Category Archives: Community

Compassionate Derby – 28 November

Compassionate Derby

Saturday 28th November 2015
10:30am – 4:30pm St. Peter’s Church, St Peter’s Street, Derby

Back by popular demand for its fifth year running, Compassionate Derby is an ethical living event that is free to attend and where everyone is welcome!

Compassionate Derby 2015There will be a range of cruelty-free food and lifestyle products, lots of free samples, charity and campaigning stalls, children’s activities, a diverse program of talks throughout the day, a generous raffle and much more.

So why not head to Derby on November 28th to do a bit of Christmas shopping and find out more about living a compassionate lifestyle.

The Green Party will have a dedicated stall, so if you can make it, we look forward to seeing you there.

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How much of a threat are Second Homes to Rural Communities?

Charlotte Farrell, Parliamentary and Local candidate in Hope Valley, High Peak says:

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At a recent hustings the issue of second homes came up. It is an issue of some importance in the Derbyshire villages where lots of properties are used as holiday lets or second homes. Not only does it deprive people of the physical opportunity of living in the area but it also pushes up the price of property beyond the means of most local people to be able to afford it.

At the hustings I expressed the view that action needs to be taken to restrict second home ownership. This view was challenged by former Tory minister Edwina Curry, herself a High Peak resident who said that such a policy would ‘devastate’ local villages, and that I was a ‘crack-pot’ for wanting to restrict second home ownership.

Her argument was that the income from second homes was apparently more beneficial to the local economy than that of a person or family living here full time and permanently contributing to the local economy and community, a point I totally disagree with.
How many people who use the holiday homes actually also use our local shops? I suspect most come stocked up with food from their nearest supermarket at home, and only buy the odd item locally. I know that from time to time I have been asked by visitors where the nearest supermarket is, and they’ve seemed surprised to find that it’s in a nearby town, but they would still rather drive there than shop locally, stick with what they are familiar with.

Yes, visitors may eat out in the pubs, but then so do local people and so do people staying in those pubs and in local bed and breakfast accommodation.

And because the price of second properties has pushed up the price in villages, (even more so than prices are pushed up anyway due to our flawed monetary system) many of those local people who do manage to find work in the area are not able to afford their own home. For young people the choice is often stark, move to a town or live with parents. And whilst that may suit for a while if people want to start a family it is hardly ideal.

I know the Yorkshire Dales well, and many of the villages there are totally devoid of young people and after years of houses being bought up as holiday homes they are now dying, schools are closing through lack of numbers and pubs are closing because second home owners do not frequent them enough. The High Peak is not yet at that stage; and we are saved to an extent by being between two large conurbations, Manchester and Sheffield, but that has turned villages into commuter towns and again contributed to the pricing out of local people who want to stay and work in the area.

The part of the Peak District where I live is indeed beautiful, and on the face of it affluent, but I wonder how many people visiting would be shocked to know that there has been a food bank operating in the Hope Valley for a year now. How many would be shocked to know that a lot of the staff who serve them in the pubs and hotels are earning far below the minimum wage let alone a living wage.

So does it make me a crack-pot for wanting to find a way in which people who work in the rural economy can afford to live near to their work, to find a way for young people to be able to remain in their communities and find properly paid work and to be able to aspire to live there and raise their own families. Is it naive of me to want to see rural communities able to hold on to a reasonable level of facilities including a school, some shops and a post office nearby, together with a health centre or at least a Doctor’s surgery that can be accessed by a reliable bus service. To have a pub and some level of community life. Such facilities need a properly paid working population to support the demand and importantly, a balanced age structure.

I want to see our villages as viable communities and the basis of this is affordable housing. I accept that tourists and holidaymakers are an important part of the rural economy and they can help to stop village communities becoming isolated and insular. But when they leave, village life must be able to carry on fulfilling the needs of permanent residents.

There needs to be village plans developed in cooperation with the local community to identify needs and the means of delivering them. Inevitably this will require some protection for housing against speculative purchase. Finding an answer to this will not be easy and I don’t pretend to have the whole answer, but I don’t think that I am being a crack-pot in trying to find one.

First published on the East Midlands Green Party website 27 April, 2015

Marten Kats – Mackworth Ward – Green Party Candidate

Marten Kats – Local Election Candidate for Mackworth writes:

Marten Kats with imprintOn 7th May there isn’t just the General Election. In Derby there are local elections as well. Regardless of who you vote for in the General Election, please consider voting Green locally. One Green councillor can make a big difference in Derby.

I live locally and feel passionately about the area where I live. The reason why I am standing is that I think this city needs a Green councillor.

Having at least one Green councillor can make a big difference. We can get our voice heard in the council, stand up against recycling cuts like the brown bin tax and the removal of blue bins, while fighting the Sinfin incinerator that will cause health problems to local people. We will fight for our green spaces and tackle housing issues, partly by making better use of empty buildings.

If I get elected, I would address local issues in Mackworth, engage with local people and be a voice for them. Mackworth needs a safe crossing for children to Markeaton Park, a place to hang out for teenagers, measures against anti-social behaviour, better public transport, activities for elderly and more attention to traffic and parking problems.

Vote Green on 7th May for a different voice on Derby City Council.

Everyone Needs a Home

John Devine, Green Party Parliamentary Candidate for Amber Valley writes …

GP2014_John-Devine-002Everyone needs a home – somewhere they feel safe and can call their own. The Green Party sees this as a fundamental right of every citizen of this country: to have somewhere safe to live, affordable, warm and secure.

We live on a small island where land is limited. But demand for houses is rising, this is because our population continues to rise and also because traditional households are splitting up, there are a growing number of single person households. As a result there is more pressure to build on greenfield sites and those that once would have been uneconomic, or left for wildlife and recreation. But concreting over the countryside is not the solution and will deprive all of us of our precious open spaces and other species of their habitats.

