Thursday, 24 February 2011

Norwich Green Party| Energy Scheme Will Reduce Cuts

More innovative thinking and action from Norwich Greens: Adrian Ramsay, Deputy Leader of the Green Party and Norwich City Councillor, will highlight the success of the Green Party's proposals to set up a Norfolk Energy Services Company (ESCO) at the party's Spring Conference in Cardiff this week.

The scheme will reduce the impact of national government cuts in crucial local services because it will bring in a guaranteed new income stream for the council, through the sale of surplus energy to the national grid, and reduce energy bills.

The ESCO, which would install solar panels on council property such as school, libraries and landfill sites, will also create new skilled, lasting jobs in Norfolk and reduce carbon emissions.

Norfolk County Council has agreed the principle of the scheme and Green Councillors are part of a working group that is developing the proposals.


Norwich Green Party Energy Scheme Will Reduce Cuts

Friday, 18 February 2011

Ten Reasons to Support AV | Yes to fairer votes

From the Yes to fairer votes website: In May voters will get the chance to choose a fairer voting system – the Alternative Vote. It’s a small change that will make a big difference.

The new voting system will keep what is best about our current system – the link between an MP serving their local constituency – but strengthens it by making MPs work harder to get elected and giving voters more of a say.

This is because, with AV, MPs would now have to aim to get more than 50% of the vote, and so will have to work harder and represent more of their constituents.

The AV system will change this. It will keep what is best about our current system – the link between an MP serving their local constituency, and the likelihood of decisive election results – and strengthens it by making MPs work harder to get and keep their jobs by giving voters more of a say.

Here are 10 good reasons for supporting AV.Click on your favourite ones to send them out on Twitter:

1. AV will force MPs to work harder to earn - and keep - our support

MPs need to secure a real majority of voters to be sure of winning, not just the 1 in 3 who can currently hand them power. They'll need to work harder to get - and keep - their jobs.
The expenses scandal showed how deeply out of touch some of our politicians became from the people who elect them. It arose from a culture where some MPs have ‘seats for life, and leads to poor service, complacency and taking voters for granted.


2. AV will give us a bigger say on who our local MP is

Forget tactical voting - just pick the candidate you really want to win. But if your favourite doesn't win you can still have a say.

3. AV will tackle the ‘jobs for life’ culture in Parliament

Too many MPs have 'safe' seats for life. We saw that in the expenses crisis. The AV system will change this.

4. AV is an upgrade on our current voting system

AV builds on the current system, eliminating many of its weaknesses, retaining its strengths and strengthening the link between MPs and their communities. Voters still have just one vote.

5. AV will keep extremists out of politics

AV is the anti-extremist system because candidates have to secure a real majority to be sure of winning. First Past the post enables candidates to win with a very small percentage of the vote, which means extremist parties such as the British National Party have more chance of being elected despite most people in an area opposing them. This is one of the reasons why the BNP is opposing AV.

6. AV lets you vote for who you really want

Forget tactical voting- just pick the candidate you really want to win. With AV you can back just one candidate (like now), or if you'd like to, state a second choice, or even a third choice. Voters can vote for what they really want so there is no need to vote tactically.

7. AV gives control to more voters

Less than 2% of voters decided the last election. To be sure of winning a seat with AV, candidates will have to get over 50% of the votes in that area. They will have to work harder and not just take us for granted.

8. AV will force candidates to positively engage with the wider community

First Past the Post has created a culture of complacency whereby most MPs know they can just rely on their core vote. AV rewards politicians who can reach out to a widest range of voters. Politicians will need to engage more constructively with more people if they want to be sure of winning.

9. AV is already used by 14m people in the UK

Alternative Vote (AV) is a widely used and trusted system in Britain outside public elections, because it is used by businesses, charities, trade unions and membership organisations

10. This referendum is a once-in-a-lifetime chance for us to have our say on the current system

MPs have been deciding their own rules for far too long. This is the first time that voters are being given a say on the system we should use to elect MPs. This is our chance to have a public debate and to demand more from our democracy.

Find out more
What is AV? Introducing the Alternative Vote
AV myths Let’s separate the facts from the fiction
A broken system What’s wrong with First Past the Post?
Why a referendum? Seizing our chance for change

Ten Reasons to Support AV Yes to fairer votes

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Greens call for Stadium rethink as Sainsburys' prospects fade. | News

An Ashton Gate Sainsburys will hit other local traders far harder than the grocery giant has admitted. The independent report commissioned by the council from experts GVA challenges Sainsbury claims that its superstore - the third proposed for the Ashton Gate site [1] - can sit comfortably with existing retail businesses in South Bristol, especially those in North Street and East Street. It predicts that turnover in those shops would be cut by an average of 7%...

