Tag Archives: housing

How much of a threat are Second Homes to Rural Communities?

Charlotte Farrell, Parliamentary and Local candidate in Hope Valley, High Peak says:

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At a recent hustings the issue of second homes came up. It is an issue of some importance in the Derbyshire villages where lots of properties are used as holiday lets or second homes. Not only does it deprive people of the physical opportunity of living in the area but it also pushes up the price of property beyond the means of most local people to be able to afford it.

At the hustings I expressed the view that action needs to be taken to restrict second home ownership. This view was challenged by former Tory minister Edwina Curry, herself a High Peak resident who said that such a policy would ‘devastate’ local villages, and that I was a ‘crack-pot’ for wanting to restrict second home ownership.

Her argument was that the income from second homes was apparently more beneficial to the local economy than that of a person or family living here full time and permanently contributing to the local economy and community, a point I totally disagree with.
How many people who use the holiday homes actually also use our local shops? I suspect most come stocked up with food from their nearest supermarket at home, and only buy the odd item locally. I know that from time to time I have been asked by visitors where the nearest supermarket is, and they’ve seemed surprised to find that it’s in a nearby town, but they would still rather drive there than shop locally, stick with what they are familiar with.

Yes, visitors may eat out in the pubs, but then so do local people and so do people staying in those pubs and in local bed and breakfast accommodation.

And because the price of second properties has pushed up the price in villages, (even more so than prices are pushed up anyway due to our flawed monetary system) many of those local people who do manage to find work in the area are not able to afford their own home. For young people the choice is often stark, move to a town or live with parents. And whilst that may suit for a while if people want to start a family it is hardly ideal.

I know the Yorkshire Dales well, and many of the villages there are totally devoid of young people and after years of houses being bought up as holiday homes they are now dying, schools are closing through lack of numbers and pubs are closing because second home owners do not frequent them enough. The High Peak is not yet at that stage; and we are saved to an extent by being between two large conurbations, Manchester and Sheffield, but that has turned villages into commuter towns and again contributed to the pricing out of local people who want to stay and work in the area.

The part of the Peak District where I live is indeed beautiful, and on the face of it affluent, but I wonder how many people visiting would be shocked to know that there has been a food bank operating in the Hope Valley for a year now. How many would be shocked to know that a lot of the staff who serve them in the pubs and hotels are earning far below the minimum wage let alone a living wage.

So does it make me a crack-pot for wanting to find a way in which people who work in the rural economy can afford to live near to their work, to find a way for young people to be able to remain in their communities and find properly paid work and to be able to aspire to live there and raise their own families. Is it naive of me to want to see rural communities able to hold on to a reasonable level of facilities including a school, some shops and a post office nearby, together with a health centre or at least a Doctor’s surgery that can be accessed by a reliable bus service. To have a pub and some level of community life. Such facilities need a properly paid working population to support the demand and importantly, a balanced age structure.

I want to see our villages as viable communities and the basis of this is affordable housing. I accept that tourists and holidaymakers are an important part of the rural economy and they can help to stop village communities becoming isolated and insular. But when they leave, village life must be able to carry on fulfilling the needs of permanent residents.

There needs to be village plans developed in cooperation with the local community to identify needs and the means of delivering them. Inevitably this will require some protection for housing against speculative purchase. Finding an answer to this will not be easy and I don’t pretend to have the whole answer, but I don’t think that I am being a crack-pot in trying to find one.

First published on the East Midlands Green Party website 27 April, 2015

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.

Marten Kats – Mackworth Ward – Green Party Candidate

Marten Kats – Local Election Candidate for Mackworth writes:

Marten Kats with imprintOn 7th May there isn’t just the General Election. In Derby there are local elections as well. Regardless of who you vote for in the General Election, please consider voting Green locally. One Green councillor can make a big difference in Derby.

I live locally and feel passionately about the area where I live. The reason why I am standing is that I think this city needs a Green councillor.

