Hereford & S. Herefordshire GP AGM

Notes of Annual General Meeting on 11 October 2017 at De Koffie Pot

Present: Giles Boardman, Kyrle du Heaume, Libby Hudson, Elwyn Lear, John McCloskey, Edward Milford, Jeremy Milln, Rob Palgrave, Richard Priestley, Carole Protherough, Maggie Settafield, David Straker, Diana Toynbee, Natalia Waring, Sue Young

GUEST SPEAKER

Ben Boswell (Herefordshire Council Energy and Active Travel Manager) spoke about the Council’s work to reduce carbon emissions and to promote “active travel” and electric vehicles.

Herefordshire Council (HC) has retained its team working on this (of 15 people) despite other cuts. Partly because it has delivered well. For instance, the switch to all LED district lighting (the first county in the country to achieve this) although costing £9m is delivering significant cost savings. It has also helped HC to be on target to achieve the 40% reduction in their carbon footprint by 2020. They are already down 30%.

Ben spoke about how the active travel plan is encouraging walking and cycling. The funding is focused on Hereford itself. They can provide free bicycles to apprentices & cycle parking for businesses. They are developing travel plans for schools (& training pupils in cycle safety), the Enterprise Zone and the new University and have got funding for introducing bikes for public use. There are a number of park & cycle or park and share sites and the cycle route network has increased considerably. Lengthsmen are being employed to keep them clear.

Also encouraging public transport use, car share and electric vehicles. New rapid charge points are being put in for electric vehicles. All this is beginning to deliver modal shift.

A full feasibility study is being undertaken into the potential for a District Energy Project in the City Centre.

There were a number of detailed questions and comments. Further questions can be passed to Rob Palgrave to pass on to Ben for responses.

Rob thanked Ben for coming to speak to us.

FORMAL AGM BUSINESS

  1. Apologies. Rob Hattersley, Sheila Milne, Glenn Storhaug, Jane Straker.
  2. Minutes of meeting on 15 September 2016. Agreed and signed.
  3. Matters arising. There were none.

4. Chair’s report.

Diana thanked the Committee and all who had helped in various ways over the year. She is really proud of what has been achieved.

Much has happened in the year – some of it unexpected. At the last AGM Ellie Chowns had spoken about the Progressive Alliance. This was adopted at the GP Conference and then almost immediately put into practice when the General Election was called! Nationally there was good coverage of the leaders in the election and, though the localresults were disappointing, our local campaign was good and competent and increased our standing.

We had been able to put forward an excellent candidate, Jeremy Milln, for the election in Golden Valley South but were up against a well-known local independent candidate. Nevertheless, the hard work, particularly by Jeremy, brought us more votes than Labour. In both elections the quality of our literature was outstanding. Largely thanks to Rob Hattersley.

The Big Green Conversations have proved that there is a place for a discussion forum on a range of topics. Thanks to Nat Waring for her input and for providing the venue.

Social media and web site presence also good. Thanks to Rob Hattersley.

Rob Palgrave as press officer has been offered a slot in the Talking Points section of the Hereford Times. The first appears tomorrow and another on 21 December. All this helps to raise our profile.

There has been disappointing press coverage of the National GP Conference. The slogan was “speaking truth to power” and Jonathan Bartley in his speech spoke about the way the GP punched above its weight and was far more influential in the political landscape than its numbers might suggest.

Diana concluded that locally we have great respect and have earned the right to be treated seriously.

5. Treasurer’s report. This was circulated at the meeting. John McCloskey said that by the end of the year we had £50 profit over the previous year, thanks to generous donations made for the elections. Expenditure in 2018 is likely to be low, but we need to prepare for significant expenditure in 2019 for the local elections. He suggested that there should be a focus on fund-raising. John was thanked for the 2 years he has been Treasurer.

6. Reports from other officers. These were circulated at the meeting and are copied below. Edward Milford drew attention to the significant achievement of getting a third Green councillor elected and said that there was s very good chance of getting Ellie Chowns elected in the forthcoming by-election in Bishops Frome & Cradley.

7. Election of officers. It was pointed out that only members could vote and each nomination needed a nominator and a seconder. Edward Milford took the chair.

Chair, Principal spokesperson & local liaison. Diana Toynbee was nominated by Kyrle du Heaume and seconded by Carole Protherough. There were no other nominations. Diana was appointed unanimously.

Diana then took the chair.

Vice chair. Edward Milford was nominated by John McCloskey and seconded by Rob Palgrave. There were no other nominations. Edward was appointed unanimously. Treasurer. Rob Palgrave was nominated by Libby Hudson and seconded by Edward Milford. There were no other nominations. Rob was appointed unanimously.

Secretary. Sue Young was nominated by Jeremy Milln and seconded by Diana Toynbee. There were no other nominations. Sue was appointed unanimously.

