Friday, 16 June 2017

Roundly assessing the value of local services & facilities

There has been commendable campaigning once again in Knowle, by the local community and its councillors, to save the local swimming pool (Jubilee). This includes a petition with thousands of signatures, shortly to be debated by the council. Apparently the pool is safe for the next five years as a contract for that period has been negotiated (see here).
Taking a decision to close the pool on narrow, purely financial grounds would not be an acceptable approach. 

Locally available services and facilities like Jubilee Pool have a value to our community and wider society well beyond money.

If we are to become a...
  • low carbon city
  • a more equal city
  • a more resilient and liveable city
  • and a healthier city... 
...for instance we need to be roundly assessing the value of local facilities not only in financial terms but also in broader social and environmental terms terms.

We dont know what the total impact of the loss of Jubilee would be because we aren't assessing everything properly. Despite this there is a clear possibility that the pool could close in the future - this would not be a fair decision or a sustainable approach to the issue at all.

Thursday, 8 June 2017

Reason why I'm voting Green (3): for the best policies

Successive governments, whether Labour, Con/Lib Dem Coalition or Conservative, have consistently failed to put in place the essentials needed to build a sustainable society. They've all spoken warm words about the concept of sustainable development - which came to prominence 30 yrs ago this year (see here). Despite their words they have essentially carried on with business as usual. 

The policies needed to build a sustainable society are amongst the most popular with the public when blind surveys are done (, as you can see from the size of the Green wedge in the image. Take the survey yourself and see which policies you favour. I want to see such policies implemented because they are: 

  • Policies to ensure a decent future for generations to come - not more and more wealth, for the few, for the short term, but an ongoing availability and decent supply of wealth, fairly shared.
  • Policies to ensure efficiency replaces wastefulness.
  • Policies to ensure careful, sensitive management of resources, so that they remain available. 
  • Polices to ensure that renewable resource use replaces squandering.
  • Policies for assessing progress through the health and wellbeing of people and their environment. 
  • Polices to ensure we live within environmental and social limits and set new social and economic goals.
  • Policies to build strong, resilient, informed and empowered local communities.
  • Policies to help make us all safer and more secure.
  • Policies which recognise that fairness is inseparable from sustainable development.
  • Policies which recognise that solving problems and taking opportunities requires joined up thinking.

These popular policies are what we need to achieve changes on the required scale and at the required pace, at all levels of society, in the face of entrenched vested interests. 

Those advocating them offer the leadership society needs and which successive Labour, Conservative, and Conservative/Lib Dem Coalition Governments have failed to provide.

Thursday, 1 June 2017

Reason why I'm voting Green (2): for a safe, secure, non-nuclear future

Many Conservative and Labour politicians say we would be 'defenceless' without nuclear weapons and have used phrases like 'keep our guard up' and 'insurance policy' about them. As if keeping the country secure with indiscriminate weapons of mass destruction like Trident is just the same as a boxing match. As if getting rid of our nuclear weapons would lead to us immediately being attacked (even though the hundreds of countries that have never had them are not being nuked!). It's surely a very strange principle indeed - if it's worth calling a principle - that peace can be maintained by arranging to 'defend' ourselves with weapons we could not possibly use without committing suicide? Is it possible we can continue into the future like this, with confidence that nuclear weapons will never again be used?? No, a nuclear armed world is not sustainable and its one of the main reasons why I joined the Greens 35 yrs ago and am still with them (more on Trident here). 

The thinking behind nuclear weapons strategy is mutually assured destruction, which appropriately shortens to MAD. It says large use (!) of nuclear weapons by opponents causes the complete destruction of both sides. Nuclear weapons are thus, so the thinking goes, a deterrentthreatened use of nuclear weapons by both sides stops both sides from actually using them. Neither side has a motive to start a conflict - but neither side has motive to disarm either, which leaves us stuck with spending billions updating the weaponry when we really need the money for many other things.

MAD is seriously flawed. It assumes all decision makers will always be rational and decide rationally to avoid mutual destruction. This assumes no rogue commanders, no extremists, no irrational fervour for Armageddon. It assumes all those in command will always care about the survival of their citizens - and no-one with the bunker mentality of Hitler. Perfectly rational action also requires complete and error-free information and interpretation - not something that is possible.

CND Demonstration Oct 22 1983, London
Mutually assured destruction is assumed but by no means can it be forever guaranteed. One side might gain the upper hand technologically, perhaps in the speed, stealth or scale of its ability to attack and/or its ability to defend itself via shelters or via anti-missile systems. It might therefore be tempted into striking first.

