Category Archives: Transport

A new Age of the Train?

new_mills

30 year old Class 142 train at New Mills Central station

Are we about to enter a new Age of the Train?

Green Party members from the High Peak local group have been looking at the fine print of Government policy, and doing a bit of informal research out and about in Derbyshire.

First of all, what do people actually want from the railways? Well, a good start might be that the travelling public should be able to buy a ticket to their destination and then get to the appropriate platform, and yet at many of Britain’s stations neither of these basics can be assumed.

You wouldn’t think that just buying, or trying to buy a ticket would cause huge problems, and yet we have found in this part of the country that it is the hassle of getting a ticket that exasperates people just as much as expensive ticket prices, poor station access and late trains. People put up with unmanned stations. Everyone has experienced being crammed onto an ancient, crowded train with just one guard. The last straw for travellers is when in addition to hurrying to get to work on time, they have to queue at their destination to buy a ticket before leaving the platform to avoid being fined. Try persuading a commuter to ‘think green’ and swap their comfy car for that option!

One High Peak resident who had recently lived and worked in Hong Kong commented: – “Returning to the UK, I didn’t expect the High Peak to be served by 12- car commuter trains which arrive every three minutes, but in 2015 and the age of smart phones, I was amazed to find that there are so few ticket dispensers installed on platforms, and such little use in the UK of stored value cards like the Oyster card.”

What has brought this about? Under-investment? Vanity projects? Profits before people? The current Conservative government has of course raised expectations with its talk of the Northern Powerhouse, and more recently with the announcement of its National Infrastructure Commission. In the foreword to ‘Transforming the North’s Railways’, the Secretary of State for Transport and Derbyshire Dales MP, Patrick McLoughlin  wrote in February 2015: “This government has huge ambitions for the North of England and the railway is key to those plans.”

northern_powerhouse

Northern Powerhouse – rhetoric and reality on separate tracks?

Great words – but at the Green Party we really wonder whether these ambitions can ever be achieved for the travelling public when it’s private companies bidding for franchises who are in the driver’s seat.

An issue we care about passionately at the Green Party is inclusion, providing a civilized society for everyone. Cloud-cuckoo land? Well, what about just getting to the platform?

chinley

How do I get to the platform, please? Your route to the Sheffield-bound platform at New Mills Central

One of our members spent a few hours observing conditions for travellers at Chinley, a station on the mainline between Manchester and Sheffield, where the only access to both platforms is via a footbridge with two sets of steep steps. Mums and Dads with pushchairs struggle to use the steps safely. Travellers to/from Manchester airport risk hurting themselves hauling heavy suitcases up and over the footbridge, and of course people with a mobility problem or people who use a wheelchair are nowhere to be seen. No ramp, that’s your lot, so they don’t come.

The Green Party demands an inclusive society, and we will acknowledge progress where it has been made. Representatives from the rail companies and the Department of Transport would argue that Access for All and Station Improvement programmes have delivered substantial improvements to many stations, and rail operators have a duty to help if access to a particular station is substantial. The Equality Act of 2010 does offer some protection for rail users if they feel discriminated against, but when it comes down to it, members of the public would just like to travel in safety and comfort from A to B without having to consider taking court action against the operator of the services, or tweeting yet another “dissatisfied” comment to Customer Services.

The Green party isn’t satisfied that our railways are being run for the benefit of citizens, and has committed to implementing a comprehensive plan for fully accessible transport so that public transport will be usable by all members of the public. What’s more, the Green Party feels strongly that the privatisation of the railways has created a situation where the tax payer is like a supplicant at the gate of the Lord of the Manor, begging for alms. We are not satisfied with this relationship. The needs of all of our citizens are our first priority, and only by taking proper control of our national rail network can we hope to achieve a civilized service for everyone.

We want our railways to be more accessible and attractive for everyone. Only when and if this happens will people ever be able to choose to leave the car behind and opt for more environmentally friendly means of transport which, alongside other benefits, will help provide a sustainable long–term solution to our chronic air pollution.

Interested in reading more? Have a look at the Green Party’s policies in detail at:

https://policy.greenparty.org.uk/tr.html

Paul Tattam

Derbyshire Greens Critical of Delays to Rail Electrification

The Green Party in Derbyshire believes the ‘pause’ in the electrification of the Midland Main Line announced by Transport Secretary and Derbyshire Dales MP Patrick McLoughlin is actually a humiliating full stop.

This long-heralded plan formed part of a £37.5 billion package of rail improvements announced by the Government before the general election.

