On tactical voting – General Election 2017, note date

There has been much debate locally and on social media about tactical voting and progressive alliances. Greens have stood down in quite a few seats nationally where there is a clear challenger to the Tories, but this has not been reciprocated by other parties apart from in Brighton.

There is no clear challenger in Hereford and South Herefordshire. Labour came third last time, beating the Liberal Democrats who came fourth only just in front of the Greens. Jim Kenyon has muddied the waters and seems to be taking a ‘none of the above’ vote, probably some of whom voted for UKIP last time. Labour, Lib Dem and Jim Kenyon all say they are best placed to beat the Tories. This basically means the votes will split and Jesse Norman is likely to win. It’s annoying, but it’s reality. It’s a similar situation in North Herefordshire, although without such a strong independent candidate.

We urge you to explain to your friends, family and neighbours that the next best result for both seats would be a really strong Green vote. It sets us up for next time – and local elections in 2019. It builds our credibility, and gets our issues on the agenda.

Voting tactically for another candidate isn’t going to beat the Tories here because the vote is splitting. It would be a wasted vote in Hereford. Every Green sympathiser who votes elsewhere actually weakens the Green message.

If you genuinely want parties to work together to beat the Tories and change the voting system, Greens are demonstrably more committed to this than others. A strong Green vote promotes this more strongly than one for more partisan parties. And Labour don’t even want electoral reform yet, which would change the whole political climate overnight.

Difficult days, but let’s hang in there. We are needed. And we need every vote. Please don’t lend it to others – you won’t get it back.

“Defend Herefordshire”, say Greens

Green Party parliamentary candidates issue an eve-of-poll warning that Herefordshire’s future could be at stake if voters fail to “rein in” the Conservatives.

“Today’s Conservatives have forgotten how to conserve, they are failing to look after what is best about our county,” claim Diana Toynbee and Ellie Chowns. “Current Tory policy could lead to the decline and break-up of Herefordshire as a self governing county.“

“Only the Green Party fully embraces the ‘small is beautiful’ concept where local communities retain control and where ‘big’ doesn’t necessarily mean better,” the Green challengers say in a statement.

The biggest immediate threat facing Herefordshire is the Conservative government plan to abolish grant funding to local councils by 2019 and force them to rely solely on Council Tax and Business Tax, they say.

Herefordshire with its relatively sparse and older population could be absorbed by a bigger authority based in Worcester or Birmingham. Deep funding cuts planned for school budgets could lead to the closure of some village schools, further impacting on the character of rural communities.

Added to this, the looming shake-up of parliamentary constituency boundaries will mean a large rural area of Herefordshire and three of its market towns (Kington, Leominster and Bromyard) will be transferred into a new constituency with Ludlow and South Shropshire.

Ellie Chowns said, “Brexit also means more uncertainty. While it gives us a welcome opportunity to reform farm subsidies, we need to safeguard vital environmental protection legislation and do far more to conserve nature and improve animal welfare. Last year’s State of Nature report [1] painted an alarming picture of worsening conditions for wildlife”

Diana Toynbee, the Hereford Green candidate and Ellie Chowns for North Herefordshire say: “We urge all thinking Conservatives to support us – we are the natural alternative to the Conservatives in Herefordshire. If elected we will put our hearts and souls into opposing the damaging changes facing our county. Herefordshire has a prosperous green future with the right policies in place.”

NOTES

  1. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/sep/14/one-in-10-uk-wildlife-species-faces-extinction-major-report-shows

“More than one in 10 of the UK’s wildlife species are threatened with extinction and the UK’s most endangered creatures have plummeted by two-thirds since 1970, according to a major report.”

The abundance of all wildlife has also fallen, with one in six animals, birds, fish and plants having been lost.”

