Saturday, 27 February 2010

Green Party | Fair, free and effective: Green Party proposals for the dental health service

Green Party Fair, free and effective: Green Party proposals for the dental health service

The Greens are committed to the founding principles of the NHS - including free dental healthcare, which they say could be provided for an extra £1.8 billion a year.

A party spokesperson said today, "£1.8 billion a year is a trifling sum for a huge improvement in Britain's dental health service. Everyone who wants one should have access to an NHS dentist, and we must end the scandal of British children in the twenty-first century suffering the pain and misery that come with poor teeth."

Friday, 26 February 2010

Why vote Green? Part Five: What do you want your MP to fight for?? clip

Public views on what they want from MP's and Green Leader Caroline Lucas in response:

Bristol mother thrown off a bus for breastfeeding | Bristol News

Bristol mother thrown off a bus for breastfeeding Bristol News

Disgraceful behaviour by this bus driver. I'm very glad that she has been given an apology as well as being backed by the Govt. I'm with Harriet Harman MP, Minister for Women and Equality, all the way when she
warned First and other companies that such incidents would become illegal under the new equality bill going through Parliament...and said

'"This discrimination against breastfeeding mothers will be unlawful under the new Equality Bill currently going through Parliament.

"This new law will back up women like Amy Wootten who are giving their babies the very best start in life by breastfeeding."


What better organic and local food could you get for a baby??

See:http://www.thisisbristol.co.uk/homepage/Government-minister-backs-Bristol-mother-thrown-bus-breastfeeding/article-1869473-detail/article.html

Update (27 Feb): See http://www.thisisbristol.co.uk/homepage/Breastfeeding-Bristol-mother-story-thrown-bus/article-1871417-detail/article.html

Apparently CCTV on the bus shows no incident - so did it happen or not??

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Green Bristol Blog: Railway Path Still Targeted for Bus Route

Green Bristol Blog: Railway Path Still Targeted for Bus Route

BRT in this location should be ruled out completely as an option. Would Cllr Jon Rogers rule out this location for BRT completely?? One would hope so...

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

International Women's Day 2010

http://www.bccforums.org.uk/women

http://www.bristolfeministnetwork.com/

http://www.internationalwomensday.com/default.asp

Click on the image below to view a larger version.


Bristol biofuel plant rejected in landmark planning decision | Bristol24-7

Bristol biofuel plant rejected in landmark planning decision Bristol24-7

I've not long returned from this meeting. Lib Dem Cllr Neil Harrison spoke particularly well in his public statement -as did Green Cllr Charlie Bolton who made a very forceful and concise contribution. Several speakers from the public made moving statements on ethics. Lib Dem Cllr Alex Woodman showed an excellent grasp of planning regulations and played a key role in formulating the reasons for rejecting the biofuel plan. Shame on Conservative Councillor (and Committee Chair) Barbara Lewis and Labour Councillor (and former Lord Mayor) Royston Griffey for voting in favour of the plan - presumeably they feel that the natural environment does not extend much beyond Bristol (!) and that sustainability is an issue that can be considered in narrow terms!

Preventing, detecting, researching and treating cancer

Copy of press release from Cancer Research UK: LOCAL CANDIDATE COMMITS TO BEAT CANCER

Glenn Vowles, Green Party Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Bristol East has joined hundreds of candidates across the country in signing up to Cancer Research UK's Cancer Commitment, aiming to make UK cancer outcomes among the best in Europe in the next ten years.

Mr Vowles said: "I am delighted to pledge my support for Cancer Research UK’s vital campaign. Cancer remains the public’s number one fear. With a concerted effort from the next Parliament, we can give hope to the millions of people affected by cancer and their friends and family. I’m campaigning for more investment in health problem prevention and for health and wellbeing to be the key indicator of progress in society. ”

More than one in three people in Bristol East will develop some form of cancer during their lifetime. In the last thirty years, the UK’s 10-year survival rates have doubled but cancer survival rates still lag behind the best performing countries in Europe such as Sweden, Norway and Finland. Cancer Research UK is calling on Parliamentary candidates to commit now that if they are elected, they will help make cancer outcomes for patients in the UK among the best in Europe in a decade.

The Cancer Commitment calls on MPs in the next Parliament to take action in five key areas:

Detecting cancer earlier
Providing world class treatment
Preventing more cancers
Tackling cancer inequalities
Protecting the UK’s research base

Jon Spiers, Head of Public Affairs and Campaigning at Cancer Research UK, said “To consign today’s cancer challenges to tomorrow’s history books, we must act now. Our thousands of scientists and our millions of supporters are hoping to see MPs in the next Parliament step up to the challenge.”

For information on Cancer Research UK’s Commit To Beat Cancer campaign, visit: http://www.committobeatcancer.org/

ENDS

For media inquiries, please contact the Cancer Research UK press office on 020 7061 8300.

