Category Archives: Public Services

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.

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Post Carbon – where will the smart money go?

Fracking 9Last weekend, Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney made the most important political statement of the year. Speaking at a World Bank seminar in New York, Carney said: the “vast majority of reserves are un-burnable”. He was referring to fossil fuels, he was speaking to financiers and industrialists.

Carney is no liberal Green giant, he is a very conservative minded Canadian who encouraged the exploitation of his country’s tar sands, about the dirtiest fuel in the world. Yet he has had to swallow a dose of reality and accept the warnings of Nicolas Stern about the full impact of climate change on global finance. He has at last accepted the dangers of putting too many of our economic eggs into the oil basket.

In the spring of 2012, I wrote an article called ‘The Carbon Bubble’, published on the DGP website. [ https://derbyshiregreenparty.org.uk/2012/03/17/the-carbon-bubble/ ] That article showed that a huge amount of global wealth is invested in oil and gas reserves. If these reserves are burned, as they have to be to give a return on the investment, then global temperatures will rise to between 3.5 & 5.0 degrees C. If the wealth invested in coal is added in, then the planet becomes uninhabitable.

At that time investors continued to pour their wealth in to fossil reserves. We are still seeing that in the UK over fracking. The rich and powerful individuals and organisations making these investments fully expect a return. For them to stay rich, the world must fry.

This is the problem that financiers and politicians of all shades except Green have allowed to happen. If the carbon reserves are not burned, to keep temperature rise to below 2C, colossal amounts of private and corporate wealth will be lost, markets will crash, the Carbon Bubble bursts, unleashing a financial crisis that would dwarf that of 2008. If the reserves are burned to return the expected profit and wealth, then the cost of the resulting climate chaos will be far greater than the value of the reserves, the economy will be bankrupt.

Carney’s predecessor at the BoE, the ever cautious Mervyn King, recognised that the warnings about over investment in carbon assets by the Stock Exchange needed due consideration. The new Governor has indeed considered the matter and is issuing his quiet warnings to the market. Is it a coincidence that the markets have dipped this week? Is the move to divestment in coal, gas and oil really so altruistic? Are we seeing a steady retreat from carbon assets as the reality of climate change begins to penetrate the minds of corporate investors? If so this will create its own problems.

Where will the wealth go? If it is pulled out of oil and gas, it will be looking for a home. Is this the real reason for the drive for privatisation of public service. Not an ideologically driven policy at all, but a pragmatic response to the need to find a safe haven for private and corporate wealth. What could be a better long term investment than the supply of food, water and health? These are what everyone in the world needs on a daily basis, just like energy but on a far bigger scale. Hand all of this supply to the private sector and the potential market is huge and growing.

Greens oppose this commercialisation of the basic needs of people. For us, the supply of the essentials of life, food, water, energy, health and education, should be under public democratic control so access is not determined by personal wealth, but by need. Hand this supply over to the private sector then it will be driven by profit, not the needs of the consumers. Many will be priced out of the market in these services so that the rich and powerful can maintain their privileged positions.

Mike Shipley

Government taking powers to close hospitals

kat-gp-1Kat Boettge writes Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt is planning to give himself the power to close A&E Departments without full consultation.  Earlier this year his attempt to close the A&E Department at Lewisham Hospital was ruled to be illegal.  In response, he has added a clause to the Care Bill that is already before Parliament to give him the power to close hospital departments or to order the withdrawal of services. 

Hunt has lost twice over Lewisham.  After his initial attempt to close the A&E Department was ruled to be illegal he appealed, and again he lost.  So now he is resorting to changing the law to suit himself.  Not, it should be noted, in an open way, but by sneaking in a clause at the last minute to the Care Bill, that has nothing to do with the reorganisation or privatisation of the NHS but is, strangely enough, about the provision of Care.  It would seem that Hunt thinks a good way to deliver Care to vulnerable people is to take powers to close hospitals.

