Tag Archives: council

A Police Commissioner for Derbyshire

John Youatt, the convenor of the Derbyshire Dales region interviewed Carole Brister, an independent member of the Derbyshire police authority (DPA) – and chair of its Citizens’ Focus and Partnerships committee.

Carole served the DPA for nearly 10 years. She found the position extremely interesting and worked hard to represent the views of her community. She finds it disappointing that a good system has been abolished in favour of a party political system. However, Carole states: ‘The process is underway, whether we like it or not, and I urge people to turn out and vote for their candidate. This way at least the elected Commissioner will have a mandate’

The DPA consisted of 17 people:- 9 elected councillors appointed by the county and city councils to reflect the councils’ political make-up; and 8 independents. There was thus a stronger overall democratic and citizens’ element, with better balance and continuity, than the new system. In one case (not Derbyshire), thousands of £s is being spent by a rich right wing candidate, dedicated to cuts and outsourcing, or privatisation. He might prove to be the model for any Tory or UKIP commissioners.

Very few strong independent “great and good” citizens have come forward (as Cameron had hoped). It seems that, with only days to go, the turn out, with no government funded leaflets, and on a winter’s day, will be poor. In most cases, only political parties have the cash and organisation to put up candidates. The Tories’ purpose that they can dominate shire police forces, might be achieved: their mantra that it will be ‘more democratic’ will almost certainly fail. Labour, likely to win the next general election in 2015 or before, is standing in Derbyshire and elsewhere, but is opposed to the principle and might well abandon the practice in due course.

John says, “If there was anything wrong with the current authority, it could have been mended by direct elections, eg of the chair and a few members, coincident with the county elections. I don’t understand how a party-funded commissioner can swear an oath of impartiality. It’s fatally flawed”

Green party members have the usual options – not to vote: or to write ‘not this system’ or similar; or to read the candidate manifestos and vote for the only experienced candidate, closest in beliefs to the Green Party.

All the candidates are on the website – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-derbyshire-19506238 Here you can look for the candidate with the best experience and the best manifesto for you.

Some basic facts.

  • Derbyshire constabulary’s recent budget is £180m of which £1m is spent on the Police Authority
  • The 17 members were paid a basic fee of £9k, with a support staff of a CEO and 9 officers
  • The DPA had a clear structure with 4 main committees, one of which was dedicated to community focus. It had statutory powers
  • Recent cuts have been well managed. The Derbyshire Police are in good shape all round. It is actually recruiting at the moment
  • The present Gov’t, or at least the conservative element, is seeking cuts of 20%
  • The Commissioner will be paid £75k and a deputy could be paid £45k. He will have sweeping powers over the budget and the Chief Constable
  • The officers will be transferred on current terms for at least 2 years
  • There will be a panel to scrutinise the work of the Commissioner consisting of 10 Councillors and two independents with no power
  • Some Tories favour the USA model in which party policies are delivered vigorously by locally elected party members
  • Senior police officers have been muzzled
  • The constabulary’s assets of buildings, equipment and vehicles worth hundreds of millions of £s will be at the disposal of the Commissioner
  • The count is on Friday morning at Alfreton leisure centre. The result is expected in the afternoon.

The election of Derbyshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner.

 

Few would argue that the actions of the police have an enormous impact on Derbyshire residents. Their role is to uphold laws agreed by Parliament on behalf of the community. To do this they are provided by a budget provided by the tax payer, partly from central government and partly from a proportion of Council tax paid directly to the Police Authority. In reflection of this budgeting arrangement, local councils are represented by elected Councillors on the Police Committees and the Home Secretary, nominally with Parliaments consent, can set a strategic framework for national policing. In the current financial climate, resources are scarce and the Coalition Government is forcing the Derbyshire Police Authority to cut 170 jobs to save £22m.

Difficult decisions will have to be made, the police can not do everything that the community might wish them to do with the budget provided. What will be cut? Funds for crime prevention? Funds for partnerships with youth agencies to help young offenders change their behaviour? How does the enforcements of traffic speeding compare with drug enforcement? Is enough attention given to pursuing corporate fraud? The list is endless.

Under a proposal brought forward by the Conservative Party and enacted by the Coalition Government, the way the police are managed is about to change. All Police Areas outside London will be voting on Thursday for a new position of Police and Crime Commissioner, an idea imported for the USA. Although operational decision will remain the prerogative of the Chief Constable the management decisions and budgeting allocations will lie with the new PCC, who will also hire and fire the Chief Constable.