We cannot expect to go on forever with no errors or accidents in the equipment and procedures. If there was an error or an accident that resulted in the firing of nuclear weapons - or indeed if there was a deliberate launch - it cannot be guaranteed that we could establish who was responsible. 

So, given all these things, mutual destruction breaks down.

Spending on nuclear weapons is not focused on real threats to our security. Obtaining sufficient, clean, green energy supplies on our finite planet, global terrorism, organised crime including cyber crime, absolute poverty and virtually ungoverned countries in some parts of the globe, climate change and a number of other issues all clearly represent huge ongoing security threats - spending on new nuclear submarines not only tackles none of these but takes away money that could be invested in tackling them (see this issue explored here).

The tens, perhaps hundreds, of billions involved is enough to build hundreds of new schools or protect hundreds of million acres of rainforest or meet our UN's aid figure of 0.7% of GDP every year for around a decade thus fighting global poverty which adds to our insecurity as it goes un-tackled. Just think of what could be done to enhance state pensions or improve social care or improve aspects of the NHS with the billions to be spent on nuclear submarines armed with nuclear weapons.

The vast majority of countries around the world do not feel they have to spend billions on nuclear weapons to make them more secure - so why do we?

By not reducing nuclear weapons significantly, an aspiration of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty signed decades ago, we have sent out the message to countries who have since developed nuclear weapons, like India, Pakistan, North Korea and possibly others, that the possession and threatened use of nuclear weapons is a necessary and acceptable part of being a secure state. There is a resulting higher risk from the wider availability of nuclear material, which could be obtained by terrorists.

Successive Conservative, Labour and Conservative/Liberal Coalition governments have failed to lead the world in nuclear disarmament. The destructive capacity they have decided to retain is equivalent hundreds of the nuclear bombs used twice by the USA on Japan in August 1945. It's the 72nd anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki this summer. The USA then demonstrated the capability and willingness to deploy nuclear weapons of mass destruction in a war situation, mass killing non-combatants on a scale and with a speed previously unmatched. We can kill on an even bigger scale now. There's 'progress' for you. UK Government's continue to regard the threat of mass destruction as acceptable and worth spending many billions on to update systems.

Hiroshima devastated by a nuclear bomb in 1945
Why on Earth is such a massive capacity to indiscriminately annihilate needed? How can any Government or Opposition who want a large nuclear arsenal, ever be considered Green if they favour 'defence' by threatening to destroy life on a mass scale?

We must look hard for non-violent solutions to conflict situations, which take into account the interests of all parties as well as future generations in order to achieve lasting settlements. What moral authority can we possibly have to lecture other countries, such as Iran, about not developing nuclear weapons when we refuse to begin the process of disarmament ourselves - and indeed are in the process of upgrading our own nuclear weapons arsenal?

The replacement of Trident is immoral and hugely costly. It is dangerous, counterproductive, and places Britain at even greater risk of attack. Plans to replace Trident, together with the threat of first use of nuclear weapons - made by both Labour and Conservative politicians during this 2017 general election - reduce our moral standing.

Greens unambiguously oppose the replacement of Trident and seek binding global agreements against all weapons of mass destruction, particularly nuclear weapons. They oppose nuclear power and any associated technologies that produce the material for nuclear weapons. 

Defence should mean self-defence and UN-led policing where need is established. We need to improve the military to promote human security, by focusing on defence not aggression and specialising in crisis prevention, emergency relief and conflict resolution. We should end all export subsidies and increase controls on UK arms sales, especially to Governments who violate human rights (see the 2017 Green manifesto here).

Monday, 15 May 2017

Reason why I'm voting Green (1): great, truly local candidate

My Green general election candidate in Bristol South, Tony Dyer, is a local man, with local roots, living locally, with local knowledge and awareness of what the area needs. See his Bristol Post profile here. He is getting my vote on June 8.

* He lives in the constituency he wants to represent, in Ashton, South Bristol. None of the other candidates for Bristol South live here.

* Born, raised and schooled in Hartcliffe, South Bristol, Tony Dyer is the son of a Bedminster-born postman/builder and a Knowle West housewife.

* He has strong and deep ties to the city through family, education and work and is very proud of his Bristol heritage which goes back a long way.

* Tony's family roots are amongst the Bedminster coal miners and Bristol dock workers and a grandfather who grew up in slum conditions in the Old Market area.

