Sustainable housing in the High Peak

persimmon1The High Peak Local Plan, adopted in April this year, commits the borough council to pursue sustainable housing policies that provide for new building of affordable housing, while respecting the landscape and the natural habitats of this beautiful region. But, faced with a shrinking budgets and weak planning legislation, does our borough council have the means to stop unsustainable plans from going forward?

There`s really no argument against the perception that more housing is required within the UK, but there are plenty of arguments against the method of planning that the current government has imposed on councils and the people they should represent. The National Policy Planning Framework (NPPF) is not overtly a bad process. It allows for adoption of a local plan and for people to organise to submit neighbourhood plans. But despite the fact that plans have been approved and accepted by government inspectors, the council are often left without any real power to uphold the plans when planning applications that have been refused go to appeal.

Large building and speculative interests have fortunes at their disposal and so can wreck the democratic process by employing expensive legal representatives against which most councils cannot respond. Why? Because the current Tory government has more or less bankrupt most authorities and how can you justify expensive legal costs when you have schools and adult care to consider? No contest really and so our sympathy must be with councils who do try to protect their environment against unsustainable and inappropriate developments.

Aside from the appeals issue, the NPPF, just doesn’t work very well to deliver the housing we do need. The problem is, there’s no obligation on developers to actually build the houses once the permission is obtained. Foot-dragging keeps the supply of houses well below demand, raising the price developers can obtain per unit built.

It’s a recognised problem that delivery of built houses is well short of what is planned for and we can now look forward to the latest government response to this – the Housing Delivery Test – yet another example of attempting to solve the wrong problem. The Housing Delivery Test will force councils who do not meet house building targets to release more land for development – which of course is more likely to be on greenfield sites than the original land allocated for building. So, instead of being penalised, foot-dragging developers are rewarded by being given access to land not previously available for building! Does anyone really believe that this is not deliberate?

Take a look at this blog post on the issue by the Campaign to Protect Rural England.

So what can we do? Easy answer in my view:

  • Join the Green Party, the Campaign to Protect Rural England and the Friends of the Peak.
  • Get the facts about so-called sustainable development
  • Start writing to your MP and the Communities Secretary, Greg Clark. Write in your own words and spread the word – it is the only weapon we have against what is essentially the destruction of the democratic process.

Currently in my part of the world, Burbage, Buxton there are two contentious planning applications (HPK/2015/0573 & HPK/2016/0234) and another in the pipeline. None of these fit the criteria for ‘sustainable development’ and all three are on greenfield sites which in all cases form part of the boundary that should exist between development and the National Park.

persimmon

Meanwhile large areas at Harpur Hill and opposite Staden Lane plus ‘brownfield’ sites in Buxton remain empty and up for sale despite planning permission having been granted. It is not too late to let the ‘powers that be’ know what you feel about this situation and if you would like to object to applications as noted above the application references are as above. You can submit comments and objects to planning applications on the High Peak Borough Council website.

Paul Waring

greenholm

Moorland Management – 27th January

Meeting on moorland management

Wednesday 27th January 2016
7:30pm Royal Hotel, Market Street, Hayfield

UPLAND HEATHLAND Upland heathland_ipcress7

Robert O’Connor, a local Green Party member and ecologist/conservationist, will lead a discussion on the subject of moorland management in the UK.

The blanket bogs and upland heaths of the UK account for something like 1.35 million hectares (lowland peat covered about 65,000 hectares in mainland Britain in 1990, now likely to be much less due to commercial extraction).  Changes in land use over human history include; strategic use of uplands for defence and transportation, animal stock grazing and low level agriculture, industrial use including quarrying, hunting and other forms of recreation, and more recently the use of uplands as freshwater catchment areas.

