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

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