* As the Green's parliamentary candidate for Bristol South in the May 2015 General Election Tony fought an excellent campaign based on a detailed set of policies - the only ones which coherently bring together economic, social and environmental justice.

* He gained the Greens best ever result in Bristol South, beating the Lib Dems, gaining almost 6000 votes, a double figure percentage and a rise of nine points compared to the previous election.

* This played a good part in raising Bristol Green Party's electoral support locally, with growth in councillor numbers (which originated in Bristol South in Southville ward).

* Tony is now the Green Party national spokesperson for local government and works closely with the 11 strong group of Green city councillors on local government matters.

* He is the Regional Liaison Officer for Green MEP for the South West Molly Scott Cato.

Sunday, 30 April 2017

The West Country needs a Green Metro Mayor

This Thursday I'll be giving my first preference vote to Darren Hall, the Green Candidate for West of England Metro Mayor. Darren has by far the best policies, centred on the right principles, some features of which I'd like to highlight below. He also has great local knowledge and broad experience, born, educated, living and working in the West Country - and with years of experience in both the public, private and voluntary sectors. Find out the details of what Darren stands for, along with campaign news here.

Darren's emphasis on the need to build a resilient economy is really important.  Building resilience gives economic systems greater ability to retain their stability and security when subject to pressures and sudden events - and their recovery powers when affected. High resilience systems tend to be self-supporting, self-reliant, self-organising and adaptable in the face of change. Building resilience means increasing diversity, variety, alternative mutual support systems and contingency plans, especially with respect to essential needs such as food, water, shelter, energy, health and education provision, communications.

I'm really pleased to see Darren stressing that prosperity is about more than just GDP.  Prosperity encompasses general flourishing, thriving, general wellbeing, happiness and health as well as the economic factors. For me prosperity is measured much more closely by the Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI) or the Index of Sustainable Economic Welfare (ISEW) than it is by conventional measures such as Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Quite simply prosperity is a broader, fairer idea of progress and success than GDP indicates.

One of the biggest, if not the biggest issues in the Metro Mayor election is transport. The strength of Darren's approach here is its emphasis on integration and on running public transport driven primarily by the need for public serviceAn integrated approach to transport is needed to deal with complexity and sort out confusion and incoherence, increasing transport effectiveness and efficiency through joined up thinking.Some things we call public are not determined by what the public need and want. With public transport for example private companies own and determine rail and bus services, subject to regulation, with limited public involvement. The result is they are not run for people as a whole and are not done by and for the people - this needs to change. 

On housing Darren is rightly for neighbourhood plans, community-led developments and both higher ethical and higher efficiency standards in the sector. We need many more affordable, good quality homes built within strong, informed, involved, empowered, lively and resilient local communities with all the powers, resources, facilities and services to meet their needs.

I work in the higher education sector. The provision of a broad range of learning opportunities on a lifelong basis is crucial to both the sustainable society we need and to the personal development and quality of life of people. I've experienced the value of such opportunities first-hand for decades now but agree with Darren that we simply aren't investing anything like enough in educating, training and re-training people.

As one would expect the emphasis on clean, renewable energy, opposition to fracking, green farming and natural means of flood protection and mitigation from Darren is very strong and most welcome to me. For Greens our environment is not just our surroundings or the biophysical world but also humans and their social, economic and other systems. We are a part of the environment and are dependent on it. Our environment has multidimensional interrelationships and feedbacks. Human-centred definitions of our environment are flawed. We are always linked into our environment and we are wrong if we think we can be fully in control of it. We really need all those making crucial decisions in our society to recognise this.

You can track Darren Hall's campaigning on Twitter here

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

On expertise and experts

During the EU referendum debate PM David Cameron advocated that we all 'listen to the experts' (see here and here). Expert politician Mr Cameron and his expert colleague George Osborne thought they would win the referendum but got their politics wrong.

Experts, so called, can often be found - starkly differing in their views - on both sides of an issue. Both sides can't be right. Experts, so labelled, in certain fields (not least in economics, politics, ethics) often fail to deliver the goods that experts should ie expertise. 

Before the June 23 referendum on UK membership of the EU, many economic experts made very gloomy forecasts. These forecasts were wrong, as some of them have acknowledged (see here and here).

'Experts' built the unsinkable Titanic (which sank), the Hindenburg airship (which went up in flames), the Fukushima Nuclear Power Stations (built in an earthquake prone zone and were hit by a tsunami caused by an earthquake) and the Tacoma Narrows Bridge (which shook itself apart during a gale). 

