News from Kent Greens
Kent Greens welcome announcement that more child refugees can come to the UK
Wed, 04 May 2016
Kent Greens have welcomed the news that the country is to be allowed to take more child refugees following today's announcement by the government but they have warned that councils will need financial support to ensure this is possible.
Martin Whybrow, Green Party Kent County Council member said: "The passing of the buck by central government to local authorities with regards the UK taking its fair share of child refugees from Europe is better than nothing. However, it needs to be backed up by adequate funding from central government otherwise councils, which have seen their budgets slashed in recent years, will not be able to step up.
"In Kent, the county council has experienced a steep increase in the number of young unaccompanied asylum seekers and, to date, it has proved extremely difficult to persuade other councils to accept them, leaving many in a state of limbo, without the long-term certainty and security that they need. It is this country's moral duty to accept far more refugees than it is doing at present but merely stating that councils can accept more if they want to without sufficient funding could be just a token gesture."
Stuart Jeffery, Co-Chair of Kent Greens: "Across the county there are people working and campaigning to support the desperate circumstances that the refugees find themselves in so it is great to hear that the UK is going to be able to provide sanctuary to more vulnerable people. Groups such as 'Tonbridge Welcomes Refugees' are working hard to make refugees welcome in Kent which is clear evidence of the amount of compassion that local people have."
Kent Greens Objection to the Lower Thames Crossing
Sun, 20 Mar 2016
Kent Greens have lodged their objection to the Lower Thames Crossing proposed by Highways England stating to spend £6bn on a scheme that enables a 34% increase in traffic when the world's climate is at tipping should be regarded as a climate crime. They point out that air pollution in Kent is already responsible for a very high number of deaths and that economic growth is not needed in the South East.
Stuart Jeffery, Co-Chair of Kent Greens: "The Climate Change Act requires a reduction in CO2 emissions in direct contrast to the facilitation of a 34% increase in traffic that the new crossing will allow. Building the new crossing would constitute a climate crime.
Mandy Rossi, Co-Chair of Kent Greens: "The consultation document highlights the importance of ' Stimulating economic growth - unlocking access to housing and job opportunities'. The South East does not require economic growth, it needs reductions in inequality. House prices in large areas of the South East are already unaffordable to most first time buyers.
"Government should focus on removing HGVs and LGVs from Kent's roads and reducing traffic volumes as a whole. It should not be agreeing to the destruction of ever more Kent countryside and the blighting of ever more Kent lives. It should not accept the loss of more ancient woodland, another intrusion on the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and further degrading of the Thames Estuary Marches."
Notes: Full letter below sent to firstname.lastname@example.org
No parts of the South East meet the standard for the ambient air quality directive. Gravesend Town Centre town centre already exceeds safe pollution levels and Dartford has the highest level of average PM2.5 in Kent. Research has proven that pollution can cause asthma, strokes and heart attacks. Any choice involving the increase of road traffic will only increase the threat from increased air pollution.
Furthermore any increase in road capacity that facilitates an increase in CO2 emissions must be avoided. The Climate Change Act requires a reduction in CO2 emissions in direct contrast to the facilitation of a 34% increase in traffic that the LTC will allow. The LTC would therefore constitute a climate crime.
Around a quarter of the vehicles using the current crossing are HGVs and light vans. As a country we are far too reliant on road based freight. This is currently set to increase by 8% a year and is in wilful ignorance of the consequences of our current overburdened road network and knock on effects on our environment and the health and wellbeing of our communities.
What is more obvious is that most of this traffic which is using the Thames crossing has origins from, or is destined for further parts of the country or even Ireland. The economics are currently in favour of using the cheap Channel crossing and long distances by road.
The consultation document highlights the importance of ' Stimulating economic growth - unlocking access to housing and job opportunities'. The South East does not require economic growth, it needs reductions in inequality. For example, house prices in large areas of the South East are already unaffordable to most first time buyers.
The consultation document conveniently rules out the use of rail in alleviating the situation. This is not surprising as the Highways England is not concerned with rail.
As a country we need to consider using other points of entry and exit for our goods, London Gateway, Harwich, Felixstowe, Immingham and Hull are all looking for extra business. All have rail connections and if the national rail infrastructure is weak at the moment, surely it is better to spend £5 billion (a conservative current estimate of this proposal) on rail upgrades.
A prime example of the shortfall of the current and proposed solutions occurred last summer when for 32 days, operation stack had to be implemented due to this over dependence on one route. The cost was £250 million a day to the country as a whole.
The consultation states that it will facilitate the increase of traffic by 34%, presumably from the increases in economic growth. It does not mention the effect that this will have on the wider parts of Kent which will become even more gridlocked and polluted.
Currently there are at least 870 deaths each year in Kent as a result of PM2.5 according to Public Health England. Any scheme that increases emissions will increase the number of people dying as a result of them.
Government should focus on removing HGVs and LGVs from Kent's roads and reducing traffic volumes as a whole. It should not be agreeing to the destruction of ever more Kent countryside and the blighting of ever more Kent lives. It should not accept the loss of more ancient woodland, another intrusion on the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and further degrading of the Thames Estuary Marches.
The concept of allowing increases in road traffic is therefore untenable and other solutions need to be sought which needs a change in overall government thinking. The investment of £4bn to £6bn should be made in schemes that reduce road traffic rather than increase it.
The Lower Thames Crossing would be a climate crime
Fri, 11 Mar 2016
A Lower Thames Crossing would be a climate crime states the Co-Chair of Kent Greens, Stuart Jeffery. Speaking at a Radio Kent debate, Stuart stated that the government proposals to spend £5bn to allow traffic to increase by 34% in the face of climate change reaching tipping point would be a climate crime. Stuart stated that there should be no new crossing and funds should be invested to reduce traffic instead.
Kent Greens call for support for NHS Reinstatement Bill
Fri, 11 Mar 2016
The day after the latest junior doctor's strike, Mandy Rossi, Co-Chair of Kent Greens is calling for Kent MPs to support the NHS Reinstatement Bill being re-introduced to Parliament today by Green MP Caroline Lucas.
Mandy Rossi, Co-Chair of Kent Greens: "The NHS is in a crisis of the government's own making. This week junior doctors have been striking as a result of Jeremy Hunt's imposition of an unacceptable contract, NHS debt is soaring and services are being privatised. The NHS cannot survive much more of this.
"I am calling on Kent MPs to support the NHS Reinstatement Bill that Green MP Caroline Lucas is reintroducing to Parliament today. This bill will halt and reverse the privatisation of the past 10 years and remove the expensive market system that the NHS operates within. It will ensure that government have a duty to provide health care.
"The NHS is a hugely valuable service that must be supported not dismantled as the government is doing."