Does Jesse Norman speak for all? H Times letter 25 May 2017

Speak for all?
JESSE Norman has announced that he wants to represent the people of Hereford & South Herefordshire again.
But does he actually want to speak for all of the people in our community, or just the better off?
Does he actually care about those of us who are less well off?
In the last few years, Mr Norman has consistently voted in favour of policies that would restrict the income of people who are already struggling to make ends meet.
In 2013 he voted on numerous occasions to cap increases in benefits and tax credits at 1%, well below the RPI, which was running at over 2%.
In 2016 he voted in favour of cuts in housing benefits and support allowances.
While supporting these kinds of cuts, he also regularly voted against increases in taxation on incomes over £150,000, and voted against taxing the bonuses of bankers.
Child poverty rates are worse now than when the conservatives took power in 2010, hospital waiting times are longer, and social care services are in crisis, yet over the last seven years Mr Norman and his colleagues have consistently sought ways to look after their friends at the expense of those who really need help.
Surely it is time for a fresh voice at Westminster, who will speak for the majority and support those who most need it?
JOHN MCCLOSKEY
Cotterell Street
Hereford

http://www.herefordtimes.com/news/letters/15308666.This_week_s_Hereford_Times_letters/

Stop Theresa rubbishing our country

Dear Theresa. I think this rubbish belongs to you.

Yes, I am blaming you for the two bin bags of rubbish I collected in about 10 minutes this afternoon from the banks of the Lugg, an SSSI on the outskirts of Hereford. I was watched by a crowd of young people enjoying a barbecue, swimming, and dropping more litter – although one did stop to help me, whom I thanked.

We are all responsible for our own actions of course. But I am blaming your policies for making littering and environmental degradation a lot worse than it needs to be. Let me explain.

Firstly, you impose a boring, irrelevant-to-the-21st-century, stress-inducing curriculum on schools that crowds out everything that matters, anything that builds relationships or confidence, and anything that is fun: care for the planet, teamwork, people skills, responsibility. We can blame parents if we like but we have little power over what happens in the home. We – or rather you – do however have power over what happens in the classroom – a huge part of our young peoples’ lives. And your education secretaries have made schools into exam factories. Schools need the time and space to teach our young people to love their local and global environment, and each other. You are making this very difficult. Shame on you.

Secondly, and related to this, exam results are held as the be all and end all of achievement. This is wrong. It priorities a personal ability to remember facts over multi-purpose skills, plus attitudes such as kindness, generosity, encouragement and just doing your best. It makes a huge number of our young people feel like failures. With no stake in society, and heading towards low paid jobs which don’t stimulate them, or the dole, they don’t care. These are not bad kids. They are not actively vandalising anything. They don’t understand the consequences of what they are doing. Perhaps no-one has bothered to tell them. Your car crash of an education policy is part of this.

Thirdly, schools have already had their budgets cut in real terms, and this is going to get massively worse if you win this election. My own local school is facing a 9% budget cut which is the money needed for two teachers, in a school with only 8 to start with. As a safety centre manager until 2015, I noticed schools were increasingly finding it hard to fund the £5 per head to pay for a visit during the coalition years – to learn exactly about this kind of thing. It is worse now. Schools I worked with as Regional Manager for a Community Interest Company in 2015-16 were finding it hard to pay for our enterprise programmes, despite saying ‘this is exactly what our children need’, because they were having to lay off support and teaching staff. If you measure schools by a narrow academic curriculum, and slash their funding, it stands to reason they will only be able to deliver that narrow academic curriculum. All the things that we tell our kids are important are dropped. The things most parents look for in a school – the ethos, how happy the students are, extra curricular activities, pastoral care and careers advice. It’s not just exam results. The budget cuts you are imposing are doing real damage, just to fund tax cuts for your rich friends. That’s immoral. It’s not even ‘conservative’. And it hurts our young people.

