Diana Toynbee (far left) and Ellie Chowns (far right) congratulate 6th Form Green election candidate Anna Ricks (right) and her campaign manager Lily (left)

Sixth Form Students inspire hope

Hereford Sixth Form students from three political persuasions inspired a crowd of attendees at De Koffie Pot this week with their hopes for the future.

Mock Election candidates Anna Ricks (Green) and James McClelland (Communist) were joined by Campaign Managers Lily Andrews (Green) and Henry Jenner (Labour) to talk about their recent election campaign, what they had learnt, and their hopes for the future of politics.

They then joined in discussion at tables for a serious of topics including ‘What are the top worries for young people today?’, ‘What do we feel positive about?’ and ‘How do we engage young people more in politics?’.

Organised by Hereford Green Party but open to all, Big Green Conversations cover a wide range of political and ethical topics and take place every fourth Wednesday at De Koffie Pot at Hereford’s Left Bank. They are a relaxed, participatory and sociable event to which all are welcome.

Organiser Rob Hattersley said ‘These students were truly inspiring and a credit to their college and to Herefordshire. They understood the issues and although they had concerns for the future they also gave us a lot of hope.’

Top issues raised were not surprisingly tuition fees, student debt and poverty, and the need for better paid jobs in Herefordshire. Young people were also concerned about increasing division in education between schools who compete instead of co-operate, and a high-stress academic system which has implications for mental health as well as undervaluing vocational skills. They did however express real hope for the future of politics, with student Anna Ricks (Green) saying: “It seems that things need to get quite bad for people to get involved, so now we are seeing more young people engaged because it suddenly seems really important.”

Anna added: “We really enjoyed the evening. We felt very welcome and it was great to see older and younger people discussing important issues together and understanding each other.’

Henry Jenner, Labour supporter in the mock election added: “This is a great event which I’d recommend others to come along to, whatever party you support. In our election we actually found we had more in common with each other than we had thought.’

The mock election was won by Labour’s Adam Hill with 136 votes, second was Green Anna Ricks on 64, and third James McClellend (Communist). The Conservative and Liberal Democrat candidates, who could not attend the event, came fourth and fifth respectively. It is run most years at the college with Labour winning last year as well, and the Greens the year before that.

To engage more young people in politics, the students suggested lowering the voting age to 16, and proper political education for all from an early age, both of which happen to be Green party policy. They also warned older political activists against trying to be too clever with social media! “It has to come from us”, they argued.

Green Parliamentary candidates Ellie Chowns (North Herefordshire) and Diana Toynbee (South Herefordshire) also attended the event and ended the evening congratulating the students for their inspiring input.

Why I’m supporting Diana Toynbee

Rob, our Communications Officer and Campaigner in Central Ward, writes about why he is backing Diana and his take on progressive alliances

For those who are interested, this is my take on why I’m supporting Diana Toynbee, the Green Party candidate in Hereford, and why although I am very much in favour of progressive alliances, it won’t work in Hereford – yet.

Firstly, to my Conservative friends, family and colleagues (even if you’ve never dared admit this to me!) – I respect your right to a different view and wish to stay friends! But I have no respect for the way this government are underfunding and selling off our NHS, decimating local services on which the poor and vulnerable depend, and implementing massive school budget cuts whilst imposing a stressful and frankly irrelevant Victorian curriculum on our teachers and young people. I have no respect for the way in which Theresa May seems to want a Soviet or North Korean-style parliament that is ‘united’ behind her, rather than the traditionally British idea of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition which actually improves government through effective scrutiny. I have no respect for the right wing extremists who have taken over the Tory party who will use Brexit to seek to remove current EU employee and environmental protections – and freedom of movement – in an attempt to make Britain an isolated tax haven for the super rich.

