC failed to understand the implications of the plan or they failed to assess the plan properly. In a short time cyclists, wheelchair users and pedestrians will be severely disadvantaged in Maidstone."


Sunday, 22 June 2014

23 June 2014: Create jobs for young adults, don't treat them as children

Create jobs, value real work and encourage young people rather than cutting their benefits and treating them as children is the message from Kent Greens. This comes after Labour's announcement that they would cut benefits for 18-21 year olds. The Greens are calling for investment in jobs that support sustainability rather than insisting young adults go back into education.

Stuart Jeffery, Chair of Kent Greens: "Labour has joined the Coalition's assault on younger people with their plan to end benefits for young adults without A Levels or equivalent. Insisting that 18 to 21 year olds have to get more education and must live with their parents if they are struggling to find work is simply treating these young adults as children.

"Labour need to recognise that not everyone needs to be educated to A Level standard and in fact having a mix of education is better for society.  We need to start valuing jobs that don't have a high educational basis; farm labourers, cleaners and road sweepers are some of the most important people in society.

"Secondly, forcing young adults to become dependent children again will simply alienate them. We need to recognise that people will act as adults only when they are treated as such.

"Finally, the most important issue is that jobs are needed for young people. Cutting benefits will not create jobs but government investment in the right types of industry will. "


Sunday, 27 April 2014

28th Apr 2014: Maidstone Borough Council election: Green Party candidates

Maidstone Green Party is standing a record number of candidates in this year's local election in the Borough. The Party have candidates in 15 of the 18 wards where there are elections.

Robin Kinrade, election agent for Maidstone Green Party: "It is great to know that that most people in the Borough are able to vote for a party that really cares about their future and that has policies that resonate with people.

"We have an excellent chance in Fant Ward where we are within just a handful of votes of winning after the last result of 23% and a winning post of 32%. We also have a superb chance in Headcorn where we got 29% last time and with UKIP splitting the Conservative vote we can take the seat.

"I'm looking forward to an exciting election!"

ends:

Green Party Candidates in the 2014 Maidstone Borough Council elections

Allington: David Thompson
Bearsted: Ciaran Oliver
Boxley: Hannah Patton
Bridge: Donna Greenan
East: Jim Shalice
Fant: Stuart Jeffery
Headcorn: Penny Kemp
Heath: Irene Shepherd
High Street: Wendy Lewis
Marden & Yalding: Ian McDonald
North: Derek Eagle
Parkwood: Joan Langrick
Shepway North: Stephen Muggeridge
South: Wendy Hedgecock
Staplehurst: Robin Kinrade

Monday, 14 April 2014

14 Apr 2014: 75 people died in 2010 and almost 7000 pupils are at high risk of lung disease in Maidstone

75 people died in 2010 and almost 7000 pupils are at high risk of lung disease. 12 schools are close to roads that carry over 10,000 vehicles per day based on research by Keith Taylor, Green MEP for the South East. Research has also shown that living near heavy traffic points can be attributed to 15-30% of new asthma cases in children as well as affecting the development of lung capacity.

Stuart Jeffery, prospective parliamentary candidate for Maidstone and the Weald: "This link between air quality, traffic and health has been understood for a long time by the Greens yet getting clear data from the government has been difficult. Public health data now show that 25,000 people died as a result of air pollution in 2010 from traffic - approximately 5.6% of all deaths.

"Here in Maidstone, in line with the national average, 75 people died as a direct result of poor air quality in 2010 - 5.6% of all deaths. 10 times more people died as a result of air pollution from traffic as died by from vehicle collisions.

"It is long past the point when air pollution from traffic should have been tackled properly. Urgent action is needed including a significant investment in cycling, walking, public transport and local jobs."