If this clause is passed by Parliament then the Government will have the power to close any NHS service or even a hospital without proper consultation.  The Government is claiming that they need these powers to streamline the NHS.  I do not believe this.  I say that the real motive is to accelerate privatisation by withdrawing essential services so as to force people to turn to the private sector.

Following the Government’s defeat over the Lewisham hospital, Caroline Lucas tabled an Early Day Motion in the Commons to draw attention to the Hunt amendment to the Care Bill that aims to give a Government appointed administrator the powers to close NHS services.  If the Coalition Government gets these powers, then they will be able to close hospitals simply to save costs and so hit their financial targets.  No consideration will be given to local needs or to the advice of Doctors.

So much for the ConDem’s claims to be listening to the local community.  Their much trumpeted support of localism is as much a sham as their claims to be the ‘Greenest Government ever’.    But also it is shocking that only 37 MP’s have signed Caroline Lucas’s EDM.  It seems that they, like most of the public, are unaware of Jeremy Hunt’s hospital closure plan. 

The counCarolineLucasandGreensatSaveNHSdemo2.11.2013webtry desperately needs more Green MP’s and MEP’s to work for the common good of all, and not for the vested interests that influence most of our current MP’s.  We, the people, must act now to stop this reckless amendment or wake up to find our local NHS services being closed down.

 What can you do?

  • Write a letter to your local paper using the information above. 

From Kat Boettge                                                                                                Green Spokesperson for Social Care

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

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

 

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.

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Policy for Youth

Portrait of a young boy crossing guard standing on the road holding a stop signIn a remarkable piece of Orwellian ‘Newspeak’ the Tories running DCC are trying to claim that their proposed budget cuts to the County Youth Service were in fact part of an ambitious plan to make youth provision in the County ‘Bigger and Better’.  Their original plan to axe all youth clubs and to scale back its professional youth workers met with such an outcry of opposition that the Council has been forced into a rapid rethink, which they are trying to dress up as the product of a consultation.  One is forced to wonder why they didn’t think to consult first and avoid all the uncertainty for young people, parents and workers.

Adults have a moral responsibility to ensure there is adequate provision for young people in society, enabling them to develop and mature into citizens who are able, in time to take over the running of society.  It is wrong to think that we can cut and privatise youth services, leaving them to the whims of ‘the market’, as if youth provision was some sort of expendable luxury.  It is not. It is a necessity, never more so than in times of economic hardship and high youth unemployment.

Young people face the same range of problems that adults do, but of course they can lack the experience of knowing how to handle them.  It is in our collective interest to ensure that they are able to find and implement solutions to these problems before they become deep seated and built in to the fabric of the emerging adult.  Of course some of these problems can be properly handled by parents or by close relatives, some can be addressed at school, but in many instances this is not enough.  A young person may feel unable to approach a parent or simply doesn’t have the opportunity to do so and teachers might seem too remote.  In the absence of any other provision, they will turn to friends, who also lack experience, to the internet, that may give poor advice, or fall into a fantasy world making up strategies that have no basis in reality.

??????????????????????????????????????To give structure to a youth service, the Green Party supports the introduction of ‘youth schools’ in every community, as found in some European countries such as Denmark.  These are informal, but professionally managed providing a safe place for young people to go and meet out of school hours.  They are like an enhanced youth club but offering a much wider range of activities, and free at the point of use.  In addition to structured courses along the lines of adult evening classes, they offer the opportunity for socialising and for finding informal but informed advice, attendance is voluntary and the management aims to be inclusive.

Green education policy recognises the importance of involving young people in the design and content of their education. This is taken from article 12 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.  Any policy relating to youth provision must closely involve young people themselves.  It is not enough to ask them what they want, often they will not know.  Why should they?  It is adults who have the understanding of what works and of what is possible, and who hold the purse strings. But they must ensure that what is being provided does meet young people’s needs and not the needs and wishes of the older generation.  We want to see ‘youth schools’ develop as a partnership between  the users and the providers, not tied to an imposed curriculum with targets, but meeting the needs brought by the young people involved.

