Category Archives: Belper & Mid-Derbyshire

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)

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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

Derbyshire Greens Crowdfunder Launch

Want to make sure there are Green Party candidates to vote for in Derbyshire at this year’s general election?

Click on the picture and get involved!

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Help get the word out – Share, Share, Share!

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

Mid Derbyshire’s Green Christmas event a big success!

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On Saturday, 29th November, Mid Derbyshire Green Party hosted their first ‘Green Christmas’.  The event was visited by over 200 hundred people, with lots of interest in learning more about the Greens.

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There were craft stalls selling sustainably sourced products, and a raffle including such varied prizes as a reflexology session, original artwork, and handmade crafts.  Reminisence Vintage provided tea, cake and mulled wine, and live music was provided by local Green Party candidates, members and supporters.  It was a fabulous day, and a great start to the Festive Season!

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More photos here: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10152858877664522.1073741826.201453709521&type=1

Mid Derbyshire's Green Christmas event a big success!

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On Saturday, 29th November, Mid Derbyshire Green Party hosted their first ‘Green Christmas’.  The event was visited by over 200 hundred people, with lots of interest in learning more about the Greens.

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There were craft stalls selling sustainably sourced products, and a raffle including such varied prizes as a reflexology session, original artwork, and handmade crafts.  Reminisence Vintage provided tea, cake and mulled wine, and live music was provided by local Green Party candidates, members and supporters.  It was a fabulous day, and a great start to the Festive Season!

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More photos here: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10152858877664522.1073741826.201453709521&type=1

Belper’s Green Christmas set to be a hit!

Following a very successful meeting at No. 28 in Belper, where the leader of the Green Party of England and Wales spoke to a packed house, we return this Saturday (29th November) for our ‘Green Christmas’.

Come and Celebrate a 'Green' Christmas'

Come and Celebrate a ‘Green’ Christmas’

The Mid-Derbyshire Greens would like to invite everyone to an afternoon of music, crafts and refreshments from local residents. Come and do a bit of local Christmas shopping, and enjoy some music from your candidates, Green Party members, and other local musicians. There will  be an opportunity to chat to us on the Green Party info stall and to ask any questions that you may have.

There may even be a visit from a very special ‘Green’ man…

Belper's Green Christmas set to be a hit!

Following a very successful meeting at No. 28 in Belper, where the leader of the Green Party of England and Wales spoke to a packed house, we return this Saturday (29th November) for our ‘Green Christmas’.

Come and Celebrate a 'Green' Christmas'

Come and Celebrate a ‘Green’ Christmas’

The Mid-Derbyshire Greens would like to invite everyone to an afternoon of music, crafts and refreshments from local residents. Come and do a bit of local Christmas shopping, and enjoy some music from your candidates, Green Party members, and other local musicians. There will  be an opportunity to chat to us on the Green Party info stall and to ask any questions that you may have.

There may even be a visit from a very special ‘Green’ man…

Politics is something for everyone to be involved in – it is something you can do, not something that gets done to you’!

During a visit to Belper on Monday, November 17th, Natalie Bennett, Leader of the Green Party of England and Wales, visited Belper School to talk to Sixth Form students.  Ms Bennett began by outlining some of the Green Party policies that she thought would be of particular interest to the students, including their policy on student fees (which would be free) and student loans (which would be ‘written off’)

Natalie Bennett Belper School pr

As the meeting moved into a ‘Questions & Answers’ session, it was clear that the students were interested in all Green Party policies, and wanted to really get to know where the Green Party stood on a range of issues.  As Natalie said ‘You young people are the voters and leaders of the future, I want to know what you think and how you feel about the world we are living in.

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The students were so enthusiastic that the meeting ran over time, with students staying after their school day ended to talk to Ms Bennett.  Matthew Genn of the ‘Young Greens’ was also at the meeting, and talked afterwards to students who were interested in finding our more about the Green Party and how young people can get involved.  Membership of the ‘Young Greens’ has increased by over 100% in 2014, indicating that young people are feeling that the time is right to re-engage with politics.