Derbyshire Dales Green Party election candidate Ian Wood said:

Ian Wood‘A few weeks ago Mr McLoughlin was telling voters about the exciting new future for railway travellers in this part of the world.

‘But there is a strong whiff of suspicion that he already knew that the figures did not stand up.

‘And now he has had to tell Parliament what Network Rail must have known for months – that the railways in his own constituency are being left behind while the Cotswold railways serving the Prime Minister’s constituents are to be improved as planned.’

The Green Party’s concern is that the Government will eventually declare that the electrification upgrade in the East Midlands has been somehow superseded by their much more expensive high speed rail proposals designed to get business travellers to London more quickly.

The Green Party says Midland Main Line electrification would cut CO2 emissions by 40% and would support lighter more efficient trains which would be cheaper to run.

Meanwhile the high speed project from Birmingham to London is going ahead at a cost of around £50bn.

Ian WoodMr Wood said:
‘The whole East Midlands region needs an efficient rail network to help strengthen the regional economy and to relieve the strain on the existing network.

‘Mr McLoughlin led voters to believe their faith in the railways and their willingness to pay enormous fares on the privatised rail network would at last be rewarded with a modern railway.

‘Now that the Government has failed to secure the improvements everyone knows are essential, voters can see the brave talk of a northern powerhouse was a load of distracting public relations.’

Nationalise railways

Climate Change – Urgent Action Required

Message from the Green Party Leader, Natalie Bennett

natalie-bennettThis year the most important climate talks in history will take place in Paris.

Leaders from around the world will come together to decide the world’s course of action in addressing the most important issue of modern times.

Yet, despite the looming threat of a climate crisis, during this election you could be forgiven for thinking that the threat had lifted.

The truth is, politicians from the other parties simply aren’t speaking about climate change. In fact I was the only party leader to raise the topic during the three and a half hours of Leaders debates.

You and I know both know that the science is unequivocal – fortunately we have the plan to tackle the crisis.

The Green Party is the only party calling for the urgent action required and at the heart of our pledge to protect the environment is our conviction that we must also reconfigure our world to work better for people.

We will cut public transport fares – because everyone should be able to afford to get to where they want to go – and because the air pollution caused by cars is a crisis that must be tackled.

We will invest in home insulation – because no one should fear family members getting ill or even dying from the cold – and because we want to cut carbon emissions.

We will generate 80% of our energy from renewable sources by 2030 – because we know we must leave four-fifths of known fossil fuel reserves in the ground.

We are using three times as many resources as our planet can sustain – we must change course, and we can.

I, like you, want to leave a better future for our children. I want the next generation to look back on what we did at this time and think ‘my parents generation did something to protect our world’. I want them to be proud of us.

To keep climate change on the agenda and to continue our fight for social justice we must elect more Green MPs.

We can do this if we have a strong Green voice in parliament – but we need your help now more than ever with a Green vote on May 7th.

Thank you,

Natalie Bennett
Leader, Green Party of England and Wales

p.s. Please share this message with someone you know who shares your concerns and urge them to vote Green on May 7th.

Candidates join in April Fool’s Day Railway Actions

Return the Railways to the Public

Alice David and KimThree of our members, Alice Mason-Power, David Foster and Kim Collis joined others from Derby People’s Assembly and Derby Climate Coalition leafleting at Derby Railway Station to make links with the issue of cuts, privatizations and our railways.

There were nearly 100 such actions up and down the country on March the 31st and April the 1st, loosely organised under the Action for Rail umbrella.

Alice Mason Power with imprintAlice Mason-Power is standing in Derby North Constituency and is also standing in the Local Election in Darley Ward.

David Foster is standing in Derby South Constituency and is also standing in the Local Election in Boulton Ward.

David with imprint

The Green Party would aim to re-nationalise the railways and work to produce an integrated, affordable and sustainable public transport system.

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.

Sue MacFarlane – Mid Derbyshire Constituency

Personal Candidate Statement for the General Election 2015

Sue MacFarlaneI joined the Green Party officially last year after having been ‘in sympathy’ with its values for many years. I joined because I wanted to be part of the change we need to make our society fairer and more sustainable. Having joined, I spent some time reading Green Party policy and recognised that some of the issues I was already interested in (Citizen’s income, re-nationalisation of the railways, opposition to TTIP etc.) were aligned to Green party thinking.

I quickly became active in the local party and we meet every couple of weeks to discuss current projects and campaigns. I have been selected democratically by the group to be their ‘lead’ candidate for Belper North Ward in the Amber Valley Borough Council elections. I am also standing as a national election candidate in order to give people a chance to vote Green in Mid Derbyshire in the general election.

