Category Archives: East Midlands

The Greek crisis is about Democracy not Debt

euro-373008_640It is interesting that Greece, the cradle of democracy is now having to defend that very concept in the face of an onslaught from the corporate masters of the global economy. With the Greek referendum vote, the issue in Greece has escalated from an economic crisis, to a crisis of democracy.

As Caroline Lucas has said:

“The Greek people have made a decision which must now be respected. This referendum has seen EU states do their very best to undermine the democratic will of the Greek people but it’s time to draw a line under the past and move onwards”.

We cannot argue that former Greek governments, both of the right and left, badly managed the Greek economy. The EU and international finance were complicit in making this bad situation worse by failing to ensure that further loans to Greece were used for investment and did not end up lining the pockets of the wealthy. But the neo-liberal ‘free-market’ policies that dominate world finance want and need debt and Greece was encouraged to increase its debt rather than address tax avoidance and increase Government revenue.

By crippling Greece with debt, international financiers have been able to force her Government to sell assets to the private sector. They have also ensured that the bulk of Greek revenue goes to debt repayment, that is, to the private sector financiers, rather than to the welfare of the Greek people. Debt has become a commodity; it is traded and used by the private sector to increase personal wealth. Neo-liberal economics needs debt to create money and wealth. By loading governments with debt the financial institutions can divert tax payers’ money away from social provision and state investment in to their own coffers as interest repayments. For these institutions, cfreating debt is good business and leads to hugh personal bonuses.

The Greek crisis is not really about debt but about repayments. Debt is now a corporate asset, if a borrower defaults, then the asset becomes valueless. This was the root of the 2008 financial crisis. If Greece defaults it is the big financial institutions that will be hit, and they are using austerity to protect their interests.  They are demanding that money that should go to support the welfare of citizens goes instead to themselves. So the people of Greece must suffer in order to protect the assets of the wealthiest institutions and people in the world.

The interests of money and international finance are being put ahead of the needs of people – this is a democratic crisis. What are Governments for, to serve the people or international finance?

Molly Scott Cato, Green MEP for the South West, said:
molly scott Cato2“This referendum has provided an opportunity for all EU states to reflect on the balance of power between finance markets and democratic governments”.

This isn’t just a Greek crisis, it affects us all. The Conservative Government is determined to continue with its austerity measures in order to pursue its privatisation agenda and to reward its supporters with tax breaks. Austerity is not about sound economics, it is an ideology driven by the neo-liberal free-market. It is being driven by the corporate sector that has effectively hijacked governments. The rich and the powerful are once again driving the political agenda in their own interest and are ignoring the needs and wishes of people. They are challenging the very concept of Democracy.

The Greek people have raised their voices and have demanded that their government listen to them and address their needs, as they should in a Democracy. There are solutions to the Greek debt crisis and part of that solution is to recognise that some of the debt is un-payable.

Caroline Lucas has pointed out that there is a historic precedent for this:
caroline-close“History shows us that countries can escape crippling debt in a just way. In 1953, at the London Conference, Greece was among the European nations signing a deal which allowed for the cancellation of German debt, to enable the country to grow again after the destruction of the Second World War. Europe needs to come together to offer the Greeks a deal which allows their country to be rebuilt.”

But the difference then was that the debt wasn’t a corporate asset; Governments weren’t controlled by big business. It is essential now for the Governments of Europe and America to address the debt crisis and to be seen to be standing for the interest of the people and not spinelessly bowing to the pressures of the global corporations. This is the demand from Molly and the European Greens:
molly scott Cato2“We now urgently need to see a conference to address the issue of Greece’s debt with restructuring and debt relief a clear outcome. There also needs to be clear support for rebuilding the economy, especially by investing in sustainable sectors of the economy”.

Further, we now need to see Governments acting as part of democracies, in deed and not just in word; to listen to the calls coming from their people for economic justice and for the gross inequalities in society to be leveled off. If they fail to do this, the global corporate sector will be triumphant and democracy will be effectively dead.

Mike Shipley

First posted on East Midlands GP Blog on 7 July 2015

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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

A Big Thank You!

Kat Boettge writes:

Kat BoettgeThe regional party and I would like to sincerely thank you for your support. These elections and the previous year has created a political momentum that I have not experienced in this country. I have found this exciting and I am hopeful that we can achieve further success in the next five years, enabling us to influence policy locally and nationally.

However, unfortunately due to the unfair voting system, we have not gained any more MPs after Caroline Lucas, who has kept her seat. I am also very concerned about having a Conservative majority government, and many councils which are dominated by either the Conservatives or Labour with little serious oppositions. Sadly the main parties have been compromised by their corporate agenda; only the Green Party recognises and prioritises the need to fight climate change, to reform the banking sector, to challenge corporate power, to address social inequality, to improve animal welfare, stop cuts and austerity, and to invest in renewables.

However, after reflections, I think we have done very well – such a strong trend is almost impossible to ignore. In the UK 1,1 million people have voted Green, and this is a clear message that there are many who trust and support or aims. Our membership is continuing to increase rapidly. We have several new local parties and many highly motivated activists. And of course we have never had so many candidates, who also were prepared to actively campaign.