Schools:


School NameNumber of pupils
Loose Infant School271
Loose Junior School362
Brunswick House Primary School420
St Michaels CEI School, Maidstone120
Maplesden Noakes School, The1060
Maidstone Grammar School1273
East Borough Primary School426
St Michaels CEJ School, Maidstone162
Maidstone Grammar School for Girls1265
Invicta Grammar School1220
South Borough Primary School227
Total:6806

Thursday, 3 April 2014

03 Apr 2014: Former Lib Dem candidate defects to the Green Party

A Lib Dem defection to the Green Party has boosted the chances of Maidstone electing its first Green Councillor. The 2012 Lib Dem candidate for Fant Ward in Maidstone, Irene Shepherd, has defected to the Green Party and is supporting Stuart Jeffery to be elected in Fant Ward.

Irene cited the Lib Dem failure to protect the environment as the primary cause of her dissatisfaction with the Lib Dems. Stuart was just 8% from winning the seat last time in 2012 and the Conservatives have been tweeting that the race is between Blue and Green in the Ward[1].

Irene Shepherd: "I am really pleased to have found a party that really cares about the environment and is prepared to do what it takes to protect it. I have been hugely impressed by Caroline Lucas's stand against fracking that has landed her in court and thoroughly disappointed by the Lib Dems backing of it. Fracking is likely to come to parts of Maidstone soon and we must do all we can to stop it. I was also very disappointed over their u-turn regarding nuclear power, an issue that the Greens have consistently opposed.

"I have been very impressed by the local Green Party, their real environmental principles and their leadership to stop the proposed housing on Fant Farm's grade 1 agricultural land. I am really keen to support Stuart's fight to win Fant Ward where he is the front runner in the race."

Stuart Jeffery, Green candidate for Fant Ward: "I am really pleased to welcome Irene to the Green Party! It is very clear that the Lib Dems try to claim environmental principles but they are backing fracking, airport expansion, road expansion and nuclear power - none of which are in anyway green. I'm sure Irene will be an asset to us."

Monday, 24 March 2014

24th March 2014: MEP hosts 'after the flood' public discussion in Maidstone

One of South East England's Euro-MPs will be in Maidstone this weekend meeting residents affected by recent floods.

Keith Taylor, the Green Party's MEP for Kent, will be in Maidstone on Saturday 29th March. He is inviting local residents to join him on Clifford Way at 3.30pm to discuss the issues facing the area after the heavy rain earlier this year.

Mr Taylor has pledged to take residents concerns to the relevant authorities such as Kent County Council and the Environment Agency.

Mr Taylor is also gathering signatures on a petition which urges the Government to reverse cuts in the Environment Agency to protect people from future floods.

Ahead of going to Maidstone on Saturday Mr Taylor said:

“Across my constituency, people were hit by these devastating floods. On Saturday I’m hoping to meet people who were affected by floods, and listen to what they think we should be doing to protect ourselves in the future.

It’s clear that the Government’s response to these floods wasn’t good enough, and it’s vital that we learn lessons for the future. It also seems likely that this kind of weather event will become more frequent because of climate change.

I’d encourage everyone in the area to come along on Saturday to talk together about where we go from here and how we protect homes in Maidstone and beyond from floods.”

Sunday, 23 March 2014

23rd March 2014: Flooding 3 months on and no action yet

Three months on from the Christmas floods along the River Medway, little has been done by government and Maidstone Greens are demanding action. The Greens are calling for new woodland and marsh land, a ban on floodplain building, action to help people return home and for subways to be finally free of water.

Stuart Jeffery, Green Party Prospective Parliamentary Candidate: "Three months on from the floods and there has been a lot of talk and but no ideas or action from the government. It is time for real action and investment to prevent the worst of the flooding when it next happens.

"People along the Medway need to know that there is a plan and that it is being carried out.

"We need to see urgent investment in new woodland and marsh land. These are key to preventing run off of water into the river. Woodland drains water into the soil 67 times faster than grass land.

"We must ban building on flood plains, just as the Dutch government did 30 years ago. Building more flooding homes will simply cause more misery for more people as their new homes flood. Concreting the land that should be soaking up the water is simply madness.

"And we must help people return to normal life as quickly as possible. The subways remain flooded in the centre of Maidstone and there are still people in Yalding who haven't returned home."