Notes to Editors:

Cancer Research UK is the world's leading independent organisation dedicated to cancer research. We support research into all aspects of cancer through the work of more than 4,500 scientists, doctors and nurses.

Commit to Beat Cancer is Cancer Research UK’s new campaign to make the UK’s cancer outcomes among the best in Europe in the next 10 years. To reach this goal, the next Government needs to act on several fronts:

· Cancers must be diagnosed and treated earlier
· Patients must have timely access to world-class treatments
· More must be done to prevent cancer
· Cancer inequalities must be tackled
· Our position at the forefront of medical research must be protected

BBC Radio interview: biofuels for Bristol??

I've been on Radio Bristol this morning, interviewed about the biofuel power station planned for Avonmouth by company W4B. You can listen to the broadcast on BBC iPlayer by clicking here - I'm on right at the start, in the 6am news clip, then in an extended interview for 5 mins or so if you jump to approx an hour and ten minutes in (I think they used a clip from that interview on the 8am news, two hours into the program, too). Council Leader Barbara Janke and the BBCs Dave Harvey are also on the program from about 2hrs in.

Basically I've said that there are huge competing pressures for land use around the globe and that its immoral to take up land in poor countries that could be used to grow food,conserve wildlife and fight climate change, to fuel power stations in rich countries. Biofuels are not green as total carbon footprinting shows that they are more damaging as a fuel than coal and oil because of the land use changes (including mass deforestation) plus consequent emissions and the energy and chemicals used for intensive growing and processing.

There is no such thing as sustainable palm oil - and we have yet to properly define what a renewable fuel from such plants is. Plant types vary widely, from potatoes, to palm plants, to mahogany trees which no-one suggests are a renewable fuel source just because they take in carbon!! Renewability in practice is about proper and widely respected certification, inspection of plantations and processes and independent verification - this is not effectively provided by any agency at present and cant be put in place independently by a relatively small company like W4B (giant companies like Unilever are struggling with this issue, so smaller ones have little chance).


Biofuels in Bristol: decision day

Statement on 09/03235/F, the application for a biofuel power station at Avonmouth which I will be presenting in person at today's planning committee meeting:

The facts say you have to refuse permission for this power plant. Bristol City Council and the applicant have not supplied, early in the environmental decision making procedure, adequate, timely and effective environmental information and therefore provision for public participation has been inadequate. The council has not complied fully and properly with either the letter or the spirit of Environmental Impact Assessment regulations, in particular as modified by the various EU Directives which enact the Aarhus Convention (see note 1 below). The council’s Green Capital/Green City policies clearly aim for best practice in this area but in this case at least it has not been forthcoming.

The Aarhus Convention is a relatively new kind of environmental agreement and enacting it enables a decision making body to deal well with the interconnected, interrelated nature of environmental, economic and social issues, such as those posed by this planning application. The Convention: links environmental rights and human rights; acknowledges that we owe an obligation to future generations; establishes that sustainable development can be achieved only through the involvement of all stakeholders; links government accountability and environmental protection; focuses on interactions between the public and public authorities in a democratic context. Public authorities such as Bristol City Council are obliged, under the Convention, to actively disseminate environmental information in their possession – but this has not happened for this application.

The Area Planning Coordinator said this in an email to me on 16 Dec 09,

‘The applicant made a formal request to Bristol City Council as the
Local Planning Authority in February this year, to which Bristol
indicated in April that it did not consider the proposals as set out in
the request to be EIA development. Whilst the applicant has proceeded in
preparing their planning application on this basis, this position was
not however formalised until earlier this month (11 December 2009) when
a formal Screening Opinion was issued in accordance with the EIA
Regulations. I have therefore attached a copy of the formal Screening
Opinion of Bristol City Council as Local Planning Authority, for your
information.’

The council made no attempt to actively disseminate the fact that a formal request (note: formal request) had been made. It made no attempt to disseminate the fact that it was minded not to consider the proposals an EIA development. Yet the environmental decision process has very clearly begun and the applicant has had the benefit of early information from council planning officers! Opportunity for public opinion and participation, including non-council experts, early on in the decision process were thus lost. In fact, there was no opportunity for public participation in the screening process, the first stage in Environmental Impact Assessment, at all. The council gave its ‘formal’ opinion on December 11, identical to the opinion it gave the potential applicant in April 09, and only released the relevant letter to a selection of members of the public like myself on 16 December after we made a nuisance of ourselves through repeated phone calls and emails. So much for actively disseminating environmental information.

Almost a year passed by (ie Feb 09 to mid-Dec 09) with no opportunity for public participation. Keep in mind the fact that this committee was close to having this application on its agenda in January!! As a result, as you can see from the many contributions people have been and are seeking to make, there is a huge glut of observations and arguments – all presented over a very short period of time and all dealing with complex, interlinked, possibly unresolved issues. Properly abiding by environmental impact assessment procedures, as modified by the Aarhus Convention, taking on board the principle of early environmental information and public participation, is what the council in obliged to do, is what its Green capital policy says it should do, and it’s the best practice way to have proceeded.

