Sunday, 30 July 2017

Paul on Politics

I had my first appearance on KMTV's Paul on Politics (Freeview channel 07 in Kent). We discussed the governments ban on petrol and diesel cars due in a mere 23 years time, brexit and its impact on nursing numbers, and passenger satisfaction of rail services.

I was on with Cllr Tristan Osborne, a Labour councillor from Medway, a very nice guy. Interestingly he called for the railways to be run as cooperatives rather than re-nationalised. Clearly a better option than the mix of corporations and foreign states who hold the franchises currently but I don't think it is any where near as good as being in public hands as long as there is strong political will to ensure the right level of investment.

The piece on electric cars was good. I have a Renault Zoe, it's very cheap to run and zero emission, especially as a charge it with 100% renewable energy from Ecotricity, but we can't replace every car with an electric one. I'm lucky that I have a driveway to park on and charge in the evenings. Without that I would spend an hour or two every other day sitting at a charging point. Most people live in homes without drives and we would need charging points at every place where it is possible to park, i.e. every 15 feet along the road. And the amount of electricity required would be enormous:


  • 26 million cars in the UK
  • Assume 10,000 miles per year per car
  • 5 miles per KwH (best case: driving very carefully in the summer, i.e. like a saint)
  • would need 52 million MwH for a year
  • or 6,000 Mw of constant generation (6 additional nuclear power stations)
  • add 50% for lorries, vans and buses: 9 nukes or 75 Twh
alternatively
  • passenger miles are around 700 billion Km per year in the UK 
  • 5 miles per KwH (best case: driving very carefully in the summer, i.e. like a saint)
  • equating to 437 billion miles and 87.5 billion KwH or 87.5 million MwH (with lorries etc. around additional 15 nukes)
  • the UK produced 389,000,000 MwH in 2008
  • and 52 million MwH from nukes
  • i.e. a 25% increase in electricity generation if everyone drives like a saint
  • normal driving doubles energy use...

So if everyone drove like a saint the best case would be for a 20% increase in electricity generation (9 additional nuclear power stations) or likely case around 50% increase or 30 nukes.

The London Array (wind in the North Sea) with 175 turbines produced 2.5 TwH in 2015. We would need between 20 and 70 additional London Arrays to meet road electricity use.

Saturday, 29 July 2017

MGGS and Discrimination

I was shocked to read about a student at Maidstone Girls Grammar School, a school to which both my wife and daughter went to and where I was a parent governor for a short period (I was expelled from the governors for speaking out against the selective system), being told to cover her shaved head. Read more here.

She shaved her head for charity, a noble act and one that raises awareness, and unlike a boy who did similar last year, she was told to put on a head scarf. This is from a school which has previously prided itself on women's rights.

I have written to the head teacher Miss Stanley, please add your voices too, their email is central@mggs.org

This is my letter:

Dear Miss Stanley

I was saddened and disappointed to see your comments in the KM Online yesterday, asking Maddie Santon-Williams to cover her head. I do not accept your excuse that you are concerned about other pupils with health conditions - one of the points of a shaved head is to show solidarity. From the information I have this seems to be a straightforward case of gender discrimination .

Given the good history of your school championing women's rights I urge you to reconsider your stance and apologise to Maddie.

Kind regards

Stuart

Thursday, 27 July 2017

Too little, too late: no political will to tackle air pollution

News that petrol and diesel cars won’t be on sale after 2040 and that council are to receive £255m to tackle air pollution[1] has been branded “too little too late” by local Greens who have led the air pollution campaign in Maidstone. Comments by Maidstone’s Lib Dem leader[2] that change will be too difficult have been slammed by the Greens.

Stuart Jeffery, Green Party Parliamentary Candidate for Maidstone in 2017: “There is an appalling lack of political will to tackle deadly air pollution that is killing 130 people each year in Maidstone and this week’s announcements are too little, too late. Nationally government doesn’t want to take the urgent action needed despite a national death toll of over 40,000 people each year.

“Locally, the Lib Dems in Maidstone don’t have the ideas or will to tackle the pollution from traffic. As the Lib Dem leader suggests that the problem of traffic as too difficult to deal with perhaps she should stand down and let those of us with ideas make the much needed changes.

“We need live air pollution monitoring in Maidstone, significant investment in alternatives to cars, lobbying of government for diesel scrappage, far more electric charging, far more local renewable energy and we are going to need to reduce traffic in the town with a congestion charge and closures on high pollution days. Our EU neighbours have been doing most of these for years, it is time for us to bite the bullet."


  1. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-40723581 
  2. http://www.kentonline.co.uk/kent/news/motorists-could-face-charges-on-129507/


Friday, 7 July 2017

Maidstone's Lib Dems and Tories vote for more air pollution

At Maidstone Borough Council's Strategic Planning, Sustainability and Transportation Committee on 13th June, 2017, councillors agreed a draft Low Emission Strategy that they felt was reasonable to go out to consultation.