The experts of the time, so their credentials indicated, said Darwin's thinking on evolution by natural selection was wrong. Experts of the time ignored or dismissed Wegener's theory of continental drift for many decades (Wegener not having the label of expert in the relevant branch of science). Now, evolution and continental drift are amongst the major scientific theories.
Plenty more examples are available. Lets retain a healthy scepticism about 'authorities' on complex areas of life, the experts. Lets always thoroughly test all claims to expertise - and be willing to listen to those whose expertise we may be able to verify but may not have the label expert. 

Saturday, 1 April 2017

Would a Savage Metro Mayor savage the green belt?

Would you support a West Country Metro Mayor candidate who wanted to see the removal of much of the green belt around Bristol and Bath? By 2050 merging the two cities into one? John Savage, independent candidate for the West of England Metro Mayor advocated this in 2010/11 in a book that is linked to on his campaign website.

“It will happen. We must make it happen" said Savage (Bristol Post, Dec 2010)

As Chairman of University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust, Executive Chairman of Bristol Chamber of Commerce and Initiative, former board member of the Regional Development Agency and former Chairman of the South West Learning and Skills Council Dr Savage has a great deal of experience to offer. However unless his view has changed he is advocating development that takes no account of future generations and ignores what the environment provides. Building over green belt land permanently removes an area where agriculture, forestry and outdoor leisure can prevail, preventing urban sprawl. Land would no longer be kept open.
The creation of this much larger west country continuous urban area (which would be an economic powerhouse, according to Savage) would mean getting rid of the green belt between Bristol and Bath, green-field expansion to envelope Bristol Airport and a population massively increased by perhaps 500,000, needing 300,000 jobs and 200,000 houses. This is development regardless of the consequences rather than sustainable development that meets needs and enhances genuine prosperity. 
John Savages motivation is not just economic it seems. In 2010 he said this in the Bristol Post
“...I am a religious man, and I certainly felt the Big Man upstairs had some sort of plan for me to make a significant difference somewhere."

Getting rid of or substantially shrinking the Bristol-Bath green belt would make a significant difference - but not for the better.

The link below went to the 2010 Bristol Post story about this until a few weeks ago. John Savage then launched his campaign to be Metro Mayor - and now the link only takes you to the main Bristol Post news page. Coincidence I guess. 
See my original blog posts about this issue in 2010 and 2011 here:

Thursday, 28 July 2016

Nuclear nonsense

The Hinkley C nuclear power deal is nuclear nonsense. For a start its clearly not cost-effective. EDF board member Gerard Magnin quit his position saying the deal was financially "very risky". Previously Thomas Piquemal, EDF's finance director, resigned as he was concerned that the deal would drag down EDF itself.

Nuclear power has completely failed to keep its promise of providing cheap electricity, even though at one point it was claimed it would be too cheap to meter. To make the Hinkley C nuclear deal happen there is a price guarantee of almost double the current market rate for its electricity! UK households and businesses will pay high bills as a result, at a time when renewable energy costs are falling and energy efficiency measures actually cut bills.
The very high capital costs of nuclear power have long been acknowledged and nobody yet knows for sure how high decommissioning costs will finally be because we have insufficient experience of it. In Normandy, France the nuclear power station under construction is 6 yrs late and 7.2 billion euros over budget (similar problems have occurred with nuclear construction in Finland). Far from being an effective part of a low carbon future nuclear power is a very large drain on both public and private resources that we should be directing into energy efficiency and renewable energy generation, the only low carbon and sustainable options in any case.
Nuclear is touted as a tried and tested technology but it’s failed the test of time.  When all-round technical capabilities and limitations, total cost-effectiveness, socio-economic effects and environmental impacts are fairly and broadly examined it performs poorly. Its efficiency of job creation per pound spent does not compare well with the alternatives. Human ability to keep safe and accurate records of nuclear waste disposal for thousands of yrs is highly doubtful. Nuclear certainly does not fit in with building a sustainable society because of the finite nature of nuclear fuel sources and because it leaves ongoing problems for future generations in the form of nuclear waste (regularly transported by train from Bridgewater through Bristol via Yatton, Parsons St, Bedminster, Temple Meads, Lawrence Hill, Stapleton Rd, Filton Abbeywood and Bristol Parkway).
Its argued that we need nuclear power to help fight climate change but it's very slow and ineffective at this. It takes many years to build nuclear stations and even more to pay back the carbon costs of construction, mining and transport. Energy efficiency measures are very many times faster and more effective – and bring wider benefits such as paying for itself in lowered bills. The Government's own [former] advisors at the Sustainable Development Commission produced figures to show that even doubling nuclear capacity would cut the UK's carbon emissions by just 8% and then not until 2035. 
As for making us less dependent on imported energy well, uranium oxide from which nuclear fuel for power stations is made comes from abroad eg Canada (27.9% of world production) and Australia (22.8%) being the largest producers and Kazakhstan (10.5%), Russia (8.0%), Namibia (7.5%), Niger (7.4%), Uzbekistan (5.5%), the United States (2.5%), Ukraine (1.9%) and China (1.7%).

