Author Archives: Sarah

Policies to Support Local Business

The Green Party thinks Dover District Council (DDC) should support our great local medium and small businesses, start-ups and co-operatives like Thanet Community Transport.

The Conservatives may talk a lot about the free market but really use it as a cover to defend excessive profit extraction by a few large corporations.

They always seem to prefer financialised corporations to small and medium-sized businesses.

DDC’s development plan seeks to encourage volume builders like Persimmon, Wimpey etc. to build over our greenfield sites. How much of the profits are invested and circulate in our area?

We completely agree that more houses are needed, especially quality social housing, we would provide these on brownfield sites as much as possible – encouraging the use of local building firms and labour.

Future economic development and jobs should be based on high tech Green industry and tourism.

We support plans for cycle tourism in Deal.  Regeneration in Dover with its fantastic heritage which successive councils have allowed to become run down.

This article covered one of the 14 Themes of Dover and Deal Geen Party Action Plan:

  1. Action on Climate Emergency
  2. Open Government
  3. Improving Democracy
  4. Value for Money
  5. Policies to Support Local Business
  6. Planning Policy that Works
  7. No to Fracking
  8. Yes to support for electric cars
  9. A Plastics Free Council
  10. Ending Live animal exports
  11. Better Air Quality
  12. Support for Bus Transport
  13. Better Amenities – Especially For Young People
  14. Universal Credit and Other Benefits

 

No to Fracking

On fracking our view is very simple – not in Eastry, Timanstone, Guston, Shepherdswell or anywhere else.

Fracking is unnecessary. We should stop creating greenhouse gasses and move to renewables.

Fracking is dangerous. We live on chalk lands and the noxious chemicals will probably get into our water table.

It causes earthquakes which result in large cracks in buildings – currently work in Lancashire is suspended if an earthquake over 0.5 intensity on the Richter scale is recorded – now firms involved in fracking want these standards diluted to avoid continuous work stoppages.

The Netherlands permitted fracking with similar ‘safeguards’.  The result – so much structural damage to homes that fracking has been completely banned. According to a lawsuit initiated by 3,500 people in the Netherlands, 100,000 houses have suffered an estimated loss of £1 billion due to fracking.

This article covered one of the 14 Themes of Dover and Deal Geen Party Action Plan:

  1. Action on Climate Emergency
  2. Open Government
  3. Improving Democracy
  4. Value for Money
  5. Policies to Support Local Business
  6. Planning Policy that Works
  7. No to Fracking
  8. Yes to support for electric cars
  9. A Plastics Free Council
  10. Ending Live animal exports
  11. Better Air Quality
  12. Support for Bus Transport
  13. Better Amenities – Especially For Young People
  14. Universal Credit and Other Benefits

Fab family afternoon gets us all thinking green

A great time was had by all at the Green Thinking Fair on Mill Hill on Saturday 23 February.

Seaward Band played a toe tapping set for us

Seaward Band kept us entertained

Crabs made from rubbish collected on Deal Beach Clean, including lego bricks, Smint boxes, various plastic lids etc

Kids got involved in making crabs from Deal Beach Clean waste

Kids getting their hands dirty assembling their grass caterpillars

Kids were invited to make grass caterpillars at one of the craft stalls

Poster encouraging local families to come along to our fun afternoon in Mill Hill

Poster advertising the Fair

Held at St Richard’s Church Hall, the Green Thinking fair was a really upbeat and inspiring event.

Mike Eddy said, “Thanks to all who joined us in Mill Hill especially the fantastic local stallholders (Anne’s reflexology, Mrs Howie’s Eco stall, Future Foundry, Margie’s vegan cakes, repairers from Dover Repair Café), artists (Penny Bearman, Pam Cutler and Kath Love and Plastic Free Deal + Dover) and musicians (the spine-tingling Seaward Band).

We could see how much excellent work is being done in the community, which my new colleagues are fully involved in. Thanks also to all who donated to the raffle; the first prize was a family cycling voucher donated by Betteshanger Community Park.”

There was a lively discussion on the problems of austerity Britain led by former Green Party Leader, Natalie Bennett. Natalie pointed out how, on many councils up and down our land, new ways are being found by Green Councillors to make councils carbon neutral by 2030. Bristol, Scarborough and Oxford are some of 25 examples of commitments made in the last two months.

One of the Green Party organisers, Christine Oliver, said, “This was an exchange of the sort of ideas that really give people hope for a fairer future.”