I am a realist, and understand that the possibility of winning a seat in Mid Derbyshire is minimal. However, I have met many people who have said that they would like to be able to vote for the Green Party in a national election and I would like to give them a chance to do so.

I feel I am a credible candidate, with good communication skills. I prepare press releases for Mid Derbyshire Greens, and have been on the radio about a local issue surrounding democracy. I am a Natural Voice Practitioner, and this involves helping people to find and use their voice. I feel that politics has similarities to this, and I feel very strongly that everyone’s voice should be heard. I would like the opportunity to be able to represent people, and to give them a voice in local and national politics.

I organised the successful ‘crowdfunder’ project which played a large part in enabling us to stand Green Party candidates in Derbyshire at the coming general election. I feel well supported by my local party and activist group, and am heartened by the fact that our numbers grow at almost every meeting. They have faith in me and I would like to validate that faith by standing as Green Party candidate for Mid Derbyshire in the forthcoming general election.

Green Party candidate contact details

Protests against train fare rises – 5 January, 2015

Peter Robinson from Derby People’s Assembly has emailed to draw members’ attention to the protests against the fare rises outside railway stations on January 5, calling for Public Ownership as well.  CAN ANY GREEN PARTY MEMBERS TAKE PART?

These actions are taking place at DERBY and NOTTINGHAM stations from 7.30 am and at BURTON from 15.30 pm.

invest-in-our-planet-20140814-064711264On Friday January the 2nd train fares are due to increase again. We already have some of the most expensive fares in Europe. We also have the most fragmented service, and it is the case that the government is now subsiding railways (and the franchises) MORE than when British Rail was de-nationalised.

Between 1997-2012 Virgin Trains’ West Coast Mainline paid £500 million in dividends after pocketing £2,5 billion in subsidies. By contrast, the publicly owned East Coast Mainline has returned nearly £1bn to the government since 2009.The arguments for public ownership are overwhelming.

The environmental case for switching to rail and other public transport is also overwhelming.

With the support of Action for Rail, the Peoples Assembly are teaming up with Bring Back British Rail, Compass, the Green Party, the Campaign against Climate Change, We Own It, and a variety of local groups to organise leafleting of commuters at railway stations on Monday January 5th.

Later that Caroline Lucas Making a point Cropweek the Green Party MP, Caroline Lucas, will be presenting her private members bill calling for public ownership of railways. The People’s Assembly is looking for people who are prepared to volunteer to distribute leaflets at their local railway station.

Are you prepared to help?  If you would like to organise an action at a station, please contact Peter Robinson at peterfrobinson@ntlworld.com and say which station you can attend and state a preferred time.

Information from the People’s Assembly website http://www.thepeoplesassembly.org.uk/public_ownership_for_railways_protest

What is the point of HS2? What transport system does Derby need?

HS2A meeting in Derby on 4th December, called by Derby Climate Coalition, heard the pro’s and cons of a high speed rail network, HS2. There were speakers from TSSA,(Technical Standards and Safety Authority), Derby Climate Coalition, Derbyshire Green Party and the Liberal Democrats. The Conservatives declined to attend. Labour was represented by the meeting’s Chair and by the key-note speaker, writer and broadcaster Christian Wolmar who is seeking the party’s mayoral nomination in London.

A transport specialist, Christian is in favour of increased rail investment, including high speed trains, but he is against HS2. He described this as: “an overpriced railway costing £50bn which is unlikely to bring about the promised regeneration of the North and, in fact, may have the opposite effect of boosting investment in an already overheated London.” [You can read more on http://www.christianwolmar.co.uk/ – including his damning economic analysis]

He pointed out that HS2 stations would be situated out of city centres so needing an inconvenient, largely car based, extra leg to the journey. The proposed station to serve the East Midlands is at Toton, between Nottingham and Derby, yet most people want stations in city centres. He doubted whether passengers would be happy to pay the premium cost of an HS2 ticket to save a few minutes on the journey and still have to take a long transfer to their destination. He said that the HS2 speed proposed here in the UK, up to 250mph, is considerably faster than comparative high speed trains in France and Japan. The service will therefore increase energy demand rather than lower it as we need to cut carbon emissions

TSSA is in favour of HS2. Their spokesman argued that Derby is ranked within the top ten UK cities in which to work and he wanted to improve upon this position. He felt that HS2 could bring engineer experts and specialists to Derby from London rather than the other way around. He was concerned about the impact of losing engineering jobs to local people if HS2 did not go ahead. He said you could increase the capacity of existing system by adding more carriages to existing services but we need to create more capacity than this could bring about. He did agree with Christian’s point that it is mad to have terminal stations that lead nowhere. People want through stations.

