Pollution levels in Lugg at unacceptable levels and agencies complacent

Green Party Councillors have asked Herefordshire Council to look into pollution levels in the Upper Lugg river, where average levels of phosphates are seven times the limits set by the Environment Agency.

‘This is incredibly worrying,’ said Felicity Norman. ‘Such a serious breach of acceptable pollution levels could have a massive impact on future development and tourism, not to mention river ecology.’

She has written to the Chair of the Council’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee suggesting that the Environment Agency, Natural England and local authorities are complacent. She has asked that these organisations, along with the Wye and Usk Foundation, the Council for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE) and other expert groups, are brought together with the Council to devise an urgent action plan.

Councillor Norman has also raised concerns about intensive livestock units and how they are monitored. She thinks that the management of waste and cleaning operations may be part of the problem.

Councillor Norman has already raised the risk to the Council’s future plans should the pollution not be tackled and reduced, asking that the river be put on the Council’s At Risk register.

She has already raised the issue on several occasions but nothing is yet being done.(2)

Leader of the Green Group Cllr. Jenny Bartlett added: ‘The data shows that phosphate levels are way too high. This should be of concern to anyone with a tourism business and anyone who wants to protect our precious countryside. We will continue to press for the Council to take this issue seriously.’

 

Hereford city travel survey

Residents in Hereford city are being urged to take part in a city wide travel survey. The survey results will be used to make sure the council’s transport model for the city remains up to date.Hereford is undergoing an unprecedented period of change and regeneration; the data captured will ensure the council’s transport modelling is capable of supporting transport projects and developments across the city.

Councillor Philip Price, Cabinet member infrastructure said: “We want to make sure we have a cross section of views from residents that we can analyse and consider within the plans, to make them robust. I would urge all residents that receive a questionnaire to take part, so we can ensure we have the very best transport outcomes for everyone.”

The survey will be sent to all addresses within the city boundary and are expected to arrive on door mats from 1 February. All respondents will be entered into a prize draw with a chance to win one of ten £50 Amazon vouchers.

From Herefordshire Council website.

Hereford says Make Votes Matter

Great turnout for a fabulous evening at Left Bank with Klina and Joe from Make Votes Matter, looking at what’s wrong with our electoral system and how we can put it right. We welcomed a number of Labour and Liberal Democrat supporters as well as Greens and those of no affiliation!

Interesting to see the link between countries with fairer voting systems and better progress on child poverty, inequality, environmental protection, and political engagement.

We also learnt about how the UK has one of the lowest percentages of public support for the government in power, so they lack a democratic mandate. Our current majority government only has support from 37% of those who voted and 24% of the electorate – but other governments with fairer systems get over 50% support.

Defenders of the current nineteenth century system used to say it stopped extremists, but the election of Trump under the US system which is similar to ours has put paid to that!

There was agreement that the current system means millions of voters are not represented in our national parliament. Millions of votes simply do not count, especially in safe seats such as North Herefordshire. Far from complicating things, a fairer system would mean that instead of trying to work through the complexities of who to vote for to keep who you don’t want out, you could, for example, simply number candidates in order of preference.

Surely even our MPs Bill Wiggin and Jesse Norman can count to five? Or perhaps they think we can’t.

Email addresses were taken, and a representative from Hereford will attend the MVM Local Groups Congress on February 5th in London. If a local group is set up, actions could include dramatic representations of the unfairness in High Town and lobbying our MPs.

The key issue is helping people understand how our antiquated voting system is holding up progress on everything else. Most people want to protect a public NHS, yet a government with only 24% support is dismantling, breaking up and privatising it.

If you would like to be added to the MCM email list just head to www.makevotesmatter.org.uk and sign up.

John Venn cottages saved

A planning application to demolish historic cottages built by John Venn on Kyrle Street will be turned down by Herefordshire Council, officers say.

The Masonic Housing Trust had applied to demolish the two existing dwellings to facilitate redevelopment of 9 residential apartments with associated car parking, cycles and refuse stores.

A number of objections had been received, including from the City Council and Civic Society, on grounds of historical and architectural merit, the purpose of the original buildings, and environmental considerations around the density of the new development.

Jesse Norman: save our NHS

With patients being asked to stay away from Hereford A&E, and dying after hours left in corridors in Worcester, local healthcare is in crisis. Hereford hospital is too small, its management recently taken over by South Warwickshire, a move which Jesse Norman MP said in November ought to be halted while consultation took place. I agree with him on this, but there are underlying issues which he ought to be addressing.

He is a Minister in a government which has underfunded, disorganised and is privatising our precious NHS, and has demoralised its wonderful staff.  Respected aid agency the Red Cross describes the situation as a ‘humanitarian crisis’.

Local people need to be confident that government will provide us with a health service that is fit for purpose and does not lurch from crisis to crisis every winter.

We want a publicly funded, publicly run and publicly accountable NHS for our families and communities. The government’s wasteful privatisation agenda is not supported by the public

My party is committed to reinstating the NHS as a public service without privatisation and marketisation, where funding pays for healthcare and doesn’t inflate the profits of private businesses.

De Koffie Pot to host Make Votes Matter campaigner

An innovative Hereford discussion cafe event is hosting a top campaigner with Make Votes Matter, the national fair votes alliance, on Wednesday 25th January at 7.30pm.

