Calling all Young Greens in Derbyshire

Its 2016, a new year has begun. Derbyshire Green Party is seeking to invite all the Young Greens within Derbyshire to a meeting

Young Greens

Venue: The Brunswick Inn, 1 Railway Terrace, Derby, DE1 2RU

Date:     Saturday 23rd January

Time:   1pm – 5pm

The meeting has been organized jointly by me, Matt Genn, Acting Derby Young Greens Co-ordinator and Marten Kats, Derby City Greens Co-ordinator.

We look forward to meeting you in order to decided how we should be organised and what we would like to campaign on in 2016.

Like out Facebook page – Derbyshire Young Greens Facebook group: Derbyshire Young Greens

Today we call for a fairer more proportional voting system

After an evening of shocks and surprises the Green Surge continues to roll on.

Fair Votes Now 1 million votes for a single Green MP. Join our call for ‪#‎FairVotesNow‬: http://bit.ly/1DVSyGc

  • Caroline Lucas has grown her vote share in Brighton Pavilion by 11%, winning 22,871 votes and retaining her seat.
  • Across the country, over a million people voted Green – more than four times as many people than at any other General Election.
  • We came second in four seats, including Bristol West, where Darren Hall received the biggest ever upswing in a General Election in England and Wales – taking the Green vote up 23% to 26.8%.
  • Greens also retained around 100 deposits and beat the Liberal Democrats in 126 seats. In 2010, they beat them in just one.

Natalie Bnatalie-bennettennett said: “The Green surge has only just begun. Retaining Caroline Lucas, our wonderful Green MP for Brighton Pavilion, and recording at least four second-place finishes puts the Greens firmly on track to make further electoral breakthroughs.”

The election results show that the political landscape has fractured and we now live in an era of multi-party politics where the politics of the future no longer has to look like the politics of the past.

The fact that we have achieved over one million votes yet not been rewarded with more MPs draws into sharp focus just how unfair and outdated our winner-takes-all voting system is.

Caroline Lucas said: “In 2010, Brighton Pavilion showed that a different kind of politics is possible. That you can stand firm by your principles and still be elected.

But there’s not a moment to lose. Amid the most savage, targeted austerity cuts in modern history, and with parties set on wringing ‘every last drop of oil’ from the North Sea, even as climate change accelerates – the urgency of a strong, clear Green voice in Parliament has never been greater.

We will hold Parliament to account and push for real reform – starting with proportional representation, for a politics that looks far more like the people it’s supposed to represent.

And we’ll fight for a fairer, greener future – and justice today.”

With over 1 million Green votes only resulting in a single Green MP please share our call for a fairer more proportional voting system

#‎FairVotesNow‬: http://bit.ly/1DVSyGc

Green Party Launch Election Campaign Video

• Greens on 25% and surging in Bristol West
• Caroline Lucas: ‘The only wasted vote is a vote for something you don’t believe in.’
• New video follows viral success of ‘Change the Tune’ election broadcast

The Green Party, the fastest-growing political party in England and Wales, has released ‘Vote for what you believe in’, its second campaign video.

The film underlines the tremendous achievements made by Caroline Lucas, the Greens’ first MP, and demonstrates how a Green grouping in Parliament can deliver real change for the common good in the next Parliament.

The film follows hot on the heels of ‘Change the Tune’, the Greens’ genre-busting boy band spoof video which went viral on the internet which is the most viewed party election broadcast of the 2015 General Election campaign.

Darrren Hall, PPC for Bristol West and the Green Party’s Home Affairs spokesperson, is on track to win in Bristol West where the Greens are polling at 25% and closing the gap on Labour. The Liberal Democrats currently hold the seat but have seen their vote slip by 28% since 2010.

In the video, Caroline Lucas says:
“The only wasted vote is a vote for something you don’t believe in.
“All of the evidence suggests that there won’t be any one single party with an overall majority, so the smaller parties are going to be more important than ever. And with just a handful of Green MPs we could make a real difference, standing up for issues that none of the other parties are. Whether that’s challenging spending a hundred billion pounds on replacing Trident nuclear weapons or bringing rail back into public ownership, or having real ambitious policies to tackle the climate crisis.”