The Climate Coalition is opposed to HS2 arguing that the amount of CO2 that would be created in the making of the new network would take many years for the electric service to pay off. The group believes that there should be a major shift in our use of transport altogether e.g. live nearer our place of work, take holidays in the UK nearer to home etc.

The Liberal Democrats, as coalition partners are in favour of HS2 as is Labour – the party not sharing Christian Wolmar’s scepticism on the economics of the project.

John Youatt 6John Youatt, DPG’s convenor in Derbyshire Dales, gave a brief overview of the main reasons the Greens are against HS2 and made the case for alternative and sustainable development of the rail network.

Arguments against HS2 include:
• It won’t use English rolling stock – a kick in the teeth for English train-makers
• Doesn’t connect city to city or to existing lines
• Wrong place to start – will add to the ‘overheating’ of London and the SE
• Too fast
• Too expensive and too late
• Massive damage to landscape, wild life and people
• High carbon generation

Alternative investments include:
1. early investment in rail capacity – line improvements and electrification city to city, town to town, such as Grand Central; Liverpool to Hull; quadruple MML Leeds Sheffield to St Pancras
2. early investment in stations
3. early investment in rolling stock and new innovative engines with energy storage : replace diesel stock
4. access EU ‘converging regions’ budgets to boost infrastructure investment.

Views from the floor were fairly evenly divided, with opponents having a narrow lead. The view was expressed that the UK is a “small” country and we don’t need to travel at 250 mph between towns. Rather than copy the continental style of network, like the French or Chinese, where distances between cities is large, the UK should look at small country networks like the Swiss system which is much more of an integrated local network.

The meeting took the opportunity to look at other related issues such as, what sort of transport do we want? What is transport for? If it is for people to travel and to move products from A to B and if transport is a service, it should not be about making a profit. Who controls it? What sort of society do we want to build? All very fundamental questions that the Greens openly aim to answer but which the other parties prefer to avoid. The meeting was told that three quarters of our trains are run by the Germans, Dutch and French. So any profits made there go into Germany, France and the Netherlands rather than British coffers! This opened the question of public ownership and the provision of affordable travel, policies advocated by the Green Party

Earlier in the evening, our speaker, John Youatt, had been cut off before he had finished his input when his four minutes were up. He had sat down at high speed but switched on to his last slide, which remained on screen for the rest of the meeting. So everyone was left with this message:

“Only one Party has democratically adopted principles and policies which will not be abandoned by its leaders for short term “power”.

Nationalise railways

Only one Party has the intellectual rigour among its MEPs, MP and Councillors to persuade others to replace HS2 with eco-socialist arguments and save the planet and all its passengers… Join the Green Party“

Good one John!

Jean Macdonald
Member of Derbyshire Green Party

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

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

 

Brussels Biofuels Debate coming to a Head

Steven Roddy blogged on the RSPB website that “The next few months will be crucial as the European Union debates a change to EU biofuels law. We know how to fix this problem in a way that will stop the harm being done to nature and the climate, while still allowing innovative industries to bring new, genuinely beneficial, technologies to the market.”

The Green Party has been saying this all along.  Jean Lambert commented on the Climate and energy package back in 2009: Jean pointing 501234567“The adoption this week of the new climate and energy package has been hailed as ‘historic’ by some, but it remains to be seen how history will judge this week’s vote. … I sincerely believe that if it were not for the very strong presence of Green MEPs in the intense negotiation process the package may have completely derailed and the outcomes would have been much weaker.”

On 10 March 2013, Molly Scott Cato, the Green Party’s top candidate for the south-west in the 2014 European Elections stated  “The decision by MPs to continue to offer subsidies to crops that can be burned in power stations to create electricity is quite irrational and will cause more environmental harm than good.  … The fundamental problem arises because the government is allowing subsidies for industrial scale burning of biofuels, yet setting a low rate for the Feed in Tariff for new domestic and small-scale generators. This encourages the global market in biofuels rather than supporting local community renewables development.  Read more here:   http://southwest.greenparty.org.uk/news.html/2013/03/10/biofuel-subsidies-irrational-top-euro-green/

Why do Greens oppose biofuels?  In order to satisfy the world’s insatiable demand for fuel in the face of declining oil output and rising oil prices, huge areas of land are being turned over to growing fuel crops.  It is simply not possible to meet current demand for fuel oil with biofuels – there isn’t enough land.  Growing fuel crops in the absence of a determined push to reduce fuel use can only lead to biofuels being used as well as oil, leading to greater carbon emissions. 