Nuclear is hardly about having an innovative economy, built by entrepreneurs either. Its technology is not generally the kind that can be tinkered with, adapted and developed by small and medium-sized businesses and individuals. Energy efficiency, energy conservation and renewable energy technologies are often more amenable and are very rapidly developing, with costs falling.
There are very large amounts of uranium ore in the ground though to make the fuel from its true. If nuclear power is expanded however,  more uranium ore is mined, the quality of the ore falls and the energy cost of mining it goes up. A mass nuclear power program would rapidly exhaust high quality ores and the uranium being mined would provide far less energy per tonne of rock.
Solutions to nuclear waste disposal have yet to be fully agreed. There are huge nuclear waste handling, storage, transport and disposal problems and there is no widespread scientific consensus on the best way to do it, for existing waste let alone the extra produced from more nuclear stations. Conservative politician Sir Hugh Rossi once said "With waste that can be active for thousands of yrs, guaranteeing that the institutions would be stable beyond periods which have so far proved to be whole lifetimes of civilisations would be impossible."

We are not learning from our nuclear mistakes. There are a whole range of safety and security issues for nuclear stations: with major accidents like Three Mile Island, USA in 1979, Chernobyl USSR in 1986, Windscale, UK in 1957; and Fukushima, Japan in 2011. It’s highly problematic: predicting and minimising human error in the design, construction, operation and decommissioning process; establishing safe levels of radioactivity; safely transporting nuclear waste by rail and road, including through cities like Bristol, for safe disposal for thousands of yrs; planning what it is best to do in the event of a serious incident/accident; whether we can effectively prevent terrorist attacks eg by flying planes into stations, driving cars/lorries loaded up to be bombs. The consequences of just one very serious incident have the potential to be very large and long-lasting in scale as Fukushima and Chernobyl demonstrate.

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Vote for self-government, vote to leave the EU

I'm voting to leave the EU tomorrow. Official Green Party support for the campaign to remain in the EU is thus very disappointing for me. I'm heartened to see good points being made by the Green Leaves group however, such as by Mark Hill here.

Greens supporting remain are not arguing in ways consistent with core Green principles. They have for instance said in one leaflet distributed in Bristol that the 'EU...has enabled us to enjoy the longest period of prosperity in history' when in fact this is not true if one uses the kind of broad measures of prosperity, such as the Index of Sustainable Economic Welfare (ISEW) in the graph above, that Greens are supposed to favour. Only in crude, narrow GDP growth terms - that Greens are supposed to be opposed to - have we been 'better off'; (in the graph GDP rises whilst broad-based prosperity as measured by ISEW goes flat or declines from around 1974).

There are a number of misconceptions in this article supporting remain by Cllr Charlie Bolton, leader of the Green group on Bristol City council. Anything 'EU funded' that he refers  to for instance is in fact funded by UK taxpayers since we are net contributors to the EU - we send off our money to the EU and they then send just part of it back and tell us how we can spend it!

The EU is: remote; centralised; corporate; capitalist; corrupt in many places; driven along by 28 unelected commissioners; inextricably interconnected with an at times belligerent NATO; determined to pursue economic growth that cant be sustained (the major underlying reason we have climate change and many other social and environmental problems all round the globe) rather than broad-based prosperity that can be; insular, inward-looking; using barriers to free and fair trading against poorer countries; growing in size (numbers of countries) far beyond what can be sustained...There has always been a very strong Green case for leaving the EU and for a long period of its existence Greens had a policy of EU withdrawl, see

It could be said that if Boris Johnson became Prime Minister in the event that we voted to leave the EU he would do nothing green - but David Cameron and his successive Governments said they would be the 'greenest government ever' and then far from taking green action they wanted to get rid of the 'green crap'! By voting to remain in the EU you are siding with those that have talked green but have taken little/no green action. In any case this is not an election about an alternative government for five years or whatever its a referendum which fixes things for generations so Greens of all people should be thinking medium and long term and not just short term.

