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Farthingloe and Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty high court decision

Housing developments: affordable, accountable and sustainable

Dover District Councillors (DDC) (chair cllr Scales) shouldn’t have okayed the Western Heights and Farthingloe development, according to High Court judges in September 2016.

Dover and Deal Green Party submitted the following planning objection to DDC in August:

“The local economy needs to support small, local, tourist businesses and the biodiverse Kent Downs AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty) underpins this, this is one of the many reasons it is not demonstrated that it is in the public interest.” . . .

“It is ridiculous to say it is sustainable development; creating as it does a national precedent for building on an AONB and being opposed as such by CPRE (Campaign to Protect Rural England), Kent Wildlife Trust and Natural England; building on a much-loved greenfield site the Kent Downs AONB; having no commitment to low-carbon building methods or low-carbon building design. It is ridiculous to say that the development is in the public interest when it has no provision for affordable housing much less any provision for social, rented housing in a town which is crying out for it.”

D+D Green party activist Beccy Sawbridge was at Unite the union’s Housing roadshow in Dover on 21 Sept. Their campaign overlaps with ours a lot:

  • quality refits
  • building lots of social, council, quality, rented housing
  • introducing rent controls in the private rented sector.

We want to suspend the ‘right-to-buy’ Housing Association properties which cuts the social rented housing available.

The Conservative’s Housing and Planning Act 2016 is to blame for this and we oppose it.

We welcome the Connaught Park brownfield development whole-heartedly.

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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.

Green party campaigners protest to save trees at Aldi site in Deal

East Kent Mercury press clipping May 2018

East Kent Mercury press clipping May 2018

Environmentalists held a small demonstration in the car park on the proposed new Aldi store in a bid to save nine mature trees.

The German chain plans to remove the features to make way for its brand new 1,254 sqm supermarket and 128 space car park on the current Co-op site in Park Street, Deal.

In a stand against this, members of Deal and Dover Green Party held a “love-in” where they tied messages to the trees and handed out leaflets to shoppers.

Green Party parliamentary candidate for the area, Beccy Sawbridge, said: “It’s not about not wanting the supermarket there but making sure these trees aren’t unnecessarily taken away.

“Trees do so much for us to protect our increasingly fragile eco system.

“Given that these mature trees already have Tree Preservation Order’s on them, people were astonished and rather angry that Aldi seemed to feel justified in chopping them down.

“It’s important to remember we share this earth.”

The activists argue that the mature trees currently in existence – one oak, two lime, two beech and six sycamore – are not only loved for their visual amenity but because they all also help clean the air, contribute to people’s health, help save energy and benefit wildlife.

They feel in the rush for development, Deal would lose some of its character.

An Aldi spokesperson said: “We agree that trees have many benefits for an area, and where possible we will maintain existing trees and plant new trees within our proposed development in Deal.

“As part of the planning application submission we will provide an assessment of the existing trees on site. Whilst nine trees are proposed to be removed to allow the Aldi development to come forward, Aldi will be replacing these with 13 mature specimens throughout the site, w’hich will be supported by the required infrastructure to allow them to grow successfully within the car park and ensure their longevity.

“Overall, the additional trees and landscaping proposed, in addition to the introduction of a modem and highly sustainable Aldi building, will regenerate the site and enhance the local Conservation Area setting. We are delighted that an overwhelming number of local people have already shown their support for the proposals and can’t wait for Aldi to open.”

Aldi will submit a planning application to Dover District Council this month. If it is granted the store will open during 2019.

Let’s work together for better air quality in the Dover District

In November 2017, our Dover and Deal Green Party campaigners put up air quality monitors outside four primary schools in Deal and five primary schools in Dover. Then they took the nitrogen dioxide results to the professionals at Dover District Council (DDC).

“We are very aware that deaths attributable to air pollution in the UK, at 8% of the annual death rate, are higher than in neighbouring countries, it is an issue that we need to work on together.” Commented campaigner Liz Hayes.

The campaigners had a very constructive meeting at Whitfield on 18 December. The DDC environmental protection team keep careful records of the two Air Quality Management Areas in Dover:

  • along the A20 from Aycliffe to the Gateway
  • and outside the old Town Hall.

Both areas continue to show levels that breach legal limits.

The DDC team are preparing to consult and draw up a new action plan to improve air quality in Dover in early 2018. Details will soon be available on how local groups such as  local Green Party campaigners can participate in the consultation.

On behalf of the local Green Party, Sarah Gleave / Christine Oliver / Liz Hayes said,

“Our one-off sampling is not the same as longer-term sampling, and none of our readings were above the legal limits, however our highest four readings were above the 20 micrograms /m3 that are the World Health Organisation’s recommended maximum levels to avoid harm to health.”

