Local Manifesto

Our Manifesto for the Kent County Council elections in May 2017


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 that 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 recycling 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

Canterbury District Local Manifesto

Here are our policies for local government in Canterbury District covering the following issues:

1. Traffic congestion and air pollution
2. Regenerating communities
3. Housing
4. Open Space
5. The Local Economy
6. Refuse Collection and Disposal
7. Flooding
8. Local democracy

1. TRAFFIC AND AIR POLLUTION

Traffic congestion and the air pollution it causes have long been problems in Canterbury and Whitstable. They are bad for business and affect residents’ health and quality of life. We were instrumental in commissioning a Sustainable Transport Blueprint for Canterbury from sustainable transport expert Dr Lynn Sloman and have been highlighting ways of cutting congestion for several years, aiming to make it easier to cycle, walk, share cars and use public transport.

If elected we pledge to:
  • prioritise funding for sustainable transport
  • extend pedestrian and shared vehicle-pedestrian zones
  • fund more comprehensive monitoring of air quality in all parts of Canterbury, taking action if it doesn’t meet EU and UK standards and poses a long-term risk to health
  • extend bus lanes on routes into the city
  • provide frequent bus services from all surrounding areas
  • complete as soon as possible all cycle routes identified in the Council’s Transport Strategy
  • introduce 20mph speed limits in all residential areas
  • make sure any new developments are close to major public transport hubs and well designed for access to public transport and cycling
  • take steps to encourage car-sharing

2. REGENERATING COMMUNITIES

In Canterbury fewer people own the property they live in than anywhere else in England. Canterbury also has the lowest birth rate in the UK. We need to regenerate mixed and diverse communities, especially bringing young families back into the city.

If elected we pledge to:
  • exercise the right to limit increases of houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) and to bring properties back into use as family homes in areas that already have a high concentration
  • work with the universities on a house champions scheme and support students to become part of their communities
  • make sure all HMOs are registered and inspected so they provide high-standard accommodation
  • make landlords and letting agencies accountable for informing tenants about recycling and refuse disposal, providing sufficient bins and ensuring proper collection and disposal of both when premises are vacated
  • make landlords accountable for dealing with anti-social behaviour on the part of tenants
  • seek powers to be able to refuse consent for future HMOs for landlords and letting agencies in cases where the above responsibilities have not been satisfactorily discharged
  • campaign against austerity and public sector cuts


3. HOUSING

We reject the overall number of houses proposed in the Local Plan, which has had to conform to central government's dysfunctional top-down targets for housing and takes no real account of local need and demand.

Our own modelling would suggest that homes for around 16,000 adults may be required (plus 1,400 supported housing places) and with the current occupancy rate of 2.36 adults per dwelling, this equates to around 7,000 homes over the period up to 2031.

Furthermore, the vast majority of demand is driven by internal migration and we reject this as a driver of economic growth over sustainability. The council should plan for sustainability rather than being complicit with the national strategy for economic growth at any cost.

We oppose building large-scale developments in a few places on greenfield sites. We favour smaller-scale developments of affordable and lifelong homes on brownfield sites without the need for extensive and expensive new infrastructure. Howe Barracks is a good example of such a site.

According to the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), there are 61 hectares of brownfield in the district. This provides the potential for 7,000 homes and therefore no need to allow any greenfield site building.

1 in 40 homes in the District is empty and 1 in 133 has been empty for over 6 months. There are over 1,700 on the waiting list for housing.

Then there are the impacts of poor-quality housing to be taken into account. According to Defra, 30.4% of emissions in the South East come from heating and running homes. We believe there is an urgent need to combat fuel poverty and waste of energy by means of a District-wide campaign to make houses more energy-efficient.

We also believe the Council should build up a stock of social housing and that these homes should always remain in Council hands.

In order to address the issue of unaffordable rents and rent rises, we will campaign to set up a ‘Living Rent Commission’ which would implement a genuinely affordable rent control policy dependent upon local median incomes and not upon local market rents.

We will also campaign for a 'Right to Rent' policy, meaning that home owners who are unable to meet their mortgage payments and are under threat of repossession would have a right to transfer ownership to the council, at less than market value, in exchange for the right to remain in the home and pay rent as council tenants.

If elected we pledge to:
  • build far more affordable housing and lifelong homes on brownfield sites, such as Howe Barracks
  • ensure all new housing is of high quality requiring low energy and fitted with photovoltaic panels
  • oppose planning permission for building on greenfield sites such as Kingsmead Field, Chaucer Fields, South Canterbury, Duncan Down and Strode Farm
  • 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
  • build more social housing
  • use the Sustainable Communities Act to lobby government for an end to the ‘Right to Buy’ council housing
  • campaign for a living rent commission, secure tenancies and the Right to Rent
  • support flexibly supported housing options and access to intermittent high-need accommodation without loss of tenancy rights


4. OPEN SPACE

It is vital that every person in Canterbury District has access to open space. All open space should be valued as a community asset; the walk to the shops should be as welcoming as a walk in the park.

We support the preservation of Kingsmead Field, Chaucer Fields and Duncan Down as community open spaces and the creation of a riverside walk/cycle path all the way from Chartham to Sturry.

If elected we pledge to aim for the following provisions for all residents:
  • recreational amenity (exercise, dog walking, sports)
  • functional/social amenity (allotments)
  • visual amenity (a still and empty green open space has a value in itself)
  • all within a 5-10 minute walking distance from home

5. THE LOCAL ECONOMY

Greens support local shops throughout the District, keeping money circulating in the local economy.

Large numbers of visitors are important for our local economy. Many of them arrive on the high-speed rail service to Canterbury West.

If elected we pledge to:
  • promote and expand local producers’ street markets, co-operatives and directories of local businesses
  • set up a local currency which will be used by the Council as well as local shops
  • protect visitor attractions and heritage sites
  • make sure the gateways to Canterbury, like St Dunstan’s, are welcoming and attractive


6. REFUSE DISPOSAL AND COLLECTION

We believe that public services should be in public hands, not using taxpayers' money to provide profits for private companies and shareholders. When the contract for District refuse disposal and collection comes up for renewal, we would bring this service back into the public sector.

If elected we pledge to:
  • ensure that bins and inserts lost through no fault of the householder or tenant are replaced without charge
  • enforce all regulations about refuse disposal and collection, imposing fines on residents who repeatedly flout them
  • make landlords and letting agencies responsible for ensuring their tenants are familiar with and comply with regulations concerning refuse disposal and collection
  • provide all houses in multiple occupation with a red-top bin for paper and card (instead of the inserts in the blue-top bins) at the landlord's or letting agency's expense

7. FLOODING

Flooding blights lives. The risk of more severe weather events, including flooding, is likely to increase with global warming.

If elected we pledge to:
  • make it a number one priority to secure the funding and measures necessary to protect people from the increased risk of flooding in future years.
  • implement a robust tree-planting programme throughout the District (Trees absorb 67 times the amount of water as compared to grassland.)
  • promote the installation of rainwater harvesting on all new builds and introduce a programme of retrofitting to older buildings
  • promote the installation of green roofs and sustainable urban drainage systems that reduce flooding from storms


8. DEMOCRACY

Local people know best how money should be spent in their areas. We should have more control over the decisions that affect our lives.

If elected we pledge to:
  • campaign for more powers to be devolved to local councils and elections using proportional representation
  • campaign to introduce higher bands of council tax for larger properties and make the tax paid more proportionate to the value of the house in order to generate more income for public services and reverse cuts
  • campaign for independent town councils for Canterbury, Whitstable and Herne Bay, as well as an East Kent Unitary Authority