Author Archives: derbyshiregreens

Wellbeing is not an individual concept

East Midlands Green Party Blog

People often talk about “the real meaning of Christmas” with a vague air of unease that perhaps the things we focus on as a society are not quite meeting our human needs.

A wealth of new academic learning from across the disciplines is currently helping us understand that far from the “dog eat dog”, competitive image we may have of ourselves, human beings are naturally social animals, who despite our individual vulnerability survived and succeeded as a species through our ability to work together for the common good.

Our wellbeing is intrinsically linked to our relationships, both with our family, but also, importantly, with our community. A lack of social support in relation to inequality and marginalisation, has an important part to play in the development of children and the wellbeing of individuals and families.

If we focus on “family values” we miss the point, that wider society’s support, or…

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Extreme Energy – Extreme Risk

East Midlands Green Party Blog


Continuing as part of this month’s focus on energy policy, Derbyshire’s indomitable Mike Shipley has written this post:


Extreme Energy – Extreme Risk.


Even though Governments and the oil industry will not admit it, the world has passed peak oil production.  This is important information that we should be informed about in order for us to be involved in the decisions necessary about our energy supply in the years to come.  But with so much investment and share value tied to oil and fossil reserves, the industry, financial sector and the governments they control are keeping quiet, behaving as if it’s all ‘business as usual.’  The markets do not like change, confirmation of peak oil from ‘reliable sources’ would send jitters through the market and weaken investor confidence in the dominant fossil sector.  Very rich people would find their investments and therefore their wealth, devalued.



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Green Party Opposes Fracking at Biscathorpe

East Midlands Green Party Blog

As part of our focus on energy this month we bring you a video from our lead Euro Candidate for East Midlands, Kat Boettge, as she campaigns against plans for oil extraction in a local area of outstanding natural beauty and community:


<p><a href=”″>Green Party opposes Biscathorpe oil drilling</a> from <a href=”″>Tony Youens</a> on <a href=””>Vimeo</a>.</p>

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“We’re not all muesli knitters- meet the Green Party”

Green Party Deputy Leader to address People’s Assembly in Nottingham.

East Midlands Green Party Blog

Will Duckworth, our deputy leader, will be in Nottingham on 18th May. There will be chances to meet him and local Green Party members at The Orange Tree after he speaks at Nottingham People’s Assembly. Fresh from supporting the strong green presence in Norwich on their election days, he will be coming to another hive of activity here in the East Midlands. Will is to be one of the key speakers in Nottingham’s People’s Assembly, leading into a national gathering on 22nd June in London. The Nottingham People’s Assembly event runs from 10:30 to 5pm on with the closing rally between 3-5pm.  People’s Assembly came of the cross-organisation ‘Coalition of Resistance’ that the Green Party has been involved in from the start. It is part of a united stand against austerity and for alternatives and our voice is core. The event will be held at The Friends Meeting House, Clarendon…

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Poverty and Climate Change: Can we afford not to vote Green?

East Midlands Green Party Blog

please sir I want some more cartoon

The government chief scientist recently warned of climate change causing massive problems in our life-times. Local Green Party candidate Katharina Bottege answered “Look out of your window, it is happening now.” With chief scientist of present government warning of increased extremes in weather and problems with food, water and energy security, this post looks at how this is happening here, now and how we recognise it in increasing poverty and social injustice.  Our government says we cannot afford to take action against climate change despite their wasting of billions on failing systems. The Green Party says we cannot afford not to deal with climate change. Positive action against climate change can limit poverty and increase economic and social stability.

Climate change creeps into our lives in a million different ways, poverty is one of them. On one icy day last week I spoke with two ‘strangers’ about the effect of climate…

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The Northants Green Party Blog

CarolineRESPONDING TO THE BUDGET ANNOUNCEMENT, GREEN MP CAROLINE LUCAS (BRIGHTON PAVILION) SAID: “Amidst the tax breaks for shale gas and boastful roadbuilding pledges, there is one huge green economy-shaped hole in this flailing Chancellor’s Budget.

“With the UK’s green economy now worth over £120bn – 9% of GDP – providing nearly a million jobs and generating a third of our most recent economic growth according to the CBI, it is completely inexplicable that George Osborne keeps pretending it doesn’t exist.