The strategy was triggered by Green pressure directly to the council both at a full council meeting and in the press after we exposed central London levels of pollution in the town.

You can read their strategy here.

The following councillors unanimously approved the draft strategy:

Councillor Clive EnglishCommittee MemberLib Dem
Councillor David BurtonChairmanConservative
Councillor James WillisCommittee MemberLib Dem
Councillor John PerrySubstitute MemberConservative
Councillor Martin CoxVice-ChairmanLib Dem
Councillor Martin RoundSubstitute MemberConservative
Councillor Mrs Val SpringettCommittee MemberConservative
Councillor Nick de WiggondeneCommittee MemberConservative
Councillor Paul WilbyCommittee MemberLib Dem
Councillor Shellina PrendergastCommittee MemberConservative
Councillor Steve MunfordCommittee MemberIndependent

So what is wrong with their strategy? Where do I start...

Their strategy is really quite pathetic, no wonder they refused to provide any information as it was being worked on! (n.b. I have complained to the Information Commissioner about their refusal to provide information under FOI)

The first and possibly biggest problem with their strategy is that there is nothing about monitoring the pollution levels. There is currently no live monitoring in Maidstone since the removal of the monitoring station by the bridge.

Their comments about getting developers to put in mitigations are pointless given that most of the development areas are currently being built on, i.e. they have missed the boat.

They mention that they want to maintain their electric vehicle charging points but I'm guessing that they don't realise that the only working public point in Maidstone is in the KCC car park and only accessible at weekends... They claim that there are points at Maidstone House, Moat Park and KCC Allington depot but these are not on Zap-Map which is where EV users find points to charge from. Maidstone House is hardly accessible to the public and Allington is out of town so I'm not sure why you would stop there to charge. The Mote Park one has been out of order for a very long time.

There is no mention of the number of deaths due to air pollution despite this being a government figure. This is really quite negligent!

Actions such as "Investigate Low Emission Standard for Buses" are meaningless.

They seem to think that £65k cost of producing a Local Plan Development Plan Document is expensive yet this is peanuts compared to the cost of EU fines or the deaths and illness from NOx.

I'm shocked to learn that MBC has a diesel pool car!

What they are missing is:

  •     road closures at peak pollution times
  •     serious investment in alternatives to cars partly funded through a congestion charge and higher parking charges
  •     20mph speed limits
  •     a significant increase in tree planting in the town centre
  •     lobbying government for a diesel scrapage scheme

Thursday, 29 June 2017

Student debt hits twice

A little maths on student debt and why it will hit people twice.

So today's graduates might leave university with £40k of debt or more.

They are paying interest on that debt at RPI plus 3% (e.g in 2012/13 it was 6.6% and is currently 4.6%). That equates to £1,840 this year at the 4.6%.

To stop the debt increasing a monthly payment of £153 is needed. Obviously that wouldn't reduce the amount of debt, but would just cover the interest.

Repayments to the loan are based on a 9% tax on earnings over £17,775 (plan 1) or £21k (plan 2).

The interest on the loan will not be covered until someone earns £38,219 or £41k for plan 2. Until that point the debt will continue to increase.

The debt is written off after 30 years (plan 2) or when you reach 65 (plan 1).

If someone on plan 2 never exceeds £21k earnings and interest rates continue at 4.6% then the government will be writing off  £147k for that student.

Had the government paid for the tuition upfront they would have saved £107k

Assuming 465k students per annum and loans totaling £13.6bn remain static, in 30 years time based on only 1/3rd of the loans being paid off, the debt requiring write off each year at the expense of those same taxpayers (i.e. the 18 year olds who took out the loans) will be £33bn per annum.

This is therefore both a huge problem for the students and for the future taxpayers in general. It is a nice little earner for the lenders who get a guaranteed loan income at a high interest rate.

This is a complete scam.

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Our open letter to Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn

A letter from 27 candidates in last week's General Election across five parties has been sent to Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn calling for urgent changes to the electoral system. Of the 1.3 million voters in Kent, only 500,000 voted for an MP who now represents them leaving the majority, 800,000, without an MP who represents their views.

The letter:

Dear Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn,

Here in Kent we have 17 constituencies, one of which has a Labour MP and 16 of which have Conservative MPs. There are 1.3 million people on the electoral register in Kent but only 503,000 voted for an MP who now represents them.

This means that we have over 800,000 people who have an MP that they did not vote for and who very probably doesn't represent their views. Far more people have no representation in Kent than are represented - this is not democracy.

Nationally, the number of votes that each party needs to gain a seat is completely disproportional. Dividing the number of votes nationally by the number of MPs elected for a party, the Greens returned 1 MP for 525,000 votes, UKIP returned no MPs despite 594,000 votes, the Lib Dems had an average of 198,000 votes per MP while Conservatives and Labour had averages of 43,000 and 49,000 respectively - and these vote shares were even more disproportional in 2015. This is not democracy.