Other issues under consideration for discussion include:

  • Land ownership  
    Who owns what?
  • Hunting
    Killing of ‘non-preferred’ species on estates managed for game hunting, and how much money is involved in game hunting.
  • Effects on biodiversity
    Estates managed for hunting tend to have low species diversity – for example moorlands managed for red grouse are mostly dominated by heather, which is the preferred food plant of red grouse.
  • Effects on CO² storage
    Blanket bogs store significant amounts of CO² in the peat layer, accumulated over thousands of years.
  • Effects on flood attenuation
    Requires a holistic and landscape approach in implementation of ‘future-proofed’ flood alleviation schemes.
  • What is being done now to address habitat degradation?
    A quick look at some exemplar conservation projects undertaken by various NGOs, such as the RSPB.
  • Appropriate use of public funds in subsidies
    Looking at various payment schemes to landowners past and present.

For more information:

 

 

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

A new Age of the Train?

new_mills
30 year old Class 142 train at New Mills Central station

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

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

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

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

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

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

northern_powerhouse
Northern Powerhouse – rhetoric and reality on separate tracks?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Paul Tattam

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

Charlotte Farrell – On the Front Line against Fracking

Charlotte&Peter Barton Moss Jan14The Green Party believes beyond question that climate change is happening right now and if we do not begin to dramatically reduce CO2 emissions very soon, global warming will accelerate beyond any hope of our control.

Green Party members Charlotte Farrell and Peter Alan were on the front line against Fracking at Barton Moss.

Charlotte is standing as Parliamentary Candidate in High Peak and also as Green Party candidate in Hope Valley Ward in the Local Elections.

Quick Quote from Charlotte:  “…17 leading scientists and economists have issued a warning – the ‪#‎EarthStatement‬ about climate change.  Again!?!  Yes, unfortunately, warnings seem to be falling on deaf ears – our current government have increased incentives for oil and gas exploration – including fracking – and decreased incentives for renewables.  It’s time to act.

The earth statement sets out eight essential actions – and they’re ALL Green Party policy.

It’s getting more and more urgent to get our voices heard. ‪#‎VoteGreen‬ – before it’s too late.”

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.

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.

Imagine a Fair Economy

Imagine a Fair Economy

Vote for What you Believe In
One that Works for All

Quick Quotes:     

Charlotte Farrell – Candidate for High Peak Constituency?????????????????????????????
“I believe that there needs to be a fundamental change to our present economic and political system to combat the inevitable global destruction which we otherwise seem to be heading towards. I believe in providing a fairer and more equal society which is not at the expense of the environment. “

Ian Wood – Candidate for Derbyshire Dales ConstituencyIan Wood
“I believe there is in the end no alternative to a steady state economy as the basis of a sustainable economic system. It follows that I support Green policies for energy generation, planning and transport, and those which promote income equality, the integration of nations and peoples, and, ultimately, peace; all things that are consistent with the abandonment of growth as the central objective of economic policy.”

Marianne Bamkin – Candidate for South Derbyshire ConstituencyMariane Bamkin
“I believe that the economic theories being used to promote the concept of ‘Austerity’ are flawed and not well thought through, leading to a greater social divide between the rich and the common man.”

Green Party candidate contact details

Growth – The Elephant in the Room

Charlotte Farrell, Parliamentary Candidate for High Peak and candidate for Hope Valley in the Local Elections says…

?????????????????????????????To date I’ve attended five hustings, and at each the questions about the economy and austerity come up. The other 4 parties all talk about the need for growth to get us out of austerity. They say that with better economic growth the country will once again be able to start spending and austerity will come to an end. Every time, I make the point that we cannot have infinite growth in a finite world and that we need to rethink our whole economic plan. However, it feels as if my words fall into a void and nobody quite hears them.

I am never picked up on what I say, though I would dearly like to expound on why continued growth is bad; it’s as if there is a conspiracy not to validate mine or the Green Party’s position generally by asking the serious questions that arise from it.

Of course this may be the truth. It seems so blindingly obvious that we cannot continue to grow in the manner we are doing. Whereby the world’s population (and by that I mean the population of the wealthiest countries) continues to use more each year in terms of raw materials than the planet can replace in that time, and to throw out more waste, atmospheric and real, than the planet can deal with in the same time frame.

It seems that the other parties have no answer for this conundrum; but rather than admit it (or better still work towards finding an answer) they choose to ignore it altogether. Ostrich like, they cover their ears in the hope it will go away.