Just some of the complex and interlinked issues (referred to above) are listed below:

*how to define what a renewable fuel from plants is (potatoes for human consumption are a renewable fuel source from plants if grown properly but another plant product like mahogany certainly would not be, or at least not on anything like the same basis);

*how to guarantee that any fuel supplied is renewable in practice (certification standards, inspection, independent verification…are absent for the fuels proposed by the applicant);

*what a total carbon footprint is and how the carbon accounting is best done (the carbon footprint figures supplied by the applicant are not a total carbon footprint as this would require all direct and all indirect carbon emissions to be accounted for – but there are no figures supplied for land use changes and methane emissions associated with the fuels proposed, a major omission, and in fact several processes);

*whether cumulative air pollution impacts on people’s health and on the health of nearby designated sites is sustainable and would allow the Environment Agency to permit any power station given planning permission to operate (Avonmouth is already heavily polluted – see below).

The council view that no Environmental Impact Statement needed to be prepared is incorrect as well as being established with zero public participation. Officers wrongly concluded that were no impacts of significance. Even within the council officers narrow system boundary this fails to account for the effects of the power-plant on the Severn Natura 2000 Marine site, which are in fact of significance. This area was selected against rigorous scientific criteria to protect the most threatened and important species and habitats in Europe, as described by widely respected organizations like the RSPB. No document relating to this application even recognizes any site with such a designation. Yet the site is of international significance (UN RAMSAR listed, up to 100,000 birds over-winter there, Slimbridge is just upstream). It is 450 yards from the power-plant site. It is protected with tough international limits for nutrient nitrogen deposition. Those limits are already exceeded in Avonmouth because of the traffic on the M5.

That means only insignificant levels of nutrient nitrogen can be permitted by the Environment Agency if they are to give W4B’s power station an Operating Permit. Insignificant is defined as less than 1% of the Environmental Quality Standard. W4B and their consultants have not provided ANY data relating to nutrient nitrogen emission impacts on ecosystems.

The Environment agency have written to me on this matter saying:

> “There are some areas of Natura sites within 10km of the proposed installation
> where the background deposition already exceeds the critical load. In this
> case it would be difficult but not impossible to justify emissions above 1% of
> the critical load. It is the responsibility of the applicant to provide such a
> justification. The figures in the planning application suggest that there may
> be such potential impacts but this is not certain at this stage."

Natural England, consulted by the council, has not raised the issue of nutrient nitrogen and the reserve (at least not until time of writing = 18:15 Monday 22 Feb ’10) ­ thus failing to fulfill their role to provide statutory protection for it. The Joint Nature Conservation Committee the statutory adviser to Government on UK and international nature conservation, should, I believe have been consulted by the council but this appears not to have been done. Please reject this application.

________________________________________________________________________

Notes

1. Two Directives concerning the first and second "pillars" of the Aarhus Convention have been adopted by the EU; …. implemented in the national law of the EU Member States by 14 February and 25 June 2005 respectively:

Directive 2003/4/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 28 January 2003 on public access to environmental information and repealing Council Directive 90/313/EEC

Directive 2003/35/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 May 2003 providing for public participation in respect of the drawing up of certain plans and programmes relating to the environment and amending with regard to public participation and access to justice Council Directives 85/337/EEC and 96/61/EC

Provisions for public participation in environmental decision-making are furthermore to be found in a number of other environmental directives, such as Directive 2001/42/EC of 27 June 2001 on the assessment of certain plans and programmes on the environment.

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Promoting sex education and sexual health

Its disappointing to see that the Govt have watered down plans for compulsory sex education in schools via an amendment to a...bill [that] gives faith schools more freedom to tailor teaching to their own beliefs. I agree with a lot of what humanists have said about this eg British Humanist Association Chief Executive Andrew Copson is quoted on the BBC as saying that the amendment effectively gave a licence to faith schools to teach sex and relationships education in ways that were homophobic, gender discriminatory and violated principles of human rights.

Coincidentally, amongst the growing number of requests to general election candidates to sign up to support various campaigns that I'm now receiving was one on sexual health from SHout loud. I agree very strongly with the background and the committments indicated below. We need much more emphasis on problem prevention and on leading healthy lives in our health, education and social systems. Its makes great sense in economic as well as health and wellbeing terms. We need to make health and wellbeing the key indicators of progress in society.


Dear Mr Vowles, We are writing to you because the UK faces a major challenge with poor sexual health. Despite progress in recent years, the UK still has high levels of Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) and new HIV infections, as well as high levels of unwanted pregnancy and teenage conceptions. Without sustained action and investment, this situation will worsen. That’s why we’d like you to think about how you can play a part in improving the sexual health of your community. Below is a brief policy statement, agreed by the eight leading voluntary sector and professional associations in the sexual health field.