Darren Hall adds:
“More and more I’ve heard people saying: no, I’m going to vote with my heart. Because unless you start that process, things will never change.
“We have to acknowledge the size of the climate change problem and start to tackle it today.”

The Green Party of England and Wales is polling at its highest ever levels ahead of a General Election. More people than ever before will be able to vote Green on May 7th 2015 – the Party is fielding candidates in almost 95% of constituencies.

Sue steals the Duffield hustings!

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Sue MacFarlane, nearest the camera, a Green Party candidate from Belper gave a very credible showing at Monday’s Mid Derbyshire Hustings at Ecclesbourne School in Duffield, hosted by The Duffield Christian Council.

In front of a very full and lively audience, Sue, who is the prospective parliamentary candidate for Mid Derbyshire, made a lot of new friends as she debated issues ranging from farming to the NHS, and housing to defence. Sue gave direct examples of how the Green Party manifesto addresses the issues people are concerned about, and spoke with passion and authority on what were clearly hot topics for the locals attending – and in some cases for the country as a whole.

The Green Party’s membership ranks continue to swell and earlier this month hit 60,000 nationally, a growth of over 300% in less than seven months, overtaking both the Lib Dem and UKIP memberships in the process.

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.

The Politics of the Future

Vote for What you Believe In

The Politics of the Future doesn’t have to look like the Politics of the Past

cropped-gplogostrapwhitegreenforweb.jpgQuick Quote from David Foster – Candidate for Derby South Constituency

David Foster“I am a socialist by nature. I support a strong welfare system: one that would protect infirm and vulnerable members of our society. I do not believe the austerity cuts were either necessary or even advisable. We should be aiming for a sustainable economy as well as a sustainable ecology. We need to move away from the continued cycle of ‘boom and bust’ and we need to recognise that the concept of ‘growth’ is finite: after all, we only have the resources of one planet.”

Green Party candidate contact details

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

John Devine – Amber Valley Constituency

Personal Candidate Statement for the General Election 2015

John DevineI am quite a new member to the Green Party but since joining I have been extremely active and I have become part of a strong and focused team here in Mid Derbyshire. I believe that the Green Party is the only Party which has the ethics, morals and policies to put this country back on its feet. To that end I will fight, heart and soul, for the Green Party and the ‘Common Good.’

My work experience has been varied. Six years in the armed forces taught me the value of team work and discipline. Later, as a registered nurse, working with special needs patients, I learned compassion and developed a strong sense of social justice and the need to speak out against injustice.

I have also worked as an Environmental Crime Enforcement Officer for the Environment Agency where I dealt with many different people and professions. Part of my role was to produce prosecution reports and give evidence at magistrate and crown courts. I also have experience of making presentations to councils and local community groups.

I am standing as Parliamentary Candidate for the Amber Valley Constituency in order to give people the chance to vote for a different way of doing things. I want the people of Amber Valley to know that the Green Party is here and that we are prepared to speak for them; that the Green Party offers hope and practical solutions where all other Parties offer division, fear and failure.

I believe that my life and work experience, together with the fact that my beliefs are firmly in line with Green Party philosophy, make me a credible candidate to stand for Amber Valley

Green Party candidate contact details

Come and find out why your local Green Party has grown over a thousand percent in a year!

GP public meet mar15LEIf want to know more about the Green Party, then why not come along to the public meeting of the Mid Derbyshire Greens (Monday, 16th March)?

Green Party membership in the Mid Derbyshire and Amber Valley areas has increased by more than 650% since the beginning of last year, with Belper membership seeing a massive 1000% increase (yes, that’s one thousand percent) thanks in part to the increased publicity surrounding the political party.

Come to this public meeting and meet your candidates for Belper North Ward (Sue MacFarlane) and for Amber Valley (John Devine),

Sue MacFarlane, Green Party candidate for Belper North in this year’s Amber Valley Borough Council election said “Lots of these people want to get really involved with what we are doing and are already attending meetings, so we thought we would take the opportunity to host an open meeting and invite voters along to find out what we are all about and what we stand for.”