Having at least one Green councillor can make a big difference. We can get our voice heard in the council, stand up against recycling cuts like the brown bin tax and the removal of blue bins, while fighting the Sinfin incinerator that will cause health problems to local people. We will fight for our green spaces and tackle housing issues, partly by making better use of empty buildings.

If I get elected, I would address local issues in Mackworth, engage with local people and be a voice for them. Mackworth needs a safe crossing for children to Markeaton Park, a place to hang out for teenagers, measures against anti-social behaviour, better public transport, activities for elderly and more attention to traffic and parking problems.

Vote Green on 7th May for a different voice on Derby City Council.

Everyone Needs a Home

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

First posted on East Midlands GP blog 4 Feb 2015

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

Greens Support Derby People’s Assembly

DPA 26102013 Natalie 1A strong Green Party presence was felt at Derby People’s Assembly on the 26th October, 2013 with leader Natalie Bennett making an appearance at the workshop on “Climate Change Threat and 1 Million Climate Jobs”  and making a speech at the end of the day.  Accompanying this was both the DGP stand and a number of members showing their faces for most of the day. Overall it is thought that over one hundred people attended throughout the day. 

The format was much like many other discussion group based events.  The day kicked off with three speakers talking about the People’s Assembly itself, Education Reform, and Cuts to the Fire and Rescue Service.  After these speeches, attendees split up and went to the discussion groups they had chosen.  There were two groups before lunch, speeches after lunch, two more discussion groups and more speeches to round off the day.

Sue Arguile from the NUT gave a very passionate speech about the recent strikes by teachers and Gove’s education reform.  She spoke about a radio phone-in interview with a woman whose attitude had shocked her.  The caller, as well as her general ‘teacher bashing’, had said that teachers should be looking to their ‘product’.  This “marketised” view of teaching also shocked the attendees.

Following this was a local secretary of the Fire Brigades Union who spoke both about what the despicable cuts to the fire service will mean in terms of the service to the public and also about the treatment of workers in that sector over pensions.

Discussion groups were then held on:  the Politics of the Crisis, the Demonization of Immigrants, Tactics for the Anti-austerity Movement and Debt and Loan Sharks.  The immigration discussion seemed to centre on Unite Against Fascism and the benefits of setting up local anti-fascist groups to counter the British National Party, English Defence League and other far-right groups when they organise in areas.

The second set of discussion groups were on:  Protecting the NHS, Defending Education, Re-unionising the Country and Busting Economic Myths.  Although poorly attended, the re-unionising group sparked some enlightened discussion about the state of trade unions and their attachment to the Labour Party.  One graph showed that the more direct action unions took, the more their membership increased.  Also encouraging was the statistic that showed that union membership was up again.

There was an hour after lunch for some more speakers including Christian Wolmar who spoke much about re-nationalising the railways, mentioning that this idea was being debated in the Labour Party.  He failed, however, to mention that us Greens have been campaigning on it for a while now.

After this, the third round of discussion groups were held on the topics of:  Welfare, Public Transport, the Bedroom Tax, Using Art Against Austerity and a repeat of the Protecting the NHS group. Another member of the Green Party found the workshop on Bedroom tax to be a complete eye opener as they heard that many tenants are put in severe difficulties when they are served with orders and have no idea about their rights or what free legal help is available to them.

Natalie Workshop DPA 26102013 6The final groups were held on:  Building Community Campaigns, the Peoples Charter and (with a strong Green presence) Climate Change and 1 Million Climate Jobs.  Natalie Bennett spoke at the climate change group about the need for investment in insulation of all houses in the UK to both reduce carbon emissions and create jobs.  Natalie also spoke reassuringly of the party’s opposition to incineration both on the grounds of pollution and the harmful effects due to air quality reduction.

Finally speeches were given about:  Green jobs and ditching neoliberalism by Natalie, the railways by Alex Gordon of the RMT union and the future of Derby People’s Assembly by Peter Robinson.