There is a housing crisis and somehow the government has sold us the idea that the big developers and the multinational building companies will solve it, if we just leave them to get on with it. This is nonsense. These companies exist primarily to create profits for their shareholders and executives. Consider the following:

• Developers make more profit from building large houses in luxury developments.
• Building on greenfield sites is cheaper.
• Developers don’t need to be concerned with whether there are good transport links to work, shop and leisure from their new homes.
• Making new homes energy-efficient reduces developers’ profits.

Developers can’t be blamed for doing what they do, they build houses to make profit, but they alone can’t solve the housing crisis. Local Authorities are now instructed by central Government how many homes they have to provide, which puts even more pressure on their finances and makes a nonsense of their planning.

The Green Party believes that decisions and control over housing supply and development belongs in the hands of the Local Authority having the responsibility of discovering what the community needs. New housing should be planned for on the basis of independent housing needs surveys; commercial house builders and their representatives should not be involved in the process of identifying potential sites or assessing housing needs on behalf of the local community.

Planning laws should be there for all of us, not just the developers – they should be there to allow Local Authorities to make projections about the services they need to provide, based on the needs of people. They should be there to protect our greenbelt and open spaces.

Are there enough homes for our current population? No. What is the solution? The Green Party would start with the many thousands of properties standing empty up and down the country. There are 1,000 in Amber Valley alone. Bringing back into use such empty properties should be a priority.

The Green Party believes that the responsibility for social and affordable housing should be returned to Local Authorities, who are best placed to understand the needs of their communities. If house building was under the control of the Local Authority it is more likely that local trades people would be used. The wealth generated would then circulate in the local economy rather than being sucked up by big corporation shareholders and executives.

We need well constructed, insulated and energy efficient homes, fitting into their communities, where needed and when needed. We need affordable homes in which people can feel safe and secure and in communities in which they can take pride. We don’t need more big executive estates on greenfield sites.

Had Amber Valley Borough Council been permitted to develop their housing strategy along Green Party lines, much of the outrage felt by the local communities at the prospect of having large, luxury, developments forced on to them would not have come about. Residents would not now be voicing their outrage at the loss of their green fields and open spaces to luxury housing for which they believe there is little need in Amber Valley. The residents of Amber Valley feel that their needs have taken second place to profit and that their voice has been ignored.

First posted on East Midlands GP blog 4 Feb 2015

Homes for People not Profit

GPLogoStrapGreenForWebThe Green Party’s Housing policy states ‘Affordable secure accommodation is a basic human need’. Who can argue with this simple proposition? How can a person be a member of society if they have nowhere to live, no reliable address, nowhere secure to keep essential and personal belongings – nowhere to curl up warm and secure to sleep? A very simple proposition that successive Governments have failed to grasp. For them, houses are an investment, some sort of luxury that only the rich are supposed to afford, something to be provided by the market for those who have the money to buy or rent, enough money to provide a profit for the landlord or developer.

It was Thatcher who turned housing into a commodity to be bought and sold for profit. Her policies put profit and personal gain above basic human needs. Her policy of selling off council houses at a knock down price, then forbidding Councils to replace them destroyed the concept of public housing. Her ideological, aggressive ‘go-getting’ government destroyed the post war consensus that Government and Councils should ensure that people were properly housed; that with proper and secure housing the family unit would hold together, children would have security, working people would have a settled base from which to find work and hold down jobs. Communities would be more settled and mutually supportive, neighbours helping to look out for each other. All this was sacrificed with the Thatcherite drive to break up traditional working class communities and create a new property owing and therefore (she hoped) Tory voting class.

So the market came to drive housing policy, the need for profit outweighed the need to provide affordable homes. People took on mortgages that they couldn’t sustain, so driving them into debt. Thatcherism didn’t have the sense to understand that this ‘property owning democracy’ had to be underpinned by secure work in order to keep up the payments for 25 years. Secure jobs were destroyed by the thousand, people were thrown out of work, they were forced to take temporary, poorly paid work, they struggled to keep up the payments, debt built up, fuelling eventually the financial crash. People became homeless, all very predictable and the Government continued to do nothing except leave it to the market to supply housing.

The Government has failed to understand the market it puts such faith in. It is not set up to meet people’s needs, it is there to make profit. For house builders the highest profit lies in the luxury end of the market, on green field estates built on the edge of cities and towns for the executive class with company cars. But the need is for the majority of people, needing to live near to work to cut travel costs, near to schools, near to facilities. They need affordable accommodation, with enough space for the family, perhaps three generations of family. The key word is ‘affordable’ a word that our governments of millionaires fails to understand. But ‘affordable’ doesn’t give enough profit for the market.

Government has to involve itself again in the implementation of a housing policy designed to ensure that there is a sufficient mix of available homes to meet the different needs of the population. This is what Green Housing Policy aims to do.

We have a costed programme that would deliver 500,000 homes in five years. We would end the right to buy and enable Councils to borrow for the express purpose of restoring their housing stock to meet local needs. We would end the tax relief that is claimed by private speculators for ‘buy to rent’, so helping to finance the building programme. By taking action on sky high rents and providing more accommodation at affordable and controlled rents we would be able to cut the £9billion of housing benefit that currently is paid to private landlords. For those who do rent privately we would ensure that they had enhanced rights including, crucially, greater security of tenure. As well as enabling Councils to build affordable homes, we would require them to use the powers that they already have to bring some of the 700,000 empty properties in the country into use.

We would also ensure that all new and refurbished properties were energy efficient, so helping to end fuel poverty and leave people with more disposable income to use in the local economy, helping local business. Making homes more energy efficient is also important in addressing climate change, which is an essential priority.