Sue added “Our policies are coming under increased scrutiny and getting a lot of coverage in the media because of the imminent general election and the surge in interest in the party, so we want to give people the chance to chat to us and allow us to answer their questions.”.

The meeting is being held at The OAP Centre, 37 Barley Close, Litte Eaton, Derbyshire DE21 5DJ, next Monday, 16th March from 7.15pm – 9pm and is open to absolutely everyone.

For more details, please email contact@midderbyshire.greenparty.org.uk .

Tax Dodging, is costing us £70 Billion a year, we need action not words

Sue MacFarlane Parliamentary Candidate for Mid Derbyshire writes…

Sue MacFarlane cropI have received a number of messages in the last few days from electors expressing concern about the latest tax scandals involving HSBC. Like all my correspondents I find these revelations shocking and, as a Green Party Parliamentary candidate, I pledge to do everything I can to highlight that tax avoidance is wrong, cheating us all, and demand that the new Government in May takes effective action to put a stop to it.

In the wake of the HSBC, Swiss Leaks and Lux Leaks tax avoidance scandals, the Green Party has pledged to introduce a Tax Dodging Bill in the first 100 days after the election. The campaign for such a Bill is being widely supported by a network of NGOs, cooperatives, faith groups, MPs and Unions. During the election campaign, all Green Party candidates will attempt to get the other candidates to pledge to support such a measure, or explain to their electors why they don’t find tax avoidance wrong.

The Green Party has long championed firm action on tax avoidance as an alternative to austerity and fully backs the Bill which calls for new rules to make the UK tax regime more transparent and tougher on tax dodging. Green Party policy is to crack down heavily on tax havens and other methods of tax evasion and avoidance, and press for a transparent country-by-country reporting so that company profits can be located and taxed.

Green Party finance speaker, Molly Scott Cato MEP, who is a member of the European Parliament’s tax working group, said:
“In the wake of repeated tax avoidance scandals, it is now all the more vital that we put in place legislation to ensure corporations and wealthy individuals pay the taxes that treasuries need to invest in public services and infrastructure. Greens have been pushing hard in the European Parliament for a full inquiry into the Lux Leaks scandal but unfortunately, despite the rhetoric from both Tories and Labour on the issue, they have refused to back such an inquiry.”

Four years ago, in 2011 Green MP Caroline Lucas launched the Tax and Financial Transparency Bill in the House of Commons. She exposed the fact that HMRC was failing to prevent serious tax evasion, totaling £billion’s of lost tax each year. Despite two attempts at getting the Bill passed, it failed to gain enough Parliamentary support.

Green Party leader, Natalie Bennett, has said “Tax avoidance has cost this country tens of billions of pounds over the course of this Parliament, at a time when public services are being slashed. If the Government’s political priorities had been clamping down on tax avoidance, rather than dismantling our welfare state and public services, then we’d be in a far fairer, more humane, and more economically stable Britain. We need new laws to make the UK tax regime tougher on those who wish to avoid contributing to our society.”

This Coalition Government is telling us that Austerity is necessary because the country cannot afford a social welfare programme to help the most needy, or a health and education service that fairly serves all. If the Government took the necessary measures to collect the tax that is legally due to it, taxes that have been agreed by our democratically elected parliament, then I believe that there would be no case for the failed policies of Austerity.

Figures from the Tax Justice Network show that each year the Treasury looses £70 Billion to the tax dodgers. Figures from the last budget state that the cuts to Governmental departmental spending since 2010 have been £25 billion. The pain, suffering and damage to the economy caused by those cuts was unnecessary and caused by the Government’s failure to collect what is due to it.

First published on the Green Party East Midlands Blog on 18th February, 2015

Want to know what all the fuss is about The Green Party?

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If want to know more about the Green Party, then why not get yourself to  today’s  public meeting of the Mid Derbyshire Greens (Monday, 16th Feb)?

Green Party membership in the Mid Derbyshire and Amber Valley areas has increased by more than 650% since the beginning of last year, with Belper membership seeing a 1000% increase, thanks in part to the increased publicity surrounding the political party.