Unelected EU Commissioners could be compared with UK civil servants but this would be far from fair. The two are not on anything like an equal footing. EU Commissioners are very much in a political not a neutral and advisory role, have much more power and act very much as an Executive (ie like UK Cabinet Government does when it puts forward legislation). Unelected EU Commissioners have a mission to drive forward the EU as laid out in the treaties and not as determined democratically by the peoples of Europe.

I'm surprised that the major corruption in the EU has not been a bigger feature of the leave campaign. Former Green Party leader Caroline Lucas herself had to admit concern about corruption in the EU in a recent TV debate hereSee this BBC report about EU corruption to the tune of £99 billion a year (the source for this being the EU Commission itself) 

Monday, 9 May 2016

20 reasons for 20mph

New Mayor of Bristol Marvin Rees may review the 20mph speed limits we currently have in the city. 
If/when he does I hope he remembers these 20 reasons for 20mph:
1. The UKs current default speed limit of 30mph in areas where people live was set in 1934 when there were 1.5 million motor vehicles. In 2012 the figure was a massive 34.5 million!! 
2. Road traffic in the UK is the single biggest cause of premature deaths for boys and the second biggest cause for girls age 5 -15.
3. Every year in Bristol hundreds of people are killed or seriously injured on the roads (see here), the burden falling hardest on the poorest, with 24 of every 100 child pedestrian casualties being in the most deprived neighbourhoods compared to 1 in 100 in the least deprived.
4. At 20mph a pedestrian knocked over stands a 90% chance of surviving. At 40mph they stand a 90% chance of dying. See
5. A 30mph limit is 60% higher than the 18.5 mph (30 kph) limits that many Northern European cities and towns have for streets where people live.
6. The vast majority of pedestrian deaths are on urban roads in the UK and we have a higher proportion of pedestrian deaths on the roads than any of our European neighbours.

7. In Hilden, Germany, the setting of their 18.5 mph (30 kph) limit in the early 90's was the foundation of them encouraging cycling and walking at much higher levels than we have.

8. Adults lead more sedentary lives in part because they spend more time in their cars. Children lead less active lives in part because we worry about the dangers posed by road traffic.
9. The growth of physically inactive lifestyles in industrialised countries has led to what many are calling a major public health crisis.
10. Preventable illnesses associated with inactivity and obesity include stroke, heart attack, certain cancers, diabetes, and depression.

11. Around 40% of people in the UK report being bothered by noise from traffic, nearly double the figure from the 1970’s.
12. Children living near busy roads suffer significantly higher rates of asthma.
13. West of England Partnership figures show that over 100,000 Bristolians live in areas where air quality is considered to be potentially damaging to health, so we need a culture shift away from motorised transport.

14. Cars travelling too fast in residential areas have helped to create social degradation. Neighbours across the road from each other don't talk to each as often as they used to. because a gulf is created by cars speeding past.
15. As far back as 1969 Prof David Appleyard found that community was eroded on San Francisco streets with busier traffic - and a study by Kevin Leyden in 2003 found that people living in walkable, mixed use neighbourhoods were more likely to know their neighbours, participate politically, trust others and be socially engaged, compared with those living in car-oriented suburbs’.
16. Research on Bristol’s streets by Josh Hart at UWE showed that motor vehicle traffic is responsible for a considerable deterioration in residential community, measured by average number of social contacts, extent of perceived ‘home territory’, and reported street-based social activity.
17. Several studies show that people whose homes had windows facing busy streets were more often depressed.

18. Residential roads and streets are public spaces for people not just motor vehicles –  and we need them to be safer, cleaner, healthier and more civil.
19. Quality of life is better with a 20mph limit, with less noise, lower pollution, greater child mobility, more walking, more cycling and more talking encouraged, leading to better general wellbeing.

20. Research has shown that the vast majority of the public would like 20 mph on residential roads. The Parliamentary Advisory Council on Transport Safety found that 70% of drivers want it too.

Monday, 2 May 2016

What sort of Bedminster councillor would I be?

I have the determination, persistence, skills and consistency of convictions of a person with 35 yrs experience as a Green campaigner. 