Please take five minutes to read the statement below and show your support for sexual health by replying to info@shoutloud.org.uk . You can also log onto the Political Exchange and comment on the Joint Policy Statement 2010 issue.

You can contact the partnership with any questions or to arrange a local meeting at a time convenient to you by emailing info@shoutloud.org.uk SHout Loud is a collaborative online project designed to support public involvement in sexual health services. The SHout Loud contact address can be used as a quick and easy way to respond to this email, but should you have a request for further information or a meeting, this will be followed up by one of the individual partner organisations listed below.

BASHH, BHIVA, Brook, FSRH, FPA, MedFASH, NAT, THT

ACTING RESPONSIBLY FOR SEXUAL HEALTH

The UK faces a major challenge with poor sexual health. Despite progress in recent years, the UK still has high levels of Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) and new HIV infections, as well as high levels of unwanted pregnancy and teenage conceptions. Without sustained action and investment, this situation will worsen.

It makes good economic sense to invest in sexual health and HIV services. Every pound spent on contraception prevents more money being spent on abortion services and maternity services; money spent on preventing and promptly treating STIs prevents onward transmissions as well as preventing more serious health conditions developing. Every pound spent preventing HIV infection saves thousands of pounds later in treatment costs.

Good sexual health is important for everyone in the UK and is a major part of general health and wellbeing. To achieve this requires a reduction in unwanted pregnancies, reduced levels of STI & HIV transmission, timely diagnosis and treatment of STIs and HIV, and the promotion of positive and responsible relationships.

Because of this, the leading sexual health & HIV organisations in the UK call on all Parliamentarians and Parliamentary Candidates to commit to this vision by supporting the following:

*ensuring 48 hour access and confidential open access to all sexual health services

*preventing poor sexual health by ensuring high quality local and national sexual health promotion programmes

*ensuring all children and young people get high quality sex and relationships education at school by making this a statutory curriculum subject

*ensuring all women have information about and access to the full range of contraception methods, including long acting contraception

*increasing access to HIV testing especially for those who need it most
*ensuring that all women across the UK, including Northern Ireland, have access to NHS funded abortions

The British Association for Sexual Health and HIV (BASHH) is a professional association for UK clinicians that aims to promote, encourage and improve the study and practice of the art and science of diagnosing and treating sexually transmitted diseases including all sexually transmitted infections, HIV and other sexual health problems.

The British HIV Association (BHIVA) supports clinicians who specialise in HIV, acts as an advisory body to those working in the field of HIV and promotes medical education within HIV care.

Brook is a voluntary sector organisation providing sexual health services and advice for all young people under 25. Brook's mission is to enable young people to enjoy their sexuality without harm.

The Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare (FRSH) of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists sets standards, provides educational events and expert clinical advice, and awards qualifications in recognition of specialist knowledge and skills in the field.

The sexual health charity FPA provides straightforward information, advice and support to all people across the UK on all aspects of sexual health, sex and relationships.

The Medical Foundation for AIDS & Sexual Health (MedFASH) is a charity dedicated to the pursuit of excellence in the healthcare of people affected by HIV, sexually transmitted infections and related conditions.

NAT is a charity dedicated to transforming society's response to HIV – providing fresh thinking, expert advice and practical resources, and campaigning for change. Shaping attitudes. Challenging injustice. Changing lives.

Terrence Higgins Trust (THT) is an HIV and sexual health charity, which provides a wide range of clinical and support services and also campaigns for greater political and public understanding of the personal, social and medical impact of HIV and sexual ill health.

Monday, 22 February 2010

Bristol ethical fashion show to feature work by Emma Watson | Bristol24-7

Bristol ethical fashion show to feature work by Emma Watson Bristol24-7

The Marmot Review: health and inequality in the spotlight once more (Jonathon Porritt)

The Marmot Review: health and inequality in the spotlight once more (Jonathon Porritt)

Defence and security

My response to CND, who are seeking the views of general election candidates...I'm an anti-nuclear campaigner, both nuclear weapons and nuclear power, of over 25 yrs standing. I would certainly vote against the replacement of Trident and would vote for a Nuclear Weapons Convention aimed at banning all nuclear weapons internationally.

As a Green MP I would work to:

*Ensure that the British military is only used in self defence, or as a last resort, within an international UN-led policing force;

*Improve the military to promote human security, by focusing only on defence not aggression and specialising in crisis prevention, emergency relief and conflict resolution;

*Seek binding global agreements against all weapons of mass destruction, particularly nuclear weapons;

*End all export subsidies and increase controls on UK arms sales, especially to goverments who violate human rights.

Sunday, 21 February 2010

Bristol Biofuels Demo, Weds 24 Feb, 1pm, Council House

STOP THE PLANNED PALM OIL POWER STATION AT AVONMOUTH! DEMO: Weds 24th Feb 1pm
Outside the Council House, College Green, Bristol.