23rd March 2014: Maidstone councillors' secret voting

Research by Maidstone Green Party has revealed that councillors in Maidstone did not have any 'recorded votes' during 2013. A recorded vote is one where the votes of individual councillors on an formal proposal are noted in the minutes. The local Greens have criticised this and called for all important decisions to have a full record of voting so that the public knows what their councillors are doing.

Stuart Jeffery, Maidstone Green Party: "In a democracy, people need to know what the politicians are actually doing so they can hold them to account. Maidstone's councillors seem to think this is not important and their failure to properly record how they have voted on key decisions last year is a real slap in voters' faces.

"Not recording their votes allows them to say one thing in public while acting differently in meetings. While the council meetings are filmed, anyone wanting to know what happened has hours of footage to wade through. For example, while the Lib Dems publicly claim to want to protect green spaces it is clear from anyone watching last April's council meeting that they voted to allow building on them.

"The public deserves better than this. People continue to be angry at politicians and Maidstone councillors are as much to blame for this as MPs who cheat on expenses. This is clear failure of democracy and one that the Maidstone Greens will reverse."

Monday, 17 March 2014

17th March 2014 - Smog across Maidstone requires action

Maidstone Greens have called for Paris style action on air quality following last weeks smog and health alerts. Last Thursday, the South East was enveloped in a smog that triggered health warnings from DEFRA. In Maidstone, the Maidstone Rural monitoring (at Detling) recorded high levels of PM10, the substance known to cause respiratory and heart problems.

Stuart Jeffery, Maidstone Green Party: "At one point on Thursday 'Very High' levels of air pollution was showing across the South East. While DEFRA had warned even healthy people to reduce physical exertion outdoors, there was no response from government to try to reduce the amount of pollution being created.

"In this country 30,000 people die prematurely each year as a direct result of air pollution from traffic.

"Across the Channel in Paris, they were in an equally bad state with people being told to avoid going outdoors in early morning or late afternoon, however the city has decided to make public transport free for the weekend to try to reduce the pollution, an action that would help in Kent too."

Notes:

http://uk-air.defra.gov.uk/latest/index?date=13%2F03%2F2014#summary
http://www.kentair.org.uk/latest/index?site_id=ZM3&date=13%2F03%2F2014&view=latest

Sunday, 9 March 2014

9th March 2014: Lib Dems call for housing on Fant Farm

Revelations that a Maidstone Liberal Democrat councillor spoke in favour of building on Fant Farm in 2011, and others would accept building there, have emerged in leaked minutes from the Council. The minutes are from a meeting in 2011 where councillors discussed strategic housing sites in North West Maidstone with Council officers. The Green Party have stated that the revelation demonstrates increasing hypocrisy in the Lib Dem campaigning as they have been maintaining that they are campaigning against building on the site.

Stuart Jeffery, Green Party campaigner in Fant Ward: "Just last year the Lib Dems voted to lift the council's ban on building on green field sites and now we have this revelation that they had spoken in favour of building on Fant Farm just a few years ago.

"While they are continually trying to appear that they want to protect green spaces and pretending to campaign against building on Fant Farm, it is clear that they are at best ambivalent about saving the farm land. Coupled with their failure to turn up to speak against the building on Fant Farm at last month's scrutiny committee, it is about time the public knew where they really stand on the issue.

"While the Lib Dem position is increasingly unclear, it would seem now that only the Green Party are truly committed to protecting our green spaces. We have been fighting to protect places such as Fant Farm for many years and we will continue to do so. What is more, our public statements will match our actions."

Reported statements from Lib Dem Councillors 12th June 2011:
DALEY – Develop section opposite open space on Gatland Lane.
C. ROBERTSON – Does not wish to see developed but if necessary square off northern edge of site.
VIZZARD – Boundary to run from southern edge of housing development on eastern side to crossroad with Glebe Lane – making a triangle, but generally not supportive.


Wednesday, 26 February 2014

27th Feb 2014 - Maidstone's temporary accomodation costs quadruple in five years

The amount that Maidstone Borough Council has spent on providing households with temporary accommodation has quadrupled in the past five year figures revealed by a Freedom of Information request have show. The revelation comes in a week when Kent County Council have decided to end emergency loans to people in crisis.