Sue MacFarlane, Green Party candidate for Belper North in this year’s Amber Valley Borough Council election said “Lots of these people want to get really involved with what we are doing and are already attending meetings, so we thought we would take the opportunity to host an open meeting and invite voters along to find out what we are all about and what we stand for.”

Our policies are coming under increased scrutiny and getting a lot of coverage in the media because of the imminent general election and the surge in interest in the party, so we want to give people the chance to chat to us and allow us to answer their questions.” Sue added.

The meeting is being held at The Old Oak pub in Horsley Woodhouse, Derbyshire DE7 6AW today, February 16th from 7.15pm – 9pm and is open to everyone not just members of the party.

A second public meeting is planned for March 16th at Little Eaton, which is just off the A38, south of Belper and Duffield.

For more details, please email sue@the-macfarlanes.co.uk .

Everyone Needs a Home

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

First posted on East Midlands GP blog 4 Feb 2015

Austerity is not working – well for most of us …

Sue MacFarlane, Green Party Candidate for Mid Derbyshire has this to say about Austerity.

Sue MacFarlane cropI’ve been watching what is happening in Greece with interest. The people there have had enough of the austerity measures imposed by Europe that clearly aren’t working. The left wing Syriza party’s recent victory was unthinkable when their share of the vote was 5.6% in the 2007 election. Think about that, from 5.6% of the vote in 2007, to 36% of the vote in 2015.

Yesterday in Spain, tens of thousands of people marched in Madrid – they too are looking for change. The ‘Podemos’ (meaning ‘We Can’) party is also ploughing ahead in the opinion polls, and is talking about writing off Spain’s debt if it comes to power. Their leader, Pablo Iglesias, has said that a ‘wind of change’ is starting blowing through Europe. I agree.

Who are the people that think austerity is working? The bankers? The politicians? The 1%? The media? Ask almost anybody you know if they think that austerity is working, and they will say that it isn’t. So why are we persevering with it? Could it be because the bankers, the politicians, the 1% and the media have something to gain from the widening gap between rich and poor?

Let’s take the bankers. Our government (well, it was actually our money) started to bail out the banks. Yes, that’s right, the government gave our money to the banks saying ‘We will never appreciate how close we came to a collapse of the banking system’ (Paul Myners, City minister 2008-10) You’d think, given how strapped for cash the banks were, they would have instigated austerity measures of their own, wouldn’t you? You know, stopped paying obscene bonuses and such. I don’t need to tell you how this all worked out…

The politicians? In 2010, when the current government was formed, 23 of the 29 members of the new cabinet were millionaires – and over half of them were multi-millionaires. Do you really think these people could possibly understand our lives? With the best will in the world, these people have no idea what it’s like for the poorer people in our society. They talk about ‘the poor’ like this is an unchanging demographic instead of a situation that should be temporary. They do this because, under their government, it has become harder and harder to escape the ‘poverty trap’.

The 1%? The people who own as much of the world’s wealth as the poorest 50%? Whilst the rest of us are suffering under the austerity cuts, the luxury goods market has doubled every year since the measures were put in place. Why wouldn’t they think austerity is working – it IS working for them! They are getting richer!

The media? Don’t even get me started on the media! The cosy relationship between the media and the government is well documented, so no need to go into it here. Suffice to say that Andy Coulson was working in Downing Street as the Conservative Party’s Director of Communications when he had to resign due to the phone hacking scandal. There are some people in the media who can report honestly on what is happening – Owen Jones is one of these – but there aren’t many.

A report published by Oxfam last year (http://policy-practice.oxfam.org.uk/publications/the-perfect-storm-economic-stagnation-the-rising-cost-of-living-public-spending-228591) showed that the austerity measures here in the UK are causing substantial hardship to people living in poverty. The gap between rich and poor is widening, and is obscene. Apart from that, as Greece is finding out, it is not good for anyone – and not something that people will stand for any longer.

Apart from anything else, this austerity and inequality is just not necessary for the recovery of our economy. The National Audit Office said that we spent £850 billion on the bank crises in 2009 – that equated to £26,562 per taxpayer in the UK. Imagine if the government had given this money to you and me, to every adult in the country, to spend into the economy. Imagine the boost this would have had to the economy – and the people of this country who provided the money in the first place. We are still bailing the banks out – and they are still paying bonuses.