Biofuels 800px-Greenpeace_biodiesel_demonstrationThe growing demand for biofuels is leading to massive clearances of land including tropical rain forest, as is currently happening in Indonesia, resulting in the choking smogs of Singapore.  These clearances will lead to the total destruction of rainforest unless strong action is taken.  With rising demand and high profits to be earned, we cannot hope for sufficient strong action to protect this vital ecosystem. 

Sugarcane mechanized harvest operationIn addition thousands of small farmers, the mainstay of local food production, are being forced off the land to make way for industrial scale biofuel plantations.  This will lead directly to the collapse of local food markets and therefore yet more hunger.  Diverting land from food to fuel is simply wrong and is leading to rising global food prices.  This leads to big profits for food companies and starvation for millions. 

A final objection to biofuels is that, on the back of the drive for more fuel crops rides a drive to use GM crops.  This is happening in Argentina, where the Government has been persuaded to embrace GM technology and in its drive to get into the biofuel market.  GM crops will become established in global agriculture, contaminating the whole human food chain with completely unknown consequences.  We also suspect that the biggest drive to develop biofuels is coming from the military, who fully understand the consequences of peak oil.

Every year the UK burns enough food crops in our cars to feed 15 million people. Following action from the IF campaign, for the first time ever, land grabs were put on the G8 agenda. Trial partnerships with a small number of developing countries were also agreed, which show progress towards preventing land grabs that leave poor people hungry. Development Minister Justine Greening also spoke for the first time about biofuels affecting food security.

459px-Rape-seed-field

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds say – “Using food for fuel when millions of people are starving is wrong. But it’s not just people who are suffering because of the global demand for biofuels, nature is too.  What you may not realise is that the UK’s landscape is also changing and our green and pleasant land is becoming covered in ever more yellow rape-seed oil.”

How you can help – A key parliamentary committee, the Environment Committee, will be voting on the biofuels issue on Wednesday 10th July.  The RSPB are asking people to email or write to their MEPs about these concerns.  Read more and take action on the RSPB Community website: http://clicks.dbgi.co.uk/DC/ctr.aspx?6C6164=31393033303233&736272=$$EfwYGGq81T08EEE&747970=6874&66=30

Fair is Worth Fighting ForGreen policy does recognise that biofuels can play a limited part in the supply of liquid fuels in a post oil world, but they must be from either certifiable sustainable crops grown close to the point of use, or be from non-recyclable waste. 

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.

Derby City Centre Proposal

Please help to stop Derby city council wasting at least £90,000 taking out pavements and changing roads which were only laid two months ago and letting traffic back into the city centre.

The proposal is to allow traffic to revert to travelling straight across from Curzon Street into Cheapside and Wardwick into Friar Gate.

These manoeuvres were banned at the end of May, except for bikes, buses and taxis, as part of the inner ring road project (Connecting Derby) to create a safer, more pleasant city centre environment for shoppers, and better routes for people travelling through the city on foot, by bike or by bus. Cars are kept to the ring road, apart from to gain access to local areas and cannot not pass right through the city centre.

This proposal is a waste of money, and it is also badly planned and not thought through. The ring road was completed at the end of May and just two weeks later the council leader Philip Hickson declared that they were harming city centre trade and had to be revoked. However, no analysis of the cause of the reduced trade has been carried out, given that cars can still get access to every street they could before; no alternative measures have been considered and there is no evidence to say these changes will bring trade back.

The Connecting Derby project has created some great routes into and around the city centre for cycling and walking, but some of these improvements will be lost after just two months.

Please object in writing quoting:

Objection to the Revoking of Connecting Derby

Traffic Regulation Orders

to these people:

Nicola Weekly  (e-mail  Nicola.Weekly@derby.gov.uk )

Traffic Management Team Leader

Neighbourhoods,

Saxon House,

Friary Street,

Derby DE1 1AN.

AND

Paul Robinson (e-mail   paul.robinson@derby.gov.uk )

Director of Neighbourhoods,

Roman House

Friar Gate

Derby DE1 1XB

Please copy your objection to Councillor Hickson

and all three of your local councillors.

Derby City Councillors – Contact Details

Closure date for objections: Monday 22nd August 2011

If you want more information:

Key points for objection:

  1. A waste of £90,000 undoing recently completed street works, instead of spending it enhancing other parts of Connecting Derby, many of which were suggested by DCG members and given to the council by us.
  2. No proper analysis of the cause of a claimed fall in trade in the area has been carried out. We risk implementing something which will not solve the problem.
  3. Goes against the objective of creating a safer, more pleasant area for shoppers and for people travelling through by sustainable means
  4. This is a blinkered approach to transport planning, with unwarranted bias towards cars (which already have a new ring road) and an abandonment of any notion of an integrated transport policy.
  5. A lack of proper consultation, with Councillor Hickson bulldozing his own ideas through, disregarding local democracy.