I’m voting for, and spending a frighteningly significant part of my time at the moment supporting Diana because I want to give Herefordshire her voice back in Westminster. Our Conservative MP is too busy in London being the minister for fracking, and he cannot speak out on what matters to us: massive cuts to school budgets, an NHS in crisis and being sold off for private profit, and a council which doesn’t even have enough cash to run our libraries, care for our elderly, or fill in the potholes – although it does seem to have enough to research building a motorway around the city to attract more traffic away from the M5.

With our grossly unfair election system in which people can win on a minority of the vote, there has been a lot of debate locally about standing a ‘Unity’ candidate to try and combine anti-Tory votes. Greens have stood down in a couple of seats nationally to support a better placed candidate, despite Labour and Liberal leaderships rejecting our calls for co-operation. Labour are still trying to unseat the UK’s best MP Caroline Lucas. Such a deal will not work in Hereford for the following reasons.

Firstly, the seat needs to be marginal, so that the deal has a good chance of success. Hereford is not marginal, and it is not even clear who the main challenger is. Here, UKIP were second last time, Labour third, and the Lib Dems who used to hold the seat were fourth. We don’t think UKIP are standing this time which is interesting, Labour are heading for a rout, and although the Lib Dems are growing nationally, I doubt they can make a lot of progress here where they have crashed from running the council to having fewer seats than the Greens – and where a strong focus on REMAIN will play negatively in a seat that voted strongly to LEAVE. Greens standing down or voting tactically will make little difference here – whereas in Ealing for example it could tip the balance.

Secondly, as with any deal, both sides need to gain. People join and support political parties for genuine reasons. We share values and want to change our country for the better. Where Greens have stood down, they have gained commitments on fair votes and climate change, or reciprocal support in other seats. This is not the case in Hereford where Greens would gain nothing for standing down. This is not being selfish – we are in the Green Party because we believe the environmental justice crisis is THE crisis of our age, and we don’t advance our cause by supporting people who want to build more roads or those who oppose the fairer voting system which would unlock progress on so many issues.

Thirdly, an alliance only works with a key local issue and a candidate who everyone can unite around. This worked in electing the NHS doctor Richard Taylor to Westminster in Wyre Forest as an Independent. He was an expert, he was genuinely good at working cross party, and there was a clear local issue – the local hospital. In Hereford, it’s hard to vote Labour when that party isn’t even in favour of  voting reform and they are staring disaster in the face nationally. Anyone suffering from Tory cuts will remember the role the Lib Dems played in starting this unnecessary transfer of cash from poor to rich, even under duress. The declaration of our Mayor as an independent caused some to think he could be a ‘Unity candidate’, but there are problems with this too. Jim is a decent, hard working local councillor, but an MP is more than being a good local councillor, or doing lots for charity. They represent us at national level and we expect them to vote for us on a wide range of issues such as military action, trade deals, schools policy, tax, climate change and the NHS. I cannot know what they will have to vote on for the next 5 years so I need to be confident in their principles and their ability to learn and listen. Jim has told me he is not interested at all in national politics, only local. I cannot in all good conscience vote for that, however good a bloke he is. It’s not just about promoting Hereford – this election is about my whole country too.

So Diana Toynbee is the only candidate I have confidence in on all these issues. Although I totally oppose Theresa May’s attempt to get rid of opposition by calling this unnecessary election now, a tactical alliance between opposition parties simply doesn’t stack up in Hereford. I hope it works elsewhere, and that we can keep discussions ongoing. I’ve had really positive conversations with both Lib Dems and IOC (the local-only party our independent candidate sits with on the council) in Hereford this week, which bode well for the future.

But now, for me – and I hope you – this is about voting for what you really believe in. I want to wake up on June 9th and feel I did the right thing for the long term, not feel queasy that I voted tactically for the short term (and didn’t get what I wanted anyway). Its not easy. But I think Diana will do well here – and the more votes she gets the more the issues she promotes will get addressed in the long run. That’s why I’m Voting Green.

If you made it to end of my article, congratulations, thanks for reading this far, and now feel free to go for a lie down in a dark room!