 

Politics is something for everyone to be involved in – it is something you can do, not something that gets done to you'!

During a visit to Belper on Monday, November 17th, Natalie Bennett, Leader of the Green Party of England and Wales, visited Belper School to talk to Sixth Form students.  Ms Bennett began by outlining some of the Green Party policies that she thought would be of particular interest to the students, including their policy on student fees (which would be free) and student loans (which would be ‘written off’)

Natalie Bennett Belper School pr

As the meeting moved into a ‘Questions & Answers’ session, it was clear that the students were interested in all Green Party policies, and wanted to really get to know where the Green Party stood on a range of issues.  As Natalie said ‘You young people are the voters and leaders of the future, I want to know what you think and how you feel about the world we are living in.

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The students were so enthusiastic that the meeting ran over time, with students staying after their school day ended to talk to Ms Bennett.  Matthew Genn of the ‘Young Greens’ was also at the meeting, and talked afterwards to students who were interested in finding our more about the Green Party and how young people can get involved.  Membership of the ‘Young Greens’ has increased by over 100% in 2014, indicating that young people are feeling that the time is right to re-engage with politics.

 

Brilliant showing at Belper’s No. 28 for Natalie’s public meeting

It’s a full house for the public meeting tonight at No.28!  Natalie is up and changing the world right now!

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Brilliant showing at Belper's No. 28 for Natalie's public meeting

It’s a full house for the public meeting tonight at No.28!  Natalie is up and changing the world right now!

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A successful Radio Derby interview for Natalie

Part of Natalie’s whistlestop tour today has included a quick interview on BBC Radio Derby.  She did well 🙂

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Belper School students (and teachers) still asking questions!

The Q&A session is running over as students and even teachers continue to ask questions.  Currently Natalie is asking one about the Green Party stance on Europe.

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Belper School students asking excellent questions of Natalie Bennett

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Students at Belper School not backward in coming forward as they ask questions about education, taxation and other topics.  Great to see Natalie in her element!

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Natalie enjoys the best of Belper and meets the candidates

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Natalie Bennett has arrived in Belper and as I write is enjoying a lunch meeting with the candidates and team at a popular Belper deli and eatery – Fresh Basil.

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Off to Belper School shortly!

Mid Derbyshire Greens attend East Midlands Conference

Belper Greens candidate John Devine was interviewed by BBC TV at the EMGP conference in Nottingham yesterday.

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Several members of the Mid Derbyshire Greens attended the conference which had over three times as many people as expected turn up!  This really reflects the overall surge in local Green Party membership  as well as nationally – which has grown to more than 25,000, with the number of young greens more than doubling!  This has a lot to do with young voters increasingly wanting to  make their voices heard on the subjects of austerity, education and the Citizens Income.

EMGP_2014Conference_Web

 

Natalie Bennett, the leader of the Green Party will be visiting Belper tomorrow (Monday 17th Nov) to meet with students studying Government and Politics at Belper School & Sixth Form Centre and to later host a public meeting and Q&A session at No. 28 in the Belper Market Place (7 pm until 8:30 pm – All welcome).

Please contact John Devine (07932 576159) or Sue MacFarlane (07774 004240) for more details.  Both candidates will be present at tomorrow’s public meeting.

October newsletter shows Belper Greens mean business!

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The ‎Mid Derbyshire ‪Green Party clearly mean business!  Their October newsletter has been delivered to every house in the town’s North Ward!! Bring on the elections!

So what makes The Greens different?

  • Every citizen will receive the ‘Citizen’s Income’ – no matter what!
  • The NHS will be protected;
  • The railways will be returned to public hands;
  • Student tuition fees will be abolished and so will student loans;
  • Most importantly, we will do what is needed to ensure our kids have a planet to inherit!

Join us and make a difference!!  We meet every 1st and 3rd Monday of the month at The Bulls Head, Belper Lane End, DE56 2DL