The Green Party opposed the establishment of the PCC, fearing that the holder of this post, who in many cases will have been sponsored by a political party, will be more susceptible to the corporate lobbying of vested interest groups and to the populist agenda of the tabloid press than the real priorities of the people of Derbyshire. These fears have already been given substance here in the East Midlands. The Sunday Telegraph, hardly a conspiracy theory newspaper has disclosed how Mervyn Barrett, one of the “independent” candidates in Lincolnshire has flooded the county with DVDs and leaflets in a £100,000+ election campaign “secretly backed by American neo-conservative lobbyists and companies pushing for police privatization” The fact that he thinks G4S, who already run most of Lincolnshire back-room operations, to be a “well run” company, is particularly alarming.

[see: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/9623068/The-secret-US-lobbyists-behind-Police-and-Crime-Commissioner-election.html# ]

To stand in this ‘democratic’ election, a candidate needs to put down a depot of £5000, and would need to spend at least as much on publicity in order to be noticed among the slick gloss of the big money candidates like Mr Barrett. The Government has refused to fund a mailing to the electors to inform them about who is standing. By putting high finical hurdles in place for participation in these elections the coalition government have ensured that only those with considerable financial means, or support from business are able to participate and that is not democratic. When the former Police Chief Ian Blair is so concerned he tells the public not to vote you know there’s something amiss.

The Green Party will not be participating in this sham election and we advise our supporters to follow Ian Blair’s advice and not to vote. We remain committed to proper accountability and control of the police, but that can best be achieved through directly elected police boards that can properly reflect the range of interests and priorities within the County. It will not be achieved by the imposition of a police commissioner who the public do not understand, want or can afford to pay for.

Duncan Kerr & Mike Shipley

The election of Derbyshire's Police and Crime Commissioner.

 

Few would argue that the actions of the police have an enormous impact on Derbyshire residents. Their role is to uphold laws agreed by Parliament on behalf of the community. To do this they are provided by a budget provided by the tax payer, partly from central government and partly from a proportion of Council tax paid directly to the Police Authority. In reflection of this budgeting arrangement, local councils are represented by elected Councillors on the Police Committees and the Home Secretary, nominally with Parliaments consent, can set a strategic framework for national policing. In the current financial climate, resources are scarce and the Coalition Government is forcing the Derbyshire Police Authority to cut 170 jobs to save £22m.

Difficult decisions will have to be made, the police can not do everything that the community might wish them to do with the budget provided. What will be cut? Funds for crime prevention? Funds for partnerships with youth agencies to help young offenders change their behaviour? How does the enforcements of traffic speeding compare with drug enforcement? Is enough attention given to pursuing corporate fraud? The list is endless.

Under a proposal brought forward by the Conservative Party and enacted by the Coalition Government, the way the police are managed is about to change. All Police Areas outside London will be voting on Thursday for a new position of Police and Crime Commissioner, an idea imported for the USA. Although operational decision will remain the prerogative of the Chief Constable the management decisions and budgeting allocations will lie with the new PCC, who will also hire and fire the Chief Constable.

The Green Party opposed the establishment of the PCC, fearing that the holder of this post, who in many cases will have been sponsored by a political party, will be more susceptible to the corporate lobbying of vested interest groups and to the populist agenda of the tabloid press than the real priorities of the people of Derbyshire. These fears have already been given substance here in the East Midlands. The Sunday Telegraph, hardly a conspiracy theory newspaper has disclosed how Mervyn Barrett, one of the “independent” candidates in Lincolnshire has flooded the county with DVDs and leaflets in a £100,000+ election campaign “secretly backed by American neo-conservative lobbyists and companies pushing for police privatization” The fact that he thinks G4S, who already run most of Lincolnshire back-room operations, to be a “well run” company, is particularly alarming.

[see: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/9623068/The-secret-US-lobbyists-behind-Police-and-Crime-Commissioner-election.html# ]

To stand in this ‘democratic’ election, a candidate needs to put down a depot of £5000, and would need to spend at least as much on publicity in order to be noticed among the slick gloss of the big money candidates like Mr Barrett. The Government has refused to fund a mailing to the electors to inform them about who is standing. By putting high finical hurdles in place for participation in these elections the coalition government have ensured that only those with considerable financial means, or support from business are able to participate and that is not democratic. When the former Police Chief Ian Blair is so concerned he tells the public not to vote you know there’s something amiss.