Diana Toynbee’s 2017 message to Herefordshire voters

Diana Toynbee, Green Party Candidate for Hereford and South Herefordshire on June 8th, has given an inspiring message to voters as she launches her campaign.

“This government is making people feel really insecure. Our MP Jesse Norman has voted for these cuts. Even the Tory leader of our local council says we can’t go on like this – it’s a massive financial crisis. We can do better. It’s time for new politics, fresh politics, and that’s what I represent.”

(Editor’s sound note: sorry, we can’t help that the wind is in our sails!)


Hereford Times – General Election candidates announced

Lib Dem, Green and Labour candidates for Hereford and South Herefordshire named ahead of June general election

Hereford Times 26 April 2017

THE Lib Dem, Labour and Green parties have named their candidates for the Hereford and South Herefordshire seat ahead of June’s general election.

Lucy Hurds has been confirmed as the Lib Dem candidate following a meeting of the party in Hereford.

She said: “This election is about our future as a country. It is about our NHS, funding for local services, school budgets and our children’s futures.

“The austerity cuts of this government have caused real hardship for Herefordshire residents.

“More and more local people have been coming into our office seeking help and information. We also need to consider the impact on jobs and our economy if we leave the Single Market. We need to have a say on the final deal with Europe. ”

She added: “The choice is quite clear and I urge voters to remember one simple fact. This constituency has only ever elected an MP from the Conservative or Liberal Democrat parties.”

Meanwhile, Green Party candidate Diana Toynbee said her party will challenge an austerity agenda which ‘continues to hurt Herefordshire’.

Diana is an adult trainer and teacher who has worked overseas, including for Oxfam.

Her three children went to Kingstone High School and Hereford Sixth Form College, and she now lives in Hereford city after several years in Eaton Bishop.

Launching her campaign, she said: “This election was called to further the interests of the Conservative party, to gain more power before voters realise what a deep mess they are getting us into. 

“I believe Theresa May intends to use Brexit to tear up EU protections for nature and human rights and bulldoze through the ‘great repeal bill’, rewriting our laws in the image of the Tories.

“Locally, we can all see the effects of savage cuts to public services and benefits for vulnerable people.

“On social care for example, Herefordshire Council, like many others across the country is going to really struggle to deliver a service worthy of the name in a few years time. 

“I am challenging Jesse Norman’s claim to be ‘putting the case for Hereford’, when he has voted for every single cut.”

“The country (and Herefordshire) simply can’t afford another Tory government – real wages growth in the UK since 2010 has been the lowest of all the G7 countries, and the national debt increased by around a quarter under the last two Conservative chancellors.”

The Labour party has also announced that its candidate will be Anna Coda. The party will be holding a street stall in Hereford High Town this Saturday between 10am and 4pm.

BGC | Sixth Form Election Report

Don’t forget – Greens and other Sixth Form students are coming to share what they learnt during their mock election and what’s important to young people right now in politics. We might start with ‘WHY CAN’T I VOTE?’. Big Green Conversation at De Koffie Pot, 7 for 7.30pm on Wednesday 26th.

Whatever your political affiliation, come and listen, share, and be inspired with the hopes of a new generation as we move into the most significant General Election in years.

Big Green Conversations take place every 4th Wednesday of the month. They are participatory and sociable and everyone is welcome. It’s not a lecture, nor a debate as such, but a discussion and time to listen to others too.

Diana statement on ‘progressive alliances’

I agree that the country can’t afford another Tory government, and I’m proud to represent the party which started the ball rolling for a Progressive Alliance, enabling the LibDems to oust Zac Goldsmith in Richmond.

This fast growing movement to prevent another undemocratic Conservative victory is very encouraging, but it must be intelligently targeted. The Compass thinktank has been doing excellent groundwork with Greens, Lib Dems and Labour, and will soon publish the target constituencies where we have the best chance of beating a Tory. Based on analysis of 2015 results, Hereford and South Herefordshire isn’t one of them. If we try it everywhere it won’t work – it will weaken opposition parties and play into Conservative hands.