Here in the East Midlands we have had some very encouraging results too. Congratulation to Sue and Richard Mallender who held their borough seats in Lady Bay Rushcliffe. I have not seen most of the results, as we are still collecting them. However, I am aware of some, for example, Antonia Zenkevitch has done very well in Nottingham East with almost 10%. We held our deposits in several constituencies. In the local elections we have generally increased our votes (again I have as yet limited results).

I believe we significantly raised our Green Party profile. Voters and members believe in us, they believe in the positive solutions we offer. We must continue to get our message out there. Green activists and candidates have shown that even after disappointments, we just carry on. We reflect and learn regarding election strategies, but continue to fight for our uncompromising values. Because we all believe in our solutions – these are positive and achievable. So thank you again for your support, and we are looking forward to continue to fight for a better future for the common good.

Many thanks
Kat and the regional committee
Kat Boettge
Regional Coordinator

First published on East Midlands Green Party Blog 16 May, 2015

Vote Green Today

The polling stations are open and it’s time to go out and vote Green.

Vote for What you Believe In

Your Derbyshire Candidates:

Green Party candidate contact details

This is such an important moment for our country and we have a unique opportunity to vote for desperately needed political change. It is time to elect brave, independent Green voices to Parliament.

Green MPs will never prop up a Tory led coalition. And the polling evidence says that Labour isn’t going to win enough seats to form a government on their own, so the role of smaller parties will be more important than ever.

Every green vote sends a message that enough is enough.

It’s a vote for hope, a vote for action on climate change, for the NHS, for an end to austerity. A vote that says, we can change things for the better.

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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.

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

For all you lovely contributors to the Derbyshire Crowdfunder…

 

Thank you for giving us a chance to change British politics!

And here you all are 🙂

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See y0u at the polling station!

 

 

How Secure is Britain’s Food Supply?

Written by Victoria Martindale, Parliamentary Candidate for Erewash

Victoria MartindaleAs part of British Science Week (13th to 22nd March 2015) I joined a panel of experts and politicians to discuss food security in Britain at Derby Museum and Art Gallery.

The UK faces a number of challenges to its food security, including long food supply chains, ‘food deserts’ in inner cities, wealth distribution imbalance, climate change and competition from abroad. These pose a real threat to the UK consumer; it is possible that food will become more expensive, choice limited or foods unavailable. Only this week we were warned that the cost of a new “Driver Certificate of Professional Competence” for transport haulers across the EU raises the prospect of ’empty shelves’.

In the 1980s the UK used to be about 80% self-sufficient in foods that can be grown here. This has now dropped to around 65%. The National Farmers Union (NFU) has recently raised concerns that this may be too low. As a nation, we increasingly rely on international markets to provide us with the huge range and affordability of food which we have grown accustomed to.

Questions put to the panel included:

• Is the UK in a vulnerable situation regarding its future food security?
• Following the horsemeat scandal in 2013 should consumers be concerned about the quality and security of their food?
• Are organic foods healthier and better for the environment? Is it fair to expect UK consumers to pay the price premium for these products?
• Are low food prices responsible for the incredible levels of food waste in households in the UK?
• What can be done concerning the incredibly low prices paid by supermarkets to UK dairy farmers forcing them out of business?
• Food banks are rising across the UK. Much of the burden has fallen on charities but is this really the Governments responsibility?

Panel – The chair was Professor Paul Lynch, Head of Natural Sciences at the University of Derby.

The speakers were:
Wyn Morgan, Food economist at the University of Nottingham;
Paul Paine, Garden Co-ordinator at Ecoworks;
Julia Davies, Head of Environmental Sciences at Nottingham Trent University;
Lucy Care, Liberal Democrat candidate for Derby North and
Victoria Martindale,  Derby Green Party Representative.

There was an informative and lively discussion on the night.  For space reasons, let me limit this blog to a few key messages.

I am sure many of you can remember the shocking headline news last autumn. Britain, we were informed, could be plunged into blackouts over the winter. We were warned of the risk of power cuts and electricity failures wrecking havoc over the winter for many households and businesses across the UK. But did we have any of these black outs? No we didn’t. Who was responsible for putting these stories out there? The big energy companies. Why? In response to new EU legislation that restricted their dependency on fossil fuels these massive profit churning companies wanted to legitimize their ongoing use of polluting fossil fuels and justify getting their dirty hands onto our shale gas and fracking up our country. They did so by spreading fear across the country.

This tendency to generate a state of fear, insecurity and panic among the British public and government is a ploy corporations often turn to in an attempt to justify their means to realise vast profits for themselves. It’s nothing more than scaremongering and their agenda is driven by nothing other than corporate greed.

IF_logo_banner_2_420x210The food security issue is similar to the energy security one. We are frequently warned that with a predicted extra 2 billion mouths to feed by 2050 we could be facing food shortages. We were scared with threats of ‘empty food shelves’ this time. Really? Will we all be struggling to find enough food to feed ourselves and will our children’s children be at risk of starving to death? Shock! Horror! However, just like in the energy debate, you need to stop a moment and look at who lays behind these sensationalist stories. In this case it was the NFU scaring us with empty food shelves.