Fourthly, you have utterly failed to tackle the environment crisis, which is why, in my humble view, there is such a crying need for an effective Green Party. The sheer volume of plastic waste in particular is a scandal, and my two bags today were full of it. This plastic is polluting our countryside and our water. At current rates the oceans will have more plastic in them than fish by 2050. I know there are no easy answers, but a government obsessed by the incompetent and self-inflicted wound that is Brexit, tax cuts for millionaires and selling off public services to their mates is unable to give the environment the top priority it deserves. You know – environment – that’s the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the food we eat – in case anyone thought this was a minority interest. This is your rubbish, Theresa, because the idea of throwaway plastic should be something we see as dated as fox hunting. Oh, yeah, that too. You’re too busy with utterly the wrong priorities.

So, this is your rubbish. How on earth anyone thinks you and your gang of liars (£350 million for the NHS?) are conserving anything is beyond me. I see myself as a patriot too, and you are trashing everything I love about my country: our schools, hospitals, libraries, streets, and environment – our civic pride basically – as well as our international standing. And our young people feel disenfranchised and cynical. They are poorly educated for the 21st century, not through bad teachers, but through appallingly bad government. Littering the banks of the beautiful Lugg river doesn’t mean they are bad kids. They have massive potential which your Victorian workhouse education system fails to recognise. But it is a symptom of a much bigger challenge. Your government, and its twisted and immoral ‘power-to-the-strong’ ideology, continues to let young people down. If we fail to invest in our young, we threaten all our futures.

Best wishes for your retirement,

Rob

Our country will never be divided by terror

The Green Party has suspended campaigning today after last night’s terrorist attack in Manchester.

All national campaigning events, including the billboard launch and Welsh Green Party manifesto launch are cancelled.

In a statement following the attacks, the Green Party co-leader Jonathan Bartley said:

“Our thoughts are with those affected by this appalling incident in Manchester. For young people to be targeted in this way is utterly atrocious.

“As ever our emergency services have done us proud – and we pay tribute to the police, firefighters and paramadics who stepped up in this time of need.

“Our country will never be divided by terror. The people of Manchester showed last night just how strong the bond of friendship is between the people who live on these islands – and in the coming days and weeks we’ll show that we won’t let terrorism tear us apart.”

Stand up for what matters in North Herefordshire

I’m campaigning on four key issues here in North Herefordshire.  I believe we need to:

  • Reverse the devastating Conservative cuts to local services;
  • Rethink how we treat the environment;
  • Remodel our economy so that it works for everyone;
  • Reform our broken political system.

1: Reverse cuts to local services

Our local services have been cut back to the bone over the past 7 years.  Herefordshire Council’s budget has been slashed by more than a third (£70 million over the past 6 years), with more cuts to come.  This has had terrible impacts on vital local services such as libraries and road maintenance, and on voluntary sector organisations such as the Citizens’ Advice Bureau and Hereford Carers Support.  And what’s worse is – our own MPs have consistently and repeatedly voted for this over the past 7 years.

We’ve also seen big cuts to school budgets.  My own sons’ school in Ledbury is losing £600 per pupil over the next few years. Fully 99% of schools are facing per-pupil funding cuts.  This is absolute madness!  We should be investing in our children before anything else.

These cuts have been driven by the discredited ideology of austerity.  What that really means is: tax cuts for the wealthy, and cuts to public services for everyone else.  We are all the poorer as a result.

Public services are an investment in making life better for all of us.  Tax should not be seen as a burden – it’s simply how we pay collectively for things that we all want but can’t buy individually, like safe streets and healthy communities.

2: Rethink how we treat the environment

We’re lucky here in Herefordshire to live in such beautiful surroundings.  But we’re kidding ourselves if we think everything’s fine on the environmental front.  The warning signs are all around us.  2016 was the hottest year on record, as was 2015, and 2014.  In fact, 16 of the 17 hottest years on record have been this century, and our planet hasn’t been this hot for 115,000 years.   The Arctic will be ice-free in summer by 2040.  There is an overwhelming scientific consensus that this warming is due to human activities.  Time is running out for us to change course.  We have to wean ourselves entirely off fossil fuels and move to a 100% renewable, zero carbon economy.

