East Midlands Green Party Blog


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Council Cutting Services on Valentines Day in Northamptonshire

Our Conservative County Council simply has no heart; it’s decided to cut care, attack the vulnerable and implement education cuts on Valentines Day.  Today, in Wellingborough, a community group including Labour and Green Party members  called ‘Save Northants Services’, braved the sleet to make local people aware that Northamptonshire County Council is yet again cutting millions from vital services across the county.

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Picture includes: Jonathan Hornett, Paul Crofts, John Clarke, Eddie Stock and Cynthia Bailey.  Also local Labour Councillor, Valerie Anslow, talked to shoppers.

Last year this council made massive cuts to disabled services, abolished school meals, closed care homes, slashed the children’s services budget, closed elderly dementia care and cut millions of pounds from their families budget.

This year they intend to cut a further £20 million from the families and children’s budget; together with less early years care, less care packages and 100 less staff.  Not happy with attacking children, adult social care affecting disabled people and the elderly will now also be slashed by £46 million!

All this while we pay out to rip-off private finance initiatives (PFI) schemes as they keep repeated they’ve got no money for essential services.

On Valentines Day, this Tuesday 14th February, we are protesting!  Join the protest at Northamptonshire County Council Cabinet on Georges Row, Northampton.  It starts at 1:30.  Contact the group directly for more information on 01604 752588 or 07872 836463.  Email savenorthantsservices@gmail.com or Facebook ‘Save Northants Services’


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Urgent appeal for funds to fight Newark by-election

PLEASE SHARE WIDELY

On the 5th June there will be a by-election in Newark. If you are one of the national Green Party members or supporters who thinks it is vital that we stand and contest Parliamentary by-elections then we need you to show your support in the next 72 hours.

East Midlands Green Party has expressed support for the idea of standing, but a final democratic decision and selection of candidate have still to be concluded. They have authorised me to make this appeal on their behalf. An absolute minimum requirement is that the campaign raises £1,500 to enable them to pay for a freepost leaflet and to cover the deposit.This will not be a paper candidate: if we stand, we stand to fight the seat. The seat will be a focus of national interest following the resignation of the previous MP, and coming just 2 weeks after the European results.

It is essential that Newark voters have the option to choose a Westminster party that opposes austerity and, since the selection of Roger Helmer UKIP’s energy spokesman, this will be an opportunity for the Green Party to challenge the UKIP position on renewable energy as well as the extreme views Mr. Helmer holds on a variety of issues including rape and homosexuality.

We are currently seeking nominations for potential candidates. I myself have already agreed to stand for nomination to be the candidate as I was born in the town and still live and work locally and feel that Newark has to be able to choose an alternative to austerity and, as a gay man and trade unionist, want to ensure people in Newark know there’s more to UKIP than the Farage grin.

Please pledge your support with whatever amount you can and send that pledge to david.kirwan@greenparty.org.uk in the next 72 hours. If enough pledges are received we will then contact you with details of how to make your donation.

As you know the Green Party do not have big business or other organisations to bankroll us so we rely on your support, please consider supporting our campaign. If you are not in a position to pledge financial support perhaps you would consider joining the campaign team to give practical support on the ground? Thank you in advance for your support and please pass this message to any individuals or groups you know that may be willing to help.

Thanks

David Kirwan
East Midlands Green Party
david.kirwan@greenparty.org.uk


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Now it’s Fracking Bribery

The cynicism of the Con Dem government is staggering. It has deliberately driven Councils and Communities to desperation by cutting their budgets, and now it is bribing those same struggling Authorities to give permission for fracking that local communities have clearly rejected. If they do as the Government demands, turn a blind eye to the hazards, and the opinion of the electorate, they will be rewarded with extra cash from the fracking companies. Like some medieval torturer who, having starved his victim allows the smell of a succulent meal to drift into the torture chamber, so the Government waves the promise of cash at these desperate Councils. Inevitably this action will weaken further the trust between Councils and their electorate, as the Tories intend – residents will never be sure if a permission was given in the best interest of the community and country, or for the cash.