Greens call for Stadium rethink as Sainsburys' prospects fade. News

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

UK weapons of mass destruction


There isn't all-party support for retaining the UK nuclear deterrent, though the BBC asserts that there is. The Green Party eg through Caroline Lucas MP, is very clearly and strongly opposed and regards both the threatened and actual use of any weapon of mass destruction as immoral and illegal - and there are other MPs that support this view. Ludicrously our PM David Cameron uses phrases like 'keep our guard up' and 'insurance policy' about nuclear weapons!

It is, sadly, right to say though that few politicians are now arguing a fundamental case against nuclear weapons. I watched the 1959 film On the Beach about a post-apocalyptic world again recently. Its not a cheery number - with characters played by Gregory Peck, Ava Gardiner, Anthony Perkins, Fred Astaire and others facing the end of their lives and the end of human beings as fatal radiation levels spread across the globe - but for me its a classic film that makes some very telling points.

I'm 100% with Fred Astaire's character when he says 'The war started when people accepted the idiotic principle that peace could be maintained by arranging to defend themselves with weapons they could not possibly use without committing suicide.' (see video clip). Our PM David Cameron continues, with the support of the Labour and Lib Dem leadership, to support this idiotic principle.

"In terms of the future, all I can say... is that I am in favour of a full replacement for Trident, for continuous at-sea deterrent, and to make sure we keep our guard up.

"That is Conservative policy. It will remain Conservative policy as long as I am the leader of this party."'

All-party support

Labour MP John Woodcock, whose Barrow-in-Furness constituency builds the Trident submarines, also asked Mr Cameron for reassurance that he would not go back on his word.

Mr Cameron said: "I profoundly believe we should maintain our independent nuclear deterrent. I have looked at all of the alternatives over the years and I am completely convinced that you need a submarine based alternative - a full replacement for Trident in order to guarantee the ultimate insurance policy for this country."

BBC News - David Cameron 'committed to full Trident replacement'

Friday, 11 February 2011

Government go-ahead for controversial Bristol biofuel plant | Bristol24-7

This is a very bad decision. To be expected from a dreadful Con/Dem Coalition Govt.

Government go-ahead for controversial Bristol biofuel plant Bristol24-7

Day of action for Robin Hood Tax: College Green 16 Feb

Oxfam South West to hand over ‘final demand’ to a Bristol bank As banks reveal enormous profits and bonuses, charity joins global day of action to call for Robin Hood Tax.

Oxfam South West will hand over a ‘final demand’ at a Bristol bank on Wednesday (February 16), calling for a tax on the financial sector to help alleviate poverty at home and abroad.

As part of a global day of action, involving organizations such as Comic Relief, Christian Aid, Friends of the Earth and Unite, the charity’s supporters will be at the HSBC bank on College Green, calling for a Robin Hood Tax on financial transactions.

The action comes as bonuses for bankers are revealed. A fresh wave of public anger has been ignited by news that banks are predicted to scoop bonuses of £7bn in the UK while at the same time public spending cuts start to bite.

Meanwhile, Britain's biggest banks are poised to reveal more eye-watering profits, with city analysts predicting combined profits of around £24 billion from four banking giants - HSBC, Barclays, Lloyds and Standard Chartered.

A Robin Hood Tax – a 0.05% levy on each financial transaction made by the banks – would raise up to £20bn in the UK alone. About £7 billion could stop cuts to libraries, schools, higher education and other public services, while another £7 billion could pay for free healthcare for 226 million people in poor countries around the world.

Christopher Brown, from Oxfam South West, said the action was needed to remind banks of their responsibilities to use their huge profits for positive action to alleviate poverty at home and abroad – action called for by governments around the world.

“The expected profits made by the UK banking sector are more than enough to save essential public services – which are being cut left, right and centre in the UK – and bring hundreds of thousands of people around the world out of poverty.

“A Robin Hood Tax, which has been supported by the French president and current president of the G20 Nicolas Sarkozy, is a tax whose time has come. The banks got the world into the financial mess it is in – it is time they paid their fair share to rebuild our economy and save services we all need.”

Oxfam South West will join the global call for a Robin Hood Tax on Wednesday, February 16 between 12 and 1pm at the branch of HSBC at College Green. Supporters will hand over their final demand and ask passers-by to sign a petition in support of the campaign.

