Traffic calming for Bromyard

In the early part of the Summer, we carried out a survey, asking a cross section of the residents  about traffic calming ideas in the High Street and Broad Street. They voted in favour of a 20 m.p.h. speed limit and to restrict H.G.V.s in this area.

We documented the results and passed them onto our two County Councillors,  Alan Seldon ( It’s Our County ) and Nigel Shaw ( Tory ) the local police neighbourhood team, our M.P. Bill Wiggin, and in October, we presented our findings to Bromyard Town Council, asking them to discuss the issue at the next full Council Meeting, which they failed to do.

The Police Neighbourhood Team did not respond at all. The Councillors said that they would pass our results on to relevant people from Herefordshire County Council. If they have, nobody has contacted us. Bill Wiggin said he would pass the results on to The Leader of the Council and would let us have his reaction. We’ve not heard from him since.

This is very frustrating because, though we may have carried out the survey, the results are the comments of the very people, who our MP, Town and County Councillors and the Police Team are supposed to represent.

Hopefully, the exercise has raised our profile a little. Bromyard is an extremely Conservative Town and raising any great interest here will be a hard nut to crack. We’ll soldier on anyway.

Are you booked for West Mids conference?

Green Party Deputy Leader Amelia Womack is our special guest speaker at this year’s West Midlands Green Party Conference.
Amelia was first elected as Deputy Leader in 2014 at the age of 29, and is still the youngest deputy leader of any UK political party. Amelia has campaigned on numerous issues in her 8 years as a Green Party activist, in particular Housing and TTIP.
Amelia will be talking about the current state of politics, and the part our work in the West Midlands can play in addressing it, as well as inspiring us to keep winning!
The Conference is on Saturday 7th January at the Priory Rooms, 40 Bull St, Birmingham City Centre, B4 6AF. We’ll be starting at 10am and finishing by 5:15pm.
Entry is at the bargain price of £6 if you pay in advance, or £8 on the door. Those on low or no income can book the bursary rate, which is free. Whichever you decide to do, don’t forget to register in advance using this booking link, to be sure of your place.

Motorway through Hereford?

Marches LEP and Herefordshire Council are pressing ahead with their scheme to build Hereford’s north-south bypass, including a new crossing of the river Wye to the west of the city. They applied to the Department for Transport for funding (c £1.9m) to help develop the Outline Business Case and the planning application. The application documents are publicly available, so we reviewed them and wrote to DfT prior to the Autumn Statement to ask that they refuse the application for funding. We said:

  • The claimed benefits for the Bypass are overstated and unsubstantiated, in some cases illusory;
  • None of the many negative impacts are mentioned;
  • The letters of support from several other local authorities and enterprise partnerships are too similar to have been written independently
  • The evidence base is mostly made up of documents produced by the LEP, Herefordshire Council or by their consultants, with little or no outside scrutiny or independent evaluation.

We were particularly concerned to see in the application, claims that the bypass will “reinforce the importance of the A49”, allowing it to act as a sort of relief road for the increasingly congested M5/M6, and to become a major artery for traffic between north and south Wales. If this were to happen it would mean villages and settlements alongside the A49, both north and south of Hereford, would be subjected to more traffic – on a single carriageway trunk road that already has dangerous bends and junctions and an unenviable accident record. It is evident that there has been no consultation on this point with communities likely to be affected.

At the time of writing we don’t know if or when the requested funding will be provided – DfT’s list of successful schemes published after the Autumn Statement thankfully did not include the Hereford Bypass. But we don’t expect those pushing for this hugely expensive and damaging road to give up at the first attempt!

New Year elections

Due to the sad recent death of one of our County Councillors, there will be a by-election in Leominster in the New Year. We will be calling on as many of you as possible for help.

Although we do not have scheduled local elections in Herefordshire next year, our neighbouring counties will be very busy and have been developing their campaigns for many months already. If you are able to help them with leafleting, canvassing or in any other way, please get in touch. You could join a Big Day Out or help at other times. The provisional list of Big Days Out for 2017 are as follows:

Electric cars in Bromyard

At Bromyard Greens meeting on 1st February, we have invited Gordon Coppock, who has an interest in and has invested much time in various alternative energy projects, which includes producing an electric car, which he put together here in Bromyard. Some of the parts were made by a local firm.

