Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Lords reform backed by 63%

A poll out today showed a significant increase in support for reform of the Lords, i.e. for it to become an elected chamber. This is very welcome - it may be a few years since I posted on Lords reform but my views have not changed, we urgently need to elect our upper chamber rather than have it appointed to by parties or occupied by others by virtue of their job or position.

UK democracy is a sham and it is clear that the public are starting to realise this. It is not just the Lords that need reform, the Commons does too. Today's debate on PR was sparked by a 100k+ petition yet it seems difficult to persuade people who are elected under one system to agree to another. Turkeys and Christmas spring to mind.

Of particular disappointment is Labour's position. Despite the Jenkins Commission under the Labour government recommending PR in 1998 and it being in their manifestos, they now refuse to back it after failing to deliver on their manifesto commitments 15 years ago when in power.

To quote the Brexiteers, we need to take back control. We don't have a democracy in the UK and we won't have until our antiquated parliamentary and local government voting systems are brought into the 21st century.

I have put myself forward for the Council of the Electoral Reform Society. If you are a member, I would appreciate your vote.

Saturday, 28 October 2017

Maidstone councillors adopt an unsustainable local plan

On Thursday Maidstone's Local plan was agreed by the Borough Council. The plan sets out where housing is to be built, predominately on farm land around the town. Much of the building is underway as those of us who have been down the gridlocked roads of Hermitage Lane and Sutton Road demonstrating clearly what happens when you build high numbers of houses on the edge of town. The plan also puts industry at Junction 8, where we fought the KIG development 10 years ago.

Residents in west Maidstone are particularly angry at the developments along Hermitage Lane. There is near unanimous condemnation of them with at least two campaign groups fighting them.

Let us hope that the residents of Maidstone check how their councillors voted. The evidence will be in the minutes and is captured on film here (go to 1:15).

Of particular note was the Lib Dems' keenness to second the motion to approve the Local Plan but here in Bridge Ward where feelings run high, both the Lib Dems voted in favour of the plan. Indeed all the councillors in Bridge, Heath, Fant and Allington wards voted in favour, one Tory, two Labour and 7 Lib Dems.

The KM has a write up here: http://www.kentonline.co.uk/kent-business/county-news/council-backs-maidstone-homes-plan-134278/

We urgently need homes, affordable ones, social housing and so on, near to jobs and transport links. We don't need large houses built on farm land that require cars to get people to their jobs or shops.


Saturday, 21 October 2017

50,000 killed by pollution in the UK each year and the poor are most affected

This week's environmental story is a revised assessment of the impact of pollution on health published in The Lancet:
    "Pollution is the largest environmental cause of disease and premature death in the world today. Diseases caused by pollution were responsible for an estimated 9 million premature deaths in 2015—16% of all deaths worldwide—three times more deaths than from AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria combined and 15 times more than from all wars and other forms of violence. In the most severely affected countries, pollution-related disease is responsible for more than one death in four."
Campaigning against pollution is a the heart of the Green movement right from the days of Silent Spring which woke millions up to the problems of pesticides (sadly it is not a battle that we are winning, pesticides are being implicated for the 75% decline in flying insects in the past 25 years).

The Lancet study shows that 8% of UK deaths are attributable to pollution equating to 50,000 people each year or 140 every day. The recent LA shooting killed 59 people yet more than double that number are dying every day in this country.

Where is the action to tackle this?

The solutions are with the government, corporations and the rich yet the impacts are most heavily felt on the poorer people in society. Globally this is quite stark. One in four deaths in Bangladesh are attributable to pollution which 1 in 12 are in the UK. Even in the UK we know that air pollution, one of the biggest components is focused in poorer areas.

Here in Maidstone, the poorest areas have the highest levels of air pollution, levels that are similar to the worst areas in London. I pointed this out on KMTV last night: http://www.kentonline.co.uk/kent/news/pollution-in-part-of-kent-as-bad-as-london-134060/

Meanwhile the government cannot be bothered to come up with a plan, big business gets away scott free with deceiving the public and people continue to die needlessly.


Sunday, 1 October 2017

Methinks the Lib Dems doth protest too much

Letter to the KM:

Dear Editor,

While Bruce Ditcher (KM Letter 28 Sep) calls for council officers to be sacked for the decisions the council makes, it should be noted that it is elected councillors that make decisions and they need voting out rather than officers being sacked. Maidstone's Lib Dem run council are making the same appalling decisions that the previous Tory administration were making yet sadly people continue to vote them into power.