The media are invited to attend – Oxfam South West volunteers, dressed as Robin Hood, will be available for interview and photographs from 12.30pm.

ENDS

For press information contact:

Christopher Brown at Oxfam South West on 0117 916 6474 or 07887 632 658 or cbrown@oxfam.org.uk

Notes to editors:

For more information about the Robin Hood Tax, visit:

Similar events will be held in Cardiff, Hereford, Glasgow, Manchester and London, in the UK, as well as in 12 countries around the world, including France, Germany and Canada.

Oxfam works with others to overcome poverty and suffering

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

SouthvilleGreen: Why stand?

Standing again because of: the cause, the cuts, the councillor, and the cruds who aren't standing up for local people but are backing big business instead.

SouthvilleGreen: Why stand?

SouthvilleGreen: Bolton is back!

Hey, Charlie Bolton is back to blogging again. He's standing as the Green Party candidate for Southville in this year's local elections too. Comments to Charlie - and to Southville's Cllr Tess Green via this blog.

SouthvilleGreen

Monday, 7 February 2011

Legal advice charities call for help – save our services! Rally, Queens Square, Bristol, Mon 7th February 12noon

A network of charities that offer free, independent, and confidential legal advice to households on low incomes in Bristol and the surrounding areas are calling for help from the people of Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire. Proposed cuts in government funding will mean a huge reduction in the services that these agencies can offer to the most vulnerable individuals in society.

Proposals to remove Legal Aid funding for all welfare benefits, employment, and immigration cases for most debt cases and for many housing cases, will result in destitution, poverty and hardship for thousands of households across the region. It is estimated that in Bristol alone over 4,000 households will not be able to access advice to deal with their complex, life-changing problems if these cuts are made.

“Providing high-quality legal advice to vulnerable people on low-incomes is a good investment for society,” says Jane Emanuel, who works with advice agencies in the region. “The governments own research shows that the people most affected by these changes will be people with disabilities, people over pension age and other groups less able to help themselves. Government research also shows that for every £1 spent on advice the state saves anything up to £10 in reduced costs elsewhere in the system – for instance, lower NHS spending, lower housing spending and reduced social care spending. Not only are these proposals a disaster for individuals and families who will suffer because they cannot resolve their problems, they are a clear false economy that will not, in the long run, save the Government money.”

Local advice agencies and their supporters have arranged a rally in Queens Square, Bristol on Monday 7th February from 12noon to raise public awareness of this looming disaster, and to encourage the public to contact their MPs before the governments consultation finishes on 14/02/11.

We would ask everyone who values access to justice for vulnerable people to support us – see
www.advicewest.org.uk for more details.

###

Notes for editors:

1 - The Advice Network is a three-year project managed by Avon & Bristol Law Centre on behalf of Advice Centres for Avon (ACFA). ACFA is a network of advice agencies who have been working together for over 25 years; most members are registered charities and all offer free, confidential, impartial, high-quality legal advice on issues such as housing, debt, welfare benefits, community care, employment, education and health. For more details visit our website –
www.advicewest.org.uk.
2 – Local advice agencies in Bristol alone will lose over £500,000 in funding if the cuts to legal aid proceed as proposed
3 – Legal aid-funded advisers and solicitors are not ‘fat-cats’ – the average salary for a highly-trained and experienced adviser in the South-west is c£25,000
4 – Alternative funding sources simply do not exist – Bristol City Council have ring-fenced the funding they currently provide for advice services, but cannot fill the gaps left by government cuts; other cuts to funding for advice from national government have just been announced – this will result in a further loss of c£750,000 in funding for debt advice for people in Bristol and the surrounding areas.
5 – For further information, or for media interviews, please contact Ben Sansum, Jane Emanuel or Liz Freeman at the Advice Network project on 0117 929 2153, or 0794 838 2676

Goose steps and mass graves? We're only trying to save the world - Telegraph

Brilliant article in the Daily Telegraph from Robert Webb (pictured) 'one of Britain's most popular comedians, [who]brings his wit and imagination to the Telegraph's comment pages with capricious stories of his everyday life.' We need more communication on politics and climate change like this!

When the Martians finally invade and make me Lord High Protector of the Earth, I like to think that my first act will be to have myself arrested. It might be useful if those who spend a lot of time banging on about how much they love liberty ask themselves if they would do the same thing.