I hope this is the beginning of more collaboration between progressives, and look forward to finding common ground with local Lib Dems and Labour in the future. In particular, I want us to work together for a fair electoral system which will put an end to this kind of voting dilemma!

Spring Greens is Back!

Spring Greens Fair is a family-friendly sustainability event for mutual education, training and the demonstration of innovative skills and ideas. Held every Early May Bank Holiday it aims to showcase inspiring, enjoyable and healthy solutions to the difficult social, environmental and economic issues which confront us regionally, nationally and globally; whilst being a fantastic day-out.

If you are Going to the Fair, you can watch demonstrations of traditional crafts and new technologies; listen to live music and poetry; attend talks and discussions on anything from local conservation to carbon credits; meet old and new friends; buy organic plants and green products; enjoy freshly prepared food and drinks; join interesting and amusing activities; expand knowledge on guided walks; or just stroll around the beautiful grounds of Court of Noke.

Find out more here.

Leominster Apple Fair: Blossom Walk

You are invite to a walk of approximately 3.5 miles led by Pete Blench of Walkers are Welcome. It will include the lovely old orchard on Risbury Hill Fort, where we will have a bring-and-share picnic tea.

Meet 2.30pm at Humber Woodland of Remembrance on Sunday 7th May 2017. £3.00.

Transport can also be arranged from Broad Street car park, Leominster. Ring 01568 780886 to arrange this or to find out more.Our thanks to Diane and Robert Thomas of Risbury Court Farm for allowing us to walk on their land.

Ellie outside Parliament - let's put her in it!

Calling Green supporters in North Herefordshire!

This General Election is a great opportunity for us to raise our voices against damaging Tory cuts and a risky hard Brexit – and to campaign positively for our vision of a thriving green economy, fair politics, and proper investment in public services.

We’re planning an action-packed campaign including Action Days in all the market towns, leafleting across the constituency, and a busy schedule of meetings and visits all over North Herefordshire.

Can you help?

We really do need all hands on deck!  Please get in touch if you can help with:

  • Displaying a poster in your window – and/or a roadside signboard
  • Leafleting and canvassing – either alongside an Action Day in a town, or as part of an evening bike ride in the more rural areas, or simply in your own time in your own local area.
  • Getting the message out in other ways – please send me suggestions for groups I should talk to, events I should attend, and great local initiatives (community projects, green businesses etc.) that I should visit and learn about.

Get in touch by emailing ellie@greenherefordshire.org.uk, or use the contact form here.  Let’s send a message to the Tories: they shouldn’t take North Herefordshire for granted!

Support Ellie’s Crowdfunder

Ellie is the Green Party’s parliamentary candidate for North Herefordshire in the 2017 General Election.  She’s local, energetic, and principled – and she’s determined to challenge the Conservatives on their damaging cuts and the risks of hard Brexit.

Ellie stands for a positive vision of how our county and country could be: a caring society that invests properly in public services; a fair economy that provides decent jobs and homes for all; action on climate change and protection for nature; and an honest politics where everyone’s vote counts.

Help Ellie and the Greens send a message to Theresa May and the Tories – they shouldn’t take this constituency for granted!

Please chip in to Ellie’s campaign in whatever way you can.  THANK YOU for your support!

By making a donation you confirm that you are eligible to make political donations in the UK (i.e. that you are an individual registered on a UK electoral register) and that this donation is not made for or on behalf of any other person.

Please note that any donations over £50 have to be declared to the Electoral Commission along with the name and address of the donor.  Anonymous donations over £50 cannot be accepted.

Promoted by Ellie Chowns, North Herefordshire Green Party, 11a Canon Frome Court, Canon Frome, Ledbury HR8 2TD.