“Given the huge potential of green industries and clean energy generation to provide British jobs and prosperity, as well as the obvious environmental benefits they will deliver, it’s time to drop austerity and go for Plan G.

“There’s no doubt that the cuts have failed – now we need urgent investment in nationwide green infrastructure to stabilise the economy, tackle the environmental crisis and deliver clean and secure energy for…

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Fighting for Fair, Green Party are there

East Midlands Green Party Blog

GP EM at Anti Bedroom tax demo

Councillor Richard Mallander and candidate Katharina Boettge are among the Green Party people in this photo taken at Nottingham’s Anti-Bedroom Tax protest yesterday. Other party members were circulating, mingling and sharing leaflets about real alternatives to the cuts. Simon Hales and myself were stewards for the event, helping to ensure safety for those taking part. As this tax targets children and those with disabilities, young families and people with mobility and sight problems were in the crowds. People came in support of others. One little girl told me proudly that her Sylvanian family bunnies were ready to protest with banners against the bedroom tax she made for them herself. Nottingham Pensioners Action Group (NPAG) were out in force as people from different organisations and none joined to say ‘no’ to those least able to pay and least to blame for the financial troubles being expected to pay most. From the far…

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Seen to be Green!

East Midlands Green Party Blog

We Greens are often getting involved in action and campaigns for social justice and environment, but we are not always so good at waving the Green Party banner when we do. It might not always be appropriate. Never-the-less, in many ways we have a shared understanding that needs to be shared more broadly. In mainstream politics so far important things like human rights and climate change are being pushed into the background in favour of a ‘there is no alternative’  approach which, put simply, does not work.   One of the Young Greens, Lisa Camps, has created an e-petition aiming to get the Greens on the TV General Election debates. Signing and sharing this petition is one way to help spread the word. A government e-petition is a way to highlight the issue. Find the petition and add your voice at: There are other ways to be seen to be green…

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Green Party Action to Save NHS Continues

Last minute ‘prayer’ to save the NHS

East Midlands Green Party Blog

GP NHS placard photo

Derbyshire Green Party people are among our many members taking action against the undermining of the NHS. Nationally our action includes our clear voice in Westminster and, at the end of this post is a link to a press statement from the office of Caroline Lucas detailing proactive actions taken by the party to safeguard a just healthcare system long worked for, protecting health, jobs and services for all. It is now people, together, each using our voice and calling for action from MPs that is urgently needed.  We share a letter from Derbyshire Green Party being shared across different media, written to you all. We ask that you read, share and respond. We must continue because, as we Greens say, Fair is worth fighting for!

Before the last election the Conservative Party said ‘The NHS is safe in our hands.’ …and promised no radical review.  Since forming a government, they have…

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Time to Look Again at Defined Benefit Pension Schemes


During my working life all my roles have been in the private sector.  I have always contributed to the company pension scheme, where ever I have worked, but this has always been a defined contribution scheme; i.e. the money I put in is invested and  supposedly builds up a pot to invest in a pension at the end.  I have worked for around 20 years and if I bought an annuity (annual pension) today, with the money I have contributed, I would probably get about £1,000 per year – not really enough to live on.  OK the value of my pot may go up over the next 20 years but if the last 10 years are anything to go by, it may not.  If I had worked in the public sector for all of this time I would probably have a guaranteed pension of about £6,500 (I know this because my sister is a nurse who is paid a little bit less than me and is of a similar age).

This does not seem fair to me.

I am not advocating a race to the bottom and Green Party policy seems enlightened in this area.  EC806 would introduce publicly administered pension schemes which would enable people voluntarily to provide for their retirement without recourse to the current private pension providers.  People would be able to contribute to a national additional scheme in which they would get fixed rate pension investment bonds in return for their contributions.  They would also be able to invest in Local Community Pension Schemes.

These Schemes would be administered by local authorities/community banks and would re-invest the money paid into them within the local community. These could offer the options of either fixed rate local bonds, or an equity-based scheme which would give variable returns from investment in appropriate local businesses which satisfied various criteria concerning environmental and social standards.  Those who have contributed to such publicly administered pension schemes should receive an annual statement detailing the current value of their pension fund, and an estimate of the future level of an annuity purchased by that fund on retirement.