Cameron is now just acting as the industries mouthpiece. On the very day Total, the French energy company who are unable to frack in their own country because the French Government has banned it, announced a £30 million stake in UK fracking, he turns up at a drilling depot in Gainsborough. It just happens that Total have taken a stake in the companies that have exploration licences in Gainsborough. Doing the job of a company PR spokesman, he dutifully reiterated the claim that fracking will produce much needed investment, create jobs and lead to energy security, and that our robust regulations make it completely safe. There is no justification for any of these claims. They come from, a report commissioned by the frack company Caudrilla, headed by his friend Lord John Browne, ex of BP, that suggests that Britain can benefit by £3.7 billion a year extra revenue and 74,000 new jobs. These figures are just guesses. The 74,000 job claim included the extra staff needed in local shops to serve the security guards buying sweets! One wonders just how many of these 74,000 people will be security guards, such has been his governments and the industries failure to convince the British public that we need fracking.

To talk up the robust environmental regulations in the UK is to ignore the fact that the Conservative Party is doing all it can to abolish these regulations as ‘red tape’. It also conveniently ignores the fact that if the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership negotiations with the USA that they are so keen on, does get the go ahead from Europe, then all such regulations will prove to be useless. Governments will do all they can to minimise green regulations for fear of being sued by corporations for loss of profit.

The dash for gas is a high risk strategy, not one that can lead to energy security. It is not known how much gas can be won or at what price. The demand for water will be colossal and will lead to escalating domestic water bills and water shortages. The cost of the disposal of trillions of gallons of polluted waste water is unknown and we can’t be sure that we, the tax payer won’t be left with the disposal bill. The same applies to the costs of the pollution incidents that will inevitably occur. And the gas will run out but we will be tied to a gas energy infrastructure, then what?

The one claim, that Cameron didn’t make and that has been quietly dropped by the industry is that fracking will lead to cheap energy. It will do nothing for energy costs since the gas, if it is ever produced will be sold on the open market just as the North Sea oil was, and we British consumers will have to pay a premium price, as we did for North Sea oil, so that the big energy companies can maintain their bloated profits.

In all, this is a thoroughly bad deal for the British energy consumer and tax payer. The only beneficiaries are the big energy companies and their shareholders who will send their profits off shore. It is an even worse deal because there is a real deal available that would give us affordable and secure energy. This is to use the free energy that blows over our heads, laps on our shores and shines in our faces. Yes, the wind, the sun and the tides are free energy, all we needed to do was invest in the infrastructure to capture them, store the energy as necessary and distribute it. No big deal any of that, just use the technology that’s already there. But, no one can take a monopoly on the wind, the waves or the sun, no one can threaten to divert it or switch it off if they don’t get their own way. No one can put it in a barrel or down a pipeline and sell it back to us at a profit. So this Government of millionaires, for millionaires isn’t interested.

There is only one Party seriously opposing fracking and that is the Green Party. We also have a clear and workable alternative energy strategy that would end fuel poverty and our reliance on fossil fuels. The only thing that will make the main parties rethink their fossil/nuclear energy [policies is a big green vote. Work with us to make this happen.


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Money, Money, Money – Must be funny

All pain no gain GP postertax bankers not bedrooms

This month East Midland’s Greens are putting banking and debt under the microscope. There are more posts to follow with this one giving an overview. In this age of globalised markets and globalised debts we need to re-examine the nature of money. In the USA there is a partial government shutdown as Republicans and Democrats battle out what to do about mounting debt. Their decisions may be behind closed doors and across the ocean but waves will be felt near and far.  Here in the East Midlands, at the time of the harvest we examine our national economic harvest of the year and the forecast ahead. Did you know for example that under the coalition government in the 2012 -2013 financial year borrowing had gone up £300 million, while at the same time the total debt had risen to 75.2% of our gross domestic product (GDP), up from 71.1% of GDP at the end of May 2012? These figures were reported by among others, BBC News Business, on 21/06/13. Such figures did not lead to a good economic yield at the year’s Autumn.

75 % of the UK economy is debt as borrowing rises. That is not a good harvest, with most of the crop spoken for. Much of this extra borrowing is subsidising banks and big business. Meanwhile public services are being cut and in certain areas shredded. Bankers bonuses are back in the billions while our national and personal debts are rising. Many people rely on payday loans with typical  apr at 3000 – 4000 % and more.  Amelia Gentleman’s article ‘Buy Now Regret Later? The Secret of Brighthouse’s Success’ The Guardian, Friday 4 October 2013 illuminates this culture of a society fueled, not by credit, but by debt.