While we want to see a properly financed and managed structure to youth provision, we also recognise the importance of the voluntary sector.  The enthusiasm and energy that volunteers bring to youth activities is inspiring and so important in firing the young imagination and sense of belief.   To hand over youth provision to voluntary groups as the Tories want to do under their ‘Big Society’ banner will overwhelm this volunteer enthusiasm with the day to day demands of management,  financing and insurance regulations.  We believe that the Local Authority has to back up the volunteer sector with professional management, help and advice, training and secure finance.

The idea of the ‘youth school’ is not meant to be some stand alone solution to the ‘problem of youth’.  We do not see young people as a problem, however we do see that too often their ability to grow and develop their own potential is frustrated by the constraints of adult society, and too often by the policies of Government fixated by the demands of the avaricious market.  Too often politicians, who talk of the ‘problem of youth’ rather than the ‘opportunity of youth’, seem incapable of making any other provision than organised activity that usually centres on sport.  Providing properly funded and universally accessible sporting opportunity is good, but it is not a complete youth policy.  Of greater importance is developing the means by which young people can become active members of their society, including becoming economically active. Green economic policy recognises the importance of fostering the often dismissed informal economy and self employment. Often crudely dismissed as the black economy, this sector makes a significant contribution to the local economy and can provide a route into employment.  Helping young people into self employment would be another function of the ‘youth school’, giving help and advice on converting their ideas into a viable business proposition.

Greens therefore want to see increased provision for young people away from formal education.  We accept that this has cost implications but we regard these costs as an investment not a waste.  It is our responsibility to make this provision, it is not some ‘bolt on’ extra.  The fact that Government does not do this is symptomatic of their priorities, set by powerful vested interests.  Despite the so called ‘economic crisis, we can afford to give a £160 million tax break to the oil industry, the richest business on the planet, with a visceral aversion to paying tax.  We can afford to spend a similar amount on a decade long programme of weapons procurement for the Ministry of Defence.  Spending £5 billion on refitting the Aldermaston nuclear weapons facility passes ministers without even an announcement.  The Treasury is defrauded annually out of £30 billion on unpaid tax that is legally due to it, and of course we can’t even begin to discuss the £37 billion bonus pot paid out by business, most of which will disappear off shore.  So it’s not a matter of what we can afford, it is where we choose to spend – and in a democracy, that should be down to us. It is time for the people to speak.

It is in our collective interest to provide a nurturing and enabling environment for each emerging generation, they after all will inherit the Earth.

© Mike Shipley

A Policy for Youth

Portrait of a young boy crossing guard standing on the road holding a stop signIn a remarkable piece of Orwellian ‘Newspeak’ the Tories running DCC are trying to claim that their proposed budget cuts to the County Youth Service were in fact part of an ambitious plan to make youth provision in the County ‘Bigger and Better’.  Their original plan to axe all youth clubs and to scale back its professional youth workers met with such an outcry of opposition that the Council has been forced into a rapid rethink, which they are trying to dress up as the product of a consultation.  One is forced to wonder why they didn’t think to consult first and avoid all the uncertainty for young people, parents and workers.

Adults have a moral responsibility to ensure there is adequate provision for young people in society, enabling them to develop and mature into citizens who are able, in time to take over the running of society.  It is wrong to think that we can cut and privatise youth services, leaving them to the whims of ‘the market’, as if youth provision was some sort of expendable luxury.  It is not. It is a necessity, never more so than in times of economic hardship and high youth unemployment.

Young people face the same range of problems that adults do, but of course they can lack the experience of knowing how to handle them.  It is in our collective interest to ensure that they are able to find and implement solutions to these problems before they become deep seated and built in to the fabric of the emerging adult.  Of course some of these problems can be properly handled by parents or by close relatives, some can be addressed at school, but in many instances this is not enough.  A young person may feel unable to approach a parent or simply doesn’t have the opportunity to do so and teachers might seem too remote.  In the absence of any other provision, they will turn to friends, who also lack experience, to the internet, that may give poor advice, or fall into a fantasy world making up strategies that have no basis in reality.