Natalie’s speech can be seen here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qUqTBFSpWPQ

Chris Smith                                                                                    Member of Derbyshire Green Party and Young Greens

 

 

Natalie Bennett's Address in Derby 24th September 2013

Natalie Bennett DerbySpeaking to a well attended audience in Derby, Natalie Bennett catalogued the inadequacy of the Labour Party’s response to a range of political issues that are affecting people’s lives.  Contrasting the reality of fuel poverty that is becoming a reality for a growing number of people with the huge profits being made by the big energy companies, she condemned Labours proposal for a two year price freeze as inadequate.

‘After two years, then what?’ she asked. ‘The Green Party proposes a national energy conservation programme funded by the Government.  This will lead to permanently reduced energy bills and to lower carbon emissions.  The insulation programme will create sustainable jobs, taking people out of fuel poverty and off benefit.’ 

‘Labour want to see the minimum wage enforced.’ She said.  ‘We know that people cannot hope to manage on a minimum wage, that is why we want to see it raised to a Living Wage, that enables people to meet their necessary weekly costs.  This policy is supported by 70% of people.

‘Labour have no commitment to re-nationalise the railways to ensure that investment goes where it is needed to build a system that meets demand.  This is Green policy and it is supported by 75% of people.

‘Greens support a publicly funded NHS free at the point of delivery.  Labour has made no commitment to reverse the coalition policy of sell-off of the NHS.  ‘‘Labour is backing fracking, ignoring that we must leave half of all known reserves of fossil fuels in the ground to prevent catastrophic climate change.’

Natalie went on to criticise the economic strategy of the three big parties.  There was she said no evidence of fundamental change in economic strategy from any of them.  They were all supporting the creation of a low wage economy that was only possible with the availability of cheap fossil fuels.  This she explained allowed cheap food and goods to be transported to this country, pricing local production out of the market.  ‘This failed economic strategy has left half a million people in this country, the sixth richest in the world, dependent on food banks.’

She reminded the meeting about the causes of the economic crisis.  ‘The bail out of the banks took huge amounts of public money.  Yet the banks were bailed out with no guarantees that they would reform their activities, stop high risk investments and end the bonus culture.  If the economic strategy proposed by the Green Party in 2010 had been implemented, we would now be seeing investment by the banks in sustainable projects that the country needs, creating long term employment to get and keep people in work and off benefit.’

‘We now need to ‘re-localise’ the economy.’  She said that this process had to be accompanied by the restoration of local political power that could rebalance the economy away from London and the south east.  As evidence of this unbalanced economy she told the meeting that there were a million empty homes in the UK yet there was also a housing shortage.  The power of big corporations was concentrating work in the areas that suit themselves having no regard to where people now live.  As a result these economic hot spots drag people in but do not provide the facilities that workers need, hence a chronic shortage of affordable housing.

‘We need thought out regional development strategies that address both economic and social needs, backed with the necessary political power to deliver those strategies.’

‘With rising transport costs and rising wages in the developing world, we are now seeing a ‘re-shoring’ in production, with companies starting to bring production back to the UK.  This offers great opportunities but we must have the economic and political structures in place to ensure that business properly pays its way.’  Natalie explained that with a clear political determination, big business could be made to address and pay for its impact on the environment and society.  ‘Greens on Bristol Council have helped to bring in a supermarket levy that collects 8% of turnover to reflect the damaging consequences of supermarkets.  This money is ploughed back in to local small business.’

Flanked by the five East Midland European candidates, Natalie concluded with a review of  the Green Party’s electoral prospects.  ‘We are now a Parliamentary Party.  This has been very important in lifting our national profile.  Latest opinion polls are placing the Greens on 12% and show a clear growth in support, by contrast the Liberal Democrats are now on 10% with their support fading.  With our level of support we could have six MEPs, including one here in the East Midlands.’  Natalie said that recent events had shown that the public were turning away from the three main parliamentary parties and looking to the smaller parties to express a dissatisfaction with traditional politics.  ‘We know that a growing number of people are coming to support Green policy.  Our challenge is to get people to vote for what they believe in, because what they believe in is increasingly Green Party policy.’