We have a Speed Festival here in April, which, at present does not include vehicles run on alternative fuels. We have approached the organisers, asking them to include such vehicles this year. We have had no official response yet but they were making interested noises. We will invite a representative along to our February meeting.

Big Green Cabaret thanks

Thank all of those who attended our fund raising event, The Big Green Cabaret in Bromyard in September. We had six acts, all of whom performed for free, we raised £290.00 and everyone seemed to have a good time. On reflection, the event probably was a little too long, so next time, we’ll make it a bit shorter. We are thinking of making it a regular bi-annual event, so the next one will probably be in September 2018, if the planet still exists.

Four more councils vote against fracking

Opponents of shale gas in the west country are celebrating a series of recent council votes against fracking.

In the past fortnight, Conservative-controlled Gloucestershire and Herefordshire County Councils have backed anti-fracking motions while Forest of Dean District and Watchet Town Councils have declared themselves Frack Free Zones.

Read a full report here.

Greening the mountain slopes of Nepal  

Chris Evans grew up in a comfortable home in Herefordshire, but after gaining a forestry degree and joining VSO, he found himself in a harsh environment where communities struggle to survive on degraded land.

His arrival in 1985 was the beginning of a lifelong association with people and farming in the mountains of Nepal where he has helped set up the Himalayan Permaculture Centre. In a talk in Leominster for Herefordshire’s Tree Week programme, Chris described how there was now hope for the future in the challenging terrain.  Spread of permaculture methods in which planting trees and perennial plants alongside arable crops are key, is helping to reverse decline.

In many areas fuel had become desperately short, with women spending up to six hours a day walking to find and gather a bundle of firewood. As a result people resorted to burning animal manure, thus depriving the soil of input. “It’s a no-money economy,” said Chris, “In many ways they are incredibly resilient communities, but they face a constantly deteriorating resource base.”

The ecological recovery work has included improved composting techniques, better harvesting of water resources, boosting honey production with better beehives, seed production and training ‘barefoot consultants’ to reach farming communities needing advice. Chris illustrated his talk with superb images of the rural Nepalese people and their mountain landscape. He is happy to give talks around the county.

Chris and his partner Looby are based at Waterloo Farm, Orleton, near Leominster, where they recently launched Applewood Permaculture training centre.   Contact cevans@gn.apc.org

Guarding the Guardians: Herefordshire Independent Advisory Group

Peter Ellis, formerly one of our Green town councillors, came to speak to us at a recent Green Party meeting in Leominster as Penny, Chair of HIAG. Penny is Trans and very aware of the problems that can face members of minority groups. She agreed to write a short piece for Greengage.

Independent Advisory Groups (IAGs) were formed in the 2000s to give advice to police forces in their interaction with minority groups. This followed the Macpherson report on the investigation of the murder of Stephen Lawrence which discovered that prejudice and discrimination was present in the Metropolitan Police. The minority groups represented by an IAG were those listed in the Equality Act of 2010 viz. ethnicity and religion, disability and LGBT. The Herefordshire IAG (HIAG) was formed in April 2015 following a review of IAG provision on the formation of the alliance between West Mercia and Warwickshire Police Forces.

HIAG consists of members of the public who have volunteered some of their time to act as a “critical friend” of the police in the county. There are currently ten members drawn from a variety of minority communities or with an interest in supporting communities. The group meets quarterly with other contact by email. A regular task is to scrutinise, with senior police officers, data on use of stop and search powers and reported hate-crime and to examine reports of hate-crime incidents. For the purpose of recording incidents, the definition of a hate-crime is an act motivated by prejudice, hostility or hatred to an identifiable group of people to which the victim is perceived to belong i.e. the reason for the incident was the appearance or behaviour of the victim. This definition includes groups not included in the list of protected minorities mentioned in the Equality Act. For example, the murder of Sophie Lancaster was classed as a hate-crime because she was attacked for being a goth.

 

The group also advises the police on how they should proceed in dealing with specific incidents. This could potentially be during or immediately following an incident. The group has also been involved in the preparation and dissemination of publicity campaigns to improve the reporting of hate-crime. In the year Oct 2105 to Oct 2016 the number of reported hate-crime incidents went up by more than a third. It is impossible to say however whether this was a result of improved reporting, or an increase in the number of incidents following the Brexit referendum.