??????????????????????????????????????To give structure to a youth service, the Green Party supports the introduction of ‘youth schools’ in every community, as found in some European countries such as Denmark.  These are informal, but professionally managed providing a safe place for young people to go and meet out of school hours.  They are like an enhanced youth club but offering a much wider range of activities, and free at the point of use.  In addition to structured courses along the lines of adult evening classes, they offer the opportunity for socialising and for finding informal but informed advice, attendance is voluntary and the management aims to be inclusive.

Green education policy recognises the importance of involving young people in the design and content of their education. This is taken from article 12 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.  Any policy relating to youth provision must closely involve young people themselves.  It is not enough to ask them what they want, often they will not know.  Why should they?  It is adults who have the understanding of what works and of what is possible, and who hold the purse strings. But they must ensure that what is being provided does meet young people’s needs and not the needs and wishes of the older generation.  We want to see ‘youth schools’ develop as a partnership between  the users and the providers, not tied to an imposed curriculum with targets, but meeting the needs brought by the young people involved.

While we want to see a properly financed and managed structure to youth provision, we also recognise the importance of the voluntary sector.  The enthusiasm and energy that volunteers bring to youth activities is inspiring and so important in firing the young imagination and sense of belief.   To hand over youth provision to voluntary groups as the Tories want to do under their ‘Big Society’ banner will overwhelm this volunteer enthusiasm with the day to day demands of management,  financing and insurance regulations.  We believe that the Local Authority has to back up the volunteer sector with professional management, help and advice, training and secure finance.

The idea of the ‘youth school’ is not meant to be some stand alone solution to the ‘problem of youth’.  We do not see young people as a problem, however we do see that too often their ability to grow and develop their own potential is frustrated by the constraints of adult society, and too often by the policies of Government fixated by the demands of the avaricious market.  Too often politicians, who talk of the ‘problem of youth’ rather than the ‘opportunity of youth’, seem incapable of making any other provision than organised activity that usually centres on sport.  Providing properly funded and universally accessible sporting opportunity is good, but it is not a complete youth policy.  Of greater importance is developing the means by which young people can become active members of their society, including becoming economically active. Green economic policy recognises the importance of fostering the often dismissed informal economy and self employment. Often crudely dismissed as the black economy, this sector makes a significant contribution to the local economy and can provide a route into employment.  Helping young people into self employment would be another function of the ‘youth school’, giving help and advice on converting their ideas into a viable business proposition.

Greens therefore want to see increased provision for young people away from formal education.  We accept that this has cost implications but we regard these costs as an investment not a waste.  It is our responsibility to make this provision, it is not some ‘bolt on’ extra.  The fact that Government does not do this is symptomatic of their priorities, set by powerful vested interests.  Despite the so called ‘economic crisis, we can afford to give a £160 million tax break to the oil industry, the richest business on the planet, with a visceral aversion to paying tax.  We can afford to spend a similar amount on a decade long programme of weapons procurement for the Ministry of Defence.  Spending £5 billion on refitting the Aldermaston nuclear weapons facility passes ministers without even an announcement.  The Treasury is defrauded annually out of £30 billion on unpaid tax that is legally due to it, and of course we can’t even begin to discuss the £37 billion bonus pot paid out by business, most of which will disappear off shore.  So it’s not a matter of what we can afford, it is where we choose to spend – and in a democracy, that should be down to us. It is time for the people to speak.

It is in our collective interest to provide a nurturing and enabling environment for each emerging generation, they after all will inherit the Earth.

© Mike Shipley

Nuclear Power is Not the Answer

Cloud_over_Sellafield_(non_radioactive)_-_geograph.org.uk_-_335287I am very concerned about the problem of the storage of nuclear waste.  The government wants to build new nuclear power stations. If their plan succeeds, it will be at the cost of blocking the real solutions to climate change and a reliable future energy supply. It will also result in the continued production of dangerous nuclear waste and an increased risk from terrorism, radioactive accident and nuclear proliferation.