So the Green Party is suggesting the public sector type of pension for all individuals.  You would get Fixed Rate Bonds when you make contributions. These bonds would pay a fixed rate of interest which would be the income on retirement.

Perhaps a further policy to consider would be a reduction in Employers National Insurance for those larger companies that offered their own defined benefit scheme to ALL employees (and an increase for those that do not) as they would be taking the burden off the Government for administering such a scheme and providing employees with a reasonable income in retirement.  The companies (particularly large corporates) would hold their hands up in horror and say they could not afford such a scheme.  This is what they are doing at the moment. They are using this excuse to close defined benefit schemes to new employees.  I believe this is just another example of these companies abdicating responsibility for helping to create a civil society, as is happening with the living wage and tax avoidance.

I work in corporate treasury (which can’t be all bad as the new Archbishop of Canterbury was a corporate treasurer) and in 2011 there was an article in The Treasurer (a riveting read!) which argued that defined benefit schemes can be afforded and are good for society at large.  So there is no reason why this Green Party policy could not work.

Now the public sector, why do different occupations in the public sector pay in different amounts of their salary and get out different pensions?  For example my sister (the nurse) pays in 8% of her salary and will receive 1/80th for each year worked.  MP’s can choose to pay in 7.9% of their salary and they will get 1/50th.  Why aren’t all public sector pensions the same?

In summary, it’s time to make pensions fair, defined benefit schemes for all public and private sector workers.  The same type of scheme with the same deductions and the same percentage of salary for all public sector workers.  Rather like the Green Party policy suggests.

© Katherine Cheatham

Government Axes School Meals Trust

Government Axes School Meals Trust..

Green Party Leader To Speak In Manchester

For more information visit:

Forthcoming Events

Thursday 8th November, Sherwood Green SOS meeting at 7.30pm in the North Star Club, Welbeck St, Bolsover.

Thursday 15 November,  “The Alternatives to Austerity Economics: Plan B?”, 7.30pm, Quad, Derby. See here for more info:

Saturday 24th November, Compassionate Derby Vegan Festival, Assembly Rooms, Derby. DGP will have a stall, offers of help ( and vegan cakes! ) needed.

East Midlands Green Party AGM, 1st December

Saturday 1st December, 2012 National Climate Change March – Get Fractious! assemble Grosvenor Square at 12 noon

It’s Cameron and Clegg who should be under-occupied.

From April next year the 660,000 working age tenants of Council and Housing Association deemed to be “under-occupying” will have their housing benefit cut. 14% for one “extra” bedroom; 25% for two. Of course no-one is even bothering to count the excess bedrooms funded by the state in the royal palaces, or the London homes funded from MP expenses. Political expediency also means that we quietly ignore the under-occupation of elderly single people continuing to live in alone in the house where they raised their family. Clearly having the vote means they matter slightly more than “every child”.

Think it through, whether you believe the parents are culpable or not it won’t be the adults that suffer. It’ll be the children from a previous relationship who used to visit at the weekend until “under-occupation” meant there was no longer a spare bedroom for them; or the children who have to change school when the “under-occupying” family is forced to move to somewhere smaller ; or the children of 11 and 12, of different sexes, sharing a room because their parent had to wait until they became old enough before they could afford to go on the transfer list; or the infants at risk of abuse because the family followed Government advice and, in a re-run of the Baby P case, rented their spare room to a lodger with an unknown past; or the family moved into a tower block because the Council in its desperation to free up smaller properties for down-sizers, has had to abandon its policy of not housing children at height; or the family struggling to cope with the tragic death of a child who are staggered to find out that far from being sympathetic the Council is landing them with a bill for becoming under-occupied.

And just in case they tell you that it’s the same as private tenancies, the truth is, that it’s a great deal worse. Private tenants can at least shop around for the best deal. Where I live it is possible for a family whose housing allowance covers a two bed property to find a three bed property for the same rent. For Council and Housing Association tenants it won’t matter how low their rent is, if they are under-occupying their benefit will be cut. It’ll be exactly the same reduction in areas of low housing demands as it will in areas of high demand.

With a record number of children already coming into care and the new starts for social housing down by 97% this policy is the last thing our communities, and their children, need.

Cllr Duncan Kerr (Green)

Bolsover District Council

Greens Support TUC Demonstration

Simon Hales

Green Euro-candidate Simon Hales is encouraging as many people as possible to attend the national demonstration for “A Future That Works” called by the TUC in London on Saturday 20th October.