Far from getting ourselves out of debt we have an economic system based on debt.  Our ability to pay off personal debts is being undermined. Thanks to savage cuts there are less full-time or secure jobs and more zero hours contracts, particularly for young adults, offering the most uncertain present and future. Students start their  working lives with huge debts and less employment prospects. It is no coincidence that one of the largest and ever growing proportion of homeless population are young people. Another group with rising debts and homelessness is families. Bedroom tax hits low income families, among many others, as do skyrocketing house prices. Austerity is increasing debt, with the cost of living far greater than a growing number of people’s ability to pay for even the most basic costs of shelter and survival. The Charity Crisis reports a 31% rise in homelessness in 3 years. This is attributed to rising debts, due to benefits cuts and rising house prices and living costs. Broken homes can become more common, along with domestic abuse. In the Independent 03/09/13 and The Mirror on 04/09/13 article accuse The Police (operating on decreased numbers and funds) of referring less domestic violence cases to Crown Prosecution  Service while allegation numbers rise by 10 % and prosecution dropped by 11.1% last year. This is one example of the harvest of our broken economic system, with police force targets having to be met under a 20% decrease in funds and a new level of red tape; Police Commissioners dictating regional priorities. There is toxic irony in the Tory’s rhetoric on family values when they are delivering policies across the board which raise the debts and threats to the majority of families, both in and out of paid work.

These insane policies are enabled by the Liberal Democrats, with inadequate opposition in Labour policies, with the nation remaining controlled by rising debt and a failing banking system. Credit Union Empowerment, measures to encourage responsible lending and banking reform are core Green Party policies.  The Green Party and Green Group Europe have long called for financial reform, including a Robin Hood Tax, or financial transaction tax which means bankers would help pay for high risk banking practices. This would encourage a more responsible approach and one in which cost of failure is not predominantly levied on citizens as it so far has been. This sensible taxing of bankers is something the coalition government are working against in both the UK and Europe. The government are not protecting a stable economy. They are ensuring one of high risk, imbalance and increasing debts and insecurity for most people. Citizens are being pushed into paying national debt by getting into more personal debt and it is not working.

The Green Party do not believe the poorest should be getting poorer while the rich get richer , nor that this is inevitable but a symptom of a broken system that needs fixing. One that has not been fixed by successive governments, each too lacking in vision and courage. Austerity is failing in its promise to build productivity in the private sector; small and medium sized businesses are not secure or significantly growing.  Foodbanks are growing. Rajesh Mirchandani reported for BBC Newsnight on 11th July 2013 that ‘the Trussell Trust, which runs food banks, reported a 21% rise in the number of people who said they did not have enough money for food because of problems with benefits. “A clear link” exists between the reforms and the increasing popularity of food banks, the Trust’s boss said. Conservative minister Lord Freud has said the two factors are unrelated.’

harvest

The Financial Times articles are often scathing about Government’s blinkered Economic Policy. One such article by Trevor Greetham is dated  02/09/13. Greetham states that ‘in encouraging a housing boom the government are forcing the next generation into debt in the hope the government can improve its own financial position.’ I personally wonder if it is so radical to suggest that a government should serve the interests of its citizens? We appear to have an inverted system under current policies. Trevor Greetham notes the failure of the government’s economic policy to recover the private sector and predicts people will have greater debt, not less, when recession does end. This will guarantee future turmoil.  The article recommends jobs creation and improvement of infrastructure to overcome the ‘economic stagnation’ caused by delays in recovery and unemployment.

Austerity is costing jobs and creating unemployment and an atmosphere of despair and blame.  The Green Party have long been calling for a Green New Deal of job creation, protecting and building valuable skills, sustainable infrastructures and lessening levels of unemployment  instead of increasing unemployment then using those without paid work (or not enough to live off)as scapegoats. We are calling for risky practices by bankers to be taxed in order to discourage and absorb  shocks and imbalances in the financial sector. The debt must not continue to rest on the shoulders of those least to blame and least likely to be able to carry the burden.  Current government policies are increasing debt for most people now and ensuring debt for most people in the future. We need not be tied to a cycle of debt. There is an alternative and the Green Party is at the heart of it. Be part of it.

Join the Green Party Link: https://my.greenparty.org.uk/civicrm/membership/joining

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The Voice / Soundtrack – just for fun:

Forbes is among the publications that has drawn parallels between the Great Depression and today’s crisis. There is a song from those bygone days by Bob Miller that is disturbingly appropriate today. This inspired me to write a soundtrack to banking reform.