As an Open University Tutor, formerly a science teacher and industrial technologist/chemist, I have many transferable skills to offer. (See here)

As an elected councillor I would take a strongly free-thinking, evidence-based, reasoned, systems-thinking approach to all my work. I firmly believe in raising the ethical standards of all those in politics/public life. I would therefore: 

  • serve only the public interest 
  • work honestly and with integrity 
  • make decisions on merit 
  • be accountable to the public and appropriate scrutiny bodies
  • be as open as possible about my actions and those of the council, giving reasons
  • taking account of the views of others I will reach my own conclusions on the issues before me and act in accordance with those conclusions 
  • promote equality by not discriminating against any person, and by treating people with respect, regardless of their race, age, religion, gender, sexual orientation or disability 
  • respect the impartiality and integrity of the authority’s statutory officers and other employees 
  • uphold the law and act in accordance with the trust that the public is entitled to place in me
  • ensure that the authority uses resources prudently and lawfully 
  • promote and support high ethical standards by leadership and example 
  • act to secure and preserve public confidence.
(See this post here about the Councilllors Code of Conduct). 

I will work for our real wealth - our environment and our society, the source of all our resources and the basis of our lives - and for it to be sustained now and for the generations to come. I aim to:
  • challenge institutions, decision-making processes and politicians and identify and report unreasonable compromise at crunch points
  • counter greenwash and greenspeak, the spin, public relations and marketing used manipulatively and deceptively to show you are green, ecological, sustainable or environmentally-friendly when in reality you aren't
  • describe, explain, advocate and enact  green analysis, change and problem solving, specifically: respecting our environment and society; stronger local communities; meeting needs now and into the future; local and global fairness;  equality and diversity; efficiency; renewability; health, wellbeing and quality of life.

Friday, 29 April 2016

Putting the Good Transport Plan into action

I received an email today from Sustrans, the 'leading charity enabling people to choose healthier, cleaner and cheaper journeys'. It asked 'all Councillor candidates at the May elections to support the objectives of the Good Transport Plan' and said 'We would like to see concrete commitments from candidates to ensure all transport decisions taken at the local (Neighbourhood Partnership) and the strategic level link to the 9 objectives to ensure we’re taking steps towards what we want to achieve in the next 5-10 years.' Here's the text of my email response:

Many thanks for your email. The Good Transport Plan is a great piece of work and one the most valuable things to come out of Bristol Green Capital 2015. I fully support it and have referred to it in my election materials and on my blog. Not only does the plan head us in the right direction, most importantly it was put together in the right way, involving a wide range of stakeholders.

Let me know if there is a place for formally signing up to a pledge of commitment to the plan and I will certainly do so. If elected I look forward to working with all stakeholders to advance the Good Transport Plan significantly and making Bristol a fairer, healthier, more sustainable, lively and enjoyable city.

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Bedminster area: residents survey results

Having knocked on all doors in the Bedminster area and gained the views of a good sized sample of hundreds of residents 80% told us that public services are very important; first place in priority. Its important that elected councillors oppose cuts and work to keep all vital local public services. I'm totally opposed to the cuts, austerity economics and austerity ideology. Cuts are unfair, unjust, are not working, are counter-productive, are building up year on year and biting into essential local services - and are certainly not the way to invest in and build a fairer, healthier more lively and sustainable city. We should be working for strong local facilities and shopping streets through planning, investment and the Bristol Pound.

78% said safe walking, cycling and public transport was very important. Many of you described: the poor local train network; inappropriate Metrobus; expensive fares; unreliable buses; lack of bus routes; and parking problems. Public transport desperately needs to be given a much greater priority with more local buses,a new train station at Ashton Gate and opening up the Long Ashton Park and Ride during football and rugby matches. The council need to listen much more carefully to local people concerning issues such as improved walking and cycling routes, parking and local development plans.

71%  said green spaces and wildlife are very important. Our green spaces & greenbelt must be protected from all inappropriate development. Bristol should be a leader in the new Green economy which can provide real jobs, a proper living wage and sustainable development which doesn't damage the environment.

69%  told us that adequate housing for everyone is very important. We need houses to match the needs of those who want to make their home in the area - including properly affordable housing, good insulation to reduce fuel bills, and new houses on brown field sites.

52% said that school places and childcare are very important. We need continual vigilance over school places and effective ways to meet needs. Place planning has become increasingly problematic and I'm opposed to fragmentation of the system as its a source of upset and stress. We need to ensure sufficient places for all children including opportunities to reduce costs by sharing facilities with community and commercial organisations. We need to ensure that schools are complying with the legal duties placed on them with regards to admissions.

42% said that an active, involved and informed local community was very importantI'm for the common good. The idea of community is key to this, where people living close together interact and are mutually involved in local events and developments. This is a very important antidote to isolation and alienation, especially though not exclusively in cities. Community should be viewed as a necessity of everyday life, stemming from the sharing of qualities that come from rich diversity. In every election I have contested I have advocated for strong, informed, involved, empowered, lively and resilient local communities with all the facilities and services to meet their needs. I am doing so again in the campaign to win in Bedminster this May.