The Green Party will not be participating in this sham election and we advise our supporters to follow Ian Blair’s advice and not to vote. We remain committed to proper accountability and control of the police, but that can best be achieved through directly elected police boards that can properly reflect the range of interests and priorities within the County. It will not be achieved by the imposition of a police commissioner who the public do not understand, want or can afford to pay for.

Duncan Kerr & Mike Shipley

Despite the cuts, Green councils deliver

There is no doubt it’s not an easy time to be in local government: The Tory-led coalition are imposing massive austerity measures with councils bearing far more than their fair share of the cuts in public funding. This has been complemented by ongoing public attacks on both council officers and councillors by pugnacious Tory ministers like Eric Pickles, Bob Neil and Grant Shapps. Finally councils are being pushed and pulled between suggestions of more powers being devolved, more central direction on how to do things and massive centrally decided reforms to their funding and legal powers. Local government is a bit punch drunk.

Despite all this, councils can and should deliver. In Brighton & Hove the Green administration came to power in 2011 with a very clear manifesto which we have been working hard to implement. In less than a year, Greens have made significant changes, we have:

  1. Introduced a Living wage of £7.19 for the lowest paid council staff.  We have created a Living Wage Commission for the city that is working with the largest employers to advocate that living wage across the city.
  2. Won over £6m of new external funding for major improvements to the city’s transport infrastructure & public spaces.
  3. Protected the Children’s & Adult Social care budgets, including for carers – they will not change over two years, whilst neighbouring authorities are withdrawing care and support from many in need.
  4. We are building the city’s first new council houses in decades, and bringing more empty properties back into use.  We are also working with local squatter groups working on ‘meanwhile’ leases for empty properties awaiting development.
  5. Introduced a new approach in the council that prioritises openness, democracy & participation – as shown by our budget process, commitment to open data and plans for neighbourhood councils.

None of this would have happened without Greens taking control of the city council in Brighton & Hove.

We are also unique in how much we’ve protected in our first budget, despite incredible pressure from the government, and ill-conceived amendments from the opposition parties. The Green administration’s budget will:

  • Double capital funding for transport and the public realm.
  • Build new non-academy school places in our best schools.
  • Keep an in-house Youth Service, unlike almost every other council in the country.
  • Preserve the main grant programmes for the 3rd sector at the same level as previous years.
  • Create a new £300,000 grants programme for 3rd sector youth services, and a £150,000 fund to support capital investment in the 3rd sector.
  • Protect Staff terms and conditions.
  • Preserve parks services
  • Keep all our branch libraries remain open, with an increasing book fund.
  • Preventing Homelessness’ funding is protected and domestic violence support increased by £100,000.
  • We will be bringing forward pilots for communal recycling, food waste collection and commercial waste collection.
  • We will be piloting participatory budgeting and neighbourhood councils.
  • We will be consolidating council buildings down to a few hubs that will be upgraded to be super energy efficient, have solar panels and support mobile working and hot desking.
  • We will be pursuing a unique bid for urban UN Biosphere status.

Whilst the government’s austerity measures are forcing back to scale back in some areas, we are still able to make good progress in many important areas. For example we are going to be working towards achieving One Planet Council status in the coming months.

As Greens we’re utterly opposed to much of the coalition’s wrong-headed policies, but we have a duty to make the best of the situation for our residents. If you have elections in your area vote Green this May for more dedicated councillors fighting for fair solutions to the challenges in their areas.  Greens deliver!

[Cllr Jason Kitcat Brighton & Hove Green Party]

Greens condemn ‘Inevitable’ market closure claim.

The Green Party in Derby has expressed serious concern at a claim by Derby City Council leader, Philip Hickson to BBC Radio Derby, that closure of the Eagle Market was ‘inevitable’.

‘This statement by the Tory leader prejudices any meaningful negotiations on the future of the city’s two markets,’ said David Clasby who is standing for the Greens in Darley ward.  ‘We have been promised a review of market strategy for 5 years, the delay in producing a report shows a lack of commitment to our markets by this and previous administrations.’

Jane Temple, who will be standing against Mr Hickson in Allestree ward claimed that the Council showed much more interest in encouraging the supermarkets.  ‘The City Council has recently given permission for three new supermarkets, and two more are under consideration.  All of these will damage the Eagle and Guildhall markets.  A policy on markets and shops should have been brought forward for discussion before more supermarkets were allowed.’