Soundtrack for Calling for Bank Reform:

  • Bank Failures – Bob Miller
  • The Man that Broke the Bank at Monte Carlo – Music Hall Classic
  • I Need a Dollar – Pixie Lott (original Aloe Blacc)
  • Umbrella – Rihanna
  • Hands – Jewel
  • Stand and Deliver – AntMusic
  • Money, Money, Money – Abba
  • With a Little Help From My Friends – Beatles


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Green Party says NO to Foston Factory Farm, Green Party says NO to all Factory Farms

The Green Party is opposing the planning application for the development of a mega Pig Factory Farm by Midlands Pig Producers. We also oppose any factory farm for several good reasons outlined below. This specific development would be placed in the pleasant rural village of Foston on Uttoxeter Road, South Derbyshire. The planning application involves a pig rearing unit together with anaerobic digestion facility and associated infrastructures. Midlands Pig Producer already have a factory farm in the area which holds around 5000 pigs. The Foston unit would hold 25000 pigs with 1000 pigs being slaughtered every week.

South Derbyshire DC has refused permission, the matter now lies with Derbyshire County Council who have called for more evidence on environmental impacts. If they refuse the matter will almost certainly go to appeal and be decided by the Ministry of Environment.

Foston residents have been campaigning against this massive development for some time now. The site is bordered by housing and a women’s prison, the natal unit of which is within 130 meters to the pig farm. I have spoken to some residents who have serious concerns about possible health implications, which I understand have not been fully assessed. It is unclear what Midlands Pig Producers would do in the event of an outbreak of disease for example Food and Mouth. Residents fear that the pig unit and possible neighbouring houses and the prison might have to be quarantined and movement in the village strictly limited.

Furthermore local residents understandably do not wish to live next to a big industrial unit, with its associated noise, smell and traffic movements. Although the developers claim that they will filter off 90% of the noise and smells; residents fear that the remaining noise and smells from 25,000 pigs will have a serious impact on their lives.

Another really important point is the risk of flooding. This area is prone to flooding. The actual flood-line is very close to the development; and flooding increases the risk of water contamination. The Environment Agency has objected to the plan on the basis that the risks to groundwater contamination can not be properly managed.

The development will cause a significant increase in traffic movements and noise in an area that lacks the infrastructure to properly absorb these impacts. The proposal is therefore contrary to established planning guidelines for developments in rural areas. Furthermore, the access road to and from the site is not appropriate for heavy industrial and agricultural traffic.

The Green Party promotes a sustainable approach to food production and these mega units, reliant on cheap oil and animal feed are not sustainable, which is why we oppose not only the Foston piggery but also all factory farms. We believe that the land used to grow the animal feed should be used to grow food for human consumption. Producing meat means that these animals have to be fed. Land used to grow the animal food is taken from the area used to grow human food. More intensive units means less land for human food. The calorie needs of a growing pig is about double that of a human child under 10 and 50% higher than an active adult. So the food going to this pig unit could feed 50,000 children.

I feel strongly about animal welfare, since animals are able to experience many of the same feeling as humans do. Any human with some sense of empathy can sense that animals can feel fear, pain and discomfort, they also feel stress when separated from their young. Keeping pigs or any other animals in cages for all of their lives, without natural light, without the chance to be part of their social structures – is cruel. I understand that Midlands Pig Producers claim that they will keep to the RSPCA code of welfare for farmed animals. In my opinion these standards are inadequate for these intelligent and social animals.

Another major concern is the use of antibiotics. In large factory farms animals are kept in unnatural and confined environments, the outbreak and spread of diseases is, therefore a serious risk. In order to prevent this, animals are usually kept on low doses of antibiotics. 27% of all antibiotics are used in pig farming here in the UK. Experts are increasingly warning that bacteria are getting resistant to these antibiotics, which are the same as the ones used in human medicine. We rely on antibiotics heavily; without effective antibiotics normal operations and common illness can become lethal. Risking losing the service of valuable antibiotics through overuse as in factory farms is irresponsible.

As mentioned above, the Green Party says that we have to address sustainability in food production. These factory farms use a lot of energy and have a high carbon footprint. Since we are facing a major environmental crisis, we need to reduce energy usage and carbon omission. The UN has published information that states that the meat and diary industry produces 18% of green house gases globally; however other studies imply an even higher contribution.