Natalie Bennett’s Address in Derby 24th September 2013

Natalie Bennett DerbySpeaking to a well attended audience in Derby, Natalie Bennett catalogued the inadequacy of the Labour Party’s response to a range of political issues that are affecting people’s lives.  Contrasting the reality of fuel poverty that is becoming a reality for a growing number of people with the huge profits being made by the big energy companies, she condemned Labours proposal for a two year price freeze as inadequate.

‘After two years, then what?’ she asked. ‘The Green Party proposes a national energy conservation programme funded by the Government.  This will lead to permanently reduced energy bills and to lower carbon emissions.  The insulation programme will create sustainable jobs, taking people out of fuel poverty and off benefit.’ 

‘Labour want to see the minimum wage enforced.’ She said.  ‘We know that people cannot hope to manage on a minimum wage, that is why we want to see it raised to a Living Wage, that enables people to meet their necessary weekly costs.  This policy is supported by 70% of people.

‘Labour have no commitment to re-nationalise the railways to ensure that investment goes where it is needed to build a system that meets demand.  This is Green policy and it is supported by 75% of people.

‘Greens support a publicly funded NHS free at the point of delivery.  Labour has made no commitment to reverse the coalition policy of sell-off of the NHS.  ‘‘Labour is backing fracking, ignoring that we must leave half of all known reserves of fossil fuels in the ground to prevent catastrophic climate change.’

Natalie went on to criticise the economic strategy of the three big parties.  There was she said no evidence of fundamental change in economic strategy from any of them.  They were all supporting the creation of a low wage economy that was only possible with the availability of cheap fossil fuels.  This she explained allowed cheap food and goods to be transported to this country, pricing local production out of the market.  ‘This failed economic strategy has left half a million people in this country, the sixth richest in the world, dependent on food banks.’

She reminded the meeting about the causes of the economic crisis.  ‘The bail out of the banks took huge amounts of public money.  Yet the banks were bailed out with no guarantees that they would reform their activities, stop high risk investments and end the bonus culture.  If the economic strategy proposed by the Green Party in 2010 had been implemented, we would now be seeing investment by the banks in sustainable projects that the country needs, creating long term employment to get and keep people in work and off benefit.’

‘We now need to ‘re-localise’ the economy.’  She said that this process had to be accompanied by the restoration of local political power that could rebalance the economy away from London and the south east.  As evidence of this unbalanced economy she told the meeting that there were a million empty homes in the UK yet there was also a housing shortage.  The power of big corporations was concentrating work in the areas that suit themselves having no regard to where people now live.  As a result these economic hot spots drag people in but do not provide the facilities that workers need, hence a chronic shortage of affordable housing.

‘We need thought out regional development strategies that address both economic and social needs, backed with the necessary political power to deliver those strategies.’

‘With rising transport costs and rising wages in the developing world, we are now seeing a ‘re-shoring’ in production, with companies starting to bring production back to the UK.  This offers great opportunities but we must have the economic and political structures in place to ensure that business properly pays its way.’  Natalie explained that with a clear political determination, big business could be made to address and pay for its impact on the environment and society.  ‘Greens on Bristol Council have helped to bring in a supermarket levy that collects 8% of turnover to reflect the damaging consequences of supermarkets.  This money is ploughed back in to local small business.’

Flanked by the five East Midland European candidates, Natalie concluded with a review of  the Green Party’s electoral prospects.  ‘We are now a Parliamentary Party.  This has been very important in lifting our national profile.  Latest opinion polls are placing the Greens on 12% and show a clear growth in support, by contrast the Liberal Democrats are now on 10% with their support fading.  With our level of support we could have six MEPs, including one here in the East Midlands.’  Natalie said that recent events had shown that the public were turning away from the three main parliamentary parties and looking to the smaller parties to express a dissatisfaction with traditional politics.  ‘We know that a growing number of people are coming to support Green policy.  Our challenge is to get people to vote for what they believe in, because what they believe in is increasingly Green Party policy.’

