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.

Friday, 5 August 2016

McDonalds want to open 24/7 in Maidstone

We really don't want a bigger night economy in Maidstone, it has boasted one of the biggest in the south east for many years with 10,000 people clubbing on a Saturday night. Opening McDonalds would simply increase noise, litter and stop people sleeping. Maidstone Greens have objected to the extended hours.

You can object too...

This is what we submitted. Feel free to use.

We urge that this application be rejected for the following reasons:

1. It increases the overall night economy of the town which is already one of the largest night economies in Kent. This type of economy is not healthy for those involved or for residents and is not the style of economy that Maidstone should aspire to.

2. It extends the night economy further across the town. People leaving the clubs at Lockmeadow and those travelling from the town centre towards Tonbridge will have a natural stop in an area that was not previously part of teh night economy.

3. There will be significant all night noise from the restaurant as demonstrated by the number of mitigations proposed in the application. While the mitigations will help, they will not stop the additional all night noise.

4. There are residential flats next to the restaurant. These will be subjected to significant noise and disruption. This will have a negative impact on residents health.

Monday, 1 August 2016

Yalding flood defences

Letter to the Kent Messenger:

Dear Editor,

News that money for flood defences for Yalding have been halved should not come as a surprise from a government that demonstrates so little concern for the planet. While they continue to fail to tax the rich properly, they also continue to claims that there is no money for the things that really matter such as protection of the environment or people. Remember too that this is the government that has just scrapped the department for climate change despite it being the biggest global threat that we face.

As the climate catastrophe is increasing at a rate that is astonishing scientist with global heat records being broken each year for the past three years and the impacts being felt in all corners of the world, it seems that the people of Yalding should be very worried.

Politics needs to focus on protecting both people and the environment. Perhaps the people of Yalding might remember that when they vote in future.

Stuart Jeffery, Maidstone Green Party

Friday, 22 July 2016

Corbyn must end his tribalist approach to politics

It seems that Corbyn, the supposed hero of the left, is happy to whip his MPs to abstain from a vote to introduce proportional representation into general elections yet gives his MPs a free vote on Trident. That comes a couple of months after Labour MPs were told to be absent during a vote on the NHS Reinstatement Bill, a bill to reverse the privatisation of the NHS that his party has been at the forefront of and a couple of months after he personally campaigned to oust Green councillors rather than targetting Tory ones. And let's never forget the EU debacle where he failed (refused?) to campaign effectively including taking a holiday a three weeks out from the referendum.

I am furious about this...

Is it old fashioned tribal politics? The NHS bill and PR vote were led by Caroline Lucas.

Is it Labour policy blocking it? His own party backed PR in their 1997 and 2001 manifestos.

Is it a complete lack of leadership? Have a look at the statement from the Bristol West MP.

Even Billy Bragg is unhappy, this is from his FB Page:

Last night Caroline Lucas, the only Green MP, put forward a 10 minute bill to introduce a proportional voting system for the general election. Not only is this desperately needed because our present First Past The Post system delivered a Tory majority with the support of just 25% of the electorate, but it's also the best chance we have to get a proper left wing party into parliament.

I'm therefore disappointed to find that only 15 Labour MPs voted in support and totally baffled to hear that the leadership whipped MPs to abstain. The bill was lost by just 8 votes. How does that help the millions who voted Labour in Scotland at the last general election and yet got just one MP elected? Proportional representation should be at the top of Corbyn's reform agenda.

Corbyn needs to get rid of his tribalist approach to politics and join the 21st century and our European neighbours in accepting that plurality in politics is not just inevitable, it is a good this. Not only that, he must accept that it is best to work with others where we agree and not block or destroy for the sake of it.

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Green leadership elections - we are so different from the others

Amid the clamour of Labour ripping itself in half and the crowning of Theresa May, us Greens are behaving in a civilised and measured fashion with our bi-annual leadership elections. Unlike the others we have fixed term leader, ensuring stability and democratic mandate.

While the leader post should be an easy win for Caroline Lucas and Jon Bartley (did I mention that we like job shares?), they will still need your vote - don't be lulled into complacency! They will be brilliant of course and having met Jon last weekend I am particularly impressed by him.

The deputy post is a more interesting race where we are spoilt for choice. There are three people that I would be very happy to see as deputy so I'm urging you to vote for one of them:

Andrew Cooper is our northern powerhouse. Literally. A councillor in Kirklees for 20 years where he has held the balance of power on the council, driving them to put £9.3m solar panels up plus they were instrumental in getting an offer of free insulation for all of the homes in Kirklees. Andrew is passionate, driven and a true leader. He would be a fantastic DL as well as giving the party more of a northern focus.

Amelia Womack is one of our current deputy leaders. Her work over the past two years has been superb and she has shown herself to be a true asset to Green politics. I was especially impressed by her support during the 2014 Rochester and Strood by-election and I have seen her consistently strong delivery of our Green agenda throughout her current term. Amelia would also be a fantastic DL!

Shahrar Ali is our other current deputy leader. He is a great speaker and has delivered some of the most engaging and passionate conference speeches that I have seen. He has been a great supporter of Kent Greens and has visited us on many occasions. Shahrar would also be a fantastic DL!

So we are spoilt for choice but those three are my favourites and with our single transferable vote voting system, we can ensure that our votes count in this election.

But... although I would like to see one of the above in the post, the other candidates, Alan, Storm, Kat and Daniella all seem good too.