Our Manifesto for Kent
Kent Greens want to create a fair and sustainable society in Kent but what does this mean?
"Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs." World Commission on Environment and Development - Our Common Future, 1987.
Fairness begins with taking responsibility for what we are doing. We do not have the right to live as if we could squander everything Kent, or our country, or our planet has to offer. We have a duty, to our own children and future generations, to ensure that we pass on a better Kent to those who follow us, not one which continues to be damaged by Conservative misrule. In practice, this means having private and public sector activity contributing to the greening of life in general. A sustainable economy is our aim. We need private and public sectors working for the common good throughout Kent.
So why should you vote Green? The Green Party has consistently offered the best alternative policies of any Party in Kent to the current Conservative regime.
Transport: Make our air fit to breathe and keep the roads safe: 20's plenty
- We will tackle air pollution through:
- proper monitoring of high traffic areas
- raising awareness of serious health effects. Deaths from air-pollution-related diseases are ten times higher than those from traffic accidents and constitute sixth highest cause of deaths: 800-1,500 a year in Kent. In addition respiratory and cardiovascular diseases are a huge cost to the NHS along with the individual personal impacts
- campaigning for stationary vehicles to turn off their engines
- reducing subsidies for roads and investing the money in public transport, cycling, rail network and electric vehicle charging points
- returning bus services to local authority control where possible or encouraging more competition among bus companies to reduce fares and improve services.
- We will introduce 20mph limits in residential areas and a much lower speed limit on country lanes (currently 60mph – people can't cycle or walk dogs on them because they’re so dangerous)
- We oppose the Lower Thames Crossing
- We oppose the Operation Stack lorry park. This will cost £250m for facility rarely used – we need to cut down the number of lorries on the roads e.g. put the emphasis on rail freight
- We will open more railway stations (Thanet Parkway, Canterbury Mountfield Park if developments go ahead) and expand the rail network
- We want solar panels over our car parks
- We want more thought given to transport when planning developments around Canterbury
- We will encourage car clubs – these take a lot of cars off the road and help those who are struggling to afford their own car
- We will raise awareness of health and fitness benefits of cycling and we will encourage cycling generally.
Education: Local schools for local kids under local control; good education for 100% not just 25%; better together
- Children have different abilities and learn in different ways. We need a big portfolio of teaching ability to cater for different needs but don't want huge schools. Children need to identify with small groups, local fully-funded comprehensives allowing individual learning are the right way to go
- We will end grammar schools in Kent. Education needs to be for today not for the 1950s. Mental health problems higher among grammar school children and tutoring has made some children pass 11+ though unsuitable for this kind of school. Having a separate school for the more academic children reduces standards in the other schools with many not achieving minimum qualifications
- We will campaign to see an end to academies and free schools. We need local control and local democratic accountability
- We want more funding for vocational and further education
- We will provide after-school clubs for literacy, and help address social issues in ‘deprived’ areas
- We will bring back careers education
Social care: stop the cuts and support the vulnerable
- Kent Greens believe we should be welcoming refugees and caring for them. We need to work with those doing great work in France to support the refugees and look at what can be done in each district council for refugees and asylum seekers.
- We will fight to end homelessness. KCC should support the voluntary sector to help the homeless. We will help the compulsory purchase of empty properties, while promoting real affordable housing and social housing.
- We will work with the local NHS to promote access to mental health services with a maximum two-week limit on seeing a consultant (the same as for cancer). We recognise that there is a huge investment required for both young and old.
- We will tackle the unsustainable workload of social workers. Social services is struggling with a shrinking budget and increasing demand. We will value and support carers and we will fight against social care becoming a two-tier system for those who can pay and those who can't
Abolish KCC and set up unitary authorities: more local democracy
- We will champion subsidiarity – devolution of power closest to those it serves. The current system is inefficient and undemocratic, too many decisions are imposed from central government. We need more streamlined system with much less bureaucracy and far more transparency
- We want four unitary authorities taking over the powers of KCC to ensure greater local democracy and accountability, as well as input into planning, transport and the environment:
- (1) Tonbridge & Malling, Tunbridge Wells, Sevenoaks
(2) Medway, Maidstone, Swale
(3) Dartford, Gravesham
(4) Canterbury, Ashford, Dover, Shepway, Thanet
- We would enhance the competencies of town and parish councils to devolve some power further
- We would introduce a Kent Regional Assembly on the Manchester model in charge only of health care, social care, police, fire and ambulance services – all other responsibilities devolved to the unitary authorities (N.B. Kent has a bigger population than Northern Ireland, which has an assembly)
- All bodies would be elected by a system of proportional representation
Local development: decided by local people
- We will fight for more local decision-making through neighbourhood plans. We will fight to end the favouring of developers over local people
- We will stop unsustainable development. There is gridlock on our roads while there are many empty houses up north
- We will ensure that if any development is permitted, it must use brownfield land. Neighbourhood plans will identify where sites are. We will implement BIMBY (Beauty In My Back Yard)
- We need high-density family homes, cheap to buy/rent, cheap to heat, not luxury detached houses developers want in order to make maximum profit
- We will build more social housing, or compulsory purchase of empty properties where possible
Youth Services: invest in youth not bombs
- We want better mental health care and autistic funding, better one-to-one mentoring, better education – money spent now saves money later
- We will ensure that agencies to talk to each other more
- We will help young people be fit and healthy – stop selling school playing fields, have more exercise facilities, remove soft drinks vending machines from schools
- We will abolish 11+ which leads to stress and acute sense of failure in those who don’t pass
- We will ensure better careers education
Ethical investments: reinvest in the local economy
- We will invest council pension funds in long-term assets for the benefit of the local economy and people rather than in fossil fuel or tobacco companies. 8% of the KCC pension fund is currently invested in fossil fuel and tobacco companies
- We will stop the sell-off of council assets which has been catastrophic. We will reinvest in them, in the local economy e.g. social housing, invest in running good bus services while providing local jobs as well
- We will bring back local authority bonds abolished by Thatcher government
Waste management: waste is resource - nothing will wasted
- We will emphasise reuse/repair of appliances, furniture, etc. rather than scrapping – currently household waste recycling centres have no separate bin for appliances which work (26%)
- We will increase recuclying rates. Only 46% of Kent’s waste is recycled
- We will support alternative local energy generation e.g. Allington incinerator could be used for local heat network
- We will ensure that all boroughs have doorstep recycling and food waste collection
- We will build more anaerobic digestion to produce green gas
- We will fight for a levy on packaging which can't be recycled