I am not denying that all of the parties recognise some need to avert climate change (except UKIP who seemingly do not believe in it); and that even under the coalition there has been some increase in renewable energy consumption, but until they address the fundamental issue of growth, their attempts will not be enough to avert global economic, environmental and social disaster.

I have always struggled with maths and so never bothered with economics. I thought it was just something for those much more intelligent than I, but now I realise that most politicians also don’t understand economics. What they do is support the existing system, either because they’re devoid of ideas for anything better, or to protect their own vested interests.

Under the present system we have to keep growing. That is because if we base our economy on debt, as is the case (97% of all “money” in circulation was originally created by the high street banks as debt); to create sufficient to pay it back (not to mention the interest) we have to produce more. And so it fuels a vicious circle.

Of course it’s difficult and unpopular to challenge the status quo and that is the reason the Green Party is constantly derided by the media, but sooner or later politicians are going to have to face up to the ‘elephant in the room’ – the question of infinite growth in a finite world.

If we’re going to exist within the limits of what our one planet can give us then one of the first things we need to accept is that there needs to be a redistribution of wealth. If we don’t have growth, then that which we have has to be shared a lot more equally than it currently is, both globally and nationally.

Again, our debt-based monetary system predicates against this. In a debt based economy the poor acquire more debt simply to live, while the rich, who do not need to borrow, acquire the benefit through tangible assets such as property, stocks and shares and the other trappings of privilege.

I believe that it will be hard to reach the kind of steady state economy we need while wedded to the old monetary system. How can something as fundamental as the creation of money, be left in the hands of those who profit most from its production? The banking system has failed us, but rather than think about a better way, we simply tinker at the edges and let it continue largely unmolested.

The Green Party wants to see money creation removed from the banks and given back to state control. This in fact used to be the case until computers did away with the need for there always to be a tangible real bit of money on the other side of the debt. Under the Green Party’s plans the National Monetary Authority would control the production of money, issuing it as and when needed straight into the real economy. It would be used (amongst other things) to build houses, schools, hospitals and railways etc and as these were built the money would filter down through the workers’ pay into the local economy.

I admit its difficult looking at things from the present position to see how we would get to that state or how we would achieve this; but that in itself is no reason not to work towards finding a way.

The destruction of the planet and our economic system go hand in hand. We desperately need to change both before its too late. If nothing else, I hope that with Green Party candidates standing in 90% of parliamentary seats this message gets across loud and clear, so long as it does, I won’t mind how often the media chose to mock us because ultimately I believe we will be heard.

Green Party candidate contact details

Green Party Manifesto

Mike ShipleyMike Shipley writes:

The Green Party has launched its manifesto today, [14th April]. At the launch Natalie Bennett said “This manifesto presents the Green Party’s genuine alternative to our tired, business-as-usual politics. We desperately need a more equal society and the policies we announce today pave the way towards a brighter, fairer future for all.”

This is a long document, featuring policies relating to the economy, our society and our shared environment. It is also costed to show that it is possible to implement policies that will improve everyone’s lives and help stabilise the economy without the need for austerity.

Like most elections, this in 2015 is dominated again by arguments over the economy. No one can deny the importance of economic policy, but in a General Election that will vote in a Government for 5 years, we should be asking other, more profound questions. We should ask about priorities and about what sort of society our politicians are wanting to create with the power we will give them.

The Conservative Party is focused on money, it wants a society in which those who have it can keep as much of it as possible and do with it as they please. Labour seems now to be content with simply shadowing the Tories, accepting their economic strategy and hoping to be able to put a bit more of a human face on to it. Their real focus is power – vision has deserted them.

By comparison the Green manifesto sets out a clear vision of what we can build through our policies:
Print• a human scale economy that works for people and doesn’t damage our planet
• public services that deliver what people need
• a society that cares for the future of the young and the welfare of the vulnerable
• a more equal society that accepts diversity and offers opportunity regardless of background, governed honestly by elected representatives dedicated to the common good.

