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News from Kent Greens

Recent news from Kent Green Party. For older items visit our news blog. For a selection of our recent letters to the press, visit our letters page here.

No second Thames crossing
Tue, 02 Feb 2016
Kent Greens have stated that a second Thames crossing will do nothing to tackle congestion in the long term, as it would facilitate increased road travel, known as 'induced traffic'. We are heavily concerned about the wider impact on local residents and the environment.

Kent County Council Green Party councillor, Martin Whybrow, said: "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 "

The Green Party's national transport spokesperson, Caroline Russell, added: "Instead of building more roads and encouraging more people to travel by car, we need policies which are fit for the 21st century. Our government just participated in securing a global deal to tackle climate change - in light of this commitment, our obsession with carbon-intensive travel has to end."

Rural road deaths: we need a 40mph limit
Mon, 26 Oct 2015
2014 saw an 11% increase in people killed of seriously injured (KSI) on Kent's roads, a continued rise since 2012. This increase is more than double the national average of 5%. Maidstone saw the highest number of KSI at 74 and rural road deaths across Kent are reported to be 29. The Co-Chair of Kent Greens has called for the speed limits on rural roads to be reduced to 40mph.

Stuart Jeffery, Co-Chair of Kent Green Party: "With the second huge rise in a row in people killed or seriously injured in Kent it is time for Kent County Council to take definitive action rather than continuing to pander to the road lobby. 658 people killed or seriously injured is 658 too many and 29 people killed on rural roads is 29 too many. It is time to reduce the speed limit on rural roads to 40mph.

"If 29 people had died in a plane crash because the wings had fallen off we would not be debating whether the bolts should be checked regularly. There should be no debate on whether action to reduce road deaths should be taken we should simply take all the measures needed.

"But sadly the UK seems to have developed the same attitutude to cars as the US has to guns, an attitude that is driven by lobbyists and funded by government. With around 100 billion of subsidies to road transport plus the profits from manufacturing and fuel consumption it is no wonder that the lobbyists and government want more and faster traffic not less.

"Yet over 20,000 people are killed or seriously injured in the UK each year and over 50,000 die from air pollution from traffic. In Kent 658 were killed or seriously injured and there were an estimated 745 deaths from air pollution, mostly from traffic.

"Cars are not a right or a necessity, just as guns are not. Around 20% of households do not have a car and while access to services can be harder for them, they survive. Just maybe, if the government made it easier and more economical to travel without a car by diverting some of the road subsidies to methods of transport that don't kill thousands, life might get easier and safer?"


Notes:
http://www.kent.gov.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0020/11819/Personal-injury-crashes-in-Kent.pdf
http://ipayroadtax.com/no-such-thing-as-road-tax/when-will-drivers-start-paying-the-full-costs-of-motoring/

Tragic road safety figures show urgent need for action
Sat, 05 Sep 2015
Kent Green Party has called for an urgent rethink on road safety in light of another set of very poor statistics that shows an increase for a second consecutive year in the number of people killed and seriously injured on our roads. An appalling 715 people were killed and serious injury in crashes on all roads in Kent and Medway, including those managed by Highways England, compared to 650 in 2013.

The party's Kent County Council member, Martin Whybrow, says: "These tragic figures show that KCC's Casualty Reduction Strategy, which was introduced in 2013, fundamentally isn't working. It is far too narrow, with too much reliance on seemingly never-ending road awareness campaigns. We need to get serious about speed enforcement and KCC and Kent Police need to scrap their opposition to 20 mph zones in Kent. We are far behind many other counties in this."

Nearly all of the Kent figures for 2014 are heading in the wrong direction, including those for pedestrians, cyclists, motor cyclists and children. KCC is on course to miss its 2020 casualty reduction targets by a wide margin.

"The line is basically, it is the road users' fault, as reflected in the press release that KCC has put out to accompany the figures," says Councillor Whybrow. "KCC needs to do far more to help to reduce the likelihood of incidents and this means investment, creative road designs that take into account all users and support for reduced speed limits. I believe there is too much focus on reducing car journey times, to the detriment of proper road safety measures."

Having spent the best part of two years to finally get a 20 mph limit on a road outside one of the local primary schools in his ward, Councillor Whybrow knows only too well the hurdles that need to be overcome. Tellingly, the majority of incidents are on 30 mph roads. All of the evidence shows that 20 mph zones are effective.

There is also a key role for central government, as contributing factors are likely to include cuts in police budgets and underinvestment in public transport, caused by the swingeing cuts.

"We need investment in dedicated cycle lanes and traffic calming measures, plus investment in public transport, not more lip-service, posters and leaflets. Moreover, we shouldn't forget the hundreds of people that die in the county each year as a result of air pollution, with traffic a major contributor," he adds.

In 2014, there were a total of 4,618 collisions on Kent roads (excluding Medway). This includes motorways and trunk roads.

More details on the Kent road safety figures for 2014 can be found here:
http://www.kent.gov.uk/roads-and-travel/road-safety/crash-and-casualty-data
 Published by Martin Whybrow on behalf of Kent Green Party.

Fracking infiltration is a bad case of political policing against the Greens
Sat, 07 Feb 2015
Documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act reveal that Kent Police planted officers in the audience at a fracking debate at Canterbury Christ Church University - despite a DI claiming that he had attended as an "interested stakeholder", that Kent Police had requested the names of every attendee and that they were specifically concerned about the attendance of Green Party members.

Green Party Parliamentary Candidate for Canterbury, Stuart Jeffery, has condemned the police actions as political policing of the kind last seen at the climate camp in 2008 in Kingsnorth and will be writing to the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

Stuart Jeffery, Green Party Parliamentary Candidate for Canterbury: "Despite assurances that the police actions against greens at Kingsnorth in 2008 would not be repeated, it is clear that Kent Police are continuing their campaign of political policing against the Greens.

"Planting undercover officers into the audience of a university debate simply because it is on an issue of interest to the Greens is frankly an abuse of power and a waste of resources.

"Their request to ask the university to break the law by providing a list of attendees is surely incitement? This may well be a criminal act under the Serious Crimes Act 2007.

"I will be asking the Independent Police Complaints Commission to consider this further."

Notes:
The notes from the police meeting reveal that:
1.    "Ch/Insp XXXXX requested that CI XXXXX and DI XXXX register to attend the university debate"
2.    The police action plan states: "Ascertain attendance numbers, guest list and security arrangements"
3.    Specific concern about the Green Party mentioned in email 19/11/14 16:49
It has been reported that CI Steve Barlow attended the debate "as an interested stakeholder." http://www.canterburytimes.co.uk/Senior-Kent-Police-officer-surprised-police/story-25717754-detail/story.html