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Categories: "National politics" or "Education" or "Rail and transport"

Make politics fairer say Medway Greens

By Press Officer on Feb 21, 2016 | In Medway, Politics, National politics, Medway, Corruption, Democracy | Send feedback »

Medway Greens have called for fairer and better policed politics.
This is in light of the revelations by Channel 4 News that The
Conservative Party may have broken electoral spending rules in the
Rochester and Strood by-election in 2014.

Clive Gregory, former Green parliamentary candidate in the Rochester
and Strood by-election says:

"The claims of illegal spending put further light on how unequal the
battle is. It seems the £100,000 limit on expenses, intended to
produce a level playing field, may not have been enough for the
Tories, who have allegedly put themselves above the law and any sense
of fair play. We are never going to take the corruption out of
politics unless we remove the power of big money.

“Added to the effect of financial imbalance, the communication of
ideas and solutions which differ from those of the powerful is made
much harder by our first past the post electoral system.  As well as
meaning that millions of voters are unrepresented, this broken
electoral system squeezes out grassroots political movements
orchestrated by ordinary people in favour of the money men.  Electoral
reform isn’t just about an attempt to get some form of true democracy,
it’s also about reducing corruption and making things more difficult
for those that can spend huge sums swaying elections to their
advantage; an advantage that consequently works for the richest and
most powerful members of our society".

Mary Smith, Medway Green Party Treasurer and Election Agent adds:

“I have been watching the re-run of 'The Pallisers’ and the
similarities are frightening.  It seems the only thing that has
changed in 150 odd years is that over-spending is now illegal; but
no-one seems to be policing it.  Channel 4's news item was well put
together and seemed to make a good case.  However, as it takes some
considerable time to make an investigation of this depth, I would very
strongly suggest that the one year limit, within which legal action
can be taken, is not nearly long enough.

“As often happens, the person or persons prepared to spend the most
money gets the result.  Ironically, in this case they didn't.

“However we will never know how much impact the money spent on the
by-election had in raising the profile of the previously little known
Conservative candidate and her subsequent General Election success”.

Medway Greens urge local MPs to back basic income research

By Press Officer on Feb 8, 2016 | In Medway, National politics, Monetary reform, Money and finance, Monetary reform | Send feedback »

Medway Green Party is calling on Medway MPs to back a parliamentary motion for government research into the introduction of a universal basic income.   

The  concept of replacing much of the current social security system (with the exception of housing and disability benefits) with an unconditional, non-withdrawable basic income, paid to all individuals, is currently been investigated by think-tank Compass, innovation charity Nesta, and the Royal Society of Arts, among others; it is also undergoing practical experiments in Finland and The Netherlands. 

The motion [1] calling for further research into “the possibilities offered by the various Basic Income models, their feasibility, their potential to guarantee additional help for those who need it most, and how the complex economic and social challenges of introducing a Basic Income might be met” has been placed by Caroline Lucas,  Green MP for Brighton Pavilion, but Medway Greens are keen to  point out that  the Basic income concept has had  support from across the political spectrum, including from Conservatives, hence the call on local MPs to sign the motion.    

Clive Gregory, Medway Green Party co-ordinator comments:

“The universal basic income concept (which has been a long term Green policy) was supported by no other than Friedrich Hayek, Margaret Thatcher’s favourite intellectual guru. Similar schemes have been backed by right wing thinkers Milton Friedman and Charles Murray. The attraction for these thinkers is that it would remove state interference in the day to day lives of individuals, simplify and reduce the costs of administering the welfare system and give everyone a secure foundation.

“In our current times of casual low paid labour, which offers little in terms of predictable hours or long term security ,and the growth of food banks, the need for a basic floor under which no one can fall has become more important than ever.  A universal basic income could also revolutionalise the labour market, allowing people more choice in how they balance their work and caring responsibilities, as well as provide a boost to entrepreneurialism and the creation of small businesses”.

A range of different ways of financing a universal basic income have been suggested, from a cost neutral reorganisation of the tax and welfare system e.g. that suggested for consultation by the Green Party [2] with its 2015 manifesto (or similar reorganisations of the tax and welfare system, but with additional funds e.g. the RSA model [3]) to full monetary reform [4]; in the latter model, interest-free money created by the state instead of by banks, as currently happens, could go directly to individuals rather than into financial markets and property bubbles.