Please bear in mind the following points relating to this issue:

  1. Cars can still access every street they could prior to the inner ring road opening and parking provision is virtually the same as before. The inner ring road has now to be used to get to some streets instead of cutting through the city centre on that tortuous old “ring road”.
  2. Some local traders and the Bold Lane car park are reporting reduced trade since the inner ring road opened. However no proper analysis of the cause of this fall in trade has been carried out.
  3. Derby Cycling Group are proposing alternative solutions to redress the perceived fall in trade in the Cheapside area, but Councillor Hickson will not consider these.
  4. We feel that the recent job losses at Bombardier, Egg and the Post Office will also be affecting trade, we need to know about trade in other parts of the city.
  5. Derby Cycling Group have suggested that better signage to the Cathedral Quarter car parks and promotion of the new Connecting Derby road layout could help to restore trade. However, Councillor Hickson has so far not agreed to meet with us to discuss the matter. He has decided by himself what should be done.

Greens Defend Rail Jobs in Derby & UK

Rally in Derby on Saturday 23 July

The Green Party has condemned the Tory/Lib Dem coalition government for giving a £3 billion order of new rolling stock for Thameslink trains to Siemens.

The rival bidder, Derby-based Bombardier, has laid off over a thousand workers, as the last remaining train builder in the country. The Bombardier factory in Derby is now under threat, and so are thousands more jobs in the Derby area in other rail businesses that supply the factory.

Green Party transport spokesperson Alan Francis said:

“We need more train carriages and more manufacturing jobs in the UK. Train manufacturing in this country should be expanded, not forced to close down. It is a dereliction of duty by the government to stand by and see the loss of skills and jobs.”

Derbyshire Green Party Chairman David Foster said:

“The coalition government is playing political football with the livelihoods of thousands of people in Derby and Derbyshire. One of the most worrying aspects of this deplorable decision is that it continues the trend of dismantling the whole engineering industry and technical know-how in this country. We have already witnessed the demise of the British automotive industry and rely heavily on foreign manufacturers. If we don’t wake up to what is happening, we risk losing our national engineering heritage. I urge the people of Derby and Derbyshire to show their opposition to this decision and come to the rally in Derby on Saturday 23 July.”

At a pre-general-election rail debate in Westminster in 2010 (1), Alan Francis was the only politician to argue not only for more train carriages for the rail network, but to also to state that they should be built in the UK to preserve British jobs.

Francis was on a panel with Chris Mole, then a Labour government transport minister, Stephen Hammond, then a Conservative shadow transport minister, and Norman Baker, then a Lib Dem shadow transport minister. The debate, before an audience of senior rail industry people, was chaired by the BBC’s Nick Owen.

When questioned about orders for new carriages, all of the panelists claimed that they wanted to see more carriages on the network. But Francis was the only one to talk about building those new carriages in this country. Alan Francis said today:

“This shows that all three of the main parties are so wedded to the free market, they are willing to sacrifice British manufacturing and British jobs. After the debate, I was congratulated by a member of the audience from a Derby rail company. He thanked me for being the only panellist to raise the issue of train building in this country.”
Notes
1) The Rail Debate, 17th March 2010, Central Hall, Westminster, see part 8 – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xxuBUEorm_I&feature=related

Greens Defend Rail Jobs in Derby & UK

Rally in Derby on Saturday 23 July

The Green Party has condemned the Tory/Lib Dem coalition government for giving a £3 billion order of new rolling stock for Thameslink trains to Siemens.

The rival bidder, Derby-based Bombardier, has laid off over a thousand workers, as the last remaining train builder in the country. The Bombardier factory in Derby is now under threat, and so are thousands more jobs in the Derby area in other rail businesses that supply the factory.

Green Party transport spokesperson Alan Francis said:

“We need more train carriages and more manufacturing jobs in the UK. Train manufacturing in this country should be expanded, not forced to close down. It is a dereliction of duty by the government to stand by and see the loss of skills and jobs.”

Derbyshire Green Party Chairman David Foster said:

“The coalition government is playing political football with the livelihoods of thousands of people in Derby and Derbyshire. One of the most worrying aspects of this deplorable decision is that it continues the trend of dismantling the whole engineering industry and technical know-how in this country. We have already witnessed the demise of the British automotive industry and rely heavily on foreign manufacturers. If we don’t wake up to what is happening, we risk losing our national engineering heritage. I urge the people of Derby and Derbyshire to show their opposition to this decision and come to the rally in Derby on Saturday 23 July.”