This is Green policy, joined up thinking, working to meet people’s real needs, giving them security, building healthy neighbourhoods where people can settle and feel they belong, where their kids can grow and flourish on a sustainable planet.

Policies that work for the Common Good.

Mike Shipley and Peter Allen

Greens Out in the Cold – Again

Greens at AVBCIn the same week of the uproar surrounding The Green Party being left out of the plans for ‘Leaders debates’ running up to next year’s national election, local Mid Derbyshire Green Party members were left out of last night’s (15th October) Extraordinary Meeting of Amber Valley Borough Council (AVBC) at the Town Hall, Market Place, Ripley, to consider changes to the Core Strategy Local Plan.

Amber Valley Borough Council limited public attendance at the meeting to just 25, with just 20 non-council members being allowed to speak. Despite numerous requests to hold the meeting in a larger venue, over a hundred people were left outside in pouring rain for over an hour before being allowed into the entrance to the council building to hear the meeting through a speaker system.

Mid Derbyshire Green Party AVBC candidate for Belper North, Sue MacFarlane, said “Amber Valley Borough Council recognised the huge public interest in this issue, but did not hold the meeting in a venue big enough to accommodate the numbers of people who wanted to attend. Some of the submissions regarding the proposed Core Plan – including the submissions from Mid Derbyshire Green Party and Transition Belper – were initially left out of the summary document, and included too late for councillors to have sufficient time to consider them before the meeting. Green Party Policy says that democracy and accountability are vital at all levels of government and especially in local government. I don’t feel that the voices of the people of Belper were properly heard at the meeting, and I am disappointed that the plan still includes proposals to build on green field land at Bullsmoor Farm in Belper.’

Sue, together with Belper Town Council Green Party candidate for Belper North, John Devine and other Belper Greens, were at Ripley Town Hall along with members of Belper Town Council, Transition Belper, Residents Groups and other residents of Amber Valley who wanted to ensure that AVBC are aware of the depth of feeling regarding the Local Plan.

Natalie Bennett, Leader of the Green Party of England and Wales, is supporting Mid Derbyshire Greens position on this issue. Natalie is visiting Belper on November 17th to meet with our Local Green Party Candidates and their team, and to visit some of the proposed ‘Green Field’ sites. We are hoping to arrange a public meeting during Natalie’s visit to ensure that local people get a chance to speak to her about their concerns.

Sue MacFarlane
Mid Derbyshire Greens

The Gagging Bill

DemocracyWe are sliding into a dictatorship.  The new aristocrats of wealth are staging a coup by stealth, controlling what Government does, determining who makes up Government, influencing the political agenda and ensuring that all legislation conforms to their interests.  They are ensuring that the public are unaware of the Government’s programme until it is too late, and are distracting public populist distractions away from policies that will have a huge impact on their lives.  I do not claim this idea as original; I have taken it from Professor Robert Reich of the University of California, who said:

‘I fear that at least since 2010 we’ve been witnessing a quiet, slow-motion coup d’état whose purpose is to repeal every bit of progressive legislation since the New Deal and entrench the privileged positions of the wealthy and powerful – who haven’t been as wealthy or as powerful since the Gilded Age of the late 19th century.’

Alarmist, and relevant only to America?

Remember…

  • ·        ‘It’s the Sun Wot Won It!’ The American owned News International claiming credit for the Tories 1992 unexpected election victory.  Murdoch again endorsing Blair, and hey – he wins!
  • ·        The economic strategy of Austerity that suits the financial institutions but was not included in the Tories election manifesto. 
  • ·        The singular lack of effort to regulate the financial sector that is such a big donor to Tory coffers. 
  • ·        Corporate lobbyists steering energy policy away from renewables towards fossil fuels at a time when 97% of people who know what they are talking about on climate change are screaming, ‘cut carbon emissions’! 
  • ·        Tories in Europe blocking regulations on fracking and blocking moves to implement a Financial Transaction Tax. 

And so the list goes on.  We are seeing members of Parliament acting against the interests of their electors, secure because they know that the corporate press will support their re-election.

In the face of disquiet about the influence of lobbyists, the Government felt compelled to bring in a Lobbying Bill, but with a twist straight out of 1984 – they managed to exclude the activities of the powerful corporate lobbyists and focus instead on charities and small campaigning groups.  They have turned the Lobbying Bill in to a Gagging Bill. The Corporation who are running the show are unaffected and it is the small citizens groups who are trying to bring their concerns to the political agenda who will be effectively silenced in an election year.

So we now find that if the ‘Gagging’ Bill is passed into law, the ability of groups such as the Women’s Institute, Frack Off and campaigns against Austerity will be severely limited in their ability to bring their concerns and policy preferences to the attention of the public in an election.  The corporate run big party election machine will have a clear run to push the official line.  All the electors will hear is ‘Britain’s on the mend’ and ‘the medicine’s working’.  Nothing about destitution, hunger, under-employment, full time jobs for less than a living wage, obscene banker’s bonuses, the rich getting richer, the poor poorer.  Those who might have the true facts on the state of British society will have been silenced.

And this is not all.  Hidden away in the sub-clauses of an Antisocial Behaviour Crime and Policing Bill are proposals to stop protest.  A middle ranking police officer will have the power to ban any protest if it is deemed to risk causing a disturbance.  Any Council will have similar rights if any group of electors raises opposition to a demonstration. 

This Bill is proposing a nebalcombe-frackingw power called the Injunctions to Prevent Nuisance and Annoyance.  Unfortunately it can’t be applied to politicians on Newsnight, but it can apply to just about anyone else away from their home.  So a landowner could apply it to ramblers on a foot path; the owners of a drilling site could apply it to people walking slowly along an access road; the organisers of a hunt could apply it to anyone holding a critical placard.  A person speaking in a public place can be silenced least she or he annoy anyone. 