Biodiversity is also under threat.  60% of British species are on the decline, and 15% are threatened with extinction.  Sadly, farming is the main cause – so this issue is particularly relevant in Herefordshire.  Greens are calling urgently for an Environmental Protection Act – not least because many of our current environmental protections derive from European law and, as the Environmental Audit Committee said recently, there is a very grave danger that Brexit will be an excuse for watering them down or removing them altogether.

3: Remodel our economy so that it works for everyone

The economy should serve society, not the other way round.  Everyone should have the right to a decent job with decent pay, and a decent warm house to live in.  But we’re a long way from this.  The median wage is lower today than 10 years ago, and 6.2 million UK jobs (about a quarter) pay less than the Living Wage.  Meanwhile the wealth of the richest 1000 people in the UK increased by 14% last year, and the richest 1% own more than 20 times the wealth of the poorest 20%.  Greens would change the tax and benefits system to reverse these damaging trends, because greater equality is better for everyone.

Wages are low in Herefordshire, but house prices are relatively high, so we have a real problem with affordability of housing – we’re the second-worst in the West Midlands.  We also have one of the highest rates of fuel poverty too.  Greens would ensure that all homes are properly insulated, and make sure that all new homes are built to the highest environmental standards – creating thousands of new Green jobs.

4: Reform our broken political system

Currently, a small minority of voters in a few dozen marginal seats determine what sort of government we get.  It’s a recipe for complete complacency in so-called ‘safe seats’ like North Herefordshire, and so it’s not surprising that many people here feel disillusioned with politics.  We need a political system where everyone’s vote counts, and where MPs work full time for their constituents – unlike Bill Wiggin, who spends one day a week managing hedge funds in tax havens.  We need and deserve independent voices in Westminster, standing up for their home areas and holding the government to account.

North Herefordshire is the 46th safest Tory seat in the country.  It’s a place where the Conservatives, to be honest, take the electorate for granted.  It is not a key marginal, so it simply doesn’t make sense to vote tactically here.  Instead this is a place where voters can and should vote for what they believe in.  Greens are the fastest-growing party locally: we have more council seats than Labour and the Lib Dems put together, and we doubled our vote in 2015.  Every Green vote counts – it strengthens our message and demonstrates the depth of public support for the things that really matter: strong public services, care for the environment, an economy that works for everyone, and a political system in which everyone’s voice is heard.

On Brexit…

Dr Ellie Chowns, our candidate for North Herefordshire writes…

I campaigned for Remain on the streets of Ledbury and Hereford last year, and I believe that Brexit is a serious mistake.  It will cause many years of disruption to our economy, will limit opportunities for our children and young people, and is highly likely to undermine vital environmental and social protections.

Brexit was sold to the British people under false pretences.  Theresa May is now steering us rapidly onto the rocks of a hard Brexit, following someone else’s map, with her only concern being keeping herself at the wheel – no matter what the consequences for the country.  Meanwhile the vast majority of Conservative and Labour MPs have fallen into line (against their previous better judgment), citing ‘the will of the people’ when the truth is the country is split down the middle.

Greens believe that a hard Brexit would be immensely damaging, and is in no-one’s interest.  We will be campaigning vigorously over the coming two years to ensure that any Brexit deal includes a guarantee against erosion of social and environmental protections.  We also believe that the British people should have a say on the final deal: we are calling for another referendum in 2019 on the terms of the final deal negotiated by the government – with one option being to reverse Article 50 and stay in the EU.

If Brexit goes ahead, there may be one silver lining for Greens, and for Herefordshire – the opportunity to reform agricultural subsidies.  UK farmers currently get over £3 billion per year via the EU; in fact, subsidies make up more than half of farmers’ incomes.  Greens agree that the agriculture sector deserves public financial support – but it should be conditional on farmers contributing to public goods, rather than simply payment for owning land.  We would change the system so that subsidies would instead pay farmers for positive actions such as enhancing soil and water quality, protecting wildlife, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, improving animal welfare, managing flood risks, creating decent jobs (including encouraging new entrants to farming and horticulture), and producing healthy and affordable food.

Fix it first!