What would you do? A quick tweak here and there, and then hold elections? More than a tweak? It's the whole Earth, so there's quite a bit to put right. And you'll need people you trust to help: friends… maybe family! And what about those Earthlings who don't appreciate your efforts? Well, protest is one thing, but when they start to really interfere with your helpful plans for them, then it might be time to be a bit firm – which is just your way of showing how much you love them. So the Friendly Protectorship might go on slightly longer than we first imagined. Best to give it a while: say 30 years? A lifetime?

Yes, you've guessed it: this week's column is about the leader of the Green Party, Caroline Lucas MP. If you don't immediately understand the connection, then that's because you are sane. To have made the mental leap, you would need to belong to the head-banging libertarian/Ukip fringe who seem to think that all Lefties are born tyrants. You might be tempted to offer them the figure of George Orwell – who spent a lifetime defending the values of the democratic Left against the triple menace of communism, fascism and imperialism – but that doesn't work on the head-bangers, because they think Orwell is one of them. This indicates a psychological problem that experts have identified as "an inability to read a book properly".

Anyway, Lucas – who this week made an attempt to make the House of Commons work more efficiently, and was roundly patronised for her efforts – makes an almost perfect hate figure for the head-bangers, not just because she shows worrying signs of talking about wealth redistribution and actually meaning it, but because of the inevitable scale of aspiration that is part of the Green agenda. They look at her and think: "This woman doesn't just want to keep the 50p rate, she wants to change the entire Earth! This can only mean jackboots."

I say she's an "almost" perfect hate figure because she doesn't have an eye-patch or a hook or wear swastika earrings. In fact, it's a bit inconvenient all round that, when interviewed, she sounds quite sensible. Still, that won't matter. There's a YouTube video posted by "ukipmedia" where, to my ear, Lucas is clearly winning a debate with Ukip spokesman David Campbell Bannerman. At the point where she says, "People are dying from climate change, David", the video then clunkily loops back so we can hear her say it again another three times. The intended effect is presumably to highlight some kind of "gaffe" or standout absurdity, but in fact it reveals far more about the mentality of the poster than the subject. It's the use of repetition that is sinister here, not the thing that's being repeated. "People are dying from climate change" is not a remarkable statement; it is a scientific commonplace.

Given the bitter tone of the environmental debate, I imagine that this last sentence will have made some of you really quite cross. The YouTube clip has inspired seven pages of comments, characterised in the main by unhinged vitriol and references to totalitarian mass graves.


Let me have a go at understanding these people: wish me luck. I suppose that if you really think climate change is a sham; if you really think it's possible for a global scientific community to get together to fabricate a mountainous embarrassment of evidence in support of a particular theory and that, furthermore, they are able to hoodwink successfully – or even secretly conspire with – hundreds of governments and political parties, who are wildly opposed on everything else, so that there is a consensus that something should be done, then I suppose you're going to be quite annoyed when, as a result of this mammoth fraud, someone asks you to turn the central heating down.

Because if what they're saying is true, then our only way out of it is through unprecedented, long-term collective action. And human beings are really not very good at unprecedented, long-term collective action. And, knowing our history, we certainly don't like the look of that word "collective". Or, for that matter, "action". So better to believe the whole thing is a lie: Jeremy Clarkson will back us up, and he's a fun guy.
Believe me – I don't want to be on the un-fun side of the argument. I enjoy a visit to ClarksonWorld along with the next man, but I can't live there. All the rides are free because someone else is paying. And I sympathise with the daunted. I'm pretty daunted. The crushing scale of the thing, the complexity of getting agreements between countries at different stages of industrial and political development, the technological challenges, the whole seeming futility of it makes you want to club Caroline Lucas around the head with a patio heater to shut her up.


But still, I don't "get" where coercion, goose steps and Room 101 is implied in any of this. A failure of imagination on my part, no doubt. Maybe the Martians should appoint David Campbell Bannerman instead. What would he do?

Goose steps and mass graves? We're only trying to save the world - Telegraph

Friday, 4 February 2011

A World In Waiting: 10 Feb, Colston Hall

Passing on this from Nick Thomas...I'm just spreading word of a free event that may be of interest. It's the final event of the European Year for Combating Poverty & Social Exclusion - a large-scale exercise in direct democracy that we hope will attract a wide range of contributors with interest, ideas or experience of the issues involved. It's called A World in Waiting, evoking the better world that we hold in our hearts and that we could and should do more to make a reality. The agenda is completely open, to be set on the day - and the Dept for Work & Pensions is expecting us to generate 5 “policy asks” from the day’s deliberations, so it should have practical outcomes!

