Monday, 10 October 2016

Response to the Lib Dem attempt to shirk responsibility for the gyratory

Kent Messenger 7/10/16
There's a row going on in the letters page of the Kent Messenger over air pollution. I think we started it with our protests over the new gyratory system that will allow more cars to come through Maidstone's centre. The row is into it's fourth week and now the Tories are joining in too.

This is my response:

Dear Editor,

Last week the Lib Dem Leader of Maidstone Borough Council tried to shirk off her Council's responsibility for the road works on the Gyratory by claiming that they were solely down to Kent County Council. While KCC is the ultimately responsible for the works, she seems to have forgotten that Maidstone Borough Council had to give their blessing on the plans in order for them to proceed.

On the 14th Oct 2015 MBC's Joint Transportation Board noted the partial funding of the scheme by MBC and then on 1st Dec 2015 MBC's Strategic Planning, Sustainability and Transportation Committee noted that "Prior to commencing the tendering process, approval from the Strategic Planning, Sustainability and Transportation Committee was required to progress with the project.".

Maidstone Borough Council are therefore equally culpable for the new gyratory which will increase the traffic through the town centre and make the air pollution even worse than it is now. Of course we also know that they are completely responsible for the huge edge of town housing estates whose residents will be using the new gyratory.

As Cllr Wilson is the Leader of the Council we will continue to hold her to account for the appalling levels of air pollution in our town which kill at least 75 people every year.

Stuart Jeffery
Maidstone Green Party

And below is the Tory's letter, it seems that the Lib Dems stopped a deferral of a planning decision while an updated air quality assessment was made.

Kent Messenger 7/10/16

Meanwhile over on Larry Sanders campaign page for the Witney by-election it seems that the Lib Dems have been trolling and calling for him to stand down as only the Lib Dems can win here (despite getting 6.8% against Cameron last year). Now where have I heard that line before?

Monday, 3 October 2016

Stop digging. Stop drilling. 400ppm breach.

While the country gets twitchy about Brexit, immigration and Bake Off, the world is slowly boiling. Climate Central have produced this graph showing the 400ppm threshold has been permanently passed. 

The world can ratify all the Paris agreements it likes but they will become meaningless unless those agreements are matched with urgent action. 2 degrees of warming will easily be breached unless we drastically reduce the CO2 and methane pollution now.

It means that we need to start leaving the stuff in the ground. Stop drilling!

In February (2016) the world breached 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels (1.32 + 0.21 in 1880). That is the threshold that the Paris agreement sought to keep the world to. Breached just two months after the agreement.

Monbiot's phrase Stop Digging is one that governments must heed. This cannot wait, there is no time left for procrastination.

But how do we convince a world that cares about little else that economic growth, brexit, stopping immigration and what bake off will be like on C4?

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

The only opposition are the Greens

So there is a serious failure by the government on the railways. This should be an issue that Labour holds to its heart but where are they? The picture of Caroline Lucas being the only MP to hold the Tories to account is a stark one.

Where are Labour and the Lib Dems? Why isn't the BBC and other media asking this question? Why are the public not in open revolt over the failure of their MPs to represent them?

If other opposition (and I use the word lightly) MPs are worried about the Tory gerrymandering of the boundaries which will ensure Conservative power for generations to come then perhaps they should be standing alongside the Greens in fighting for public services, demonstrating to their electorate that they are able to do what they were elected for.

Sadly the state of politics in the UK is beyond a joke. The failure of the political system has left us with a the democratic deficit so large that only a complete change will repair it. Corbyn has finally started to mutter about proportional representation but sadly doesn't seem any more committed to it that he was about the EU. Labour needs to wake up and follow the Greens who are clearly leading the way.

Monday, 12 September 2016

Good coverage on the gyratory

We've had some great coverage on our first protest against the £5.7m of road 'improvements' in the town centre. £5.7m will reduce travel time through the town by 73 seconds, allow much more traffic to flow though the town, save countless lives and ensure the entire UK economy doesn't crash post Brexit. Ok, I made up the last two but the first two are important.

Allowing more traffic to flow and allowing it to flow faster are a recipe for disaster. Obviously the council is facing a huge problem after allowing thousands of homes to be built on the southern fringes of the town. Homes that are so far out and without a bus service that residents will need a car to get anywhere. But widening roads simply compounds the problem and, of course, the increased traffic will pollute more and eventually grind to a halt.