The vast majority of OECD countries now have proportional systems of election for national government and of course we have proportional systems for regional and EU elections - demonstrating that governments have recognised that these are better than FPTP. Continuing with FPTP for UK general elections is simply not democratic.

The referendum in 2011 was for the Alternative Vote system. This is a voting system that is not proportional and therefore not democratic which is why it was rejected.

The First Past the Post system is a flawed legacy that needs to be replaced urgently. Our electoral system is broken and a proportional system of election will help fix it. People need to have MPs who represent their views.

Please bring a bill to introduce proportional representation before the next general election so that this country can finally become a democratic one.

Yours sincerely

Stuart Jeffery, Green Party candidate for Maidstone and the Weald
Mandy Rossi, Green Party Parliamentary Candidate for Ashford
Henry Stanton, Green Party Parliamentary Candidate for Canterbury
James Flanagan Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Candidate, Canterbury and Whitstable
Bernard Hyde, Green Party Parliamentary Candidate for Chatham and Aylesford
Andy Blatchford, Green Party Parliamentary Candidate for Dartford
Rebecca Sawbridge, Green Party Parliamentary Candidate for Dover
Alastair Gould, Green Party Parliamentary Candidate for Faversham and Mid Kent
Michael Desmond Labour candidate Faversham and Mid Kent
Martin Whybrow, Green Party Parliamentary Candidate for Folkestone and Hythe
Stephen Priestley Former UKIP Parliamentary Candidate Folkestone and Hythe Constituency
Lynne Beaumont Liberal Democrat candidate for Folkestone and Hythe
Clive Gregory, Green Party Parliamentary Candidate for Gillingham and Rainham
Roger Peacock, Christian Peoples Alliance, Gillingham and Rainham
Marna Giligan, Green Party Parliamentary Candidate for Gravesham
James Willis Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Candidate for Gravesham
Ed Targett, Green Party Parliamentary Candidate for North Thanet
Martyn Pennington Liberal Democrat, North Thanet
Sonia Hyner, Green Party Parliamentary Candidate for Rochester and Strood
Philip Dodd, Green Party Parliamentary Candidate for Sevenoaks
Alan Bullion Lib Dems Sevenoaks and Swanley constituency
Dr Graham Cushway, UKIP candidate for Sevenoaks
Mark Lindop, Green Party Parliamentary Candidate for Sittingbourne and Sheppey
Mike Baldock - Independent - Sittingbourne & Sheppey
Trevor Roper, Green Party Parliamentary Candidate for South Thanet
April Clark, Green Party Parliamentary Candidate for Tonbridge & Malling
Trevor Bisdee, Green Party Parliamentary Candidate for Tunbridge Wells

All candidates in the June 2017 General Election in Kent

Sunday, 11 June 2017

800,000 people across Kent do not have an MP of their choice

Last week across Kent candidates stood to represent constituencies and to take our political views to Westminster. While 500,000 people voted for winning candidates, our first past the post electoral system has left over 800,000 in Kent with an MP they didn't vote for and who probably doesn't represent their views.

I do not believe this is fair or democratic. The UK is one of the few countries that continues with an electoral system that worked in distant past but now fails the majority of constituents.

Today I have asked all former parliamentary candidates across the 17 Kent constituencies to send a joint open letter to Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn this week, copied to the press, calling for an urgent change to a form of proportional representation.

Let's see who signs it!

The letter:

Dear Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn,

Here in Kent we have 17 constituencies, one of which has a Labour MP and 16 of which have Conservative MPs. There are 1.3 million people on the electoral register in Kent but only 503,000 voted for an MP who now represents them.

This means that we have over 800,000 people who have an MP that they did not vote for and who very probably doesn't represent their views. Far more people have no representation in Kent than are represented - this is not democracy.

Nationally, the number of votes that each party needs to gain a seat is completely disproportional. Dividing the number of votes nationally by the number of MPs elected for a party, the Greens returned 1 MP for 525,000 votes, UKIP returned no MPs despite 594,000 votes, the Lib Dems had an average of 198,000 votes per MP while Conservatives and Labour had averages of 43,000 and 49,000 respectively - and these vote shares were even more disproportional in 2015. This is not democracy.

The vast majority of OECD countries now have proportional systems of election for national government and of course we have proportional systems for regional and EU elections - demonstrating that governments have recognised that these are better than FPTP. Continuing with FPTP for UK general elections is simply not democratic.

The referendum in 2011 was for the Alternative Vote system. This is a voting system that is not proportional and therefore not democratic which is why it was rejected.

The First Past the Post system is a flawed legacy that needs to be replaced urgently. Our electoral system is broken and a proportional system of election will help fix it. People need to have MPs who represent their views.

Please bring a bill to introduce proportional representation before the next general election so that this country can finally become a democratic one.

Yours sincerely