The NFU is effectively the political arm of DEFRA. With its huge wealth comes huge power and influence over the UK’s agricultural policies. Its agenda is to maximise production, yields and exports in order to maximize the revenue and profits for its members, many of whom are already among the wealthiest of this country. It wants to drive an industrialised food production process which is heavily chemical dependent, savages the environment, and spits out poor quality mass produced food that is bad for our health and forces smaller scale farmers out of business.

CowsIt’s time we faced up to the powerful monolithic institutions like the NFU and put the food security issue into perspective. If we display one iota of honesty we are not in a food crisis and we are not by any means about to be confronted with a single empty food shelf. However, that’s very different from saying we don’t need to address how we feed everyone and look closely at our production and distribution processes. We do and we also need to face up to our responsibilities to those in developing countries who don’t have food security even in today’s modern world.

The other likely scaremongering suspects are the global high tech enterprises like Bayer Cropscience, Monsanto and Syngenta. They use food scares to legitimize their development of GM crops under the Panglossian guise it is the answer to all the world’s problems and is the only means to achieve food security for everyone. Yeh right.

The continued industry promises about the ability of GM crops to tackle the world’s growing social problems are pure myth. GM crops are linked to massive increases in herbicide use, increase in greenhouse gas emissions, the expansion of mono-cultural farming practices and increased costs all along the food chain which the already starving and poor of the world can’t afford. They require huge areas of forests and valuable natural habitats to be cleared.

This is ecologically devastating and overrides people’s rights to their native ancestral land, food, natural resources and traditions. GM crops are patented too with over two thirds of all patented food crops in the hands of the top ten companies such as Monsanto, Bayer, Syngenta, Pioneer and Dow. This means they monopolise the market and it allows them to control the research, breeding and ultimately the entire food chain of GM crops which returns them profits of eye watering proportions.

Attempts to produce GM crops that are resistant to climate change, floods, drought tolerant, altered photosynthesis, and exacerbate intensive farming are all attempts by corporates to earn billions at huge cost to the environment, society and local communities, and our health rather than addressing the real challenges of sustainable food production like combating climate change in the first place.

Over_Farm_produce_-_geograph.org.uk_-_1611242Research shows that we can feed a growing global population a nutritious diet without environmentally damaging factory farms and GM crops. This requires addressing the underlying difficult, but very important issues that currently affect food security and making fundamental changes to the way food is produced, distributed and consumed. The aim should be to provide healthy sustainable diets for all whilst living within environmental limits.

The Green Party believes that GM foods are not the answer to food security. Instead, it promotes a set of sustainable policies based upon local production and distribution, lower meat and dairy consumption, more seasonal produce and which protect livelihoods and biodiversity to provide everyone with healthy nutritious foods.

So, when asking about Britain’s food security, be careful who you ask.

Victoria Martindale
Green Shoots Editor

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 .

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 .

Homes for People not Profit

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Policies that work for the Common Good.

Mike Shipley and Peter Allen

GreenSpirit – Wednesday 4th February in Nottingham

GS-EM-Badge-Logo-v1GreenSpirit is a national network of people who believe that human life has important ecological and spiritual dimensions.

The network promotes the view that all Life on Earth is sacred and profoundly connected, and it seeks to bring together people who have an interest in contemporary spirituality, ecology and social justice.

Derbyshire Green Party has had an email from Shaun who is currently setting-up a new GreenSpirit group for Nottingham and the East Midlands. This new, local GS group will hold an interesting and stimulating mix of events (including talks, presentations, workshops, social events and celebrations) that draw together people of different faiths, plus those of no fixed faith who are spiritual on a personal level. The common ground among those attending will be an interest in personal spirituality, a passion for the Earth and all its life forms, and a radical commitment to social justice.

The first meeting of the new GreenSpirit local group is scheduled for Wednesday 4th February and will be held in central Nottingham. The evening will include a group guided meditation, a presentation of the powerful short film ‘The Awakening Universe’ by Neal Rogin of the Pachamama Alliance (the film explores the deep interconnection that exists between all life on Earth, using beautiful cinema-photography and a wonderful, original musical score), plus an ecumenical act of fellowship to mark and celebrate Candlemas, St Brigid’s Day and Imbolc. Full details about this meeting are given on the group’s webpage, which can be found on the national GS websitehttp://greenspirit.org.uk/localgroups/nottingham/

In addition, there will be three informal pre-meetups before 4th February for those who’d like the chance to meet some other members of the new group casually over coffee in advance of the first formal meeting. Again, the details can be found on the GreenSpirit webpage. Alternatively, take a look at GS on MeetUp.com which gives full information about all their forthcoming events http://www.meetup.com/GreenSpirit-Notts-Derby-Leicester-Spirituality-Action/

GS-EM-Badge-Logo-v1More information about the GreenSpirit network and its activities can be found on the national website http://www.greenspirit.org.uk/ or you can contact Shaun on 0776 957 4063

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!

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!

SONY DSC

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.

SONY DSC

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…