There is no definition of ‘Nuisance or Annoyance’; it is the opinion of a Council or a senior police officer who seeks the injunction.  Once granted the injunction can be enforced by any ‘officer in uniform’.  There needs to be no clear intent, only the officer’s opinion that there is a risk of undefined ‘antisocial behaviour’.  The Officer will have dispersal and exclusion powers and the power to remove any person they ‘suspect’ to be under 16.  Failure to abide by the instructions of the Officer is an arrestable offence that could lead to imprisonment.

This is an attack on our fundamental right of free assembly and free speech.  This Bill has been sternly opposed by campaigning groups, the churches, political groups and legal opinion.  Lord Macdonald of River Glaven, acting on behalf of the Christian Institute said

 ‘It is easily foreseeable that these powers may be invoked by the police in situations where their use impacts bluntly upon the exercise of rights to free expression and free assembly, as well as other core right.’

In his Opinion he cited the following statement from the European Court of Justice referring to the European Convention of Human Rights.

 ‘Freedom of expression constitutes one of the essential foundations of (democratic) society, one of the basic conditions for its progress and for the development of every man.  Tolerance, of low-level non-criminal behaviour that may be capable of causing some person annoyance or nuisance, is an important feature of an open and democratic society governed by the rule of law.’

We may also note here that the Conservative Party wishes to withdraw the UK from the European Convention, in the light of this Bill, we can see why.

For more information on opposition to the Gagging Law go to:  http://blog.38degrees.org.uk/2014/01/22/gagging-law-we-won-the-argument-but-lost-the-vote/

Mike Shipley – Press Officer, Derbyshire Green Party

Political Point-scoring won’t solve the energy bill crisis

East Mikat-gp-1dland Green Party candidate in the European Elections, Katarina Boettge has accused both the Coalition and Labour of “political point-scoring” in the energy bill debate to duck the real problems.  She claims that meaningful measures to address the problems of cold homes, fuel poverty, and soaring bills are being sidelined.  As a result she claims that 1.5 million children are being brought up in cold homes and that more people in the UK are struggling to pay their energy bills than any other European country than Estonia.

The Green Party is calling for a major nationwide programme to make all homes energy efficient.  They want this funded through ‘recycled’ carbon taxes, saying that this could bring an estimated nine out of ten homes out of fuel poverty, quadruple carbon savings, and create up to 200,000 jobs across the UK.

Ms Boettge said: “It’s a scandal that the big energy companies are making large profits, which doubled between 2008 and 2010, whilst many people are struggling with high bills and cold homes. 

The Government’s own advisers are saying that the reason that bills have been rising is because of the wholesale price of gas and not because of Green Tariffs.  These, if properly used for home insulation will help households reduce their energy use and therefore their bills.

‘We need a nationwide programme to make all homes super-energy efficient – with full insulation, modern boilers, and renewable energy sources.  These measures could save households up to £500 per year, far more that any of the other Parties are offering with their short term measures.’

 

Youlgreave Address – Reflections on the Gettysburg Address

GettysburgI’d rather forgotten my history lesson of 60 years ago until I read that this year marks the 150th anniversary of The Gettysburg Address – the name given to the speech made by U.S. President Abraham Lincoln, during the American Civil War on the afternoon of Thursday November 19, 1863.  The occasion was the dedication of the Soldiers’ National Cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, four and a half months after the Union armies defeated those of the Confederacy at the Battle of Gettysburg.  Gettysburg Address

“Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

“Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

“But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate — we cannot consecrate — we cannot hallow — this ground.  The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract.

“The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom – and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”  Abraham Lincoln    Nov. 19, 1863 

Youlgreave Address:

Tis a dJohn Youatt 6eep shame that our special friends over the pond, after 150 years, have still not achieved a government of the people, by the people, for the people.

Tis even worse that, on this side of the pond, we have a government of the rich, by the rich, for the rich, in which people are born very unequal.

John Youatt         Green Activist, 19th November 2013  

 

Greens Support Derby People’s Assembly

DPA 26102013 Natalie 1A strong Green Party presence was felt at Derby People’s Assembly on the 26th October, 2013 with leader Natalie Bennett making an appearance at the workshop on “Climate Change Threat and 1 Million Climate Jobs”  and making a speech at the end of the day.  Accompanying this was both the DGP stand and a number of members showing their faces for most of the day. Overall it is thought that over one hundred people attended throughout the day. 

The format was much like many other discussion group based events.  The day kicked off with three speakers talking about the People’s Assembly itself, Education Reform, and Cuts to the Fire and Rescue Service.  After these speeches, attendees split up and went to the discussion groups they had chosen.  There were two groups before lunch, speeches after lunch, two more discussion groups and more speeches to round off the day.

Sue Arguile from the NUT gave a very passionate speech about the recent strikes by teachers and Gove’s education reform.  She spoke about a radio phone-in interview with a woman whose attitude had shocked her.  The caller, as well as her general ‘teacher bashing’, had said that teachers should be looking to their ‘product’.  This “marketised” view of teaching also shocked the attendees.

Following this was a local secretary of the Fire Brigades Union who spoke both about what the despicable cuts to the fire service will mean in terms of the service to the public and also about the treatment of workers in that sector over pensions.

Discussion groups were then held on:  the Politics of the Crisis, the Demonization of Immigrants, Tactics for the Anti-austerity Movement and Debt and Loan Sharks.  The immigration discussion seemed to centre on Unite Against Fascism and the benefits of setting up local anti-fascist groups to counter the British National Party, English Defence League and other far-right groups when they organise in areas.

