News from Kent Greens
Huge surge in Kent for Green Party membership
Tue, 28 Oct 2014
Kent Green Party Chair and candidate for Canterbury has welcomed a huge surge in Green Party membership in the county, including a single week in October which saw a 7% rise in just 7 days. The party membership in Kent has grown by almost 60% since January. Canterbury has seen a 36% rise in the past 3 months alone where the Greens achieved 18% of the vote in the city putting them in contention for the Parliamentary seat in 2015.
Across the UK membership has risen by 45% and last week's Ashcroft Poll on General Election voting intention put the Greens ahead of the Lib Dems. Across the UK, Green Party membership has reached 30,000.
Stuart Jeffery, Chair of Kent Greens and Parliamentary Candidate for Canterbury: "While the national media focuses on and therefore drives the rise of UKIP, it is clear that the Green Party is rapidly growing and gaining support. This is despite that refusal of national media to give us a level playing field.
"Membership in Kent has rise steeply this year and is up almost 60% in nine months. In Canterbury we have seen a huge surge in the past three months alone, with membership rising by 36% since June.
"In Canterbury we achieved 18% of the vote in the EU election, far ahead of the Lib Dems, neck and neck with Labour and just behind the Tories and UKIP. This puts us in a great position to win our first parliamentary seat in Kent in 2015."
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!