Roads in Hereford are full of potholes and getting worse. It’s partly because the Council spend money in the wrong places, says local Green campaigner Rob Hattersley.

‘We estimate the Council have spent up to £3million just on surveys for a bypass’, said Rob, who lives in Bartonsham. ‘Yet they can’t even find money to fill in the holes. Potholes damage cars and cost drivers, but they also make it very hazardous for cyclists who can be injured, or forced to swerve.

Research shows that 85% of Hereford’s traffic is internal. A bypass would come with more housing, so it is likely to make traffic worse, not better. But safer streets for cyclists and pedestrians would give us more travel choices, reduce congestion and air pollution and improve things quickly, especially for our kids.

Rob says : ‘We should fix it first. We certainly shouldn’t be thinking of an expensive bypass to the east, bringing heavy lorries through Tupsley and Central Ward, as some local councillors have suggested. Even a ten percent reduction in traffic similar to what we see in the school holidays would make a huge difference – and faster.’

Potholes can be reported on 01432 261800 or at www.fillthathole.org.uk

Brexit and the Environment

Join us for a Big Green Conversation about Europe and the environment with Jill Hanna. Jill has spent many years representing the EU at high-level environmental protection negotiations all over the world, including on reforestation, the safe disposal of chemical waste, and climate change. All welcome!

A NEW DATE AND VENUE FOR THE BIG GREEN CONVERSATION FROM HEREFORDSHIRE GREEN PARTY: Burgage Hall, Ledbury on Friday 1st June, 7.30pm.

Big Green Conversations are an informal, relaxed and sociable event to which all are welcome.

Why equality is better for everyone

Join us for a Big Green Conversation about the research on economic inequality and its effects on people and society, as shown in Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett’s book “The Spirit Level – why equality is better for everyone”.  We’ll be exploring the connections between inequality, over-use of resources, and climate change – and thinking about what we can do to change things for the better.  All welcome on Wednesday 31st May 2017, 7 for 7.30pm at De Koffie Pot, Left Bank, Hereford. Please note that this is the event originally scheduled for 24th May but which has been moved due to a BBC Hereford & Worcester election hustings at Left Bank on the 24th.

Big Green Conversations are held monthly at De Koffie Pot, Left Bank Hereford, usually on the 4th Wednesday. They are an informal, relaxed and sociable event to which all are welcome.

If we had PR, would we be in this mess?

Neither Labour nor the LibDems seem to be showing much interest in an electoral pact with each other and with the Greens – though, the last I heard, Caroline Lucas was saying that the door might still be open. It seems to me that Labour are very suspicious of Proportional Representation (PR) – which has surely got to be a deal breaker – and that is deeply, deeply sad – writes blogger Libby Hudson.

I say this because, as luck would have it, about a week before the election was called, I took delivery of ‘The Alternative’i and have been dipping into it occasionally, particularly during the long, dark night of the soul which followed a claim that the Tories had hit 48% at the polls. (Incidentally, let’s hope this means the era of the ‘shy Tory’ is now well and truly over).

Anyway, I flipped through to Katie Ghose’s chapter on PR (‘Embracing Electoral Reform’) and it struck me, whilst reading it, that if we had had a decent system of PR, we probably wouldn’t be in the mess we’re in now. (If you don’t agree we’re in a mess, it’s probably not worth your while reading any further.)

I voted for PR at the last opportunity – which was 2011, by the way. Yes, it does seem like a lifetime away. However, I was sceptical – I was worried about losing the constituency link, and I was even more worried about focusing power in the hands of party leaders. I was a Labour party member back in the day, and the leadership’s behaviour over regional lists in the EU elections in 1999 was one of the first indications that the Blair project wasn’t turning out quite as I’d hoped.

Ghose’s comments on how constituencies have worked out in Wales and Scotland were suitably reassuring, but what really leapt out at me was this comment (about STV):

Candidates can be put forward who reflect different wings of a party – challenging the dominance of any one faction”.

