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."


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.