Clive says:  

“We are at a point when the idea of introducing a basic income is gaining traction and we hope that  MPs  across the political spectrum, both locally and in other parts of the country, will support research and debate into the potential it could have of providing a better and more secure future for us all.”    

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Ends

NOTES:

[1] http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2015-16/974

[2] 

https://policy.greenparty.org.uk/assets/files/Policy%20files/Basic%20Income%20Consultation%20Paper.pdf

[3] 

https://www.thersa.org/discover/publications-and-articles/rsa-blogs/2015/12/in-support-of-a-universal-basic-income--introducing-the-rsa-basic-income-model/

 [4] http://positivemoney.org/our-proposals/

Medway Green Party responds to proposed new Thames crossing

By Press Officer on Feb 3, 2016 | In Medway, Environment, Medway, Environment, Medway environment, Rail and transport | Send feedback »

Medway Green Party has responded to the recently launched consultation from Highways England about the proposed new Lower Thames Crossing. Highways England have recommended a multi-billion pound scheme including a tunnel east of Gravesend and Tilbury and a new dual carriageway running from the M2 in Kent to the M25 in Essex.

Highways England claims that this project will bring economic benefits to the South East and will help to reduce congestion at the current Dartford crossing. However, Greens argue that this project is short-sighted and flawed.

Medway Green Party Membership Officer, Steve Dyke says:
“Far from tackling congestion, any benefits are likely to be quickly eroded by an increase in road travel.  We are also very concerned about the wider impact it would have on residents and the environment on both sides of the Thames.  The new crossing will do little or nothing to alleviate the existing high levels of pollution at Dartford and will additionally impact residents elsewhere, in terms of increased noise and reduced air quality.  Locally this would include those in Strood, near the proposed enhanced junction with the M2, and those in the villages on the route of the new dual carriageway, such as Higham, Chalk and Shorne.

“Increased traffic around the area will put additional pressure on our already stretched road network and yet more green space and wildlife will be sacrificed in the name of spurious economic growth, including through possible infill development. Highways England has admitted in their Consultation Booklet that development will impact on greenbelt land, the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, irreplaceable ancient woodland and other environmentally sensitive sites”.

The Green Party is pushing for greater investment in alternative transport measures such as the rail networks [1], which will help tackle air and noise pollution, rather than an extension of the road networks and high levels of pollutants associated with them [2].

Green Party Kent County Councillor, Martin Whybrow, says:
"Kent has some of the highest air pollution levels in the country, and developing further road networks does nothing to counter this. With air pollution in Kent responsible for hundreds of deaths every year, it's time to stop pouring money into more polluting roads. We need cleaner, sustainable travel options that move people and freight away from vehicles, for the sake of people's health and the sake of our environment. "

Steve Dyke adds: “The billions of pounds to be spent on this scheme could be better invested in measures which reduce pollution and tackle the urgent issue of climate change.  We need a smarter transport strategy”.

Medway Green Party is urging concerned residents to respond to the consultation.

Details and the online survey can be found on the Highways England
website. https://highwaysengland.citizenspace.com/cip/lower-thames-crossing-consultation/consult_view

The consultation ends on 24th March 2016.

Ongoing news on this proposal can be found by visiting the Medway Green Party Facebook page.

Notes:

[1] Green MP Caroline Lucas's Railways Bill calls for the railways to
be brought back into public hands, to improve investment in our rails
and to ensure affordability and access:
http://services.parliament.uk/bills/2015-16/railways.html

[2] Pollution from road traffic, and particularly from diesel fumes,
is a key contributor to deadly air pollution. The key pollutants of
concern are Particulate Matter and Nitrogen Dioxide which are
particularly threatening to human health.

 

 

Medway Green Party calls on Medway Council to Welcome Refugees

By Press Officer on Sep 9, 2015 | In Medway, National politics, International, EU and europe | Send feedback »

Medway Green Party is calling on Medway Council to state their willingness to accommodate refugees in Medway.

Medway Green Party has issued the following statement:

“The UK has a humanitarian responsibility as a country whose actions have helped to create the political and military chaos in the region from which many of the refugees are fleeing. We also have a responsibility to our European neighbours who are currently struggling to cope with the numbers fleeing to their shores.