Please bring banners, placards, costumes...

THEN JOIN US INSIDE FOR THE PLANNING MEETING AT 2pm WHICH WILL DECIDE WHETHER OR NOT THE PLANT GOES AHEAD.

EMERGENCY: growing palm oil causes RAINFOREST destruction, GENOCIDE of indigenous people, ANIMAL EXTINCTION, STARVATION through soaring food prices and worsens CLIMATE CHANGE and it is MASSIVELY subsidized by the government!


PLEASE COME ALONG AND BRING YOUR FRIENDS!
PLEASE SIGN THE PETITION ON THE LINK BELOW
Further info: http://www.acseb.co.uk/
Zenith on 0776 236 7351 or Martin on hoolie4@hotmail.com

Friday, 19 February 2010

No to cuts in services

Just signed this 38 Degrees petition against premature cuts in public spending:
http://www.38degrees.org.uk/page/s/dontriskrecovery#petition. Here's some background from their website:

In the Financial Times, over 50 senior economists have written a letter demanding that Alistair Darling, Chancellor of the Exchequer and George Osborne, Shadow Chancellor, do not make premature cuts to public spending. The world-class economists believe that the deficit should be financed until the economy is more stable and that if spending cuts are made at this point, the UK could spiral into a disastrous 'double-dip' recession.

The financial crisis has already terrible consequences for people all over the UK. Jobs have been lost, businesses closed and homes respossessed. Unemployment has risen to around 2.5 million and, as the letter-writers point out, the UK economy 'is not yet on a secure recovery path'.

It's vital that our leaders don't play politics with our recovery in an election year. 'Consolidation', or cuts in our public services, are too dangerous to be used as an election bargaining chip. Darling and Osborne should both publicly commit themselves to not making damanging cuts before its clear that the economy really has turned the corner towards recovery. Sign the petition to the Chancellor and Shadow Chancellor.
______________________________________________


Also see: http://www.neweconomics.org/publications/cuts-wont-work

Support Green pioneers and entrepreneurs

Received from a friend: Please sign the petition and pass this on...The Department of Energy and Climate Change intends to reward generators of renewable energy - Solar, Wind, Hydro etc - with a guaranteed price for the electricity they produce: the Feed In Tariff. This will come into effect in April 2010.

However the regulations will be such that that owners of self-built renewable energy systems will be excluded from these rewards even though these are the very people who pioneered home produced electricity. To assure a fair reward for these green pioneers, please sign the petition to 10 Downing St.
*
http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/GreenPioneers/
*
This 20-foot waterwheel generates 5.5kw - enough electricity to power two
houses 24 hours a day. Under the proposed regulations it will be ineligible for the Feed In Tariff.
Thank you.
Brian Faux

Thursday, 18 February 2010

Why vote Green? Part Four...

Local services and facilities of all kinds eg health facilities, old folks homes, schools, libraries, swimming pools (eg Jubilee Pool in Knowle, pictured), buses and trains, pubs, corner shops, the local high street…should be maintained and enhanced not threatened and cut. All too often the big three parties take a very narrow view, forgetting the vital social and environmental benefits of what’s available locally. Factor in benefits to the community along with purely financial considerations and you get a very different outcome to closures and cuts. The strong Green instinct for joined up (systems) thinking, for healthy local communities and being human scale means we always fight to protect local services.

This post is the fourth in a series giving positive reasons to vote Green in the run up to this years local elections and general election.

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Equality Trust: pledge

Signed up for: Compelling new evidence presented by The Equality Trust shows that more equal societies - those with a narrower gap between rich and poor - are more cohesive, healthier, suffer fewer social problems and are more environmentally sustainable.

In view of these findings I am committed to making the UK a more equal society as the most effective means of building a better society. I will therefore actively support the case for policies designed to narrow the gap between rich and poor; and engage with the debate on which measures should be implemented to achieve that aim.

The key concerns of older people

Copy of my letter of reply to Bristol Older People's Forum: Many thanks for your recent letter seeking my views as a general election candidate on the Pensioner’s Manifesto, recently published by the National Pensioners’ Convention. You identify six main areas of concern: the state pension level; the shambolic system of social care for older people; the regressive council tax; disparities in free local transport between England and the rest of the UK; lack of priority given to tackling prevalent ageism and unfair discrimination on grounds of older age; and the increasing problem of fuel poverty amongst older people. I’m very happy to give you my views and the policies of the Green Party on each issue.

