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