Some environmentalists, faced with the urgent need to combat climate change, have reluctantly decided that nuclear power will have to be part of the energy mix.  However, climate change itself also threatens the safety of nuclear power stations; many reactors are built on coastal sites vulnerable to the impacts of sea level rise, including flooding and erosion.

I am pleased that Cumbria County Council’s Cabinet decided on 30th January 2013 that West Cumbria should no longer be considered as a potential location for a deep geological repository. However, the problem of what to do with radioactive waste already in storage will not go away.

One of the fundamental problems of nuclear power is the hazard posed by the radioactive materials it produces. No one can guarantee that this highly radioactive waste won’t leak back into the environment, contaminating water supplies and the food chain.

To me, the government’s plans to allow ten new reactors to be built are shortsighted to say the least.  This would add threefold to the amount of highly radioactive waste we already have to deal with.

The nuclear industry is hugely expensive. The construction and generating costs of nuclear power are greater than most renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies. Added to these are the costs associated with dismantling nuclear stations and waste disposal.

Green Party policy is that nuclear power should be phased out and we should not consider building new plants.

This quote from Clean Technica sums up my view:  “Essentially, renewable clean energy technologies are a better choice than nuclear in every way. They are cheaper, faster to build, don’t create radioactive waste, aren’t as susceptible to environmental disasters, don’t require the same level of safety measures, and have far more public support. At current rates of growth, renewables are predicted to generate more electricity in the UK than nuclear by 2018, and expected to power 1 in every 10 homes in the UK by 2015.”

This is a much more encouraging picture than we are led to believe by the government.  They want us to believe that we cannot do without nuclear power.  It is ironic that the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has the responsibility for the legacy of decommissioning nuclear reactors, roughly £1billion per reactor (averaged international figures). The expenditure on decommissioning in 2012-13 is £1.5 billion which is 42% of DECC’s budget.

The Department for Energy and Climate Change is, of course, having its budget cut by Chancellor George Osborne, and it, in turn, has cut funding to a range of energy conservation and renewable energy schemes.  This is the legacy of nuclear power; every year from now to eternity, the government of these islands, whether Green, Red, Yellow, Blue, Purple or Pink, will have to find funds to safeguard the legacy of the long-ago nuclear power programmes.  This is why I believe the Green Party’s policy to phase out the use of nuclear energy makes sense.

© Jean Macdonald

Information taken from: 

Green Party Policy         http://greenparty.org.uk/policies.html

Greenpeace                   http://www.greenpeace.org.uk/nuclear/problems

Clean Technica                  http://cleantechnica.com/2013/02/14/new-nuclear-power-in-the-uk-looking-increasingly-unlikely/#GXJY9Zi7HREGT86c.99

 

 

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…

View original post 400 more words

Building a more equal society means standing up for Welfare

120px-Welfare_Not_Warfare

Thanks to the Daily Mail and the Express, anyone claiming benefits has been made to feel as though they were born into a lower caste, hiding their scrounging and skiving behind drawn curtains. The inconvenient truth is, of course, rather different.  Most of those on housing benefits are working but wages are so low they can’t pay the rent. Its high rents in both the public and private sectors that has driven up the cost of housing benefit.  Almost all the money paid in benefits is invested in the local economy. Higher wage earners invest elsewhere including for example the global arms industries.

Does this matter to the Green Party? Well I for one think that “welfare reform” is the most important issue we are currently facing, let me explain why. A few years ago I came to the conclusion that the consumer society bequeathed to us by capitalism has hollowed us out eroding communal assets, skills and values because they cannot be turned into commodities. Consumerism doesn’t help us address climate change; we have to value people we will never meet, in lands we will never visit, who won’t be born until we are dead, consumerism doesn’t help. As Dawkins observed we aren’t hard wired to cope with issues where cause and effect are smeared through time and space, we need to adapt.

To build a society that has the capacity to take effective action we need to minimise inequality. The Spirit Level showed how inequality is the cancer that will wreck lives. We have to challenge the foolish mindset that sees inherited wealth as somehow earned and tells young people that if you haven’t got a job you are worthless. We have to value voluntary activities, raising children, caring for relatives and struggling to overcome mental health problems or addictions as just as valuable to society as stacking shelves in Tesco’s.