In the last few years I’ve lost my elderly father in law, who had a stroke, and my elderly mother in law, who suffered dementia. Being very close to them and having first hand knowledge of how the NHS and the care home system unfairly and at times negligently dealt with them and the family I feel more strongly than ever about ageism and the lack of priority afforded to tackling it. I’m sad to say that many families share my experiences. Discrimination and poor service for older people suffering strokes and dementia have been widely reported. Older people need and deserve protection against discrimination whether in employment or in the provision of goods and services. The Green Party supports legislation against age discrimination, and would ensure that EC law in this area is properly implemented. We also demand appropriate housing, benefits and health and social care provision, and we will work to ensure that we have good public services that provide properly for older people, ensuring respect and dignity for all.

The full state pension for a single pensioner is only £95.25, a massive decline since the link with earnings was broken by the Tory government in 1979. Many pensioners, especially women, don't even get a full state pension. The Green Party would introduce a Citizen's Pension that would pay pensioners a liveable amount, without means testing and would be linked to the rise in average earnings. Pensioners should not have to leap through the hoops of complicated and demeaning means tests in order to get a decent pension. We believe that we all owe older people a decent standard of living without demeaning means tests. The foundation of doing so is a proper state pension for all.

The Green Party has a plan for rebuilding the economy so that it delivers for people, but also operates within environmental limits. This plan is called the Green New Deal - a £45 billion investment to create 1 million jobs and lay the foundations for a sustainable and fair society. Our plan includes decent pensions and free social care for older people, creating 60,000 jobs. It provides for free insulation for all homes, schools and hospitals to reduce bills and tackle fuel poverty and the avoidable winter deaths that go with it – and this would create 80,000 jobs.

The Green New Deal also includes investment in a major expansion of public transport: doubling the size of the bus fleet through an investment of £3 billion to buy 30,000 new buses and create 70,000 jobs; providing a further £2 billion to subsidise bus fares and get new services operational; bringing the railway system back into public ownership and spending £2 billion on new track and rolling stock, and on urban tram schemes - together creating 20,000 jobs; reducing UK rail fares by one third to bring them in line with the European average through a £3 billion subsidy.

Greens are opposed to the regressive council tax and want to replace it with a system of Land Value Taxation (LVT, previously known as Community Ground Rent). In the short term we would support any reform of the council tax that reduces unfairness and improves its relationship to ability to pay. We would precede the introduction of land value tax with some land value tax pilots. LVT rates will be set at a local level. The valuation would be of the land alone, exempting all buildings on it, recent and future improvements to it, or indeed minerals extracted from it, which would be separately taxed. LVT would therefore not be a tax on the rent of buildings, the value of crops, manufactured products or the product of other forms of work.

I’ve done my best to supply you with principles and policies – and where possible some figures – directly related to your six main issues. If you require further information please dont hesitate to contact me. Further information is available on both the local and national Green Party websites (details below). You will find a record of my campaigning, before, during and after the election, on my blog...

Teenagers and abusive relationships : Directgov - Parents

Teenagers and abusive relationships : Directgov - Parents

Monday, 15 February 2010

Why vote Green? Part Three...

Greens work for strong local economies, keeping wealth circulating within communities, creating secure and stable jobs locally. This promotes wellbeing, self-reliance and sustainability eg through greater local production, improved energy and food security. We believe small is beautiful and actively support small, locally owned businesses, local exchange and trading schemes and credit unions. Our approach is in stark contrast to that of the big three parties, whose focus is the global not local economy – and that results in situations like the global banking crisis and the Kraft takeover of Cadbury’s with the loss of many local jobs.

The Green plan for rebuilding the economy - the Green New Deal – is a £45 billion investment to create 1 million jobs. It will begin to build the kind of economy and society I’ve described by: redesigning the financial system so that it serves the ‘real' economy and local communities, breaking up the big banks so they are no longer ‘too big to fail', massively clamping down on tax avoidance, generating £10 billion in revenue; investing massively in renewable energy - raising wind energy production to the same level as Denmark by 2020 would alone create 200,000 jobs; investing massively in energy efficiency measures for UK homes, schools and hospitals, creating 80,000 jobs, reducing harmful emissions and cutting fuel bills; investing in public transport and in waste management; creating more affordable housing for rent; introducing green workforce training; providing decent pensions and free social care for older people to improve quality of life, creating 60,000 jobs; reducing poverty massively by introducing a Citizen's income.
*
This post is the third of a series giving positive reasons to vote Green in the run up to this years local elections and general election.

Saturday, 13 February 2010

Power to the people

Replied to a survey seeking the views of parliamentary candidates on various democratic reform proposals. In short I favour: fixed term parliaments; considerably more free votes ie not whipped, in parliament; a fair, proportional voting system (either Single Transferable Vote or Additional Member systems); open primaries; lowering the voting age to 16; a recall system so that MPs can be removed by voters between elections; a fully elected House of Lords/second chamber; and more power for local communities and individuals through decentralisation and greater use of referenda. Bristol East's voters will find the views of all candidates who respond to this survey here as the election approaches (looks like I'm the only one to respond so far).