Finally, I’ll finish by saying that I think that the widening gap between rich and poor is not an accident – it is a strategy of power. It is a tool being used to keep people ‘in their place’. It hasn’t worked in Greece, and I don’t think it’s going to work here in the UK for much longer. As Frederick Douglass once said ‘ Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organised conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe’.

(First published 8th Feb on the Green Party East Midlands Blog)

Please help drive our bit of the #GreenSurge!

You really can make this happen!!

We are just over halfway through our crowdfunder project, and we are almost half the way there.  This is great news, and we are so very grateful to all the people who have pledged so far.

We need to keep up the momentum.  If we don’t reach our target, none of the money will come to us – and our opportunity to give the people in these constituencies a chance to vote for a Green candidate will be lost.

Really important – Please do whatever you can to promote our crowdfunder to your family and friends and to share it, share it, share it  on every kind of social media – especially if you have made a pledge.

http://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/help-derbyshire-greens-in-2015/

Again, many thanks to everyone who is helping with this – you are part of the change you want to see in the world 🙂

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Belper Greens and local residents take town council to task!

The following press release was issued today:

Mid Derbyshire Green Party has helped overturn plans by the chairman of Belper Town Council’s finance working party to spend two thirds of their £350,000 reserves by not charging any council tax precept for Belper this year.

At a meeting of the council on Tuesday evening (20th Jan), strong concerns were voiced by councillors that the decision to recommend refunding £243,125 to the townspeople via their tax bills was made at a working party meeting – attended only by Cllr Alan Cox and his wife Cllr Jackie Cox – on December 18 last year.  Four other members of the working party couldn’t get to the meeting and sent apologies, but Mr and Mrs Cox decided to proceed with the meeting even though it was inquorate.

Members of the public, many of them from the Green Party, attended the full meeting of the council at St John’s Chapel in Belper to protest at the proposal.  Without exception, public speakers said that the money in reserve should be spent on projects to benefit the town.

Comments made by residents who had signed a 174-name petition against the proposal were read out before it was officially handed over by their spokesman.  The improved provision of public toilets was high on the wish list of the residents many of whom said they felt the council was out of touch with public feeling.

Four people, two of them Green Party candidates standing in Belper at the elections in May, spoke out against Cllr Cox’s recommendation before the final decision was made.  The majority of the councillors, including the Mayor and his son Dan Booth, the deputy Mayor, backed the public opinion and when it came to the vote, only Mr and Mrs Cox voted in favour of the recommendation.

So now the normal precept is going to be charged for the year 2015/16 and a decision on how to spend the money will be made at a future meeting.

The vast reserve of money accumulated over a number of years was last discussed in public last January (2014) when it was agreed that it needed to be spent by March 2015. At the time Cllr Alan Broughton suggested that the townspeople be asked for ideas on how to spend it.

Various grants have been made to charities and groups in the town during the year as usual but none of that has come from the reserves and no obvious attempt to gauge public opinion has been made.

Sue MacFarlane, the Green Party’s candidate for Belper North in the upcoming Amber Valley Borough Council elections, wanted to know why Cllr Broughton’s suggestion to ask the townspeople what they wanted to spend it on 12 months ago had not been followed up.

“Whilst I can understand how a cut in the Precept in an election year may appear to be the right thing to do if you are hoping to get re-elected to this council, I don’t think it is appropriate to use this money as a pre-election rate cut. A cynical person could surmise that the council did not want anyone to come up with any ideas,” she said.

Both Sue MacFarlane and John Devine, the Green Party candidate for the Belper North Ward for Belper Town Council, offered to help in any way possible to generate public discussion on the matter.  “Maybe we could have an open debate at an event in the Strutt Centre so we could decide how the money could best be spent for the long term benefit of the people of Belper,” said John, offering Green Party local members to help this to happen.

Another member of the public, Maurice Neville, who has worked as a senior local government officer, said “I was very surprised to find that there was no information at all about the reserves on the council’s website,” adding that other councils did provide such details and he was able to find them at the click of a mouse.  Mr Neville pointed out documentation was vital if people were going to be able to assess the wisdom of the proposal.