So we've been out waving placards. The KM featured us and Steve and I did Radio Kent interviews last week. 

Monday, 29 August 2016

Getting in to Maidstone on foot

Last week a few of us made a bit of noise about the road works on the gyratory. The gyratory is the main roundabout that forms the centre of Maidstone's road network. It crosses two bridges and connects 4 main roads. It can be a nightmare to drive round especially during rush hour. So it is being revamped to know a few seconds off the journey time and to let more cars through, which is why we are unhappy.

The other problem with the gyratory is that anyone living in West Maidstone has to cross the river to get to the town centre. Bad enough by car and very scary by bike but KCC and MBC have made it much hard by foot now.

There were four subways under the A229. There are now just two and the one that was used most has been filled up and bricked up. People coming down from Tonbridge Road now have to cross at the lights.

But is is worse for those of us who come from the London Road direction. My route across the traffic islands has been closed off and the nearest alternative subway has been bricked up. This morning I watched person after person crossing the four busy lanes of traffic at a point where there is no crossing.

So no only are the 'improvements' costing £5m, they will increase the volume of traffic though the town and they make it much harder to walk into town.

Thank you KCC and MBC.

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Ban the bee killing pesticides now!

Researchers publishing in Nature today have found "evidence of increased population extinction rates in response to neonicotinoid seed treatment use on oilseed rape"

They go on to state: “Our results provide the first evidence that sub-lethal impacts of neonicotinoid exposure can be linked to large-scale population extinctions of wild bee species, with these effects being strongest for species that are known to forage on oilseed rape crops.”

Greens are calling for a ban on these bee killing pesticides, a call which I wholeheartedly support. Anyone who has read the seminal work Silent Spring should understand the impact of pesticides on our wildlife - they are designed to kill animals after all.

It is time to ban them once and for all.

Read more here in the Independent.

Email your MP here:

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Shrinking the economy, a Green narrative?

While the other political parties talk about how to grow the economy, the Greens should be talking about how to shrink it, fairly and justly, to a sustainable level.

Long term economic decline, depression and recession are all hugely negative terms that strike fear of job cuts, bankruptcies and social unrest into our minds, yet they are inevitable in the medium to long term. Our energy (oil) driven economy cannot be sustained at it's current level, oil production is at or close to its maximum level and will start to reduce over the coming decades, gas is similar and while there is reasonable supply of coal even that only has a couple of hundred years. Our economy relies on energy - White's Law I think. Although a huge investment in renewables would significantly soften the blow, the economy will still shrink.

And it must shrink. The damage being done to the environment is significant and having long lasting consequences. The Sixth Great Extinction has been well documented and is driven by human activity. Last week George Monbiot talked about the climate catastrophe that is underway and how it is driven by the corporate world and hidden from us by a biased media.

We have known for some time that the world is using about 1.6 times more that it can cope with. That figure is far higher in developed countries, if everyone lived like people in the US we would need 4.1 planets. We have also had plenty of prior warnings from the Club of Rome 45 years ago telling us of the Limits to Growth where the modelled scenarios that have been frighteningly accurate,

And as the famous quote from Kenneth Boulding goes: "Anyone who believes exponential growth can go on forever in a finite world is either a madman or an economist."

Even the Steady State economics of Herman Daly doesn't really do it. If we simply stop economic growth we will simply continue to pollute and use up resources at the current massively unsustainable rate.

Economic shrinking will be imposed on society unless we proactively shrink it ourselves. More importantly: unless we do it ourselves, it will be done to us. We have to have a planned and controlled shrinking of our economy to prevent a chaotic and disaterous collapse.

So with the rest of the mainstream political parties talking constantly about how to ensure growth continues in our finite world, it is surely time to seize the narrative. We need to do this in a positive way and lead the narrative charge for a shrinking economy until it becomes a sustainable economy. And we need a narrative and a plan that ensures it is done in a fair and just way, one that leads to improvements in the quality of life and obviously one that ensures a long term future for society,

Our plan must say how we redistribute resources so that everyone has their fair share. It must articulate clearly what we preserve and what we give up. It cannot be a simple 'anti-austerity' message. There will need to be cuts - cuts in spending on the military, roads, airports, subsidies for the rich, subsidies for the nuclear energy industry etc. The anti-austerity message is fine but it doesn't address the problem of a sustainable economy. We have to live with the planets means and we have to decide what we spend our money on and we have to ensure that everyone has their fair share.