The second set of discussion groups were on:  Protecting the NHS, Defending Education, Re-unionising the Country and Busting Economic Myths.  Although poorly attended, the re-unionising group sparked some enlightened discussion about the state of trade unions and their attachment to the Labour Party.  One graph showed that the more direct action unions took, the more their membership increased.  Also encouraging was the statistic that showed that union membership was up again.

There was an hour after lunch for some more speakers including Christian Wolmar who spoke much about re-nationalising the railways, mentioning that this idea was being debated in the Labour Party.  He failed, however, to mention that us Greens have been campaigning on it for a while now.

After this, the third round of discussion groups were held on the topics of:  Welfare, Public Transport, the Bedroom Tax, Using Art Against Austerity and a repeat of the Protecting the NHS group. Another member of the Green Party found the workshop on Bedroom tax to be a complete eye opener as they heard that many tenants are put in severe difficulties when they are served with orders and have no idea about their rights or what free legal help is available to them.

Natalie Workshop DPA 26102013 6The final groups were held on:  Building Community Campaigns, the Peoples Charter and (with a strong Green presence) Climate Change and 1 Million Climate Jobs.  Natalie Bennett spoke at the climate change group about the need for investment in insulation of all houses in the UK to both reduce carbon emissions and create jobs.  Natalie also spoke reassuringly of the party’s opposition to incineration both on the grounds of pollution and the harmful effects due to air quality reduction.

Finally speeches were given about:  Green jobs and ditching neoliberalism by Natalie, the railways by Alex Gordon of the RMT union and the future of Derby People’s Assembly by Peter Robinson.

Natalie’s speech can be seen here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qUqTBFSpWPQ

Chris Smith                                                                                    Member of Derbyshire Green Party and Young Greens

 

 

Natalie Bennett’s Address in Derby 24th September 2013

Natalie Bennett DerbySpeaking to a well attended audience in Derby, Natalie Bennett catalogued the inadequacy of the Labour Party’s response to a range of political issues that are affecting people’s lives.  Contrasting the reality of fuel poverty that is becoming a reality for a growing number of people with the huge profits being made by the big energy companies, she condemned Labours proposal for a two year price freeze as inadequate.

‘After two years, then what?’ she asked. ‘The Green Party proposes a national energy conservation programme funded by the Government.  This will lead to permanently reduced energy bills and to lower carbon emissions.  The insulation programme will create sustainable jobs, taking people out of fuel poverty and off benefit.’ 

‘Labour want to see the minimum wage enforced.’ She said.  ‘We know that people cannot hope to manage on a minimum wage, that is why we want to see it raised to a Living Wage, that enables people to meet their necessary weekly costs.  This policy is supported by 70% of people.

‘Labour have no commitment to re-nationalise the railways to ensure that investment goes where it is needed to build a system that meets demand.  This is Green policy and it is supported by 75% of people.

‘Greens support a publicly funded NHS free at the point of delivery.  Labour has made no commitment to reverse the coalition policy of sell-off of the NHS.  ‘‘Labour is backing fracking, ignoring that we must leave half of all known reserves of fossil fuels in the ground to prevent catastrophic climate change.’

Natalie went on to criticise the economic strategy of the three big parties.  There was she said no evidence of fundamental change in economic strategy from any of them.  They were all supporting the creation of a low wage economy that was only possible with the availability of cheap fossil fuels.  This she explained allowed cheap food and goods to be transported to this country, pricing local production out of the market.  ‘This failed economic strategy has left half a million people in this country, the sixth richest in the world, dependent on food banks.’

She reminded the meeting about the causes of the economic crisis.  ‘The bail out of the banks took huge amounts of public money.  Yet the banks were bailed out with no guarantees that they would reform their activities, stop high risk investments and end the bonus culture.  If the economic strategy proposed by the Green Party in 2010 had been implemented, we would now be seeing investment by the banks in sustainable projects that the country needs, creating long term employment to get and keep people in work and off benefit.’

‘We now need to ‘re-localise’ the economy.’  She said that this process had to be accompanied by the restoration of local political power that could rebalance the economy away from London and the south east.  As evidence of this unbalanced economy she told the meeting that there were a million empty homes in the UK yet there was also a housing shortage.  The power of big corporations was concentrating work in the areas that suit themselves having no regard to where people now live.  As a result these economic hot spots drag people in but do not provide the facilities that workers need, hence a chronic shortage of affordable housing.

‘We need thought out regional development strategies that address both economic and social needs, backed with the necessary political power to deliver those strategies.’

‘With rising transport costs and rising wages in the developing world, we are now seeing a ‘re-shoring’ in production, with companies starting to bring production back to the UK.  This offers great opportunities but we must have the economic and political structures in place to ensure that business properly pays its way.’  Natalie explained that with a clear political determination, big business could be made to address and pay for its impact on the environment and society.  ‘Greens on Bristol Council have helped to bring in a supermarket levy that collects 8% of turnover to reflect the damaging consequences of supermarkets.  This money is ploughed back in to local small business.’

Flanked by the five East Midland European candidates, Natalie concluded with a review of  the Green Party’s electoral prospects.  ‘We are now a Parliamentary Party.  This has been very important in lifting our national profile.  Latest opinion polls are placing the Greens on 12% and show a clear growth in support, by contrast the Liberal Democrats are now on 10% with their support fading.  With our level of support we could have six MEPs, including one here in the East Midlands.’  Natalie said that recent events had shown that the public were turning away from the three main parliamentary parties and looking to the smaller parties to express a dissatisfaction with traditional politics.  ‘We know that a growing number of people are coming to support Green policy.  Our challenge is to get people to vote for what they believe in, because what they believe in is increasingly Green Party policy.’