“There are 433 local and county authorities in the UK. If each local authority took in just 50 refugees this would amount to 21,000 people overall (1). Helping, even a small number, would be a small step by Medway Council, but make a huge difference to those individuals saved from fear, inhumane living conditions, and possible death. What we are asking is for Medway Council to join other Councils in making a declaration that refugees are welcome in our towns and demonstrate practical steps they will be taking to accommodate refugees”.

Councils are able to seek help with resettling refugees from National and European funded projects.

At a European level, Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Union, today proposed an EU quota plan which enforces member states to take a specified number of refugees in order to balance out the responsibility. Britain, however, has an opt-out which excludes Britain from playing a part in the relocation. The British Government has confirmed that it will not be opting in, or making any further contribution than that already outlined.

Medway Green Party comment:

“We welcome the proposal by Jean-Claude Juncker of practical action that will take the pressure off the few countries coping with the largest number of refugees, and help to alleviate the ongoing insecurity for many innocent people. It speaks volumes for the need for a continued union of European countries when it comes to dealing with major crises, which frankly could simply be allowed to escalate to genocidal proportions if all acted as our government; turning the other cheek, reinforcing the barricades, conceding only slightly to public reaction when they witness the death of a small child.

“We feel it is shameful that, as a European country that unilaterally bombed Iraq, we can dodge our responsibility for one of the consequences, and turn the other way, when people are in dire need. We call upon the people of Medway and Medway Council to contribute towards the reversal of this trend”.

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ENDS

(1) Figures were taken from this article – http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/sep/04/aylan-kurdi-refugee-crisis – well worth a read!

 

Air Pollution in Medway – Response to Medway Council’s draft Air Quality Action Plan (2015)

By Press Officer on Sep 6, 2015 | In Medway, Environment, Medway, Environment, Medway environment, Rail and transport | Send feedback »

Please find below a response to Medway Council’s draft Air Quality Action Plan (2015) prepared by Medway Green Party secretary, John Little. This was out to consultation until the end of August. The document prepared by Medway Council highlighted that air pollution is a major issue within the UK, which reduces life expectancy by an average of 7-8 months with estimated equivalent health costs of up to £20 billion each year.

***

The Green Party welcome the Council’s Action plan. However, while it does touch on the main issues,  Medway Greens believe far more could be done to address air pollution. These include the following measures:-

1) Promote a Switch from car use to Public Transport

(i) We would encourage the Council to divert funding from roads to public transport and cycle routes. The Council’s action plan includes road improvements on the assumption that that this will speed the flow of traffic and so reduce pollution. As Greens our concern is that this investment may simply increase the overall volume of road traffic. A more effective approach may be to use these funds to  enhance public transport and cycle routes.

(ii) While we welcome the Council’s commitment to promote public transport, this does appear at odds with the recent cuts in bus services. The Green Party would encourage the Council to liaise with the bus company to seek to reverse these cuts. Ideally the Council and the bus companies should consult with passangers on routes and their frequency. A further issue is the high cost of fares for non subsidised passengers

(iii) Another area for potential improvement is to ensure integration between bus timetables and train services.

2) Reduce the Amount of Freight on the Roads

The Medway Green party would seek to reduce the amount of freight carried by road. Where practical the Council should encourage a transfer of freight from roads onto the rail network. In addition the Council should promote local sourcing of goods and services. This would not only be more environmentally friendly but would also benefit the local economy.

3) Cycle Network

The Medway Greens welcome the Council’s commitment to improve the cycle network. Cycling could replace a number of short car journeys and also has positive benefits for health and fitness.Our concern is that the existing network is rather fragmented. We would support a comprehensive and dedicated cycle route throughout the Medway towns, which provides cyclists with their own space separated from other road traffic and pedestrians.

4) Walking

The Green Party would encourage the Council to review the main pedestrian routes in Medway. Pedestrians often have to share pavements with parked cars and cycles, which may cause problems for the non able bodied or parents with push chairs or prams. It is also important to confirm that there are sufficient crossing points. Many of the immediate pedestrian routes around rail stations are particularly poor. Improvements to these routes and possible extension of pedestrian areas in town centres may encourage more people to leave their cars at home .