Lots going on at Wildlife Trust

There’s lots going on at Herefordshire Wildlife Trust in April and May. For further information on any of the following contact:

Anastasia Calder, Publicity and Events Officer

Email: a.calder@herefordshirewt.co.uk

Telephone: 01432 356872

Lower House Farm, Ledbury Road, Tupsley, Hereford.  HR1 1UT

Bromyard Downs Project: Spring Family Foraging                                                                                                                           Mon 10 April 2-4pm

An afternoon of foraging for wild food on the Downs with Liz Knight of Forage Fine Foods.  This is a free workshop running as part of the Bromyard Downs Project, in partnership with the Bromyard Downs Common Association.

Venue:  Meet at the Main Car Park, Bromyard Downs, Bromyard, Herefordshire, HR7 4QP

Cost:  Free

Booking:  Advance booking is essential.  Contact Hannah on 07341 736182 or emailh.welsh@herefordshirewt.co.uk

Adventure Club – survival skills                                                                                                                                                                 Tues 11 April 10am-3pm

Develop your survival skills over the Easter holidays and learn how to forage for your own food with the WildPlay team at Queenswood.  Bring a packed lunch.

Venue:  Queenswood Country Park and Arboretum, Dinmore Hill, Leominster, Herefordshire, HR6 0PY.

Cost:  £15 per child aged 7+

Booking:  Book your place online at www.queenswoodandbodenhamlake.org or call 01432 356872.

WildPlay – Get Crafty and Play                                                                                                                                                                Wed 12, Wed 19 April 1.30-3.30pm

Fun activities with WildPlay over the Easter holidays at Queenswood.

Venue:  Queenswood Country Park and Arboretum, Dinmore Hill, Leominster, Herefordshire, HR6 0PY.

Cost:  £2 per child, children under 2 years free.  Usual parking charges apply.

Booking:  Book your place online at www.queenswoodandbodenhamlake.org or call 01432 356872.

Plant Detectives                                                                                                                                                                                               Thurs 13 April 1.30-3.30pm

Discover spring plants and enjoy fun activities with the WildPlay team over the Easter holidays at Queenswood.

Venue:  Queenswood Country Park and Arboretum, Dinmore Hill, Leominster, Herefordshire, HR6 0PY.

Cost:  £3 per child, £2 per adult.

Booking:  Book your place online at www.queenswoodandbodenhamlake.org  or call 01432 356872.

Adventure Club – survival skills                                                                                                                                                                 Tues 18 April 10am-3pm

Develop your survival skills over the Easter holidays and learn how to use knives safely with the WildPlay team at Queenswood.  Bring a packed lunch.

Venue:  Queenswood Country Park and Arboretum, Dinmore Hill, Leominster, Herefordshire, HR6 0PY.

Cost:  £15 per child aged 7+

Booking:  Book your place online at www.queenswoodandbodenhamlake.org or call 01432 356872.

Lake Play at Bodenham Lake                                                                                                                                                                      Thurs 20 April 10.30am-12.30pm

Seasonal wildlife inspired activities, crafts and games at Bodenham Lake Nature Reserve over the Easter holidays.  Bring a picnic and relax by the lake.

Venue: Bodenham Lake Nature Reserve, Bodenham, HR1 3JT.  Meet in the car park.  Grid reference SO 529 509

Cost:  Free.

Booking:  Book your place online at www.queenswoodandbodenhamlake.org or call 01432 356872

Annual Fritillary Day                                                                                                                                                                                     Sat 22 April 10am-2pm

Herefordshire Wildlife Trust (HWT) staff and volunteers will lead guided walks of the rich array of wildflowers and in particular, the nationally rare snake’s head fritillaries which grow on the Lugg meadow and talk about the history and wildlife that make this nature reserve unique.  The first walk will depart between 10.15am and 10.30am and then roughly every half hour with the last one leaving at 12.30pm.  There will also be WildPlay activities on offer for children in the garden planting fritillaries, making bee crafts, playing pollination games and pond dipping.

HWT and the Floodplain Meadows Partnership will also be surveying the fritillaries for the sixth year running.  This is part of a national project which is looking at fritillaries on a number of important floodplain sites.  Please come and help us count the fritillaries on the Lugg Meadow.  If you are interested in taking part please email Emma Rothero at emma.rothero@open.ac.uk or leave her a message on 01908 655645.  No previous experience is required.