None of this is wishful thinking, neither is any of it unaffordable. What is wishful thinking is the idea that we can go on trying to solve through ‘growth’ the endlessly recurring crises that the economic strategies of the post war period have created. Perpetual growth in the economy is not possible; forever increasing the rate of consumption of natural resources is not possible, any economic strategy based on either or both will fail. Chancellors may engineer a temporary upturn of the indexes that they control in order to win an election, but in the long term the “growth and consume” economic plan dooms us all to failure.

The Green manifesto catalogues the failure of successive governments to which our present leaders seem to be blind. More than one in four children growing up in poverty, nearly one million people reliant on food banks, growing levels of inequality that sees the wealth of the richest 1% greater than the poorest 55% of fellow citizens, and the spiralling growth of debt that will see more that 2 million households paying half of their disposable income paying off loans by 2018.

For many, these grim realities do not add up to the success story that the Coalition Government is trying to claim in its bid to hold on to power. They spell out failure, and what the other manifestos are offering is very slightly different versions of this failure. More cuts, more austerity for the majority of voters, more tax cuts for the affluent supporters of the status quo, more privatisation that will lead to us paying private providers more for poorer services. Just more wishful thinking.

We are at a critical time and the outcome of this and the next election will shape our future – although you would barely know this from the trivia that is gushing out from the mouths of our so called ‘leaders’. Climate change is gathering pace. We need a clear action programme to be agreed in Paris at the end of the year otherwise global temperatures will overshoot 2 degrees centigrade. The cost of the damage will break all but the strongest economies – and the British economy is not one of the strongest.

Democracy is under threat by a corporate takeover of Government policy-making. This is demonstrated in the secret Trans-Atlantic Trade negotiations, TTIP, that will strip Governments of the ability to enact laws to protect public health or our shared environment lest they threaten corporate profits and bonuses. Inequality is stoking tensions in society that can only lead to a rise in crime, in fear and a decline in general well-being and health. The capacity of our natural environment to provide the food and clean water that we all need to survive is being eroded by increasing unregulated development and pollution.

These issues are ignored by politicians and commentators alike, they are too big for them to comprehend. But they are not ignored by the Green manifesto. Here, we set out a route that will steer us away from the dangers inherent in ‘business as usual’. We show how it is possible to build a sustainable society in which each individual can build a life of purpose, within the natural limits of the one planet that we have to live on. Our aim in this election is to campaign on this manifesto, to maximise our vote and so demonstrate that there is a serious and growing level of support for our policies; policies that work for the Common Good.

Mike Shipley April 2015
Mike is standing as Green Party candidate in the Local Elections for Sett Ward on High Peak Borough Council

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

Charlotte Farrell – High Peak Constituency

Candidate Statement for the General Election 2015

?????????????????????????????I am standing as a parliamentary candidate for High Peak constituency because I believe it is important to give people the opportunity to vote for the Green party wherever possible.

I became interested in environmental issues back in the 1980’s, concerned about the effects our current way of life was having, and the impact of climate change on the world generally.

I believe that capitalism is incompatible with a sustainable society and that while we continue to follow the present economic trajectory we will inevitably cause untold harm to mankind and to the planet. I believe that the alternative is to build policies which put people and the planet first before profit.

I originally trained as a nurse and worked as such for 15 years before re-qualifying as a solicitor. Last year, after 10 years in the law, I left to work with my partner making orthopaedic footwear; so that I could devote more time to politics.

I live and work in the High Peak and am involved in various community activities there. In particular I was involved in the purchase of Derbyshire’s first community owned and run village pub which now provides a focus for the local community.

If I was elected I would stand for:
•  meaningful action to combat climate change and pollution
• providing decent jobs with a living wage and truly affordable housing
•  fighting cuts to public sector jobs and services
• increased investment in health and education, in particular ending the pernicious privatisation of services
• integrated, affordable and sustainable public transport
•  zero tolerance inequality and discrimination
• immediate unilateral nuclear disarmament and an end to UK involvement in overseas conflict and war.

I believe that there needs to be a fundamental change to our present economic and political system to combat the inevitable global destruction which we otherwise seem to be heading towards. I believe in providing a fairer and more equal society which is not at the expense of the environment.