Membership officer. Kyrle du Heaume was nominated by Carole Protherough and seconded by Edward Milford. There were no other nominations. Kyrle was appointed unanimously.

Nominating office, agent & electoral returning officer. Glenn Storhaug was nominated by Carole Protherough and seconded by David Straker. There were no other nominations. Glenn was appointed unanimously.

Campaigns Co-ordinator. Edward Milford was nominated by Carole Protherough and seconded by David Straker. There were no other nominations. Edward was appointed unanimously.

Press officer. Rob Palgrave was nominated by Carole Protherough and seconded by David Straker. There were no other nominations. Rob was appointed unanimously.

Communications officer & social media officer. There were no nominations.

Fundraising officer. There were no nominations. But there were some suggestions about fundraising at Big Green Conversations – e.g. table of spare produce and / or books / CDs; services auction. It was agreed that fundraising would be discussed at the next business meeting.

Elections Co-ordinator & Ward Development Officer. Edward Milford was nominated by Carole Protherough and seconded by David Straker. There were no other nominations. Edward was appointed unanimously.

Social Media Officer. There were no nominations. However, Nat Waring & Elwyn Lear said they would help with Facebook posts.

Big Green Conversation Co-ordinator. Natalia Waring was nominated by Carole Protherough and seconded by David Straker. There were no other nominations. Nat was appointed unanimously.

Young Green representative. There were no nominations.

8. Bank signatories. The 4 bank signatories were agreed as Glenn Storhaug, Rob Palgrave, Edward Milford and Diana Toynbee.

9. Strategy and goals for forthcoming year

Diana suggested that our focus should be on the run-in to the 2019 local elections. We need to seek some good candidates and get them known as soon as possible. Edward added that we should target 3 wards (including Central Ward).

Another area Diana said she would like to focus on is the way we support each other as a group, to make our activities enjoyable and enable us to contribute more than the sum of the parts.

Also, we have been able to produce some beautiful election materials, thanks to some very generous donations, but we now need to replenish our resources. So fundraising will be another focus for this coming year.

10. Date of next AGM. This would be in Sep / Oct 2018. Date and venue to be notified.

11. Date of next business meeting. Tuesday 14 November 19.30 in the Brewery Room at the Barrels.

12. Date of next Big Green Conversation. There will be no meeting on 25 October. The next one will be on Wednesday 22 November.

13. Any other business. There was none.

 

HEREFORD AND SOUTH HEREFORDSHIRE GREEN PARTY 2017 AGM

CHAIR’S REPORT

We have had another very active year – more active than expected! – and I want to thank our team for their commitment and competence – and their support for me as a novice Chair.

I’m extremely proud of what we have achieved – not just of what we do, but how we do it.

It has been a demanding year, and we are all busy people, but when we get together it never feels like a chore – it’s always a pleasure. Thank you too to all our members, without whose energy – and subscriptions – we would not be able to function. I hope we will see more of each other this year.

A lot has happened since our last AGM! This time a year ago, after a presentation on Progressive Alliances from Ellie Chowns, we discussed how to use them to bring on PR, topple Conservative power, and demonstrate the Green politics of reaching out across divides for the common good.

At conference in April – just six months ago! – the party agreed to move forwards with this Progressive Alliance movement. Little did we know we would be putting it into practice so soon … just two weeks later the General Election was called, and we scrambled into action.

Caroline and Jonathan put in excellent performances in the national media, and here in Herefordshire we ran an extremely professional and creative campaign, working at a countywide level for maximum impact, and to share skills. It helped a lot that I had already been selected as parliamentary candidate, and that I had the experience from 2015.

Our General Election result here was disappointing, but I know our campaign consolidated our reputation as a competent, serious force. We are an established part of the local political landscape, and our much respected group of county councillors rose to three this year, with the election of Trish Marsh in March, a campaign many of us contributed to, pounding the streets of Leominster South.

In August we sprung into action again, when another County council by-election was called, in Golden Valley South. To our delight, the highly qualified Jeremy Milln came forward to stand for us. He received over 10% of the vote, and beat Labour, whose candidate was the high profile (and Golden Valley inhabitant) Anna Coda. For a fuller account of our election campaigns, see Edward’s report.

A prominent success of the past year has been the Big Green Conversations, which demonstrate that we are a valued resource for local people, and a forum for exchanging ideas. De Koffee Pot is the perfect venue for our events, and I’m extremely grateful to Nat for her support and hard work.

I’m also very proud of our much improved website and social media presence, which are largely down to Rob Hattersley’s know-how and creativity, not to mention patience.

Another new initiative which will boost our profile is that Rob Palgrave, whose countywide work on press and publicity has been so effective, has been offered a regular opinion slot in the Hereford Times Talking Point. This shows the importance of building good relationships with local media.