I suspect this is partly due to the blame shifting that some politicians do. Lib Dem Cllr Tony Harwood bemoaned a 'broken planning system' (KM Letter 28 Sep), yet his party currently run the council and his party spent 5 years in national government supporting the Tories while failing to tackle the same broken planning system. Methinks the Lib Dems doth protest too much?


It is very clear that the only sure way to get change is to vote for it. You don't get change by voting for the same parties that continue to make appaling decisions.


Stuart Jeffery,
Maidstone Green Party

Monday, 4 September 2017

Letters to Kent Police

I said that I would write to them and I have. Looking forward to the responses!

Dear Mr Pughsley,

I was surprised to see a Kent Police van at the Cuadrilla site on Preston New Road in Lancashire last week, I can only assume that Kent Police are providing support to your Lancashire colleagues.

Given your force's previous interest in fracking at a university debate in Canterbury in 2014, I would welcome your explanation as to why you are supporting your colleagues at the opposite end of the country when almost every other force in the country will be closer to them. I would also be grateful if you would confirm whether Kent Police have funded this support and if not whether the funding was from Lancashire Police or a central fund.

As a Kent tax payer I would rather Kent Police focused on stopping criminal activity in Kent (such as the potential hate crimes being committed by Britain First in Maidstone most Saturdays) than getting involved in lawful protests elsewhere.

Regards

Stuart Jeffery



Dear Kent Police

Under the terms of the Freedom of Information Act I would be grateful if you would provide the following information:

Firstly, for the period from April 2015 to end of August 2017 and relating to each time Kent Police provided officers to support other police forces:

    Which force was supported
    The reason for the support, e.g. protest march, criminal investigation, etc.
    The date the support commenced
    The number of officers loaned
    The length of the support
    The cost to Kent Police of the support

Secondly, for the period from April 2015 to end of August 2017 and relating to each time Kent Police were supported by other police forces:

    Which force provided support
    The reason for the support, e.g. protest march, criminal investigation, etc.
    The date the support commenced
    The number of officers loaned
    The length of the support

Feel free to provide this in spreadsheet form if it is easier for you.

Regards
Stuart Jeffery

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Who fracking knows why are Kent Police working in Lancashire?

A Kent Police riot van was filmed on the Preston New Road (PNR) site where the anti-fracking demonstrations have been held for many months now. PNR is currently the front line of the anti-fracking campaign after Lancashire County Council turned down an application to frack there only to have it overturned by the Secretary of State.

Importantly PNR is nowhere near Kent, so what are Kent Police doing there almost 300 miles away at the opposite end of the country? Who is paying for them? What are they there to learn? Who decided that it was ok for them to go there?

A couple of years ago Kent Police went undercover to infiltrate a university debate on fracking in Canterbury. They asked for the names of people who would be in the audience and they planted a senior officer in there too. What are they worried about?

I visited Preston in 2015 and will be returning in a couple of weeks to show my solidarity with the protesters and to make a protective offering!

See this video from PNR starting at 13:50 https://www.facebook.com/george.brown.10485/videos/1563863640323151/

Kent Police have an unhealthy interest in fracking. Three years ago they went undercover to infiltrate a university debate on fracking in Canterbury. They asked for the names of people who would be in the audience and they planted a senior officer in there too. Now we find them working in Lancashire as part of the ridiculously huge security detail that is guarding the Caudrilla site against peaceful protestors.

I want to know what they are doing there and who is paying for them. I want to know why they have an interest in the anti-fracking movement when there are crimes being committed on the streets of Kent. I want to know who decided it was OK for them to travel 300 miles to Lancashire rather than policing the towns in Kent.

I will be writing to the Chief Constable to ask for an explanation.

Britain First may inadvertently raise funds for the Maidstone Mosque

I love this idea. It came from a town in Germany that donates money to anti-fascist causes whenever the fascist march there - and they taunt the fascists as they march, letting them know how much money they have raised so far.

So here in Maidstone, which has seen numerous protests by Britain First this year who don't want the Maidstone Mosque to be rebuilt, the Maidstone Anti-Fascist Network which I proud to be a member of, have decided that when Britain First come down to protest we will raise £10 for each one of them who turns up and donate it to the Mosque to help get it built more quickly.

http://www.kentonline.co.uk/maidstone/news/money-pledge-to-counter-anti-mosque-131290/