Natalie Bennett's Address in Derby 24th September 2013

Natalie Bennett DerbySpeaking to a well attended audience in Derby, Natalie Bennett catalogued the inadequacy of the Labour Party’s response to a range of political issues that are affecting people’s lives.  Contrasting the reality of fuel poverty that is becoming a reality for a growing number of people with the huge profits being made by the big energy companies, she condemned Labours proposal for a two year price freeze as inadequate.

‘After two years, then what?’ she asked. ‘The Green Party proposes a national energy conservation programme funded by the Government.  This will lead to permanently reduced energy bills and to lower carbon emissions.  The insulation programme will create sustainable jobs, taking people out of fuel poverty and off benefit.’ 

‘Labour want to see the minimum wage enforced.’ She said.  ‘We know that people cannot hope to manage on a minimum wage, that is why we want to see it raised to a Living Wage, that enables people to meet their necessary weekly costs.  This policy is supported by 70% of people.

‘Labour have no commitment to re-nationalise the railways to ensure that investment goes where it is needed to build a system that meets demand.  This is Green policy and it is supported by 75% of people.

‘Greens support a publicly funded NHS free at the point of delivery.  Labour has made no commitment to reverse the coalition policy of sell-off of the NHS.  ‘‘Labour is backing fracking, ignoring that we must leave half of all known reserves of fossil fuels in the ground to prevent catastrophic climate change.’

Natalie went on to criticise the economic strategy of the three big parties.  There was she said no evidence of fundamental change in economic strategy from any of them.  They were all supporting the creation of a low wage economy that was only possible with the availability of cheap fossil fuels.  This she explained allowed cheap food and goods to be transported to this country, pricing local production out of the market.  ‘This failed economic strategy has left half a million people in this country, the sixth richest in the world, dependent on food banks.’

She reminded the meeting about the causes of the economic crisis.  ‘The bail out of the banks took huge amounts of public money.  Yet the banks were bailed out with no guarantees that they would reform their activities, stop high risk investments and end the bonus culture.  If the economic strategy proposed by the Green Party in 2010 had been implemented, we would now be seeing investment by the banks in sustainable projects that the country needs, creating long term employment to get and keep people in work and off benefit.’

‘We now need to ‘re-localise’ the economy.’  She said that this process had to be accompanied by the restoration of local political power that could rebalance the economy away from London and the south east.  As evidence of this unbalanced economy she told the meeting that there were a million empty homes in the UK yet there was also a housing shortage.  The power of big corporations was concentrating work in the areas that suit themselves having no regard to where people now live.  As a result these economic hot spots drag people in but do not provide the facilities that workers need, hence a chronic shortage of affordable housing.

‘We need thought out regional development strategies that address both economic and social needs, backed with the necessary political power to deliver those strategies.’

‘With rising transport costs and rising wages in the developing world, we are now seeing a ‘re-shoring’ in production, with companies starting to bring production back to the UK.  This offers great opportunities but we must have the economic and political structures in place to ensure that business properly pays its way.’  Natalie explained that with a clear political determination, big business could be made to address and pay for its impact on the environment and society.  ‘Greens on Bristol Council have helped to bring in a supermarket levy that collects 8% of turnover to reflect the damaging consequences of supermarkets.  This money is ploughed back in to local small business.’

Flanked by the five East Midland European candidates, Natalie concluded with a review of  the Green Party’s electoral prospects.  ‘We are now a Parliamentary Party.  This has been very important in lifting our national profile.  Latest opinion polls are placing the Greens on 12% and show a clear growth in support, by contrast the Liberal Democrats are now on 10% with their support fading.  With our level of support we could have six MEPs, including one here in the East Midlands.’  Natalie said that recent events had shown that the public were turning away from the three main parliamentary parties and looking to the smaller parties to express a dissatisfaction with traditional politics.  ‘We know that a growing number of people are coming to support Green policy.  Our challenge is to get people to vote for what they believe in, because what they believe in is increasingly Green Party policy.’

UK’s first Green MP welcomes Labour to Brighton with digital billboard ad

Labour ConferenceLabour Party members attending their conference in Brighton this weekend, in the constituency of the UK’s first Green MP, will be welcomed by a billboard making the case that it is Caroline Lucas who is offering the real opposition in parliament.

The digital advert will be on display prominently on Queen’s Road – one of Brighton’s main thoroughfares.  The street is the main route down which Labour delegates and lobbyists who arrive by train will travel to reach the conference at the sea-front Metropole Hotel.

The ad starts with a check list, against a red backdrop, reading: “Saving the NHS, Fighting Austerity, Railways in Public Hands, Scrapping Trident.”  As the screen turns green, the billboard says “Brought to you by the Green Party.”

The final screen displays a photo of Caroline Lucas MP and reads: “Welcome to Brighton – Home of the True Opposition in Parliament. p.s. Labour is down the hill on the right.”

Rob Shepherd, Chair of Brighton and Hove Green Party, said, “We know a lot of Labour members want their party leadership to stand up to austerity and NHS privatisation, and to support progressive policies such as public ownership of the railways.

“We wanted to remind them that there’s an MP already fighting for these causes in Parliament. It would be great to see Labour members using their conference to encourage Ed Miliband to follow Caroline’s lead on standing up for these causes, and bring together a powerful coalition of voices to reverse the consensus that austerity and privatisation are the only game in town.”

The Green Party’s own autumn conference took place last weekend, also in Brighton.  In her conference speech Caroline Lucas criticised cuts to welfare and local services, and argued that it is the Green Party, rather than Labour, that is offering the real opposition to the Government’s agenda of austerity and privatisation.

She is speaking at two events at Labour’s conference – a Compass panel discussion called ‘Labour – an open tribe?’ and an Institute for Public Policy Research event titled ‘The Condition of Britain’.

Her Private Member’s Bill to bring the railways back into public hands is due its second reading next month.