Saturday, 23 April 2016

Tony Dyer for Mayor of Bristol

Tony Dyer is by far the best person to be Mayor of Bristol and I urge everyone to cast their first preference vote for him. I say this: because we need more people with local roots and from working class backgrounds in senior positions of power; because Tony has been tested by his political experiences and had a significant impact on the greening of Bristol politics; because his ability to analyse problems and weigh up evidence is excellent; and especially because he is the only person who has demonstrably integrated his economic, social and environmental policies coherently to bring about fundamental change for the better.

There aren't enough people with deep local roots in senior positions of power - there aren't enough people with working class roots in such positions either

Born and raised in Hartcliffe, South Bristol, Tony Dyer is the son of a Bedminster-born postman and a Knowle West housewife, now living in Ashton. He has strong and deep ties to the city and is very proud of his Bristol heritage which goes back a long way. Family roots amongst the Bedminster coalminers and Bristol dock workers, and a grandfather who grew up in slum conditions in the Old Market area are very clear political influences. Our political system does not have representation that matches the make-up of our society and is heavily skewed in many ways - this needs to change.

Tony has gained great political experience as a Green Party member for many years, strengthened by the heat of the 2015 General Election

As the Green's parliamentary candidate for Bristol South in the May 2015 General Election Tony fought a great campaign based on a detailed set of well thought through policies. He gained the Greens best ever result in Bristol South, ahead of the Lib Dems, with nearly 6000 votes and a double figure percentage (a rise of nine points). This was one key part of building the Green Party's electoral support locally, with growth in councillor numbers from 6 to 14 and the potential to grow councillor numbers to beyond 20 and elect a green Mayor.

Greens have come a long way since the last Mayoral election in 2012:  from 2 councillors then to 14 now;  200 members then to over 2,000 now; from 12,000 votes in local elections, to now we getting three times as many. In recent years Greens have become a rising force in Bristol politics. In former Labour heartlands like Bedminster the Greens are close to winning this May, are the main challengers to Labour and can win if just a vote or two per street changes hands.

Tony has been a key Green activist in Bristol. I've known and worked with him for many years. I've admired his grasp of the details of policy in particular. He is now the Green Party national spokesperson for local government.

Commitment to evidence-based problem solving and a very skilled analyser

Tony Dyer has earned more widespread recognition and respect for his analyses and commentaries on the pressing issues that affect Bristol, its more deprived areas in particular. He has written regularly on economic and political issues, particularly for the independent online newspaper Bristol 24-7. His evidence-based arguments about real and sustainable changes in society are impressive. He has spoken on many platforms about making our economy and society work for the common good.

Tony's skills are partly inherent and partly down to his broad experiences. After leaving Hartcliffe school in 1981 and initially working in construction Tony reskilled to join the IT training industry where he worked for a local not-for-profit organisation supporting small business start-ups. He has worked with a number of community organisations in Bristol. Within the giant US computer company DEC, Tony worked closely with partners such as Microsoft, Cisco, Nokia, and with key clients in the City of London financial services industry and the UK retail industry.

We need a Mayor with coherent, integrated policies to make big changes

Tony has the best policies. He recognises that deep seated problems face Bristol and he is a radical in the sense that his approach is to tackle problems from their roots. He is the only Mayoral candidate who has coherently brought together economic, social and environmental policies capable of achieving fundamental change for the better. He has rightly put particular stress on:
  •      ensuring that homes in the private rental sector meet appropriate standards of safety and comfort
  •      tackling rent rises and exorbitant fees
  •      delivering a low emission zone covering the city centre by 2020 to reduce unhealthy air pollution
  •      implementing an active transport strategy through boosting walking and cycling
  •      co-operation between Bristol and neighbouring authorities aimed at achieving an Integrated Transport Authority
  •      delivering 8,000 new homes in the next four years, including 2,800 affordable  - 80% at social rent levels
  •      increasing apprenticeships in the city by 50%
  •      ensuring there are enough school places in the city to meet demand
  •      ring fencing the Independent Living Fund grant  - funding provided for those with the most serious disabilities
  •      combating inequalities and prejudices; supporting the BME Manifesto, the Womanifesto, and the LGBT+ Manifesto
  •      delivering re-use and recycling facilities across the city - including a new facility in South Bristol - with a target of sending zero waste to landfill by 2020