The Greens want to see supermarkets controlled and more encouragement given to small traders.

‘If we support independent local businesses then the money we spend stays here in the city.’ David Clasby said.  ‘The Council Leader seems to want to close the large market and squeeze all the stalls into the much smaller Guildhall market. This will mean local people who run their own business losing their livelihood. The only reason is so that they can hand the lease on the Eagle market back to Westfield who can bring in another big multi national chain. Who exactly benefits from that decision? Who is making money from that? The Eagle centre market has lacked investment for years, coupled with petty bureaucracy, in the hope of driving the traders out so that this position can be reached. A big multi national company does not lead to an overall increase in jobs, quite the opposite in fact, as lots of small local retailers close down. I want to see more commitment to local businesses, in particular I support the Eagle and Guildhall markets.  Let’s have more local character and fewer bland national chains.”

Greens Oppose Threats To Council Tenants

Derbyshire Green Party has added its voice to the criticism that has met David Cameron’s proposal to end security of tenure for council house tenants.

“Following the cuts, this is another attack on ordinary people by the ConDem Government,” said Peter Allen, the Green Party’s candidate in High Peak in the last election. “I recognise that there is a shortage of affordable housing and rentable accommodation across Derbyshire, but this proposal will do nothing to increase supply.”

Figures produced by the housing charity ‘Shelter’ show that there are over 4,000 on the council house waiting list in High Peak. In 2009 only 500 families were housed from this list. The Green Party has called for more resources to be put in to renovation and conversion of existing properties as an affordable alternative to new-build.

Peter Allen explained that the Greens do not oppose new housing where their environmental impact is acceptable, but pointed out that there are often alternatives.

“Figures produced by the Empty Homes Agency show that there are 16,000 homes standing empty in Derbyshire, largely owned by private landlords. Nearly 800 of these are in High Peak. These can be made available for occupation at relatively little cost. We urge Councils to use the powers they have to bring these properties in to occupation. If the Government was really serious about doing something about the housing crisis, it would direct resources at Councils Re-homing Officers, enabling to quickly negotiate these empty properties in to occupation”

Notes

Shelter is the UK leading charity campaigning for the homeless
http://england.shelter.org.uk/housing_issues/waiting_lists#content

The Empty Homes Agency is a charity who’s aim is to bring empty residential property in to occupation
http://www.emptyhomes.com/index.html

High Peak and Derbyshire Dales share an Empty Housing Officer, who is Laura Kirk, appointed in 2007.
http://www.highpeak.gov.uk/news/press/2007mar1094.asp

For more information on Green Party policy on housing contact: Peter Allen, peter.allen@derbyshiregreenparty.org.uk

How The Greens Would Help Students

Students of the University of Derby submitted these questions to candidates in the Derby and High Peak constituencies:

1.  As the economy is moving towards recovery, how would the economic policies of your party help those looking for graduate employment?

The Green New Deal, which we have adopted, envisages the creation of one million green jobs, including investment in renewable energy technology, public transport and social housing. All of these initiatives will provide opportunities for graduates with technical and people/project management skills. We will seek to promote leadership opportunities for women in particular, requiring 40% of board members of larger companies to be female within 5 years. (For more information see http://www.neweconomics.org/projects/green-new-deal)

2.  The average student debt is approximately £27,000 upon graduating.  How would you reduce the cost of higher education without lowering standards?

The Green Party manifesto has a carefully costed pledge to abolish tuition fees. The cost of higher education is to be funded out of general taxation, maintaining current spending and standards:

Norwich Green Councillors Call For The Abolition Of University Tuition Fees
Norwich City Council on 2nd March, resolved to support the Union of UEA Students’ Higher Education funding campaign and write to the Government opposing an increase in tuition fees.  Green Party Councillors asked the Council to call for fees to be abolished altogether, but this proposal was voted down by Labour and Conservative councilors, who supported retaining the current fees of up to £3,000 per year for students.  Green Councillor Adrian Ramsay, who will be making a submission to the Browne Inquiry in to Tuition Fees on behalf of the Green Party, commented: “I am pleased to be joining the student demonstration against tuition fees. If I replace Charles Clarke as MP I will fight for tuition fees to be replaced by a fairer funding system involving a return to grants for students so that talented young people can go to university regardless of their background.”

