News from Kent Greens
KCC short-changing Kent's poorest residents
Fri, 24 Oct 2014
Kent Green Party is calling on Kent County Council (KCC) to honour its obligations to support the county's most vulnerable and impoverished residents. The council is threatening to take away money allocated for people in dire need and use this to cover overspending elsewhere.
When pressed on this issue by Green Party KCC member for Hythe, Martin Whybrow, at today's full council meeting, KCC's Cabinet Member for Finance and Procurement, John Simmonds, admitted that KCC would only consider rolling over the underspend on the council's Kent Support & Assistance Service (KSAS) if the authority as a whole achieved underspending of at least this amount.
KSAS provides support for people having serious difficulties managing their income or facing exceptional pressures because of an emergency or crisis. It provides essential home items such as groceries (for up to seven days), clothing, young child and baby food, milk and nappies, furniture, bedding, and electrical appliances plus help with utilities (gas and electric, for up to seven days) and emergency travel arrangements.
KSAS is funded by the Local Welfare Assistance Fund (LWAF), a budget allocated to local authorities since 2013 by central government to support people in urgent need. The fund was created under the 2012 Welfare Reform Act to replace Social Fund Community Care Grants and Crisis Loans, previously administered by the Department for Work and Pensions.
KCC is predicting an underspend on KSAS of £2.691 million and, as Councillor Whybrow has argued, this should be rolled over to extend the service for at least another year (it is unclear whether there will be any additional central government money to support the scheme beyond the current year). Some voluntary agencies in the county have been critical of KSAS, arguing that it has been hard to access and has placed too many obstacles on claimants, but KCC has previously stated that it has been cautious because of the uncertainty of future funding. Now it is proposing to take the predicted £2.691 million to prop up other departments that have not made their budget targets.
Councillor Whybrow says: "This money should clearly be ring-fenced for the purpose for which it was intended. But it is clear that KCC is eyeing up the fund as a means to cover shortfalls elsewhere. This is at a time when many people in Kent need help more than ever before, because of the increasing levels of inequality."
Links: KSAS http://www.kent.gov.uk/social-care-and-health/support-in-your-own-home/home-essentials-in-a-crisis
Rochester and Strood by-election candidate
Wed, 22 Oct 2014
The Green Party's candidate for the expected by-election in Rochester and Strood has been selected.
The candidate, Clive Gregory, has lived in Stoke on the Hoo peninsular for 22 years, and is a freelance musician and sound engineer by trade. Clive also runs the local PA hire business, Clive Sound. Clive joined the Green Party because of disillusionment with the other political parties and worry about the direction of the country.
Give youth a voice in Shepway!
Wed, 01 Oct 2014
Our excellent candidate for the upcoming Folkestone Harvey West by-election is 19 year-old Jasmine Heywood. She is the chair of Shepway Young Greens and would be a great addition to the District and Town councils. If you can help with her campaign, please contact out election coordinator, David Horton (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Jasmine is a former Folkestone School for Girls student who, through Shepway Green Party, has become involved with campaigning in local politics. She is keen to give a voice and engage with young people, and present a more positive alternative to the other political parties.
Among other things, Jasmine is carrying out a survey of local residents to help us to set our priorities for taking action locally. You can also fill out our survey online via this website (see front page).
Jasmine feels that more needs to be done to address road safety. In particular she is interested in making cycling a more accessible and safer mode of transport as it acts as a healthier, cheaper and more environmentally friendly way of getting around than any other. Campaigning for 20mph zones around schools and introducing more cycle lanes would play a vital role in achieving this.
Jasmine is also involved with the Local Works campaign to implement a tax on supermarket profits, which would then be reinvested in local business and the community, a similar scheme of which is currently in place in Northern Ireland. She is also keen to ensure that local residents have access to decent and affordable parking, and that the expansion of the Folkestone West Station does not infringe upon that.
If you would like to get involved in the campaign to elect Jasmine (the by-election is 23rd October), we'd love to hear from you!
Lodge Hill Decision - Disgraceful Hypocrisy by Medway Council
Thu, 11 Sep 2014
Medway Green Party has accused Medway Council of hypocrisy in passing plans for housebuilding at Lodge Hill and called on local people to contact the Secretary of State.
Medway Green Party members have expressed extreme disappointment in Medway Council's decision to approve the plans for 5000 houses at Lodge Hill. The party is also highly critical of the conflict between this decision and previous arguments made in Medway Council's campaign against an airport in the Hoo penisular.
Trish Marchant, parliamentary candidate for Gillingham and Rainham comments:
"Only last week, Medway Council Leader, Rodney Chambers, was celebrating the Council's anti-airport campaign for stopping (in his own words) "mass destruction of habitat and wildlife that could never be replaced". How is this any different? The hypocrisy of Medway Council is disgraceful!"
The Lodge Hill site has been designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) as it supports the UK's largest nightingale population which could be destroyed if the development goes ahead. Campaigners claim that overruling the SSSI would set a dangerous precedent for many other SSSI's in the country.
Medway Green Party is urging local people to continue their support for the nightingales by contacting the Secretary of State, Eric Pickles, who has overall responsibility for housing.
Clive Gregory, parliamentary candidate for Rochester and Strood says:
"So much for Medway Council putting local democracy first; these plans were opposed by the overwhelming majority of those consulted, a factor which Medway Council completely disregarded. There is still a chance to stop this unique site being destroyed, however, if we contact Eric Pickles, Secretary of State, who has the power to overrule this decision. Please ask Eric Pickles to call in this disastrous plan".
RSPB are heading a campaign to contact the Secretary of State regarding the Lodge Hill decision, called "Ask Eric Pickles to Step In". This is available on the following website address: http://www.rspb.org.uk/news/381776-Lodge-Hill