[There were no questions on this but I also favour: removing the constitutional functions of the monarchy and the drawing up of a new written constitution defining the rights and responsibilities of citizens. I'm also a campaigner against an EU superstate and against the undermining of local democracy by organisations like the World Trade Organisation] Details of the DEMREF 2010 project and its survey questions below (slightly edited version of what I was sent):

On 12 February, DEMREF 2010 went live on the internet to allow ordinary voters to freely download the views of candidates on key questions about democratic, constitutional and political reform which will be centre-stage in the General Election debate.

DEMREF 2010 aims to be a comprehensive, constituency-by-constituency listing of where prospective parliamentary candidates in England stand on mainstream reforms that may - or may not - help to restore public confidence following the expenses scandal.

From the 12 February launch, voters will be alerted to the DEMREF 2010 listing via an internet/email campaign, advertising in local newspapers and news coverage in the regional and national press and broadcast media, as well as promotions at events.

The DEMREF project is organised by http://www.polinfluence.com/

Q. FIXED-TERM PARLIAMENTS. Do you agree with fixed-term parliaments or do you oppose them?

I do not support fixed-terms
I support fixed-terms - YES
I am undecid

Q. FREE VOTES. Do you think that there should be fewer, more or roughly the same number of free votes (votes not subject to party whip) in Parliament?

I would like considerably more free votes - YES
I would like more free votes
I believe we should have roughly the same number of free votes as at present
I would like fewer free votes
I would like considerably fewer free votes
I am undecided

Q. VOTING SYSTEM. Do you think that the present voting system for Westminster elections should maintained or should the voting system be reformed?

I am undecided
I support maintaining the present voting system (first past the post)
I support reform of the voting system (single transferable vote) - YES
I support reform of the voting system (alternative vote)
I support reform of the voting system (alternative vote plus)
I support reform of the voting system (other system)... Please state other system using no more than 10 words: I also support proportional voting systems such as the Additional Member one
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Q. OPEN PRIMARIES. Do you agree with open primaries for candidate selection or do you oppose them?

I do not support open primaries
I do not support open primaries but I do support primaries with defined electorates
I support open primaries - YES
I am undecided
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Q. VOTING AGE. Do you think that the voting age should remain at 18 or should it be lowered to 16?

I believe the voting age should be lowered to 16 - YES
I believe the voting age should remain at 18
I am undecided

Q. RECALLING MPS. Are you open to the idea of having a mechanism whereby constituents can vote on the recall of their MP in instances of "serious wrongdoing" or do you oppose having such a mechanism to recall MPs?

I am open to the idea of having a mechanism to recall MPs - YES
I am against having a mechanism to recall MPs
I am undecided

Q. HOUSE OF LORDS. What is your view on the composition of the House of Lords/second chamber?

I am undecided
I support maintaining the House of Lords in its present form
I support maintaining the House of Lords in its present form, but without hereditary members
I support a fully elected House of Lords/second chamber - YES
I support a House of Lords/second chamber with the majority of members being elected, but with some additional expert appointees
I support abolition of the House of Lords
I support a different composition for the House of Lords/second chamber... Please state proposed composition using no more than 10 words [type your max 10 word answer here]

Q. OTHER REFORMS. In no more than 20 words, please list other reforms/changes/measures that you believe would improve democracy/politics.
- More power for local communities and individuals through decentralisation and greater use of referenda

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Defining real progess

Ever wondered why there is still so much inequality, unhappiness, crime, environmental degradation, poor health, unemployment, poverty...The economy has grown and that is supposed to mean that we are progressing - but are we? And what's the alternative? Wouldn't we be better off using our health and wellbeing as the measure of progress? This new book by Prof Tim Jackson - Prosperity Without Growth - argues that its time to rethink economic growth...something I've written about a lot (see here and here for instance). Greens have been arguing this case since their foundation.

The earthscan website has some useful links and many quotes of praise from a wide range of political and other commentators for the book, which it describes as below,

Is more economic growth the solution? Will it deliver prosperity and well-being for a global population projected to reach nine billion?
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In this explosive book, Tim Jackson - a top sustainability adviser to the UK government - makes a compelling case against continued economic growth in developed nations.No one denies that development is essential for poorer nations. But in the advanced economies there is mounting evidence that ever-increasing consumption adds little to human happiness and may even impede it.
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More urgently, it is now clear that the ecosystems that sustain our economies are collapsing under the impacts of rising consumption. Unless we can radically lower the environmental impact of economic activity - and there is no evidence to suggest that we can - we will have to devise a path to prosperity that does not rely on continued growth.
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Economic heresy? Or an opportunity to improve the sources of well-being, creativity and lasting prosperity that lie outside the realm of the market? Tim Jackson provides a credible vision of how human society can flourish - within the ecological limits of a finite planet. Fulfilling this vision is simply the most urgent task of our times.
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The growth debate
The book is a substantially revised and updated version of Jackson's controversial study for the Sustainable Development Commission, an advisory body to the UK Government. Since the report was published in March 2009, President Sarkozy has asked world leaders to join a revolution in the measurement of economic progress, Sir Nicholas Stern has warned 'at some point we would have to think about whether we want future growth', and John Prescott has called the current economic growth model 'immoral'.