If you would like to discuss this further, please contact Sue MacFarlane on 01773423758 or 07774004240, or email her (see contacts page).

Constitutional Reform – Urgent request

PrintEast Midlands’ Members have signed John Andrews’ motion C21 on Constitutional Reform.  Here is the link to the motion https://my.greenparty.org.uk/resource/agenda-section-c-spring-conference-2015/#C21

The motion proposes that the GPEW drafts its preferred text for a Constitution based on our values and policies, possibly with a view to a Peoples Constitutional Convention.  Other Parties are also supporting a Convention, spurred on (for a while?) by the backwash from the Scotland vote.

We were disappointed that the motion was not put at the Autumn Conference because it ran out of time. Because of our rules, our motion goes back towards the back of the queue.

Our Motion’s chances at Spring Conference can be improved or indeed guaranteed if we win or come high up the Prioritisation Ballot
Here is the link to the ballot. http://www.surveygizmo.com/s3/1938402/b86cec820060

THE DEADLINE to complete the ballot is 24TH JANUARY Please vote now

Please also read the motion and comment online on the members’ site when the ‘amending motions’ link is available.

Coincidentally, Derbyshire County Council is consulting on a ‘Combined Authority’ – a partial merger of economic functions between DCC and the Derbyshire districts and the city. Do have a look. A draft response might follow. It closes on 23rd January http://www.derbyshire.gov.uk

The relevant PSS for both issues is here http://policy.greenparty.org.uk/assets/images/policy/pdfs/Public.pdf

There is also an updating motion on Regional Government
John Youatt john@youatt.co.uk

Green Party attend Compassionate Derby

Compassionate Derby adGreen Party members set up a stall at this popular Ethical Living event held in the centre of Derby on Saturday 6 December.

 

Compassionate Derby is in its fourth year and attracts a wide range of stalls where you can buy a range of lifestyle products, vegan cookbooks, Christmas decorations and support a huge variety of charity and campaign stalls run by people concerned with animal welfare and the environment. There was also no shortage of delicious cruelty-free lunch options.

As might have been expected at such an event, we had lots of interesting conversations with people with whom we have interests in common. There were many people from Derbyshire and surrounding counties who were already supporters or members of the Green Party. Some had voted Green but many more would vote Green if there was a candidate standing in their ward or constituency.

Compassionate Derby 004 CropI spoke to two young people, one a member and one considering becoming a member, who will be too young to vote in the 2015 elections. They think the voting age should be lowered to sixteen.

Sue MacFarlane (Mid Derbyshire Green Party candidate for Amber Valley Borough Council, Belper North Ward) and fellow Green Party member, Jackie Blackett, were taking part in a musical contribution in the upper hall but called in to chat at the stall.Compassionate Derby 012 crop

I was surprised to discover that one or two people who were very concerned about animal welfare and the environment, had not heard of the Green Party. This made me think how important it is to attend community events, given that the Green Party cannot rely on the main media to give us publicity.

Compassionate Derby 009 CropMy husband and I were on the stall during the morning and then I was joined by Chris Smith, who is assisting John Youatt in convening the Derbyshire Dales regional group for the afternoon. Compassionate Derby 011 crop

Many people wanted to know whether the Green Party would be standing candidates in Derby. We explained that we were standing candidates in Derbyshire but at present we had no candidates in Derby itself. I did ask some of them whether they would be willing to stand as a candidate in the local elections. One person said she was considering it and I encouraged her to get in touch.

Compassionate Derby 008Someone also brought up the old chestnut of our name “Green Party” which they said should change. When asked what he would call us, he suggested the Sustainable Party.

There was also a question of how the Green Party would operate when it had more MPs. Would they be able to express their views on a particular matter if they did not hold the “official” view? Would there be a party whip? I said that there would be a steep learning experience to go through as the Green Party moved from being mainly activists on the outside of Parliament to being active on the inside.

It was a very well attended event and a really encouraging place to have a Green Party stall.

Jean Macdonald
Green Party activist