Green Party candidate contact details

Please can we have our NHS back?

Charlotte Farrell, Green Party Parliamentary Candidate for High Peak writes…

?????????????????????????????While I was walking home from work today, I was musing about the NHS and in particular wondering what evidence has there ever been to support the idea that ‘marketising’ the NHS would improve the services offered or even reduce costs and save it money? Furthermore what was actually so wrong with the old system?

I began working in the NHS in the late 1970s. I realise that as a nurse I probably wasn’t particularly aware of the management structure, even less the processes that went into providing patient care beyond the wards level. But on the other hand I also wasn’t aware of there ever being problems. Things seemed to run smoothly enough though.

In those days, as I remember, the hospitals were broadly controlled by District Health Authorities and above them the Regional Health Authorities. Then in the 1980s things began to change, the first glimmers of privatisation began, and competitive tendering was introduced for ancillary services.

We began to notice that the wards were suddenly not kept as clean as they used to be, the cleaners were rushing their work and things got overlooked. Hygiene suffered. It was not the cleaners fault though. The concept of tendering meant that the service providers would only secure the contract if they were “competitive” and that meant lower priced bids, which also meant cutting corners. There were fewer ward cleaners, working longer hours for less. By devaluing the staff in this way they also broke some of the public service ethos that had run through the NHS for so long. Interestingly the spread of contracting out cleaning services also coincided with a rise in infection rates including MRSA.

But not to be off put by this, both Labour and Conservative have pressed ahead with the total reorganisation of the NHS into something that Aneurin Bevan would hardly recognise. The idea that the NHS should replicate the private sector has taken root: the private sector knows best and market forces will deliver better care.

Labour introduced PFI funded hospitals, saddling the NHS with debt for years to come with the benefit going to the private funders. It developed foundation trust hospitals so that hospitals could be run as businesses, even to the extent that they could become bankrupt! It introduced the “choose and book” system which opened the door to private hospitals working “alongside” the NHS. Hospitals now had chief executives in control, people often drawn from the private sector on salaries to match. The ethos of public service was further degraded.

The NHS was continually being criticised, waiting list times, poor levels of nursing care, treatments not being provided etc etc (mostly all due to being too underfunded to provide the kind of service people had come to expect, rather than an inherent problem with the staff) – paving the way for the Health and Social Care Act 2011 which promised to make the service more efficient and fit for the 21st century. But all that has been achieved is to change from a system which operated relatively straightforwardly, to one which has become almost Byzantine in complexity.

I don’t know for certain whether this is assertion is true but I would have thought it is not inconceivable that the more layers of management involved, the more labyrinthine the purchasing processes, the more individual transactions involved in providing care and the less affection the providers have for the system, the more costly the service is likely to be.

The NHS Reinstatement Bill aims to rid the NHS of the marketisation, and put it back to how it was conceived. I fully support it.

For further information you can find out more about the Campaign for the NHS Reinstatement Bill 2015 on http://www.nhsbill2015.org/  There is also a link to contact your parliamentary candidates in the run up to the election.

Greens Respond to Badger Cull

Charlotte Farrell, Green Party Candidate for High Peak

?????????????????????????????If the Conservatives are re-elected the Badger Cull will soon enter its third yearand Derbyshire is likely to be amongst those areas where it takes place. The Green Party has opposed the cull since its inception and last weekend I took part in a scheme that the Badger Trust and Derbyshire Wildlife Trust (DWT) have initiated in response to the cull.

There are an estimated 250,000 badgers in Britain, not a huge figure and indeed in recognition of this they are protected by legislation. The Badger Act 1992 consolidated previous legislation and makes it illegal to kill a badger, except of course for the purposes of the Government’s flawed cull.

Of course I don’t want to underestimate the effect of Bovine Tuberculosis (bTB) on cattle and the farmers who rely on them for their livelihood, but it seems illogical as well as cruel to continue with a cull which has cost millions to date without producing any evidence in support. This year, despite the goal posts being moved by the government, there is still no evidence that it is working in terms of effectiveness in controlling bTB. Furthermore, there remain very grave concerns that it is not meeting the minimum standard of humaneness which the Independent Expert Panel (IEP) agreed at the outset as a requisite of the cull.