Thirty years ago when mining communities were under attack, elements of the Labour party organised a fight back. This time round Labour Councils are happy to dance to the Tories tune. Chesterfield, Bolsover and North-east Derbyshire Council for example have just voted to demand that every working person on Council tax benefit pays 8.5%. If these Councils are short of money, and from the money I have seen wasted at Bolsover that certainly isn’t the case there, then they should be increasing the Council tax not cutting benefits. The Council tax is paid by everyone and it is mildly progressive, those in large houses pay more. Instead they are taxing the very poorest in the community. They should remember from the dark days of the Poll Tax that this doesn’t make social or economic sense. Across the country other Labour authorities are requiring even larger contributions and when a Government grant drops out next year they will come back for more and more from the very poorest.

Council tax benefit is just one element of a phalanx of cuts which will come in on the 1st April, they include the Bedroom tax, which the Children Commissioner has said will harm our children; capping of universal credit which will have a particularly detrimental effect on ethnic communities;  and the continued destruction of support for the disabled.

As Greens I feel we need to stand-up for those on benefits at every opportunity and argue for a more equal world where the rich contribute more. We need to carry this message home not just in urban deprived areas but also in the leafy shires where poverty is still present but camouflaged.

© Duncan Kerr

BENEFIT CAP CLAP TRAP – by Peter Allen

The Green Party has spoken out strongly against the so-called “welfare reform” proposals being pushed through Parliament. A particularly pernicious proposal is the “Benefit Cap” which will leave families homeless or starving.

The proposal is that families which do not include anyone in work will have total “Welfare Benefit”, including Housing Benefit, capped at £500 pw, leaving unemployed families renting from private landlords, particularly in and around London, unable to feed and clothe their children whilst keeping a roof over their heads. In Central London Housing Benefit is currently limited to £400pw for families needing four bedroom accommodation and £340pw for three.

Elsewhere in London and the South East the limit is only slightly lower. It is almost unbelievable that the cap makes no allowance for the fact that rents in some parts of the country are two or three times as high as in others.

Even this Government believes that a lone parent family with three children needs a minimum of £273pw to meet essential living expenses after housing costs, and one with four needs £335. The Benefit Cap will leave the three children family living in private rented accommodation in Central London with only £160pw to live on. A four child family will have just £100 !

In reality the amount left over after rent is paid is likely to be even less, since rents for most homes in the private sector are higher than the current Housing Benefit limits, and the poor are already having to make up the difference by cutting back on essential living expenses.

The Government says it has decided on a £500 pw cap because this is the average net wage earned by families in work. Whilst not disagreeing that there should be some financial benefit from paid employment, the current Benefit rules already provide this, and many working families already receive large amounts of Housing Benefit in London, given the high rents in the private sector and the chronic shortage of social housing.

The proposal is outrageous. The real problem is a lack of sufficient decently paid jobs and affordable housing, in one of the most unequal societies in Europe. Unemployed families will be forced out of London in particular, perhaps into depressed seaside towns, where they may find housing but probably no jobs. Many may end up working back in London, in one of the

many essential low paid service jobs on which London depends. Maybe they will leave their children behind, and become migrant workers, like workers in China, with whom British business tells us we must compete!

There are plenty more planned too, including cuts to disability benefits and a freeze to child benefits. And the only thing Tory MPs are complaining about is the decision to stop Child Benefit payments to higher rate income tax payers!

Labour are all but silent on the issue of welfare “reform”, anxious to chase swing voters in marginal seats. Worried that many such voters are persuaded that the people to blame for their own increasing economic hardship/insecurities are those even worse off than themselves , rather than the super-rich ( greedy, dishonest and incompetent bankers in particular) and the capitalist system itself.

The Green Party must continue to say loudly and clearly that the poorest and most disadvantaged shouldn’t be the ones paying the highest price for a crisis which they did not cause.  Benefit claimants and migrant workers should not be scapegoated. Most benefit claimants are already in work, have recently been in work, are retired from work, will soon hope to return to work or are too ill to do so.