Klina Jordan will be at De Koffie Pot to lead a discussion on different voting systems and how reform could ensure everyone’s voices are heard. Entry is free and those from all political persuasions and none are welcome.

This is the latest in a series of Big Green Conversations presented by Hereford Green Party. The events are relaxed, informal and sociable and take place upstairs in De Koffie Pot at Left Bank every fourth Wednesday in the month. Topics so far have included Brexit, Progressive Alliances, Personality Types and Politicians, and Hereford’s ongoing bypass saga.

Organiser Rob Hattersley said: “We’ve had great turnouts so far for these sociable events. The idea is to listen to each other and understand different viewpoints. With Klina from Make Votes Matter, we’ll be asking how we get majority government with only 24% of the vote, about voters feeling their votes are wasted in ‘safe’ seats, and how different voting systems could mean everyone’s vote really matters.”

Let’s sort Hereford’s traffic right now

The news that Herefordshire Council has again failed to get funding to progress a bypass should make us all stop to think. Do we want to solve our traffic problems right now, or would we prefer to suffer another 20 years in traffic jams as we wait for them to find the money?

Most of Hereford’s traffic is internal. Half of all Hereford’s car journeys are less than 2 miles long. We could now switch our efforts to dealing with internal traffic and the 2 mile journeys which would never use a bypass anyway. This is much easier, faster and cheaper to fix.

This isn’t about forcing everyone to use a bike either. Just a small reduction in internal traffic could make the rest of it flow freely, as it does in school holidays.

Our politicians haven’t managed to deliver a bypass for decades. Do we trust them to deliver in the next 5 years when government won’t even fund a survey? Why are we still waiting? Why not solve our traffic issues now? A city wide 20MPH limit along with a proper well designed bike network, free school buses and better pedestrian facilities would make it easier and safer for our children to get to school and all of us to walk or cycle every now and then.

With air pollution a major factor in ill health for both young and old, even a small reduction in traffic volumes could reduce pressure on our underfunded NHS too, by making us all a little bit fitter, healthier and happier. We could start right now, but we need councillors who ‘get it’.

Public railways for everyone

In what is quickly becoming the only punctual thing about our privatised rail system, the annual increase in rail fares came into effect yesterday.

This year, prices have gone up by 2.3%. And in the last decade, fares have gone up at twice the rate of wages. This is effectively forcing people off the railways, because they simply can’t afford it.

Not only that, but while we’re made to pay more and more, the service gets worse and worse. We now have one of the least efficient and most expensive rail networks in all of Europe.

But it doesn’t have to be this way.

Today, Green Party activists around the country have come together to campaign at their local train stations, calling for the railways to be brought back into public hands

The message is clear. We want reliable, affordable, convenient trains. For everyone. 

This isn’t about harking back to the last period of UK public ownership. This is about looking to today’s best examples of modern, clean, connected rail networks – run in the interest of passengers rather than profits. 

Sadly, our government is more interested in spending tax money on roads rather than rails, making people more dependent on highly polluting forms of transport, while passing the spiralling costs of privatised rail onto passengers like you and me.

We want commuters in the UK to enjoy their journey to and from work, rather than endure it. Nobody should have to perch on a luggage rack, miserably crushed against someone else’s back. And they certainly shouldn’t be paying more and more for the privilege each year.

We need low carbon transport and high quality journeys. And the first step is taking back our railways from greedy, inefficient private companies.

Sign and share the petition today, and demand that railways be brought back into public hands

Breaking the Austerity Myth

Come along for an upbeat evening workshop exploring the realities behind austerity on Wednesday 18th January at 7.30pm.

This session will be presented by Charles Grimes of Positive Money, and is the first of the new year’s Politics & Ethics evenings at De Koffie Pot from our friends at Herefordshire Green Network.

Every Wednesday evening you will find sociable, participatory workshops going on upstairs at De Koffie Pot. There’s a chance to develop your political understanding with Talk Shop (first Wednesday), a challenge to political assumptions with Momentum (second Wednesday), a growing movement for social and environmental justice through political processes with the Green Party (fourth Wednesdays). And on the third Wednesday of every month Herefordshire Green Network will offer inspiration via practical and issue based workshops on a range of local and national environmental concerns.

Come along for 7.30, bring friends, network, find out more… everyone welcome

http://positivemoney.org/

Trish seeks UK Culture boost for Leominster

Leominster Green Town Councillor Trish Marsh thinks Leominster can be part of the action, if Hereford wins UK City of Culture for 2021, a year when the city hosts the prestigious Three Choirs Festival.

Trish is already the Town Council’s link in the Herefordshire Cultural Partnership. Hereford’s bid is the first of its kind, because it includes our towns and villages as well as the city.

‘I’m thrilled with the level of interest in Leominster. More than 40 people came to the Talbot Hotel to find out more at the meeting I organised,’ said Trish. She added: ‘In 2003, Hull was branded ‘Crap Town’, but after winning the 2017 Culture Bid it is gaining £13 million government investment. I want Herefordshire to win this in 2021, and for Leominster to share the benefits.’

‘This would benefit not only Leominster, but our whole county. It would raise our profile as the place to visit, encourage investment, and showcase our varied cultural offer.’ Find out more at www.herefordcityofculture.org.