The IEP said at the outset that to be considered “humane” fewer than 5% of badgers killed by targeted shooting should take more than 5 minutes to die. After the first year the IEP found that it was likely that between 7.4% and 22.8% of badgers took longer than 5 minutes to die, which indicated that throughout this time they would have been experiencing marked pain. The IEP recommended that the standard of humaneness be improved in the second year if the cull was to continue. In response the government removed the IEP and used its own agencies to monitor humaneness. However, even they did not manage to improve upon the figures in the second year; and the level of inhumanness and ineffectiveness of the process remains such a concern that there are calls for the British Veterinary Association to withdraw its support from the cull.

KCC2008Wildwood161In contrast, though a scheme in Wales, badger vaccination and improved biosecurity of cattle has seen a 40% drop in Bovine TB. We clearly need to introduce similar measures in this country if we are serious about protecting farmers.

Working towards such a goal, DWT in conjunction with the Badger Trust have been pioneering a scheme to vaccinate badgers in the county from bTB, and raised over £50,000 from members to enable them to do this. Nevertheless the scheme relies on volunteers and so DWT have been training interested people up to assist with the vaccination. It was for this reason that I spent last Saturday at the first of this year’s training sessions.

The cull is designed to stop the spread of bTB which has been blamed on badgers, despite there being little evidence to show for it. The aim of vaccination is to ring bTB hotspots with ‘clean’ wildlife areas to stop reinfection of cattle from the wild. Vaccination of the badgers would therefore ensure the clean areas, and a range of measures would then be applied to the areas of bovine infection including improved biosecurity and more regular cattle testing.

Unfortunately vaccinating a badger is not quite as easy as vaccinating a person. The badger has to be trapped in a cage to be injected with the vaccine. The badger is then marked to make sure it does not get a second dose later. However getting a badger to enter a cage willingly takes time and patience and this is what most of the training was about. We had to learn to think like a badger!

The morning was spent learning how to look for badgers and how to get them to enter the cages, and then in the afternoon, we got the opportunity to put into practice what we had learned. Unfortunately it was without any actual badgers. They were presumably snuggled deep in their setts away from the bitter cold. We were not so lucky as it was a cold and snowy February afternoon! However despite the weather it was well worth it. I’m full of admiration for the people who have already given so much time and energy into protecting these animals; and now I can’t wait to join them when the programme starts later in the year.

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

Greens Dispute Need for Derbyshire Cuts

Leafleting in High PeakIn July, Derbyshire County Council told us of their plans to drastically cut services and whilst promising to consult on their proposals, made it clear that, as they saw it, savings of £70 million over the next three years (beginning in April 2015) would have to be made. There was no alternative given the cuts in funding from central government.

As Labour Council Leader Anne Western said at the time:

“We need to be absolutely clear – we do not want to make these unrelenting cuts which will affect services local people rely on. The Government has left us no choice and we are having to think the unthinkable. Its budget reductions mean we have to cut our spending on local services by more than a third”

PrintThe Green Party disputes the need for cuts to vital public services, and challenges the need for austerity which the other main parties promote as a political consensus. Instead it has a commitment to an entirely different set of economic policies, which will promote the common good and the preservation of our planet, rather than the interests of a tiny elite.

See here http://greenparty.org.uk/values/fair-society.html

On the basis of the above, Derbyshire Green Party opposes the budget cuts being proposed, however reluctantly, by our Labour County Council, and urges others to do the same.

The council is consulting on its plans on a service by service basis, inviting responses to its planned cuts.

See here http://www.derbyshire.gov.uk/council/have_your_say/take_part/default.asp

The deadline for responses to its proposed cuts to its Housing Support Service is November 18th.

Peter mug-shot crop 1
Peter Allen

I have sent the following response to telladultcare@derbyshire.gov.uk on behalf of Derbyshire Green Party, which I invite others to make use of in their own responses.