And so, I surmise, if we had a decent system of PR:

  • Maybe Cameron wouldn’t have needed the referendum to appease his own right-wing. It would either have one control – thereby probably forcing a Tory split – or been slapped into place by the electorate.
  • The Labour party would have a relatively pain-free way of resolving their internal issues, not least of which is the supposed discrepancy between what members want, what voters want, and what the so-called ‘Westminster elite’ thinks.
  • Furthermore, if PR of almost any kind had been operating since 2011, UKIP would probably have gone off like a damp squib, and the Greens would have more of a voice.

All arguments about PR handing power to extremists are blotted out by the puss oozing from the running sore of news stories about people being abused or beaten for the crime of being foreign and hate-inducing headlines about ‘Enemies of the People’ and ‘Saboteurs’. There’s something pleasingly ironic in the Daily Mail wrapping itself in the Union jack and yet using the same words as Lenin when he sent armed troops to dissolve the All-Russia Constituent Assembly.

In summary, then, my answer to the headline question: If our democracy worked properly, would we still be in this mess? Probably not. And, let me add that if Labour are holding back from a pact because they don’t like PR, then they are actually refusing what is probably the only remedy for their current malady.

iNandy, L., Lucas, C & Bowers (eds) 2016, The Alternative : Towards a new progressive politics’. Biteback publishing.

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

Vote for What You Believe In – response to Polly Ernest, Hereford Times Letters 5 May

I sympathise with the desire of Polly Ernest (‘Get together’, HT letters, 5 May) and many others to see progressive parties unite around common ground and fight to oppose counterproductive austerity, growing inequality, environmental threats and extreme Brexit.  Indeed, the Green Party has been leading the push for electoral alliances against a deeply unfair voting system.  That system delivered a fragile Conservative majority in 2015, based on only 24% of the electorate’s votes, which led us into the instability of the Brexit referendum and now back, again, to another election.
Greens have been calling for months for Labour and the Lib Dems to discuss electoral alliances to secure reform of our broken political system – and we’ve put our money where our mouth is by standing down in key marginals like Richmond Park.  But the other parties simply haven’t reciprocated.
In any case, electoral alliances are only really relevant in marginal seats where an alliance can unseat the Conservative – and where it is a genuine agreement between parties, not one just standing down and losing its democratic voice.
In Herefordshire several candidates could claim to be best placed to beat the Conservatives.  For example, the Greens have more councillors than the Lib Dems and Labour put together; we more than doubled our vote in 2015; and we are the only opposition party to have gained seats nationwide in last week’s local elections.  But the fact is, neither Herefordshire seat is a ‘key marginal’.  Instead, this is a county where voters can and should vote for their own principles, and for the candidate they think has the ability and the integrity to represent them most effectively in Parliament.  This is not the time or place for tactical voting, but for voting for what you believe in.
For me, that means voting for someone who will campaign with all their might for investment in public services, protecting the environment, helping the local economy thrive – and holding Westminster accountable.
In the longer term, Greens will continue to work hard – looking for common ground with others – to reform our broken political system so that everyone’s voice counts equally.
Ellie Chowns

Vote to stop school cuts

Schools across the country are having their budgets slashed, warns Green Party Parliamentary Candidate for Hereford, Diana Toynbee.

9% cut in budget

According to the website SchoolCuts.org.uk, published by headteachers and others, St James’ School here in Central Ward faces a budget cut of £70,651 by 2019, which is equivalent to £338 per pupil, or 9% of the total budget.

Central Ward Green Campaigner Rob Hattersley is a former deputy headteacher at St Thomas Cantilupe Primary. Both his children attended St James’ and he has taught there himself.

Two teachers

Rob said: ‘Cuts of this size are horrendous. This is basically the cost of two teachers in what is already a fairly small school. The government, represented by our own Conservative MP Jesse Norman, are putting governors and teachers in an impossible situation. This will have an real impact on our children’s education.’

The situation is worse at Bishops School, with an 11% budget forecast. That’s £359 per pupil, £393,631 in total, equivalent to 10 teachers.