How can we reduce the waiting time for access to mental health services in Kent? 

Talking point:

What can be done to reduce the waiting time for access to mental health services in the region of Kent?

By Mike Eddy, Green Party Councillor for Mill Hill, Deal

Mind the mental health charity said in 2018 that NHS England should introduce a maximum four-week waiting time for Psychological Therapies (IAPT) care.

Kent MPs were told in June last year that 1,481 children in the county have been waiting 18 weeks for treatment, 144 of them for over 52 weeks.

Since 2017, North East London NHS Foundation Trust have taken over Kent Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services. It is similar for older patients.

It is ridiculous to blame the professionals of the NHS which has been fragmented and run-down by Conservative politicians since they passed the Health and Social Care Act in 2012, and paved the way to privatising health services.

In my case work as a councillor, it is apparent that the ever-widening inequalities in our society contribute to mental health problems and impede recovery. Evidence from the House of Commons library shows, “Poorer people were less likely to recover as a result of treatment under the IAPT programme than the better-off”, and the disabled and minorities also have lower levels of recovery.

What can be done?

  1. The NHS needs to be taken back into public ownership so that profiteering corporates with friends in government stop taking their cut from funding.
  2. We need serious long-term investment in the mental health services of the NHS so that we turn round the problem of understaffing (nurses and doctors). This would also free up our police who are called in time and again across Kent to help ill people who become a danger to themselves or others.
  3. We need some joined-up thinking between the Dept of Work and Pensions, answerable for Universal Credit and the Dept for Health and Social Care because we see increases in referrals for mental health services following the introduction of Universal Credit.

Action on Air Pollution near Deal schools

Deal Town Council’s Transport and Infrastructure Committee Chair, Councillor Mike Eddy, hosted a talk by local activist Christine Oliver at the Town Hall on Tuesday 12 March on the issue of air pollution.

Deal Town Council recently passed a motion to address the issue of engine idling around schools at pick up and drop off times, which contributes to air pollution.

Poor air quality is responsible for approximately 40,000 premature deaths in the UK every year, with children and older people are especially vulnerable to the negative health impacts, which include asthma, heart disease, stroke, and lung cancer.

This is an issue in Deal and Dover’s windy corner.

Green Party campaigners carried out air quality monitoring as citizen scientists outside 4 Deal and 4 Dover primary schools in November 2017, and showed the results to Prof Peckham of University of Kent’s Centre for Health Service Studies.

We learnt from Prof Peckham that the maximum levels for nitrogen dioxide is 20 micrograms/m3, the World Health Organisation’s recommended maximum levels to avoid harm to health. Two schools in Deal and two schools in Dover indicated higher than these levels.

On 12 March 2019, Deal school leaders and councillors were encouraged to adopt a range of initiatives to help reduce pollution. These included:

  • raising awareness amongst parents and carers
  • ‘green screens’ and ‘living walls’ around schools
  • closing school streets to vehicles at school drop-off times
  • expanding the cycle network
  • additional tree and shrub planting in public spaces.

A small action that all drivers can take to improve local air quality is to turn the engine off when stationary – for example when waiting at level crossings.

https://www.kentonline.co.uk/deal/news/green-partys-plan-to-improve-157894/

Dover and Deal Green Party sparks Dover District Council debate, and cross-party commitments on climate emergency

Green party members holding up signs stating '12 years to act', 'Climate emergency', 'Dover Carbon Neutral for 2030', 'Act Now'.

Dover and Deal Green Party members including local Mill Hill Councillor Mike Eddy campaign at Dover District Council for cross-party action to address the climate emergency

On 6 March, John Lonsdale and Sarah Gleave of Dover district’s Green Party put in a formal question to the Dover District Council (DDC) Conservative Cabinet, appealing for them to act now on the Climate Emergency in the interests of young Dovorians.

As Sir David Attenborough and the IPCC say, we have only 12 years to reduce the climate crisis.

Following up on their appeal, Green Party Councillor Mike Eddy (Mill Hill, Deal) put forward an amendment to the DDC budget. He recommended that £200,000 of the DDC reserves be invested, half in the 19/20 budget and half in the 20/21 budget, for the investment in a 100 panel solar car park canopy so that DDC could cut fuel emissions and cut fuel costs, and so that the next fleet of DDC vehicles could be recharged from the canopy.