UK’s first Green MP welcomes Labour to Brighton with digital billboard ad

Labour ConferenceLabour Party members attending their conference in Brighton this weekend, in the constituency of the UK’s first Green MP, will be welcomed by a billboard making the case that it is Caroline Lucas who is offering the real opposition in parliament.

The digital advert will be on display prominently on Queen’s Road – one of Brighton’s main thoroughfares.  The street is the main route down which Labour delegates and lobbyists who arrive by train will travel to reach the conference at the sea-front Metropole Hotel.

The ad starts with a check list, against a red backdrop, reading: “Saving the NHS, Fighting Austerity, Railways in Public Hands, Scrapping Trident.”  As the screen turns green, the billboard says “Brought to you by the Green Party.”

The final screen displays a photo of Caroline Lucas MP and reads: “Welcome to Brighton – Home of the True Opposition in Parliament. p.s. Labour is down the hill on the right.”

Rob Shepherd, Chair of Brighton and Hove Green Party, said, “We know a lot of Labour members want their party leadership to stand up to austerity and NHS privatisation, and to support progressive policies such as public ownership of the railways.

“We wanted to remind them that there’s an MP already fighting for these causes in Parliament. It would be great to see Labour members using their conference to encourage Ed Miliband to follow Caroline’s lead on standing up for these causes, and bring together a powerful coalition of voices to reverse the consensus that austerity and privatisation are the only game in town.”

The Green Party’s own autumn conference took place last weekend, also in Brighton.  In her conference speech Caroline Lucas criticised cuts to welfare and local services, and argued that it is the Green Party, rather than Labour, that is offering the real opposition to the Government’s agenda of austerity and privatisation.

She is speaking at two events at Labour’s conference – a Compass panel discussion called ‘Labour – an open tribe?’ and an Institute for Public Policy Research event titled ‘The Condition of Britain’.

Her Private Member’s Bill to bring the railways back into public hands is due its second reading next month.

View the ad on line at: http://bit.ly/16qbrBJ

Life in Modern Britain

Peter mug-shot crop 1Peter Allen, who was a candidate in the County Elections this year, wrote the following letter to the Glossop Chronicle:


Dear Editor

A read through the pages of your latest edition tells us much about life in modern Britain as well as in Glossop itself:

– local residents trying to stop encroachment on precious green space by a housing development which will build homes which few of the local people who desperately need secure homes will be able to afford.

– local councils fearing that they will be unable to continue to provide even a basic level of essential services as a result of never ending cuts imposed by central government.

– the best employment apparently on offer being in a new supermarket being opened on the site of another closed local pub, probably offering jobs on a “flexible” basis to school leavers amongst others (well done to all those who passed their A levels ) who will be starting adult life full of hope and ambition but also fearful of the level of debts they will be taking on should they decide to go to university and knowing that good jobs are few and far between, as the latest figures on youth unemployment confirm.

– meanwhile in one of the richest (but also one of the most unequal) societies in the world one of the few ” growth industries” are food banks, supported not just by small businesses routed in their community but also by Asda supermarket, owned by Walmart, which built its empire in the USA on the basis of low wages and union busting but which now seeks “added value” by claiming credit for passing on donations made by those who shop in its store

Peter Allen
Derbyshire Green Party

Network Connections

Derby People's Assembly 8 July

The next meeting of Derby People’s Assembly preparatory meeting is being held at 7pm, Monday the 8th of July at Sound Bites, which is on the Morledge opposite the Magistrates court. Here is the map: http://www.soundbitesderby.org.uk/map.html  All Welcome

 

People’s Assembly Against Austerity

PA CropThe Tories have unleashed the biggest assault on ordinary people for generations. It needs to be met head-on. The People’s Assembly Against Austerity is a key opportunity to bring together all those who want to stop the cuts and the ­devastation they are bringing to millions of people in the UK, and to launch the next steps in the fightback.

The People’s Assembly Against Austerity was launched with a letter to the Guardian on February 28th 2012.  Two of the initial signatories were Caroline Lucas MP and Natalie Bennett. 