Education is an investment in our childrens’ future

Diana Toynbee added: ‘We have to stop seeing education as a cost, and view it as investment in all our futures.’

‘We are funding tax cuts for the rich with school cuts for everyone else. If you want to see fair taxation to fund our schools as well as our NHS and social care for our elderly, I urge you to vote Green on June 8th. Every Green vote strengthens that message.’

Ellie Chowns on BBC Question Time

Ellie Chowns, Green Party Parliamentary Candidate for North Herefordshire, will take part in BBC Midlands Election Question Time on 30th May.

Then programme will be broadcast from 2245 to 2330 on BBC1 and is recorded from Birmingham Ormiston Academy. It will include a panel of five regional political leaders plus a studio audience of around 70 people.

The environment should be at the heart of the election

If there is one issue that should be at the heart of this election, it is climate change. When we next choose a government (in 2022), it’s likely that global temperature will have risen 1.5C. That’s the level that nations (including the UK) pledged at Paris in 2015 should not be breached to avoid dangerous climate change.

At current rates of burning coal, gas and oil, we are on track to put enough carbon in the atmosphere in the next five years to push us past that temperature increase.

But it’s not inevitable. Rapidly increasing our efforts to reduce emissions – from homes, businesses and transport – and installing more renewable energy give us a fighting chance. To build support, politicians must spell out the consequences of not taking the decisive action urgently required on climate change and introduce policies that will drive that action.

Greens have long campaigned for warmer and more efficient homes, renewable energy, public transport, and better provision for cycling – measures that reduce emissions and are cheaper for society in the long term.

I urge voters to find out where the other parties’ candidates stand on climate change and press them to commit to increased action. Because, whatever government we have and however hard or soft Brexit is, the challenge of climate change will still be with us.

Rob Palgrave, Hereford

Published in The Guardian 4/5/17

Dr Ellie Chowns and Gareth Williams, Managing Director of Fownhope-based Caplor Energy, with one of the latest solar photovoltaic panels

Government failing on energy say Greens

North Hfds Green Party candidate Dr Ellie Chowns slams ‘incoherent and inconsistent’ government energy policy

Dr Ellie Chowns, the Green Party’s parliamentary candidate for North Herefordshire, this week called on the government to ‘put its money where its mouth is’ on renewable energy.  Visiting successful Fownhope-based solar business Caplor Energy, Dr Chowns praised the vision and dynamism of the renewable energy sector, but strongly criticised the government’s incoherent and inconsistent policy.

Dr Chowns said: “Businesses like this are the engine of our future economy and are vital to help us deal with climate change and fuel poverty.  Our energy system is creaking at the seams and simply isn’t fit for purpose in the 21st century. The government is dragging its feet on modernisation, and we’re still waiting for the energy strategy they promised to publish by the end of 2016.”

“It’s clear that we urgently need a major shift in how we generate and use energy in order to meet our national and international climate commitments. The vast majority of fossil fuels must be left in the ground in order for us to have any chance of avoiding climate disaster.  We should be aiming for a 100% renewable energy-based economy by 2050, while at the same time tackling fuel poverty and investing seriously in energy efficiency.  But current policies mean we’re going to miss our 2020 renewables target (1).”

Council figures show that Herefordshire homes are less energy efficient than the national average, and Herefordshire has one of the highest rates of fuel poverty in the country (2).  Half of the houses in Herefordshire are suitable for solar PV – but only a tiny percentage have actually had it installed.

Said Dr Chowns, “The transition to a green energy future is being hindered, not helped, by incoherent government policy.  Business needs consistency so that it can plan and invest for the long-term.  Instead, the weak leadership of the Conservatives on energy and climate change has created serious instability for the sector, made worse by Brexit-related price hikes.  Warm words aren’t enough; it’s time for the government to start walking the talk on building a green economy fit for our children.”