Mike Eddy said:
“We were glad that both the Leader of the Council, Cllr Morris and the Leader of the Opposition, Cllr Mills, at Dover District Council accepted the principle of the Green Party’s budget amendment. For a relatively small investment, we can save something like £25,000 per year. We can put the savings on the Council’s electricity bill towards investment in electric council vehicles and electric charging points. This is a win-win for council tax payers. It is unfortunate that we can’t get on with this straightaway. We are in a climate emergency after all. But the commitment from two major parties means we should get there soon. ” 

Examples of actions that have been taken elsewhere and which could be taken in Dover District which were referred to at the Council meeting included:

  • Section 106 agreements for any new-build out-of-town developments to discourage 2 and 3 car ownership by forcing developers to include electric car clubs and cycle and walking paths (as has been done in Woking).
  • Bus Rapid Transit schemes using newer cleaner vehicles to discourage private car use.
  • Refitting social housing and fitting solar panels so that tenants have lower fuel bills (as Kirklees Borough Council have done on hundreds of homes – as Mid-Devon District Council have done also).

Question to leader put by Sarah Gleave of Dover and Deal Green Party:
“Young people and their parents in Dover District are aware we have just 12 years to avoid catastrophic climate change by limiting global warming to below 1.5°C.

Sir David Attenbrough and the IPCC report make this plain. By the time young Dovorians grow up it will be too late.

It is worse than when KCC said some years ago, ‘Climate change is likely to affect flood risk through sea level rise, more frequent and higher storm surges, increased winter rainfall, drier summers with periods of more intense summer rainfall’. 

Problems elsewhere will also come to Dover’s shoreline.   

As councils across Britain like Bristol, Hastings, Scarborough and Oxford step up to the plate, will Dover District Council commit to doing everything within the Council’s power to make Dover district carbon neutral by 2030 and press the Government to provide the necessary powers and resources to make the 2030 target possible? “

A recording of the meeting includes quotes from the Leader of DDC Councillor Morris:
“Climate change is regrettably likely to become the defining issue of 21st century, . . . world is on track to overshoot the Paris agreements 1.5degree C limit . . . .  much more action needed.

District council is playing an active role and looking to do more.  Over recent months DDC Officers have been working with Kent colleagues on Draft energy and low emissions strategy for Kent and Medway, which aims to . . . reduce  carbon emissions creating a more sustainable energy infrastructure in Kent and Medway. ”  ..  “We’ve introduced electric vehicle charging points at new leisure centre and are requiring developers to do the same with charging points as shown at St James and Lidl.” . . We’ve converted lighting in offices to LED and during the coming year we will be converting all street lights to LED.

I have noted with interest the decisions being taken across the country by various councils, and I will ask our officers to prepare a report for cabinet looking at whether we should do the same.” 

Cheap Bus Rapid Transport – “Council is very keen to make this as green as possible, maybe with electric vehicles.”

Labour group leader joins the Green Party

photo of Mike Eddy shaking hands with the Green Party co-leader Sian BerryOn Friday 2 November, the executive officers of our local party were delighted to welcome Cllr Mike Eddy on board as a fellow Green Party member. We know him to be very principled, knowledgeable and hardworking.

Previously he was leader of the Labour opposition on Dover District Council for 10 years. He continues to be keen to serve the people of his ward, Mill Hill, as a councillor both on Deal Town Council and Dover District Council. And we will work hard for his re-election in 2019 as a member of a party that is keen for local decisions to be made at a local level. National Green Party co-leader, Sian Berry, came to Dover to welcome

Cllr Eddy and she also reaffirmed our party’s commitment to securing a free flow of traffic through Dover with a democratic process. Berry said the people of Dover must “have a say on their future” after local freight clearance experts warned Dover would be hit by gridlock if the type of Brexit the Prime Minister is pursuing goes ahead.

Cllr Eddy was also motivated to make the change by the Green Party’s firm commitment to scrap Universal Credit, which has left people in Dover District facing poverty since its rollout in July this year, as well as our party’s campaigns to tackle air pollution and protect Dover and Deal’s green spaces and biodiversity.

Is enough being done in our region to tackle the balance of social housing?

News clipping Dover Express article on social housingSocial housing, that is, homes that people can rent at a fair price, either from public or private owners, is different from affordable housing (a larger category including home ownership for people who can get a mortgage).

