West Kent Green Party

Welcome to Tunbridge Wells Green Party

Tunbridge Wells Green Party is campaigning on these and other local issues

Funding for local government from central government

KCC has confirmed plans for an above-inflation increase of just under 4% in the council tax this year, due to cuts in funding by central government, in order to fund increasing costs of adult social care, waste disposal and special education needs transport. Those on middle and lower incomes will pay the price as those on the highest incomes are not so dependent on local services. There will be cuts in services as well as job losses. TWBC is also facing a large cut in funding.

No new runways

The Tunbridge Wells area has been blighted by aircraft noise. A 2013 study found that long term exposure to aircraft noise is linked to increase in high blood pressure and increased heart attack risk. The recent ‘Gatwick Airport Independent Arrivals Review’ sets out 23 practical steps, from holding planes longer over the sea, to improved use of continuous descent approaches and increased dispersal of arrivals - an action plan should be agreed and implemented ‘as a matter of urgency’.

http://gatwickairport.com/globalassets/publicationfiles/business_and_community/all_public_publications/2016/independent-arrivals-review-jan2016.pdf

Airport expansion does not make climate sense. We cannot simultaneously increase UK emissions from aviation and make our fair contribution to restricting global warming to as far below 2 degrees Celsius as possible. The Committee on Climate Change has calculated that aviation emissions must be cut to their 2005 level by 2050. Yet flights are projected to grow by 60% in the same period. This optimistically relies on promised improvements in plane efficiency rather than taking any serious measures to curb demand for air travel.

Research by the New Economics Foundation (NEF) indicates that an estimated 15% of the UK population takes about 70% of the flights. More than half of people living in Britain took no flights abroad in 2013. Caroline Lucas MP and Keith Taylor MEP champion a Frequent Flyer Levy, following the polluter-pays principle.

https://www.greenparty.org.uk/assets/files/MINIREPORT_AirportExpansion_v6.pdf

http://www.aef.org.uk/2015/10/21/report-the-great-british-runway-myth-why-there-is-no-need-for-a-new-runway/

Potholes

Our roads are a disgrace. How many residents have reported potholes only to find that they are marked ‘Works Completed’ with no work having been done? How many potholes are repaired only for the holes to reappear within weeks or even days? Potholes are a particular problem for cyclists who have to swerve to avoid them. http://www.kent.gov.uk/roads-and-travel/report-a-problem

Housing

Affordable secure accommodation is a basic human need. The lack of housebuilding, especially of social housing, and the fact that housing has been seen as an investment, has caused house prices to rise more than inflation. In 2014, the average house price was 10 times the average salary in Tunbridge Wells.

Tenants in the private rented sector have insecurity of tenure and are charged extortionate letting agency fees, deposits and rents for unsatisfactory housing. High rents have pushed up the cost of the Housing Benefit bill, despite the government cutting benefits and making life a misery for people on low incomes,.

The average social rent in Tunbridge Wells in 2014 was £107 per week. There has been a lack of investment in social housing for 20 years. Demand for social housing far outstrips supply. Government policies such as the bedroom tax, changes in security of tenure, the move to ‘affordable’ rents and ‘pay to stay’ can only lead to a breakdown of community.

The Green Party believe this is unsustainable. Affordability should be assessed according to local incomes. We are calling for:

  • Rent control and tenant protection
  • Investment in social housing as the best way of ensuring an availability of genuinely affordable housing
  • New taxation frameworks to ensure those who have benefited from the property boom are contributing a fair share, and to dis-incentivise speculation and land banking
  • New powers for local authorities to deal with empty properties, and the decriminalisation of squatting
  • Structures to support and promote housing co-operatives
  • Improved standards for construction and maintenance of all homes, to improve quality of life for residents and tackle domestic emissions

http://www.keithtaylormep.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/Everyone-knows-we-have-a-housing-crisis-lets-do-something-about-it.compressed.pdf

Pollution/Traffic congestion

Air pollution causes 29,000 excess deaths in the UK each year. Tunbridge Wells had 46 such deaths in 2010. Many of our schools are close to the A26 which is an Air Quality Management Area. The objectives for nitrogen dioxide were not reached in 2015. We need to introduce a Low Emission Zone.

We endorse the 20'S PLENTY campaign: Evidence shows that a reducing speed limits in residential roads to 20mph in Tunbridge Wells will lead to:

 - a reduction in road related injury and death

 - decrease in traffic congestion, increase in journey times

 - increase in cycling and walking, benefits to residents' health

60% of all journeys in our borough are less than 5 miles. We will fight for the implementation of the recently approved Tunbridge Wells Borough Council transport and cycling strategies and enable residents to walk and cycle in safety throughout the borough.

We want Tunbridge Wells to have a dense network of safe, continuous cycle and pedestrian paths, as in towns and cities in many other countries and to become a model for effective and sustainable transport that can be replicated elsewhere in Kent and the rest of Britain.

This solution to our traffic congestion and parking problems benefits will:

  • Make it easier to get around for motorists and all road users, particularly the vulnerable, such as the elderly, the disabled and young people
  • Enable children to cycle to school, commuters to cycle to work, and shoppers to shop on foot or on two wheels
  • Bring improved health through less pollution, obesity and heart disease
  • Revive our town centres; studies show that shoppers on bikes and on foot spend three times as much as car drivers

All of this will make our borough a pleasanter place to be, and one where all residents can say that they “love where they live”

 

 

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