These factory units will further harm small and medium sized farmers. Farmers cannot compete with the low prices that these mega units can achieve at the present time. This unit would have around 18 employees working in the factory; if the pigs were traditionally farmed, far more people would be employed and earning a living from this. Do we really want our British farming to become an industrial production line? Do we really want our landscape to be filled with industrial units? Or do we want to see traditional farms with grazing animals in the fields?

Having looked at this Foston development I could not find a single reason that I thought was persuasive in its favour. Local residents, traditional farmers, the pigs, the consumers’ health, our environment all would have to pay a price so that a handful of people could get rich. That is simply not a good reason to allow mega factory farms.


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No Jobs on a Dead Planet

Peter Allen reports back on a momentum gathering People’s Assembly:

Following a successful and determined local Peoples Assembly Against Austerity in Nottingham last month, with around 400 participants, a national PAAA attracted an amazing 4000 people to Central London on Saturday June 22nd.The event was sponsored by a number of trade unions (UNITE, UNISON, PCS, NUT, CWU, FBU, TSSA, NUJ), various campaign groups and War and Want .

The Green Party was the only political party with parliamentary representation that backed the event. Our MP, Caroline Lucas, reminded the gathering that the environmental crisis was as important as the economic crisis and indeed that “you can’t tackle the one without the other”. Rather than bailing out the banks unconditionally, money should have been invested in insulating our homes,renewing our railways (which should be taken back into public ownership) and greening our energy generation. Such initiatives would also create the jobs that are desperately needed

See here speech here

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QuggTKDAhE0&feature=share

Party leader Natalie Bennett facilitated a workshop discussion on the need for a renewal of democracy given the fact that democratic politics has been discredited by broken promises and corporate lobbying. As Natalie said “we have a political system for the 1%, owned by the 1%”.

Other sessions discussed the crisis in the NHS and other public services, the need to defend the poorest and most vulnerable from the attack on welfare benefits ( a clergyman from Haringey said “civil disobedience is defensible against the indefensible”) and the need to establish peoples assemblies across the country, bringing together all those who want to resist austerity and the politics of despair, and who know that there is an alternative to the “race to the bottom” that the establishment parties all promote.

Greens will have an important role to play in these local initiatives.In particular we have a responsibility to ensure that ecological and environmental issues remain at the fore front.

As Sharan Burrow , General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation (and quoted by Carloine on Saturday) said

” There are no jobs on a dead planet “


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Nottingham City Council Bilborough By- Election – Green Party asks are we ready for change?

The Green Party have selected Katharina Boettge to be their candidate for the Nottingham City Council by-election in the Bilborough ward. She is the Greens lead candidate for the European Election in 2014 and is the Party’s Regional Coordinator. Born in Germany, she has lived in Nottingham for 13 years where she works as a psychotherapist.

Katharina says that as a single mother she has experienced the problems of having to survive on a low income. “This Government has continued reliance on cuts and austerity which is causing real hardship to people in our communities. Yet they can find the money to give a £160 billion tax break to the cash rich oil companies, they do nothing about the obscene bonuses paid to the very people bearing the most responsibility for the financial crisis.”

If elected, Katharina says that one of her priority’s will be to help people fight the totally unfair “bedroom tax.” ‘It’s a mansion tax we need not a bedroom tax, to me it makes more sense to tax the people who’ve got the money. Hounding people who are already struggling is vindictive, particularly since there are not enough social housing properties they could move into.”

Katharina believes that Nottingham City Council needs some change “Labour has a comfortable majority in Nottingham and they are not offering a way out of the current government’s austerity and cuts that are crippling our country. Labour has actually failed to vote against the unfair and illegal workfare scheme in Parliament last week”. She further argues that all major parties support cuts and austerity, they only argue about the pace and details. The Green Party says categorical no to cuts and austerity, we are offering policies that will address our economic crisis, whilst these enhance the lives of individuals, families and communities. For example, in 2010 we proposed a Green New Deal that would see immediate government investment in renewable energy and a nation wide programme of insulation. This would create thousands of jobs therefore cutting the benefit bill and increasing tax revenue. It would save people money on energy bills leaving them with more to spend in the local economy.”

Katharina Boettge has been living in Strelley, in the Bilborough ward with her 13 year old daughter and their pets for over eight years, she says “I know the area well, Bilborough has been our home and I want to give something back to our beautiful neighbourhood.”

Polling for the Bilborough ward by-elections will be on the 4th of April 2013.