Stuart Jeffery, Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Maidstone and the Weald: "I was shocked to see another indication of just how desperate the homelessness situation has become in Maidstone. A four fold increase in placing people in emergency accommodation is staggering.

"Two months ago I spent a night on the street raising money for the winter shelter in Maidstone and I have worked a couple of night shifts at the shelter itself. This gave me a little insight into just how difficult it can be when work disappears, illness starts and support fails to materialise.

"Local and national government are failing people who need it most. Maidstone is not providing enough affordable accommodation and the Coalition government is cutting support for people who need it most. There is a real conspiracy against people in need."

ends.

Notes:
Costs revealed by FOI:
12/13     £440,447
11/12     £364,876
10/11     £172,701
09/10     £119,955
08/09     £111,894

Crisis loan to end: http://www.kentonline.co.uk/kentonline/news/crisis-loans-13300

Monday, 24 February 2014

25th Feb 2014: Draft Local Plan: A slap in the face of people needing homes


Maidstone Greens have welcomed the decision to exclude a number of greenfield sites from the draft Local Plan at yesterday's Cabinet meeting. The sites that are no longer under threat are Fant Farm, Cross Keys, Cripple Street and a site in Ware Street. They have also welcomed the additional use of brownfield sites in the town centre.

However, the Greens have criticised the continued focus on high proportions of homes that do not fall into the 'affordable housing' category and the target housing numbers which while too high, fail to identify the real need for affordable homes. Maidstone has seen a huge rise in homelessness over the past five years.

Stuart Jeffery, Maidstone Green Party: "While I am pleased that places such as Fant Farm are no longer at risk, the draft Local Plan still fails to meet the needs of the people while building unnecessary mansions across many greenfield sites.

"I am particularly concerned that the plan still allows for low proportions of affordable homes, the type of homes most urgently needed in the Borough. While they are trying to identify space for seventeen of the twenty thousand homes that they think are needed, they are only seeking around 6000 affordable homes.

"To meet the current and future needs, the Council should be aiming for around 8000 affordable homes but only around 2000 unaffordable ones. This decision is a real slap in the face of the hundreds of people and families desperate for somewhere to live in Maidstone.

"We will continue to challenge this plan and we urge others to make sure that they have their say too."

Sunday, 16 February 2014

£200k for Yalding flood defences goes missing - 17th Feb 2014

Green Party prospective parliamentary candidate for Maidstone and the Weald, Stuart Jeffery, has echoed calls for Owen Paterson, the Secretary of State for the Environment to be sacked[1] after the Guardian newspaper[2] revealed today that £200,000 spending on flood defences for Yalding was scrapped by the government. Last month Stuart wrote to Owen Paterson[3] to demand urgent action for Maidstone.

Stuart Jeffery: "Yalding remains under severe threat from climate change and yet the government has cut funding to defend it throwing local peoples homes to the floods. £200,000 should have been spent helping to prevent people's homes being ruined this Christmas yet this climate change denying environment secretary seems to know better.

"Owen Paterson should be sacked for his handling of the flood risks and for his continued denial of climate change. The science on climate change is certain and it is clear that the flooding this winter will continue to get worse in years to come as climate change develops.

"Urgent action is needed for Yalding. This includes flood defences, moving some historic buildings out of harms way and of course measures by the government to tackle climate change."

ends.

Notes:
1. http://greenparty.org.uk/news/2014/02/05/green-party-calls-for-environment-secretary-owen-paterson-to-be-sacke/
2. http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/feb/16/flood-area-defences-funding-cuts
3. http://www.stuartjeffery.net/2014/01/flooding-in-maidstone.html

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Housing allocations: turning countryside into concrete - 11th Feb 2014

The draft housing allocations published by Maidstone Borough Council this week have been dubbed as 'turning countryside into concrete' by Maidstone Greens. The Council are proposing 5,100 affordable homes plus 12,000 large houses across the Borough.

