From The Canterbury Journal:
Saturday, 29 September 2018
This summer, your local Green Party surveyed residents of Gorrell ward in Whitstable about their views on their community. Thanks to all those who took the time to tell us their views.
The results show that people love Whitstable for its strong sense of community, great high street and for being such a friendly neighbourhood.
The three key priorities for improving life in the town were:
1) Plastic pollution
3) Affordable housing
Greens will continue to actively support the Plastic-Free movement, encouraging local businesses to reduce single-use plastic containers and packaging.
We would also prioritise multi-compartment bins in Whitstable, especially on the beaches. This would mean an increase in recycling and a decrease in litter.We would campaign for an alternative to the thousands of disposable takeaway cups and glasses being used by the town's cafes, pubs and festivals.
The town has serious problems with parking, especially in the summer months when visitors flock to Whitstable. The survey showed support for more residents-only parking in the centre of town. The Green Party will also campaign to get the long-promised out-of-town park and ride facilities set up.
Currently the cheapest house prices in the District are more than 13 times the annual salary of the lowest paid, making home ownership an impossible dream for many.
Green Party policy is to use forms of housing provision where affordability can be guaranteed, such as social and co-operative housing, and encouraging self-build and custom-build that directly meet peoples’ needs while empowering the builders/occupants.
We would also set up a living rent commission, ensure secure tenancies and the Right to Rent if a householder falls behind on mortgage payments.
We would campaign to charge 200% council tax on homes left empty for longer than 6 months and set aside the extra revenue received to provide free roof and cavity-wall insulation to residents in the District.
Tuesday, 24 April 2018
The Council has finally produced a draft for an Air Quality Action Plan, which is going out for consultation. We will, of course, be submitting our comments but here is what Henry Stanton, our parliamentary candidate, said about its inadequacies at the Policy & Resources Committee meeting when the Draft Plan was presented:
“The Council is under a statutory obligation to stop the air pollution that has broken legal limits for the last seven years. This plan will not do its job and a close look at this plan makes it clear that the Council does not take the issue of air pollution seriously enough.
Air pollution is taking 750 years of life of our residents every year. It’s the second worst air pollution in Kent. This is a public health emergency and we need action now. The World Health Organisation calls air pollution the world’s “largest single environmental health risk”.
Your report claims “nitrogen dioxide (NO2) is the main pollutant of concern”. But the most serious pollution, the PM 2.5 particles, the ones that get into organs, brains and foetuses, you don’t monitor at all.
These particles have been linked to poorer memory, attention and vocabulary; to below-average performance on intelligence tests; and to delinquent behaviour. Air pollution has also been implicated in developmental disorders ranging from attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder to autism spectrum disorders. These particles inflame the cells around them and in experiments on mice, the inflammation can be seen a full two months after exposure to air pollution has ended.
Your plan states that there is no safe minimum level for PM2.5 air pollution but that you are under no obligation to monitor it. If you choose not to, you are simply not taking this issue seriously.
I would urge you to commit to a series of monitoring stations around the city that can report on not just nitrogen dioxide but also PM 10 and 2.5 particles, in real time, in the places we know are worst affected, for example outside St Thomas’s Primary school.
The plan is woolly. To look at specifics, statements about rolling out electric charging points in all strategic development sites ring hollow when you’re only planning 10% of spaces in the Station Road West car park to have electric car charging points. Which means that, with a ban on petrol and diesel engine cars arriving in 2040, five years before the car park is even paid for, 90% of spaces won't be fit for purpose.
It’s also hard to take the notion of rolling out charging sites across the district seriously when, with a population of 150,000, you’re currently planning a pathetic 9 points.
Why, if you are actually serious about doing this are you persisting with building a multi-storey car park which will actually increase the number of car parking spaces in Canterbury and will encourage more cars into Canterbury, rather than fewer?
The plan to enhance the cycling and walking network is a good one, if only you would get on with it. There is simply a lack of urgency.
Stagecoach are due to move the bus fleet engines to the Euro 6 standard or better by 2023. India is banning the sale of all combustion engines by 2030, so I think Stagecoach can manage electric sooner than this.
At the very latest, you should have cleaned up the air by 2022, as stated in the DEFRA action plan for the south east. This plan will not achieve this. Really you should be aiming for 2020. Given that the multi-storey car park will increase emissions, as will the proposed Kingsmead development on top of the 10,000 new homes coming, there is no way this plan will get the air pollution to a legal level by then."
The unseasonal cold weather had made Marilyn Sansom rather apprehensive there would be no bluebells for the walk she organises annually for Green Party members from Canterbury District and Ashford, all proceeds split between our two local parties.
In the event, we had a glorious sunny day with a wonderful display of bluebells, coaxed out of the ground by the hot weather we had during the previous week. Marilyn produced a huge spread of delicious cakes and biscuits, which we all tucked into after the gentle walk through the woods near her house.
Many thanks again to Marilyn for having organised another enjoyable afternoon in her bluebell woods and in her home.
Monday, 22 January 2018
Canterbury District Green Party is delighted that our Council has passed a motion stating it will work to reduce the use of single-use plastics to an absolute minimum. Coming in the week when MPs have proposed a 25p charge on disposable coffee cups, the news of our own Council's decision on reducing single-use plastics makes a really positive start to the new year.
8 million metric tonnes of plastic waste pollute the seas each year and by 2050 the weight of plastic in the oceans is predicted to exceed that of fish, posing a risk to marine life and to human health. In 2016, one third of fish surveyed on our south coast contained plastic... How do your fish and chips taste now?
Those of us who watched albatross chicks being fed plastic by parent birds in Blue Planet II will be fully aware of how serious this worldwide problem is. It is sobering to think that the average time a plastic straw is used, for example, is 20 minutes but it'll stay around as a potential hazard for 600 years.
We are heartened to find that our Council is taking this problem seriously and planning to reduce its use of single-use plastics, also encouraging local businesses to do the same. We are proud that Canterbury District will be joining the growing number of local authorities all over the world which are taking this action and hope that, when this motion is discussed in the Community Committee, some targets and deadlines can be set for the reduction and eventual banning of single-use plastics usage by the Council and by its service suppliers.
The Committee could also encourage all organisations in our District to take the Plastic Free Pledge online, to provide an excellent example to their staff and customers. Perhaps it could also advise dog owners that those two plastic bags they need to have when out with their dogs should be biodegradable.
Tuesday, 26 September 2017
Green Party MEP for the South East, Keith Taylor, was again in Canterbury on 21st September, hosting a meeting about air pollution in the city. Keith has done a lot of work on air quality and earlier this year visited academics at the University of Brighton’s groundbreaking air quality monitoring station to launch his “Polluted Cities” report.
The meeting gave Keith the opportunity to get an update on Canterbury's air pollution problem, concerns with regard to the new Local Plan, air pollution projects, as well as the legal challenge launched by Emily Shirley. You can help with the crowdfunding for this challenge by going to https://www.crowdjustice.com/
Keith brought together a number of groupings working on air quality in the city, including Green Party representatives, and helped them to coordinate their activities. All are pressuring the Council to set up a Sustainable Transport Forum to initiate action on reducing car use and improving air quality.
Thursday, 27 July 2017
Read our Co-Leader's excellent response to the government's woefully inadequate plans for reducing air pollution, the invisible killer in our communities.