3.  Building upon this; how would you maintain the quality of public services, in particular universities, in an atmosphere of public funding cuts?

We do not intend to cut public spending as a whole although we would reduce spending in certain areas, (defence, road building, expanding prisons for example), and save £2.5 billion by not introducing ID cards. We believe that we should pay for public services with a taxation system that promotes fairness and rewards behaviour that’s good for society and good for the environment. This will mean raising taxation for high earners, many of whom will be graduates, who thus will be repaying the cost of their education.

4.  As local councils provide much of the services that students use, how much responsibility would you like to see local councils have?

The Green Party manifesto calls for the revival of local government, with the introduction of proportional representation to encourage a grassroots democracy in smaller community and district councils. Such authorities should have enhanced powers over those areas of policy best settled at the local level including housing, education and the promotion of wellbeing by supporting cultural and sporting activity. Eventually this reinvigorated local democracy would have new tax raising powers delegated from central government.

5.  Given a finite pot of money in the Treasury, which would be your priority – returning those to work who could or supporting those who could not work?

This is a false and cruel dichotomy. All who are able to work must have the option to do so. Unemployment should not be used as either an economic or a political instrument. It represents a waste of our most valuable resource, human talent and aspiration. To squander this resource is gross mismanagement. Any person is at risk of suffering unemployment, may be through redundancy, injury, illness or because family circumstances. People in this situation should not be stigmatised. In many cases, they continue to make contributions to society. The humane and civilised society, to which we aspire, would continue to count all people as its members and beneficiaries, regardless of employment status.

6.  What are your views on how to combat Climate Change?

The failure of the Copenhagen Conference makes it more obvious than ever that finding a global solution to climate change must involve global justice. Rich countries need to reduce their emissions drastically, we think by 90% from 1990 levels by 2030, starting now! Our manifesto refers to the new three Rs: Remove, Reduce, Replace. Remove demand where possible, reduce demand through for example, energy efficiency measures, and recycling and replace fossil fuels with renewable energy. The lead must come from government, both through direct investment and through enacting the necessary legislation and tax regimes for a sustainable low carbon economy.

For more information and policy detail go to http://www.greenparty.org.uk/

Transport In Derbyshire And Beyond

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

Trains

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

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

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

Buses

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

Greens Add New Colour to County Elections

Derbyshire voters will be invited to vote for a greener future next month (June 4th) as a new party makes its first significant appearance in the county council elections.  The Green Party have nominated five candidates to inject some fresh blood and forward thinking into County Hall.

The five are local people who want to introduce environmental policies to the way the county is run.  They’ll be putting forward policies that help improve everyone’s quality of life while taking care of the climate as well.  These include support for affordable local homes with universal free insulation, and speed limits that protect people and the climate.

“The Green Party is delighted to be introducing these five excellent candidates to the Derbyshire electorate,” says party spokesperson Jane Temple.  “We know there is growing support in the county for policies that put the environment first and by voting in a Green councillor local people can be sure their views will be heard at County Hall.”

All the Green Party candidates live in the area and are active in their local communities, campaigning on issues such as safe roads and effective recycling policies. The candidates will be standing in the Long Eaton, Holymoorside & Wingerworth, Chapel & Hope Valley, Wirksworth and Ashgate divisions.

The five Green Party candidates standing in the Derbyshire County Council elections are:

  • Lee Fletcher (Long Eaton):  Lee has two daughters, lives in Long Eaton and is a keen cyclist and school governor.
  • Kelvin Karim (Holymoorside & Wingerworth):  Kelvin, a registered nurse, lives in Wingerworth and is married with three children.
  • David Mount (Chapel & Hope Valley):  David, a married father of three lives in Edale and works as an environmental adviser.
  • Patrick Ralph (Ashgate):  Patrick has three children, has lived in Chesterfield for over twenty years and is a self-employed software developer.
  • Josh Stockell (Wirksworth):  Josh is a joiner, has lived and worked in Wirksworth for more than ten years and his two children have attended local schools.

The Green Party also has a list of five candidates contesting the election to the European Parliament which is happening on the same day:

  • Cllr. Sue Mallender
  • Cllr. Richard Mallender
  • Cllr. Ashley Baxter
  • Cllr. Matthew Follett
  • Barney Smith

For further information please contact:

  • Jane Temple getinvolved@derbyshiregreenparty.org.uk