Three of these four higher readings are from primary school streets which are outside the AQMAreas that DDC monitor.  Our four highest readings were from:

  • Barton Road, near Charlton and Barton Primary schools, 32micrograms /m3 ;
  • London Road, Sholden, Deal, outside Sholden Primary school, 26micrograms /m3;
  • St David’s Road near Aycliffe Primary school, 22 micrograms /m3
  • Western Road, Deal outside Sandown Primary School, 21 micrograms /m3   

Two of the measures recommended to reduce air pollution caused by traffic:

  • speedy replacement of diesel cars, lorries and buses with better scrappage schemes
  • the introduction of no-idling zones.

In Dover the number of freight vehicles who keep their engines running while stationary, in cold or hot weather adds significantly to air pollution in the town. Also, the lack of good public transport and zero emissions transport options on new out-of-town developments are making pollution levels worse.

Tom Clother, of the local Green Party said,

“The Port of Dover could help by:

  1. making the lorry parks on the port, no-idling zones and
  2. by replacing their commercial fleet with electric vehicles. 

Many private car owners are aware that children’s lungs are particularly vulnerable and switch the ignition off to protect young lungs. 

Many of our supporters are parents of young families and have said they would buy plug-in electric cars if only there were some electric charging points in the District.

Another form of protection for schools with playgrounds on busy roads is to plant street trees as a living barrier.  We’d be very happy to work with community groups and across party lines to lobby for some solid improvements on this issue; prevention is better than cure!”. 

What does Brexit mean for live animal exports?

Written by Keith Taylor, Green Party MEP, Autumn 2017

Live exports are barbaric; treating beautiful and sentient animals as ‘goods’ no different from a bottle of whiskey or bar of chocolate. Greens want to see it banned outright.

“Animals exported live for slaughter and breeding often travel great distances, for days at a time, in confined spaces, and suffer great distress, dehydration, disease, fatigue, and injury.”

Live transportation and the suffering it wreaks is entirely unnecessary. Current European Union legislation provides protections for animals in transit. But they become problematic when the destination is outside of the European Union.

EU regulations, for example, make it illegal for pigs to be kept in confined sow stalls when travelling within Europe, but not once they cross EU borders.

Recently, there has been a buzz of excitement amongst some British animal welfare activists who believe leaving the EU might finally offer an opportunity to ban live exports outright. Greens are the first to acknowledge that the rules of the Single Market are a barrier to banning the industry outright.

In theory, therefore, the argument is that leaving the Single Market would mean the UK is free to ban live animal exports. The Government, proponents say, would then have to listen to the overwhelming majority of British people who support such a ban.

It’s a tempting scenario, but it doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. Ignoring the disastrous economic consequences and the loss of vital environmental, workers’ rights and even animal welfare protections — if Theresa May pursues an extreme Brexit — Britain will become an independent member of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

As a member of the WTO, it is as likely — if not more likely — that live animal exports will increase rather than decrease. The WTO governs the conditions, rules, and regulation of trade between countries.

There is currently no means by which WTO members can restrict trade on animal welfare grounds.”

Much like the EU’s Single Market, WTO membership enshrines the principles of free
movement of trade — including live animals. Any attempts to ban live exports, therefore,
can be swept aside.

Other WTO member states, particularly those that profit from live exports, can also challenge any proposed ban if they see it as a barrier to trade. It is the WTO that stops the EU from banning the import of eggs from barren battery cages, despite the cruel farming practice being banned across the EU.

The best thing that we, as passionate, animal-loving Brits, can do is to continue fighting
to strengthen animal welfare standards as members of the EU. We already have the necessary legislative tools at our disposal to help us in the fight — they were a gift from the EU, afforded to us by virtue of our membership.

The EU-wide #StopTheTrucks campaign is calling on the EU Commission to review and update transport regulations. Ultimately, the campaign demands that the trade in live animals be replaced with a trade in meat.

Until that happens, they are calling for the duration of any live transports to be
capped at eight hours — an effective ban on live exports from the UK. Austria, Denmark, Germany, and the Netherlands have all submitted an official request in support of the campaign and, so far, the campaign’s online petition has garnered the signatures of over a million EU citizens.

EU legislation has significantly improved on-farm conditions for millions of animals, from banning veal crates and sow stalls to stopping the use of barren battery cages; we can’t afford to lose these protections.

We are stronger working with our friends and neighbours, and we can — and should — continue to fight as part of the EU with the strength that our membership brings.


Sign the UK petition now: the issue will be debated in parliament on 28 February 2018.