View the ad on line at: http://bit.ly/16qbrBJ

Life in Modern Britain

Peter mug-shot crop 1Peter Allen, who was a candidate in the County Elections this year, wrote the following letter to the Glossop Chronicle:


Dear Editor

A read through the pages of your latest edition tells us much about life in modern Britain as well as in Glossop itself:

– local residents trying to stop encroachment on precious green space by a housing development which will build homes which few of the local people who desperately need secure homes will be able to afford.

– local councils fearing that they will be unable to continue to provide even a basic level of essential services as a result of never ending cuts imposed by central government.

– the best employment apparently on offer being in a new supermarket being opened on the site of another closed local pub, probably offering jobs on a “flexible” basis to school leavers amongst others (well done to all those who passed their A levels ) who will be starting adult life full of hope and ambition but also fearful of the level of debts they will be taking on should they decide to go to university and knowing that good jobs are few and far between, as the latest figures on youth unemployment confirm.

– meanwhile in one of the richest (but also one of the most unequal) societies in the world one of the few ” growth industries” are food banks, supported not just by small businesses routed in their community but also by Asda supermarket, owned by Walmart, which built its empire in the USA on the basis of low wages and union busting but which now seeks “added value” by claiming credit for passing on donations made by those who shop in its store

Peter Allen
Derbyshire Green Party

Top Ten Reasons to say NO to Fracking

balcombe-fracking

Photo from Brighton and Hove Green Party website

The Green Party is the only Party standing against Fracking.

John Youatt is a member of Derbyshire Green Party and a retired planner and former minerals officer.  He stood in the Derbyshire County Council elections.  He pledged to fight any proposal to approve fracking for gas, which he believes is against the interests of the people of Derbyshire and of our planet.

John has stated ten good reasons why fracking is not the way forward:

  1. It adds to carbon poisoning of the atmosphere globally in breach of EU and UK commitments
  2. Diverts from investment in renewables and breaches the coalition agreement on renewables
  3. Will leak methane CH4 into the atmosphere 30 times more deadly than CO2
  4. Poisons ground waters with undeclared chemicals
  5. Is economically unproven
  6. Demands water resources we don’t have
  7. Generates lorry movements that have not been quantified
  8. Will if carried through destroy thousands of acres of landscape and wildlife
  9. What public support there is is based on mis-information from media and Government that is too close to the industry
  10. Will reduce house prices around every site proposed by far more than the fudged offer of compensation

GIVE A FIRM “NO” TO FRACKING – Please help by signing the Green Party petition http://my.greenparty.org.uk/civicrm/petition/sign?sid=3

Photo is from Brighton and Hove Green Party www.brightonhovegreens.org/news/

Network Connections

Derby People's Assembly 8 July

The next meeting of Derby People’s Assembly preparatory meeting is being held at 7pm, Monday the 8th of July at Sound Bites, which is on the Morledge opposite the Magistrates court. Here is the map: http://www.soundbitesderby.org.uk/map.html  All Welcome

 

Green SoundBite – Say No to Fracking

New SoundBites

Ministers are hoping to speed up Britain’s shale gas “revolution” by taking away powers from local councils to decide on controversial fracking projects.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/energy/gas/9744917/Local-councils-to-be-stripped-of-right-to-decide-on-fracking.html

People’s Assembly Against Austerity

PA CropThe Tories have unleashed the biggest assault on ordinary people for generations. It needs to be met head-on. The People’s Assembly Against Austerity is a key opportunity to bring together all those who want to stop the cuts and the ­devastation they are bringing to millions of people in the UK, and to launch the next steps in the fightback.

The People’s Assembly Against Austerity was launched with a letter to the Guardian on February 28th 2012.  Two of the initial signatories were Caroline Lucas MP and Natalie Bennett. 

The Green Party had voted at their conference in February to support the event and agreed to send a delegation to the People’s Assembly and to  encourage local parties, regional federations and other GP bodies to also send delegations and to support future local People’s Assemblies.

People’s Assembly Against Austerity – Saturday June 22nd 

GeneralThis gathering is going to be a huge expression of opposition to “austerity” and privatisation involving all the main Trade Unions, local Trades Union Councils, local and national anti-cuts groups, campaign groups focused on NHS, Education, Housing, the People’s Charter, Coalition of Resistance and the Green Party.  Most of the policies that the People’s Assembly are advancing are Green Party policies

Derby People’s Assembly – A new local “networking” group has been formed in Derby made up of individuals and people representing local groups concerned with issues such as Climate Change, Taxation, NHS etc.  Two Green Party Members attended the initial meeting.  The aim of the meeting was twofold: to publicise the national gathering in London on 22nd June and to arrange a follow up event in Derby in the Autumn. 

Transport has been arranged for those who would like to attend the London event.  See our events page for details.  A Facebook page has been established (https://www.facebook.com/groups/143367235856170/?fref=ts ) and a blog and website will also be set up 

The time has come for us, the People, to make our voice heard. We are a democracy.  We must demand that the Government uses the power and money we give it to serve our interests, and not just those of the wealthy vested interests that are controlling politics.  Austerity will never succeed because the economic crisis was not caused by public spending. We must demand that the government we elected adopts policies that address the causes of the financial crisis.  We must demand that they invest in our future to build a sustainable economy.  We must make it clear that if this Government will not listen to us, we will elect one that will.

Help Save Local Communities

SupermarketsMany local Green Parties and party members are involved in campaigns to oppose the development of supermarkets in their area.  We do this because we know that supermarkets lead to the closure of small businesses on the High Street which cannot compete with the aggressive marketing practices of the big business. They also encourage wasteful consumption, use excess packaging and generate huge ‘food miles’.  As a result of their procurement practices, they are forcing the closure of many small farms and forcing yet more intensification of agricultural production. Supermarkets therefore damage local economies and lead to a loss of secure jobs. 