Stuart Jeffery: "The plans are horrific, turning countryside in concrete across the Borough. Fant Farm with its Grade 1 agricultural land gets 355 houses built on it, 1,200 houses around Hermitage Lane and nearly 3,000 around Sutton Road.

"Worse still is the low numbers of affordable housing being proposed, just 5,100 out of 17,100. Maidstone urgently needs small affordable homes for families and single people, not 12,000 mansions on our countryside. We believe a figure of around 8,000 affordable homes is needed.

"It is clear that much needed farm land, wood land and other countryside is being sacrificed for huge, unaffordable homes that are simply not needed."

ends.

See:
http://services.maidstone.gov.uk/documents/s34695/140218%20Maidstone%20Borough%20Local%20Plan%20Public%20Consultation%20Draft%20Regulation%2018_v1%20SA%20changes%204feb14.pdf

http://services.maidstone.gov.uk/documents/s34682/Appendix%20A%20Maidstone%20Borough%20Local%20Plan%20-%20Preparation%20Regulation%2018%202014.pdf

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Don't close Maidstone's play areas - 5th Feb 2014

Maidstone Greens have condemned the proposed closure[1] of 20 play areas in Maidstone deemed 'unimportant' by the council[3] and its surrounding villages and are urging people to write to the council to object. Maidstone has the highest proportion of overweight children at reception school age in the South East, i.e. 24.4% of  4 year olds are overweight[2].

Stuart Jeffery, Green Party campaigner in Fant Ward where one of the closures is proposed: "Roseholme is full of young families that need places such as the play area for their kids. The play area is in urgent need of investment, but that is hardly the fault of the local people, it is simply neglect by the council.

"Maidstone has a real problem with health of our children and restricting their access to play areas will simply make this problem worse. Making parents travel further to a play area will simply mean that fewer children get the exercise they need.

"I will be fighting against the closure of all these important play areas and I urge people to tell the council exactly what they think. The Conservative's plan is ludicrous and damanging, we must stop it."

ends.

Notes:

1. http://www.maidstone.gov.uk/council/have-your-say/current-consultations/draft-play-area-strategy2. Public Health England http://fingertips.phe.org.uk/profile/national-child-measurement-programme/data#gid/8000011/pat/6/ati/101/page/0/par/E12000008/are/E07000110
3. The 20 'unimportant' play areas that are likely to close:

Woolley Road, Senacre
Westmorland Cl, Shepway South
Juniper Close, Allington
Franklin Drive, Grove Green
Reinden Grove, Downswood
Riverhead Close, Allington
Somerset Road, Shepway
Whitebeam Drive, Coxheath
Keswick Drive, Allington
Cockpits, Marden
Peverel Drive, Grove Green
Crownfields, Grove Green
Fairhurst Drive, Dean Street
Bedgebury Cl, Vinters Park
Roseholme, Fant
Fountain Park, South
James Street, Town Centre
Shaw Cl, Penenden Heath
Freshland Rd, Queens Rd
Shepherds Gate Dr, Grove Gn

Monday, 20 January 2014

Yalding, is it viable? - 20th Jan 2014


"We need a study into the future viability of villages such as Yalding", is the call from Maidstone Greens. While government discuss the possibility of a "Yalding Garden City"[1], the Greens point out that the flooding is set to get more frequent and more extreme in future years and climate change increases and the best option may be retreat.The Greens made the call in their submission[2] to the Council's consultation on a Green and Blue Strategy.

Stuart Jeffery, Green Prospective Parliamentary Candidate: "Yalding needs a future, yet all government seems to do is talk about more houses on flood plains while failing to protect those already built. The flooding in places like Yalding is going to get worse - climate change means more extreme weather at increased frequency which for Kent in winter means more flooding.

"Yalding has two options, the government could invest massively in flood defences to fight Nature or it could move people away from the worst of the flooding. Moving people, and potentially some of the historic buildings in Yalding, may be a more difficult political pill to swallow but it could provide the only long term solution.

"We want to see an unbiased study into the options for Yalding, and other villages that suffer regularly with floods, as we believe doing nothing is not an option."

ends.

1. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/10582801/We-want-to-build-a-garden-city-or-two-says-Eric-Pickles.html
2. Submission to MBC on 21st Jan 2014:

Maidstone Green Party would like to make the following points in response to your consultation on the draft Green and Blue Infrastructure Strategy:

  • A study should be commissioned on the future viability of Yalding and other villages at high risk of flooding
  • The proposed reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, while being at the level set out by Parliament, are too low and we suggest that Maidstone Borough Council should be carbon free by 2020 and the Borough should have reduced emissions by 90% by 2030 from 1990 levels
  • The use of new woodland should be considered to reduce fluvial flooding
  • Ancient woodland should receive the highest level of protection against development
  • Fracking, or any extraction of unconventional fossil fuels should be banned from within the Borough and MBC should strongly object to such proposals.
  • ensure that planning proposals protect existing wildlife habitats and include public open space
  • enhance the biodiversity at all public open spaces, where this would not conflict with its recreational use, and ensure they are appropriately managed in the future
  • reduce the Council’s use of herbicides and pesticides in public parks, open spaces, tennis courts, streets, etc. Organic weed control methods should be adopted wherever possible promote the benefits of organic, locally produced food, and local distribution networks or box schemes
  • lobby the Government and EC to improve incentives for producers to switch to free range and organic food production, and remove incentives for large scale monoculture and factory farming, which have devastating effects on biodiversity, animal welfare, soils and water quality
  • encourage schools and other institutions to use organic and GM-free ingredients
  • encourage local shops and supermarkets to sell a greater proportion of food that has been produced locally, organically and ethically
  • persuade the Council to work with Allotments Associations to develop an Allotments Strategy – to protect existing sites, provide new sites in new large development, ensure that they are well maintained, promoted, and have areas set aside for organic production
  • work with charities, such as the Woodland Trust to plant new woods and establish new wildlife habitats around the borough with public access
  • have planning policies that protect all rivers, wetlands and their vicinities from any negative developments. Work with the Environment Agency to enhance watercourse in the council’s ownership and promote restoration to landowners where appropriate.

Monday, 13 January 2014

Maidstone subways still flooded 3 weeks later - 13th Jan 2014

Four out of five subways used by pedestrians and cyclists in Maidstone remain closed and flooded nearly three weeks after the floods came, blocking the only cycle path between East and West Maidstone. Kent County Council are unsure when they will be re-opened [1]. Maidstone is the most dangerous place in Kent for pedestrians and cyclists[2].

Stuart Jeffery, Green Party parliamentary candidate for Maidstone: "The fact that cyclists are unable to cross from one side of the river to the other safely three weeks after the floods is unbelievable. Pedestrians are taking their lives into their own hands crossing the gyratory by the Broadway Shopping Centre and near Drakes.

"While Kent County Council concentrate on the roads they are once again ignoring the needs of people who do not have cars. Maidstone remains the most dangerous place in Kent for cyclists and pedestrians and it is about time KCC woke up to this."


Notes:
1. Phone call to Kent Highways 13/1/14
2. http://maidstonegreenpartynews.blogspot.co.uk/2013/09/maidstone-most-dangerous-place-to-walk.html
3. Only the subway connecting the High St with the south side of the south bridge is open. The other four are all closed and flooded. Photos taken 13th Jan 2014



Sunday, 12 January 2014

Supermarket plan refusal welcomed - 12th Jan 2014

Maidstone Greens have welcomed the notional refusal of a new supermarket on St Peters Street in Maidstone by Maidstone Borough Council at Thursday's Planning Committee and they are calling on local residents to make their feelings known to the Secretary of State / Planning Inspector who will be deciding the application now that it has gone straight to appeal.

Stuart Jeffery spoke at the planning meeting on behalf of the Green Party and also on behalf of local residents. The meeting was attended by around 20 local residents who are concerned about the impact of the proposal which would see a 54% increase in traffic and the removal of the only cycle land between West and East Maidstone.

Stuart Jeffery: "The plan for the supermarket in an already congested residential area is simply untenable. The impact on lives would be appalling with traffic levels rising by 54%, St Peters St and Buckland Hill would be gridlocked for most of the time, not just on Saturdays and during rush hour as they presently are.