The Green Party had voted at their conference in February to support the event and agreed to send a delegation to the People’s Assembly and to  encourage local parties, regional federations and other GP bodies to also send delegations and to support future local People’s Assemblies.

People’s Assembly Against Austerity – Saturday June 22nd 

GeneralThis gathering is going to be a huge expression of opposition to “austerity” and privatisation involving all the main Trade Unions, local Trades Union Councils, local and national anti-cuts groups, campaign groups focused on NHS, Education, Housing, the People’s Charter, Coalition of Resistance and the Green Party.  Most of the policies that the People’s Assembly are advancing are Green Party policies

Derby People’s Assembly – A new local “networking” group has been formed in Derby made up of individuals and people representing local groups concerned with issues such as Climate Change, Taxation, NHS etc.  Two Green Party Members attended the initial meeting.  The aim of the meeting was twofold: to publicise the national gathering in London on 22nd June and to arrange a follow up event in Derby in the Autumn. 

Transport has been arranged for those who would like to attend the London event.  See our events page for details.  A Facebook page has been established (https://www.facebook.com/groups/143367235856170/?fref=ts ) and a blog and website will also be set up 

The time has come for us, the People, to make our voice heard. We are a democracy.  We must demand that the Government uses the power and money we give it to serve our interests, and not just those of the wealthy vested interests that are controlling politics.  Austerity will never succeed because the economic crisis was not caused by public spending. We must demand that the government we elected adopts policies that address the causes of the financial crisis.  We must demand that they invest in our future to build a sustainable economy.  We must make it clear that if this Government will not listen to us, we will elect one that will.

Tories commit planning suicide – again

Let’s be very clear, this is a dysfunctional coalition government desperately seeking measures to divert attention from the real problem – that economic plan A [austerity] isn’t working. The end game is now apparent, be it tomorrow or 2015, Labour can win the next general election, especially if, with Gordon out of the way, it signs a provisional pact with the Lib Dems.          

The latest diversion, to blame the lack of ‘growth’ on planning, is plain daft – and they’ve tried it before. They try to think that it is ‘red tape’ that is holding back growth, not the banks or their austerity policies.

For every large extension that isn’t refused or moderated by planning, there will be two happy persons: the home-owner and the contractor. There will be between 2 and 5 very unhappy persons:- the neighbours to the sides and at the back. The emotions of the latter will be stronger and linger longer than those of the home-owner. Democratically unsound…

For every green field in the green belt approved for a housing estate on previously ‘guaranteed countryside’, there will be two transient beneficiaries – the landowner and the contractor. There will be a whole village or market town’s worth of very angry people. Their anger will be even greater and last longer if the houses are for well off incomers and not, as previously promised, at least in part for local people in need. Another democratic disaster in waiting…

Bear in mind that the Tories learnt these lessons in the past:-

  • In 1988, Nicolas Ridley (not the one burnt at the stake) rescued a by election by agreeing to distinguish in planning between local need and open market. Thus the affordable housing system was born leading to thousands of targeted houses. To throw that way is as ill-considered as his own simultaneous attempt to protect his own backyard.
  • On at least two occasions, the Tories have proposed loosening the green belt. Each time a few growls from their very own faithful “saved” the green belts.
  • In 2010, they launched a bonfire of planning policies which had been developed with great care and consensus over 50 years. As per the usual tactic, they backed off a bit to give the impression that they were listening. The National Trust and the CPRE rather fell for it and accepted that their concerns about greenbelt and rural development had been met. But the house-builders / landowners weren’t satisfied. Thus a second attempt to push for greenbelt development, in the name of ‘growth’.

They must be either very desperate or very silly to try these tricks again

The real answer is well proven. The Housing Corporation used to sign off £millions of grants for housing schemes every year that met the real need and kept thousands of workers in work. The money was provided and this was a sound investment in durable infrastructure. The money is there today, there isn’t really a deficit – just tax the tax avoiders; tax aviation fuel and air ticket sales; cancel Trident and nuclear power; invest in renewables to generate revenue and reduce imports; create green jobs and reduce the dole and generate taxable income. And then – Bob’s your uncle. A happy 90% and the planet saved. Oh yes – and the next election won!