Some members have addressed groups of trainee police officers as part of their diversity training, but this is not a requirement of group members. In the same way, some members attended Herefordshire Pride in July and are involved in other community cohesion initiatives.

HIAG performs a very important role in both supporting the work of the local police force and ensuring that every citizen is treated fairly. There is no limit to the number of members of the group and the aim is to have representatives from as many minority groups resident in Herefordshire as possible. Anyone interested in knowing more can contact me at pennyellis1@btinternet.com.

Penny Ellis, Chair HIAG

Trip to Swan Brewery

Herefordshire Greens will be visiting Swan Brewery in Leominster on Saturday, 4th February 2017 from 2-4pm.

This recently-established family-run brewery majors on sustainability. Experienced brewer Jimmy Swan has won green awards in the industry. We will join Leominster Allotments Society members on the tour (they use Swan’s spent hops for compost). Entry free/donation to Birmingham Childrens’ Hospital if you wish. Contact Pete at folley.farm@btinternet.com or 01568 780886.

Swan Brewery, Enterprise Park, Brunel Road, Leominster HR60LX

Greengage changes

We are changing the way we keep you up to date with green news and coming events. A regular ‘e-Greengage’ email update will be sent periodically, and readers can also sign up for daily updates, when news is published on the website.

The two Herefordshire constituency parties are also joining forces with one website and one Facebook page, so we hope this will make Green news easier to access. We will continue as two separate constituency parties, but work together closely, sharing ideas and resources.

Council vote against fracking, sort of

A dozen anti-fracking campaigners welcomed councillors attending the full Council meeting at Shire Hall on Friday (16th December), when a Motion on fracking in the County was to be considered. After a short debate, Council voted unanimously to adopt the Motion introduced by Kerne Bridge Councillor Paul Newman

“The Executive be asked to consider the risks of hydraulic fracturing, and the high importance of tourism income to this County and to write accordingly to the Secretary of State to ask the Government to consider withholding any licence which would allow fracking and any associated hydrocarbon extraction processes in or under Herefordshire’s vitally important Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.”

As expected, the debate focused mostly on the local rather than wider impacts of fracking, with one contributor saying that other areas of the country not as blessed with natural beauty as Herefordshire ought to be the places where fracking is introduced.

An amendment tabled by Green Councillor Felicity Norman asking for the Motion to cover all of Herefordshire and not just the County’s AONBs was defeated.

It is worth noting that legislation passed at Westminster last December already prevents fracking operations on the surface in a National Park or AONB. What that legislation doesn’t restrict are

  • Fracking operations outside but adjacent to the AONB which use horizontal drilling to reach under the AONB
  • Full visibility from within the AONB of fracking rigs in the vicinity
  • Heavy road traffic from fracking operations using roads within the AONB
  • Any extraction process for Coal Bed Methane which does not use fracking

The latter point means that should a company take up the licences for Herefordshire and find it is possible to extract coal bed methane without the expense of high volume fracking, they are not prevented from setting up operations inside the Wye Valley AONB, subject to planning permission.

However, on the subject of planning permission for fracking, this government has already shown In Lancashire that it is prepared to overturn local council decisions to refuse. Should the lapsed licences for fracking in Herefordshire be re-issued to another company, we are still very much at risk.

The Hereford Times report can be viewed here

Let Council know we don’t want fracking here

Herefordshire Council are meeting this Friday 16 December at 9.30 am to consider fracking in the county. There will be a peaceful anti-fracking presence outside Shire Hall from 9am, to show councillors that people care about protecting the county’s environment – and its tourist industry!

This is due to a motion tabled by Conservative Kerne Bridge Councillor Paul Newman. The motion is not as strong as we would like, as it only refers to the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and recommends ‘considering the risks’ rather than saying no to fracking in principle, because the risks are well known. Nevertheless, the debate and decision are important. It may identify councillors, including those from the governing Conservative group such as Paul Newman, who are opposed to fracking, and it could support our campaign to keep it out of Herefordshire. A strong vote against fracking would also put Herefordshire in line with Gloucestershire which recently voted against (although Conservatives abstained!)