"Removing the only cycle lane across the river in Maidstone is a ridiculous idea, as is the loss of the footpath on Buckland Hill, a footpath used by many of the thousands of school children in the local area. These suggestions are truly awful in the Borough with the highest number of cyclists and pedestrians killed or seriously injured in Kent.


"We are urging people to write to the Secretary of State to oppose the plan and to continue to campaign against it."

Notes:
1. Planning Inspectorate / Secretary of State:  http://www.pcs.planningportal.gov.uk/pcsportal/ViewCase.asp?caseid=2209693&coid=111105
2. Speech given to Planning Committee:

Mr Chairman, members of planning committee, thank you for allowing me to address you in objection to this proposal. Many of you will know me from my political work and while I am representing some of the views the Green Party and presenting our petition, I am primarily here to put forward a mixture of views from many local residents including the recently formed residents association during the one small slot that we are collectively allowed.

There are three key points which I will draw your attention to:


Firstly, we do not believe that the impact of the additional traffic on the immediate area has been assessed properly.


The assessment was made using three short slots of 1 hour, none of which were at peak times.

Buckland Hill and St Peters St are regularly grid locked with queues, especially on Saturdays and during rush hour. They cannot cope with at least 50% more traffic.


The proposed road widenings will be detrimental to other users and residents including:


  • The vast number of school children that walk to school in the area (6 major schools including Oakwook Park complex and MGGS / Maplesden)
  • The cycle path on North Bridge will be lost and therefore the main cycle route from West Maidstone will disappear.
  • Maidstone already has the highest number of pedestrians and cyclists Killed or Seriously Injured anywhere in Kent.
  • The railway bridge on Buckland Hill will still act as a significant restriction
  • The trees which act as sound and pollution barriers will be lost which will be detrimental to residents and pedestrians
  • Reduced access to houses on Buckland hill will increase the risk of accidents
Furthermore, PM10 air pollution already kills 70 people each year in the borough. Air quality will decline significantly.

With the estimated 75% of users being from West Maidstone, cars will not exit the supermarket along St Peters St in the main, they will travel up Buckland Hill towards their homes.


They will also travel down Buckland Hill to the supermarket. There are already significant problems with cars turning right into Buckland Hill from the west bound A20. This will increase along with the number of accidents.


These factors mean that we feel the impact on travel has not been properly assessed or understood, yet will be devastating to local people.


Secondly, there are now 7 supermarkets within a one mile radius of this site. Your notes show that council already has a better plan at Maidstone East. The proposed supermarket is not required.

Finally I refer you to 3.2.6 in your briefing papers. “The borough council should only consider permitting the application… if no other viable uses could be identified”.

  • This site is perfect for affordable apartments which would be in keeping with the style of housing that surrounds the site and which would not significantly increase traffic levels.
  • Alternative uses have been suggested such as a cultural venue.
We therefore urge you to decline this proposal

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Appalled by benefits evictions - 5th Jan 2014

Maidstone Greens have been appalled to hear that Fergus Wilson is evicting 200 households simply because they are on benefits [1] and are calling on him to reconsider. The news comes shortly after the eightfold rise in homelessness in Maidstone was mentioned in a KCC report into the welfare changes[2].

Stuart Jeffery, Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Maidstone: "In my opinion, Fergus Wilson's action to evict 200 tenants for being in receipt of benefits is immoral and I urge him to reconsider his decision. His portfolio of properties covers Maidstone, which has seen an eight fold rise in homelessness in the past three years and now is sure to rise even higher.

"Discriminating against people in need of benefits is simply wrong and now a further 200 families will be looking for a home because of the combined Conservative and Lib Dem assault on people in need and Mr Wilson's desire to put profit before people.

"There is a very real housing problem in Maidstone and there needs to be positive action taken to rapidly reverse the rise in homelessness."

Notes:

1. http://www.theguardian.com/money/2014/jan/04/buy-to-let-landlord-evicts-housing-benefit-tenants
2. http://twileshare.com/bhdj