At a pre-general-election rail debate in Westminster in 2010 (1), Alan Francis was the only politician to argue not only for more train carriages for the rail network, but to also to state that they should be built in the UK to preserve British jobs.

Francis was on a panel with Chris Mole, then a Labour government transport minister, Stephen Hammond, then a Conservative shadow transport minister, and Norman Baker, then a Lib Dem shadow transport minister. The debate, before an audience of senior rail industry people, was chaired by the BBC’s Nick Owen.

When questioned about orders for new carriages, all of the panelists claimed that they wanted to see more carriages on the network. But Francis was the only one to talk about building those new carriages in this country. Alan Francis said today:

“This shows that all three of the main parties are so wedded to the free market, they are willing to sacrifice British manufacturing and British jobs. After the debate, I was congratulated by a member of the audience from a Derby rail company. He thanked me for being the only panellist to raise the issue of train building in this country.”
Notes
1) The Rail Debate, 17th March 2010, Central Hall, Westminster, see part 8 – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xxuBUEorm_I&feature=related

Transport In Derbyshire And Beyond

Tranport policy is a fundamental failure of this and previous governments. We need a carefully planned and boldly implemented transport system if we are to build a future to cope with climate change.  Until the recession, CO2 emissions from transport had been rising inexorably. In the long term, only good public transport can reduce emissions.

Trains

Nationally, trains have been neglected for many years. Most money goes to London and the South East, now under the guise of catering for the Olympics – a party that will last for 3 weeks! You only have to compare with European continental trains to see how far behind we have fallen in this country. Important in an election? Yes to Greens. Trains (and trams) powered by renewable electricity will have to be the main source of long distance transport to reduce climate change and to overcome the lack and high price of oil supplies.

Nationally, one of the longest intercity train services is between Liverpool and Norwich, via Sheffield, Chesterfield and sometimes Long Eaton and Alfreton. Many of the trains are two coaches only. These have been overcrowded for years between Manchester and Nottingham. We were promised at a meeting in Chesterfield in March that the trains would be expanded to 4 coaches in May. We later heard they were talking about May 2012!

Derbyshire County Council (DCC) have been lamentable on this issue. The reopening of the Matlock to Buxton line was a “key” element in their Local Transport Plan 1 in 2000. They contracted Scott Wilson to produce a feasibility study which stated that it would be relatively easy to reopen the line as most infrastructure was still in place. DCC  (then Labour) got cold feet and refused to proceed with it. The Multi-Modal study on the East Midlands section of the M1 recommended that the East-West rails lines, some intact, should be reopened to passenger traffic. This report was supported by DCC and Chesterfield Borough Council (CBC).  Virtually nothing has been done to implement this recommendation. It was DCC that cut off Chesterfield Town Center from the rail station by building the so-called “bypass” between the two. There are no bus services of any use to the station, and only a few per day to Bolsover. DCC refuse to support anything to provide such a service.

Buses

In general DCC has been very supportive of bus services, and their support of Community transport has also been excellent. Unfortunately their information systems are awful. Take the journey by bus from Chesterfield to Wirksworth for example: we assume there must be reasonable services, but they do not give details in their timetable booklet that we all have to pay for. Information at bus stops is either non-existent or poor quality. Our case is that,  for a little more money, good information could persuade more people to use buses, thus reducing the necessity for so much subsidy.  The bus companies are equally guilty here, but they are let off the hook by bad management at DCC. The bus companies tell us that it is DCC’s job and not theirs to provide bus information, while DCC tell us the opposite! Nothing gets done except one playing off against the other. As the licensor and contract provider DCC should be in the driving seat.

Vote Green For A Sane Transport Policy

Here are some selected points from the Green Party Transport Policy. For the full policy visit http://policy.greenparty.org.uk/mfss/mfsstr.html

Priorities

The Green Party will use the planning system and the provision of finance to develop and encourage transportation according to the following hierarchy based on environmental impact and value for money:

1.    Walking and disabled access.
2.    Cycling.
3.    Public transport (trains, light rail/trams, buses and ferries) and rail and water-borne freight.
4.    Light goods vehicles, taxis and low powered motor cycles.
5.    Private motorised transport (cars & high powered motor cycles).
6.    Heavy goods vehicles.
7.    Aeroplanes.