© John Youatt September 2012. 

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

Green Party Launches Manifesto Today

Today the Green Party launches our election manifesto. Click to download the full manifesto.

The Green Party is running in over 300 constituencies around the country (a record for the party in its 30 year history), and it is also running a full slate of general election candidates in London (for the first time ever). The key policies in our fully-costed manifesto for the general election are:

Health and the NHShttp://www.greenparty.org.uk/policies/nhs_2010

We will fight for a fair deal for those needing health care by opposing cuts, closures and privatisation and by demanding a full programme of locally accessible services. We will also fight to restore free dental care and provide everyone with the choice of an NHS dentist

Opposing cuts to the public sector

When markets fail, government needs to step in and get the economy working again. You just can’t cut your way out of a recession. Greens believe that public spending cuts would harm the economy. It would impact on jobs – and hit the poorest hardest. That’s just not fair

Jobs and a living wagehttp://www.greenparty.org.uk/policies/jobs_2010

Unemployment is skyrocketing, and the government is doing little about it. Our major and immediate priority is fight the economic and climate crisis together, and invest in a far-reaching programme of energy efficiency, renewable energy, social housing, public transit, and home insulation to create hundreds of thousands of jobs and training places

Pensionshttp://www.greenparty.org.uk/policies/pensions_2010

We would ensure all pensioners receive a basic non-means tested £170 a week

Housinghttp://www.greenparty.org.uk/policies/housing_2010/housing_detail.html

The Greens would bring back into use Britain’s 300,000 long-term empty private sector homes, and renovate Britain’s 37,000 empty council homes to help cut waiting lists.

The Housing Challenge

Peter Allen says:

The Green Party knows that there is a housing crisis across Britain. We believe that access to affordable secure housing is a human right. In the High Peak nearly 4000 households are on the housing waiting list, yet less than 500 council and housing association homes were let in 2008/9.  To address this shortfall the government requires around 5,000 additional homes to be built in the High Peak by 2026. We accept that some new building is necessary but we would plan new housing on the basis of independent housing needs surveys. Builders’ representatives have far too much influence over planning policy at present. Green policy requires that new homes are built to high energy efficiency standards and sited to minimise their impact on the environment. Existing homes should benefit from a nationwide insulation programme, reducing carbon emissions and creating Green Jobs.  An immediate priority is to make better use of existing homes and buildings. Local authorities must use their powers to bring empty properties into use. It is wrong that wealthy second homeowners leave holiday property empty while local people are denied a home.

Peter Allen is your Green Party candidate in the High Peak. He continues:

The Green Party offers the voice of hope in Britain today. Our vision is for a fair and sustainable society. We have policies that tackle the economic and environmental crisis.  After the election of Barack Obama in the US, for a moment the world dared to hope. That hope is now fading. The unwinnable war in Afghanistan has got worse. Despite the economic crisis that they caused, greedy  bankers are still paying themselves massive and totally unjustified bonuses. Nothing was achieved at the Copenhagen Climate Conference. Nevertheless the hope and expectation that brought Obama to power remains. To quote Naomi Klein, “What the election and the global embrace of Obama’s brand proved decisively is that there is a tremendous appetite for progressive change; that many, many people do not want markets opened at gunpoint, are repelled by torture, believe passionately in civil liberties, want corporations out of politics, see global warming as the fight of our time, and to be part of a political project larger than themselves.”

We need to build a movement for radical change. Will you help us by getting involved (email: getinvolved@derbyshiregreenparty.org.uk) or by making a donation? Cheques, payable to Derbyshire Green Party can be sent to Slatelands House, Slatelands Rd, Glossop, Sk13 6LH

For more info on Green Party Policies visit  http://www.greenparty.org.uk/policies.html