How do we fit into the national picture? As you know, our national conference was last weekend, with this year’s slogan Speaking Truth to Power. One of the advantages of not having a massive party whipping machine bearing down on us is that we CAN speak truth to power – nationally and locally. Right here and right now, there is nothing to stop us: We are letting people know how Jesse is voting, demanding transparency from the council, and fighting for decent public transport.

Members – please note that we don’t have to be experts on anything to be part of these actions!

As Jonathan Bartley said in his conference speech: We can be a strong Green voice of Truth.

He emphasised how the Green Party punches above its weight, and is already changing the political landscape: Nuclear weapons, community energy, Universal Basic Income, PR, votes at 16, putting the brakes on Brexit, challenging GDP as a metric… these are now mainstream issues, largely thanks to Greens constantly bringing them to public attention.

Locally, we may not have thousands of members, but I can tell you that the thousands of people in Herefordshire who care about nature, the local economy, human rights and social justice look to us. As local co-ordinator, people often contact me, to ask what we’re up to, tell me about a campaign, invite me to an event, or just thank us. I’m very proud of the trust and respect we have earned. I am confident that it will grow, and now let’s build on this year’s work to grow our influence … and power!

ELECTION COORDINATOR’S REPORT

Prepared by: Edward Milford

At the last AGM, when I took on the role, I expected that the main focus would be to start our ‘target to win’ campaign in Central Ward, to identify other secondary targets and to ensure we were positioning ourselves well for the 2019 local elections.

Events have overtaken us a bit. We have had two council by-elections so far – with a third to come before the end of the year; our candidate for Central Ward has stood down following a job change, and there was the small matter of the General Election.

The first by-election was in Leominster South in March. Our excellent candidate Trish Marsh won the seat to bring our number of members on the council up to three. The North have an effective election-fighting operation, and GP members from HASH made frequent visits to support them. An excellent result.

The second by-election was in Golden Valley South, following the relocation out of the county of the sitting Conservative councillor. We fielded Jeremy Milln as our candidate. At the last election we had come a distant second to the winning Conservative. There was a more crowded field this time with two independents and Labour also standing. It’s a very scattered ward, and this makes campaigning for the elections hard work. It was not a proper target seat and we were pleased to beat Labour at least and to pick up just over 10% of the vote. A well-known independent, Peter Jinman, won the seat off the Tories – reducing their majority on the Council at least.

The third by-election will be in Bishops Frome and Cradley. We don’t have a date yet, but we do have an excellent candidate, we believe, in Ellie Chowns who was the Parliamentary candidate in the North Herefordshire constituency at the General Election. We’ve done well there in the past, and will be campaigning to try and win the seat.

The General Election was both a surprise – given that the Prime Minister had repeatedly said she would not call an early election – and not a surprise in that the opinion polls (and indeed local election results) suggested that the Tories could win a big majority.

The trend over recent elections towards more support for smaller parties was emphatically reversed, and the share of the vote for both Labour and the Tories increased both nationally and in Herefordshire. That made it a very difficult election for smaller parties to contest effectively, and we were squeezed between a resurgent Labour party and loyalty to the Conservatives. Our task was made harder with a well-known local figure, Jim Kenyon, standing as an Independent.

Overall, our 1220 votes, while disappointing particularly compared with the 2015 election result, was a respectable showing in the circumstances. National elections may raise the profile of the Party, but are not yet realistic chance of winning elected office.

For the next 12 months we need to sharpen up our target to win strategy, identify suitable candidates for the seats we are hoping to contest properly, and start building towards 2019.

MEMBERSHIP REPORT

prepared by Kyrle du Heaume

We are very pleased to welcome 42 new members to the Hereford Green Party since our last AGM in September 2016. We are very glad some old timers have returned, but most of those who joined in the last year are new to the Green Party. We hope to keep their interest and encourage them to get involved.

We now have 130 members. Started the year (Sept 2016) with 136 members, so although we have lost some members, numbers are fairly stable.

We also have 248 who have registered as Supporters. How do we encourage these Green Party supporters to become members and take a more positive role?

PRESS REPORT

prepared by Rob Palgrave

Local press coverage of our activities and views in the past 12 months was unsurprisingly concentrated around the June general election. Across the year, we had about 8 items in the Hereford Times, and four officers had at least one letter printed. We also had one letter in The Guardian. We’re pleased to report that the Hereford Times has recently invited us to contribute to their Talking Point column, approximately every quarter. Our first piece will be published on 12 October. We’re always looking for subject matter to include in press releases or letters, so please get in touch if you think of something or see a local issue that you want raised. Similarly if you want to write something yourself that can help raise the profile of your local Green Party

FINANCIAL REPORT

Available on request to members only

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