Planning

The planning of all transport infrastructure must be done at the most local appropriate level and in a fully democratic manner, involving full and open public consultation.

Any development, [business, retail or residential] that encourages a large number of journeys must be in a location accessible to a wide range of public transport, including links to the rail system. All development should recognise its impact on transport, including the car, and make appropriate provision [In Italy, business is required to provide links to major centres of population or to the public transport network.]

The Green Party will use the planning system to reduce the need for journeys by supporting local provision of facilities, shops and work. Where practical, encourage the use of IT to reduce the need to travel to work.

In rural areas, planning requirements for new housing and settlements will need to ensure they are close to a range of services and are well served by public transport.

Finance

Financial measures relating to transport should be based on two principles: Firstly, transport should pay for its environmental costs through taxes and charges [“the polluter pays” principle]. Secondly, these should be used to finance improved public transport.

The Green Party will introduce a vehicle purchase tax on the purchase of all new vehicles, which would be steeply graded according to a vehicle’s pollution level, fuel consumption and type of fuel. The tax disc would be abolished.

Public Transport

The Green Party believes it is the government’s responsibility to ensure that all urban and rural areas of the United Kingdom are served by a public transport system that will allow for a large proportion of the current private motorised journeys to transfer to these modes. To this end, it must ensure that public transport is designed and planned to create a user-friendly service, that is reliable, affordable, accessible, integrated with all other sustainable modes and environmentally friendly. Public service, not private profit, must be the primary function of public transport.

The Green Party would seek to build goodwill among transport workers by addressing issues such as poor pay, anti-social hours, and difficult working conditions, along with greater involvement of the staff in the running of the transport systems.

Public transport in rural areas should be designed to meet the needs of those living in those areas. This must recognise the diversity of rural transport provision and the importance of innovative solutions. These will include various forms of trip sharing and community transport provision, including post buses and taxis, especially in the more remote areas where a reliance on the provision of frequent bus services may be environmentally damaging and too expensive.

The Green Party believes that the rail system, including track and operators, needs to be publicly owned, and would seek to bring the service back into public ownership.

The Green Party supports the further expansion and construction of new light rail systems, with the aim of seeing their introduction into all towns and cities where there is local support.

The Green Party would re-regulate the bus industry, with local authorities having responsibility for ensuring that bus services reflect all the principles for a public service, including the setting of routes, frequencies and fares.

The Green Party views taxis, Dial-a-Ride and private hire vehicles as forms of public transport.

New Deal For Transport

The Green New Deal commits investment to a major expansion of public transport. We will:

  • Double the size of the bus fleet through an investment of £3 billion to buy 30,000 new buses and create 70,000 jobs.
  • Provide a further £2 billion to subsidise bus fares and get new services operational.
  • Bring the railway system back into public ownership and spend £2 billion on new track and rolling stock, and on urban tram schemes – together creating 20,000 jobs.
  • Reduce UK rail fares by one third to bring them in line with the European average through a £3 billion subsidy.

Twenty is Plenty

Green Party  ” Twenty is plenty” calls for 20mph speed limit outside schools as part of ‘children’s right to health safety, and justice’

At the council meeting of 26th June, Green Party councillor Matt Follett will ask the ruling administration to follow the example of cities like Portsmouth, Norwich, Lancaster, and Aberdeen and implement tougher speed restrictions in order to improve road safety, and suggest that we should particularly focus on child safety around schools.

Cllr Follett said “There are 3 key reasons why this is a good idea:

1)      Safety for children – The World Health Organisation has provided scientific evidence that the chances of pedestrian fatality are massively increased once you are above 20 mph

2)      Health – the national cycling body the CTC have stated that people would ride bikes and walk more if it wasn’t for safety concerns for children, so 20mph outside schools would help increase children’s health

3)      Social justice – the IPPR Streets Ahead report shows that child pedestrian injuries are four times as likely in poorer areas, than in richer areas.

Fellow Green party councillor and well known promoter of the benefits of cycling , Cllr  Phil Gordon, added “Anyone who cycles regularly knows that you would increase cycle use, which would impact on safety and health, the environment and congestion, if you reduced car speeds. Its common sense to take action that will make parents feel safer about their children cycling and walking.

Lets all get behind this and recognise that, to coin a phrase,  Twenty is plenty!”

Cllr Follett concluded “I want all parties at the council, and parents and schools, and the wider public, to get behind this, not get bogged down around issues of enforcement, and start taking positive action that will really kick start communities feeling confident in kids walking to school.  We need to have children’s rights to health, safety, and justice, and this would really help that.

Page 78 of WHO report “World Report on Road traffic Injury Prevention”