As for migrant workers…. please read this article published in The Guardian http://www.guardian.co.uk/profile/felicitylawrence?INTCMP=SRCH

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 unison@derby.gov.uk.

Contacts:

High Peak contact:

Peter Allen: (07793) 319547 peterd.allen@btinternet.com

North East Derbyshire contact:

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

DuncanKerr@Bolsover.gov.uk or Kerr.duncan@hotmail.co.uk

Derbyshire Dales contact:

John Youatt: john@youatt.co.uk

South Derbyshire and Derby contact:

Philip Hood: philiphood51@talktalk.net

Derbyshire Green Party Press Officer:

Mike Shipley: (07791) 640 971 sue-mikeshipley@yahoo.co.uk

Simon Hales:

(01332) 898 292 or (07752) 143 607

s.hales@oldgasworks.org.uk

Despite the cuts, Green councils deliver

There is no doubt it’s not an easy time to be in local government: The Tory-led coalition are imposing massive austerity measures with councils bearing far more than their fair share of the cuts in public funding. This has been complemented by ongoing public attacks on both council officers and councillors by pugnacious Tory ministers like Eric Pickles, Bob Neil and Grant Shapps. Finally councils are being pushed and pulled between suggestions of more powers being devolved, more central direction on how to do things and massive centrally decided reforms to their funding and legal powers. Local government is a bit punch drunk.

Despite all this, councils can and should deliver. In Brighton & Hove the Green administration came to power in 2011 with a very clear manifesto which we have been working hard to implement. In less than a year, Greens have made significant changes, we have:

  1. Introduced a Living wage of £7.19 for the lowest paid council staff.  We have created a Living Wage Commission for the city that is working with the largest employers to advocate that living wage across the city.
  2. Won over £6m of new external funding for major improvements to the city’s transport infrastructure & public spaces.
  3. Protected the Children’s & Adult Social care budgets, including for carers – they will not change over two years, whilst neighbouring authorities are withdrawing care and support from many in need.
  4. We are building the city’s first new council houses in decades, and bringing more empty properties back into use.  We are also working with local squatter groups working on ‘meanwhile’ leases for empty properties awaiting development.
  5. Introduced a new approach in the council that prioritises openness, democracy & participation – as shown by our budget process, commitment to open data and plans for neighbourhood councils.

None of this would have happened without Greens taking control of the city council in Brighton & Hove.

We are also unique in how much we’ve protected in our first budget, despite incredible pressure from the government, and ill-conceived amendments from the opposition parties. The Green administration’s budget will:

  • Double capital funding for transport and the public realm.
  • Build new non-academy school places in our best schools.
  • Keep an in-house Youth Service, unlike almost every other council in the country.
  • Preserve the main grant programmes for the 3rd sector at the same level as previous years.
  • Create a new £300,000 grants programme for 3rd sector youth services, and a £150,000 fund to support capital investment in the 3rd sector.
  • Protect Staff terms and conditions.
  • Preserve parks services
  • Keep all our branch libraries remain open, with an increasing book fund.
  • Preventing Homelessness’ funding is protected and domestic violence support increased by £100,000.
  • We will be bringing forward pilots for communal recycling, food waste collection and commercial waste collection.
  • We will be piloting participatory budgeting and neighbourhood councils.
  • We will be consolidating council buildings down to a few hubs that will be upgraded to be super energy efficient, have solar panels and support mobile working and hot desking.
  • We will be pursuing a unique bid for urban UN Biosphere status.

Whilst the government’s austerity measures are forcing back to scale back in some areas, we are still able to make good progress in many important areas. For example we are going to be working towards achieving One Planet Council status in the coming months.

As Greens we’re utterly opposed to much of the coalition’s wrong-headed policies, but we have a duty to make the best of the situation for our residents. If you have elections in your area vote Green this May for more dedicated councillors fighting for fair solutions to the challenges in their areas.  Greens deliver!

[Cllr Jason Kitcat Brighton & Hove Green Party]