Mr Hales, who lives in Derby, said today: “The Green Party believes that the Coalition Government’s Austerity measures are an ideologically driven attack on the most vulnerable in society. They are using the excuse of the financial crisis, that was created by irresponsible bankers, to privatise and slash our public services. Instead the Government should do far more to tackle tax avoidance by large corporations and invest in jobs. The Green Party are campaigning for the creation of 1 Million Climate Jobs to get people back into work and take the urgent measures needed to tackle the problem of climate change.”

“I will be marching on the 20th October along with many other Green Party members including our leader Natalie Bennett who has said: `We should build alliances across the trade union movement, political organisations and campaign groups to take this government head on.` I look forward to seeing many other people from Derby on the march.”

Any member of the public needing transport to London (you don’t need to be part of a political party or Trade Union) can book places on free coaches from Derby by calling the Derby City UNISON office on (01332) 643 216/7 or emailing


High Peak contact:

Peter Allen: (07793) 319547

North East Derbyshire contact:

Councillor Duncan Kerr (07522) 116609 or (01909) 726 349 or

Derbyshire Dales contact:

John Youatt:

South Derbyshire and Derby contact:

Philip Hood:

Derbyshire Green Party Press Officer:

Mike Shipley: (07791) 640 971

Simon Hales:

(01332) 898 292 or (07752) 143 607

Fracking: Stop It Before It Starts


‘Fracking’ is short for the hydrological fracturing of underground shales to release gas for burning as a high carbon fuel. Possible target areas might include the shales under the Edale valley, previously investigated for oil extraction.

There is already a resistance movement . They have focused mainly on the current fracking in the Ribble valley, Lancashire. The Peak District National Park Authority’s minerals team has had no approach to date – Derbyshire Green Party has asked to be informed if any such approach is made. Henry Folkard, British Mountaineering Club’s local planning campaigner, asked at a Community Area Forum for an opinion in November. Jim Dixon, the PDNPA CEO, answered that an approval would have to establish national need to overcome local and national policies to protect the national park. Green Party member John Youatt, former minerals planner, thinks a ‘national need’ argument will be difficult to sustain, given the conflict with climate change policies, the impacts, and known alternatives for the energy mix.

Caroline Lucas MP has meanwhile tabled an Early Day Motion no.181 This asks for a moratorium on licences until the companies come clean on the impacts, including the secret chemicals being added to our ground water. Encourage your MP to sign it.

Charlotte Farrell (High Peak) and John Youatt (Dales) intend to call a meeting this September. If the meeting agrees, all relevant Councils and Agencies will be asked to sign a declaration to oppose fracking in favour of investment in renewables.

John Youatt
Derbyshire Dales

Uncivilisation anyone?

Last weekend curiosity took me to a festival called “Uncivilisation” held at the beautiful Hampshire Sustainability Centre. It was organised by a group of writers and artists under the banner “The Dark Mountain Project”.

All very mysterious, but they turned out to be wonderful people with an interesting perspective on our world. You can read their manifesto and look at their writings here . Their “usp” (that’s the wrong term I know) is their sober conclusion that climate change will not be solved by technical or even political processes (though these are not irrelevant) but is a product of a failed narrative – to change as a society we need to tell ourselves better stories. They then explore some of our older, wilderness inspired stories which we have neglected, they like their sagas and tales. As they say it is storied not facts that change people.

Many of the group, such as writers like Paul Kingsnorth and the wonderful Jay Griffiths, were activised by the road protests in the 1980s which were probably the high water mark of national effective protest. Although many battles were lost road building itself simply became uneconomic and there was a dramatic cut in the programme even before Labour came to office in the 1990s. The interesting thing here was how powerful humour can be. Back then the police learnt how to deal with anger and protest and they have got better since, but when a pantomime cow burst through the police ranks and mounted a digger it was a little harder to respond. As a lovely aside the person at the back of the cow could not be charged as s/he simply claimed they did not know where they were going!

So I’ve come away what man new friend and a passion to mix a bit of “mythos” that is art, stories, fables and humour into the inevitable “logos” or canvassing, attending Council meetings and writing emails. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Duncan Kerr (Green Party Councillor)

People Power

Residents of the North Derbyshire villages of Whitwell, Hodthorpe, Belph and Creswell have another to celebrate this weekend as Alkane have withdrawn their application for an mega anaerobic digester on the edge of the village.