Photo: Dr Ellie Chowns and Gareth Williams, Managing Director of Fownhope-based Caplor Energy, with one of the latest solar photovoltaic panels

Greens will give voters a chance to stay in EU

The thousands in Herefordshire who voted REMAIN in the EU referendum can take comfort from the Green Party pledge to hold a ratification referendum on BREXIT.
 
The referendum will also give voters the option to retain EU membership.
Caroline Lucas will announce the Green Party’s new Brexit pledge on Tuesday 2 May.
The Green Party co-leader will pledge to give voters a final say on any Brexit deal – with the chance to stay in the EU if they don’t like the deal the Government negotiates.
Lucas is expected to say:
“A democracy worthy of the name must mean people having a real say over the major decisions that affect their lives. That’s why the Green Party has consistently said that the referendum should be the start, not the end, of the democratic process. And it’s why today we are announcing our intention to push for remaining in the EU to be an option in a ratification referendum.”
The Greens are the only party to have made an official and unambiguous pledge to include the option of Remaining in the EU on the ballot paper of a ratification referendum.
And:
“Whoever wins this election has a mandate to negotiate on behalf of the British people – but that does not mean that they have a right to impose a final deal. Instead we demand a ratification referendum which gives people the option to remain in the EU if they wish, or to vote to back the Government’s deal.
“There are some who say that this is a re-run of the referendum, but that simply isn’t the case. Instead this is giving people an informed say over our shared future. If the Government is so convinced that they’ll get a decent deal then there’s no reason that they wouldn’t trust people to have a final say.
“Our message is simple. For a final say, and for a chance to vote to stay in the EU, vote Green.”
Molly Scott Cato, the Green Party’s EU spokesperson and Bristol West parliamentary candidate  is expected to say:
“Take back control was the strap line which persuaded many to vote Leave in the referendum last year. It’s now clear what that meant. A power grab by the Tory right so they can make a bonfire of regulations which protect our rights and environment. A ratification referendum must give back control. People must be given an opportunity to vote for the future on offer at the end of the article 50 process, or decide whether actually we are better off remaining a full member of the EU.”
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Greens call for urgent action on UK air pollution crisis

Greens call for urgent action on UK air pollution crisis.

Herefordshire’s pollution hotspots in Leominster & Hereford unresolved for over 10 years

The Green Party is calling for decisive and effective action to tackle the UK’s air pollution crisis ahead of the delayed publication of the Government’s draft air quality plan [1]. The High Court ruled on Thursday (April 27) that the Government must publish its draft air pollution plan before May 9 [2]

People’s quality of life can be severely affected by pollution-related conditions like asthma, heart disease and bronchitis; and air pollution is linked to 40,000 early deaths every year in the UK.

The A49 corridor through Hereford was declared an Air Quality Management Area (AQMA) in November 2001, and Bargates in Leominster was declared in March 2006 – both for exceeding annual limits for Nitrogen Dioxide. [3]

Road traffic is the biggest cause of air pollution: vehicles do need to be made cleaner but reducing the growth in the number of cars on the road is also essential. Cuts to public transport have forced people to switch to using a car even for short journeys.

Diana Toynbee, Green Party parliamentary candidate for Hereford said, “It’s astounding the Government had to be forced in the courts to reveal its plan for tackling air pollution and has squandered taxpayers’ money fighting to keep it a secret.”

“As a rural county most of us in Herefordshire enjoy clean air. Everyone should! But the pollution hotspots in Hereford and Leominster are of great concern, particularly as they were identified as long as 15 years ago. Effective action is long overdue”

“The stark difference between the cost of travelling by car and taking public transport illustrates clearly how little this Government cares about tackling the problem at its root. If we keep pushing people into cars instead of promoting rail and public transport, our air is only going to get dirtier and more dangerous for our children to breathe.”

“The Green Party is the only party committed to taking immediate action on air pollution, with investment in cycling, walking, electric vehicles and public transport. We’d also properly fund and expand the Clean Air Zone network and introduce a Vehicle Excise Duty for new diesel vehicles alongside a diesel scrappage scheme.”

 

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