Venue:  Lower House Farm, Ledbury Road, Tupsley, Hereford HR1 1UT. Directions: A438 out of Hereford turn left opposite the Cock of Tupsley (signposted- Herefordshire Nature Trust), Lower House Farm is the 17th Century black and white farm house down the lane. Grid ref: SO 536 404.

Cost:  £5.00 per adult.  Children up to 14 years old go free.

It is advisable to come equipped with warm clothing and good footwear as the Lugg Meadow can be incredibly cold and windy at this time of year and there is no shelter.

Bromyard Down Project:  Project Celebration, an evening of film and theatre at the Conquest                                 Sat 6 May 6-9pm

An evening of film and theatre to celebrate the achievements of the Bromyard Downs Project.  There will be drinks and canapes, followed by film screenings and a performance by the Conquest Theatre Youth Group.

Venue:  Conquest Theatre, Tenbury Rd, Bromyard HR7

Cost:  Free

The Bromyard Downs Project is a collaboration between Herefordshire Wildlife Trust and the Bromyard Downs Common Association (BDCA).  For further information about the project, go to http://www.bromyarddowns.co.uk/

Launch of Lugg Wetland Gem Project and Wildlife Watch Club                                                                                                 Sat 6 May 11am-2pm

Information event to launch Herefordshire Wildlife Trust’s Heritage Lottery funded Lugg Wetland Gem Project .  There will also be children’s nature craft activities to mark the launch of the Trust’s junior membership of Wildlife Watch and the Herefordshire Ornithological Club  will be on hand to help identify birds in the new bird hide.   This will be an opportunity to find out about how you can get involved.

Venue:  Bodenham Lake Nature Reserve, Bodenham, HR1 3JT

Cost:  Free

Please contact Sophie Cowling s.cowling@herefrodshirewt.co.uk or Hayley Herridge h.herridge@herefordshirewt.co.uk for further details.

Ewyas Harold Festival of Arts                                                                                                                                                                    Sat 27-Mon 29 May 10am-5pm except Mon 10am-4pm

Herefordshire Wildlife Trust’s Artist in Residence, Richard Bavin, will be exhibiting a selection of his paintings as part of the ‘Inspired by Nature’ exhibition at the Temple Bar Inn during Ewyas Harold Festival of Arts in May. This is a new festival with venues across the village showcasing the work of local artists, along with events including Morris dancing, choral singing and llamas!

Richard will be unveiling a huge painting, 4 metres wide, of Lea and Paget’s Wood Nature Reserve in summer, begun as a public art project during h.Art 2016. More than a hundred visitors worked with him on the canvas and he has continued to develop it in the studio. All profits from the sale of the painting will be donated to HWT.

Free entry.  Details can be found on Richard’s website: www.richardbavin.com.  Meet Richard at The Temple Bar Inn on Saturday, 1-5pm & Monday, 1.30-4pm.

Adventure Club – survival skills                                                                                                                                                                 Tues 30 May 10am-3pm

Develop your survival skills over the May half term and learn how to make knots, swings and bridges with the WildPlay team at Queenswood.  Bring a packed lunch.

Venue:  Queenswood Country Park and Arboretum, Dinmore Hill, Leominster, Herefordshire, HR6 0PY.

Cost:  £15.  For ages 7+

Booking:  Book your place online at www.queenswoodandbodenhamlake.org or call 01432 356872.

WildPlay – Get Crafty and Play                                                                                                                                                                Wed 31 May 1.30-3.30pm

Join WildPlay for some magical forest fun with elves, fairies and pixies over May half term at Queenswood.

Venue:  Queenswood Country Park and Arboretum, Dinmore Hill, Leominster, Herefordshire, HR6 0PY.

Cost:  £2 per child, children under 2 years free.

Booking:  Book your place online at www.queenswoodandbodenhamlake.org or call 01432 356872.