The Green Party therefore welcomes and initiative by Unlock Democracy to use the Sustainable Communities Act to enable Councils to charge a levy or local tax on supermarkets to help to mitigate the damage they are doing to the local economy and environment.  With their immense wealth and sponsorship of some political parties the big supermarket businesses will fight such a proposal to the highest court.  Ultimately it is up to us, the people to ensure that the supermarkets are tamed and that local business can compete fairly on a level playing field.  Out ultimate sanction is that of boycott, successfully used in many consumer campaigns.

Daniel Flanagan, Projects Manager from Unlock Democracy writes:

Large supermarkets have a devastating impact on local jobs, the environment and local businesses. It seems like there’s no stopping this juggernaut from tearing communities apart.

The good news is there is a solution, and you have the power to fight back and reverse this decline.

Unlock Democracy is campaigning for councils to make supermarkets pay a new levy (i.e. tax) that will go back into helping local communities across the country. We can use the Sustainable Communities Act to achieve this.

Please sign the pledge for there to be a levy on supermarkets used to help local communities: http://action.unlockdemocracy.org.uk/page/s/join-the-supermarket-levy-campaign

A levy like this has already been introduced in Northern Ireland – dubbed the “Tesco Tax.” The money raised from it has already helped over 8,000 small businesses over there.

Our high streets really need our help. Over 40,000 shops lie empty.  Communities are struggling as the economy flounders and local services are cut. Town centres are becoming “Ghost Towns.”

At the same time, supermarkets like Tesco are booming, making billions of pounds in profit.

Supermarkets have huge advantages over local independent shops. They can undercut prices of local stores, use their colossal purchasing power to squeeze suppliers, buy up massive “land banks” to keep out competition, provide free parking at out-of-town sites and employ an army of lawyers and planning experts to make sure they get permission for new stores, even when local people object.

It’s no wonder then that supermarkets have boomed whilst local shops and communities have been decimated.

When a new large supermarket opens, hundreds of local jobs are lost. The environment suffers. Suppliers are squeezed. Local businesses struggle.

It’s time we started to level the playing field between supermarkets and local shops and made supermarkets pay for some of the damage they do. That’s why I would like to ask you to:

Please sign the pledge for a new levy on supermarkets to help local communities: http://action.unlockdemocracy.org.uk/page/s/join-the-supermarket-levy-campaign

 

People's Assembly Against Austerity

Peoples Assembly Notts 2013 cropThe People’s Assembly Against Austerity has been called to bring together campaigns against cuts and privatisation with trade unionists in a movement for social justice. This is a call to all those millions of people in Britain who face an impoverished and uncertain year as their wages, jobs, conditions and welfare provision come under renewed attack by the government. The Assembly aims to develop a strategy for resistance to mobilise millions of people against the Con Dem government.

Tony Youens, a member of Derbyshire Green Party, attended the Nottingham People’s Assembly on 18th May and the following is his report.

The Assembly was a very well attended event, which was probably a measure of the amount of anger and frustration with the Coalition Government and their seemingly relentless attack on the most vulnerable members of our society.

The day began with an introductory session and speeches from Alan Simpson (ex Labour MP for Nottingham South), who focused on climate change and renewable energy and Liz Kitching from the Leeds Bedroom Tax campaign who made an outspoken, and I’d say outstanding, attack on this heartless and outrageous policy.

There were a number of different sessions running throughout the day:

  • Keep the NHS Public
  • Women and Austerity
  • Direct Action
  • Disabled People Against Cuts
  • Welfare Cuts
  • Alternatives to Austerity

For my first session I chose ‘Direct Action’.  As it turned out this was a popular choice and space was severely limited. The speakers were activists from Greenpeace and therefore had a lot of experience to share. They outlined tips on how to plan a campaign and to practise we split into groups each of which chose a particular cause. It occurred to me that ‘fracking’ would be a good choice but the clear favourite was the afore mentioned ‘bedroom tax’ and as it turned out it was the choice of all the other groups too. Another indication of how much it is despised. To finish we were shown the best way to construct a human chain so as to create a strong barrier.  

Alternatives to Austerity

After lunch I went to another extremely well attended session ‘Alternatives to Austerity’.  There were two main speakers, Professor Andreas Bieler and Greg Marshall a local Labour Councillor and amongst those shoe-horned into this packed event was our very own Katherina Boettge and Deputy Leader of the Green Party, Will Duckworth.  Following both talks people were invited to ask questions and make comments, which led some of us present to make a very interesting observation.  Most, if not all, of the suggestions put forward were already Green Party policies. So the clear answer to building a fairer society is to vote Green!

The Final Plenary was so popular that we had to move to larger premises and looking at the list of speakers you can see why.

  • Tony Benn, Former MP for Chesterfield
  • Owen Jones, journalist, author and activist
  • Lindsay German, founder member of the Coalition of Resistance
  • Francesca Martinez, Comedienne, actress and disability rights activist
  • And of course Will Duckworth, our Deputy Leader.

It was a real privilege to listen to these speakers all of whom received enthusiastic applause. Francesca deservedly got a standing ovation.

I think a special word of thanks should go to Stewart Halforty who made this all happen.

On a personal note I came away feeling very proud of the fact that I am in The Green Party that puts social justice for all at the heart of its policies.

The local Assemblies will provide a national forum for anti-austerity views building up to The People’s Assembly Against Austerity at Central Hall, Westminster, on 22 June (register at www.coalitionofresistance.org.uk). There is also an event planned by the Derby People’s Assembly on 3rd June to prepare for the Westminster assembly. It will be at the Derby City Council House in Corporation Street at 7:30pm.

Tony Youens