The amount of social housing has dropped dramatically since the 1980’s when the Conservative government forced councils to allow people to buy council houses but stopped councils using the money from the sales to build more council houses for the next generation.

The Green Party wants a major programme by 2022 to build 100,000 zero-carbon, socially rented homes nationally each year. We want to end council house sales and to legislate so councils have to bring empty homes back into use by refitting them as social housing.

We know that Dover New Local Plan Scoping Report 2018 refers to the East Kent Growth Framework and ‘enhancing town centres’ so that a town centre like Dover ‘becomes a location of first choice for young people and families’. The words are very appealing.

It is great when people can walk from their homes to their schools, shops and workplaces, without using a car. More quality homes that are cheap-to-heat, and cheap-to-rent in Dover Town would also be good for our independent shops (as would a cut in DDC business rates).

We welcome the No Use Empty scheme of DDC but feel it needs to have serious council investment in order to make it work.

To help young people, Greens would reinstate housing benefit for under 21s and reverse housing benefit cuts.

People who rent need more security so Greens favour rent controls, more secure tenancies for private renters, an end to letting fees and compulsory licensing of all landlords.

Housing and access to green spaces are a human right, so we say brownfield development first.

Should more funding be made available for research and treatment of mental health issues?

Press clipping

Press clipping

MUCH more funding should be available for the treatment of mental health, not research. We know what the problems are, and what helps IF it is available, how many health service cuts there’ve been and how harsh austerity policies push more people to the edge.

Caseloads are so high and staffing levels so low that people who have attempted suicide are falling through the gaps, as the report by CQC on Kent and Medway NHS Trust said last year.

Kent police have had an 18% cut in funding, but have to step in for public safety reasons when those who need to be admitted for care are turned away, and nationally it’s the same.

Our young people are driven to the edge. A recent BMJ article mentions a 68% increase in hospital self- harm presentations in 13-16 year olds between 2011 and 2014.

CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services) are under-resourced. NHS England admits that only one in four under-18s with a diagnosable mental health problem receives treatment.

If a Dover youngster does get a bed it is miles away at Ticehurst. This, in the sixth richest country in the world?

Ah, but we’ve the greatest level of inequality in Europe. Our NHS money must not slip into the shareholder pockets of Circle/Virgin Healthcare through NHS privatisation.

The dominant model of psychiatry is driven by pharmaceutical companies. Acute conditions are treated by hospitalisation, top-down diagnoses by psychiatrists, then some pretty heavy-duty medications.

Chronic conditions, treated in the community, are also heavily dependent on drug therapy, because cheaper than other, more effective therapies.

In contrast, the Green Party believe that the best mental health care is informed by the experiences of mental health service-users themselves.

Evidence shows that more equal societies have lower levels of ill health.

What would the local reaction be if there was a second European referendum?

The Big Question, published in the Dover Express 16 August 2018

Clipping from the Dover Express

Clipping from the Dover Express

NOBODY knows, but Dovorians are practical, savvy people. With neighbours who work on the Port or with Border Force, we are not intolerant or totalitarian.

So, we will continue to discuss what is best for us locally and nationally with respect for the different views of our neighbours and friends.

We prefer the truth that comes from professionals to the deceptions of grandstanding brexiteer MPs with trust funds moved recently to the EU27.

The media select committee of UK parliament and the Electoral Commission have found evidence of Leave leaders cheating in 2016.

The Green Party accepts that leave won by a narrow margin, but we reject the extreme, chaotic Brexit the Conservative government are leading.

Greens say, with Mrs May and the Conservative government’s inability to agree a negotiating position, we need a People’s Vote on the final Brexit Deal, a 3-way choice allowing us to vote either for

  • any final deal Mrs May’s government may be able to reach with EU27;
  • for a no-deal exit;
  • or to stay in the EU (with the loud voice in EU decisions that the UK has had over many decades, and the control of our laws, taxes and borders that we have always had).

Greens have been in the forefront of EU reform, and have worked for:

  • farming subsidies that put sustainable agriculture first
  • environmental, animal and wildlife protection
  • consumer protection
  • renewable energy targets.

There is little evidence that these will be respected as Liam Fox chases secret US trade deals.

The gridlock and ‘catastrophic’ impact on our communities of a hard or disorderly Brexit has been predicted by local clearance experts and border people since 2016/17.

The government should mend its cruel universal credit system instead of squabbling over its Brexit negotiating position until we need to stockpile food.