Peter’s Response

“I write in response to your proposals to cut spending on Housing Related Support Services. The County Council may not have a legal duty to provide these services but your own report identifies how vital they are to support some of Derbyshire’s most vulnerable residents.

The proposed reduction in the length of time that residents with a learning disability receive support to enable them to live independently in the community is based on an assumption that such service users can be taught how to manage without support faster. No details are given as to how this is to be achieved and we fear that many of those affected will ‘sink’ rather than ‘swim’ with serious consequences for themselves and a likelihood that they will require support again sooner rather than later, meaning that, in the long term no savings will be made. Alternatively, support will be denied to them, leaving them unable to cope, and therefore likely to end up in far more expensive residential care.

An insensitive, false economy.

The proposed halving of the number of vulnerable young adults supported to access and maintain appropriate housing is likely to increase the numbers of such young people ending up in prison or hospital.

An insensitive, false economy.

The proposed reduction in emergency housing provision for victims of domestic abuse is, as your report says likely to lead to the following:

  • more women and families fleeing abuse being placed in bed and breakfast
  • police and safety issues escalating
  • increased demand for counselling and mental health services.

An insensitive, false economy.

Your report also makes clear what the consequences of the huge cuts to support for vulnerable adults with mental health problems will be:

  • Increased hospital admissions
  • Increased tenancy breakdown and homelessness
  • Stigma and loss of family connection.

An insensitive, false economy.

Similarly, your proposed cut to the Handy Van service, which carries out essential repairs and improvements in the homes of vulnerable residents will, as your report warns, have the effect that more people will remain in hospital for longer due to delayed hospital discharge. Whilst the total removal of your sheltered housing provision might save nearly £1 million per year in the short term, as you yourselves say, it will have as a likely impact a growth in the number of older people losing their independence and having to go into far more expensive, and unwanted residential care.

Insensitive, false economies.

Finally, the proposed ending of the Older Peoples Housing Options Service will increase pressure on the remaining housing advice services and mean that more older people will remain in unsuitable housing and therefore experience a deterioration in their health and well being, which is likely to lead to increased health costs in the future.

Yet another insensitive, false economy.

The cuts you propose are unfair and unwise, and are likely to cost more in the long term, in both human and financial terms. Before proceeding on this course of action Derbyshire County Council should, alongside other equally resource stretched local councils across the country, launch a campaign in defence of essential council services, demanding that any government which is elected next May finds the resources to properly fund public services in general and council services in particular.

There is plenty of money around. It is just in the wrong hands.”

Peter Allen
High Peak Regional Coordinator, Derbyshire Green Party

Should Refugees be Rescued?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADerbyshire Green Party opposes the British Government’s withdrawal of support for future search and rescue operations to prevent migrants and refugees drowning in the Mediterranean.

The Governments rationale for this, as with other EU nations, is that by continuing to rescue people it encourages more to risk the trip. Such a response shows the callousness of this Government and is unlikely to prevent desperate people trying to make their way to Europe, although it is likely to increase the number who die on route.

Refugees do not embark on such a journey lightly, but do so because the risks of staying outweigh the risks (real or perceived) of going. For what people spend on illegal journeys they could fund first class air tickets, but such routes are not open to them because the Government prevents safe and legal entries to those seeking refugee status in this country.

People become refugees for a variety of reasons, almost always related to the unjust and unequal distribution of power and economic prosperity across the world. In the Middle East people are fleeing from the effects of intervention by the West to protect its oil ‘rights’. In Africa people are fleeing from the effects of changing environment, a globalised market forcing people into poverty and wars which are a legacy of colonial borders which took no account of ethnic or tribal identities. We are all complicit in the reasons people become refugees because we have all benefited for so long from the existing status quo. We therefore owe it to these people to respect and protect them.

The Green Party recognises that the refugee crisis will not go away until we address the underlying causes and therefore its highest priority is the creation of a just and ecological world. In the meantime we believe that the UK government should fully honour the right to asylum enshrined in the UN declaration of Human Rights and the UN Convention on Refugees. Withdrawing search and rescue missions to teach desperate people a lesson is an appalling act.

Charlotte Farrell
Green Party target candidate for Hope Valley in the High Peak