The motion for Friday states: –

“I therefore call upon this Council to resolve that: The Executive be asked to consider the risks of hydraulic fracturing, and the high importance of tourism income to this County and to write accordingly to the Secretary of State to ask the Government to consider withholding any licence which would allow fracking and any associated hydrocarbon extraction processes in or under Herefordshire’s vitally important Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.”

Please join us if you can at 9am outside Shire Hall to show councillors arriving for the meeting that keep Herefordshire frack-free matters to local people.

A message from Caroline to West Mids Greens

Leader Caroline Lucas, who was born in Malvern, talks about a couple of our successes in the West Midlands. We are a dynamic active party with lots happening in many areas across the Midlands.

If you care about the environment, social justice and equality, the NHS, a sustainable economy promoting renewable energies and engaging with your local community … it’d be great if you can join us. We really active across all areas in the West Midlands and we’re a friendly bunch too.

Avoid A&E say hospital

The Hereford Times is reporting today that those with minor ailments should not attend A&E in Hereford.

During the last few days the emergency department at Hereford County Hospital has seen a spike in the number of patients treated and admitted with hip fractures, respiratory conditions and cardiac problems.

People with injuries and conditions which are not serious are advised to use alternatives – such as calling NHS 111, using the GP walk in centre in Hereford, the Minor Injury Units at Ross and Leominster Community Hospitals, seeing their local GP or seeking advice from their local pharmacy.

A spokesperson for Herefordshire Greens said: ‘Don’t go to Hereford A&E with minor ailments, fair enough, but please, Jesse Norman Conservatives, stop your wasteful privatisation agenda, and fund our NHS properly with taxes raised from those who can well afford to pay. This isn’t fair on the dedicated staff or the patients. We are a rich country still, and can afford it. It is simply a matter of priorities.’

The full article from the Hereford Times can be read here.

100 days: a message from Caroline, Jonathan and Amelia

In the 100 days since we were elected as your leadership team, the world has changed.

2016 has been confirmed as the hottest year ever on record. A man who talks hatred and division is on his way to the White House. Thousands more refugees are fleeing for their lives from places like Aleppo. And the Government is negotiating our future relationship with Europe on the basis of having our cake and eating it. Literally.

We are better than this.

And in the last 100 days we have seen evidence of this far and wide.  Between the three of us, we have visited Birmingham, Bristol, Brussels, Calais, Cambridge, Canterbury, Dublin, Exeter, Glasgow, Grantham, Isle of Wight, Leeds, Lewes, Liverpool, London, Machynlleth, Malvern,  Manchester, Much Wenlock, Newport Gwent, Norwich, Oxford, Scarborough, Sheffield, Shropshire, Somerset, Lancaster, Winchester, Witney and York.Everywhere we go we find passionate people who know the power of working together and are rolling up their sleeves and getting on with it. Millions who know that Trump won’t last and Brexit solves nothing. Who are already working for what comes next.

We stood for election on a promise to crack open the system and build a new modern politics, where power is redistributed and every vote counts.

That means having an ongoing conversation about progressive alliances – and we have been overwhelmed by the positive response. Local parties are rising to the challenge, asking themselves if this is something they should consider and exploring whether it might help them achieve their goals.

Over the weekend, we marked our first 100 days of leadership. And as part of this, we are pleased to announce the first of a special series of Q&A sessions with Green Party members to ensure this conversation continues and the whole Party has a say. On 23rd January 2017 you can join the co-Leaders live at 6.30pm on the Green Party’s YouTube channel for a live video Q&A. You’ll be able to ask us questions and we’ll try to answer as many as we can. You can also submit your question in advance.

We have always been open and honest about why we personally back progressive alliances and the chance to secure a fair voting system. And for us that doesn’t mean standing down, it means standing up for what we value. So we have travelled to Labour, Liberal Democrat, SNP and Women’s Equality Party conferences to demand they stand up too – because all of us deserve better than we are currently getting.  Wales Green Party Leader, Alice Hooker Stroud, took the same message to Plaid Cymru conference.

Support is growing at a pace we never imagined, and in this final month of 2016, a year marked by division and despair, Greens took a small but important step for unity and hope.

Bold, brave Greens were instrumental in defeating a regressive alliance in the Richmond Park by election, showing that when we have more in common, it can make sense to work together.