It takes place this Thursday (10th Feb) at the Colston Hall - and is open to everyone. It runs from 10am-5pm, but you're welcome to drop in at any time for as long as you like. Full details are at
http://www.aworldinwaiting.eu. Do get in touch if you'd like to know more - and do please spread the word. We hope to fill the Colston Hall!
Many thanks,
Nick.


Nick Thomas
The Pierian Centre
Tel: 0117 924 4512
www.pieriancentre.com

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Drag Parliament into the 21st century Caroline Lucas

Yes, yes, yes and yes to these proposals. Great work by Green MP Caroline Lucas on parliamentary reform. Drag that place into the 21st century and make it more accessible, practical, democratic, economic and effective!

...Among the report's proposals are; the introduction of electronic voting, a systematic overhaul of Parliamentary language, measures to prevent the "talking out" of Private Members' Bills, greater use by the Speaker on limits on backbench speaking time and an end to late night sittings...

Green Party MPs to debate Green calls for overhaul of parliament

BBC News - UN 'concerned' by world population growth trends

Agreed - how to achieve this by fair yet effective means is the key issue though...

The world population growth rate must slow down significantly to avoid reaching unsustainable levels, says a new UN report.
To have a reasonable chance of stabilising world population, fertility must drop to below "replacement level".
It must then be maintained at that level for an extended period, says the report.


BBC News - UN 'concerned' by world population growth trends

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Support your local library 5 Feb


FT.com / House & Home - Enlightened energy

Hmmm...we have a south facing roof that might be suitable...so should we invest in solar photovoltaic panels or look into 'rent a roof' schemes? Interesting piece on this issue in the Financial Times.

“If you’ve got a bit of spare cash, it’s better to invest it in solar photovoltaic than putting your money in a building society,” says Charles Couzens, executive director of Ecos Trust, a Somerset-based charity that provides advice on sustainable building. He points out that you can get a healthy financial return of between 6 and 9 per cent, tax free.

The sea change for photovoltaic (PV) panels and other green electricity sources has come about through the introduction of feed-in tariffs in Britain in April 2010. This means that anyone installing small-scale electricity generation in homes, schools, hospitals or businesses can claim a substantial tariff – 41.3p a unit – for what they produce. And they get a further 3p a unit for any surplus electricity exported to the grid – as well as saving the cost of buying electricity in...

...in Germany, a national system of feed-in tariffs has turned a mostly cloudy country into a world leader in domestic solar panels. More than 250,000 people are employed in the industry and Germany is exporting components around the world...

...But what about people on lower incomes or those with young families who are unlikely to have enough money to spare? There is an alternative – a number of companies in the UK, and in other countries too, are offering consumers the chance to have solar panels installed and benefit from the energy they produce without having to pay a penny for them. Under most of these “rent-a-roof” schemes, the householder makes savings on their electricity bills, but gets nothing of the feed-in tariffs – these accrue solely to the panel owner...

FT.com / House & Home - Enlightened energy

70 months and counting ... | Andrew Simms | Comment is free | guardian.co.uk

Capital One's advert for its World Mastercard is quite emphatic: "No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, there's no limit." That kind of certainty normally comes wrapped in fundamentalist religion. It could be the magical thinking of an economic system drifted dangerously far from its real world roots, or just the "bring it on" machismo of banks desperate to forget the consequences of reckless lending.
Either way, it neatly illustrates Ban Ki-moon's suspicion that the world's economic model is an ecological
"global suicide pact". Whichever data set you refer to, his concern is well grounded. Last year was either the equal warmest year on record, or second warmest...

...This month – number 70 in this countdown for action on climate change – saw BP publish its latest, industry standard projections of future fossil fuel demand and production. They predict that global carbon emissions will keep rising until at least 2030, in spite of the fact that to prevent dangerous climate change they should already be reducing. Presented in numbing pages of graphs and tables, this is the "global suicide pact" written invisibly into the world's economic model referred to by Ban Ki-moon. And it will remain so, until we can break the spell of magical thinking which allows us to believe that, economically and environmentally, there are no limits...

70 months and counting ... Andrew Simms Comment is free guardian.co.uk

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

BBC News - Helmet cameras capture bad driving

...The cycling organisation CTC says the more people cycle, the safer it becomes, as drivers become used to watching out for bicycles. The organisation says there has been a 91% increase in cycling in London alone since 2000, while casualties have dropped by a third.

However, there are still around 17,000 injuries a year and 104 deaths in 2009, the latest year that official figures are available for.


Most regular cyclists have horror stories of near misses, the bus that overtook too close, the car driver who did not see them on the roundabout, the van that forced them off the road...

BBC News - Helmet cameras capture bad driving