Monday, 8 February 2010

The Highways Agency’s billion pound traffic gamble

New roads (like the planned south Bristol 'link' as its now been rebranded) dont produce the claimed benefits and actually cause new problems according to research unearthed by the Campaign for Better Transport (see extract from report 'The Highways Agency’s billion pound traffic gamble' below). Little or no joined up (systems) thinking is what I consistently find when I ask questions at meetings about transport issues - many millions of pounds are ineffectively spent as a result.

The Highways Agency reviews its trunk road schemes, one year and five years after they open, to assess how accurate original forecasts were.

These reviews have shown that forecasts are wrong and forecasting is not being improved. The Agency’s forecasts underestimate the effect on traffic, air quality, noise and greenhouse gas emissions. They also fail to predict the economic impact and whether schemes will be good value
for money.

Until the Highways Agency makes some major changes, spending on new roads will remain a very expensive gamble.
Full details here:

Consultation on Nuclear National Policy - ends 22nd Feb

Received from Stop Hinkley: To take part in the Government consultations [on nuclear power] go to: www.energynpsconsultation.decc.gov.uk/home/ where you can also order hard copies of the consultation documents. Or call 0870 600 5533. Ask for all documents related to the nuclear policy statement and ‘justification’. Or send in your response by email to: energynpsconsultation@opm.co.uk

On the Stop Hinkley website you will find two letters addressed to Government departments. You can use them to respond to the consultations. Simply add your name and address and post to the address at the top of the letters. Alternately you can adapt them with your own words.[Also see previous blog entries*] Note: the consultation ends on 22nd February

Please forward this to as many people as possible and if you have any queries contact Stop www.stophinkley.org/Contact.htm
_______________________________________________

*You may find some of my previous blog entries, showing nuclear as fraught with technical and economic problems and sustainablitiy, waste and security issues useful.

Friday, 5 February 2010

The politics of participation: why get involved?

Politicians have messed up the political system and are struggling to put things right. They have mismanaged the economic system and have not taken action to build stability. Just look at the news on MPs charged with expenses fraud today. But we do need politics and politicians - and we put politicians into power. It may not seem like it a lot of the time but politics can and does work. It has many genuine people involved in it, paid and unpaid, at all levels and across parties. They are making politics work in Northern Ireland, as todays news shows, despite a very troubled history. Political systems suffer when people dont participate much however.

Everyone knows being Green has environmental protection as a core value. What is a little less well known is the high emphasis Greens put on grassroots democracy and participation. Participation at its best is all about: open exchange of ideas; mutual understanding; effective, timely information; promoting trust; highlighting decision-making processes; dealing with complex, possibly controversial issues; unique insights; serving each other. It ideally develops a common view, a sense of purpose – and allows communities to take control and set agendas. This is the way to learn to live better lives.

Inputs and involvement from people in their neighbourhood, community and society is really important for policymaking that is effective and responsive. Participation provides vital feedback on the performance of institutions, decision-making, and decision makers, including MPs and Councillors – less of it means they may well perform poorly. People have first-hand knowledge that contributes to understanding of what works and what needs improvement. If we want to help people out locally, change our workplaces, change our country, shape local national or global policy, leave our mark, we have to be active, engaged and take opportunities to be involved.

Getting involved has a positive influence on young lives, helps older individuals remain independent in their own homes, cleans up the environment, offers professional skills to local non-profit groups, and lends talents and experience to strengthening our communities. You could: join a political party or a pressure group; get involved in health and care services; become a parish town, district, borough, or city councillor – or seek election at national or EU level; become magistrate; take part in or start up a Neighbourhood Watch; participate in or start up a Residents' Association; get elected as a school governor; take on the role of a special constable…

There are many opportunities – just take a look on the web, through your local paper or in your local library. Talk to your neighbours or local shopkeeper. Community roles are dependent on the ongoing involvement and enthusiasm of committed people of all sorts. They are crucial to achieving and maintaining safe, prosperous and sustainable communities that can be enjoyed by all. Think about some key questions. What are your interests? What are your skills? Do you have particular needs? Do you have a method of transportation? How many hours a week do you have ? Why exactly do you want to be involved? Your answers will help you focus on the most appropriate avenues.

Being involved: feels good; strengthens your community; can strengthen your family when you do things together; it builds a sense of responsibility. It boosts the case for authorities to improve all methods of participation – then the extent to which one person can make a difference is improved. People of different backgrounds, abilities, ethnicities, ages, and education and income levels are brought together. Diverse individuals can be united by common values. Job skills can be gained - learning to work as a team member, taking on leadership roles, setting project goals - and future careers built.