The past 100 days have been historic. We live in a country where it seems people are feeling more insecure than ever before in our lifetimes. More frightened, more angry and more left behind.

But as 2016 draws to a close, we look to 2017 with hope and confidence.

Work for a better future always starts now and we want to thank you for being part of the change we all want to see. Together we can make sure 2017 is a different kind of year: Operation Hope starts now.  Please ask your family and friends to join us.

And please read our new blog to find out more about what the three of us have been doing on your behalf during our first 100 days as your leadership team.

Thank you,

Jonathan Bartley
Co-leader of the Green Party

Caroline Lucas MP
Co-leader of the Green Party

Amelia Womack
Deputy leader of the Green Party

Fracking: a clear and present danger in Herefordshire

Members of green groups in Herefordshire, including Greenpeace and the Green Party, leafleted shoppers in Hereford last Saturday on the controversial issue of Fracking.

Fracking is used to extract shale gas [1], and has recently been given the go ahead in Lancashire and Yorkshire in the face of very vocal opposition from local people, councils and from campaigners across the UK concerned about the negative environmental impacts. [2].

The demonstration outside Barclays Bank was to draw people’s attention to the bank’s involvement – it owns fracking company Third Energy, which plans to drill 19 wells across the district of Ryedale, North Yorkshire – and to ask that bank customers let Barclays know that they would like the bank to stop financing fracking.

Green campaigners in Hereford want to raise awareness of the negative impacts of fracking wherever it happens in the country.  Parts of south Herefordshire have been identified as potentially suitable for fracking, and last December, licenses were issued for exploration based on a preliminary assessment of the potential for producing shale gas [3].

Leaflets handed out to passers-by listed the key dangers from fracking in an area like Herefordshire:

  • Groundwater pollution from chemicals injected into wells, some of which will remain in the ground after the wells have been exhausted and are sealed off.
  • Pollution of surface water from fracking chemicals.
  • Increased levels of heavy freight traffic on rural roads
  • Noise and light pollution from 24 hour drilling operations
  • Methane gas leakage adding to global warming
  • Damage to the local tourism industry
  • Depressed house prices.

Rob Hattersley, who helped organise the event, said, “The level of interest was very high – the great majority we spoke to agreed that fracking was dangerous and they were against it, especially if it did come to Herefordshire.” 

Rob Palgrave, Hereford Green Party, added, “Back in 2010 the Conservative Party claimed it would be the greenest government ever. None of its policy changes since then remotely fulfil that promise. They launched what the then Chancellor called “the most generous tax regime for Shale gas anywhere in the world”. And, by disregarding the wishes of Lancashire residents and overturning their Council’s decision to block fracking, this government has trashed local democracy. The revelation in the national press last month that they had intentionally withheld information in advance of the planning decision about fracking in Yorkshire is shameful [5]”

Rick Guest of Herefordshire Greenpeace said, ”When I asked Jesse Norman about voting yes in the House of Commons fracking debate last December, it seemed he could hardly remember there had been a vote, let alone how close it was – about 275 v 255. Our MP should be taking a lead on protecting Herefordshire’s natural resources, especially the River Wye, not allowing dirty polluting industrial activities to threaten them.”

Notes

[1] Fracking – short for High Volume Hydraulic Fracturing – is a technique for extracting shale gas from deposits in rocks up to 20,000 feet underground. After both vertical and horizontal drilling, explosive blasting is used to open up cracks in the rock, then very large volumes of water with sand and chemicals are injected at high pressure to open up the fractures and allow the trapped gas to escape.

[2] Permission to drill was refused by Lancashire County Council, but was granted by Westminster after the decision was called-in.

[3] Licences were subsequently turned down by South Western Energy, but the Oil & Gas Authority have not discounted offering licences to other companies in the next few years.

[4] Green Party opposes fracking in principle as it produces a fossil fuel which when burnt contributes to global warming. The Labour Party announced in September that it would ban fracking: “The real reason to ban fracking is that it locks us into an energy infrastructure that is based on fossil fuels long after our country needs to have moved to clean energy. 

[5] “Government accused of ‘dirty tricks’ over controversial fracking report”: Ministers deliberately delayed a report showing fracking could affect house prices, health and the environment until after a crucial planning decision, documents reveal