I don’t think anyone who has followed the twists and turns of this sage since the application was submitted nearly two years ago would doubt that the single biggest factor in achieving this brilliant outcome was the campaigning zeal of the public pressure group Whitwell Against Alkane. They have shown that ordinary people running a well organised and mobilised campaign can defeat even the vested interest of a large and wealthy private company. The writing is now on the wall for any Council that does not have public support for its actions.

Many people said that Whitwell Against Alkane were wasting their time but it can never be a waste of time to stand-up for what you believe in. It now seems that it was Alkane were not only wasting their money but tarnishing the reputation of a technology which can make an important contribution to preventing climate change if it is deployed in the right place. That is on the farm where the waste is produced not 40 miles away, hopefully Alkane now understand this.

Cllr Duncan Kerr

It hasn’t gone away you know

I occasionally wonder what future generations will think of the values and choices of our daily lives when they are coping with the world we will leave them. Whilst we’ve shut our eyes and ears, global carbon emissions have kept of rising as you can see in the latest report from the International Energy Agency

Not widely reported in our papers, but like the rat caught in the trap we haven’t even noticed the door limiting increases to 2 percent slamming shut. A 6 degree rise seems unimaginable, it is unimaginable, but that is the trajectory we are all now on.

However radical action on cutting carbon no longer seems to be trendy for international, national or even local governments it impairs growth we are told. So the answer to our grandchildren seems to be sorry we knew what we were doing but saving you from the full force of unchecked climate change catastrophe just seemed a little dull so we went shopping instead.

Cllr Duncan Kerr

The Spirit Level Film

Katharine Round writes:

“The Spirit Level Film campaign is now live!

Over the last few months we’ve been busily preparing to launch our awareness and fundraising campaign for a forthcoming documentary based on the award-winning book The Spirit Level.

And now the day has come – our campaign page is live at

We need you to help

This campaign is going to be live for 6 weeks only from today, 21st May. The aim of this film is to build a campaign for greater equality, and it has the potential to make a big difference. Film has become one of the most effective ways of raising awareness, influencing public opinion and policy change: we want to do for the public understanding of the ways inequality damages us what An Inconvenient Truth did for the public understanding of climate change.

But in order to make this film happen we need you to support it now. Here’s how:
Join Us – in spreading the word. We want as many people as possible to be sharing the campaign page today. If we can get hundreds of people sharing through Facebook, Twitter, and social networks imagine what a message it will send about public support for this issue. This will help us raise awareness of our campaign aims, start putting pressure on politicians, and help us attract the money to get the film made.

Pre-Buy your copy of the film now – one of the easiest ways to support us financially is to pre-buy a digital download of the finished film in advance. Just 2,500 people need to pay £12 for the film now, and we will have raised our budget! Of course, if you want to donate more you can – and we have a whole range of attractive perks on our campaign site (from signed copies of the book, to tickets to the premiere!)

So, please help us to get the message out by sharing this email and our campaign site

Why is this campaign so important?

This campaign aims to raise awareness of how inequality affects us and help to launch the documentary, so we can get the message out to millions more. The Spirit Level book showed how nearly all social ills – stress, poor educational performance, high crime rates, unwanted teenage pregnancies – are more common in those societies with a big gap between rich and poor. What’s more, in these unequal societies people die younger, they have more fragile economies, and they are a greater threat to the future of the planet.

Our aim with the film is to engage people who might not pick up a book and read about inequality to understand more about how it affects them, and what can be done about it. And our ambitions are high: we want to make a difference, change the political debate and government policy.

Films such as these are rarely funded by studios or broadcasters, who prefer to focus on more entertainment driven projects. However, this campaign wants to make a statement as much as it wants to raise money. We want as many people as possible to be part of it – as this will also show just how much public support there is for the issue and put pressure on politicians to move beyond lip-service to real policy change. We believe a better life is possible for all of us, and if we work together we can get the message out and make change happen.

Please do get in touch with us if you have any suggestions, would like any resources for your blog or website, or simply want to say hello! Our email is

Thank you for being involved”

Katharine Round
Director, The Spirit Level Documentary